I met a client a while back who told me “I’m just getting back into working with Forrester again. Years ago, like 15 years ago, I used to have these great, animated conversations with an analyst there. John McCarthy. Do you know him?” This man remembered 15-year-old conversations. And having been in my share of meetings with John over the years I know why. He is one of my best friends, a great mentor and amazing analyst. His mind works so quickly, and he is knowledgeable about so many topics it’s almost impossible to keep up with him intellectually.

Why am I blogging about this story? Because this year John McCarthy celebrated his 25th anniversary with Forrester. He is in fact the first employee that George Colony hired. In an environment where people like to talk about rock star analysts, John McCarthy is John, Paul, George, and Ringo rolled into one (with good measures of Elvis and Johnny Cash too). He’s been on TV many times and has been the key spokesperson in his share of press conferences (notice the above photo of the Indian media interviewing him during a recent trip to that country), been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal with one of those rare sketched photos, and quoted on the West Wing. I’m not kidding – years ago John wrote a major piece of research titled “3.3 Million Jobs Go Offshore,” and a few months later it was referenced in the TV show. That’s influence.

John’s been an important part of the research and insight we’ve provided to Sourcing & Vendor Management clients over the years so I wanted to celebrate his anniversary with all of you in the community. There are a few ways we’re doing this and we encourage you to contribute too.

John McCarthy Quote Day

To celebrate some of John’s most memorable sayings (and there are many), we’ll be tweeting things John is known for saying. Some examples:

“There are more people in this room than there are IT service providers in Romania.”

“Do the math. You’re more likely to die by falling in the bathtub than by crashing in an airplane. Go spend 20 bucks and buy yourself a bathmat.”

You can play along at home by tweeting your favorite John McCarthy quote on twitter and use the hashtag #JMACquotes

The John McCarthy Games

Over the years, the research associates (RAs) on the SVM team have created several games, such as:

  • “Where in the world is John McCarthy?” This game involves the RAs proxying his calendar. And from entries like the following determine where he actually is: Banner across the week reads “In India,” Tuesday shows entry “Flight from Mumbai To Singapore,” and Wednesday shows entry “Client Workshop, in person, London.”
  • “Who is John McCarthy talking to?” If you have ever met John then you know he has a very loud voice that carries. And in Forrester, teams share an office. So we weren’t eavesdropping, we just couldn’t help overhearing. In this game, you try to figure out whether John is speaking to one of the following:  a personal relation (wife, friend, etc.), Forrester colleague, or a client/business associate. Why is this worthy of a game? Because in one conversation John can mention the contractor coming to his house, something that happened at Forrester, and his assessment of the Vietnamese IT services industry

Admittedly, those games can only be played if you happen to be in the office with him, but there are play-at-home games too:

  • Things John McCarthy knows that I don’t. Speaking personally, my list includes things like “John McCarthy knows the most significant piece of legislation in front of the Indian government right now, the number of casualties of the 1918 influenza pandemic, and exactly how the Titanic broke apart after it hit the iceberg (which piece fell where, whether the steel was warped, if the bolts were bad, etc.).”
  • John McCarthy has been at Forrester longer than… In my personal favorite example of this game, John himself was towering over an RA telling him, “I’ve been at Forrester longer than you’ve been alive!” Some items on my list: John McCarthy has been at Forrester longer than client/server has existed (George Colony credits John with actually creating that term) and longer than I’ve been married.
  • My most memorable John McCarthy moment. This one is tricky because there are a lot of memorable moments. One of my favorites is John keynoting at the first Sourcing and Vendor Management Forum (then called the Services and Sourcing Forum) in 2007. He came in to the keynote room 10 minutes before he was set to go on stage, handed the events producer a flash drive with his slides on it that he had just finished revising (again), and then delivered what turned out to be the forum’s top-rated session. After that keynote on vendor management, attendees followed him around like he was Elvis.  

Please help Forrester celebrate John’s 25th anniversary by posting your own story or entry into the John McCarthy games in the comment section.  Congratulations, John, on this impressive milestone!