It is incredible to see the number of people Forrest touched. There are simply no words to describe this.
I had the unique opportunity to work for Forrest at Apple and Google. He is one of the best bosses, I have had – caring and thoughtful.
Here are two memories of Forrest that personifies him – one from his Apple days and one from Google.
A few years back shortly after his twins were born, he was planning a trip to Hawaii. We had recently completed an extremely challenging manufacturing ramp for one of the Apple products and, he certainly deserved a break! While a few of us were walking down the sidewalk near IL6, Forrest casually mentioned about how he was taking the whole family and the baby sitters along for the vacation. We paused for a second and tried to clarify – did you just say sitters? Like in ..more than one? With out any hesitation, he confirmed what he just said and went on to say “They too work hard ..and they deserve a break as well.” He made sure that the baby sitters would enjoy the vacation just as much as he would and went out of his way to make sure they are part of the family vacation.
He was totally selfless in that he genuinely cared about everyone and put himself in other’s shoes. He was a relationship person and valued that far more than any legal or business transaction. He was a warm guy with a big heart and found immense joy in making others happy.
The second story is about his decision making style. At Google, he was relaxed and saw a completely different side of Forrest. He was lively, expressed his opinions strongly and made decisions fearlessly with conviction. His only major complaint was his commute. Commuting to Google added another 30-40 minutes to his daily routine each way. That was the time he couldn’t spend with the family or work. We spoke at length on a Friday afternoon about his options from carpooling to electric cars to tattoo ideas for girls. It felt like my advice was falling on deaf ears as he was coming up with excuses for both those options. The carpooling limited his freedom and he was concerned with the range of the pure electric vehicles.
Now, we all know Forrest, he is a very practical guy, yet impatient to fix the issue. The weekend went by and I ran in to him at work early on Monday morning. He smiled…asked about my weekend (as he always does), and later said, I bought a Volt. He already fixed the problem that we spoke the prior Friday. He went on to explain that he went to the dealer and said he wanted a Volt, made a quick decision on it. Before he left, asked the dealer – “Is it OK if I never plugged it in?” The dealer looked at him very quizzically and answered – “Yes, but, if you really don’t want to plug it in, then why are you buying a plug in – we have plenty of cars that run on gas”. Forrest smiled and told him, ”I just need a car that will let me use the carpool lane”
Although, lately we did see him plugging in his car.
One of the greatness of Forrest was his simplicity. It extended to the way he made decisions. He had an incredible gift to cut through clutter and look at the world in a very simple way. People generally try to keep all the variables and solve for the best solution, but Forrest always picked one key variable and solved the problem around it and as he always says – “Let’s try not to boil the ocean”
He always came up with fairly simple and elegant solutions – very candid in his opinion, yet reasonable in his judgement and caring with his interactions.
The bonds he has created with all of us will remain as memories.
We unite in an attempt comfort his loved ones, and the lives of the people he touched. Though no amount of words will do justice.
While we will continue to struggle to make sense of his demise, we will miss him dearly remembering these stories and will forever be thankful for what he taught us about family, friendship, caring, humor and practicality.
Rest in Peace, Forrest!
– Mahesh Krishnaswamy