October, 2007

  • Steve Clayton

    Create Your Own Messenger Button


    A new Messenger site that helps you create a handy button so your friends can easily add you to their contact list.
    Create yer own button

  • Steve Clayton

    Happy Birthday Blue Monster


    1 year ago today, a blogger called Hugh MacLeod sent me (and 3 others) an innocuous email with this link:


    It linked to the image you see above which has become known as Blue Monster* and it has changed my relationship with Microsoft, our customers and partners more than anything in my near 10 years here. 

    Here's my rough sketch of some of the stuff that has happened over the last year


    • On Oct 31st I published it on my own blog with Hugh's thoughts and my own paraphrased here as
      • "I work for a company the changes the world...it's time to help share that story..."


    • Over the next few weeks and months, it got shared wider and discussed much and eventually spawned a Blue Monster series
    • On January 17th a signed lithograph fetched £113 on eBay and I added £100 to that
    • On January 22nd I wrote a Think Week paper and submitted to Bill Gates with Blue Monster on the cover and a central theme. It didn't dent the world but I got some stuff off my chest :)
    • On January 25th I published a video with my thoughts on Blue Monster
    • Same day, Joe Wilcox called it Moonshine Marketing
    • In May, the Blue Monster showed up on the SAP Intranet with "Channel 9 and Steve Clayton at Microsoft are great examples of employee led conversation. This beats press releases and  brochures anyday"
    • In May a second lithograph raised $300 for charity.
    • In June, Hugh and I kicked off a Facebook Group for followers, never suspecting it's membership would be over 1000
    • In July we had some Blue Monster stickers made up. 1000 of 'em....gone in a flash and appearing on laptops around the world. More conversations.
    • August 10th a bunch of people who hardly knew each other showed up at a coffee shop in London one Friday morning to talk about a cartoon and Microsoft and other stuff on their minds.
    • August 14th 2007 it got its own Wikipedia entry - which was then mysteriously removed as someone suggested it was commercially led. Weird.
    • Sept 12th Hugh gives a great talk at Mix UK about Social Object and Blue Monster
    • Sept 17th 2007 - the Financial Times devotes half a sodding page to Blue Monster Reserve - a wine from Stormhoek carrying the cartoon. It was a strange week for me but I celebrated with a glass of wine with my pal Hugh.
    • Oct 2007 Blue Monster Reserve wins a Flackenhack award!

    "So what" you may say....it's just a funky cartoon that has a big monster in it and the word Microsoft. Bound to get attention. The point for me is that it's stirred up way more interesting conversations that pretty much anything I've ever been involved with from Microsoft. Some people love it, some people hate it, some don't understand it or why it's of any interest. However, they all have a view on it.

    Blue Monster = conversation. It's that simple. I've used it in several presentations at Microsoft, one where it visibly left a room of around 200 visibly moved. I was very proud that day - with a small cartoon I and few others managed to help a roomful of people realise they work for an amazing company. It kicked off a whole series of internal conversations and helped people talk in a different way I think. It's done the same externally.

    It's been a wild ride with the Blue Monster for this last year but I wouldn't change it. I made a great friend in Hugh MacLeod and met hundreds of others inside and outside of Microsoft who share the same passion for this company that I do. At times I thought I was about to get fired and at times I wished I'd never seen that cartoon but it sits on my desk at home and always will.

    It changed me if not Microsoft. It defines Hugh's Social Object concept. It defines much of how I think about Microsoft and has been the driving force in my desire to change perceptions that have built up over the years. Microsoft isn't perfect, but we're far from the evil that it's become all to easy to portray. Microsoft is made up of smart, passionate, funny and genuine people. I think Blue Monster has done a pretty good job of helping expose that, amongst other things. One year on I feel very good about that.

    Thanks Hugh....thanks to the supporters and Happy Birthday to Blue Monster.

    [update] looks like Blue Monster is getting it's own show


    * - little known fact that when discussing the cartoon we originally called it the "change the world or go home cartoon" but that took too long to say so one day in Pimlico Hugh christened it "Blue Monster". It stuck.

  • Steve Clayton

    I Write My Own Blog


    I just had a great chat with the Economist Intelligence Unit about Microsoft and blogging and finished with a phrase I couldn't help repeating:

    I write my own blog and I read (and answer) my own comments

    This came out of a discussion we had around what makes a blog succeed (see 1 and 3 below) and what makes others fail. Many people have written authoritatively on this topic so I won't dwell on it but my blog is now firmly a part of my job. It's not in my contract and not expected by my management but I have an audience who have fed back that they find it useful, engaging and sometimes even funny. Yep, Microsoft funny. Seriously.

    I also talked about my Top 10 Tips for blogging which have been borrowed, edited and stolen from many other wiser folks than me but regardless, they drive what I do and I share them with new bloggers in my team and around Microsoft as my advice. I've changed the usual order actually based on a chat with Darren as I think authentic is top of the list.

    1.Be Authentic

    2.Be patient

    3.Answer every comment

    4.Don’t sell

    5.Link. Link. Link

    6.Traffic isn’t the goal, conversations is

    7.Blog frequently

    8.Expect criticism

    9.Don’t blog when you’re drunk/down/angry

    10.Blog Smart!

    Finally....why do I blog? Why do I invest so much of my own time in it (check the hours I usually post)? This comment I got on a post a little while back says it all:

    Steve, I am now beginning to enjoy Microsoft.  Previously I , and I suspect millions of others, perceived MS as a leviathan without a heart. No pulse or warmth. Not a human in sight except Bill in front of a cold global software assembly plant staffed by humanoids.  By blogging, you and your colleagues have opened up MS to reveal that the innards are indeed made up of warm, people with hearts, with families, have smiles and wow, you do have senses of humour!  This is incredible. Who'd have thought that a corporation like MS was human after all!? We do now. All because you are engaging with us at our level and this is a conversation I relate to and like very much. I hope many more do too

    I work for one of the best companies in the world. I just like helping people understand us a little more :)

  • Steve Clayton

    What Is Public Speaking?


    "nothing more than having a conversation about something you're passionate about with two or more people, while you just happen to be standing up, or not," public speaking coach Richard Greene

    I like that...from a great article on Knowledge @Wharton. I also love their piece about talking with the receptionist.

  • Steve Clayton

    Flat screen TVs top Americans' Christmas wishlists



    I read this on Jack's blog today and also received in email from a colleague - you can get the PDF of the report online. Interesting reading and I suspect there would be many similarities if a UK survey was carried out. My observations

    • Surprised they call out Windows laptop specifically and also that an Apple laptop is on the women's Top 10 but not the men's. I actually expected them to figure in both
    • Amazed that the iPhone only comes in at #15
    • Surprised that digital cameras continue to be high in the list. I guess they continue to be at "disposable" price points
    • Stores will once again be piling the HDTV high this Christmas


    What's on my list that isn't here?

    • a new router that really does support uPnp
    • a Tranquil PC for my Home Server
    • a Zune 8gb
    • a Microsoft Surface table (dream)

    How about you? What'd be on your list?

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