Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Throughout my career, people have said that I am quiet -- sometimes too quiet. I tend to agree, but it is one of those things that isn't easily fixed.
Over time, most people realize that I need to think about things and after I do that, I will express my views and suggestions. This post summarizes this really well...
Thursday, October 6, 2011
.....[being] fired from Apple was awful-tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life's going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it, and like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don't settle.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Stewart [Brand] and his team put out several issues of the The Whole Earth Catalogue, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-Seventies and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath were the words, "Stay hungry, stay foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. "Stay hungry, stay foolish." And I have always wished that for myself, and now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
When I joined the National Archives, I used work that I had been doing to trace my family history to help me better understand the processes that were in place for archivists and researchers to find records. I used a few facts that I had about my dad’s military experience to launch into some amateur research at the Archives.
I had a picture from one of his albums that showed that he was in the Navy in WWII, and based on the annotations on the picture I assumed he was on the Memphis.
As it turns out, he wasn’t on the Memphis, which was a WWII ship. Instead he was in Memphis for training.
Without being terribly deterred by this misstep, my quest for information continued. I completed an SF-180 to gain access to his military records, and was fortunate enough to travel to the Archive’s St. Louis facility earlier this month to see the Archive’s National Personnel Records Center, which is where most of our military records are housed. I was able to catch up with my request for access to dad’s records and his Navy file was located for me to review.
The record was awesome. I had expected to see the typical record entries – his enrollment date, discharge date, etc. What I found were these things, plus some very surprising items that helped me resolve some of the mysteries in my dad’s past.
Dad joined the Navy in the height of WWII and was discharged at the end of 1945. One of the unexpected treasures in the record file was a film negative containing the image taken of dad the day he joined the Navy.
The big surprise came when I found a letter from my grandmother, written to the Navy, requesting an early discharge for my dad. The request accompanied other documents that supported her request which was based on her inability to maintain the household given my grandfather’s failing health. Dad was needed back home to support his family.
Through a number of letters supporting the request, dad was honorably discharged from the Navy on December 29th, 1945 and returned home to re-assume his position as head of the household. He was 24 years old.
I now understand more of the background of my dad’s life. His role as the head of his household was never discussed, nor was the situation leading to his departure from the Navy. The history did help me understand what drew him to an eventual career in the aircraft industry. After his dad passed away, he left the Virginia area and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to be a part of the growing jet engine industry. His Navy training in aircraft maintenance certainly must have been the seed that inspired him to seek a job working on jet engines. He worked for the General Electric Aircraft Engine group for 32 years, retiring as a field quality engineer, after starting as a production worker.
Records provide invaluable insight into our past. Making these records permanently and easily accessible is incredibly important, not only to researchers, but everyone. Someday, everyone will want to explore the past to finds some clues that will undoubtedly reveals things that will be a surprise.
Monday, September 20, 2010
1. Verification that you are getting the item that you intend to authenticate from a reputable source that can represent that the item is authentic, and
2. verification that the item has integrity, i.e., that it hasn’t changed since it was presented by the reputable source.
If you think about it, if you want to be assured you can access authentic government data, where do you go – in the paper world, you go to a depository library (verification #1). You then get access to a copy of a document that may contain the data you are looking for, probably with the help of a document librarian. The document you get access to appears in a form (bound and denoted to be authentic, etc.) that you can trust to be authentic. Given these two validations, you, the user of government data, can conclude that the document is authentic.
There are some key points affecting the electronic world.
1. Replicas are provided, originals are not sent.
2. Replicas are always modified from the original. The digital world has accomplished this almost seamlessly – documents are rendered to adapt to your browser and environment, print-ready documents are RIPed to deliver a similar look-and-feel to the original. The term RIP is probably very telling when you look inside one of these sausage machines.
3. The challenge that we face is one of determining whether the user or receiver of the replica has sufficient information to confidently determine whether the replica is authentic.
Authentication is a user-centric activity.
The tools that the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has adopted to support authentication are targeted to address validation #2 – integrity. Fortunately, GPO qualifies for validation #1, as long as we maintain our reputation for being a trusted repository of official and authentic government documents. But, this is why we have invested in FDsys and need to continue to maintain this repository to sustain the level of trust we have earned.
Friday, November 27, 2009
"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." Abraham Lincoln
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt
“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which
knowledge gives." James Madison, 1822
"Whatever you are, be a good one." Abraham Lincoln
"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." Benjamin Franklin
"Science is about what is, and engineering is about what can be. The entire existence of engineers is dedicated to doings things better and more efficiently." Neil Armstrong, 2000
"Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods. The ceaseless flow of information throughout the Republic is matched by individual and commercial movement over a vast system of interconnected highways crisscrossing the country and joining at our national borders with friendly neighbors to the north and south." “Together, the united forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear — United States. Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower February 22,1955 [I think is is really interesting that President Eisenhower included communication in these statements supporting the Interstate Highway Program.]
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
1). Making money a major consideration. Harold Geneen, the former head of ITT when it was the world’s largest conglomerate said, “If you have to choose between money and experience, take the experience and the money will follow.” If you’re a money-grubber, you are going to wind up both less prosperous and less experienced than those who value each experience before the money. The money will follow in time — and in much greater amounts.
2). Refusing to “play politics.” Everyone says they “hate to play politics,” but the most successful people are also the most successful business politicians. Office politics is the game of knowing the power centers and utilizing them for your advancement and benefit. If you’re not bright enough to see how this is going to get you ahead in any organization, I hope you truly enjoy being a cubicle dweller.
3). Spending money on everything but your career. If you take a look at the 100 most successful people in America you will find that almost every single one of them has spent money on coaches, professional advisors, consultants and so on. I’ll see people go spend $100,000 on a new Mercedes, but get cranky about spending $25,000 or so on an Executive Coach. Lousy priorities. How do you think you get the money to buy Mercedes? Duh! Your career. Maximize it! And, by the way, most of my executive coaching clients found out to their delight that all they had to do to get at least a portion of my fee paid by their company was ask the right people in the company.
4). Less-than-professional attire. I see, especially among young people, an incredibly stupid belief system that they should be able to dress as they please. If you believe that, please go to work for the Peace Corps or a social service agency (and even they have dress codes). If you want to get ahead in business, dress like the top people dress to the greatest degree possible.
5). Not keeping commitments. Anyone who is careless about keeping commitments is going to get a bad reputation. This is a very small town.
6). Bad-mouthing someone influential. “Nuff said. It is the kiss of death.
7). Believing you have a right to a “work-life balance.” We’re all working our behinds off these days. Life is rough in the business world right now. No matter how old you are, if you believe that you need a “work-life balance” in the middle of the worst recession since 1929, you really need to grow up and get your behind to work.
8). Not improving themselves. Again, people will spend money on houses, vacations, cars, etc., but won’t take classes to stay current or move ahead. Find out if you need or can get certifications, licensures, degrees, diplomas, etc. Get them. Show your superiors that you are constantly spending time and money on your career. Many times, the company will pay for this, but even if they don’t, it is the best investment of your money you can make to invest in yourself and your knowledge and professional base.
9). Having an in-office romantic relationship. You might as well start filling out the unemployment application now if you’re going to fool around in the office – especially, but not only, if you’re married. There are so many things wrong with this it needs its own post.
10). Thinking inside the box, or acting outside the box. Think outside the box. But follow the “rules” of corporations when you’re acting. You can do virtually anything so long as you play “Mother May I?” correctly according to the corporate Hoyle at your company. But if you are a staid, linear thinker, you’re never going to get ahead. Linear thinkers are a dime a dozen, but many are in the corporate hierarchy. This is why you have to look like a stodgy boring suit in playing the game, but truly think with originality and intelligence.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Steve Baker, friend of mine recently posted this article that is really good, not just for us crazy entrepreneurs, but for everyone in the world today -- the last paragraph contains great advise for us all.
It takes an incredible amount of intense drive, determination and strong ego to breathe life into a business and create products from scratch, but it's also that same ego that won't let a business owner be objective about what their business needs to succeed.
The business is up and running at light-speed and management doesn't have the time or willingness to stand back and take an honest look at what they have created. They are too close to the problems to see them. Just like a proud parent, they have spent sweat and time creating this "baby," and they refuse to believe that it might be less than perfect.
I call this the "business parent trap." It is in this trap that business owners often create and introduce products that would not test out in the marketplace. There's an attitude of "Hey, it's gotta be great because I thought of it."
I've found that there are usually two basic things wrong with a business: the product (the baby) and the management (the breath).
So how do you assess your business? Are your employees going to tell you that you're headed in the wrong direction? Not likely.
Occasionally a consultant will be brought in to review the company's performance in a given area. Unfortunately, when management does bring in a consultant, they often are really looking for affirmation - not straight-forward constructive criticism. Unfortunately, some consultants are more than willing to "affirm for a fee."
If you're going to succeed, then someone needs to tell you if your baby's ugly or you've got bad breath. So here are some blunt yet truthful thoughts for your business, and perhaps you:
- GET OVER YOURSELF: Know yourself, trust yourself, believe in your self...then Get Over Yourself. You're really not the smartest person in the world. You built the business and know it better than anyone else, but no one else really cares how much you know.
- SPECTATOR SPORT: Conversation with you should not be a spectator sport for others. Remember that there's a huge difference between listening and merely waiting for your turn to talk. You hired your employees and perhaps a consultant because you assumed they had brains, so let them use them. Ask questions and listen to answers.
- JUST ANOTHER PRODUCT: Realize that even though you think that your new product or service is the greatest thing since the flip-top beer can, the world just sees one more product and must be convinced. You created this product and you know every function of it, but customers do not buy functions, they buy only benefits. Whether your product is a high tech internet service or a left-handed widget, you must show how it is uniquely beneficial to your customer. Functionality makes your products work, benefits make them sell.
- PAPER WEIGHT: If you have the skills to create a product, chances are that you don't have the skills to market and sell it. Many business owners think that marketing and sales are the simplest part of their business, so it is almost an afterthought. There is only one reason that inferior products outsell better ones; and that is successful marketing. Think of your marketing plan as the complete story book that sells your product. If your story book is a best seller, then your product will be a best seller. Without the right story that will build sales and distribution, your wonderful product is just another paper weight that is headed for a land fill.
- STAND BACK: Your competitors are not all stupid. Guess what? They think their babies are cute too, and they may tell better stories that make them look even better than yours. So stand back and look at yourself and your baby and try to look through the eyes of a disinterested party, because believe it or not, the world is a disinterested party.
Remember, there's a strong chance that you will not be in business in 5 years. As busy as you are, and successful as you think you are, you must set your ego aside and realize that there are things beyond your control.
The secret to success does not lie in knowing everything; the secret lies in knowing what you don't know, and finding those who do. I’ve been successful because I seek out constructive criticism, asking others to tell me my baby’s ugly…but tell me why.