Opting Out

After my success with developing the criteria for the research center, I was invited to become part of an executive school for about 10 IBMers considered to have the potential to become high-level executives of the company. (One of my fellow students became the president of IBM, and four others became IBM division presidents. I was the only one of the group to leave the company, looking for a new opportunity at Apple.)

The very elite session was held at one of their executive centers in upstate New York, which we knew as the Guggenheim estate but these days is sometimes referred to as “a former IBM country club.”

One function I attended at the estate had major speakers from MIT, Harvard, and Columbia University, plus a lot of outside speakers—people such as Joseph Campbell, who specialized in the use of myths in literature and life, and Barry Commoner, an American biologist, college professor, and eco-socialist, as well as a one-time presidential candidate—a man whom many consider to be the father of today’s environmental movement. Another was the author/corporate consultant Peter Drucker, with whom I had had the clash described earlier. Conversations about society’s direction and vision were stimulating, and it was a very exciting opportunity to offer ideas and hear them discussed, along with gaining insights into the IBM business and how the company should approach the future.

As the final session of the gathering, the chairman and CEO of IBM, Frank Carey, came in ...

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