Monthly Archives: September 2012

Coming Up for Air.

I’m fourteen days into my new role at Adobe. Fourteen days and 84 meetings (I counted). I figure that at this rate I will have met all of Adobe’s more than 10,000 employees sometime in 2014 – which is also the approximate date that I will be hospitalized for acute exhaustion.

I joined Adobe in the middle of a cycle of strategic planning, earnings announcements and board meetings. The pace has been intense, but it’s been a great immersion into the company, its business and culture.  Some quick observations:

Adobe has a very friendly, collaborative, environment. And, this extends to everyone from the management team to the building security guards. The latter, I’m convinced were formerly greeters at Wal-Mart. You can’t enter or leave a building without them giving you a smile, waving and wishing you a “good day”.

But, I think there is a reason for all this friendliness – it’s due to the architectural design of the campus where I work in San Jose. It consists of 3, 16- to 18-story buildings interconnected by elevated walkways.  Sounds simple enough, but, as a new employee it is almost impossible to navigate between buildings without getting hopelessly lost. Walkways in the buildings are at seemingly random angles, elevators are hidden and directional signage is subtle at best.

I’m convinced that either M.C. Escher or a progeny of Sarah Winchester  designed the campus. Yet, it does force collaboration and connectivity. Moving between buildings one day, I met an employee who said: “You must be new here.” I answered that I was and asked how she knew. She replied that I had passed her office 3 times in five minutes. Then she took pity on me and in whispered tones, as if she was sharing the Freemasons’ secret handshake, pointed out some visual cues, like carpet patterns that provide navigational aid.

I just wish there was something similar in the parking garage. I tend to arrive a bit early before my caffeine quotient has taken full effect and rarely form a mental impression of where I’ve parked. This is never a problem in outdoor parking lots. The garage, here, however is a vertical and horizontal maze. To give you an idea of what I’m referring to, here are some of the actual architectural models for the garage. As a result, during my first week, I spent the end of each day walking up the indoor parking ramps searching for my vehicle, clicking my key fob and praying for a return “beep”.

Between the layout of the buildings and the parking garage, I’ve taken to carrying a space blanket and a few Power Bars in my backpack in case I become lost overnight.

The company is seriously into “green“. The San Jose campus receives power from not only fuel cells, but also windmills located between the buildings. Everything is recycled. Everything. They also have something called “spudware” in the cafe. And, just as Adobe takes “recycling” seriously they also support “cycling”  both as a means of commuting (providing a secure underground bike cage, lockers and shower facilities) and for recreation. A number of employees at Adobe’s Orem, Utah facility, for example, just competed this monster of a ride.

Most importantly, this place has wicked cool technology. I knew about much of it – Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator – but, there is so much more. Everywhere you go you see this incredible fermentation of innovation and creativity. I’m sure I’ll write about some of it in the future. But, for now, I’m off to figure out what spudware is.


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Five Things from: August

1. “So, this guy walks into a bar, I mean bear.”

2. On the same day as this, there was also this.  More difficult to understand than Rep. Akin’s comments is the fact that he has daughters.

3. The word “hero” was never hyperbole when used to describe him.

4. And we continue to follow in his footsteps.

5. Contrary to the rumors,  this is not my new job:

As my friends and family will attest, I am 100% funk free.


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An Interlude in Colorado

My lovely bride and I are waiting for our flight at DIA so I thought I’d use the time to write. We’ve been in Colorado for a few days on a short break without the rest of the family. It was my standard high-speed-suck-the-marrow-out-of-each-moment style of vacationing. To my wife’s constant dismay, not much time for relaxation, but great fun.

In Denver, we enjoyed an almost perfect meal at Root Down. Before the food arrived I ordered a cocktail known as the “Don Draper”. It was a citrus infused whiskey libation with ice cubes the size of Mike Tyson’s knuckles. I recall little else after my first few sips other than an overwhelming desire to slick back my hair, throw on a suit and start chain smoking unfiltered Marlboros.

But that wasn’t the best part.

One of the country’s legendary concert venues, Red Rocks, is located in nearby Morrison. This 9,000 person outdoor amphitheater was built in 1941 between two monolithic slabs of sandstone with a view of Denver far below. In the light of day, it’s an inspired setting, but with the last rays of sunshine it transforms as the sandstone radiates hues of pink, salmon and crimson. Magic.

But that wasn’t the best part.

We were at Red Rocks to hear Mumford and Sons. This much-hyped UK band excited many with their Grammy appearance last year.  On this evening they exceeded the hype. Their soaring harmonies and energetic musical crescendos were mesmerizing. Watching them lined across the stage delivering driving rhythms on the fiddle, acoustic guitar, foot drum, banjo and bass gave you the feeling that they were channeling traditional folk music not from the U.K, but from the hills of  mid-1800s Appalachia.

But that wasn’t the best part.

I begrudgingly allow myself to get dragged to a musical about once a decade. No offense to those who love the theatre, but for me there are other things I enjoy more in life. Things like cleaning the sink trap in my daughter’s bathroom. While in Denver, my number again came up and we went to see “Book of Mormon.” It almost caused me to change my thinking. The boys from South Park have done it again, creating a Broadway musical unlike any that you have ever seen. Let me put it this way, I’m fairly certain that Andrew Lloyd Weber never penned a lyric like: “I have maggots in my scrotum”.

But that wasn’t the best part.

An idea for the bike shops in the Boulder area. Would you please invent an oxygen mask that operates using tire inflation cartridges? We managed to rent a couple of Serotta road bikes from University Cycles in Boulder. The staff there helped us plan a beautifully scenic ride in the nearby mountains through Ward, Raymond and Lyons. They neglected to remind us, however, of the challenges of riding at elevations of 6,000 to 8,000 feet. On some of the climbs, I felt like I was breathing through a straw – and not just a regular drinking straw. More like one of those little straws that are used to mix drinks.

But that wasn’t the best part.

When we arrived in Boulder I learned that John Hiatt was playing at the Chautauqua Amphitheatre.  The Chautauqua, built in 1898 is on the National Register of Historical Places. It was the perfect setting to see Hiatt, who in my opinion, is a national treasure and, next to the 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster, the movie “Breaking Away” and certain members of my family, the best thing to ever come out of Indiana. Hiatt gave a wonderful performance and clearly enjoyed the warm, intimacy of the venue.

But that wasn’t the best part.

Because I am married to a “foodie” finding just the right place to dine was a priority. In Boulder we ate at The Kitchen. Not once, not twice, but three times. This restaurant is operated by a non-profit organization that helps educate children about community gardens and healthy eating. The food was outstanding as was the service. On a chalkboard with information about the offerings, there was this notation “All used cooking oil powers Steve’s car.” You’ve just got to love Boulder.

Ok, here was the best part of our vacation.

One day we decided to put our orienteering and tracking skills to use to try to locate two friends who are riding their bicycles across the country. Jaimee and Ale recently graduated from college and chose to put off life in the “real world” for a few months to ride  from San Francisco to Portland, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and then east across the plains.  After about four hours of driving we located them on Highway 9 in the hills southwest of Colorado Springs and surprised them with lunch and cold drinks in a nearby pullout. While we ate and heard about their adventures, Ale provided a brief serenade on her ukulele. She currently has a limited, but eclectic repertoire of songs ranging from “Friend of the Devil” to “Let’s Get it On”. One can only imagine what she will have learned by the time their ride is completed.

If you want to live vicariously (and avoid the chaffing and flat tires) you can follow Ale and Jaimee here.

And, now, time to head home for a couple of days of relaxation.


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