8 Year Old Me on Career Day

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I recently set this image as the banner to my LinkedIn profile.

It’s actually a scan of a letter I wrote when I was 8 years old. It talks about a variety of things but what is most interesting to me now is the statement “When I grow up I hope to be a chemist or an (sic) computer sales man. I like working with chemistry and I love working with computers.”

The chemistry part makes sense, because my Dad was a chemist/chemical engineer. But who writes in a 3rd grade paper that they want to be a computer sales person!

Note: Computers in 1982 were very slow, boxy, heavy, and basically a pain to use. Our first family computer was an Osborne, one of the first portable computers, which had a monitor that is actually smaller than a modern day iPhone.

Anyway, after working in technology over the last 20 years, I guess I can now truly state that my dreams as a child were realized – instead of computers, its working in tech and the Cloud, and instead of sales person, its helping create new companies and spread new ideas…

RIP, my friend Joe… (Repost from LinkedIn)

<I posted this originally in early 2017 but wanted to capture it on my blog as well. Still miss you, buddy.>

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My friend¬†Joseph James Moulton¬†passed away recently. He had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met and was also the best salesperson I’ve ever known.

I met Joe in 2004 when I was interviewing sales reps to join my freshly formed enterprise sales team at WebEx. Our internal recruiter was leaving to join Google, and on his way out handed me an inch high stack of resumes to call.

It was a Saturday and I was calling through the resumes. I had 3 stacks – the resumes to be reviewed pile, the folks to call pile, and the discarded pile. I picked up Joe’s resume and noticed some spelling errors on there, and started to place it in the discard pile. But something peaked my interest, and I looked at it again. But it didn’t have that much work history listed, so I started to place it again in the discard pile. But then an italicized quote on the resume caught my attention “Hand me the ball coach, I’ll make the play”… and I thought – I’ll call this guy Joe but if he doesn’t answer, I won’t leave a message.

Joe picked up and I introduced myself. His first question – “What did you like about my resume, that prompted you to call me?” Great question… so I said, “Well… I have 3 piles here and your resume’s spelling mistakes and lack of work history ended up in the discard pile twice but I saw your ‘hand me the ball coach’ quote and thought I would call but not leave a message… does that answer your question?” He said it sounded like a perfect match.

A week later he was hired, and I asked him to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on how to pitch WebEx. He told me he didn’t know what PowerPoint was, and I started thinking “oh ____, what have I done?”

Over the following few years, I observed Joe in his role as an enterprise sales rep for the company. He was always one of the top 2 reps in the company consistently quarter after quarter (Jessie his colleague was the other). He didn’t have the best demo, or do the best slides, but what Joe knew was people.

He loved people, and people loved him. I witnessed time and time again as orders came through from accounts that had never been customers of WebEx before. In fact, those were the accounts he loved the most – “Kris, give me the accounts no-one has ever sold, those are the ones I want.” And then he would even tell the customers that, “I asked for your account because in the history of the company, no one has been able to earn your business. I am going to change that.” And the next question would be, “What would it take to earn your business?” I once went to a meeting in NYC with Joe to Lehman Brothers, and in the meeting, he asked me to cover my ears in front of the CIO so that he could ask him what it would take to get their logo on our wall. Joe cracked into these accounts with humility, honesty, making connections with people – and it worked.

I also observed Joe around the office. He knew the names of all the cafeteria workers. He knew the gardeners. He would informally say “Hey Subes!” to Subra our CEO (nobody else called him that). Whether it was the most senior person in the office or the lowest level worker, Joe treated them all the same. And with heart.

His style was different from mine. I’m about the numbers, the rational decision to purchase, beating the competition, analyzing the proposals, etc. but Joe was all about people. He didn’t even think of his prospects and customers like that, he thought of them as friends. I noticed the prospects he talked to really liked him. And many times they bought the product to help Joe. Some of the deals he secured didn’t even really make financial sense for the customer. But they did it for him.

He had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. He did an amazing amount of community service and was always willing to go the extra mile to help anyone, even if he didn’t know them. He would literally give you his last dollar to share a meal with you. He cared deeply about family and relationships. He made people laugh.

I stayed in touch with Joe over the years, but not as much as I should have. I guess I always just thought he would be around, and next thing you know 10 years have gone by and we only email with each other every few years. Joe passed due to challenges with substance abuse and I really wish I’d been a better friend to him over the years. I am going to miss him.