Building a High-Performance Customer-Oriented Culture

Marketing Day 2021

Tom Mendoza, Vice-Chairman (emeritus), NetApp
Building a High Performance Customer Oriented Culture
Supported by the Gail and Mark Andreae Marketing Program Fund

Prof. S.P. Raj:

It’s my distinct pleasure to introduce Mr. Tom Mendoza to all of you. Tom Mendoza is the former President and Vice Chairman of NetApp. NetApp competes in the computer data storage hardware industry and in 2019, Gartner named NetApp as number 1 in primary storage. Mr. Mendoza established a culture that led to NetApp being ranked number 1 in Fortune Magazine’s 100 best companies to work for as early as 2009. He was also a recipient of the Morgan Stanley Leadership Award for global commerce. Mr. Mendoza retired from NetApp in 2019 and currently serves on the boards of Vast Data, UiPath, Varonis, ServiceSource, and Arxan. He has also been significantly involved with the Pat Tillman Foundation, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, The Navy Seal Foundation, and serves on the Justin Tuck’s Rush Foundation for children’s literacy. Mr. Mendoza frequently speaks on corporate culture and leadership to a wide variety of audiences, which have included major universities such as Stanford University, Notre Dame, Harvard, the United States Military Academy, as well as to diverse groups such as the US Marine Corps, and has given keynotes at Oracle World and numerous other industry events. Mr. Mendoza holds a BA from Notre Dame and is an alumnus of the Stanford executive program. In September 2000, Notre Dame named their business school after him and it is now called the Mendoza College of Business. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Mendoza to share his insights on building a high-performance, customer-oriented culture. Thank you very much Tom for being so gracious and generous in giving us your time this afternoon and I can see you’re also enjoying the Florida weather behind you.

Tom Mendoza:

So thank you for inviting me today and I’ll just jump right in. A question you might ask yourself is “Why do people care about corporate culture? Why is it even important?” And I would put forth, it’s one of the few defensible things we have as a business over a long period of time to be a longstanding sustaining business. It has to do with how do people act when they’re not being watched. Right, it’s not just doing it because you’re being watched, it’s you doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. So, let me take you back to when we started NetApp, which was 1994. We had a new office, I joined them in May of 94 and we hired our CEO Dan Warmenhoven in November. We stayed together for over 20 years. We had our first offsite with the two founders, both of whom were in the technology Hall of Fame before they were 40 and we went outside to our first offsite and we said, “What’s our mission? What are we here to do?” You know, when, if you’ve ever been involved in any discussions or when you get involved in any of these discussions we say, “What is our mission? What are we going to do?” And we get in those discussions, you often get to revenue and earnings and what list you’re going to make A great place to work might be one of them. But, in a kind of a life-changing moment for everybody we didn’t get there. What we got to was we’re going to create and build a company that we’re going to be proud of the rest of our lives.

And that informed every decision we made after that. In other words, first of all, we’re 16 million in revenue the first year, so we’re a little bitty company, 6 billion today. When I joined, it was 32 employees, 3 in sales, it’s 4,000 today to give you an idea of scale and scope. But because we came to that decision and it informed Who we hired? How we judged our own employees? How we rated our employees? How we, how we partnered with people? And how we treated each other? So you can have a corporate culture that is actually negative and be very profitable. Many companies have proven that over time. In other words, it’s, it’s you, I’ll treat you however I want to treat you and I’ll pay you a lot of money and that’s our, that’s our bargain here. As long as you do the job, I won’t fire you. Well none of the four of us who ran the company, which are the two founders, and me, Dan, wanted that kind of company. We wanted to… if you’re gonna do something you’re proud of the rest your life, we wanted to build a culture where people felt respected and appreciated. We wanted to build a high-performance culture, it’s always been my feeling that if you have a high-performance team, people who view themselves that way want to look left and right and be proud. You don’t want to be on a team with people who don’t care. So, we built it around the fact that we’re all going to get in this together, we’re, it’s going to be like the Navy Seals. We’re gonna we’re never be bigger than the other guys but everybody here is going to care deeply about the outcome, we’re going to do whatever it takes. Legitimately, meaning in a way you’re proud of to win and we’re going to grow something that we care about, that we want our customers to be proud to be our customers. We want our partners to be proud to be our partners, we want our best investors to be proud that they invested in us. And most of all, we want to be proud of each other in the way we act.

So that’s how it started. Now the first six years we went from 0 to a billion in 6 years in revenue. We went from 250 million to a billion in two. Hyper growth, 1998 to 2000. And then the dot-com bubble blew and we were a tech company that was selling mostly, primarily in engineering applications at the time so very highly exposed. When it blew, we were the most, we had the highest PE ratio on the Nasdaq Stock was a one of the three best stocks in the 1990s. So, we fell further faster than anybody else and you’re, you’re basically, you’re selling. You just got crushed. You have a gigantic PE; people are going to run very quickly and they did. Our stock went public at 12, four two for one splits and it went to 150-60. Put that in perspective. And then it went to six. And I’ve always said that you find out if you got a friend when you got a problem. That’s in life or in business. And almost everybody who’s had one of these challenges and I think everybody does, finds that people you expect to step up, don’t and people you never expect to, do! And your relationship changes forever. And so, we found out when we were in trouble, that we had a very, very strong culture. I had a guy call me who is the top search guy in Silicon Valley and he said, “I just want to share an observation with you… There’s only two companies you can’t get people to leave right now, that’s Apple and you.” People were all about, what do we do to bring this back? One of the things that we did as an executive team, we split up into groups of two and we went to every office in the world and talked to them about what we thought was happening, which was an external event that got both, meaning our customers got crushed. Wasn’t like our business was bad, but we had to take action, had to do our first layoff, but we did it in person. We talked to each person and we talked about making sure that they got a good reference because it wasn’t an action done because they had done something wrong. Again, anybody can have a good culture in good times, it’s when you’re really faced with a extraordinarily difficult time, you find out what people are made of. Now there’s a pressure they say builds, it builds character. I say it reveals character. We found out that we had a lot of great people, so we brought it back, it took us 2 years, we went from 250, 500, to a billion, down to 800. Which is a shock because we thought we were going to 1.5 billion. It took us two years to get back to a billion, 2 more years to get to two, and then in the next eight years we got to 6 billion. So we’re, in Silicon Valley, it’s kind of a legendary story from written off to back, being a tremendously popular and powerful company again. And I credit that to the culture we built, as does almost anybody who knows anything about our company.

So let me talk about that high-performance culture. I used to, as we were growing at that rate, you could imagine, we were hiring like crazy. I remember walking down the hall one day and I said to a guy, “Hey, who do you work for?” and he said “you.” I’d I’d never met him hired him the phone and it was so And, so I, everywhere I went, I never flew under 250 thousand commercial air miles in my first 20 years at NetApp, my most, my last years as president was 385 thousand. To give you some perspective on that, if you circumvent the globe, it’s 25 thousand. So, it’s a lot of trips around the world every year. And I did that because I felt that if I was going to ask back for my team, I had to go help them at the point of attack to be successful. I flew to India, I spoke to 10 thousand people in two-days, I flew, it took me 24 hours to get there, 24 hours to get back, two-day trip. I was screwed up for like three weeks. And I got a note signed by everybody, there were 800 employees there at the time “If you ever need anything from us, if you ask, we’ll do anything in our power to come through.” They… I had helped them. So I think that comes from my dad, you know he put so much into .., when I was growing up, he put so much effort into it, I just never want to let him down. So I think one of the great leadership lessons is people who are highly motivated, they’re not motivated by your title, but if you put so much into helping them and you ask back, the greatest thing that possibly could happen is people say, “I just don’t want to let you down” That’s what we wanted to create. Feeling of respect, appreciation, and we’re in this together and when we’re not going to let each other down. So as I flew around the world, my one requirement was that I stop in every office, so we have a lot of customer calls, customer dinners to attract crowds, speeches, but I always wanted to do an internal event to talk about what is the culture of the company because if you’re not explicit about it, people are joining from all kinds of places and you’re growing that fast, you can, quickly, and many companies have had this experience, you don’t have the same culture anymore. It just goes. One of the most amazing things is that we kept it as vibrant as we did for as long as we did. And that’s, that’s takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of personal attention to it. So there were five things in our culture. And I’ll just tell you what they were and then we’re gonna move onto something else. The five things in our culture that we cared about… and this is what we built this structure on. Number 1 is attitude. So nothing great has ever been done by people who didn’t want to do it, ever. Of any type. Think of anything you’re good at, you want to do it.

So one, one thing I would say to you here today as I said, to all our employees all the time, remember, attitude’s a 100 percent under your control. Have a good one. No one’s ever explained to me the benefit of a bad attitude. If you’re the type of person who lights up a room when you walk in, people are gonna want you in the room. So have a good attitude. I had somebody, employee, saying to me one time, it was in the sales training, I used to talk at sales training all the time, new hire training it really is. They say, “How are you always up?” And I said “I’m not always up, but, if I’m with you in front of a customer, If I am with you in an event, I owe it to you to be up.” I can be having terrible things happening in my personal life, not at that moment. When that door opens, I’m ready. That’s what we owe each other. We gotta, we gotta be all in. And so attitude. I will, I will hire and keep people for attitude, and teach them skills far more than I will, than someone who is skilled and has a bad attitude. I won’t put up, I just won’t. I’ll tell him about it. I’ll tell them they’re gonna fix it and if they don’t fix it, they’re gonna be gone. I just don’t believe in working around people who don’t care. So attitude.

Number two is candor and this, so the first, that same first meeting where we came up with what we’re going to accomplish, the end of the meeting Dan said, it’s our first together meeting as a group of executives, He said, “Answer these 3 questions.” We’re going to ask this every, every meeting we have together until we don’t need to” Number 1 is what did you think of the pace? What did you think of the content? And what did you think of the candor? I remember thinking, that’s an odd set of questions. Wasn’t particularly impressed by the question. And everybody said, Oh, you know pace, I think it’s pretty good. I thought it was a little slow. Thought it was pretty quick. Whatever. Pace, content yeah, yeah, pretty good, good, real good. Whatever. Because that’s not very controversial. Then he said, candor and I swear, people squirmed like this and then they would go, yeah, yeah, I thought everyone was candid. And then Dan said, “What do you think Tom?” And I said, “I thought it was terrible” He said “You do?” I said, “Yeah.” He said “why?” I say because I’ve heard everybody say some different outside the room they just said inside the room; about key things! He said, “Of course you’re right.” We don’t even know each other. We’re not just going to be candid because we don’t even know if that’s really what people want. It probably wasn’t wanted in my last company. And he said, “We are going to get candor in this company and it has to start with us” We and, you know, candor, is in cultures, the behavior that you actually witness in a company. You know, everybody has values on the wall. Nobody maybe, people can remember, maybe, that doesn’t matter because if you don’t act that way, none of that matters. It matters how you treat people and how you’re treated when you visit with the company. So he said, we’re going to, you gotta be able to tell the truth. If you don’t like what I’m saying, you better say it in this room because if you don’t say it, it goes in concrete. And the only other rule is when that door opens, we are on the same page. Once we’ve already discussed it, and we’ve, everybody’s had their say, somebody’s gotta make a decision on something. Now we execute. And he said, the only rule in this company that will get you probably out of the company is if you leave the room and then have the discussion. You gotta do it here. And once we do that and we do that in all our meetings around the company, and why do we want candor? You want, we wanted candor because the best ideas in the company often come from the people furthest away from the executive staff. The person at the point of attack is talking to the customer. And if they, if they believe that their inputs are not wanted and they really don’t want to be kept, if they don’t have the trust that they can be candid because it all, it’s all based on trust. You say something to me that’s uncomfortable and I treat you with respect about it, I answer it, I may not agree with it, then you’ll come back and bring it up again. You know, I was thinking about this. I was thinking about that. Trust. You trust I’m not going to hurt you for any opinion you may have. But we want it all. We’re again, we’re a small company going to compete with very large companies, it can be some of the largest companies on earth and created a new market. IBM, 650 thousand employees. Hey, we were like 300. So what we wanted was every single employee not to go home and go, well, those guys have figured it out, tell me what to do and I’ll do what they say. That’s not the kind of company we want. We wanted them to come back, think about how they can help, be creative and help us figure out a way. Here’s the goal, here’s what we have to accomplish. You tell me how you’re going to get there. I’ll tell you what resources you have, I’ll tell you what we’ll do to help, but I need you to go figure out how to go do it. That’s a very different type of culture. A lot of cultures are, here’s what you gonna do when you arrive, here’s what you gonna do at 2 o’clock. They both can work. I didn’t want that latter. I wanted people who wanted to think and wanted the ball and wanted the responsibility. We achieved candor for a very long time. I’m not, I’m not involved anymore, so I can’t comment on where they are today. It’s a different, different cast of characters running it. But for at least the first 15 years, we had an extraordinary candid group across the company and helped us in some really difficult times to make hard decisions because we had really good information and we had a lot of creativity aimed at it.

The third thing, and I started this saying one year after we started because we started to grow quickly. We went from 14 million actually the first year to 43 million, and then 93 million. So now we’re hiring people all over the world. I started a saying, “Catch someone doing something right” You know if want to come in and talk about what’s wrong, that’s fine. Certainly that’s okay as long as you have a response to “So what do you think we should do?” I’ll never forget. I had a really smart person come to me and tell me all the things that are wrong. I said, “I appreciate that. What do you think we should do about it?” He said, “Well I haven’t really given it that much thought.” It wasn’t a good meeting. I said, “Oh, so you just gonna give it to me as a problem. I’m going to go think about it. Is that what you think’s going to happen next?” I said, let me help you and there’s no harm, no foul, I’m not mad. Next time you come in here with a problem, tell me how you think you can solve it, or someone can solve it. And I’ll definitely look at it. I don’t want people dumping things on me and hoping that I’m going to go think about it. Ended up being one of our top executives, but that was a key moment. So I knew people, any kind of startup growing like that. You’re always going to have problems. There’s always something broken. What I didn’t, I’m okay with that, but what’s most important to me was that people understood that we cared about them and they were respected. So I wanted, if you saw somebody I told my leaders initially, if you saw somebody do something extraordinary to help our company, to help a customer, help a partner, to help society, some people we gave a week off vacation, paid, no questions asked for anybody who wanted to take to work for a charity. We started that very early and it is still there. You know, we are here for a bigger purpose was my thought. Well, so catch someone doing something right became central to the culture. First, it was the leaders talking about people, And then it was employees. And I gotta tell you about the person sitting next to me. I just went to sales training, I came from Cisco which is networking, I don’t know anything about storage, and this person spends night with me, nights with me, every week, two of them, nothing in it for them. And when I asked them why, they said I’m just paying it forward. This is what people did for me to help me when I got in here. Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. So then I call, I averaged about ten calls a day. That went on for about 15 years.

There is a book called Contagious Success by Susan Annunzio. She’s a PhD professor, University of Chicago and she highlights that, and a lot of people have copied ideas off of that after my talks and the feedback is always the same. This is spectacular. You know, Bill McDermott is one of the most successful American businessmen. He’s the CEO of ServiceNow. He was the CEO of SAP, second largest software company in the world. And we’re close friends and he called me one day and he read that book and he said, “Tom, you make ten calls a day to employees?” Yeah. We logged them all so I knew and he said, “How do you find the time?” And I said, “Bill, how many, how much time do you think it takes?” He answered, “Probably between 30 seconds and a minute.” You know I call you, out of nowhere, “Hey, Joe, Tom Mendoza” And I’m thinking, oh no, what happened? And I said, “I just heard you did this.” Young lady in Houston was working a marketing seminar and one of the guys noticed at the end of the seminar’s two-days, she brought, she took all the food, brought it home and I thought “Ha, that’s pretty pretty interesting that she she just took it home.” And then the second day she did it again, he said, “You know, you must have a big family.” She’s off taking it all to a homeless shelter! I called her up and I said, “This is why we’re here. People like you are the reason that we’re winning” I loved that. But it’s reaching out to people to make sure that they know you care about them. You know, my one of my, leadership mantras I didn’t make it up, I believe I lived it, which was “People don’t care what you know unless they know that you care” And when I’m speaking to the companies I often say, “Exclude salary, exclude comp. Tell me how you show people you care” A lot of people go silent. Hmm, exclusive of pay, how do I show them I care? Well, I made sure they knew we cared and it was, it pervaded the company that they knew if they had a real problem at home. So that I expanded that calling thing to it. Do you know somebody? I gave a talk, a couple of thousand people in the company one day and I said, if you know somebody’s a perfect NetApp employee, but they’re struggling now. Maybe there’s health problems in their families. Maybe they happen to be suffering from depression. Maybe on the job we’ve over goaled, if it’s a salesperson, or we’ve under-resourced trying to solve a problem. Tell me who they are. All I need to know is they are a great employee that’s struggling and I’ll call ’em. And about 50 percent of my calls shifted to that. And I can tell you for a fact, those are the calls people don’t forget.

You know, there’s a, I have a thought on inspiration I want to quickly share which is it’s, it’s offered, it’s offered the most when it’s needed the least. And it’s offered the least when it is needed the most. When you’re winning, if nobody thanks you or congratulated you, that’s kind of bad. But in general, if there are few people say, “Hey, great job! you won, you won.” You’re on to the next thing. But when you are struggling, and someone takes the time to say, call someone like me and say, “Hey, Bill or Suzy can really use a call. They’re down” And I, when I call, I always say I gotta tell you, Joe asked me to call you so they appreciate that. But if you’ll look out for each other, people know you care about them. And then when I call and say, “Look, what can I do to help? What can the company and I do to help you?” Often the answer is you can’t, but the fact that we cared enough and meant it to try lifted their day up. It changed everything. And that was kind of virtual culture, culture building because no one ever kept a secret. When I called, they’d say, “Tom called. Really. Why?” And they would tell ’em why and that’s the behavior that we were trying to drive. People emulate the behavior you recognize, that was my way of recognizing behavior.

The fourth part of our culture that was important to me was, of course we wanted people who have good managers, but also more importantly in my opinion, was to identify the people who could lead. Leadership is a very different thing. I said to the CEO one time, “We should, we should find the top ten leaders in all the groups.” Now we’re big at this point. And he said “I think it’s a waste of time.” I said, “Do you know why?” He said, “Because we already have evaluation things and you know, you rank your employees.” I said, “Well you’re ranking them on how they do their job. That doesn’t tell you whether they’re leaders or not” He got frustrated with me and he said, “Well, what would you do if you had that information?” I said, “If I knew the leaders in all the groups, when they came to Silicon Valley, I’d reach out to every single one of them and say when you come to Silicon Valley, I’d love to meet with you. I’d love to get to know you.” If they’re the peer leaders of the groups, we should want to know how they think and you want to make sure they know how you think. Secondarily, with all my travel, I definitely wanted those lists if they were in that office, I’d go to dinner together, or lunch together, and get to know ’em. It worked incredibly well and a lot of those people wanted to take leadership positions because we knew who they were now. And the last point of culture that is important to me is embracing change. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. And if you stay the same, you getting worse. Dr. John Kotter is the most published professor at

Harvard Business School, Harvard Business School Review and I hired him in 2008 when we’re well on our way to the turnaround to help us go through another culture change because we brought in so many new people. And John is a tremendously smart guy and he said Southwest Airlines and NetApp were the only two to actually hire him as a consultant when they were winning. You know most places, when they know they’re in terrible shape, they go, “Oh, we gotta change.” So, we, fact of the matter is, that is NetApp, I was there 25 years, I was the longest standing employee, they’ve now been in business I think 27 years, and you’re gonna be a different business every couple of years. The way this world moves, certainly in technology, that’s true.

And so you have to have a culture that can embrace change. A lot of cultures try to kill change. They don’t want change. When people try to make change, they figure I’ll outlast this guy, I’m just going to do what I’ve always done and we’re gonna stay like this. You know, that’s almost, then you gotta say to yourself, “Gee, if you never changed, maybe you’ll be safe.” Not making a decision is a decision. Not taking an action is an action and standing still is death in most businesses. You have to morph. Look what happened with the pandemic. If you aren’t good at transitioning to a digital footprint, you’re toast and a lot of companies are toast that didn’t. And the ones that did, are vibrant and completely different. But it takes an employee base that can, can go with it. And we were able to manage that. We changed radically over that time period. Externally, it looked like boy it was just like … Internally, it didn’t feel that way at all. We had to take on all kinds of new challenges. We took risks. That’s another saying I always say, “Not taking a risk is a risk” That’s very risky. Not taking a risk is a risk. So let me end up before we open it to questions with a couple of thoughts. One day I was, we had a, an executive staff meeting and we had a new head of HR, Gwen McDonald. And we were saying to ourselves, okay, what are the three things that if we solve that would allow us to grow faster? What are they? And we identified three things. And, Gwen, of course was just listening. It’s her first day on the job. And we identified them. And one was being able to quote things much faster, it was slowing down our sales teams, slowing down our partners and whatever, there’s three different things. And we said if we could put any employee in this company on it, who would we put on this problem? And you expect that to be a long list and all kinds of.

Its one guy, Suresh Vasudevan. And I actually sat next to Suresh, so I knew him really, really well, he helped me on a number of my talks I gave for big events. He’s just a great guy. He started at busdev. At this point, he was still in busdev when we did this, he ended up being head of engineering and we considered making him CEO at 33 when Dan retired and he felt it was too big a job. And he actually went and was a CEO. He’s on his third company now. He has done very, very well. This was in his early forties. And it was Suresh Vasudevan. Suresh Vasudevan…. So the meeting ends. And not that we wouldn’t necessarily put him on it because he wouldn’t be able to handle himself but that’s who we would put on it. And she said, “Who is this Suresh Vasudevan and what does he do?” I mean, we gotta hire more of those. I say. I’ll never forget saying to why and I’m saying this to you now, because when you go to the workplace, you want people to think of you like I thought of Suresh Vasudevan. I said there are three things Suresh does that are unique, that are brilliant. Number 1, he takes a very broad view of our business. Has from day one. You know, most businesses are not secretive about what they’re trying to accomplish as a business. So, but most people only think of what their role is and what they do right there and they’re very focused, which is fine. Well, Suresh, is extremely good at what we hired him to do. But he was also very, very interested in all parts of the business. Any he, and he could give you input that was unique because he wasn’t in the trees but he knew the business well enough that you always listen when he spoke. And he did that by, you know he just made that happen on his own, he had an interest and he’s smart. He got some mentors around the company that he really wanted to talk to and he grew radically.

A second thing he did, he was extremely good on cross-functional teams. So in any big company, even no matter how big you are, even in smaller companies too, and you have a problem you’ll take someone from this group, someone from that group, someone from that group. And you’ll say, “You guys come back with a suggestion on how to solve this problem.” Not a lot of people don’t wanna do it, you don’t get paid extra for it; or on top of your work, it also is problems that the company really wants to solve. Anybody, if you only work on things that are pretty easy and things that you already feel good about, you’re not going very far. In general, if you can help solve tough problems and you have an understanding of that and you come out of that with some things that really do make an impact, you get recognized very quickly as someone that can take on all kinds of stuff. Suresh was that guy.

And then the last point and this is the one I would really have you remember if you remember something, I remember saying that no matter what problem you give, Suresh, like any of those three, we ended up giving him the biggest one and he solved it. It’s a coder issue, which had nothing to do what he did for a living on a daily basis. Whatever problem you gave him came back better, the result came back better than you expected. A 100 percent. So the moment you gave it to him, I never thought about it again. I’m not asking him you know to solve cancer, I asked him best you can come back with an answer. And then we go, wow, when he came back with it and he made it work. So as you go out into the workplace, that’s something you might want to think about. Whatever problem they give you and you would like to take on hard problems.

I made a mistake like this. So again John Morgridge was my boss in the 80s, John went on to be the first CEO of Cisco Systems. Cisco Systems, one of the top tech companies in the world in networking. It sits on Morgridge Way. He was my boss. So after I worked for him about three years, I was considered a star in the sales organization, I ran the Southern California area for the company as district. And I had the number one district in in the company. Boston-based company. And they were going to promote somebody to have the north and the south. And everybody said, Tom, you got take this, you got to take this. And I’m like, I don’t know, the north is screwed up. I like what I’m doing. I’m making good money. And then they hired somebody else out of nowhere. They didn’t interview me, they hired internally. The guy from IBM, he had no field experience and they put him above us. I was like… Anyway, he came out, nice enough guy, clueless, year later, done. Year and a half, mostly he was done. And now that everybody is going “Oh Tom, now you gotta. You got to step up and take this.” Not recognizing no one talked to me personally. Now remember I was super close with John. John ran sales. This is the job. And so the second time, boom hires this woman out of marketing, gives her the job. I’m like, I can’t even believe it to tell ya. So I call him, “John, Tom Mendoza” “Tom, how are ya?” “Not so good John” “Really? no really, why?” “John, you hired this guy Ed clearly was lost and now you decided on this woman. I’m telling you upfront, she’s not going to succeed.” I really don’t care about that and I’m not sure I want that job and everybody here is saying Tom, why don’t you take it. I’m the number one district guy and you didn’t even talk to me. And I was expecting John to be very embarrassed. He said, “Oh, so you think I should’ve talk to you about that, job?” “Yeah.” He said, “I would never talk to you about that job.” I’m like “What? Why?” He says, “Tom, do you remember when I asked you to be on the compensation committee for the company?” “Kinda Yeah,” I answered, “I said, ‘You know, it’s quite a bit of work. You got to understand this, you gotta understand that, it’s a lot of finance.’ And you said to me, You know what, John that’s not my thing. I’m a sales guy.” “And then you remember you went to three other things” And I’m like yeah, oh yeah. And he goes, “Tom, those are in the job description, the job you’re telling me I should be interviewing you for. I was asking you to do it because I wanted to see if you could do that job. And you made it as clear as possible, you don’t want to do that stuff. So I love you in your current job, you’re never getting that job.” Note to self, I had, I had niched myself. It’s interesting when someone has a job and they move to a new area, new company and within 90 days people think of them the same way they thought of, whatever that was. Because they were giving off, I do this well, I do that well, I don’t do that or like that.

Fact of the matter is a lot of things in business that businesses face to grow and change are hard. And they’re not so cool. But if you can show, by the way so I changed my MO, I got involved in a lot of different deal and I found that I was good at a lot of them and I actually found it very interesting that outside my wheelhouse and it really made me a better executive. And then I shout out. So, why don’t we go to Q and A? That’s just some thoughts on culture. I would, I would end on this. When you join a company, if you leave here and you’re joining a new company or something, one of the things I would highly recommend is you take time to understand what the culture of that company is by finding people who work there. See what’s it really like? Because if you’re going to spend this much time at something and doing it, you’d sure like it to be a culture that makes you feel like you’re at home. Not like you have to change to fit into a culture that really doesn’t align with your, really not good, if it doesn’t align with your values. Lies in your values, you don’t mind working, it doesn’t feel like you’re working.

So Raj, let’s open it up.

Prof. S.P. Raj:

Thank you, Tom. Very inspiring. Thank you. Very inspiring and informative. I’m going to ask, turn it over to Professor Athaide to channel some of the questions he’s received before and today.

Tom Mendoza, Vice-Chairman (emeritus), NetApp
Marketing Day 2021
Supported by the Gail and Mark Andreae Marketing Program Fund