Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

…going dark

May 19, 2014 1 comment

Last week, I attended an IT leadership summit here in NJ. I attend a few of these a year, as time permits, as I like to stay connected to peer groups and thought leaders. The typical schedule tends to balance content, sponsor presentations and peer networking. Usually, I tend to focus on the areas that interest me and catch up on email during the ones that may not. In previous events (in some cases), out of an eight hour day – I might focus on only  few hours worth of content.

This time, something different happened…something very different. My phone died a few hours into the conference as I neglected to charge it on the drive down to the event. While I did bring my trusty battery pack, I was determined to travel into the event light and left it in the car earlier.

Of course, two choices were before me….walk 10 mins and get the kit – or engage in the event. I was too lazy to walk and had a great seat right next to one of my favorite speakers . I was not about to risk losing the spot.

Needless to say, the content (most of it) was very relevant in ways I had not originally anticipated and I walked away with some great ideas. At each break, I met someone new and after the event chatted with some of the organizers to provide some feedback and ask follow up questions.

Now, I have been to more than a few of these in the space of just the last three years. I can honestly say that I have never done this before. It took something relatively silly in order to broaden my perspective. I am not going to pretend like I am some genius here…but in this case, I was habitually myopic.

It took a short departure from technology to realize it.

…make wise choices


…importance of autonomy part deux

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

So here we sit in the remnants of one of the most ferocious storms in recent times…Sandy. Many things transpired since last I spoke on this topic. Last year water was our nemesis (at least where I live), this year it was the mighty wind! I prepared the basement over the past year with foundational repairs, primary, backup sump pump installations and we refinished the basement to its former glory!

So what happend this time and what did i learn?

For starters, I lost many trees and thankfully no damage to the house came to pass. The big issue to tackle this year was no city power since 10/29…and counting! In preparation, I had stocked up on gas, sustenance essentials, purchased a generator and had a transfer switch installed inside so that all I needed was to fire her up, plug into the house and i had the critical (vs. whole house) stuff running. Good plan? Well almost…one minor issue that turned out to be the sticking point of the lesson from this storm.

Turns out my grinder pump (all the wastewater from the house gets macerated and pushed into the public sewer system due to the house being below the sewer line) has too high of a wattage surge. This meant that we could not use the water in the house! Lesson of the day is don’t rely on electricians to do your calculations for ya! Good news was that a porto-potty and pilgrim methods of water use saved the day until another generator was delivered by family from Ohio!

Some items outside my control that all folks were dealing with…and how adapted;

  1. Crap communications from utility companies and local government (used neighboring Mayor’s updates and extrapolated my situation)
  2. Cell towers were down for 4 days so zero comms due to cable/phone outage (going back to a copper land line and purchased a multi-network burn phone)
  3. Gas rationing and massive lines (20 minutes from PA, no lines and nighttime runs to refill 5 (5 gal) containers at a time.
  4. Physical security of the home (let’s just say that this former Marine has that covered..close quarters and distance)
  5. Closed schools (good ol Xbox and Wii…not to mention lots of screaming)

So…all in all, not terrible compared to many. I actually (well mostly) learned from my mistakes the last time! Always stuff to learn, I suppose so we’ll see what happens next disaster!

…make wise choices,




…the straw

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

In previous blog posts, I have shared my thoughts on drive, discipline as well as what I feel contributes to success. Not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination – but key as far as I am concerned.

Upon some of these foundational elements, is an interesting point that I do not believe I have ever explicitly mentioned.

That one thing

Recently, I was having a discussion with someone on the topic of switching jobs/careers and the merits, pros and cons of that decision. After a few minutes of discussing various scenarios, risks, and rewards – I asked a simple question (simple in my mind).

“What is the one reason that you want to leave and will your new job/role address this reason?”

In my brain it is a simple thought pattern. When someone wants to make a change (no matter what it is), they often create a list, weigh choices and start to take a micro-view of the issue…almost to a fault. I am not saying that is a bad thing, just not the first thing that I believe should be addressed.

Sometimes we get too involved in the answer and do not spend enough time on the question. Answer the first question and you may find that there is no reason to continue down a path that will ultimately leave you in a similar position…just in a different location.

Noodle on that!

…make wise choices,


…it’s not supposed to be like this

June 24, 2012 1 comment

How is it that we have a certain mental construct of a situation in our heads and all of a sudden it becomes providence? So much so, as we base decisions on a situation that we have the illusion, will only have a singular outcome. I often refer, in conversations, to playing a constant game of mental chess. This game constantly has me analyzing and re-analyzing situations and mapping potential outcomes – a consistent mental decision tree. This is most annoying, but I cannot help it – I have been doing this since I was a child.

My point is not to assume that your original plan will ever work. Instead, be prepared to rely on contingency planning while setting goals. I had a feverish discussion actually about this, whereas the other person was presuming that I was planning for failure – and this is not the case. Failure is having only one immutable plan for execution and having that plan not come to fruition. There is a popular military saying that no plan survives first contact and a correlating civilian saying that states no plan survives a punch in the face.

Always expect a punch in the face. Assume it will happen and move forward.

…make wise choices,


…lost in translation

June 17, 2012 Leave a comment

A key theme in the past few posts has been communication. As one of the basic foundations of interaction, this is an important thing to master (I was just promoted to Captain Obvious I think). Having witnessed no less than four occurrences of an interesting pattern in the past week, I figured I would discuss the notion of bad analogies.

Analogies are a great way for pulling people into your story – often allowing them to relate to the topic at hand. That being said, it sure helps that your analogies can actually resonate with you audience. Sometimes, lack of awareness to social queues and/or not understanding the audience actually polarizes your listeners. This, often has the opposite intended effect and in some cases can force premature disengagement.

For instance, before you compare someone’s positive effect on you as a black hole – make sure they dig astrophysics. One side of the conversation is thinking of a compelling attraction from which the pull is very strong – analogous to being compared to gravity causing light not being able to escape.  Meanwhile, the other side of the conversation is thinking “why is he calling me a hole?”

…make wise choices



…does this make me look fat?

June 9, 2012 Leave a comment

It is important that we all understand the benefits of receiving feedback from those around us – those who we trust. Whether that is explicit verbal feedback, nuances in body language and/or other means of non-verbal communication.

We should seek to understand how we are perceived in the eyes of others, in as many scenarios as practical. Not so much so we can change who we are (that, of course is a choice), but so that we can understand the impact that we have in personal and professional lives.

When you seek to understand how you look from the outside, you gain tremendous insight that can serve to create new opportunities. It is all about perspective, as invariably there will be those that offer feedback, which may be predicated on thoughts/feelings not relevant to the situation on which it is based upon (re-read the last sentence). Of course, you should be ready to receive feedback that you do not like, and in some cases do not agree with and/or are offended by…that’s ok.

This is not an argument or a conflict inducing exercise. This is a catalyst for introspection.

…make wise choices


…picking teetsie

May 26, 2012 Leave a comment

On more than a few occasions I have discussed the notion of decisive action. As such, wise action often requires a fact base in order to propel us forward. In our personal and professional lives, we surround ourselves with advisors. Generally, those individuals are segmented based on numerous criteria, that often, is a combination of situationally based dimensions coupled with certain skills/knowledge.

What does one do when we have an advisor that is hell bent on giving the most ill-conceived feedback, that almost certainly has a high probability of poor results? Better yet, how do we handle those same advisors that stand to personally benefit from our failure?

I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again – Rule #1 is “Always be aware of your surroundings.” This is as much a geospatial construct as it is an interpersonal one, in that only through knowing those that you have around you – can you truly understand what motivates them.

…make wise choices,


…the art of disengagement

March 10, 2012 Leave a comment

There are certainly no shortages of opinions on how to engage employees, customers, colleagues and people in our personal lives.  What has not been focused on too much is how to disengage. There comes a time (and I am being very general here), where the cost of goods, services and/or emotional investment simply does not justify continued expenditure .

The challenge becomes, understanding when that tipping point is upon us and disengaging in a fashion such that continued growth/maturity in the areas that do justify investment continue to occur. Whether that is parting with a customer (as certain airlines have done), friends (hey x-mas cards are expensive), and/or  personal interests (use your imagination) – there is a wrong way and a right way.

So start practicing disengaging….trim that Linked-in list, Facebook Friends list, Twitter…etc – its pretty darn cathartic.

…make wise choices


…pull my finger

February 26, 2012 2 comments

Many of us spend the entirety of our day glued to some gizmo that transmits our thoughts, often with little to no emotion, context or tone. We do this due to convenience, having geographically distributed acquaintances, friends and co-workers and in some cases – sheer laziness.

Of course, this is not meant to be an umbrella comment, meant to slight the use of fantastic technological advancements that allow us to sit on the porch, drinking coffee and write a blog entry that is read by hundreds of people, for example.

My comment is specifically geared towards casual colloquy, which is fading as we rely more and more on technology vs. conventional conversation. One of my favorite staples of human interaction is humor and comedy – nothing eases folks, breaks up tension or initiates conversations better, in my opinion.

Being a frequent traveler, it never ceases to amaze me that when I am in a room (airport, train station…etc), most folks are glued to their technology crutches. Recently, I entered an elevator and as if in some synchronized swimming event, the other four people in the lift took out their phones. Now maybe I look like a nutter and they dialed 9-1-1 and hovered over the call button…perhaps.

Aside from the occasional emoticon – really hard to connect with someone via electronic means. Maybe we need to develop a whole new genre of e-humor…

…make wise choices,



…tell me a story

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

When you speak – does someone listen because they have to or is it because they are compelled to comprehend your message?

Strive for the latter by engaging your audience with an articulated, well-balanced story – delivering your point concisely.

Everyone loves stories – no one loves dry pedantic dribble.

…make wise choices,