It was Thanksgiving day 2009.
I received a call from our CEO.
Could I be on plane the next day to Ljubljana, Slovenia?
Me not entirely ecstatic: Yes.
Still married at the time wife response: Fuck???!!!!
Guess that’s why I’m no longer married.
Satish and I took the first flight out of SFO the next morning.
We would be joined by the boys from London one day later.
Why me: I was our company’s program manager on this “chip” and the program manager for all technology.
The program manager from the company we were working with had just asked me if I could take over managing the schedule.
My response: Yes.
Meaning: Their program manager had absolutely no idea on whether the Slovenian team could/can/would execute to schedule.
He’s a good friend and a good person…he’s asking if I will take on all this responsibility. For him it is out of control.
Our CEO response…
- Send Forrest he now owns schedule on delivery of this chip.
- Send Satish from Silicon Valley who is architect of chip and all features.
- Send London boys hot on tails. 1.Technical evaluation of feasibility of technology schedule. 2. Technical Program Manager UK who would ask hard questions on schedule. 3. My boss. Based out of London. To make sure the proper level of “serious” was being applied to problem.
Everything was my call.
That’s why I was on a plane at 7am the day after Thanksgiving.
Part of the reason likely that I am no longer married.
Sometimes life works that way.
Everyone else was particularly serious on the details as we had conference call to look forward to at
every evening with CEO.
Would we write this whole thing off?
Could we fix the schedule with confidence?
Would/should we just acquire company at right price.
In these rather intense daily meetings it was my call.
The details and minutiae… there were plenty of other people there to monitor.
I spent my whole time looking at their overall technical lead Simon’s (pronounced “si moan”) eyes….
I just looked at his eyes the entire time…details washed over me.
For lunch one day we had Slovenian pizza with and hard-boiled egg in the center.
Weird. Good pizza. I skipped the egg, but told them how good the pizza was and how much I appreciated it.
Previously, due to a f*ck-up by the airline Satish and I had missed our connector flight to
Ljubljana by 25 minutes because the airline was running 25 minutes behind schedule.
They said they would put us on the next available flight.
That turned out to be 24 hours.
As this was the airline’s mistake we asked if we might stage our operations in their courtesy lounge.
We spent the next 24-hours based out of MacDonald’s working and sleeping on the floor.
Such is the nature of Stuttgart airport and German airport employees.
It’s like this every time I’m in Stuttgart. Always reminds me of the young guy
that rats out the von Trapp in the “Sound of Music.”
Anyway, after 2 days of technical analysis my recommendation in meeting to CEO.
“Buy company. You care about these 2 employees. So price accordingly.”
The next evening at a “private dinner” with Simon.
Before becoming in charge of this technology group Simon had been a waiter himself at such an
establishment and warned us about how we would be seduced to pay additional charges.
We didn’t really care.
But we appreciated that Simon shared this with us.
We pitched our proposal.
He said he needed time to consider.
He wanted arrangement for entire team.
A week later after no Thanksgiving I talked to Simon on the phone.
He said negotiations were going well and he and his team wanted to join our company because
he trusted me.
He trusted me and I had been “kind.”
I had never heard something like that before in my business career.
We concluded our business discussion.
I then went to the men’s room. Locked the door…and cried.
We acquired them and for the next 2 years Simon’s word carried more weight than God’s with me,
while I was still at company.
Some years later a young woman communicated to me that she suffered Anorexia through
a reproduction of a painting.
It took me 4 days to figure out what she was trying to communicate.
I wrote her a response in the form of a poem about my sister who had suffered through a similar
affliction…and assured her there were those that were there to support and help her…that loved her…her family.
After writing that poem, I again went to the men’s room, locked the door…and cried.
I never heard back from her on the matter or really on any matters…
Sometimes life works that way.
I hope she knows that there is help from the people that love her.
I was grateful to have communicated directly with Simon.
I hope and wish her all the best.
And that she reaches out to those who love her when she needs help.
As Simon said….
I think she will find within them the characteristic called “kind.”