June 11, 2012

Sad Goodbyes, starting with Ray Bradbury

Sitting in front of the computer last week was a challenge mostly due to the passing of Ray Bradbury.  He was easily one of my greatest inspirations in life.  For you who do not know the name he wrote such classics as Farenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Martian Chronicles.  I don’t know if I can illustrate his contributions better than Sam Weller who said, “His influence is astonishing. Why? Because Ray Bradbury wrote like Monet painted. He strung words into melodies worthy of Bach. He envisioned the future better than Nostradamus ever did. Ray Bradbury was a writer who wrote from the heart, stories drenched in compassion. Stories that were often melancholy and celebratory all at once. He had the ability to give voice to the human soul.”

Ray Bradbury inspired me to write (and in my clumsy, unedited style).  It has been a passion that I have pursued through my whole life and for the last three years has manifested itself in this blog.  But more importantly he taught me to see the world through metaphors.  I see the world through non-relational concepts and objects.  This has been the foundation of my career.  It has allowed me to abstract business principals into two successful software companies.  It has given me the insight to relate how two businesses with seemingly different objectives can formulate successful relationships.  And it has helped me to draw connections on how technology will connect and influence behavior in the future (especially in the wine industry).  It also has influenced my language how I describe digital to everyone.  When I talk about Twitter I reference it as the digital answering machine for your brand.   When we mention Foursquare I call it the digital guest book for your winery.  And Facebook is your kiosk in the world’s largest mall.

I actually met Ray Bradbury.  It was in the 90’s at Niebaum Coppola when he was invited to do a private speech to a group of wealthy individuals.  I snuck into the back, trying to avoid management while I hid behind the casks that line the room.  In an audience of 100 people, I watched mesmerized by the man whose books I’d devoured through my childhood.  He spoke as passionately and as effortlessly as it felt reading his writing.  At the end, on his way out of the chateau, I was allowed to shake his hand.  I offered him a clumsy letter that I had taken three weeks to write thanking him.  When I handed him the letter he softly touched my face and said, “do great things son, do great things.”  This single chance meeting became my magnetic North.  I constantly go back to his writing for inspiration and when I became an entrepreneur, this quote was the guiding light as I entered the world of managed chaos, “If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down,” Ray Bradbury.

On another bitter sweet note, VinTank will be moving.  We have been at 1250 Main St. for 3 1/2 years and when we built this office we were a consulting firm with eight people and our goal was to build a place that could serve as a beacon of inspiration for the entire industry.  I think we accomplished that goal and we are thankful for all our customers, partners, and visitors that helped make this place magical.  There are exciting things happening with VinTank (that unfortunately we can’t announce in this blog post yet).  This move has nothing to do with the success or health of VinTank but is a decision based on two factors:

  1. We have some incredibly interesting things in the works and we hope to announce them soon.
  2. Our office space costs us $84K annually and we’d rather reduce the cost of an office (which currently only houses 3 people) and instead dedicate the majority of those funds to more software development and make our product better.  We believe.
We hope you’ll stop by in the next few weeks and help us say goodbye to a place that served as inspiration to us and we think has acted as the epicenter of wine and digital for the last three years.  We are looking forward to the future together.

  • Thanks for a touching memory of a great writer.

    Wishing you and VinTank great things.
    All the best,

    Nannette Eaton

  • Pamela

    Ditto what Wine Harlot said…cheers and all the best

  • Vic Motto

    Paul, thank you for your inspiring story about Ray Bradbury.  He was truly great and you were smart to recognize that in your childhood.
    Wherever you’re moving many will follow.

  • Julie Brosterman

     Great story. I don’t know if you saw this one in today’s NY Times but as a lover of food and wine I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

  • Paul- Wishing you all the best and sitting on pins and needles in anticipation of the exciting announcement.

  • Jmccan

    Great story.  Bradbury has been quoted as saying that Farenheit 451 was not a dystopian novel, but was a statement on the role of TV in destroying interest in literature, creating a society that absorbed nuggets of info without any context.  He was also not a fan of the internet, smart phones, etc… 

  • Susan DeMatei

    Paul – can’t wait to toast to you in your new digs!

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