This is a personal post, and way overdue. Feel free to tune out if you prefer, no offense.
Today, December 19th, is Paul Greenberg’s birthday. You may have known that, if not – feel free to wish him a very happy one.
The reason I am writing this is because I am at a loss as to what you could gift someone who seemingly needs nothing. So, I am going to use the only two gifts I have to give: writing something, and making a fool of myself in the process.
As you probably know if you read this blog, Paul Greenberg wrote in 2000-2001 a book called “CRM @ The Speed of Light”. Paul wrote a seminal tome on a then fledgling enterprise application called Customer Relationship Management. I had been doing that thing, CRM, for about 2 years then – selecting and implementing it at my then employer. It had been out for about 10 years (Tom Siebel wrote in the S-1 for Siebel that they invented it in 1991), and really available for little more than a couple of years.
What Paul did back then was to, in the words of Siebel executives repeated many times since then, “validate CRM as a business”.
Of course, being an analyst at the time with Gartner I dismissed the book since — how could he know more than we did? We were THE hottest team in the world when it came to CRM. Turns out I did read the first edition sometime in 2002-2003 and I was surprised. The book was good (yes, we had more material in some areas, but not bad for a “civvy”), informational, but more than anything else – entertaining. You could read it and understand it without a problem, you had a feeling that he had suffered understanding the basic concepts so he could explain it “for dummies”.
It was a good book. I must confess I skipped version 2 and version 3 was a skimming thing mostly. Alas, Paul was doing very well building his reputation and influence, educating tons and tons of executives, and making sure they all knew what CRM was and what it did for business. While, we even had him keynote at one of the Gartner CRM conferences (or two) back when version 2 came out (OK, second edition – sorry).
Fast Forward another few years and I am leaving Gartner. As I was doing my studying to become an analyst again (mostly reading about the market and talking to people), I came across his blog. He had posted a good article on whether he was going to adopt the Social CRM name or not for the fourth edition (he was favoring CRM 2.0 and I was with him on that – yet another time I was wrong). I commented that I’d prefer 2.0, then he replied something and asked for my email, we started corresponding and talking, then exchanging information, meeting at conferences, etc. Throughout all this time I was trying to decide what to do with my life when I grew up (IF is a more fitting description, per my wife) and talking to Paul about it.
Why am I telling you this? Because Paul became a very good and true friend. I am sure if you ever met Paul you would agree that he is the nicest person you will ever meet in this industry (probably outside of it as well). He knows everyone, everyone respects him and adores him. He has been called the Godfather of CRM – and never has a name been more fitting. He truly cares and grows this industry like no one else. I cannot find a single person that will openly express a single bad word or thought about him (and, trust me, this industry likes to gossip like teenage girls at the mall).
It was this Gentleman who made sure we all had a market and an industry to express our craft and our passions. Would things have turned up the same way without him writing the book and tirelessly working to grow CRM into what it is today? Maybe, but it would not be even close to being as interesting as it is today. I cannot find anyone that compares, in any other place, to Paul.
He is a consummate professional who cares for the career well-being of everyone whom he calls his friend.
He is a true friend to those who take the time to get to know him, as few good friends could be.
He was a true mentor and my biggest supporter while I was deciding what to do.
He is very generous, almost to a fault, and very friendly — even to those who waste his time (alas, he is always learning so not much is a waste of time).
He is a role model, and what I aspire to become.
And, without him I would probably be at some company doing something else I hate. So, my gift to you, friend, is a very public and heartfelt Thank You, and a promise to not waste what time and patience you have given me, and the certainty that if I could be at 60 half the person you are today I will have fulfilled most of my personal goals.
Happy Birthday, Paul. Thanks.