I’m just back in the office after being in Palm Desert, Calif. all week for the annual Sony Electronics Business Conference. It was the largest ever with more than 1,600 of our employees from across the U.S. and our locations in Mexico in attendance. For the people selected to attend, the event is extremely motivational. And for folks like myself who had a participatory role, this is even more the case.
Following a welcome dinner the day people arrived, the conference kicked off the next morning with my one-on-one interview before all the attendees with our global Chairman and CEO Sir Howard Stringer. As usual, Sir Howard was candid, charming and challenging. We covered the Blu-ray victory, Sony’s overall business performance, his focus on future growth and new business, the revitalization of our television business, the possibilities and challenges for OLED technology, the impact of "Sony United" leveraging the strengths of our technology and entertainment resources, the important contributions by the U.S. operations to Sony globally, the collaboration between teams in the U.S. and Japan, and his thoughts on leadership.
There were equally inspiring speeches from Stan Glasgow, the president and COO of Sony Electronics in the U.S., who reported on our outstanding performance for the recently completed fiscal year, along with the goals for the year ahead and his vision for the future. In addition, there were presentations from an array of company executives from various product, marketing, sales, service and other areas, as well as guest speakers from the worlds of customer experience, digital photography and social networking (e.g. Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics). We also heard from the global marketing head of Sony Pictures Entertainment, who gave us the first quick glimpse of what will surely be yet another blockbuster in the most prolific movie series in history. (Can you guess which one?)
In one session focusing on the consumer, a pre-conference survey identified people in six categories: Innovation Enthusiasts, Cautious Simplifiers, Connectors, Experience Embracers, Life Optimizers, and Status Seekers. (Since I didn’t fill out the survey ahead of time, I can’t tell you where I ended up, but I will in the future and share with you.) It was interesting to see how our Sony crowd compared to the U.S. overall. For example, we had high percentages of Innovation Enthusiasts, Experience Embracers and Status Seekers, while being lower in the Simplifier category.
Aside from the various awards our top performers received (including special recognition for this Blog), one of the biggest highlights of the conference was a concert by Wycelf Jean, a Sony BMG Music artist with the current hit “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” recorded with Akon and Lil Wayne. Wyclef and his band had the place thumping. The room was packed. People were dancing all over, including the stage, which I thought might collapse with the weight of the crowd.
My colleagues and I returned to work re-energized with the passion and commitment that comes with knowing you work for the world’s greatest entertainment and technology company truly is "Like No Other."
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