This video’s been going around the Internet – it’s a employee’s recording of SteveB’s opening keynote "excitement" at our annual field sales meeting last year. I was a little surprised to see it posted online being that this is a company confidential gig, but the content is just his introductory remarks so it doesn’t contain anything revealing.
Anything that is, other than his extreme enthusiasm for Microsoft.
Steve Ballmer is Microsoft’s CEO. Many people use Steve’s behavior at company events like this as an example of Microsoft’s weirdness. The fact of the matter is that Steve has been this way since I first joined the company in the early 90’s and while I see newbies come into the company (especially folks that used to be employed at IBM or Oracle) and find these sort of antics strange, I’ve never found them out of place.
This is the culture we have at Microsoft. And Steve really does love the company. How do I know? I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him for long stretches of time, either in staff meetings or in past customer meetings where Steve was the executive representative for my customer.
His enthusiasm, believe it or not, is very infectious. Many Microsoft employees used to refer to our annual field sale meeting as the time to "recharge" the batteries. It was a very important time for FTEs to get a renewed sense of enthusiasm from those that "know the most about the company". Naysayers might call this, "getting a refill of the company kool-aid", and maybe they’re right. All I know is that we believe in what we’re doing, we reject what we don’t believe in, (and believe me – we have a lot of dissenters willing to call b–s— on bad decision making at this company) and we have a lot of fun executing. These events give us an opportunity for everyone to get onto the same page from some people that everyone in the company respects.
Why? For individuals that are engrained into the culture of Microsoft, while Bill Gates may be the embodiment of the brain & intellect of Microsoft, Steve is the embodiment of the spirit & heart of the company and it’s employees. Steve symbolizes one of my favorite Japanese quotes:
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