Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Build Your Network to Live Your Passion

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Work Happy Now! Guest Post by David Bradford, author of Up Your Game

All of our life successes are defined within the context of their impact on people; namely ourselves first, then impact on family, community, and globally. Without people, on a small scale or large, no innovation in technology would be of significant value. Without people our lives lack depth, connection, and passion.

The Power of Personal Relationships

Two of the most talented people I have ever interacted with are Bill Gates and Gary Kildall. Gary Kildall and Bill Gates have had arguably the most profound impact on the history of personal computing of any two people except possibly Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They defined the age of personal computing, and their contributions continue to have a major impact on business in the twenty-first century.

Why is Bill Gates one of the richest men on planet Earth and Gary Kildall a forgotten footnote in the annals of the computer industry? The fundamental reason is that Gates and Microsoft were about developing relationships that enabled them to secure an agreement to supply the desktop Operating System for the IBM Personal Computer and Kildall did not. Why? What factor impeded the “Inventor of the P.C. Operating System” from securing the most important contract in the history of the computer industry, yet permitted Mr. Gates to secure the same?

Arguably, it can be boiled down to the fact that Gates understood the power of personal relationships in business and Kildall did not know or care about them. Certainly there were many details involved, but I can cite at least two key factors of great impact:

1. Kildall admittedly disliked business.

In a 1981 interview, Kildall said that he engaged in business just because he hoped “to support my computer habits” with the proceeds. He also disdained engaging with others in business in any type of meaningful way. In fact, the day IBM came to Monterey, California, to negotiate “the contract of the century,” Kildall was out flying in his airplane. He later explained to me that he thought IBM had shown up “too early” for the meeting. Truth be told, in those days, if IBM were flying into town, it would be seen as a pivotal meeting. Bottom line: Personal relationships did not seem like a priority to Gary.

2. Bill Gates developed personal relationships.

Gates was “ready” when IBM came calling. One of those relationships was with a gentleman by the name of Tim Paterson, President of Seattle Computing Products. After IBM’s failed attempts to get a deal done with Gary Kildall, IBM contacted Bill Gates. Bill was clever and resourceful and knew the value of his computer industry colleagues. He built synergistic alliances that opened doors to the resources he needed. He did not have a PC operating system himself, but he knew someone that did. He acquired his PC operating system version for $50,000, from a tiny company called Seattle Computing Products.

The operating system, Q-DOS (which stood for “Quick and Dirty Operating System”), had been designed by the company’s programmer, Tim Paterson, who soon went to work for Microsoft. They renamed the product MS-DOS for Microsoft Disk Operating System, and Mr. Gates went back to IBM to get a deal done.

Bill Gates positioned himself through establishing key business relationships. This was the defining variable that made the difference in the careers of these two powerful men. Kildall became known as the guy who blew the deal of the century. Bill Gates became known as one of the most successful men in the world.

Create a Network that Supports Your Passions

up-your-game-by-david-bradford-bigBuilding your network in a powerful, effective way has everything to do with genuine investment of time and purpose in people. People connect to sincerity and disconnect if they sense you aren’t really interested in them. People desire positive outcomes, inspiring connections, and affirming experiences. They want to feel better, do better, and have better results in their lives. As Albert Schweitzer said,

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

By being curious, building win-win relationships, connecting on multiple platforms, studying your relationships, and connecting authentically, we can have the power to light a fire within someone and make an impact in meaningful ways.

Are you building up others and linking up in meaningful ways to ensure an actionable relationship? Are you linking up to Up Your Game on a daily basis? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

David BradfordDavid Bradford,“The Bottlecap Kid”, is Executive Chairman and former CEO of HireVue, former CEO of Fusion-io, and a member of the Utah Technology Council Hall of Fame. David is known for accelerating the growth and performance of game-changing organizations by utilizing his “UP Principles” which he outlines in his new book, UP YOUR GAME: 6 Timeless Principles for Networking Your Way to the Top. His last two companies, HireVue and Fusion-io are two of the fastest growing tech businesses in the U.S. Learn more about David and UP YOUR GAME at DavidBradford.com.

The Product Management Perspective: Great products impact people in ways that you can measure by their success. To create great products, you need to the help of many different people: 1) customers—they buy your products so you can grow your business; 2) engineers—they build your products and make you look good; 3) sales—they fall in love with your products and convince people they need to buy them; 4) marketing—they get people excited about what you’re doing; 5) many others—you get the picture. As a product manager you need to follow Mr. Bradford’s example and “have the power to light a fire within someone and make an impact in meaningful ways.”

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