Meetings Over Meals

The research for HR Pioneers pretty much started in restaurants. Jim Morris would set up meetings with Norb Berg, Frank Dawe, and Gene Baker over supper, and the five off us would meet. At first we met in a Greek restaurant right next to the Epicor building where I work, then other places along I-394 like the Olive Garden and the Macaroni Grill. Since I work days, it was the most convenient to find a restaurant close to Epicor. So I would wrap up some afternoon projects and then head to a restaurant, hungry and with notebook in hand.

These meetings were a terrific way for Jim, Norb, Frank, and Gene to visit too. As they shared memories back and forth, I got a great sense of the corporate culture at Control Data. Right away I could see these four really enjoyed working for the company and with each other. They passed along a lot of their history as they remembered the different projects and events they participated in during their Control Data careers. I would only ask a question when something wasn’t clear or when I wanted to get more information on a certain subject. Most of the time I would be busy scribbling notes, trying to keep up with the conversation and the information flow.

Now restaurant tables are not exactly the largest, so it was always a challenge finding room for my notebook and my plate of whatever I ordered and my glass of raspberry ice tea. As I didn’t want my dish to get cold, I did need to eat and take notes at the same time. So I used these meals as an opportunity to practice eating left handed while I wrote right handed (I’m right-handed). This actually worked okay, and I learned to order meals that had stuff I could stab at easily with my left hand. I also made sure to use a smaller notebook. That did mean I had to turn the notebook pages more often, but it was just enough space for simultaneous eating and note taking. Those early meetings were invaluable, interesting, and quite fun. I gathered the starting information I needed to begin research on the book.

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