DANNY.G on Passion & CEOs
Monday, December 5, 1994 by Dave Winer.
Danny Goodman, author of software products and how-to books for computer users, has comments on my Visions of Platform Vendors piece, released on Sunday.
He has a new (hard-cover!) book coming from Random House in February, entitled "Living at Light Speed," which, according to Danny, "places all the hype about information superhighway technologies into 'the daily grind' perspective."
I don't disagree with a lot of what you said (and I read the Markoff piece--on-line!), but I think CEO vision and passion are two very different things. Not only that, there are two major types of passion that I've seen in the business world.
Passion Number One is passion for what your company is doing today and has in the chute for delivery in the next six months. You can see this in the CEOs who can actually demo their company's products to a stranger (or on a computer TV show) to make a sale. If he were an Apple CEO, he'd be carrying a Newton in his pocket, a PowerBook Duo 280c in his briefcase, and a PowerMac 8100/100 at work. If he were a Microsoft CEO, he'd use Beta 2 of Windows 95 as his productivity OS today, and would be active on Microsoft Network.
Passion Number Two is a passion for business, independent of whatever is being made or sold. This kind of CEO is enamored with The Deal, management structure, stockholders, and so on. As I cite in my upcoming book, they make alliances and mergers without knowing what's going on in either company's labs or cultures to know that the joint body could even work together (e.g., all those RBOC/cable fiascos of earlier this year).
To follow up on your example, they run computer platform companies, and don't know what platforms are. Today he or she leads a widget company; without Passion Number One, however, tomorrow it may be a gizmo company.
My personal view is that a candidate for a successful CEO is one who has all of the above. There are many such folks out there in our industry leading and working in companies large and small (Bill Gates being the most visible, but not in any way the Lone Ranger).
As for Michael Spindler, I doubt you can be the Apple veteran he is without some of that vision thing rubbing off on you. My guess is that he chooses to emphasize the other two parts of my success equation.