Thursday, February 26, 2015

The iPad taking up Cap Space

To understand this post, you need both a technical knowledge and sports knowledge.

Yesterday, I was looking at Paco's iPad (well, it's mine, but I let him use it) and I noticed that he didn't have any of his pictures on it.

"What happened to all your pictures?"

"I deleted them all," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"I needed the cap space," he replied.

"You mean the 'storage space,'" I asked.

"Yes, that's what I meant."

Gotta love that the 9 year old is talking about 'cap space.' He's ready to be a GM.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Balance of Fatherhood

I know I'm not the only one who feels this challenge.

It's part of the reason why the lyrics to "Cats in the Cradle" resonate so much.

It's definitely tough though. Trying to be a present/involved father, being a decent husband, and being a responsible employee.

I travel a fair amount. Most weeks. While my trips (for the most part) tend to be 2 days and 1 night, it still means I'm not there.

The flip side is that when I'm home, I'm home when the kids leave for school and when they get back. We have dinner together as a family most weeknights.

I tell the kids that there are dads who don't get home until 8pm (or later) most nights, but who don't travel as much, so which would they rather have?

Not that it really matters all that much because we are talking about my kids and my relationship with them.

You feel how quickly the years go and you kick yourself for the fact that you might be doing work or taking a conference call or checking email while they are there.  You justify it by saying you are doing it to be a provider for them.

And you are because, obviously, if you didn't do the work, take the call, or respond to the email at all, you wouldn't be doing your part.

Ah, the balance. Ever elusive isn't it?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Recommendation: Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas, and Predict the Future

One of my great fear motivators is becoming irrelevant in a professional sense. When you can no longer add value, you are replaced. Whether by a machine or a lower cost option, it doesn't matter, you're done. And it's hard to bounce back from that.

To combat that, I spent a lot of time thinking about macro trends and playing around with new technologies.

It's why I bought BitCoin a while ago. It's why my daughters and I play with TinkerCad and print 3D items. It's why I watch documentaries on Netflix (ok, I binge on a lot of other stuff as well). It's why I explored the Dark Web, got solar panels, was one of Vonage's first 20,000 customers, bought a Nest, ordered an Amazon Echo and more.

It's also why I love traveling and why I have a hard and fast business travel philosophy of "always doing something unique to the city" when I visit. Otherwise, it's airport-office-hotel-airport. This way, your eyes are opened in some way.

You get the idea. Sure, some of it is "fun," but a lot of it is…this is how I get my head around what is coming so I can be better prepared.

In fact, in a knowledge/information economy, being able to see things before others do and then prepare for them is a non-negotiable skill and will be the source of competitive advantage.

What I didn't have, however, was a defined PROCESS for doing this.

And that's exactly what my friend, Rohit Bhargava, has done for all of us in his new book (disclosure: I got a free copy) called "Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas, and Predict the Future".

It's only 99 cents on Amazon now, so you can thank me later.

I read the whole book in one sitting while on a plane and like his previous books (all of which I enjoyed), the writing is very consumable, but more importantly, he combines theory with practicality.

You walk away with concrete steps to take so you can be a better, more sophisticated, curated trendspotter.

And that's what you need.

Plus, he made me feel better about my fatherhood strategy (which, I admit, I got from my own dad). One of the key objectives of parenthood is to instill a sense of curiosity in your children. Help them learn how to ask questions and look at the world from a wide perspective.

Rohit confirms this approach and emphasizes that it's important for adults (I would argue that in a world of radical transformation and disruption at lightning speed, that it's more important than ever.

Two thumbs up on this one.

Radical Disruption of the Economy

My friend, Kenichi Hartman, posted an article on Facebook the other day about the most common job in each of America's 50 states. I'm on a plane right now so you'll just have to google it.

It highlighted something I'd been thinking about a lot, since the most common job in most states is: truck driver.

I've told my kids that I think it's possible that they won't need driver's licenses.

Now, my timing may be off, but is there any doubt in your mind that autonomous vehicles will happen?

Then, combine that with ridesharing apps and optimization algorithms from Uber and collaborative technologies like RelayRides and you have a huge opportunity for transport and logistics companies to save a ton of money…which they will pass on to you, the consumer.

Of course, there's a catch.

We're not going to need all of those truck drivers (or cab drivers for that matter).

That's a TON of people who will have to do something else. An absolute ton.

I don't have the answer right now. I'm just seeing what's going to happen.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Trains, Taxis, shutdown highways, a death, an assault, and a bunch of other stuff.

Every now and then, you just have a crazy set of events that require documentation.

Tonight is one of those nights for me.

It began well enough at the beautiful Skytop Lodge in the Pocono Mountains. One of Sprinklr's teams was having an off-site and I was invited to be a guest presenter. While the team was staying there for 3 days, I planned to only stay for one.  I took the bus up with them in the morning from NYC and a car was arranged to take our CFO and me back to the city at 6pm.

We didn't arrive at the front of hotel until 6.30, but since the hotel is close to-well, nothing-we weren't too concerned about the car leaving without us.

However, when we got there, we discovered no car. After 20 minutes of trying to track down the reservation number and phone for the car company, we discovered that, in fact, no reservation had been made.

Immediately, we moved into Plan B category.

Now, my time constraint was that the last train from NYC (well, really Newark) was at 10.22 so that I could be at home Wed. morning in order to attend Nadia's school ceremony at 9am on Wednesday.

In other words, it was a "failure is not an option" night for me.

So, first we looked at "how else can we get to the city?"

First choice was to take a cab to the bus...the first of which we would not get to in time (it left from Mt. Pocono) at 7.20pm and the second of which didn't leave until 9.30pm, which would be too late.

We called some fellow Sprinklrites who had driven up, but none of them were leaving that night.

Then, we called a cab company and, fortunately, since I was travelling with the CFO, I didn't have to worry about paying too much for the cab ;-)
So, we negotiated a fixed price and set off on our way.  The GPS said it would take 2 hours to get to Penn Station, NYC which would be fine.

HOWEVER, as we made our way on I-280E, a notification popped up on my OnePlus phone from Google Now saying "traffic ahead" and suggested a detour. By the time I realized what was happening, we had missed the detour and we found ourselves in an absolute standstill. And, I mean, ABSOLUTE.

I helplessly looked at the estimated time of arrival for Penn Station and then realized that, in fact, we should go to Newark. I negotiated with the cab driver and he agreed, but the ETA in Newark didn't look good either.

It was starting to look like I'd spend the night in NYC and have to take the 3.40am (yes, you read that right) train back to DC.

By this point, we saw that the entire highway was shut down. They made EVERYBODY get off at an exit and now you have highway traffic making their way through suburban roads and, well, obviously, that's not a good mix.

We take a large detour and go down I-280 a few exits and get back on the road. The WAZE and GPS now say that we will make it to Newark at 10:18 (when the train is at 10:22).

Using all of my motivational powers, I do my best to pump up Howard (our cab driver-as my CFO is with me and has graciously agreed to the Newark detour) and we head towards the station, only to see that one of the exits is blocked by an ambulance.

We make our way around and they drop me off. I agree to text them to let them know if I made it or require a ride into the city.

I sprint to the door, which is LOCKED.

The woman behind me says, "it is locked because someone DIED in there."

So, I run down to the next entrance, with only minutes to spare and try to figure out which track to go to.

As I run in to the station, I see a woman lying on the floor 30 feet in front of me and a bunch of people screaming, "SHE WAS ATTACKED!!!"

Then, I see police running towards the scene.

Thinking that this is not something I need right now, I figure out that I'm on Track 3 and make my way up there, getting to the track at 10.21.

I look to the monitor and all seems to be well. I text Chris (the CFO) and tell him that I made it.

Not 1 minute goes by when I look at the screen again and I see that my train is 1 hour and 15 minutes late.

Yes, you read that correctly. Within the span of 1 minute, my train went from on time to 75 minutes late.

I stand there with my jaw drooped open in amazement.  Then, I see that the 7.58 train is running 3 hours late...which means that if I can change my ticket from the 10.22 train to a train that technically has already left, I can get on it.

I run back downstairs to try and find an agent, but all of the Amtrak offices are closed and the ticket desk is behind the gate where, well, someone died.

So, I go to the ticket kiosk, where I have the challenge of modifying my ticket so that I can take a train that, in the mind of the computer at least, doesn't exist anymore (since it should have been through Newark about 2 hours previously).

Of course, that doesn't work.

So, I go back upstairs to the track (oh yeah, it's 12 degrees) and I decide to call Amtrak to modify my ticket from the 10:22 train (now 11:37) to the 7:58 (now 10:58) train.

While I'm on the phone with the reservation agent, an Acela (which wasn't even listed on the monitor) pulls into the station, so I think "screw this, I'm just getting on this train."

Which is what I do...I explain to the conductor that I'm on the phone with Amtrak and will get it resolved.

The conductor says to me "where are you going?" and I say "oh, I'm going to BWI train station."

Needless to say, at that point, he says "oh, this train DOESN'T STOP AT BWI."

I have no choice but to I"m now en route to Baltimore, from which I will have to take a cab to BWI so that I can get my car and then drive home.