How many of you remember Jack Tramiel? Jack was the rough and tumble CEO of two of the computer industry’s earliest pioneer companies back in the late 70’s and early to mid 80’s: Commodore Computer and Atari Corporation.
He was a big, ebullient, tough, brawling businessman who had no fear and only one item on his agenda: winning the game. If a few feathers on the other side (anybody outside of his own inner circle) got ruffled in the process, that was their problem. Let them take care of it on their own time, and maybe learn some lessons for next time.
A good friend of mine had a major distribution deal with Jack and told me once that he actually enjoyed the relationship because he pretty much knew what to expect. He once told me that the beauty of dealing with Jack was that you always knew it was coming; you just didn’t know when or where and the anticipation could be quite exhilarating…until it came.
And then sometime in the mid 80’s Jack went public with his life story while trying to raise some money to save Atari from yet another untimely demise. He told how as a very young man in Eastern Europe in the early 1940’s, he wound up in a concentration camp named Auschwitz and spent the next three years doing everything he could just to stay alive to fight again another day.
He mused that after the experience of the concentration camps, coping with the problems of business or life was a piece of cake by comparison. His own hoary version of “if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you.”
I don’t know what ever happened to Jack Tramiel after Atari went down, but wherever he is, I’m sure he’s still winning. And still raising Hell with everybody around him.
How different would your life in sales be and how much less would you complain about day-to-day events if you had spent three years in a concentration camp? Something to think about.
Addendum: Jack Tramiel—survival and starting over – MARCH 2013 NOTE link is now dead but I was hoping to find something under the wayback machine so I have left it in : Excerpt from a Fortune article published after this was written
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