I'm in Portland, Ore., where I always am on Thanksgiving weekend. We have kids and grandkids and we don't see enough of them, but we have a lock on Thanksgivings and they are very special.
Last year ago, on this day, I drove my wife and mother-in-law to the airport, then headed North by car to Seattle. I had an appointment for 10 a.m. the next day to visit Robert Scoble at his home. He wanted to hear more about this idea, spawned by Andy Ruff, evangelized by Buzz Bruggeman and endorsed by me to collaborate on a book on blogging. At that point, that was pretty much it--a book on blogging.
This would be the fourth time in three years, that I had pitched someone about co-authoring a book. I had pitched David Weinberger previously on a book about blogging for business and he had very nicely said no. He doesn't collaborate on books anymore. My consulting business was on the wane and I figured if Scoble said know, I would have a future selling suits I no longer wear at Nordstrom's or maybe in the restaurant service industry.
I was so excited, I spent half the night rehearsing and writing down my thoughts. For those of you who know Scoble, you can guess how silly that is. I got up early for fear of being late. I got to his house by 8:30. I drove around his neighborhood, or sat in my car, looking pretty much like a day-shift burglar for an incredibly long 90 minutes.
At precisely 10 a.m., I rang Scoble's doorbell. No answer. At 10:01 I ran it again. No answer. I called him on my cell phone. He picked up his phone and a tired Robert Scoble asked me a question he would ask many time over the next year:
"Heeey. What's happening?"
"Er..Hi Robert," I answered. "Are we on time for our 10 a.m. meeting?"
"Yikes! I just woke up. Where are you?"
"I'm pretty close to your house," I was on his doorstep. He said he needed about 10 minutes and I told him that should work fine. I went and sat in the car. Ten minutes later I rang, his bell was greeted with another "Heeey" and ushered into his family room. Robert told me to sit on his new red couch. He told me he and his wife Maryam had bought it, and he was excited about all the interesting people who would sit on it over time, but I was the first.
"Heh. This could be historic," Robert said and I agreed. He told me he just needed a few more minutes and left me sitting on the red couch, which later would become The Red Couch," and even have it's own supporting role at Gnomedex. On the coffee table in front of me was this huge bowl of assorted candy bars and sweets. Being a diabetic, this did not have great appeal. There were also two--not one but two--Tablet PCs. I wondered what on earth anyone would do with two of them. In the corner was an exercise machine. From, the look at had been bought with great intentions, but wasn't in use.
Robert returned. He apologized but he had been up until 4 a.m. blogging and had overslept. A few minutes later, I would meet Maryam, who would chat for a moment, then step into the kitchen to prepare this huge, tasty breakfast. Robert and I talked about people we both knew, about Microsoft, about Apple and a bit about blogging. I asked him if he read my blog, he said yes, but didn't add a single word.
We finished breakfast. We continued chatting. Three hours had gone by and we had not yet discussed the book. I finally, forced the conversation into it and started to ramble through the copy points I had prepared the night before.
The phone rang, and someone I had never heard of, named Steve Broback wanted to talk to Robert about a conference I had not heard about called the Blog Business Summit. Robert said we'd meet him somewhere. Maryam came in and joined us for a while. She asked me about the book idea and I got to actually pitch the whole idea. She said she thought it was a great idea. She looked at Robert and said, "You should do it." Then she was off for the say.
After that Robert was warming up. As I recall it. I spent the day trying to engage Robert in discussing the book and how it would work and how we would pitch it. He seemed to be on board, but I wasn't really sure. Then we were off to meet Steve. I used the time to pitch him about interviewing Robert and I about the book but he was only interested in having Robert speak. He had wanted to meet me to see if I would cover BBS for Conferenza, a newsletter I report for. Broback left us in the wine bar he had selected with two-thirds of the tab for a wine bottle and appetizers that he had ordered before we arrived.
The day kept going like that. Robert was saying he was on board. I wasn't certain he meant it. Whenever there was a chance to drill into the subject, we either changed subjects or locations. I was supposed to fly back that night, but changed flights to have a sushi dinner with Robert. I learned that sushi was near to Robert's heart. I was going to spring for the check until I saw just how much raw fish this guy could consume, but it was during that dinner, that I started to see Robert working the problem. He started asking me questions about what he would do and what I would do. I started seeing that he wanted to write a book for neither fame nor fortune. He wanted to write the book to tell others about blogging and why he loved it. He wanted to share with others what he knew about it and why he loved it.
By the time we were about to part ways in the parking lot. I think what we accomplished most that day was not the cutting of a deal. We had decided we liked each other. We were starting to trust each other, but still we both had misgivings, and we weren't talking about them.
I went back to my room and called Paula. I described the day. "So do you think you have a deal," she asked. She knew how important this was to me.
"Maybe," I said.
This "odd couple" partnership would not be real for several weeks, when Robert started the forerunner of this blog. I'll write about that on it's anniversary next month. But it gelled, and my life has been better ever since.
So on this day, I say: "Thanks Scoble. Happy Anniversary.