Showing posts from 2015

So you've been invited to speak at Ignite...

A friend of mine was just invited to give an Ignite spark at a conference in San Jose.  She's an experienced speaker, but hasn't tried the Ignite format before.  Since I've spoken a few times at Ignite Boulder, she asked me if I had any tips.  It turns out I did.

So you've been chosen to speak at Ignite!  First of all, congratulations on your bravery!  This format makes seasoned speakers weak in the knees, so anyone who's willing to stand up there and bare their soul in 20 15-second chunks has my admiration (and my empathy).  It's the scariest, most fun public speaking experience you can have that doesn't involve tear gas.  Here are my tips for first time Igniters.

Know your main point before you start. You only have 20 slides, which isn't enough time to ramble, unless rambling *is* your point, in which case that's all you'll have time to do. When people talk about your talk, what do you want them to say? "Oh, right, that was the one abo…

Video from Ignite Boulder 27: "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Faith"

Here's the video from my Ignite Boulder talk.  Enjoy!

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Faith

In case you missed my talk at Ignite Boulder last night, here's the transcript.  I'll share the video when it's available.

Intellifaith: the other blog

So last night I spoke at Ignite Boulder for the third time.  The video will be posted soon, and I'll also share the transcript for those who couldn't make it in person.  In the meantime, several people last night asked me about my blogs.  This is the one that gets linked to all of my profiles, but the other one, where I muse on what it means to live a life of intelligent faith, is here.  I look forward to continuing the conversation.

Respect My Authority!

It is better to be feared than loved. -- Niccolo Machiavelli
Respect my auhoritah! -- Eric Cartman

I realized something the other day: the longer people work with me, the less deference they show me. And I've decided that's a good thing.
There are many things about me that, on their surface, would inspire deference, nervousness, maybe even a little fear.  I'm a big guy and I take up a lot of space.  An offensive lineman in high school, I've kept the proportions and the personality.  I protect the people who've been placed in my care, and if you push me I'll probably push back.  I have a big title and a lot of people report to me.  I'm also passionate about finding the best solution to any problem, which can lead to, shall we say, "vigorous" discussions, with lots of whiteboard-writing, arm-waving, and BS-calling.  I ask a lot of questions and I've been known to unintentionally make people cry.  People who walk into my organization learn to hold…

Deep Impact

I wrote recently about the way that a leader shapes an organization in his own image, whether he realizes it or not.  I received some good feedback from that article, so I thought that the topic deserved some more attention.  I don't think we fully realize the effect we have on those around us, especially those with whom we spend a lot of time (like, say, 50% or more of our waking hours).  We're eager to talk about our company culture, our benefits package, our dog-friendly policies, but we fail to recognize something even more important: our company's personality.

When choosing a spouse, few people would make their decision based solely upon the facts and statistics surrounding their potential partner.  Sure, we might look at how much they make, where they grew up, or their hair and eye color, but for the most part we don't decide to spend the rest of our lives with someone because they possess the right statistical makeup.  In fact, the kind of person who would make …

"Where Are They Now?" - Shelbyville Edition

A college friend sent me an email this week with the following challenge:
My high school is doing a "where are they now?" edition of the alumni newsletter and they are asking alumni to provide 3-4 sentences describing what they've done since high school.  I challenge you to write something totally crazy, but believable enough to be accepted for the newsletter. Challenge accepted.

A few years ago, I submitted my own entirely fake biography to our alma mater, just to see how ridiculously you could brag about yourself without being called on it.  Since it was published without question, the answer to that particular puzzle remains elusive.

I couldn't stop at just one, of course, and while it got a little dark toward the end, I think I've managed to find the sweet spot between tragic, comic, and credible, especially if you know "Jerome."  See what you think.  And if you need some help with your college or high school alumni magazine, just let me know and I&#…

I give this article a 4.5 out of 5

It's annual review time once again, that precious time of year when every manager gets to say to his underlings, "Remember when you really annoyed me last February?  I do!"  It's a time for cheers, tears, and annoyed grunts.  Much like Christmas or our wedding day, we enter with big expectations and some of us get lucky, while others end up with cake all over our faces, wondering who all these strangers are and who stole our pants.  Maybe that's just me.  Either way, that was one strange review process, and I'm glad I only worked there for four years.

Anyway, performance reviews can be extremely valuable if done correctly (and with minimal de-pantsings).  They offer an opportunity to step aside from the day-to-day, reflect on how other people are doing their jobs, and then tell them what you think of them.  Constructively, of course (or not, if you want them to quit).  This process is called "feedback," and like the screeching sound created by holdin…

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Star Wars

Seeing Star Wars for the first time was a seminal moment in my young life.  Not only did it open my eyes to what a movie could be, but it taught important lessons that have served me well all the way into adulthood.  Here are a few of the things that I learned from watching Star Wars and its two sequels, because those are the only ones that were ever made.

(By the way, here's the appropriate soundtrack for reading this post)

Trust your feelings. It's easy to overthink things, especially if you're one of those "hard to reach" logical types like me.  But sometimes, you face a problem that can't be dissected, diagnosed, and solved.  Whether it's because the problem is too complex or because (gasp) people are involved, you might find your logic failing you.  Or it may be that the logical solution isn't exactly the right one.  At those times, you need to trust something other than your conscious thought processes.  Whether you call it your gut, your feelin…

A Refresher Course on Leadership

My last post on the shaping power of leaders made me think a little bit more about what leadership is.  Over the years, I've seen both good and bad examples of leadership, as well as quite a few people who seemed confused on the differences between good and bad leadership.  If you're one of those, then here's a handy reference to help you out:

Not leadership: 
"Rallying the troops" to work the weekend when you've done nothing all week to help them.Creating a false sense of urgency to trick people into working harder.Measuring success based upon who comes in earliest, stays latest, and complains the most about how hard they're working.Leadership: 
Giving your team the information that they need to understand the real deadlines that are driving their work, then giving them the tools to complete their work on time.Removing obstacles to your team's progress as soon as they appear.Driving timely decision-making so that work can be finished by Friday.Measuring…

The Clone Wars, Office Edition

I watched a show the other night about the power of conformity and how our brains reward us for going along with the crowd.  In this show, they performed an experiment: an unsuspecting woman came into a waiting room filled with actors.  Every few minutes, a beeping sound would play and all of the actors would stand up for a few seconds, then sit down again.  No one spoke or explained their actions.  Beep, stand, sit, wait.  Beep, stand, sit, wait.  After several repetitions, the confused woman hesitantly stood with everyone else.  After a few more times, she was quickly standing every time she heard a beep.

One by one, the actors left the room, but the beeps continued.  Beep, stand, sit, wait.  Soon, the woman was the only one left.  The beep sounded.  Without even looking around, she stood.  After a while, another innocent entered the waiting room and sat down.  A beep sounded.  To his puzzlement, the woman stood, then sat back down without saying a word.  After several repetitions, …

Getting Around to It, Eventually

As I sit here watching my son fall asleep in his homework, I'm thinking about one thing: procrastination.  Ah, the sweet smell of responsibility deferred! Procrastination is inverted instant gratification, replacing the deeper satisfaction of a job well done with a shallow taste of, well, anything else.  It's doing the dishes when you should be doing the taxes, cleaning the litter box when you should call your mother, rearranging your music library when you should be writing that next chapter of your book.  It's playing video games with your friends when you have homework to do (meaningful look across the room).

People have written scads of articles about procrastination, offering all sorts of ideas about why we do it, why we shouldn't to it, and how we can trick (or force) ourselves out of it.  About once a year, some cutting-edge technology/psychology/business magazine will come out with an article hailing the virtues of procrastination, usually with the idea that a …

Reed Group's new digs

We moved into our new headquarters today, and the new building is awesome!  Check out these pics:

The reception wall is lined with Colorado river stones.
Break room with fancy coffee and free soda.

Collaboration!  Every project team has their own scrum area with a flat screen for demos, videoconferencing, and displaying the scrum board

Everyone was trying out their new sit/stand desks
Our offices are in there.

Nice view, Doug!
Erik pretends to work, but he was really just playing with his desk:
"Up!" "Down!" "Up!" "Down!  Whee, this is fun!"
One of our conference rooms, which are named after Colorado 14ers
Did I mention that we have free gym memberships?

Feelin' the Feelings

A while back, I decided to get in touch with my feelings.  Unfortunately, I'm an introverted white male with strong logical tendencies, so my feelings are not only hard to find, they may be actively hiding from me.  Plus, I'm not sure that everyone really wants me waving my feelings around all the time.   They have better things to do than deal with my schtick.

This is a problem that we introverts, or "quiet people," as we prefer to be called, have had for years.  We aren't loud and showy to begin with, so people aren't sure what to make of us when we start making them notice us.  Extroverts are already out there, talking to everyone, interrupting meetings to see what's going on, walking up to strangers and offering their opinions on Asian fusion cuisine (or as they like to call it, "Fasian!").  We already know everything about them, so all those feelings are just icing on the chatty cake.   When an introvert starts to share their feelings, on t…