Monday, July 22, 2013

My Take: Chapter 6 of Maxwell's 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth - The Law of Environment

Zen (Photo credit: Josefe aka Hipnosapo)
The summary of this chapter is really that it is impossible to grow without changing. However, it is possible change without growing.   Therefore, the focus is growth.  And to grow, we need the right environment.  Six steps are recommended for growth. 
  1. Assess your current environment. There are a number of ways to do this, so figure out what works for you and do it. You may ask a set of questions like, "What ideas speak to me?", What music lifts me?", and "what dreams inspire me?".  If you are not getting what you need in your current environment then make some changes - this is not easy.
  2. Change yourself and your environment. Change both for maximum growth and more successful growth. Define your growth environment.  List the key points of your environment, and mark each one with true or false for your current environment.  If you answer false to more than five of these statements,  your current environment may be hampering your growth.  My key environment points list is a variation of the authors:
    • Others are ahead of me.
    • I am challenged at the right times.
    • My focus if forward.
    • The atmosphere is affirming.
    • I am often out of my comfort zone.
    • I wake up excited.
    • Failure is not my enemy.
    • Others are growing.
    • Growth is modeled and expected. 
  3. Change who you spend time with. The most signficant factor in a person's environment is the people.  If you change nothing else in your life for the better, change that and you have increased your chances of success.  This is not an easy thing to do, but face the facts and clean house if needed, and things will change. 
  4. Challenge yourself in your new environment. Make your goals public, pick a growth opportunity each week, etc.  A post by Bruce Kasanoff about how to help structure your week is a great start at this, and I have added to his one page, weekly activity list by putting my quarterly goals in the same document. This enables me to review my quarterly goals each week and then plan my week with my goals in mind, knowing what I have achieved previously.  By the way, I have posted my quarterly goals up on bathroom mirror as well so I see them every day. This is a huge step - much bigger than you realize until you do it. 
  5. Focus on the moment. The only moment we have control over is the "now".  "Today is when everything that is going to happen from now on begins".  Do what you can do in each "now". 
  6. Move forward despite criticism. "Growth always comes from taking action, and taking action almost always brings criticism." Reach for what you want, make your own decisions, and then stick with them no matter what people say.  
Finally, leaders can take responsibility for creating an environment that helps people achieve what they are striving for.  Take the features of your environment and create that environment for the people you lead.  It will be one of the most important investments you will ever make.  If you have children, create it for them.  This is my goal as a leader and a father. 

Thoughts? Comments? 

Please repost this if you think it is worth it!  


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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Social media - more personal power than ever before

Psy (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)
Diesel has a new ad campaign called #dieselreboot.  You can find it at dieselreboot.  Very creative and some would say "weird", but that is what diesel apparently wants to be.  What is really compelling about this campaign and what I want to focus on is the message that social media gives power to the individual.  This, I believe, is a new "power" that will change our world.  The essence of this change is that this is the first time in the history of the world that an individual can so quickly become "recognized" because they are giving something that people want. 

Having the ability to individually become recognized globally (whatever your definition of global is) is truly brand new for the human race. Think about the evolution of "recognition".  Before newspapers, people were recognized in their community, primarily face to face interactions that enabled us to tell our story and be "recognized".  Then newspapers came along and as the newspaper became well known and shared around the world, people were recognized... if the paper felt the information about you was "news worthy" (good or bad).  However, the newspaper people were in control of our recognition.  Then news (from newspapers) migrated to the internet via websites and the recognition happened faster and more globally, but it was still controlled by the newspaper.  Then people became more active on the internet, creating websites and then blogs, tweets, and facebook posts.  This was the turning point... when people published what they wanted to publish.  The last component required to complete this transformation was that there were enough people "listening" that the individual could have a following and be recognized.  Today, if we have the drive and the ability to give people what they want, we can become recognized, quickly and globally, and simply because enough people are listening and recognizing the value.

Some good examples of this new phenomenon range from the popularity of Psy, a Korean singer that had a number 1 hit single sung in Korean (more or less :-)) to my cousin Adele who has a following of about 75 people on Facebook and she posts almost every day about her life and travels.   Diane Nyad, the swimmer that is attempting to swim from Cuban to Key West, is another good example.  She has taken on the challenge to push herself as well as encourage others to do the same. None of these people would have the impact they have today without social media helping them get their message out, and people listening and responding.  It is truly a new (and mostly wonderful) world if you ask me.

This ability has a whole new set of challenges for us as a society, and I have not yet spent time thinking through these challenges.  I do believe this new world makes us more responsible as individuals because we can no longer blame a newspaper or a company for what we "hear" and make popular.  We listen to and promote who and what we want, so we have the power and responsibility to promote "responsibly".  Sounds like a new tag line, doesn't it? "Promote responsibly". In my opinion we should adopt this mantra because we don't have a choice - social media is here and it will change our life whether we participate actively or not.

Your thoughts?


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Barnes & Noble at The Shops at Tanforan mall i...
Barnes & Noble at The Shops at Tanforan mall in San Bruno, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Barnes and Noble appear to be working hard on defining their future.  It seems to me they need to refocus on their retail power and become great at using technology in the store.  How about  letting people browse books, read books, talk about books in the store (the physical environment) and they provide the best network and downloading capability ever so a person can get the book in the most desirable form when they are ready to buy?  After all, it boils down to selling books, right?

What is your answer if you were Riggio?


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Friday, June 7, 2013

My Take: Chapter 5 of Maxwell's 15 laws of Growth - The Law of Consistency

ConsistĂȘncia / Consistency
ConsistĂȘncia / Consistency (Photo credit: lucas_f)
Motivation gets you going - Discipline keeps you going!  This is the point of Maxwell's 5th chapter.  John says he used to think his mission was to motivate people, but discipline and consistency is what really creates the wins and makes a difference in people's lives.  And, as we all know, it is not easy.  Human beings are not naturally prone to consistency - just the opposite.  In fact, we are only complete consistent when we are dead!

The key is to work to improve ourselves, not our job, or others or our position.  Our purpose to improve ourselves will help us do what we don't like to do, but, as Maxwell says, "our dislike in doing the best thing is subordinated to the strength of our purpose". The way to do this can be assisted with some simple rules laid out in this chapter.

  1. Keep it simple. A good example is in playing soccer.  You can make the amazing pass through 3 defenders to the open striker, or you can make the simple pass to your team mate who is 15 feet away and he can make the pass to the striker.  Simple is better. 
  2. Be patient.   "All things are difficult before they become easy". 
  3. Value the process.  A section of this chapter is entitled, "Maybe it is time to Stop setting Goals".  John suggests instead of setting goals we think about growth.  It is not totally clear to me how to tactically execute this, but the idea is that a goal actually limits us because it puts a "cap" on the activity.  Growth on the other hand does not limit us - it simply allows us to keep moving forward as far as possible. 
  4. Know why you you want to improve. Keep these reasons in front of you daily.  I think distractions are the biggest reason we don't achieve what we want to achieve because there are so many things that we can do at any one time.  Again, consistency and discipline are key.  One really good suggestion in the book is what is called the Compound Effect from a writer named Darren Hardy, who writes, "The compound effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices.  What's most interesting about this process is that, even though the results are massive, the steps, in the moment, don't feel significant." For example, I just posted my 3 month goals on my mirror this week and it is amazing how much more focused I am in the day to day work because I see those goals when I brush my teeth in the morning and at night.  This is a good example of a small step that makes a big impact. 
  5. Know when we are supposed to improve. This is somewhat strange, but the point is that we accomplish great things by doing something that gets us closer every day.  John makes the point that we don't decide our future ultimately; we decide our habits and our habits decide our future.  Habits are things we do frequently and are part of our "being". 
Another great point of this chapter is that we need to figure out how to be consistently productive. The premise is that we typically can't be inspired to work, but we work and in the process we get inspired which keeps us working.  You can read the book for details here, but the point here is that people who have accomplished a lot don't do great work everyday, but they do their work consistently, sometimes good, sometimes not so good, and they keep at it. 

Motivation gets us going, but discipline and consistency keeps us going. 

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My Take: Chapter 4 of Maxwell's 15 laws of Growth - The Law of Reflection

Time for reflection!
Time for reflection! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After reading this chapter multiple times, the key takeaway from this chapter is that reflection is necessary to learn from our past activities.  And, as we get older there is more to learn. Basically, allow growth to catch up to us.   A quote from the book is, "If we pause to allow growth to catch up to us, it makes our lives better, because we not only better understand the significance of what we have experienced, but we can implement changes and course corrections as a result".

When we do pause there are a few steps that are suggested: Investigate, Incubate and Illuminate and then Illustrate. For example, I just went through a pretty grueling interview process that ended with a rejection. Painful, but enightening, and reflection has given me some new insights on myself as well as the actions of a company that I want to work with.

This sounds like a signficant commitment of time and energy, right? It is, and that is why people don't do it and why it puts us ahead of the game if we do.  And, it becomes even more important as we get older since there is more to learn to effectively direct our lives for the later part of our life.  Reaching our potential is a direct outcome of reflection on our life lived so far.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Financial Services Collaboration and content management

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...
English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I attended the Financial Services Collaboration and content management summit put on by Business Development Institute (BDI) yesterday (May 14th) in Philadelphia.  A really good mix of presenters and presentations (mostly about social media) that gave just the right level of detail (IMO).  The talks generated some good questions and for me some new insights into making social media and collaboration successful in Financial Services (and most other industries as well).

Here are my take-away and confirmations:
1. Rolling out social media takes serious planning and in the best case a clear idea of what will be achieved by doing it.
2. Having senior management buy-in is key to the success of social media deployment
3. With respect to marketing, weaving social media into the overall marketing plan typically makes the most sense
4. Social media is not a destination, it is a place you live.  So, to be effective you have integrate it into your overall work, plans and life!
5. Social media monitoring can be used for at least 3 areas of business:
    - detecting issues with your company, products, etc
    - finding leads for your company, products, etc
    - Better customer services e.g., Creating "Wow" moments for your clients where you go the extra mile
6. Be selective about who you empower with social media, E.g., Kelly Hoffman at Janney Montgomery Scott selected advisors to be part of the social media rollout program that they believed would be active and would represent the company well
7. The power of social is very effective if you think of your company as a group of individuals who have a circle of friends that trust your employees more than your brand or your marketing.

And, of course, it is always nice to be in Philly on a sunny spring day in the historic part of town. After the conference I had a great Amber Ale at the Triumph Brewing company with my friends Victoria Khazan and Todd Weidman.

Have an outstanding day!

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

what is GE up to?

General Electric Automatic Iron Box
General Electric Automatic Iron Box (Photo credit: Marion Doss)
I find it interesting that General Electric (GE) has been showing up in multiple leading edge software companies as an active participant.  Last fall at the Dreamworks conference,  Marc Benioff talked about meeting with GE to come up with new ways to use their software and the result was some very creative use of Chatter to integrate a jet engine into a chatter community for support and service of that engine.  Yesterday Pivotal announced an investment of $105M by GE to help Pivotal redefine how to write commercial software. Is this just a natural progression of their current business or are they on to something new?

They have definitely come a long way from the Automatic Iron!  :-)
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The paradox of Choice

TED (conference)
TED (conference) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have a goal of listening to a couple TED talks each week.   I just listened to Barry Schwartz talk about the Paradox of Choice. TED talk: barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html

I now have many questions I want to answer, primarily about raising children. So, he just gave me even more to do. :-)

However, his talk makes it clear to me why we seem to have less time in our lives than when we were growing up  - we are spending so much more time making decisions on things that used to be "non-choices".  Never mind that we were young and didn't think about all the things we can think about now (another set of "choices").  Yeesh!

What I appreciate about this talk though, is that it helped me put things back into perspective - if we want more time, get rid of the things that cause us to choose from many options.  And keep in mind that we are doing well, just that there is always more to do than we can get done, so be happy at the end of every day!

Have an outstanding day!
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Friday, April 12, 2013

My tools for Social Media

English: Tools
English: Tools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At our Personal Board of Directors dinner last night (attending were Gian Zoppo, Howard Weiner, Steve McCrudden, Tim Meyer), I realized I might help people by posting the tools and process I use to maintain my social channels. So, here it is in a nutshell, or maybe a little more...

First, my primary goal in maintaining a social presence on the internet is communicate my interests, both personal and career, and use social media as a way to both hold myself accountable to the goals I set in my personal and career life as well as let people know what they are.  I guess I have always felt an interesting person who is known by no one is not very interesting... and that sharing my interests helps me learn more in the process.  So, that is why I have a Social online presence.  

My typical method of contributing to the (online) world is to blog, then get the word out that I have blogged something new.  Sometimes I just send out a quick thought, in which case I don't blog it but instead I tweet, send an update to Linkedin and facebook.  I did that with a TED talk today.

So, my process when I have something significant to say is to first blog it (here).  To blog I use Blogspot coupled with Zemanta which gives me help in tying what I have to say to relevant things out on the internet already.  I can pull visuals from Zemanta (a plus on a blog simply for some eye candy) as well as related articles. So I write my blog, pull in related articles and visuals, and then post the new content to my blog for all to see.

Once I have done that, I use 1 of 2 tools to get the word out.  One tool is called Buffer, which lets me share my blog post out to Twitter, Linkedin and facebook as well as others.  The other tool is called Snapshot Social Media, which does similar things in a different way.  There are pros and cons to each (e.g., I can't post to a blog site from Snapshot unless it is Wordpress, and I have more ability to use local content in Snapshot than I do in Buffer).  I can't post to Google+ with either tool.  So, in any case, I use one of these tools to let people know that I posted a new blog article,  and I am done.

I use a couple other tools to monitor the social channels, mainly Tweetdeck and the stats page on my blog (from Blogspot).  

So there you have it!  What do you use that I am missing?


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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Silicon Snake Oil - a look back to look forward

mobileinternetgrowth5 (Photo credit: sam_churchill)
I was speaking with Rick Thompson of Snapshot Social Media the other day and he mentioned the book written by Clifford Stoll called "Silicon Snake Oil" as a interesting view of technology and it's power to change our lives.  Clifford Stoll helped create the internet technology and as such was an early user watching the average person discover and start using the internet.    This book was published in 1995, so was written 1 to 2 years before that (based on the schedule of my author friend and his writing of novels).   

I didn't end up reading this book - I skimmed it after the first few chapters.  Clifford is pretty pessimistic about what he helped build and felt that people were wasting a lot of time because they were doing things that were not of any value in their everyday lives.  He also seemed to feel that the internet would never become useful to the common person.  A very interesting and telling section of the book comes when he says, "Well, I don't believe that phone books, newspapers, magazines or corner video stores will disappear as computer networks spread.  Nor do I think that my telephone will merge with my computer, to become some sort of information appliance."  :-)  According to Wikipedia, when this article resurfaced on BoingBoing in 2010, Stoll left a self-deprecating comment: "Of my many mistakes, flubs, and howlers, few have been as public as my 1995 howler....Now, whenever I think I know what's happening, I temper my thoughts: Might be wrong, Cliff..." 

Just goes to show us we won't get every prediction right, and we will probably understimate the value of emerging technologies... even with all the hype that comes along with new capabilities.  In my mind social media is at this point right now... It is turning marketing on its head, it is changing the way we interact with each other and with companies, and it is changing the way we "find" things.  Mobile makes these shifts even more dramatic as we become more impactful as a single person in a world with billions and billions of people and companies. To Clifford's point though, there are more and more things to waste our time, so the key is making our life, our company and our world efficient when there is more and more to deal with. As we know, the one thing that hasn't changed is that there are only 24 hours in a day.  
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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why rapid change is in our future

The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point (Photo credit: Go Gratitude)
Just a short post to capture some thoughts I had today about how social technology, online capabilities and mobile are changing the way we behave, interact and live and what we can expect in the future. My primary premise is that technology is the driver that is going create rapid change because with adoption of technology comes changes to human behavior.

Although I wasn't impress with the book, the Tipping Point, I do agree there are points in time where something really starts to take off - the hockey stick phenomenon where the change is accelerated and happens faster than it did previously.  I believe this is where we are with technology; it is accepted and generally adopted and in the future is going to change things much quicker than it has previously.

A good example of technology driving change is the way marketing a brand is done.  Previously, companies could position a brand the way they wanted to because they had the ability to influence individuals and individuals didn't have much ability to influence the company or their neighbor.  Then social technology came along and now an individual can voice a concern on Facebook (for example) and others can pile on and turn that single voice into a crowd chat that grows (and is heard) around the world.  Do you think the public will believe the positive Nike advertisement on TV if 50,000 people are voicing their unhappiness on the internet about how Nike is using unfair labor practices in Asia? No way! (and I don't know this to be true... just sayin'...)

My point here is not so much about what is happening today, although it is definitely a big shift. My point is more about the future.

  1. Technology is at the stage now (with the internet, mobile and Social software) where it will quickly change the way we interact with each other and with businesses.  
  2. Technology growth and evolution is happening much faster than it did even 10 years ago, driving faster  and more frequent change.  
  3. In addition, people are getting much more comfortable adopting new technology, also leading to more rapid change in behavior (since the technology itself drives that change). 
  4. The additional realization that has come to me recently is that although people generally resist change, it seems technology changes are much more palatable and even pursued by many individuals.   It is almost like flying for the older generations - it was novel and cool so people didn't mind changing the way they travelled even though it might have been more dangerous initially.   Accepting change drives even faster adoption. 

Bottomline is that businesses need to be more agile in the way they do business and how they interact with their customers.  If they don't they will not keep up with their competition now and will not be positioned well for the future where change is going to continue at a fast rate. They have to watch technology which is going to be at the core of the way their customers behave and change their business processes accordingly.


Have an outstanding day!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Take: Chapter 3 - The Law of the Mirror

245/365 John C. Maxwell book collection
245/365 John C. Maxwell book collection (Photo credit: CR Artist)
As I mentioned in 2 previous posts, I am reading and rereading John C. Maxwell's 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  I have summarized chapter 1 and 2, and the title of Chapter 3 is "The Law of the Mirror".  He says, "you must see value in yourself to add value to yourself".   There are some very valuable points in this chapter, and having 2 preteen boys I realized a few things about myself that is probably contributing to their view of themselves as well.  The same thing applies if we are managing a team or organization... we must see value in organization if we are to add value to the organization we are part of. 

His first point is that we shouldn't be too concerned with what others think about us, we should be much more concerned about what we think about ourselves.  If we have a running negative dialog with ourselves, (and all of us have a running dialog with ourselves, positive or negative), then we are creating a negative self-image of ourselves.  And where do many of us get a negative self-dialog?  Well, as a parent I probably say "no" to my sons many more times than I say "yes".  Maxwell talks about the average 17 year old and that they have heard about 30 "nos" to every 1 "yes".   This was a sobering and mind-changing point for me as I thought about my sons and my expectation that they have a positive outlook on life...

So, the first point is guard our self-talk.

The second point is stop comparing ourselves to others.   Compare ourselves to ourselves and simply strive to become better today that we were yesterday.  I think watching others for things we can do differently/better is valuable, but if we start comparing that is either defeating (because they are better than us) or creates self-pride if they are not as good.  Neither of these are positive.

The third point is move beyond our limiting beliefs.  I like the 4 step process that Maxwell lays out that could help us overcome the limitations we put on ourselves:
1. Identify a limiting belief that we want to change.
2. Determine how the belief limits us.
3. Decide how you want be, act or feel.
4. Create a turnaround statement that affirms or gives you permission to be, act or feel this new way.
In the end, it is not what we are that holds us back, it is what we think we are not.

The fourth point is add value to others. Add value to ourselves by adding value to others.

The fifth point is do the right thing, even if it is the hard thing.  Being true to ourselves and our values is a tremendous self-esteem builder. 

The sixth point is practice a small discipline daily in a specific area of our life.  Discipline is a moral booster.  I do wonder if this is one reason our children today (at least for the upper middle class and above in the US) are not as positive about themselves.  There is not as much "required" discipline in our lives because we have life pretty good (e.g., not many daily commitments are needed to go through life in a comfortable way). 

The seventh point is to celebrate small victories.

The eighth point is embrace a positive vision for our life based on what we value.   He recommends we tap into what we value and see what inspires us to take positive action.  Taking positive action helps to take more positive actions building on itself.

The ninth point is to practice the "one-word" strategy.  Pick a word that best describes us.  When we pick that word it focuses our attention and intention and helps us expand even more in that focus.   Obviously, if the word is negative for us (and we want to be more positive), then we have to change our word! I decided my word is "positive" - I maintain a positive attitude even if the situation is not good (not sure my wife would agree in all cases :-))

And the tenth and final point is take responsibility for our life.  We all have potential and we all have value.  If we just keep moving forward and keep believing, we can learn and grow. 

This was a really valuable chapter for me. I recommend reading the book to get the detail. 

Have an outstanding day!


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Friday, February 8, 2013

IPaaS - Integration Cloud

English: Diagram showing three main types of c...
English: Diagram showing three main types of cloud computing (public/external, hybrid, private/internal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS, not to be confused with IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)) is a cloud based service that exists to integrate applications/services, both cloud based and internal. I just read a whitepaper from IBM on their IaaS service called Cast Iron (here).  Cast Iron just announced a go to market solution with Salesforce CRM (Sales Cloud). Disclosure: my wife works for IBM but is in research not connected to the Cast Iron service.  

Some of the competing services in the IPaaS space are Software AG, TIBCO, Jitterbit, Informatica.  (Thanks to Dave Masefield for giving me this quick list).

Interesting service that still has alot of hype about how easy it is to integrate on-premise and cloud based services (which we know is typically harder than expected), but still a valid service that I am sure will grow as more cloud based services are used and trusted.  

Have an outstanding day! 
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Social CRM: what is it in a nutshell?

During a conversation a few days ago someone asked me what Enterprise Social really meant, and what is "Social CRM".  I will leave Enterprise Social for another post, but I like the definition of Social CRM from Wikipedia.  The last statement sums it up... "It's the company's response to the customer's ownership of the conversation.".  Because companies can no longer control the message about them and their brand, companies need to determine ways to deal with what is being said about them.  Social CRM starts to do this by monitoring the various channels where people are stating their views, gripes, and praises and giving the company the chance to respond to the posts in a proactive manner.  Responding gives the company the chance to resolve the issue or even gain new customers by showing they really care.    A little more detail on this came from a Hootsuite Blog where they talk about 3 benefits of Social CRM for the Financial services companies. Quick read that gives you a sense of what Social CRM can do for a company.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why is Dell going private?

Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
This question was on my mind this morning as I read the article on Dell in the NY times. So, I did a little research.  Quora is my current favorite site to see what people are saying about a topic so I went there. I think this opinion sums up what I expect is the primary reason (and future possibilities for Dell)... the ability to focus on the long term evoluion of Dell and not the quarterly expectations of a public PC company.   Quora on Dell buyout

Have an outstanding day!

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Synthesis of Maxwells 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth - Chapter 2 Awareness

In chapter 2 of Maxwell's book, "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth", the topic is "The Law of Awareness".  The key point is that to reach your potential you have to know where you are and where you want to go.   To know where you are, you have to spend the time to determine it, and to know where you want to go you have to look at what you really want to do, what your passions are and what is the vision of what it would be like when you get there.
This is pretty standard advice, but Maxwell makes some additional points that are valuable.  The primary one is that the key is to get moving on something so that you are taking action.  Your passion fuels the action, and then the action fuels that passion!  For example, I have always enjoyed solving business problems by thinking about better ways to do them and applying technology to make things better.  I moved from Software research to Consulting for this primary reason.  I also have always wanted to be a leader, showing people how good things can be and frankly, getting the recognition that goes along with doing good things well.  As I continue to develop this "muscle", I am realizing in our world where technology is more and more prevalent, I want to move toward a role as Chief Digital Officer or equivalent.  My point is that I would never have gotten to this place if I had not taken steps that were moving me small steps toward what I really wanted to do yet were somewhat unclear as to where they would ultimately take me.
One point about doing what you are passionate about - I read an article recently that really captured the issues I have had with this thought for a long time now - that many times I think about what I would do if I could do anything, and end of taking no action because I don't see how I would make money doing that.  The insightful point was that many times to make money our passion can't be done in a way that we would enjoy it - that has to be factored in to the equation unless we are so financially secure that we can ignore it.
The final point that I will share from this chapter is this: The question is what will it be like when you get to where you want to be?  Maxwell make 3 key points which I expect are almost always true:
  1. The end result of your efforts will be different from what you imagined.
  2. When you do what you want to do, it will be more difficult than you ever imagined.
  3. When you do what you always want to do it will better than you ever imagined. 
 There are a good set of questions at the end of the chapter that if answered with thought will help point out what our passions are... and then we just need to take action!

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Friday, February 1, 2013

2 more useful tools in your online publishing toolbelt

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
I started using 2 new online tools today - Zemanta and Klout.  Zemanta is considered a publishing assistant which works with your blogging tool (at least some of them) such as Blogger, Wordpress and (in the future) Tumblr.  One of the most interesting features is that if you type in the key idea into your editor, Zemanta will bring up related articles. For example, I typed the first line of this post which included Zemanta and Klout, and I am now seeing articles on these 2 products in my related articles section of the Zemanta toolbar.   Zemanta also helps you as a blogger by providing pictures, links and other related features of a blog.

Klout is a tool that helps an online writer (blogger, tweeter, etc) understand their "influence".  It basically provides a score that represents your influence.   Of course, they are aggressively looking to get as many people signed up to use Klout as possible, so they are pretty aggressive about tapping into your network.  Annoying, but we all know the drill.  One big issue I found with Klout was when I opened my preferences tab and found my login and password populated my first and last name field!  I changed it, but not clear how this happened and if I hadn't gone into preferences would it have been published in some way?

I see a need for both of these tools as a blogger and tweeter, so bring on the features!
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Employee referrals are working!

My LinkedIn network, visualized
You have more connections that you think - LinkedIn network, visualized (Photo credit: For Inspiration Only)
Interesting  NY Times article about how big companies are getting more and more referrals from current employees these days.  And even more interesting are the 104 (and counting) comments by people that have read that article.  There are a couple points I would make about this:
1) Like it or not, networking is probably the number 1 way to find a new job today, and it has be come so much easier with sites like Linkedin. Many of the comments about this article were negative saying employee referrals constitutes cronyism, lazy recruiters, etc, however the simple fact is that we trust people we know more than people we don't know.  And we all have a bigger network than we initially think we do.
2) One point in the article (and the comments) is that networking is difficult for those that have been searching a long time and have "lost contact" with much of their network.  I would make 2 points about this:
     a) building a network can be started on line. Make a connection online by searching for people you know  (via Linkedin, Facebook or other) and then propose you catch up and chat.  See what they are up to and be interested... Relationships are built one conversation at a time. At some point you can ask whether they know someone in a particular field or company that you are targetting.  
     b) working to get contract work, volunteering, etc can help build the new component of your network, which is something everyone can do if they just do what they can do at this moment (e.g., if you can't contract work you can volunteer).   You will meet new people and extending your network is key to finding opportunities.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Synthesis of 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth - Chapter 1

I first listened to the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell in my car. It was a great "listen" but there were so many things that I wanted to capture and spend more time on that I thought investing in the paper copy made sense (this is a great side-effect for authors by the way - sell more books when you put them out in a number of media formats). I bought the book and started reading each chapter, doing the exercises at the end by writing notes in my personal notebook and thinking more about each point. Somewhere in that journey I decided to share my learnings with my family so I synthesized the chapter into a few key points that I shared with them. Since I now have the synthesis of each chapter, I want to share with you! To that end, here is the synthesis of Chapter 1: the Law of Intentionality. The key message that I took away from this chapter is that Growth doesn't happen by accident, but we tend to believe it does! There are many misconceptions along this line, and the ones I have been guilty of are:
- Assumption Gap: I assume that I will automatically grow.
- Mistake Gap: I am afraid of making a mistake.  An aside here, I am currently reading Sam Walton's (of Walmart fame), and the commentary from others in the book is that Sam just didn't care if made a mistake. He would simply get up, dust off and move on. He lost his first store after 5 years because he made a mistake when negotiating his lease. Imagine the difference in his life if he had given up because he lost his only store at that point!
Inspiration Gap:I don't feel like doing it.
Comparison Gap: Others are better than I am.

Intentionality is key to getting started and staying engaged. the quote I leave you with is, "You cannot change your destination overnight (you are where you are), but you can change your direction overnight".  That is intentionality.