By Garrett Hill, CEO, X2nSat, Inc.
Stephen King wrote the words “Get busy living, or get busy dying,” spoken famously by Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne in the 1994 film adaptation of a King novella – the inspirational classic film The Shawshank Redemption.
Those words resonate with me now, and they remind me of an encounter I had many years ago that still shapes how I approach my business every day.
In 2003, I was a very fortunate man; I had the opportunity to attend a special event at the home Gordon Moore – yes, the Gordon Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation and Fairchild Semiconductor. The Gordon Moore of Moore’s Law fame. Moore’s Law, in its most recent incarnation and in much more complexity than I’m explaining here, essentially states that the speed of technology will double every 18 months. Moore’s law describes a driving force of technological and social change, productivity, and economic growth in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. When I was in college at Sonoma State University, all of us in the computer science department had been taught about this great father of technology. I knew I was getting the opportunity to be in the presence of a legend.
This event I was lucky enough to attend was a fundraiser for Conservation International (CI), one of the largest environmental organizations in the world. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the United States and operates in 30 countries on six continents. It’s a huge organization.
William Shatner – most famous as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk to those of us over 30 and most famous to those under 30 as the Priceline guy – was the guest speaker. I have to admit that his message and delivery were not that impressive, and I was a bit disappointed. However, the Ph.D. types who were there to speak about human-population growth, global food shortage issues, and other fascinating, life-changing topics, were incredible.
That night, Mr. Moore donated something like $180 million to the organization, and, as a result, they named a critically endangered species of Brazilian pygmy-owl after him. I must say, he should be proud; it’s a very good-looking owl.
So why was I at this world-changing event? I didn’t donate $180 million, that’s for sure. I was there to work, really. My job at the event was to provide a satellite link from his house in Atherton, California, to a research station in the Brazilian rainforest. It was way cool. As I was manning my post by the antenna and the video-conferencing unit that allowed direct conversation with the researchers in Brazil, an old man came up to me. He looked like my grandfather, about 5′ 8″, wearing a conservative suit, gray hair, and a warm smile. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry.
The Hollywood types arriving at the party breezed right by us. I suppose after their private jet flights from L.A., they were in a hurry to get to the bar. Some did stop and speak briefly via the video system to the researchers, but most went right on by, eager to mingle with the hip crowd inside.
I am not sure how much they paid to be there. My recollection is that about 500 guests attended the event and it earned about $250,000. I also remember the director of the event showing me about $150,000 in checks that the guests had given him that night. This was on top of Gordon’s $180 million.
Back to the old man … As the final guests wandered into the party, he stayed by my side and we had a nice conversation. He asked about our satellite technology, how it worked and what I had experienced in my six-year career in satellite.
I am sure you have guessed by now that this man was Gordon Moore himself.
Although Gordon had long since retired from the Intel Corporation at this time, his mind was still hard at work. He told me something that has never left my thoughts. What he said guides my decisions and puts fire in my belly even today. What Gordon told me went something like this: “My famous prediction was wrong. It’s not so much that technology will double itself every 18 months, it’s that a COMPANY needs to reinvent itself every 18 months if it wants to stay relevant.” He then continued to elaborate and build a case for his argument, and I – listening intently – bought every word of it.
And with that, our company had a new force driving us forward. Since that fateful night when I was able to hear the wisdom of a legend, we – as an organization – have never looked back. We have and we will continue to significantly improve our services and products every 18 months. We will not become irrelevant.
In the next few weeks, there will be several exciting announcements coming from us here at X2nSat; we are about to embark on the new, exciting chapter. We will be making significant investments that will bring services and technologies to our corporate users that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
There are many companies in our industry who do what we do. Many of them are managed by professionals whom I fondly call friends. Some of these friends may choose to retire or ride out the current trends until the checks stop coming in. Some will innovate, invest, “get busy living,” and join us as we help shape the future.
To spark your creativity and appreciation for innovation, just take a look at what SpaceX – a company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft – and Virgin Galactic – the world’s first spaceline – are doing. The future of satellite is going to be exciting.
INSET PHOTO CAPTION: Gordon Moore (left) and Robert Noyce founded Intel in 1968 when they left Fairchild Semiconductor. Andy Grove joined the company the day it was incorporated. • By Intel Free Press [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons