I'm still a month behind on reading Wired, but there's a great article about Xbox 360 and J Allard. Seriously, this guy is my hero.
Why? Because he's a badass that says what he thinks. I respect that. I respect that even more that he's able to do it in a huge corporate structure like Microsoft. (And by extension, I respect his superiors more that they'll put up with, and listen to, his foul-mouthed e-mail.) I get the strong sense that his personality is a lot like mine... strong opinions, not content with mediocrity, not concerned about others' perception of him, 30-something, and perhaps walks the line between confidence and arrogance. That's me.
I tried to work that way once in a corporate environment, while at Penton Media. That didn't work out because it was a horrible yet classic example of a good old boys club, with a bunch of fat old white men that figured the status quo would continue to work. They didn't want to listen to some 28-year-old kid at the time tell them what the Internet really meant.
What did I have to say? While it wasn't my idea, one of "our" people suggested building a Web-based CRM product for internal use and to sell to our customers. I mean, we were a B2B media company, why not? I pushed the concept around in the business units I worked in. They said it would never work and no one would buy into it (this opinion was largely based on their lack of sales of Web-based ads). Morons. Salesforce.com got there and made people rich. Those assholes all got canned, Penton was delisted from the NYSE, and that was the end of that. I left for other things before it went down.
I wouldn't say I'm bitter as much as I hate that I worked in an environment where new ideas were never given a chance for discussion. You'd think they'd stand up and listen to the "kid" that sold a domain name for $100k, but they were so stuck in the print world that they didn't understand the company's evolving role for our customers. The key to success is a combination of identifying customer needs and innovating.
But who knows, if it were a different company, maybe I would've had the kind of success Allard has had. I really admire the guy because, if you believe everything that has been written about him, he's never backed down from the winner-take-all attitude for risky business. Who in their right mind would create a business plan to take on Sony and Nintendo? And walk into a room with Gates and Ballmer to sell it? He's even smart enough to see the potential for other Xbox uses, even if he sees the thing as mainly a game machine. Frankly his vision makes a hell of a lot more sense than the whole Media Center approach. If he has Gates' ear, hopefully he's listening.
So I raise my glass to J Allard... someone who really gets it.