December 19, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

Posted in humor, work at 7:36 am by Michael

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

There was a manager at Microsoft who over the years many of my friends and I worked with and for.

He had a certain way with words.

His collected sayings were known as “The Pearls of Wisdom”.

Malapropisms? Blindingly obvious? Wise?

You decide.

“I am the champion of perceived performance.”

“We should be like Junkyard dogs on this one.”

“You should underpromise, but don’t under-underpromise.”

“Don’t be #2.”

“It’s clear that we need to be clear.”

“This is the dark part of the tunnel. The light is always getting closer. But it’s still dark.”

“The people in this room are the glue and the grease.”

“It’s a full round trip.” (As opposed to a partial roundtrip.)

“He’s an infinite distance from getting promoted.”

“You’ve got to let the pendulum swing up.”




  1. Laura Moncur said,

    So, who said them? Especially the one about the dark part of the tunnel. If you can tell me who said it, I’ll add it to the Quotations Page.

  2. Adrian said,

    “I am the champion of perceived performance.”

    I suspect this was probably uttered in the context of product development, where it’s totally true: better to *feel* fast to the user than actually *be* fast. Bad for speech-recognition vs. typing (former is faster, FEELS slower), good for throwing up splash screens (Office) or the Desktop (Windows) as soon as you can, even if you’ve still got 45 sec of load time to kill before anything’s usable.

    Unfortunately, I think this also pretty much nails the mindset of so many managers & groups at Microsoft. It’s a big reason I left. Way more important to structure efforts, emails, etc. so that it *looks* like you’re pushing hard in the right direction than whether or not you actually get anywhere. Always be sure to maneuver another group into position so that you’ve got a fall-guy at the division review. Bureaucracy ftw!

    (Present company, as always, excepted. 🙂

  3. Adrian said,

    “Don’t be #2”

    Oh yeah, true story: during one release of Office (I think it was O97?), the release team’s mantra was:

    “Not not last.”

    …which I think was intended to constantly remind them that “not being last isn’t good enough, you want to strive to be first.” But of course the rest of the product unit was quick to collapse the double negation, which turned out to be a more accurate prediction of performance. Did their inspirational slogan unwittingly prime them for failure the whole time? Tough to say. Makes you really worry about how you name your kids, though.

  4. Kris from Arkansas said,

    Ah, this reminds me so much of the quotes I collect here around my office. Anything said can be used and often is and completely out of context. My favourite is “It’s clear that we need to be clear”. Head/desk.

  5. GinaV said,

    My partner has a MS t-shirt from (IIRC) the first release of MSXML, boldly proclaiming to be “Turning this company around 360°”.

  6. Samantha said,

    Wow, this post brings back some serious memories! Thoughts? “They’re all crazy, all of us!” You can quote me on that. My Brother John was awesome for these kinds of comments, and most of the time I followed right along and understood exactly what he was talking about. Over the years we’d worked together on numerous projects, for numerous companies. “Nepotism is our super secret power!”

    Why super secret? Because we weren’t actually related in anyway, at least when we met we weren’t. Ironically enough we’d grown up in lots of the same places over the years, new the same sights, places to eat, and so on, but had never met until we both landed at a little company on Wall Street then known as “Shearson, Lehman, Hutton, American Express.” While there we survived several big layoffs in the 80’s against all odds and over time became really good friends.

    So much so that I was there when my nieces were born, when they Bas Mitzva’d, graduated from schools and so on. John was best man at my wedding, and two years after his marriage of more than 20 years broke up when he was getting remarried, I was best man at his. Mind you he had two other biologically related brothers, and a bunch of friends from many, many more years than he and I knew each other he could have asked, but he chose me instead.

    Curiously enough, back in my pre-transition days I had a million nicknames, including the one my oldest neice gave me one day when she was four. Cookie. She meant Kooky, but she was four so it came out as Cooke and it stuck. So when he was drafting his speech for my wedding in the late 90’s he was going through it out loud as my nieces listened in, when he got through the list of names my youngest said “But you forgot Maryann!” so he stuck that one in and added “You’ll have to explain THATONE yourself.

    My spouse at the time looked at me and said “He knows? You didn’t tell me he knows!?!” Oy! He didn’t, he was just trying to be funny. The girls on the other hand figured it out themselves it seems, so of course when I told them years later they weren’t surprised in the least.

    I never did get to tell my brother directly, he and all his odd sayings (most of which he often made up on demand) passed from this world in ’03, 14 days before I started transition. Truth to tell, part of what pushed me to finally live, was him dying. My second sister-in-law (his second wife) took serious pleasure in introducing me to people she met as “This is my sister-in-law Samantha, she was best man at my wedding!” Which of course had people do the whole “Wait, What?” thing.

    Anyway, now that I’ve bored you to death with this, those are my thoughts on those kinds of sayings. I spend years dealing with that kind of stuff, so you’re so not alone! Back, all those years ago on wall street, I was, we were, an official Win286 beta site. Then when the layoffs finally caught us in 89, John landed a position at Dun & Bradstreet, and insisted that a condition of his accepting a position was an office and position for me. We were a Win 3.1 and SQL server beta site all those years ago, and back in the day we went to all the big MS events, dinners, trainings and so forth. It was kinda cool. So of course when we were exposed to some of the many MSisms over the years, we didn’t even blink.

    Wow, this was a trip down memory lane!

    Thanks Megan,


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