It took the rotary club more than a year to get Ballmer to speak. In February, he was supposed to appear, but he canceled at the last minute when the White House invited him to a business forum.
The club’s program chair, Vicky Oxley, was relentless. At first, Ballmer’s staff did not want the media to be there. Two days before the event, he changed his mind. Yes, the media should be invited. I wonder if he regretted this decision.
Someone asked, “Did I represent the club as a member or the Northwest Asian Weekly as a publisher when I asked Ballmer that question?” Was I smart enough to think of all the angles before asking? Was I aiming to gain visibility for myself?
I didn’t identify myself or my affiliation when I spoke. I wasn’t expecting my question to create a stir, although I knew it was an important, legitimate question.
The only thing I hoped for was that my question wasn’t the first question after his speech. The man should get some feel-good questions to warm up. But the mic was shoved toward me, and I didn’t have much choice!
The question instantly drew laughs from the audience. Sharon Pian Chan, who wrote the Times story, said my question made her visit “worthwhile.”
In all my years as a journalist, it is hard for me to think of incidents that would have made my late journalism professor B. J. proud. This might be it — he might be chuckling in his grave.
Writer John Cook of Geekwire.com mentioned my name first. That’s how the media found out. ♦