A goodbye to Packy Hyland, Sr
Entrepreneurship is the art form of organization development. All art forms are about synthesizing or transforming or juxtaposing objects from one realm and infusing them with the life forces of talent, vision, and craft to create something new and quite different from anything that has existed before – something with a life of it’s own beyond one’s self. Paint becomes Picture. Sounds becomes Symphony. Ideas become Industries.
Packy Hyland, Sr. was a great artist. He passed this week, but leaves behind a body of work that should distinguish him as a truly great entrepreneur. His most easily recognizable creation, Hyland Software, stands as one of very few unqualified success stories in Cleveland of recent.
While Mr. Hyland has achieved the success that most associate with great entrepreneurs – profit and growth – his greatest accomplishments are harder to recognize. I write this to honor those accomplishments so that they not be lost to the data that tends to define history.
Packy believed in his son and the power of his ideas, ingenuity, and diligence when no one else did. Even as many economies were being transformed by profit margins and efficiency gains that only software could bring, I know that Cleveland remained committed to more tangible industries. Aside from the struggles that all entrepreneurs face, Hyland had to operate within a culture that was not supportive. What’ s more, he was able to generate trust and enthusiasm, against the odds, and craft a uniquely winning culture in a community where it had few compatriots. In his quiet and friendly way, he was as much a revolutionary as an entrepreneur.
I remember the speech Packy Jr. gave to the entrepreneur’s club at John Carrol where he gave out copies of Rhinoceros Success. It was apparent to me by the dazed and confused expressions in the audience, that Hyland was an important revolution that needed to succeed if Cleveland was to survive, but Packy Jr.’s enthusiasm would have long ago been crushed under the weight of the predominant culture and the realities of company-building if not for the specific gifts of Packy Sr. and his ability to almost trick you into being inspired.
Add to this, that once he was successful, he held no grudges against those who doubted him or the city that made his path that much more difficult to tread. He continued to support and encourage Cleveland’s entrepreneurs in the most gracious and generous of ways long past the point where most of us, myself included, have turned away in frustration.
I will always remember my lunch with Packy, Jay Yoo, and Jay’s father at Larchmere Tavern. Jay and I represented an entrepreneurial dream in crisis of both spirit and cash flow. We were the younger generation and we had made some mistakes. The elders at the table bought lunch, imparted wisdom and wrote checks. I have worked in close proximity to dozens of good ideas and good people in search of that one break that will make all the difference when what is really called for is the calm, confident strides towards tomorrow, both cautious and quick. To date, I have never been in the presence of such honest and boundless love and compassion around a business deal as what Packy brought to the table that day. Everything was as it should be. Mentors providing support, guidance and knowledgeable, forthright encouragement that every dreamer needs to make something of real value. I remain in awe of his unique gifts.
It is a magical blend of passion, goodness, and community that always, always, always, sustains the just and their causes. There is no more powerful or beautiful force in the universe and Packy Hyland was one of it’s great practitioners.
Maestro, you will be missed. We will tell your story well and for as long as we live.