The Corporate Corner
In this second episode with David we talk about a lot of things. To give you an idea of the topics here is a selection of some of the subjects:
IT or Technology
David mentions his annoyment with me using the term IT in the previous episodes of the TCC Podcast for what in his eyes should be the technology department.
It’s true I have been fostered in companies where there were a clear distinction between business and IT and the IT departments was always referred to as IT, the people who brings cost to to the table whereas in David’s world it’s all about building great products and there is no real distinction.
How wonderful wouldn’t it be to work in a company like that.
Difference in attitude Europe versus US
David is talking about the difference in attitude between Europe and the US.
In Europe the perception is that everybody just have a job whereas in US many people have the ambition to change the world.
In Europe some of the companies David talked to is all about revenue, profit margin, cost and not what the company is actually producing.
David notice that in Prague trams are full at 9 in the morning, they are full at 5 in the afternoon and you rarely see office lights on in the evening.
It is funny, but as I am writing this I am reached by the rumor that my previous company is thinking about installing the clock stamp system for the staff in the Prague office, same as they have in Frankfurt and I am curious how David would survive in such an environment.
In the Czech Communist system this was called “Píchačky” and is well symbolized by this picture and doubtful whether this is generating creativity and most likely, if introduced, will make people feel they are thrown back to a period and regime that everybody thought was long gone.
David mentions that for his first 10 years at Microsoft he worked 7 days a week and without ever taking holidays. He explains:
I never thought of a job as 9 to 5. I thought of a job as we need to go deliver Internet Explorer, we need to go deliver Windows, we need to create a whole new way of doing things, we created AR at Disney before AR was cool.
The 1 on 1 walker
David use the technique of walking with his direct reports on his one on one meetings and he is doing it outside the office to get out the confined office environment.
Let’s go out. Let’s just be two people and kind of friends for the 20 minutes we are going to go for a walk and have a real conversation.
That is the time he got to know what is really going on and people having the guard down outside the office, David explains and this leads us into the next subject, friends at work.
Friends at work
David tries to put a wall between friendship and work. He explains:
The hardest thing you can do in your career is to lay off people that you really didn’t want to lay off and to fire somebody. People have lives, they have families, they have kids on college and bills to pay.
David mentions that he noticed a lot of people who have promoted friends and seen the problem that it can cause and he tries to keep a barrier between friendship and family and he explains how he learnt this at an early age at Microsoft.
Jim Allchin was a good teacher for this. I definitely learnt that you should separate business life and personal life. You should never promote someone because he is a friend.
He tells us about some negative examples of this that he has seen and what it causes:
I witnessed people who have become really good friends and they promote their friends. They actually cause badness in the culture, they cause, if they are not good at their jobs they cause people to be mad or upset and you have created a cancer in the organization.
But David also mentions that he has made some good friends during his career which in my opinion is inevitable, we are human beings after all.
David mentions that he has always been fearless and he emphasizes the importance of being fearless and what he has noticed.
I think people have fear, fear of speaking up, fear of being wrong and they don’t know how to be fearless and to stand up for themselves.
He recommends the reading of Jean Case’s book Be Fearless: : 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose
So you were always fearless, even in the beginning of your career? Mats asks David.
Yeah, even as a 22 year old kid. Look I have been told by various leaders, that was a stupid idea, dumb, can’t believe you thought of that. OK, that is your opinion, you are no different than me, I don’t care what your net worth is, I don’t care what your wealth is, I don’t care if you are 50 and I am 20, doesn’t matter. What I know is, we are both just people trying to go solve hard problems and you are going to have your opinion I am going to have mine.
What a gift to have that capacity of mind!
We cover a whole bunch of other topics and Ariel and I are doing a nearly 30 minutes debrief as we find the conversation so interesting so hang in there, it is long but a lot of take aways.
Where to find David
David is publishing his wisdom mainly on Facebook and Twitter and that is where you can best follow him.
Facebook – David Sobeski.
Twitter – dsobeski