In 1994, posting commercial ‘spams’ to USENET was still relatively rare, and would generally elicit quite a spirited response from irate newsgroup readers.
One day an article showed up in alt.tasteless called “Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots” whereby a firm purporting to represent Jane Goodall was selling children’s slippers, with the proceeds going to benefit Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program.
I took the opportunity of this unsolicited advertisement to mix it around, poke fun at the folks who sent it, a firm claiming to represent Dr. Jane Goodall, and post it back into alt.tasteless.
Well, the world is a funny place, and it turns out that someone saw my ‘edited’ version of this spam and contacted the Roots and Shoots program to tell them of my posting. As it turns out, the Roots and Shoots program had never authorized any firm to sell children’s slippers on their behalf, and not only was the spam a spam, it was using the Roots and Shoots name illegally. In short order, the firm was debunked and cease-and-desisted, and life went on. My article scrolled off into /dev/null on USENET, but I archived it for fun.
Then I received this letter in 1997.
Bet you didn’t know that I’m part of a cabal on Facebook.
You should like it.
Fundraising is a funny thing.
If you’ve never done it, it appears to be a light-sucking black box. Magical things happen in there, and some people go into it and never come back out.
If you’ve done it, you know it’s really a fragile, transparent, little glass box, easily shattered. But then, HA! HA! the joke is on you! It’s a solid crystal that you accidentally drop on your foot, crushing a toe. Then it melts like an ice cube and you’re bailing out your sever room because somebody’s dishwasher two stories up and 100′ feet over, leaked aaaallllllllll across the supporting beam that sagged directly above same-said server room. And that turns out to be another one of those Mayberry-esque moments in ancient corporate history, happening way before you deposit close to a million dollars into the bank, (AND HOLY FUCK THAT TELLER DIDN’T EVEN BLINK WHEN I PUSHED THE DEPOSIT SLIP OVER. Was I on surveillance? Did I look like a drug lord with machine guns strapped over my back, rudely hidden under a way too clean duster that also made me look like I might wear a mechanical exoskeleton under it? Wonder what the bandwidth is looking like today…)
Wait, where was I?
Oh, that’s right.
Fundraising is standing in someone who thinks they’re very important’s office, and you are neither offered the courtesy of a seat, nor the acknowledgement of an introduction to a person sitting very far away on the other side of the person who thinks they’re very important’s office. And then they have the temerity to ask for a board seat with their investment.
And. They. Never. Send. In. Their. Fucking. Paperwork. Even. After. You. Call. And. Get. Promises. Because. They’re. A. Douchebag.
(I’m still amazed at how many people are absolutely incapable of saying no, especially myself!)
And then you visit a Zen temple inside of a converted church, begging for more money from another former Microsoft executive manager who did send in their paperwork, and they give you Zen homework:
“When you think you’ve cut to the bone, you haven’t. Look again.
And it’s a dismal, quiet drive home with the CFO and COO, because everyone is thinking the same thing.
Posted in digital.forest, Entrepreneurship, Internet, Life, Microsoft
Tagged entrepreneurship, humor, leadership, Microsoft, startup life, startups, writing
Visual Studio 2012 shipped last month, so the rhythm of the business shifted to reorganizing for the next product cycle. As a part of the reshuffling, my job scope expanded from overseeing the Visual Studio Developer Center to the MSDN proper and Team Foundation Service websites. My charter covers content presentation, information architecture and experience integration. That’s a fancy way of saying, “Help build a more useful and pleasant to visit website.”
MSDN, according to Alexa, receives about 11% of all web traffic directed to microsoft.com, so I’m really looking forward to helping shift the experience for the millions of customers that visit the site. If you’re one of those customers, feel free to let me know what you do and don’t like about MSDN, and I’ll incorporate that into the evolving plans.
My team has also grown and I’m very happy to be working with some of the same people that I worked with a few years back when I was Lead Site Manager for TechNet*.
I already have some ideas about some things I’d like to see change and I’ll be highlighting them here going forward; don’t be shy about telling me what does and doesn’t work. 😉
(*Having helped launch Microsoft Answers in 2008, I’ve now officially worked across the Microsoft technical website audience triad of Developer, IT Pro and Consumer. It’s amazing and humbling when I start to think of the millions of people that have interacted with my work. Very few places in the world have that scale opportunity and I feel fortunate for the opportunity.)