I am honored to be able to say that the SHIFT team is responsible for PR at Salesforce.com’s massive DreamForce event — which this year was bigger than ever, with over 95,000 registered attendees and 350+ media representatives on hand. But #humblebrag aside, I re-learned an important lesson during this year’s keynote session by Marc Benioff.
As part of his presentation, Marc regaled the audience at the Moscone Center with a story about how he’d fielded a call from Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric. Mr. Immelt wanted Marc to come talk to the GE executive team about Salesforce.com’s vision for GE’s business. Now, I am not at all clear on what actually occurred in the subsequent prep and pitch; I don’t know how many people got involved in research and recommendations and slide development (if slides were even used at all). What I do know is that the CEO of Company ABC called the CEO of Company XYZ and invited him to personally make the pitch.
Based on Marc’s retelling of the story, he jumped at the opportunity, and made his (successful) pitch directly to the GE executive team. This was not something he could hand over to someone else to do. He may be the CEO, but he also had a company to lead, by his own example. He had to stay on the field.
I recalled this story when presented with an opportunity to do some work for a FORTUNE 500 company recently. They had a handful of assignments they wanted SHIFT to handle. The last one was a doozy. My immediate inclination was to raise my hand. “I’ve got that one.”
Not because the SHIFTers in the room weren’t capable. Because the hardest assignments for the biggest clients deserve the CEO’s full attention.
Up until that moment, if someone had asked how my life had changed since becoming CEO, I wouldn’t have had much to report. It’s mostly been “more meetings and more paperwork.” But in that moment I knew exactly what I was supposed to do.
Posted on: October 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm By Todd Defren