Front Row Seat to a Merger Powered by Passion

Every once in awhile I hear people claiming a certain leader will be the next Steve Jobs. But just like I don’t believe there will be the next Michael Jordan I don’t believe that there will be another Steve Jobs. However, I do believe in the need for pioneers and leadership in this time of rapid digital disruption.

I’ve had the above Michael Dell graphic printed out and pinned next to my desk for many years. His words spoke to me and still speak to me.  I am someone who believed that technology was my passion and purpose but later found out that my true passion is helping people embrace the technology.  Helping people understand the power of technology and change has fueled my career and my success. In 2016, I’ve had the luxury of being hired to tell many enterprise brand stories including HP, IBM, SAP, and most recently the host of Dell EMC Live in Austin, Texas.

This was my first Dell World event. I have had the honor of hosting and participating in many Dell events over the past few years including SXSW and multiple times at their internal Unconference. But this was a Dell milestone – the first event since Dell acquired EMC earlier this year.

As the cohost of Dell EMC alongside Bryan Kramer & Patrick Moorhead, I had the opportunity to interview some amazing people and have some great conversations. I want to share some of those with you but first I want to start with what resonated with me most during the closing keynote. Malcolm Gladwell, marketing pioneer, made this statement: “You’ll never disrupt or change an industry if you’re worried about the approval of your peers.”

'You'll never disrupt or change an industry if you're worried about the approval of your peers.' - Malcolm GladwellClick To Tweet

As a professional speaker and entrepreneur in the ever-changing digital space this quote hit me like a ton of bricks.  It wasn’t until my flight home, thinking back about the amazing week I had, that I realized this quote is really the foundation and the platform on which Michael Dell has been able to reinvent himself decade after decade.

From the emergence of Dell as the everyday personal computer, to the massive disruption of the server industry, to the collapse of the Windows PC market, to taking his company back and making Dell private, to most recently merging with a powerhouse company equally successful, Michael Dell does not worry about anyones approval. By not worrying about satisfying his peers Michael Dell does everything his way. His passion and his confidence have never been more evident than making a claim this past week of go big or go home and saying the best decision he ever made was taking his company private. 

In my upcoming book, a Millennial Mindset, I focus on the three C’s: change, collaboration, and community. In this age of digital transformation, for brands to embrace these three C’s they must first understand the importance of trust, transparency, and passion. As you’ll hear below in my millennial workforce panel, millennials and all digital natives are craving access to technology and desire to know the work they are doing is not only making a difference but being recognized by management leadership and executives. (you can watch the millennial focused conversation I hosted at Dell EMC world with Natalie Zfat & Jordan Howard)

Of the 50+ technology events I have attended I’ve heard CEOs of companies preach many of these philosophies but never before have I been given access and been able to witness firsthand a CEO’s commitment to these themes like I did watching Michael Dell at the Dell EMC event media and influencer happy hour. Not only was this access unprecedented but the open conversations and laid-back atmosphere around Michael and Dell employees was so refreshing. The laidback vibe was not only during happy hour but continued when Michael took the stage and was interviewed by fellow co-host Patrick Moorhead.

img_2965Michael’s passion was on display on stage and at each opportunity I got to have a conversation with him. The same passion was also evident in Dell executives and new peers across EMC. This included a Dark Night comic themed keynote by newly appointed CMO Jeremy Burton who I believe has big plans on transforming the future of DELL EMC. Passion and drive was also unmistakable during my interview with the President of Global Services Kevin Roche & Carolyn Muise VP voice of customer, which you can watch here on YouTube.

As a massive tech geek who co-hosts a technology focused podcast called SMACtalk, I went into Dell EMC world planning on writing about the technology and the underlying theme of data, security and the Internet of Things. Instead, I left the event not only excited about the technology but fueled and inspired by the passion by which Michael Dell is yet again transforming his company with a human centric approach.