I’m at Oracle Cloud these days, sitting in one of the big box office buildings in Seattle where we’re focused on a cloud platform launch via Ecosystems, that’s a surprise, right? However this is not about the gig or Evangelism, well, maybe it is to some degree.
I’ve passed along applied lessons from my late 109 year old Obaachan, that’s Grandmother in Japanese. I think it’s time to share one more thing I learned in her kitchen.
Obaachan’s kitchen was an amazing, puzzling and finally as I grew older, an inspiring place for me. There would be a different set of people I would meet there, her usual coffee klatch (or tea more accurately) of card playing little Obaasan (senior Japanese ladies) as well as a mix of senior Asian, Caucasian and African American faces. At times it was a UN meeting in the small, crowded around the small kitchen table.
As I grew older, I asked them how they knew my grandparents. The answer was a variation of “we’ve known each other for a long time” and “we’ve helped each other many times over the years.” But one story I will always remember. An older man who I only knew as “Barney” told me he was a merchant sailor during the depression. He went to the hotel my grandparents owned in what we now know as Pioneer Square and told them his story. He couldn’t find work, he was starving, he’d work around the hotel to earn his keep. He told me all the other places he went kicked him out when they abruptly asked if he could pay. My grandparents listened and took him in. To them, he was another person struggling just like they were.
Today, more than ever, we need to take the time to listen. To then make the effort to understand. To then make our own decision. As I’ve said before, Obaachan was relentlessly positive, and in this case, choosing to see the person before her through the lens of their shared experience, as a fellow traveler, part of her crazily extended family.
In tech, one of my former MS colleagues is known for his truly inspiring Evangelism 101 talk. Back then, Evangelism “is war”. During that same period of time, I would occasionally have a beer with the ISV Evangelist from Sun Microsystems. I was targeting his ISVs for Windows NT, he was fighting to both retain and go after my Ecosystem ISVs. However when we got together we’d tell stories and laugh about our shared experiences. We’d be sitting in a bar, but in my mind, we were sitting together around a small kitchen table.