Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer spoke at the University of Southern California’s commencement speech Friday morning. On Friday afternoon we posted some small bits based on the school’s write-up, including a tweet from Seahawks coach Pete Caroll calling it “the bomb,” but we got a hold of the full speech over the weekend.
Ballmer gave this advice to students: “Number one, great ideas matter. Number two, find passion. And, number three, be tenacious, be irrepressible.”
His passion was not always technology. “I wrote my first computer program in ninth grade, and I hated it. I was shy as a kid.”
He said he found his passion working as football manager for his college team. Ballmer said, “The thing that switched me on, actually, I was the football manager for our college football team. And I discovered through that that I like to organize things, that that was kind of my passion. I got out of college, as many of you are, and I went to work for a great company, and I found I didn’t have the patience to work marketing brownie mixes and cake mixes.”
Ballmer even mentioned some of Microsoft’s competitors by name, positively. “Irrepressibility and tenacity is about the ability to stay with it. If you take a look at all of the companies that have been started in our business, most of them fail. If you take even a look at the companies that have succeeded, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, you name it, all of these companies went through times of hardship.”
Ballmer’s connection to USC is that his son who just finished his first year there.
The reason Seahawks coach Pete Carroll tweeted Friday about Ballmer’s speech being “the bomb” may have been because Ballmer gave Carroll his own @ mention during the speech. It turns out the two are neighbors.
“I’ve had a chance over the last couple of years to meet a number of teachers, men and women, who have a chance to work with students here at USC, including a new neighbor of mine lives a few houses down the street, Pete Carroll. I have never met a more passionate, irrepressible human being. He happens to work for one of the founders of Microsoft, Paul Allen, who said to me, I’m not sure what we’re going to get when we put you and Pete in a room, Steve, but it’s going to literally sing with energy.”
(Photo of Steve Ballmer: Nick UT / AP)