Alan and Me – Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s Crash Course in Social Media

The biggest surprise of CES so far for me was talking with Ford President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally. He made a guest appearance at the Ultimate Blogger Dinner hosted by the Social Media Club.

I'll be writing more on my interactions with the Ford team; I have two video interviews that I'll post soon too. I'll share a few first impressions though based on my conversation with Alan:

  • He was remarkably approachable (as was everyone on his team, including his public relations staff). I've gone to some events where they push the bloggers out of the way to make room for the major media outlets. Here, the top guy was striking up conversations with any blogger or other attendee who wanted to chat.
  • He didn't know what social media was. He candidly noted that he just found out on the way down to the event. The honesty was refreshing, especially since he did get the bigger picture (see below). I also wonder how many people at the Ultimate Blogger Dinner or Social Media Jungle could provide a coherent definition.
  • He does get some of the lingo. I almost fell over – literally – when he started talking about the car as a platform. Wait a second, this is the CEO of the company ranking #7 on the Fortune 500? He set the tone for the night, making a Ford sound like an iPhone or Firefox. The conversation then got into open APIs. His colleaugues later expounded on this more with me – you'll see it in the videos.

The questions with Alan's colleagues go deeper; expect some follow-ups shortly.

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4 thoughts on “Alan and Me – Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s Crash Course in Social Media

  1. Looks like you had a lot of fun! I think everyone- CEOs, actors, celebrities, sports stars, should take that approach. Hope you’re having a good time at CES! We’ll be in Vegas soon for Affiliate Summit, maybe we’ll see you there!

  2. Thanks for this informed comment, Nathan. I’m a bit out of my league when
    dealing with the auto industry or Alan’s history here so I appreciate you
    providing some context.
    If you have a chance I’d love to see what you think of the video interviews
    when I post them within the next few days. I think you’ll see that his team
    does have a good grasp of the concept of ‘platform’ that I’m more used to
    dealing with.

  3. Now there’s a conversation I’d like to have. Nice catch!
    One nit to pick, though. I wouldn’t be surprised by his use of “platform,” which is not used exclusively in technology. Coming from Boeing, Alan would be completely familiar with thinking of products as platforms. Just Google “737 platform” to get a sense of how Boeing aircraft are described. The auto industry has a similar history, especially when you think of different vehicles (say, the VW Jetta and Audi A4) that are built on the same platform.
    Still, it is nice to see his willingness to talk to people who might not have been on the must-reach media list a few years ago.

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