Heartbroken, Americans witnessed Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku as he engineered one goal and scored another. Maybe the soccer gods held Chris Wondolowski’s foot to alter his shot since by the overwhelming statistics, Belgium “deserved” to win in some sense. Even our national hero, Tim Howard could not hold off the nearly constant Belgium threat.
At Cherwell’s office in Colorado Springs, a handful of us worked as we watched the game together in an increasingly exasperated conference room. We groaned, yelled in excitement, and complained about calls more or less simultaneously. Vance Brown, our Co-founder and CEO, watched the extra time with us as USA ultimately came up short. Even in defeat, I couldn’t help but feel a new extra-work sense of camaraderie with my fellow Cherwell employees (we even commiserated our elimination in thought with our Cherwell team in England). And of course, I experienced the rare phenomena of feeling connected to an entire nation.
Sometimes connecting in thought to abstractions, like Nations, can feel illusory. Howard couldn’t hear me or the other thousands of Americans cheering from across our internet connections. But in another sense, the United States players could see the number of fans supporting them increase as national support for an often neglected sport grew. Their effort was for their success as a team at least, and the byproduct was its effect on a nation. When you see these kinds of results, you stop thinking of your connection as illusory.
But there was another instance of technology’s ability to connect people. When Lukaku scored, he mouthed “Mama, je t’aime.” It was a specific gesture carried through technology to his mother, wherever she was, so that she could feel an intended emotion: pride for son, love from his thinking of her in his moment of glory. “Mama, je t’aime. Mom, I love you,” I translated for my coworkers. “Don’t humanize them,” someone joked, only half-bitterly.
It reminds me of a brief speech given by Matt Neigh, our Director of EMEA Sales who is transitioning from our Colorado Springs office to our office in the UK. Thanks to technology, something you do has a distinct effect on someone else, sometimes on the other side of the globe. It’s hard to remember. But once you do, it’s hard not to see the importance of every aspect of your work to others in your company, and ultimately, the customer.
You may not be saying “je t’aime” exactly, but work comes alive when you’re thinking of others.