The Information and Knowledge Management worlds suffered a devastating loss this week. Carl Frappaolo died on Sunday, March 17th after suffering a series of strokes over the previous days. Carl’s untimely passing (he was 59) has left me stunned and in pain, but also deeply appreciative and grateful for having had the chance to work and enjoy life with him.
I first met Carl in 1999, when I interviewed for a job at the Delphi Group, which he had co-founded a few years earlier. Our initial meeting, which was scheduled for an hour, expanded into a conversation that lasted well over five and a half hours. When I left his office that day, I had no doubt that I very much wanted to work for and with Carl. Such was the immediate and overwhelmingly positive effect of his large personality.
I reported directly to Carl during just my first two years at Delphi, but he mentored me throughout my employment there and beyond. In fact, on separate occasions within the last month, I sought out Carl’s guidance on a professional matter, and he presented me with a potential business opportunity. I knew I could always turn to him for not only advice, but also for active assistance.
To say that Carl was a mentor is actually an understatement, because he treated me almost as if I were his son. I was always overjoyed by the pride he displayed when I performed well. On one occasion, I failed a potential client (and Carl, by extension), leading to Carl being so intensely disappointed in me that neither he nor I ever forgot the incident.
After hours, Carl was a delight to be with. I have many fond memories of eating, drinking and laughing with him , mostly while we were on the road serving a client or working a Delphi event. Carl nearly always had a joke or an entertaining story to tell. I will forever remember the two exhausting, exhilerating weeks we spent together in Western Europe, where we worked very long days on behalf of our client, but found time to have fun later in the evening or on a rare day off. Perhaps the best stretch of that trip took place in Milan. Carl always openly and enthusiastically celebrated his Italian heritage, and he was literally in his element while we were in Italy.
In fact, Carl was a bundle of contradictions. High strung and easy going. Profound and vulgar. Deeply serious and (more frequently) smiling and laughing. A very active and competent speaker, but also one of the best listeners I have ever encountered. Someone with many insightful answers, but also an unparalleled ability to ask the right questions.
I have learned so much from Carl over the last decade plus. Anyone who is at all concerned with Information or Knowledge Management has. His too-soon passing leaves an enormous hole in those fields and an even bigger void my life. Goodbye, Carl, and thank you for the genuine concern and compassion you displayed to me and everyone you encountered. Thank you for teaching me so much about consulting, business and being a good person. Rest in peace.
If you knew, met or were otherwise impacted by Carl, please consider remembering him by making a donation in his name to the Italian Home for Children, located in Boston.