James O'Neill's Blog

January 26, 2007

Interview with a top Microsoft person.

Filed under: Events,Webcasts — jamesone111 @ 2:01 pm

Somewhere in my “Pending” file is a blog post about working for Microsoft provisionally entitled things that “Rock and things that suck”. In the “things that Rock” column. I have to put something about how approachable a lot of our senior execs are. Case in point Christine Betts is senior director of IT Professional Audience Marketing.  Christine came to tech-ed IT forum in November in Barcelona and agreed to do an interview for “Talking Microsoft”“. 
In the “things that suck column” are the downsides of being a big company – one of which is the hoops you have to jump through to get a video on any “official” Microsoft site. I wonder how Robert Scoble managed when he was here – I’m sure he wouldn’t spent months trying to stuff hosted hosted in different places as I have. I’m painfully aware Talking Microsoft got off to a false start, but eventually I got the nod to put it on Soapbox. I have some more items up my sleeve for Talking Microsoft which I hope will get things going properly

When I moved into evangelism Eileen sent a “tell the world” mail and I got a very nice mail from Christine. When she was at a couple of dinners that I was at in Barcelona she reinforced the impression of being “nice” but added interesting.  She joined Microsoft UK back in 1983, and I was rather surprised to find that the only reference I could find to her on Microsoft.com was when the company celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary and they talked to the “20 year club”.  She was happy to share some personal things at the Barcelona Girl geek dinner and again on video – I had to ask her afterwards if she was happy with that and she was.

Doing these interviews I think of Michael Parkinson’s style.  I trying to get the “guest” to talk it in their own way about something you know is interesting. Which means making questions as open as possible. Parkinson wouldn’t ask “You met Elvis didn’t you ?” [The only answer is yes] – “And what did he say to you” – which is test of the guest’s powers recall. He’d say something like “You told me a great story about meeting Elvis”. A technical interview becomes a test of recall if you ask “What are the 3 top features of Vista” – but if you ask “What kind of things will get people excited” it’s an open question.” which let people take the idea and run with it. I’m pleased with the way that side of things worked out here.

Both audio and video are on  Talking Microsoft. You can Subscribe to the Talking Microsoft RSS Feed and receive the audio only for future pieces. Or you can just hop over to Soapbox to watch the video.

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Update. Eileen says I have “a natural engaging, non threatening style ” in these inteviews. I know at least 2 readers who will laugh at that.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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