Around the same time, Susan met Richard. One of her junior year instructors invited this B-school wunderkind to address the hapless programmers, hoping to at least momentarily shift the nerds’ focus from the glowing zeroes and ones scrolling across their computer screens to the millions and billions changing hands on the smudged newsprint pages of the Wall Street Journal. Richard had nominally studied engineering as an undergraduate; he possessed a quick, practical mind, but little enthusiasm for the concrete realities of the subject and, by extension, the work. So he recalibrated his calculating nature to the business side of the Silicon Valley formula. He rightly intuited there was more money to be made acting as broker between the tech jockeys and the capital thoroughbreds. Thus, he was one of the first to become “bilingual,” speaking geek as fluently as finance. His mother tongue, however, was persuasion.
Susan had approached the lecture with suspicion and skepticism. She generally thought herself immune to concerns as base as dollars and cents, preferring the purity of numbers expressed through code. Yet as Richard held court at the front of the classroom, she felt something unfamiliar stir in her synapses…and in the pit of her stomach.