Friday Fill-ins! 8/5

I am really trying to get back into the whole blogging thing, and one of the things that I enjoyed the most was having a Friday meme to post something, but not have to think about it too much. The Friday’s Feast died a while back but I just found Friday Fill-ins! it seems like it is still active and well, let have some meme fun

1. How can I resist the urge for coffee when I have a starbucks downstairs.
2. Stubborn weed always grows back.
3. My hair is ready for a haircut.
4. I did not attend my high school reunion, can’t really say I missed it.
5. My favorite summer fruits are strawberries… but are they really just summer fruits?
6. Some lady hit a guy that was changing a tire because she was texting … what was that?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to watching some TV with the wife, we are really getting into this Merlin show, tomorrow my plans include sleeping and probably going out for a walk and Sunday, I want to make sure Alicia has a ton of fun while here in Chicago!

When Culture Clashes with Corporate

While linked in might not be looked at in the same light as facebook or twitter, it still has the component of social media of connecting you with people you might have lost contact with over the years. I just recently saw a name again that brought a lot of great memories.

I had seen my Dad work for a big company my whole life. Our house was full of little reminders of where my Dad worked. Postobon is the distributor of Pepsi down in Colombia. I spent a lot of weekends in that company and got to see my the inner workings of a production plant and also the accounting department where my Dad worked. Remember that back then not everyone had an old mainframe level of computing power in their pockets. So being able to do data entry on an old monochromatic green screen was just awesome.

My Dad worked many weekends while I was growing up, and it was fun to go into the office with him. I met many of his coworkers that way and it gave me a view into his world that was probably not all that accurate. An office is a lot different on a Saturday that during the week. Everything I had know about corporations up to that point was through my Dad’s eyes.

I am not sure how it is in Colombian now, but it seemed like for my Dad’s generation once you got a job with a company, you retired from it. That is kind of how I approached my first full time job. I thought, I will help this company grow and be here forever. Even though that first job taught me so much, it was also one of the worst experiences I had in a workplace.

The reason linked in comes into this post is because one of the things that I learned thanks to that person that just popped into my head when I saw their name was the sense of gratitude. When I say to an employer, thank you for the opportunity; well, its not just something I read in an interview guide, I do really mean it. I was extremely grateful to many people for that first job… but then I learned a lot about the inner workings of a small company.

For a long time I felt so attached to that job, so thankful of the first opportunity, so thankful for everything that I had learned that I did not think leaving for another job was an option. I used to think of the job itself as something of a gift, and yes in these difficult economic times good jobs can be hard to come by and should not be taken for granted.

I don’t remember exactly why I made up my mind about leaving, I do remember that it was a lot about the job just not being balanced with the rest of my life. I do remember that what gave me “permission” mentally about leaving was a conversation about who had “given” me the job.

That person I just found again in Linked in told me. You should never feel like someone gave you the job, someone gives you the opportunity might even get your foot in the door, but your work will speak for itself; don’t feel like you owe anything to anyone.

The best part of the story is that the entire time I had worked there I thought I was considered for the job solely on someones recommendation, but as it turns out, it was actually someone completely different that actually pushed for me to get the opportunity.

Changing Gears

There have been a lot of changes in the last year, some of them actually affect this blog directly. My wife and best friend have moved most of their content creation away from their regular blogs. It seems that social media did take a chunk away from the blog world. Like my wife I even consider just moving parts of my blog where it makes sense. Leaving this as more of a professional space and moving the personal elsewhere. The more I thought about it though, the more I thought that the mixing of the topics is what made this space interesting.

Take my friend Barb for example. We have been friends through our blogs for over 5 years, but she has not blogged in over a year. We continued to interact with each other via facebook and go to dinner or the movies. The relationship that started in the blogsphere moved to the social network… but the blogs at that point become secondary.

As most of you know I started a new position. With my previous position I had started a move that I had planned for a while. I wanted to transition from a direct technology driven position to more of a leadership or business role within the organization. My current position while still very much related to technology, is more on the business side. In the almost month I have been here, I have been reminded in a positive way that I don’t have to worry about IT anymore. I am part of the business now. It is a very peculiar feeling specially from a cost perspective. IT is always looked at as overhead (but IT creates ton of value and cost savings) yet the business support roles like mine don’t get looked at that way.

It has been a significant transition to not have to be the one that gets a call when a system is not functioning. I can now see the e-mails flying around and just wait for a status rather than try to track people down to fix it, or have to fix it myself.

The reason this is related to the blog itself is that I now feel free to talk about the challenges of being part of the IT organization in the past. I think most of the people that read me are still interested on some of that perspective. Not to mention that the transition from one to another might be relevant for some too. It does make me think that maybe the blog should become more about that, more “professional.” There are trends now to separate your online life into buckets and in business circle is even recommended. It is tempting to move to another medium completely, specially with google+ now making it a lot easier to create content to share with very specific audiences (or circles).

I hope that blogs like mine that are about everything and nothing at the same time continue to exist. I am surprised that recently going through my RSS reader, all the new blogs that I have added recently have all been not just topic focused but very specific inside that topic. The latest blog that I subscribed to was not just about ECM(Electronic Content Management) but specific to the Documentum product.

The personal blog umbrella has never really fit this blog, and with facebook or google+ sucking that type of daily “I ate a grapefruit” or “visited the local art fair” kind of post, and places like yelp consuming the restaurant reviews, it seems like the content I produce here seems to have dwindled over time. At the same time with over 90 drafts already started, there might be a lot more content to be produced. I do plan to continue writing and hopefully a little more often than before, but I still ponder the question… have general blogs like this one become part of the past to make room for the more topic driven ones?

I guess most people (even me) don’t want to waste time and consume only what is relevant to them.

Don’t understand it? Don’t Outsource it!

While it would be easy to just talk about the jobs that get sent overseas, this is also true of letting consultants do something for your company. The term outsource has developed quite the negative cog-notation simply because in some instances, it talks about someone losing their job… in reality the term applies to any time someone is giving work to a third party. When I had to cut the grass at my old place, I ended up “outsourcing” the work… I did it because my Sundays were a lot more fun when I got to go on long bike rides rather than spending them cutting grass.

Companies constantly give work to third parties. Overall it is a great practice for business when it comes to specialized work. In the document imaging world, the most costly part of a project is not even the high speed scanners that can make a project seem unreachable because of cost, its actually the manual labor. Prepping document and capturing the correct metadata from them is very costly and it requires a very specialized workforce. When was the last time you removed a staple from a document… now multiply the time it took you by thousands.

The problem that I have encountered over and over in business is that people tend to also want to outsource things that they don’t understand. It sounds awesome at first… well the company has great expertise in X area, so lets hire them to do the work. It is even worse when the company decides to fire their employees and give the work to another company that promises to do it quicker and for less money than their workforce used to do it.

One of the things I have seen over and over is that the people making the product or simply delivering it can have a great impact on the success or failure of it. Consulting companies often bring their smartest people to the smoke and mirrors show with no intention of using those resources to actually deliver what the company is buying.

Very often it is too late when you realized that you have hired the wrong people to do something for you; but the only way to prevent that is to actually understand what you are outsourcing first.

You might think that building a website is a very simple thing to do in today’s technology driven world. It is actually an extremely complex task. Some companies can do wonders when it comes to the presentation layer and give you something visually stunning… some others can give you functionality others can’t touch. The problem is that I have not seen too many that can do it all. That does not even touch on content and even social media. Those are all moving parts that need to be understood before you contract anyone to do a “website” for you.

Having someone in your company that fully understand what you are trying to outsource is imperative. If you don’t, then you should think about hiring someone that does. Also don’t fool yourself into thinking that because you know something about the process you are outsourcing, that you understand it completely. That was another pitfall I saw many people just walk into.

In the end, I know how my grass is supposed to look when it is cut. The dude that used to cut it always left it a little too low, but it worked out well since I could sometimes skip one weekend depending on rain. It did end up browning some areas once in a while… but hey it was only grass.

In Arizona I am learning…

I am in Arizona on a business trip. Even though I have traveled for work before plenty of times, I had never been actually in this state before. I always get a good idea of what a place is like from what people say about it, but I have to tell ya… my mental picture of Arizona and what I have encountered here so far are night and day. Bellow are some of the things that I did not know about Arizona until I actually got here.

Phoenix and Scottsdale are pretty much the same city.

The whole “dry heat” is a myth during monsoon season, right now its not just 115 outside, its also humid.

There is something called a “haboob” which refers to a huge dust storm. nothing like a coworker letting you know on your way out that you should watch out for dust storms and stay indoors if it looks like its going to rain outside… if you breath the stuff in, you can get something called valley fever that can, you guessed it, KILL YOU! that is if you are lucky enough to be able to stay indoors and not already driving when the HUMONGOUS dust cloud moves in.

There is such a thing as a desert garden.

There are people insane enough to want to grow grass in the desert.

Light brown is the color all around… I thought I love that “earth tone” color palette until everything is the same color.

The plants that grow in this climate (not just the cactus) are extremely beautiful and colorful.

The road runner and coyote do live around each other.

Even though a lot of people have lived here for 30+ years, most people still feel like they are “from” somewhere else. I have only found a handful of “locals” so far.

Everything is SUPER spread out.

The only “local” radio station I seem to be able to find is in Spanish.

… more to come