Thursday, June 18, 1998 by Dave Winer.
I have a big piece to write today. Ooooh. Hey to warm up I'm listening to the B-52s. More dancing music! But very very different from The Neville Brothers.
The B-52s sing so deliberately, so seriously, but the lyrics are so damned silly!
On the bus to the plane to the UFO and to outer space baby. Moving thru the spheres faster than light on our way to some planets that are out of sight!
Space driver give it a spin and take us to some places we ain't never been.
Here we go!
Can you see a change here? There is one. Not just in what I'm doing, but in how it's happening. I want to tell the story of how I got to this place.
In early May I had an incredible healing experience. It wasn't deliberate, it happened by accident. I went to a weekend gathering of friends at the massage school I went to four years ago. People came and went over the 48 hours.
On Saturday night there was a birthday party for me, about fifty people were there. It was an incredible experience, a concert, dancing, lots of talking and touching. A circle of adults with open hearts, behaving much as kids do when they're happy and on their best behavior.
On Sunday the group of adult-kids sat in a circle and we told our stories. I played the role of interviewer, a role I often seem to take. I asked direct questions. Then came tension, which erupted into an intense shouting match. I went into a trance! This is just like it was when I was growing up.
I rely on logic and facts, from my point of view, of course. And people use illogic to corner me. It's very frustrating! Only this time I'm not a helpless kid, I've got the experience and confidence that comes from being a 43-year old man.
It got worse and worse. Everyone seems to be against me! Oh man. It's just like a flamewar on a mail list. I threatened to leave if they didn't start acting respectfully. Then something happened that showed me how to resolve the repeating loop in my life.
The two people who had been arguing with me most intensely, a man and a woman, did something that I had been waiting for 35+ years for. They embraced me in a huge hug. I let my head go inside this warm dark mixed space and sobbed and cried and let it out, breathing, tears flowing freely down my face.
When I emerged I felt more relaxed and confident than I have in my entire life.
What a strange feeling!
I then went outside and one of the more distant people, a man named Miles who hadn't spoken in the group, came out and said something that took me to a whole other place.
"You're the most loved person in the room," he said.
I was shocked! I thought exactly the opposite was true. I let the idea settle in and realized he was right. Then, on the drive home, I looked at everything I do, and realized that I work really hard to be that.
This caused a fundamental change in my view of the world and my role in it. It's very simple. Instead of looking to the world to give me its love, and paying the price, I can give myself the embrace I need and let the world take care of itself.
That may sound cruel, but I'm just one person. I can't hold up the world, not even a small part of it. The best I can do is take care of myself. I can't do more than that.
In my public writing it means I can dance my own way, and if some people have a problem and flame me, that's OK.
And in software it means that I can insist that my team to do what I want them to do. And in business it means that users can pay money for my software and be even more satisfied with the results.
The irony of the first couple of months of this new regime is that people seem to love me even more! Go figure. (I'm not complaining.)
Shortly after the early May weekend I met with my team and told them that I would stop writing checks to support UserLand at the end of June. I had to go thru a lot of fear to do this, but it was a great feeling for me, because it meant that by July I would be free again. I was ready for that!
But my team surprised me and at the same time frustrated me. Now, with this new time limit, they got hot, especially Bob Bierman. It was an amazing transformation.
I hired Bob in late 1996, and he worked with Doug Baron thru 1997 to get the Windows version of Frontier ready. But I had already worked with Bob, in the mid-80s we did a project together that in many ways was the most successful software shipment I have ever done, a product called Ready! It shot to the top of the charts in record time, largely due to Bierman's brilliance and drive.
But the work relationship at UserLand wasn't going that way. I thought Bob had gotten old, had burned out. He was still doing good work, but it wasn't the magic collaboration that I remembered.
Anyway, after telling the team about my decision, I went for a walk and they went to lunch. They came back with a plan to take Frontier commercial. I groaned! Oh man, I was going to go on vacation. Sheesh.
There were a lot more steps in this process, which I don't have time to write up now. More lessons, Bierman drives the process, the same story was being repeated in lots of other places, more changes needed. UserLand wants what I want, to find a new happy place in the world.
Now we're about ready to release the commercial version of Frontier. You'll see a different attitude. A new Dave and a new UserLand. But all the old ideas were right too. We're ready to do a new kind of software company. You'll see.
We'll have fun! (A new slogan.)
PS: Let's make money! (Another new slogan.)