Leaving Microsoft… Entering the Unknown

Today I resigned from Microsoft after eight wonderful, challenging, incredible years.  The text of my farewell note is below and although there are things I left unsaid, it was because I didn’t want to overshadow the primary theme of my message.  When the reality of my departure crystallized in my mind, I discovered that the overwhelming feeling in my heart was gratitude.  I have A LOT of opinions about what could be fixed, what could be done better, what’s going awry, and I know (literally) thousands of others are thinking the same things and even just statistically speaking, someone, sometime, is going to take action on those things.  So, I am going to leave it to them to do and say those things.  Here is my note:

Friends and Colleagues, 

The time has come for me to say goodbye.  Over the last eight years, Microsoft and all of you have meant so much to me.  I have been part of incredible teams (MacBu, KALE, GMO), shipped great consumer products (Office for Mac 2011, Happy Action Theater, Kinect Nat Geo TV, Nike+ Kinect Training, Kinect Party, and others); and have worked on products across different platforms that were innovative and ground breaking. 

I owe Microsoft a tremendous debt of gratitude for all that I have learned and accomplished.  Microsoft took a chance on an English Lit undergrad, with a newly minted MBA, freshly returned from the Peace Corps in Kenya (what Microsoft JD isn’t begging for that profile?!), and allowed me to develop so many skills and gain such formative experience- from my first manager who taught me about being principled and holding both oneself and others to a high bar, to the many coworkers, managers, mentors, and friends who have taught me to apply passion, integrity, and dedication to everything I do.  Microsoft and its people have been a bedrock of strength to me and my family through a heck of a lot of “living”- from the near-death and recovery of my husband, to a difficult pregnancy and the birth of our wonderful twin daughters five and a half years ago.  Microsoft’s people- you, You, YOU, are its greatest asset- smart, tenacious, creative, and passionate- there is no challenge that the people of this company will shrink from.

Given the preceding paragraph, my departure may seem like a non sequitur or surprise, but some know that a small, fiery coal of desire has been burning in my chest to step beyond the safe haven of Microsoft for some time now.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a writer, I want to do something more entrepreneurial, and despite the potential for cliché- I need to lose the safety net in order to fly.  The growth of my courage to make this a reality has been slow in developing but the time has finally come.

I step out into the world with so much gratitude, respect, and love for all that I have learned, the relationships I have made, and the opportunities I have been afforded.  Despite my nearly paralyzing fear of making good on my aspirations, I will not be ruled by it; but rather will embrace this fearful tempest and make tea from it instead.  I hope you will stay in touch via LinkedIn, Facebook, email, or read along at my blog WYS Words.  It has been my great privilege to be a part of this incredible company and again, my gratitude is boundless.  



A few words to light my way.

A few words to light my way.

A little inspiration to leave you with:  I have had these quotes pinned to my bulletin board for many years and will carry both the challenge and encouragement they provide with me into the future. (The last one is easy when you are alone!)

As I mention in my note, Microsoft’s people are its greatest asset- they are incredibly smart, tenacious, creative, and passionate; and there is no challenge they will shrink from.  Understanding this allowed me to step back and realize that “to leave Microsoft” wasn’t what I wanted to do- the thing driving me is my desire to step forward into a new challenge.  Even my new year’s resolution to “take on challenges so big that even failure will be a success” declared the direction that my heart was leading me.

As of this moment, I don’t know what shape this challenge will take.  As a dear friend of mine says, “Open yourself to the universe and see what happens.”  Now, I don’t normally go for the easily accessible comfort of popular dogma, but as I step away from the safe cocoon of Microsoft, I think it’s important that I take the time to do a slow 360 from the top of this mountain and look up, down, left, right, and deep inside- and see what’s there.  I know from experience that being under the stars in Montana, or far out in the ocean, or on a vast scrub plain in Kenya gives you a sense of connection with the greater universe and the physical world that makes you feel both infinitesimal and expansive at the same time.  You can practically feel the billions of photons moving through you as they travel away from the sun.  I am going to leverage the feeling those memories invoke as I take in the changed world around me today.

So, my calendar is suddenly open, my mind is clearing, and I’d love to talk to friends, mentors, coworkers- past and future, and take your input.  Encouragement, well wishes, cautionary tales, words of wisdom, dreams, and opportunities are all welcome and probably needed!  If you would like to help me keep my family clothed and fed in the short term or want to talk about some longer term projects, I’d be thrilled to buy the coffee (though if this goes on too long, I may switch to bringing a thermos of homebrew to our tete-a-tetes).

To those friends and family in particular, both inside and outside of Microsoft that have encouraged me (I won’t “out” you here), thank you so much for your support.  I wouldn’t be on this journey without you and wherever it leads, it is going to be exciting and transformative.  You are my inspiration and I look forward to “paying it forward” someday.

Posted on March 19, 2013, in Tidbits. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Congratulations, Jennie! A big loss for Microsoft – makes me sad for the company, but personally happy for you. I look forward to keeping track of your future endeavors – I’m sure you’ll be awesome! Keep in touch.


  2. WHOA! This IS big! I still have my Radical Careering cards which you gave me at a time when I really benefitted from seeing the words printed upon them. (I loved seeing your picture of those!) Incidentally, I am posting this reply while running Office 2011 for Mac. So, thank you for that, too. 🙂

    I would LOVE to catch up sometime. Adventures into the “who knows what/where” are the best kind. Stretch your legs and your brains, sister! Magically, one always comes out ahead her previous experience by going beyond it. But, who am I telling?!

    I am looking forward to seeing what bubbles up as a result of this big change. I, for one, gave up drinking all that free diet pepsi. Remember to keep us all posted, J!



  3. I love how well you articulated the same feelings that eventually led me to leave. Congratulations on taking a massive leap. The world looks different afterwards ;-).


  4. Yay Jenni! Go for it!!!


  5. Congratulations! I think, soon, you’ll look back on this as among the best things you’ve ever done. Can’t wait to hear what happens next.


  1. Pingback: Los MBA han arruinado a la Xbox (y a Microsoft en general) | Disruptive Sketchbook 2.0

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