A few people have pinged me about this story over the last couple of days, so I guess a blog post was in order.
A couple of years ago, I drew the Microsoft Blue Monster cartoon. It started taking on a life of its own inside Microsoft.
Then back in July I blogged about how one Microsoft employee, Dan Woodman, liked the idea so much, he went and got himself a Blue Monster Tattoo. As Dan said himself,
While I can never forget how much I love this company and all of the great things we do, I wanted a daily reminder of the fact that I, as a Microsoftie, need to change the world every single day. That is why, as part of MGX this year, I decided to fully embrace the Blue Monster and all it stands for. That is my very own Blue Monster tattoo (and yes, he is real!). He’s there to make sure I don’t forget why I am here and what it is that I am doing — changing the world.
One of the questions I have been hearing often involves my very first blog post on this site- “What about the Blue Monster?” The truth is, I haven’t regretted that tattoo since I got it and now is no exception. The Blue Monster is staying. 🙂
Working at Microsoft has been the greatest experience of my life and I have no desire to forget about it. And even if I don’t get back into Microsoft right away (which is, by the way, my plan!), then I have a reminder that even outside of Microsoft, I need to do my best to change the world every single day.
So being the cartoonist who spawned the Blue Monster, how do I feel about it?
Well, I don’t know Dan personally, but at the time I considered it a great honor that he would regard my work highly enough to tattoo himself with it, even if I would never be totally comfortable with that kind of responsibility. But I guess that’s the price you pay for putting your work out there. It’s like being a songwriter, and then reading in the national media that some teenager in Iowa killed himself while listening to your album. That doesn’t make you an accessory to murder. Art has a life of its own.
And yeah, getting laid off is always a risk, with or without a company tattoo to call your own. Welcome to reality.
Secondly, just because Dan doesn’t work for Microsoft Corp any more, doesn’t mean he’s no longer part of the grander cause he signed up for, for the kind of change he wants to help make. Microsoft is a huge company, but it’s dwarfed in comparison by the size of their Partner Group ecosystem. I imagine Dan could easily end up somewhere in there, working away quite happily and productively for the same cause.
And why not? I have a friend who was laid off from Microsoft last year, and guess what? She still drives to the Redmond campus every day. Only this time she’s the employee of an outside contractor, not Microsoft, but the type of work that she’s doing, and the people she’s working with inside Microsoft, really hasn’t changed too much. The lines that separate “internal” and “external” are very blurry, compared to even half a generation ago.
Thirdly, the Blue Monster was never about Dan’s paycheck. It was about an idea. I’ve been saying this for years: All a product is, all a company is, is an an “Idea Amplifier”. Products don’t excite us. Human potential excites us.
i.e. “People matter. Objects don’t.”
Good luck to you, Dan. Good luck with your next adventure, and good luck with your new blog. Rock. On. And Thanks!