I know it’s not a subject that draws folks to this blog, but I wanted to share a really interesting talk I got to attend recently at Google. Broadcaster & former NFL player Emmanuel Acho hosts “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man,” and I was glad that he shared his time and perspective with us. If you stick around to the end, I pop in with a question. The conversation is also available in podcast form.
This episode is with Emmanuel Acho, who discusses his book and YouTube Channel series of the same name: “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”, which offers conversations about race in an effort to drive open dialogue.
Emmanuel is a Fox Sports analyst and co-host of “Speak for Yourself”. After earning his undergraduate degree in sports management in 2012, Emmanuel was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. He was then traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013, where he spent most of his career. While in the NFL, Emmanuel spent off seasons at the University of Texas to earn his master’s degree in Sports Psychology. Emmanuel left the football field and picked up the microphone to begin his broadcast career. He served as the youngest national football analyst and was named a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Selection. Due to the success of his web series, with over 70 million views across social media platforms, he wrote the book “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man”, and it became an instant New York Times Best Seller.
“Boys,” I DM’d the lads (because somehow that’s a thing now), “I hope you someday find spouses (speece?) cool enough to send you things like Mom just sent me.” And Crom-willing, they will. 😌 Happy Friday.
“Imagine what you can create. Create what you can imagine.”
So said the first Adobe video I ever saw, back in 1993 when I’d just started college & attended the Notre Dame Mad Macs user group. I saw it just that once, 20+ years ago, but the memory is vivid: an unfolding hand with an eye in the palm encircled by the words “Imagine what you can create. Create what you can imagine.” I was instantly hooked.
I got to mention this memory to Adobe founders Chuck Geschke & John Warnock at a dinner some 15 years later. Over that whole time—through my college, Web agency, and ultimately Adobe roles—the company they started had fully bent the arc of my career, as it continues to do today. I wish I’d had the chance to talk more with Chuck, who passed away on Friday. Outside of presenting to him & John at occasional board meetings, however, that’s all the time we had. Still, I’m glad I had the chance to share that one core memory.
I’ll always envy my wife Margot for getting to spend what she says was a terrific afternoon with him & various Adobe women leaders a few years back:
“Everyone sweeps the floor around here”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cited this story (source) from Adobe’s early history, as it’s such a beautiful distillation of the key cultural duality that Chuck & John instilled from the start:
The hands-on nature of the startup was communicated to everyone the company brought onboard. For years, Warnock and Geschke hand-delivered a bottle of champagne or cognac and a dozen roses to a new hire’s house. The employee arrived at work to find hammer, ruler, and screwdriver on a desk, which were to be used for hanging up shelves, pictures, and so on.
“From the start we wanted them to have the mentality that everyone sweeps the floor around here,” says Geschke, adding that while the hand tools may be gone, the ethic persists today.
I have one very special moment that meant a tremendous amount to me. Both my grandfather and my father were letterpress photoengravers — the people who made color plates to go into high-quality, high-volume publications such as Time magazine and all the other kinds of publishing that was done back then.
As we were trying to take that very mechanical chemical process and convert it into something digital, I would bring home samples of halftones and show them to my father. He’d say, “Hmm, let me look at that with my loupe,” because engravers always had loupes. He’d say, “You know, Charles, that doesn’t look very good.” Now, when my dad said, “Charles,” it was bad news.
About six months later, I brought him home something that I knew was spot on. All the rosettes were perfect. It was a gorgeous halftone. I showed it to my dad and he took his loupe out and he looked at it, and he smiled and said, “Charlie, you finally did it.” And, to me, that was probably one of the biggest high points of the early part of my career here.
And a final word, which I’ll share with my profound thanks:
“An engineer lives to have his idea embodied in a product that impacts the world.” Mr. Geschke said. “I consider myself the luckiest man on Earth.”
Well gang, it’s official: I’m back at Adobe! Through the magic of technology, I found myself going through orientation yesterday in a desert motel room on Route 66 while my son/co-pilot/astromech droid attended 6th grade next to me. I was reminded of a dog walking on its hind legs: it doesn’t work well, but one is impressed that it works at all. 😌Afterwards we powered through the last six hours of our epic drive down 66 & its successors from Illinois to CA.
The blog may remain somewhat quiet for a bit as I find my sea legs, catch up with old friends, meet new folks, and realize how much I have to learn. It should be a great* journey, however, and I’m grateful to have you along for the ride!
My excitement about what’s been going on here at the Big Red A is what drew me to reach out & eventually return (scheduled for Monday!). If you are (or know) a seasoned product manager who loves machine learning, check out this kickass listing:
Neural Filters is a new ML/GAN based set of creative features that recently launched in Photoshop and will eventually expand to the entire suite of Creative Cloud apps, helping to establish the foundations of AI-powered creative tools. The applications of these ML-backed technologies range from imaginative portrait edits, like adjusting the age of a subject, to colorizing B/W images to restoring old photos. As the technology evolves so too will its applicability to other medium like illustrations, video, 3D, and more.
The Principal PM will contribute to the strategy definition in terms of investments in new editing paradigms, training models and broaden the applicability of Neural Filters in apps like Photoshop, Fresco, After Effects and Aero!
For some context, here’s an overview of the feature, courtesy of NVIDIA, whose StyleGAN tech powers the feature:
And check out Neural Filters working on Conan O’Brien back at Adobe MAX:
We’ve put a Spot in an art gallery, mounted it with a .68cal paintball gun, and given the internet the ability to control it. We’re livestreaming Spot as it frolics and destroys the gallery around it. Spot’s Rampage is piloted by YOU! Spot is remote-controlled over the internet, and we will select random viewers to take the wheel.