In Memoriam : Al Shugart

It’s easy to forget that pioneers like Shugart literally formed the DNA that the Valley was built on, from the hard charging mentality formed out of a belief that anything was possible to the discarding of business traditions like wearing a tie to work. It’s sad to see a generation of entrepreneurs pass away, but only made more sad by the fact that few people under 35 in this business today would recognize the name Al Shugart and what he accomplished. | 12/14/2006 | DISK DRIVE PIONEER LED SEAGATE:

But the life of the disk drive pioneer, who died Tuesday at 76, could hardly have been more complex: He epitomized the Silicon Valley play hard/work hard ethos, wearing Hawaiian shirts to the office even as he weathered decades of ups and downs in a notoriously cutthroat industry.

Management Series : Grab a New Ball

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of playing a round of golf at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, an annual tradition that is usually blessed by fantastic coastal sunshine but this year was dampened, literally, by a thick fog and heavy mist (or as I called it, pre-sun) conditions.

In stepping up to this nice little par 3 that goes over some water, I remarked to the other guys in my group that I was counseled by a really good golfer years ago that when playing over water like this the best thing to do is reach in your bag and grab a new ball. His point was that most golfers will take an old ball, or worse a found ball, out for this situation because if they lose it the loss will not be so bad. This hedging sets you up to fail because it predisposes you to accepting that you will lose the ball in the water.

On my drive home I was thinking that this is an apt metaphor for business because the most successful companies and people are the ones where everyone is “all in”. I suppose this is not to suggest that you don’t have fallback positions defined, or “plan b” as some would say, but rather that when you commit to a new strategy, product, or program you start out right by not allowing yourself the option of failing, or worse, preparing for failure.

I did grab a new ball on that par 3 and I did play it for par.

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