As I continue to move stuff from my old site… to this one I decided to update this since it’s still a much asked question. Here’s the updated rant – originally published back in 2007.
Why I Quit Microsoft …
A lesson on what I want.
I love this question. If you look up my previous history – I quit IBM also and when I came back to them I stayed for many years. Odds are I will return to Microsoft and stay for a very long time. But this, was not the time and this was not the job for me to do that with. That is why I quit, and why I urge anyone who is in "the perfect job they hate" to quit as well.
Microsoft, and IBM are massive companies – and in massive companies there are entire spectrums of variety of your job. If you can’t transfer to one of the positions that suits you – leave the company. Do not become the guy who is just there until he/she can find something better. It’s your destiny – shape it – or sit behind a desk and wonder where the hell your career went.
I can hear the comments now, "Yeah… but … but … you made it – you were in one of the most difficult companies to hire on at … and – you were a full timer. Why would you want to leave Microsoft?"
I didn’t want to leave Microsoft. I loved Microsoft. I love my career. Being a PM is a great gig and one I truly enjoy. I loved my team. I loved my Manager.
What I did not love … was my job.
Let me be very clear on this. If you do not enjoy your job, love your job, at Microsoft or IBM or any other major player in this industry… you are going to fail there. It’s cultural thing, you can do everything right – but if you do not have 110% passion for what you do there, you cannot do your job right.
I did not love localization. It was fun, and it was certainly interesting. But getting my projects done became a very laborious chore that I grew to hate.
Socrates, the noted 3rd century philosopher said, "The nearest way to glory is to strive to be what you wish to be thought to be.". Which basically means, "Be the person you see yourself to be and you’ll become that person.".
After more than a bit of reflection … I realized that I hated my job because localization is not what I want to be doing or thought of for the rest of my life.
I’ve had too many adventures and too many cool pages added to the book of my life to settle into a quiet desk job shuffling paper work around with no real goal or vision to attain and just – "do my job well".
I’m either there to give you my all, or I’m not there at all. That’s a binary state I will not change in my personality. There are many things you compromise on in this world. You can compromise a point, but you cannot compromise on your principals – or you’ve lost your reason for doing anything at all.
I really wasn’t that interested in going back to work for Microsoft. I’ll be honest with you, the majority of the people in PM jobs there just were not giving it their all as far as I could see. They were more interested in their personal lives, their vacations, their – whatever. In my personal estimation, they were only interested in giving the job about 80% effort. That’s really frustrating if you’re one of those people who wants to give 100%, who wants their job to make a difference, to make a change.
I was contacted by a manager at Microsoft who convinced me that they were such a person – I accepted the job offered on the project to make Windows XP happen on the OLPC because I believed in them, I believed in the project and it was an incredible success. In fact, I’m now more than open to going back to work at Microsoft full time because of this experience.
It gave me the chance to not just do my job, but to shine at it. To give it my all and without any ego I can say I did one hell of a job. We didn’t just meet our numbers – we met the deadlines and we got their first, with more achieved results than were expected by a large margin. That’s a situation where everyone wins and I find that incredibly rewarding.
When I am hired – I am hired for a job, and I will do that job, even if it kills me. You hire me to give you my best – and if I find that I’m not able to – I’ll find someone who can and go where I can give it my all and do my best. That’s who I am. It’s that simple.
I’m very old school. But I use every trick possible, every ounce of knowledge available to achieve results. I don’t care if it’s new and we’re breaking new ground or if I’m using techniques that dates back to the stone age. Results are what we are judged on. If I can’t give you those results then I believe in getting the hell out of the way and finding someone who can.
I do not have a "half-way" setting. It’s all or nothing. No ego. No regrets. No holds are barred and no quarter given. I’m not a barbarian, and I will not be rude or ruthless (unless I’m absolutely forced to be). What I will be, is effective, or I have no purpose being on the team.