Achievement Unlocked: Workaholic

This was originally a pearl of wisdom I sent to a co-worker who told me I'd have something "by the end of the day" on a Sunday:

After 10 years in different roles I've stopped wearing "workaholic" like it is a badge of honor. I work weekends if I can't avoid it - but it leaves me regretting the time I missed with my son and my friends. I work nights if I have to, because I need to carry my weight and not create undue stress on my colleagues (most of whom I also count among my friends).

A little stuffed penguin

When I started traveling all the time, my son gave me one of his stuffed animals to bring with me. I carry it in my bag and wherever I go I try to take a few pictures of this little stuffed penguin in various locations. I was touched because it is one of his favorite stuffed animals and I smile every time I see it in my bag.

Stop selling used cars

Today, I had a rare insight into the customer experience of someone trying to purchase a moderately sized managed hosting installation. Somehow in the many years that have passed since I first entered this space I've never stopped to think about how grueling the sales experience must be to have to do that shopping. Most every organization I've worked at that had a sales staff incentives them on the amount of hosting they sell. This makes sense because you want to reward sales people that generate revenue. However many of the sales compensation structures I've seen place little or no emphasis on the long term customer satisfaction and deep relationship developed by selling a customer the RIGHT solution.

People purchasing managed hosting often do so because they want to offload some of the responsibility of building, maintaining or managing their infrastructure. This is the way that many hosting vendors try to position themselves to fill for customers. So why does the initial experience so often begin with someone who doesn't have your long-term best interest as his or her primary motivator?

In many times where I've filled a pre-sales capacity for a customer I've built a deep relationship with that customer that spanned several roles in the company for me and the entire lifetime of their account. As an industry, we need to figure out how we can make that the normal experience, rather than a situation where people sometimes suffer through the sales process in the hopes that the operations experience and the technology they come out with are worth the headache.


I wonder how much money...

we spend just advertising to get people to fill out the census. If the 3 post cards including the actual form containing the census and TV ads were not enough.... BOOM! Facebook Ads :)

Improving my password security

We all have *that* password. The one you try first when you are presented with a login form that you don't know your login for off the top of your head. Maybe if your a little more security minded you have a few of those passwords.

In the last few weeks I've been trying to force myself to adopt 1Password for improved security. So far so good. The idea is that you store your randomly generated unique passwords in a system that you trust and don't use the same password everywhere.

I'll let you know how the experiment ends up, but it is worth trying yourself as well. If you can get use to it - you'll be in a better situation when a malicious person discovers your password to some forum you registered for to make one post three years ago.

To learn a new language

I've accepted a position at work that has me spending the majority of my time acting as Product Owner in our Software Engineering organization (which has adopted a mostly agile development process). The primary team I serve as product owner for (our customer portal team) has some of our most seasoned developers and is more or less self sufficient. My day to day oversight of their efforts is minimal if at all. I set priorities every two weeks, check is periodically and answer questions as they come up - but that is pretty much it.

Having a background in software engineering is it my inclination to learn the language we develop in (C#). I'm confident I could do it in short span of time, but I am worried the result will end up in me becoming too involved in our project for the team's comfort. I'm happy to let them drive technical direction and don't want to meddle in a team that is clearly producing, but I'm also someone who enjoys discussing software architecture.

I recently spoke with our CTO about my progress in my new role - and one of the things he left me with was that too often I go out of my way to "seem like the smartest person in the room." While this isn't something I realized outright, I do understand where he is coming from. He suggested in places where I might be inclined to make a declarative statement, I instead restructure my thought as a question to drive discussion. My gut tells me his advice here is solid, but I've always thrived in highly technical environments where challenging one another on ideas is the norm.

I wonder how his advice would be applied to my current situation, where learning the language might result in my inclination to start throwing out ideas for the team to challenge.