• Log In
  • Sign Up
    • When I joined IBM in Dallas in the fall of 1959, Ross Perot was a "sales trainee -- just-turned sales rep". I had the same senior salesman as my "daddy" as Ross had during his 1st year as a trainee. Both Ross and I were grads of the US Naval Academy, I graduated in 1946 (Class of 1947, wartime 3-year-course); Ross was a '53 or '54 grad. I had received my "wings" and had remained in the service much longer than Ross. So, I was his "junior" re: IBM service even though I was a bit older.

      Our branch manager could never remember my first name (Emiel) and he always called me "Alec". When I opened a sales meeting as a trainee and was followed in front of the group by Ross, he commented that "Henry (our manager) never called me by my first name, only by my last name, 'Alec' -- my first name was "Smart". This illuminates immediately our personal relationship. He had immediately become the #1 salesman in the Dallas Branch -- my claim to fame was that I was a top sales trainee.

      A second interaction that my wife loves to describe went thusly: A new manager was assigned to our Dallas branch office -- a 1st-line manager, not the branch manager. We had met him (Jim) and his wife socially (not IBM-related) through a mutual friend in IBM upper management. So, my wife and my best office-friend Burt's wife decided to hold a luncheon for the new-comer's wife to include other "office" wives. Of course, Ross' wife Margo was included in the group of invited attendees. Suddenly, at home, I received a call from Burt to expect a call from Ross ... and the phone soon rang. Ross proposed two things: (1) we invite the District Manager's wife who resided in Dallas to the luncheon; and (2) that Margo join my wife and Burt's wife as hostesses for the affair. Ross saw inter-personal positive actions quickly and acted ...

      There were other interactions but my intent is to show Ross's wit in the first example -- we remained acquaintances -- unfortunately, my ego would not permit a closer relationship -- I never held Ross on a pedestal -- when you check my net worth, maybe I should have. In example #2, it indicates how Ross would never leave a stone unturned when it came to "upward career orientation". I did not vote for Ross the year he ran for President -- I have always respected him, but ... !!

      As for "sales" ability ... I think that Ross should go down as the #1 in world history. I just could never "schmooz" with him ... he just wasn't the "schmoozin'-type". Maybe that's why he became so successful.

    • Fascinating, emiliano, thanks so much for posting that. It's funny how some people just get launched to the stars. They seem like 1 in a million but when you know them you realize they have the same human weaknesses we all have, maybe more.

      I sometimes wonder if it isn't an unquenchable need for validation that drives them to such heights. If you're comfortable in your own skin, then you don't go to these extremes.

    • Chris, your complimentary comment is appreciated! However, my career, although good to excellent, was never in Perot's league. This is evident by my "Harvard-grad-and-lawyer" son's comment when I pointed out my relationship with Ross -- by explaining that Ross's desk was just behind mine in the IBM Dallas branch office. My son snapped back "Dad, I bet that was the only time Ross was ever behind you"!!

    • Chris, I see that you are a co-founder of CAKE ... I want to let you know that at the age of 91, I became a blogger (3 years ago). After over a couple of hundred blogs I have become somewhat "feeble" mentally ... not actually, but emotionally ... with writer's bloc. Our country's current administration has given rise to many blogs but has also caused a sudden drought ... as indicated in my last few attempts. You might check them out at

    • Thanks for the pointer to your blog. I have a father-in-law your age and I confess bracing myself for what I would discover in your writings because my father-in-law and his friends are fanatical Trump supporters, believing him to be the greatest leader of modern times.

      I have respect for many republicans and democrats but like anyone in any occupation I think they should have basic decency. Ross has it, even Steve did.

    • My favorite tee shirt states: "Elect a Clown ... Expect a Circus" with a picture of "Mr. T" as a clown. That should quell any fears. But most of my Academy friends are Republicans ... not all are Trump fans, thankfully

    • As a former product guy now in sales (though seriously missing product) it’s weird to see both sides of the argument.

      Many companies do ship crap. The best product doesn’t always win.

      And have you ever try selling something half-baked or unpolished? It’s the worst.

      It fascinates and weirdly encourages me to hear of this sort of friction and disagreement at the highest level of the game. Reminds me that most situations are largely the same, just higher stakes. That puts it both closer in reach from the standpoint of ambition while simultaneously renewing a sense of gratitude and contentment for where I am now.

      Thanks for sharing, Chris. Fascinating story.

    • Thanks, Derek. 🙂 Maybe timing is one of the most important things? I was at General Magic after NeXT and we had two junior engineers who sat not far from each other — Andy Rubin and Tony Fadell. Andy went on to create Android and Tony was key to creating the iPod and iPhone.

      The thing that always got me is that Android didn't seem very good in the beginning. They fast-followed Apple on some key interface ideas, but it still wasn't great for a long while. What many people thought was great was the Windows phone from Microsoft. A Microsoft exec told me they took the extra time to make it great but that got them to market too late, when Android already had momentum.

    • I am glad that people like Ross Perot invested in Steve Jobs and his NeXT corporation. I think that the research and development that came out of that work brought all of the wonderful devices, hardware and software we enjoy today to market. Perhaps if Steve had listened to Ross at the time these products would have come to market sooner, perhaps not. As with everything, timing is everything as is balance. With the right level of quality in a product at the right time you can be very successful. History is full of products that were too soon to market or that the world was not ready to receive. Likewise there are many products that are low quality whose idea is great but who lose out to the people who took the time to design in quality. The key is balance. An old design maxim comes to mind, "You can spend 90% of your time trying to perfect the last 10% of a design". The trick is to know when to go to market and work out the rest of the design in future releases. In the long run quality wins the day as does innovation that ends in getting results.