Jack Porter, my friend, mentor and the senior co-founder of Porter Novelli, passed away last night.
In my grad school days, the word “entrepreneur” was never even mentioned. The idea was to be an organization man (yes, “man”). Jack was different. While he was successful in an organization (Ogilvy in London and New York) he was also willing to pursue adventure – to be an entrepreneur. That was the driving force that engaged me and that led to Porter Novelli.
Jack was also a good business man, a strategist and, as I said, my mentor. We had good times together: first at the Peace Corps and then in starting and building the firm. We weren’t always sure if we could meet payroll, but we always did.
We started with virtually no capital. The initial idea was to work out of Jack’s house. But then he convinced a local Washington, D.C. ad agency, Henry J. Kaufman, to give us a couple of offices and a turn at the copying machine. In return, they could list us on their roster and involve us in new business pitches.
And today we see how it all turned out. Jack was very proud of the company. He was also proud of his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as a trustee. And we can all be proud of Jack, our original senior statesman.
Jack had a farm in Virginia where we would gather the P N team (then about 30 of us) play fierce volley ball games and think about the business. He always loved sports. Back at the Peace Corps we had a good touch football team that played on the Mall. Jack was always on the field.
And that’s the way I remember him: as a mentor, business man, entrepreneur and in the action – always on the field of play.
To see Jack and get a feel for the man, look at the 40th anniversary video (Link here) that was played at the 50th anniversary global town hall on October 6. And join me in saluting a good guy and the entrepreneur behind Porter Novelli.