Ep. 63 – Leading Through Innovation with TIBCO COO, Matt Quinn

With rapid technological evolution comes rapid changes to how people interact with each other. Leading through innovation, Matt Quinn, the COO of TIBCO, manages TIBCO’s day-to-day operations and is instrumental in the growth and development of its products and technologies, including the TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud. Formerly serving in executive roles, Matt has spent more than 20 years with the company leading large scale transformations of organizational structure and product strategy. With this length of experience, Matt shares his knowledge and insights on understanding different situations with regards to transacting sales digitally or speaking to a real human being, as well as how to lead people across different countries and adapting to varied cultures. Matt also shows how we can keep up with the rate of change and how we can lead and approach businesses in other places.


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Matt Quinn manages TIBCO’s day-to-day operations and is instrumental in the growth and development of TIBCO’s products and technologies, including the TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud. Formerly serving in executive roles including Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Products and Technology, Matt has spent more than twenty years with TIBCO leading large scale transformations of organizational structure and product strategy. He received his BA in Computer Science and his Master’s of Applied Science Information Technology from RMIT University in Melbourne. Matt, welcome to the show.

It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me.

I hopped on to your websites to see what TIBCO was and I realized it was completely pointless for me to try to figure that one out because it was way over my head on the tech side of things. You are clearly not a startup either. Why don’t you give us a bit of a background as to what TIBCO is and what you focus on. I started reading the integration and then I was like, “I don’t get this.”

There are two ways to look at TIBCO. One is where we come from and then the other is a simple way of what we do now. Now is something simple. If you look at the enterprises today, it’s complicated, lots of systems, applications and technologies being used. One of the cool things that all these applications have is that they are all in silos. I may have Salesforce automation that is separate from my HR system, which is sitting separate from all of my other downstream systems. TIBCO started with simply that connecting all of those systems together. Making sure that if somebody changed their home address in the HR system that that would flood all the other downstream systems in the enterprise so that everyone was up to date. It seems simple, but if you look at large corporations and all the data that they got and all these different places and the number of times that you’ve got a piece of mail from a telecommunication provider with the wrong address, even if you’ve changed it ten years ago, all of these things are the stuff that we try and solve because it is massive amounts of value in that data. That’s the first part.

Once you’ve been able to connect all these systems, you’ve got all these data and you’ve got it all available, you want to be able to understand it. You want to be able to analyze it. You would want to see whether there are patterns occurring in your data that may be an opportunity or a threat. It could be something simple like a machine having an outage, an important piece of information to know, an order that failed to get delivered or a plane that is late because of weather. All of these things become information that can lead to business opportunities or at least an early warning to business threats. The piece in the middle of that which brings both of them together is all about unification. It’s what an industry has to deal with because you got so much data in different places, it all looks slightly different. You have to have a standard language. The unified pieces for us is all about creating that standard language between all of these systems, analytics, people, partners that we are all sharing that same shared consciousness which sounds way too high level for what I was aiming when I started.

SIC 63 | Leading Through Innovation

Leading Through Innovation: The best technology always has an element of transformation on the people side.


Are you intense on the people side that you are not just a hardware player or are you intensive on the people on engineering side?

Everything that we do is software based. We do have some pieces of hardware, but largely it’s all about software and that stuff. Almost everything that we do has a flow on impact to the people side of the business, whether it be mister operator in a transportation company. You can now see up to the minute data on what’s going into your trucks. We’ve changed that person’s life in terms of giving him visibility into information they never had before. A large amount of what we also do is transformation on the IT side, which is if you put these technologies in, they break down silos, if they are also breaking down silos amongst development teams. As soon as you start to immigrate these systems, you’re now part of a collective whole rather than the individual domains in silos. I’ve come to the belief that you can have the best technology that if it is impossible to get in and it does not make changes, then it is probably not that useful. There is always an element of transformation on the people side.

Are your people then working with the engineers inside of these big corporations? Are you doing something and handling it to them and they are integrating on their own? You must be deep into them.

A bit has changed. Years ago, it was a traditional enterprise software sale which means that you would have engineers build the product that would hand it off to the professional services people, the people who are doing implementation work that would work closely with the customers with their engineering departments to put the engineering work that we built in place. For years, that was the way the world works. Our Cloud computing changed that because what it meant was that you could now access the technology in multiple different ways, not just come to us and say, “Can you give us some technology and can you help us implement it?” There’s this notion to democratization of information technology. If you want it, how do you want it? It used to be I want something and the vendor would say, “Have it this way.” Now it’s, “I want it to look like this. I want it to be delivered through this channel. I want it to be applicable to this type of developer.” We’ve all become searched.

How many employees do you have running your global company?

Global footprint, probably we’re a shade of 4,200 employees. We are not 40,000, but we are also not twenty.

When you started with your organization years ago, what was the size of the company back then?

I have a funny story about that. My father worked for the same company for 30 years and I used to give him a ton of crap for working for the same company. When I entered the embassy, I was like, “Dad, you have gone your three years here, your three years there and you could have built your career. You’re going to build your resume.” He is like, “I get that son.” I did one three years in and then I joined TIBCO. When I joined, we were probably about 150, maybe 200 employees and mostly in Palo Alto in California. We had offices in New York, London, Sidney and Melbourne, which is where I joined.

You joined Melbourne and then started working for them back in Palo Alto. Where was the head office? Is it the Bay Area?

The head office is the Bay Area. Years ago, we were involved in this. At the time of unique project, all of the electricity companies in Australia were deregulating by creating a market. Before then, it was all fixed and all government controlled, so they created a marketplace. They needed some technology that would do real time data collection and settlement because you are trying to settle the amount of megawatts that have been consumed and produced anytime so you can be accurate. It was a strange contortion of people that was TIBCO, Fujitsu. I’m trying to think that there was another player as well that got brought in to build a system. From there, I went to London for a while. I lived in Houston for a couple of years, moved back to London, then went to Palo Alto. Having done my stint out in the regions, I came back to the head office.

I love to have you share a little bit on that. I’ve coached CEOs and teams in 28 countries. I have some exposure to it, but most people don’t see what you’ve been able to see in terms of being embedded with these different companies and truly seeing the culture and not just the language difference. In London, return over means revenue and then in the US, that means losing employees. What are the differences in terms of leadership style and the way the companies approach business between Australia, London, Houston, Texas and California? What have you seen?

The funniest one for me is still the language. There are both professional and personal language choices that you make and each one of those places that still to this day brings a smile to my lips. One is in the UK and in Australia is to take something off is to cross something out. I remember being in a meeting and say, “Take that one off, we’ve finished that used case,” and then person’s like, “Why are you angry at the piece of paper?” “What do you mean?” Another was as jumper, especially in Australia or in the UK. I was living in Houston. It’s freezing cold in the office buildings even though it’s boiling hot outside because of air conditioning and I’m still going to find a jumper. The guy that I was working with, he still works with TIBCO, thought that that was the funniest thing he had ever heard that this young Australian kid is going to put in a jumper.

I had one where we had some friends over from Australia and they were trying to work with our company, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. We took that company to Australia years ago. Our Aussie guy from Sydney was in Vancouver and we were walking down the street. We came across the store called The Roods and he started laughing. He goes, “You have a store called The Roods,” and I’m like, “Why?” He goes, “That means to have sex,” and then the logo on The Roods is a beaver, so he was laughing. What about the leadership styles? Do they manage business differently? Do they think differently or is it pretty much the same thing? What do you think?

It is different in all three places and I spend a load of time in Germany. One of the biggest lessons I learned was you can’t stereotype a country and their business practices because while things are different, you can’t make those types of growth assumptions because people are all individuals. A good example of that is Europe. We’re still on Brexit so I’m going to count the UK as part of the EU. I look at my time in all those countries and I could see how I learned different ways of doing business. In Australia, for a lot of bigger purchases of technology, everyone is quite concerned of making sure that they are making the right choice. There is a lot of work that goes on upfront to make sure that the choice is the correct one.

SIC 63 | Leading Through Innovation

Leading Through Innovation: Something that worked two or five years ago for businesses may not work today because reinvention is constant.


In Europe, there is a lot more focus on standardization and following business processes and business rules and they tend to like software that is more standard centric. The US, on the whole, that always has felt to me being able to make more aggressive decisions earlier on. It’s the fail fast mentality to look for advantages but depressed when something has been successful. I’m mostly fascinated by this. I used to spend a lot of time with banks. You go around and you would seek the same banks, even outposts of the same banks in different countries, and have different ways of doing business even though they are all part of that macro organization. I think that companies that embrace that difference are the ones that are most successful.

You have a lot of exposure of your career working in these big multinationals and the big Fortune five of the enterprise level of companies and also selling into those companies. Where do you think we can learn from working and selling into those big organizations? What are the cheat sheets of getting in those doors and selling to them? Are they different?

If you did something that worked five years ago, it won’t work today. If you have something that worked two years ago, it’s not going to work today. These companies are moving rapidly and evolving rapidly that relying on your knowledge from two, three, five years ago is tough. All companies are going through a period of reinvention, whether it be a bank that wants to become a software company or the taxi company that decided to deliver meals. Everyone is looking for those transformational elements and it is changing the culture of these larger corporations incredibly rapidly. At the same time the ones that are the successful and most transformation still have almost a core mission, something that they believe in that while their business is making change, the tactics and technology may change.

There is something about who they are that has become increasingly important to them. It used to be the brand, but it’s not the external brand, as much as they use their internal brand the better. How they want to be deceived by vendors, by customers and by their own employees. It’s someone smarter than me where it had break something to me that it went something like people who joined a company because of the mission, they want to achieve something. Once you stay, you stay because of the values. Large corporations have worked that out that people might come because it is an exciting project. If you can get them to stay because of the core values that you represent, that is important, especially with the paucity of talent that you have available now.

They joined for the mission and they stayed for the core values. It makes so much sense, it’s true. 86% of all statistics are made up on this spot 42% of the time, so we’re good. You’ve clearly had to adopt then as well over the years. For companies, this side to be changing and you happened to be working and doubling teams to change and work with them. Also, you and I are roughly at the same age. We’ve got some deeply ingrained habits and skills. How do you unlearn those? How do you continue to learn? How do you adopt? How do you stay up with that rate of change?

I love to say that I am successful in that, but I think of myself like a stuck clock, so at least ride twice a day. When you learn something for the first time, you don’t take it on board whether it’s your parents or whether it’s early manages. They always give you pieces of advice and I have always struggled with taking that advice at face value when it was given. It’s usually two or three afterwards like, “That’s why it is important.” When I started my career, I was much the abrasive and probably still am, swears definitely, individual contributive. It was less about what the team could do. It was less about team members. It was all about how smart was I and how many times could I showcase how smart I was. I look back at that period of my life with great fondness because of the things that I was able to achieve, but also great sadness because it did not enable other people’s success. The thing that I learned is that always decide to take things over and do it because you know you can do it. That team success and enabling teams to be independent has become massively important to me.

How do you got over the mental hurdle when our company starts to evolve and we’re hiring people that are clearly smarter, faster, younger, brighter, more adept, knows code better or know whatever we are programming than we can ever code? How do you get past that that you don’t need to be smarter than them anymore?

That was a tough thing to get over, but I realized that the thing that they lack was the experience of having gone through different situations. It was not about me being smarter or faster, it was, “Can I help them magnify their own success?” The big breakthrough was it used to be as an individual contributor as a developer, as a product manager, and even frankly as a CTO early on in my career before taking on big organizations. My success and my failure were all about what I can bring to the table. It was about my effort. It was not about anyone else’s effort. At some point you realize that your personal effort, while it is important, is not as important as the impact of the entire team. You are one person.

If you are managing 2,000 people, one person’s output versus 2,000, it is clearly going to be 2,000. You make that mentor shift then it becomes all about what’s hampering somebody else’s success. How could I provide them the opportunities that I would have loved to have had when I was being managed duly under my career? The last piece is you realizes that when other people are successful, that enhances your overall success because you’ve helped make it happen if you will.

You said something that was really intriguing. It was you starting to focus on showcasing their success. I heard this years ago that a leader’s job is to get people promoted. Our job is to grow people and get them promoted. It sounds like that’s what you have done as well as you’ve worked to showcase them so they get promoted, do well on their career, removing their obstacles. You are there supporting them, not telling them what to do.

That’s because it was about learning lessons about ten years too late. Earlier under my career, I got lucky because I had a couple of guys who took me under their wing and helped me navigate the early pattern of my career and effectively almost a godfather-like figure or a couple of figures and I greatly appreciated both of them early on. It was helpful but I felt like it was tactical and I could never answer that question why. Why were these guys helping me? Then I realized, too late I think, that what they saw was that they had the ability to impact something greater than just themselves and so you do have to have the ego come up and take a bit of the back sit. It was tough.

The hard part for me would have been because I was good at that with the people that I liked. I definitely played favorites and did not realize that I help take a company from fourteen employees to 3,000. I did not recognize the favoritism that I was playing and hanging out with the people that I liked and helping the people that I like and growing and supporting people I liked. Not being there is much at all mentally or emotionally or helping to problem solve for the ones that I did not have an affinity to. That is where you can’t have that, can you?

It’s tough. We as human beings are going to gravitate to people that we like spending time with. If you got two choices, the person that you like or person B. There is no penalty. Which one you are going to choose? You’re going to choose person A. There are a couple of other things. One is you have to ask yourself, “Why don’t you like working with that other person? Is there something that you need to change and learn or is that person in the wrong place?” Like the number of times where I have suffered through having somebody honor on a team only to change that person’s role and seeing a completely new side of them. Sometimes we make a bunch of assumptions about how people feel and when you ask them, you can have completely different read.

Sometimes it is putting them in different seats, maybe it’s 5% or 10% of the time they would be the alien. They just don’t fit, but if you see that they’ve got other people in the company that they get along with and clearly it is more of a connection between you and them, it’s not a them issue, right?

SIC 63 | Leading Through Innovation

Leading Through Innovation: Leaders and managers need flexibility in judgment.


That is true. The flipside of that, and this goes back to more on talent we see and hear about, is I don’t think that I would have ever had been considered a classic developer and engineer. I would not have been anyone’s first choice as I rank in file develops. I was a great prototyper, but I sucks at the detail. I had a couple of teams early on who recognize the fact that I was great at prototyping stuff rapidly who could come up with great ideas, but I got bored halfway through. They did not craft positions but become a crafted situation that would enhance that. The other side of it is, it is not just about making sure that the square peg fits in the right hole. It is also about adopting your organization and you find talent that while they could be irritating and may not fit the bill are still very useful.

You may not want to hang out with them and have beer all the time, but they fit the culture and the core values of the company somehow too.

Anyone who has this hard and fast rules when it comes to employees, it is important that you communicate that hard and fast rules. As a leader and a manager, you need to have flexibility in judgement and you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of each day that you made the right decision for the right reasons, which is sometimes tough when emotions and personality comes into play.

You mentioned about the evolution of the company and how it has changed over the years. How has the evolution of company affected you put the war on talent? What are you doing differently now and how are you tackling this whole war on talent? What are your thoughts around it?

It is interesting because I would say that that war on talent has also coincided with breakthroughs and availability of collaboration software. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to divorce the two. If we were in a war on talent as we are now for certain roles like data science and broader AI use their experience, if we could only hire in the Bay Area for example, it would be tough because there are not that many people that are going to fill those roles. With collaboration tools like Zoom that we are using, it does allow me the opportunity to explore non-traditional places with talent, and it is not off-shoring, it’s not near-shoring, I hate those words. You get this strange little pocket of expertise in places that you would not necessarily expect and with the technologies that we have in play, you can leverage it.

A great example of this is that I have a large engineering team in Gothenburg, Sweden and they build some of the best world beating analytic software, visual analytics. They’re a great team, love the guys. I worked with them for years and years. The local university happens to specialize in data visualization and user experience, so why would not I leverage a great talent base, a phenomenal university system, and a strong leadership in that particular location? I got some offices outside of Stafford, Texas. Same thing, great university that gives me access to different types of talent. It’s up to me to identify that talent and to work at how it can be woven into the fabric of the corporation. That is different now than what it was ten or fifteen years ago. In order to make decisions you had to live in Palo Alto, you had to live in that office.

I talked to a guy who run the technology company with about 300 employees based in Indianapolis. At first, I’m like, “That’s weird. How do you find talent?” He’s like, “Nobody can afford to live in the Bay Area anywhere. Anybody that’s from Indianapolis that went school over there wants to all come home.” “Alright, that’s reasonable.” “We’ve got 42 people living in Bulgaria.” He goes, “We found two, then they found two, then they found six and all of a sudden, we are at 42.” I’m like, “Alright.”

We are absolutely living in a virtual world when it comes to employment with the tools and technology. Straight to where I put my old CTO I had on for a second, with improvements in AR and VR and also the imminent autonomous cars, we are going to see more people push out of major city centers like Bay Area because there is no penalty. If I have an autonomous vehicle and I have tele-presence through technologies drive from AR and VR, all of a sudden, why am I going into the office? If I have the same experience of going into an office from my house and if I live far away, it does not matter because I will be at a jumpy mile autonomous vehicle press the go button and then do all work day just to have a couple of in-person manage because that make sense. We are on this side for a little bit that we are going to continue to push people out of offices into a more virtual environment. It will be an experiment. Some people will like it, other people and other cultures will not like it as much.

I think a lot of where people are going to go there even if they don’t like it. They may work in co-working spaces, but they may work in cities that they want to live and all of a sudden Perth, Australia is going through a boom because it will not be on the other side of the world anymore. It will be wherever you want to live. You mentioned AI and I’m in the reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, automation or autonomous vehicles. This stuff is coming faster than we think it’s coming as well. I go to the main TED conference every year and I went to Abundance 360.

It sounds like the future or some of the stuff are coming quickly. How do you think companies are without getting trap to this hole like there seems to be such a trap with over like years ago everyone was about the blockchain? Everybody wasted inordinate amount of money and time doing stuff that all of a sudden did not matter or maybe it does not matter. Maybe it will, but how did companies start experimenting and poking their heads around this stuff? Do they just sit and wait for it and not try to get in as the innovators and early adopters? Do they wait to become the early majority? Do they wait a little bit versus wasting their time?

This is one of the biggest fears that companies face now and that is the fear of being left behind. The analogy that I draw here, it is a bit like we have access to a lot more news than we did years ago. The news in social media amplifies a lot of stuff. The same is true with companies and that their fear of getting left behind is being amplified by the sheer amount of media that is currently available. You could counter say, “My competition may or may not be doing something twenty years ago,” and now you know exactly what your competition is doing because they pass it all over the social media in LinkedIn and Facebook. All of a sudden that cycle time for innovation has got faster. What we have seen successful companies do are two things. One is you have to pick your spot. You can’t innovate in parallel for everything that is going on. You’re going to say, “I’ve got a thesis. My thesis is that AI is going to allow me to optimize.” Go quickly, go deep, fail fast, have low expectations with high aspirations, and go for it. Maybe AR, VR, as an example, even though intellectually they may be interesting, may just not be for you. You got to be able to pick your spots, but you got to go deep. The number of companies that just do service stuff like, “I look at the blockchain, it was not for me,” which you can do more than just look at it.

Do not get involved at all, right? Just stay out of it and stay focused.

Keep tabs on it. Understand what’s going on. This is not my complaint if you will, but because there is so much noise, media, information and it’s so accessible, that we are in danger of surface scheming a lot of great innovations because we do not have the time or inclination to go deep.

Is your marketing and sales approach changing? Are your teams doing it differently than they did years ago?

The sales and marketing end up being a bit of a pendulum swing. Stuff that worked ten years ago does not work now but wait another five years and it may work again. When Cloud computing as a service software became the thing, the view was you did not need to do any marketing anymore because it was all in the web. You did not need to have salespeople because people just click on the button and buy. The reality is that there are some people who like to buy that way and there are others who like to buy from people and build relationships because it is a bit complicated system. We see this less of that change, but more over-refinement. You don’t need to have a salesperson going after the company that just wants to do everything digital and vice versa.

SIC 63 | Leading Through Innovation

Leading Through Innovation: The biggest fears that companies face today is the fear of being left behind.


The person who does not want to click on a web link to go buy some expensive piece of software wants to speak to a real human being. Understanding those situations is the biggest change that we’ve seen. When you go to check in to a plane if you are taking a flight somewhere, there are people that you will see that will absolutely go line up, go speak to somebody, get that paper piece of ticket to go through security, and yet there are other people who do not want to speak to a single human being until they’re quietly strapped in the seat to go wherever they are about to go.

Did you know that Uber Black allows you to opt-out of talking to the driver? You can click a button saying, “Open to casually chatting, focus, having a usual day, just want to be by myself.”

People self-select. There’s a lot of software that we look at, but we don’t want to talk to anyone. We just want to do it. We know what we’ve got to do, that changes the way that you proceed with the way you sell. It changes the way you market, but you got to still have those common core values to cross regardless of the channel that you are selling or marketing to.

Companies over complicating their business in trying to integrate everything and make it all talk together or it just become some of the necessary evils. You are not even trying to make it all work together, you are just trying to make sure the data works or is that the same thing?

It is and it is not. We’ve always stayed tightly integrated and loosely coupled. In other words, you want the data to flow and be correct, but you also need the flexibility to swap pieces in and out if you want to upgrade the system or get rid of anything. For the most part, customers trying to stay away from making their big systems brittle by having those so tightly round together, you can’t make any changes because we live through that era. If you go back years ago with the big ERPimplementations, everyone customized those dates. When they went to upgrade or they went to do anything else, that system is so brittle that they could not touch it.

It’s the same reason why we still have mainframe systems. We’ve customized those mainframe systems so much that you can’t find people to do program them anymore. You don’t want to touch the business data because you don’t know the reverberations. It like it slides away. It was on a bee movie, but I remember the scientist comes up to the web and he touches this huge web and he can the reverberation in the background you see the spider, and systems are a little bit like that. They are so connected that if you make them too connected, change on one side to have this ripple effect throughout the rest of the spider web.

Did you get hit with this Salesforce?

We narrowly avoided it.

My girlfriend works with Ticket Master and is in-charge of the Salesforce’s engineering teams inside the Ticket Master for Salesforce and they got creamed. It was a big outage throughout North America.

It was. We went through the stuff with Dime a couple of years ago when we had the huge bot attack against Dime that brought down DNS, just about everyone’s DNS. I would say a couple of things. No one ever wants to live through an outage. We all got services, so throwing shade to another vendor because their stuff went down because of an error. It does not matter. We all are engineers at that level. I was impressed with the way that Salesforce was open and transparent. Taking on a global call to talk through the issue live on a conference call, that’s tough work.

I listened to about ten of them and I was impressed at how strong they were, like strong and deep understanding of the problem, the issues and the customers and state of calm. I was like, “I could not work on that space. Those guys are seriously professional.”

Mistakes always happen. Sometimes the mistake is because somebody hit the wrong button which we have seen before. Often times it’s how you respond. That is the real testament to character. We talked about coming for the mission and staying for the value, there is probably a lot of people at Salesforce who look at that situation, that was a boneheaded mistake that they made, but how is it to work for a company that was so strong and they conviction around making sure that their customers trust them that they are able to do those things. There is a lot of stuff to learn from that. That’s the other thing that I would say, overall these years you never ever stop learning. If you think you’ve got it and if you think you got the answer, you are probably wrong.

If you think about learning and growing your team of the two layers below you, your direct reports and their direct reports, what do you try to get them or how do you focus them on learning? Are there certain skills that you are trying to identify as more important than others?

It depends a bit. I got a fairly diverse teams that report up to me. The first thing is every team has a different level of maturity and you have to understand that. A group that has been working together for 30 years is vastly different than a group you threw together yesterday. You have to recognize the fact that there are differences. The second thing is when you look at the teams, you have to think about what mission that they’ve got, what are they trying to accomplish? What are the things that will get in the way of their success? What we’ve found, the best way to find that out is to say, “What is standing between you and total success.” Because they are the domain expertise. That’s what you are paying them for. What we are trying to do is for that level below come to the level below is we are trying to make sure that they believe in what we call the art of the possible and what that mean is that I don’t want these teams to go in there and tell, “I can’t do that because we try to perform, it failed. I can’t do that because someone told me not to do it. I can’t do that because it’s probably wrong.” We want them to think about the art of the possible and then to think about how to acquire that to what they are trying to do and then use their managers and their manager’s managers ask the people to help them with their success.

We had a team meeting at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? years ago and it was our top five franchises with the leadership team. We were early stage, but a lot of friction in the meeting where the franchisees wanted a lot and we wanted a lot and we are arguing and we all want to grow the company, but we could not get on the same page and then one of the franchisees stood up and he said, “For the next two days, how about we just approach every idea and every problem with what if we could.” That art of the possible like, “What if we could do it? What if it did work?” We did it for two days and damned if we did not come up with some great stuff.

That I can definitely attribute to the background of Vivek Ranadivé who is our founder and now the owner of the Sacramento Kings. He always used to challenge us. He was focused with a bit more on the customer side which is help the customers understand the art of the possible, because everyone comes in with conceive notions and it could be dangerous. I was talking to my wife about this. Sometimes as a senior leader you get so caught up in what you can’t do. You forget about what you can do, and I know that sounds pity, but sometimes you need to just be daydreaming and say, “that would be cool if could do X,” and then you are like, “hang on, I’m the CEO of the company, I can do X.” You get that mindset that if you are running so fast, you are on the path you are going and you sometimes look left and right to see what else is going on, but the brain is a funny thing when it comes to that stuff.

If you were to go back to your 21-year-old self and give yourself some advice, clearly we were not going to listen to our parents or anybody else when we were 21, what would you tell yourself at 21 that you now know to be true that you wish you would have known earlier on when you are starting your career?

To me it is simple, work better with others. If I look back on my early part of my career, I felt and I still feel that I have a good ability to excite people and to lead them, and I think that is useful, it is certainly my role. I’m saying I am good at it, I’m possible. The thing that I have struggled with and I struggled with it back then and I have got slightly better now is the ability to work together with others in a constructive way versus just leading them. Understanding the voices that are out there, collaboration. These are things that I did not know back then was so important, but I think would have helped.

Matt Quinn, chief operating officer from TIBCO, thank you for sharing with us.

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About Matt Quinn

SIC 63 | Leading Through InnovationMatt Quinn, the Chief Operating Officer of TIBCO. Matt manages TIBCO’s day-to-day operations and is instrumental in the growth and development of TIBCO’s products and technologies, including the TIBCO Connected Intelligence Cloud. Formerly serving in executive roles including Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President, Products and Technology.


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