End of an Era

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a retirement party. Not just any, but for my dad. It was a roast, more than anything, with people getting up and telling stories about my dad. It was fun to hear, that’s for sure. Mine is below (as written, anyway), but it wasn’t the best:

For all of you who have ever worked with or for my dad, I apologize. Apparently it was my fault. The year was 1981. It was the end of November, mom was pregnant with me, and apparently I had enough. The story goes that when I was born, dad was home for two weeks and said “screw this, I’m taking that job at Nemer Fieger.”  32 years later, they’re finally kicking him out.
 
For me, it’s pretty inspiring that he’s been there for so long. I work with lots of agencies in town, and when I tell them that my dad has been working at the same agency since I was born, it always surprises them. Luckily, dad never got caught up in the revolving door lifestyle of the rest of the agency world.
 
I’ve got lots of great memories of my dad and Nemer Fieger. My first was probably when dad brought me in – I think on a Saturday – to do some newspaper ads. We cut black tape, and set layouts. Old school style. I remember driving around, looking at billboards and analyzing traffic patterns and seeing what kind of reach the particular placement would get. And then there was Ad League Softball. Dad was the pitcher – that way he didn’t have to run around so much. I also remember working down in the basement with the graphics folks, hawking pies for Baker’s Square, freezing my fingers off giving away Blue Bunny ice cream, and sweating like crazy in a ridiculous Car X Bluebird mascot suit, or being Tom Thumb on the back of a pick up truck. Some of that time I actually got paid, too.
 
But my point of all of this is simple. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where my father always had a job. Always. Looking back on it all now makes me realize how rare and wonderful that is. I’ve only been a father for about five years and I’ve already worked for two different companies. My move to the Foundation though was inspired by my dad’s tenacity and his unending desire to take care of us kids. Having kids, I realized the advantages of working hard during the day….and coming home and having a drink….but most importantly, making my kids feel neither poor, nor rich. Saying no is just as important as saying yes. And for that, I’m grateful. But now I’m actually more excited. I’ve got tons of memories of dad at Nemer Fieger, but I am more excited for the memories that we get to make with more time together. Plus, that’s one more babysitter in my corner, and with three kids, we need all the help we can get.
 
Nemer Fieger folks, thanks for putting up with him for so long, but I’m selfishly happy and have been waiting eagerly for this day.
 
Dad, relax for once. It’ll be fine….

 
The best speech though? Sorry everyone,  a four year old kicked our asses.
 

Grandpa. Um. I love you.

 
Yep. Good job, Lucy. You win.
 
But the biggest surprise? We snuck my brother back home from New York. He brought his tenor, and arranged to have a drummer and bassist with him. It was great to have him home (albeit extremely brief), but it was wonderful to hear him play. It’s been awhile.
 
In the end, dad’s 32 year stint at Nemer Fieger is coming to an end, and we’re all excited for what is next. (And, if anyone wants to hire a 32 year veteran of marketing, I’m sure he’ll get bored shortly.)
 
Best of luck dad, and Lucy is right: we all love you.
 
-Matt

Brewing Better Ideas

Crazy ideas. That’s what drives me.

And beer. Particularly brewing beer.

Oh and the intersection where retail meets technology.

And my family.

Ok a lot of things.

Hence this post.

Last Father’s Day, my wife retained her throne as “best wife”. She took me to a home brew class, and we bought a kit. It’s one of those things that you think is a cheap hobby, and then you realize how much better you could do it with XYZ. But it’s ok, because it’s “cheaper” than buying a case of craft beer. It was an awesome experience that did exactly what it was supposed to do – make me buy stuff.

And that’s where it started.

I could talk about brewing for awhile, but that’s not what this post is about. The only tip I have for you when it comes to brewing, is don’t try to tell your wife you sanitized the bottles when you know you forgot to….

At any rate, Northern Brewer is poised for an excellent opportunity for growth, and some fun ways to do so.

Right now, they have three locations: two in the Twin Cities, and one in Milwaukee. Not a bad start, but craft beer is exploding right now all across the US. Brewing at home is a nice little tag-along for those of us who want to be better beer snobs, too. Northern also has a pretty good web presence, and I imagine their distribution does well out of their Roseville warehouse.

My guess is that the next step by default is to move to new markets. Chicago, Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, somewhere in Vermont, Boulder, Austin, and then probably the big cities like New York and LA. Big cities are hard though, but I’ve got an idea about that in a bit. With the expanded location base, some math should be done about if having a higher level of inventory at the retail locations is worth it. Why? Because each one could also be a mini distribution center for the online sales.

Plus, now a days, everyone is getting on the “order online and pick up in store” bandwagon. And why not? Multichannel sales is the next step for retail. Just look at Apple – they changed with their most recent head of retail hire, but it went mostly unnoticed. Angela Ahrendts left being CEO of Burberry to be Vice President of Retail and Online Stores. Notice that last little bit? She’s in charge of every place you can buy an Apple product – online or in person. Time to make them work together.

And with this fun expansion, how on earth do you control the growth? For a “grocery” store, the technology part is always the most challenging. Which is why you make it a store-in-a-box. Build the standard network (yet independent of connectivity type), hardware and software, box it all up, and send an installer to get the work done. Make the systems cloud based (and remain PCI compliant, of course), so that the reliance on internal systems are minimal. iPads as POS systems work great. Why? Because if/when one breaks, I bet you’re close to an Apple Store that can swap it out, or have a spare ready. It’s still cheaper than a standard NCR or other traditional POS system, and expanding the number of terminals is drastically cheaper than the traditional model. You skip out on all the fun wired networking, gain flexibility on physical location choices, and the hardware spend is less.

But, don’t be stupid. You’re relying on good connectivity as the backbone, so don’t fuck it up. Build in back ups. There are perfect branch routers that have the ability to provide 3G/4G failover for when the main connectivity goes down. Cheap. Effective. And, a requirement if you ask me. Also? Backup power, a good app developer and a management platform that gives you the ability to remotely support your end users easily. Wait. Check that. An excellent app developer who is truly your partner.

Sidebar – I went to a great liquor store (apparently my world does revolve around beer) that has a ton of craft stuff, and a build your own six pack that is beyond compare. But, they lost their internet connection while I was shopping, so it was a cash-only moment. I can’t remember the last time I had cash on me. So, I put my bottles back and was quite bummed. The store lost my $20, along with at least three other customers that I saw walk out.

But beyond mere physical expansion to “craft beer cities”, there are some other ways to more fully develop the home brew culture.

I’m pretty lucky to work with some amazingly interesting folks, and it helps keep me thinking about solutions and how randomness sometimes aligns.

When I started brewing at home, my wife happily participated. She still does. But, my two little kids want to help too. And my basement isn’t exactly temperature controlled. And my sink isn’t the best for the massive amounts of use it gets on brew days. And time without disturbing it is hard in our small house.

What’s amazing is we live in a nice little suburb, in a decent house, not unlike most other home brewers.

But then there’s my brother. He started brewing years before I did, but he lives in what I assume is a typical New York City place. There isn’t the luxury of our yards, storage space, but they have their (far superior) mass transit.

So what the hell am I talking about? A recent trend in small business and the startup community is working cooperative spaces. CoCo is a great example of it in the Minneapolis area. They have hundreds of members – some are individuals, some are teams, but they get to use shared resources like internet, printing, physical office space, and the ever important power of collaboration through happenstance.

Now take that idea, apply it to brewing, and put it in a densely populated area. Imagine a warehouse where you could rent space to brew, and rent controlled storage. For you brewers out there, how sweet would it be to have a lager room? It’d also potentially lower the cost of entry for folks to try brewing. You have your brew session, move it into the fermenting room(s), come back for second fermenting, or take advantage of a shared bottling line. Northern could also have “emergency supplies” vended at the location, so if you’re an idiot like me and constantly forget priming sugar, then you pay a premium, but you can get the job done without a trip elsewhere. Plus, shared cleaning locations, high powered gas burners, shared wort chillers, kettles, and anything that you’d need. Sure you can bring your own, or you can rent what you’d like.

Lets not forget the community part, too. My wife and I chat with my brother about brewing, but it’d be awesome if we could talk to someone who was also brewing at the same time and get their ideas. And part of that community is the responsibility for not being idiots and cleaning the crap out of everything. It’d also provide an excellent venue for more workshops, home brew tasting competitions, and who knows what else.  Staff it daily from 10-7, and provide extended hours for those who want to pay for premium access.

There are probably a thousand ways to do it, but a cooperative home brew location would be something I’d love to see.

Oh, and one more thing. Why aren’t home brew carboys made out of brown glass? Light = bad, right?

Then again, Minnesotans can’t even buy beer on Sundays.

 

The Impossibe and Unplausible

I was merely a spectator in this sad story, but even as such, find it nearly impossible to believe.

My wife and I met Sam and Jason awhile ago. They were acquaintances from the Twitter and Instagram worlds first, but OMG we met IRL and became BFFs at a BYOB BBQ. (Yes, that was as horrid to write, as much as it was horrid for you to read.) They’re transplants from Vermont, and most of their families are still there. They don’t have a connection to Minnesota, other than their newer friends, and Jason’s job.

They’re wonderful folks, and Mary (my wife) and I were thrilled when we heard they were pregnant. We have two little girls – a three year old and a one year old, so the more of our friends who are having kids, the more they understand how little of a life we have right now. Having kids is an absolute blessing that I wouldn’t trade for anything, but folks without kids don’t always realize the craziness that ensues. We were excited, because Sam and Jason were ready for that chaos – regardless if they knew it themselves or not. (Pro tip: you never think you’re ready, just get over it.)

They were kind enough to stop by a few weeks ago and help us prepare for our youngest’s first birthday party. Twisting craft paper, and making little gift bags was the task, and everyone was happy to be doing it. That’s cause they’re awesome. Jason spent time watching the girls (no easy task), while Sam put her craftiness to work – at about 8 months pregnant.

As with everyone around that time of a pregnancy, they seemed nervously excited at the prospect of their little girl being born very soon. It was an exciting time.

That was about a week and a half ago now.

But last week, I got a phone call that I never wanted to get.

Now, my job is such that I tend to ignore my wife as I’m invariably busy. I know she’s reading this, so I know I’m in the doghouse, but it is what it is. That’s why on the rare occasion when she calls, I know something is up.

I was at CoCo Minneapolis giving a tour to one of our vendors of their amazing space. My phone rang, and like I said, my wife knows not to call unless it’s an emergency, so I answered.

I couldn’t understand. There was too much crying. Too much sadness. Too much. After a short bit, it finally came through that Sam and Jason were at the hospital, because at 8 1/2 months, little Alice had lost her heart beat.

My heart sunk.

Those around me stared, as they knew something horrible had just been reported.

Now whether it be good or bad, my chaos management went into effect. Although my wife could hardly really be understood, we decided that it was time to call my parents and see if they could watch the girls so Mary could do what she does best – be there. Naturally, my parents are awesome and had no hesitation to do their part.

The things that followed were incredibly difficult to comprehend – including no real understanding behind why such a travesty occurred. No more than a day later, Alice was still-born, and the grieving went beyond comprehension.

I’m not going to share much more, but know that there are two things you can do. A collective of friends (and strangers) have put together a website where you can shop various goods that were donated, and all the proceeds go to Sam and Jason’s unexpected costs – including travel to and from Vermont for them, and their parents. Anything that is raised above and beyond the expenses will be donated to an organization that I wish didn’t have to exist. They’re called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and they do the unthinkable. They photograph the children of these tragedies and help document their memories.

We’ve been chugging along on the site: http://alice-was-here.org and it should be up in full swing Monday (hopefully), with more vendors donating all the time. Interested in donating your goods/services to raise money for Sam and Jason? Shoot a note to info@alice-was-here.org

Most of all, send them love and prayers, and once the site is up, do some shopping. You know you want to.

I am an idiot.


I am an idiot.

That’s the best I can explain it.

 

I say I’m an idiot because I have no idea what the hell is going on anymore. Granted, it’s not like I was a genius previously, but Friday helped me realize that I have no idea how certain things happen.

 

I don’t mean physics. I get that.

 

I don’t mean computers. I get those.

 

I don’t mean how to survive (and be happy) with two crazy little girls under three years old. Because believe it or not, I get that.

 

What I don’t get is how someone can do such ultimate horror that happened in Connecticut. I have a few questions, but I don’t think any of us have answers.

 

Here’s what I do know though:

 

1. Today’s journalists (in general) suck.

 

“THIS HAPPENED AND I TOLD YOU FIRST! HAHAHAHAH! I WIN!!”

 

No no. That’s not how it should work. I agree with a good Op-Ed piece at Mashable posted yesterday night: http://mashable.com/2012/12/14/ct-shootings-media-judgement-and-the-public-trust/ Instead of news, we get showboats who want to be on TV, but have to find something to talk about. Too much time is spent with hair and makeup, and not enough on ethics and, you know, reporting.

 

As some of you know though, you can call bullshit on me. I haven’t had TV service for about two years – maybe things have changed in that time. Maybe. Plus, I don’t know anything about journalism. My B.A. from the U of M came from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Totally different.

 

Television, and some online journalism has failed us as of late. Sensationalism breeds more thoughts about how to be sensational, but we’re focusing on the wrong end of the spectrum. There need to be more shows like Extreme Makeover Home Edition (save some of the sponsors), and less variations of CSI Nowhereville.

 

2. Healthcare in America needs reform.

 

I don’t mean about how batshit crazy everything costs (although, that’s a different conversation). What I mean is how we have historically seen mental healthcare and counseling. Seriously people, you need help. Not just a few of you. Every one of you. We all do. There should be no reason why we can’t all be OK with getting some help, guidance, and counseling. We look to professionals about law, physical medicine, technology, our hair style, damn near everything. Why are we so scared to get help for the most important part of our life- our Self?

 

Again, feel free to call bullshit. But alas, I have gotten help, and I’m 100% ok talking about it. As Zoey Bartlett once said, “The help helps”.

 

3. Education needs a much bigger investment.

 

If for one second you read that as “we need to buy our teachers Kevlar and outfit the schools with metal detectors”, then you are missing my point. What I’m talking about isn’t investing in our schools – but Education. We need to spend more time being smarter, and making our kids smarter than us. My biggest accomplishment in life will be the moment (and I know there will be two) where my girls look at me, and I realize that they’re smarter than I am. I’m sure they’ll be stronger, faster, and better at sports, too (not a big challenge on that front), but I am looking forward to them being smarter. That starts with what we teach them – in school, and at home.

 

4. Guns are neither an answer, or a question.

 

And if anyone says they’re the solution, I disagree.

 

Personally, I’d like to take half of our defense spending budget and move it to healthcare and education. Take half our troops, or the National Guard or Reserves, and make them more akin to civil servants than weekend warriors. Take their immense talent and let them build things. They become some of the best potential employees, but often aren’t given the chance due to lacking equivalent civil schooling. Someone can be an Army medic, but upon return, they are qualified on paper to be a school nurse, or if they’re lucky, an EMT. These people do amazing things, and the systems in place prove to be hindering transitions. By altering their duties to be more balanced with more civilian jobs, hopefully we’ll not only gain their talents at home, but also help them transition if their tours end.

 

So yes. Cut the military in half. All of it. It will save (and cost) us greatly. But we need change. WHAT ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY? What about it? We should be a nation that other nations love, not others fear. Take those jobs “lost”, and build a government-sponsored set of programs to actually DO things. Build better roads, parks, arts programs, medical practices and….schools. If we get attacked by another country, well, I guarantee we’ll have an Army of volunteers the next day.

 

But think of this: What if we were the nation that did not NEED a military?

 

As for the wonderful little Second Amendment, I’ll say something that hopefully others feel, but don’t necessarily want to say. I really don’t care about it. I think the founding fathers were geniuses of their time. I’m tired of people being more concerned with being popular politicians, always eying the next chair, instead of doing their job – being geniuses. Figure it out. That’s why you got the job. I think private citizens owning guns isn’t a big deal. But I’ll tell you this. I never want one. I want the protection that it instills, but fuck if I ever have to fire one. My closest encounter was paintball, and as fun as it was, it was a game. I’m not a hunter, but I can understand why people do it. I’m not a range-shooter, but I understand why people do it. I am not trained for it, and I firmly believe that there are very few people who should own guns. If someone does, then it’s training – both physical, and emotional. I may be physically capable of firing a gun, but I am not emotionally able to take someones life – even in defense. Even in defense of my two girls. I would beg, and plead, that it be me instead of them, but even if I killed someone defending my angels, I’m not sure how I’d be able to live with myself.

 

5. Stop hurrying.

 

Everything I’ve talked about above takes time. Answers take time to get to the public about what happened. Healthcare is (almost) worse than taxes when it comes to full-fledged reform, but the mindset of being help-able will take even longer. The investment we make in education won’t be seen by our kids, but maybe our grandkids. But in turn, maybe those grandkids will be the ones big enough to stand up and say that we don’t need a military, we need a country.

 

We all want things to change rapidly. I’d love it if that were possible, but this is a long game, and we’re merely pawns moving one tile our entire life. Make it a good move, but set up the next player.

 

 Maybe someday I’ll stop being an idiot, but honestly, I just hope my kids are smarter.

Baby June. My Version.

My wife posted a very moving and wonderful rendition of our newest family members birth.

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how I remember it.

Let’s rewind a bit. When my wife let me know we were pregnant again, naturally I was very excited. My first thoughts of it however were very different than hers. She thought “Hey! I want a photographer there, so we can remember it forever!” To which I responded (in my head) “there are some images that will always haunt me, why on earth would I want an actual copy of it?”

At any rate, I’ll spare you the in between for now, but 9 months later, and just ovet two weeks ago, baby June was born.

7lbs, 3oz, 20 inches long.

At 7:33 am.

Yeah, that’s right. 7:33am. If you’ve had kids before, or know someone who has, or really just paid attention during sex ed class, you’d know that labor isn’t generally a short process.

It was a Sunday, and we woke up, made breakfast and tried to figure out our plan for the day. My wife wanted to go see The Hunger Games, and I was honestly too exhausted to care. So after breakfast, we thought we’d get ready slowly and give it a whirl. After all, we weren’t due for another two weeks.

Now, around 8-9am, I noticed that Mary was wincing about every 9 or 10 minutes. “Ah shit. Pack the bags, and especially the iPhone charger” I thought.

With our first daughter, it was about four hours of labor, then about 15 of pushing and active labor. The doctors (and our mothers) all warned us that it’d go faster this time around, so “don’t be stupid” is what I think I was told at one point. Naturally, I wanted to NOT have a baby in the house or in the car, so I encouraged Mary to move a little faster (BAD idea and impossible – gentleman, take note). And thinking that we were going to the hospital, of course she wanted to take a shower and shave her legs. Who wouldn’t?

My wife claims my distain for having a kid at home was to protect the hardwood or our furniture. Surely, if you’ve ever visited our house, you’d realize that the floors need an excuse to be refinished, and I’d be happy to reupholster about 99% of our furniture. I just know I’m no Doogie Houser and pass out at the side of blood. Yeah, having a baby at home sounds like a wonderful idea – just not for us.

So shortly after she was able to clean herself up a bit, my mom who was awesomely on-call, showed up.

Now, to be fair, I did make Mary sit on a towel in the Jeep. ‘Cause it’s the Jeep. Even with the big dent by one of the wheels (thanks, Wells Fargo ATM post), it has a better interior than our house some days.

So we scurried to the hospital, to arrive at my favorite time. It was “you can’t park at the ER door because there aren’t any spots, it’s time for the ramp you have to pay for” time. We parked the car, walked up to PETU. PETU stands for something about Pre-labor, but all I remember is that it’s called PETU in my phone’s address book.

We got there, and contractions decided to continue to be around 7-8 minutes apart. Thinking that we were having a baby shortly (mind you, it’s about 11am on Sunday), I sent a text to Mandy of Glimpses of Soul Photography. She was who Mary wanted to take pictures of the whole shebang, and me being a good husband, chose not to argue. Mandy was waiting for the call, and ready to go whenever we told her, she was about 15 minutes away. I waited a bit to see how things were going to progress. And waited.

Fast forward about four hours, and it was decided to move us out of PETU and into a Labor and Delivery room. That was fine with me. I knew from previous experience that they had better chairs.

Making the move, we decided to let Mandy know, and invite her to join us. We thought it’d be no time. Holy crap were we wrong.

Mary was uncomfortable – who wouldn’t be – so our nurse ran a bath, and thought it would help her relax a bit. Boy howdy did it. I kid you not, she fell asleep between contractions.

Guys, think about this. Go do something so intense for about 30-45 seconds (every six or seven minutes) that you fall asleep between each moment of intense action. It’s insane. And honestly, fairly comical to watch – but do not laugh. That will end poorly.

Unfortunately for us though, Baby June really liked her time in the tub. So much so that the contractions slowed significantly.

So we waited. And hoped. And starved. When you go to the hospital to have a baby, they don’t feed you until after you have the baby for fear of nausea and vomit. Trying to be the empathetic husband, I said I wasn’t going to eat until she could. She was starving. I was starving. And I was just being stupid.

Then, an epiphany.

Sort of.

The nurse told me that Pizza Lucé delivers to the hospital, and they’re open till 2a for deliveries.

So, if you’re keeping track, we got to the hospital around 11am, moved rooms to L&D around 3ish, and I finally caved (as per Mary’s insistence) and ordered a pizza at about midnight. We’d been there 11 hours at that point. Mandy, who with every passing moment grew more appreciative and respected, had been there for seven hours.

Photographers take note. Imagine a wedding shoot where absolutely nothing happens for about seven hours while you’re there, and the ceremony still isn’t in sight. Crazy.

Speaking of food though, Mary was starving and at some point our nurse realized that the rate of contractions was not quick enough to have the threat of immediate active labor offered her some food. For some reason, Mary had a hankering for some peanut butter toast. The nurse oblidged kindly.

About 30 minutes later, as predicted, I was holding Mary’s hair back as she tried throwing up said toast into a wastebasket on the floor.

Now at this point, I hope you realize how different my wife’s beautiful story is from mine. But there’s an important correlation. Both tell the same story, and that story continues and culminates only a few hours later (ok, another seven hours).

At about 7am, after a long night sleeping on and off (on a window sill bench – pro-tip: fathers bring your own pillow, even if you go in at 11am), we could tell sweet baby June was fed up.

Within about a half hour, the number of people in our room quadrupled wearing all sorts of protective gear. I swear, one was wearing a clear visor that reminded me somewhat of a hockey mask.

Mary had an incredible urge to push. With every urge, I lost a little bit of feeling in my arm. Her nails dug deep, and pulled me as close as possible. I know that my level of pain was a fraction of hers, but another pro-tip for fathers: wear long sleeves and never complain about how much it may hurt.

Now at this point, my wife turned from the in-pain-sane woman into what could only be described as one of the scariest versions of my wife I have ever seen.

Gentleman, you’ll get yelled at during your marriage. But nothing compares to that of child birth. Sure, it is loud, but it’s the deep, from the gut, “I WANT THIS THING OUT OF ME” and “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT” that are the hardest to bear.

Lucky for me, it only lasted a few passing moments.

And during that time, at some point, every father must feel that little sense of scared-relief. A moment in time where you realize that it’s really happening. Something impressively awesome is about to occur. And even though it scares the shit out of you, knowing that it is truly partly your fault makes you feel amazing.

Our daughter, Tigger Two, The Moose, Baby June was born at 7:33am on Monday the 26th. She was healthy, mom was healthy, dad was happy. There’s no greater joy I have than writing this post, because as comical as it may be, having kids is more Magical and Revolutionary than any iDevice in existence.

I love my wife. I love my Lucy. I love my June. All in no particular order.

Anyone want a cat, though?

The SOPA Effect

Well today was an interesting day.

I tried to do my part, but there were several who did some really creative things. Wired, Google, Reddit, and The Oatmeal.  Several local local companies showed their frustrations on their sites, Twitter, or Facebook.

 

 

 

For those uninitiated, you should check out @herpderpedia It’s a hilarious curation of content that is from folks who didn’t know what was going on.

But if you’re looking for content on the Why, check out http://mashable.com

The bottom line is this:

We need to keep it up.

There have been 13 Senators that no longer support the current bills.  But we have short attention spans.

No matter your politics, I beg of you to pay attention. To participate. To vote and be heard. Social media and the internet (as it sits today) is a place to be heard, but alo a place to read. Don’t be afraid of typing more than 140 characters; but know it can start there.

Don’t just do this for politics – make it part of what you do.

Want to succeed at work? Participate. Want to have safer roads? Drive better. Want to write a book? Start typing. Want to have a better relationship? Pay attention.

No more bullshit. No more excuses. As Nike says, Just Do It.

An Unrequired Thanksgiving Post

Today is Thanksgiving.

Usually, that means we gather with family to celebrate life and those most important to us.

Today, that is not the case.

My wife and daughter have been sick the last few days, and are far from 100%. Instead of visiting with our family as generally prescribed, we thought it prudent to stay home and wallow in our puke-pails.

Today, we find what thanks is all about.

We may not be with our family, but it is when we realize that we are without, that we are more thankful for what we have. Both my wife’s and my parents are still actively involved in our lives. We’ve been given the gift of a daughter, and another child on the way. We have a cat whom I hate, but sometimes love. We have a house, employment that is enjoyable, friends that are indispensable, and the internet. For these things we realize today that each are more important than we think.

Being without family today is hard, but realizing that we are never without family makes it worth it.

I am thankful today (and every day) for:

A wife who puts up with me, feeds me, listens to me, loves me, and helps to inspire my creativity (whatever that reveals itself as). She puts up with my sarcasm, and provides me with enough great stories for a book (….hint). Without her, I have no idea what I would do.

The opportunity to be a jungle gym for our daughter. She surprises me every day. She is now two and I have no idea how that happened. She talks (yells), laughs, gives kisses, and throws the best temper tantrums. She could be the worst child and it wouldn’t matter. Luckily for us, she is the best child.

Family who constantly support us. They’ve always been available, loving and willing to bend the world for us. What is amazing is their ability to actually do so. Repeatedly. 

Friends. You make me laugh. You make me laugh at myself. No matter how long it has been between get-togethers, it always seems like yesterday.

Pixar movies. Without you, I would not stay sane. (Except Cars 2. I’m not sure about that one yet.)

Squirt bottles. Without you, I think the cat may have had a trip to “the farm”.

And of course, the Internet. Because, honestly, who doesn’t love it?

Thus far, our day has entailed half of a bag of goldfish crackers poured onto the carpet, a bobby-pin that “might” have been swallowed, the first attempt at a home cooked turkey, Cars 2, and Lucy helping the cat escape through the window (yes, the window).

I wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. May you be healthy, happy and hopeful that your team wins.

 

Today Becomes Tomorrow

Today became the tomorrow that we didn’t want to admit.

Today we move forward without the underdog who perennially came out on top.

We move forward knowing that the world is a better place than it was, that our lives have been changed, and that one person can truly impact billions.

In 2004, I was fresh out of college and looking for a job in the advertising or marketing industry of Minneapolis. I was engaged to be married, and trying to be an adult. Unfortunately, my fiancee at the time and I parted ways after years of being together and it absolutely devastated me. My life had changed in a day, and would never be the same.

And I’m ok with that.

I made one of the hardest choices of my life. I needed a job to pay for the apartment lease that I had just signed. I had spent some time as a graphic designer, but the options I had were an internship in the ad world, or look elsewhere.

I told myself that I would never work retail.

And then I did. Sort of.

My first day at the new job let me know that I had made the right choice. When signing my paperwork, the market manager asked me my email address, and I almost started to cry. My now ex-fiancee at the time and I had a domain and that was my primary email address. Amazingly, even though he was far up the food chain from me, showed compassion and great personal leadership. I found a new home, and it quickly became a life saver. As a part time employee, I made friends, I kept busy, and I got good at what we did. What we did wasn’t sell stuff. What we did was try and change the world. And we did. We weren’t in retail, we worked for Apple.

More than anything, I owe Apple everything. In my near seven years, the most important thing I got from Apple was not the iPod, a Mac, or even my iPhone. It was the friends that I made; the passionate beings that wanted to change the world.A few years ago, I met a wonderful coworker. She became my wife, and is also a fantastic mother of our daughter, with Part Deux on the way. I could not be happier. Period. It expands beyond my store(s). My brother was able to get a job at Apple retail out in New York City – where he met his wife, and absolutely changed their lives.

Yesterday, we lost our icon.

My friends, family, and strangers mourn the loss of a CEO. The President himself acknowledged the impact of the man, and the company.

I am happy to say I worked for him. I am happy to say it changed my life. I am happy to say thank you. Period.

There are hundreds of Steve Quotes making their way around the internet (and offline). There are millions of memories and posts similar to my own out there.

My plea is this. That we instead of merely quoting him and hoping that someone else follows through stops.

Now, more than ever, our country, our world, and even our families, need us to Do. Without compromises, without sacrifices, we must Do and Be.

My plea is to trust your gut, follow your heart, and chance the world in your own right.

Steve Jobs did miraculous things for us all. Not because he wanted to, but because he needed to. He pleaded with the world to change for the better, and we did.

At Apple, it wasn’t about profitability or bottom lines. Those goals were universally met by doing what was Right. I had the great pleasure of taking care of millions of customers, and hundreds of my employees. Not with threats or metrics, but with inspiration and vision. It will universally be true that successful leadership was determined by this.

In remembering the past, I look forward to the future. There are great leaders in the world, both inside and out of technology. No one can replace Steve Jobs, but that’s because no one should.

It’s time to stop doing to do, and Be. Chase your heart and fail; that is the greatest success.

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.