The Importance of Empowering Others

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In 1994, I started working for Microsoft, as a country manager of Microsoft Slovenia, at that time our smallest subsidiary around the globe.
Our semi-annual budget meeting was coming up. One of the key parameters that we were expected to present to Steve Ballmer, the CEO, was the revenue projection. In return, we might or might not have received additional headcount and marketing funds.
My challenge was how to explain to Steve key facts about my country. I knew he never visited, I realised how small we were, compared to other subsidiaries. At the same time, I really wanted to get the resources from the HQ in order to start building the partner network as soon as possible.
Many sleepless nights later, the big meeting finally took place. I nervously started my pitch to Steve and other executives. A short while later, Steve interrupted and said: “Listen Aaron, I do not know anything about Slovenia. But you do. And I trust you. I’ll give you the resources and I ask you to do what you know is best in your market.”
“Steve, that’s great, thanks, but what about our internal procedures, approvals and so on? I really want to move fast, and this might take time.”, I replied.
His answer still resonates in my head to this day:

"Go ahead, make your informed decision and do it. Do not ask for permission. But if you screw up, come ask for forgiveness.”

Aaron Marko

Written by Aaron Marko

Aaron Marko draws upon twenty years of hands-on sales and top management experience, as well as eighteen years of training and coaching experience. Starting his career as a sales representative for IBM in 1992, Aaron achieved his sales targets in the first year already, being rewarded with"100% club" recognition and promoted to Sales and Marketing manager for IBM Slovenia. He managed a team of 15 sales professionals and reported to country manager. Later Aaron moved on to establish a subsidiary of Microsoft in Slovenia which he ran as a country manager for 5 years. Building up a distribution and partner channel, establishing close links with largest customers and delivering above the budget financial results were his main accomplishments. In 1999 Aaron was promoted to Regional Director for Eastern Europe at Microsoft, being responsible for OEM division and an annual budget of $250M, which he delivered by managing a team of colleagues in 10 countries. In 2000, Aaron was nominated amongst three best managers at Microsoft OEM division worldwide. In 2002 Aaron joined Gustav Käser Training International by establishing a franchise partnership, covering Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia. In 2019, Aaron co-founded the international training company Hansen Beck, together with his ex-colleagues from Gustav Käser.