In 1994, I started working for Microsoft, as a country manager of Microsoft Slovenia, at that time our smallest subsidiary around the globe.
Our semi-annual budget meeting was coming up. One of the key parameters that we were expected to present to Steve Ballmer, the CEO, was the revenue projection. In return, we might or might not have received additional headcount and marketing funds.
My challenge was how to explain to Steve key facts about my country. I knew he never visited, I realised how small we were, compared to other subsidiaries. At the same time, I really wanted to get the resources from the HQ in order to start building the partner network as soon as possible.
Many sleepless nights later, the big meeting finally took place. I nervously started my pitch to Steve and other executives. A short while later, Steve interrupted and said: “Listen Aaron, I do not know anything about Slovenia. But you do. And I trust you. I’ll give you the resources and I ask you to do what you know is best in your market.”
“Steve, that’s great, thanks, but what about our internal procedures, approvals and so on? I really want to move fast, and this might take time.”, I replied.
His answer still resonates in my head to this day: “
“Go ahead, make your informed decision and do it. Do not ask for permission. But if you screw up, come ask for forgiveness.”