Some advice for Bill Gates from a semi-retired, orgy-loving cokehead

Now that Bill Gates is retiring, perhaps he will follow the principles of Felix Dennis, who no longer runs his company on a day-to-day basis.

At this time of alleged retirement, I wonder if Bill Gates has turned to anyone for advice.

Just in case, I have done so for him.

I have been strangely immersed in a book this week called "How To Get Rich."

It is written by a man, also allegedly retired(ish), who knows he is called the Bearded Dwarf by many others.

A man who openly admits, in his past, to having taken many girls simultaneously to far-off places for far-off behaviors, while enjoying some of Peru's more troubling exports.

His name is Felix Dennis.

I have no idea if Mr. Dennis and Mr. Gates have ever met.

But Mr. Dennis's publishing company seems to have made really quite a lot of money out of computer publications such as MacUser and PC Pro and, amongst other adventures, declining to do a deal with a certain Mr. Ziff.

maveric2003

Mr. Dennis, like Mr. Gates, claims he no longer runs his company, which, until recently, was perhaps most famous for publishing thoughtful mind-soothers for men, such as Maxim.

These days, poetry being an energy-sapping exercise, Mr. Dennis attends only four to six senior management or board meetings a year.

However, he exhibits a Stakhanovite enthusiasm for reading the minutes of meetings: "They are not a memorandum of past events," he says. "They are a tool to understand current positions."

The tool that Mr. Dennis most wields in his current, somewhat retired, state is the veto. All his executives agree to abide by his five veto rule before they join the Board.

Here's what the Board cannot do without Mr. Dennis's express permission (his words):

1. They may not vote anyone on or off the Board.

2. They may not physically move the headquarters of the company.

3. They may not dispose of, or shut down, any substantial asset.

4. They may not purchase, or launch, any substantial new product or business.

5. They may not award themselves bonuses or salary increases.

Which leaves executives to, no doubt, reach for a very poetic understanding of the word "substantial."

Here's the strange thing, though.

In 2007, the Sunday Times (you know, the Brit paper that's too heavy to pick up) ranked Dennis Publishing as "One of the Top 100 British Companies to Work For."

The suspicion, of course, is that it is Mr. Dennis's continued spiritual presence, as much as his physical absence, that makes the company continue to be successful.

I wonder whether Bill Gates will continue to have the same kind of veto powers as Felix Dennis. And whether employees would feel this was a good or a bad thing.

It takes a certain type of character to thrive under someone's extremely tight patronage for a long period of time. How many Microsoft employees will truly be able to flower in these rather more infertile times?

Here's what I do know. To a considerable extent, Bill Gates will be judged on what he leaves behind. And that includes so many of the people he hired.

I once was responsible for creating a campaign for Microsoft and was fortunate enough to meet two of the best clients I have ever encountered- Jeff Ramos and Jeanna Peterson.

Naturally, before I met them, I was told that they would make various parts of my anatomy hurt for days without end.

Yet their striving for simple excellence, honesty and, bloody hell, their sense of humor, made working with them, under numbing pressure, actually enjoyable.

And yes, they worked for Microsoft. For all I know, they still do.

I understand that Bill Gates, like Felix Dennis, is not universally worshiped.

One wore regulation nerd gear, the other a kaftan.

But, and I'm guessing here, they must have done something right.

Perhaps the mistake they made lies in their personas. And their stylists.

If Mr. Dennis had worn a blue button-down and creased khakis, perhaps he would have enjoyed less of a 'love him or hate him' reputation.

An orgy-loving, cokehead, kaftan-wearing head of Microsoft?

Now wouldn't that have been fun?

 

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