Knowing When to Walk Away

In my 22-year career at Microsoft, I contemplated leaving the company three times.  My first aborted attempt occurred in 1997 after I led the marketing team through my third version of Microsoft Office.  I was pretty burned out in the role and the challenges of keeping a big marketing team happy and productive.

I went to a meeting with the head of the Office business fully intending to tell him I was leaving – he came to the meeting fully intending to promote me to Vice President (which was a big deal back then at Microsoft).  He won.

In May of 2001, six months before the launch of the original Xbox, I submitted an official resignation letter from my role as Chief Xbox Officer.  As I describe in my new book Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal, I was very frustrated with my own leadership, my inability to build a cohesive team, a project that was looking more and more like a train wreck, and the damaging effect all of this was having on my personal life.

In a set of actions that changed my career, my boss convinced me to stick out the launch and helped me find the assistance I needed to rebuild my personal and professional life.  I learned more and achieved more in the next 9 years than in all my previous work at Microsoft.

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