This is my last post on Direct2Dell. After almost 700 blog posts, and thousands of other comments and status updates, I’ve decided to say goodbye to Dell so I can start the next phase of my career— to rejoin Bob Pearson and a great team of folks at W2O Group down the road in Austin.
I’ve been a Dell employee for almost 18 years. It’s been one heck of a ride—especially the last seven years when social media became my full time gig. I’ve been fortunate enough to sit at the helm of Direct2Dell since it went live on July 10, 2006. The original goal for Direct2Dell was to educate and serve. Through the ups and downs over the years, I’ve put a lot of time and energy into supporting that original goal. I’ve strived to put a lot of myself into so many of the posts I’ve written, not because it’s part of the job, but because it matters to me. To this day, I care about telling Dell’s story as transparently as possible, and I care how Dell treats its customers. To me, that passion is the single most important reason for success.
The above picture is an original drawing from Hugh MacLeod—someone who inspires me to this day. He drew it for me back in 2008 when he visited Dell, as Richard Binhammer and I were telling the story about how Dell’s social media efforts started. To me, No Fear. No Career. represents that leap of faith we took in the beginning, betting that transparency and honesty would help change customers’ perceptions of Dell. Looking back, that was a leap worth taking.
When I think about all that has happened since Direct2Dell went live, I feel a huge sense of gratitude. Thanks to Michael Dell for driving a small team to embrace social in 2006. Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for giving customers a venue to tell us we needed to do better. Thanks to Bob Pearson for being the bulldozer who cleared the internal path for Dell’s social efforts. Thanks to Andrew Durrett and Geoff Knox for believing along with me that we could make a difference supporting customers on the web. Thanks to Wilson Tan for being Wilson and for keeping me focused in the midst of chaos. Thanks to Paul Walker for the spot-on social media counsel as I was getting things off the ground. Thanks to Richard Binhammer for showing me that sometimes you need to play Scrabble with Shel Israel to get the job done, and an infinite number of other things. Thanks to John Pope for proving that an old school PR guy can build social relationships with the best of them. Thanks to Jackie Huba for reminding us that it’s all about customers. Thanks to Charlene Li for teaching me that the work I was doing was bigger than I realized. Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang for landing me a first speaking gig on a panel at the Web 2.0 conference. Thanks to Jeremiah and to Chris Brogan for being two of the most prolific thought leaders in this space and for showing me the possibilities that exist within social. Thanks to Virginia Miracle for writing a supportive blog post at a time early on when lots of negativity was being hurled at us, and for doing this interview with me after we met at SXSW. Thanks to Robert Scoble for taking geek to another level (I mean that as a good thing). Thanks to David Marshall and the gang over at Rampant Speculation for not letting us off the hook. Thanks to Amy Heiss for pinging me several times to provide social feedback for an internal board game for a meeting that helped the light bulbs go off within the management ranks, and ultimately paved the way for Dell’s Listening Command Center. Thanks to Ryan Garcia for showing me that lawyers can be funny and can get social media all while being really good at their day jobs. Special thanks to the Dell Rockstars who selflessly serve Dell customers year after year. Thanks to the SOS Team, from humble origins to the global organization it is today—know that the support you provide to customers is and always has been the engine that drives all of Dell’s social efforts. Finally, a huge thanks to the countless customers who came flooding in since we first opened our social media doors back in July 2006.
While that previous paragraph is a long one, it is far from complete. Including the list of other Dell employees who played key roles would make this the longest post in Direct2Dell’s history. The truth is I’ve been extremely blessed to be a voice for Dell. My reputation in social media today is built on the efforts of many others throughout this journey. Words can’t express how much I appreciate those ongoing efforts and the selfless support so many Dell employees have provided me in this role over the years. For Dell’s customers, the important point is that there’s an army of Dell employees around the world who care about you just as much as I do.
As of today, I’ll change my Twitter name from @LionelatDell to @LionelGeek. I’ll still discuss technology and social media topics there. As always, those of you who want to keep up with Dell overall on Twitter can follow @Dell. And of course, stay tuned to Direct2Dell.
Now it’s time for goodbye. Thanks again to everyone who made this journey possible. It’s truly been an honor and a privilege.