2 Dudes: Bob Morris and Frank Porcaro

It is a throwback dudes day. I had coffee today with 2 dear friends that I have not seen in far too long. These dudes are 2 of the smartest technical people I have ever met. I was fortunate enough to work with both of them a few years back at a Compuware here in Milwaukee. We also crossed paths at Stark Investments.

One of my favorite stories of Frank Porcaro came up today. We talked about how much we longed to be heard when we were at Compuware. We supposed that when we did presentations it was because we did not have enough grey hairs to garner the respect we needed when doing presentations. Looking back at it now, I think it probably had more to do with the fact that we were talking at a technical level that most of the people we were talking to did not understand. That was a great lesson however, the most important thing I learned from Frank was how to run a workshop. He was doing Smalltalk training classes and he was very good at it but he wanted to hand it off to someone new. I learned from the master and still to this day use some of the techniques that Frank taught me in my workshops. Outside of work my most vivid memory of Frank is playing Jesus in the Passion Play at his church. It was one of the most moving passion plays I ever attended. Way before EQ was a thing, Frank showed a level of empathy in everything that he did. In talking to him today I can still see that it is still ingrained in all that he does.

Sorry Frank, but Bob Morris is the smartest technical person I know. In recent years we haven’t kept in touch as much as I would have liked but I knew Bob had been in a CTO role for 10 years. There were 2 things I wanted to find out from Bob, how had he held that kind of role in one place for so long and how could someone who was always so geeked about technical stuff move into a C Suite role? The later question was easy to answer. Bob has never moved away from the technical stuff. He talked today about some very advanced cloud based solutions in a technical depth that few outside of the cloud providers have. That hands on nature is part of how he stayed in a C Suite role so long but that is only part of the story. The best part of the story was that very early in his tenure there was a question of where he should report. The unfortunate answer was to the CFO who was not extremely fond of Bob. When one of the owners asked Bob where he thought he should report,  Bob didn’t hide and try to find somewhere else, Bob said he should report to the CFO. The next morning the CFO called Bob into his office, praised him for the size of his um, his um, I guess I will use courage here as not to offend. In that moment Bob had entrenched himself as someone who was always going to shoot straight and tell it like it was. That kind of candor is what earns you 10 years in the C Suite. Bob is now CTO of a new start-up and I am sure with Bob at the helm they have a very bright future indeed.

If you want to know the story of the orange, the cheese or the utility knife from the picture collage above it will cost a few beers or maybe someone will tell it for free but I doubt it.

As always if you don’t have time to meet either of of this weeks dudes feel free to sign up for a coffee or lunch with me here. I would be happy to talk more with you about why you should talk with them.

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