Archive for the ‘Favorite Quotes’ Category

Read Becoming Steve Jobs – can’t get enough

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

“Steve and I met here, at Stanford, the second week I lived in California. He came here to give a talk, and afterwards we found each other in the parking lot. We talked until four in the morning. He proposed with a fistful of freshly picked wildflowers on a rainy New Year’s Day. I said yes. Of course I said yes. We built our lives together.”

“He shaped how I came to view the world. We were both strong-minded, but he had a fully formed aesthetic and I did not. It is hard enough to see what is already there, to remove the many impediments to a clear view of reality, but Steve’s gift was even greater: he saw clearly what was not there, what could be there, what had to be there. His mind was never a captive of reality. Quite the contrary. He imagined what reality lacked, and he set out to remedy it. His ideas were not arguments but intuitions, born of a true inner freedom. For this reason, he possessed an uncannily large sense of possibility—an epic sense of possibility.

Steve’s love of beauty—and his impatience with ugliness—pervaded our lives. Early on in our marriage we had long dinners with Mona and Richie. I remember a particularly wide-ranging discussion that lasted late into the night. As we were driving home, Steve launched into a devastating critique of the restaurant’s sconces. Mona agreed with his assessment. Richie and I looked at each other, whispering, “Is a sconce a light fixture?” No object was too small or insignificant to be exempt from Steve’s examination of the meaning, and the quality, of its form. He looked at things, and then he created things, from the standpoint of perfection.

That could be an unforgiving standpoint, but over time I came to see its reasons, to understand Steve’s unbelievable rigor, which he imposed first and most strenuously on himself.

He felt deeply that California was the only place he could live. It’s the slanting evening light on the hills, the palette, the fundamental beauty. In his very soul, Steve was a Californian. He required the liberty it afforded, the clean slate. He worked under the influence, and the inspiration, of the sublimity of the place. He needed to be refreshed by the primal rhythms of the natural world—the land, the hills, the oaks, the orchards. California’s spirit of newness invigorated him, and ratified his own spirit. Its scale is contagious: such natural grandeur is the perfect setting for thinking big. And he did think big. He was the most unfettered thinker I have ever known. It was a deep pleasure, and a lot of fun, to think alongside him.

Like my children, I lost my father when I was young. It was not what I wanted for myself; it is not what I wanted for them. But the sun will set and the sun will rise, and it will shine upon us tomorrow in our grief and our gratitude, and we will continue to live with purpose, memory, passion, and love.”

Excerpt From: Brent Schlender & Rick Tetzeli. “Becoming Steve Jobs.” Crown Business, 2015-03-24. iBooks.
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The Giants win the Pennant, er, the World Series..Again. Say Hey!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

My ignoble or certainly undistinguished naval career began in San Francisco in December of 1974 after temporary assignments to the English Department at Annapolis and for 8 weeks of ‘I can neither confirm nor deny’ weapons training in San Diego. I started-off this service on the wrong foot and, true to form, continued marching in that direction for over four more years. Even when things went right, such as meeting Angela Nardo of the USO for coordination of a ship visit over Halloween ’75 by a couple of frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy, they usually pivoted as when I transferred suddenly to Hawaii having known Angela for only a few months. In the meanwhile, my sister moved to the Bay Area from high school graduation and was left by her brother with a full two weeks of notice, but, hey, I’d just met Angela!

Despite my too brief tour, I’ve felt a kindred spirit with the City and even the East Bay (my turf was Oakland) in ways that I could never relate to the Valley of computer fame even though I’ve returned there numerous times in nearly every job that I’ve held. San Francisco became a special place the minute that I crossed the Bay Bridge upon arrival and remains so every single time that I return. It retains its aura no matter how many Google-ites drift north or how many start-ups root south of Market Street.

Halloween was not the outrageous adult night out in the 1970s that it is today. Really! Sure there were costumes and Trick or Treat parties and M-80s for blasting pumpkins (so I’ve heard) and nothing like the Mardi Gras in October we experience today. Maybe it was because of the malaise that President Carter described. However, Halloween in San Francisco has always been a sort of national holiday except that many visitors cannot distinguish who is in costume and who is not on the other days and months of the year. If I say ‘Castro’ and you know what I mean then you know what I mean. Of course, the other hills, valleys, wharfs, squares and towns of the City have their casts and characters too. If I say ‘Orient Express’ and you know what I mean… same deal.

This is not a homage to the city nor a jaunt down memory lane – well, it is in a way. I think of the Giants and how they won the pennant having been down 0-2 to Cincinnati and 1-3 to the Cardinals. They won three straight versus the Reds (best of 5) and three in a row versus St. Louis before sweeping Detroit in four. Quite the feat for a weak hitting team whose best player was suspended for drug use (steroids) and whose two better pitchers had poor seasons (Lincecum and Zito). I thought that the Joe Montana and Bill Walsh 49ers epitomized the City with their atypical and clever brand of football. Theirs was a system of interchangeable parts making the utmost of the prevailing talent. It must be the air or the water or the Anchor Steam because the Giants play the same way. The pieces fit well together even though the roster of this year’s champions is a reformation from the 2010 Championship team.. the brainy and brawny Buster Posey excepted.

In the end, pitching is what matters and the Giants have plenty to spare. Come on, Lincecum in relief of Zito! Hit that in 36 degrees in Detroit. I’m happy for them and the City and all of their fans who miss its vibe because once you’ve felt it, there is no other place like it. And no matter what your station in life, SF fans are egalitarians. Just ask my buds at the Harris Teeter vegetable section and the Kiehls’s counter at Saks; neither one minds that I’m software sort.

What does this all mean in the bigger picture of modern life? I foresee Obama winning over Detroit Mitt. Not that Chicago is the Bay Area; more that the electorate is out of the mood for smash-mouth politics and related, extravagant spending. I sense that they’d like to see the Obama team pull it together, come from behind to win the election and force the other team to play a more cooperative, more imaginative style of ball the next four seasons.

Quotes read over the weekend

Monday, December 13th, 2010

I enjoy the well-turned phrase and copy them down whenever one appeals to me. I should include them here from time to time. Must be my yearning for a simpler and simple life.

From a NY Times “>review of a just published book of the letters shared between Julie Child and her confidante and collaborator, Avis DeVoto, entitled “As Always, Julia”.
“By the time we develop real taste in food, and begin to learn how to prepare it, digestive disorders set in and weight piles up. When I think what I could have done in my youth, when I ate like a horse with no bad results at all, with the knowledge I’m getting now, I could cry.” AD

From the bottom of an email of a Portland yoga instructor:
Show up
Pay attention
Tell the truth
Let go of the outcome

The safest ship: Leadership. Where fore art thou?

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

BP CEO off to a yacht race amidst the unstoppable mess in the Gulf. Umpires and referees get in the way of a perfect game (Armando Galarraga) and a legitimate game-winnng goal in the World Cup (USA vs Slovena). The indisputable need for restructuring of our financial, health and education systems seems to spiral inconclusively as those charged with our laws and their enforcement behave as though they never thought that their job descriptions really meant how they read. What can one rely on?

As a New Orleanian (Y’at describes us better), Holy Name, Jesuit, Uptown – cue the Krewe of Comus ball theme (ha, not us), I marvel that Hurricane Katrina did not sufficiently impress our nation about the imperative need to take responsibility and to prepare for the suspect and the predictable. So, the gods sent us the disaster-fiasco-crime of the violated Gulf of Mexico with the face of BP, nee the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Now we can add the ugly death of the Gulf’s wetlands to our roster of Staring and Hoping for Painless Change Wrought by Someone Else.

By my count, there are plenty of yellow and red cards to award to many in addition to BP (whose stock at $32/share is a good 3 to 5 year buy in my opinion). Fill out your own list of culprits. My first entry is the jaw-dropping statistic that 30% of our country is medically classified as obese! Consumption of its varied manifestations is bankrupting us in the voyage to early demise. Where to start? Call it the Cheyenne Manifesto of Not Complaining or Blaming until you can answer ‘yes’ to the following:

1. Do you actively manage your health by being active?
2. Do you know the names of your state senator and city council rep?
3. Can you live off of the power grid for 7 to 30 days? In Winter?
4. Do you have enough cash on hand to maintain, as is, the family’s lifestyle for 6 months?
5. Do you know by name the five neighbors on each side of you and across the street?

As I write this diatribe, I realize that those who may read this are not the ones that need to read this. I suppose that the more useful question is:

Are you involved in a program or project at a school, within the community or professional association that provides guidance and example for people who seek to improve themselves?

Leadership is the answer. Followership is the commitment.

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Leadership by example; leadership that insists on common sacrifice for the common good; leadership guided by the belief that we all want to belong to something larger than ourselves. Leadership is neither bullying nor all-accepting.

In 1989 after our small company had made it past the 6 month milestone of survival, we enjoyed a pizza lunch and a motivational video of Lou Holtz. He’s not my hero and what he suggested comes to mind now & again. In essence, if you want people to follow you then they must answer three questions with ‘Yes':

1) Can I trust you? To me, this means are you consistent? Are you sincere in your behavior and words. This is not about predictability of performance.

2) Do you care about me? After Joe Sestak won the PA 7th District Congressional seat in 2006, I asked one of the overworked interns at 2am why the chief of staff got so much out of the temps, interns and lowly paid professionals? He smiled and replied, “he cares about me.”

3) Will you be there when I need you? In my own small world, this is the one that matters most. I value reliability more than any other personal trait.

Another famous naval saying

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Reading about the bankruptcy of Chicago Tribune, the bailout of the Detroit 3… just the bad news which begets more bad news recalls the thinking of our Chief Gunner’s Mate:

When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream & shout.

Willa Cather, Alfred Sloan, Charles Kettering & the Detroit 3

Friday, December 5th, 2008

“All life is lived in that interval between memory and desire.”

Stayed-up to watch replay of the Senate hearings for the automotive bailout. I cheered for the candor of Ron Gettlefinger, President of the Auto Workers Union. The CEOs of Ford, Detroit and Chrysler projected the credibility of, well, used-car salesmen. A sad and saddening spectacle of the once proud engines of our economy, now with a combined market capitalization equal to about 25% of the cash that Apple has on hand, politely threatening the country with a contribution to the financial mess unless we provide $30 billion in hand-outs to forestall briefly their inevitable demise. A long way from the business model innovations of Alfred Sloan and the technical innovations of Charles Kettering.

Four letter word for Prepare

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

Today’s New York Times discussed the deserving election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame by New York Jet great, Joe Klecko. JK was elected to the Pro Bowl in three separate defensive positions and joined Joe Namath and Don Maynard in having his number, 73, retired – the only 3. He got mixed-up in a minor and embarrassing insurance scam which may have prevented earlier selection to the Hall. Joe Klecko was known for his toughness (twice the NCAA heavyweight boxing champ) and his commitment to his teammates.

I’m no longer the football fan that I was once; curiously, neither of my sons shows any interest in pro football. I cracked-up over JK’s comment when addressing a group of young football players recently in Canton, Ohio: “My favorite four-letter word,” he told them, is “prepare.”

Perhaps we should all remember this as we find the bottom and then dig our way and ways out of our economic pit.

A degree of excellence

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I met with the Athletic Director of the Naval Academy recently at a fundraiser. He addressed the incredible financial pressure on our colleges and universities to raise funds for athletic programs to satisfy alumni. Such a vicious cycle. Alums want winners; winning programs require extensive funding; extensive funding requires the support of the alumni.

What made his presentation memorable was his example about excellence. Now that I’ve searched the Web, this particular one is everywhere, but I marvelled when I heard it last month for the first time. He described the difference between “potential energy” and “useful energy” or the distinction between “almost” and “excellence” by describing the increase in temperature required to convert simmering water to steam.

1 Degree. Water at 211 degrees rumbles or simmers or looks active, but cannot be put to use. Increase the temperature by 1 degree to 212 degrees on the Farenheit scale and water boils, creating steam which has innumerable applications.

1 degree separates potential from execution. As we consider the way forward in our lives, our work, even our country, let’s think about improving our performances by 1 degree.