Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer is known as one of the most flamboyant personalities in the tech industry.
He jumps around, screams and gestures whenever he’s on stage.
But he wasn’t always that way.
As a kid and young adult, he was painfully shy, he said speaking at Oxford University’s School of Business, his first public appearance since he left Microsoft a month ago.
I talk things through with people. I try to get them sold. I am a salesman by nature. I want you to actually agree with me. Don’t just come on the voyage with me … believe! No, You don’t believe? I’ve got to keep trying to get you to believe! …
I’m an involving, passionate, energetic leader. …
The truth of this is none of this was necessarily natural for me.
I was quite shy as a kid, painfully shy as a kid. Even when I got to college, I was pretty darn shy.
But he forced himself to change. It happened when he became the team manager for the Harvard football team. The manager is the person who organizes the team, gets the buses, makes sure the footballs arrive.
It wasn’t the glamor job. But you had to get up in front of the team every day and tell the team what to do. Football players are not nice to managers, typically.
I had to get myself pumped and charged up. And I got good at getting up in front of audiences and giving direction. Since Microsoft I’ve had practice.
That’s certainly true. After his years at Microsoft, he doesn’t seem shy at all anymore.
He’s the guy who famously opened a Microsoft conference like this: