Leaving IBM

19 05 2009

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been very quiet over the last month in all the social media channels I normally hang around. I could use the standard excuse and just say I was busy – and I was *really* busy in the last few weeks, including several speaking engagements and trips to Ottawa, Nice (France) and St Catherines (Ontario). However, Twitter pretty much ruined that easy way out, as nobody can honestly say that they don’t have time for writing 140 characters (despite what Jennifer Aniston thinks). The real reason for my silence was that I was going through some soul searching about what I really wanted from my career and after much consideration, I decided it was time for me to leave IBM and try something new.

As I still need to understand better the social computing guidelines for the company I’ll be joining, this post will focus instead on the company I’m leaving.

IBM has my undying admiration as one of the few truly global companies and a great place to work. I thoroughly enjoyed my 12+ years there, and owe much of what I know and what I am to the people I interacted with, IBMers and clients alike. IBM is not just a logo, a bunch of buildings, some hardware / software platform or a services methodology. IBM is this ever-evolving organism whose strength comes mostly from the diversity and reach of its people, and the capacity of reinventing itself.

Before joining IBM, I thought every IBMer would be like the PC guy from the Apple ads, but with blue suits. Once you get to know the real IBMers, you’ll find that the PC and the Mac guys are as real as Ronald McDonald or Tony the Tiger. Over the years, I had the privilege of meeting geologists, biologists, physicists, architects, athletes, musicians, writers, actors and philosophers, whose titles in their business cards – “Developer”, “IT Architect”, “Business Analyst”, “Partner”, “Project Manager” – could mislead you to think they are one-dimensional beings.

The excerpt below, from Jeff Howe’s Crowdsourcing book, describes well IBM’s main asset: diverse and geographically dispersed people, connected by technology and purpose. By embracing social media, “I‘m By Myself”, like the IBM typewriters, became a thing from the past.

“(…) Each one of us possesses a far broader, more complex range of talents than we can currently express within current economic structures. In this sense crowdsourcing is the antithesis of Fordism, the assembly-line mentality that dominated the industrial age. (…) Contrary to the foreboding, dystopian vision that the Internet serves primarily to isolate people from each other, crowdsourcing uses technology to foster unprecendented levels of collaboration and meaningful exchanges between people from every imaginable background in every imaginable location”

Thus, I just wanted to conclude this post with my deep gratitude not to the abstract concept of IBM as a company, but to each person in the huge IBM crowd who I had the fortune of interacting with in the Web 2.0 collaboration spaces or in offices around the globe. Thank you all and keep in touch.

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77 responses

19 05 2009
Peter Guest

Aaron, thank you for everything you gave to us at IBM. You will be missed.

Best of luck in wherever the future takes you. I know you will do well in whatever you choose to do.

20 05 2009
Aaron

Thanks Peter! I’ll miss the trips to Edmonton. Well, not the ones in February, but still 😉

19 05 2009
Denilson Nastacio

As a fellow IBM’er and under the privilege of knowing your expertise in the Web 2.0 arena, it may take me a while to adjust to your departure.

I wish you well in your next role outside IBM and congratulate your new employer on what is possibly one of the smartest moves they could have made in this space.

20 05 2009
Aaron

Brigadão, Denilson. Pena que estou saindo da IBM sem ter tido a chance de conhecê-lo pessoalmente. Acabei de assinar o seu blog externo, mas sei que vou estar perdendo 90% do que você escreve.

19 05 2009
Sameer Patel

Good luck Aaron!

20 05 2009
Aaron

Thanks Samir, I hope to keep walking the Enterprise 2.0 talk for years to come, even when nobody will be calling it 2.0 anymore 🙂

19 05 2009
Ryan

Aaron, Good to finally meet IRL at Web2.0 Expo last month. See you at E2.0 next month. Best of luck in your new adventure! And as Luis says, you’ll always be just a tweet away. 😉

20 05 2009
Aaron

That’s right, but I really would like to have tried the Sushi + Comics place you twittered about while in SF! Any recommendations for Boston? (not sure if I’m going yet, but it’s always good to know).

19 05 2009
Ted Stanton

I only had the pleasure of working closely with you over the past couple months. I wish I had more time to capture some of you knowledge. You opened my mind up to new ways of looking at problems and new methods to go about solving those problems. Best of luck in your new adventure.

20 05 2009
Aaron

Ted, I admire your hands-on approach to Social Computing. You are the personification of the “stop talking, start doing” motto. Good stuff, I’ll try my best to follow that.

19 05 2009
Marcela

Hi Aaron!!

I am sad to hear that you leave IBM but I am happy that you are going to pursue some new adventures. I am sure that it will be for the best since you passionately do everything to have such an interesting career.

Please keep in touch.

marcelacervantes@sympatico.ca
mcervant@ca.ibm.com
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marcela-e-cervantes/12/270/8a9

20 05 2009
Aaron

Something tells me that we’ll be closer than you think 😉 Talk to you soon!

19 05 2009
Nathan Derksen

Wow, so sorry to hear that you are leaving! You have been an inspiration to many people at IBM, and have played an influential role in how IBM has been such a strong adopter of Web 2.0. On the other hand, I’ve seen how the enthusiasm that you and the rest of IBM have had in the space have left you very busy and away from home quite a bit. I hope with your new job that you have more time for your family. Kids grow up so quickly, it’s important not to miss too much! I wish you all the best in your new role. Feel free to contact me if you need anything.

20 05 2009
Aaron

I’m with you there! I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family. All the glitz of traveling around the globe can’t replace being close to your kids as they get through their milestones. Toronto never felt so good.

19 05 2009
Neal Keller

Aaron, good luck. You really did a wonderful job coordinating a number of the Web 2.0 conferences I attended. I also found you to be very warm and welcoming on a personal level.

Take care.

Neal

20 05 2009
Aaron

Neal, I’ll never forget that even though we don’t interact often, you took the time to write me asking about my son when you knew he broke his arm. Funny how physical and organizational distance seem to not matter anymore.

19 05 2009
Luis Suarez

Hi Aaron! What a tremendous post, my friend! It’s going to be very sad to see you let go after all of these interactions throughout the years in various 2.0 spaces, but knowing that you will just be a blog comment or a tweet away it doesn’t seem too bad after all. I am incredibly excited for you on that new adventure you are about to start. Please do keep us posted!

And know that it’s been an ABSOLUTE pleasure having known you for so long and having worked with what a bunch of us in this space have considered all along a really good friend! Your next adventure is really lucky to have you!

Hope to be able to see you IRL next month in Boston for the Enterprise 2.0 event. It would be really nice to go for a lovely round of “so-long” drinks. Will you be going to the conference?

21 05 2009
Aaron

I still remember my first few shy attempts trying out Blog Central back in 2005 and finding that this Luis guy seemed to really know this stuff 🙂

I still don’t know about E2.0, but I would like to go. I’ll let you know one way or the other.

21 05 2009
Luis Suarez

Yeah, those were the good times, indeed, Aaron! Either way, I do hope you have got a chance to make it to Enterprise 2.0 in Boston and we have a chance to catch up over a beer or two. There are a bunch of IBMers making it there, so it would be perhaps the perfect chant for a “So long” drink kind of thing and ideal to find out some more what you will be up to 😉

Take good care, best of luck and GO RAPTORS!!!

19 05 2009
Juanny Cinco

Aaron.

You made a positive “blog moment” for me once. I still appreciate that.

Good luck to you!

21 05 2009
Aaron

Oh you gave me good laughs so many times when reading your comments and posts. So the positive “blog moment” score is like 10 x 1 on your favour, and I’m not counting extra points for the stress relief that came with it.

19 05 2009
Cesar Miramontes

Woha! This definitely is some news, and I am sure it is for the better. Good luck in your endeavors and keep us posted. We’re already connected in several 2.0 spaces so whatever you need just shout! 🙂

21 05 2009
Aaron

Cesar, being in Canada I always found easy to join the IBM internal 2.0 spaces, as so many of us are there. I don’t know how you managed to single-handedly keep it going, despite not having many of your local peers there, at least at the beginning. Not a small feat, I have to say.

19 05 2009
stefano pogliani

Thank you for the many things you taught me ! I hope to keep in touch with you!

21 05 2009
Aaron

Remember the day you sametimed me saying: “I disagree with what you said”? I loved that. I wish people did that more to me. I really learn more from having people challenging me than agreeing with me, so thank you for the keeping me honest.

19 05 2009
Rob Ranieri

Aaron,
Enjoyed working with you over the past couple years. Wish you all the best in your new endeavor.
Rob.

21 05 2009
Aaron

Thanks, you’ve been a role model and an inspiration to me, developing new business opportunities from scratch, and always keeping your eyes open to what’s next. Hopefully some of that rubbed off on me!

19 05 2009
Alan Lepofsky

Best of luck Aaron. Welcome to the ex-IBMer club. Lets grab lunch now that I’m back in TO.

21 05 2009
Aaron

I’m always up for lunch, just DM me when you’re downtown!

19 05 2009
Gia Lyons

Congratulations, Aaron!! How exciting! Can’t wait to read where you end up, what you’ll be doing, etc. I’ll buy you a beer at E2.0 and you can tell me all the details.

21 05 2009
Aaron

If that beer is a Guinness, I’ll tell you anything you want to know. But only if Luis is two pints ahead of me.

19 05 2009
David Singer

Aaron,

As an IBMer, I’m sorry to see you go — and as a friend, I’m happy for you and wish you all the best!

I’d say “stay in touch”, but with Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the Web 2.0 space, that’s pretty much a given!

Cheers!

21 05 2009
Aaron

Right! I have this sneak suspicion that the firewall will one day become a thing of the past, like the Berlin wall. So let’s just say “business as usual” instead.

19 05 2009
Another falls – Aaron on leaving ibm « Social Wisdom

[…] falls – Aaron on leaving ibm Aaron Kim has resigned today from IBM – as per his blog post.  A big loss for IBM – Aaron is an admired and respected brain; really pushing new […]

19 05 2009
Laurie Dillon Schalk

Aaron – best of luck in the new role. I know only too well how hard the decision was and how excited you must be for a new role. I expect more detail at our next social friday 2.0!

blogged about you on socialwisdom.ca
Laurie.

21 05 2009
Aaron

Hey, I loved socialwisdom.ca! Just subscribed to it. I’m creating a Blog Central of sorts as a bundle in my reader, and it’s almost feeling like the old days, having you, alan, gia, roo, andy, bernie, sacha, and several others there. Things change so that they remain the same, I guess.

19 05 2009
benedictedelachanal

Parabéns, Aaron
change is good!

21 05 2009
Aaron

Your readership keeps reminding me to not be so IBMish or geeky when I write! Hopefully I’ll be able to diversify more from now on.

19 05 2009
Erin

Aaron, so sorry to hear you are leaving. IBM is losing a big talent! Best of luck in your next adventure. I hope it brings enjoyable challenges and lots of opportunity to grow. I’ll look for you online

Erin

21 05 2009
Aaron

You probably don’t remember, but I first saw you in a Blue Horizon session talking about innovation and creativity. It was when I realized I could be an IBMer and not necessarily love code. There, now I’m blaming you for me being such a lousy Java programmer.
(edited as it sounded as I was saying you were a lousy programmer, not me! 😛 )

19 05 2009
Mike Barnard

Hi Aaron . . .

Too bad you’re leaving us! You were an excellent free radical in the IBM body.

Great luck with your next opportunity!

Cheers,
Mike

21 05 2009
Aaron

Oh I know the IBM body has a surplus of free radicals, like the guy who said years ago that webcams made total sense in business laptops. Most of our Thinkpads still don’t have the Internet eye, so please keep it going.

19 05 2009
David Ing

Aaron, good luck on new pursuits.

A career is a long time, so if we don’t see you around in the short term, maybe we’ll see you back at IBM someday. You wouldn’t be the first to come back to fold, after exploring some wild oats.

21 05 2009
Aaron

I’m craving for wild oats now, but I like to think that I’m still part of the “sensu lato” IBM 🙂

19 05 2009
Marcelo

Aaron,

Parabens! O seu entusiasmo, energia e cabeca aberta sempre foram uma inspiracao para mim. Sempre depois de trocar ideias com voce, sobre qualquer assunto, eu acabava a conversa com uma sensacao de otimismo,mesmo que o assunto fosse pesado. Espero que possamos continuar trocando ideias, de preferencia em pessoa, com uma cerveja de lado! Abracao

Marcelo

21 05 2009
Aaron

Bom, ouvir isso é um alívio, considerando quantas vezes eu “pinguei” você pra ouvir sua voz da sabedoria. Ô cara chato: “Ei Marcelo, você tem um minuto? São 10 da noite mas eu tenho uma dúvida existencial”. Mas você matou a charada, tava faltando a cerveja.

19 05 2009
Peter Finn

no No NO ! You can’t leave us in our hour of need. Did we not burry you in endless speaking engagements you so effortlessly captivated the audiance, did we not bombard you with countless request for help as we attempted to guide our customers through the endless minutia of web 2.0 sites, apps and buzz.

Where did we go wrong, why are you leaving us, why would you, how could you….

GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEW ROLE MR KIM

It was a true honor working with and I am sure our paths will continue to cross in the future.

Nink

21 05 2009
Aaron

Hey, that sounds like you are borrowing from Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights lyrics 😉

Man I’ll miss your passion for new stuff and the one-man idea factory!

19 05 2009
epredator

congratulations and welcome to the ibm alumni. its a weird and big step but one that I know you will thrive on.

21 05 2009
Aaron

I’m more in the weird, big and scary step now, so I can’t wait for whatever comes after that! You are live proof that thankfully there’s another step after that one, so I’m keeping my hopes high.

19 05 2009
Roo Reynolds

Congratulations, and best wishes for whatever comes next!

21 05 2009
Aaron

Thanks Roo, you’ve been an inspiration since the beginning of this journey.

19 05 2009
Chris Almond

According to the law of Conservation of Greatness, IBM’s loss will equal a great gain for some other lucky company. Good luck Aaron – hope to buy you a 2nd beer (after Gia) at e2.0…

21 05 2009
Aaron

I’m not there yet, but I already need to find a designated driver! Thanks for the best wishes 🙂

19 05 2009
Michael Martine

Aaron — would like to wish you all the best in your new endeavors — IBM was lucky to have you for the past years, and I was lucky to meet you in person at a TLE and read/follow your thoughts.

Will be watching for how you continue to make your impact felt on the greater community — all the very best!

21 05 2009
Aaron

Yes, I remember that. Reading XML and rendering stuff in 3-D live. Wow. You certainly captured my attention!

20 05 2009
Axel Magard

No ! What a bad news this morning. At least for me. I am loosing a loyal reader of my IBM internal blog, one of the few who also provided feedback here and then, and one who’s own blog postings I think are among the most valuable contributions I have seen during the last years.
But I understand this can’t be part of your equation to compute the decision to leave or not to leave. Good luck Aaron, and take care !

21 05 2009
Aaron

Well, I’ll keep subscribing to your external blog, but I’ll miss the smart comments and the Friday summaries! Here’s me hoping that one day Blog Central will be widely available to the world.

20 05 2009
Andy Piper

It has been a pleasure and a privilege, and I’m so glad we will be able to keep in touch. I also hope that your new company does have progressive policies which won’t “cramp your style” in the online space. It was a delight to be able to show you around Hursley late last year – it felt like we’d known one another for a long time – the power that social networking can provide.

Safe travels, happy progress, and… be seeing you 😉

21 05 2009
Aaron

I’ll certainly try to keep some level activity in the online space. If I manage to do 10% of what you do, I’ll be a happy man. One day we’ll find you found the formula to not sleep or human cloning or time travelling.

20 05 2009
Aditya Banerjee

Wish you all the best on your next venture, and I too welcome you to the club of IBM Alumni.

21 05 2009
Aaron

🙂 Maybe it’s time to start a tradition of an annual online match between IBMers and IBM Alumni. Can we do that with the EA FIFA 09 game?

20 05 2009
Joanne

Aaron, I am shocked. But I am also sure that you are following your heart and off to greater things in life (not just work). Truly courageous and admirable! Good luck to your future! Thanks to Web 2.0, you’ll be just a facebook or a twitter away.

21 05 2009
Aaron

Thanks for the good wishes! I’m not actually feeling much of a separation anxiety yet, but maybe I’m naively assuming that 2.0 can effectively keep people in touch. I guess I’ll find out one way or the other.

20 05 2009
Amy Winder

Aaron — I never met you IRL but you were kind enough to share your experiences at web 2.0 with the rest of us slogging away at our desks. Thank you for that and best wishes in your next adventure.

Amy

25 05 2009
Aaron

Hi Amy (I accidentally misplaced this comment, sorry)

Hah, I could copy your comment and repeat it back to you! I like the way you effectively use Social Media to listen to what people have to say in your field of expertise.

21 05 2009
Craig Barbisan

Congratulations Aaron! Drop me an email and let me know where you’re headed (or just update your LinkedIn account). Hopefully this won’t impact “Lunch 2.0” (although admittedly I’ve missed the last couple of them).

25 05 2009
Aaron

Thanks Craig! Just sent you an email reply. Lunch 2.0 will hopefully continue, let’s see how the next one goes…

21 05 2009
Laurie Dillon Schalk

oKAY – so I’m cheating. I just read all these fantastic comments and then added a ton of people to my twitter list based on the comments….
cheers!

25 05 2009
Aaron

Not cheating, more like second-hand twittering! I do that all the time 🙂

23 05 2009
John Sutcliffe

(posted inside the Blue Wall as well)

Good luck! I’ve never had the pleasure to ‘meet’ you face to face but I want you to know that as someone quite new to IBM, following you on the IBM tools, I do feel like I had the opportunity to at least know you a bit.

Your writings here have had an influence on me and helped me to over come some of the fear of the openness required of a blog.

Thank you very much for what you’ve done for me and I hope you have the same opportunity to do the same in your new role!

25 05 2009
Aaron

Hey John, your writings also influenced me, showing how digitizing social interactions can also ease onboarding for people joining the collectivity and making the overall content richer for everybody already there – pardon the Star Trek jargon, I couldn’t resist 😉

25 05 2009
Jen Nolan

You have done so much for me and those of us that you have worked with. There is so much to say, that I don’t know what to say.

Thank you so much Aaron.

25 05 2009
Aaron

I commented with Bernie this morning that I should give you an X-File-/Mulder-style poster “I want to believe”. You saw the IBM potential for Web 2.0 way before I could dream of it. Thanks for being a doer.

28 05 2009
Li

Wow, I just learned this news. This day comes to all of us sooner or later. I am amazed at the great work you did at IBM, and I know you will discover/create a new and exciting path outside IBM too. IBM talent pool keeps amazing me, and you are another one of those really bright creative people I met there.

Keep in touch. Come over to the Lake Huron beach in the summer and definitely come by to see me. Now that you’ll be home more, I can actually come to see you on weekends now. Love.

1 06 2009
Barry Graham

Aaron
You really summed up what it means to be an IBMer. We will miss you and thank you.

5 06 2009
Marian Lee

Aaron, will surely miss you… thanks for everything you’ve done to contribute to the Web 2.0/Social Networking space in Canada and for your willingness to work with the Lotus team. Stay in touch and God Bless!

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