Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Soccer and the Meta-Game of Fatherhood

I took Paco to his indoor soccer game the other day.

We have one motto when it comes to soccer, basketball, or any other sport for that matter.

“Leave it all on the field.”

I’ve told him (and I mean it), “I don’t care how many goals you score. I care that you give it your all on every play.”

And while I do offer him suggestions on his play, I’m not sure he fully appreciates that the real game he is playing (and for which he is preparing) is the Game of Life.

As his coach, I know that persistence and perseverance are often the skills and traits that separate success from failure, regardless of talent or even training (well, those are important, of course, but you know what I mean.)

So, when I stand on the sidelines, I’m actually watching the meta-game as much as the actual game.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

When mom goes out of town...

The NFO was out of town for a few days and I was 1 on 3.

Now, admittedly, the NFO (that's my wife) set us up for success by preparing a lot of food before she left, stocking the fridge and the pantry and a number of other things.

That, plus in the afternoon, we have a nanny who helps out, so it's not like I was doomed, but I still had some work to do to keep the kids moving along.

What astounded me (and please don't tell the NFO this) is that I found that I actually did less work at home than normal.

Why? For some reason (maybe the kids took pity on me), the kids really raised their game.

In the morning, they were cooperative and well-paced before going to school.

At night, the three of them gave each other baths, made sure that everyone had brushed and flossed, and Paco and Tonka even read books to Nadia.

Then, when they came to me and said, "is it ok if we play now?" (it was still early), there was no reason for me to say no.

I found myself relaxed and focused, but also grateful that we have such wonderful children.

I can't quite figure out why (I like to think it's the "credible threat" that I bring to the table), but I'll take it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Great Networkers Follow Up

The more I do it, the more I realize that 1st-class networkers are simply masters of follow-up.
Here's the advice I gave my cousin the other day.
She had met the CEO of an organization at which she would like to work, but won't be in that city for 6 months or so. She knew she needed to keep in touch, but didn't know how.
Here's what I would do:

  1. send a short note, saying thanks, etc. and asking for permission to send a VERY brief periodic update (every 6 weeks or so) just to keep in touch. She'll most likely say yes.
  3. keep it brief. explain how what you are doing/learning will be beneficial to her or someone she knows. 5 -8 lines. TIGHT. edit and edit and edit.  The goal is to now only have her see that you follow through (execution) but that you are thinking about this issue all the time.  
  4. Then, as you get closer, lock down a date to meet her in person and ask her for advice about what to do.
See step 2. If you don't do this, nothing else matters.

She sent the note, the CEO gave the OK.

We'll see if she delivers.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Early Adopter Rush—Thank you, Google Wallet

Choosing to be an early adopter of technology means a trade-off.

On the one hand, you spend a lot of time fiddling with gadgets, trying to get them to work, dealing with the frustration that they don’t always work, and often times, accepting the fact that you’ve thrown away some money.

All of this is offset by the occasional “home run” when you get to do something (and then show it off) to people who say “WOW! I’ve never never seen that before.”

Well, recently, I’ve hit the jackpot in the form of Google Wallet on my lovable Nexus 4.

Basically, what it allows me to do is to just tap my phone to the credit card payment terminal and (with a  pre-selected card—I have 4 loaded in) pay for whatever it is. No physical card required.

The receipt shows up on my phone (and I get an email later as well). That’s very cool, but what’s REALLY cool is the reaction I get from people.

I imagine (or so I tell myself) that it’s similar to the way people must have reacted when they saw a plane or a car for the first time many years ago.

Jaws drop and they routinely say “What is that?! How did you do that?”

And, for a slight moment, I get to feel like I  am visiting from the future.

It happened at BWI rail station recently and I got the guy (Mike) on video describing it.

Pretty soon, this will be commonplace, but for now, I get to ride the wave and get payback for all of those nights when stuff just didn’t work.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pre-adolescence thanks to Kelly Clarkson

I've been saying for a while that we're in a beautiful "in-between" state of parenting.

On the one hand, I don't have to watch my kids every moment. We have to be in the house with them, of course, but we can leave them to their own devices to play, etc.

At the same time, they still listen to me and think I know what I am talking about.

I also know that this period of time isn't going to last forever.

The other day, Nadia (age 5) received a CD as a party favor at a birthday party and one of the songs was called "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson. Not that I had ever heard it before, but Tonka (age 9) had.

Turns out, it's the popular song among the 3rd grade set and, pretty soon, we had heard the song about 100 times. Later on, I discovered the 3 of them dancing around the den listening to the song, but that wasn't the moment that I realized that Tonka was on the verge.

Instead, I saw her looking into the TV (it was off) and staring at her reflection as she lip synced the words and danced to the music. It just seemed like something a teenager would do.

I stood there admiring it, but at the same time, it was a harbinger of another era on the horizon.

At least the song has a good, Nietzsche-inspired message, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," so if she has to repeat a mantra 100 times, that's as good a lesson as any.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Value of a Great Technologist

People often ask me the “secret” to some of the things I do, particularly when it comes to information management.

I’ve blogged before on the technologies I use (see here), but today I want to talk about the value of having a great technologist at your disposal.

And, I’m not talking about a friend you can call…I am talking about someone you hire, even for your personal life, but definitely for your professional life.

You pay for a trainer at the gym, a doctor or a therapist, but having a great technologist at your disposal can help you save a ton of time and probably advance your career.image

Today, I want to talk about Ron Braatz from LiftOff.

I’ve known Ron from my Microsoft days, but recently he showed me the value of a great technologist by helping me migrate an Exchange server installation to Microsoft Online.

What that is…doesn’t matter. What it does is save me $450/year in fees, increase my speed and reliability, and make me even more productive.

I could have done it myself, but what Ron showed is that even in “self-serve” technology, you need a guiding hand, someone who can advise you and save you time.

It’s no surprise that he’s one of the top-ranked “cloud” providers of all Microsoft services.

If you have a business-of any size-and you want to understand how to use your technology better, give Ron a call.

Either way, find a great technologist and pay him/her to help you get better.

I don’t need to tell you that it’s a competitive advantage…so don’t skimp.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Brilliant Resume...

Here's a guy who really knows how to stand out.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Free Bandwidth-Sort Of

In my fearless effort to discover new ways to exploit technology, I bought a device from a company called Karma.

The basic idea is this:

  1. buy our device for $79 and get 1 GB of mobile high-speed data
  2. for each friend/person who connects to your mobile hot spot, each of you earn 100MB of data
  3. it’s cumulative and doesn’t expire

Sounds like a good deal and it could be.

The coverage and connection speed (provided by Clearwire) are adequate. The trick is that it’s an MLM for bandwidth.

I don’t have too many occasions when I am surrounded by people who are hungry for bandwidth who might connect to my open “Jeremy-Karma” network, but I figured the Amtrak Acela from DC to NYC was a great opportunity.

It’s full of businesspeople and wi-fi on Amtrak is, well, horrid.

I left the hotspot on the entire trip (deliberately sat in the middle of the car) and got all of ZERO sign-ups.


After you use your 1GB of data, then it’s $14 for each additional 1GB.

Not the end of the world and I like being out of contract with no monthly, but I will admit that I was hoping for tons of free data due to sign ups. Oh well.

It is possible that I picked the wrong market for this test…a lot of ppl have their own mobile hotspots on Acela or maybe ppl just don’t look for/trust open networks.

I’ll keep trying and let you know.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

LIVE Lasik Surgery-Recap

Well, no longer live, as it’s done, but thanks to Dr. Sonny Goel (twitter/FB), I’m now at 20/15 vision and on the road to full recovery. Sonny has, I’m told, performed more Lasik operations than anyone in the entire US…but until now, none of them had been livestreamed!

At one point, we had (I’m told) 35 people watching the livestream of the actual surgery. We also made it a social event, but enabling comments and even fielding questions from the virtual audience.

To get right to the meat of the video, see here. For the full effect, you can watch below or here.

Highly recommend Lasik Plus in Columbia, MD.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Savoring this Age...

Our kids are at a unique juncture in their development and I am savoring every moment of it.

They are old enough that I don't need to watch them like a hawk at every turn, but they are young enough that they still think I know what I am talking about.

They still want to hug, kiss, and snug and they still love hanging out with me.

It's not always easy to keep in front and center that this moment is fleeting, but I find myself thinking about it more and more.