eighty-foot by twenty-foot multi-touch screens that we have installed throughout the campus. People use them as message boards, or just to write down great ideas for wild new products or design concepts. Some people just draw pictures. Whatever. The idea is to let people express their creativity in a public space. And because it’s a touch screen we can capture everything that’s put on the screen and feed these ideas into a database and sift them and study them using brainiac algorithms.
Finally I brought him upstairs and showed him the executive suite. We started in the conference room. I showed him how the shade of white that I chose for the walls is exactly the right color to set against the particular shade of blue that we get in the sky in northern California. I explained the principles that had informed my design of the room, and how much time I spent working out the size of the windows and the size of the space between the windows so that the ratio would be perfect. I told him how the board had complained and called me selfish when the building went up and the workmen were off by an inch and a half and I insisted that we knock down one side of the building and build it again so that the window-to-wall ratio would work out perfectly.
“I couldn’t focus. The balance was off. In the end I was right, and everyone agreed. But like everything else around here, it was a battle. You’ll see. It’s how the world is. Everyone’s ready to compromise. Take my advice. Don’t listen to other people. Don’t ever settle for ninety-nine-point-nine-nine percent.”
Next stop was the meditation room, where we sat on mats and listened to Ravi Shankar, whom Ja’Red had never heard of. Finally I showed him my office. He was trembling when we walked in. I let him sit in my leather chair, which was custom-made for Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. I showed him my private bathroom—I’m unable to go to the bathroom in places used by other people, even at home; it’s one of my quirks—and the meeting room and kitchen, which, like the bathroom, I cannot share with anyone. I showed him my workspace, which consists of four thirty-inch Cinema displays set side by side, powered by an eight-core MacPro connected by Gigabit Ethernet to a stack of dedicated Xserve quad-processor blade servers and a ten-terabyte Xserve RAID array.
“Duuude,” he said, “I just want to sit here and soak it in.” Then he began to cry. Again.
“Seriously, dude,” he says, handing me my messages and a cup of green tea. “Do something, okay? I mean the rest of us have to work here, and we’re trying to focus or whatever and these douchebags in suits are just running around giving orders and whatever.”
“Okay. Where’s Mayzie?”
Mayzie is Ja’Red’s assistant. I don’t know much about her except that she seems to be about his age and I think he met her through his mountain biking club. She has lots of tattoos and piercings, including a bolt in her bottom lip, which makes it impossible for me to look directly at her. Piercings in general are a huge problem for me, but the facial ones really freak me out.
“Yeah, she’s coming in late because, um, like they had to take their dog to the vet for a checkup, and her boyfriend was going to do it, but he like hurt his foot or something in this drum circle last night and so he can’t drive or something because they have a stick shift car and it’s his left foot, and, um . . .”
He’s still explaining when I close the door to the Jobs Pod. I sit down at my main desk, which is made from a single two-inch board hand hewn from the heartwood of a Giant Sequoia and which never, ever, has had anything placed on it. No computer, no phone, no papers, no cups, no pens. All that stuff goes on another desk off at the side of the room. The main desk is only for thinking and praying. I begin every workday with a few minutes of quiet reflection. I’ll contemplate a Zen koan, or chant the Heart Sutra, for
Stephanie Hoffman McManus