Few people have the creativity, patience and persistence to keep the childlike wonder that makes an inventor great. Challenges we face come up, requests to do things differently, faster, cheaper all get in the way. Like many others, I had the incredible good fortune to learn from Bill Goodman that “Growing Up” didn’t have to mean sacrificing that kid inside that keeps the drive alive to make incredibly cool things for kids and enjoy, truly enjoy every minute.
From his earliest days in San Francisco at Team Machina, Bill was committed to turning every stone, ask every question, seek out any new partner all with the sole goal of bringing great new ideas to life in a way that everyone could afford to play and enjoy them. All the time, Bill was like the Pide Piper attracting everyone that came in contact with him to come along for the journey. His stops at Machina and Sega Games highlighted his time in San Francisco where he had the chance to help bring dozens of toys to market.
While at Tiger in the late 90’s, I had the chance to work with Bill for the first time when Dave Capper introduced us as we were getting ready to launch Hit Clips. Dave and Andy Filo had this awesome idea to bring music to kids in a fun new way. We all knew Hit Clips had huge potential, what we didn’t plan on were the hundreds of hours, days nights and weekends that would be needed to get thousands of hours of content edited and ready. Bill and his partner Kent Suzuki, joined the team and with their help, Hit Clips went on to be called the “I Pod before the iPod” by a reporter for Time Magazine. Hit Clips evolved in Video Now and Bill’s passion and persistence helped Hasbro hit another one out of the park.
Few people spoke about Bill’s creations at that point and he was happy to be in the backroom jamming to get things done while us marketing guys got all of the attention, but those of us who worked on these “Home Runs” know how vital a role Bill played in making sure our dreams came to life.
Bill’s successes were countless, but none of them compared to his biggest, his family. Hilary, Georgia and Lucy were his world. Whether ice skating, skiing at Sugar Loaf or building a cardboard boat, Bill could be found again in the role of Pied Piper with dozens of kids all screaming to be with him as his created adventure after adventure.
After Bill got sick a couple of years ago, I went to Maine to visit. He said that he really wanted to get a few friends together for pizza as people had been so nice and wanted to see him. We sent out a quick note on Tuesday, the following night at a local pizza place on the water, 150 people showed up. I’ve been to Bar Mitzvah’s planned for years with less people.
The key was everyone wanted to be around Bill's great smile, positive energy and real love for life. I asked him once if the treatment became too hard if he really thought it was worth doing. He smiled, said, “That shit ain't got nothing on me and if it gets me one more day with the girls, I’m in.”
Bill’s wish was to bring happiness to everyone around him and that if he did that well, he would love on way after being gone physically. I can tell you, based on how he lived, that dream will never die. Not a day goes by that one of his friends doesn’t reach out or tell a Bill story. The legend of his Gold Jacket will endure as long as his smile does.
You see, Bill may have been a Goodman, but to all of us he was a friend, colleague, in short he was a GREAT Man.