Thank you Bruce Lee Williams – You Made a Difference

We lost a truly great person on May 22nd 2016 when Bruce Williams passed away in San Jose California. Bruce was just awesome. He personified the quiet leader who spoke with actions and few words. I learned a lot from the little time I was able to spend with him. And I’m grateful and humbled that he shared that time, wisdom, advice, humor and a beer with me.

bruce-lee-williams-office-of-silicon-valley

The backstory – our company’s employees are mostly in Houston, Austin and California. As a virtual company when you expand you still need a physical space to “go to” and to “meet” when you travel. Coffee shops only go so far. So when April Kyle expanded Tendenci west to California she carefully chose just such a place – The Office of Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale.

It is easy to think of an office as a physical place. But they are so much more. And this becomes even more important when physical interchanges between employees are fewer because we’ve moved to Zulip (or Slack) and online ticketing system, github, gitlab, redmine, tendenci (we use it ourselves too), gmail, skype and a few other open source tools that hold our company together. And trust me, you still need a few trusted physical spaces.

And if those physical locations are run by a trusted and wise elder who is humble but wise, then you have truly found a diamond.

That diamond – his name was Bruce Lee Williams and he was welcoming and supportive when we expanded to California far far beyond what any typical co-working space that I have experienced is like. His depth of knowledge was astounding as were his connections, but you only knew this if you asked him as he was respectful to everyone and sometimes entrepreneurs are too knuckle-headed to ask for advice. Luckily our team isn’t like that.

Bruce helped me personally in so many ways, sometimes in a 5 minute talk, sometimes giving me 2 hours of his time on the spur of the moment. That time had value, which he and I both knew and, well maybe I’m repeating myself, but this is a man I truly respected. He was the real deal and while the world may not know his name like they know Steve Jobs’ name, I assure you this humble man had as much impact on Silicon Valley over the years as anyone I can think of. He spoke softly. And people listened. I listened.

Bruce – I appreciate everything you did to help my team, to help us continue to grow Tendenci. I appreciate the meetings you set up for me on a moments notice when I flew into town unannounced. I appreciate that you let my team bring their dogs to work. I appreciate the epic ping pong battles and the creativity of your own company. You are missed. You are legend Sir. Legend!

From: http://www.darlingandfischerchapelofthehills.com/obituaries/Bruce-Lee-Williams-2842612690/#!/Obituary

bruce-lee-williams-office-of-silicon-valley

Obituary for Bruce Lee Williams

Bruce Williams passed away surrounded by loving family and friends on the evening of Sunday, May 22. Bruce fought a valiant fight against the ravages of pancreatic cancer for 18 months. He fought hard and with his typical upbeat and positive nature, more worried about how his disease was affecting others than himself.

Bruce was born in St. Charles, MO on July 7, 1950 to Frank and Gladys Williams. He graduated from William Jewel College in Liberty MO and served his country in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.

In the early 1990’s he founded Westminster Promotions and was the driving force in its success. Surrounded by a dedicated group of individuals, Westminster is the quintessential small business where its employees are family and Bruce loved and valued them all.

Bruce truly was “one of a kind” and he “never met a stranger”. He had the unique ability to make those he came in contact with feel like they were the most important person in the room, and it was genuine – to him they were! He loved people and was interested in their lives, hopes and dreams. He never saw himself as a mentor and yet that is exactly what he was. He mentored so many people and led by example, demonstrating a determination to succeed, a loving heart and an unparalleled zest for life.

Bruce is survived by his loving and heartbroken wife, Kathryn Williams, his children Courtney Williams (Montique), Brian Brown (Kelly) and Matthew Brown (Kristin). He will miss the opportunity to watch his six grandchildren grow and thrive under the legacy he leaves – Jaelyn, Nate, Evelyn, Nora, Landon and Ethan. He will be missed by the “sister he never had” Diana Elizondo and brother-in-law, Larry Elizondo. He is survived by his brother Doug Williams (Elma), and loving nieces, nephews and their families. And finally he leaves behind the friends who weren’t related by blood, but by love, and were considered family members – you know who you are. He was pre-deceased by his brother Frank and they are probably up there somewhere sharing a thermos of gin and tonics and shooting a round of golf.

A Celebration of Life, followed by a party he Bruce would have loved, will be held on June 4th at 3:30 at the Williams’ home, located at 20890 Hidden View Lane in Saratoga. Because parking is extremely limited, a shuttle will be provided from Saratoga Elementary School, 14592 Oak St. Saratoga, beginning at 2:30. Return shuttle will be provided until 7:30.

Donations in Bruce’s name may be sent to The Helen Diller Family Cancer Center at UCSF.

——————-

From his bio on his company’s site at: http://westminsterpromotions.com/about/bruce-williams

bruce-williams

Bruce Williams

Founder, Westminster Promotions

As founder and CEO, Bruce has consistently led the company for the past two decades with vision and purpose.  His keen eye for talent has allowed him to assemble a strong group of professionals who exhibit their considerable skills to insure the client is highly satisfied with the end result.  His extensive background in sales has provided him with the ability to clearly understand the needs of the client and to guide them to the best solution.  Bruce brings exuberance and passion to the job and coupled with the seniority and wisdom of a Silicon Valley veteran, that makes for an unbeatable combination.  Clients have included AT&T Labs, TiVo, PalmSource, NetApp, National Semiconductor and many other Silicon Valley heavy hitters.

Mentor

With many years of experience, who better to guide this team of creative professionals?  Our fearless leader is in the office every morning by 7:00 and doesn’t leave until the job is done and done right.  Need advice?  Call Bruce.  Don’t understand a business acronym someone just threw at you?  Call Bruce.  Need a laugh?  Call Bruce.  There’s a reason the name Bruce is nearly always associated with “The Boss”.

Weekend Warrior

When he is not in the office you can find him wrangling his small herd of grandbabies or perhaps poolside playing bartender.  Bruce is ever the gracious host and makes a mean Cosmo although recently he’s been dabbling in the world of Margaritas.  He plays just as hard as he works and we love him for it.

I have no doubt this post does not give proper credit to the amazing man that Bruce was. Bruce was not only humble and very influential, but also quiet like many of us. He didn’t share his troubles and his passing caught me off guard. All I can say is, and I think he would agree with this statement, great people are all around you. Hug them now because life is short.

I am thankful for your positive influence on my life and for the help you went above and beyond on for our company. You rock Bruce. And you are truly missed already.

In closing, all I can say is what Bruce would say. GO SHARKS!!!!!

go-sharks

Win one for the Gipper y’all.

PS – once the Sharks win their first NHL Championship, which I guarantee Bruce is watching right now, then the ping-pong leader board in Heaven will have a new competitor. A soft-spoken, strong competitor and leader.  Rock on Bruce. Rock on.

Email Subject lines, links and numbered lists – Communicate with clarity and respect

The burden of communication is on the communicator; not the recipient.

Therefore proper email communication and email etiquette is for YOU to use

  1. Use active and strong subject lines – be exact
  2. Link to exact content or web pages – nobody has time to google it
  3. use numbered lists – numbered lists in email define priority
  4. limit use of bulleted lists – bulleted lists in email are for the lazy communicator

Further, try to use reasonably short paragraphs. Use these guidelines on how to write a decent email that might actually produce results.

Seals at La Jolla in California
Seals at La Jolla in California
Specifically email communication must use:
  1. Email Subject Lines – all emails need a well articulated and relevant Subject Line.
    1. Examples of good email subject lines:
      1. Client X going live on Tuesday July 29 before Friday Board Meeting
      2. Training help file on email etiquette posted on eschipul.com
      3. “Feast with the Beast” Presale Facebook AD text (sent to the zoo)
    2. Bad subject lines torture your coworkers with anxiety which lowers morale and greatly reduces profitability.
    3. Every time an email is sent with a bad subject line, a baby seal dies. This is sad. Save the baby seals! Use good subject lines!
  2. Links to the EXACT content or subject because ease of use changes behavior.
    1. Ease of use changes behavior. Without links people will NOT click through to see the work that has been done.
    2. It is rare that an email goes out that is truly not about SOMETHING that should be linked. Yes exceptions occur, but they are rare exceptions. Link to what you are talking about. Or don’t waste other people’s time if you are just that lazy.
      1. Think about it. It is not your coworker’s responsibility to overcome your unwillingness to copy/paste a link from a site you are probably looking at when you sent the email!
    3. Every time an email is sent without relevant and specific links, a baby seal dies. This is sad. Save the baby seals! Use links!
  3. Numbered Lists – organize your information.
    1. Bulleted lists suck – bullets are fundamentally evil because they do NOT convey priority by the sender (YOU!). Yet the recipient invariably starts at the top assuming this is in fact the top priority.
    2. Numbered lists with priority 1 being first – The value of forcing yourself to use numbered lists is that the sender (you) must organize your thoughts before confusing everyone else. It has been my experience that most people do not “order” bulleted lists but numbering makes them think about it.
    3. Raise your hand if you like numbered lists! Now raise your other hand so things balance out. Or to put it another way – be kind to people who need this structure. It benefits you if people understand your message. Embrace diversity including “diversity of types of thinkers.” Structure and prioritize your content in email communication, or really any communication.
  4. Use Short Paragraphs – with rare exceptions
    1. Shorter paragraphs with strong subject sentences greatly increase reading comprehension.
    2. Speed readers tend to read the first sentence of a paragraph and use that to make a decision if they should bother reading the rest. Shorter paragraphs means more of your message is consumed regardless.
    3. They force you to organize your thoughts before wasting everyone else’s time!
  5. Don’t use Nickel words – save them for scrabble
    1. To repeat – the burden of communication is on the communicator, including in email, not the recipient. While it is possible to write in tongues, this needlessly reduces comprehension.
    2. But don’t oversimplify an email as that just make it more confusing. Just make it as simple as possible and no simpler.
    3. If you must use an idiosyncratic word – well – LINK IT!
We all value our time. You do. I do. Everyone does. So it frequently seems expedient to send an email quickly without thought. The problem is the person receiving these emails might be receiving 500 emails a day and there is no way to Get Things Done without more data.
For example assuming you – not putting a decent subject line – costs each recipient 1 extra minute of time to comprehend (if they give you this minute), then an email that saved you 1 minute, just cost a company of 30 people 29 minutes of billable time. This is very real money. And these are very real emotions on the part of the recipient.
Don’t be mean; take the time to write decent emails. Or don’t speak.
[Note: this was an internal company help file for years, I probably wrote it around 2002 or 2003. This is just me reposting it for public consumption.]
[Update: You may also want to check for readability. I blogged about the gunning fog index here.]

Austin Coworking Write Up in the Statesman

Nice coverage of the Austin Coworking and Jelly communities in today’s Austin American Statesmen.

Instant coworkers
Austin telecommuters soon will have places to go when camaraderie of the office is missing

By Omar L. Gallaga
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, July 06, 2008

Julie Gomoll has been thinking about where and how she wants to work for a long time.

The tech entrepreneur “” who started and sold several successful companies since she moved to Austin in the mid-1980s “” has often worked at home, alone. (more)

Congrats to

  1. Conjunctured Coworking (heh… they have a "manifesto" link on the nav – awesome)
  2. Launchpad Coworking (hey guys, put in a redirect for the www. reference, eh?)
  3. Austin Jelly
  4. Michelle – general Austin trouble maker who just had a hugely successful blood drive. And is emailing me snarky challenging emails behind the scenes. But I promised not to blog that part b/c I’m not petty like that.
  5. Too many other cool Austinites that make Texas proud!

So what is coworking? The definitions abound on the coworking wiki. But for me it is a slightly tech heavy artists collective where you can rent out space and the social aspect matters.

What am I most excited about? The fact that the community is coming together. That is a good thing if it happens in Austin, Houston, San Antonio or Dallas (hello? Dallas? You up there still?)

Caroline Collective – The Early Days of CoWorking in Houston


  Caroline Collective Front Door 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul

I am super proud of @organ_printer and @kned for taking the plunge, and responsibility, of starting the Caroline Collective CoWorking Space. The CC is a coworking space being started in Houston. Right now Matt and Ned in the very early stages of signing the lease and working with the contractors. Currently the space is not inhabitable, yet already leaps to life.

Also a huge thanks to @Cosmopolitician for arranging a tour for @groovehouse, @imelda and me yesterday. And for doing the web site. And for promoting the Caroline Collective! I am pretty sure Monica doesn’t sleep. So anyway, more on the CC:

From the Caroline Collective about page:

Combining the relaxed working environment of the home office with a dynamic
social atmosphere, Caroline Collective strives to positively impact the cultural landscape of Houston by fostering community, collaboration and creativity across all artistic and technological disciplines.

Coworking is both a global and unique to Houston phenomenon. As the global marketplace continues to free the worker from his/her physical location, more and more young professionals work as either “digital nomads“ or as home-office based independents. Houston, as the preeminent global city is a the ideal location of the effect of market forces on the smallscale work-force. The coworking model encourages the free flow of projects and ideas and is founded on the belief that working together is working smarter.

This is exciting for the city of Houston!

It should also be mentioned that there is no doubt in my mind that Tara Hunt was instrumental in influencing the coworking movement both here and throughout the US. So thanks for the thought leadership Tara!