Celebrating My Mentors – Tim O’Gorman

When it comes to relationships, I think one thing that people notice most about me is that I tend to keep my cool. I don’t “blow up” when others would. Not bad for a guy who had always been a hothead – I got into a LOT of fights while growing up. I always had problems with being too emotional and unable to hide my feelings.

From about 1987 through 1993 I worked as a contract software developer  for a major petroleum exploration company. The head of the group I worked with was Tim O’Gorman. What stuck out to me about him was that he was soft-spoken.

In the years I worked for him I saw how he dealt with corporate political situations and personal attacks at the company. We were dealing with a lot of personal computer policy issues with the corporate headquarters and under his guidance we won all of our “battles”.

I remember more than once Tim would take his “enemies” to lunch. He was determined that they could find common ground to work towards a goal. He believed that we were all working toward the same goal, just had different ways to go about it. I watched him and saw how successful he was at bringing people together.

I’ve said this to many people, “He who keeps his cool, wins.” It’s my paraphrase of a conversation I had with Tim many years ago. He and I were talking about one of the conflicts in the office when he mentioned that he’d call the guy in question up and take him to lunch. He said that it’s amazing how walls can break down over a meal. I’ve experiences the truth of that many times. But then he said that when things get heated up in a situation, it’s the person who keeps his cool that has a better chance of coming out on top. Number one, it’s the ability to keep your cool that becomes apparent to everyone. People start to listen when you can speak calmly in a situation that is anything but calm.

i’m still a hothead on the inside – well, not as much as I used to be. By making myself “stay cool” on the outside, I’ve become must cooler on the inside. It takes a lot to really make me mad.

Tim, thank you for teaching me one of the most important lessons in my life.