Speech Transcript – Doug Burgum, Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2003

Remarks by Doug Burgum, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions Group
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2003
New Orleans, Louisiana
October 9, 2003

DOUG BURGUM: Good morning. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to spend the next few minutes with all of you, having a conversation about our future and having a conversation about human potential. I want to thank Randy for the nice video intro and I want to thank Randy also for being here in person. I had a chance to see him last night, along with lots of other partners. But, it is a great opportunity and it’s a great opportunity, because this is the premier gathering, this is the premier gathering in the industry and it’s the premier gathering of the best partners in the industry.

As we take a look at the line up for the next several days and we’ve had a great line up this morning with Allison, Orlando and Steve, and starting this afternoon I want to take a moment and say we’ve got this great afternoon focus around Microsoft Business Solutions strategies this afternoon. And the real theme there is for those of you that aren’t currently involved with Microsoft Business Solutions, I want to still encourage all of you to be there, because it’s about how we can be better together, how the whole Microsoft stack can create more value for customers.

So I would encourage all of you there and as has been said several times, again, I want remind everybody that at the end of that section today Orlando and I will be doing a live Q & A from this stage, in this auditorium at the end of the MBS and again, we’re looking forward to having that conversation with all of you. But, as we close out the great morning that we’ve had today, as has been a Stampede tradition and now a Microsoft tradition the last few years, to take a moment away from product, take a moment away from demos and take a moment away from the sort of the crush and the pressure of the business that we’re in today, to step back and think a little bit about some broader themes that might inform us and guide us about the future that we can create for ourselves and the opportunity that’s there.

So my intent this morning is to spend some time talking to you about mission, talking to you broadly about Microsoft’s strategy and how essential partners are to that broad Microsoft strategy, talk a little bit about vision and about how you fit into that vision and really then close out, really about you, specifically you, as it relates to human potential.

So the natural place might be to start with mission, of course, but before we even get to mission, I think it’s valuable for us to take a moment and think about ourselves not as Microsoft certified partners, not as MBS partners, not as ISVs, not as from this country or that country, or whatever, but think of ourselves simply as humans. It’s a roomful of humans we have here and as far as I know no aliens have touched down but we’ve got a roomful of humans here and we reflect a little bit on the human condition before we talk about mission. And what is the human condition today?

I think there’s two views, both of which hold their truth about ourselves and the history of humans on this planet, anyway. And that is, there’s a bit of a sad history, a history, if you take a look at humans as a species relative to almost all of their species we have evolved into a species which can commit atrocities against ourselves at levels that are unseen in any other part of nature. And if we think back at the last century, including two world wars and genocide and the list goes on, back over the thousands of years, it’s not a great track record for us as humans. And you might say, how sad is this, that I’m a human and I’m part of this human race and this human race has got this ability to do these unthinkable acts against itself the way no one else is, how does that happen.

But, then if you flip to the other view and say, what’s the assessment of the human condition and you say, hey, I’m a human and I’m part of this human race and part of this human race is that we have demonstrated innovation, ingenuity, curiosity, generosity, caring and I would say courage and a lot of other elements like no other species has. We have found a way to evolve ourselves, think beyond ourselves and think about the whole in ways that hasn’t happened before. And you might even argue that the second view, that perhaps we’re moving toward a bit of a tipping point, maybe it will happen in my lifetime, maybe my kid’s lifetime, maybe my grandkids if I’m lucky, someday, years away for me, because my kids are very little, but to think about what a world might be for grandchildren, or great grandchildren. Will they live in a world that is tipped more toward the human potential that represents the good in what humans can be?

I think that because we’re at that point and because we have an opportunity, because many of us spend so much time in our work lives, I think that’s why I feel so strong about the mission statement that Microsoft has evolved for itself. And the mission statement, quite simply, is enable people in businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. And you might say to yourself, well, this is an interesting sort of marketing cliche, what does it really mean, how does it connect with me? Well, let’s just think about it for a while and I think it’s important to understand that in terms of human potential, the quick sort of the yin and yang of the, or the pro and the con, or the good and the bad of the human condition today, that the upside is amazing. If you had less of the bad and more of the good, how different would the world be today.

It’s argued today that the world has the resources to solve most of the problems that we have, and maybe it’s just an issue of distribution. Maybe it’s an issue of information, maybe it’s an issue of communication, maybe it’s an issue of understanding. And it would seem to me that, again, in this industry, in the IT industry and specifically working and supporting the products and technologies that come from Microsoft, that each of us have an opportunity to help advance where the world is today. Each of us truly has an opportunity to get up every day and help people in businesses to realize their full potential. And my point on full potential is that I don’t even think we understand how high is up. We don’t understand how amazing the world could be, because we are often trapped in the issues of today and we don’t step back and think about what that can be. And I think one way for us to get an understanding of maybe where we are in this point in time, that’s always helpful, is to take a look back. And in a minute we will take a look back and use a historical example to help bring the future more into focus.

But, for the moment right now, I didn’t want to as I said, I sort of said, here’s the mission, what’s the broad strategy for Microsoft? You’ve heard this morning lots of numbers and the next couple of days, from the senior leaders, because you’ve made a big investment in being here, you’re taking time away from your business, many of you have billable hours that you’re giving up to be here and you want an ROI on that business. And Microsoft is also making a big investment and part of that investment is to help ensure that this gathering, this community understands the investments across Microsoft’s seven major businesses, Business Solutions being one you’ll hear from this afternoon. But, then again, tomorrow you’ve got the line up. Jeff Raikes is here for information and office worker, you’ve got Paul Flessner and SanjayP talking about servers and tools. We’ve got Pieter Knook talking about the important connection to mobility of all of this. And we go on down the line. We’ve got everybody here but Robbie Bach talking about Xbox, and I’m sure some of you might enjoy that as well and the opportunity there in the home and entertainment area.

But, again, we want to try, again, over the next couple of days to really articulate the business opportunities across all of this. But if you stand back and say, what is the essential strategy for Microsoft and Steve touched on it this morning on his slide when he talked about $6.2 billion of R & D, but that’s not $6.2 billion of R & D in silos, that’s $6.2 billion of R & D much of which is shared, so that we have an opportunity to try to, again, try to deliver something that’s better together for all of you.

And if you look at the slides up here, which we affectionately call the staff triangle slide, it’s very simple. And let me start at the bottom, which is there’s Microsoft and we’ve got competition and across each of our different businesses, whether its services, tools or business applications, we have different competition. But in virtually all of our businesses, we work with partners to try to reach customers. The first starting point for us, is where Allison started this morning, which is we need to make sure that our partner programs and what we deliver to you is better than the competition. We have to be better than the competition at what’s important to partners. And one of the things that’s important to partners can be summed up in the business model, is this a better business for you to be in to be working with our products delivering solutions than it is someone else? We like to say, yes, it is and we’d like to say that we want to have that be even better and better.

And then, as you go to market and we support you in going to market with that strong value line coming up the left-hand side of the slide. That’s what Steve talked about this morning about alignment, alignment, we want to align our R & D, we want to have our products and solutions work well together, we want to align ourselves with you, we want to get focused. As one of the partners in the Q & A said, the focus is around niches and verticals, we want to support that so that we can deliver higher and higher value to customers and then we can deliver more value than what they can get from the competition. And part of our differentiation between the competition is that we’re going to be better together, that can be better value, better solutions, better capabilities.

And so, again, as we take a look at that, take a look, again, you heard this morning the partner program, innovative innovations, shared R & D and this is an oversimplification, but as Orlando talks about making it real and enhancing customer value and doing it through partners, part of what we’re doing with the unified field is to really drive and make sure that we support you across all the Microsoft opportunities that you’re pursuing.

And, again, as Steve said, another key thing that we can do, as one of the partners said, also, which is that with business applications we have an opportunity to work at the customer edge to add tremendous value at the customer edge.

And if you take a look at the sum of all of this, whether you take AMI or IDC numbers, the size of the IT industry grows from sort of $400 billion. They’re sort of incalculable numbers, $400 billion up to over $600 billion, they think, by the end of this decade. And you might think to yourself, is Microsoft a high share company, Microsoft relative to all IT, all IT spends for all hardware, all services, all et cetera, Microsoft has less than 7 or 8 percent of the total market. We believe, as Microsoft, that we have an opportunity to grow our share of the overall IT market. We understand that in markets like business applications that these are some of the most fragmented markets in the world and through the work that we’re going to do with ISVs and with the Microsoft Business Framework, that we’re going to bring better economic settings and we can bring better solutions for customers.

And so, I personally get very excited about Microsoft because I love the mission, the mission has purpose and meaning. I love the strategy. I love the focus around partners, because the partners are essential. We don’t have a solution without a partner involved. And we understand that that’s their core. This is the 20th year that I’ve been in front of partners talking about partners being at the solution to the core and that won’t change five years from now or 10 years from now because, as Orlando said, there’s no way that we can reach 40 million customers, or when Steve talks about numbers of millions and millions and millions, there’s no way that we can reach that without having a business model that works for partners and having partner programs that allow us to align ourselves directly.

So, I said we’d take a look back in history to something that might inform us about where we are in terms of human potential and where we are in terms of ourselves as an industry. And the point in time that I want to take everyone back to is coming up on an anniversary. I enjoy anniversaries. I think anniversaries are great times to reflect in terms of milestones, personally, or with family, et cetera. But we’ve got this important milestone coming up in December, because it will be 100 years ago December 17, 1903, that for the first time ever humans achieved powered flight.

And you think, that’s just one more invention, one more thing that kind of happened that happened 100 years ago.

Flight: If you take a look at recorded history, flight has been in the imagination of humans probably even since before recorded history. I can imagine long before language was developed, long before perhaps even people were painting on the walls of caves, there was a look of amazement, being an earth-bound species and looking up and saying, wow, they can fly, I can’t. How do they do that? Isn’t that cool? Think of the freedom, think of the capability that they have.

And so the pursuit goes back over a thousand years in terms of people wanting to figure out how to fly. And then, on December 17, 1903, a couple of gentlemen from Ohio who ran a bike shop achieved that. Now, we may have glorified Orville and Wilbur Wright up into a place in history where they’re going to be held but I think that there are some important things to understand about them before we talk even about that day. Orville up to age 30 wasn’t even sure what he wanted to do with his life but at some point he decided, he wrote a letter to his father and said, I have this interest, this is what I’m going to focus on. This wasn’t something where his father probably said, “Oh, great, my wayward son has now figured out what he wants to do,” because saying I’m going to figure out how to fly was flying, human flight was the standard of impossibility. It wasn’t like people said, “Oh, gee, that’s a good endeavor.” People just said, “This will never, ever, ever happen.” It’s been tried, smart people, big money, research institutions, the Smithsonian, Alexander Graham Bell was even spending part of his fortune that he developed from the telephone to try to have an organization that was the first to achieve flight, so big names, big stars, big money, big whatever. Two unknowns with no aviation experience, you know, from a bike shop in Ohio, so sort of late bloomers, even, if you will. So, I think that there’s a little bit of a lesson there.

But let’s talk about the day in particular. So, they’re down there, they’ve been going down to Kitty Hawk for many years, but this year they think they have a solution. You’re looking at the solution here, it’s called the Wright Flyer and this is a solution to a problem. And the problem had three dimensions, lift, control and power. And there were many, many attempts to try to solve these three problems simultaneously. Some of them were spectacular failures, like when you have lift and power, but no control. There is some great old video footage of some of those experiments. But these gentlemen thought that they could solve all three of these simultaneously, they did it through tremendous observation and great diligence and specifically about birds, which is one of the features that they’d had. They’d read everything that was available about aviation and they kept just diligently working at it.

Take a look at this simple structure that they have, the Wright Flyer. It weights about 650 pounds, about 8-1/2 feet tall. It is powered by a 12-horse engine which weighs about 180 pounds and a 12-horse, 180-pound engine was a relatively new thing. The internal combustion engine was developed in the late 1800s and they essentially they designed one that was a little lighter weight and had one built for this, but it was essentially common technology.

If you take a look at the others, you might even think about that if you want to go there, that was sort of the invention of the transistor. What the transistor is to a PC, the internal combustion engine was to flying machines. But the rest of it they have muslin cloth, they have spruce, they have piano wire and all of these elements together, the Wrights for reasons of privacy and competition have actually gone later in life and destroyed a lot of the original records, so they wouldn’t be copied, but through reverse engineering and studying of the times, there is a thought that they built this thing for sort of around $1,000 or maybe a few thousand dollars. If we do an inflation adjustment on that, you know, we’re really talking about something that be closer to $25 or $30 thousand, but we’re not talking about large sums of money. This wasn’t a multi-million dollar investment and this was common, common, common elements.

The whole point is we’ve been talking all morning and we’ll be talking all week to the point where it doesn’t even mean anything to us. We might even use the words “intellectual property” and that sort of is some obscure thing. But the Wright Flyer represents the intellectual property. It represents the bringing together of common elements that were available to anybody, anybody in the world can buy piano wire and muslin and spruce and an engine. Anybody in the world can buy that. And even Orville and Wilbur said that there were probably 1,000 people on the planet that would have been alive on December 17, 1903, that could have flown this thing. It’s not easy to fly, but there were people who could have figured out how to fly this thing. They even said, look, we’re happy to be remembered as the first individuals that flew, but the real essence for them was the creation, the innovation, the integrated innovation of bringing together all of these elements as a solution. That’s what really made a difference.

And so, when it all comes together and you can see in this picture in the sand taken on this sort of gray and hazy day, they actually flipped a coin, which is what the brothers traditionally did, they flipped a coin. And on this particular morning, Orville won the toss and so Orville had a chance to get into the Wright Flyer, they’d made some tuning adjustments from previous flights. They had a little wooden track in the sand to help reduce friction as they began to take off. And then the other brother would run alongside and sort of steady the wings so it wouldn’t dip as they were doing it. And they were going slow enough at the beginning that they could run along.

And so as they took off on this, they actually gained airborne before they reached the end of the track. And the first flight, 12 seconds long, 120 feet, but it happened. Humans flew. Was there a big crowd? Was there a number of people there? Lots of press? No. The Wrights, unlike many other aviators at the time who staged extravagant press things and said, hey, we’re going to do this, we’re going to break the barrier, get everybody there, that’s why there’s all this film footage of these crashes, these two gentlemen were modest and they worked in relative obscurity. This is the only photograph taken of the original flight. And they had a rudimentary little automatic timer. You sort of click and then like you pose for a family picture, you run and get in the picture, these guys would get this thing going and go try to do the flight, but they did get this picture.

They did four flights that day, Orville, Wilbur, Orville, Wilbur. On the fourth flight when Wilbur was flying, he took off and got 100 feet, 200 feet, 300 feet, 400 feet, 892 feet he flied. Think of yourself running alongside your brother as he’s gaining air speed and taking off and soon he’s traveling faster than you can run and he just disappears and heads off down the beach. A few seagulls going, the little water sound from the beach. It’s quiet, just the two of them there.

Could they possibly have imagined how much the world would change because of this invention with common elements by common people? How much has our world changed because of the invention of human flight? How much have we come together? How much understanding, how much of the good of what is the human condition today because we had a chance to have greater understanding and faster communication? This led to, again, a revolution in transportation and communication with air mail, with the delivery of drugs and medicine and all other stuff. You can’t even touch on it. We like to think the aviation industry has been around forever, I think. But the point that I want to sort of checkpoint in is, because the transistor was worked on in the ’60s at Intel and Fairchild and other places like that. The early ’70s was the first microprocessor that was developed, in ’71. About ’75, the Altair which Bill Gates helped to make famous with his first BASIC software program, that was invented in 1975. Microsoft founded in 1975 to take advantage of the first personal computer.

So, we are roughly sort of 30 years from 1975 until now since the first PC. So, if you go from 1903 into the ’30s, what had happened in aviation? Aviation had gone forward, a big milestone in ’27 when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. That was 24 years after this flight, that was when Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, which is also something people said would never, ever, ever happen. But when that happened, there was a flood of, if you will, venture capital into the airline industry and that’s when the evolutions really started taking off.

It was another 20 years in the ’50s before the jet was developed, and it wasn’t until the jet was developed where airlines were able to get high enough and fly fast enough to really start to surpass the transportation associated with trains. I mean, it took many, many years before planes carried more passengers than trains. And even if you take a look at 1965 to 2000, in 1965, there was still only an amazing number, like in the hundreds of millions, of flights, paid flights, per year in the United States, because that’s where there are statistics available and in 2000 it was 3.3 billion paid flights. So, the explosion occurred even in our lifetimes in the airline industry, and now it’s what almost 80 to 100 years after the key invention.

So, I guess I cover all those statistics just mostly to say, look, if you think that the opportunity is washed out of the IT industry, that would be like writing an article and saying that in 1930 we think we’ve seen it all, aviation has reached its peak, this is as good as it’s going to get. Ford has invented the tri-motor and they can carry 12 passengers at these speeds and, wow, we’re there. I mean, even if you look at airports, even in the ’90s, there was another 3,000 airports built in the United States, many of them private as well as public in terms of private aviation taking off. So aviation is not done growing and advancing. Aviation gets safer and safer and faster and faster all the time. Air cargo, air cargo was something that people weren’t even thinking about. And I think last year, in 2000, there was 24 million tons flown in air cargo within the United States alone, transforming entire industries in terms of how things could evolve and go forward.

So, anyway, I want to touch on that because, again, I think we’ll come back to this. So, what can we say in terms of lessons for this? If you take some lessons out of this example, how does this come back to us, because the airline industry itself isn’t just about the airplane, it’s about the ecosystem. It is about cargo and about air mail and communications and about airports and airport infrastructure and all the economic development associated around that.

In the same way that we have got at the core of what we do chips and PCs and software, but we’ve got an opportunity here also to, ourselves, form a vision for a healthy ecosystem. And I think the first thing that I want to strike on is the power of the individual. You know, clearly, Orville and Wilbur, both as an individual and as a team, demonstrated that people with persistence and will and drive can change the world, it can happen. And I still believe that the same is available for all of us. The power of the solution, we talked about how they took common elements and created this amazing, amazing new thing which, again, can help elevate human potential.

The other thing which I think about healthy ecosystems is about small companies becoming large. If you take a look at the airline industry over the years, it’s easy for us to think of names like Boeing and Grumman and Northrup, or Piper and Beech and others like that and think of them as company names as opposed to understand that those were all founded by individuals. Those are all family names associated with companies that jumped in. And some of those companies that became big in the airline industry didn’t start until the ’30s. They didn’t all start like in 1904-1905. Many of them started many, many years later. And so, again, I still believe that there’s an opportunity for people in this ecosystem, if you or your organization have visions of growth, I believe that the next decade represents an enormous opportunities as it did in the ’80s and ’90s for organizations to be tremendously successful.

The other vision which I have and I really say this is a belief, which is I believe in entrepreneurs. I believe that we need and need to foster an environment which rewards risk taking, which rewards investment, which rewards innovation and leadership and we see that within the partner organization. I think, again, that’s why it is so valuable for us to go to market through partners, because we tap into the energy associated with entrepreneurs, which I believe is ultimately and always more powerful than when we’ve got market forces at work, if you will, within the virtual organization.

Trust and technology are two other elements which I think are key to a healthy ecosystem. And Steve talked this morning about the issues of security, and there’s a lot of things that we can do in terms of technology to try to make to make the system more secure. But, when you think about sort of the good and the bad of human condition, there are many things that we benefit from as individuals, as companies, as countries, because we essentially today operate in a high trust environment. High trust equals low cost. And so I think one of the things that you can assess in your own companies, in your own organizations is, what role does trust play in terms of your relationships with other partner organizations, with yourself, with your team mates, et cetera, because whenever you can dial up trust and earn it and build it, you can lower cost.

Lastly, again, empowerment versus control. I mean, this is again, another endorsement in my mind for partnering and working through partners, because, again, if we can create business models which allow you to invest in businesses, which allow you to see new opportunities, you have an opportunity to grow and expand and take, if you will, the raw materials that we provide, whether it’s tools, product, et cetera and really craft them into amazing and beautiful solutions.

Now, lastly, again, I think this has been a theme through the whole thing, that many of us in this room spend an enormous amount of time at work. We work extremely hard. We’re very dedicated about what we do, we work long hours, we make sacrifices, we’re away from our family and I think it’s important for all of us to understand that the work that we do is purposeful and meaningful and can have even more meaning as we think about going forward.

And as we think about going forward, I want to take a minute, again and just sort of adjust our mind set about past, present and future. It’s possible that even looking at this slide you feel a little bit uncomfortable. You say, wow, the present is really they didn’t do a very good job on that slide, it’s really crowding out the past and the future. But, I think that sadly, and part of it is because of the onslaught of communications, the increase of communications that we have, through media, through other forms, it’s very, very easy to be preoccupied with the present and not to have the best understanding of where we individually fit on the continuum of the past and into the future. So that’s one view.

Another view, you might sort of say on this thing, is that the present is just a thin, thin slide of time, where we are in this moment, in this room, you’ve made a choice to be here, this is a very thin slice of time. And we’ve made a choice to be here and we’ve got choices about what our future can be. And as we think about that future, the future is not just one thing, the future holds many, many paths for us based on the choices that we make. And we always have an opportunity, as we have had, our experiences of the past often shape our choices in a very, very strong way and our beliefs about the future, people that are sometimes called visionaries are people who allow themselves to let their beliefs of the future shape their choices, maybe an equal weighting, sometimes more, some real risk takers let their beliefs about the future inform their choices more than their experiences of the past. But, in general, as a population, people tend to weight more on what’s gone in the past than they do about stuff in the future. And I would just say, in our industry, as we take a look back, using the example of airline industry versus IT, again,

I’m trying to suggest that there’s enormous opportunity ahead.

Microsoft is deeply committed to partners. We have a vision which we want to expand and have the conversation with you as to what’s the really healthy ecosystem to allow us to take advantage of that thing. And if those become your beliefs, as well as they’re my beliefs, then we have an opportunity to create a future together. But, I think the important thing here is to understand as humans that we, unlike a lot of other species that may be driven by instinct, that we have great, great flexibility in terms of the choices that we make. We have enormous freedom in terms of the choices that we make, for our businesses and for our lives. So I think that as we take a look at the human condition you might even say that we’re even that good at making choices yet. In terms of one way to raise human potential would be for us, collectively as a human race, to make better choices and what could that mean in terms of dramatically changing the future, or future outcomes.

Where I’d like to close out today on this is to take you through a couple of what I call thought exercises, if you will, before we offer some real closing comments. And those thought exercises are sort of two fold. The first one would be with this pressure of the present that’s on you all the time and preoccupying, it’s easy for us to defer thinking bout the future for ourselves. And we often think of ourselves as somebody that just exists in the present. I don’t want to get into anything too Einsteinian with space time continuum, but assuming good health and actuarial tables, the vast majority of us in this room will all still be alive five years from now and 10 years from now and 15 years from now. So we will be living in the future.

As a thought exercise, think if you had a chance to walk out the door today, don’t do it right now, but if you had a chance to walk out the door today and out in the hallway you met your future self, you met yourself five years from now and 10 years from now and you had a conversation with that person and you looked at that person, would you like the way they looked, would you like the way they had taken care of themselves, would you like the choices they’ve made, would you like how they had allocated their time, because it’s one of these things that as you look back on your life you can say, hey, with a few minutes three times a week I can do this, I can exercise, if I study something an hour a day I can learn to play the piano, I can learn a second language, if I just spent 20 minutes a day I would learn these products better and over time you become an expert in something. You have the ability with small allocations of time to transform yourself and choose. We get so pressed by the present is so big and all the demands we have from work and family and self and then we start to believe that we don’t have choices and we become creatures of habit. But, we have an opportunity to think about choices. So that’s one exercise, is thinking about yourself.

The other is, maybe it’s a different thought exercise, but similar, we have the ability to see three-dimensionally, we’ve got binocular vision and we can see in 3D. What if that capability as humans, what if we could actually see at the same we’re seeing everything we’re seeing now, at the moment that it’s present, what if we could also see a half an hour into the future, or an hour into the future, or maybe 12 hours and you could see 12 hours past. What if your dashboard in your brain was past, present, future, all time. You had all three views going, like three screens on your desk. That would be cool. Would that change the choices you make in the present, because you could see what was going on in the future and I don’t know how those get adjusted, if you change here what changes over there. But, it’s just a thought exercise and sort of think about, how might we choose differently if we had a better sense, or if we allowed our future beliefs to influence equally with sort of past experience, which means being a little less habitual and maybe a little more visionary, if you will, not visionary, but visionary in the sense of thinking about the future. So those are just a couple of thought exercises.

But, then I was going to take that back and sort of say, what does this all mean to you, what does this mean to you here today as a human, what does that matter? And I think that we want to go back to our story and the place to go back on that story is going back to the Wright brothers. But, it’s not December 17th, 2003, it’s October of 2002.

This is a picture from October 2002. There’s no engine on the Wright Flyer. This is a glider that the Wrights built, their most successful glider. This glider was capable of very good distance, but it had no power. It had lift and it had control, but there was no power added. They added power as the third element. They framed the problem around solving those two things first from their work. And along the way, these guys made contributions in terms of designing the first wind tunnel, the first wing-warping capability, the airlines and rudder controls that essentially are used today on all airplanes. The airplanes that you flew on, the jets that you flew on here today have got control systems that are fundamentally, in terms of physics, identical to what they were working out the math on for this particular problem.

And you sort of say, well, wow, this thing is great. This is working, this is great. You know, it is great. The most successful glider ever. Between 1899 and 2003, when they achieved successful powered flight, the Wrights took over 700 glider flights, 700 glider flights. Do you see any wheels on that glider? No. Every glider flight resulted in a crash. They knew that they were going to crash. They specifically built this thing, they lashed together the joints as opposed to using nails or screws, because they wanted to have more flexibility when they had to crash land. They tipped Kill Devil Hill at Kitty Hawk along the coast of the Atlantic in part because of the breezes, but also because it was a more generous landing to land in the sand than in some other areas. They knew this.

So, when we say to ourselves, these two ordinary guys, late bloomers, using ordinary materials, changing the human condition with their inventions, and I think about myself and I think about all of us, let’s think about ourselves, would we have quit? First of all, would they have dared to say, hey, I’m leaving the bike shop for the winter, I’m going to leave my business in the hands of other people and take the train down there to North Carolina and I’m going to go down there and I’m going to focus on this problem. I’m going to dedicate myself. I’m going to live in a little shack on the beach and eat canned food all winter while the locals think we’re all wacko. And we’re going to do this winter after winter, after winter.

So when would I have quit? After, what, 100 flights? Let’s not call them flights, let’s call them crashes, 100 crashes, 200 crashes, 300 crashes, 400 crashes? When would you have quit pursuing that dream? It was 700-some flights before they felt that they had the information that they needed. So I think that when we think about this, we think about ordinary people but with extraordinary determination, extraordinary perseverance and an extraordinary to think about how they can create their own future with the choices they make and the choice in this case was stick with it and stick with it and stick with it.

So inspiring to me, in terms of what they were able to do as individuals and how their solution could help change the world. And what I’d like to close out and leave with all of you, then, is again, as we sort of have taken just a short time to step away from, directly step away from technology and products, but think more about what we can do. If we are going to enable people in businesses around the world to realize their full potential, the place that we need to start is with all of us and with all of you and I’d like to leave you each with a challenge and that challenge is very simple. That challenge is to think reflect upon the example we had today, but then as you go back to your businesses, go back to your families and spend time with yourself, as you spend the next two-and-a-half days at this conference, think about how you can realize your own potential, because only then are we going to be able to change the world.

Thank you for listening, thanks for going on this journey. Have a great conference.

(Applause.)

Related Posts

Satya Nadella, Doug Burgum: Convergence 2007

Transcript of remarks by Satya Nadella, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions, and Doug Burgum, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Business Solutions at Microsoft’s annual Convergence event in San Diego on March 12, 2007.

Jeff Raikes: Convergence 2006

Transcript of keynote remarks by Jeff Raikes, President, Microsoft Business Division, on “Supporting the People-Ready Business” at Microsoft Business Solutions Convergence 2006