Most people who have seen Fight Club walk away from the film feeling slightly invigorated, somewhat disgusted, and hugely confused, but they almost always remember one thing: “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club”. AJ Hekman gleaned something much deeper and began to shape his life around it, “I feel like my perspective on life came from watching films like Fight Club. The idea that, in the end, the things you own end up owning you feels very real to me. It just dawned on me a one point that simplicity in life is a path to happiness.” AJ and his wife, Andrea, have created a life that reflects this shared belief, full of evening walks in their EGR neighborhood, kitty snuggles with their three-legged rescue, Kaylee, or just watching a show together on the couch. Quality relationships and life’s simple joys are clearly top priority for AJ, and it’s just one of many reasons we’re excited to have him join the Mutually Human team.
An East Grand Rapids native, AJ grew up sailing with his father on Reed’s Lake and snowboarding all winter long at Cannonsburg Ski Area. He began teaching himself to code in middle school by messing around with the rudimentary language of graphing calculators, i.e. TI-BASIC. “I displayed some oppositional defiance when it came to school and instead of turning in my math homework, I would often write programs in TI-BASIC that could solve for the entire class of problems,” he says. A bit of a rebel, AJ was less concerned with following all the rules and more interested in learning about things that truly interested him, like coding and physics. He began teaching himself other languages while finishing high school, completing a degree in Business at Calvin College, and working his post-collegiate jobs. His love for development would only continue to grow.
Thinking he would follow in his father’s footsteps, AJ began a career in business as an administrative assistant for Joint Labor Management but continued to code in his spare time. As it turns out, the business world was not for him and after two years at JLM, he made the leap to IT at HMC HealthWorks, a Florida-based health management company. It was here he learned the major difference between the IT and development worlds; “I realized quickly that IT was all about maintenance and stasis, i.e., keeping everything on track, which wasn’t very exciting to me. Development is about creation and that’s exactly what I wanted to be doing.” At some point, realizing that self-education was beginning to have diminishing returns, AJ started seeking out job opportunities that put him in a room with other developers. This decision lead him to his first job as a full-time developer with Ideomed, Inc. and, eventually, Mutually Human. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to fuel AJ’s curiosity and foster his clear passion for development. There is no doubt we will benefit greatly from his presence.