We’re not cool?

Sez whom? I beg to differ. Scratch that, I don't beg. I just disagree.

I've just never bought into the hype around the coolness factor of some of these other companies. Cool to me is that I can work from home, no set hours. Time for the gym during the day. I'm excited to do my job every day and love my manager (who doesn't read this...swear). Free food is cold comfort when you work 80 hour weeks (so is that 20% thing....do the math). And the idea of someone playing <insert childhood game adapted for adults using technology and/or larger props> outside my office makes me think about voodoo dolls.

It all may be cool for gen Y. And once we either stop assuming that the workplace revolves around them or they age and get mortgages, gray hair and a more ample waist line, then I think people will have a more realistic view of "cool." No offense to the gen Y folks; it's just that there are "others" out here. Yeah, we are the wrinkly ones with sensible cars (and kick ass wardrobes...or is that just me?).

Cool is in the eye of the beholder +/- any media hype that gets added because it's a slow news day in Silicon Valley. Forget about that second part. I think that's the definition of media fanboyism. It's old, overblown and frankly, it's just not that cool anymore.

The middle aged decider of cool has spoken.:)

Comments (10)

  1. Greg Roth says:

    As a fellow Microsoftie and someone that works in the recruiting/HR arena, I read your blog fairly regularly. I find it fun, thought provoking and educational. Once in awhile I will comment when I compelled. I feel compelled to respond here.

    I love what you have to say re. "Cool" Your thoughts are very well written and speak to me.

    Your definition of cool in the context of  work and mine are very similar.

    Cool to me is the fact that I get to work from home if I choose (which saves me at least 100.00 per month on gas) and pretty much work hours that fit my lifestyle while at the same time meeting me deliverables.  This allows me to pursue my passions outside of work (music, soccer, volunteer work)

    The irony is that I get treated like an adult while at the same time getting to be a kid sometimes like a couple days a week, leaving my office to go play soccer on one of our many soccer fields in the the middle of the day and then coming back to my office to work. (Kind of like being in college again).

    Soccer fields at work folks! Can’t think of many fortune 500 companies that have this perk! : )

    Now to me, that is cool! : )

  2. Brian Reese says:

    I think I’m generationally challenged. I’m too young to be X and to old to be Y.

    I think the "cool" companies use these perks to compensate for what’s lacking. I’d assume that if they are going to feed me 3 meals, they expect me to work more than 8 hours a day. That’s not cool. Also, what happens when the perks go away, the pay remains the same and the work load increases.

    Give me a computer and a quiet place to work and I’m happy. The ability to telecommute would be nice, but I cannot do that 7 days a week.

    The other thing is that younger developers would probably think that the newest Web 2.0 product is the coolest thing to work on. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather work somewhere, where I know what I do helps someone’s life improve.

  3. Joe Enos says:

    I agree that Microsoft isn’t as flashy as Apple or Google, but that’s part of what I like about Microsoft.  I wouldn’t know about working there, but just as a consumer and developer, I prefer a little professionalism over the "coolness" of things like the iPhone.  I hope Microsoft keeps that in mind as they continue to develop new products, especially operating systems (I’m talking to you, Vista).  There will always be a huge core of customers who just want performance and stability over flashy graphics and 3-D animation.

  4. william says:

    Yes,  we’re going through an adjustment with a new gen in the workplace.

    It would be neat to hear some of the back story behind what prompted you to post on this.  More context.

    Everyone has their warts.  We have our brands 8~)

  5. David K says:

    The Gen Y crowd may think there is a very low coolness factor where I work: many of the best time waster sites are blocked, including Facebook, MySpace (wait, no longer cool?) and anything dating-related. Also you have to be a director or higher (translation: hardly anyone) to get an office with actual walls. But I’m okay being in a cube farm and I’ll second what Brian Reese said: "Give me a computer and quiet place to work and I’m happy."

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Greg – thanks for your comments

    Brian Reese – I totally agree. I want to get stuff done, not play foosball. And I definitely don’t want to live at work. I tried it during the blackout and it was a drag.

    Joe Enos – me too. I really don’t want to aspire to be like other companies, just a better version of us.

    Larry – kids probably like that. I may be boring; I like Outlook.

    william – really it’s just the constant trickle of articles (and blog posts) over the years. I didn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction to them. I realize that I may not be perceived as objective, but I hate the idea of us being seen as second to those companies in terms of employment brand. There are manyh, many people here that could work at one of those companies if they wanted to; hence all the incoming cold calls from their recruiting departments/agencies.  I guess I just want to be clear, at least when it comes to me, that I am here because this is where I want to be, not because I can’t be somewhere else.

    David K – sounds like a financial company. Am I right?

  7. Francesco Esposito says:


    I think the real problem is that Microsoft, for whatever reason, isn’t telling the story about how cool we are. Hopefully this 300 million+ marketing campaign we are embarking on focuses on that a little bit. After only being with the company 3 days, I already feel like the organization is way more hip, cool, creative and innovative then anyone thinks.

    It’s not just about our products, actually it has little to do with our products, it has more to do with the people who work here and their attitudes. With the nature of our benefits, our perks and the amazing facilities we get to work in. It especially has to do with the opportunities we have and the kind of things that we get to do at work that most people would only dream of.

    I would not want to work in a niche market with a bunch of stuck up artsy elitists like at Apple and I have a couple over-worked and under paid friends at Google, where the hype and ‘coolness’ wore off for them in a relatively short amount of time. Tit for tat we have have better perks, better benefits and better opportunities for cool experiences then the employees at either of these companies will ever have, but no one knows about it. Honestly someone needs to start telling this story before our company gets slapped with this IBM-esque no longer cool graveyard mentality!

    I haven’t been around at MSFT long enough to drink the Kool-Aid or be particularly attached to it, but I already know that this is the coolest and most exciting place I ever could, or ever will, work. Hopefully some other people find that out along the way.

    Francesco Esposito

  8. David K says:

    RE: David K – sounds like a financial company. Am I right?

    No. A Japanese tech company. NEC.

  9. Greg Roth says:

    "I totally agree. I want to get stuff done, not play foosball. And I definitely don’t want to live at work. I tried it during the blackout and it was a drag."

    Foosball is for wimps. I play the real thing.(he he!) : )

    By the way do you know that John Stewart played soccer in colllege and is a huge fan? Ok.. I digress…

    Living at work would definitely be a drag I practically used to before our technology and shift in thinking by management enabled us to be just as productive (somtimes more so) than being physically in the office.

    Again, great topic!

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