Inside the Mind of a Genius

I don’t have the exact quotation but in the movie The PatriotBenjamin Martin,  gets a hold of the personal journal/diary of General Cornwallis. After reading it he states something to the effect of, “I’ve just been in the mind of a genius.”

Well earlier this week , I finished reading the blog  of founder, CEO, and Chief Geek at SmugMug, Don MacAskill, and I feel like I’ve been inside the mind of a genius.

Yes I read the entire blog.  I read it in reverse chronological order from his latest post April 27, 2009 to his first in June 21, 2005. It took me nearly a month to read the entire thing (I started on April 30), but it was well worth it. I learned so much.

I’ve never meet Don–I have seen him and other SmugMuggers at the Mountain View Farmers Market, with their Canon dSLRS*, but if the man behind the blog isn’t merely a persona, I’m inclined to believe he’s a pretty cool dude.

Over the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll be posting additional thoughts from my trek “inside the mind of a genius,” but here’s a few initial musings:

  • Don is extremely passionate about what he does.
  • As the title “Chief Geek” implies, he’s quite technologically savvy: ZFS, memcache, RAID, Solaris, PSD, OAuth, H.264, API. You name it, he’s heard of it (and he’s blogged about it). From what I gather, he was a data center guy in a prior life, and it shows.
  • He takes a strong stance on security. And firmly believes that my photos are my photos, not his (last paragraph), unlike some other companies in the valley that tried to pull a massive “media/content grab” to their users malcontent.
  • He hates bad customer service about as much as I do, and he pushes his team to excellence in customer service.
  • Of course, the converse is true: He loves great customer service.
  • Along those lines, he isn’t satisfied with half-baked solution or answer. He demands the best from his team and the technology.
  • People really are his strongest asset, and he takes care of them like he believes it–he puts his money (and benefits) where his mouth is.
  • He has a “premium” philosophy, both on the supply and demand side. He considers his product a “premium” product that should be paid top dollar for. At the same time, he’s willing to spend top dollar for premium support, premium features, etc. Amazingly, he even bemoans companies like Apple or Red Hat that won’t let him pay more for additional features.
  • He’s a self-proclaimed Apple fanboy, but doesn’t pull any punches when he thinks they missed the mark.
  • He’s a family man, and as mentioned above, he takes care of his employees and their families as well.
  • Suits are definitely not his thing.

Genius…sheer genius.

I’m sure I’ll be pulling more tid-bits and philosophies from his blog in the coming weeks. Again, I’ve never met him, but I love what he has written because it’s so rich with deep management, business, technology, and personal philosophy.

Oh, and Don, if you’re reading this, I’m not a stalking you, I’m just a huge fan 🙂 . Your story and philosophies are really quite inspirational.

*I couldn’t see the model number, but based on his blog, I’m guessing they were Canon 5D Mark II’s

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