One Sunday morning, January 6th, 2008 I was attending religious services when my cell phone vibrated. As discreetly as possible, I checked the phone and noticed that my phone said "Caller ID unknown". I choose to ignore.
After services, as I was walking to my car with my family, I checked my cell phone messages. The message left was from Steve Jobs. "Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss" it said.
Before I even reached my car, I called Steve Jobs back. I was responsible for all mobile applications at Google, and in that role, had regular dealings with Steve. It was one of the perks of the job.
"Hey Steve - this is Vic", I said. "I'm sorry I didn't answer your call earlier. I was in religious services, and the caller ID said unknown, so I didn't pick up".
Steve laughed. He said, "Vic, unless the Caller ID said 'GOD', you should never pick up during services".
I laughed nervously. After all, while it was customary for Steve to call during the week upset about something, it was unusual for him to call me on Sunday and ask me to call his home. I wondered what was so important?
"So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I've already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow" said Steve.
"I've been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I'm not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn't have the right yellow gradient. It's just wrong and I'm going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?"
Of course this was okay with me. A few minutes later on that Sunday I received an email from Steve with the subject "Icon Ambulance". The email directed me to work with Greg Christie to fix the icon.
Since I was 11 years old and fell in love with an Apple II, I have dozens of stories to tell about Apple products. They have been a part of my life for decades. Even when I worked for 15 years for Bill Gates at Microsoft, I had a huge admiration for Steve and what Apple had produced.
But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I'll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.
To one of the greatest leaders I've ever met, my prayers and hopes are with you Steve.
What do I mean by that? The attendees were mainly scruffily dressed young people, whose attire and approach was too easily dismissed by those in authority. The smirk on the face of the Fox News reporter who was interviewing various participants said it all. "These people are easy to dismiss."
I couldn't bear to see him goading these idealistic young people into making bombastic statements (the reporter is a tool of AIG was one comment I overheard), so I stepped over and asked if I could speak to him.
I told him that I run a company with about $100 million in revenue, and that it isn't just kids who think that Wall Street bankers got away with a crime. There are a set of people who constructed a set of financial products with intent to defraud. They took our country to the brink of ruin, then got off scott free, even with multi-million dollar bonuses. I'll be interested to see if Fox runs my comments anywhere.
It seems so odd to me that the Tea Party isn't out in force at this protest. It seems so odd that government largesse aimed at rich corporations seems to be OK with them, while government largesse aimed at the disadvantaged ought to be cut. I would have loved to see blue collar Americans out in force at this protest, not just college students.
(Personally, I'm all for a leaner approach to government that I've described with the geeky vision of "Government as a Platform." Spend strategically in order to catalyze society to do what needs to be done. Unfortunately, in this case that wasn't done.)
I highly recommend Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone reporting on the financial crisis of 2008 http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405 , as well as these recent pieces: http://www.financialsense.com/financial-sense-newshour/guest-expert/2011/09/14/william-k-black-phd/why-nobody-went-to-jail-during-the-credit-crisis and http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/09/obamas_economic_quagmire_frank.html They should make your blood boil.
It's not the American Spring yet, but it ought to be.
Here are some of my photos from the event:
- Team Lead for the development of the Netscape Browser (version 8), and AOL's IE AIM Toolbar
- Technical Project Lead for NEBULA, NASA's Cloud Computing Platform (currently in development)
- Senior Engineer at Flock.com, and founder of their Canadian development office (currently 22 staff)
- Project Lead for InkPC (alpha), a competitor to OLPC, but designed for inner-city applications
- Joint CTO at Mercurial Communications, Inc., one of Canada's fastest-growing companies 2 years in a row
- Inventor of Buylatr, a FF plugin for bargain-shopping, highlighted by Lifehacker.com as #2 in their "Top 10 Amazon Power Shopping Tools" roundup
- Co-Founder, BountyUp.com - The Social Marketplace. "Buy the change you want to see in the World."
After learning to program in assembler at age 7, running away to join the circus at age 12, and building his own cabin in rural British Columbia at age 15, he tore his knee apart in an acrobatics accident (age 28). This has slowed him down enough to find matching socks.
- Maxwell International Bahai School
- Maharishi University of Management
- Piston Cloud Computing, Inc.Founder, 2011 - present
- NASAPlan and Build Software, 2008 - 2010
- Mercurial CommunicationsJoint CTO, 2002 - 2006
- NetscapeTechnical Lead, 2004 - 2006
- FlockDude, 2006 - 2007
- BountyUpFounder, 2007 - 2008
- TapulousArchitect, 2008 - 2008
- Global Earthquake ModelIT Manager, 2010 - 2011
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