Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Date night

The most important startup I'm part of isn't Yellow Yellow, it's my marriage to Cassiopeia. You may not have thought of a marriage as a startup, but it is. The first thing you look for is your co-founder and from then on the two of you are in charge of making things happen. Of course, you don't hire your team you give birth to them (we have two lovely boys, Dagwood and Spaniel), but you're still there mentoring, encouraging and motivating.

Part of being married is giving your co-founder space to grow and develop their own talents. Tonight is B&C's Date Night and I'm out supporting Cassiopeia's personal mission. She's the Executive Director of a non-profit called The Healing iTouch Foundation that brings children from poor communities together so they can experience their first Apple product. These poor children barely have enough food to eat and so miss the nourishment of using the latest consumer electronics. Healing iTouch brings groups of kids together once a week and sets them free on iPhones, iPads and MacBook Airs.

It's an enriching experience for everyone involved. The educational value of working with iOS devices is incredible. These kids literally know none of the important gestures such as pinching, tapping and swiping. HiT enables them to learn with each child getting 15 minutes iTouch time. And for myself and C we know that we're making a difference. Somehow seeing these children using Apple hardware is more real than our own children's three hours iPad time per day.

At the end of each session the children who've done best take part in the HiT Parade where they get to show off their iOS skills to the rest of class and receive a double helping of the food that the foundation provides. This always seems to be the kids' favorite part of the evening.

Tonight, C invited me to give a motivational speech to the children after they've spent time on the Apple devices. I decided to tell my personal story growing up in Hoboken, NJ and relate how the first time I saw an Apple device at the Apple store in Tyson's Corner, VA changed my life. I hope the kids will be motivated to work hard, focus and get an education so they too can share in the Apple experience.

Seeing some of the children working with Apple devices is amazing. It's not uncommon to see them cry when the machines are taken away and beg to be allowed to stay a bit longer with excuses like "It's cold outside". But that's another valuable lesson that HiT teaches: time management. Use your 15 minutes well, or lose it.

After my speech tonight one little boy came up to me and said simply, "I'm hungry".

I wanted to take him in my arms and tell him: "I feel it too, champ. I feel it too. I feel the hunger to succeed, to create a product that Johnny Ive would truly appreciate, I know precisely what you're going through."

But C says that at iTouch we have a no touch policy in case we get sued. Pity, that kid looked like he could really use a hug.

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