In the 34 years (I still feel like 25 though so that’s what counts 😉 ) of my life, I’ve come across many individuals who have inspired me, people I’ve looked up to, people who I turn to for advise, people whom I trust. And then there are people who are so incredibly gifted and yet so humble and modest that I feel proud of having been in their company.
Owen Aftreth is one of them. Owen is my ex-colleague from when I used to work for a software company. It’s been a little over 2 years since I last worked with him and yet, it warms my heart every time I think of him.
When I think of the smartest and most intelligent people I know, besides my brother and my husband, Owen comes to mind. And yet, he is also the the kindest, most down to earth man I’ve even known. In the years we worked together, he helped not only me, but whoever came to him. The guy just doesn’t know how to say “No”! During the stressful times at work, he would still somehow manage to remain calm and offer to help whoever needed him whenever he could. I still remember the night I was working late because I had committed to finishing my last project before I left. When he was still lurking, I asked what he was doing.. to which he replied, “Well I thought I’d stay in case you needed someone to help out.”
When it came to technology he was way ahead of most of us and still whenever we were troubleshooting, he would always downplay himself and say to others, “Its probably my code causing the trouble.”
He took a sabbatical to travel with a friend who needed help with a research project and the university would not let her go alone to China!
I still remember the times we would take a break and talk about anything and everything over our cubicle walls. I could always talk to him. He has that quality you know…
When I think fondly of the people I used to work with, he is the one who always brings a smile to my face. He is the kinda guy you never forget, who doesn’t need to say anything to make you feel better, he just has to be HIMSELF. The kind who always makes time for you. That’s the kind of person who enriches lives. Owen personifies humility and kindness. And I am lucky to have worked with him.
Kenneth King is another great guy who has influenced me in many ways. I remember the first time I met him. It was in the elevator of the Avalon hotel in NYC where I was organizing the 2nd or was it the 3rd PR Weekend. I had requested Kenneth to be our guest speaker for the day. Having never met him before, I was waiting in the lobby of the hotel hoping to welcome him when he arrived. As I was waiting, I started chatting with other PR members and lost track of time, when suddenly one of them alerted me to the fact that Kenneth had arrived and was going up the elevator. I rushed and welcomed him and apologized for not seeing him earlier. But he was just so cool, he didn’t care. In the elevator we chatted like old friends and if you were there at the PR weekend you’ll remember how much fun we had.
Kenneth is a self taught couturier whose work has been shown in various museums. He now teaches at FIT and Online Classes on PatternReview.com and continues to develop new cool techniques and makes couture possible for you and me. He is also the author of Cool Couture.
He amazes me each time with his energy but having met him personally again a few weeks ago was a treat I cannot describe. He is Kenneth King and anyone who loves to sew, knows who he is, and yet when I meet him, it’s like we’re in that elevator again. We’re like two friends having breakfast and just chatting about fashion and sewing. Like Owen, Kenneth is also very humble and for as long as I was there, he gave me his full attention.
We went to his apartment and I fell in love with a fur coat he had made. I tried it on, posed in front of the mirror and you know… just had to have it. Instead I promised him that I will make a fur coat this season following his fur class.
And today, a big box arrived for me.
Puzzled, I opened the box and in it, was the FUR COAT with a nice note from him, “Dear Deepika, wear it in good health, love Kenneth”
My Mother in law once said to me that a true gift is when you make the other person believe that they are doing you a favor by accepting your gift.
When I called Kenneth to thank him, he said, “I wanted to send it while its still cold so you could enjoy it.” When I said “I am speechless, thank you so much. I don’t know what to say”, he said “You don’t need to say anything, I’ve had fun making it, now you’ll have fun wearing it”.
In this day and age when there is no dearth of people with giant egos, big heads and insufferable attitudes, people like Owen and Kenneth remind you of what truly means to be “Great”. These are the people I’ve had the good fortune of working with and who continue to inspire and enrich my life. I am grateful for them and many others, but today I dedicate this post to the two Smartest and the Kindest men I’ve known : Owen and Kenneth.
Perhaps this will remind you of someone who touched your life in a similar way with their kindness and humility.