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The Promise of partners…

by | Dec 2, 2020 | partner, Promise, The Avett Brothers

When I started teaching at JMU, I started to notice people that I worked with from there… and there was a very consistent theme.  They were all really nice people.  In fact, if you are in the Mid Atlantic area, and work with someone that is easy to get along with, ask them where they went to school… I will bet you they are Purple and Gold down deep.  The College of Business did a study of that Promise ….and found it was actually worth real money too. Their alums were further in their careers 10 years on – because they worked well on teams, and were great partners.  Our team was blessed with a couple of really nice partners that everyone could count on… 

… and the character they both resembled was Piglet – not the most complimentary name, unless you really know the character.  He is described as “… the best friend.  He takes his lead from Pooh, and while appearing timid, shows himself to be very brave when faced with a crisis, and when given encouragement by Pooh, often makes the critical contribution.”  It is not a flashy role, and one that is often overlooked on Teams – the steady player who constantly is there, and also encourages others through their quiet way of getting things done.  It is also a stance that is contagious… their quiet growing confidence can help move the team back to an even keel when the waves around them start to get too large… 

Joe Kwon is the Avett Brothers cello player, who you see dancing while playing it, which by the way is NOT easy to do.  Here is a brief bio He gave up on music.  After spending much of his youth training with a private instructor, playing in regional symphonies, and studying at places like Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Eastern Music Festival—he gave it up.  First slowly, then all at once. In college, Kwon eventually changed majors to focus on a money-making career in the computer sciences, and that was that. 

That very well could have been the end of the story, but Kwon found life outside of the arts to be unfulfilling.  After quitting his job at IBM he found himself bartending and playing with bands on the side.  Eventually his talent and as he puts it—his “gift for gab” landed him a session gig with the North Carolina-based folk-rock band The Avett Brothers.  That gig morphed into a tour with the band, and eventually earned him a spot as a full-time member of the group. By the way, that connection between math/science/engineering and music is real.  Most tech people, if you ask them, have a great musical ability that has often been set aside in favor of making money as you see above.  

Sadly I never asked these guys about their interest or aptitude in music, but we were so honored to work with them both.  One made it possible for NeXT to run PC programs – which was not easy, but again he would simply make it work so that when faced with an objection to adoption because NeXT couldn’t run PC programs, it was easy to say – “Sure we can run that”.   The other was the master of everything process-based, and simply helped pull all of our random pieces together .. with a big smile, and a calm, kind word for everyone. Both were, and are, extraordinarily nice people… a quality that we don’t see celebrated much…

“Piglets” are always busy doing something, usually off by themselves, and pretty content doing so while constantly improving the way they are doing it.  And they make a great partner, because they are always there to contribute support, and often a critically important idea… usually more humbly than they should.  And you have to look for them – they don’t seek out the spotlight.  But when you see them, they are so critical to teams … and bands.  Figuring out how to play a cello line with a banjo – now THAT is creative 😉  

Not sure Joe, or anyone, likes to be called “Piglet”, but I suspect he would be happy to agree that he is a partner now integral to the band.  Who do you have on your team that is simply doing their job well, pleasantly, and the partner that everyone seeks out?  FIND them, or BE them, either way, ensure their Promise becomes a reality. We had 2 – and that made this time so much more enjoyable.  We were all able to twirl and whirl together… as we all got… Swept Away.

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