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Fun execution…

by | Nov 7, 2020 | Cake, execute, Fun

With many not flying, it is fun to reminisce a bit about a different era of flying, when it was a little less uptight and a lot more Fun.  If you are under 40 you probably never flew on a 747 or a DC 10, and definitely not one that had a stand-up bar – in the cabin.  Continental which was headquartered in Houston (and thus I had a lot of miles on) featured exactly that on their big planes. I was off for another week where the itinerary was changing daily, and this particular leg ended after a “clean up meeting” in Texas, and now I was heading west to visit our vendor on the West Coast, and I had run to catch the flight.  Which is why I was standing in the back of the plane, with one of “new” FlightPhones” on the phone with Beth screaming to be heard “I AM ON MY WAY TO LA!!!!”

Recall this is all pre-internet, pre-cell phones… so the “experienced” traveler paid $100/month to get a portable “flight guide” – a listing of all the airports and all of the possible flights.  My boss made my travels look light, and he always gave me “last months” – which was not that much out of date.  So you would end a meeting, race to the airport, find what was possible, and head out. And you did it all on payphones, including calling ahead to reserve a rental car. For this trip I was traveling with a very good friend from Boca, and we were being met by the President’s Chief of Staff – another friend that had gotten me into this mess/Fun in the first place.  We were slightly behind them, and they had gotten their car, not a Chrysler Le Baron – but a K Car. By the time we got there, they were “out” of our class of cars, and thus we pulled out of the lot – in a White – wait for it…. RX-7.  It helped that the Chief was a huge car guy, and the Fun look on his face was priceless…

One of the core competencies of Cake is their ironic observations, packaged in a bouncy, major key tune that slowly worms its way in. Before you know you it you are singing lyrics that are crazy, and yet true.  Pressure Chief was their 5th album, with life wisdom and observations about Waiting, Phones, Carbon Monoxide, the Palm of Your Hand, and this amazing remake of The Guitar Man – yes THAT Guitar Man. They had peaked with Comfort Eagle and were on the other side of the slope now, and yet, staying with the same recipe. It was recorded in a house in Sacramento – which may sound crazy, but most of the key Led Zeppelin, and the first 3 ZZ Top records were also recorded in homes mostly.  The grind of touring and producing new music was less Fun, and after one more album, they were cut from Columbia and back to being an Indie band.. which is where the story began…. and continues…  

The Chief of Staff was coming out because IBM in its infinite wisdom decided to double down on “different” Unix, and was helping to found what was called the Open Software Foundation (OSF)…. which was a joke.  The ONLY reason they did it was so they did not have to pay royalties to AT&T which was where it had been invented, out of a huge disaster project.  Now it was taking over particularly the Federal world, and the vendor we had already been working with was going to center stage – literally – in the announcement.  I could geek out more, but many of you are like my Mom who would tell Dad “… can you talk about computers again so I can fall asleep?”  In the most loving way 😉  The business portion of the program went smoothly, and we were now driving up and down the coast in our RX-7 blasting the latest hits from Banarama and the Go-Go’s, which was entirely Fun.

The biggest irony is that IBM recently purchased Red Hat Linux – the open-source vendor that eventually prevailed in the “Unix wars”, and I would love to have been there when the Austin boys weighed in on that decision.  For now, I was starting to recognize while this was great Fun, and I was learning so much to help me later in my career, the Mothership was probably like Cake on the downward slope.  Execution is a funny thing – even doing it well doesn’t mean sustained success.  I have a number of friends in companies that are walking zombies through this crisis, holding on to business models and processes that worked before March, and likely will never work again.  You can keep cranking out things, and not looking at what has to change, simply putting off the inevitable. What about your execution need focus – listen to these lyrics including a kitten that will twist tomorrow… but for now, enjoy your weekend, and don’t make life – Tougher Than It Is… 

 

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