Before I step into the batter’s box to begin blogging again after some time away, I would like to offer a tribute to my father, John W. Stodder, who passed away on April 21, 2009. Although at 86 he had various ailments, his passing caught his family by surprise; he was a person of remarkable vigor and intellectual intensity and curiosity, right to the end. We fortunately saw him at Easter, during which, as usual, he asked me lots of questions about where the software industry was going, how to find information online, which kind of computer he should buy, and so on. These conversations would flow and digress into others about politics, the economy, sports, music, wine, boating and all the other topics he found interesting. It is still hard to imagine that they won’t continue. He had the good fortune of passing away while sleeping in his own bed after a couple of weeks that included family get-togethers that he loved and going with my mother – his wife of 58 eventful years – to the opera, the symphony and the book club to which they belonged. He will be missed.
A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Harvard Business School, my father was a maestro of finance, investment banking and the deal; he negotiated mergers and acquisitions with his own firm in Southern California for about 30 years after a successful career on Wall Street and earlier in Chicago, where I was born. To his frustration, I did not pursue a business career: but, I surely benefited from his insights into business motivations and objectives, many of which filtered into my writing over the years. He always saw opportunities and communicated restlessness about seizing them. He loved listening to and learning from people who really had it going, whether it was Bill Gates, Gates’ onetime legal nemesis David Boies, marvels from the world of opera like Luciano Pavarotti, Howard Dean, NFL coaches and players, and people he would meet, including my friends from college, seatmates on airplanes and local shopkeepers. His favorite TV show was “Charlie Rose,” which I believe he loved not just for the informative conversations but also because of Rose’s ability to draw out the thing that drives his guests to achieve their dreams and objectives. Had my father had been a talk-show journalist he probably would have done it like Charlie Rose. However, I don’t think he would have traded being “in the kitchen,” fully engaged in negotiating the complex human and financial factors that go into making mergers and acquisitions work.
He was forever giving advice, lessons and strategies, whether about my career or how to get to LAX via South Bay backroads. He preached that one should always learn; seize opportunities; be ethical; don’t be shy about asserting what you really think; and when you break an egg, make an omelet. I will not forget them as I move forward with Perceptive Information Strategies and other ventures with friends and colleagues in the years to come.