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Never Tell Anyone You Wrote Your Software on Napkins, Even if You Did

By John | January 26, 2009

I was reading Lance Weatherby’s blog post today titled “Know Your Audience” and it reminded me of a great story one of my old employers use to tell.  Mario Morino, the CEO and founder of Morino Associates, was a maven in the Northern Virgina high technology scene back in the 1980′s.  Mario, a swashbuckling young and rich entrepreneur, was always the first to arrive at a party and the last to leave.  He would often hire a bus for the evening and drive all of his employees to a Georgetown pub crawl.   In Vegas, at CMG meetings, only a fortunate few were able to attend some of his famous “penthouse” parties. Though the man lived to party hard, he also had some great parting wisdom.   One of the best stories I ever heard him tell was his “Know Your Audience” tale.

As usual, one night at a technology conference, Mario was buying everyone drinks in the bar/restaurant.  One of his customers asked him “How do you guys create suck great software”?  Mario, after slamming the last of his Glenlivet replied -”We go to the bar at the end of the day, then get shit faced drunk, and then start pulling out the napkins.” A few weeks later he received a call from the CEO of the Christian Broadcast Network concerning the the 5 million dollar software deal that was currently on the table. The CBN CEO had a few concerns about Mario’s said software development practices.  It turns out that one the CBN employees was having dinner with his wife and was in earshot of the dapper Mario.  Mario did some fine tap dancing with the CEO and eventually the deal was closed.  However, for a few weeks it was a real close call for everyone.  For years now I have tried to live that advice and I always try to watch what I say to anyone whom might be within an earshot of my voice.

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One Response to “Never Tell Anyone You Wrote Your Software on Napkins, Even if You Did”

  1. Lance Weatherby Says:
    January 26th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Here’s another one for you. Always. I mean always wipe your white boards at the end of a meeting. You would not believe some of the stuff I learned by reading a whiteboard waiting for someone to show up to a meeting.