E. Egon Rinderer, CTO for Shift5

I joined Shift5 to work with a truly diverse group of people to solve impossible problems.

Over the years I’ve often felt that I’m an observer. Not necessarily from the outside, but an observer nonetheless. I find catharsis in watching others who are at the top of their field do whatever it is they do. People such as this seem to have a universal ability to take something that seems to be quite impossible and make it look almost simple. There is a certain flow to the way they work, be it physically or mentally. Just being witness to this is quite enjoyable to me.

Throughout my life and my career, I’ve made a point to try to surround myself with opportunities to spend time around these sorts of people. As a result, I’ve learned to recognize them. I grew up around them. A grandfather who worked on the Manhattan project and went on to amass countless patents and helped smuggle and resettle scientists out of communist countries during the Cold War to give them a better life and out of a sense of patriotism. A father whose professional life was spent solving difficult problems and racking up nearly 80 patents in the process. My years in the SOCOM, JSOC and intelligence communities working with people who I can only describe as borderline superhuman. Some of the most brilliant minds in the tech startup world who I watched produce successful outcomes from problems that, by those without keen understanding for what they’ve done, appear to defy the very laws of physics. In short, I have spent my life feeling like the underachiever in the room, and I love it.

I’ve found that being surrounded by those more accomplished than I is both intimidating and invaluable.

This past forty-plus years has found me interacting with some of the most eccentric, interesting and sometimes outlandish characters I can recall. Among every race, creed, religion, sexual orientation… brilliance, I have learned, is no respecter of persons. It exists in every strata of society and, sadly, is too often overlooked due to labels, prejudices and preconceived notions.

When I came across Shift5 and I spoke to the founders, I immediately recognized that familiar “flow.” That brilliance belied by humility. That difficult to articulate feeling that I, as a fairly unfeeling person, get that checks my conscience and reminds me to ‘quietly observe’. As I went on to interact with staff throughout the company, this feeling was reinforced. Shift5 is not just another in a long line of VC backed startups. It’s different. Very different. It was born of a desire to solve a problem that everyone else has passed on because it’s just too challenging. That’s an interesting aspect of human nature. If we deem something so challenging as to likely be impossible, we spend little to no time pondering how it might be overcome. That is to say, most spend their time imagining solutions to problems that appear to be solvable. Why waste precious effort on the impossible?

We as a society owe a debt of gratitude to the ponderers of the impossible, for they are often those who throw open the gates and make way for massive societal leaps forward. Consider the Wright brothers whose first flight was in 1903. A mere 66 years later, we put a man on the moon. While no one can prove that without the former, the latter would have taken significantly longer, I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say that’s a reasonable conclusion.

At risk of sounding melodramatic, I believe Shift5 is a company replete with these sorts of minds. Quiet, humble, hard-working individuals from all walks of life who spend their days solving problems that, in many cases, no one has even considered due inertia. The decision to work at Shift5 wasn’t the result of a down-select among a multitude of other options. While I had many opportunities presented, joining Shift5 was almost a compulsion, a decision made at the subconscious level before my rational brain had figured out it was clearly the best decision. There was zero chance that I couldn’t accept the opportunity to work with the folks this fledgling company has been able to assemble in their short existence.

Shift5 is special. The people who make up the company are, and will continue to be, remarkable. Why would anyone want to solve easy problems when there are incredibly difficult challenges to be overcome?

This is the essence of Shift5 and it will enable them to attract the brightest minds in the industry as they grow. Simply put, I joined Shift5 for the opportunity to contribute to this remarkable team who endeavor to do the impossible.