I will admit it, I miss a great many of the people I have worked with. I like to think this has more to do with the quality of people I’ve worked with the past seven years and not me going all mushy and soft in the head because I can count on one hand the people I miss prior to this timeframe.
It must be epidemic in Silicon Valley because like most I know, I have worked with a lot of really genuinely terrible people over the years, people I would never return emails from or link up with or God forbid, accept their overtures on my FaceBook because they have the gall to approach me after backstabbing, lying, cheating, abusing and behaving in what I would consider a morally bankrupt manner. After cancer, one of the gifts I gave myself is that I will never again deal with toxic people.And I’ve noticed that there is an adverse mathematical formula going on here in high tech.It goes something like this: the more gainfully employed someone is who makes hiring decisions, the more inept and snarky people in high tech suddenly like you and often relentlessly pursue you.And this is particularly true of people who treated you abominably in the past. I am constantly surprised by the downright awful people who email me demanding that I set up interviews for them inside my Company, expecting my time, my support, my contacts and all when I just don’t believe its good business to hire people who have suddenly lost both their memories and good sense.I remain perplexed and amazed at the sheer number of people who seem to have lost their minds.Had I ever done someone wrong or behaved badly as I seem to recall them all having done, I know I would never have the nerve to approach them and basically demand they fix my life by getting me a job.But then again, I’ve never treated peers, colleagues or co-workers poorly so there you go. And you can bet not one of them reached out to me when I got cancer; I was of no use to them then.Now is another story but then?It was as if I had the plague.Cancer teaches you who has your back, that’s for sure.
But fast forward to the past seven years when I’ve had the good fortune to work with some really stellar people.Invariably, people move on to new challenges in their careers so that’s why I miss AC The Brit because of his dry, acerbic wit and his ability to nail the nature of people with a few words or less.He was a blast to travel with and kinder than anything when I got sick.I miss AG for his manly, strong and respectful style, such a straight shooter.I always felt safe around him.I miss BF for his unfailing adherence to the truth, no matter the cost.I miss RL for his sunny disposition and party boy naughty though AC The Brit will would certainly take umbrage with that statement because RL often made a habit of marooning AC The Brit on the shores of distant Asia, in the middle of Xian or Chengdu nowhere without so much as transport to the hotel and this when AC The Brit did not speak a lick of Mandarin.I know this all too well because once I left an actual executive meeting to take a call from a once-again marooned AC The Brit some 7,500 miles away just so he could vent about RL, YET AGAIN, leaving him stranded.I managed to find RL’s admin who got AC The Brit where he needed to be but this was an established pattern; RL begging AC The Brit to dance a technical tango for a much in need customer and AC The Brit doing just that and as his reward, RL totally forgetting that he’d made and changed all of AC The Brit’s travel plans with AC The Brit left stranded in a country where, if he was not the tallest person, he was certainly in the top five.I therefore miss the various and innovative ways that AC The Brit used to vow to me that he would be killing RL.Who says technical guys can’t be creative?And it goes without saying that I got very good at convincing AC The Brit that China often played fast and loose with the death penalty for foreigners.Just sayin’, mate.
I still am lucky enough to be working with some really great people mind you but I miss the ones who have moved on, even the ones who have not yet started to sorely miss the work family they left behind.Yes, CD, I mean you buddy even if you don’t miss us all yet, you will.I miss Martha a lot too. As it happens, she used to work for me and finally, after two tours of hazardous duty, nearly 11 years into my personal work war zone, she spread her wings and moved on.Martha could have written her own high tech version of The Hurt Locker for the quantity of metaphorical bombs we diffused over the years. Her leaving about broke my heart just as I was bursting with pride that she had done so well for herself.She had not left me when I was very ill and going through chemo though I was later to discover that she had an offer on the table at the time and could have, should have, gone.But she put my needs above her own and I felt it was high time she rectify that situation.And as I said, I was so proud.
I also miss the best boss I ever had, ML and lawyer and dear friend (yes, even a lawyer can be a friend, people) Vince and funny yet so unappreciated for his wit RC and that guy from Scotland, GC, who is so admirably tighter with a buck than I could ever hope to be and little Mike V. whom my team used to feed and darling Stephanie and Ralf whom I still drag to lunch when our schedules permit and SB the Other Brit whom I totally miss for his wit and insight and calm demeanor and oh so many more.I miss them all, they are all very good and decent people and hey, guys, you left ME, remember?So, I get it, business is business so yeah, no whining but yes, let’s have lunch.
And this is what comes from coming to care for the people you work with, a situation in snarky, high tech Silicon Valley that I will grant you, continues to be all too rare.This is where everyone is too busy sponging up every scrap of dirt about Steven Jobs, envying that they are not Steven Jobs and bitter to their untalented, devious cores because they will never be Steven Jobs.Jobs is another cancer survivor as it turns out, and a guy who has taken a medical leave of absence.Finally.Dude, about time, aren’t you just exhausted?I get weary just reading the gushing, insipid natterings from the newspapers about you.How must it be to be you?I once got to meet the Jobs The Inspiring, as it turns out.I was at a Whole Foods in Palo Alto, California, and Jobs was actually ahead of me in line, buying eggs of all mundane things. Honest, I could not make this up if I tried.Dressed in his trademark jeans and snug black tee, the clerk about had a heart attack and promptly dropped his eggs, spattering yoke all over the place.He smiled at me apologetically and I offered to hold his place in line.He literally ran to the back of the store to get more eggs, bought them, thanked me and left while the entire store held it’s collective breath at the site of such down-to-earth, genius-in-the-flesh who was, from what I could tell, simply doing a domestic errand.Yes, genius buys eggs.Jobs The Inspiring.
This was before either of us fought cancer and I confess I was charmed and a bit more than star struck though we shared but a baker’s dozen in words.
I have followed Jobs since and not because he’s such a compelling figure in business and has personally changed the very landscape of high tech and how we entertain ourselves which he certainly has.I follow and keep mental track of him because he’s a cancer survivor and I am simply rooting for the guy.Yes, yes, he probably got a coveted place at the top of an organ transplant list because of his wealth, celebrity and talent but sometimes, that’s a good thing.The world needs a few more Steven Jobs to spread their brilliance around while the Casey Anthonies of the world should just crawl back into a hole of filth, pain, obscurity and misery.Sometimes, there is just no justice, but recall readers, that OJ got his in the end so there is always hope I suppose.
So, Jobs sticking around, even on medical leave, is a very hopeful thing, in spite of the incessant slobbering and fawning of so many in the media.I like to see somebody so deserving beat the odds, each and every time.Betty Ford did, she beat cancer and lived to the ripe old age of 92, not bad for someone who also fought addiction demons.And I thought I got screwed when I was diagnosed with cancer.I have only to remember the wit and strength of one Betty Ford to realize that fate could have dealt me a far worse hand.I may still have to wrap my torso like an 11th century Chinese concubine but there are far worst things I could be saddled with.
And not missing the people who have worked with would be one of those things.So, while I miss all those guys, I’m content knowing that I am better for having known them all, each and every one of them.I hope Jobs feels the same about at least some of the people he’s worked with over the years.If so, he should count himself blessed, a word I don’t often use.Though I’m betting AC The Brit counts himself pretty blessed now that RL is no longer mucking with his travel arrangements.