When I joined EMC at age 25, sporting employee badge number 573 (the numbers today are as high as 87,000) we were small enough that on your first day you were walked around the halls to meet everyone. Everyone, even the Founder and CEO.
I met Dick Egan, the man in charge, on that first day. A few days later he summoned me to his office.
I recall that his desk was made of metal. It had no PC on it. The credenza behind his desk was an old oak door lying on top of two inexpensive looking metal filing cabinets. He held a yellow pencil in his hand and had a 2-3 inch pile of pink message slips on an otherwise clear surface. He smiled widely (a bit too widely) in my direction. He put his hands on top of the pile of message slips and cupped his fingers around them. He slid the message slips across his desk in my direction. I remember him saying just one sentence. It was something like this, “Here … why don’t you do this?”
The message slips were loaded with, essentially, F bombs. They were from EMC investors. The investors were furious and wanted answers. They came as a result of the quarter EMC had just missed (in Q3, 1991).
It was a meeting that altered my professional career and set the stage for well over a decade of exhilarating work building and soon leading EMC's Global Investor Relations function.
As for Dick's humble desk and CEO office trappings, they are an important part of the EMC story, too. Dick led by example. He always ensured that the money went to where customers could best appreciate it. To EMC, that is in the product and the people resources whose job it is to serve the customers. He was so passionate about the importance of providing our customers with the best product he had a sign behind his desk (a play on the words made famous in the Bill Clinton Presidential Campaign) which read, "It is the product, stupid."
To be continued …
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