John Porcaro: mktg@msft 
I'm a Group Manager on the Home and Entertainment Division's PR team.
We create communications tools for Retail Partners, Retail Sales Associates, and our division's employees.
Even though I work for Microsoft, I'm not sure everything accurately reflects the views
of my employer, my management, my co-workers, or is even true. So, little I say here is "Microsoft policy".


March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003




Last post to my Moblog






John/Male/36-40. Lives in United States/Washington/Carnation, speaks English and Spanish. Eye color is brown. I am also optimistic. My interests are mountaineering/my kids.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Washington, Carnation, English, Spanish, John, Male, 36-40, mountaineering, my kids.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Don't Come Around Here No More...


New TypePad RSS Feed is here

   1:59:00 PM 

Thursday, August 07, 2003

This Blog Is Moving

Moving to TypePad.

New URL:

New RSS:

   8:04:00 PM 

Stressed Out By Information Overload, Constant Interruption, and Increasing Personal Isolation?

See you all at 7AM tomorrow morning in Bellevue (I'll be the sleepy one in the back row).

Tim Sanders
“Conquering ‘New Economy Depression Syndrome’”
Venture Breakfast
August 8, 2003, 7:00 a.m. at the Bellevue Hyatt

Imagine feeling totally exhilarated to be at work. You love what you do, the people you work with, the responsibilities you face, and the simple fact that you—on a daily basis— make a difference. Each Sunday evening, you find yourself anticipating the coming week with a mixture of eagerness and satisfaction.

Not the case for you? According to Tim Sanders, the Chief Solutions Officer of Yahoo!, you (and many of the rest of us) could be suffering from “New Economy Depression Syndrome (NEDS),” a form of work-related stress that is caused by information overload, constant interruption, and increasing personal isolation. NEDS is best understood, in a workplace scenario, as carpel tunnel syndrome of the mind. Think about it: today’s business world is armed with technological tools designed to make communication effortless and enhance productivity, yet we all seem to be suffering from a downward spiral of information overload, no-nonsense rationality, and social shyness.

There is an antidote. Join us on August 8, 2003, when Tim Sanders, the chief solutions officer of Yahoo! and author of “Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends,” reveals his secret system for defeating NEDS and increasing our levels of effectiveness and personal satisfaction. Nice, smart people succeed, Sanders maintains, by sharing three critical elements of themselves: their knowledge, their networks, and their compassion. “The most powerful force in business isn’t greed, fear, or even the raw energy of unbridled competition,” he explains. “The most powerful force in business is love [the promotion of growth in another]. It’s what will help your company grow and become stronger. It’s what will propel your career forward. It’s what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work— which will help you do your best work.”

Sanders, a former musician and early hire at, is a senior vice president and chief solutions officer at Yahoo!, where he drives some of the company’s largest partnerships and delivers next-generation marketing programs for world-class brands. Prior to his current position, Sanders created and led the Yahoo! Value Lab, an in-house think-tank for top clients and partners.

The Venture Breakfast is scheduled for Friday, August 8, 2003, at the Bellevue Hyatt, located at 900 Bellevue Way NE in Bellevue. Doors open at 6:30 a.m. for Early-Bird Networking, and the breakfast begins at 7:30. The cost of the breakfast is $25 for preregistered Northwest Entrepreneur Network members and $40 for preregistered nonmembers. An additional $5 fee will be charged for on-site registration. You may register on-line at or by calling 425 746-1973.

About the Northwest Entrepreneur Network
The Northwest Entrepreneur Network, with more than 700 members, is a nonprofit, professional association dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. The Network provides unique networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers. In addition to its Venture Breakfasts, the group provides monthly seminars and workshops designed to help businesses grow and prosper. For more information about the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, call (425) 564-4074 or visit

After this breakfast, Sanders will be hosting a book signing of his newly released paperback, “Love is the Killer App.” Members of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network will receive a 10% discount off the book’s purchase price.

   6:53:00 PM 

Do THEY Know What You've Done for Them Lately?

Today, I found a great article on self-promotion, from Harvard Management Communication Letter. Self-promotion is a fundamental expectation here, and virtually nobody is promoted unless his or her boss's boss knows all about what they do, and sees value in it. There's a fine line between being a pest, and doing what's best for your career.

Tom Krattenmaker is director of news and information at Swarthmore College, near Philadelphia, and shares his insight (lots more worth reading in the newsletter):

"Mastering the delicate art of selling yourself is critical to career success, but it isn't easy. Overdo the self-promotion, and you can get a reputation as a grandstander. But duck the limelight, and miss out on well-deserved plaudits.

The difference between right and wrong
Arch Lustberg, the author of How to Sell Yourself: Winning Techniques for Selling Yourself ... Your Ideas ... Your Message , sums up the difference between effective self-promotion and obnoxious boasting in one word: likability. ... "No one is going to buy your message or your idea," Lustberg says, "until first they buy you."

Skip the "aw, shucks" routine.
When the team leader compliments you on the job you did organizing the client meeting, Klaus says, don't brush it off with an "Oh, it was really nothing." Say how much the recognition means to you. Acknowledge the good effort you gave. And add something worthwhile that underscores the importance of the contribution you made.

Make your accomplishments known to others besides your boss.
Your boss's boss might be in a better position than your direct supervisor to give you a promotion or plum assignment. And a manager who shares rank with you today might be in a position of greater decision-making power tomorrow."

   6:49:00 PM 

Six-Sigma-ize Your Marketing

Bryan Eisenberg of Future Now has an article in ClickZ called 'Six Sigma' Web Marketing.

I personally think Six Sigma is highly under-rated among marketing folks, and is a lot more applicable than most think. Once you've discovered the customer's pain, finding the things to “six-sigma-ize” are pretty easy.

Six Sigma (3.4 defects in 1 million opportunities) isn't an impossible goal. It doesn't mean that you have no defects. Our goal, for example, is that a customer (or internal employee, etc.) can find what they’re looking for in our website in 30 seconds or less, 90% of the time (because what’s most painful is NOT finding what they want). It’s not that there are zero defects on our web site.

I was surprised by how relevant this is to marketing planning. I initially signed up to see if I could learn how to better manage improvements in our processes (for example, reducing the number of “errors” in data feeds to [our B2B partner site)). I learned that this will be valuable to almost any discipline that requires improving an existing program, process, or product. I’d recommend this to other marketers because:

· Six Sigma offers a framework for determining what’s critical to a project, and prioritizing to what has the most impact.
· The entire mindset was entirely focused on addressing things critical to customers
· Underlying this is a disciplined structure of using measurements before, during and after.
· Most Six Sigma projects can be started and completed within four months.
· The approach works for any area where there are problems that impact a customer’s perception of quality (even if our customers are channel partners, sales associates, other employees, etc. For example, Canada is running a Six Sigma project to improve forecasting for licensing.).

What is Microsoft’s Six Sigma Vision?
Drive sustained improvements in productivity, customer satisfaction and loyalty in order to reduce cost and increase revenue and profit.

What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a problem solving methodology that helps drive improvement to the bottom line by designing and monitoring business activities in a way that minimizes waste and resources while increasing customer satisfaction. It focuses on driving defects out of the product and/or services provided to our customers as well as the processes used to create these product and services.

Six Sigma originated at Motorola in approximately 1979 and has since been adopted by a number of companies including: General Electric ($2 billion annual savings attributed to Six Sigma), Texas Instruments ($600 million), Johnson and Johnson ($500 million), Honeywell ($1.2 billion) and Sun Microsystems.

The term Six Sigma comes from statistics, and (using standard deviations), measuring defects per million opportunities. By definition, Six Sigma is less than 3.4 defects per million (99.9997% success). Most companies perform at a 2 (69.10%) to 3 (93.5%) sigma level. 4 Sigma is a pretty good goal for most companies, with only 6,210 defects per million (99.38% success).

Where can I find out more?
A good external site:

What is the Six Sigma Philosophy/Mindset
· Identify what is “Critical” to your Customer
· Understand how well you are performing “today”
· Leverage facts and data to drive process improvement
· Sustain improvement

What are the major steps in Six Sigma
· Define (D): Zero in on specific problem with defined return on effort
· Measure (M): Determine current performance of process
· Analyze (A): Validate key drivers of performance (root cause of problem)
· Improve (I): Improved performance and validated realized results
· Control (C): Implement controls to ensure continued performance

How could Six Sigma help with Marketing and Sales?
· In Defining our charter, it forces us to be very clear on exactly what we want to improve. For example, with our intranet site, we can think about not just “improving efficiency” or even measuring “number of page hits” to focus on what’s critical to quality for the customer. We may choose to improve the amount of time it takes to find a relevant document, contact, or piece of information from 2.3 minutes to less than one minute, in 90% of cases.

· In Measuring, we can then focus on gathering information that leads to better controls and improvements. In asking “5 Why’s” using a measurable goal, we can find variables that might not have been obvious. The goal of Six Sigma is to improve quality by eliminating opportunities for failure along the way. Instead of reducing the cost per head of a given online training module, we focus on improving the % of instances of an sales associate recommending a Microsoft product to a customer. We then find all the “opportunities for failure” of that happening, and fix those.

· In Analyzing, we focus on the clear customer outcome, and avoid fixing problems that don’t impact the outcome. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of things. Since we don’t have any relevant data yet, we shouldn’t make guesses at what to improve (unless opportunities are obvious, which often they are).

How long does it take to implement a Six Sigma project?
The goal of the group is to implement projects in 4 months or less. In fact, the team has created a “Rapid DMAIC” process to drive measurable results (with a benchmark of at least $250,000) in a matter of weeks. By involving the right people (and only the right people), a clear charter, strong sponsorship (at a VP level), and following a structured process, key projects can be identified and implemented in a few weeks.

What Resources can the company provide?
We have [deleted] “Black Belts” whose job it is to implement Six Sigma projects. Part of their charter is driving projects, and mentoring “Green Belts” (part-time project leads). If we have a project, we can involve them early on. In addition, our internal Green Belt training takes place regularly for any interested employee.

How does someone get certified as a “Green Belt?”
To be eligible to receive your Green Belt certificate you must have completed at least one Six Sigma project, where you were the project manager, that has a value of $250k or greater. The process for applying for your Green Belt certification is as follows;

· Six Sigma GreenBelt workshop completed
· Six Sigma Project completed, documented and approved by sponsor
· Project template completed
· Document tools used
· Submit the completed project template or other project documentation as appropriate to your course instructor.

   6:29:00 PM 

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing

David Jung at B2Blog points to a very interesting post called The Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing, by Gerry McGovern. My favorites are 5 and 6. Luckily, the guys I have doing our web content (Ed, Cesar, Frank, Lori, and James) are pretty good. But even for us (see sin number one), we have lots to learn.

   10:12:00 PM 

Not a Bad Job if You Can Get It

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine points to The Worst Job in Journalism. Tim Porter was just named Ombudsman for the New York Times. Maybe we should add that to Scoble's title? According to Tim, there is one thing that will make him successful. Really listening to readers (are you sensing a theme to my posts yet?).

"There was comment aplenty the other day about the New York Times' decision to name an ombudsman, but precious little advice for the person who's going to inaugurate what Jeff Jarvis called the "worst job in journalism." (I'm not sure about that Jeff. Here's three words for you: Carson City, Nevada.) [note from John: I used to live in Incline Village, NV, and took some college classes at WNCC in Carson City!]

So, I emailed 27 members of the Organization of News Ombudsmen's and got 10 responses - not bad for mid-summer. Here's what they had to say.

Listen. Listen. Listen. Nearly every one stressed that a willingness to be a sounding board - for the staff and for readers - is key to an ombudsman's success.
Be honest. Be fair. Be candid.
Be professional, not personal.
Be independent.
Be humble, but be strong.
Be ready to laugh.

An ombudsman, or public editor or readers representative, certainly cannot cure the aching, arthritic readership trend that afflict newspapers. That requires leadership, commitment to quality and relentless pursuit of innovation. But an ombudsman can be a salving voice amid a cacophony of complaints or confusion."
Wow. All great advice. In any industry.

   10:02:00 PM 


I signed up for TypePad. I'm liking what I see. This blog may find a new home soon.
   9:26:00 PM 

Something Worth Saying

Joi Ito blogs about the conversation about Shure earphones that took place on his site. I was so impressed with the way the Product Manager jumped right in, and the response he got, I ended up forwarding the post to several co-workers, and one of the senior directors of our recent "Customer Partner Experience" push (that sounds pretty corporate-ish, doesn't it?).

Wow. If only our PMs felt comfortable enough to have real conversations with real customers using a real voice. And more to the point, I wonder what we'd learn if our PMs heard real conversations by listening to real customers in an unfiltered, real conversation.

"I first heard about the Shure earphones from Barak and bought the e2c's. I blogged about it. With the help of Google, people interested in e2c's including Matt, who was the product manager for the e2c's found my blog entry. When the e5c's came out, I blogged about them too. Hundreds of comments later, both of these entries have become discussions including testimonials and lots and lots of answers from Matt replying to questions about the products and distribution. This human voice dialog is why I think blogging is so great for companies with great products.

Last week, I talked to Matt and Susan from Shure on the phone about experimenting with blogs. Matt's started a blog. Hopefully we can set up some combination of a wiki and a blog to help Shure reach out to us and for us to give them feedback."

   9:11:00 PM 

Don’t Get Buried in Customer Data—Use It

A good deal of what my team does is develop customer- (or partner-) facing web sites. We collect a bunch of data, and we run several different reports. We're still discovering ways of doing "data mining" to spot trends, analyze usage, stuff like that.

One of the handful of newsletters I get is Harvard Business Review's "Working Knowledge". If you're not one of those that's popped the $118 for a subscription to HBR--well worth the investment in your career in my opinion (or have access to it on Factiva), you can get some good summaries of some of the best articles from this free newsletter. Always something thought-provoking.

Don’t Get Buried in Customer Data—Use It
"By the end of the decade, many marketers had come to believe that the combination of mass customization techniques, sophisticated database software, and the Internet would enable them to actually deliver on the promise of customized offerings to each individual customer.

But that hasn't happened to the extent it should have, says Cleveland-based consultant James H. Gilmore, coauthor with B. Joseph Pine II of The Experience Economy (Harvard Business School Press, 1999), because "most practitioners have taken the concept of one-to-one marketing and bastardized it into CRM. They're using CRM tools to design better processes for a nonexistent 'average' customer, instead of customizing for individual customers."

He cites the example of a major hotel chain that asks guests to complete a multiple-question satisfaction survey via their room's TV set during their stay. When one guest answered "extremely dissatisfied" to all the questions, he was not treated any differently when he checked out. Why? Because his answers went straight to a central repository where they were aggregated with other customers' responses and used to measure overall market—not customer—satisfaction. A more effective approach would be to feed his answers directly to someone at the front desk who could respond immediately to his needs and create a better experience for him.

"A company's goal should be to learn more about what each customer needs so that it can close the customer sacrifice gap, which is the difference between what individual customers settle for and what each wants exactly," says Gilmore. Steve Cunningham, director of customer listening at Cisco, agrees that it's vital to listen and respond to individual customer needs and preferences. But he believes you must also pay attention to the aggregate data—customer averages based on individual surveys."

There's definitely more we can do, and I'm really looking forward to the flexibility some upcoming web services and tools are going to provide our team.

   9:04:00 PM 

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Installing Windows XP in 147 Easy Steps...

By now, many of you have seen Mark Pilgrim's post about his experience re-installing Windows XP. Mark, we've all been there! Good news is that there are more than just Scoble and me hearing about it here at Microsoft. Posts like this (thanks to News Gator) are easily forwarded to others that are taking feedback like this seriously. So keep it up!

Now, I need to do the same to our kids computer... (I'll go ahead and skip some of the Linux stuff for now, if you don't mind...)

   8:07:00 PM 

More on Job Sharing (In Your Client's Shoes Part II)

My brother replied to my question about what kind of response he got, and if someone actually did his management job. Here's his reply:

"Actually, I did have an hourly employee do my job for the other half of the day. I set it up with some realistic, yet not real situations without telling her (employee lost his check, employee hates her supervisor and wants him fired, employee got into an altercation with another employee, employee wanted to put in for a shift change, one of my direct reports is stuck on a difficult case and needs some advice, etc). I told her that she was the labor relations manager and that I was simply there to observe. She did the best job she could...actually held her own on some of the more emotional cases where tempers are close to the edge (pretend in these situations, of course). After about an hour and a half, she decided that "management doesn't have it so easy, either" and that she wanted to "go back on the line where she didn't have to put up with all of this stuff."

We had several layers in the organization trade jobs with the hourly employees. Some of the other participants in the plant: the plant manager, the controller, the engineering manager, a few business unit managers, a few superintendents, a few engineers, and a few HR professionals.

After going through this, I learned that even though I'm out in the plant every day (with 3,400 hourly employees, I don't get around to all of their jobs) and I interact with the hourly workforce for most of my day, I had no clue what their job was really like until I did it. I didn't realize the monotony and physical labor that those jobs entail. I now have a better understanding of some of the issues that come my way. Truly walking in their shoes gave me a better view. From the comments of the hourly employees, I know that they also had an enlightening experience.

The feedback from both sides was very positive and we (HR) plan to host a job share event every quarter now. With 3,400 hourly employee and 400 salaried/management employees, we have a lot of ground to cover."

   6:57:00 AM 

Monday, August 04, 2003

In Your Client's Shoes

Just got a note from my brother, who works in Human Resources at an auto manufacturer.
"This past week we had a "job share" event where the UAW workers on the assembly line (assembling rear axles) traded places with the management team. I worked on the line putting axle shafts into the tubes in the axle assembly. It was a lot of work (I was sore the next day) and a real eye-opener and I gained an appreciate for what an auto worker has to do day in and day out."

I think this is just a great, great idea. We've done this on a limited basis here at Microsoft, but I've entertained the idea of doing something more formal. How great would it be if we could work in a retailer, answering customer questions and stocking shelves? Or travel with the sales folks and present the marketing material we produce to our partners? Would we learn more about what our clients, partners and customers go through if we could really live in their shoes for a day or two?

   7:22:00 AM 

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Changing Beliefs...

Ton Zijlstra gets introspecitve in "Networking Stagnation: Fatigue or Growing Pains?" (linked by Dina Mehta). Great points about blogging, and I like the "lessons" he's learned over the past year. Sounds like we're on a similar journey.
"I can name a few things that became increasingly clear to me in the last 14 months of discovery, and have changed and augmented my belief system:

- the paradigmshift behind knowledge management is really fundamental, and is at its core about personal empowerment in a networked environment. It's more about philosophy than about business science.
- having tapped into a community of people with amazingly bright and provoking ideas, the need to be able to tap into (these type of) communities, to keep being provoked to grow shows itself to be vital.
- reinforcement of the belief that if I want to see change, I have to work towards that change myself
- blogging is about people first and people only
- personal relationships are the stuff of our lives
- I want to be self employed to be able to put my (new) beliefs to work
- cybernetworks are reinforced and stabilized by face to face meetings

   10:50:00 PM 

The Autodidactic Lifestyle

Dana VanDen Heuvel has a great blog on marketing, sales, and sales force automation. He's one of those in the marketing trenches, and I really respect what he has to say. And he helped build an awesome website for his employer, by the way. I think we could use some of his expertise on some of Microsoft's websites.

Dana makes a great point that reinvention is not a buzzword but a way of life for those of us striving to be on the edge. I love that!
"I was at a fairly high level meeting w/ a subsidiary of ours last week, discussing the nuances of Internet Marketing and doing business on the web. They asked 'so, how did you come to know these things?' To which I replied, 'simple, read lots, and fail early and often.' In a word, all of us in the 'Internet Space' are, by default, autodidactics. We did NOT go to school for this stuff, and for many of us in the web space, the web was not available or even on the radar screen in college/grad school. I remember teaching web development to seniors, as a sophomore, because just two years before, they did not have the same access to the web, nor the acumen to grasp the power of HTML. My how fast time flies.
I was at a fairly high level meeting w/ a subsidiary of ours last week, discussing the nuances of Internet Marketing and doing business on the web. They asked 'so, how did you come to know these things?' To which I replied, 'simple, read lots, and fail early and often.' In a word, all of us in the 'Internet Space' are, by default, autodidactics. We did NOT go to school for this stuff, and for many of us in the web space, the web was not available or even on the radar screen in college/grad school. I remember teaching web development to seniors, as a sophomore, because just two years before, they did not have the same access to the web, nor the acumen to grasp the power of HTML. My how fast time flies.

Fast forward. I had a 'consulting call' this week with Emery Kertesz on web marketing and his website redesign, when he posed the question 'so, how did you come to know these things?' Fortunately, I've started on a document which lists all of the e-newsletters and websites that I get, which may be of some help to all of you. There is SO MUCH to read on this subject (Internet Marketing & Sales Technology) that you really need to network and use your time wisely. And... READ LOTS!!!

So what converged, you ask. A few things:

1. Self-learning/teaching/continuous education is an imperative in this economy
2. Meeting with people, ESPECIALLY CONSULTANTS, who do not ascribe to the above, underscores why I spend so much time researching, learning, and re-learning the craft.
3. Reinvention is not a buzzword but a way of life for those of us striving to be on the edge."

   9:46:00 PM 

The Importance of PR

Scoble points to an article written by VentureBlog, about the Importance of PR, especially in a down market. From Abigail Johnson:
"Early in my career I learned the adage "He who wins in a down market wins." This is true today on many levels, not the least of which is strategic communications. Let me explain: if a company is trying to define and lead a market, a down, quiet market is a great opportunity to take the time for the market education process that will inevitably be needed. Regardless of the state of the market, education will be needed. But in today's market, an interesting, new idea can get an unfair mindshare compared to the way it was a few years ago. And, if a special, potential leader doesn't do this, there is a good chance that they will go through their life as an also-ran."

Interesting thoughts! Read the post!

   9:32:00 PM 

Disposable Digital Camera

From a press release from Ritz Camera:

"The Ritz camera chain is rolling out one of the industry’s first OTU digital cameras. For $10.99, Ritz will offer an OTU digital camera, 25 4 by 6-inch prints and a CD with the images and software. The OTU digital model will be nearly identical to its film counterpart. Consumers who purchase the camera can take up to 25 pictures, which are stored on the camera’s internal memory. They have the option to delete only the last picture they took since the camera doesn’t feature a color LCD. The company 'targets 3-megapixel quality in a 4 by 6-inch print)."
   9:06:00 PM 

Microsoft Event at Seafair

Got to meetup with Beth Goza and her husband, and Jed Rose, new MLR starting tomorrow! Welcome! Jed is going to work with Beth on some community-enhancing efforts for Windows and Longhorn. I'm super anxious to find out more about their plans.

The weather was just perfect (70F/20C), and the kids were (relatively) well behaved. We saw the Blue Angels perform, watched the hydroplanes race, and saw an acrobatic airshow. Thanks to all those that put it on for our group!

Oh, and just for fun, I threw in a picture of one of our windows Steven broke yesterday. He'll be cleaning bathrooms and foregoing allowance for a while... :)

   8:56:00 PM 

Saturday, August 02, 2003

The Blogging Process

Dewayne Mikkelson points to an article by Dave Pollard, called "The Blogging Process." Now, I'm just tired...

   9:03:00 PM 

Friday, August 01, 2003

Sometimes, It Takes Us Until Version Three...

...and others, Version NINE. I've used Microsoft photo editing software for a long time, but I agree that Microsoft Digital Image Suite 9 is very cool.

ZD Anchor Desk: My new favorite way to organize digital photos (David Coursey)
OVERALL, I like Digital Image Suite 9 a good bit more than previous Microsoft products, which I never really warmed up to. This new release is significantly more attractive to me, perhaps because of the easy organization with Image Library and the easier image manipulation now possible in Image Pro.

   7:03:00 PM 

Action Items Due Dec. 14

Rebecca Schwoch reminds me that sometimes you need to remember the little things (or make the little things the big things). I subscribed to her blog because she tends to find the stuff I find interesting, uh, interesting. I love the serendipity of finding kindred spirits that span distance and time--it's probably the main reason I continue to blog (when asked, my most common response is that it's about community).
"I decided to make some goals for the rest of the year (renewed/new resolutions) to be completed by December 14

1. Write a children's book (see yay above. heh)
2. Paint more
3. Blog more original ideas (not this journaly stuff or just posting others comments).

Anyone else?
Let me give it some thought. I'd say 1. Get my kids to Disneyland; 2. Finalize the adoption of our 14-month-old; 3. At least finish the outline of a book. But there's probably a lot more there. I like Rebecca's #3 above. But by the way, Bec, we like the "journal-ly" stuff. It's what makes you human to us.

   6:43:00 PM 

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Benevolent Leadership

More from the 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers. Sorry to ramble on, but this stuff is golden. I'd re-print every word if I wouldn't be breaking every known copyright law in existence. I wish wish wish I'd had this book when I was 24. As it is, I'm probably 5-7 years behind where I should be (I'm 39, and am where I should have been at about 32)... Better late than never!

Practice Benevolent Leadership
A leader is best when people barely know that he exists. He is the teacher who succeeds without taking credit. And, because credit is not taken, credit is received. -Lao Tzu, 6th Century B.C.

The curse of the highly talented person is that everyone wants him to do everything. … Rather than go it alone, become fanatical about wooing, hiring, and retaining the most talented people in (the) business. Create an environment that would be the most attractive to the very best people, one of open communication and deep trust, in which (your) subordinates' success will be more important that even (your) own. (48)

We are reluctant to let go of the belief that if I am to care for something, I must control it. So many people progress in their careers hoping to ensure short-term success by tight oversight, while long-term success slips away.

Extraordinary success is achieved by makthosehose around you successful.

The benevolent leader maximizes performance through facilitation. She eliminates barriers for subordinates and leads with authority, even though at times appearing to be just one of the pack. It's easy to know when a benevolent leader is in charge. The telltale signs? Information and authority flow freely. Honesty abounds. People are free to question authority without retribution. Creativity reigns. Each member of the team feels just as accountable to the other team members as to the leader. (50)

Nearly 90 percent of extraordinarily successful executives were described as being concerned about their careers of their subordinates as much or more than their own careers. (52)

To put this lesson another way: The extraordinary executive does not claw his way to the top, he is carried there. (53)

So what really motivates the best and the brightest? In our survey we asked how respondents personally defined career success. Two key factors emerged. The first, one of the most often cited, was "freedom in my job to do the things I want." ...…The second was "to be well regarded in my company or industry." (55)

Successful executives ask "How will this job, working for this boss, help me achieve the level of respect and impact that I desire? He asks, explicitly or implicitly, about each new opportunity. Highly successful individuals also add another question: "If I am successful, will the organization or team be successful?" (55)

Professionals understand the importance of joining the best program and actively seek it out. This becomes a virtuous circle--the best people create the best results, which in turn attract the best people. ... Professionals who create a winning environment, usually end up winners. (58)

Of the four leadership styles, I find myself probably in the "Good Citizen" block. As I gain experience and confidence, I'm sure I'll move more into the "Benevolent Leader" box, since it so closely aligns with my own personal values.

By the way, for a clue on how I got a pre-release copy, look here.

   5:15:00 PM 

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

More on the 5 Patterns...

I've gotten several requests for more information about The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers. I found the first chapter online here:

At the 5 Patterns website is also a PowerPoint deck with the key points here: Worth a read, and goes into more detail than I can.

Some of the key points of the books I've found helpful so far:

After doing a lot of research (2,000 executives interviewed), the authors found a handful of patterns. One thing they found was that executives "never took their job descriptions too literally and had always found ways to expand their responsibilities within their organizations (p. 4).

Extraordinary executives, in a process similar to compound interest, achieved success slowly and consistently, with each phases building on the prior one. (8)

So what are the five patterns of extraordinary careers? As the five chapters that follow will detail, they are to:
1. Understand the value of you. People with extraordinary careers understand how value is created in the workplace, and they translate
that knowledge into action, building their personal value over each phase of their careers.
2. Practice benevolent leadership. People with extraordinary careers do not claw their way to the top; they are carried there.
3. Overcome the permission paradox. People with extraordinary careers overcome one of the great Catch-22s of business: You can’t get the job
without experience, and you can’t get the experience without the job.
4. Differentiate using the 20/80 principle of performance. People with extraordinary careers do their defined jobs exceptionally well but don’t
stop there. They storm past predetermined objectives to create breakthrough ideas and deliver unexpected impact.
5 . Find the right fit (strengths, passions, and people). People with extraordinary careers make decisions with the long term in mind. They willfully
migrate toward positions that fit their natural strengths and passions and where they can work with people they like and respect. (9)

The average professional with thirty-five years of experience has worked for just over six different companies during his or her career. Yet those with only ten years of experience have, on average, already worked for four companies. (11)

Understand the Value of You
The most successful professionals have come to understand the underlying factors that determine value in the job market, and how to maximize their market value at different stages of professional life, and why some careers prosper while others peak and decline (15).

Your value in the talent marketplace is derived from two distinctly separate elements—the value of your potential and the value of your experience. … The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of potential.

Experiential value is usually more highly compensated than potential value for the simple reason that it is much easier to measure what you have done than what you can do. … Even if you find yourself considering a role similar to the one that you have been in, it is important to look for and discuss the growth potential of the new role itself and you in it. … You must turn your potential value into valuable experiences, which together can be converted into renewed potential. (21)

The Potential Versus Experiential Promotion:
The critical element to potential promotions is trust. It should be noted that potential promotions … are relatively rare. Because these are promotions of trust earned over time, they seldom occur when changing employers, since senior people in the new organization are usually not yet familiar with you or your capabilities. (27)

The pattern of leveraging successful experience in one company or industry for the opportunity to do something similar in another plays itself out in a majority of the four thousand searches that Spencer Stuart conducts annually. (29)

The Promise Phase
The key to building experiential value in your career is straightforward: Gain experiences that really matter. (29)

Understanding when it is in your long-term interest to do something in the short run, such as going for a potential promotion within your current organization to position you for an experiential promotion later on , is a key trait of extraordinarily successful executives.

Executives switch employers every 4.6 years on average. … When an individual is recruited to a new employer, the appointment is typically accompanied by an increase in compensation of between 15 percent and 30 percent. In general, potential promotions tend to be accompanied by the more typical 5 percent to 10 percent pay raises. (29)

Value changes throughout your career, shifting from potential to experiential to potential again.

The path of successful professionals often visibly diverges from that of the less successful in the middle of a career. (31)

The importance of the first stage is often underestimated. Start something that will begin the process of building experiential value. Early professional experience will provide feedback and input into what you enjoy and are good at. And it will certainly create the most freedom and alternatives later on. (33)

If you choose not to use your potential, you will have still spent it. Working in the promise phase is in fact one of the best times to identify your strengths and passions. … An individual’s ability to convert potential into valuable experience is one of the most important elements to achieving long-term success. (33)

There is a twofold goal for the end of the promise phase: to have achieved the endorsement of having worked for at least one recognizable company or institution while having learned enough about yourself to become directed toward a situation that plays to your strengths and interests in the years ahead.

One executive interviewed said “Looking back (in the promise phase), I am convinced that not taking a risk at that point in my career would have been an even riskier strategy, because I would have been just another associate.” (35) “It’s amazing how seemingly minor differences in momentum and perspective that you establish very early on in your career can led to such major differentiation later in life.” (36)

The Momentum Phase:
Your potential value is steadily converted into experiential value as you master functional skills, develop a track record, take on broader responsibilities, manage other professionals, and cultivate a network of business relationships. This is the phase (usually in your mid-thirties, when you shift into the momentum phase of your career. This phase corresponds to the downward fall of the swing, or the point of greatest acceleration. The momentum phase is when many professionals approach their maximum experiential value. (36)

If you are on the right track by this middle stage of your career, then you are in a position to take maximum control over your career’s direction. … The most successful executives in the momentum phase achieve positive impact an accelerating rate. (37)

Unfortunately, those who haven’t managed this phase are at serious risk of seeing their career stall. If you have been unable to migrate your career toward roles that play to your strengths and passions, enabling the kind of impact to attract the most important opportunities, then you may have lost your greatest opportunity for momentum. (38)

   8:29:00 PM 

Taking a Bird's-Eye View of "Social Cyberspaces"

Please allow me to publish a press release. I wrote about my lunch with Marc last week.

Taking a Bird's-Eye View of "Social Cyberspaces"
Microsoft Researcher and Pioneer in Online Communities Shows How "Social Accounting" Tools Help Computer Users Cope With Information Overload

REDMOND, Wash. -- July 29, 2003 -- Have you ever joined an online message board or newsgroup discussion only to find yourself struggling to decide which participants' advice to heed, whom to ignore, who are the experts, and who is simply making noise or "flame-bait"? Trust and identity are at the core of any well-functioning community, online or in the real world. Researchers at Microsoft Corp. are creating tools to help computer users understand these dynamics -- and get real value from what research sociologist Marc Smith calls "social cyberspaces."

According to Smith, social cyberspaces include e-mail, e-mail distribution lists, chat rooms, buddy lists, instant messages, message boards, weblogs ("blogs"), and discussion groups such as Usenet. Today, most of these virtual spaces offer little or no "social accounting" data or information that helps users get a big-picture view of the community they are interacting with. Yet the role of social cyberspaces is becoming increasingly important.

"Technology no longer consists just of hardware or software or even services, but of communities," said Howard Rheingold, author of "The Virtual Community" and "Smart Mobs." "Increasingly, community is a part of technology, a driver of technology, and an emergent effect of technology."

At Microsoft® Research, Smith leads the Community Technologies group, which is developing tools that can help people make more informed decisions on which community members they can trust, instead of acting on blind faith.

One project is Netscan ( Drawing on the estimated 100,000 newsgroups and 20 million active contributing members within Usenet, Netscan offers an interface that supports the discovery of communities of interest, the selection and evaluation of high-quality content, and, as a reputation system, motivates members to make quality contributions.

In another project, Smith and his colleagues are exploring how online information can play a role in the physical world. Advanced User Resource Annotation, or AURA (, demonstrates how people can bridge the gap between online information and the offline world. Using a wireless Pocket PC outfitted with a bar-code scanner, users can scan any bar-coded object -- such as food, books or even works of art -- and find relevant information in real time from newsgroups, Web sites and message boards.

For example, a visitor to an art museum could scan the bar code on a painting's frame and instantly access newsgroups or message boards associated with the particular artist. Then they could read what others think of the work and even annotate the discussions with their own ideas.

Today at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus, Smith will discuss his group's research in "Group Dynamics in Social Cyberspaces." The talk is open to the public.

Where: Microsoft Corp.

Bldg. 1, Conference Center

1065 LaAvenida

Mountain View, Calif.

Time: 12:30--2 p.m.

   11:06:00 AM 

Monday, July 28, 2003

5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers

I got an advance copy of The 5 Patterns for Extraordinary Careers, written by James Citrin and Richard Smith. I'm totally devouring the information. This is probably going to be one of the more powerful books I've run across all year.

One of the case studies is Rich Bray, the Vice President of MSN North America. I worked with him when we were both Product Managers (he was PM of Money, I was PM of Dinosaurs and Musical Instruments). I've always been impressed with his decision-making ability, and his ability to take risk. It's fascinating to read about his accelerated career, and the author's opinions on how he made it as far as he has. I look forward to learning all I can from the book, and from Rich.

The authors have a website, and a "5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers assessment." You can take the survey free.

John's Quiz Results
Your thoughts and behaviors are consistent with a Successful Professional! (60-89 points) Other ranges are 59 points or less (Average Employee) and 90-100 points (Extraordinary Executive)

In the top percentage of working professionals, your thoughts and actions in several areas are consistent with successful careers. However, there are likely numerous strategies available to you that place a career that is truly extraordinary within your reach.

Pattern 1 - Understand the Value of You
Pattern 1 Score: Average Employee (50 points)

Pattern 2 - Practice Benevolent Leadership
Pattern 2 Score: Successful Professional (70 points)

Pattern 3 - Overcome the Permission Paradox
Pattern 3 Score: Average Employee (47 points)

Pattern 4 - Differentiate Using the 20/80 Principle of Performance
Pattern 4 Score: Extraordinary Executive (100 points)

Pattern 5 - Find the Right Fit (Strengths, Passions & People)
Pattern 5 Score: Successful Professional (77 points)

Can't wait to find out how to accelerate each score!

   5:46:00 PM 


"Imagination is the hood ornament on the car of creativity."
"Fear is the dark room where the devil develops his negatives."
"This show is like a farm birth in outer space."
"I've thought about things that Kings and Queens cannot spell."

Diane's right. I'm With Busey is a funny, funny show.

   5:37:00 PM 

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Microsoft Company Picnic

Wow, what a fun day in a totally picturesque setting. The kids had a great time eating tons of food, drinking their weight in soda, playing in the inflatable playgrounds, watching a magic show, and spending time with our family. And Jeri and I enjoyed the Little River Band concert, the nice weather (80 F) and sunny skies, and the chance to relax a bit. (You'll have to ignore the blurry photos, little kids tend to smudge everything they can...).

There were probably 20,000+ people there, but it didn't seem too crowded (the venue was massive!). Steven got to go onstage to help with the magic show, check out his smiling face as he tries to escape from the ropes!

   11:37:00 PM 

Let Go, Be Yourself, Make the Moment Matter

Diane Reischling recently did some training of folks you might run into if you're in some retail stores in the US, part of Microsoft and HP's "Experience Centers." She talks about highlights from the training in her blog:
"I stood up and said, "The only thing I want to do is to simply give you permission to NOT sell anything. All I want you to do is make sure that customer walks away being known, understands a bit more about how our software can meet some need/curiosity in their life, and believes it's a good thing for the world. If you do all three things each and every time...I'll be thrilled."

Total silence. I'm getting that a lot here. :)

And then we all decided to come up with three things to remember together as we are in front of customers. I was so inspired by them, that I'm writing them down:

1. Let go - everyone gets to play
2. Be yourself - be real
3. This moment matters
Good advice, no matter what your job, or to whom you're speaking.

   11:32:00 PM 

Stay In School! (figuratively-speaking)

Peter Provost reminds me (us) how important it is to stay current (or ahead of the curve!) in your industry. He links to a slide deck by Dave Thomas (of Pragmatic Programmer fame), who recently published the slides from his talk "How To Keep Your Job".

Peter echoes my thoughts: "It always amazes me how few people take any time for personal education once they get a job. They go to work, do their job, and they go home. Very few people allocate any time for continuing education. Read this and pay attention, it is important."

It's not enough to do your job, or even to do it well. In the days of downturns and layoffs, playing it safe is the most risky thing you can do. Don't stop studying just because you've finished school, or because you rely on your one-week-a-year professional development program. Programming changes every year, and I'd argue marketing, even management practices, changes just as fast.

   11:26:00 PM 

Interactive Reality-based Gaming

Marc Canter blogs about Interactive-palooza, saying that "back in 1994 - the MediaBand was part of a traveling Lollapalooza Interactive Tent that was sponsored by Paul Allen's Interval Research group. We were all geared up - convinced that the future was now - unfortunately we were 9 years too soon. But it looks like it's happening now."

From the article: "Organizer Perry Farrell (news), frontman for Jane's Addiction, said, "I would call this interactive reality-based gaming." ... He has incorporated video games, wireless (news - web sites) phones, video screens and more as part of his vision for the future of entertainment. "

The team I'm on (Xbox PR) put a lot of this together (though I personally had nothing to do with it). Cool to see it coming together. And Marc's right, the future is at our doorstep.

   11:04:00 PM 

Too Much to Do?

Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge has a great article called "Understaffed and Overworked: What Now?"
"The sure recipe for failure is to suck it up and try to do it all," says Isabel Parlett of Parlance Training, a Santa Fe, N.M., firm specializing in business communications. "You'll burn out, your team will resent you, your reputation will suffer, and the work probably won't all get done anyway."

1. Stay Focused. What is its economic impact? Is it aligned with the company's strategy? How will it satisfy stakeholders? What is my level of passion, talent, and energy for it? Do we have the resources?

2. Remember the Little Picture: Get out in front. Create alliances. Manage up. Focus on your new duties. To position yourself, start with your team.

Of course, we're all really busy. With the recent reorg, my team's been challenged with continuing all the work we're currently doing, plus taking on more, both from other organizations in our larger group, and more worldwide. There are some great suggestions in this article. Worth a read, and worth a subscription to the newsletter. Link from Dana VanDen Heuvel.

   10:44:00 PM 

My Moblog on TechTV

Sean mentioned his wife's moblog was on TechTV, and I watched the clip, and saw that my moblog was featured next. My slurpees aren't as cute as his baby, but darn close.

And the "convention" was the MGB last week.

   6:59:00 AM 

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Social Newsgroup Research

Just spent time using one of the tools Marc showed us earlier in the week. Netscan is available to the public from the Microsoft Research site.

The Netscan System provides detailed reports on the activity of Usenet newsgroups, the authors who participate in them, and the conversation threads that emerge from their activity. Using the Netscan tool users can get reports about any newsgroup for any day, week, month, quarter, or year, since September 1999.

Netscan can be used to:

- Find newsgroups where others share your unique interests.
- Monitor the health of newsgroups related to your interests and pursuits.
- Stay informed on current events and the latest trends.
Locate sources for technical assistance and information.
- Examine troubling issues and hot topics not covered in product documentation.
- Track the participation of your favorite authors across Usenet newsgroups.
- Use Newsgroup Reports to get an in-depth analysis of individual newsgroups including a graphic representation of newsgroup traffic, statistical changes in the newsgroup as compared to last year’s statistics, closest neighbors, largest threads, and most prolific authors.

Use Author Profile to view Usenet newsgroup usage data for a selected author. This data includes Usenet activity during the selected and previous period, known aliases, and newsgroups to which the author has posted over the past year.

Use Thread View to view all the messages in a specified conversation independent of the thread to which it was posted or from which responses were made. Both a thread view and a tree view of the conversation are provided.

Use Tree Map to view the hierarchical relationships of newsgroups in the Usenet.

Use Cross Posts to view the relationships between neighboring newsgroups within Usenet. The frequency of cross posts newsgroups is used to determine how closely related one newsgroup is to another.

   9:17:00 AM 

Friday, July 25, 2003

Hanging Out with the PR Team

Had a great time tonight hanging out with the Xbox PR team at our Director's home on Lake Washington. Good food, and some new good friends. I got to meet some great folks at our agency, Edelman.

I'm fascinated at the creative talent and the executional excellence these guys demonstrate, even in casual conversations. I've never met a more interesting, professional, attractive group of people.

I posted a few pictures on my moblog.

   10:58:00 PM 

Meetup with Martin

Had a great visit with Martin Leahy this morning, a former Microsoft genius I worked with a while back. We met at Building 10, the place we worked 7 or 8 years ago. It was quite strange walking down the halls of a building we worked at every day, and for it to feel so unfamiliar. Of course the artwork has changed, and the carpets have been replaced, but much of it hadn't changed.

We reminisced about the "good old days," and caught up on each others' careers. I was struck with how much Microsoft has changed hearing Martin bring up names from the past (Nils Von Veh, Sonya Gustufson, Gideon Rosenblatt, Mike Losh, Tom Corddry, Susan Boeshen, Bruce Jacobson, Melinda French, Marty Taucher, Mike Negrin, Patty Stonesifer, Alex Simonson, Jabe Blumenthal, Ruthann Lorenzen, and others).

I commented on his new job as VP of Sales and Marketing at Gupta, and how much marketing has become instinctual rather than so linear, strategic rather than tactical. I think we've--dare I say it--matured.

   10:54:00 PM 

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Social aspects of Xbox Gaming

An Associated Press story from this morning reports that Microsoft is seeking to broaden the appeal of its Xbox video game console by adding chat functions to its online gaming service in Japan. Our VP Peter Moore is quoted saying that "Xbox is about the social aspects of gaming -- not the solitary or the escapism aspects of gaming."

I first blogged about this from a speech Peter gave to our group at the MGB last week. I'm fascinated to see how this idea of "social gaming" develops. It's interesting to think that almost all my own experience with gaming has been social:

- I almost always play multi-player games with my kids, their friends, or my own friends
- My kids almost never play alone, and when they do, it's to get better so they can beat their friends when they play together.
- Most of the adults I talk to that play are either talking about their gameplay to others ("Did you pass that level yet? Are you playing at the expert level?"), or they're playing together.

   7:53:00 PM 

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Researching Community

Cesar and I got to meet with Marc Smith for lunch today. Marc is a Research Sociologist in the Collaborative and Multimedia Systems Group. He focuses on the research and design of social cyberspaces, and the emergence of social organizations like communities in online environments and the resources groups need in order to cooperate productively.

He showed us some very cool technology that tracks participation of members of communities, and spoke about how we can discover relevant communities, and help facilitate them.

I was interested to hear that of the 33,000 newsgroups, 3,000 of them are Microsoft-created (*updated from 11,000, but I'm going to go back and check to get the right numbers, that's the problem from going from memory).

I asked if online communities were a "super user" or "early adopter" phenomenon, and he reminded me that almost everyone with an email account or Internet access has been part of an email discussion, "group alias," or has left a question on a website and later went back for an answer.

He said our challenge in participating in communities (like our MVP program) is discovering already existing communities, monitoring them, then slowly becoming part of the community, later having some kind of influence. We don't "build" community, but we can help facilitate growth. He used the analogy of a garden, we can make the environment fertile, but we can't yell at the carrots to "grow, grow, grow!"

Excellent stuff, made me very excited to be part of the efforts internally, and helped me feel confident that we're dedicating research money and resources (and talented people like Marc) to the effort.

   10:10:00 PM 

I'm an Ideas Guy (okay, I admit it)

From Discover Your Sales Strenghts

The Strenghtsfinder Signature Themes report below displays my five most powerful themes, as indicated by the Gallup StrengthsFinder Web-based assessment.


Ideation: People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

Maximizer: People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.

Strategic: People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Input: People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

Intellection: People strong in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

To learn your Signature Themes, buy any one of these Gallup strengths publications, each of which provide an ID code that will allow you to take StrengthsFinder, and will help you think about how to best leverage your talents:

If you are a manager, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" will help you think about how you can help other people leverage their talents. You can find "Now, Discover Your Strengths" at any major bookstore, or through this link:

If you are a salesperson or sales manager, "Discover Your Sales Strengths" will teach you to focus on your personal talents and strengths, then guide you to transform those assets into solid sales performances -- and successful careers. You can find "Discover Your Sales Strengths" at any major bookstore, or through this link:

   9:34:00 PM 

Cut Us Some Slack!

A judge with a sense of humor cuts Microsoft a bit of slack. Loved this PDF of what looks like an actual court document. And I love the "human voice" it was done in. Why is it that people can't be real, like this? From Garrett Fitzgerald quoting Volokh

   12:08:00 AM 

Is Nintendo Playing the Wrong Game?

From the August edition of Business 2.0, Is Nintendo Playing the Wrong Game? "Its competitors are turning their consoles into home entertainment centers. But Nintendo is sticking to games, a play-it-safe strategy that threatens to reduce the once-mighty company to irrelevance."

This article has generated some buzz among those that were at the MGB session where we talked about Thought Leadership.

   12:00:00 AM 

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Recommended Reading?

Stefan Smalla thinks my blog's worth recommending. I have to admit, I'm a bit stunned when I see folks linking in. I see it as a benefit to me, since I'm finding kindred spirits across the globe. I like building my own community of practice (marketing), and I'm learning a lot from all of you (I'm sure much more than you're learning from me). And along the way, if I can make it more interesting to other marketers, or if I can share some ideas from my 20 years in high tech, I'm happy to do it.

Sorry I'm not sharing trade secrets and digging up dirt on my co-workers, or printing anything "newsworthy," but I enjoy the hour or two I spend blogging that gets me thinking about my job, about being inclusive, and prompts me to read what y'all have written.

My RSS feedlist in New Gator is up to about 150, and I scan all your posts I can find almost every day.

So, thanks for the link, Stefan, and I'll keep reading your blog too (if you promise to come back from your hiatus).

   11:56:00 PM 

Monday, July 21, 2003

Voices from the Past

While at the Family Fun Center, I ran into an old co-worker, and someone I count as one of my friends from Microsoft (probably among the 5 or 6 that helped shape my career early on), Martin Leahy. He's visiting Washington, his old stomping ground. He's at Gupta, and has the job of VP of Sales for the Americas for Borland. In our short conversation, it looks like he's doing great! He'll be dropping by for lunch this week.

   9:45:00 PM 

Happy Birthday, Steven!

Steven turns seven! Happy Birthday!

I took the day off, and went to the Family Fun Center in Tukwilla. We played Laser Tag, rode go carts, sprayed each other in bumper boats, and had a great time!

   9:38:00 PM 

Sunday, July 20, 2003


So am I the only one that thinks getting a 12-hour bump is worth a $400 Delta credit? I volunteered to spent the night in a small hotel room (without wifi), got some sleep, and took a very early flight home, first class all the way.

   7:18:00 PM 

Saturday, July 19, 2003

MGB Round IV: Mohan Sawhney

Mohan Sawhney spoke to our marketing team (about 150 marketers of retail products, from around the world). I took a ton of notes, but a few things he said struck me as particularly profound.

Dr. Sawhney is the McCormick Tribune Professor of Technology and Director, Center for Research on Technology, & Innovation, Kellogg School of Management. He's been doing a lot of consulting for Microsoft, and has been helping run a management training program for marketing folks at Microsoft.

His website has a bunch of free articles and reprints from original papers, and articles he published in Business 2.0. Worth an hour of browsing...

Mohan focused the first half of his session on branding, and the brand experience. He demonstrated three strategic brand concepts: Functional (features and benefits), Experiential (values and lifestyle) Symbolic (sensory appeal)
(Since we're a product company, Microsoft can get stuck on first, features and benefits). The challenge for us (especially in Xbox) is to find ways to move beyond that to experiential, to be known for the experience rather than the "products".

Functional: Wal-Mart, Volvo, Dell, united
Experiential: Nordstrom, Lexus, Sony, Singapore Airlines
Symbolic: Body Shop, Harley, Apple, Virgin Atlantic

He made the point clearly that successful brands don't try to be everything to everybody (with some, that can be tough to understand). Simplicity and clarity of purpose are key ingredients. Great companies are equally defined by what they don't do. SWA won't fly to Japan, because it doesn't fit their strategic positioning, low cost domestic US travel. Great brands stake out a territory that they own to a degree their competitors never will.

One point he made caused me to ponder. He said it's important to not be afraid to alienate some customers (since you can't please everyone). Some have to hate you for others to love you. Sounds obvious, but profound in many ways.

Later in the afternoon, he spoke of "Customer Experiences" and gave a lot of good input into what we could do to better create them. We have some things to improve upon in this area, but I also came away feeling good that the things we're planning with Sales Associates at retail are on the right track.

One interesting point was when he gave a nod to the DMAIC process of Six Sigma. Cesar and I took a week-long green belt certification, and the key takeaway for me even then was that Six Sigma was about understanding customer needs, then finding ways to measurably meet them. Great to hear a noted marketer make the same point (and I felt a bit vindicated!).

When asked about the ROI of quality programs, he reminded us that quality is not free. It costs more. Customer Service is a leading indicator, Sales is a lagging indicator. He cautioned us that cost/benefit is more than about dollars. Good reminder.

I think everyone learned a great deal. More importantly, everyone was buzzing with new ideas, and a passion for their jobs that I haven't seen in years. It was inspiring to see everyone publicly sharing ideas--seemed that the expectation or the "permission" to think creatively caused everyone to want to share ideas for the rest of the afternoon--a testament to the speaker, but also proof that we do have a bunch of creative people working in our division.

   10:49:00 PM 


Verrrry interesting day! We took broke into two sessions, with sales going into one track, and marketing into another. I attended the marketing track, but also attended a bit of the sales track from time to time.

The sessions started at 8AM, and we finished up at around 4PM. I felt really sorry for the guys visiting the US, who were attending meetings "in the middle of the night".

The presentations focused on "best practices" (sharing ideas from a lot of our subsidiaries). We also had a detailed session on branding, and heard from the guys managing the Xbox, Windows, and Office brands. Interesting.

The highlight of the day was listening to some guest speakers we brought in for training. Mohan Sawhney spent two hours in the marketing track, and Benson Smith, the author of Discover Your Sales Strengths ran a half-day workshop for the sales team. I got to hear most of both of these sessions (I snuck into the sales session to hear from the author, since I had just finished the book). You can get a few of the chapters online at the Gallup Poll Website.

It was fascinating to listen to the many different styles the sales guys, a wider range than I would have thought. I didn't take the actual "strengthsfinder" survey (I will and report back!), but I know i find my greatest passion with ideation and relationships and belief and learning.

In one example, a successful business development director on our team took the test to find that his signature themes included Ideation and Intellection. He told us why he loved his job so much, since it was exactly that kind of work he gets to do every day--a testament to finding your own strengths, and then finding a job that leverages those strengths. I'm not sure if every job in our sales (and marketing) organization will be such a perfect fit, but as a manager, I think it's imperative to make it work that way.

I had lunch with one of our VPs today, and brought up this topic. He also talked about how he was pleasantly surprised to see how great of a fit this job was for this person, and he agreed that there is real power in organizing the team around strengths.

   10:18:00 PM 

Friday, July 18, 2003


Disclaimer: My thoughts. Not company policy. My notes, the way I heard things, not necessarily what the speakers said. No warranties. Void in all 50 states.

Today was the first of two break out days. We had a full-day session for our products (Home and Entertainment, including Xbox, consumer products, games, keyboards, mice, Pocket PCs, other stuff sold at retail). I'm a bit blown away, and definitely living the super-sugary-Kool Aid-buzz. And Red Dye #2 to boot.

Steve Ballmer spoke to our group of about 300 this morning. Yesterday in the opening session to 14,000 he said that the number one group to focus on was (guess who) developers. I thought something like "ya, but not for our products." Wrong. Today, he told a group of Home and Entertainment sales and marketing guys that the number one group to focus on/understand/listen to/work with is developers, that the guys developing Xbox games and Pocket PC apps and other consumer stuff for Windows--they (in many cases for readers of these MS blogs "you") are our number one focus. Interesting.

It's strange and even a bit eerie to hear Steve Ballmer so clearly define our division's issues, and to explain how important our business is to the company. It's inspiring to have a leader who knows so clearly what we do, what our concerns are, what our challenges are, and what our opportunities are. It was conversational enough and detailed enough to see it wasn't just a "prepared" speech. Ballmer is an excellent example of Primal Leadership. Inspiring. Smart. Visionary. Resonant.

Later we heard from Todd Cunningham, a Sr. VP from MTV, who's done a bunch of research with teens. Very, very cool. He told me after the sessions he knows Dina, from her work on researching teens and working with MTV in India.

He said one of the things they learned was how the computer is moving to public space in home, now that the parents want to be more involved with using the PC as a tool. He brought up a point I'd never thought of: That when we were teens, we'd shut the door to "tune out' the world and be alone. He said teens who have computers today will shut the door to OPEN a new world, not the other way around. The computer becomes their portal to their social world. With Xbox Live, our positioning (vs. Sony's "escapism") could be thought of as connection, not isolation. Community, not escapism. Oh ya, that and rockin' gameplay...

One of our newest VPs came from Sega, and gave a very inspiring speech about "changing the game" and being thought leaders. Thought leaders may not be market leaders, yet. (It may be similar with "personal brand"--how I am perceived/valued with my peers/management). Gotta get the heat, fuel, then lead the market. He challenged us with examples of companies that are "market leaders" vs. companies that are "thought leaders." Check out this list (all in his humble opinion, you make your own conclusions):

Market Leaders: AA, United. Thought Leaders, jetBlue, Southwest.
Market: CBS, NBC, CBS. Thought: Fox, CNN.
Market: Blockbuster. Thought: Netflix.
Market: Sony. Thought: Samsung
Market: Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone Thought: FHM, Maxim.
Market: AOL. Thought: MSN

Then he asked us: Is Microsoft considered a Market Leader (most would say yes)? Who is the thought leader in our space? He then challenged us to be innovative, to be daring, to be thought leaders.

Much more I could post (and may as I finish up the debrief), but it's 12:30AM, and I need to be up at 7AM. This'll be my third night with less than a handful of hours of sleep (and my timezone is only a few hours off--I don't know how the other guys from around the world handle three days of presentations...).

   10:36:00 PM 

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Whaddya Call 14,000 Softees in a SuperDome?

The MGB (Microsoft Global Briefing).

Strangely enough, wifi has been a bit few and far between, but after an hour on Bourbon Street, I'm ready for some email and blogging.

Great day. Lots to talk about. I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow (where's Heath when you need notes taken?), but I'll say this. (Echoing Steve Ballmer): "I love this company."

There are days I think we're not moving far enough fast enough. There are times I'm bummed out about reviews, or projects running late, or high expectations, or lack of overwhelming cross-group collaboration.

But there are days like today when I see the impact I have with the job I'm doing, and I see the passion of my leaders, the vision of the part we can play in changing our world, and the camaraderie of 14,000 of my peers (most of whom I'll never meet), all excited about doing the best they can.

And to be very clear, the message was overwhelming. We must hear the voice of the customer. Then innovate with our own responsibilities. Yes, the product guys need to innovate, but innovation in our jobs as marketing or sales is just as important as the job our developers play. And Steve made it very, very, very clear that he wants happy, happy, happy customers and partners.

The tides are changing. Maybe too slowly for some. And maybe too quickly for others. But they're changing. And I'm happy to be playing a role in it all.

   10:58:00 PM 

Monday, July 14, 2003

On the Way to Louisiana

Thanks one and all for the suggestions on places to visit. Scoble's friend Ernie the Attorney lives there, and I hope to get together with him. A bunch of us Microsoftees will be in town (or rather will deluge the town!) for the week. I've gotten a bunch of suggestions, and I think I'll get to at least a few of them. This'll be my third time in NOLA.

Here are some suggestions on stuff to do:
Anita Rowland: Do you read Chuck Taggart's Looka? He lives in Southern California but comes from NO, and talks a lot about where to go, what to eat, etc.

Jorge Curioso: I'd highly recommend a ride on the St. Charles street car (catch it on Canal and St. Charles) pas the Garden District and Uptown mansions to Carrolton (Riverbend) where you can grab a snack at the Camelia Grill and head back downtown. About 30 minutes each way.

For Jazz Clubs aside from the must-see Preservation Hall (next to Pat O's), I'd recommend crossing Esplanade over to Frenchman.

Mitch Walker: I won’t be there, but I have a suggestion for a place to hang out for dinner: Mulate’s. Right across the street from the Convention Center, where it and RiverWalk meet. Great food, casual atmosphere.

Shawn Morrissey: "You should take the time to make it over to the Nat’l D-Day Museum. It’s a pretty close walk from the Convention Center. It’s one of those humbling experiences that will stay with you for quite some time.

Also, go check out the area down by the House of Blues – I find it a lot more interesting that Bourbon Street….

Robert Scoble: "John Porcaro is heading off to New Orleans for a big Microsoft employee event down there. He's asking for tips on what to do. Dude, you definitely MUST visit Preservation Hall. Make a commitment to do that. Sit on the floor up by the band. It'll be hot. Sweaty. Crowded. But it's the real deal and it's like being in church. You can drink yourself to death anywhere else. But no place else has the musical heritage of New Orleans.

If you can, take Ernie the Attorney out for drinks. He'll take you to all the good places in New Orleans. He lives there.

Oh, and whatever you do, don't tell your wife you're having a great time down on Bourbon Street. Tell her instead "Steve Ballmer needed me to rework this demo, so I'm staying in my hotel room tonight." Trust me on this."

   10:50:00 PM 

Friday, July 11, 2003

Heading for New Orleans

I'll be leaving 75 degree Seattle for 250 degree New Orleans mid-next week. Any tips beyond Burbon Street? I hear Mother's is the place for a po' boy or jambalaya...

   11:04:00 PM 

Common Errors in English

Me very like her internet WEB sight hear. Link via Garrett Fitzgerald

   10:50:00 PM 

On The Nightstand


Your Child's Growing Mind
What to Expect: The Toddler Years
The Heart of A Leader
The 12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management
Leadership By The Book
The Pursuit of WOW
Purple Cow
Small Pieces Loosely Joined
Fish! Sticks
The Tipping Point (second read)
Smart Mobs
Buck Up, Suck Up (just added)

   10:28:00 PM 

Speaking at Harvard

To celebrate Frank's acceptance to MBA school, here is part of a speech by SNL's Will Farrell, given at the 352nd Harvard Commencement. Here's a link to a video clip.
"Today's speech is going to be a little different, a little unorthodox. Some of you may find it to be shocking. I'm not going to stand up here and try to be funny. Because even though I am a professional comedian of the highest caliber, I've decided to do one thing that a lot of people are probably afraid to do, and that's give it to you straight.

As most of you are probably aware, I didn't graduate from Harvard. In fact, I never even got a call back from Admissions. Damn you, Harvard! Damn you! I told myself I would not get emotional today. But damn it, I'm here, and sometimes it's just good to cry.

I'm not one of you. Okay? I can't relate to who you are and what you've been through. I graduated from the University of Life. All right? I received a degree from the School of Hard Knocks. And our colors were black and blue, baby. I had office hours with the Dean of Bloody Noses. All right? I borrowed my class notes from Professor Knuckle Sandwich and his Teaching Assistant, Ms. Fat Lip Thon Nyun. That's the kind of school I went to for real, okay?

Thanks for the tip from PureContent...

   10:10:00 PM 

PR Tips

Michael O'Conner Clarke is becoming one of my favorite reads. Especially since my world is intersecting with PR more and more. Michael answers Scobles request for tips on handling yourself in a press interview. Here's just a few. Read the post for more!

1. Always call reporters back promptly
– Their lives are ruled by deadlines - help them out.
– Whether it’s good or bad – always return the call.
– Every interaction is a data point – if you don’t call back, what does that say about your company?
– You don’t need to engage in the full dialogue until you are ready.
– Gather information, show respect for deadlines, buy time.
– Never duck a call – you forfeit the opportunity to influence the story.

3. Set the tone at the outset
– Remember it’s your story - there's no one better able to tell it than you: so be the storyteller.
– Tell them your story, the whole of your story (and nothing but your story).
– Don’t wait for that one right question to come along – get your point over.

9. There is no such thing as "off the record"
– Every moment is on the record – from the reception desk to the farewell handshake.
– Every interaction is a data point, remember?
– Even if your name isn’t used, your comments will still colour the story.
– If you can't or don't want to say it on the record - don't say it.

10. If you don’t know - don’t try to answer
– Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know rather than faking it.
– Don’t get drawn into speculation – but offer to find out the answer.
– Never lie. Never bluff.

   9:59:00 PM 

Matrix Ping Pong

From a link on The Scobleizer Weblog:
"This is the funniest video I've seen in a long time. Yeah, you need Windows Media player to see it. It's a video of two guys playing table tennis, 'Matrix style.'"


   9:47:00 PM 

Leadership Development at Microsoft

An invitation from the Tom Peters website:
"Leadership Development at Microsoft: Learn how the world's largest software company is building its future leaders. Register today for this free PlaceWare Online Seminar. Date & Time: Thursday July 24 at noon EDT"

"Join Ron Crossland from the Tom Peters Company, Sabina Nawaz, Microsoft Senior Director of the Leadership Development Group, and Joe Whittinghill, Microsoft Group Manager of the Management Development Group, as they talk about the tactics being employed to achieve Microsoft’s leadership development strategy"

Ought to be interesting, if only to other 'softees.

   9:37:00 PM 

Thursday, July 10, 2003

On the Soapbox

From the virtual company meeting Tuesday with Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates, John Conners, and all the rest. My favorite quote, a true Steve-ism:
Steve Ballmer:
"We need lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of happy happy happy happy happy customers."

Amen to that, brother...

By the way, I think it's very cool that one email from our president could go out in the morning, and by 2PM 40,000 people could be "virtually" assembled. It was kind of eerie to hear echoes of the webcast in the halls, and no emails coming in for an hour.

   7:29:00 PM 

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Tom Peters Knows His Stuff

Just got a short note from Tom Peters in my inbox. He quotes James Dean: "Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."

Tom is so right on. Just this morning, I bought a copy of a book my new director recommended (Buck Up, Suck Up... by James Carville and Paul Begala). Tom has a quote on the back jacket that amuses and inspires me:
"Carvill asked me to blurb this book. He doesn't know me from Adam. He kissed my ass. I read the manuscript. ... There's real wisdom here--1,000 miles from the usual self-help crap."

I need to learn more about being passionate and convicted and human and real. It's inspiring.

Perusing Tom's website, I ran across a section from his latest book series, the 50 Series (Brand You, Project You, Professional Service You). He shares his 50LIST WITHIN A 50LIST: THE RENEWAL50. I'm tempted to post them all, but I won't. Here are my favorites:
4. Buy a packet of 3x5-inch notecards. Carry them around with you. Always. Record cool stuff. Awful stuff. Daily. Review your card pack every Sunday. (Obsess on this!) [I call this my blog! jp]

6. Project stuck in a rut? Look through your Rolodex. Who's the oddest duck in there? Call her/him. Invite her/him to lunch. Pick her/his brain for a couple of hours about your project.

8. New habit: You're in a meeting. Someone you don't know makes an interesting contribution. Invite him/her to lunch...… in the next two weeks.

9. You run across somebody interesting. As a matter of course, ask her (him) what's the best thing she/he's read in the last 90 days. Order it from this afternoon.

15. Read a provocative article in a business journal. Triggers a thought? E-mail the author. So what if you never hear back? (The odds are actually pretty high that you will. Trust me.) [I've done this, and have struck up nice conversations with Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Tim Sanders, and others! jp]

18. A crummy little assignment comes along. But it would give you a chance to work with a group of people you've never worked with before. Take the assignment.

22. A really cool job opening overseas comes up. It fits your skill set. You couldn't possibly consider it. You've got a nine-year-old and your husband is

24. The eighth grade teacher is looking for chaperones for the natural history museum. You're a law firm partner, for God's sake, making $350,000 a year. Volunteer.

30. You know "the action is at the front line." Spend a month (two days a week) on a self-styled training program that rotates you through all the front-line jobs in the hotel/distribution center/whatever.

34. Institute a monthly Brown Bag Lunch Session. Encourage all your colleagues to nominate interesting people to be invited. Criterion: "I wouldn't have expected us to invite ---------."

45. Develop a set of probing questions to use at meetings. "Will this really make a difference?" "Will anybody remember what we're doing here two years from now?" "Can we brag to our spouse/kids about this project?"

50. Build a great sandcastle!

My goal, get through them all by the end of the year. :)

   7:03:00 AM