Having some fun with AR

On our vacation a couple weeks back, I asked the kids if they would like to make a movie. Alex had found Google Playground on my phone, of course, and decided to use the fox as the main character in his movie.

Leaving Mirum and WPP

John M. Baker photo

After 9 years with WPP, I’m happy to let everyone know I’m leaving Mirum. It is only when you stop taking the train into NYC, or a car to JFK, that you realize how much time and energy you spend working.

That said, Mirum has been a great place the last 4 years. Nothing brings teams together like a big pitch, and it is amazing to see how an idea like an agency culture can be picked up and rallied around by people all over the world.

I hope Mirum can maintain its ability to be agile and entrepreneurial.

The definition of what is a digital agency has gotten more and more cloudy as all agencies do digital, but there is something in the original digital agency culture that still rings true and feels different. It isn’t what you do, it’s how you do it.

Of course when you’re pushing like mad to get things done, you forget how many of your personal projects have been neglected.

If you’ve come through to this page and read this far you are probably wondering about the leaky wooden sailboat and crumbing farm house. One is a lot further along then the other, but both are big awesome projects!

Nordic Eagle
Ames Hill

From AdWeek on March 14, a nice gift for Pi Day!

WPP’s Mirum Names New U.S. Leadership as Global CMO Departs

News also follows exit of global CEO and founder Dan Khabie

By Lindsay Rittenhouse, Patrick Coffee | March 14, 2019

From left: David Painter, managing director of Chicago, L.A. and Northwest Arkansas; chief commerce activation officer Jay Mathew; and David May, svp of sales and marketing.

Mirum U.S., the WPP agency formed in 2015 via the consolidation of J. Walter Thompson’s global digital properties, has announced a series of key promotions following the recent departures of founder and former global CEO Dan Khabie, who resigned to pursue other opportunities in January, and global CMO John Baker.

Baker, who just confirmed to Adweek that he and the San Diego, Calif.-based agency parted ways, said Mirum has no plans to replace him. He had been with the company since its founding and spent another five years before that at JWT (now Wunderman Thompson). He said he looks to work with tech entrepreneurs and independent digital agencies after taking a brief break from the marketing world.

Similarly, Mirum does not plan to directly replace Khabie.

“As we continue to grow across the U.S., we are dedicated to creating a best-in-class team to support our clients.” Amanda Seaford, U.S. CEO, Mirum. Meanwhile, David May, vice president of client engagement, has been promoted to senior vice president of sales and marketing. David Painter, managing director of Chicago, will now be managing director of Chicago, Los Angeles and Northwest Arkansas. Jay Mathew, COO of the Mirum Shopper unit, becomes chief commerce activation officer of the agency. Joyce Zincke, head of operations, has been promoted to COO.

“As we continue to grow across the U.S., we are dedicated to creating a best-in-class team to support our clients,” Mirum U.S. CEO Amanda Seaford said in a statement. “These promotions will see that Mirum leads the way across all our business functions and remains at the vanguard of agencies embracing change in this new industry landscape.”

Baker, alongside Khabie, is credited with leading JWT’s digital capabilities before playing an instrumental role in the global Mirum network, which is now a stand-alone agency within Wunderman Thompson. He helped merge JWT’s 11 digital networks, which included Khabie’s company Digitaria, to form Mirum in 2015. Baker guided the branding and culture initiatives through the merger and managed the implementation of the different agency platforms. He also led the 2016 merger of Quirk, HeathWallace Dubai and Cleartag to form Mirum’s Middle East and Africa division.

John M. Baker, former Global CMO, Mirum

John Baker, former global CMO of Mirum.“Our focus was to start with the people and the culture first,” Baker said, reflecting on the formation of Mirum, “Celebrate, not hide the successes of the acquired businesses. We brought people together through events and new business. Communication was prioritized and constant, including providing easy ways for teams to use social media to launch the new agency.”

In 2017, Digital Clarity Group praised Mirum’s leadership for following “best practices” through its formation, noting that 70 to 90 percent of mergers and acquisitions “fail” because the companies in question do not prioritize managing organizational change.

According to a person familiar with the business, Baker’s role had been largely operational across Mirum’s global offices. “That component is needed less” as regional CEOs have now taken up those responsibilities, the person said, explaining the likely reason why Mirum eliminated the CMO role.

With the new leadership appointments, Seaford, who became Mirum’s first U.S. CEO in July 2018, is now strategically placing key leaders across the country, the person explained. May is based in Arkansas, Painter and Mathew in Chicago and Zincke in Minneapolis.

“[Seaford] is being very strategic in spreading the work across the country,” the person said, so that Mirum’s San Diego headquarters is no longer seen as the sole “strong hub.” This source added, “she’s creating a more diverse team, truly. … They’re all great leaders.”

Still, “John is a major cultural loss to the business,” the person said. “He will be missed by all the entrepreneurs in the network.”

Khabie’s exit earlier this year came on the heels of the merger of Wunderman and JWT, although he said he had notified WPP CEO Mark Read about his plans to resign in early 2018. In an earlier interview, Khabie declined to reveal any specific plans regarding his next venture but said he hoped to have a related announcement in the coming months that would “definitely” fall within the marketing and technology sectors.

Making the “Agency of the Future”

If it sounds cliche, it probably is.  Ironically it is also exactly what our clients are asking for and even using it as the name of the initiative as they look for new approaches to marketing.

At Mirum we’ve been working on stepping back from the talk and doing the hard work around the systems and tools that can really allow people to work differently and deliver a better product.

At Dreamforce, SF Society Magazine posted some of my thoughts on how Salesforce can support agencies.

The challenge every company faces is how to be different, and how to be better.

For marketing agencies, this is doubly difficult. Our biggest asset is our people, and while we invest heavily in culture, people routinely move between agencies. They move because they can be productive quickly, and they can be productive because, despite all of the branding we put on our methodologies, what we do and how we do it is pretty commoditized.

And no one wants to be competing as a commodity.

We also have the challenge of client expectations. Moore’s Law has set the bar high.  Every business is under pressure to make its product twice as good every 18 months, and to sell it at the same price.

Can we really expect our creative director to be twice as creative every 18 months?

Read more:  https://www.mirumagency.com/en/news/creating-the-agency-of-the-future 

The Salesforce marketing team also created this video:

Making a House a Home – PBB Memorial

There were a lot of things Mom did and did really well.

But I don’t want to talk about the gardening or the painting, the travel or the photography — I want to talk about something quite small that is actually really big — how she was amazing at making a house a home.

We know a house is really nothing more then a building and a collection of rooms, some furniture.

But a home is a place where you feel comfortable. it is a retreat from a busy, bossy world. A home is a place where you want to invite family and friends and where they feel welcome.

Mom made all of her houses into homes and we always felt welcome there.


141 Main Street in Farmington was a home.

In High School I wanted to spend all of my time there.  All of my friends wanted to spend all of their time there.  In fact when I moved out my friend Joe Vitti, moved in.

How is that?  I think it was because Mom welcomed people in, wanted them to be comfortable. She didn’t wrap the place with rules.  Instead she took the time to connect with people and we in turn wanted to spend time with her.


The ability to open up her home to friends and family and family friends she definitely got from her mom.

I think it is fair to say at least 1/2 of the extended Baker / Barry family tree lived at Grandmere’s house at 5 Perrin Road at one point or another.  And the other half of the time it was full of our friends.  Grandmere made a house a home by bringing big stories and great jokes, and gregarious dinners.

Mom was less about the party — she made a house a home by filling it with interesting things from far away places, art books she would pull down and reference for some project.  She would listen to All Things Considered while cooking in the kitchen and spread out the New York Times Sunday edition in the dinning room to read throughout the week.

She was perfectly content to work away in the sunny sewing room in Farmington and listen to the Metropolitan Opera.  She didn’t drive herself crazy with unrealistic expectations.  She felt at home.


The psychologists say a home is about a place you feel safe and you can welcome your family, welcome your friends.

When I think about Mom’s home in Newburyport I don’t think about the tour of the gardens, the walks through Maudsley park or the Newburyport Art Fair.  I don’t think about using Mom’s precious Plum Island pass to find the one open parking lot not occupied by endangered Puffin Plovers.

I remember the lobster dinners. All of us or some of us or just me and mom at her dining room table eating lobster.

Godfrey, I sure when you decided to fly the Piper Cub into Newburyport it was part the challenge of landing on that short grass field with an almost guaranteed cross wind, but really it was Mom’s lobster dinner.

And Lucy, I know the time it took to research the lost corners of the family tree and crafting the stories into a framed piece for mom — wasn’t it really about the lobster dinners? Making them even better as we talked about family connections?

Now Cyn, coming from Maine I don’t think it was about the lobster.  In fact I’m pretty sure for a while you didn’t eat lobster, and you may not even like lobster, but I can say that Mom couldn’t find the words to explain how much she appreciated the time you gave her, particularly in the last few years in Newburyport and then in Portland.  You would have all of the lobsters from Portland to Bar Harbor.

But it really isn’t about the lobsters.  It is about the time you give and the time you get to spend together.


And there is one more place I’d like to talk about.  It is this place.

It is funny, I don’t think I realized how much Mom loved this place until after Aunt Joan passed and we started working together to go through the house and figure out how to fix it up.

For Mom this was a place where in the fifties she had great, great friends.  Women she went to Barnard with.  Guys, like Jack North, who unfortunately couldn’t be here today. I learned last week that she took Jack to her coming out cotillion in Boston and he took her to his senior ball at Hotchkiss.

Later it was a home where she could relax  and enjoy time with her father.  Hearing about the manuscripts he and Aunt Joan were working on or simply sitting on the porch and enjoying the view.

We wouldn’t have this place if it wasn’t for Mom.  And Uncle Herb.  I hope we can make this house as much a home as she could, even without the lobster.

Because the best way to remember her is to learn from her incredible life and learn like her how to make a house a home.

PBB Memorial – from Macy & Sary


The first time I met Nan-Nan I was three weeks old and she came for Easter. From that moment on, I remember her coming to visit us, always interested more in our latest activities than talking about herself.  She loved to talk with us about gardening, family history, and her past adventures.

Those early years were filled with easter egg hunts, thanksgiving dinner, christmas gifts and halloween costumes. As we became older, and we could actually hold a conversation, Nan-nan would sit with us after dinner and talk to us about our classes, our favorite or least favorite teachers, and current events.

In the last few years I enjoyed writing lengthy letter to keep Nan-nan up to date about all the happenings in our lives. Nan-nan could always be counted on to listen to me talk about a school project, read the final drift of a school paper, or comment on a drawing I had drawn in art class.

Whether it was drawing with her, or her watching us draw, Nan-nan’s gentle presence always comforted us. I’ll miss you Nan-nan.


From pastel dust on my fingers, to 3rd grade book reports on her mom’s novel Here and There, Mosty There, Nan-Nan and her experiences always inspired me.

Over the years, I came to think of Nan-Nan as a free spirit and independent thinker, always quick to speak her mind and tell it as it is. For instance, I remember her telling me one day, that she prefered plants to people. I always believed this was because plants find strength in their roots. Nan-Nan often found comfort and purpose in her family history, and would spend many hours at the dinner table recounting family stories and interesting anecdotes from the past. Like Nan-Nan, flowers bloom every spring after the harshest winter.

We could always count on her to return, year after year, and help us make sense of our developing view of the world. Thank you Nan-Nan, for making our world a better place.

Whenever I look at flowers, I will think of you.

Patricia Barry Baker – Obituary

Patricia Barry Baker, devoted mother, artist, avid gardener, and lifelong learner, passed away peacefully in Portland, Maine last Saturday morning, May 19. She was surrounded by immediate family in the last few weeks of her life.
She was born in Boston in 1931, was raised in Brookline, Massachusetts and spent summers in Ames Hill, Vermont. She graduated from Miss Winsor’s School and from Barnard College, and studied Oriental Art at Radcliffe as a postgraduate.  She married Francis E. Baker in 1955 and raised her family in Farmington, Connecticut.  After her children had grown, she relocated to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she pursued her love of gardening and developed a late stage career at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In this phase of her life, she also traveled extensively, including trips to China, Africa and Europe.
Always active and involved, she took leading roles in the theatre at Miss Winsor’s, and at Barnard College she was president of her class. Later she helped found the Farmington Art Guild and helped develop the Farmington Garden Club.
She loved art, culture and history, and when she traveled she brought back books, photos and detailed journals that she used to create slideshows of her travels.  She loved to present her experiences to schoolchildren and book clubs, and later created paintings from her photographs. One of her most memorable trips was in the early 1980’s, where she was part of the first organized tours of Communist China that included a trip down the Yangtze River.
Her family remembers her quiet strength and patience though life’s joys and hardships, and how she never lost her dignity, humility, grace or good humor.  She will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know her.
She is survived by two brothers Dr. Herbert Barry III (Pittsburgh, PA) and Robert Barry (Windham,Maine), four children and nine grandchildren.  The family invites you to join them in honoring her life at her beloved family summer home on Ames Hill in Marlboro, Vermont, Saturday, June 9, at 2:30 pm.

Why Personalization Matters

It isn’t that for over 30 years direct marketing has told us relevancy increases conversion rates.

It isn’t because you’ve invested real cash in the tools to personalize but have a hard time managing the complexity of implementing it.

It isn’t because your customers get annoyed if they have to search for the information they are looking for.

It is because no one wants to be lost in a broadcast.

Yes conversion rates go up if you personalize.  And yes you should use the full capability of the tools with simple strategies to get teams moving.

The real reason is to show you have empathy for your customers.  Not because “the customer is always right” but because of the reason you got into your business in the first place.  Because you want to do the right thing for your customers.

Mirum Launch Cited in DCG Report

It is amazing to see 3 years of work summarized into a 1/2 page case study by a great analyst.
Undoubtably one of the easier research interviews I’ve done in a while — speaking directly to what we did, how we ran the workshops, and how we managed communication with the teams across the world while still pitching new clients and new teams was a lot of fun.  I remember thinking I was channeling my business school days at the time.  I guess that is a good thing.  Thank you Columbia!
If you register with the Digital Clarity Group you can download the full report.  Lots of great frameworks and insights into mergers and acquisitions.

Mirum’s Launch Cited as an Example of Organizational Change Best Practice

An Old Speech from Berlin

Found an old speech I gave in Berlin 2007.  It was the first time I wrote out a presentation and learned it word for word, instead of preparing a set of notes and talking to them.

What is funny is how much the message is still relevant today, ten years later.

Strengthening and expanding a brand 

  • Introduction

Good morning and thank you for taking the time listen to my comments on branding for MVNO and mobile operators.  I hope you are looking forward to Day 3.

You will be happy to hear is that I had considered doing a concentrated econometric analysis of the correlation between branding and ARPU growth across 15 international markets, but decided against it.  I’m sure you have already seen quite a few powerpoint slides over the last two days – seeing as speakers average 1 slide every 10 seconds at a conference like this and you’ve probably been in 10 hours of presentation which means you have already seen some odd 3,600 powerpoint slides.  I couldn’t possibly expect you to remember mine in such a state so instead I thought instead I’d tell you a story.

This is a story about brands and branding.  It is made up of 3 simple points that are easy to remember, can be simple to implement and do increase customer loyalty.  And loyalty means retention and revenue growth.

  1. 1 – Don’t Position yourself, Take a Position – There is no right answer, there is only one wrong answer — and that is not having an answer.
  2. 2 – Act, Don’t Talk – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.
  3. 3 – Communicate with the team – Don’t just talk to your customers, talk to your team and unite them around what you believe in.

Take a Position – There is no right answer, it is essential to have a single answer and believe it

What is the first thing we can learn from some of the most successful brands that have been built in the last decade.  Brands like Google, Apple, Skype, Nike.  These brands aren’t built on advertising, they are built on product innovation.  Product innovation and product communication that focuses around a single very strong belief.  Even in a commodity marketplace if you take a position, people will respond.

Google, Apple, Skype, Innocent Drinks – they are all single minded about what they stand for and focused all of their activity to reinforce a single message.

Google built a search engine after there were 5 other search engines in the market.  They said we will innovate to amaze people and they have done that with search, mapping, text link advertising and email.  There mission is to organise the worlds information – but there brand is based – in my opinion – on amazing people with what you can do with networked computers.  Apple focuses on simplicity and design.  Everything they do focuses on simplifying the task and make it beautiful.

At Ogilvy we call these positions a brand’s “Big Ideal.”  Simply put you need to ask yourself a simple question and continue to return to the answer.  The question is “The world would be a better place if …”  The world would be a better place if everyone could find anything they were looking for immediately online.  Google.  The world would be a better place if everyones electronics were beautiful and worked well together.  Apple.

For Dove, we believe the world would be a better place if women didn’t have a distorted opinion of beauty.  Dove is in a competitive market with a fairly commodity product but Dove believes in real beauty and all of its products and marketing comes back to this core thought.  What’s the truth about beauty? Dove recently set out across 10 countries and interviewed 3,000 women to find out.  They learned that

only 2% of these women describe themselves as “beautiful,”

About 3/4 of them rate their beauty as “average”

Almost 1/2 of them think their weight is “too high”
When Dove took the position that women should see their real beauty, it found out a lot of woman agreed and because they believe in what Dove is doing, they buy their products.

Action – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.

If you believe in something, you have the taken the fist step that organises everything you do but if you really believe in something, you can’t just talk about it.  You can’t market with claims, you need to market with services.

Nike says “just do it” and in 2001 it produced NikeID – a simple product configurator – call it a sophisticated online brochure – that allowed you to build your shoe online.  They also realised they could send that request to the factory and ship it to your house.  Now their website – which is a marketing tool – allows you to get the exact shoe you need to achieve your goals.

Take a simple sponsorship – The Run London 10k Road Race.  Yes, they put their banners on the course and hand out runner hats with the famous swoosh, but they also offered an online tool that allowed runners to upload their favourite runs, share them with their friends, and track their progress in training for the event.

Today they’ve taken this idea on step further.  Nike Plus is a monitor that records how you run and stores the information on your iPod which can then be synchronised with their website.  This is a 20 Euro gadget – it started as a sales promotion with Apple – but given Nike’s obsession with helping people achieve their goals it lets you upload your numbers and your routes and your favourite tunes to a global community website.  Track your progress on individual runs.  Chart your calorie burn and compare it with other runners.

For Dove the services we’ve offered are a Self-Esteem Fund for young girls.  A global forum where people can discuss issues around beauty.  A commitment to using real women in all of its advertising – even if it takes 3 weeks to cast the perfect 50 year old for a Pro Age advertisement instead of the 3 hours with a modelling agency.

Nike and Dove understand branding and marketing today:  It isn’t about telling your customers that your product is better, it is about doing things for them and people like them that complement your product.

Communication – Speaking to your team as well as your customer

The final tip focuses on communication.  Today’s markets are complex and your organisations are run with smaller teams and everyone is incredibly busy.  I’ve made the point that unless your whole team focuses on the brand ideal, you won’t deliver for your audience.  The way this works is to take your “marketing idea” and communicate it across your internal teams from R&D to end sales.

This is a challenge – We all know we need our teams to be creative if they are going to be innovative and be relevant.  15 years ago you could simply tell the world that Gillette is “The Best a Man Can Get,” translate it into 50 languages and run your ads all with the same shot of the razor.  Not the blue one, the shiny cool silver one.  But what happens when you are asking your team to do events, you are expecting new applications on a quarterly cycle, that you need website applications – as well as tactical sales promotions to shift aging stock.  The answer is you have to give your teams more – you have to let them take the ideal and work with it.

The good news is that if you have a strong ideal and focus everyone on supporting this belief, your marketing will naturally fall in line.  The brand position isn’t just a tag line, it has to be a filter that can be used to evaluate marketing communications, website functionality, sales presentations, everything.

When Cisco says it believes it is the “Human Network” that is real amazing – not the routers and firewalls that make the IP network, it provides a single focus for its marketing organisations worldwide.  It sets a stake in the ground that focuses on the benefit – that people can collaborate, communicate and work together — not just the product features.  It forces everyone to return to a single point of reference whether they are an enterprise sales team, a direct marketer mailing small businesses or an awareness campaign for consumers that purchase through retail outlets and provides an easy way to say that work is “on brand” or “off brand.”

What is essential though is that the brand ideal is not seen as “just marketing,” it is seen as what the company believes in and everyone’s actions from product development, corporate management and local market sales promotion all rally around this one key point.


So, returning to our three key principals:

  1. Don’t Position yourself, Take a Position – There is no right answer, there is only one wrong answer — and that is not having an answer.
  2. Act, Don’t Talk – Your brand is not what you say, it is what you do.
  3. Communicate with your Team – Don’t just talk to your customers, talk to your team and unite them around what you believe in.

What does this mean for MVNOs?  It means you all need to find a brand filter that your teams can rally around and you need to raise it up so it is more then an ad campaign.  Only when you can come to a conference like this, or out on the strees with your customers, and have everyone give the same answer – that network is about phones that are fun, this network is about being a real reliable business tool, this is a network makes it easy for a parents to give a phone to their kids – then you will have real branding.  And if you deliver on your beliefs, you will have loyal customers.

On Dove, our Vice Chairman and creative director had an interesting experience.  He was in a London Taxi and mentioned that he worked in advertising and that he’d worked on the Dove campaign.  The taxi drivers reaction was “that’s those posters with the fat birds innit?  I like that, I can’t stand all of those ads with skinny bints – they’re not woman at all.”  It is pretty clear that the Dove marketers didn’t intend for their campaign to be remembers as a “Fat Birds” campaign but it does show that a big ideal can be translated into any language for any market – even East London hackney.

If you talk about something your audience believes in, they will talk about it and that is the most effective marketing of all.

Thank you.


FEB Eulogy – Feb 11, 2017


Hello everyone, for those of you that don’t know me I am John Baker, Frank Baker’s son, and thank you for coming out today and showing your support.  It means a lot to all of us.

Right after my father passed away a friend of mine sent me a great quote — it said basically “no one should be afraid of dying, our biggest fear should be never living.”

We definitely don’t have that problem with Dad — he did more before he was 35 than most people imagine doing in a lifetime.

And this isn’t a boast, it is a gift.  This means we can celebrate his life and do what he’d most want us to do — learn from it to make our own lives richer.

Most of us know that he was CEO of Andersen Group, but did you know he was hired as CEO at the age of 30 and held that job for over 45 years — even though the offer letter clearly states it was only a 2-year contract?

In 1959 Andersen Labs was a tiny electronics manufacturing company making components for missile guidance systems in West Hartford CT.

One story I heard was that when an important defense contractor came through to evaluate the company, he had  my mom and his neighbors from Farmington fill out the back benches to make the company look big enough to get the contract.  It must have worked, he took the company public as as “space stock” and then diversified by building it into a holding company that bought and sold over 10 other companies over the years.

In 1997, just before turning 70, he took Andersen into the newly opened up Russian market.

He partnered with some other big names in US private equity and took a controlling stake in a small Titanium manufacturer. As this company was rolled up into Russia’s largest Titanium manufacturer, he found himself sparring with some of Russia’s most famous oligarchs, and at a time when their power was unparalleled.

In 2000 he took over a business that had a contract with the Mayor of Moscow to bring cable broadband to the city.  He raised foreign and local investment and when he sold that business in 2007, he sold all of the assets of Andersen Group with it.

And that is how he then made time to work on a little storm ravaged condominium association, Baytree, in Vero.

It is an incredible set of achievements, and demonstrates a successful career, but I don’t think we should be content to just remember what he did, we should work a little harder and try to capture who he was.

There is no doubt Dad was confident and capable, but he was also adventurous.

During the summer between his two years at business school, he and his French roommate got a set of sponsors to buy them an MG convertible so they could drive it from Boston to Rio de Janeiro.  Remember it was 1954.  There weren’t highways between New York and Chicago, much less Lima and La Paz. Armed with only a set of press credentials Dad got from someone, they drove through areas controlled by communist guerrillas in Guatemala and witnessed the revolution that followed.

While they were in Brazil, the dictator of 30 years died and Dad used his press pass to take pictures of the funeral and file them with the US papers.

And this entire trip was just 100 days over the summer break.

Obviously it helps on your adventures to be charismatic and Dad could definitely be convincing.

As an undergraduate trying to get on the Harvard Lampoon he convinced a group of friends it would be a good idea to “borrow” a 300-pound granite punch bowl from the Crimson (the grown up student paper at Harvard), and present it to the Mayor of Boston … while pretending to be a student group from Boston College!  It didn’t take long for the mayor to realize it was joke, and they all laughed with the journalists covering the event.  Yes, he made the Lampoon, and, yes, he made front page of the Boston papers.

There was something else that Dad cared about greatly and that was family.

When I think of my time growing up I’m always amazed to think of how incredibly active we all were.

When we went camping, we didn’t pull the car up to a nice camp site by a lake. We loaded up the station wagon – we called it the Momma Wagon — with dad, Karen, 6 kids, a couple friends, dogs, packs, boots, and parked at a trail head somewhere near North Conway and walked into the White Mountains for a week. Everyone carried a pack — big kids carried big packs, little kids carried little packs, the completely shocked Parisian daughter of his old roommate carried a pack, even Oliver, our golden retriever, had a doggie pack to carry his food.

Most week-ends we would work on the house on Deercliff road.  It was a great house and Dad loved making it better.  He was demanding as a general contractor, definitely.  I can clearly remember the light flipping on ‪at 8 am no matter what time I got dropped off the night before.  A bowl of Raisin Brand and Grape Nuts, instant coffee, and onto the day’s program.

We’d build stone walls.  We’d put up fences.  We cut the lawn with a golf course style gang reel mower you had to run behind hoping it didn’t pull you into the woods or off the cliff.

One summer he cleared an area of small brush and planted some meadow seed in order to create an “Alpine Swale.”  I’m still not sure that an Alpine Swale is real thing, but we created one and we loved it.  And when he would entertain folks from the YPO or family friends he’d say, “look, we’ve made an alpine swale.  Let me tell you what happens when you plant 1,000 crown vetch upside down — you get to plant them again!”

Dad loved doing things with lots of people, especially family.

And he didn’t stop at the immediate family but brought in extended family and friends.  And friends’ families. Even ex’s, ex’s new partners and their families.  He was always inviting everyone up to do something.  He was incredibly inclusive.

This is because for families to be families they have to spend time together — and of course it being Dad that meant all of us, all together.

Together at night for dinner. Together every holiday week-end. Together around a campfire.  Together on a 40-foot sailboat.

And we’d be together when he’d turn the spotlight on one of us with a classic set of 50 questions.  That got intense, it has to be said, but I believe it is because he wanted to know us. it was because he wanted to make us stronger.

When he got back to owning sailboats, he first bought a C&C 38 called Finesse and later the Swan 47 Commotion that he and Karen lived on for years. And he would bring as many people as he could get on those boats.

He’d say bring your friends, bring your boyfiriend, bring your roommate.  Or sometimes you’d find your friends sailing with Dad and Karen when you were somewhere else working!

Of course the first thing he would generally do is go straight out to sea and start practicing mark rounding and spinnaker driills, completely oblivious to the fact that the boyfriend or roommate was turning an obscure shade of green.

Yes, it was his agenda but the trips were amazing.

Marblehead to Maine, Newport to Bermuda, Antigua to St Lucia, across the Atlantic, Gibraltar to Majorca — these were epic trips he made happen for himself, but also something he gave to us.

And it carries on with his grand kids also telling stories of sailing trips on the next generation of boats.

His love of including everyone is why he and Karen bought the house in Farmington, Eight Bells, that was big enough to hold us all, and why as the grandkids got older he added a family room over the garage.

This meant they could host Memorial Day barbecues and big Thanksgiving week-ends.  He could bring everyone together and watch the kids learn to swim, teach them to use a bow and arrow, or, of course, do yard work.

When you consider Dad & Karen owned that house for nearly 20 years, you see there is a set of kids that grew up going there.

Confident.  Capable.  Charismatic.  Adventurous. Active. Inclusive. Driven. Successful.

These are the words that bring Dad back for me.

And if you are looking for that overarching lesson you can take from his life, I’d say it is simple: “it isn’t what you have that matters, it is what you do with it.”

Dad knew how to get a lot from everything he was given and everything he earned.  He was a great father, an inspiring grandfather, and an amazing man.

And we have proof he would not want us to be glum today.  As we reviewed his files we came across a hand written text from 2006 titled Funeral Preparation.  He wrote,

“I had a great life.  No sickness, did everything I wanted.  I have wonderful children, a fantastic wife who I love very much and I made a few bucks.  I would not ask for more, so lets celebrate!”