Business Insider

The Best Advice Steve Ballmer Ever Got

Steve Ballmer.
Steve Ballmer.

Photo by Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

In his first public appearance since leaving Microsoft’s CEO role, Steve Ballmer did an interview with the dean of Oxford’s school of business.

A month gone from the job, he seemed at peace with his decision to leave a company he loves so much that he calls it his “fourth child.”

He talked about the best—and worst—advice he ever got. Here’s what he said:

The best advice I ever got, I got from my father. Bar none. It was so prophetic and so deep. …
 My dad said, “If you’re going do a job, do a job. And if you’re not going to do a job, don’t do a job. And that is the key of everything.”

No, seriously, the notion that if you’re going to do something then do it heart, body and soul and do it. And really care. And have the kind of brain that forces you where you are always thinking about it and worrying about it and tending to it and nurturing it and growing it.

You either be all in or be all out. 

There are disadvantages to having this kind of personality, I will tell you. It’s not all a bed of roses.
 You’ve got to be in and take a long-term view. You’ve got to be as hard-core as anything, if you’re going to be successful.

By the way, he says this is the worst advice he ever got:

The worst piece of advice I ever got was pretty simple. I had a bunch of people at Stanford Business School who told me not to drop out to join Microsoft. That would have been cosmically the worst advice I ever got in my life.

Here’s the full conversation:

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