I’m The Notes Guy inSeattle. I’m not “Going to the Dark Side.” I’m diversifying. There’s a difference.
OK, I’ll tell you right up front. I now work at Microsoft. No, I’m not throwing away 17 years of experience with Lotus software. I’m just taking on new challenges and developing other skills.
This new challenge will involve BlackBerry, Exchange and much more.
I am following my own mantra: “Eliminate your weaknesses and turn them into strengths.” (Read my recent post on this.)
My Lotus skills are already a strength. While I certainly have room to improve those skills, it wouldn’t make much difference.
Over the past few years I’ve been working on a variety of other skills and turning them into strengths: marketing, public speaking, and web development to name a few.
Not that I was bad at public speaking, but it wasn’t a strength. I joined Toastmasters and my skills have greatly improved. (see my speech at the 140 Characters Conference) I still have much room for improvement, but I have come a long way.
I recognized marketing as a weakness one day when I observed the C-level executives at my company make a decision to switch email from Notes to Exchange. They had no interest in seeing a cost analysis. They had no interest in understanding the impact. They just knew they wanted Microsoft software and they were eager to spend whatever it took to get there. When it was all over, they spent more than $1 million at a time when the company was losing money and they were laying off staff. And what did they have to show for the money and effort?
Actually, it’s worse than that. They now have 2 systems to pay for and maintain instead of one. Watching this seemingly irrational behavior made me wonder: what could possibly influence these leaders to make such a costly and unproductive decision? In the process of finding the answer I did enough research and studying on my own about sales and marketing that I could have earned an MBA. I turned that weakness into a strength.
Yes, I will continue to be The Notes Guy in Seattle. But I am, and have always been, much more than that. The brand “The Notes Guy in Seattle” has proven very effective in marketing that particular skill set and it has created great opportunities for me. Yet it fails to represent all of who I am whether I work at Microsoft or not.
Friends have been describing this new job using phrases like “Know your enemy” or “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” I like to think of it more like being a free agent in Major League Baseball. I may have a favorite team, but I’ll hit home runs for whichever team pays me. Let’s keep in mind Microsoft is not “the enemy.” Microsoft is just the competition. And since IBM has chosen not to compete in Seattle, my options are limited here as a Lotus professional. And you certainly can’t say I haven’t done my best to try to change that. That’s too bad too because this is a target-rich environment for potential new customers.
Will I change how I write? Probably not. But just in case you think my perspective has been tainted, you can always go to Mini-Microsoft’s blog for an entertaining perspective from the inside as written by an anonymous author who would probably be fired if they could figure out who it is.
The nice thing about being on the dark side is that you can see the stars.