Sunday, November 6, 2011

An American Pioneer

Like nearly everyone else in this economically strapped environment, I have a healthy respect for the accomplishments of Steve Jobs - what he did for the human use of technology, what he did for anyone who ever worked for Apple or bought Apple stock, and what he did for himself and his own legacy.

For every Steve Jobs, though, there are probably a hundred, no - a thousand pioneers who don't make it to Apple's level of corporate success. I've got one in particular in mind, because what he did for the human use of video technology, and for anyone who ever worked with him or for him, exceeded by a million fold anything he ever did for himself.

Eugene Grayson Mattingly was a video pioneer. Dating back to open-reel video tape, Grayson put his creative and eminently practical talents to work every day to help organizations and individuals learn, communicate, accomplish their goals, and achieve their own successes. With his unique and often quirky blend of technical expertise, practical economy, and unerring sense of effectiveness, Grayson turned so many of us "working Joes" into heroes in our organizations.

Unlike Jobs, though, Grayson never resorted to heavy-handed, ego-driven, genius-driven insistence. He couldn't, of course. As a consultant, he won over his clients by showing them how they could be successful; they had to agree to spend the money to hire him. Of course, it didn't help that he charged only what he thought was reasonable. He knew he could and would deliver exactly what he promised. He didn't need to overcharge to cover for likely overruns or unanticipated problems; he had the vision of the solution so clearly in mind that he rarely missed the mark in estimating. And he never took advantage of a client's ignorance.

Mattingly Productions will be remembered for its reliable, effective, and surprisingly creative work with non-profits, not-for-profits, government organizations, and yes, corporations.

Those of us who have been privileged to work with Grayson himself will never lose that sense of his surprising talent, remarkable humility, and warm and caring humanity. We have been unbelievably lucky to have known him.

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