Sunday, December 13, 2009

two BIG events

All on the same day. First, the HP/Agilent Bay Area retirees met, on Pearl Harbor Day (Dec 7th) for their annual luncheon. Some 450 folk listened to a brief half-hour outline of the book, and 82 bought books on-site for signing. Then I was featured at the Computer History Museum that night (the anniversary of many things besides Pearl Harbor's day of infamy -- I pointed out the irony of HP launching its EPOC printer that day, and didn't mention the HP-IB original meeting on 12/7/71 (courtesy of both Dave Ricci and Don Loughrey), or Jenny's first day at HP.
Another 35 books sold at CHM, managed by Kepler's.

Dave Iverson moderated the CHM event, very ably, and the questions were good ones. One in particular had to do with the current 'regime' and pay practices. Tough one to answer, and my answer "unconscionable if true" for the reported $113M for the top four people caused a murmur. I did say "Dave and Bill, for their egalitarian company, would find that an unusual pay practice". Dean Morton wants to have breakfast again this week, for some public speaking counseling.

It was a day that Ray Price hated to miss -- he was caught up in semester finals; he'd have enjoyed it as much as I did.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Yes it was fun

Yes indeed.  First time I ever was featured on a one hour radio show.  Up in San Francisco, at KQED, with Dave Iverson as the interviewer.  He was magnificent.  See his documentary re Father and Sons (about all three with Parkinson's -- very touching story).  

We covered a lot of ground, and Q&A took us into a lot more places.  Predictably, a number of folk called to say I am reporting nostalgia since the company has done a hopeless bastardization of the HP Way under the last two CEOs.  And while I too go down that path on many occasions, I felt compelled to point out that (a) Carly Fiorina DID save the marquee name/company, doing no more acquisition than Dave Packard did in his second "term" (from going public to leaving for Washington DC), and (b) many current employees reported in interviews and in book signings this past month that THEIR unit, THEIR division, or THEIR arena is doing great, thank you, with the HP Way largely intact.  Not to say it wasn't LOTS better in those great old days, but somehow it is asking a lot to expect a company of $120 BILLION to act as personal and intimate as a company of $120 MILLION, which is a fair amount LARGER than it was when I joined.

We had calls from Portland, and Phoenix, and San Diego, and Wisconsin, and lots of other places -- and I got emails all day long from friends who heard it and liked it, including our god-daughter who heard it twelve hours later in Las Vegas of all places.  VERY NICE

And maybe that accounts for the surge in Amazon ratings, as it "zoomed" back to #6,751 at 8:00 pm tonight, with our book being #4 overall in Mgmt Guide to Computing (and #1, for the first (and probably only) time on the HOT NEW RELEASES list).  It was #5 and #4 HNR on High Tech, and # 26 and #8 HNR on Company Profiles.  Barnes and Noble didn't do as well, having it still at #45,301.  (No, he's not a numbers guy, and he really isn't very competitive... )

SUNY Stonybrook

Wednesday (12-2-09), Karen Sobel-Lojeski arranged a wonderful group at State University of New York, Stony Brook campus, for me to present re the HP book. Deans from the Biz School, the D'school, the Tech in Society group, CS, Eng'g were among the audience. Very privileged.

Plus a full room (>75) and turning away an estimated 30 more (fire marshal rules). Great questions, including (a) what has been HP's response to the book, (b) how do you compare IBM and HP on services creativity these days, and (c) discuss the new leadership at HP Labs, this one from an ex-colleague of Prith Banerjee at UIUC.

I am increasingly using the "relevance" theme -- what can we learn from this history that applies to our world today -- and the notion that "bottoms up" leadership with marketplace deciding on success rather than "tops down" dictates wins the popular vote, no question. Students groove on that one, for sure. For experienced folk, the engineering-led vs. business-led notion garners lots of enthusiasm, particularly from engineers (duh)

I'm on KQED NPR radio this morning (FM 88.5 in San Francisco, 89.3 in Sacramento) with Dave Iverson. Should be fun.