Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Intersection of Preparation, Opportunity, and Cliff Krieger

There's an old saying that luck is what happens at the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

I thought about that on Sunday when I read a great New York Times article about Chris Hughes.  I knew that Chris was worth several hundreds of millions, thanks to Facebook (soon to be the largest IPO ever), had bought the New Republic, and had been involved with the Obama Administration.  What I didn't know before reading the article, though, was that Chris had been a Literature major...err, concentrator -- not a tech guy per se. He was fortunate enough to be a roommate of Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, who had the heavyweight programming skills.  They saw that he was great at *other stuff* -- he could communicate better than they could, he could work the phone calls and e-mails from clients, investors, and users, and was excellent with the customer/public relations bit.  He was savvy enough to strike when the opportunity presented itself.  Now, he's still in his twenties (with a few years to spare) and is one of the wealthiest people in the world, regardless of age.

Obviously, there's a great deal of luck involved there, but it isn't the *dumb luck* of a lottery ticket winner, a guy who finds $20 on the street, or even someone who shows up at one River Hawks game all season and walks away with Pavilion season tickets for all next year.  Instead, it's the luck of a person who had worked extremely hard to get to where he was, had demonstrated competence and trustworthiness to the people who mattered (in his case, the Facebook founders), and then worked even harder to help see their collective dream come true.  

I thought back to the Chris Hughes story when I caught wind of the rumors swirling around that Cliff Krieger is being considered for the potentially-upcoming vacancy on the GLTHS board.

Cliff didn't seek a seat on this board any more than Chris Hughes sought to stumble upon roommates with a conception of a business that would someday change the entire way that people communicate and be worth nearly $100 billion.  But, like Chris, he wasn't trying NOT to.

Cliff is well-known as a respected, thoughtful public intellectual who contributes to community life via the blogs, CityLife, guest columns in the Sun, the LRCC, MLF, and numerous other organizations and causes.  He has a rock-solid reputation in a field where that sort of thing is the coin of the realm.  By putting himself *out there* in the way he has, he's become part of the conversation.

Naturally, then, when the possibility of a vacancy came about, Cliff's name factored into things.  A phone call was made, and Cliff expressed an interest.  Maybe not as dramatic as Cincinnatus being called "back from the plow" but the concept is really one and the same.  Similar to the way in which Zuckerberg and Moskovitz viewed Hughes and brought him on board, people recognized Cliff's integrity, this thoughtfulness, and his work ethic.  The preparation was there -- not in the literal sense of a person 'preparing' or 'grooming' himself for a GLTHS board position -- but in the general sense of someone preparing himself to be closer to where the lightning might strike.  The opportunity (Lenzi moving) is like so many other external events that have launched political careers (like, say, the recall election of Gray Davis that brought the Governator, or the abortive Mexican endeavor that thrust Paul Cellucci into the Corner Office) -- it wasn't brought about or even influenced by the person who stepped in, but it happened because, in politics as in life, stuff tends to have a way of doing that.

Cliff would be an excellent choice to fill the vacancy if and when it occurs.  I would be thrilled to see it happen -- not because Cliff is a close personal friend, or because Cliff is a 30-year veteran, but because he is someone with the characteristics that we say we value in a public servant.  To think that we as a community can make good on that lip service by putting Cliff in an important position of trust and responsibility is, well, pretty awesome.  

1 comment:

Progressive Veterans said...

Awesome. I don't have to write this diary, now. You hit the points squarely.

"... he is someone with the characteristics that we say we value in a public servant."

- Jack