Bill was without doubt the most influencial person in my professional life. Soon after I joined IDEO in the mid-90’s, Bill asked if I could help him with the production of a series of videos to describe IDEO’s process. That inquiry began a process that led me, with Bill and David’s support, to create and lead the in-house media discipline there for a long and fulfilling tenure. As my skills in media production grew, I struck and informal deal with Bill: I’ll show you what I know about video while you help me understand interaction design. I believe I got the better deal.
Bill was that rare human who could simultaneously embody profunditiy and goofyness in such a way that each quality enhanced the other. The word ‘exuberant” always comes to mind whenever I think of Bill, but it’s an exuberance that’s not exhausing to be around – it’s inviting, gentle, and wise.
I also blame Bill for getting me addicted to coffee.
On my last day at IDEO, Bill hosted my going-away party, serving up (at my not-to-be-taken-seriously-request) gin martinis to the group. He was his usual gracious self, and I knew I had been given a great gift. Not just the party, but the amazing opportunity I was given to have worked with him for ten good years.
But it didn’t end at IDEO. A few months after I left, Bill asked if I had time to work on finalizing the DVD for his first book project. Easy answer. For a solid couple of weeks, I drove up to Bill and Karin’s beautiful home in the hills and we would sit down (with salubrious servings of coffee) and crank out the final touches to meet the publishing deadline. It was my chance to see another side of Bill; the intense, focussed, get-the-thing-done side.
Five years later Bill’s influence in my life was revealed again, when a design team at Apple used Bill’s name as a search query in their applicant database and my name came up. Bill had written me a lovely recommendation on LinkedIn. The hiring manager was Bill’s first American employee at ID2. I landed the job, the best one I’ve had since IDEO.
I resonate deeply with Naoto’s beautiful tribute to Bill on these pages. Bill made me a better designer by his guidance, and a better man by his example. I feel as if I’ve lost my professional father. Thank you for being such a wonderful one, Bill. I will still strive to make you proud.