Friday, May 28, 2010

Thank You Simon Sinek

Motivational

I received a very pleasant surprise yesterday morning.  I took this week off from work…mostly. I’ve answered a few work emails and calls, but avoided work for the most part.  I know it’ll be there when I get back on Monday. 

So, it should be of no surprise that I didn’t answer my cell yesterday morning when I saw  a call come across without the caller ID.  I often answer my phone if I’m free, no matter if the caller ID is blocked.  Not so yesterday, but I wish I’d picked up.

2010.05.28_SimonSinekYou see, I recently wrote about how I was inspired by Simon Sinek’s video on TED titled, Start With Why (YouTube link).  It helped me redefine our company goals and refocus my efforts.  Apparently, Simon has a bot running online, checking for appearances of his name, or maybe someone who reads my blog knows him and pointed him to the article.  In either case, he saw my post, read it, and decided to call and thank me for it! 

Later in the morning when I listened to his voice mail, I couldn’t help but smile.  It wasn’t necessarily for the recognition, nor being contacted by someone who recently inspired me, but all of that combined with the fact that he called personally.  He didn’t send me an email, or ask someone else to call or email on his behalf.  He did it himself.

He didn’t have to do this, given the publicity he already received by appearing at TED and having his video circulated online.  Yet, he called me, someone he may have read about online, but has never met.  Not only that, he left a very pleasant voice mail thanking me for helping him show others how to find their “why.”

His message was bouncing around my head all day yesterday as I spent it with my family.  I woke up this morning rejuvenated from spending time with my family and reminded of Simon’s kind act.  I couldn’t quite describe it aside from just feeling a certain way.  That is, I couldn’t describe it until now.

It takes very little effort to pick up the phone and call, yet we often don’t do it even for people we know.  I’m certainly guilty of this occasionally.  No matter what business we’re in, we all deal with people who have mothers, fathers, relatives, and friends; people with wants, needs, loves and fears.  They may not believe in everything we do, but they experience life in many of the same ways.

Yet, we can easily act as automatons, giving the same response to every person, the same dry smile, or happy face in an email, through the same medium whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, or in our blogs.  It’s all cold, heartless, devoid of emotions, unless we reach out and talk to someone in-person or at least over the phone.  Only then do we connect on every level, through speech, our body language, and may be even something ethereal and soulful. 

Whether Simon meant to connect at that level through conscious effort or by instinct, I don’t know.  I just know I’m grateful for it, not only for being the recipient of the message, but for having had the chance to use his example to inspire others to do the same.

My only regret is that I haven’t his number and couldn’t find it online so that I could reciprocate and connect with him on the human, emotional level. 

If you read this Simon, I thank you and I hope to speak with you soon.

What Do You Think?

How can you demonstrate your part as a human being?  Whom can you reach to show some compassion?  Feel free to share your thoughts and humanity below.

 

Photo Credit: Biz Growth Nation

It’s All About You

Optimist’s Perspective

Over the past few years, and especially in the last 12 months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet quite a lot of professionals with varied backgrounds, skill sets and levels, and personality types.  I’ve made some new friends and certainly learned a lot from them.  I hope I’ve also helped them by sharing my knowledge, expertise, perspective, and contacts.

2010.05.28_HumanNetwork Many of us who meet regularly know how rewarding it is to help others.  I believe this wholeheartedly, and I also think we must have something to offer before offering to help.  In fact, we have an obligation to to discover what we can offer.

Many years ago when I was in college, I worked as an inventor’s assistant.  It was one of my more rewarding experiences.  While working for him I learned how to better organize information, write professional letters and emails, and manage my time.  Those were the direct benefits.  I also learned a great deal from observing and speaking with this inventor. 

We had many conversations about creativity, sources of ingenuity, U.S. patent law, religion, our families’ histories, and personal development.  I remember many of these with the same fondness for conversations I’ve had with my father and other intellectuals in the academia and the business world.  In fact, I continue to see him from time to time as we break bread and catch up. 

During one of these meals in the late 1990’s, when I was feeling especially down, I told him about my dissatisfaction with work.  I felt like I had no purpose.  What I did didn’t benefit anyone.  

He listened patiently and told me in order to help the world, I first had to care enough about myself to discover what I had to offer, what some refer to as a person’s “gift.”  I then had to cultivate the skills to be good at that gift.  Only then could I go out in the world and spread my goodwill.  Blindly offering help to others may result in making promises I couldn’t keep.   

Over the years I’ve learned to refine that message.  Though I don’t believe you need total mastery of a gift to be of value, you do need to know what’s that gift.  Even if you wish to focus on skills or resources, you must first posses those skills or resources before you can offer them.

Acquiring what you wish to share may take time or not.  Time shouldn’t be the determining factor for what you want to pursue and offer others.  Your first and foremost goal should be to care enough about yourself to find out what’s your gift.  This process may take a few hours or a few years.  Once you’ve found it, then cultivate it through education and practice, and finally offer it to others.

May be your gift is that you can easily meet, emotionally connect with, and learn about others.  That’s great.  In order for you to be resourceful, you then need to focus on building those relationships, meeting others and learning about them, their passions, wants, desires, then connect them with others of like mind-set or want.  You’ll notice, this still means you have to first focus on yourself by building your ability to get to know people, track and remember details about them, before you can help them connect with others.

What are you waiting for then?  Focus and care for yourself so that you can better the society.

What Do You Think?

Feel free to share your thoughts below.

 

Photo Credits: Sagar Patil

Thursday, May 27, 2010

No New Thoughts

Random Thoughts

2010.05.27_Shadows I love reading.  I schedule two to three days out of the months and a full week every year devoted to reading books.  I read various other postings each day, whether they are news articles, blogs, tweets, or Facebook posts.  Nothing beats a book for depth and thought-provoking ideas.

For the past couple of years I’ve concentrated on business books and noticed a pattern, one I remember from my early college years.  Every subject, whether business, philosophy, religion, or science repeats its ideas ad nauseam for a particular period. Each new iteration aims to refine previous concepts, but doesn’t.  It simply repeats it in a slightly different language.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe new ideas emerge…just not every six months.  I’ve now read half a dozen different books about how to better communicate in-person: by asking many questions, focusing on the other person, and repeating the answer to demonstrate that you understand the other person.  This is not new.  These are regurgitated concepts that I first learned from my college psychology classes.  I’m sure they weren’t new then either. 

When I hit these new-idea-dry-spells for a particular topic, I know I’ve read enough on the subject and I need to move on.   I’m just about there with most self-improvement books, especially about how to better communicate or manage your time.

What’s next? I don’t know.  May be a trek back to physics, astronomy, dog training, creativity or poker.

What Do You Think?

Do you sometimes get tired of some book or discussion subjects?  How do you get past it?  Share your thoughts below.

Photo Credits: kevindooley

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 4: Finance

Technology Recommendations

Welcome to another edition of My Favorite Google Apps.  This week I’m covering the Finance or Financial related applications.  This is a short list, but as the expression goes, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight,  but the size of the fight in the dog that counts.”

Finance/Financial

  • Bank of America: This is an app for checking your account balances online, find local branches near you, see recent transactions, and even make online bill payments.  Not bad.  I love the screen transitions as well as how quickly the data loads.
  • Finance:  You can view your stock portfolio and check the financial markets with this, reviewing your tickers.  I mainly use this app for the widgets it provides.  You can place ticker symbols on your phone’s Home screens to view the latest market results without having to load a browser or even launch an app.  The widget acts as a dashboard displaying the latest data.  The only flaw I’ve noticed is the occasional data refresh latency. 
  • pFinance: This is a full suite of applications rolled into one.  You can track your daily expenses, find hot deals on products, get currency exchange rates, calculate tip on your restaurant check, calculate your monthly payments on your new loan, figure out your retirement savings needs, track the performance of your stock portfolio, check the markets’ performance, and read the latest financial news.  Phew.  That’s a lot!!!

What Do You Think?

Do You have any favorite apps, whether on Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Symbian devices?  Why don’t you share them with us below under the Comments section?

Related Articles

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 1
My Favorite Android Apps – Part 2
My Favorite Android Apps – Part 3

Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 1
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 2
How I almost Dumped the CLIQ: Review – Part 3
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 4
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 5

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Have Courage

Inspirational Thought

I gave a speech at my Toastmasters club in late 2009 about what it means to have courage.  Lucky for me, it was recorded, albeit without the introduction and the first minute of it.  It’s below for your viewing. 

In case you want the highlights, these were my suggestions:

  • Avoid defining courage.  It can only be exemplified by your actions.  Any definition becomes too specific and uninspiring.
  • Don’t beat yourself up for any lack of courage in the past.  Take steps now that are meaningful and address what’s important to you.
  • Give your opinion to everyone, including your friends, family, members of groups you visit, and congressman.  The only way to incite conversation and practice democracy is to have an opinion and be unafraid to express it.

What Do You Think?

Feel free to comment below about this post.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Recommendations: Self Discovery

Book Recommendations

This post is the debut of a new series for the site, prompted by my review of Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness (Amazon link), which I’ll publish during the week of June 7.

I won’t be reviewing the books listed here.  Instead, this is a set of books I recommend, with an explanation of why I do.   Each month I’ll recommend a new set of books and offer a book giveaway.  This month’s book giveaway rules are listed in an earlier post, Delivering Happiness – Book Giveaway. Each of these postings will cover a different topic. 

This week I’m listing Self Discovery books.  These are books that help you realize your strengths, potential, and how to take advantage of them in your personal and professional life.  The title of each book is linked to Amazon.com in case you want to purchase it. 

Enjoy and feel free to recommend books of your own in the comments section.

  • 2010.05.23_StrengthsFinder2.0 StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup's Now, Discover Your Strengths
    This book is listed first since I like the idea the author promotes: focusing on your strengths, instead of figuring out how to eliminate your weaknesses.  This is a short book, given that the first third of it introduces the tests for discovering your strengths, with a link and key for taking the online test for that purpose. The rest of the book is the explanation of each of the strengths, in what setting they’re most useful, each strength’s pitfalls, and what people with similar strengths say about themselves.  You can knock out the book, its test, and related strength characteristic readings in an evening.
  • 2010.05.23_DoWhatYouAre Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type
    This book walks you through discovering your Myers-Briggs personality type.  In case you’re not familiar with the test, the test results are usually expressed in four-letter acronyms that elicit whether you’re an introvert vs. extrovert, sensing vs. intuitive, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceptive. The book doesn’t administer the test.  Instead it provides you with description of each dichotomy and let’s you decide which type describes you best.  I liked this approach, especially having read the StrengthsFinder book.  The reason for this is that you can validate your type based on what you learned in the first book.  However, if you prefer to take the test and take out the guess work, try this book: Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence
  • 2010.05.23_WhatColorIsYourParachute What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
    The first two books will likely help you understand your personality type.  You can possibly even determine what career fields to pursue and how to interact with friends, family and coworkers, but they don’t necessarily tell you what life and career goals or priorities you may have.  This classic books walks you through a number of exercises aimed at discovering your priorities. I found this book especially helpful in a career transition as I made the choice to move from employee to an employer role.  It made me realize how each of my previous positions helped me come closer to my eventual switch to an entrepreneur.

What Do You Think?

Do you have any books you would recommend?  Feel free to share their names below.

 

Photo Credits: Amazon.com Book Covers

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Google IO News

Technology News

2010.05.19_GoogleIO I missed an opportunity this year to attend Google IO, the annual developer conference held in San Francisco that’s all things Google. 

Nevertheless, I caught the Day One Keynote address this morning.  It was enjoyable and certainly pointed to many new things to come.  I’d love to go over all of them, but the content seems to be covered by many bloggers, including the Official Google Blog.  Instead, I’m sharing with you a few sites that are covering this event very well:

What Do You Think?

Are you attending Google IO?  Have any more insights or resources to share? Feel free to comment below. 

 

Photo Credits: Google.com

Delivering Happiness – Book Giveaway REDUX

Random Thoughts

In case you’ve missed it, I updated the rules for the Tony Hsieh book giveaway, making it easier for you to get a book.

Also, I’m now giving away NINE copies.  Check out the full details in the original post , now updated, at: Delivering Happiness – Book Giveaway.

What Do You Think?

Feel free to comment below.

 

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 3: Cerebral

Technology Recommendations

This week we cover what I refer to as “Cerebral” applications as part of My Favorite Android Apps series. These are apps focused on expanding your mind and knowledge of the world and yourself. 

Cerebral

  • Aldiko: I love reading books, but I can’t necessary carry one everywhere I go.  I already use my Motorola CLIQ for reading emails and RSS feeds.  So why not books?  Aldiko gives me just that.  There are numerous books available for free and some that you can purchase. 

    Keep in mind, the latest announcement about ebooks is that the Kindle app will become available on Android 1.6 kernel and higher this summer!  The app will be free, and you’ll purchase books for it via web or directly on the phone.
  • Countries of the World: When I hear international news, I sometimes wonder where are these countries and what are some interesting facts about them.  Enter Countries of the World app.  You get information about a country’s economy, military expenditure, geographical location and size, and population.  What’s more, you can quiz yourself or your friends on these facts.
  • Free Dictionary: I love words, as is apparent given that I write a blog.  There are many times in a week that I hear a word I don’t understand.  If I’m away from my computer, I just whip out my phone and run the Free Dictionary app to look it up.  The words are CACHED on your phone.  So, there’s no delay in seeing the results.  I only wish they' had a builtin Thesaurus.
  • Howcast: I used to be a big fan of the site HowStuffWorks.com.  I found the articles fascinating.  Howcast is a similar service, and for you phone.  The difference is that these videos demonstrate how to do something rather than how something works.  Think of it as a “how to” YouTube.  If you want to know how to lay sod, no problem.  Just look it up on Howcast search by typing in “How to lay sod” and watch the animation with the list of tools and process to do it right.  How about how to fix a wet cell phone ?  Just try it and you’ll find a video on that too.  Of course, one may wonder, how do you access these videos on your phone if your phone is already wet!!!
  • TED Mobile: I find many of the videos on TED.com fascinating.  They are recordings of TED conferences around the world over the years.  They help me see a different perspective on anything from science to the arts, politics to sociology.  With TED Mobile, I can view these videos with surprising clarity on my phone.
  • United States Constitution: Who can’t use a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution just for those moments when one wonders what’s in the 1st, 2nd, or 13th amendment.  Never have doubts about your constitutional rights again…at least as far as how those rights were spelled out. It’s up to you as a citizen to demand they be enforced!
  • Wapedia: This is Wikipedia on your phone.  Just like a dictionary, no one should be without an encyclopedia.  Keep in mind, this app goes online to search for articles.  No articles are CACHED on the device.

What Do You Think?

Do You have any favorite apps, whether on Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Symbian devices?  Why don’t you share them with us below under the Comments section?

Related Articles

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 1
My Favorite Android Apps – Part 2

Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 1
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 2
How I almost Dumped the CLIQ: Review – Part 3
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 4
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 5

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why

Inspirational Thought

I recently had the pleasure of watching Simon Sinek’s video on TED titled, Start With Why (YouTube link).  The premise behind his talk is quite important.  He speaks to how answering the question “why” for yourself and your company allows you to achieve monumental success and, in the process, attract the people that share the same values, leading to the results you seek.

2010.05.17_TheWhy I gave this some thought…and by “some thought,” I mean two weeks worth!  I realized that although I knew what I wanted to achieve in life and why I wanted to do it, I hadn’t really made it clear for my company.  As a result, I hadn’t communicated the message to the people I work with and clients or partners I was trying to attract. 

It turned out to be a lot tougher than I thought, like all things worth having or knowing.  I spent two weeks mulling it over and finally decided to take a week and rewrite the company business plan based on what I would discover.  Even after spending two weeks talking to various people, spending time thinking about it while driving or before falling sleep, it wasn’t easy when I started out this morning to answer just this one question. 

In fact, I’d become quite anxious as time came closer to today.  This morning I realized the source of anxiety: I was afraid I would have to ditch all of my efforts from the past nine months if the answer to my “why” didn’t fit what I was already doing. 

So, I made a deal with myself. I’d accept the answer no matter what the consequences, even if it meant starting all my efforts over. After all, I’d rather realize I’ve made a mistake about my path nine months into the business rather than nine years! 

After that bit of mental wrestling, I sat at my desk and opened the company business plan.  I went directly to the Vision and Mission section.  This is where I would declare our “why.” 

I still couldn’t do it.  There was no moment of inspiration.  I got up, paced, sat back down, talked aloud to myself, asked why I do all the things I do.  That last one was easy to answer.  For the past decade, I’d envisioned my life goal to be to “live an inspiring life.” 

This still didn’t help me. 

I decided to watch Simon’s video again.  I listened intently to every word.  I heard his story of Apple’s why, why the Wright Brothers pursued what they did and how so many of their contemporaries pursued the same goals and failed.  The Wright Brothers had a purpose.  They knew that the dream of a “flying machine” would revolutionize life on earth.  They didn’t have the funds nor the education that many others did.  In fact, neither even had a college degree, but they knew WHY they wanted to do it.

LightBulbs That was the spark.  I started thinking of my days in Berkeley and seeing so many students find causes they believed in.  Berkeley taught me what it meant to serve others and how it was so important to consider the effects of my actions on generations to come.  I realized then what it meant to give by seeing some schoolmates sign up for the Peace Corps. I’d heard about Big Brother Big Sisters and became interested in joining.  In fact, I did some time later. 

These days I enjoy all of my volunteer activities, including being a Big Brother.  I’m very selective, though I shouldn’t be.  I believe anything that will help better our society is worth doing. 

That was my moment of truth.  I realized I want to make the world a better place.  We will make the world a better place, one company at a time.  And it won’t be just for those living now, but for generations to come.  I want us to have goals that span centuries, not months or years.  So, anything we do, the services we provide, how we treat our partners and employees, has to focus on this carefully selected goal.  Even our partner selection criteria must be that they too provide services or products that are socially conscious and somehow improve people’s quality of life, thereby making our world a better place. 

That’s when I started typing.  It just came naturally and felt good.  I kept writing, refining, and rewriting. I lost track of time.  The next thing I knew, the day was ending.  Wouldn’t you know it?  I lost track of time because I was in the groove. I had my flow.  It was one of those moments of clarity we all aim for and sometimes find.

My professional life came back into focus and I realized truly why my previous businesses had failed, and why I’d done poorly working for certain companies.  In every case, I either didn’t know what was the company’s purpose or reason for doing what we did, or I didn’t agree with it.  The opposite was true for those where I’d excelled in a very short amount of time and delivered the highest value to my employers and our customers.

What I recommend is that you do the same.  If you’re hesitant, ask yourself whether it’s more important to run toward nowhere, than toward a destination. If you think now’s not the right time, I’ll tell you what you already know: there’s no better time than now.  Get started now, if only to committing your every inactive moment to think about your “why.”  You’ll naturally then commit a time to putting pen to paper and writing it down.

What Do You Think?

What are you doing still here?  Get started with your “why.”  If you already know it, share it below.

Photo Credits: Marco Bellucci

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 2: Business

Technology Recommendations

This week we’re continuing the series on My Favorite Android Apps with Business applications.  

Business

  • Evernote: I love this application for the ease of use in both capturing everything from pictures to voice, text and audio notes, and retrieving what I may have already captured on my PC.  The application synchronizes with its online counterpart and allows me to search for particular text in the body or tags of all of my notes.  I only wish I could sort the notes alphabetically.  Currently, you can only sort by create or update dates.
  • Google Translator: I’ve used Google Translate application online from time to time.  It’s often to translate a phrase and add it to an email I’m sending internationally, or to translate an international text found in an email.  The service is now available on Android and it’s just as handy.  What’s more, I can even translate to and from my mother tongue, Persian! Now that’s impressive.
  • NetaShare: I get a lot of my news online.  In fact, I don’t listen to the radio or watch TV for any of it.  I also follow a lot of blogs, whether technical or otherwise.  I shared them with my readers in What Feeds Feed Me.  I used to access my Google Reader via the phone browser, but NetaShare makes my life easier.  I now read the CACHED feeds directly on the phone with this handy app.
  • Package Tracking: If you get or send packages via multiple carriers, this is the tool to use to track them.  You just select the carrier, copy and paste the tracking number in the provided text area, and press the [Track Package] button.  It would be nice to be able to track by reference as well, such as using your phone number (UPS provides this online).
  • Remember The Milk: One of the Android and Google Apps shortcomings is a robust task tracking tool.  By robust I mean something where I not only create tasks, but track priorities, progress, set repetition, add notes, and include URLs.  Remember The Milk is an online service that provides all of this and more.  One pleasant surprise was the addition of location to tasks.  If I need to include addresses and due times to my tasks, then by enabling the voice announcement feature of the phone app, I can hear warnings of tasks based on their locations as I drive near them.  That’s slick!
  • QuickOffice: Microsoft document formats are ubiquitous, requiring an application to view them on our phones.  QuickOffice allows you to view documents previously saved on your phone or those that are emailed to you.
  • Scan2PDF Mobile: Scan2PDF allows you to capture images of anything via your phone’s camera, convert it to PDF format for storage on your phone or, better yet, emailing it to a colleague or family member.  I’d love to see this application incorporated into Google Apps for online storage and sharing. 
  • Thinking Space: Do you use Mind Mapping to take notes.  I do, from time to time.  Thinking Space lets you do just that on your phone and upload your Maps online for safe storage.
  • VirtualRecorder: I mentioned earlier that I use Evernote for taking voice notes.  However, there are times when I’m driving and I want a simple voice recorder to jot down something I just remembered. Aside from the hassle of opening up an app, doing this may be dangerous while driving.  Up until recently, I used a traditional voice recorder to reduce the risks of a car collision.  However, I finally found an app that has excellent voice recording quality and is easy to use: VirtualRecorder.  They will do well by providing a not-as-yet-available Home Widget that requires one click on the icon to start or stop recording a message.  That would make the application as safe as can be expected for this medium.  
  • PdaNet: If you spend a lot of time on the road and need an alternate to a dedicated modem for your notebook computer, use PdaNet to get online using your phone’s data plan.  It’s simple and effective, though you may not get the download speeds necessary for large media files.  All you need to do is download the app on your phone, download its counterpart for your notebook computer, tether the phone to your notebook via a USB cable, and run the application on both the phone and the computer.  Voila! You’re online. 

What Do You Think?

Do You have any favorite apps, whether on Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Symbian devices?  Why don’t you share them with us below under the Comments section?

Related Articles

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 1

Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 1
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 2
How I almost Dumped the CLIQ: Review – Part 3
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 4
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 5

What Feeds Feed Me

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Inane Laws

Weekly Rant

Last week I learned that we may not take our annual camping trip.  So, my wife, friend and I decided we may go on a road-trip instead.  We first talked about heading out to various locations in Southern California, like San Diego’s Gas Lamp District or wineries in Santa Barbara, Ventura County. 

PerplexedThen I remembered a trip I took with my brother and father 20+ years ago from Southern California, through Oregon, and Washington to Vancouver, then back.  It was very memorable, though we didn’t spend much time in places between here and Seattle since we were in search of starting a business in Seattle.  So, the places in-between were just that. I asked if the my wife and friend liked going on that trip, but stopping in various places throughout and spending half day to a day, or overnight, at some locations.

We liked the idea and thought we would take our American Pit Bull Terrier as well.  Our original plan for camping included our dog.  It would have been her first camping trip and elongated stay outdoors, given that she’s mostly indoors at our home.  We thought it would be great to have her along, to experience the road and different people, places as we would.  We didn’t think much else about taking our dog, except any quarantine or vaccination requirements for crossing the border into and out of Canada. 

When we looked into it, we found, to our surprise and horror, in some U.S. and Canadian states and counties on our proposed trip, there are laws that allow the authorities to heavily fine the Pit Bull owners, at best, or euthanize the dog!  In my book, euthanizing a dog for being a particular breed is the equivalent of murder, especially given the often misunderstood and very little know facts about Pit Bulls. 

LolaSquint For example, the American Pit Bull  Terriers (APBTs) are rated by the American Temperament Test Society as having a better temperament than Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels, two breeds that most people recognize as having a great temperament.  Incidentally, test results have been accumulated since 1977.  So, these are not statistics recently generated as a result of all the bad press the APBT is getting.  ATTS is an independent body with no agenda to promote one breed over another.

2010.05.09_Win-chester-shot-in-headIn any case, our friend found an interesting post that I’d like to share with you as I end this article.  Keep in mind, the original post author is from British Columbia where Pit Bulls can be shot on your premises without provocation.  Shooting a Pit bull because of inaccurate perception of the breed is not unique to Canada, it happens right here in U.S. every year  (One Example of many that can be found online – See photo to the right).

AN APOLOGY TO BREED BAN ENTHUSIASTS
I'm sorry you are frightened of my dogs and are trying to have them killed because they are pitbulls. I'm sorry you lack the understanding of this breed's true history, gentleness with people, wonderful temperament, intelligence and behavioral conformation. I'm sorry you won't read the ATTS stats regarding our breed's true temperament, putting it in the top four for temperament, scoring better than breeds like Golden Retrievers, and cocker spaniels.


I'm sorry that you side with and protect animal abusers by marking the breed of dog, and not the irresponsibility of the owner. I'm sorry that by your logic I could steal a car, run some people over with it and then you can blame the make of car for the accident, as I walk free.I'm sorry you generalize one breed of dog with one group of people. I'm sorry you can't see the love and determination that many often highly educated, non-criminal and "normal" types of people show towards this breed and the great personal sacrifices that they make to take care of their dog responsibly.

I'm sorry you cannot go into the shelters and see the hundreds of abandoned and abused pitbulls, dying only for the inane "crime" of being born the breed they are. I'm sorry you cannot see the look of disappointment in their eyes as someone walks by their kennel, and refuses to consider adopting them based on an ill educated fear mongering reporter. I'm sorry that you cannot be there when the animal looks at a human for the last time, and in spite of betrayed by all humans they have met, their tail still wags as someone approaches with the syringe of Euthinol.

I'm sorry cannot be there when law enforcement shoots one of your dogs dead inside it's own home in front of the children it mutually loves for simply getting off the dog bed and walking over to say hello with it's tail wagging. I'm sorry you cannot be there to rescue pitbull puppies from a plastic bag in a dumpster, dumped there by someone switching their illegal, and inhumane activities to another, more lucrative breed.

I'm sorry you cannot understand the difference between canine and human aggression, in the way that this breed can. Yes, I'm saying my pitbull is smarter then you.I'm sorry that the medieval witchhunting genetics of intolerance, generalization, and racism make you feel the need to vilify a breed of dog.
I'm sorry that justice, equality, tolerance, common sense are all things you hold dear as a fellow Canadian, and expect from others, but do not yourself offer them towards a pitbull or its caregiver. I'm sorry that you don't take the constructive time to petition changes in the Canadian animal cruelty act, and in the criminal code that would deal out serious punishment to the real animal abusers.

I'm sorry you cannot see the disappointed look on a puppy's face when the people petting it quickly frown, and walk away when you tell them it is a pitbull. I'm sorry you feel the need to terrorize my family and my dogs for crimes we never have and never will commit. I'm sorry you don't have to live in fear of your dog's safety from hysterical, and mentally unstable people trying to inflict all manner of evil upon your dogs.I'm sorry that you cannot see my breed working in some of the best Search and Rescue groups in the world, saving countless lives each year.

I'm sorry our media censors and refuses to print the breed name "pitbull' when in connection with a positive act such as saving a person or child from a burning house, drowning, wild attacking animals, etc. I'm sorry you cannot see the many pitbulls registered as therapy dogs and bringing so much joy to another misunderstood, neglected demographic in our society, the senior citizen. I am sorry you can't see a pitbull kiss a child, step carefully over a kitten, or play in a sunbeam.

I'm sorry you cannot wake in the morning to feel a warm pitbull cuddled next to you in bed, and know that you are their total world, and even if the house caught fire and trapped you, they would stay with you to the end. But, now that I really think about it, I'm not at all sorry you don't own a pitbull--you do not deserve one.

Rob MacBean
The Mongrel Hordes
Lake Cowichan, BC
(Permission granted by me the author to
crosspost as long as it stays intact,
and with my name on it.)

What Do You Think?

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts about inane laws that we’ve imposed on ourselves and our pets.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What Makes for a Memorable Presentation

Random Thoughts

2010.05.08_BGC2010 I was at the USC/Harvard business schools sponsored Business Growth Conference 2010 in Anaheim this past Thursday.  The conference revolves around everything business, from how to startup a company to finding financing, planning growth, and executing an exit strategy.  It was an informative event and one I would consider attending again.

I heard two keynote speakers that day.  One was captivating, the other dull and uninviting.  However, both were memorable.  I’ll describe below each aspect of the presentations that made them dull or captivating.  You decide how you want to be remembered.  (SELECTION HINT: You want to captivate and motivate, not put your audience to sleep.)

Captivating Speaker
The captivating speaker used these effective techniques to get our attention:

  1. 2010.05.08_OpenHand Asked Questions and Used Humor: He started his speech with a series of questions and humor that helped us relax.  He released some of the tension for some of us wondering how he became successful and how plans to sustain that success.  This was especially important since he’s quickly becoming a well known and successful businessman and author.
  2. Used No Notes: He used no notes and connected his slides and thoughts through the stories he told.  These where personal and professional stories that helped us see him for the person he was.  As a result, the presentation felt more like a conversation than a speech. I felt like I was sitting next to him at my table while he told me his stories.
  3. Didn’t Read the Slides: Though this may seem a similar point as the previous, it’s not.  He had many slides, but he didn’t read the bullets, though he mentioned them.  They were there as both reminders for him and key stress words for the audience to remember.  He used a remote to control the slides, but he did it very deftly so that we weren’t distracted by his hand movements.
  4. Moved Around: Given that he wasn’t reading the slides and that he had no notes, he wasn’t tied to a single spot, like the podium.  Instead, he moved around on the stage comfortably.  He pointed to various parts of the room, looked at different people, and generally made each section of the room feel involved and a part of his presentation.
  5. Took Questions: Toward the end of his presentation he took questions.  However, before doing this, he asked the audience to think about a question he had for them.  What was a welcome surprise was that after he took several questions, he went back to the question he asked the audience and answered it by making a few final points and showing us his last slides.  It was a clean and powerful finish that summarized his current passion.  It was effective enough that I took notes and wish to follow up.

2010.05.08_PodiumGrip Dull Speaker
You may not want to be a captivating and dynamic speaker, but still want to be memorable.  In that case, you can use these techniques (this is a tongue-in-cheek set of recommendations):

  1. Spoke in a Monotone Voice: The dull speaker spoke in the same tone from the beginning to the end.  This didn’t change whether he was describing exciting, challenging, or downright depressing moments in his life and business.  Half-way through the presentation, I couldn’t help but look at my watch, the day’s program and wonder where I had to go next, and how quickly could I get there!
  2. Relied Heavily on Notes: He used nothing BUT notes in his speech.  What’s worse, he didn’t know how to turn the pages.  As opposed to sliding his notes to the left as he finished reading a page, he flipped each page.  This was distracting and it highlighted how he was, in fact, using notes.
  3. Gripped the Podium: Since he had nothing but notes, he remained at the podium the entire time.  What’s worse, he was gripping the podium as though his life depended on it.  Now, it may very well have been that he had aching feet or back.  May be he needed the support, but his walk to the stage and away from it told me otherwise.
  4. Showed Commercials: I was mildly interested in how his company was doing and how he had helped it recover in tough economic times.  What I didn’t appreciate was that he showed us two company commercials to “demonstrate” his company’s target audience and their activities.  I could just as well watch that on TV!  I know I wasn’t the only person who disliked this tactic, given I heard similar grumblings as I left the room.
  5. Avoided Questions and Humor: He spoke all the way to the end of his time.  He never engaged his audience by asking rhetorical or standard questions, nor did he take any.  He used no humor whatsoever.  In fact, his speech was just that: a recitation of corporate speak.  I felt more like I was hearing someone read parts of a company 10K report, then an inspiring leader’s story! Please note that  the last thing you want to do is read to a group of businessmen and entrepreneurs that come to be inspired by your success!  They can just as well read your company 10k report or a business article online to get a status report on your company health. So, leave it out.

Summary
If you haven’t realized, please let me make this crystal clear: I suggest you AVOID using any of the “Dull Speaker” techniques, unless you want  to be remembered as an un-engaging speaker with no interest in a conversation, but a dictation.

What Do You Think?

Please feel free to share your thoughts below.  Don’t forget, this month’s book giveaway and how your comments qualify you for a free book.  

 

Photo Credits: 2010 Business Growth Conference,dbking, mikebaird (please note that the prictures off people placed on this person are not those of the speakers at BGC 2010)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Favorite Android Apps – Part 1: Utilities

Technology Recommendations

You may have read some of my posts reviewing the Motorola CLIQ (see Related Posts section at the end of this article).  Since my CLIQ purchase in December of 2009, I’ve tried numerous applications on it.  As many have expounded, this is where the power of Smartphone really shines. 

In this and following posts I won’t so much as review as list some of my favorite applications on Android and briefly describe why I like them.  Here is the debut list:

Utilities

  • AppBrain: One of the biggest challenges with finding any applications for Android is that there’s no web interface to the Android Market that allows you to read through all available apps and select items to downloaded to your phone.  That is, until now. 

    AppBrain delivers on this need…somewhat.  You can install the application on your phone, then either use it to search the Android Market or, better yet, go to the app’s website and search the market, read reviews, and select which apps to install.  The “somewhat” portion is that AppBrain on your phone can start downloading the applications, but you still have to press the approval buttons for each application you want to install.  This is a minor annoyance if you’re installing one app, but what if you have 20! Not so nice.  Nevertheless, this is a substantial improvement over the status quo. 
  • Battery Widget: The CLIQ displays the battery status well enough at the top of the screen, but it doesn’t show a percentage of any sort, unless you’re charging it, and then only on the Home screen after the screen has turned off and you press a button to wake it up.  This widget provides you with an icon on your Home screen to immediately see the percentage.  If you tap the icon, you also get the option to turn on/off the Display, Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.  I love and use this tool multiple times daily to save battery life and gauge when I need to charge the phone again.  Keep in mind, this is not an app, but just a widget to be placed on the Home screen.
  • Brightness Level: You can certainly dig through the phone’s Settings to find the brightness level, but what if you want to change it on the fly through a widget on your Home screen?  This app delivers just that.  You can place a widget on your Home screen to both display the current brightness level and change it with one touch of the icon.
  • Bubble: Mostly amusing, Bubble makes your phone into a leveling tool.  So, if you happen to need a level to hang your picture or straighten it after a mild earthquake or human-generated quakes (from wrestling with your buddy, for example), just pull out your phone, run this app, place it on the site, top or bottom of your picture frame and shift the frame accordingly.
  • FlashLight: I looked for this app early on when I bought the phone.  I missed the built-in flashlight feature on my Blackberry Pearl Flip.  On the Blackberry, I used the video camera light as a flashlight.  That’s not possible on the CLIQ, given that it has no flash or camera light.  So, I purchased this app which displays a white screen and p0laces the phone brightness to its maximum level.  It’s not ideal, but partially effective.  you can also have fun with it and choose different background colors, for those nights you need to set the mood or when you need a night light.  Just remember to keep your phone plugged in so that your battery doesn’t run out!
  • Math Alarm: Do you have a tendency to sleep through your alarm or turn it off by accident (intentionally)?  This alarm solves the problem, or rather forces you to solve one!  You have the option to setup multiple alarms, each requiring you to solve a math problem before you can shut it off.  It’s a simple and very effective idea to help you focus during those groggy early morning (or late night) hours.
  • Metal Detector: I know what you’re thinking.  Who needs a metal detector aside from TSA or airport personnel?  I know I don’t, but I just found this utility amusing and a fun toy to show off a feature of the phone.
  • Opera Mini:  The standard browser on my CLIQ works fine, but I admit that the Opera Mini feels faster.  I haven’t done any actual benchmarking, tough.  I also like the page slide feature for transitioning to the next loaded page.  I only wish there was a way to setup the Mini as the default browser.  No luck there…yet!
  • Trapster: I’m no speed demon when it comes to driving.  Well, compared to some I am, but I often drive at the speed limit.  I just like getting up to the speed limit as fast as I can. 

    To that end, I may still get caught in speed traps.  I’ve been lucky enough to avoid them so far without a radar detector of any sort.  Nevertheless, I found the idea of having a community-reported speed trap map useful, especially for long trips out of Southern California.  This app delivers just that…with voice alerts as you get close to a trap!
  • UltraChron: As the name implies, this is a chronometer for your phone.  It has a digital output with voice announcements for elapsed time.  You’re also able to setup countdowns.  I’ve tried other apps similar to this, but found the extra few dollars you pay for this app is well worth the stability and feature set it provides.

I’ll continue to add posts to this series each week.  Keep coming back for more.

What Do You Think?

Do You have any favorite apps, whether on Android, iPhone, Blackberry or Symbian device?  Why don’t you share them with us below under the Comments section?

Related Articles

Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 1
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 2
How I almost Dumped the CLIQ: Review – Part 3
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 4
Motorola CLIQ Review – Part 5

IT Infrastructure Management Opening

Job Posting

I received the email below from one of the recruiters I've worked with in the past. If you're interested, please contact her direct via contact information at the bottom of the post.

Company: Ingram Micro
Duration: 3 months

Location: Santa Ana

Overall responsibility to coordinate the technical implementation of the infrastructure for global web platform
Plans and manages the support of new technologies, application and system performance and reliability.
Defines technical and operational procedures related to the operational processes.
Provides input and recommendations regarding business continuance issues and improvements to the operations of systems and processes supported.

Requirements:
Education: Bachelor's degree in Computer Science or Business Information Systems desired or equivalent work experience.
Ability to work off hours as required to support production issues and production changes

Experience:
5 years of project management experience in an environment with heavy use of outsourced and offshore labor resources
5 years minimum experience in enterprise-level web systems/infrastructure design or web operations support roles
3 years minimum experience in a managerial role of web systems
ITIL experience in operational capacity and experience in a web environment
Depth in designing and building infrastructure to support Microsoft based web and E-Commerce applications.
Infrastructure and Application Design and scaling of large-scale high transaction volume B2B and/or B2C websites with global reach
Experience supporting platforms leveraging Commerce Server, SharePoint server.
Deep understanding of web platform design including content acceleration, monitoring, global failover and data replication.
Expertise defining and implementing monitoring using MS System Center Operations Manager
Database knowledge using SQL Server
Elissa Naideth
Senior Account Manager/Technical Recruiter
Kforce Technology Staffing
949-223-1425
949-500-6268 cell
949-660-1458 fax
Search SoCal Tech Jobs! www.kforce.com/tech-jobs

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Delivering Happiness – Book Giveaway

Random thoughts

[UPDATED 5/13/2010: Number of books and postings requirements changed]
2010.05.04_DeliveringHappiness I recently heard about Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness.  I was very interested in reading it, especially given his success with Zappos.com’s sale to Amazon for $1.2B.  In fact, I reserved my copy on Amazon.com. 

While waiting, I heard about an opportunity for bloggers to receive an advance copy of his book to review and promote.  I applied, was approved, and read the book this past weekend.  I’ll be posting my review of it during the week of June 7th, when the book will be released.  So, stay tuned.  (If you’re a blogger and interested in being a part of this review team, please see the book’s promotion site for details.)

In the meantime, I’m offering the readers of this blog an opportunity to win a copy of this book.  I was given an extra copy for this purpose, but I’m taking a lesson from the book and aim to WOW you by making NINE available. 

I’ll ship your copy free of charge, with no shipping costs to you.  So, three lucky people will receive a free copy of their own on the week of book release.  Not bad, eh?

You’re likely asking how you can win a copy.  Here are the UPDATED steps:

  1. Keep doing what you do and read this blog.
  2. Write your comments to any of the new or previous posts.  Post your comments between now and 12:00 AM on June 7th.
  3. If you are promoting your site, such as part of your signature, please keep it brief with just a link to your site.
  4. The top FIVE people with the most comments on the site between now and 12:00 AM on June 7 will receive their free copy of the book.

I will announce the winners in my review of the book, scheduled to be posted during the week of June 7.

 

Photo Credit: Amazon.com