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.