I’m back! Okay, I didn’t really leave, but as some of you may or may not know, I recently joined Microsoft from SAP a couple months ago. This may or may not have contributed to the recent decision by our CEO to step down within the next year. To say I was crushed by this news would be an understatement – after ten years working for a CEO with perfect hair, I finally got to work for a guy who had knew having hair was severely overrated. I mean, look at these guys side by side.
I’d used to walk by McDermott in the halls at SAP and start weeping as soon as he was out of sight. In fact, I was probably wearing the same shirt and sweater combo my boy Ballmer is rocking in this picture! Sigh.
But now the search begins to find a successor. And while the folks mentioned in this article and others are fine options, I’d like to throw out the name of someone who might not be the traditional choice but would be a perfect fit as Microsoft transitions to a “devices and services” company. His name is Clubber Lang.
“Bring it on, Apple/Google/VMWare/Sony/Salesforce!”
Now, while it may seem odd to pitch a fictional boxer from a 31 year old Rocky movie as the next CEO of Microsoft, let’s take a closer look at Clubber’s resume and the intangibles he would bring to the job.
Before that, however, I was asked by a friend who I told I was writing this post, “Wouldn’t Rocky be a better choice for CEO?”
Um, no. First off, people forget a couple key facts from the first Rocky movie -
1. When Rocky was called in to see the fight promoter (pictured) and offered a chance to fight Apollo Creed for the heavyweight championship, he said NO. He didn’t even hesitate or think it over – he flat-out refused. The promoter had to convince him to fight Apollo (which he did by lying to him about why Apollo picked him) and take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
2. He convinces himself he can’t win before the first fight EVEN STARTS. He just wants to “go the distance”. What the hell? If the next CEO comes in and at the first company meeting goes “Look, we aren’t going to beat (insert tech competitor here), but I think we can hang around with them for awhile before they are declared the champ.”, I hope they run him out of town on one of those cool shuttle buses they have running out there and perhaps even block his wi-fi access while on said bus.
3. He loses the first fight against Apollo and then retires, refusing a rematch until he is finally goaded into it. He then only wins because Apollo proceeds to make one of the dumbest decisions a heavyweight champion could possibly make in the final round.
If this is the profile we’re looking for in a CEO, we might as well pack it in right now.
Instead, let’s see what Clubber brings to the table -
1. Where everyone is else is singing hosannas to the newly crowned champion, Clubber sees Rocky for what he really is. Someone who’s coasting and living on past glory. Seeing an opportunity, he trains like a fiend, beats the living snot out of every other challenger, and demands a chance to show he’s the best. Imagine the new CEO coming out in the press with quotes like this -
“I want Balboa! I want Balboa! You hear that, Old Man? You tell Balboa to come here! Nobody can beat me! You tell him what I said! And he’s NEXT! I’m gonna kill him! Nobody can stop me! You tell Balboa that! I’M COMING AFTER HIM! YOU TELL HIM!”
Just substitute “Amazon AWS” or “Apple” for “Balboa” and the employees will eat it up.
2. He calls out his competition publically and repeatedly until they are forced to respond. While this strategy has been employed by others (and you know who they are), to my knowledge I’ve yet to see a CEO show up at another’s statue dedication ceremony and make his case why he should be the champ publically by shouting things like -
“The little man don't wanna come to me. Then I'll come to you people to lay out the truth. I am ranked Number One. ONE! That means I'm the best!”
And he can back it up with stuff like this -
Of course, Clubber will need to be coached a bit, so he doesn’t take it too far and proposition another man’s wife just to get his goat. Hopefully he has a good answer around how he would handle that situation in the future when he goes through his interview loop. I’d also suggest he brush up on his knowledge of Yammer and how many M&M’s does it take to fill a 747 flying at 500 MPH that’s carrying Willy Wonka and 14 Oompa Loompas.
3. He won. He had a vision, he executed on that vision, and ignored everyone who was swooning over the current “paper champion”. He knew he was the best, and he made sure the world saw he was the best. He didn’t get distracted, he didn’t give up when the system seemed to be working against him, and he did the most insane pull-up routine ever (see around 2:30 in). People don’t want him to the champ? Tough, he’s going to win anyways.
And don’t give me that “But Rocky beat him at the end” crap – that outcome was about as believable an ending as me beating McDermott in a best hair contest. Movie magic isn’t going to save anyone from our new CEO, and for anyone who thinks they can best us, I’ll let our man speak to that point -
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to “Eye of the Tiger” for some strange reason and prepare my next blog post on why Bo Jackson should be the next governor of Pennsylvania. Till next time!