A Brief Story about Mark Hurd

A story about the late Oracle co-CEO, Mark Hurd, who passed away last week at the young age of 62.

It’s somewhere in May 2008, Düsseldorf, on the last day of a huge, week-long tradeshow where HP (where I worked 2006-2014) had a massive presence. All staff (about 50 in sales, marketing), tired, hungover, very cynical are summoned to the booth for 7am (!) to hear the new-ish CEO speak.

At this point, everyone expects some generic pep talk full of corporate Americanisms. The figure that steps in, with reading glasses at the end of his nose, in khakis and a blue blazer, looks like a cross between accountant and American football quarterback—fitting our very low expectations.

He takes the mic, looks at his notes, says good morning, and says that he wants us to do one thing today, and one thing only. He pauses, looks up, drops his notes.

To everyone’s pre-caffeine shock, he starts shouting “I want you to sell, I want you to kill the competition today, kick their asses, don’t leave any opening” he goes on and on. I look around and see some of the most experienced, cynical sales people I’ve ever know smiling like kids, on their feet, shouting back in encouragement.

I’ve been in the military and I’ve been in field business roles and I’ve never seen this kind of instant transformation, and a crew as motivated and focused as the HP booth staff that day. Proper Henry V moment.

I’m sure everyone who worked for Hurd has informed/uninformed good/bad opinions of how he was as manager, exec, CEO, but he’s gone now, so what we have our stories.

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