Sunday, June 27, 2004

What I Actually Asked Bill

Firstly, thanks to everyone who emailed and left comments regarding the Bill G question. In the end, I liked the theme of Rodney's "how many hours a night do you sleep" question, and decided to ask a question more about Bill the man rather than Microsoft. After all, an entire industry has grown up around childish Bill Gates spoofs and take-offs, the real person is dwarfed at times by his own caricature. So, the question I asked was, "What is a typical day like in your life, and if there is no such thing as typical, what would be an ideal day in terms of time allocation". Here is the transcribed response:

Well, now that Steve Balmer has taken over as CEO, there is a lot of business-review type things that he is able to do and free up my time to work with products. I spend about a quarter of my time out of the office on weeks like this one when I'm out meeting with customers, hearing what they like, what they don't like, and that's valuable for me. I go back with lots of notes and lots of ideas.

I spend about 50% of my time meeting with product group people, and the really great thing for me is meeting more and more with them at the very beginning of the project - before they overlap something else, before they take an approach that isn't that great.
I used to do the reviews, when they where like half or two-thirds of the way through, and then its really tough to say "Nope, that was a waste of time what you've done up until then". So, with just a little bit extra dialog, particularly up front, makes a huge amount of difference.

I still have about 25% of my time that is business reviews, board meetings, various public-related activities that are important to do, but the thing I like the most, and that dominates my schedule, is sitting down with the product teams.

Not quite the hours of sleep per night, but interesting nevertheless. I'd like to think Frank and Chuck for getting me the invite, my iPAQ and memory card for recording the event without a single hitch, and my Canon A80 for doing a responsible job getting a snap of the event. Still, if Cannon got their act together with 1D Mk II shipments, the photos would be much better :).

And a big thanks for Bill for taking time out of his busy schedule for having breakfast with lowly folks like user group presidents and MVPs.


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