Bill McDermott is the CEO of SAP, the world’s largest business software company. He worked at Xerox for 17 years climbing its corporate ladder from an entry-level salesman to the corporate officer and division president. Bill then went to become the president at Gartner. Bill joined SAP as its CEO for North America in 2002. He again climbed the SAP’s corporate ladder to become SAP’s CEO.
How Bill got the jobs he wanted is a valuable lesson. It demonstrates a key principle: if you really want it and are willing to ask for it, you will get it.
1982 Bill’s first job at Xerox when he was 21 and just got out of college ( he didn’t go to any prestige school):
Bill went to the interview at Xerox’s office in New York. He wore a $99 suit (an expensive suit at that time) as he believed in overdressing and showing his professionalism.
When he said goodbye to his dad, he told his dad: “I just want you to know I’m coming home with my employee badge in my pocket. I guarantee it….Dad, I love you. I am coming home with a badge in my pocket.”
Bill realized that his chance of getting into Xerox was very slim. He was competing against people who went to Yale, Princeton, Notre Dame,…
Instead of panicking, Bill connected with other interviewees to learn as much about them as he could. He asked about where they came from, what schools they went to, what they were at Xerox for…. In other words, he was interviewing his competitors.
Bill completed several rounds of interviews and was ushered into a senior sales executive’s office for the final interview.
Instead of being nervous, Bill remembered his mom’s words and took them to heart: Just be yourself.
When the interview with the executive completed and Bill was told that he would hear back from Xerox after they reviewed all interviews, Bill did not want to wait. He knew exactly what he wanted: a job at Xerox.
He told the executive: “I told my father as I left him at the train station today, that I guaranteed I would come home tonight with my employee badge in my pocket. In twenty-one years, I’ve never broken a promise to my dad, and I can’t start now.” He then looked the executive into the eyes with silence. He knew that all he could do was to ask for what he wanted.
Bill got the job on spot. He did not leave immediately but closed the offer: “I do want to confirm that you’re going to hire me at the Xerox Corporation and I’m going to work for this company, yes? You’ve given me the job, is that right?”
Bill’s first sales manager job at Xerox:
After securing the support from the man in charge of Xerox’s New York operation, Bill applied to become a sales manager. Bill was the least experienced, youngest candidate.
Bill arrived at the interview dressing above his present grade. While in the waiting room, he interviewed his competition. He asked about why they wanted the job, what their plan would be if they got the job…. Once he’s done, he knew that he had an edge: he wanted the job more than anyone else and he was prepared more than anyone else in the room.
Bill then interviewed with an executive who had the hiring authority. He showed her his plan in writing and told her what he would do as a sales manager.
Then he closed the interview after the executive told him to wait for HR to communicate the final decision: “You know that I can sell. And I know that I can get everyone on the team to sell. Give me this chance, and I will make this team number one in the country. I guarantee it. Number one.”
“Well, Bill, that is very different from everyone else.” She was smiling. “I appreciate everything you’ve done today.”
“I respect you, and therefore I don’t want to ask you tedious questions. I only want to ask you one more: Will you give me your trust and give me a shot at doing this job?” Bill asked.
“Bill, there’s a process we have to go through . . .”
“My trust is in your hands, and I believe the right thing will happen. I’ll be in the office early tomorrow if you’d like to talk some more.” Bill concluded.
Bill got the job. Once again, Bill asked for what he wanted and got it.
If you really want a job, ask for it. Go straight to the decision maker and ask for it with all your passion and energy. Be sure that it’s your dream job.
Learn another skill to ASK for what you want: “This simple skill is worth millions, helped many become millionaires, billionaires”
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About the author: Hoan Do is a certified leadership coach. Hoan have led multiple teams at Symantec Inc. across the globe delivering world-class solutions to protect consumers and businesses. Hoan is an expert in building highly performing teams. He believes that the best leader is the leader that could grow his followers to be leaders. Hoan has been organizing mastermind groups to share with other leaders about transformational leadership and coaching. He has trained many leaders via mastermind groups, workshops, and one-on-one coaching.
PS: if this article inspires you, don’t wait. Take action immediately. If you want to talk, contact me by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . To get a response, be sure to tell me your dream.
PSS: Read Bill McDermott’s memoirs: Winners Dream