Remembering Hank 1999 to 2015

June 3, 2015


Our beloved Cocker Spaniel, Hank, died at 15.5+ years of age on June 1st. Nancy and I knew how fortunate we were to have him with us every day of his life. As he got older, we knew every day was a bonus day.

We want you to know about him and his magnificence:

• Hank wasn’t a dog—he was our puppy son. We built our life around him not because we had to, but, because we wanted to. He needed us; we needed him.

• Hank had many nicknames, the most common of which are Hanker, Hanker Dude, Mr. Hank, and Zen Man.

• Hank was a quiet, gentle being. His sister, Gracie, a Bichon Frise, who I wrote about when she passed, was a bit more of an alpha—a bit more assertive and protective of us than Hank. Hank earned the nickname “Zen Man” for his quiet demeanor. After Gracie died, whenever Hank would encounter another dog he would simply wag his tail and prepare for engagement.

• He snuggled with us with us every night since 2005 when Hank and Gracie finally wormed their way into our bed. It was easy for him as he had the middle of our king-sized bed while I prayed not to fall off the bed nearly every night given the very few inches of space he allocated to me.

• Hank loved people and dogs. Hank was the “mayor” of our community, greeting everyone he could. He always seemed a bit disappointed when he encountered no people or dogs on his walk. When someone wouldn’t acknowledge him when they saw him that, too, seemed to disappoint him a bit.

• Hank taught children how to be around dogs. He would stand quietly as we taught children how to approach a dog they are not familiar with and how to pet a dog. This was particularly important for children whose parents had come from India or Asia and lacked experience with dogs. The kids loved Hank, their rock star. The kids would flock to Hank just like paparazzi to a movie star. Unlike most movie stars, the adulation didn’t negatively impact Hank’s ego.

• Hank’s hobby was watching Nancy cook. He always hoped to score food which he did. He wasn’t a picky eater. He loved sliced apples. And, puppy treats. If Hank had a nickname for me, it was probably “The Treat Guy.”

• We have always been blessed with great veterinary care. When we got Hank to the vet to be euthanized, his puppy chiropractor, Dr. Deb Sell, (who Hank loved because she made him feel good), was in the office. She turned this somber occasion into a party for Hank. She gave him a number of treats and suggested that we feed him soft, canned dog food to distract him from the process and activity. Dr. Lim of Kirkwood Animal Hospital liberated Hank from his tired body in an amazingly smooth and compassionate process. The experience could not have been better for Hank. We are so grateful for the ease and grace that Hank was able to experience in his final minutes.

Our home is as empty as our hearts at the moment without Hank. We’ll get through this. Our puppies are our kids. They teach us about unconditional love, open our hearts and bring us tremendous joy.

Dave’s mentor, Alan Weiss, wrote in his book Thrive that he thought perhaps God made one mistake in that dogs have a relatively short life compared to ours. He’s right.

We miss Hank. God, you have your puppy back. Thank you for your gift to us. We entrust him in your care until we can be reunited. We have nothing but gratitude for Hank.

Nancy and Dave Gardner


Gender Discrimination Verdict Predictable

March 30, 2015



When a plaintiff is unable to connect with a jury, the outcome is not surprising.

Ellen Pao lost her gender discrimination case against one of the most verable venture capital firms in Silicon Valley: Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers.

Juries are not comprised of multi-millionaires. Consequently, juries have little sympathy for a plaintiffs seeking millions of dollars in damages particularly when the plaintiff seems to be doing well professionally. The violation(s) must be so egregious that there is little doubt that there was a violation of the law.

Was there legal merit to Ellen’s case? Yes. Yet, she and her team were unable to sway the jury that the law was violated and she was due just compensation and damages..

Many believe that Ellen Pao’s case will make companies–many based in Silicon Valley–think more closely about gender discrimination. I hope they are right. Gender discrimination continues to be a real issue.

Photo Credit: David Yu on


Thought for the week:

I’m proud of Marc Benioff, CEO of, and the City of San Francisco for being amongst the first to take Indiana to task for their anti-LBGT law. Many others are following suit. Arkansas will apparently follow Indiana’s lead. May Arkansas, too, feel economic loss for what will ultimately be held to be an unconstitutional law just as Indiana’s law is unconstitutional. Why?The equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will be the basis for striking down these laws. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides that “no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction ‘the equal protection of the laws.’”
What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Careers At A Crossroads

March 2, 2015



Yogi Berra has an expression, “When you get to a fork in the road, take it.”

The passing of one of the all-time great jazz trumpet and flugelhorn players, Clark Terry, has me thinking this week of what might have been had I stayed in the music business.

When I finished my undergraduate degree, I immediately pursued earning an MBA. That decision meant I’d have to give up playing trumpet professionally. I knew I could always return to music if and when it made sense.

I was concerned that if I did not stay in school, I’d get distracted and end up paying a huge price later. Working full-time in high-tech and the evening MBA program left me no room for playing my horn.

Clark Terry had a gift for inspiring others to attempt the jazz life. “The technical demands of this art form are so high, and the financial rewards often so slight, that only the most gifted and intrepid souls need try” writes Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune this past week. Musicians know this all too well.

Clark offered me inspiration to “attempt the jazz life” as Reich offered. Yet, I resisted, believing that the financial rewards might be lacking and intermittent and, recognizing that, while I was talented, there were other trumpet players both known and unknown to me who could replace me.

Being a professional musician is a very competitive and, often, a cut-throat business. I encourage you to see the movie Whiplash which offers some perspective. Towards the end of the movie, we hear (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you do really well tonight, it can launch your career and if you don’t, you’ll be looking for a new line of work.”

Did I make the right choice? Yes. No question.

I knew what happened to musicians who lived on the road and, frankly, it wasn’t pretty. I knew what the musicians playing in the studios lived like and their lives were very stressful. I didn’t want to do something I loved so much for a living. And, I didn’t want to always be looking over my shoulder wondering if the trumpet player across the room would be replacing me on the next gig.

How does playing trumpet impact my consulting today?

  • I still have to play to the crowd–my clients
  • I have to lead with a strong, clear intention if I am to succeed and my clients are to succeed
  • Improvisation teaches that there’s more than one way to get to an end result while still achieving the objectives within a framework
  • I can’t rush or drag in terms of tempo–each client is different in terms of the tempo at which they can absorb change
  • I have to have fun along the way

Photo Credit: of Dave Gardner playing Taps for a Wounded Warrior event on September, 11, 2011

Thought for the week:

“If a user is having a problem, it’s our problem.” – Steve Jobs
What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

Clark Terry Jazz Musician Extraordinaire

February 23, 2015

Clark Terry, jazz musician extraordinare, passed at the age of 94 in recent days.  He was an inspiration to me and millions of jazz musicians throughout the world.

Like Clark, I played trumpet and flugelhorn in bands ranging fom jazz quartets to big band jazz groups. My jazz mentors included people who had played professionally with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Maynard Furgeson and other big bands.

Clark and I shook hands in an elevator at a hotel I stayed at during a Northridge jazz festival in Southern California back in the 1970’s. Clark had heard me play that day and congratulated me for my solo with a big band jazz group. I was stunned beyond belief to see him and to hear his kind words. Yet, that’s who Clark was: a kind, generous and enormously talented man.

We’ve lost some great musicians in my lifetime. The loss of Clark Terry is huge. What a great life he lived.

Here’s a video of him doing a couple of solos with the Tonight Show band. Enjoy!


2014 Year In Review

December 31, 2014


There are so many things that occurred during the course of 2014, I wanted to mention a few things that stand out in my mind.

• The San Francisco Giants winning their third World Series in five years
• The pitching of Madison Bumgarner during the post season—no one has ever had such a low earned run average (ERA) in the post season
• Mo’ne Davis and her victory in the Little League World Series
• The passing of Robin Williams and seeing what an incredible, generous, multi-dimensional talent he represented
• The tragedies suffered by Malaysia Airline and AsiaAir
• The rise and horror ISIS represents in the Middle East
• The horror in Syria
• The police and the harsh treatment of some of our citizens and the citizen protests across the nation
• The U.S. Secret Service troubles
• The Republican landslide in the 2014 mid-term elections and what that might mean for the gridlock that has plagued Congress
• Dell World 2014 and seeing how Dell has been unleashed by going private
• The retreat of gasoline prices in the second half of this year and the economic impact it is having on nations
• The San Francisco 49ers letting one of the best coaches in football go because the owner and general manager “couldn’t figure out how to make it work” between the three of them
• My dad’s recovery from heart surgery and actions he took to alleviate sciatica pain that had compromised his life for over 10 years
• My wife’s commitment to her mother the past 8 years—her mother is now in a home and my wife is recovering from her 24/7 caregiving efforts
• The outstanding support I received from Microsoft to resolve an Office 365 challenge

I’m sure I’ve omitted some important things on my list that are on yours. I welcome your comments.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting,

© 2014 Dave Gardner

Photo courtesy of Dan Moyle of Flickr

Gravity & Virgin Galactic

November 3, 2014


Imagine trying to overcome gravity.

Consider the massive amount of power required for a traditional Cape Kennedy rocket launch. That massive amount of energy is for one purpose: to escape gravity.

Sir Richard Branson and his team at Virgin Galactic are seeking ways to safely overcome gravity for consumers who want to experience space tourism. It’s a daunting task. And, as we saw this week, overcoming gravity requires innovation that isn’t without some risk.

Virgin Galactic will find and fix the problem(s) and open space to mere mortals in a year or 2 or 5.

When I grew up, President Kennedy’s challenge to “put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade” was a bold, audacious challenge. Sir Richard Branson’s goal for Virgin Galactic and space tourism is just as inspiring.

I applaud the Virgin Galactic team for their vision, their tenaciousness and their courage.

Photo Courtesy of  Jason Jenkins on Flickr

A Blog Post You Might Enjoy

Entrepreneurs: Hope Is Not A Strategy

Thought for the week:

“Space is hard, but worth it.”  – Sir Richard Branson
What do you think? I welcome your comments!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2014 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

25th Anniversary of 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

October 17, 2014


The 6.9 magnitude quake struck at 5:04 pm on the 17th of October, 1989. It was, by far, the largest quake this native Californian had ever experienced. I was at my office in Milpitas standing in the doorway of the Customer Service Director’s office talking to a couple of colleagues back east. I remember my exact words:

“Wow. We’re having a earthquake. It’s a big quake, Pete—we’re out of here.” And, we hung up.

I thought the false ceiling and fluorescent lights might fall on me. I dove under the secretary’s desk just outside my colleague’s office (she had headed home early that day to watch the Giants play the Oakland A’s in the world series at 5 p.m.). While the earthquake was still shaking, I pulled the phone off the desk above me and called my house. We didn’t have cell phones 25 years ago and I knew the phone lines would be jammed for hours. I immediately reached my house, confirmed everyone at home was okay, that I was okay, and I would start driving home immediately.

I didn’t know at the time my usual 20-minute commute would take 2 hours that night. Why? With all the power out, traffic built at all the intersections. I didn’t want to drive under any overpasses on my way home out of concern they might not be safe. I thought carefully about how to select a safe route home.

The vast majority of drivers were pretty courteous under the circumstances. I stopped by the retirement home where my grandmother lived to check on her and was nearly hit by a driver speeding in what would have been the parking lane without any headlights on.

That night was a bit scary. The evening was warm so we had the windows open. We had no way to circulate the air, so, it was a very long, warm night. All we heard were first responders (fire, emergency medical services) making runs all night long. Nothing but sirens.

Our power came back on about 11 a.m. the next day. We were very fortunate. Some would have to wait for days or weeks.

We had a few thousand dollars worth of damage. It was 10 years later we learned that our brick chimney had been damaged and needed to be rebuilt. We were lucky that hadn’t toppled over the course of the 10 years and cause extensive damage to the house.

I remember thinking we had no way to protect ourselves if someone wanted to loot our house. I wondered if I needed to acquire a gun. I never have. We were home and didn’t work the next day—the power outages would have made it impossible.

I did get a voice mail from one of my employees, Judy. The call was haunting. She drove home to the Big Basin area near the epicenter of the quake the next day. She lived in an apartment built over a 3-car garage. One end of the garage collapse throwing all her stuff from one end of the apartment to the other. Her voice mail message revealed the horror of what she had just seen. As she drove to her place, all the other homes were fine. It wasn’t until she reached her place that she saw any devastation. Her landlord lived in the main house, a 4,000 square foot, multi-story home. That home had been pitched off its foundation about 10 feet down the mountain. It, too, would have been a total loss.

While most of the major media was located in San Francisco and showed pictures of fire and destruction there, we live nearly 50 miles further south and much closer to the earthquake’s epicenter. Our friends and relatives worried that if San Francisco suffered the impacts it did, Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz must have been removed from the map. It was an understandable concern for the next day after the earthquake.

All in all, the Bay Area was very fortunate—the deaths and injuries from the quake could have been much worse. Here’s a link to a very good article about the earthquake.

Dave Gardner

© 2014 Dave Gardner