Spotlight: Kenneth Johnson “Be Better than the Second You Just Lived”
by Emily Baago – Fargo | December 4, 2017
This week our Blog Team met with Kenneth Johnson (KJ) as our team saw him off to Seattle for a new opportunity with Microsoft. KJ has impacted so many lives in our Microsoft family; we wanted to share his adventurous career path through many different organizations including the military, AT&T, and Microsoft.
1. Tell us about your Journey with Microsoft and how you got to where you are today?
In the early stages of my career, over a 3 year period, I applied to Microsoft 430 times. Most of these roles were tech roles and/or TAMs. I was constantly being told that I was a great fit, but was over qualified for the roles I was applying to. I was then given the opportunity to work for AT&T. The day I moved to Texas I received a call from a director at Microsoft asking a couple questions and offering my dream job in cyber security; I declined because I had already signed my letter of intent at AT&T, and I am a man of my word. I wanted to give the job a shot and would give it at least 6 months before moving on to something else. Eventually I decided to start searching for a new role elsewhere and became a Technical Solutions Professional at Microsoft’s Inside Sales center in Fargo, ND.
I was happy to be a part of a team that included great influences like Dane Johansen, Dustin Sawicki, Robert Dolney and many more that I was able to learn and grow from their influences.
After a successful 8 months in that role I was approached to be a Insides Sales Manager. This was completely out of my comfort zone of the tech world, but a great opportunity to grow in my professional career. Initially I declined because I wanted to focus on the tech side of things; then enters Kelly Obach and what I call, “The Kelly Obach Effect.” We had a great conversation about me as an individual and my future plans within the company. I eventually accepted the job and stepped into something that I knew nothing about, but Kara Kolden and I made a great team. She had the sales experience and I had that tech experience. In my time as an ISM I learned a great deal about sales, pipeline, quotes, etc., and I wouldn’t change a thing.
The next step in my path is being a Business Operations Manager – Airband, based out of Redmond, WA. I will be connecting rural communities to broadband internet. I am really excited about this continued growth with Microsoft. I have never done anything like this before but with the “I will not fail” mindset I know it will be a great opportunity.
2. What has been your key successes to being with Microsoft?
During every stage of my career I have always had the mindset that I would not fail. This comes from my military background and that’s what taught me the mantra of “I will not fail.” If you enjoy what you do, then you will be successful and I hope that everyone is able to enjoy what they do. The only person that can control your success is you, and finding out what your key to success is, is finding out what you are passionate about.
3. What has been your favorite part of working in Fargo?
The best part about Fargo is the people, it all comes down to the people. When I first started, Kris Sandau was my manager and the support I felt here was incredible. Everyone would listen to my ideas and support those ideas no matter what. The comradery here is out of this world, everyone in Fargo is there for each other. The people that I met and the support that I got from the Microsoft team in Fargo is the closest thing that I have found to the military since I left.
4. What are you mostly excited about for Seattle?
I am most excited about getting back to big city living. The job is going to be an adventure and I am so excited to do something that is totally outside my comfort zone.
5. What advice do you have for your younger KJ self?
Be open to the opportunities that come your way, even if it may not be your dream job. Enjoy what you are doing now and figure out what your passion is. At the end of the day, be better than the second you just lived.
KJ has a background that truly connects with our culture at our Fargo Center; from welcoming new comers to connecting and with current inside sales employees, he has shown our center what it means to have a growth mindset and that even the tiniest of things in life are worth living for.