Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

Living a Passionate Life

December 30, 2013 1 comment


You may (or may not) have noticed that I have been visibly absent from posting over the past few months. The long and the short of it is that quite a few things have happened in my life which have led me to focus on, well…, my life.

The biggest impact was the loss of my mother to lung cancer back in October. For those of you privileged to know her, she was quite the lady and she kept her wit and humor intact to the very end. For the most part, her passing was relatively quick and heaven truly gained an angel that day. She was a profound influence in my life and I will miss her deeply. I kept this event pretty much to myself, but for those of you who were aware and comforted me during this troubling time, thank you. My mom always kept things to herself (including her health issues); maybe I am more like her than I originally thought.


Not long after her passing I had to travel out of the country for business.  My journey took me to the island of New Caledonia – a French territory northeast of Australia. That was roughly a 22 hour trip and during that time, I was able to think about my life, where I currently was, and where I wanted to be.

What I realized during that time is that in many areas of my life I was simply going through the motions.  I was reminded of the following quote from Steve Jobs,


Steve Jobs

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet,  keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find  it.”

Our time on earth is too short to live without passion but that is exactly what I was doing – and exactly what I promised myself I would never do. I came to the realization that I was settling in way too many areas of my life and it was time for a change.


noun \ˈpa-shən\

: a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

They say that you should never make big decisions right after a life changing event, but I have never been one to listen to advice when my heart tells me otherwise.  As such, I resigned from my job at Continuum Labs to return to the pursuit of my dreams. Continuum is a great company and I truly believe in their products and services; I just didn’t feel like my contributions were enough to warrant my being there. And those that I was making were not aligned with my passions; it was time for me to reboot my career. I will always be their biggest fan and can only hope that in some small way my tenure has made a positive impact. I will no longer work with my close Continuum friends on a daily basis, but something tells me that we will work together again some day; I look forward to that day. (BTW, if you haven’t had a chance to check out their latest app, CareSync, I HIGHLY recommend it. You will never look at your healthcare the same way again.)

So what am I doing now? My LinkedIn profile says that I am an independent consultant with a company called ForgeRock. What that essentially means is that I am refocusing my career on those areas that make me want to jump out of bed each morning: privacy, identity, trust, and making the Internet a safer place to be. I am continuing to work on the security projects that helped make me Platinum with both Marriott and Delta this year, but I am using my downtime to work on my own security-focused applications and services. While they might not be as sexy as CareSync, I believe there is a definite need for what I am envisioning; but only time will tell. In the meantime, stay tuned.


An unexpected benefit behind all of this is that I am now working at home and am spending more time with my wife and kids. We talk more. I drink morning coffee with my wife, and I am actually there when my kids have a problem. I now see things around the house that need my attention (and what my family has been putting up with as I travel to work each day). Rather than making excuses that I am too tired, I now have the time to fix those things that need fixing. I have the time to make a healthy lunch (or gorge on the box of Oreos if I so desire). I also have time to reboot my exercise life and have the flexibility to take walks with my family as well. Simply put, I have time.

So does this now mean that I will spend this time on blogging, tweeting, and participation in online activities? Maybe. But as with any precious asset, time must be invested properly and spent wisely. With the passing of my mother, I have been reminded that one of the wisest investments you can make is in spending time with others and investing in friendships is never a bad investment.

So who knows where I will devote my time the only thing guaranteed is that it will involve others.

Again, stay tuned.

The Real Role of a Leader

February 1, 2013 1 comment

A humorous look at the role of a leader in any organization.  If you have ever been a leader, I’m sure you can relate to this quote from an anonymous author.

As nearly everyone knows, a leader has practically nothing to do except to decide what is to be done; tell somebody to do it; listen to reasons why it should not be done or why it should be done in a different way; follow up to see if the thing has been done; discover that it has not; inquire why; listen to excuses from the person who should have done it; follow up again to see if the thing has been done, only to discover that it has been done incorrectly; point out how it should have been done; conclude that as long as it has been done, it may as well be left where it is; wonder if it is not time to get rid of a person who cannot do a thing right; reflect that the person probably has a spouse and a large family, and any successor would be just as bad and maybe worse; consider how much simpler and better matters would be now if he had done it himself in the first place; reflect sadly that he could have done it right in twenty minutes, and, as things turned out, he has had to spend two days to find out why it has taken three weeks for somebody else to do it wrong.

Overcoming Personal Battles

December 24, 2012 Leave a comment


Did you know that Lord Nelson, England’s famous naval hero, suffered from seasickness his entire life.

It’s true.

In a letter recently found in the Camden family archives, Nelson expresses sympathy for the 2nd Earl of Camden‘s 16-year-old nephew by admitting to his own personal weakness.

“I am ill every time it blows hard and nothing but my enthusiastic love for the profession keeps me one hour at sea.”

(See YouTube video: Lord Nelson Seasickness Letter in Tunbridge Wells.)

How could the man who destroyed Napoleon’s fleet lead men into battle when he himself was fighting a battle within himself? He did so by not only learning to live with his weakness – he learned to conquer it. And in so doing, he went on to become England’s greatest Naval hero.

Most of us have situations in our own lives that challenge us on a day to day basis. These may be physical or they may be psychological, but rest assured, everyone who has ever tried to accomplish anything in life has had to overcome their own personal seasickness.

Oftentimes it is a private war; carried on quietly within our own lives. But unlike heroes like Nelson, no one will celebrate our victories, no one will recognize our successes, and no one will pin a medal to our chest for winning. But even without the fanfare from others, nothing can dim the quiet satisfaction of knowing in our own hearts that we did not give up!

Cherish the People

October 13, 2012 1 comment

I recently spent some time going through old business cards. Netscape, Sun Microsystems, Trusted Information Systems… Companies that were once giants in their industries – now gone. Their technologies no longer discussed except in circles of old folks (like me) reminiscing years gone by. The act of discarding these cards felt somehow like I was closing the final chapter of their very existence.

In a world where LinkedIn has become the electronic business card used by most people, I still felt compelled to hang on to these artifacts. Not for the contact information (that was long out of date), but for the memories that each card had left behind. Each person that I did business with or simply met at a conference has influenced me in some way. Whether it was a simple nugget of information provided by an acquaintance or an introductory meeting with someone that I have built a relationship with throughout the years, those cards represent people that have made me who I am today. For some odd reason I felt like I was throwing away a piece of them and wondered how LinkedIn could possibly replace the paper I held in my hand. Even so, it was time to move on and I continued with my quest.

Before committing each card to the trash, I took a moment to reflect back on those relationships. Some of the names were no longer familiar to me. Notes quickly scribbled on the backs of cards no longer made sense. I was reminded of people I had forgotten and wondered where they were today (I had better look them up on LinkedIn). But as I tossed the last card into the trash, one thing became abundantly clear. Companies and technologies come and go, but people stay a part of you forever.

Discard the cards, but hang on to (and cherish) the people.

Don’t Just Complain, Do Something About It!

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

A hopelessly lost salesman came upon a farm house where the owner was rocking away on his porch.  Late and desperate to get back on the road he stopped to ask for directions.

“Take the dirt road in the direction that the sun sets; keep going until you go past the old post office.  Make a left after you drive past the broken down tractor that them Taylor boys left a sittin’ there,” explained the farmer.  “Keep a goin’ a bit more until you pass the old sawmill, …” he continued but was interrupted by his old hound dog who let out a rather painful groan.

“Aroooogh,” moaned the dog.

The farmer continued, “…once you get past old McGreevy’s farm, make another left, and …”

“Arooooooogh”… once again, the dog lets out a painful moan.

“Excuse me,” asked the salesman, “but is there something wrong with your dog?”

The farmer looked down at the dog, paused a second, and then replied, “Naw, he’s just lying thar on a nail”.  “Wait a minute,” asked the puzzled salesperson, “if he is lying on a nail, why doesn’t he just get up?”  Without missing a beat, the farmer said matter of factly, “Don’t hurt enough to get up, just to complain about it…”

Moral:  How many times have you criticized someone for how they are doing something?  How many problems have you solved with your friends over beers at the local pub?  How often do you feel like you have a better idea?  Well, stop complaining about it and do something about it!

Remember:  “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Facebook’s Initial Public Offering Disaster

May 19, 2012 1 comment

 Facebook’s IPO was a relative disaster.

While it brought billions into Facebook’s coffers, one could hardly call the first day of trading a success. They opened at $38/share and ended up the day at $38.27 (a gain of less than 1%).

The only reason why their stock didn’t dip below the opening price was because they were being propped up by bankers who poured in millions every time the stock threatened to go below $38/share. In fact, the stock price was a flat $38/share a mere 30 seconds before the closing bell before the bankers once again jumped in to help save “Face”. (See “How Facebook’s Bankers Saved an IPO, Kept Shares Above $38” for more information.)

They say that people vote with their pocket books. Based on first day of trading, Facebook is ready to be voted out of office. Is this indicative of social media sites, in general or are people getting tired of Facebook?

My daughter said something quite profound when I told her about what happened. She said, “Dad, it’s just a web site. People get tired of it and they go elsewhere.” Wow, so Facebook may be subject to the same fate suffered by mega-giant portals like AOL, Yahoo, and Netscape? Maybe that’s why sites like Pinterest are trending upwards while Facebook is trending down.

Is it possible that people are getting tired of Facebook not adding anything more to their life than just a time-suck?

The Biggest Expense to Your Company

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

While reading the book, I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59, I stumbled on a question that Sergey Brin asked of his marketing folks. It really got me to think about how we look at corporate costs.

Think for a second, what is the biggest expense that a company can incur? Is it facilities cost, equipment leases, or big-ticket purchases? Is it health care, taxes, or employee salaries. It must be salaries and benefits, right? That is what has been preached to me from well-meaning CFOs.

Wrong! The single largest expense a company can incur is “opportunity cost” and it can literally make or break a company.

(Sorry, I set you up.)

Opportunity cost can be defined as the ‘profit foregone by selecting one alternative over another. It is the net return that could be realized if a resource were put to its next best use. It is “what we give up” from “the road not taken.”‘

It is like I try to teach my kids, every day you make decisions to do (or not do) something. When you decide to do one thing, you are consciously (or subconsciously) deciding NOT to do something else. It is the consequences of those decisions that directly impact opportunity cost. In the case of companies, every action taken (or not taken) has an affect on the bottom line.

It is the phone call that is not made.

It is the product that is not shipped.

It is the project that is not completed.

It is the process that is not managed.

It is the follow-up that is not performed.

It is the questions that were not asked.

All of these have a direct impact on business either immediately or down the road – but they definitely have an impact.

Thinking in terms of opportunity costs takes a different mindset; one that is not necessarily natural to most people. But considering it in our daily actions can make all the difference in the success or failure of a company.

OK, so as I wrote this, I was also preaching to myself, but I couldn’t miss the “opportunity” to put it out there.