So what would bring 650 people to the Hyatt Cambridge on a beautiful Saturday night in May? Their former company, you say? Nostalgia, I say. The Lotus 25th reunion was quite the ticket this past Saturday and I’m glad I put aside my standard attempt to separate work from life to go to the party. In her blog, Barb Darrow had a great description of the who’s who of execs who attended. For me and my colleagues, it was a bit scary and occasionally moving to be back in the land of Lotus. We worked with Lotus for 10 years, starting in 1991 with the launch of Notes.
Seeing Jim Manzi back up on a podium again was wonderful. As always, his remarks were short and brilliantly composed; he did start out as a journalist, after all. But they were also very poignant, talking about the impact this company, Lotus, had on so many people’s lives. He said that he and long-time friend Steve Jobs had talked earlier in the week about how only two companies (he challenged the crowd to name the other) had really made strides to change the business world and to create something that went beyond dollars and cents (my words, not his). As Hiawatha Bray captured in a great Boston Globe piece, Lotus was about making great technology, but it was also about doing it honorably. The company had an inspiring list of operating principles, a very proactive philanthropy program, and a "soul committee" that CEO Jim Manzi chaired himself.
The company impacted more than its employees. In 1991, Manzi took a chance on our small (at the time) firm and made us their agency of record. They had a major impact on us as a business and helped us forge relationships that will be with us forever.
And Manzi’s closing lines were classic — telling the crowd there will be no 50th reunion, but plans are being made for the "Lotus Assisted Living Facility." He urged all attendees to see Reed Sturtevant to sign up, as spaces were going fast.
For those interested, there’s a great Flickr photo pool of the party.