krypted.com

Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in about the 5th or 6th grade. I didn’t get good at it for awhile. And once I got good at it, I didn’t play much longer (insert reference to “The Best Days of My Life” here). Along the way, I learned a few lessons that until I got older, I didn’t realize were great life lessons. I also learned a lot that helped me later in life in the business world. Here’s a few you may or may not agree with (and yes, the image is of a box sitting on my table at home:).

2016-01-18-1453087605-1383047-image1.JPG

  1. Build a great campaign and then if the game is good, expect your players to totally break it. In business, you create a situation where customers give you money. You build processes, procedures, marketable packages, and teams. These prepare you for the massive onslaught of all the moneys that are going to come in. You need to be able to build a product, sell the product, and potentially service the product long-term. Maybe you sell it, maybe you don’t. But if you’re not ready for the sales to happen, you won’t sell that much. How much work do you put into building a campaign, or game, in Dungeons and Dragons, if the characters are just going to go right off your script? How much effort do you put into building a business if the customers are just going to buy something from you that is completely different than what you thought you were going to sell? These are the same questions, and there’s no right answer to either (although there are tons of wrong answers). But understanding that when momentum strikes in a game and if you don’t have a good campaign built that is flexible, you won’t maintain that momentum, is key.
  2. If you have to stop the game to look up the rules, your momentum is lost. Games got way more fun as we better understood the rules. When you have to stop and look something up, the attention of the gamers can get lost on things like potato chips. Similarly, the attention of the market is lost when you have to stop a business transaction to review contracts, train employees, rebuild processes, and reengineer product. The better all employees are trained, the more likely they will respond quickly and appropriately to the market and not have their attention wander when you have to look up how to properly figure out what saving throw is required to keep from getting crispy from the breath of a red dragon.
  3. Have fun! There’s not much reason to play Dungeons and Dragons alone. If the game isn’t fun, you will invariably not have many people come back for a second or third campaign. In business, employees need to be engaged. Products and companies these days need to have a personality. Sure, you might make a great widget, but if it isn’t fun to come to work and make, sell, or support that widget, then you’re going to have a much harder time getting those things done. Fun brands, like fun games, drive engagement – and engagement amplifies your spend.
  4. You gain experience incrementally, but it shows in bursts. In Dungeons and Dragons, you gain experience points for doing things. When you accumulate enough, you go up a level. At that point, you might get a higher score for an ability, you might pick up proficiency with a new weapon, or you might get more hit points. Heck, according to your character class, a lot of cool stuff can happen. I find that in business, we slowly work our way towards a new level. We learn lessons along the way (like a Level 1 Cleric learns not to tackle a blue dragon alone). I was recently in a meeting where someone said that a department had reached a new level. In business, you kinda’ work your way there, learning lessons, training staff, expanding, contracting, etc. But all of a sudden, you realize “holy crap, we can now cast fireball spells!” When did it happen? Sometimes you don’t even know… But it’s usually obvious to everyone that a gap was closed, a threshold crossed, and it’s time to start building momentum for the next level, tackling more difficult monsters, arming up with better weapons, and maybe even picking up some new NPCs along the way!
  5. To sell, you need to be confident. When it’s your turn in a game, you may talk as your character would (I’ve heard some of the worst accents ever in these games). The more confident you are, the more the game is immersive. Without confidence, a Dungeon Master is likely to get walked all over. Most jobs in a company have way more of a sales component that most employees want to admit.
  6. Some players are just going to be more engaged than others, no matter what you do. Different people want different things out of a game of Dungeons and Dragons, their jobs, and this life in general. When I was taking MBA classes at Cornell, they referred to this as different people having their own motivators. These motivators influence how impactful various initiatives are. For example, some respond well to financial incentives. Others to social interactions or pats on the back. Some players have a math test the next day and are going to miss a game. Others are ridiculously into the game. Just because you put a lot of work into developing a campaign doesn’t mean that others are going to be into each and every game. Everyone will have more fun if the expectations for engagement with a given initiative are tempered and any involvement is looked at positively.
  7. Don’t dominate the game. Everyone should have a say in how games go. There’s going to be natural alphas in any group. But try and give everyone ample time to play and talk about what their character is doing. And if some people don’t have that much to say, that’s fine. Just routinely return to them and give them the opportunity. This is how a game, meeting, brainstorming session, town hall, etc can be run. If one player is dominating the game, it’s a great idea to step in and keep them from doing so. How you go about doing so will become a skill that you hone for decades. And try not to be that person. Another skill you may hone for the rest of your life…
  8. When the 20 sided dice goes missing, it was probably the paladin that took it. Yup, stop blaming the thief. The person who prefers to play a Lawful Good paladin might just be living vicariously and might not be the eagle scout everyone thought they were. Don’t jump to conclusions when things happen in the professional world. Gather all of the information. Especially when there’s an accusation to be made. When you’re trying to isolate a problem with a process or product, perform your due diligence. Root cause analysis, etc. Of course, you’ll need that 1d20 back eventually the game is to go on…
  9. You are invariably going to outgrow the game. People don’t stay in the same position forever. You need to build a growth path. You don’t want your level 5 Drow Elf Ranger to stay level 5 forever. You want to be prepared for how the game will play out with higher level characters, and maybe even keep a funnel of lower level characters and employees who can work their way up into higher positions. And when a player decides to leave the game, you need a succession plan. It’s easier in Dungeons and Dragons than in business. Sure, you can switch classes, just like employees can switch departments, but it’s a pretty linear path for most in the game. In the real world, everyone will have something different they want out of a job and it’s the job of a servant leader to help them get there, even if it means helping them soar to new heights at another organization. It’s best though, if you can provide a growth plan that keeps your awesome people in house, of course… But sometimes a player’s going to go off to college. Maybe they’ll come over and take over as the Dungeon Master when they come home though. So stay in touch. Also stay in touch because you just plain like them and want to be friends…
  10. Morale is optional in Dungeons and Dragons, but not in the business world. Morale was a slightly more advanced feature for Dungeon Masters. Basically, if a creature or retainer fails morale check (2d6), it will disengage from a battle and retreat. If it sucks to work at your company, or on your team, your employees will do the same. If you don’t work on morale, you won’t find yourself with talented employees for long.
  11. What happens when you turn a bag of holding inside out? Some things, you’ll never know. But, you can’t wait until you know every detail in business. You see, the cost to gather tooooo much intel can outweigh the opportunity cost of jumping into something. Every now and then you have to trust your gut. But, when you do, maybe turning that bag of holding opens a black hole and ends the game, or maybe it takes you to a whole new level.
  12. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Sure, you could rush through a dungeon, or a forest of kobolds in record time. But why? Killing all the kobolds is going to get you experience points, which add up until you get to the point where you can tackle golems and orcs and dragons. At work, try and be thorough. I find that I can get 90 percent of a project done in no time. That last 10 percent is the hardest, and where I learn the most. It’s also where the polish can be seen by others. You obviously need to complete projects, but it’s the journey towards all of your goals (the projects, the learning, etc) that really matter. And if you’re rushing through everything, it will show. Plus, there’s usually a low chance you’ll get some kind of magic item off a kobold…
  13. Eventually, your fighter has to work on more traits than just strength. The easiest character to play is usually a fighter. You’re just kindof a tank. You can walk into a room and fight and kill monsters. In Dungeons and Dragons, each character has a number of different abilities. These include things like Dexterity, which helps a thief to pick locks and all characters to avoid getting hit. There’s also intelligence, wisdom, constitution, charisma and strength. Each class of character will need different abilities to be higher than others. And as you level up you receive adjustments you can add to abilities. Naturally, a player will work on the abilities for their class first. For example, if you have a fighter, you’ll increase strength and constitution (which gives you more hit points), or if you have a thief you’ll work on dexterity. But, as the character progresses, you’ll invariably work on different abilities to unlock more advanced features of your class. The same is true at work. Let’s say you write code for a living (which many consider the magic-user of the business world these days). Eventually, you may choose to manage a team, become a scrum master, or manage products. For each of these, it will greatly help if you’ve dedicated a little time to working on your charisma ability. So while public speaking and management classes might not seem all that awesome for a code monkey, well, they will suit you well later in the game of your career.
  14. The more junk you have the slower you move. Each item that your character finds in the game will weigh you down a little. Eventually, when you find items, you’ll have to choose what you carry and what you leave behind. And sometimes, you’ll find yourself leaving behind things that you fought huge battles with monsters to attain. It’s hard to let go of things, but sometimes you have to. At work, you might have projects that you want to continue with but have to let them go to move into a new position. You might have equipment that you love but can’t keep. You might have data on your computer (or phone or iPad) that’s just wasting space. Keep in mind, that there’s a weight to that data, even if only mentally. Learn to let things go. Sometimes the character simply can’t move to the next room with a massive bag of treasure on their back.
  15. Energy draining monsters are the worst! As mentioned earlier in this article, once you reach a certain number of experience points (pretty much double from the previous level up) you get to move up in levels. However, occasionally you find undead monsters that can drain experience points from you. Ghosts, ghasts, ghouls and other monsters are the total suck. They can set you back pretty far. And sometimes permanently. We all know people that just suck the life right out of you at work. They always talk about how they tried an initiative and the initiative didn’t work, so they don’t want to try anything else. They always go back to the good old days and these days everything sucks. These energy draining attitudes must be vanquished. Regrettably, in Dungeons and Dragons, that often requires magic items. Positivity and strategy are the magic weapons in the corporate world. Results speak for themselves, so they are the vorpal sword of the board room!
  16. The best business happens in a pub. Yup, you’re not gonna’ buy that crazy Staff of Wielding in a regular-old blacksmith’s shop. Instead, sometimes you do your best business in a bar. Or a golf course. Or at church. When you’re in these places, be you, but don’t be afraid to let business happen where it happens!
  17. Teams need to be diverse. A party of 6 fighters really isn’t going to make it far. Nor 6 clerics. You need a couple of fighters, a cleric (to heal everyone), a magic user (maybe an elf), a thief (likely a halfling), etc. A well rounded adventuring party is key to the success of a campaign. The same is true for many teams at work. Different experiences and different backgrounds bring different ideas and perspectives. And bring everyones game up a notch. Of course, sometimes your half-orc rogue will spar with your paladin. But the team is better for having everyone together.
  18. Sometimes you have to retreat. A 4th level barbarian walks into a bar… It sounds like a joke, until it ends “and get shot with lightning by a level 36 drow lich-king. A/B testing, pivoting, fail fast. Have an open mind. Be creative, but if your initiatives aren’t working out, get out of the bar, before you get lit up. Having said that, let things play out. Sometimes the lich-king just hits you with a riddle and might give you treasure rather than have you dual it out. Modern business acumen is to try things, let initiatives play out, but be prepared to change course. Don’t be afraid to admin that you were wrong. This is a common trait of people who are right a lot.
  19. The best loot is free. I guess it’s according to how you define free. Organic growth is always best when possible. Buying customers, buying products, buying teams, etc are all problematic in their own way. Sometimes you do those things so that you can get to market quicker. But when you go into a dungeon and try and take on a stretch goal of killing yourself a giant spider, you’ll get rewarded by great loot. That +2 longsword will do you well. And it’s better to get it that way than to get it in a store.
  20. Sometimes you get a critical miss, sometimes you get a critical hit. In Dungeons and Dragons, if you’re trying to stab a monster, you roll the dice to see if you hit it. There are certain numbers on a dice that might have your character inflicting extra damage, because you hit an artery or something like that. There are other numbers that might cause you to actually stab yourself. There’s a certain amount of chance to everything we do. Maybe a critical miss is to get fired by your biggest customer for something you had no control over. Maybe a critical win is to have your largest deal ever come in during the last couple weeks of a year so the year ends historically awesome sauce. Maybe you ship software with a huge bug. Maybe you have some widgets made and they fall off a cargo ship on the way from China. I’ve seen it all. Sometimes things backfire. The best plan, have a backout plan. And be prepared for the critical hit pushing your business forward a year or two with one deal. If you don’t try, you might not get it!

January 26th, 2016

Posted In: Business

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Comment

I started working at JAMF a little over a year and a half ago. And one of my favorite things about the on boarding process here is the emphasis on continuing education that was handed down to me. I was given two books to read on my first day. Then, during my get-the-cool-aid on boarding (aka Zero Month), I had a couple of pretty rad JAMFs go through a list of books they felt were essential and review the books from my first day. Theeeen, I had meetings with Co-Founder and CEO at the time Chip Pearson, where he would stop meetings and order me books. It was a book nerd’s heaven I tell ya’.

And like other heavenly nerd things, I thought I’d share it with you here. So here’s 25 good business books that I either read or re-read since I’ve been here (in no specific order):

The Blue Ocean Strategy. This book outlines a specific market condition they call a “red ocean”, which is when a market is so saturated that the players in that market start to drop prices and engage in cut-throat tactics. The premise is that rather than entering a market with the same product that everyone else has, you might as well look for a different market. I’ll expand this and say a different market segment as well. It’s a delightful and quick read. Very interesting little book, and much more business than you’d think given the tone (which makes the prose easy to get through).

The Idea Factory: When I was in college, I wanted to lead R&D at Bell Labs. Or Xerox. This is the story of Bell and all the breakthroughs and ideas they came up with. It’s a fantastic little book. And a must-read for those who want to play the innovation game.

Startup CEO: There are so many things that a lot of books on how to start a business, or write a business plan, or go get VC don’t cover. This is really a tacticians look at starting a company or business unit. It’s concise and easy to read, with real life examples and tons of things that I’ve seen first hand. I’m not sure you can truly appreciate it until you’ve been there a couple of times, but if you have it’s great to know you’re not the only one!

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance: Before IBM was a juggernaut, it was a juggernaut. But between those two stages, IBM was in serious peril. Then Louis Gerstner came and changed what IBM was, how IBM operated, and helped to turn them into a new kind of awesome. When he retired, he wrote this book. While it’s part euphoric recall, anyone who wonders WTF in big companies should read this book. I think it helped me better understand why some of the things that used to frustrate me happen, and understand more about what it takes to run a truly global organization.

Getting Naked: This was a pretty weird business book. Because it was written like a piece of fiction. I appreciated the change-up after a year of reading so many books on business. The thesis is really that you should be in touch with yourself and your clients in a very Jerry Maguire way. It’s simple, but an easy read with a few really good points to take away (such as not to scoff at the competition when they do seemingly hippy things).

Guerilla Marketing Weapons: 100 tips on getting more out of marketing. ‘Cause who doesn’t want that? If you read this, keep a notepad handy. It’s got a lot of basic, easy things. But it’s got a lot of ideas that you’ll want to capture while they’re fresh as well.

Notes to a Software Team Leader: This book is about self organizing teams. ‘Cause developers don’t need managers as much as we seem to think. But they do need structure, like all teams.

Trust Me, I’m Lying: PR gone wrong. There’s a lot of great tips in this book from a “don’t do this” standpoint. Euphoric recall as a teaching mechanism. The dark side of PR.

Crossing the Chasm: This book is about how some tech companies go mainstream (and uber-profitable) and how some just don’t. There is a chasm between early adoption and mainstream. Why? How do you keep from getting caught in it? Great items this book does a great job covering. If you’re in the startup/innovation/tech scene, you simply have to read this book; it’s a classic.

The Art of the Start: Another classic (one I wish I’d of read years earlier), Guy Kawasaki takes aim at startups, looking to secure VC or bootstrap. Lots of great tips. Lots of good stories. From a veteran of the startup community, just without the grizzled aspects many of the veterans can get.

Enchantment: I’m just gonna’ throw in another book. This one tells the story of how Kawasaki got his start at Apple and has some parallels drawn between his time in the jewelry industry and marketing. It’s a good book. If you only have time for one of his books, read Art of the Start. If you have time for two, get Enchantment.

The Icarus Deception: Play it safe? Listen to the smart people? Sure. Don’t fly too low either. But make your own way. It’s a great title from Seth Godin. And check out his blog here.

Ideas Are Free: This book caused me to setup meetings with people who would never think of tag lines and other creative items. I had mixed results, but it was abso-frickin’-lutely worth it. Not only do non-creatives have lots of good ideas, they also have lots of great responses to being included.

Delivering Happiness: How does Zappos end up with such a fanatical fan base? Support. If you’ve ever returned something to Zappos, you know what I mean. Everything about shopping there is a great experience. Not everyone can expend the resources they do, as support isn’t as integral a part of their strategy as it is at Zappos. But there are lots of

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The thesis: there are waves of innovation and you have to keep releasing disruptive tech to stay on those waves. If you listen to customers too much, you might miss out. If you don’t go downmarket eventually someone else will. If you don’t read this book, you won’t get all these fantastic tips.

The Lean Startup: Fail fast. It’s a good thesis to a book. Don’t fail too fast. I think they forgot to tell you when the breaking point is. But there are lots of stories and tips in this book that can help any fledgling product or business. And it’s well worth the time and money. Probably my second favorite book on the list.

Rework: Why schedule a 60 minute meeting when a 15 minute meeting (er, spike) will do? Lots of great little tips in this book from the people behind 37 Signals and Ruby.

Rookie Smarts: Liz Wiseman loves putting newbies into roles and seeing how they do. And she’s had success at it. In this book, there’s a bit of a simplistic approach to that (not everyone can sit in every chair in a growing company). But the most important aspect of this book is that she defined a few types of people or places in life that “rookies” are and how you can engage those specific groups best. this was probably my favorite part of the whole book.

Keeping Up with the Quants: Stats for marketing professionals. Unlike many of the books where there’s a thesis and then a lot of proving the thesis, this one is more of a longer collection of definitions, simple statistical formulas, etc.

Marketing In The Age Of Google: The general thesis of this thing is that content is king. Write a lot of good stuff that people want to link to and your product will get natural listings that are hard to displace. There’s other good little tips here and there, but that’s the key message. There, saved ya’ some time. :)

Growth Hacker Marketing: This is my favorite book on the list (like I said, no particular order). A fresh, interesting, cool, personal approach to getting your product branding in front of people. Some ideas cost a little. Some cost a lot. It’s great stuff. A must read in my humble opinion.

18454317

Traction: A bit of a slow paced book, but (pun intended) it gains traction as it goes. The Entrepreneurial Operating System is a bit much for me. But when explaining it, there are a lot of really amazing lessons that you have to learn. Some you learn the hard way, some you learn in this book.

Permission Marketing: Another Seth Godin book, this one focusing on using surveys, samples, contests, sales, and other marketing techniques to get in front of customers. The Purple Cow isn’t on this list, as I read it a long time ago. If you haven’t read it, check it out. If you have, check this out.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Things to do and not to do when marketing. Don’t send too many emails. Don’t send things that people don’t care about. But the most important part of this book, and pretty much the central thesis is to match with forces in the market. If you don’t do that, you won’t be able to get in sync with what customers want and how to grab their attention.

Managing Humans: We were excited when Michael Lopp, who wrote this book, joined the board of JAMF Software. In part, it was because Zach (co-founder of JAMF) and I both hero worshipped his writing. This is a great book, and his blog is great as well!

 

December 29th, 2015

Posted In: Articles and Books, Business

Tags: , , , ,

But Apple says… But Microsoft says… But Google says… I hear this all the time. And the very first thing I often ask is Who at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or whatever vendor says that?

The reason I ask “who” is often because you can get conflicting responses from a vendor for a given question. Why’s that? When an organization gets bigger than 1, there are suddenly more perspectives than just one. When an organization gets bigger than 3, communication starts to get more challenging and it becomes harder and harder to have everyone on the same page. When an organization gets bigger and bigger (500, 10,000, 100,000), not everyone is actually privy to all the pertinent information. Or people don’t know what they can say externally.

Who? Developers. Sales. Systems Engineers. Professional Services. Subject Matter Experts. Managers. Executives. Resellers. Marketing. Professional Services Providers. Office Managers. Channel Managers. Product Managers. Each of these might tell you something different when presented with the same question. A developer might only see a small portion of a larger overall project, as they’re buried in the code of a specific binary, feature, or option. Someone in sales might be representing a feature or function as it’s communicated to them, not being overly technical. Someone in Systems Engineering might communicate the feature as they use it, but not how you plan to use it. Someone in Professional Services would often have exposure in the environments they’ve implemented a feature, but a feature might mean more to them.

And it goes on through the rest of the functions . Who can you trust? No one. Everyone. Yourself. I’ve always maintained that until I see a feature, I don’t trust it. And when it comes to how I plan to implement a feature, I love hearing from an organization how they’d like me to use it. Unless I get a consistent response about what something from a vendor means to me (and even if I do to some extent), I reserve the responsibility of planning what it means to me for the person responsible for the repercussions: me.

I keep saying feature. But I also mean strategy. Strategy can be equally, if not more complicated. Different people at different levels of organizations will have their own perspectives on strategy. And strategy of how you work with a vendor is more important than the tactics of how you implement a given feature. The direction you should be going is yours. Unless you hear otherwise. And then confirm that.

Anyway, what am I getting at with this article? Next time someone tells me “But Google says…” don’t be surprised when I say “who?” And you should say that as well, and judge the messaged based on the who.

December 23rd, 2015

Posted In: Business

Tags: , , ,

My latest Huffington Post piece is up.

Apple has long been known for providing an exceptional user experience. But many might not realize that over the past few years, they’ve been pushing the infosec envelope, by making advanced security options accessible to everyday users. While not all of these features are new in El Capitan, here are 16 features that Apple has built into OS X that every user has simple access to:

Read more on Apple’s Security Tech at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-edge/16-apple-security-advances-to-take-note-of-in-2016_b_8789456.html

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 9.28.43 AM

And if you’d like to know more in depth information about Apple security, check out my latest book on Apple Security in the Enterprise on Amazon!

 

December 16th, 2015

Posted In: Articles and Books, Bushel, Business, Mac OS X, Mac Security

This is my 3,000th post on Krypted.com. The past 3,000 posts have primarily been about OS X Server, Mac automation, Mac deployment, scripting, iOS deployments, troubleshooting, Xsan, Windows Servers, Exchange Server, Powershell, security, and other technical things that I have done in my career. I started the site in response to a request from my first publisher. But it took on a mind of its own. And I’m happy with the way it’s turned out.

My life has changed a lot over these past 11 years. I got married and then I got divorced. I now have a wonderful daughter. I became a partner and the Chief Technology Officer of 318 and helped to shape it into what was the largest provider of Apple services, I left Los Angeles and moved to Minnesota, left 318 to help start up a new MDM for small businesses at JAMF Software called Bushel, and now I have become the Consulting Engineering Manager at JAMF. In these 11 years, I have made a lot of friends along the way. Friends who helped me so much. I have written 14 more books, spoken at over a hundred conferences, watched the Apple community flourish, and watched the emergence of the Post-PC era.

In these 11 years, a lot has happened. Twitter and Facebook have emerged. Microsoft has hit hard times. Apple has risen like a phoenix from those dark ashes. Unix has proved a constant. Open Source has come into the Mac world. The Linux gurus are still waiting for Linux on the desktop to take over the world. Apps. iOS. iPad. Mobility. Android. Wearables. Less certifications. More admins. And you can see these trends in the traffic for the site. For example, the top post I’ve ever written is now a list of Fitbit badges. The second top post is a list of crosh commands. My list of my favorite hacking movies is the third top post. None of these have to do with scripting, Apple, or any of the articles that I’ve spent the most time writing.

That’s the first 3,000 posts. What’s next? 3,000 more posts? Documenting the unfolding of the Post-PC era? Documenting the rise and fall of more technologies? I will keep writing, that’s for sure. I will continue doing everything I can to help build out the Apple community. And I will enjoy it. I’ve learned a lot about writing along this path. But I have a lot more to learn.

Unknown

The past 3,000 posts have mostly been technical in nature. I’ve shown few of my opinions, choosing to keep things how-to oriented and very technical. Sure, there’s the occasional movie trailer when I have a “squee” moment. But pretty technical, overall. I’ve been lucky to have been honored to speak at many conferences around the world. One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is that when people ask me to speak at conferences, they ask me to speak about broader topics. They don’t want me doing a technical deep dive. People use the term thought leader. And while I don’t necessarily agree, maybe it’s time I step up and write more of those kinds of articles here and there.

I’ve learned so much from you these 11 years. But I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I look forward to learning together over the course of the next 3,000 posts! Thank you for your support. Without it, I’d have probably stopped at 10 articles!

November 16th, 2015

Posted In: 318, Apps, Articles and Books, Bushel, Business, certifications, Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment, Microsoft Exchange Server, Minneapolis

Tags: , , , , ,

In a Tango class recently, I had to follow. I’m much more used to leading, and I kept bumping into people. Not my best moment. But then my instructor said something that turned out to be very wise advice: “close your eyes.” All of a sudden, everything just kicked into place and I was on the other side of a Tango dance, easily imagining how legs can get kicked out and intertwined and how the whole thing just works. It also helped me lead better. I finally understood that you have to be forcefully charging ahead, or you mess up the rhythm of the follower.

The same can be true in business. I used to find that new employees at my old company always had 20 things to tell us that we should be doing better. Most of these things had been tried, or deprecated over time. Many employees came from smaller companies who didn’t need checks, balances, and documentation like we did. Many came from larger companies, who needed a lot of those same checks, balances, and documentation that we did not. Building business processes can be a fine line between not having enough process, and having so much that people can’t get anything done any more, because there aren’t dedicated people (or time for) managing those processes.

The recommendations were sometimes good. But most of the time, after a month or three on staff, the reasons we did things started to make sense and the number of recommendations went down. But those first couple of months could be a challenge, and so when I saw this trend with a new employee I’d always just say “write everything down, and we’ll review it in a couple months – just try it our way for now.”

Once I got into the rhythm of following, I was able to open my eyes. Then, I could show off. Similarly, once my employees got into the rhythm of things, then we could look at their recommendations and see what would make sense for their new job. Some of these recommendations helped to shape the way we did business moving forward, and we were so very glad to have them. But what was gone was all the time spent trying to explain why we chose to do things a certain way. Much simpler for all parties when you can close your eyes and follow, if only for a little while.

November 16th, 2015

Posted In: Business

Tags: , , ,

As you’ve likely heard, if you live in the United States (and possibly elsewhere), same sex marriage has now been legalized. And it’s legal in Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg, Finland and Ireland already. The trend to legalize same sex marriage started in 2001. And it’s been gaining popularity. At some point, it’s likely that same sex marriage will be universally legal. But when?

Let’s ask Excel, using polynomial trendlines. To get started, let’s look at how many countries have legalized same sex marriage. The below spreadsheet lays out how many countries have legalized same sex marriage to date, and when.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 1.52.28 AM

To then see a trend line, we’ll add a chart element, selecting Add Chart Element and then select More Trendline Options…

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 1.52.46 AM

At the Format Trendline pane, click Polynomial and check the box for “Display equation on chart”

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 1.53.07 AM

Then copy the equation into your clipboard and pasties into the formula bar. Next, we’ll remove the y and convert the symbols into formula elements.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 1.53.54 AM

This results in wrong numbers because we’ve got years instead of ascending numbers and we’ve got missing years when same sex marriage wasn’t legalized in any countries. So, we’ll convert the years into a number starting with 1 and going up (where 1 is 2001, etc).

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 1.59.49 AM

Keep adding rows and copying the formula into each new row and you’ll find that same sex marriage will be universally accepted in 2035, by summing up the numbers and looking for 206 countries.

 

 

July 3rd, 2015

Posted In: Business, personal

Tags: , , ,

Recently I’ve read a lot of things about the attacks against Sony. I’ve read that they’re nothing more than extortion attempts by hackers that probably live in their parents basements (based on the fact that the initial demands didn’t mention North Korea at all). I’ve read they were orchestrated by China by people who felt North Korea was being picked on and couldn’t stand up for themselves. I’ve read highly unconvincing reports from the FBI that they were orchestrated by North Korea. No one really knows. I can send traffic to servers from anywhere in the world. Anyone can anonymize their web traffic as easily as using a ToR plug-in with Firefox. I’ve also spoken to friends at Sony that told me that they’re concerned about the future viability of Sony due to the business impacts of these attacks. I’ve also spoken with people at other studios freaking out about not wanting to “be the next Sony.”

But in all of it, there’s something kicking in the back of my head. You see, if someone tried to blackmail me, I’d go to the press (or government) and allow the public to judge me for whatever it is, not cave to demands that are only likely to recur. Not giving into extortion demands is the right thing to do. If someone threatened the safety of people to go to a movie, I’d pull it as well, so that’s the right thing to do as well. There have been enough shootings in theaters and while financially potentially devastating it’s not worth the loss of a single human life to show The Interview in theaters. Of course, now that the attackers have backed off their stance, The Interview will be shown in hundreds of theaters. And it will likely be viewed online by millions of people over the next few days. And if this was carried out by North Korea, they couldn’t visit all of our homes to pull it (although the awful remake of Red Dawn by MGM might indicate differently).

I believe that the good, American thing to do is show our support to Sony for all the brain candy they’ve given us in the past. More than that, our support for doing what’s right. And what’s more capitalistic of us than spending $6 on a movie (other than spending more)? What’s better for Sony than to make a little money? In America, we tend to root for underdogs. We love Rocky (which btw cost less than a million to make and brought in a breathtaking $225M – 1:225 ROI there). We wanted Rudy to score a touchdown for the Irish (TriStar – part of Sony). We practiced our kicks like the Karate Kid (Columbia Pictures – part of Sony). We watched Jerry Maguire (TriStar – part of Sony again) even though we couldn’t stand Tom Cruise and rooted for the guy who risked it all to do the right thing (Money, baby). We threw up in our mouth a little when we watched Dodgeball (Fox but a fun movie anyways). We adore Gandhi (Columbia – again part of Sony) because it won an Oscar and taught us the story of one of the greatest men of all time. We loved Charlie Sheen when he was Winning in Major League (Mirage). And we loved Kick-Ass (Lions Gate), one of the unlikeliest heros of all.

Sony made Bond great again. Sony brought us Spiderman to the big screen. Sony told us about The Social Network (and were still allowed to have Facebook accounts. Sony gave us Eat Pray Love. Sony killed zombies awesome sauce in Zombieland. Sony gave us Superbad. Sony taught us a history lesson with The King’s Speech. Sony brought The Da Vinci Code to the big screen. Sony made a great movie in the Lords of Dogtown. Sony brought us Hell Boy, Adaptation (as a writer, a movie I love), Ali, Black Hawk Down and countless other movies. Some great, some not. That’s the game.

Now, we have a chance to do a very small part by helping Sony escape financial ruin. And yes, they make more movies that suck than are awesome. Because that’s what all studios do. And yes, the film industry seems like a bunch of rich people being silly sometimes. But there are real people that work there. Normal people. With boys and girls and installations at burning man. Some of the best people I know. And they do great work. And sometimes the studio makes brilliant movies. And whether this was spearheaded (yes, bad pun on spear phishing) by a dictator with a bad fade, the remaining communist hardliners in China, another studio or something else, it’s up to the market to dictate the outcome. That’s capitalism. ‘Merica

PS – It’s hilarious.

December 26th, 2014

Posted In: Business, Mac Security, personal

Tags: , , , , , ,

I was supposed to give a presentation at MinneBar a few weeks ago, but I ended up having to be out of town. I was pretty bummed as I really wanted to see a few of the presentations. But, lucky me, MinneBar has actually started posting presentations to YouTube. Woohoo, they’re available at http://www.youtube.com/user/MinneStarMedia.

The one I think I was most interested in seeing is available right here, and I can embed it into my own site and watch it from here.

I will try and make the next one to do the presentation I’d planned on giving. This is a community I am very supportive of and love contributing to (although the next time someone uses “serial entrepreneur” as their job title I might not be able to suppress the eye roll + flutter combination – sry).

May 16th, 2013

Posted In: Business, personal, public speaking

Tags: , ,

Apple now has a new system status page for their services, available at http://www.apple.com/support/systemstatus. This site goes through many of Apple’s services and shows an indicator light for when they are up. Additionally, you can scroll down to the detailed timeline and see a historical account of what services are online.

This is yet another step in Apple’s continued progress at providing more and more information to the community on, well, everything. This includes seeing Apple popping up at conferences here and there, most notably at Black Hat this year, publishing more kbase articles that detail problems and allowing more community involvement from some employees. A more open Apple is a more enterprise, education and consumer friendly Apple.

December 14th, 2012

Posted In: Articles and Books, Business, cloud, iPhone, Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Next Page »