"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.