Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Wow time goes by fast

This is the last post of the year and the decade. I remember vividly welcoming in the 2000's. Wow was life different in so many ways. No kids, technology (Where to start right?) I was in my 20s and enjoying life. Little did I know it would only get better. A lot of people I know are constantly speaking about age as something negative. You lose your looks, sometimes just yard work can make you sore and all the responsibilities of adulting. To me each phase of life has been better. I would suggest that some of that is working a plan versus being reactive.

The other thing I find interesting is many of the experts I work with or have worked with were the age I am now when I was just getting into my career. Sure I thought they were ancient (And for a 20 something they were ancient) Some might say I have mellowed over the years, I don't believe that is true. If anything I am as passionate or even more passionate for people. What more likely has changed is my perspective for sure. What I thought was important really wasn't as important as what I thought. I would also say that early in my career it was for sure more about me and less about others. Definitely a big shift for me. At times I look back and hope I was not as outwardly aggressive as what I was feeling in my own mind!

One thing I have loved in the chosen career path I have taken is constant change. Mainly here I am speaking about the stuff. If you think about the changes that have been major in technology over 20 years;

Smart Phones (Probably one of the biggest or in general - mobility)
Internet - sure it existed but only for the few versus the many
All the change Internet has brought. From streaming to shopping
Connected all the time - sure still internet however no matter where you are at you can be part of a team

Just a small and centric list of the stuff.

So what things have happened to me in the last decade that were unexpected or big change?

1. Global travel. I never really had the want to leave the US - heck why? Having done so more than a half dozen times this decade it was definitely impactful and gave me better perspective
2. Leadership development - I have always been interested in leadership however in this decade I have been able to spread that word and help other develop
3. Business EQ - This has always been a strong area for me. It comes natural. I have been blessed to work with other that have even more knowledge.
4. Tech integration - I started this early in my career and now when true mobility has come into play I am even stronger at it.
5. Parenting - sure I was a parent in the previous decade however in this decade I have seen my boys turn into men. From Caden and his first job to Carsen finding his friends and being more independent

Obviously there is much more that has happened in a decade, these are just the ones that stick out for me.

So where is all this rambling going? It is simple. It is all about people. Not the stuff.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Predicting the future

Most of the time I get to spend my time working around technology. When it comes to predicting the future of technology there are definitely some trends that are easy to spot.
Things will get smaller, faster and use less resources.
Where technology provides value at a high cost or for Enterprise it will get lower cost and eventually get to every user (That it applies to)
When people say it isn't possible, they are probably wrong
Key to successful mass distribution is to drive down costs and maximize the experience

Areas outside technology do have patterns (Like building successful teams, businesses and more)

Are you paying attention to not only the successful teams but also the failures. Then do you learn from it?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

What business books to read

So my wife Jenifer makes fun of how many books I have and is constantly bothering me about how I am going to get through them all. And to be honest I wonder sometimes. There are weeks I manage to get through several smaller books and they are easy reads. Still other weeks that I fail to get through even one.

One thing I can guarantee is I will continue to be a student.

Here is a ever evolving list of my favorites. (Yea, I know should be shorter but if the want the short version just ping me)


Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Driving - Great Idea
Playing Sports and defending your goal - Yep
At work when working with others? Bad idea.

I have to be honest, most likely my first response is defensive when someone comes at me with something that is contrary to my opinions. Worse yet, I struggle with listening. Instead my natural reaction is to start planning my defense. A strategy I am trying is to listen to everything first, identify the areas I can agree with.

Still a struggle for sure.

Monday, December 16, 2019

What is next?

I suppose this is a byproduct of a diagnostic mind. Think of repairing a small appliance. You take it apart and find the problem. Repair that problem then have to put it back together. Most of the time when putting things back together you have to know the order in which it came apart. You cannot put the case back together with out putting all the parts inside back together right?

For me this translates to business almost daily. I know what the end product looks like and I am constantly asking myself what comes next to be successful. What things logically come next and what is needed to be successful. Nothing is more annoying then getting almost to the end of the project to only find you have extra parts and you have to go back to put them together when it would have been so much easier to just do in when they were needed in the first place.

All that is well and good however you know from my earlier posts that I am not good at celebrating the small successes. Depending on how large the project, take some times (Maybe a quick snack break) to celebrate your completion of half the tasks or something similar.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

People don't hate change?

I believe they don't like the uncertainty that change brings. So how do you help others through change. To me it is two areas.

1. Involve others in the change. Give the why and be firm in the change. One thing that is difficult is if you are shifty in your responses. This enhances the uncertainty and will lead to people afraid of the change to stay with the status quo. Make it clear, staying where you are is not going to be accepted.

2. You paint a picture of the future that others can see in their mind. Realize that you may not know the path you are going to take but you should know the outcomes you are looking for. Be as specific as you can on the end result! Be transparent on the fact you don't know the path. Have others help you with the path. Know when to compromise and when to stick to the results you painted up front.

Be firm yet patient in your painting the picture and I believe with being clear and firm most will get on board with the future painting.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Patience - Coach versus Prison Guard

No doubt I could use more patience. Now with that said, many times in my career not being completely patient and driving whatever it is forward has been valuable. This has been very helpful when pursuing goals. When working with team members is has not been as helpful. There are times when I should have been more patient with others to help them understand the why or developing their leadership.

I have decided the other side of me might be more Prison Guard. What is that? Simply do what I said because I said it! AND NOW. Like patience there are times that this way of directing can be needed. Think of teaching someone to drive. If they are about to cause an accident, I am not coaching rather do as I say NOW.

If the world were that black and white it would be great! Finding balance can be difficult and I believe I have been getting better at finding this balance yet sometimes I look back at an interaction and think I needed to take of that guard uniform and be more of a coach.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

They are smart (Intelligent)

I was having a conversation with my wife last night and she made they statement that "They are really smart" Probably should have just let that go but I had to ask what did that mean? (Honestly in reference to is everyone else dumb?) So she further qualified that they have their masters and are getting their Doctorate. So I suppose I have to agree that by her definition they are "Smart" The question that I have to ask is "Are they really" By the way I do not know the person she was referencing.

To understand my thinking on this subject as defined there are several books that speak to this subject. One title is "You can't send a duck to Eagle School" or I have heard the statement " You can't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree" I believe that in reference to the definition of Smart above, you might be very good at school and there are careers that that will make you very good in your career. For example you will most likely be a very good professor (As defined by a college) However you may be a terrible teacher (As defined by the student)

With all that said, I definitely want the bridge designed by someone that is "Smart"

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Greatful and Thankful?

Two things I am very poor at. I am blessed with so many things yet over look them all the time. As I see others struggle with marriage, children or simply putting a roof over their head these are things I have never really had to struggle for. I know that is not by accident, I for sure had a lot of things align from education, perseverance and some luck. I will try and spend more time being thankful.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Bringing out your worst or your best?

I found myself not being my best in several situations and was not happy with how I handled the situation. (For those of you wondering what the situations were, they were not at work and were not in public :)) It made me wonder why I was reacting the way I was? After looking back I realized that it was the person I was around that was bringing out my worst! No excuse, I should be able to control my reactions for sure. Now lets be clear, most people would not have even noticed a change in my behavior. Most of what I am speaking bout was in my head. My own self talk was poor. That is my why. I was (In my head) being ultra competitive (Which in itself is not always bad but in this situation it for sure was since it was not a competition) Where as most of the time my default self talk is around making the situation better, improving others and leading towards a better outcome.

Many times I have that Devil and Angel on my shoulder (Again think self talk) and I do really well keeping the positive influence in control. That Devil is more there to provide self doubt and lack of confidence.

So what was the person who was bringing out this character doing to cause this? Nothing, it was their behavior towards others that makes me get mean. Next time I am in this situation I will double down on nice and every time I see them act mean I am going to get twice as nice (Hey it is that time of the year) I am going to avoid attacking the person and just get nice to those around them. (Yea, take the higher ground) And of course I am going to avoid putting myself around the person that causes this in me.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mechanically minded or not?

I have always been mechanically minded. What does this mean? Simply the ability to understand how things work and how they work together to equal a result. When I was little and had a go cart I remember I wanted to go faster. (This is before the days of internet) So removing the governor, more fuel, more air and away we go. What used to go 30 could now go 60 (Down hill) and how do I know? The repurposed bike speedometer.

I see that Caden has this ability and Carsen does not. Caden will figure it out if you give him the parts. Carsen needs a class, diagram and the math behind it. Both skills are helpful. Carsen does well at school. Following directions, step by step instruction where Caden will take things and make them work. The interesting thing is how they both struggle with the others ability to just understand it.

What is the lesson here? Neither is smarter than the other rather it is my ability to teach them in a way they understand. (Plus work to their individual strengths) (like that saying "You can't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree")

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Difference Between a Good Tip and a Bad One

We were at the dinner table this week and I am not real sure how the topic came up, but Caden, my oldest son, asked the question “when a server at a restaurant asks you “how is everything”, you wouldn’t say bad would you?” To which my wife stated, “sure I would” (and for that matter she does!) Why would you pay for a meal that was overcooked, undercooked or just wrong?
The fact that my son found it almost shocking that you would return a meal was very eye opening to me.
When you think about it, we all do things every day, if not hourly, like not returning the meal. We work with people that turn in assignments that might be “undercooked”, yet, instead of sending it back, we simply throw it on our pile of things to cook our way later. Meanwhile, the person that turned in the work believes they delivered something to our expectations.
Now, obviously if the person turned in that work with the knowledge or intent it was poor, you would deal with that differently. Intent matters.
There have been many times when I received work that was not up to specification and I took it and did it myself, but worse, I would then either internally or sometimes externally tell others about the poor quality of work produced. It was pointed out to me recently through a book I am reading, Radical Candor, that I am just as responsible for the poor performance as the person who actually completed the work. I was not direct enough to tell them. My mentor, Hardin Byars, says “Unexpressed expectations lead to resentment”.
In the book Radical Candor, there are a bunch of real world examples and processes you can use every day to become a better leader. The book's statement is simple “Radical Candor is the ability to Challenge Directly and show you Care Personally at the same time“.
Going back to the restaurant, it has been my experience that when you give the server the chance to make it right, many times this is when your expectations are exceeded. You get that steak cooked to perfection and they get a better tip. Everybody wins.

Developing future leaders. Where do you start?

I believe this post is all about my opinion and speculation. I will say that I have been blessed to work with more than one great leader and have been part of their development. So lets just day I have a view from the cheap seats?

Developing leader must start with authentic, humble and vulnerable communication. I know for me it is speaking about my failures. Hey, I am an expert in my own failures. Where did I go wrong, what were the key moments and how could it could have been avoided. It is a bit painful reliving to others some of your biggest failures for sure.

An example of this might be when I was working on another leader and they took advantage of the situation. How do you get past that and trust others and develop them.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Not confident but not Cocky (Where is the balance?)

Recently it feels like I have been between these bumpers. One being Cocky and the other not being confident!

I made a decision because I was positive I knew the right direction only to find out later I did not know what I needed to make the decision. So then I ended up making a wrong decision to get more details when I already knew the answer and that punished the team.

Finding the balance is still a struggle and pretty sure it will be for the rest of my career.

Friday, October 25, 2019

iPhone 11 Pro Max and comparison to 7 Plus

It has been exactly two weeks since I upgraded to the iPhone 11. I have to be honest, it was less of an upgrade then I would have expected over three years. Maybe my expectations were out of line and I just had high hopes? Things that I thought might be more impactful?
Speed - Sure it is faster but honestly not a huge difference
Screen resolution - I was expecting that the higher end and higher resolution would be very noticeable. Not sure I have noticed at all. I did early on realize that the screen is longer (Top to bottom and it was a bit distracting but only for a day)
Screen to the edge and no home button - Screen to edge really didn't make a difference other than the notch at the top. At first it was distracting and now I don't notice. For the first week the lack of a home button was really hard to get use to. Now I really like the facial ID thing. This is a great upgrade.

Here is where the positives start.

The biggest thing is battery. This is not a small thing. For sure a three year old battery is going to be struggling (Since it is used every day) On the 7 Plus if it lasted all day under strong use (But not heavy) The 11 Pro Max is amazing battery wise. I charged it over night last Friday and took it off the charger Saturday morning. Let it go off charge till Tuesday at work and was still on 38%. Dang!

Wireless charging is great. Like just being able to sit it down on the charger and pick it up later. No plugging and such. I have a charger in the car that is wireless charging also. Super cool.

The way iPhones now move the data from one to another when you get a new phone is super cool.

Honestly haven't used the camera's so we will see.

Yep, that is it! Wish I could say more. Would I do the upgrade again? Definite yes mostly due to the old one being 3 years old and the new battery. The level of innovation is not that amazing for three years.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Knowing that you don't know is a strength?

Maybe the opposite is a know-it-all? I recently was working with an individual that felt they knew it better. Dismissing that I had 20 years experience, detailed how I knew it and the impact decisions had on business. Yet they continually were pointing out that it should be a different way. There are two things that probably should happen.

1. They should let it go. We (Yes WE) mad a decision. Back it.
2. At least have an understanding of the fact that others may know more.

The other side of this is being able to hear others side (From my perspective that is). Lately I have felt that I have leaned too far to others when I did know better. Ugh, self awareness is tough.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Being comfortable finally?

You spend the first 3 to 8 years trying to figure “It” all out. What is “It”? I think that varies for sure. For me it was all the things I did poorly. Financials, HR, data acquisition and more. To be clear, not that I didn’t know these things, it was about integrating them into business.

Recently while at a conference it became clear to me that most around were trying to impress. How important they are, how much they know or how many people they have reporting to them.

Many times when you see these people they should be spending more time listening and learning rather than trying to show everyone how important they are.

I can probably relate more since the more I learn, the more I realize that I am not the important one, the team I support is.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Has technology innovation finally slowed?

First time possibly since I have had a cell phone that I went three years before upgrading. I went from a iPhone 7 (The big screen one) to a 11 Pro Max. Did the upgrade last night and didn't take long. You might ask what changes did I notice?

1. Sure, the screen goes to the edge (Or closer)
2. Face recognition versus the button on the bottom with finger print
3. Wireless charging

Yep, I think that is it.

I do know the screen resolution is better
No doubt the processor is dramatically faster (But hard to notice)
Sure more storage

As a geek I used to be on the cutting edge of new devices and couldn't wait. Is it me, have I just grown old or is the innovation just slowed...

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Keeping Positive

I believe that most days I am a positive person however I do have those days where you start with something negative and I pick up that mood. I have heard that you remember something negative that happens to you 10x more than a positive thing. If you think back you can probably remember a broken arm more than when you got married?

So how do you stay positive during the negative days? Something I am going to try is to take a deep breath and focus my thoughts on the positive. If nothing else, I will try this and modify as needed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Pursuit of Perfection

I believe that those in pursuit of perfection have the best interests however I know many times it hinders real progress.

How do you know what perfection looks like unless you first have many revisions that are less than perfect?

Worst case I see is people not moving anything forward instead they simply keep redoing the project. I know I have made the comparison of business to mowing the lawn. In this case I believe it is a perfect comparison. There is no such thing as the perfect lawn. It may find times that are closer to perfection than others. The rocks get in the yard, when you finish mowing I am sure there are blades of grass that are not perfectly cut!

My assessment is sometimes good enough is what is required.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Your first job?

Caden took his first job at the local grocery store this summer and I have been really proud of him and how he has been responsible, had so many people comment to me about how he is so friendly and outgoing and he has quickly learned other departments in the store. This has been a great experience for him and he has really started to understand the value of money (Saving and such)

I was trying to remember my first job which was at a grocery store that is no longer in business. The first real issue is the fact it was over 30 years ago. Talk about making me feel old! Most of what I can remember was how time stood still. You would think you had been working for 4 hours and it was 4 minutes! Yet so many other things this early work experience taught me.

Customer Service
Patience (OK Could still use more of that)
What good and bad management looked like
Treating people well
How little things make a big difference
Money, Money, Money - Managing personally, corporate profit management and more.

Definitely a great experience and in retrospect I would not change any of it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Happy Birthday?

Yep, turned 46 yesterday. I am officially the age when I though others (When I was in my youth) were old. Still don't feel that old and still have my fun, young perspective of the world.

So what changed in the last couple years? Well, mostly comfort and self awareness. You over come the insecurities of youth. I have marketable skill sets, continue to learn and grow as a leader every day and with that has come of confidence that can be expressed as vulnerability. Easier to admit I am wrong, see others side of the conversation and relate to others perspective.

Guess I will see what comes this year!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Give a Child an iPad - 8 Years Later

I have always been an early adopter of technology even way back. I remember being in grade school programming in BASIC on my Commodore 64. Technology has changed a lot since then. It is much more obvious the impact it can have on learning. When the iPad 1 came out in 2010 I was one of the first to have one. iPad was not the first tablet in our house (tablet being defined by a touch screen computer in slate form); however, it was the first that was truly refined and did what it promised.

That same year, my son Carsen (he would have been 3 ½ then) got to know the iPad. He loved music and before the iPad we spent hours in front of the computer listening to music (back in the days when you had a desk for the computer). The iPad to start with was music, but shortly became the source of lots more. I specifically remember people questioning my judgement of a 3-year-old having a $500 device. But he was definitely one of the first kids in the world with the source of all human knowledge in a format that he could learn from before he could read.
Not to worry, we always kept a close eye on the content (Ok there were probably some music lyrics that are a bit inappropriate for his age), but we always had the content filters turned on for our home network. You might also be wondering how having this access affected his interactions with the real world (versus the virtual world) and really since he has always had access, it isn’t something special. If anything, interacting with other children, adults and family was the special interaction so he would put the iPad down and interact well. He gets top marks in school, has lots of friends and still loves baseball. He was Facetiming Grandma when no one knew what Facetime was!
So, what does a kid do on an iPad some 8 years later? Well, first they began to distribute iPads to the kids in grade school for learning and he was way ahead of them when that happened. He still brings home his homework on his school owned iPad every night and does math homework and more (now in middle school). Really what I find interesting is his consumption of knowledge. I believe most of his time is spent on YouTube listening and watching videos on everything from the latest video games (Fortnite) to learning about things I would have never thought a 12-year-old would be into like history. It is constant the information he is asking me if I know. Information on the 80’s (as if I didn’t live through it) to how to get things done, and even the latest world news.
I remember back to the early days when I would pay a dollar or two for the interactive book apps where he could look at it on the iPad, it would read it to him and be interactive where he could touch certain characters and things would happen. Others might have viewed it as a kid playing with a toy (which is true), but take that some 8 years later and what has this taught him?
Problem solving in a digital world
Computer skills
This summer I was working on our mower at the house and struggling on how to fix it and that is when Carsen pulled out his digital tool and played the YouTube video on how to fix that specific problem. Even I never thought about the digital world fixing the physical.
The other question I get is how many has he broken? Just one. We never had big, shock absorbent cases on his iPads and just a couple years ago he broke his first screen. When we travel he takes his own pillow and puts his iPad inside the pillow case. He picked the pillow up from the wrong end getting out of the car and out came the iPad on the concrete. That was the only time we had to have one repaired and don’t worry, he won’t do that again.
So, what is the lessons learned from a child growing up with technology almost from the beginning?
You see these children at the store throwing a fit when their parents won’t let them have their phone? Carsen never thought this way because having the device wasn’t unique.
It can be thought of as a game or as access to all human knowledge. It is both.
Just because he has had access to technology does not mean he can’t socialize. If anything, I believe he can socialize with all ages and interests.
When I grew up, I had a record player, radio, video games, books, magazines, newspapers, TV and more. Carsen has all of these as well, they are just in one device though.
I was told that when I was young one of my favorite toys was the small workbench. You know the one. It had a hammer and plastic nails, nuts and bolts and such. I believe that the iPad is just the modern, digital version of that. We will see what the next 8 years bring.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Somtimes you just have to have others back.

Recently I have seen this trend in business that when it counts the most people don't show up for you? I want to do the opposite. That is when the pressure is on, all the chips are on the table or when it matters the most I am in your corner. Now, I have to be honest, there are not a huge group of people that get that kind of respect from me. We most likely have to have a long standing history, I know your ethics and all around decision making capability.

If all of this is known then I will have your back and even if you make a mistake. One thing I know for sure is the fact I am not perfect or even close. So mistakes can be made but that doesn't mean I leave your corner. If anything it means that I am going to be with you even more. The number of people I have had over the years that were this loyal are very few yet I know who they are and would do anything for them.

I am sure we have all seen the leadership traits that state how you overcome mistakes and learn from them is how the best thrive. With that very few of us are willing to own mistakes and help others through that difficult process. Maybe it is time to stand strong for those you believe in when it matters most and make sure to communicate it loudly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I am simple, most people default to complicated

Einstein stated "If you cannot explain it simply then you don't understand it well enough" (Rough translation)

There are days at work where I believe that most people try and make things complicated. Not necessarily on purpose rather it is just how people work. I am always teasing my Mother In Law about how she tells stories. She will want to tell me about how she went to the grocery store but then will get stuck in the miniscule details. Example could be "I went to start the car but left my keys in the house so went in the house to get my keys, then the phone rang, it was Fred and oh how we laughed about the weather and how we used to..." meanwhile back in the story she started I have lost patience and want to know why we are talking about going to the store in the first place!

Work processes I see people make complicated. Simple task could be take out the trash. Then one day someone forgets the bathroom trash. So now the process needs to include all the locations of trash and we add a check list (Ugh) It would have been so much easier to just address the person who made the mistake and move on. But because we don't address that one person the list continues to get larger to include
Location where trash is to be taken
What if trash bin is full outside then what
Putting plastic bag inside of garbage bins after taking trash out.
What days to take the trash out
What if one of those days are holidays?
and so on.

I have made a career out of making complicated things simple. Others make jobs out of making simple things complicated. I know which one pays more...