So Mr. Sinofsky is gone from Microsoft. I’m not all that surprised given Microsoft’s shift to devices and services.
A friend and I were once having lunch at Kidd Valley and we spotted him sitting in the back with only a tablet computer keeping him company. As a fellow introvert, I understood the allure of getting away from all the people and demands to claim some quiet space and time to think over a meal.
Months later, I spotted him across the lobby of building 37. I watched him take the long route around to avoid someone he obviously didn’t want to talk to, but it was to no avail. Called out on his avoidance and hailed by name, heads swiveled to focus on him and the emotion this stirred in him was plain to see but hard to name. He was at the least clearly unhappy and annoyed, and made a throwaway comment in response while he placed his mask back in place and continued on to his destination without stopping.
I had the opportunity to meet and work with several people in the Windows division, and provide some input here and there around the developer documentation, website, and store. Great people, hard-working, cognizant of the scale and scope of the product they were working on. But many were uneasy about their leader, and the uneasiness mostly derived from fearing the wrath of their often inscrutable leader.
Leadership is hard, but in my opinion, there are some things that leaders should do:
- Leaders should be clear in their direction and vision.
- Leaders should spend as much time as possible with all levels of their team in order to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
- Leaders should boldly meet all comers.
- Leaders should show the full range of their emotions.
- Leaders should recognize when their leadership methodology hinders team execution.
- Leaders should listen to negative feedback and address it clearly and directly.
- Leaders should care and talk about more than just what they are leading.
If Mr. Sinofsky were to address these areas, I think he’d be an even more formidable technical leader.
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
Some executive hires will push for a fancy title, usually a step grade above what they were before. If they care that much, you should consider that they may not be the right cultural fit for your company. But if you need their skills and they seem like a decent fit, give them just about any title they want because they’ll be happier, which will make them more invested in doing a good job.
But do bicker about it for a bit to appear like you care and that you’re weighing their qualifications.
When the digital.forest offices were located in Bothell, we had a handful of covered parking stalls assigned to the company under the building but, as you can see, most of the parking was out in the lot.
As I recall, we had about six assigned stalls and roughly twenty people on staff at the time.
A new hire, a replacement Vice President of Sales, wandered into my office one morning not long after he started with us and sat down in front of my desk and then proceeded to ask me how he could park under the building.
The unasked question was, “How do I get an assigned parking spot under the building out of the rain?”
“Oh!” I enthusiastically replied, “That’s easy! Show up early, and park in a spot!”
He blinked a few times, then smiled before he sheepishly mumbled something I didn’t quite catch as he leveraged himself up from the chair and then went back to work.