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April 29, 2005 [ More archived home pages here ]

Effective Lessons

I left Monday, April 25th to visit my friend and mentor, Gene Weed, who lives and works in Cottonwood, Arizona. I returned home on Thursday afternoon.

Gene and I toured the area and discussed various business endeavors. I had a chance to research the region and took several pictures. The weather was wonderful and I had a great time with Gene. The picture above is from the entrance to the Tuzigoot National Monument. It seems to have captured my feelings this week.

Gene introduced me to a friend of his named, Marney. She is a fascinating woman of 82 years who lived an interesting life raising five children and Arabian horses. She once lived on what is now the, Dead Horse Ranch State Park. She has beautiful brown eyes and they sparkled when she spoke about her horses. I showed her some of my art and she enjoyed the discussion we had. I gave her one of the small Digital Passages tote bag's with the, Vino Solitude image on it (shown below) in appreciation of her time speaking to me.

Wednesday night, Gene and I did a live podcast [ Link since removed ] from his iFXFilms Studio. I learned some new skills in post-audio productions from him during the interview.

While I was in Cottonwood I received a message that Sensei John Venson was in San Diego for a visit. I called him before I returned and may be able to link up with him. We haven't seen each other in 25 years.

At first I thought my recently mentioned psychic feelings about meeting someone this week were associated with Sensei's arrival in town, but it wasn't that after-all.

No, it turns out that my former boss at A.T. Kearney, Inc., (ATK), Walter J. Strauss, passed away Wednesday morning. Walter was my friend and mentor who died from brain cancer at the age of 80. It was his imminent death that I had sensed; I know that now.

Walter interviewed me back in August 1989 for the position in the Technical Services Unit (TSU) that he led within ATK. I spoke about some of my experiences there back in February of this year. I changed a lot under Walter's guidance and told him of my appreciation for his mentoring in various conversations we had over the years since he retired in January 1993.

Walter was a very intelligent and well-spoken man. He worked on many important projects during his career. We used to talk in his ATK office about some of his work involving sophisticated statistics. He told me he was once in a class taught by Enrico Fermi when he attended the University of Chicago, and said that was one of his best experiences.

One of the best lessons I learned under Walter was the concept that it is more important to be effective than efficient. That distinct difference in and of itself greatly helped me in my professional evolution in the years since. I have much more to thank him for as the person I am today.

I last saw Walter in July, 2003, when he attended a small party of my friends and family during a trip to Chicago. He sat next to me at the table and he enjoyed hearing the stories about me from the others there. We intently listened to him when he spoke about some of his life experiences.

I knew Walter was in the final stages of the cancer when I spoke with him last Spring and again in December. I used those opportunities to convey my feelings towards him once more. He was a fine man to all who knew him. So many people who he helped surely must be saddened at his passing.

Thank you Walter, for the very effective lessons you gave to me.

Don


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