Behind the Magic: Josh Villbrandt

on June 7 | in All, Inspiration | by

June 20, 2010, 9 pm. I’m on my way back to Paris after a long weekend in the south of France. My friend Charlotte and I have booked tickets for a night train that will bring us back at around 7 am. The train isn’t a standard train: it has a night club in it. One of the wagons has a bar and a dance floor where you can party until the early morning. We had never done this before and thought it could be an epic adventure!

We decide to go look for the night club wagon as soon as we get in the train. We are a little disappointed to find it almost empty, but we stay and order drinks. Shortly after our arrival, people join and we start talking to them. It’s a group of USC students coming from Los Angeles and doing a 6 weeks Europe tour as part of their program. One of them is called Josh. Josh is a smart young man, very nice and interesting to talk to. We decide to exchange our contact details and to get a coffee in Paris before the group goes back to the US.

A week later, Josh and I meet up at a Café in Paris. We talk about our passions, life, relationships, science, technology and I tell him about my desire to learn how to develop websites and to create my own. I live in France and he is in California so it’s unlikely that we see each other again but we promise to stay in touch.

A month later, I receive this message in my Facebook inbox:

Not only is Josh one of the smartest men I’ve ever met, he also has a heart the size of the Moon. On top of securing my domain name, he also offered to host my website. Of course, I insisted to build it myself (and with the help of WordPress) in order to learn PHP and CSS, but he did everything else. It took me a year to decide what I wanted to do with this website. In August 2011, I was set about the content and the general design, so I started. After weeks of coding, solving bugs, creating other bugs, and solving more bugs still, I finally pushed live in October 2011, thanks to Josh.

Josh’s stellar intellect has led him to become one of the select few engineers working on the Dragon ship developed by SpaceX. Founded in 2002 and having recently completed it’s first successful mission, SpaceX will soon become the first private company to be contracted by NASA for the management of routine tasks in low-Earth orbit. Yes, Josh sends spacecrafts in the universe, and is also one of my closest friends.

What would have happened if I had opted to sleep on the train that night and keep myself in my own little box? Would this site exist? The answers, we may never know, but what I can tell you for certain is that you will never regret thinking outside the box.

So get out there, be open to new experiences, meet new people, think out of the box and who knows? Maybe one day you’ll  run into a person that will change your life. If someone had told me when I walked onto that train 2 years ago that I was about to randomly meet a man who would not only inspire me by his career path, but also become a friend and help to make my dream come true, I wouldn’t have believed it. Yet it happened. Out of the box.

You can follow Josh on Twitter, see his profile on LinkedIn or visit the website of his company SpaceX to learn more about commercial space travel.

Picture of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule docking with international space station on May 25, 2012

Images Courtesy 1, 2, 3

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