I met Ted Strand about a decade ago. He's married to my wife's childhood friend, Meg, and as such, we were introduced under parental duress. "Meg and Ted are moving to Portland! You HAVE to go see them! You simply HAVE to go!" That turned out to be a great suggestion.
I count Ted as one of my very best friends. But that's not why he's first in this list. He's first in this list because of good timing and meat.
Ted was a pharmaceutical rep for many, many years. In that role, despite his distinct lack of medical training, he demonstrated to those of us in his sphere an incredible ability not only to memorize complex sets of data, but to digest and interpret that data in speaking to others with more training and experience than he: doctors. In many ways, pharma sold Ted short—he's a problem solver, not a pitch man.
The pharmaceutical sales biz is imploding right now, if you hadn't heard, and Ted's moved on. Now he's into big data, applying that same preternatural gift of internalizing complex data to engineering. This time, he gets to help organizations solve their data troubles and deliver new services to their customers. In my years in marketing, my time training and developing sales people, I've met very few so naturally gifted at the art of transitions, nor so dedicated to helping others solve their most difficult challenges. Ted is one of those people that makes life look easy.
Even with all that going for him, in my view there's no restaurant in town that matches Ted's backyard. He's a guy that takes his meat with extraordinary deliberation. As often as Ted has come when I've needed his support, he's provided salve to my greatest ails with meticulously prepared steak. He's a role model as a professional, as a father to his two beautiful daughters, as a husband, and perhaps most importantly as a chef.