I have never liked Steve Ballmer and I probably never will. I don’t think he has been a great CEO, nor do I think he has made a huge impact and I certainly don’t think the world needs Microsoft. There should be more Free Software (fsf.org) and less proprietary software in this world. However I think that he gave us one last lesson and it was the most useful tip he could have given us.
Even though I will always remember Steve Ballmer in this way:
In his last company meeting as CEO, Ballmer showed us who he was. I believe he made us understand that he really believed in what he was doing, that belief is everything for an Entrepreneur, CEO, employee or even software engineer. You have to believe in what you are doing and in what you are trying to achieve, because if you stop believing, you will lose momentum and the strength to keep going even in those difficult days that every company has. It’s all about the philosophy you build around your company, the people you hire and the way you behave.
Steve Ballmer cried in front of five thousands developers. He cried because he is leaving a company that he has built and ruled in the past years. He has been CEO at Microsoft for the last thirteen years and he started working there more than thirty years ago. Microsoft was everything for Ballmer and Ballmer was everything for Microsoft. This is probably why I still don’t like the company, but that’s what everyone should try to achieve when he/she is building a business.
If you believe in something and you hire people who believe in the same ethos, you will have the best environment you could have ever imagined. That’s what we like about Entrepreneurs, because they are pushing their limits to achieve what they desire. When we met CANNDi last week we saw three people with different tastes, styles, families and backgrounds, but with one thing in common – they all believed in what they were doing. They don’t care if they have to work more than 9 hours per day, they don’t care if they need to wake up at 3AM in the morning because a costumer needs something – they simply don’t care – because they are living the best days of their lives.
Ballmer made dozens of mistakes and he probably wasn’t the right guy for Microsoft, but what we are appreciating now it’s the fact that he was believing in what he was doing. That’s so important when you are running one of the biggest corporations in the world. In the same way, you need to make sure to hire people who believe in what you are doing. If a company can build a team of believers, they will succeed, because they will work 24/7 to win the market and to become the best product available.
This is going to be our last goodbye to Steve Ballmer and we won’t criticize a guy who has got an office like the one below. Startups and Corporations need more people like Ballmer from a human being point of view. The world is going to miss Ballmer and his passion, but not the decisions he made.