A story from Sir Tim

I had the good fortune this week to meet the inventor of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners Lee. He is currently touring Australia and after he gave a public lecture at Melbourne University, I was lucky enough to attend a private session thanks to the AUDA and meet him personally.

Firstly, I’d like to say he was a total gentleman, who is very humble for all that he has given us. Over drinks I asked him what seemed like the first non techie question he’d been asked all night, and his answer I found totally inspiring. The dialogue is below:

Me:Tell me how it feels to have created something everyone loves and uses every day…. How do you cope with all the attention and adulation?

Tim: “Well, I’m just Tim, a normal guy around campus. But, it is interesting you asked that, because I made a conscious decision to avoid the public sphere for the first 10 years after I created it. I didn’t do any interviews or make any public appearances. Mainly so it wouldn’t interfere with my family. About 10 years into the web I received a letter telling me that I was to receive the Millenium Prize in Finland. It turned out that the ceremony happened to be on my son’s birthday. So I wrote back to them saying that I couldn’t make it on that day as it was my son’s birthday. That I could come if they changed the date. They then wrote back to me saying something like… ‘You don’t understand Tim, this is like a really big thing, and the dates can’t be changed….’ And then I wrote back saying, ‘No, you don’t understand, nothing gets in the way of my family, I’m very honoured, but you’ll have to give it to someone else.’ Well – in the end they were determined that I come and suggested they fly our entire family over so that we could still celebrate his birthday as a family, and so that I could still get the prize, and that they would pay respect to my sons birthday at all the ceremony. So I asked my son Ben and he was ok with it. In fact, he really enjoyed his birthday as entire auditoriums sang him happy birthday and he had something like 5 birthday cakes while we were there.”

I thought this was cool and grounded. In fact, it’s a terrific thing when someone you respect greatly, gives you more reasons to respect them after you’ve actually met.

(A photo with Tim – He said ‘Send me a copy of the photo!‘ – but I’m sure he says that to every fan boy who asks for a picture.)




Everyone cares

How to make a Hungry Jacks (Burger King) Whopper:

  1. Take the top of the bun and swipe mayonnaise across it twice starting in the middle of the bun and swiping out ways
  2. Sprinkle lettuce onto mayo base just enough so the white of the mayo shows through the lettuce.
  3. Add two slices of tomato on top of the lettuce at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock.
  4. Put the meat patty into the base of the bun.
  5. Spread 4 pickles in a dice configuration while using the squeeze ketchup bottle in opposite hand to spread the pickles.
  6. Squirt 3.5 circles of ketchup on the beef patty starting at the outside of the circumference.
  7. Lightly sprinkle onion onto the ketchup at 50% of the thickness of the lettuce.
  8. Place both thumbs onto the tomatoes of the bun top and flip onto the base.

Serve hot!

The reason I’m sharing this with you is, that I learned how to make a whopper over 20 years ago, at a wage of $3.00 per hour and I still remember exactly how to make it. It was and probably still is, the lowest paid job available in the economy.

And yet a business colleague recently told me his his employees didn’t care about their job or the brand of his company because they were Uni students, and part time workers. What a crock. I took particular pride in making fast, well formed whoppers. Even thought it was a menial wage. At the time I was in year 9 at school and had zero intention of going to University or finishing school for that matter, yet I still cared. I cared because I had good managers, encouragement and there was a culture of doing your best, maybe even a little healthy competition to make the fastest and best burgers. It’s my strong belief that the vast majority of people take pride in what they do, no matter how menial it happens to be. So when I hear people saying their employees don’t care about their job, because it is part time, or low paid, I tell them this story. The story that all people no matter what they do have pride in their job, so long as one ingredient is in place:

They know we value what they do, and we treat all employee efforts with respect, regardless of where they stand in the hierarchy.

Startup Blog says: Employees will respond to how we treat them. We must respect them in the first instance. When we do this and we’ll get results reflective of human nature, not the hourly pay rate.