All good things must come to an end..

end of trail

I’m about to break a promise, something I generally don’t like to do.  When people would say, “Man, I don’t know what this place would do without Mehdi.”  My answer was always, “The day Mehdi leaves, we should turn down the lights and all take off.”  Well, I’m going to stay, but Mehdi is still going to leave.

I met Mehdi in 1998.  I worked at Hachette Filipacchi New Media and he was my sales engineer.  He came over with a Batman-like belt full of the most feature-rich pagers and cell phones on the market.  I knew then that we had a common love of gadgets, but more importantly, that this guy was totally connected to and focused on customers.. you’d never need Mehdi and not be able to get him.

A few months later after I had been implemented on DFP, my wife and I had our first son.. anyone with kids knows, newborns are up at all sorts of odd hours, but when I woke up to keep my wife company with the new baby, sometimes I’d check my email and maybe do a little work.. be it 10PM, 2AM, or 6AM, if I ever had a DFP question, I knew I’d find Mehdi on-line and available to answer a question.. It was during these months that I truly learned all would ever need to learn about DFP.. there was no better way to go live on DFP than with Mehdi Daoudi by your side.

Over the years, we’d cross paths over and over, even though he moved roles, he was never shy to talk to a client (I was one for years) and would never ever pass you off to someone else – I felt like I was in the “Mehdi Customer for Life” program, with unlimited 24/7 lifetime access to perhaps the best staff member DoubleClick ever had.

When it was time for me to go and actually work at DoubleClick, I got to see the other side.. Mehdi, on a daily basis, showing a fierce caring for customers and the integrity of the DART system, with an almost ruthless focus on keeping the system working, and anyone who wasn’t big enough to own up to being accountable or fixing things that needing fixing – beware.  No matter the issue, no solution was ever pondered without Mehdi’s input.  His amazing collection of experiences made him the singularly best authority to determine what had been tried and failed and what might work.

For those who didn’t have what it took to work with Mehdi, they got a 2 week respite every summer when he’d return home to Morocco.. however, the other 50 weeks, when you came to work, you had to be prepared to know your business, if you didn’t, Mehdi would tell it to you.  I have countless memories (as I’m sure do many others), of the 450 DHC meeting, on 12 especially.  Art Fields and Mike Reich may not want to take this stroll down memory lane   Mehdi never ran the meeting directly, but there was also never any mistaking who was there to enforce things.. if a system wasn’t working, Mehdi made sure someone owned getting it fixed, sending an update, etc.. a few impressions weren’t counted?  who was going to check for late data?  how soon could we get an update?

The over/under on clients Mehdi talked off the ledge is probably 5,000.  They wanted confidence and reassurance – were these systems good enough?  A phone call with Mehdi later and everyone slept well once more.  Would the systems have enough uptime to run an advertising-based business?  Mehdi ensured we had it in the contract too.. Technology SLA’s are never fun or easy, but every client that got one, got the insurance they wanted, and they were not let down either.  DoubleClick has always been, thanks largely to Mehdi, about 5 years ahead of the pack in our ability to scale, have counting integrity, and have the best uptime.. reliable ad serving is what Mehdi lived for and it put DoubleClick on the map and kept us there..

Passion is not a dirty word, but Mehdi made it viral.. you never wanted to let him down, because you know he would never ever let you down.. his passion for customers and the business was contagious.  Sometimes his passion was shown with lots of 4-letter words   but we never mistook that for anything other than caring.

If you asked people, they might not even know where Mehdi worked.. he started in GTS, and always acted like it.. he never worked in legal, but worked with them probably daily.. he was never in product management, but they sure kept him in their speed dial… he didn’t work a day in marketing, but made sure they kept their facts and figures straight, and while he worked in DTG, that was just the tip of his influence across the company.

And for the really big stuff.. like moving a datacenter, or a massive system upgrade.. from Friday night to Monday AM, we all knew who was keeping watch.  If only the thousands of employees and customers knew the extent to which they were safe.. While everyone went about their normal lives, most folks never realized that their needs were being watched and advocated for with amazing passion.  But most of all, he was just fun.. and someone you desperately wanted on your team..

So I’m going to stay, but also know, things will never be the same around here.. the watchman will watch no more.

Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite Mehdi story..