Friday, June 28, 2013

Password Jungle

This has been a week lost in what I call the "Password Jungle".  It started with Facebook asking for the resetting of passwords (allegedly they got attacked and "some" people were compromised, although they never really say who) and so it goes that all of the other applications that we sign in using our Facebook username and passwords also now have to be reset, etc.  And so, it goes and goes. 

The jungle is full of many vines that all look the same and are hard to distinguish.  So is the jungle of our passwords.  There are one-stop solutions for the problem like LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, KeyPass, etc., but to go with any one of those memorized applications, we must then trust that they will also be around in the future and that they can be trusted. 

It is a dilemma and one that doesn't seem like it will go away any time soon.  Every new site adds to the problem.  I sometimes feel lost in the jungle.  If you have the better solution that has worked for you, I am all ears and open to what you have found works the best.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brain STEMs

As I write this, I don't know if the Immigration Bill will pass through the Senate and/or reach Congress in this coming week.  For all I know by the time this post is published, the bill may have been defeated. 

One part of the bill that is important to the business community is the ability to immigrate people with education and experience in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The U.S. today has a brain STEM deficiency and the business community is asking our representatives to help us stem the STEM problem.  No one wants this to be the forever answer, but right now we can't educate internally enough people to keep up with the technology talent needs, so something has to help us fill the gap.

How we allowed ourselves to get here and what responsibilities we have in fixing this for the future is also what needs to be explored and understood.  We have the ability to ensure that we have all the workers we need, with the right skills, education and experience if we find the resolve and commitments to find a true fix. 
We know the problem will not resolves on its own, so what is the best time to fix has to be today...doesn't it?

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I was surprised to hear someone I know say (almost bragging) about being, "Consistently inconsistent".  As soon as the words came out of her mouth, her husband validated this with, "And, that is the hardest thing about you".  Wow, that was an honest exchange, and it was out in the open with other people around to hear the disclosures. 

This interchange reminded me that if there is anything really hard to manage is consistent inconsistency, because even though you know to never expect the same more than once, knowing that there will always be an unknown to be expected can drive you crazy.  Okay, as we know, our businesses can't run this way, otherwise we would never have a repeat customer and soon we would be out of business.  But, let's think about the fact that inside of our companies there are many people and people like this person who likes to be consistently inconsistent. 

Are we to think that these personal trait don't carry over into the work that is being done, work that we expect to be consistently performed?  This is why we must pay attention to the details and continue to simplify and ensure that consistency is designed into our work, so that we remove the risks of inconsistency. 

Consistent inconsistency is an ingredient that will spoil any recipe for success.

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit: )

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What is a Rock?

My best buddy Fred, and I were running this past weekend and he told me about a very cool meeting that he attended where a facilitator took the group some very thought-provoking exercises.  One involved a bowl of water with a rock sitting in the bottom of the bowl.  When asked about what happened when the rock went into the water, the group responded with a number of answers.  What the facilitator was trying to get at was the impact of the rock on the water and the ripples that get created when a rock is thrown into water. 

The conversation then led to what are the rocks that we can throw into waters to make a difference with our lives.  Fred had a very thoughtful insight when he asked the group, "What really creates the ripples?  Is it the rock or the action of the rock being thrown into the water?"  He then went on to explain that in his own life he sees throwing a rock (money, influence, etc.) into needed waters as the easy way out.  Throwing a rock every now and then doesn't take as much commitment as becoming personally the rock. 

I sat with that thought and loved where he took that conversation because I also know that those things that are most rewarding and fulfilling that I do is not the "donation" made, but the "contribution" I make with my time. experience and energy.  When we go beyond giving and turn that into serving, it is then that we become the rock.  This lesson can be applied not only across those things that we are doing for "good" (as it seemed the context was in my friend's discussion) but also in how we are going about our daily work and life activities.

It's worth the question today...are we throwing rocks or are being rocks?

(For a further faith based application of this post you can visit:

Monday, June 24, 2013


Most corporate training only scratches at the surface of what we need to know to do our jobs fully.  We get the basics of what and how and then we move on and maybe for years we don't get retrained or more deeply grown or developed.  When we think back about the training that was most of an impact on our jobs, it is that training that actually grew us more as human beings than just make us a better worker.  When this happens, we are actually able to take that learning, apply it to our work and we ultimately become better all the way around.  That is training that sticks.  I was with a friend this last week who was telling me about a holistic session that his partnership did with the senior partners in the company.  It started with a comprehensive physical examination, moved through life expectations and motivations, and then ended up with applying all of this to how each individual would change to be better in their jobs over the next five years.  My friend was effusive about how significant this was to him.  Forget all of the "training", instead let's send our people off to "learning".  

(For a further faith based application of this post, you can visit:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Vision Casters

Everyone likes vision casters.  These are the people who seem to be able to see around the corner and create a vision of what the rest of us can't yet see.  Investors especially love vision from CEO and Founders.  Those analysts who represent investors sometimes though have the least vision, so they are even more enamored with those who lean forward into the future.  This is the problem the Apple has right now.  The analysts think that Apple has lost their vision.  Have they though?  Analysts are asking questions like, "Is it search?", "Is it voice?"  But, what do we know?  One can't ask a question about what a vision is because a vision, again, is something that the rest of us can't yet see.  Prior to the launch of the iPod, Steve Jobs played the guessing game with me and asked me what I thought could change the world, would fit in my pocket, but wasn't a a phone or a camera.  At that time, the last thing I was going to come up with was another mp3 player.  But, he had a vision and that is why other others followed.  If we aren't constantly trying to create a vision for our employees, our customers, our consumers and our shareholders, then we run the risk of losing their attention and worse yet the curiosity of their imagination.

(if you would like to read a further faith-based application of this post, you can visit: )

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where We Are

Adam Alter wrote a very interesting article in this past weekend's New York Times, discussing the influence of who we are being very much shaped by where we are.  Alter draws from the research from James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling who wrote the 1982 Atlantic Monthly article that explained the "Broken Window Theory", which was broadly popularized by Rudy Giuliani as Mayor of New York City during his campaign to clean up New York. In a nutshell, we human beings are chameleons and we will adapt to the cues and signals around us.  If we are in a dirty and littered location then we will not feel inclined to keep anything neat and organized.  The opposite is also true.  We can take this research into our businesses.  The culture and environment that we create, or let appear without our creation (warning: this is what happens), is all it takes to send the messages of how we want people to work, behave and even take accountability.  A good friend has now gone back into a CEO position after a few years out.  He has returned to the company that he built.  According to those who work there, there is a feeling of change in the air.  An employee mentioned to me that the attention to detail on how the campus is kept clean is back and the messages of the environment are signaling that there is serious business about to happen, again.  And, without having to say much about it, employees are taking notice and upping their work attention and performance.  Where we are yes, can shape who we are.

(to see a faith-based application of this bolt of thinking post, you can visit: )

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Designed in California

You'd have to be living in a cave or have been totally off the grid this week to have missed the launch of Apple's new ad campaign, "Designed by Apple in California". 

It appears that Apple is making their next generational message move.  Last time they used words (versus letting their products speak for themselves) was the "Think Different" campaign. 

There is always risk in trying to tell the general public, "Who you are", versus letting your product and services speak for you and subordinating the company brand stance behind the message of the product or service.

But, Apple does think different and they are putting themselves out there.  For every line of their new manifesto, there will be a retort.  That's the risk of these type of bold, sweeping statements of standing. As an example, last night when viewing the ad on TV, Patti responded at the end of the tag line..."Designed by Apple in California"...with, "Yeah, but made in China".

But, this is what you can expect when you stick your chin out. The tricky high tight wire act is to not at the same time have your nose in the air.

We will see how the campaign is received and whether it will help in the public perception response from the multi-front attacks the company has received, or will it reinforce a perception of Silicon Valley eliteness, above-it-all hubris?

Only time will tell as to whether this advertisement/communication designed in California will work...or not.

 If you missed it, the text goes like this:

This is it.
This is what matters.
The experience of a product.
How it makes someone feel.
When you start by imagining
What that might be like,
You step back.
You think.

Who will this help?
Will it make life better?
Does this deserve to exist?
If you are busy making everything,
How can you perfect anything?

We don't believe in coincidence.
Or dumb luck.
There are a thousands "no's"
For every "yes."
We spend a lot of time
On a few great things.
Until every idea we touch
Enhances each life it touches.

We're engineers and artists.
Craftsmen and inventors.
We sign our work.
You may rarely look at it.
But you'll always feel it.
This is our signature.
And it means everything.

Designed in by Apple in California

The Lasts

I was listening closely as two senior executives were discussing their career trajectories, when one said to the other, "This is my last job".  The other looked forward in a thoughtful stare into space and said, "This might be my last one too". The exchange could have been between two long term soldiers, or two veteran professional athletes, who were coming to grips with the influence of age and time over their livelihoods.  The thought that anything might be our "last" is not an easy one for us to fathom, in either business or life.  We always expect, "another" and that is the way that our culture and society has been conditioned.  

But, there is the other side of always looking for one more.  There can be a certainty and confidence in knowing that this is the last time of trying to relearn, or the last time having to build equity or confidence from others, or this is the last time that we have to prove anything to anyone else, other than ourselves.  

Being able to say, "This is the last" can also cement an identity and attitude.  I know that I now hold the last email address and the last cell phone number I will ever have.  So, likely do you.  But, we don't bemoan those do we?  How can we take that same feeling of stability with us into our business and professional careers?  

We don't have to always feel like we are chasing the next and can be content in the "lasts".

(To see my further faith-based application of this bolt of thinking you can go to:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Age of Business

I was having a conversation with friends this past week who are both senior HR Executives.  We were discussing the pros and cons of different types of away-from-work policies.  Being from different sized companies and from companies of vastly different ages (one over 100 years old, the other around 30 years old), it was not surprising that the older company had just recently adapted to a more "modern" view of comprehensive Paid Time Off (PTO) versus the segregation of vacation time and sick days.  I popped in and mentioned that many of the newest start-ups have abandoned both approaches and just allow the employee to come and go as they need, without counting any days away.  I don't believe, like in many areas, there is any right answer, but it is obvious to me that, like chronological age, that it becomes harder to try the new and/or change the older we get.  How to keep our old company youthful, is the same challenge that we get to overcome in life.

To see my further faith-based application of this bolt of thinking you can go to:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Working From Where?

Yesterday's TechCrunch covered the new irobot and Cisco In-the-office-out-of-the office-work-from-home-telepresence-robot-thing. We've seen these things in the GE ads where the robot-thing can allow the sick children to attend school, even though they are home or hospital bound.  But, this puts a whole new spin on things. Are we getting closer and closer to the autonomous worker?  My friend Fred says, "You must be present to win".  Is this being present?  What will Marissa Mayer do with this?  What is clear is that our ability to be where we are, even when we are not, is getting more and more technologically advanced.  We need to monitor, experiment and see what works in our environment, and then judge.  But, one thing is for certain, we must try what is new and not ignore the future as it rolls through our front door.  The generation behind us is watching to see where we will land as it relates to where and how they will work.

                                                           (picture courtesy of TechCrunch)

To see my further faith-based application of this bolt of thinking you can go to:

Monday, June 10, 2013

The iCar

I see that Apple is working hard to secure all of the streaming music rights so that they can launch iRadio.  While I applaud them for moving into streaming, they are late to the game (Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, imeem, and the list goes on and on). I also find it curious as this is not a business with a ton of upside, so let's hope they have something else up their sleeve that we don't know about.

That said, iRadio would be a lot cooler if it had an iCar to go with it!

Why is Apple not buying Tesla?  Some will immediately answer, why would Apple want to be in the car business? I respond with, "The last time I looked a Tesla was a battery operated consumer product."  Tesla is the new Apple.  Look at the product design.  Marvel at the innovation. Wonder at what Elon Musk has on his mind next.  Apple buys Tesla, gets Elon Musk to join the team (maybe leads Apple in the future), licenses the autonomous car technology from Google and moves into a future that few can imagine.

Apple has the cash.  They need innovation. They need to make a Steve Jobs bold move. 

The iCar is waiting!

New Paint Job

Yesterday, Patti and I flew from SFO to JFK on American Airlines.  The airline is right now in transition to what they are calling the "New American" (#newamerican).  As we sat on the runway at SFO we could see the transition happening right in front of us with many of the new planes with the new paint schemes.  I thought about what it feels like to get a "new paint job" as a company.  It's exciting, but at the same time a time of anxiety.  There are new costs, higher expectations and a far amount of circumspection from the cynics. Will they make it?  Have they overspent? When will we see the real outputs?  It's all part of the dance, but once committed to change, then sticking with it and having the courage to not turn back is a large part of success.  All it would take now to derail the change would be someone in the Boardroom of American to say something like, "I don't know if I really like the way that new tail paint design looks after all."  While it's easy to say, "We can always paint over what we don't like", with organizational change and new beginnings, the commitment to changes are way more critical than just the new paint job!

To see my further faith-based application of this bolt of thinking you can go to:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thinking Hat

How many times have we said to ourselves, "If I only had some time to think!". We get so caught up in our day to day activities and the pressures of the urgent that we don't find time to sit and think, plan and be strategic. The grind of trying to stay on top of all of the emails, phone calls, meetings and project work doesn't leave much time for any of us to sit down with a clear mind and think about the future or the the things we have in front of us that need deep and long thoughts. There was a book that came out a few years ago about the it being an art to be able to think and conceptualize the long view of the future. But even like any art, there are foundational disciplines below the art form that are required before one can do anything well. A painter who doesn't understand color, a writer with poor grammar, a songwriter who can't play an instrument, or a business leader who can't find the time to think, are all efforts that are undermined by not having the fundamentals understood and perfected before trying to layer on the next level of creativity. Finding and carving out the time to wear your thinking hat is a fundamental part of finding success in business.

To see my further faith-based application of this bolt of thinking you can go to: