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There is a serious tendency toward capitalism by the well-to-do peasants. -- Mao

Author Julie Bick on Microsoft
Transcript of the Live Event
August 6, 1997

TMF Czar: Good evening, Fools, and welcome to our auditorium event with Julie Bick (MotleyJule), author of "All I Really Need to Know About Business I Learned at Microsoft." Julie was a product manager with Microsoft, so she has the unique perspective of an insider. Tonight, she'll be talking about her book, sharing some of the insights that she gained from her time at Microsoft, and answering your questions.

TMF Czar: My name is Keith Pelczarski, and I'll be pest... er, interviewing Julie tonight. TMF Twitty (Rich Dressner) will be doing all the hard work backstage so that I can goof off, er...ask questions. Speaking of questions, let's start with the basics -- tell us about your book.

MotleyJule: Here's the quick description: "ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW IN BUSINESS I LEARNED AT MICROSOFT" is 90 business and management lessons I learned while working there, and it's illustrated with behind the scenes anecdotes. A quick read. Good for any industry

TMF Czar: So it's valuable even for people not in the computer industry?

MotleyJule: Yep, my editor made me take out anything too geeky.

TMF Czar: You're doing something unusual with the proceeds from this book, right?

MotleyJule: Half the money is going to a charity that hooks up Inner City kids with computers.

TMF Czar: That's great. :) I was looking through your book, and there's an interesting lesson in there about eating your own dog food. Can you tell us more about that?

MotleyJule: Eat your own dog food means use your products like a real customer would. At MSFT that means using the new email even if it crashes all the time! You can see how it is to install, use, train, transfer files, etc... Same holds true for any biz -- even a Godiva chocolates store. Try those truffles!

TMF Czar: A lot of folks out here tonight are interested in today's news from Microsoft regarding Apple. AlanFalcon asks: "What do you think of the Microsoft/Apple dealings?"

MotleyJule: Looks like good news for Apple -- even though lots of Mac users are probably enraged! But good for MSFT, too, since they have the top selling office suite on the Mac. This gives customers confidence those apps will be around for 5 more years.

TMF Czar: Reldnahc asks: "What do you do exactly at Microsoft?"

MotleyJule: I did marketing for Word, and then product planning and marketing for 20 CD ROMs -- everything from dinosaurs to Julia Child cooking to Cinemania. Also MS DOGS! Anyone buy that?

TMF Czar: I missed that one, but I did pick up MS Jesters. ;D REldnahc follows up with: "What is it like working for Microsoft?"

MotleyJule: Like trying to drink from a fire hose. Tons of work, opportunities, markets, competitors

TMF Czar: We just got a question from TMF Bogey: "Julie, your book is as much about business in any walk of life as it is about Microsoft. You teach managers to 'let people fail.' Why would you want your people to fail?"

TMF Czar: Why don't we bring David up here? ;) [TMF Bogey is invited on stage]

TMF Bogey: Hiya gang :) Julie, great to have you on this Ship of Fools.

MotleyJule: If you let people fail, they're taking risks and hopefully learning more the next time. There's a tongue-in-cheek saying at MS: "If you screw up, you get promoted!"

TMF Bogey: Julie, I have a tough one for you...

MotleyJule: oh oh

TMF Bogey: If Bill Gates were to step down tomorrow -- and retire -- would the company survive and prosper? Is the company stronger then any one leader?

MotleyJule: There's sort of this trickle down theory of Bill Culture at MS. His "generals" and their "lieutenants," etc., have mostly adopted his way of doing things. So the same intensity will continue -- not sure who the next visionary would be.

TMF Bogey: Bill's Army :)

TMF Czar: Rgsimmons asks: "Was it harder as a women to advance at Microsoft?"

MotleyJule: Not harder as a woman, but harder as a non-technical person -- no comp sci degree. That's something they really value (as you might imagine!) I have an MBA in Marketing, so I was not coding software.

TMF Czar: KC4ML wonders: "From when to when did you work there?"

MotleyJule: 1990-1995. The company went from 5000 to 20,000 employees.

TMF Czar: Yowza!

TMF Bogey: Holy cow. Now, THAT's growth!

MotleyJule: We had the rock band 'CHICAGO' play at my first company meeting.

TMF Czar: One of our Fools, TMF Jeanie, asks: "Would you consider the 'Bill Culture' environment to be nurturing of the entrepreneurial spirit in its employees?"

MotleyJule: Yep! But with a twist. Instead of saying just, "How can you achieve your biz goals with half the $." They say, "What if your budget was doubled? What could you deliver?" Then you convince them to give you that extra budget.

TMF Czar: Nice! You listening, Tommy? ;D

TMF Bogey: LOL. Tom Gardner is in Antigua spending our budget :)

TMF Czar: MaylingRB asks: "Ignorance makes me ask why you left Microsoft, Julie."

MotleyJule: I left to travel, do volunteer work, take classes and all the stuff the MS work lifestyle doesn't allow time for! Then I wrote this book and had a baby. (Those 2 not related)

TMF Bogey: Julie, I have another one for you about the Microsofties :) How closely do all the folks at MS follow the stock price? Microsoft gives their employees a "piece of the pie", yes? Tell us why that's so important.

MotleyJule: They do watch it, and the cool thing is they learn about biz issues that make the stock move. So you get these administrative assistants who can tell you key MS strategy and competitor stuff. Having the employees know about the whole biz makes them better decision-makers in their own area. People make decisions at MS for the good of the company, not their fiefdom, because they are looking at their own stock price.

TMF Czar: TahSun asks: "MotleyJule, what is Microsoft doing to help teenagers in the computer realm? Are there any programs that Microsoft is running?"

TMF Czar: Sure, Microsoft runs lots of programs: Word, Excel, Access, Outlook... ;D

MotleyJule: I know they have high school internships and give money to a variety of tech organizations.

TMF Czar: FLgirl38 asks: "You used the phrase 'MS Lifestyle,' typically how many hours did you work a week?"

MotleyJule: Depends on where the product was in its life cycle. If it was about to be launched, I'd work 8am-8pm or so. Maybe do email at home after dinner.

TMF Bogey: Julie, you teach people to work "smart" not "long?" What do you mean by that?

MotleyJule: Everyone says prioritize, but the key is to go to your boss and say, "I have these 10 things. These 4 are most important. Probably wont get to these 2. Do you agree with these priorities? If not, tell me how to change them." That way you get buy off on what you're choosing to work on and no surprising them later with some dropped balls.

TMF Bogey: Speaking of bosses, what do you do if you have a really LOUSY boss???

MotleyJule: First, tell them in a nice way (if possible) what they're doing wrong and how it is affecting your performance, i.e., "You haven't been reviewing my plans by the date I asked, so I missed some business opportunities." They may not realize, and most people do want to do a good job themselves. If they don't improve, I'd probably try to bail!

TMF Czar: Goodman51 asks: "What is the best way to satisfy the customer and to tell if they are satisfied with your service without having to inquire?"

MotleyJule: Without asking them what they like or need, you could observe it in the market via sales. But these days, research firms are everywhere, or you can do your own on the net -- so if you can ask them directly, all the better. Also look at competitor's customers. What do they like/dislike? How can you get them to your product?

TMF Czar: Psychfool asks about a REALLY bad boss: "Julie, how would you go about bailing on a horrible boss that steals your work and shafts the team?"

MotleyJule: Well, have you talked to THEIR boss at all? You may want to try to reason with your boss, but tell them that since they did not shape up, you need to talk to their manager. In general, it's better not to blindside them. Don't burn the bridge if you don't have to.

TMF Czar: Juliet575 asks: "How did you come up with the idea for the book?"

MotleyJule: May sound corny, but when I left I realized I had learned a ton and in most cases, there was a funny story attached to the lesson I learned. So I put them all in the book!

TMF Czar: McTick asks: "What is the Most Compelling Reason for us to read your book?"

MotleyJule: Three reasons to read the book: first behind-the-scenes look at MS written by a real insider, first book to apply MS winning practices to what you can do on a daily basis in your job. Third, it is a quick, fun read and half the $ goes to kids charity!

TMF Czar: It is a really keen book, folks... you should check it out. The title is, "All I Need to Know in Business I Learned at Microsoft." It's been getting great reviews. :)

MotleyJule: 30% off at AMAZON.COM!

TMF Czar: Woo-hoo! (Fools love bargains) ;-)

TMF Bogey: :)

TMF Czar: Well, that's about all the time we have tonight. I'd like to thank Bogey for joining us up here, Twitty for doing all the hard work, and most importantly, I'd like to thank our guest, Julie Bick. :)

TMF Bogey: Thank you everyone!

MotleyJule: I had a good time. Thanks for inviting me!

TMF Czar: Well, thanks for coming out. And thanks to all you Fools who joined us for the event. Have a great night, and Fool on! :)

Related link: Microsoft Contest

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