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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

6 Questions With Line 6's Steve DeFuria

Musician, author (that's one of his books on the left), programmer and musical industry executive Steve DeFuria now focuses all of those experiences in his current position as vice-president of corporate strategy and planning at Line 6. Previously the director of product development at Line 6, Steve oversaw the creation and development of a number of the company's most successful products. We've been great friends for many, many years, and I'm pleased that he's willing to answer this week's "6 Questions."

1) How did you break into the business?
Which business? Looking back from today, I’ve broken into more than a few over the years—with more to come. It’s not so much “breaking in” as “breaking through.” With hindsight, I think there is a pattern to what I do:
   · I develop a passionate curiosity about achieving a desired future state or solving a significant problem.
   · I commit publicly to achieving or solving it in advance of knowing how I will do it (By publically, I don’t mean taking out an ad in the Times, but going on the record with the other stakeholders in the project or venture—telling I’m on the hook for the results)
   · I go to work on it by first standing in a future where it has already been accomplished and then I “reverse engineer” the steps it took to get there. That done, I stand in the present and go to work on the steps.
   · Being unencumbered by a formal education seems to have been a success factor for me as well…

2) What makes you unique?
The choices I make given the circumstances and conditions—and the degree to which I am in “the here and now” when I make them. The circumstances and conditions can be anything, such as improvising a solo on stage, designing a DSP algorithm for an audio processor, creating a digital image for gallery exhibition, reading the surf to find a good spot to fish, or creating a multi-year strategy for organizational growth. Being in “the here and now” simply means being fully present when the choices are made—which in turn often means not being aware that you are making the choices at the time—you are just “doing”. For me, the best stuff comes from the Zen of being “in the moment” That is best enabled by having a deep well from which to draw inspiration and spark action. I try to keep the well fresh and full by continuous exposure to new ideas from (what might seem to be) unrelated sources.

3) Who was your biggest influence?
Frank Zappa. Working with Frank changed my worldview profoundly and irrevocably. He blew the doors off of my pre-conceived notions of how to think about what is possible.

4) What's the best thing about your job?
My job (corporate strategy and planning for Line 6) is forward looking, challenging, results-oriented and I get to invent it as I go. The team I work with is driven, creative, highly skilled and often funny as hell.

5) When and where were you the happiest?
I’m fortunate enough to have found answering this to be a real struggle--so much to chose from, so much yet to come!

Here’s a very happy moment that I associate with a particular place, time and people.

Florence, August 2004, in the Piazza della Signoria with my wife Barbara, her mother and my dad—during what turned out to be our last trip with either of our remaining parents…
We were standing on the steps of the Palazzo Vecchio marveling at “graffiti” carved into the wall of the building centuries ago. The graffiti is a face in profile carved by Michelangelo. The story –as we heard it—was that Michelangelo carved it on a drunken bet (some attribute the carving to Giotto). He boasted that even blind folded—he could do a better face than Neptune’s in Bartolomeo Ammannati’s fountain. The fountain is a center-piece of the piazza. The result remains there to this day. It’s not in the guide books. There is no sign. If you can locate it, you can walk right up to it and run your fingers over features carved by the master.

6) What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
“It’s not about you,” Bob Elliott, executive business coach & personal transformation guru.

Second best piece of advice--see Dave McCarthy’s response to this question.

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