Archive for June, 2011

Owen at Duke Lacrosse (leadership?) Camp

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Music to a father’s ears. The guest speaker, a Lieutenant Colonel from the Army, impressed the campers with 3 ideas:
1. pick up the trash – your school / your field / your dorm room is your home where you live and receive your friends
2. be respectful to your teammates – easy to find fault
3. don’t make fun of your captains – followers are leaders also

I asked O what this all meant. He related to the LtCol’s notion that leadership stems from personal courage and this comes from knowing yourself. One cannot lead others until you know yourself. Blaming others is a sign that one hasn’t found personal courage which stems from taking a hard look at yourself. Complete clip here.

Good. OK. I’ll try to remember this. Yep.

Blue Pane Studio’s release iOS & Android Apps for Cytokines Conference

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Conference info here.

Android version here.

There I was at the IBM Centennial on 16 June 2011

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Quite the achievement to have begun prior to the First World War remaining a well established brand in Barack Obama’s presidency. I believe that IBM is among our national treasures if not for its potential and if only for its heroic contributions to our country over the past ten decades. As with all champions, within its strength lies the seeds of its demise as it wrestles with the unsettling premonitions of the prevailing global economy. There is certainly much to admire in its people as there is much reason for concern as its own customers struggle mightily in adapting to and adopting the changes wrought by technology, particularly the speed at which markets gather information and make their own decisions. In my own professional lifetime, the corporation journeyed from market advantage by virtue of its access to business machines of various sizes and designs, typewriters to computers, office buildings and medical benefits, to the present where its seems that the average business enterprise struggles to understand the popular tools readily accessed by its customers, and even, employees, which are often superior to those provided at work.

The luncheon on the 100th recalled my first encounter with IBM. I was a customer in the Material Control Department of Bath Iron Works, circa 1984. We successfully upgraded our mainframe, from DOS to MVS as I recall, and implemented a suite of packaged software that was the rage of consultants at the time, MRPII. My role within the Department expanded to include traveling around talking to clients and partners, especially the Navy and Littons Industries, our construction partner, about the lessons-learned of our project. After a while, I thought that maybe I had a chance to apply for a position with IBM as wearing a nice suit seemed preferable to work boots and winters in the shipyard. I arranged for an interview with the Branch Manager in Portland, Maine (Branch Offices and their Managers were the fiefdoms and lords of its marketplace empire in those days. Today, nearly 50% of the 425,000 international employees work from home). I dressed-up, drove to Portland after hours. I remember the time of day because every single desk in the Branch was cleared and locked with numerous signs reminding employees to clear their desks and to lock the contents. Entered Wally’s office; we met a couple of times before. Look on his face told me that this was a courtesy interview and not an inspection of my potential contribution to his company. We chatted politely and briefly, very briefly. He began with the opener as I recall, ‘so it seems that you’re interested in working for IBM.’ ‘Yes!’ I nearly exclaimed as I seized the chance to describe how my MRPII experience might suit me well for a role in sales or systems engineering. He nodded and related a personal story of how competitive was the prevailing computer marketplace where customers sought the low-cost provider more than the very best solution. Loooong pause with head nodding; eye contact; staring; me nodding; me staring. ‘You know,” he continued, ‘I have a friend who makes $150,000.00 selling shoes to department stores around New England. There are lots of ways to make money.’ Me nodding, me staring in absolute bewilderment at that remark. Wally rose, offered a handshake and thanked me for coming over. ‘See you around the shipyard,’ he said.

I guess that is really the tale of how I ended-up in North Carolina and spent most of fifteen years in software start-ups of one type or another. Not finding a sales job in Maine gave my wife a chance to study landscape architecture in North Carolina where the move south suited us both.

As I looked around the cafeteria on Thursday’s Centennial after the multitudes side-stepped through the bbq chow-line, I wondered how many of those present, especially the 600+ retirees, sat in a Branch Office. Many, I surmised. Even though we were connected by the path of IBM’s 100 year journey, I recognized that in some curious and necessary way, IBM probably has changed more since 1984 than I have. At any rate, despite the very casual attire for the occasion, out of respect for the moment and my amazement at my inclusion (when I really think about it), I wore my best suit with my best pair of shoes, Wally.

USNA AA NC Triangle Chapter’s 1st annual meeting of past Presidents

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Brandon Kot 87, Helmuts Fiefs ’66, Bill Gautier ’67, Christopher Perrien ’74, John Scott ’66, Jeff Truitt ’93 present and accounted for. Intent of gathering, on a near perfect spring evening at the Umstead Hotel in Cary, NC, was to welcome Jeff to his position as the CO of the Chapter and share pass-down log entries.

Nicola Tesla on wireless communications. A perspective from 1926!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.” Quote located here.

More on Mr. Tesla here.

Traveling Lax Season: 1st stop Charlotte

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

I qualified as a referee this spring and worked about 30 games mostly at the middle school level. Pursued this qualification even though I’ve never played lacrosse. My elder son played and his brother is enamored with the sport having made the varsity team in his freshman year. I observe that the game appeals to parents because of its speed and, especially, the governing principle that the game is to be stopped only if absolutely necessary meaning that we’re all back in our cars within 90 minutes. I particularly enjoy the game as I instruct the team captains prior to their games, “it’s a big boy sport which is why you are wearing helmets and pads; and no body gets hurt” – meaning that it’s a game of well-defined conduct.

Fastest growing game in America. Wall Street Journal article of 20 May 11

Think Different about corporate architecture.

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Link to Mac Observer page with related description.

At a near crisis point in real estate valuations and retail space vacancies- at least in my trips around our RTP- and at a time where companies induce employees to work from home to save costs (this too has a cost, mainly team-building more than productivity loss), Apple again defies the wisdom of the time by planning an elegant, expensive and confidence inspiring approach to corporate building design. The construction of this building will improve the neighborhood where Jobs and Apple grew up; strengthen the community of employees by bringing them all together in one location; and set a standard of business architectural statement akin to what Apple did to reshape the notion of a retail store (where one learns by engagement more than where one shops for boxes).

As well described by Simon Sinek’s book on leadership, Jobs and Apple are absolutely clear on Why this new headquarters building is required and the purpose that it will fulfill. Gifts of free community wi-fi not required.

“You know who you look like?”

Monday, June 6th, 2011

My friend from back when coordinated an awards presentation for several of the Navy SEALs who participated in the Bin Laden mission last month. Even though the Secretary of Defense presented these awards, they were done so anonymously or without attribution, i.e. the presentation was made to Team Leader, Squad Leader, Platoon Commander and so on, without identifying the individual for obvious security reasons. On the flight to meet Sec Def, several SEALs from this operation were moved to first class as seats were available and priority given to military personnel. My friend and a Team Leader were next to a quite attractive, young woman about the age of the Team Leader. As the flight made its way across the country, acquaintances were made, and the SEAL let his guard down speaking with his companion in row 3E. She asked ‘what he did for a living'; he replied, ‘I’m in the Navy'; she asked, ‘which part of the Navy.’ To make a good impression and slightly out of character, he replied, “I’m a Navy SEAL.” She blurted, “Oh sure, everybody says that nowadays!” and chuckled. The Team Leader from the Bin Laden Operation was taken aback. My friend laughed the loudest as they are even some circumstances for which SEALs are unprepared.

Emerging IT Trends: Future of Mobility Podcasts

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Interviewed by IBM’s Forward View in the fall of 2010. Please do not underestimate the the value of a professional recording engineer. The interview was conducted by me talking, nearly without interruption, and then the questions mapped to the replies. Pretty slick. I’ll never hear broadcast media in the same way. “now for page two…”

My interviews are #s 11 & 12.