Thursday, July 7, 2016

Roadtrip Therapy

I just did a big road trip to Vegas and back. I took back roads and saw more of our great open country and was surprised by how much I had been missing. I grew up looking out a car window because my Dad was the kind to toss us in the car with some off the wall destination in mind. I've crossed several boarders in Europe at the wee hours of the morning only to see some air show at a castle, buy cheese at a festival, hike a mountain because it's there or find the oldest church with a brass relieve of a knight from the dark ages.

I haven't been out on the road like this last trip for a few years and I forgot how mentally cathartic it is to stare at the scenery or road and really dig into your own mind to get to know myself again. I had also had a tough and good conversation with my brother while out in Vegas so I had plenty to think about on the way home. On the way out it was a lot of "What the heck do I want to do with my life" type thoughts. Should I just get another job, should I buckle down on a project and see if I can sell it, could I sell everything and move out of the country. All of that and more wound around my brain while staring at an endless line of strips slipping through my lights while barreling down the interstate at 2:00am.

On the way back I swung through Zion, Bryce and Capital Reef National Parks over 3 days and was reminded of how small I really am in the world. We have a lot of amazing country out there and my brain was turned on to so many other options in this world and how I could fit into it.

On my final drive into town I got word that I was skipped over for an opportunity in Denver with a fairly new startup. After this road trip it doesn't matter and quite frankly it is probably for the best as I'm ready for something great to find it's way to me vs struggling to find a right fit somewhere.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Letting go

Man, I've been trying to let go of some things for years and it wasn't until I was in the position I'm in now that I have sluffed off a few things. One thing that I had held onto went all the way back to when I was just out of high school. That fell off in January after a friend helped me work through the mental hurdles that I had put in place. The past few weeks I've been getting rid of old paperwork and cleaning out the different spots in the house and when you can toss 4 boxes of crap out of your life it's easier to stand a little taller.

Letting go is physical and mental, I've got another book to read and have read other books in the past about cleansing, organizing and decluttering your life and I know that I mentally feel better when I physically get things out of a pile and either organized or gone. Our brains need the same exercise as well and it's been a difficult process for me to figure out what I need to do to mentally let some things go from my past so I can be a better me and stand a little taller. The harder part with the brain though is you are unable to drop your memories or fuck-ups at Goodwill or in the dumpster. You'll still remember and or know where that body is buried with the trick being to let go of the hold it has on you. Sure, if it's something you need to "apologize" for or say "thank you" then do that, part of letting go is saying or writing something down to get it out of your head.

Part of me letting go mentally is dropping a blog post about something I've had in my head for awhile so if you are reading this, thank you and I appreciate the free session.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The more I read the more I learn. The more I do the better I get.

Reading is one thing, implementing is another thing. You can read a book and glean a lot from it, without practice or practical implementation all you've done is load the data. When we practice what we read and or implement what we read we are actually leveraging new knowledge.

I'm a software developer by trade and practice. I pick up new software or tricks to existing tools in my toolbox on a regular basis. If I read a book, blog post, how to, getting started, etc. it's not until I put code to file and run it that I truly learn something. With software I leverage my experience to learn new software tools and right now I'm digging deeper into NodeJS and am seeing so many different ways to implement that it could be confusing to anyone new to software. New tools and technology are evolving very quickly these days and staying on top of the latest update, paradigm, process or best practice is getting pretty tough.

I don't think a day has gone by that I don't learn something new and in many cases, several things. If everyday is a learning experience then it's a good day.

Creativity or Hacking the Brain

When discussing creativity and or being creative, my mind goes back to college and one of the last classes I took. The professor was writing a book on creativity and was of the opinion that you could teach businesses how to be creative. My profs idea of creativity was turning his briefcase in a different direction on his car seat so he would remember to do something on the way home. The creativity was in coming up with a good trigger to remember to do something.

My understanding of creativity is a little different. I believe that while you can force a team or individual to come up with a better idea using some wonky techniques, a true creative puts out an idea well before it's time or is able to define a whole new way of doing something that no one has thought of before.

Brain hacking is figuring out a trigger that will lead to a different result. Creativity is crafting or thinking up something new without any prompting. While you can help someone be more "creative" it really is hacking their brain to do something they may not normally be inclined to do or figure out.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Saying no to a client

The simple answer is, always tell a client Yes. And then explain the Total Cost of Ownership to what Yes means. I learned this lesson early on in my career and still use it today in almost all aspects of my life. When a client asks if we can launch this app to the moon and build a base of operations there, yep we can. When a client asks if we can add three buttons to the screen that does nothing, yes we can. The simple, psychological, reason to do this is that people do not like hearing the word no. No, being a negative word, defences go up, arguments start forming and you end up backpedalling about why you are not supportive. By saying Yes, approving of their idea, validating their needs and opening up the door for conversation about the request.

When you say yes you keep the door open to discuss how much the idea will cost. Cost being a factor of time, money, resources and other ideas is where you take the conversation next. When you are able to have the conversation about cost you will allow the client to make the decisions about the implementation of the idea. This is ultimately the important part of the conversation with the client. The idea was brought to you for the conversation and validation. The approval or denial of any idea should rest with the client and by saying Yes, you allow them to make the choice.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

There will be sand

You created a new application, started a new business, added on to an existing project, painted a room in your house, it doesn't matter what you have done either you or someone will find something you didn't think about or cover. A grain of sand, is that bug or feature that someone else finds. If you are a perfectionist then you may find it before someone else does and even if you patch or fix what you find someone else will still find a flaw in what you deliver. This is ok and should be expected in normal operations. Knowing that the grain of sand will exist means you can more easily adjust as needed to come to a solution that is acceptable. 

On the beach of life, sand will find its way into everything that you do. Having the ability to adjust and work with the sand you find shows how much you can grow in the future. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why will I work with you?

Many a recruiter will send me a note and say that I'm perfect for a job only to find out that my skills are the only thing that has been considered in the search process. I have a diverse background with several skill sets under my belt and I have a propensity to work with different tools depending on what the current position needs. What brings me to you is not the pool table, foosball table, drinks in the fridge, food trucks at the back door or a brand new Mac. I will ask about the people I'll be working with, the management that will be directing a project and other touchy feely type questions. The people, the management, the atmosphere is more important than the bits and bytes I'll be pushing around because if the people are good, the management is respectful and the atmosphere is open and accepting then the work, no matter the language, will be good work.

Toptal recently came to my attention as an opportunity worth pursuing. There was no offer of power bars in the fridge, best food trucks in town, Ms PacMan in the breakroom and all the sodas I can imagine in the fridge. What Toptal brings to the table is, good people and the opportunity to work with great companies doing great things. I can only assume what the management will be like as that normally takes a project or two to get a real feel for. What I can infer is that the management will have to be great in order to work effectively with such a smart and diverse group of people. As I've worked with international teams before I know that diversity breeds a strong gift of leadership that thrives on getting great people to be even better.

If I have the unique opportunity to work with such a diverse team I will know that the work I've done in the past will only be a great foundation for even better work going forward.