20 Years @ Big Blue
Happy Anniversary to me!
Today, I celebrate my 20th year with the IBM Company.
When I tell people I’ve been here this long, they just shake their heads. People just don’t do that anymore!
It’s been a wild and amazing ride, and the interesting thing is, it only gets that more interesting. I can honestly say that I’ve honestly said at any number of particular points in my career, “it only gets more interesting.”
These days, it’s the opportunity to further explore the outer reaches of search marketing, customer response management online, and social media intelligence.
When I started IBM at its Southlake facility on August 19, 1991, near the DFW airport, it was desktop publishing.
In between, it was OS/2 v. Windows, the early commercialization of the Internet, the Y2K threat, IBM’s own transformation into an e-business, the rise of Linux and open computing, and so much more.
The day I started IBM was the same day that Boris Yeltsin stood on the tanks outside the Russian White House, in defiance of the coup plotters. But instead of getting the news from my iPad, I got it from a printed edition of The New York Times.
When I started work here, I was 25 years old and greener than Augusta National golf course. I remember them telling me I had to talk to people on the phone: What was I going to say??
My computer was a PS/2 workstation when I started, running my beloved OS/2, but a lot of our work was done via the mainframe green screen (VM!). I sometimes miss those character-based terminals. They weren’t always pretty, but they were FAST, and they got the job done (which, for me, at the time was as a writer and editor of several IBM magazines).
I still remember putting up my first Website. I was not then, and still am not, a programmer, but I taught myself HTML so I could publish our magazine Software Quarterly on the World Wide Web. Nobody knew what that was at the time, but that didn’t stop me.
During my tenure, I’ve visited cities and countries that I never envisioned I would ever see in person, and in the process I’ve gained a greater understanding of the world and our collective humanity.
I’ve also witnessed some dramatic evolutions of the conditions of the IBM business, of the use of our technology to solve real-world business problems, and dramatic changes in our communications and marketing.
When I first joined, IBM was talking to the world about building solutions for a smaller planet.
Now, responding to the challenging business conditions and the unique opportunities a smaller, networked world presents, we’re talking about a smarter planet instead.
That’s a perfect reduction of my past twenty years with Big Blue — my own world has become much smaller and much smarter.
And that, I can assure you, is because of the gift of having had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people around on this smaller and smarter world.
Because if you think it’s a small world outside Big Blue, you should see what life is like inside IBM after twenty years.
You find yourself working with people for awhile, then moving on and working with another group of people, only to years later, finding yourself working with someone else you’ve worked with before, and this time, like you never missed a beat.
I think maybe we should start referring to the company as “Small Blue” instead.
No matter the moniker, it’s the rare opportunity a human gets to do work that one loves in collaboration with people whom one greatly admires in an effort to literally change the way the world does its business, and all while having the chance to travel to the nether regions of our smaller and smarter planet.
To all of you inside and outside “Small Blue” who have played a part in my 20- year journey thus far, in this, IBM’s own centennial year, I just wanted to take this quick opportunity to say “Thanks!”
Or should I say, T-H-I-N-K. ; )