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Fun management…

by | Nov 3, 2020 | Cake, Fun, manage

These stories are going to exceed your realism meter… as in “there is no way THAT is true”.  Yes, they are actually true and I will not exaggerate – they don’t need it.  It was a bizarre season where I 1) had the energy to keep up this craziness, 2) it seemed important, and 3) it was fun in a twisted way.  It was right after the Space program gig, and I had moved the family with children 5, 4, and 1, to the frozen tundra of Ithaca, New York, only to leave 5 to 6 days a week for 18 months.  And you need to remember this was all in the days of no internet, no phones, no access to information other than dial telephones, and hustle. It was another Sunday, I had the flight guide out, and was looking for a route from one of the 3 small airports near us to Florida, and was on the phone on hold waiting for an agent to book my tickets… 

The program we moved for was canceled, so now we were scrambling for a Plan B, which now centered on a new processor targeting supercomputers which seemed interesting.  I had some great relationships with Boca where the program was being coordinated by a team I was flying in to see.  As a chip company, Intel had for many years furnished “sample designs” to show engineers how their latest and greatest could /should be used.  They had gone one step further to actually design a circuit card that would plug into a PC and run amazing graphics blindingly fast.  The problem was it was designed to only work with the “improved MicroChannel” that “only” IBM supported.,.. along with their “new and improved” operating system OS/2.  Neither of these were helpful in a market that was bursting with the competition that Boca had spurred with the original PC,a standard that corporate IBM management was realizing may not have been the best idea… 

The band started in the classic “I am going to LA to hit it big” and then boomeranging back to Sacramento when that band blew up.  John McCrea knew the local scene there well, and went about picking up the best musicians, including a single trumpet which became their signature element.  DiFiore’s trumpet work originated with McCrea’s desire for a second melodic instrument to go with a song he had written; “A lead guitar playing those lines would have been really hokey. I like it when it’s a contrapuntal thing, where the guitar is doing one melody, the vocal is doing another melody, and the trumpet plays this third melody. If the music can be transparent enough, you can hear all three at the same time”. And the band name I am going to ruin for your whole life so spoiler alert – skip this if you like to think of Cake like you eat…. ok.. here goes. The name is meant to be “like when something insidiously becomes a part of your life…[we] mean it more as something that cakes onto your shoe and is just sort of there until you get rid of it.” (And how did I not know this was a remake – here is Doris Day from 1964…. wow 

To make matters more complex, because it was being built by Intel, technically it was owned by a piece of IBM in New Jersey that handled the sale of “vendor products” into our sales channels.  These people were not at all technical and reminded me of the little guys in Star Wars that would drive around buying junk and selling it. All they cared about was margin.. could they buy it from Intel and make a great profit – what it did, how it would change the future, not that interesting.  I had invited myself into a meeting of this small band with the greatest title I ever had: Special Projects.  From our Federal Systems Division, I had somewhat legitimately said the “intelligence” community was interested, and they let me in. Check – remember that. 

After listening to each group describe their approach to the project, I noticed the manager was always upbeat, positive, and really enthusiastic about our chances.  He brought a smile to everyone’s face, and there was something about just being with him that was fun.  And he saw in me a technical savvy, energy, and thick-headedness they would need.  As your team is forming, what do you need to have/bring… and where is Fun on that list?  He asked me to help them, and given my real gig had blown up, my life phrase came into action – “What could possibly go wrong?”  Sure.  Would it be successful??  Stick around for the week… for now would I become a part of this team’s Cake?  Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps… 

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