What would you say to Bill?

There are two responses that I see frequently when MS people run into Bill at work.  There’s the “oh my god, it’s Bill Gates!” reaction and the antithesis “he’s just a guy” reaction.  The first I think is natural for people who don’t see him very much and even though he is just a guy, you would have to agree that it is something to e-mail home about. 

So, here’s a hypothetical... You run into Mr. Gates in an elevator and you have 10 to 20 seconds to speak with him.  What do you say? 

Btw, saying hi and handing him a Linux box would not top my list of choices even if he weren’t the boss.  Just seems disrespectful.  So let’s have it…
1.  Hi, I am so and so.  I work in x.
2.  ???


Comments (19)

  1. Doug Reilly says:

    "Saw you on PBS talking about poverty, healthcare and philanthropy, was very impressed. Keep up the good work!"

  2. Roy Green says:

    I actually got a three to five minute conversation with Bill back in December of ’90. I had come to Redmond to help test our product which was going to be bundled in Lan Manager (though for political reasons it didn’t make it in), and while I was there, they rolled out OLE 1.0 so I made sure I got a pass to it. At the evening reception I was standing by the roast beef when Bill walked up. My boss knew Bill rather well, so I had an opening and at least three or four topics I could continue with. So we talked about my boss, how they had the same birthday, and how I was just a year and a day younger, how we had networked the Windows 3.0 rollout, how I once bought a model rocket transmitter from MITS (the company that eventually made the Altair computer that started all this) and then finally about Forrest Mims, who I knew from rocketry, worked for MITS, and wrote a book for Radio Shack that gave me the insight I needed to understand computers. Then a guy I knew from WUGNET, Joel Diamond, came up and the conversation drifted that way.

  3. I’d first thank him for VB. It changed my life for the good.

  4. Jonathan MacCollum says:

    Can I have your autograph??? On one of your blank checks?

    No, seriously I’d probably ask for an autograph, and shake his hand! That’d be cool.

  5. KC Lemson says:

    I’ve actually been in that situation and didn’t have the guts to say anything. I am in camp #1 but I *try* to be in camp #2, if I were in his shoes I’d probably get tired of the fawning. I was in the elevator with ballmer when I was 8 months pregnant and I wanted to spit out "Thanks for the great maternity leave policy" but even then I didn’t have the guts. Oh well! 🙂

  6. ron says:

    Hey Bill, whats the deal with you holding your remote like this during your demos do)?


  7. Darron: I thanked him on your behalf back in 1994.

    I asked him about what’s coming in the next version of VB.

    If I met him I’d probably ask him "what’s your favorite feature in Longhorn?"

  8. Wallym says:

    "I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy………."

  9. Chris says:

    I’d ask him if he’s considered blogging, and if he reads anyones blogs.

  10. denny says:

    I have a few ideas bill, lets take 10 later to see what you think.

  11. mal says:

    Spare change?

    Nah seriously, I’d probably ask him if he remembers what it’s like starting out as a developer. Can any barriers to entry be lowered? Would he even use Microsoft products if he were a 19 year old college drop out today? How and where would you enter business if you were starting a software shop today? How do you cope with being at the top of the heap – knowing you got there by overthrowing the top of the heap? Do you put yourself in the shoes of those like yourself at one point? Why do you spend money on marketing and lawyers when you could be spending it on software development? Why does MS seem less "creative" than Apple? Do you lurk around ICR channels – if so which ones?

  12. Shane King says:

    I’d ask him what he thought of the scene in the South Park movie where he got shot to death for the failings of Windows 98. 😉

  13. redvamp128 says:

    Thank him for the good and the bad over the years… Yes thank him for the bad- We tend to learn more from the mistakes that we make than we do from our wins.

    Microsoft is like a team playing sports….You win some championships and loose others…but you are still in the game. To think of all the buisinesses that have went under over the years and there seems to always be MICROSOFT hanging in there. It has been the only thing latley that has been able to take its share of blows and to be in the PUBLIC EYE still fighting to be on top.

    Personally I have learned more about Windows through mistakes that later I say….why did I just do that? – Prime example of how MS works for you…Many years ago in High School I typed a paper then accidentally while running a spell check (at the time you had to highlight all the words you wanted it to check) I hit the delete key. 5 hours of revisitons down the drain….Recently while typing a report…the power went out…I thought I had lost the whole thing but Surprise….a feature that I was aware of but never thought mutch about it….the autosave….Then the flipside is a windows update a while back seemed to make windows crash on the drop of the hat…Used the System restore and all was better…then a revised update was released which fixed the issue.

    That is the Good and the BAD…. So to me he has made life easier and harder at the same time so thank BILL for the good and the Bad. (ofcourse I would ask him after thanking him….can I see how mutch spam he gets in his inbox) Cause I bet He gets a whole lot more than me…. 🙂

  14. AT says:

    I will ask him about idea to create Microsoft University not far from corporate campus ;o)

    This way Microsoft will be able to teach his current and possibly new staff ;o)

    In no way this must computer training courses teaching how to use Word or Excel.

    Advanced topics in math and CS will allow to increase overall employers education level ;o)

    This also will be able to solve a problem with 35 years average age for Microsoft by bringing new people.

    AFAIK, There is only 1 or 2 people with age less then 20 ..

    Also this way Microsoft will be able to produce new IT workers, not simply consume them.

    This idea are free for use for everybody as long as source disclosed ;o)

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