I’ve been doing business for over 40 years and in that time, I’ve heard a butt load of interesting quotables… some of them valuable, some of them foolish, and some of them humorous. So I’m about to unload them on you in no particular order. You can decide for yourself the difference between the useful and the foolish.
- Speaking Truth to Power – A former boss was working with a group of Microsoft engineers in the 90s. They weren’t in their 90s the decade was in the 90s. Anyway, as he was describing a technology he wanted Microsoft to incorporate into the operating system, Bill Gates walked in. Bill started asking questions, and my former boss (FB) would answer. Bill continued to ask the same question in a different way multiple times. This went on repeatably until FB finally said to Bill, “Listen, Mr. Gates, I can explain it to you… but I can’t understand it for you.” Needless to say that technology never was incorporated into the Micorosft OS.
- Predicting the Future – Another Gates Story and this time featuring a former Board Member, the late, John Sidgemore. John was the CEO of UUNet, which he built to be the largest internet provider, made big by becoming the backbone of Microsofts failed, AOL competitor, MSN. While negotiating with Gates, Gates told Sidgemore that eventually, the Internet will be free. Sidgemore’s reply? “Eventually Bill, software will be free.” Anyone ever use Google Docs or Google Sheets?
- Can I Have A Mulligan – I’m in a product demonstration at the State Department. It’s a million-dollar deal at a time when a million dollars can buy a lot of gum. We hit traffic on the way due to rain. We’re twenty minutes late. As we walk to the building we get soaking wet, and when we finally begin the demo, five minutes in, the system crashes. Sales guy looks up at the sky and says, “Thank you God for not saving anything until next time.”
- Pushing The Edge of the Envelope – The year is 1980, I’m demonstrating a new-fangled invention, a word processor. The word processor is the precursor to the PC. It’s an $18K microprocessor-based single-use word processor. A Lexitron, the first word processor with a CRT screen. At the end of the demo, one of the clients asked if the screen is a danger due to radiation. Remember, CRT screens are relatively groundbreaking at the time. My reply, “Well we have several women who work with us, and in fact two of them were pregnant. When they delivered their babies, one child had no head and the other had two… so on average they were normal kids.” Hey, I was a kid, and I did get the business.
- The Nature of Work – A former boss, Chuck, told me about his summer job, he was working as a landscape supervisor, laying sod in the south. It was hot and the workers were working pretty slow. Chuck, got off the truck and started moving quickly moving sod off the truck and laying it down. He then looked at the workers and said, “See? That’s how you do it! So start moving faster.” The reply from the workers? “Mr. Chuck, you get to leave in a few weeks. We have to do this all day, every day.”
- Best Question Ever – “Why is it that when you show up at a rental car counter, anytime, day or night, they have your car ready for you. Even though those cars are out of their control and who knows where they are and when and where they’ll be returned. Why is it that when you show up at a hotel at 11 AM they don’t have a room ready for you?
- Bonehead Move – Warning… off-color but absolutely true and unintentional. I was working closely with the procurement manager at the Marine Corps headquarters. One day he asked me if I knew one of the department heads. He asked, “Have you met Dick Kurtz? I replied, Who’s Dick Kurtz? And then promptly blushed as I realized what I sad.