18 plus years ago I met the most unusual, soft-spoken, compassionate man. He was a tall, bald, goofy character. I didn’t know him well at first. We were co-workers and our paths crossed infrequently. As time passed an opportunity arose to start a business. There were three of us willing to take the leap of faith – two Jews and a Mormon. We were an unlikely threesome – we called ourselves MJ squared. If you asked me at the time, I never would’ve imagined that Adam and I, J squared, would be the surviving owners - but that was the way it was meant to be. We got to a point early on where it was clear only two of us would survive which presented a tremendous hurdle. We were forced to ask our other partner to leave and I will never forget telling Adam that I would do the dirty work, but he had to have my back. From that point on he ALWAYS had my back. He trusted me. He supported every business decision I made even though I am certain some of them kept him up at night. And yet, we ran a successful business for 14 plus years.
There were tremendous benefits which seemed to outweigh the risks. Our business gave us the flexibility to be involved in our children’s lives. When Noah transferred to Sandia High School, Adam could serve pizza to the kids at lunch and pick Noah up after school. He loved that. It was not unusual to see Noah sitting in the waiting room at TSG or hunting for something to eat in the kitchen. Adam could also stay home in the morning to put Benjamin on the bus; often working into the wee hours of the night to offset the late start.
We were truly a family at TSG. We frequently had a child or a dog in the office and as many of you are aware, Adam loved dogs. I’ve never seen anything like it. This strong, tall, masculine man would turn in to complete mush if anyone brought their dog into the office. He had this very sweet voice when he would talk to the animals – filled with love and compassion. (We finally had to change this rule when it seemed there were more dogs coming and going than clients.)
Which brings me to who Adam was professionally; he was hands down the best therapist I had ever known. People write to me or stop me on a daily basis to tell me how he saved their marriages, their jobs, their lives. Not only was he caring and compassionate but he was brilliant, insightful and direct – in the kindest of ways. He was always there for our staff and would start every conversation with, “How ya doin’?” He would drop everything to give you his undivided attention and to help you problem-solve. He cared about all of our children. He never hesitated to ask us how they were - and he really, truly cared. When he spoke to you, he made you feel as if you were the most important person in the world. And to Adam, in that moment, you truly were.
We were so different:
Adam was a night owl and I was an early bird. This actually worked really well at the office.
I was willing to take calculated risks; Adam just wanted me to tell him when it was over.
I was a clean freak….Adam, not so much. We were all in awe of the piles of paper in his office either on the desk or in the corner. I’ve been told that’s a sign of intellect. If that’s the case, Adam was truly brilliant!
Adam loved working with computers and was self-taught; We had a very small server room and when the door was ajar, we knew Adam was at his perch. He was patient with all of us as we were technophobes – He never minded telling us how to do something on the computer…..over and over and over and he never made us feel stupid.
Adam was a nut about safety and security and I was usually pretty lax. I used to leave my office unlocked just to annoy him. Even when he knew, he never locked it, nor said anything.
Adam was the ying to my yang. When I was bouncing off the walls, anxious or upset – I always knew where to go for grounding.
Adam was the only man at The Solutions Group. He was often outnumbered 10 to 1, but it never bothered him. He treated us ALL with respect – always as equals. He was even willing to go to “chick flicks” if that’s what we chose for a company outing. If he ever complained it was in jest.
He made us all laugh with his dry wit and ability to laugh at himself. He was secure in himself – both personally and professionally. He had incredible boundaries and worked very subtly to teach us all the same.
He fenced for many years and he truly loved that. I always wondered why he gave it up. Adam loved music and instilled that love of music into Noah and Benjamin who are both accomplished musicians. He took guitar lessons for a time, and I always wondered why he gave that up as well; probably too much to do at work and the desire to focus on the needs of his family, whom he adored and always talked about lovingly.
In spite of our differences, or maybe because of them, we grew to love and respect one another on the deepest level. There were times when we drove each other crazy and even got angry but we ALWAYS resolved our differences. As Suzy, Adam’s sister-in-law, said to me last week – I was the sister Adam never had and I felt honored by that. We lost family members, dogs, cats and clients together. We spent 14 years building a successful business. We had many challenges….mostly around money and computers but we weathered every storm, hand-in-hand with the best of intentions and grounded by our ethical commitment to our work, our clients and our staff.
On a lighter note I would like to share Adam’s Top Ten Rules to Live By:
- Chocolate is a food group
- Never eat anything with cooked raisins in it
- Clothes do not make the man
- Being on time is highly overrated
- You can never be too careful or too safe – LOCK EVERYTHING
- There is really only one correct way to load a dishwasher – it’s designed that way – Denise is aware of this quality control issue
- The only teams that REALLY matter are the Yankees, the Celtics, the Patriots and the Lobo men’s basketball team
- If you start something, try really, really hard to eventually, someday, at some point…. finish it
- Clean up after yourself (this will make more sense later) and,
- Trail mix is just that……which leads me to……
One final story – this is an exact email sent to the staff in January of 2013
I first sent this e-mail in December of 2011, due to a TSG internal crisis. We have new staff members, so I thought it would be a good idea to reissue the Trail Mix Directive:
It has come to my attention that some of our employees are not happy with the Kirkland Trail Mix situation. Apparently, Costco mixes together the ingredient fruits, nuts and candy in Kirkland Trail Mix. To clarify, the fruit, nuts and candy which constitute trail mix are not separated within the bag, but are actually mixed together. To further clarify, the Trail Mix is mixed.
Apparently, some, perhaps many, of our employees do not enjoy all of the aforementioned Trail Mix ingredients. Indeed, there are those who prefer and even pine for a sole ingredient within the amalgam. I have to date ascertained that at least two employees have been put to the trouble of having to extract M & M’s from the mix and at least one other has been forced to dig out only cashews. I am glad to say that I know of one employee who eats everything but the peanuts. Brava, you stalwart adventurer!
I weep, copiously, at the thought of an employee having to reach into the bags of Trail Mix with her fingers, spoons and possibly other implements in order to extract her own preferred ingredient. I did not sleep last night and may not tonight.
In order to provide a more trail mix-less experience, I am asking Jina to no longer purchase Kiktland Trail Mix, but to instead procure each of the trail mix ingredients so that everyone may combine, or not combine, as she desires. Only when we may each choose freely, will there be harmony and peace. Only then will we be the kind of organization in which the lion may lie down with the lamb and eat only the trail mix ingredient (s) preferred (and not the lamb).
On second thought, maybe it would just be easier if no one picked anything out of the Trail Mix. So, new TSG rule: no picking things out of the trail mix; it is unfair to others and, frankly, disgusting (bare hands sifting around in the trail mix bag! Yuck!).
If you like M & M’s, buy some. If you like cashews, ditto. If you like everything, but peanuts . . . well, I leave that to you and your conscience. So, to clarify, DO NOT PICK ANYTHING OUT OF THE TRAILMIX! To further clarify, DO. NOT. PICK. ANY. THING. OUT. OF. THE. TRAIL. MIX!
Oh, and don’t leave your dishes in the sink.
Or the sponge.
Thank you for your kind attention.