After a solid 15 year run in technical marketing, I am applying all those amazing skills I picked up to work on a personal project named Hudson. Working with my advisory panel (also known as posting it on Facebook) we came up with EVP of Generational Development. The closest runner up was Chief Household Officer.
For the next year or so, I am going to raise Hudson, make sure he is as awesome as he can be, see what we can do about getting this house finished, work through my fabric stash, and get back into shape so I can keep up with Hudson and Rob.
Of course I love being an expert, and you aren’t an expert if no one listens, so if you need to toss some ideas around, I would love to grab lunch and have some grown up time.
I have always been a little afraid of 360 reviews I don’t know that I want that much clarity into other people’s opinions, but I did have a laugh recently when I saw this on a former manager’s social media profile:
My leadership style is optimistic and visionary. People describe me as entrepreneurial, imaginative, and intellectually curious. I like to motivate teams to build innovative products.
This guy was the biggest ass I have ever worked for. His ego exceeded any ability to build a team, and success was defined by how quickly team members agreed with his assessments and put our material to support them. That being said, this was a relatively successful guy, and to many people he was exactly as he represented himself, especially those above him in his hierarchy: to those working directly for him, not so much, as far as I could tell.
The interesting thing is how much of my own managerial style I saw in him. Rather than guiding the team, I showed them how smart I was. Rather than teaching, I pushed them to produce in my style, and they hated working for me. The feedback I received was almost visceral, and because of it, I stayed away from management for a long time. I thought I had dragged my team to success, kicking and screaming; what I wasn’t aware of was that there were so many other ways I could have built that team and pointed them in the direction of success rather than dragging them along. It was twice as much work for all involved with half the outcome.
I look at my current leadership team and what I need from them:
Vision: Tell me where you want to go, yes you can take my input, and that of other people in the organization. I appreciate it, and it is part of why I love being part of the team, but I look to you for the vision that will guide this organization through the future and fulfill the promise we all knows exists. I can help you get there, but you need to set the destination.
Accountability: From me and from you. Words are meaningless without follow through.
Safety: I need to know I can brainstorm with you, and I need to know you have my back when problems may arise. If I don’t feel that safety net is there, I won’t take the risks I need to take to be extraordinary. And I love to be extraordinary.
I feel pretty lucky to be where I am. I had warm fuzzies this morning in our staff meeting, listening to our leader articulating his vision, and his current challenges. I believe we have a balanced leadership team in our partners, and I believe they have a very clear view into strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and are willing to make changes as they are needed. I am admittedly a little jittery because of where I have been, but fortunately, the jitters pass a bit every day.
One of the hardest emails to compose at Microsoft is the leaving email, so I tried to keep mine short and simple, let folks know I was moving on, thank them and give them my new contact information. We Microsoft employees live and breath via our email, so leaving email@example.com is one of the hardest parts of leaving Microsoft. I think I wrote a pretty good one, and except for the one slip, where I accidentally hit “send” instead of “send personally” on one batch of emails. (Send Personally is an awesome product by the way, highly recommend it…)
After 26 managers, 19 office moves, 12 years, 6 divisions, 5 major reorgs (couldn’t add up the minor ones…) today is my last day at Microsoft. I have been offered an amazing opportunity to go and work with Neudesic, one of our Gold partners, in a job that pulls in all the favorite bits of my time at Microsoft and rolls them all together. More tales to follow.
Thank you so much to my friends and coworkers who have made Microsoft such an incredible place to be over the past decade. My personal contact information is below and attached. Please update your address books, and do stay in touch.
I have had wonderful responses from people, and for a smaller company it’s amazing how many people are fans of Neudesic. I am being reassured it’s nice on the outside. I’ve also had some follow up questions…
First, my new job:
I start April 9th, I will be in California the first week (April 9-13th). I am on vacation next week, and yes I am open for lunch, except Wednesday.
Yes, I will have the opportunity to work with Simon again, and I am looking forward to it, a lot.
Neudesic is a consulting company based out of Irvine, California, with offices all over the US. I will likely be commuting for the first few months, then based out of Bellevue with the occasional trip south.
My official title is director, strategic communications, and the job is working primarily with the technology leadership group, helping to build the technical brand of the company, community, influence and reputation. It’s a new role in the organization, and I will be in the technical team, working for the CTO. That being said, we will be doing more definition in the first 30 days, and as I get to know more about the role and the company I will gladly share. Try and stop me.
Second: Yes, really, 26 managers. As a side note, technically, I only changed jobs 3 times.
Someone asked me once what I liked about Microsoft and my answer surprised me, because until that moment, I hadn’t really known what set Microsoft apart. I told her that Microsoft had created a culture where smart ruled; different kind of smarts as well, not just the PhD from the top institutions in the world, but street smarts too. People could work their way up from PSS, and while Bill Gates may not have graduated from Harvard, he was smart enough to get in. I always knew I was smart, and I though I hadn’t always achieved to the level I should in academic environments, when I found myself in these groups of smart people I was a peer, I had their respect and they had mine. It was an environment that allowed me to blossom and grow, and contribute things to the world I never knew I would be able to.
I loved the traction of working at Microsoft.
I loved it when my first manager gave me the option of presenting my work to Bill and Steve, but suggested I let her slip it in when they were in a good mood instead.
I loved the way Bill looked so excited when I told him I loved my job, then so disappointed when I told him I was in investor relations not the “Titanium” team.
I loved putting out a corporate website that put accessibility in front of all other requirements.
I loved shipping Windows.
I loved putting together an event with 300 of the smartest software architects in the world and watching them think together.
I loved the moment I told my Dad I had a job at Microsoft.
Fortunately my new job is with a team of smart people, and I still get to work with many of my current favorites, so I am doubly blessed.
And to all you smart people I have had the privilege of working with over the past 12 years, thank you.
Lately, I have found myself getting incredibly stressed by other people’s actions. I see people making decisions that I know are not the right ones for the long term goals of the company, but look great in the short term.
I love to be right and I work hard at it. I research, question and probe. I try to look at situations from as many viewpoints as I can until I come up with the right answer. I admit I get aggravated when short term solutions are rewarded, or when all the variables have not been considered in a decision, but I am quick to concede, on the rare occasion when I am wrong (okay when I am proven wrong, not in the moment when I still think I am right). For me the need to be right is up there with wanting people to like me, and the two traits don’t always go together. This is being magnified by me right now because I’m working with someone right now who likes to be right even more than I do. This has caused so much tension, I have lost sleep. Losing sleep over stupid work things (as opposed to important work things) makes me ask, is it worth it to be right?
Perhaps doing right can help counterbalance the need to be right, and especially the need for acknowledgement of being right. What does that look like in a work environment? It’s easy with friends to judge when they just need support versus real advice. Work is trickier in so many ways.
People aren’t remembered in particular for being right. They are remembered for doing right. Doing right in everyday life, and doing right in the big things in life.
Not for saying I told you so.
When I was 21 I worked as an au pair for a family in France. I loved the girls I took care of and living in Montmartre was a joy, but what I couldn’t handle very well was the attitude of the parents. I called my mother in tears one day…"Mom, they treat me like a servant…" to which she deftly responded, "Well Peggy, you are a servant." It certainly silenced me, and I would like to say it adjusted my attitude, but it didn’t. I was 21.
I feel like I have been struggling to fit into my new role. I was hired on this team because I am different from the people they have brought on before. I have a lot of breadth across marketing disciples, a great network, and strong technical acumen, but I don’t have depth in event marketing, or the way of the subsidiary.
But it hit me today – they hired me because I was different, so the fact I don’t feel like I fit in all the time is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it’s a validation that I am indeed different, and the strengths I add are different than the people before me in similar roles, but the expectation of the people around is that I am like the people before me. So how do I drive that perception shift? When to talk, and when to shut up? And how to shake that summer camp feeling that everyone is in the gang except me. Mean while, I will follow the advice I was given years ago…and sit back and smile.
On Monday I start a new job in the US Subsidiary. It should be a lot of fun, it takes a little bit from each of my previous roles and puts it all together in one package. It was hard to turn down some of the incredible opportunities I was offered, but this one just seems like the right job, in the right team at the right time in my life. More to come, but here is the official job description:
The U.S. Central Marketing Group is looking for an innovative Event Marketing Manager who can successfully develop and execute strategy and execution plans delivering the U.S. presence at key Microsoft product launches. This position is responsible for supporting core areas of the U.S. Subsidiary’s business across the U.S. BMO and U.S. Partner teams. This is a fast paced, high-profile role that requires creativity, extensive cross function collaboration, passion for the details, and the ability to develop and drive event strategies and deliver executive-level communications. The role provides the freedom to pilot new ideas in an effort to deliver against business goals.
Success will require working closely with and orchestrating across group experts, outside agency representatives and the U.S. and Worldwide operating model and business group teams. The ideal candidate must be a strategic thinker and self-starter with tenacity for driving high quality marketing strategy, design and execution. Candidates must also be skilled in functioning at the strategic and tactical level to ensure flawless execution. Proficiency in effective cross-group collaboration, coupled with a flair for creating innovative and successful marketing programs, is required. In addition, the successful candidate will have strong communication skills and the ability to resolve conflict, influence others and impact the bottom line.
Specific responsibilities include:
Orchestrate strategy, planning and execution of product launches supporting the U.S. BMO scorecard.
Drive cross-CMG and cross-Microsoft collaboration, delivering marketing excellence and results and delighting customers.
Develop and execute all-up event business plans and strategies, including defined metrics and reporting, internal evangelism and field readiness, digital and partner integration, and on-site execution plans.
Deliver high-velocity of work across the WW & U.S. BMO teams and WW & U.S. CMG to plan, implement and execute activities to maximize exposure and sales opportunities.
Partner with the U.S. integrated marketing team on execution of demand generation, media and social networking plans.
Develop and own event work back schedules to ensure operational efficiencies and to manage escalation paths.
Oversee event budgets to ensure sound financial decisions and investments.
Drive cross-company internal communications including T-minus e-mails, monthly community presentations, newsletter submissions and web postings for managed activities.
Manage the event v-teams for these programs, including content development and management, demand generation, partner integration, and sales and marketing follow-up.
Establish and report on event metrics.
Conduct business and ROI analysis of the programs pre, during and post event.
Successfully manage key marketing agencies and vendor resources.
Integrate digital elements across all programs as appropriate.
Previous experience as a marketing lead for high-profile large conferences, events or product launches.
7+ years’ experience in marketing for a technology organization.
Knowledge of current B2B and B2C event industry trends.
Strong experience managing complex projects and virtual teams, superior organizational skills, and the ability to work against tight deadlines.
Ability to work effectively across all levels and remain calm and positive under pressure.
Strong integrated marketing communications and management skills including agency management, research, analysis and strategy.
Strong interpersonal communication skills – ability to present at all levels of the organization and to become a positive public representative for Microsoft to outside organizations.
Previous experience with field integration and communications is highly desired.
Must be self-motivated and able to work on long-term projects with limited direction.
Excellent decision-making, problem solving and negotiating skills.
Excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communication, and presentation skills are absolute requirements
I spent the weekend at the Western Elite Volleyball Championships, my nephew made the Alberta 17U team, and I had to go cheer him on. Now I don’t know a lot about volleyball: I know my nephew was asked to switch from soccer and basketball because the coaches though he could be an extraordinary volleyball player, instead of a really good basketball player. I know he’s only been playing for 2 years and was selected to go the the Elite tournament. I know his usual position is middle. With all that being said, he really wanted to try playing outside, apparently you get to hit the ball more. On the first day of the tournament, the coach let him try, and on Saturday he didn’t play. This is a three day tournament, and every single player there is an all-star, and not used to sitting on the bench. The poor guy sat on the bench the whole day.
Then it hit me – if I was a scout watching these kids play, I would care almost as much about their behavior on the bench as off, because when they go to college, they will almost without exception be playing in Division 1 teams, made up of the same mix of talent. With a team, if you have a hot rotation on a winning streak, you don’t want to break it up. Additionally, sometimes good players have great days, and sometimes great players have bad days. How you take your time on the bench is a great reflection of how you handle yourself in life.
As I watched him on the bench he kept on cheering on his team, high-fiving teammates who made good plays. As the day went on you could see his 6’ 8” frame getting more and more slouched. He was dejected. The next day, the coach told him he wasn’t going to play again. His beach partner from Calgary was on the opposing team on Sunday, and he also was spending quality time warming the wood. As we stood up the the stands, their parents were keeping their spirits up, and to keep in in perspective, getting invited to this tournament is a huge mark of your skill and talent. But they are still 17 year old boys, who are at the top of their sport, and the bench is not a place they like to be. We also wondered about the logic of the coach – playing 6 guys for 7 games straight wears them out – and the guys who haven’t played at all just get colder and colder. So how does a coach balance a hot streak and a strong bench? It’s a coaching dilemma, keeping a strong bench engaged and committed because when you have a team full of starters, someone ends up on the bench.
In my job we have elite players everywhere. I was on a team at one point that was made up of 6 people, including one Harvard MBA, two Wharton MBAs, one MIT MIS, one BSc in Computer Science + 10 years field experience, and me. It was at a time when Windows Product Management was the ultimate place to be in marketing. I was on the elite squad. You can take a team like that and look at it from a couple different perspectives: with Microsoft’s competitive calibration I was a little screwed, half the team was on the other “bench” (what MSFT used to call the program for people who have been identified for future leadership roles). I was never going to come out on the front side of our bell curve. Where I really profited was working with that caliber of people everyday on every aspect of my role. I still chuckle when the new product managers on my current team pull out a template my team created, sometimes that I created, and suggest that I use it. I knew my role and position on that team, I had the strongest soft skills, that’s why I was recruited. I could engage engineering teams that had been mad at marketing for years, I could pull in people from my network that enabled the success of the entire team, I could refine messaging from both a customer and global perspective. I was a negotiator extraordinaire. I loved being part of that team, and what an amazing team to be a part of. We had a coach who recognized all our skills, made everyone feel like they added value to the team, and set reasonable expectations.
I have a friend who manages a fairly large team. Two years ago, he hired a rock-star team of top performers. The problem again is that at Microsoft we are competing with our peers for our ranking and promotions. So now he needs to hand out some mandatory mediocre and poor ratings. This has nothing to do with any drop in their performance, they just are now being calibrated against a team of starters. We don’t calibrate across the company, we calibrate across individual teams, so if you are on a strong team, sometimes you have to take a lower rating and slower career velocity. Unfortunately it also works in the reverse, people who stay on weaker teams long term get higher calibration and career velocity.
My nephew handled his benching with grace and dignity beyond his years. Fortunately for him, the hot streak of one of the other middles ended, and he got back in the game, ending the weekend hitting and serving the last 2 points in the fifth game, winning the round.
I often get asked by partners and other companies I work with first whether they should participate is a large scale event like Tech Ed or WPC, and if they do how to have the most impact. I got an email in my inbox this morning from a company I have worked with in the past, that I think is one of the best “premails” I have seen. I like it for 3 reasons:
1. It promotes that the company leadership will be in attendance, not just sales or marketing people, and it tells you how to find them.
2. It demonstrates that the company is hooked in to event hosts, and must be of a certain caliber to have been invited to participate in all these cool events.
3. It provides a very useful lists of parties and side meetings many attendees never hear about.
This email just got moved to my marketing ideas to borrow folder.
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 9:11 AM
To: Peg McNicol
Subject: We’re going to WPC, are you?
Greg Lambert, Chief Technical Architect, and Mike Gray, Channel Director of North America and Canada, will be attending WPC in Los Angeles this week. If you are also attending this is a great opportunity for you, as a ChangeBASE partner, to catch up with the team.
Why not look Mike and Greg up on WPC Connect?
You can also catch up with Greg and Mike at the following events:
Windows Commercial Team Reception
550 South Flower at Sixth St., Los Angeles
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
5:30pm – 7:30pm
Microsoft UK Party “15 Minutes of Fame”
214 South Main Street, Los Angeles
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
7:30pm – 12:00am
UK Partner Roundtable with Erwin Visser – The Consumerisation of IT
Los Angeles Convention Center – Room 514
1201 South Figueroa St., Los Angeles
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
1:00pm – 1:45pm
Windows Embedded VIP Lounge
My House Hollywood
7080 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
7:00pm – 8:00pm
Windows Client Partners and Microsoft Team Event
The Geisha Room
Moon Room, 6633 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
5:00pm – 8:00pm
Windows Phone Partner Reception
Madame Tussaud Wax Museum
6933 Hollywood Boulevard Hollywood, Los Angeles
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
7:00pm – 10:00pm
UK Regional Event: Winning Together
Platinum Ballroom, JW Marriott
L.A. LIVE, 900 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles
Thursday, July 14, 2011
9:00am – 11:30pm
The ChangeBASE Team
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