A private event hosted by Accenture at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco (on 13th April’2016) gave me an opportunity to meet our company CEO – Bill McDermott. It was an event where Bill shared lot of his personal stories also part of the book ‘Winners Dream – A journey from corner store to corner office’. The stories were his collection of experiences as a young confident teenager to become CEO of SAP.
Before the event started, we all gathered over finger-food, cocktail, wine and beer, where I got a chance to introduce myself and had my first ever interaction. As it is quite obvious from the picture below, I was over-the-moon. I have shifted from SAP Labs Bangalore six months back to SAP Successfactor (Silicon Valley) and never in my wildest dream I had imagined, I would get a chance to shake hand with my company CEO. I was so much excited that couple of other SAP employees were queuing up for click with him and I almost jumped the queue.
The Stage, The Talk, The Self-Made Man
After the initial introduction, in slightly warm indoors of the Commonwealth club (due to air-conditioning issues), we got all packed to listen him speak about his experiences. Of course I was not prepared to take notes, but I did manage to recall few of them below.
- Do something extraordinary and age sometimes doesn’t matter. At an age of 15, when there are middle age men looking for working in Deli, Bill cracked the opportunity and began at $2.35/hr (in comparison his 2015 bonus is around $10M)
- Any entrepreneur if find herself/himself in a situation where deeper pockets Businesses can run you out of competition, try to do two things (a) What the competition can’t do – due to any external/internal reason like logistics or geographical location etc (b) What the competition isn’t interesting in doing. His example of how he at an age of 17 was running a deli on his own, was quite inspirational.
- Family is every thing. He quoted his example of mother, grandfather, father, brother which all resonated with the audience. Watching his own house burn down – I can’t even image how it can feel, but her mother words & I quote, “We have gone through worst, we will get through this”, just shows where he gets his ability to lead and take on difficult challenges. Taking over SAP reigns from the founding father and leading SAP as global company across the globe.
- Lead not just with example, but also with compassion. Just don’t dream to be the best team, but bring out the best in each and every member of the team. He pointed out the example when in his early 20s leading bunch of college graduate, he said, “I don’t know everything and that is the reason why you all are here. I will delegate and you should do your best”. Of course, my words here can’t really match to Bill’s voice and the passion with which he said it. (of course his was the Numero Uno team)
My current boss is a New Yorker; now I have met two. The style, the way of talking and cracking me up right before taking the selfie was all his theatrics. And it so happened the colleagues assisting Bill as part of the signing of the book told me, I was the first person actually who asked for a selfie.
My shift from Bangalore to Silicon Valley came at a cost of letting go of my book collection (including signed copy from Jeffery Archer). With the first quarter of 2016 settling in new place, now it is time to start the collection all over again and what better book then a signed copy from Bill and a message to remember – “Dream Really Big My Friend”….
Thank you Silicon Valley for giving the opportunity to meet Bill and Thank you Bill for the wonderful memory and inspirational stories. I hope to find lot more while turning over the pages of your book with a cup of Indian Masala Tea.