Business Keen On Startup Culture

KeenON: SAP’s Bill McDermott Seeks Startup Mentality in the Corner Office

As the CEO of the business software giant SAP, Bill McDermott is self-evidently a winner. But it wasn’t also that way. Born into a humble Long Island family, McDermott is a self-made man whose journey from corner store to corner office is chronicled in his new book “Winners Dream.”

So is that journey from underdog to top dog still possible in today’s world? Yes, McDermott says. “You’ve gotta work!!” he says, and you’ve got to get lucky with having a role model (like his mom) who will give a kid the self-confidence to overcome failure. Most of all, McDermott advises up-and-coming entrepreneurs to know and trust their customers and give them what they want.

Of course, McDermott acknowledges, the idea of the journey to the “corner office” is now rather archaic. At the new SAP offices in New York, he says, he would much rather work in a cubicle than a swanky office. And it’s not just its new office architecture that makes SAP cutting-edge, McDermott believes. His company, he says, is still the leading database platform in the world. While a competitor like Salesforce, McDermott insists, is “in a space that was yesterday’s CRM.”

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