It doesn’t matter how much warning you have to prepare. All of us at Spitfire are mourning the death of Jon Taffler with great sorrow. Even though Jon sometimes granted me the title of “official company philosopher,” I am not sufficiently gifted with words to coax them to convey the magnitude of emptiness that results from losing a friend far too soon. Our hearts ache in sympathy for his family and children at this terrible loss.
Jon had many gifts and a mind that seemed to retain everything, despite overflowing with trivia on topics from airplanes to modern music history and dozens of others. Did you know that Stevie Ray Vaughn was influenced by Muddy Waters? I do, thanks to Jon. Although he would fill in the when, why and how.
Jon was a great decision maker. He was never afraid to say no, nor was he paralyzed by what others might think of his choice, or from fear of making the wrong call. He was fond of saying he only needed to get a B or a B+…so he was entitled to at least 1 wrong turn in every 10. I am quite certain he maintained a better average. No matter what, he liked to gather the details and make decisions quickly. He was one of the few folks for whom I felt I couldn’t deliver information quite fast enough.
Until this last year or so, I might hear from Jon anytime between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. …six days a week. Oh, he teased me for a few years about my wasting time going to church on Sundays, but I noticed he never called on a Sunday until mid-afternoon.
You see, even though most would chuckle if I called Jon a people person, he had a way of treating people with respect and doing his best to enable them. Hence no phone calls on Sunday mornings. Yet, I knew I could count on at least one phone call from Jon during the “windshield time” while I was off on vacation. I never asked, but I am pretty sure he would claim that those calls were to make it clear to me how much he valued my time–not intended as unwanted interruptions, but rather to boost my ego. And, yes, Jon would freely offer his advice on where, and what, we should eat while on this particular trip. He had been pretty much everywhere.
Jon had a big thing for fairness. His dealings were always shaped by what he would think was fair if the shoe were on the other foot. My friends at church might call that “doing unto others as you would have them do to you”. And for the record, he was much better at that fairness than most of us.
It should have been no surprise, but Jon was “all-in” when it came to being a dad too. Many with type-A personalities seem to basically ignore their kids — but not Jon. They were his top priority and we knew it. He shared plenty of stories about many of the adventures he undertook with his kids and how amazed he was by them. He saw particular, unique strengths in each of them, and it thrilled him. His pride, awe and love for his kids was a wonderful thing.
Of course, Spitfire was also a big part of Jon’s life until recently. Fortunately, another of Jon’s talents was for attracting a great team with which to work. For example, Dennis, our other co-founder, is actually a veteran of more successful ventures than Jon, and so Spitfire will be just fine for leadership. As for vision, I have Jon’s development queue with over 220 prioritized system enhancements. So, gee, I’d better get back to work.
Be all in. Be willing to make mistakes and say no, and most of all move forward, while treating people with fairness and respect. Darn great example. Thanks, Jon.Tweet