At a large trade show this summer, I bumped into a man in an elevator who recognized my name. He introduced himself as if we were old pals but I honestly couldn't recall meeting him. About 5 minutes after the elevator ride, it hit me. I remembered him from an online chatroom trying to learn about IT operations automation. I figured he was a junior engineer just tinkering around. Oh, how wrong I was.

I later spent more time with him, often in social settings. I attended his presentation and his delivery was masterful, clearly expressing the value proposition of his offering. He was the head of product development at a venture capital backed startup. I initially thought he was a newbie because he was looking for use cases to integrate his product with existing industry solutions. My skeptical attitude was rapidly replaced with one of admiration.

He is about 8 years older than I am and has extensive experience in data communication networks. He continued to share some of the projects upon which he worked, and I realized that he was a legitimate entrepreneur. Long story short, his first company secured three funding rounds totaling about 50 million dollars. He sold his first company for about 150 million dollars. I was literally speechless.

Now at his second venture, he's looking to accomplish even bigger things with a product that could be industry changing. Obviously, he isn't in this for the money, but has loftier goals. Regrettably, I didn't think to ask him about his true vision. I recently read Elon Musk's biography, published in 2017, and there are many similarities between how these two men view the world.

To top it all off, during a keynote speech, both he and the founder of the company received an award from the conference organizers. I snapped a picture on my phone and celebrated the moment. I honestly don't think I have ever been more wrong about a person in my entire life. They've accomplished things I only dream about.

My respect for him ticked upwards each day and I realized how badly I had underestimated his talent. I'm not an ego-driven one-upper by any means, but it surfaced my ignorance in judging people based on a few Internet chatroom exchanges. Everyone in the world knows something you do not.

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