Intel’s Actions Speak Louder than Donations

Several news items today talk about how chip giant Intel has parted company with the innovative group, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). OLPC is a nonprofit educational computing group. Their mission is to help children have more access to information and opportunities by providing them with low-cost computing capabilities. Their OX laptop is the first step. It’s being sold to governments and other organizations who give them to children who otherwise could not afford them. The price is about $200 per laptop.

Intel joined forces with OLPC last July with a big financial commitment and a seat on their board. This seemed a good move on their part. But now, just six months later, Intel has left the building.

The reason? Simple, yet stupid.

Intel also sells a low-cost laptop, called the Classmate PC. It contains Intel chips and Microsoft software (Including Office). It offers a lot of PC for the price (about $350). The OLPC laptop uses AMD chips and open-source software such as Linux and OpenOffice. This helps keep the price so low.

Because Intel sells a competing product, their sales reps have been calling on the same customers as OLPC. And, according to news reports, they have been pushing their product, trying to persuade these organizations to drop their commitment to OLPC and buy the Intel products instead.

You could argue Intel is just trying to sell their products. Nothing wrong with that, right?

But I disagree.

First, they are working directly against an organization they have committed to supporting.

Where are Intel’s values? Do they really support the mission of this organization? Or are they just trying to buy goodwill? It’s disingenuous to proclaim support for a cause you are directly and actively competing with. Your actions speak louder than the checks you write.

Second, they are pushing their products on customers who have already demonstrated they want something else.

This is classic “me first” behavior. To a certain degree I am amazed this still happens so much, given the Internet-driven, enlightened century we live in. But it’s with us. Many people continue to think the way to get what they want is by forcing themselves on others. Forget what they want. “It’s all about me” seems to be the motto and strategy for so many people and their organizations.

This reminds me of a quote attributed to Zig Ziglar:

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Is this so hard for people to understand? It’s not complex. It’s been said in a thousand ways by millions of people for centuries.

This should not be a difficult concept to grasp. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. If you’re not sure about this idea’s veracity, just try it. Suspend your disbelief for 30 days and try it. Focus everything you do on helping others get what they want. Help your customers, your vendors, your co-workers, your friends, family and neighbors. Just try it and see what happens.

When you spend your time and energy helping other people be successful and happy, you will be rewarded. It won’t necessarily be direct or immediate. But it will happen. It’s the old “what comes around, goes around” theory. And it works.

The days of pushing your products on people are coming to an end. The era of focusing on what you or your organization want is fading. The new rules of success mean you need to focus your efforts on helping others. Do this honestly and consistently and you’ll find getting what you want is easy whether you’re a person or a global technology company.