I met Brian as I launched my first dot.com venture under the guidance of Steve Wilson at the Riverside Group (the holding company for Wickes Lumber - WIKS:NYSE). I had concluded, in the mid-nineties that it was far preferable to find the best Internet guys in town, pay them a little more, and snatch them from companies that already had deep Internet experience (which in those days was slim pickin's in Jacksonville). Steve Wilson was a local Jacksonville native and brought me from the Wickes Lumber Intranet department to start a new Internet company in his home turf. Brian Knight was the first person we interviewed for the new Internet skunkworks team.
I think I'm a pretty good read of people and he just struck me as an absolutely carnivorous learner. Even though his experience was limited to Cold Fusion and Microsoft Access (that I was aware of), he latched onto the SQL Server materials and tore into them. Brian proved to me that he also had the same voracious business appetite and very clearly recognized and learned the business reasons for all of the strategies we pursued. He turned out to be a key influencer in his former workplace and started bringing over many other employees from the ISP where he was working before (Cybermax). Eventually the president of the company came to my office and pleaded with me to stop hiring all of his people away from him. That was when we decided to simply acquire their business and organize the plundering into a more humane method.
I drifted from the dot.com world at its peak and began my own startup company, but I was struggling to find a good name for it. Brian had an unused corporate shell and a domain name called Innovative Studios which I purchased from him for a dollar. That was the start of my roller coaster ride into the dot.com world solo and what a wild ride it was!
After I left, Brian turned an emerging career into a lifestyle and began, through hard work and determination, a thriving publishing career (Professional SQL Server 2005 Integration Services by WROX Press), an astonishing series of corporate acquisitions (he was doing the selling) like SQLServerCentral.com and now he is the penultimate SQL Server guru (one of few MVPs in North America) and purveyor of many business strategies such as www.JumpStartTV.com, www.PragmaticWorks.com, and how many others I can't name.
I have learned from Brian the value of focusing and specializing. He also taught me the astonishing benefits of publishing and how the power of the printed word (whether in paper or electronic) can truly energize and motivate people. He clearly is the master of community marketing and engagement, which he easily succeeds at because of his sincerity, humility and honest to goodness care and empathy for people whose technology problems he is engaged with solving.
I'm certainly a better man for having spent time with my friend Brian Knight.