I Lost Two Bad Ass Advisors This Past Week

The last seven days made me realize my mortality and the fact that certain people are not immortal. Two men that I looked up to as mentors, leaders in their respective fields, selfless personalities and role models for this generation of American business leader are now both gone.

Edward M Snider and Bill Campbell

Ed pointing the way
Bill in a suit

Ed, who passed away last week at 83 after a long cancer battle, is someone who inspired and encouraged me. I loved the man deeply, married his daughter Lindy (our marriage lasted briefly) and learned so much from him. He loaned me money when I bought back my first business from an early investor and numerous times dug into my first company, an early fintech business, making critical suggestions. After I sold the company, Ed and I then dreamt up other business ideas together. Ed gave me whatever I wanted and needed and he showed me first hand what leadership (admittedly, I didn’t always listen) was and how to inspire those around me. I was proud and honored anytime to be with Ed — he was totally bad ass, way before the term was acceptable in any way.

Ed, a multi-time entrepreneur, started and funded the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Entrepreneurship Program, naming it after his father. This was the first entrepreneurship program in day when being an entrepreneur meant being an outcast, non-conformer and when being different was — well being too different. Ed was the first to write a check, visit a sick friend in the hospital and support a cause or any friend or friend of friend in need and understood deeply the concept of giving. He was total mench. As a early professional sports team owner, he jumped when I asked him to consul friends of mine who had just bought their own teams and needed some advice.

The City of Philadelphia is heartbroken. It has lost it’s lion. In Philly, it’s as if Steve Jobs just passed — as Philly loves its sports team as much as the Bay Area loves its computers. 15,oo0 will likely turn out for his memorial at CoreStates Arena, an arena he built that hosts professional hockey and basketball teams he owned.

While I did not marry Bill’s daughter, I had an important ongoing relationship with Bill, who passed away yesterday also from cancer at 75. Bill was a senior exec at Kodak, Apple, Intuit and coached Columbia’s football team. Dubbed ‘The Coach’ for obvious reasons by all those that knew him. For 30 years he always asked me what I was doing, how he could help and showed a complete and genuine interest in every project or company I took on over the years. I met Bill at Apple, joining around the same time as both of us coming to California from the east coast. His served on Apple’s Board of Directors with my father and acted as unpaid coach/mentor to a number of my best friends — changing, challenging and growing them so they could run their own billion dollar businesses. Bill was Silicon Valley’s original Bad Ass Advisor, an inspiration to us all and someone whose mark as been etched across Silicon Valley — from Steve Jobs to Scott Cook to Larry Page and hundreds of others.

Both Ed and Bill inspired me to create Bad Ass Advisors, my lil’ way of helping young entrepreneurs connect with the experts they need to grow their businesses . Ed with his brash ‘go for it’ swashbuckling attitude and Bill with his deep understanding of what it took to grow and bond a team and make a company great. In fact, many people said to me when I speak of Bad Ass Advisors they say, ‘oh you are trying to scale what Bill Campbell does’.

Ed and Bill mentored freely, opened their hearts and minds to those needing and didn’t view providing help transactionally. They gave without expectation and were genuinely happy in other’s success. These two giants will be sadly missed but never forgotten.

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