Wednesday, October 05, 2011

"Go ahead"

About a year ago, I was having a normal work day in Cupertino when I walked to Caffe Macs, Apple's main cafeteria, for a bite to eat. After perusing the day's lunch options, I decided to wait in line at the fish station, completely unaware that I was about to have a close encounter with Steve Jobs. The line was pretty short, about 3 people, so I pulled out my iPhone to catch up on tech news and read email while awaiting my turn. Out of the corner of my eye, a short man in a black turtleneck lined up behind me. I glanced back to see who it was, then did a Hollywood-style double take as I quickly realized that indeed, Steve Jobs was waiting behind me in a cafeteria line.

I panicked... should I get out of the way? say hi? bow down? I calmly turned back to my iPhone, pretending to keep reading email. It was common protocol to not make a big deal of Steve Jobs being in the cafeteria. During the years he was healthy, I would see him about once a month at Caffe Macs - often sitting down with Jony Ives for his lunch break. When anyone would see him, they might point him out to a friend or co-worker, but then play it cool. Steve Jobs didn't want to be treated like a rockstar or shake hands with random employees, he just wanted to each his lunch.

After a few minutes, which seemed like years, I was at the front of the line to get my all-important piece a fish. Without really thinking about it, I turned around and motioned to Steve to cut in front of me. After all, his time was approximately a billion times more valuable then mine, and I thought it would be a nice gesture to a man who will go down in the history books along with Carnegie, Edison, and Disney. A man whose persistent vision inspired tens of thousands of employees to work long hours and short weekends for years. A man who revolutionized industries by creating entirely new product categories. A man whose contributions to the consumer electronics arena will delight millions of customers for generations. And a man who wanted a piece of fish for lunch.

In an instant, Jobs declined and said "Go ahead". I couldn't believe it... here stood the legend himself; a man who was probably pondering what other industry Apple should revolutionize; but he wasn't about to take a spot ahead in line. I was first, and that was that.

I thought for half a second of insisting again for him to go in front of me, but alas, my tenure at Apple was not yet long enough to argue with Steve Jobs. So, I turned around, got my fish and didn't look back.

I know it's a simple story, and gives me no authority to say that I knew or really even met Steve Jobs, but it was my moment, my conversation - my two-word, fish-themed conversation with one of the greatest innovators of our time.

As I reflect on his life tonight, I would like to think that "go ahead", his two words to me, can serve as one of the many takeaways from his lifetime. He passionately loved his company, our products and our employees - but he also knew that his time would come. Steve would want all of us to celebrate his life instead of mourning our loss, and simply "go ahead" and make our own "ding in the universe". Here's a quote from his Stanford commencement speech in 2005:

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."

It's a sad day, but celebrating Steve's life and his contributions to the world reminds all of us that we all have the capacity to change the world. After all, "the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do":

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Make no little plans.

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

- Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect. (1846-1912)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Day 435: Today was a good day

Keeping on track with my 1,000 days to Boston journey, I passed another milestone today. I ran the San Jose Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon, and met my goal! Highlights from the race included a running Elvis, at least 15 rock bands lining the race, someone offering free bacon (I declined), lots of cow bells ("I gotta have more cowbell!"), a little rain at the start, and lots of cheering spectators along the way.

Time wise, I ran my first sub-8:00 min/mile pace race! I came in at 1:43:59, for a 7:56 overall pace. My previous best was an 8:52 pace half-marathon in February, and an 8:39 pace during the first half of my full marathon in July, so I'm ecstatic with a 7:56. The next big race is the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December. I'm hoping I can run an 8:00 pace for 26.2 miles, but I have a lot of training ahead of me before I can achieve that time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 366: The Next Adventure

Fresh off my first marathon yesterday, I'm eager to set a new life goal that is even more daunting than my first marathon. I hereby publicly commit myself to running the Boston Marathon in April 2012.

This goal is slightly more complicated than the last one - in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I have to run a marathon in 3 hours and 10 minutes. For a bit of reference, I ran the race of my life yesterday at an 8:42 min/mile pace. For a Boston qualifying time, I need to run each and every mile at a 7:15 min/mile pace. Ahhh!

This feels extremely challenging and slightly crazy - which is exactly where I want to be. I felt the same before deciding to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and the 1st marathon, so I just need to create a plan, and stick to it. The Boston race will be especially significant for me, as it happens to take place on the day of 32nd birthday (April 16, 2012) and it will be Day 1,000 from Day 1 (technically Day 995, but close enough :-).

Thank you again to everyone for the congratulatory calls, texts, emails, tweets, and "likes". You inspire me to push harder.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 365: Mission Accomplished

One year ago today, I wrote a blog entry (Day 1), where I set a goal to run the SF Marathon one year from that point, in less than 4 hours. This was a slightly audacious goal, since I had never ran more than a couple miles before, and was very out of shape. But alas, I'm pleased to report that I did it!

Today's race was filled with memorable moments, including running across the Golden Gate, drum circles, gongs, live rock bands, Hip-hop DJs, and crossing the finish line. Some of my fellow runners included an elvis impersonator with a vuvuzela and a guy dressed as a Trojan warrior (metal shield and armor). For myself, I was cheered on by my parents and pushed my running pace from a planned 9:00 min/mile to an average 8:42 for the course, which added up to 3:48:01 for the day - 12 minutes better than my 4:00:00 goal. Although I'm quite sore, stiff, and tired (woke up at 4:30 AM!), I'm thrilled to have successfully completed my first marathon, especially with a time that surprised me. We'll see what's next, but I have a feeling this is just the beginning...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Embracing change

"When the winds of change are blowing, some people are building shelters, while others are building windmills." -Old Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Milestone complete

As a follow-up to my original post 6 months ago, I completed a major milestone in my quest to run the SF Marathon in July. This past Sunday, I ran the the Kaiser SF Half Marathon; beating my 2 hour goal by a few minutes (1:56:31). Highlights of the half-marathon include: running with a unicorn, listening to the one-man drum circle, high-fiveing a human-size Lego man, and finishing!

In order to beat my 4 hour Marathon goal, I still have a lot more miles in front of me. But I'm thrilled to be on plan.