Perspectives on Fred and His Leadership

 
 

Presented at the Fred Hayes Celebration
on December 13, 2002

 

Peter Goldmark on Fred Hayes

It's good to have something in common.

A stranger here tonight, if they knew our backgrounds and origins and personalities, would have a little trouble figuring out what we have in common.

{spacer} Peter Goldmark

What we have in common is Fred.

We're the ones Fred took a chance on, or watched out for, or helped through a difficult moment or issue or problem.

Most of us here tonight are Fred's children, in one way or another.

Now, let me explain what I mean to Reilly and Chris, who really are his children, and to the other members of the Hayes family here tonight. The father and the professional, the father to you and the boss or colleague for most of us, are not, cannot be the same thing - thank God. But through the way we saw him, through what you hear tonight and read in the book Patricia has put together, you will learn other perspectives on the man who was your father. You will learn about the character of the respect and love we bore for him. There are only a few absolutely essential currencies, and respect and love are two of them. And you see here tonight that we respected and loved this man. That is something we share with you. So in that sense we are his children too.

Frederick O'Reilly Hayes . . .

What a character.

What a huge, warm, rumpled, brilliant, irascible, lovable character.

He was one of a kind.

Did you ever meet anyone else who could sleep through long stretches of a meeting, and still leave everybody convinced he was the smartest one there?

Did you ever know anyone else who talked so compellingly and left you certain you were in the presence of a towering intellect . . . and yet at the same time, while you knew he was being incisive and brilliant, left you not completely sure what the subject of the conversation, in the end, really was?

I think Bob Weinberg got it right when he finally figured out how to explain all this to his mystified classes at BU, where Fred was a guest lecturer. He told them: what you have to do when Fred is lecturing is to bring six notebooks, and run them in parallel - - keep a separate notebook going for each subject as it comes up while he talks . . . . and then when you go back over your notes you'll see that it all makes perfect sense.

And the gestures . . . ah, the gestures.

Do you remember this one? Scratching the scalp?

And this one - glasses off, rubbing the eyes - fierce rubbing of the eyes?

The shirttails out?

And the socks - usually incredibly ugly socks . . . at various fractions of full mast . . . and all the rest of it.

Now in certain essential matters fate was extremely kind to Fred in New York City. I refer, for example, to one Wilbert Cunningham of the Bronx, who was probably the only MVO in the entire City - and possibly in its entire history - who could possibly have coexisted with Fred.

They rode as equals. One couldn't see worth a damn (has anyone here ever ridden in a car Fred Hayes was driving?), and the other was a brilliant driver but couldn't organize his time worth a damn. They razzed each other incessantly. The reason I say they were equals is that I probably spent as much time as anyone with both of them together, and I noticed early on that no one was really in charge. Sometimes Fred would decide where they were going, but often it was Wilber who would decide whether they were going there at all. Sometimes they laughed and cavorted, sometimes they bickered like an old married couple. They spent an awful lot of time arguing about who in the City government most deserved that opprobrious appellation of "turkey."

I tried to tell Wilbert about tonight's gathering, but - naturally - I couldn't find him. The thought did occur to me that perhaps Wilbert had died too, and was up there somewhere driving Fred through the pearly gates, the two of them chorusing about all the "turkeys" who seemed to have already gotten in . . .

Talent.

Fred liked it raw, and in enormous quantities.

It was Fred who taught us it would take not 30, not 300, but 3000 talented people to make a dent in the New York City government.

He didn't care where he found the talent.

Law schools, B-schools, Public Policy schools. Rand, McKinsey, Meridian Engineering, Project Management, and a dozen others. I remember when he stumbled upon Sturz and Vera - it was like an explorer who had stumbled upon a new continent.

His appetite for talent was breathtaking in scope, unparalleled in pure chutzpah. To hire good people he had to torture the antiquated machinery of the city civil service system - he twisted it like a pretzel, jumped on it like a pile of weeds, hammered it like resistant nails, stomped on it like vermin, cajoled it like a stubborn jackass . . . etc. etc. etc. And of course to torture the civil service machinery, first he had to torture Harry Bronstein.

Now all this was not without its inglorious moments. Canick made it at the Fire Department, finally, by the skin of his teeth. I'm not sure anyone ever really understood what Gil Bernstein was doing in the Health Administration, certainly not Joe Terenzio. Joan of course was very loyal about all this, but it became clear pretty early that Bernstein was on his own space odyssey. Sorrel Wildhorn, it turned out, was not born to be a giant of urban policy despite all of Rowen's and Szanton's ministrations; I think Isenberg tumbled to that before any of us. Howard Leary, on the other hand, understood exactly what an Assistant Commissioner for Program Planning and Analysis could do for him - or rather to him - and wanted nothing to do with it. That is why without hesitation he gave that designation to that dedicated apostle of modern management, the inimitable Jack Katz.

And then there were the memos.

Have you ever read such beautiful, lucid memos? The great Hayes memos read like scores by Bach. They are sweeping and ordering, they sing and soar, they proceed from theme to counterpoint to resolution. They do that most wondrous thing in life, in administration, or in art: they find the critical pattern and the relevant valences in a bewildering and daunting welter of inaccurate data, deceptive propositions and confounding problems - normally called a mess - and the pattern they find is the meaningful pattern, the workable pattern. That is a wonderful skill, a supreme art. Fred was a master.

But Fred could also be excoriating. I remember one famous memo to Jay Nathan after Jay had complained to the Mayor that the Budget Bureau was responsible for all the delays in the city's housing program. The memo began: "Oh you turkey. Oh you great big, pious, sanctimonious turkey. . . " Fred denied to me in later years that he ever wrote such a memo, but I read it with my own eyes.

Fred liked baseball, he liked classical music, and he liked budgets. He liked them because their forms are unforgiving and they all possess internal harmony; and he liked them also because they all combine elements of precision, skill, intelligence, art, fate and history.

Fred was ahead of his time.

Fred was modern.

If we were using modern talk here tonight, and we asked what was Fred's platform, we would say: Fred's platform was his brain.

No - we would say Fred was a platform.

Maybe we'd say, if we were honest, that Fred was also our platform.

If you work for and with someone, and you can learn from him . . .
If he will teach from his authority and his generosity . . .
If he will listen to you and consider what you have to say fairly . . .
If he wants to see you grow and stretch . . .
If he will let you join him in difficult work for high stakes . . .
If you can laugh with him . . .
If he runs an honest shop where ability counts . . .

Then what else is it one could ask for in a professional life?

Is this not a gift?

We were all students in that extraordinary master class. That is the gift that we were lucky enough to share . . . and that luck and that gift and that sharing are why we are all Fred's children.

So, Fred, you were magnificent.

At the height of your career, you wore your power and authority easily, sunnily, generously - as well or better than any I have seen. And in the difficult years that came later, when the consulting assignments did not come so readily, when there was a little less money than you and Ann needed, you took that in stride, with equanimity and grace.

You taught us, you led us, you moved us . . . and were sometimes moved by us.

It was with you that we first learned about bravery and integrity and relevance and the enormous power in public life of lucid insight harnessed to single-minded purpose and tenacity.

All of us here tonight, Fred, are proud to be your children. Lucky to be your children.

Thanks, Fred.

 

A Photo Montage from the December 13, 2002 Event...

 

Help us locate missing members of Fred's Gang. Send physical and e-mail addresses to the Fred Hayes Master File, c/o Tony Japha, 75 East End Ave., Apt. 18B, New York, NY 10028 (email: ajapha@earthlink.net).