Friday, November 17, 2006
Meeting Steve Ballmer
OK, I confess. I was intimidated as could be to know that I was meeting Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft. The previous day, I'd delivered the kickoff address to 2500 people without a flinch. But meeting Ballmer had me quite unnerved. I mean, this is a guy who speaks to kings and presidents of countries all the time. But, when the moment finally came, I found him to be both really nice and really down to earth.
Ballmer wowed the socks of our audience and, I think, made a very positive impression on the attendees. He's also got a lot of guts. After his address, he actually took questions from the audience. That's a really brave thing for a CEO of a major corporation, let alone a somewhat controversial company like Microsoft, to do. After all, there was no censor or filter on the types of questions that might've come from this audience. In fact, a few IT newspapers did latch on to some things he said in an attempt to generate some drama.
Another person who I was looking forward to meeting at PASS was Paul Flessner, the Senior VP of the database business at Microsoft. Paul started with Microsoft shortly after I'd gotten deeply involved with SQL Server and took the product line from a small, unimportant database to the top ranks of the industry. It was Paul's vision and execution on strategy that turned SQL Server into the most popular database platform in the business and $1.3b business line for Microsoft. It brought a tear to my eye when, at the end of his keynote, he announced that he was retiring at the end of the year. His is an amazing legacy - one that inspires and encourages me.
Still, it was great to meet them and have them at PASS 2006.
Cheryl - I in the same boat as you. I make my living off of Microsoft. So I heartily endorse them!