Back in September, the New York Times ran a positive article about Kevin B. Rollins, the LDS CEO of Dell Computer (the link is to a reprint at BYU). When I started reading the article that was forwarded to me, I didn’t know he was LDS. But my immediate reaction to his picture was, “Hey, he kind of looks Mormon.” Yeah, I know that’s weird, but that was my fleeting reaction (I’m often been wrong when I say that – but Whoopi could still join the Church and prove me right after all). Anyway, I’m impressed with the story and the kind of CEO he has been. Here’s an excerpt:
In the back-slapping world of big business, where deals are often consummated over glasses of bourbon or bottles of fine wine, Mr. Rollins also stands out. As a Mormon, he has never consumed an alcoholic beverage.
He plays the violin several times a week, and occasionally performs publicly. He’s a skier and a mountain biker, and he races motorcycles and fast cars, a pastime he occasionally shares with Joseph M. Tucci, chief executive of EMC, the computer storage device maker that has been a Dell partner since 2001. “He is very different once you get to know him,” Mr. Tucci said. “He can come off as aloof, but he’s far from it.” . . .
KEVIN ROLLINS naps. He admitted as much not long before Jeffrey R. Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, one of Dell’s top customers, was scheduled to speak to a group of Dell executives. Mr. Rollins reckoned that his famous visitor might have fun with the tale, so he broke the news that Mr. Immelt had called him on a recent vacation in Mexico and caught him in an afternoon snooze. Many people inside the company had the same reaction: “He naps?”
The very idea seemed incongruous to those who work for him and see him put in 70- to 80-hour workweeks. (He still finds the time to run four or five miles several times a week and to pursue a long list of hobbies. And when he’s in town, he attends church every Sunday.) So, too, did the idea of Mr. Rollins putting on a cowboy hat, mounting a stage at a basketball arena and accompanying himself on the violin while belting out a song spoofing a computer industry foe. But he did that, too, at a Dell event.
Imagine if they knew that he once had shoulder-length hair – and that, while a teenager in Provo, Utah, he was the lead singer in a rock ‘n’ roll band. As he told it, the band, called the Gents, was good enough to play in New York City and to land a spot in a “battle of the bands” in Boston. “Music is still very important to me,” Mr. Rollins said.
His sandy brown hair is now neatly trimmed, and Mr. Rollins, still tall and fit, has an exceedingly polite demeanor with customers, analysts and others. “Don’t mistake politeness for a lack of intensity or competitiveness,” Mr. Dell said. “He has mega-mega-mega doses of that.”
Kudos, Brother Rollins!
(Maybe more of us should all take up napping — and jogging and violin and 80-hour work weeks and successful competitive intensity.)