Joe

"Don't confuse my kindness for weakness." - Joe Schutzman


I was a 26 year old consultant on my first real project in 2000, working for a client in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The project was a mess. We had very little subject matter expertise, even less leadership, and it was going the wrong direction. Joe Schutzman was one of the people that came to the rescue. He brought a sense of calm and composure, and the ability to simplify a complex situation. And, he taught me the difference between being principled and being stubborn.

I've known a number of stubborn people in my life, probably most notably my Grandfather. It doesn't make them bad people, it just makes them, well, stubborn. Sometimes principled people get confused for stubborn, because they are so tied to their belief system. But, there is a big difference.

Joe was flexible on details, but determined on direction. This applied in business, as well as his life. This is the essence of a principled life. He was the champion of the pirate spirt in our team at work. I believe it originally came from the quote, "I'd rather be a pirate, than join the Navy." Regardless of where it originated, it embodied his spirit of never accepting the status quo. He was the consummate transformation agent, which is not necessarily common in someone so principled. There is often beauty in contradictions.

Joe passed away this morning, with his family in Kansas City. He will be missed, as a colleague, friend, father, husband, and sibling. But, his impact will live on, setting the bar for all of us to live a principled life, yet never being afraid to disrupt the status quo. He will be missed by all that knew him.

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14 comments:

  1. He will be missed. News like such helps put things in perspective. It matters every day how we live our life, how we work with our peers and team members. We have so much to learn from each other, and ultimate goal is to be happy within.. Joe taught us that.

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  2. Joe's guidance is with me always.

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  3. There are those rare times that even meeting someone for 30 minutes can have an impact on your life and career. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Joe and subsequently hired last year. If not for Joe, I wouldn't be here, pursuing my dream with IBM. In that short time, and talking with him briefly afterwards I understood why he was respected so very much. God bless you and your family, you'll be missed.

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  4. I know it is brave, maybe too brave but I will tel Joe was my friend and even more, even we met only 2 times in person, but he was one of the humans who you meet in your life and you think, feel and see that they are the ones who you met not just because... and not by accident. Should I say more... He will be missed. I hope to meet him THERE again

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  5. Very well-said, Rob.

    Joe was a very kind and thoughtful person. But, when it came to a business decision, he was determined and never afraid of speaking up (or even failure) as long as he believed it was the right thing to do.

    Joe taught me so much: from business operation to people management, and simply to becoming a better person.

    I'm so fortunate to have Joe as my teacher, colleague and friend. He will be missed.

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  6. No matter when they sail away, it is always too early and difficult for those staying on the shore. Let's raise the black flag!
    "To Err is human. To Arr is pirate!"

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  7. There are many great memories and lessons learned from Joe I will take with me in my life. The most touching was very close to the time Joe shared he was stepping down from his role in IBM to focus on his health. By this time, Joe’s leaders and I were doing all we could to find answers on our own to challenges the team faced and letting Joe focus on his health. Out of the blue, I got a call from Joe. He was calling me to see how I was doing and to see if there was anything he could help with. I chuckled and said, “Joe, that’s the question I should be asking you!” But, that was Joe. He was always there to help see how he could help the team achieve their goals no matter what his personal situation was at the time.

    It's overwhelming to hear the stories from team members (like those above, Slawek and Michael) around the world that Joe positively impacted. I was on a call with my leadership team. She shared a struggle she was having at work and once she shared the challenge with Joe, she said "everything changed". Like you said, Rob ... he sets the bar high for the leaders who had the opportunity to work with him.

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  8. Joe will always remain in our lives especially with me learning to "do what is right for the organization" Joe met me in India last year and the story for Lab Operations in India changed 360 degree by helping us adopt the Design culture, having a Agile Studio. Joe has definitely felt his foot print in India Lab and will be remembered always.

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  9. Joe stood to greet me the first time we met, and listened to me, hands folded in front of him, with a kind of formal attention. Formal in the sense that good manners are formal — ie adhering to standards set up to make sure the other person feels at ease. I was, in that moment, happy I'd chosen IBM. I believe great companies are places where respect for others is simply expected. My sympathies, Rob, on losing this gracious man you worked side by side with for years.

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  10. Many of us work with Joe on just a few occasions and yet felt his impact in how we work and treat others. I can only imagine the positive impact he had on his family, friends and the colleagues he worked with frequently. All of us are better for the time we spent with him.

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  11. We get to work with many people through our lifetime, but very few will stand out for the good things they brought into our life. Joesph Schutzman aka Joe as we know him will be on top of the list for the good things he practiced, tried to have all of us follow. Joe's spirit is well captured by Rob Thomas in the above blog right from "Don't confuse my kindness for weakness" to "I'd rather be a pirate, than join the Navy... Regardless of where it originated, it embodied his spirit of never accepting the status quo". May god bless him, May god provide the strength to his family through the tough times.

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  12. Joe gave me hope during a tough time. He reminded me to never be transient when truth had revealed itself no matter how difficult it would be. We are lucky to have his family and friends continue to share his talents in his absence. May he rest in peace.

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  13. I met Joe in India last year. He was so full of energy which was felt for many days even after he left for US. Am so fortunate to have him as my Manager & Mentor. He will be missed. I still can't believe that he is no more with us. May he rest in peace.

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  14. I met Joe last year in India. He was so full of energy. I was fortunate to have him as my Manager & mentor. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.

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