What does it take to build a $200 billion company?
Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy knows, and discusses some of what it takes in a recent farewell note to Sun Employees.
Humbly self-described as, "A husband, father of four, and a builder and leader of people who want to make a difference," McNealy is also the king of alternative computer technology who led Sun to the elite Fortune 200 throne.
This feat certainly didn't take one attempt. McNealy applied to Stanford Business School three times before the school finally accepted him. A Master's in Business Administration (MBA), granted from Stanford in 1980, was the harbinger to Sun's founding in 1982 (whose name is derived from the initials of Stanford University Network).
Try, and try again. And then keep trying for 28 years.
Dispassion won't do either, as McNealy scribed in farewell, "I truly loved starting, running, and living Sun." Loving his company was a start, and having fun in the process was another “McNealy-ism” in the quest for success. As proud Sun employees well know, McNealy closed many messages with his motto, “kick butt and have fun."
Yet in addition to humility, perseverance and passion, uber-success also requires agility–willingness to make the best of the undesired. On the Oracle acquisition of his company, McNealy reminded Sun employees (more than 30,000 world wide), "While it was never the primary vision to be acquired by Oracle... Let's embrace it with all of the enthusiasm and class and talent we have to offer."
There are more specific bullets on "what it takes" to build a Fortune 200 company in the technology industry. A new Silicon Valley CEO, who calls McNealy mentor, tells his employees that, "Innovation, people and execution," are the keys. But most important to any conquest, it all begins with a vision, followed by the guts to do more than dream, to take on life's greatest risks, and in so doing climb atop the throne of few.
-By contributing author Teah Strandjord