Wellington, 1988, was when I first met John Mollett. It’s hard to say why, we are very different, but we just clicked. John died on 29 June 2016, just two months short of his 70th birthday and just two days before I was due to fly to Hawkes Bay to visit him.
Although he had difficulty speaking, John’s mind was as sharp as a tac and he was working with younger consultants on Search assignments through emails almost to the day he died.
Bob Dylan wrote a song where he said that some people were in the business of living and some in the business of dying. You could be 20 and in the business of dying or 60 or 80 and be in the business of living. John was in the business of living and living it fully!
People often described John as a real character. Maybe so, but to those of us who worked with him, he was a man OF character. He was highly principled with an honour code that meant he did not cross boundaries; A serious keeper of confidences; A believer in “play hard, play fair”; A man who bought humour and insight to any situation.
The measure of the man was his capacity to touch people at all levels no matter what age, ethnicity or gender. The only thing he asked for was honesty. He had no tolerance for people who “were full of themselves and their own self -interest”.
Sometimes this made him a stubborn “so and so” when dealing with such people and getting him to “flex a little” was not always easy!. And there many times he and I would argue and debate issues and others would wonder how serious this conversation was. But over the past fifteen or more years we talked almost every day – except when he and Jenny were on one of their frequent cruises which he loved.
Whilst John moved easily between NZ and Australia he was a true Kiwi. I know, having lost many a discussion with him about country performance per head of population or about Rugby! When he knew the cancer was serious he “came home” to ground his “very being” deep in Kiwi soil. This was home. This was where his spirit resided. This was John.
We miss him every day in the office.
Let me share with you some of the comments I received about John in the days after his death:
- “I quickly discovered John’s saber-like intellect and wit, a formidable force but cushioned in a surprisingly curmudgeonly character who was always there to share the benefit of his own experience and in his own laconic style. There will be many people across NZ and Australia who stood on the shoulders of John’s encouragement, sage and candid counsel, leadership and patient support. I was one of many who benefitted hugely. This means his impact across both countries, directly and indirectly, was profound”
- “I hope that the great gratitude and enormous respect of people like me, for the great man that John was, and, for the enduring legacy he has left society will be a source of strong pride and comfort”
- “I so appreciated John’s wisdom, knowledge and experience. He was always able to provide sage advice. He was also full of great fun and a good storyteller”
- “He was a great mentor and he had a devilish sense of humour and a lust for life which put younger people to shame”
- “I miss him…. I have become a better, leader, manager and man through his wisdom and zest for life”
There were many other comments about John but these sum them all up. He was a character. He was a larrikin. He believed in making life better for people and living it to the full.
Pave the way my friend.