Saturday, October 31, 2009

Re-Launch of iEngineer

iEngineer LogoI’m writing to announce the re-launch of iEngineer after being dormant for a number of years.  This is my newly rejuvenated brand where I offer software program and project management services. 

What this means for you is that I can bring to bear the lessons learned during my 13 years working as a software developer, project manager, and technology strategist to insure your success and high quality of experience. 

What’s the differentiator? I listen to your specific needs to make sure you have the best person capable of delivering the results you want and need.  That may be me, or someone I can help you find within my network of trusted professionals.  I’ll be your partner and focus on the long-term relationship, rather than short-term gains.

In other words, I won’t “sell you” a thing.  Instead…

iEngineer Your Projects’ Success!

Feel free to check the site, iEngineer and contact me if there’s anything I can do to help you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Meaning of Life

Lily What do you think of when you see a flower?  Many represent some human emotion or event.  For example, a lily, like the water lily shown here, is a sign of death. 

I ask the question again, what do YOU think of when you see a flower?  Whatever it is, it’s the meaning you’ve associated with that flower.  The flower doesn’t haven’t such context or meaning of itself.  It just is whatever it is.

The same holds true for every event in our lives.  We choose to give them importance and meaning based on some context or personal attachment we have with them. 

I’m writing about this as a result of a conversation I had with a friend.  She and I hadn’t spoken since high school. As we exchanged stories on Facebook, I mentioned one of my accidents that nearly cost my life. 

You see, I had a snowboarding accident about ten years ago that resulted in head trauma.  Specifically, I had subdural hematoma of the brain, which is a fancy way of saying I had internal bleeding just below my skull surface.  It lead to me passing out on the slopes, a trip to the Mammoth Lakes hospital, an airlift to Reno, a flight to Orange County, a trip to Hoag Hospital and then being released. 

I went through some therapy and all seemed to go well.  That is, until the end of my first or second week of treatment.  My nightly headaches, haunting me from the day of the accident, were unbearable.  So, they took another scan and found the bleeding that had previously stopped had restarted.  I was referred immediately to a brain surgeon that recommended I undergo surgery that night.  That is, if I wished to live past the weekend!  That was a tough decision…I’m kidding, of course! 

I came out of it just fine.  Immediately after gaining consciousness that night post-operation, the headaches were permanently gone.  Mind you, I was full of fear going into the surgery.  I was told there was a chance I would not wake up after the surgery, or that there would be complications. But I knew I had to pull it together and come out of it alive.  I wanted to live. 

That night, while waiting to get a room for surgery, before my mother came to hospital, my father spoke with me.  He must have told me a hundred different way about how it was all going to be alright, but there was one thing he said that stood out: nothing that’s happened means anything more than what I think it does.  Everything else is somebody’s opinion.

LightBulbThat’s it! That’s the key and the meaning of life I’d been looking for: that it means whatever I want it to.  The lily may mean death to some, but the meaning I give it is beauty and tranquility.   How everyone interprets the lily is their meaning, and their meaning is nothing I need to worry about.

This is true for everything in our lives.

The boss may come into your office and fire you, but it only means he came and said you no longer had to go to that office starting the next day.  It may also mean that you decide it’s the greatest opportunity of  your life since you suddenly find yourself faced with the opportunity to start a business.

May be you’re already own a business.  There could be a lot of people out of work, and a lot of businesses may be hesitant to buy your services, but that only means you have to be more creative about how you promote your services.  It means nothing else.  Any other interpretation is someone else’s, not yours, and you needn’t concern yourself with it. 

How you interpret an event determines what path your choose.  If you see you have to be more creative, then your body and mind will search for ways to be creative.  If you continue to search, to ask how you can get the next sale and ignore other people’s meanings and obstacles of why it’s the worst time to build your sales pipeline, then you WILL undoubtedly be successful.  You will the reap the rewards of your meanings of potential rather than dismissal, no matter what are the circumstances.

What Do You Think?
Am I too much of an optimist?  Do you have a different perspective?  I’d love to hear about it.  So, why don’t you share it below with a comment.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blog Much? Live Writer's Got the Touch

LiveWriter

I spent some time this week looking for a better blog authoring tool than what was available through Blogger’s site.  A friend recommended I use Microsoft Word, but that was unsatisfying.  There were certain functionalities I wanted and didn’t think I would get from MS Word.  Not to mention I think MS Word is too big an application to use for blogging.  It’s like using a hammer to kill an ant!

In my search, I found Microsoft Live Writer. Given that I’ve used Microsoft the majority of my professional life, how tightly many of their solutions are coupled, and how well I believe these solutions work together, I decided to give it a try.  (Note of Disclaimer: Obviously I’m biased since I’m an avid Microsoft product user.  I’ve also professionally developed for and on MS platforms for the past 13 years.  However, I’m also critical of MS products like MS Project and any of their Smartphone devices.)

I was delightfully surprised.  It had many of the features I was looking for, with one initial drawback that I’ve noticed. 

I was not just looking for a rich editor with custom formatting capabilities, inline spell-check, auto save, and easy to use tagging, but also a tool that would give me the flexibility to manage my posts on- as well as offline.  Live Writer does just that.  I can write an entry offline and save it locally, then open it later for editing or publishing.  I can also open files saved remotely on Blogger, or any other blogging service within or outside of the Microsoft realm.  What’s more, the tool is designed to work with multiple blog sites at once.  So, if you author articles on multiple blogs, you can use this one tool to publish to all of them.

To insure proper formatting, I have the ability to download an existing site’s templates.  When authoring a post, I can view the source code if need be, though by default I’m taken to the the rich editor view that’s simply labeled as Edit on one of the three tabs in the lower left corner of the editor.  I also have the ability to Preview my posting.  However, this is really unnecessary since I see the background image and the content area in Edit mode.  In fact, I’m seeing it right now as I type this entry.

You have to ability to not only post images, but video, maps and photo albums.  Also, when posting images, you can arrange them in a number of formats, like the scatter format shown below:

Scatter

Keep in mind, you’ll need a Windows Live account to use your photo albums there.  Also, your videos will be posted to YouTube or Soapbox and embed a player on your.  I’m not sure how smoothly either of these features work as I’ve not yet tried them. 

Plugins There’s one more feature I like that requires plug-in downloads: tie-in with popular sites like Flickr, Digg, and Twitter.  Once you have these downloaded and installed, your images will be placed on Flickr and referenced inline on your post, a new DiggThis badge is added to your post, and an announcement is sent to Twitter.

What I haven’t found lacking is an ability to download all existing posts for a site and archive them locally.  The feature may exist and I’ve not yet found it.  If anyone out there knows how to do this with Live Writer, send me a note.

Image Disclaimer
All images for this post were copied from the Microsoft Live Writer website and are the property of Microsoft.

What Do You Think?
If you know of any cool tool or technology and would like to share it, or if you have an opinion about Live Writer, please feel free to comment directly on the page.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blogger to Follow: One By One Media

OnebyOneMedia

I've recently started reading Jim Turner's blog, One By One Media. He has a very professional blog, a sign of how long he’s been at it in the game of blogging.

What I like about his blog is the variety of his posts.  He focuses on social media, but doesn’t just promote it.  He has a tendency to criticize and question how it’s being used.  

What I’m disappointed with is that there haven’t been any new posts since late August 2009.  I can only hope he’ll pick back up where he left off.

What Do You Think?
Is there a blogger you’d like to me to review or one you’d recommend?  Then feel free to comment here or email me the information.  My contact information is under my full profile.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Of Course Size Matters

Who says size doesn't matter? Of course it does, especially when it comes to businesses.

Our recent economic and financial history has certainly demonstrated how "the bigger you are, the harder you fall." We knew this coming out of each of our past recessions, but we chose to ignore it. May be it was greed, capitalism, or some other factor. What's important is that we ask what we'll do moving forward.


The events and reasons that lead to our recession and the demise of so many companies will be argued and discussed for many decades to come. This was the same as the argument for the caused of the Great Depression.


Nevertheless, there's one lesson that I believe has become evident: we should never allow companies to become as big as Citi, AIG, among others. Why? BECAUSE they become so entrenched with our GDP and the country's overall economic health that any mistakes or intentional mishandling of the business will lead to yet another larger catastrophe.


The solution we've pursued so far, even those that have lead us out of the immediate dangers of this recent depression, have lead to one large company gobbling up another. In the process the acquiring company becomes larger with a greater influence on our economy, not to mention our social policy. Naturally, to realize as much benefit and profit as quickly as possible, during any such buyouts and mergers, any duplication of services and jobs have to be eliminated. This means getting rid of whole departments like Human Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Accounting and anything else that's not part of the core. What's more, many of the managers of the acquired companies are often laid off or asked to resign in order to bring in the new regime.


How does this help the economy? Does it help that each acquisition results in more lost jobs and a larger company? Does it help that with each acquisition, given that recessions are inevitable, the likelihood of government intervention to save that company becomes greater? Who foots the bill for each of these interventions?


I see a different solution to this conundrum, and that's in what every downturn produces: small companies. Many of these are the result of some creative mind starting a new venture of their own volition, or of those forced to do so through a lay off. In either case, many large companies today owe their starts to an economic downturn. When you then consider that anywhere from 60 to 80% of all jobs are created by small companies, you begin to question the sanity in allowing companies to grow past a certain size. For that matter, how many more jobs would our country have if the monies spent to bail out various large companies were, instead, used to promote starting or further developing small companies?


I have no doubt that years from now we'll look back at these times and realize how new and small companies helped us recover from spiraling to some economic doom, not the bailouts for large companies that only promote their continued future growth into a behemoth that we, once again, can't afford to let fail.


What Do You Think?

I'd love to expand this conversation through your participation. How effective are large companies? Are larger companies the answer to the ever shrinking creativity in our country?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Social Media Not a Panacea

Some will find this as no surprise: social media is NOT the answer to every challenge in business. However, it is something you need to be aware of and know how to use.

This became especially evident with me tonight when I had dinner with a friend. He, like many others, said he didn't understand the purpose of microblogging in sites like Facebook and Twitter. We both agreed that the idea of writing your status as "going to lunch" or "just got off the phone" and the likes are useless in the world of business. There's no real business value in such postings, though some may argue there is personal historical and social value.

He was especially concerned since a lot of folks in his company, a consumer goods delivery company, was trying to convince him to open their business network to use social media. He asked me where such sites delivered value. I gave him the spiel that all those in social media give: social media sites are at their infancy, but as they mature and begin to integrate their services (this is already taking place), they'll begin to provide minute-by-minute news, specific to each company by that company and all of its followers, critics, amateur and professional writers.

As Ryon Harms wrote recently in Michael Jackson, The Matrix and the Future of Information (The Social Executive Blog), "at any given moment there are thousands of smart conversations on ideas and events that could redefine the future of your ...business...." In other words, social media has begun to act as the new delivery system for critical information as quickly as someone witnesses it and can post it online.

How will all the services work together in the future? Likely we'll begin to see microblogging as a news feed stream that runs across the bottom of your computer screen at work, home, or on your smart phone devices.

Each of those entries will be announcements by companies or people that you're interested in, or search snippets on topics such as your products, company or competitors that you want to track. They'll each provide a link to the fuller story, whether that's a news release on a company site, article by a provider like Wall Street Journal, or a report on what's being said about your products, like 500 people have started threads about how your products have caused them harm or provided them some great benefit.

Therefore, the business value is how quickly you receive information that's vital to your business by people you can trust. This last statement is important, especially the phrase "people you can trust." Whether and how you can trust people online is a topic I'll cover next Monday. I don't believe it's as easy as some make it to be.

Nevertheless, likely you now see the speed of information delivery, as well as the targeted nature of it, is what we, as business people, can take advantage of to deliver better customer service, improve our products or services, and more easily attract customers eager and willing to spend with us. As Seth Godin recently wrote in his blog, "some people are better than others," and those are the people that are your company or product fans. Those are the people you want to attract.

That doesn't mean that this is the only way social media will be used. The ideas are still forming on various streams, blogs, and shared spaces online. However, none of this means that social media will solve all of your problems. You still need to determine whether reading such chatter and conversations online about you or your company is something of value to you. I would argue it is, but how it can be used at your particular company is in question, just as it was for my friend.

In the end, you have to make the decision how to use it, not whether you will. If you have doubts and think social media is a fad, consider that the same was said about instant messaging and email. No doubt, you use at least one of these technologies each day to run your business.

What Do You Think?
I'd love to hear your opinion. Feel free to comment on why social media does or doesn't belong in business.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Get Out of Your Way

Is there really a wrong way when it comes to convincing yourself to take the first step toward success?

I've heard hundreds of reasons why people don't take that first step:
  • I don't have enough money to live a happy life.
  • I don't know anybody. How can I even begin to meet someone?
  • I've never done that job - I don't have any idea where to begin.
  • I don't look like that model. There's no way I can find the girl (or guy) that's attracted to me.

On and on come the reasons why a path someone suggests, or one we think we need to take, is the wrong way. In the end, we're just placing obstacles on our own path to success, whether it's in making the monthly sales numbers, starting your business, or finding the love of your life.

The only wrong way is the way you don't take. So long as you keep an open mind and you're willing to change, you can't go wrong. If you don't know how to make a sale, don't freeze and decide it's not for you. Try it. Accept that you'll likely initially fail. I'm not saying set yourself up for failure, but just accept that you will.

It's good to fail early and often since you quickly learn from those early mistakes, when you're lesser known and when it doesn't matter as much. Losing the $10k or $20k sales gigs pales in comparison to making the $10M or $20M deals. Just know that you'll make those larger deals BECAUSE you made your mistakes early.

So, get out of your own way. Forget about all the reasons why you can't, shouldn't, or wouldn't start something. Just start it. If you find an obstacle, don't give up. Ask yourself and others how you can get around, climb over, or obliterate it, as I suggested in this earlier post: Nothing's Impossible.

What Do You Think?
I'd love to get your thoughts on how you've overcome roadblocks of your own making. Feel free to comment directly on the site.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Job? Don't Bet the Farm, Read Ryon Harms

I agree! That's probably one of the cheesier titles I've used to attract attention, but it's for a good reason: I'm writing about a fellow blogger who focuses on those in search of work.

Specifically, I'm referring to Ryon Harms (LinkedIn profile link) and his blog The Social Executive. I met Ryon last week at SoTeC 2009. He was one of the presenters at the event. He and I also spoke during a roundtable about the future of social media. He told me about his blog and how he conceived it.

When he first started out looking for work last year, he was uncertain of the job market. He didn't know the best method to approach it, but he decided to use social media. In fact, he started his blog writing about the type of work he'd like to do. In the process he also learned a lot about using social media for networking and job search. He later decided to dedicate his blog to it.

I started reading his blog this week. I went back to postings from earlier in the year and found something very interesting and important. He receives many comments outside of the blog, about the topics he covers, that he later addresses in the blog. In other words, he's taking the offline communication and bringing it online for full disclosure and betterment of his readers. He's actually having a conversation with his readers and representing their concerns in a fair and legitimate way.

Ryon covers such topics as why your resume is dead without a blog, how to get your value across to a hiring manager in 15 seconds or less, and how to search for jobs on Twitter. All sound like good subjects.

You may recall I wrote a few months back about how Something Wonderful is Happening online with the likes of Tim Tyrell-Smith and his SpinStrategy blog. He's another blogger that focuses on tips for the job seeker based on his recent past experience in the market. So, I'm adding Ryon's name as one of two people you should read as you gear up for your search.

What Do You Think?
Do you have any other bloggers or resources you use for your job search? Comment here or send them to me and I'll be happy to review them.

Cool Tech! TweekDeck

If you use Twitter, you know that searching through your stream, not to mention trying to read them on the Twitter interface, is very difficult. There are numerous tools that you can use to manage posts and review your stream. One that I've found quite helpful is TweetDeck (link to their site). Just as a note, I'm in no way affiliated with TweekDeck. I'm just a customer.

Here's what the interface looks like (image copied from their home page):


The interface is designed to show your multiple streams at once. What this means for you is that you can review your standard stream, per search term, and direction messages to you, any mentions of you, any suggested Twitter's to follow, and so forth. You can setup a new column to search particular topics using search term, including the use of hash (#) subject delimiters. Your search terms are then saved so that when you close a column and wish to return to it in the future, you don't have to type it in again. You just bring up the term under the Quick-Add Saved Search terms of your Search screen (See below).

What I like most about TweetDeck is the ability to view and publish posts to Facebook and MySpace simultaneously or selectively. In other words, I can send the same message to one or more of them all at once! That's cool.

What Do You Think?
If you use TweetDeck and you'd like to comment on its usability, or if you prefer another tool, feel free to comment or vote here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SoTeC 2009 Overall Review

My overall view of SoTec 2009 was that I was impressed! There were quite a lot of knowledgeable and approachable speakers setup for the two days, many well versed in their areas of expertise. The unofficial theme of the event was social and traditional networking, Project Management, and job-seeking. This last one is just a sign of times.

What I liked most about SoTeC was the level of energy. Everyone was upbeat. It seemed all attendees expected a brighter future. They were also interested in many of the tracks and didn’t seem to waste much time outside of the sessions. I happen to be sitting in the halls when one speaker had to cancel on Saturday. What I noticed was that the hallways were mostly empty in between sessions: everyone was attending one in their preferred track.

My only recommendation to the conference organizers was to have an added track for purely technical discussions, like what Mark Kennaley presented on Saturday during the last hour of the conference, “SDLC 3.0 – Post-Agile Pragmatism for Lean IT Value Delivery” and Harout Katerjian’s, “Do’s and Dont’s of SharePoint.”

In the weeks ahead I’ll post my notes from the various sessions and share particular points of interests.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Leave Them in Awe

Have you ever been asked to make a presentation and you want to find a way to show to everyone what a great asset you are to society? Do you want to demonstrate to your audience how they can't even begin to measure up to you?

Then follow these easy to reproduce steps:
  1. Ignore Your Audience
    You want to make sure you know as little about your audience as possible. In fact, if there's a brief description of who the potential attendees and their backgrounds are, make sure you shred the document and remove all evidence that you received it. In this way you won't have to tailor your message. You can assume everyone has the same academic, business, and personal experience you do and they just want to be awed by your ability to focus on yourself.

    Bonus: Arrive just seconds before your presentation or, better yet, arrive late! This way you can avoid meeting and knowing anyone at the meeting.
  2. Use Technical Jargon and Terms
    Make sure you use as many technical terms and jargon as you can. This'll insure your audience is thoroughly impressed with your knowledge of the subject. If they can't understand you, that means you MUST be an expert!

    Bonus: Don't finish a sentence unless you've used at least one acronym. Aim for having a single verb and all acronyms if possible. If you can't think of one, remember TLA. It stands for "three letter acronym" or "two letter acronym." The fact that you have an acronym for the structure of most acronyms will impress even the most staid member of your audience.
  3. Avoid Humor
    This is a given. If you want to be taken seriously, you want to avoid humor at all costs. You are a serious speaker and it's about time everyone knew it. Keep them glued to their seats and glum if you can.

    Bonus: Some people will tell you that your audience will be able to relate better to you if you tell them stories, rather than just tell them about your ideas and how they should think of you. When you hear this, stand with your arms akimbo (superman pose) and stare them down without a word to say. That is the only stance for a great speaker and leader!
  4. Speak Monotone
    You want uniformity in everything that you do, including your voice. Make sure you use no voice intonations. You want to speak in a somewhat garbled, monotone voice. This will help your audience to practice patience and focus. It'll also insure they know that if they really want to learn of your prowess and knowledge, they have to pay close attention and come to the session with a strong cup of coffee...may be even a Red Bull mixed with a triple shot of espresso.

    Bonus: Nothing says "I'm eccentric" like mumbling your words. You can keep the audience on their toes by speaking in a low volume and stumbling over words, insuring your words are somewhat garbled.
  5. Have No Structure
    This is the coupe de gras of public speaking. When you start talking, start as if you've been in mid conversation with someone and everyone is already aware of the conversation. You really should focus on avoiding any summary at the onset of your talk. You also want to avoid any kind of summary at the end of the talk that may signal what you said or, for that matter, what was the point of the conversation.

    Bonus: I saved the best for last. The point of you speaking is to insure everyone is in awe of your expertise. You don't really care what they do about it or if they get any benefit from the talk. So, be sure to avoid asking them to do anything or to answer any questions. You want to start and leave the presentation with mystery...about who you are, what you do, why you're speaking and how anyone can get in touch with you. Leave them in the dark. That's the best way to insure you will always remain in their memory as the speaker they can never even fathom to understand or measure up to.

The Opposing View
Of course, if you want your presentation to actually succeed, do the exact opposite of each of these.

What Do You Think?
I'd love to know what other steps you think will seal the fate of a presentation and insure its failure. Be sure to comment here or email me your suggestions.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Success in Business Without the Need to Build Relationships

You first response to the title of this post should really be, "yeah, right!" There's no such thing as an honest and enduring business that ignores relationships. It doesn't matter if those relationships are with customers, vendors, employees or critics.

The key to success with our ever-more-transparent business and personal lives is to build trust the same way we do with friends. (incidentally, the picture here is of my long-time trusted friend, Mr. T., in the gray shirt and me)

So, the new business strategy is not to target a particular segment and "sell" them your products or services, but to earn the trust of the folks you want to attract and make it easy for them to come to you. As I heard this past week at SoTeC, the idea is for you to be the bulls-eye, not the targeting arrow. Your audience are now using the arrows.


What Do You Think?
Do you think in our world of transparency, a result of the prevalence of social media, we can avoid building relationships to have long-lasting, successful businesses?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dare To See The Future

How do you insure you're successful at achieving your dream?

Following Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich (Amazon link), I recommend the following five step process:
  1. Define Your Goal: Write your goals on a piece of paper, looking forward at your future without any encumbrance of the past.
  2. Own Your Thoughts: Take ownership of every thoughts, actions, and their consequences. Starting today, don't blame anyone for anything. Realize that everything that everyone claims "happened to them" was really a consequence of their thoughts and actions. So, decide what you want to think and have. Then do it.
  3. Envision the Future as Today's Reality: Feel what it feels like to have the house, the family, the business you want. Tell yourself you've already achieved the future. Do this enough times so that you believe it the same way you believe the sun will come up from the east and set in the west. This is no different than envisioning the basketball going into the hoop, successfully bench pressing 275 lbs, completing the marathon, or cooking that perfect souffle right before you do it. Envision the full experience and your mind won't let you fail.
  4. Write Your Plan: As you begin to envision and believe with all of your heart that you've already achieved your dream, your mind will stop giving excuses of why it can't be done and pave the road of HOW it can be done. Write this down. It'll come to you in bits and pieces, but it'll come. This is your success plan.
  5. Review, Review, Review: Every morning, before you begin your day, read your plan and envision what it feels like to have already achieved your dreams. Do this every day. See, smell, and feel what it'll mean to succeed. Do this again before you go to sleep.
What Do You Think?
I'd love to get your thoughts about how you achieve your goals. Please feel free to comment and let me know.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How I Can Help

Though today's the designated day of the week to write about new technologies and gadgets, I thought, since I already wrote about my Toshiba Notebook earlier this week, I'd focus on an idea that came to me while listening to Chris Brogan during a webcast of BlogWorld.

I remember wanting to join the Peace Corps when I was in my early twenties. The motivation was to find a way to help people that couldn't help themselves, or at least share with them something I had or knew about. That idea stayed with me through the years.

I'm starting it here in a different way. I want to share what I've learned with you by offering at least five ways in which I can help:
  1. Building Your Network: As a result of my my past job search, more recent partner search, and varied interests in business, software, hardware, and other topics, I've visited and become member at a number of different organizations. If you're new to the process of relationship building and networking, and you want to know where to start, feel free to read about My Favorite Networking Groups, and then call or email me.
  2. Connecting You: I've built a network of friends and associates that I trust as a result of working and socializing with them. Though I won't be able to make any recommendations for you if I don't know you well (nor would you want me to if the situation was reversed), I'll certainly meet and speak with you to see whom I can connect you with in my network. This means getting to know you personally. To that end, we can setup a time to meet in-person if you're in Southern California, or talk on the phone if you're not.
  3. Professional Opinion: I've spent the last 13 years working in the software industry. My past employers and clients have ranged from start-ups to consulting firms to Fortune 500's. My focus over the past eight years has been on project and product management, with a particular interest in team building. I've been in the trenches building up teams in little known companies to those that have in excess of 15,000 employees and wish to build small, nimble teams of technologists and customer support specialists. So, if you have any questions or just want a fresh look at your challenges, feel free to reach out to me. I'll be more than happy to walk through it with you.
  4. Tools and Templates: As a result of my work, I've also come across or created a number of templates for task tracking, project management, balance sheets (profit and loss calculations), among others that I'll happily share with you.
  5. Mentoring: I recently volunteered at Chapman University to mentor a college student who's just starting out on his graduate degree. After joining the program and speaking with many of the mentee candidates, I realized how much tribal knowledge I've come by that I can pass on. This is information I certainly would've loved to have had when I was in my twenties. These are essentially ways to approach problems (hint: as a challenge and an opportunity, not as a road block), how to set goals and track against them weekly, monthly, yearly, each quarter century and so on. I also have templates for setting and tracking goals that I'll happily share with you.

What Do You Think?
Are there other ways you think I can help you? Feel free to reach out and let me know. I'll be happy to speak with you about it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Social Media Blogs No Chump Change

So, the big question is whether you and your company are anywhere in social media? Can your customers find you? Do you know how to setup bots and automatically receive alerts when you and your company name pop up on social networking sites? For better or for worse? How quickly can you defuse potential PR bombs?

I was completely blind-sided by social media when I first started reinvigorating my company, iEngineer. We don't deliver any services purely focused on marketing or social media, but we understood the need to get our name out there. I've personally used social media like LinkedIn, MySpace, Flickr, and Facebook for a number of years, but, with the exception of LinkedIn, it was mostly becuase a lot of my friends did.

I even started using Twitter recently, but I still didn't get the true nature of social media until recently. That was because I started reading about social media in books, magazines, and in blogs. The blogs have been instrumental in helping me understand the true nature of social media: to build trust and relationships like we do with our family, friends and coworkers.

So, why am I writing about it today? Haven't I already written enough about social networking?

Today's the day of the week I write about my favorite Blog of the Week. You may have already read last week's blog about Blogger to Follow, where I referred to a few social networking specialists I've been following recently.

To that list I'm adding this week's entry, Maples Communications' PR Blog. Maples is a PR and Marketing company that has a particular focus on social networking. I've been following their entries and reading some of the back postings over the last week. Though tinged with talk about services and products at Maples, there is some good advice about social media.

What Do You Think?
Feel free to email me or post a comment below to share your thoughts about this and other posts on TheMarq.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No Ranting

I was ready to publish a rant today when I realized...I don't have anything to rant about. In fact, I'm pretty satisfied with the gadgets and sites that I use.

I prefer to write about a cool mid-tech product that I've been using for the past five months: my Toshiba Satellite notebook. I purchased it in early June since I no longer worked with an employer-provided notebook. I hadn't purchased a new computer for my business for close to two years.

When I started searching for a new notebook, I considered portability as the highest priority requirement. I'm in and out of my home office quite a lot. In fact, even at home, I move in and out of the yard to take advantage of the California weather.

As to performance, the hardware just needed to handle the MS Office products, including MS Project and Visio, as well as the occasional use of MS Visual Studio. The second important criterion was cost. I wanted to keep to a $500 budget.

Last, I wanted basic multimedia functionality, just enough to listen to music online on the few occasions I do, along with storage of video and pictures to keep me entertainment on any trips away from home.

At the onset I thought of the various netbooks now available by HP, Toshiba, Dell, and Acer. They were priced in my budget, but lacked power. All those that I reviewed had a sub-par processor and a maximum of 1 GB of memory. I knew 1 GB could be enough, but I also knew that MS Visual Studio would run like a lazy hog with that much memory.

To my surprise there were a number of notebooks by Dell, Toshiba and Acer that sold for about $500. After a preliminary review of the products and their features, including keyboard comfort, battery life and weight, I chose the Toshiba Satellite. This notebook comes with an Intel Pentium Dual CPU (T3400) 2.16GHz processor, 2 GB of memory, a 250 GB hard-drive, a DVD recorder, SD card reader, and built-in 802.11 b/g wireless card.

Though I've had one issue with the touchpad when I setup the notebook for dual-display with an external monitor, the notebook has been stellar. I've noticed very little to no lag in coming out of sleep mode and in switching between multiple applications. In fact, as I write this entry, I have MS Outlook, four Internet Explorer browsers (each with multiple tabs), TextPad (a java compiler enabled text editor), an ftp Windows Explorer instance, and iTunes connected to the home Media Center's music library running with no delays in switching applications. This is all running on the Windows Vista Basic to boot!

Suffice it to note, I'd recommend the Toshiba Satellite as an entry-level notebook.

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Daily Topics

In an attempt to bring more organization to the site's content, I've come up with a few topic ideas and days when I'll deliver them, starting on Tuesday, October 13, 2009:

- Mondays: Business Strategies
- Tuesdays: Rant of the Week
- Wednesdays: Blog of the Week
- Thursdays: Tools and Technology Reviews
- Fridays: Inspirational Thought of the Week

What Do You Think?
If you see value in some topics more than others, please feel free to let me know. Also, if you'd like to see other topics covered, don't hesitate to write.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nothing's Impossible

Where would women be if Susan B. Anthony had believed that getting women the right to vote was impossible?

Nothing's impossible!

I had a conversation about business start ups with some friends recently. We spoke about all the reasons we give for not starting a company. They're all thought barriers that we erect after hearing it spoken by so many people. "You need money to start a business." "More than half start ups fails within the first three years." "You don't have the right skills to run a company."

These excuses are nothing more than crutches we lean on to help us justify why we don't wish to change the status quo. They're crutches that hinder us from becoming independent, forever preventing us from realizing our dreams...if we listen to them.

What if Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, had listened to any of these thoughts?

I don't think the term impossible should be eradicated from the English language, though it would be interesting to see what effect this has on our dreams. Rather, I think everytime we hear someone say something's impossible, the word "impossible" should act as a cattle prod applied to our forehead. We should immediately feel uncomfortable, come to our senses and ask HOW to make that thing possible.

How can I get the money to start a company? How can I find the necessary skills to run the company? How can I insure my company doesn't fail?

Asking yourself these questions will only help you prepare your mind to find the answers, whether found directly or through apparent serendipity.

How are you making it possible to achieve your dreams?

What Do You Think?
Feel free to send me your comments about this post, whether you agree with me or not.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Junk Social Media?


As I wade daily through the deluge of tweets, messages, games, updates and other such information from social media sites, I wonder if the abundance of such sites and their information will detract from the message everyone wants to deliver or the conversations people and companies want to have. Is social media, in fact, poised for the same ill-fate as junk email and its arcane relative, the snail junk mail?

I use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for different proposes. May be because I use all of them actively I feel inundated with information. I keep up with friends on Facebook, professional contacts on LinkedIn and try to post something useful in each. I follow about 400 people on Twitter and can't get through all of their tweets or follow all of their links on my daily visits. This is even after I started using two tools for managing the tweets, TweetDeck and SocialOomph.

On Twitter, some of the people I follow, in-turn, follow tens of thousands of people. how do they keep up with all the tweets?

What's more, I see a lot of self-promoting messages on some of these sites. This is the part that made me wonder whether social media will become as annoying as junk mail or email. However, the answer is that it may not. After all, unlike email and snail mail, I can stop having someone as a Facebook friend, or a Twitter followee. I can quite easily stop all the chatter from those that provide nothing but noise.

What do you think?
Do you think we will eventually be as annoyed with social media as we are with junk email and snail mail? Feel free to send in your comments.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Have Confidence, Will Travel


These days I'm canvassing a multitude of events looking for companies that outsource their software project management. These events range from professional organizations, networking groups, as well as job fairs, like the one I attended today at UC Irvine.

During my two hours roaming around, I noticed something quite staggering: hopelessness. I spoke with a handful of companies, but, more importantly, I connected with a number of folks who've been out of work for quite a long time. There was a true sense of loss and desperation in their eyes and voice.

I asked each of these people how they were searching and whom they approached for work. In the process I gave them as much encouragement as I could, ranging from telling them about the numerous calls I receive weekly about contract and full time job openings that I offer to others, to signs of the economy turning around, like the stock market changes and the flood of federal money. None seemed to help. Some folks have just lost hope.

That's the point. We see the masses hopeless and we lose hope too. I was reminded of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad and how the author was forced to work for free to learn what it takes to become wealthy: having the mindset that you are the master of your own destiny...having hope!

One of the reasons I began a services company was hope: the hope and knowledge that I can be the master of my own destiny. I knew full well that I'm no less smarter, no less energized as many of the successful entrepreneurs I know and have read about. I have not only hope, but a full acceptance that my success is inevitable because I believe it is.

Once you have hope, others see it too. They're energized by it and can't help to want to be near and involved with you. They yearn to know more about you, a person whose unwavering hope makes him smile, especially in times like now.

This is just human nature. We gravitate toward those that seem to have an uncanny ability to see something positive when others don't.

Look at it this way. Whom would you hire if you were the hiring manager or a partner looking to pay for services: the dude who's hopeless and begging for the job, or the guy who's full of confidence and hope knowing full well that he'll get the job done and then some?

The bottom line is that however you decide to feel today defines what your future will be tomorrow. If you're confident and full of hope that you'll land a big gig tomorrow, that's exactly what'll happen. If you have no hope you'll even have a home to sleep in by the month's end...well, you know the rest!

But you may not know this: I have hope that our population's lack of hope will soon change, even if I have to personally change it one person at a time.

What Do You Think?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Am I full of it? Post your comments here or email them to me, and let's get this conversation going!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bloggers to Follow

I've been following some bloggers over the last couple of months that I wanted to share with you:

Seth Godin's Blog: Seth's a marketing guy. He writes well and has been doing it for sometime now. He's sold almost all of his last 10 books based on social networking. Rather, he's given away the content of his books, but sold the books as souvenirs. He has some interesting ideas on how to use social media to sell products and services.

Chris Brogan's Blog: I recently saw Chris after learning about him on Twitter. He's a social media "rock star." He's one of the most soft-spoken, yet knowledgeable social media guys I've met. Incidentally, he just published his book Trust Agents (Amazon link).

Steve Kaye's Blog: A family friend recommended I follow Steve's blog when I became unemployed in May 2009. I subscribed to his Blog soon after and commented on his blog a few times. He covers management and motivational leadership topics. Much of what he writes is common sense that we sometimes forget as a result of how we complicate our work and personal lives.

What Do You Think?
Do you have any blogs you'd like to share?

Monday, October 5, 2009

What's In a Title

Let's say you're meeting someone for the first time. Everyone's trying to get to know one another and someone asks you, "what do you do?" How do you respond? Do you act like a soldier and give your rank and file in your company, something like, "I'm the Executive Vice President of Finance?"

I notice people associate themselves more with their titles at work than anything else. This is something I've struggled with over the past six months as I've begun defining who I really am. Am I just a name and a title, like in a boxing prize fight?

Or am I something more?

I'd like to think we are. In fact, we're not in a race or a boxing match. What we stand for is something beyond what we do for a living. Right?

May be we're all the roles we play and names we take.

That doesn't really answer the question though. After all, I can change the focus and say that my life's not about work, but about my family. I like being a husband, a son, a brother and a friend. OK, but aren't all of these titles too?

When you tear it down, aren't we all just people making, nourishing, or breaking relationships? What we strive to answer in that simple question of "what do you do," is what relationship we have with the various people in our lives. Somehow, each of us gives more importance to one role than the other, but all of them can still be defined by the relationships we have.

I know that each time, in a casual or formal setting, I pay a little more attention to my audience and what message I want to convey. What relationships are important to me now and what gap do I fill in those relationships?

That's how I'd deal with it, but what do you think? Is this question moot? How do you answer the question of "what do you do?"

What Do You Want Me to Cover Next?

I've written about a varied set of subjects over the past few months. I'm curious what you'd like to see more or less of.

So, please feel free to email me your comments over the next few weeks.

I thank you in advance.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Is There a Social Media's Bubble

Aren't you curious? I've asked whether there's a social media bubble from many people, especially over the last couple of weeks. This afternoon I searched on Google and found numerous articles dating back to 2007 predicting a social media bubble burst.




So, is it true? Is there a social media bubble?
(A note about the image on this page. It is borrowed from the socialmedia.biz website)



Arguably, there are many marketing people, various technology gurus (whatever that means), along with their mothers, aunts, uncles, cats, dogs, gerbils and rats that've swarmed on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among others. Many want to be there because it's the cool thing to do. They don't want to feel like they missed the boat, or seem like they don't anything about these technologies.

Another way of asking this question is whether social media is a fad. I'm not sure. After all, was the introduction of the Internet a fad? How about eCommerce? In fact, I'd argue that social media has its roots in such arcane technology as bulletin boards from eCenturies ago that later transformed to online groups published on Google, Yahoo! and other sites.

Also, consider that there are very many people that've not yet used social media. These are the late adopters that often don't start using the technology until after its peak. I think there are still plenty of people that've not yet adopted social networking and will. The numbers could be astounding.

I'll take Facebook as an example. The latest Facebook stats show that there are over 300 million active users on the site. Per AMD's 50x15.com site stats, there are approximately 6.75 billion people worldwide, of which approximately 1.68 billion use the Internet. That's roughly 25% of the world population. Of that 25%, 300 million are Facebook users (assuming they each have only one account...yeah right). That's about 18% of the total worldwide Internet users.

So, if we assume the global Internet usage doesn't increase, there are still plenty of people not using Facebook. They may arguably be using other sites, but I'd argue just like me and you, they each have an account on every one of these sites.

Though there may not be a 100% of social media adoption by all Internet users (especially with the elderly or those in third world countries with limited time on the Internet), likely there's plenty of room for this "bubble" to grow.



That's all good and fine, but I'm curious what you think. Are we experiencing a social media bubble? If so, is it close to bursting? And even if bursts, what does it mean to have a social media bubble and what would be the effect of the burst?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's Not About You!

How do you use social media in your professional role? Do you read other people's posts and respond to them, or do you just make anouncements about yourself, your products and services? Using Twitter as an example, many of the followers I see on the site aim to only market themselves or their products, rather than "listen" to others and make a connection with them. I admit, I did this too when I first started out.

I'm learning very quickly that social media and networking, just like in-person networking, is NOT about you! I know you must be and look puzzled by now (hence the picture of my dog below, looking just as you might feel).


Surely you're asking yourself, "I'm using social media to get publicity for my services and products. Why else would I be on here? Why wouldn't I talk about what I can do or sell?"

Instead of looking at social media as a one-way announcement tool, let's consider it as a way of forming relationships. In this light, we'll likely approach people differently.

I'll use an example to demonstrate. Let's say you're a professional who graduated college four years ago. You're trying to reconnect with some friends. So, you setup a happy hour and invite your close friends, but you're trying to meet new people too. So, you've asked them to bring a friend you haven't met yet.

The night starts out fine. As you're walking around and talking to people, Josh, one of Scott's friends, approaches you. You haven't met Josh before, but you've heard he's a techie who loves his work. He comes up to you and says something like, "Hi, I'm Josh. I run a social networking site for college grads called MyCollegeSite.com. You should visit it sometime."


What's your first reaction to this? You'll likely pull Scott off to the side and tell him never to bring this guy again, or any other character like him. In fact, you may even question Scott's judgement on the type of friends to bring.

This is no different than many of the interactions on social networking sites. I certainly get approached by some folks telling me to checkout their site, products, or services when they don't even know if I'm interested.

Arguably, if I've asked to be connected to them on LinkedIn, or I'm following them on Twitter, I must have found something in common with them. That may be, but I still don't know anything about them except what's written on their site. What I'm looking for is a way to get to know them personally. I want to know whether or not I get along with them. Are they the kind of people I'd invite over to my house for dinner? If not, I'd much prefer not to do any business with them either. After all, I want to know and work with people I trust, not just anyone off the street.

What I'm suggesting we do on social networking is nothing short of what we expected Josh to do at the party: approach each person to get to know them personally. What they like and don't like. Whether they're a sports nut, art fanatic, poet, or an avid golfer. We want to connect with each other on a personal level. Then when it comes time to look for a product or service, we have a better perspective if the person we know recommends or offers one. In fact, we'll trust their judgement easier if we know and trust them personally.

Ask yourself this question then: how are you building trusted long-lasting relationships in your in-person interactions? Why wouldn't you apply these same techniques to social media?