Inside IT With Tech Visionary Charles Araujo

By Jack Rosenberger  |  Posted 10-23-2014 Print Email

A popular author and speaker about the future of IT, Charles Araujo talks about what it means to be a digital leader, the IT organization of tomorrow, and how to enable transformation in an organization.

Charles Araujo

CIO Insight: Tell our readers about servant leadership and why it is so important to you?

The idea of servant leadership is just this idea that to be a great leader you must see yourself as a servant. Not in the subservient kind of way, but that your overarching goal is to be of service to the cause and to the team. It's easiest to explain with an example.

I remember one time early in my career I was working during a weekend. I was recently divorced and it was my weekend with the kids, but we were in the middle of this crazy project and the work had to get done, so I brought my young kids into the office. I was trying to keep them busy and get my work done at the same time (and I was mostly unsuccessfully on both counts) when my CIO unexpectedly walked in. I was petrified. I thought I'd get in trouble for having them there. But to my surprise, she took the kids into her office and played and colored with them. (The funny part was that she really wasn't a "kid person.")

I felt very uncomfortable about the situation and after a while I walked into her office and told her that I'd go home and come back in the middle of the night to get my work done. She looked at me and told me to go back to work and that she would handle the kids. And I'll never forget what she said next. She said, "Look, Charlie, your job is to get this crazy project done. I know I've asked a lot of you and the team. That makes it my job to do whatever I need to do to make that possible. And right now, that means that it's my job to watch your kids so that you can get this done. So, go work. We're good." And for the next several hours, this highly paid CIO played with my kids so that I could work. I'm sure she spent the night catching up on what she had intended to do that afternoon. But there was no ego, no sense of self-righteousness, no sense that watching my kids was beneath her. She saw her role as to be of service to the people on her team that needed to get the job done. That's servant leadership. And I believe it is one of the most powerful forces on earth. I moved heaven and earth on that project. And make no mistake, I did it for her. That's the power of true, authentic servant leadership.

CIO Insight: You recently began doing a series of web shows with Intel about IT transformation. What are some of the key ideas you've been discussing in the Intel IT Center web shows?

After The Quantum Age of IT came out, I got invited to speak all over the world about it. And as part of that process I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people with their own amazing stories of personal transformation. These are people that I believe in many ways are living in the future that I'm talking about.

And as I was talking to them, I always felt almost guilty. I had the privilege to hear these stories, but I felt that everyone should hear them. Then at some point, Intel discovered us (that was pretty cool) and we started talking about ways that we could jointly spread the messages from my book, and we hit on this idea of doing a web show in which I would interview all of these amazing people that I've met and share their stories with the world.

So that's what we've been doing. It's called the "Transform IT Show" and we're just getting started. I interview IT leaders, business executives, futurists, authors and other folks that I think have a unique perspective on what the future will hold for IT and business leaders. But I also work hard to make it very practical. I'm much more interested in their personal journeys and I try to distill direct advice and lessons from their career that our audience can apply and put into practice immediately in their careers.

We have a lot of fun on the show and, so far, the reviews have been great. People are finding them educational, inspiring and practical. I hope that your readers tune in and check it out.

CIO Insight: What have you learned by doing the "Transform IT" web shows with Intel?

Well, first and foremost, I have a newfound respect for how much work goes into producing television shows and the like. We decided that we didn't want to do the Google Hangout thing even though it's a great technology, so we actually show up on location with a film crew. We shoot with three cameras, lights, sound, the whole bit. The whole process from scheduling, filming, editing and prepping for distribution takes about five weeks per show. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

But what has been most fascinating is how universal the ideas and advice are. Almost every time, I've had the film crew walk up and shake hands with both me and the guest thanking us for the great life advice. In the end, while we're focused on our little part of things, the fundamental issues that we're grappling with is how to be a better leader and how to be able to prepare for an uncertain future—the things that everyone is grappling with these days. So the shows have been a lot of fun, and I personally learn something during every episode. It's been great.

About the Author

Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight. You can follow him on Twitter via @CIOInsight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Three Reasons to Revisit Your Tablet Strategy," click here. 


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