Daily Archives: June 12, 2006

My PR guy

One of the little secrets I've learned is that PR people play a much bigger role in life than geeks often give them credit for. They are major influencers who help shape what story gets written about you. If you write them off or treat them badly, they'll get negative stories written about you. Same as underground influencers, who are really unpaid PR people anyway. Christopher Coulter, for instance, is one of the best networkers the world has ever not known. He has gotten me and Microsoft in more stories than any other single human being that I know about. How did he do that? Emailed his list of hundreds of journalists and gave them both snarky stuff and real news to write about. I keep wishing he'd do a blog, but he likes to play the underground string puller a lot more than being out front about what he's up to. Yeah, me and him have had our fights, but he keeps sending me stuff even though I've been fighting with him in public. I always appreciated that.

Another guy who has done me numerous favors is Frank Shaw, vice president at Waggener Edstrom, one of the PR firms Microsoft uses. He wrote about his relationship with me on his blog.
While those on the outside might think he's just a typical flack I've gotten to know Frank over the years and he's the first guy I'll call if there's a story breaking about Microsoft. Why? Cause he knows everyone. Seriously. And when I say everyone, I mean he could get you onto Bill Gates lunch schedule if he wanted to.

There isn't anyone else like him that I've met. Buzz Bruggeman comes pretty close in terms of networking skills, but I think Frank has even Buzz beat.

He's been internally blogging for a long time and I hear it's pretty good. It'll be interesting to watch his new blog and see how it evolves. I bet that Frank blogs some big stories from Microsoft within the next year. His blog will be the first place I'll look for the inside scoop on what's really going on at Microsoft.

OK, Frank, that IS a challenge to let a little dirty laundry hang out in the public square for us all to gawk at. :-)

Great journalists call

It's interesting. Om Malik was the first one to call me up when the news started breaking. I never returned the call and I owe him one on that score. Om, though, is a great journalist. He called.

So did AP, Reuters, (Eric did one of the best news stories) and many other news organizations.

Dan Farber from CNET did more than call. He came to VLoggerCon and talked with me and John before writing his story.

Bloggers rarely call before writing. It's something I hope we can change. Call before running the story. It's what great journalists do.

Oh, and there's a rumor going around about Om. I haven't talked with him yet about that rumor so I'm not going to repeat that story until I see him post a confirmation.

Update: Kevin Murphy wonders if that'll do more harm than good. He has visions of having hundreds, or thousands of bloggers calling. Oh, no, that's not what I'm saying. Only people who are breaking stories need to call. In my case that would have been only a handful of people. 

Throwing chairs…

Dean Hachamovitch throws a chair

One of the things I love about Microsoft's employees is their sense of humor. Unfortunately this very rarely comes out in public.

Anyway, Dean Hachamovitch (the guy who runs the IE 7 team) and I had a meeting set for this morning and when I got there he threw a chair in my honor. Of course we were laughing about that. He's a great guy and someone I'm glad to have gotten to know over my journey the past few years.

While walking to his office (it's in building two, which is one of Microsoft's first buildings) I drew misty eyed. I realized I've been given a gift very few human beings have ever had the opportunity to have: to walk the halls of Microsoft where history has been made.

While walking by office after office I realized something. Each office had a name on it. The Microsoft empire has more than 60,000 people working for it. Not just one.

What has changed in the past few years? Easy: search engines have made it much more likely to get to know each person inside a company. Even a big one like Microsoft.

If there's one thing I'm happiest with is that Bill Gates decided early on not to blog. He wanted you to get to know the employees who build the products and work the halls of Microsoft. I far prefer that approach. Why? Because he knew it would lead to better conversations with customers. That, in turn, would lead to better products.

Don't understand how this works? Read this blog. It shows how a guy you didn't know, fixed a bug you didn't know about, reported by a customer you didn't know.

Microsoft no longer has one Scoble, but it has one David Powell. And 60,000 others like him.

+++++

I'm getting a few notes this morning about "I was thinking of joining Microsoft and now I'm wondering."

That bums me out. Why? Because you're placing your hopes and dreams on someone else. Don't.

Take a job because you could use that job to do something good for the world. Why would I consider working at Microsoft? Because the things you'd build here MATTER.

I was sitting in the studio listening to Robert Fripp a few weeks back play for hours. Why? To find one 2.5-second clip of sounds.

Why take that effort? Cause that sound will play trillions of times over the next decade.

Trillions.

And I'm not overestimating that, either. That'll happen if Microsoft's Windows Vista turns out to be a huge sales flop. If it's successful (and I believe it will be — I'll be running it on my computers at PodTech after I leave) it'll be a factor of ten higher than that.

As to working for Jeff Sandquist. He's the best boss I've ever had. And I've had some damn good bosses (if you have a good boss, knock on wood, there are very few out there). Jeff and his family are personal friends and are welcome in our home anytime.

The usual belief is people leave bosses, not companies. That is NOT true in my case. I just had a spectacular offer thrown at me that, at the end of the day, excited me and Maryam.

Out of all the people at Microsoft that I've met he's one of the top 10 in terms of being able to motivate people to give their top performances. He has, over and over and over demonstrated to me his ability to bulldoze through red tape and get shit done.

I am quite confident that he'll soon be a major corporate leader, although he's too humble to ever say that himself.

Anyway, I'll miss working with him. He always hated being called "Scoble's boss" by the way. I used to bug him with that by always introducing him that way. But, really, he was a far better person than that. He covered my back and made it a joy to come into work every day.

Not only that, but he hired the best people in the industry.

The first on that list is Charles Torre.

One thing I feel bad about is that Charles often didn't get the credit he deserved. Why? Cause he isn't the kind of social butterfly that I am. He's more a typical developer who just likes building stuff. That's why I love him.

He built Channel 9, along with a couple of other developers over the years. Bryn Waibel. Adam Kinney.

It's unfortunate that in the world some people get credit for other people's work. That happened in the media storm this weekend.

When I'm gone and you see that Channel 9 is still rocking and rolling you'll see that Channel 9 was a lot more than just me.

I think Michael Gartenberg said it best: the cemetaries are full of people who couldn't be replaced.

MediaStorm

OK, it is indeed a bit over the top that I'm the top tech news on the BBC right now. Can't Google announce something, please? ;-)
No one paid attention to when I took my other jobs. I agree with Paul Kedrosky that this is all overdone. I was relieved when it started going down on TechMeme this morning. Now I gotta go to work and finish my Channel 9 videos.

Thanks to Hugh Macleod for the cartoon. Yes, Technorati shows that people are indeed blogging too. Whew, my head is spinning, there's so much commentary (mostly nice, but some nasty) that I don't know what to react to, so I probably won't for a while and maybe come back to it in a week after it all settles down. I am learning a lot about how media storms happen and what can be done about them when they happen (there are some things you can do, for instance by being available to answer rumors — that's one reason my cell phone is on my blog. Another one? Post fast, post often, and answer the most common questions. But, the biggest one? Learn how to hang out with, and talk with, and make friends with bloggers, podcasters, videobloggers, and virtual worlds' influentials).

scoblesleaving.jpg

More Scoble family news, challenges ahead for PodTech

Maryam, this afternoon, will announce the other news we've been holding back on: she's joining PodTech too.

I told you she was a good negotiator! :-)

But, seriously, she's built up a large audience of her own on her blog and her interests are far different than mine are. (She has a popular book and movie clubs).

That might give you a hit about what else attracted me about PodTech.net: it isn't going to be only about tech. 

She also is a better writer than I am and, even, more human. Truth be told she's the main reason I've been successful at Microsoft. First, she backed me up everytime. Second, she gave me the time and the space I needed to blog and read all the feeds I do. Third, she keeps our family running like a well-tuned watch. Fourth, she gives the best back rubs. Oh, TMI (too much information). Heheh.

Oh, and Dave Burke, I totally agree with you about PodTech that its content is too commercial and not interesting enough. I wouldn't subscribe to it, if I weren't joining the company. In fact, last week before I had made my decision John Furrier asked a mailing list I'm on for advice about the new redesign they turned on last week. I gave the company 21 ideas to improve.

I've done this before. Remember how I got to Microsoft? I stood up at an MVP Summit and told Ballmer how to improve Microsoft (I told him to get Microsoft a more human face). He signed a dollar bill for me for that idea. A few months later I got hired to help the company get a more human face.

See, I don't want to join companies where everything is going well. Why? Cause there's no opportunities there! 

So, don't subscribe to PodTech.net just cause I'm going. Make us earn your subscription!