Continuously opining, intermittently publishing.

Archive for August, 2009


Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter.¢

A friend of mine, Jonathan Haskins£, was a mid-level director at a former company in Silicon Valley for whom I briefly worked.  He and I had an excellent rapport, and I am sad we did not have the opportunity to work together longer, because he was an excellent mentor to a small cadre of us and a talented manager.  He was/is a bright, witty, caring individual with a sense for what matters and what doesn’t.  He is quick to focus on getting things done optimally without getting mired by the unimportant.  He is a good leader and was a truly excellent manager.  He was also a snappy dresser and very gregarious.

There were some peers of mine who did not like Jonathan.  I was never sure why (jealousy?), but they took to gossiping about him in such a way that a malicious rumor spread quickly about his personal predilections.  He was such a talented leader, than it did not overtly affect the manner in which he managed or interacted with the executive management team, but the harshness of the rumors affected him deeply.

Jonathan was going through some difficult relational problems at the time and had moved to our company to get away from an old position that had, after many years, lost its lustre and was no longer as fulfilling.  In a sense, he was trying to make a new start in life and in his career, and then the rumors struck him as a meteor strikes a planet.

Strangely, some of Jonathan’s managers (higher-ups) began to, wrongly, question whether these rumors were affecting his ability to perform his job.  They didn’t – he was eminently  professional throughout this ordeal.  Bottom line: he did himself a favor, resigned, and left for another, better company.

I found out later one of those peers of mine, Dorian, who mongered rumors about Jonathan applied for a senior level product management position at another high tech company.  He was, on paper, potentially qualified for the job.  His problem was that Jonathan is exceptionally well-connected.

Jonathan counts among friends several venture capitalists and other rainmakers.  He is also well-qualified technically, writes excellent code, and has the respect of software engineers and engineering directors all around the Valley.

When Dorian applied for the product management position, the vice president of product management at the new company where Dorian wanted to work called Jonathan and said, “Hey, you worked for Dorian’s company for awhile.  What do you think of him?”  Jonathan told the vice president truthfully that he found Dorian to be unprofessional and not precisely competent.

Such ended Dorian’s application.

We have a saying in the Valley: don’t burn bridges, because the Valley is too small.  In other words, some winged creature, such as Jonathan Haskins, may tell the matter to the vice president of product management.

¢Ecclesiastes 10:20, English Standard Version.
£Name has been changed to protect the innocent.  Any similarity this story has to a protagonist named Jonathan Haskins is purely coincidental.
€Name has been changed to protect the guilty.