Peter Horwood aka Madman Pierre

Created: 2001.08.25

For decades I've been know by more people as 'Madman Pierre' than by my name. If you want the 'real' story on why, here it is.

Many people are curious why I go by Madman Pierre. Most people appreciate the humor. However, two or three times (that I can think of,) in business I've been asked in a rude tone of voice essentially: "Why do you use a stupid name like Madman Pierre" and in one business that I was a very small % owner of, I was asked to not use it because it 'scared' people. If you are one of the latter, please understand, I am not the type of person you want to deal with - you won't like working with me, you won't want me as your client and you won't want me as your supplier and you won't want me as your friend. So, I've saved you a whole lot of time and effort. There are LOTS of different types of people in business, I am happy to suggest to you that you find people you WANT to work with and not waste time with people like me. And you won't want to read the rest of this page/web site, you'll just think it is stupid. If you are one of the former, the most important answer I can give you is:

  • I LIKE working.
  • I LIKE the companies I run.
  • I like the people I get to serve with my products and services.
  • I have FUN running them.
  • I provide very high quality most of the time and I almost never miss a promised deadline.

Yes I make mistakes, yes I get frustrated and irritable at times, yes I have to deal with problems, yes I hate dealing with taxes, yes I work too many hours per week and sometimes this is wearisome, but ON THE WHOLE, I enjoy my life both in and out of work. I have found that most people who don't like me using Madman Pierre in a business setting wouldn't like working with me even if I DIDN'T use the nick name! But I have found a segment of the world, made up by a LOT of the people I meet, are relieved to be able to work with someone who can be extremely serious, extremely productive and still have a lot of Joy and Fun most of the time.

So, setting the record straight:

My given birth name is "Peter John Horwood" which happens to still be my true, legal name. (Although I'm told I can legally throw BComm at the end since I'm a University Commerce graduate.)

Next: What is "Madman Pierre"

  • A public, legal alias. You can send a check to Madman Pierre and I can cash it. If you doubt this I recommend you perform a test to satisfy yourself: Send me a check to see if I can cash it. But for a really good test, make it a check for a lot of money. And I accept CDN$, US$, RMB/CNY - actually - any currency you want to use.
  • My nickname, and a pseudonym under which I have authored some technical material - MMP for short.
  • More people know me by "Madman Pierre" than by my real name.
  • Most of my friends call me "Madman" or "Madman Pierre." As in "Hey, Madman..."
  • The bank accepts checks addressed to Peter Horwood OR Madman Pierre OR Madman.
  • The post office knows me by both names as well.
  • "Madman Pierre" is a trademark of Peter Horwood and has been since the 1980's. I reserve all rights to it. You have permission to call me by that name, to refer to me by that name to others, to quote me by that name, to tell people (good or bad) what you think of me by that name. Basically, you have permission to use Madman Pierre as my name. But you do not have permission to use it to refer to anyone else or to use it in any other context.
  • From people that know me or know of me , they are more likely to to address it to Madman. When we first started SilverStream Journal, I stopped using the Madman Pierre name, but I found that a whole bunch of people would say "Oh - I know you - You're Madman Pierre." For that reason I always provide both names and yes, I switch the order periodically
  • I don't consider either name more "important" than the other name.
  • When I teach at kids groups/camps I always go by Madman or Madman Pierre unless they require I use Mr. Horwood.

Finally, why "Madman Pierre"

Many years ago, the company I then was a 33% owner in had the development & support people in the main office all working in the same very large room. One day I overheard an employee (we'll call him Fred) swearing at a customer. I had warned him previously that this was unacceptable and that he was close to getting fired . When I heard him, I asked him very quietly to put the phone on hold. He did and I proceeded to deal with the customer directly apologizing for the employees behavior and shipping out a loaner printer to deal with the problem. When I got off the phone , I proceeded to fairly loudly and visibly angrily tell Fred to give me his key NOW, get out of the office and never return and that his severance check would be sent in due course. It was clear that I was furious and that it was a non-negotiable situation. He threw the key down and stormed out.

A few days later I heard employees referring to me as "Madman Pierre." After a few days of this, I went to the person who was the ring leader and, in a closed door meeting I explained to her that "I do not feel any remorse at summarily firing Fred, but that I deeply regretted losing my temper and I regretted the way I fired him." She listened carefully as I continued to explain that I should have quietly taken him in the "private office" we had, asked for his keys and quietly asked him to leave the premises. She then burst out laughing when I told her that I therefore would prefer if she would drop the "Madman Pierre" moniker. She explained through her tears of laughter that "All the staff agree with you

  • we think you should have fired Fred weeks ago
  • he deserved to be fired that way after the way he treated customers" She also told me that she had never worked for a boss before that was so level tempered and that she was surprised that I didn't lose my temper or at least get visibly angry more often and that I should have gotten angry and fired Fred sooner. She then continued to explain "We named you Madman Pierre long before you got mad at him. If you were rich, we'd call you Eccentric. If you were poor, we'd call you crazy, but you are neither, you're Madman Pierre
  • "Madman Pierre" is a term of endearment, not a term of derision!"

I told her cheerfully that if THAT was the reason, she was free to continue to use it.

I didn't use it myself for about 6 months to a year, but the name slowly spread until almost everyone that I knew well referred to me as Madman, Madman Pierre or "The Madman." My friends constantly came up with reasons why "Madman Pierre" suited me. Some mentioned the banana plants I grew in my house

  • they eventually got so large (One took over 1/2 the kitchen before I parted with it) I donated them to a school for "troubled kids" who wanted some nice plants for their greenhouse. Others mentioned that I was passionate
  • I either was for something or against it and that, if I took up a cause or a goal I pursued it relentlessly until I obtained it or determined that I was incapable of obtaining it. Others mentioned my sleep habits (going to bed at 2:00 in the morning after working on the computer all evening.) And almost everyone seemed to be able to come up with a list of reasons why "Madman Pierre" suited me.

Eventually I adopted the name online (this was YEARS before the Internet) and it went over well. I then authored some technical articles under the pseudonym of Madman Pierre (after all, more people knew Madman than knew Peter.) Soon people started addressing mail to Madman Pierre some simply because that was the only name they knew me by, others because they preferred to use that name. I then had to register the name with the bank as a pseudonym when the first check arrived bearing the name Madman Pierre. I had no trouble providing evidence that Madman Pierre was a legitimate name for banking purposes.

At a conference in the late 90's a friend took an informal survey at a Sybase conference, asking people "Do you know who Madman Pierre is?" about 2/3rds answered "yes." He then asked "Do you know who Peter Horwood is?" - he found that almost all people answered "no" and only a few of the people who answered "yes" knew that both names referred to the same person! One year a good friend got a T-Shirt that read "I'm a friend of Madman Pierre" that he wore to the conference. He also got a T-Shirt for his infant soon that read "My Daddy knows Madman Pierre." I still consider Costas to be a good friend and look forward to getting to NewYork city to visit with him again. It's been too many years Costas! When I started working in a slightly different field, I decided that maybe "Madman Pierre" had run it's course and was now an old tired joke that should be put to rest. However, I found that about 1 in 10 of the people in this new field knew of (and amazingly, respected) Madman Pierre but, of course, didn't know Peter Horwood. Many of them urged me to keep the moniker (although one friend stated that he thought I should probably drop it now) The other 9 out of 10 didn't know either name.

I also had several people say "I'm told that your real name is actually Madman Pierre" I explained and they urged me not to drop Madman Pierre. To make a long story only slightly longer ... I have maintained the name. In books, magazines, at computer conferences, photographic circles, at a boys club where I'm one of the leaders, when I help out at kid's camps, in fact, just about everywhere I go, I'm still known by Madman Pierre and sometimes Peter Horwood as well. The only major exceptions are with my Parents and siblings and most departments (especially tax) of the Government. But yes some people in some departments of the US and Canadian Governments know me by Madman Pierre. Oh, and by the way – I didn't have to be told why "Pierre": I was well known for my ongoing (to this day) snide comments about Quebec politicians. Pierre being the French form of my real first name, it was a humorous but light hearted jab. It stuck as well. "Madman Peter" just doesn't have the same ring to it! And note: I have friends that are French, it is the politicians and their suggestions that Quebec would be better off out of confederation that I make fun of. (But please do NOT interpret the note as being politically correct.)

So what should you call me?

  • If you are over 18 you can call me any of the following:

    • Peter
    • Madman
    • Madman Pierre
    • Peter Horwood
    • Mr. Horwood Pick whichever YOU feel most comfortable with. (But try to avoid the "Mr." outside of China I'm really not that formal of a guy.)
  • If you are UNDER the age of 18 you can call me,

    • Madman
    • Madman Pierre
    • Mr. Horwood
  • If you are children of my siblings and close friends - Uncle Peter If you are Randy Luft, my adult, nephew: (Son of one of my wife's Brothers) and a master chef with some very* long *very sharp knives that he sharpens every few minutes of use: Uncle Petey

So what should you not call me?

  • Pete for one. I am not, and never have been 'Pete'. I could tell you the story about someone who publicly gave a speech and referred to me constantly as "Pete" and his "good friend Pete" after the lecture, several people came up and said "good friend Pete eh? I take it he only met you today?"
  • Pierre, I am not a Pierre, "Madman Pierre" is OK, but Pierre by itself, no, it doesn't fit.

So. You read down to here. Wow! If you are thinking "so who cares" I want you to know that that's what I want to know! If you didn't care why did you read this far? Get your own life.

I've had several people tell me that this page was the most interesting page on my web site. They say it with such seriousness that I have to hang my head and say in a dejected tone of voice "So the rest of my web site was that boring eh?" It's fun to watch them explain that no that wasn't what they meant. Then I raise my head slightly to let them see the twinkle in my eye!

But more seriously, this page has grown bit by bit as people would read the old version of this page and then ask for more detail. As I gave more detail, I updated this page mostly to reflect the additional detail.

btw "I have a life, I just can't find it" is Copyright 1995 Peter Horwood

Oh yeah, before I forget, Someday I hope to be eccentric.