The John Howard Common Sense Award

John Howard

It was 10 years ago when we lost John Howard, a truly great person and legendary EMC team member. Many of us who worked with John have moved on to different roles, and still talk about him even today. Many more who never knew him, have heard his name as a result of the John Howard Common Sense award given out annually at EMC, so his memory and spirit lives on. Several of us pulled this together when the award was first started, and I thought I would post it again for newer folks.

JH criteriaOne thing you can say about John Howard is that he was truly passionate about his job, his associates, and EMC.  He had a great ability to inspire every one he worked with to make the final work product better.

His philosophy was that regardless of how complex a particular issue was, you can always find a way to describe it in terms that are clear, concise, memorable, and technically accurate.  And every day of John’s career at EMC he would fight, (sometimes literally) to make that happen.  This is what made John a leader, and everyone at EMC respected him for this.

Although John had a passion for his job there was never any doubt about what his top priority was.  It was his family.  One of the greatest things about John was listening to him talk about his family.  In fact, it is safe to say that anyone who knew John knew his family as well, even if you may have never actually met them.  It didn’t matter whether John was talking about EMC to a customer or about his family to his friends; the story was always clear, usually concise, very compelling, and mostly accurate…

dilbertJohn will always be remembered for his laugh, his sarcasm, his stories, his car analogies and his Dilbert cartoons. His quick wit would always help lighten a tough situation and he was famous for his timing and delivery of “one-liners”.  Some of his favorite lines included , “At EMC we only work half days…once you have put in 12 hours its time to go home,” … “Cheap shot…direct hit,”… and “Leave the sarcasm to the professionals”

John created a document that he would always hang on his office wall, called “Howard’s Laws”.  He started the list in 1989 and includes a lot of wisdom he picked up over his 26 years in the business.  Every bit of it still applies today, which is why I hang it on my wall.


3 thoughts on “The John Howard Common Sense Award

  1. What an amazing blog. I hope this comes across in the way it is meant, but I had the honour of being recognised with this award a few years back and this blog reminds me of what an honour it was to receive this award….I call on everyone across marketing to find the time to step back and think about the individual or manager who embodies this, being listed as a nomination has a big meaning and impact, its a great way to recognise one of your peers.

    BTW love love love number 20 🙂 great to remember!


  2. John was hired as a Product Manager at EMC for a product that was not yet on the market and was unlike any that previously had been. His first assignment was to work with me, as I had written the marketing plan for how this product would come to market (Doug Fierro and I were the entire marketing team back then). We immediatly hit it off very well, because John’s innate common sense, market experience, and customer empathy were well-honed and obvious. He challenged conventional thinking – what Jeff Goldberg was calling “institutional thinking” back then. We had fascinating debates over how to offer and price this product with Jack Egan that swung wildly in opposite directions before we all agreed. John an I came up with the name for this product – “Enterprise Storage Platform”, and the rest is history as that soon became an industry de-facto ubiquitous term, and ultimately the concept for all major storage products from all surviving Storage vendors. Scott’s description of John (above) is right-on, he was a pleasure to work with always, and we stayed very close for his entire run at EMC. I miss him as a person, and particularly for the type of attitude and personality that he exuded always.

    Liked by 1 person

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