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Power Shift

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be on the advisory board for Power Shift, an event series for personal and professional development.  The theme of the series is about harnessing internal power and releasing it on the world.  This leads to a better life – personally and professionally.

I’m fortunate because this series actually comes at a time in my life when I am taking a very introspective look at myself.  I’m understanding what I enjoy, what makes me happy, why I have the life I do, and how to continue in a positive motion.

I am no longer the owner of my own company, and am trying to determine what I will do next.  I’ve gone through my contact list and attempted to meet with as many people as possible.  I’ve tried to learn what I liked and disliked about running my company, and am looking for a way to apply my likes (strengths) to my next endeavor.

I’ve also looked at my personal relationships to identify why I enjoy them.  Why are these my friends?  Why to I hang out with my family?  Why do my wife and I have a great relationship?  It is so comforting to take a long, deep look at the things that are important to you, and realize you’re in the right place.

This series is coming at a time when new research is showing that identifying your strengths and playing to those strengths is far more important, and more efficient, than trying to shore up weaknesses.  This research, and the methods used to identify and utilize those strengths, is highlighted in books by Marcus Buckingham and Flip Flippen.

I’ve already had my mother register, as she is going through a career shift also.  I’m so excited to be a part of this series, but I’m even more excited to see the outcome.

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Not as good as you think

I was talking with someone last week about the consulting work he’s doing. He mentioned he is doing some work for a start-up company that has very little money, so he is doing the work “persona non grata.”  Hmmm.  Seems like a start-up with little money doesn’t need an unwanted person doing consulting for them. 

Maybe we should learn the difference between the Latin persona no grata, and gratis.

Olympic Withdrawal

I admit I was addicted the Olympics.  I had to watch all swimming, and actually jumped up and cheered at times.  I watched our dissapointing track team and our surprising gymnastics teams.  I was outraged at some of the scoring although I have no idea what I should be looking for.  I am 100% positive that at least 2 of the Chinese gymnasts are under 15. 

After 2 weeks of knowing exactly what I was going to watch, I’m now suffering withdrawal.  The new season of my favorite shows (especially Dexter) has not yet started.  Therefore, I got to thinking about the next Olympics.

First of all, there is no way London can even come close to the opening or closing ceremonies that Beijing put on.  I’m thinking it’s going to be 5 guys drinking beer and fighting over soccer. 

Second, there need to be a few changes to some of the events.

Fencing – there is too much high-tech crap for what is essentially a sword fight.  Make the competitors dress up as Zorro and the Dread Pirate Roberts, and go at it with real swords.  There won’t be quite as many quick points.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – I have no idea how this became an Olympic sport.  It’s dancing around with a ribbon.  It’s something kids do in their rooms when no one is looking (not that I have any experience with this and say…socks).  If it’s going to stay, we need to make it more interesting.  There should be a grab bag of items.  The contestants should have to blindly reach into the bag and pull out their prop.  It could be a ribbon, it could be a machete, it could be a bowling ball.  Enjoy!

Team Handball – I watched this for 10 minutes before I figured out what sport it was.  It bears absolutely no resemblance to individual handball.  Team handball is like indoor soccer, but you use your hands.  It seems like a game you play in elementary school when running the mile gets rained out.  Why not make dodgeball an Olympic sport. 

As long as we’re rewarding medals for kids games, we might as well add a few. 

Spread Eagle – How great would it be to see someone get pegged in the nuts, and lose out on a medal because of it.  Adding insult to injury.

Marco Polo – Wouldn’t this be a great call?  “And that’s it!  It’s over!  The Americans win on a last-second Fish-out-of-water call.  What a great strategy to save their last Fish-out-of-water.  And look at the emotion from Lance Smith, the captain of this American Marco Polo team.  36 years old.  Said this would be his last Olympics, and he finally gets his gold medal.  And Blaine McKaskel.  The youngest member of the team.  Learned to play the game in an above ground pool.  Trained in community pools and lost his hair from chlorine poisoning.  A great story.  The United States takes gold in Marco Polo.”

When does Dexter start again?

On Virtuality

I created a post a couple days ago regarding questions to ask if you want to be more mobile yourself, or create a more mobile, virtual office.  Now is such a great time to start or grow a business.  The technology exists to outsource so many business processes and operations…which leads to more efficiency.  When entrepreneurs can focus on their core business, without having to be swallowed up by non-core activities, the business can grow. 

If I can be anywhere, and be confident that my phone will be answered, my bills paid, my invoices sent, my HR issues taken care of…I can give 100% of my attention to growing the business.  Far too often, however, I see business owners that are afraid to give up control of administration.  Most business owners don’t start a business thinking “I can’t wait to pay bills, choose health insurance plans, and clean up my books.”

Many entrepreneurs think they can’t afford to outsource these functions.  However, what is the opportunity cost?  How much more business could you earn if you spent all your team developing new business?  How much more time would you bill? 

My feeling is that every small business needs to put a plan in place to move toward outsourcing as much as possible.  The plan is necessary to make certain data security, business processes, customer service are taken into account.  Only when non-core functions that can be outsourced, or virtualized, are, small businesses can grow to and past their full potential. 

Future blog posts will discuss some of the functions that can be outsourced, and how to go about the planning.

So You Want to be More Mobile?

With the power of laptops and the proclivity of wireless Internet access, more companies are trying to “go mobile.”  However, being more mobile means different things to different people, and each companies will have their own reasons and their own challenges.  Following are some things to contemplate before jumping into a large laptop purchase.
 
Why do you want to be more mobile?
• Are you looking to do more work from your client sites? 
• Do you think it your employees will be more productive? 
• Are you trying to cut down on the need to commute? 
• Do you need to travel?

This is an important question because the answer has an impact on the technology you choose.  If the idea is to always be on the move, you will need to think about very mobile laptops with long battery lives.  They will also have to be a little more able to handle the shock of being thrown into bags, in and out of the car, and possibly even make it through some spills. 
 
What do you need to do your work?
• Do you have certain applications you need to access? 
• Are they on a server or on your PC? 
• How vital is email?
 
This question will determine the need for a server.  It will also help determine which laptops to purchase, and the need for a firewall and/or router.  If there is a server-based application (i.e. timekeeping software) you use, you will need to make certain the server is configured to allow access to the application from outside the firewall.  The speed of your internet connection will also partially determine the speed at which users can access the application.  If email is vital to your work, you will need to have multiple manners of accessing email.
 
How technologically capable are your users?
• Are your users comfortable using laptops? 
• Are they computer literate enough to have multiple log-ins? 
• Will they have the ability to be supported remotely?

Countless hours of productivity are lost when users cannot access their network because they can’t use a VPN.  Also, if they are the types of users that require someone to physically fix issues, mobility is not an efficient option.  Mobile users have to be comfortable and creative enough to get work done even if there is some issue.
 
What security requirements do you have?
• Do you have regulatory requirements governing your IT security? 
• Do you keep vital client information on laptops?

In answering this question you determine the level of management needed on each laptop, and on the network access.  Keep in mind every laptop is an entry point into your network.  If someone can hack into a laptop, or even steals one, they may gain entry into the network.  Also, a lost, stolen, or hacked laptop can put sensitive client or company information at risk. 
 
How will your users access the Internet?

This question is somewhat answered by the answers to the previous questions.  Using free wi-fi hotspots is not necessarily the safest option.  Operators of hotspots are making their networks open, which is inviting to hackers.  They can sit in a coffee shop and access other laptops on the network.  Also, wi-fi hotspots are not always reliable.  If one of your employees absolutely has to get online, and the local coffee shop’s Internet connection is down, you are out of luck.  A mobile broadband card and plan from your mobile provider might be a safer, more reliable option.
 
New technology has afforded us the ability to be more mobile, and more efficient.  However, a mobile workforce is not a situation to jump into blindly.  It requires an investment of capital and time to make certain it is the right move for you.

My Dog

I wrote a long post last week about my dog, and forgot to post a picture. 

More Family Business Crap

The situation with my family’s business keeps moving along.  It’s really so sad.  A company that was built and run by brothers who loved each other, and who would do anything to take care of their families, is being torn apart by their children.  It is now a virtual certainty that the company will not survive with all the cousins retaining their ownership and positions in the company.  It will probably survive in some way, but one side of the family will be forced to relinquish control. 

Among the losses:

  • 10 lbs. by me, 15 by my grandfather
  • tens of thousands of dollars in CPA and lawyers fees
  • hundreds of hours of sleep
  • countless business because attention is diverted elsewhere
  • all trust that family can be counted on, and a solid family business can provide a safe haven

i did some research and found out that only 8% of family businesses make it to a third generation.  That is incredibly sad.  Our parents and grandparents were builders.  We’re now scavengers and arbritagers.