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How to renew your Fun?

by | Nov 8, 2020 | Cake, Fun, renew

The center of the IBM universe was a very small town in “upstate” New York, which I had learned meant “… everything NOT in New York City”.  Nestled between Valhalla, and Pleasantville (who could script that), Armonk was we now what we call the  “Mid Century Modern” headquarters.  Pretty understated actually, it was a maze of office of people how had REAL power, and I was now standing in a very small private conference room off of the Vice Chairman’s office.  Having learned that flying took longer, I had gotten used to driving down from Ithaca (about 4 hours) and we were now waiting for our 6 pm meeting. He was an Engineer, he had lots of trinkets on the shelves.  Our Division President looked down at a large bearing that had been opened up so you could see the Ball Bearings resting in the track.  He said “… I think a few of those are mine”.

I didn’t really get the larger storyline that was playing out around me while I was having Fun.  IBM senior leadership – particularly the Vice-Chairman and the head of all Research and Technology were slowly awakening to the fact that Elephant couldn’t dance any longer.  While there had been a task force inside IBM in the 80s about “… what to do when IBM is more than 10% of the US GDP” (a legit concern at the time, and the hubris of that?)  Anyway, that was not going to be the problem, and they were desperate to try and get something innovative moving.  They had actually started a small VC inside of IBM, and funded 2 initiatives.  One was external (TransArc)…. and I found out one was us.  We had the backing of our Division President and were now meeting with the Vice-Chairman to brief him on our “progress”. 

After being cut loose from Columbia, Cake formed it’s own label, literally going full circle. They have released a few albums including Showroom of Compassion in 2011, with rumors of a new album coming “soon” but as of now, only rumors.  They continue to tour occasionally, and remind me of many startups in the tech world – good enough to make something great, but never ever able to break out of their particular niche.  Perhaps being novel and sardonic was replaced by similar bands that somehow had the backing for a bit, and likely will also fade unless they are able to keep innovating. And, there is a lot of their music I had never heard like this track about The Winter that makes these deeper dives worth it, at least for me, and hopefully for you. 

This was not my first time to brief the Vice-Chairman.  He had come down for the IBM Shareholders meeting in Houston, and toured the Space Station Lab we had put together, and as I was “in charge” I had the pleasure of showing him around.  He as my idol actually – someone who rose through the ranks NOT as a salesperson, but as an engineer and product person.  After the tour, I took the shot at sending him an email – a fairly new technology then (using internal IBM systems – pre-internet), and he wrote back. Short, but he did… and I would update him occasionally on developments, including this coming meeting.  And like other parts of the business, even our little project was not going too well, and I was there to deliver that news. 

Anyone that knows me knows that I mostly live on the edge.  For this trip, I had driven down without a coat – typical of a Texan – you wouldn’t really need them by midday, so I hadn’t gotten the memo that is not helpful in December in New York.  And as I exited the building, it was snowing in Armonk… which meant I was going to drive through heavy wet snow, oh with a tank that was not full.  Every station I passed was closed, and while I had a front-wheel-drive car, it was a sports car, and most of the way I wasn’t sure I would make it. I did – 445 miles on a single tank of gas… which is physically impossible.

I could have just as easily ended up like George Bailey in a snowbank, out of gas, no coat…. but for some reason not clear at the time, once again I made it through.  Faith is nearly impossible to explain – and yet I still try.  We just listened to a sermon where the illustration was a man rescuing a drowning kitten, who proceeded to scratch, claw, and bite the hand …. that was literally saving it. My life is a series of those episodes, where the grip was slowly tightening, and while there was still a lot of scratching and biting .. still… I was beginning to deepen my understanding of what love and support looked like.  You have Faith in something, and it has likely been tested by the last year or more. Today take time to connect with that, remembering we started with Going the Distance to … The End of the Movie.  Next week – Hope!!!

People you love
Will turn their backs on you
You’ll lose your hair
Your teeth
Your knife will fall out of its sheath
But you still don’t like to leave before the end of the movie

People you hate will get their hooks into you
They’ll pull you down
You’ll frown
They’ll tar you and drag you through town
But you still don’t like to leave before the end of the movie
No, you still don’t like to leave before the end of the show

People you hate will get their hooks into you
They’ll pull you down
You’ll frown
They’ll tar you and drag you through town
But you still don’t like to leave before the end of the movie
No, you still don’t like to leave before the end of the show

 

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