with a
Mike McBrien, world
traveler, business executive, consultant,
innovator, speaker, fan of
the D, and family man

Little Red Car


On the heels of the successful North American International Auto Show, in a very chilly, snowy Detroit, I recall a cool automotive themed event I attended last year in Dearborn.Final-1707 (1)

The place was The Henry Ford – a museum founded by none other than Henry Ford (OK, the name does give it away).  It was originally a school started by Henry and his buddy Thomas Edison (as it turns out, he was pretty famous as well) that taught gifted students new ways of learning about science and technical studies. In 1945, Henry’s son Edsel Ford transformed the school into one of the most famous and historic museums in the country.  It is 15 minutes from the airport; if you ever get the chance, visit it – you will be fascinated.

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Strategic Partner Summit


About 5 months ago I started my consulting firm, Merlion Consulting, LLC.

In deciding to go down the consulting route, I chatted with former co-workers, former customers and partners.  The consensus was that I had something to offer, and that was great.  But from those conversations came the realization that — from a “Partner” perspective — things are always changing in the enterprise software/cloud world.  These changes bring both disruption and opportunity.  In these conversations I also realized that there are no seminars aimed specifically at those Partners and their opportunities for growth.

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Happy New Year!


I would like to finish the year by first thanking all of you who have supported me in 2013 I have started my new blog, as well as my new business ventures. It has been an exciting year for me!


I would like to end the year with a great feel-good story that was made possible from a great family that I know with a great spirit of giving back to the community. About 3 months ago, I made an appeal to my network to help support Lilly Blake in her efforts to fund her charity, Blanketed With Love.

The story begins last Christmas at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the heart of Detroit. As a child sat on Santa’s lap, he told Santa that he would gladly turn in his toys for a blanket to keep warm. An eager elf overheard the conversation, and was able to get Lilly and her friends to help out. The result was overwhelming, and truly meant a much warmer Christmas for many in the city of Detroit.

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It is all about the cloud and the numbers for Dreamforce 2013.


To say that Dreamforce 2013, the annual user conference forSalesforce, was impressive last week would be a major understatement. The musical acts this year were Huey Lewis and the News as stage warm-up for Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff, Blondie, and Green Day.


But, what I found was the most impressive about Dreamforce was the numbers.  135,000 attendees, 350 partners, 2,000 sessions, more than 100 spin-off parties.  The population of San Francisco swells by an amazing 15 percent during this event.  The other number that soars during this annual ritual: hotel fees. The Marriott charges $700 per night from Sunday till the Wednesday night of the event, then plummets back to Earth at $180 per night.  The hotel and restaurants of San Francisco all hail you, almighty Mr. Marc Benioff!

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The power of a question.


A little over a year ago, I had the honor to visit the hallowed halls of Harvard to spend some time with one of the greatest minds in business: Professor Clay Christensen. A good friend of mine in Detroit, Bob Moesta, has been working with Clay for years on multiple projects. One of Bob’s many claims to fame is the fact that he is the “Milkshake Man” that Clay often refers to in his books and speeches when he discusses his concept of “Jobs to be Done”.


Bob and Clay get together a few times a year with a small group of business leaders to ask questions of Clay regarding their business. This time, Bob invited Jason Fried, founder of 37 Signals; Lauren Lackey, VP of R&D at SC Johnson; Chris Spiek and Brian Tolle, both partners of Bob’s company The Re-Wired Group; and me. We were told to come armed with questions about what business challenges or opportunities we were facing. Clay loves questions, he told us that they enable a part of your brain to open up an accept information, to learn.

One of the many great things about Clay is that he rarely answers a question with a direct answer; he typically answers question with a story. When he starts the story, you ask yourself Where the heck is going with this?  Then, when he wraps it up: eureka, WOW – I get it!

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People, Product, Place!


mike-mcbrienI had a wonderful opportunity a few months ago to get a great tour of a spanking new factory located in downtown Detroit. No, it was not a Cadillac or Chrysler plant.

About a year ago, I read an article in the Detroit Free Press, telling the story of a watch man, Heath Carr, former President of Fossil watches. He longed for the day that fine watches would some day be designed and manufactured in the USA. He was also inspired by the recent news coming out of Detroit, including Chrysler’s great new slogan “Imported from Detroit”. He made a trip to the D, and he liked what he saw. He was especially impressed when he visited the Detroit School of Design, located in the historic Argonaut building.

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