Baby Frog, See You Now

Baby Frog, See You Now

So I took this picture of this baby frog while hiking.

This was the first one we saw–on the foliage it completely blended in, but on the rocks we could see it clearly.

It was so little and cute–I had to zoom in to get this shot.

After this, it actually jumped under a log and I got an action photo of its hind legs in mid-jump–going what seemed like super-frog speed.

Once, I was attuned to the frogs color and motion, I was able to detect many of them in the forest today–all pretty much like this little baby.

It was interesting to me learning from this, how before we are aware of something–it’s as if it doesn’t even exist (even with subtle ribbits in the air); and after you are sort of clued in to the surroundings, you almost can’t help but see them.

To me, it’s like life in general, when you don’t see your own issues or life challenges, you can’t even begin to work on them because your virtually oblivious to them, but once you see yourself for what you are–warts and all–you can begin to work through your problems, as if you have almost transcendental awareness.

A little camouflaged frog, like subtle personal issues may be almost imperceptible in the forest of life, but against a contrasting background, you can get amazing clarity–to self-help and self-heal.

Cute little frog, I can see you now and your not jumping away from me anymore. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When Requirements Go Awry

When Requirements Go Awry

You may have seen this before–it is a great comic strip on how requirements can go awry.

When you look at how product or service requirements look from each person’s vantage point, it is easy to see how they can be misunderstand, misinterpreted, or misrepresented.

Getting clarity of the tire swing before we start can save a lot of wasted time, effort, and money on building contraptions that no one wanted or needs.

Get the business and technical requirements spelled out in as much detail as possible from all parties; document, document, document; and have the customer approval and sign off on these.

Build to specification, on time, and within budget and make sure it meets the operational mission needs and strategic vision of the organization.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to tamingdata.com)

The Great Big Apple Donut

The Great Big Apple Donut

Some people think the new Apple HQs (or Apple Campus 2) looks like a flying saucer or spaceship–to me, it looks like a great big donut. 🙂

In all seriousness though, the planned Apple HQs is so cool–I love it!

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (4 April 2013) has a terrific article about this awesome design project.

Some of the facts about this planned facility:

– Houses 12,000 employees
– Has 4 concentric rings.
– 2.8 million square feet (2/3 the size of the Pentagon)
– 176 acres of trees, including the vast courtyard in the center which will have apricot, olive, and apple orchards.
– 40-foot high walls of concave glass
– 700,000 square feet of solar panels (enough to power 4,000 homes)
– Climate-responsive technology such as window treatments that automatically open and close
– Costs about $5 billion (1.1 billion more than the new World Trade Center)
– Move in expected 2016
– Just 2 entry roads
– 4-story underground garage
– 2 R&D labs
– Fitness center

While some think that this building is vanity, I think it is a work of art, and perfectly suits the innovativeness nature of the company.

Apple’s HQS is a reflection of itself, not just another building. The beautiful, sleek, and high-tech building melds with the company’s design philosophy and vision for great consumer products.

Just like Apple’s unique positioning in being able to integrate hardware and software solutions for their customers, their new HQS is a unification of their physical work environment with their internal vision for themselves as a company and the amazing products they put out.

Unlike some organizations which are foolishly tearing down all their walls and working as if they in sitting in Starbucks, Apple understands how to marry the need for a social and collaborative work environment with a proper and respectful functional space.

Apple’s building will be beautiful and functional just like their computing devices…and they remain true to themselves and us. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cupertino Government)

An Immigrant’s Message

It was interesting getting out of Washington D.C. this week and talking to people outside the Capital about what they were thinking.
During Presidential campaigns and debates, I always hear the candidates say, “And let me tell me about (whoever) that I met from (wherever) and they told me (whatever).”Usually, when I hear these anecdotes, I wonder what the real meaning of these are, given that they are hand-selected by the candidates to prove their points of view.So I tried it myself in Florida this week to see what people where thinking about Washington and our national predicament—I asked, “What do you think?”Well let me start by saying that I didn’t talk to as many people as a presidential candidate does—that’s for sure—but I also wasn’t looking a tag line for my next rally or speech.

So here are a few things I heard from everyday people, most of them immigrants or children of immigrants.

One person I spoke to was from Haiti and had settled in Florida.  So I asked what his concerns were.  He told me about the suffering back in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and how so little (relatively-speaking) had been rebuilt.  So far, I wasn’t really shocked at anything he said.  But then he went on to tell me how people in the Haitian community believed that the cause of the catastrophe was (no, not mother nature, but rather) that the U.S. government was testing new weapons in the Caribbean (from underwater submarines) and that this (accidentally) triggered the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

I asked what made them think this, and he told me how the people back in Haiti had witnessed U.S. response efforts and how zones were “mysteriously closed off” and the event was handled in tremendous stealth.  I asked was it just him whom thought this?  And he told me that this was a widely held belief by the people there.

Well, this was not like anything I had heard in the any of the candidate speeches during the election.  Maybe this guy was just an oddball, crazy, and telling wives tales about the going-ons in the Beltway, and everyone else was just feeling rosy.

So I spoke to someone else, a cabdriver from Romania living here for nearly 30 years – old enough to remember his country of birth but experienced enough to compare life there and here. He told me that he felt the people in Washington D.C. did not really care about him or others in the country. I asked what he meant by that.  He questioned our leaders of many decades (with the exception of two in the last 40 years—which I won’t name to protect the others), and he said that the others are basically just in it for themselves.

With regards to the “fiscal cliff,” he said, “No one is willing to make the real decisions that the country needs.”  He went on to add, “Unfortunately, politics has become just a profession.” Moreover, he said that “People aren’t even thinking short-term [let alone long-term], they’re just not thinking at all!”

This immigrant said he was worried generally about the future of the country and warned of what he believed was civil unrest to come, because he felt nobody was really dealing with our serious financial problems. He said that he had lived through a thousand-percent inflation back in his home country, literally, and that he felt we were going down the same road. Matter-of-factly he said, “Washington has bankrupted this country.”

Again, this was very different from the spin on most of the news shows these days, where the real estate recovery (however slight), consumer confidence (rising but on the edge with the rest of “the cliff”), and healthy personal and corporate balance sheets are all the rave. “What, me worry?” is the dominant attitude, not only about the “fiscal cliff” and the well known $16 trillion deficit, but also the other $86.8 trillion in national debt for entitlements, which according to the Wall Street Journal (27 November 2012) is not readily discussed.

My wife spent time talking to a woman less about politics, but more about her life predicament. Her husband passed away after 27 years of marriage, and she was just eking out a living primarily on the survivor benefits. She was living in a trailer, and having trouble finding a job. (“There is a lot of age discrimination out there,” she said.) She said she was lonely, despite her boyfriend, and that what mattered to her was just having some nice people in her life to talk with.  Her current plans were to continue monitoring her boyfriend’s activities on dating sites—he didn’t realize she could do that – and visit Bulgaria. There, she would meet the family of her late father, who unbeknownst to her had a child with a mistress that she only learned about upon his passing. She was angry at the doctor who prescribed her hormones, which she is certain gave her breast cancer, and she indicated that if she could do it over again she wouldn’t have listened so unquestioningly to what he said. For her, alternative healing such as attending a “drumming circle” was helpful, especially in calming all “the chatter “and worry on her mind.

While she didn’t talk about the country per se, this lady was clearly having a tough time in life and although she smiled frequently, the pain she felt was clear not only by the stories she told, but by the look on her face.

So, these were some stories that I heard—a little different from campaign fodder—but very telling in a way about what REAL people out there are thinking and feeling—versus the sound bites.

Now, we need to figure out how to dispel the negativity out there and help people and the country get it together.  It’s not enough to bicker, but we need a grand vision, a genuine strategy to get there, and the ability to articulate it to the masses—sacrifice will be needed, it’s time to get down to it and be real for at least the third time in 2 generations. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

EI Differentiates Us From ET

Alien_boy

An extra-terrestrial (ET) from outer-space is alien to the human race and our culture and norms.

You wouldn’t expect an ET–despite maybe their great technology that gets them here–to understand us Earthlings and treat us properly.

They may try and capture us and even harvest our vital resources (and organs), but no, they probably wouldn’t be overly concerned with with how they act or treat us.

Hence, Emotional Intelligence (EI) is what differentiates us from ETs.

With EI we manage both our ourselves and our relationships–like (proper) human beings.

EI is made up of personal competencies and social competencies.

In terms of personal competencies–we need to be self-aware and manage ourselves with authenticity and self control–and not act like a bunch of unseemly aliens.

From a social competency perspective–we must extend ourselves to become socially aware and manage our relationships tactfully–so we don’t go chasing and laser-beaming others.

There are a number of important social skills for us Earthlings to master if we want to live nicely with others:

Listening–that’s why G-d gave people 2 ears and 1 month (of course, aliens have the opposite–2 mouths and 1 ear).

Feeling–showing empathy for our fellow human beings–understanding their interests, concerns, and perspectives (like no alien can).

Giving–being selfless, giving, and nurturing to others personally and having a service-orientation to our customers.

Teaming–developing and maintaining a breadth of interpersonal relationships and sharing and collaborating with them (this will help you fight off the invading ETs when they arrive).

Managing conflict–deescalating issues and negotiating with others to reach agreements and resolutions (if only we could negotiate with the aliens not to eat us).

Visioning–coming up with and championing a forward-thinking and compelling strategy.

Managing change–influencing and leading others to adopt new ideas and change the status quo (we need to change, learn, grow, and improve–because it’s a big intergalactic world out there).

These are a lot of critical and challenging skills to master and no one is perfect at all of them.

But as imperfect as we are, it is our trust and test in life to be more than warring Earthlings fighting each other over continuously scarce resources, but instead to become social creatures as well–where we lean to gracefully manage ourselves and our relationships.

Unlike ETs, we human beings are in so many ways–with EI–better than that! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Radiate Possibilities

Music_for_tuition

Today, I had the opportunity to see one of the best leadership videos I have ever seen, called “Leadership: An Art of Possibility.”

It features Ben Zander, an Orchestra Conductor who is not just a leader of making music, but of driving people to excellence.

Zander’s passion and energy bring out the best in people–and you can literally see them transformed as their playing comes alive, their faces shine, and they glow under coaching of this conductor extraordinaire.

His leadership principles are:

Speak possibility–create a shift in being (transformation) by seeing the possibility in everyone, and lead people by empowering, not commanding; help people get in touch with their inner passion, so they remember why they love what they do and why it is ultimately important.

Quiet the inner voices–communicate that everyone can get an A and everyone has value; assume the best of everyone, eliminate the fear of judgement, barriers, and mindset of “I can’t do it,” so people can genuinely perform.

Enroll every voice in the vision–make every person feel and realize that they can contribute and make a difference on our journey together; shift from a mindset of pure individuals to that of living in a connected world; like in a symphony– we create a “sounding together.”

Look for shining eyes and radiating faces–you know you are positively reaching people and impacting them when their eyes and face light up; and you need to ask yourself what you are missing, when you aren’t getting this guttural reaction.

Rule #6 (“the only rule”)–Don’t take yourself so %@&$! seriously; mistakes happen and life goes on; really feel the joy, relief, ease, spontaneity, and community around what we do.

The art of possibility is a paradigm shift where we move from having an external standard to live up to, and instead move to fulfilling the possibility we can live into.

In essence, Zander’s leadership philosophy is about removing the barriers that inhibit us and releasing our deep inner talents, so we can achieve our marvelous potentials–and self-actualize.

As Zander states: the conductor actually does not make a sound, yet by empowering people, he leads them to make the most beautiful music together.

If you get a chance to watch this video, I believe it is extremely valuable because the passion, love, and energy that Zander demonstrates turns every face into a presence radiating their own joy and excellence–it is truly leadership unleashed.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We’re In It Together

This is a cool vision by Tom Clancy of the “future soldier” from the Ghost Recon game series.
The mixture of advanced weaponry, high-tech reconnaissance and surveillance, drones and robotics, future combat uniforms, and cloaking technology is just super.

If you have time and interest, there is another longer video here with footage that is particularly good starting at about the 3:40 marker.

Like Star Trek paving the way for real-life advances in technology and space exploration, Clancy’s future soldier will be another example of life imitating art.

When we marry the vision and creativity of our entertainment industry, with the technical skills of our scientists and engineers, and the risk-taking of our entrepreneurs, we can do truly awesome things.

“No one can do everything, but everyone can do something”–we’re in it together!

Are You A Moses or A Seagull?

I have a new article called “Leadership for Lasting Change.””Usually organizational turnaround don’t happen by themselves. They are steered by change agents, people unafraid to take the reins and move forward. Like Moses liberating the Jewish people from slavery, a strong leader shows his [/her] people the way.”Read the article at Public CIO Magazine, Winter 2012.Hope you enjoy it.

Andy

(Source Photo: here)

Reprogramming Your Inner Software

The importance of positive life energy (or Ch’i) is something that both the Asian culture teaches and which the self-healing industry has picked up on.I remember when my cousin had a brain tumor, and people used to tell him to envision himself healthy and cancer free; he fought for a decade of survival before the tumor eventually took his life.His mother too died from cancer at a young age, hers was leukemia and she didn’t have a fighting chance.

While surrounding yourself with positive people and energy helps us to stay focused, positive, and strong, it, in and of itself, is not a cure-all.

Many extreme athletes and hyper-achieving professionals are often told or tell themselves to envision actually performing unbelievable feats–they do this until they can literally see it happening in their “mind’s eye”–this then supposedly helps them to ultimately perform accordingly.

On Sunday mornings, Joel Osteen’s popular message is the same idea–you are not what others say you are or criticize you to be, rather “you are what G-d says you are.”

Today, Osteen compared us to computers, where often our external hardware is functioning okay, but our internal software is messed up and needs reprogramming. Osteen said you need to hit the delete key–delete those who say that you cannot or will not succeed, and instead fill yourself with faith that you can become what the almighty has designated you to be. One story, Osteen told, was about the father who always told his kid that he was a good-for-nothing, and even on his deathbed, he said, “your brother is a nothing, and you are and always will be a nothing too.”

These words hurt and can haunt people all their lives; the words echo in people’s heads and souls and prevent them from fulfilling their life missions, unless they “hit the delete key” and refocus themselves on the positive message that they are a child of the G-d most high who has breathed life into them, not for nothing, but to achieve their destiny.

I remember hearing a crummy boss at work yell at a subordinate in front of the rest of the office and tell them “you are not half what you think you are.” Similarly, at school, children are notorious for tearing at other kids for being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dumb, and too smart.

At work, at school, and at home, people can be vicious in bringing others down and the impact of these negative messages on people’s lives is crushing.

So surround yourself with positive people and positive energy–people who tell you that you can do it and are genuinely rooting for you to succeed, not in a fanciful way, but in a sincere and loving way; these are your biggest allies in life.

Groucho Marx joked that “behind every successful man is a woman, and behind her is his wife.”  Seriously though, behind every successful person are all those who love, believe, and support them to be able to achieve what they do or as the poet John Donne wrote, “no man is an Island entire unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

In the movie Saints and Soldiers, a group of American and a British soldiers in World War II are on a trek to reach allied forces with vital information to save them from German attack–in one scene the British airman get the others to tell him their personal life secrets, and then when they turn around and ask him what his story is, he says “I’m not going to tell you that, I barely know you.”

While it’s sort of humorous, in life a lot of people are unfortunately that way–they take from you, but then do not give back. For example, at work, the worst bosses may “use you and spit you out” and when you say oh, I’m been loyal to you for X years, the response is cold and muted, like I the British soldier that after taking in their personal stories, responds that he barely knows them.

In families too, this happens when for example, parents sacrifice to give their children “everything”, but later in life, the children don’t even have the inclination to call or visit or “give them the time of day.”

This is like one of favorite songs by Harry Chapin called “Cats In The Cradle,” in this case though the father was always too busy for the son and then later in life the son had no time for his dad–“and as I got off the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me.”

We can rise above the selfishness, the coldness, and the negative attitudes, and we can be giving to others in our lives–the words we speak and the actions we show have lasting impact.

Rather than being the target of someone’s “delete” button in their life, wouldn’t it be nice to be cherished for their “save” button–and help them to achieve in life what they came here for to begin with.

First Stop Saying First

First

First came “Cloud First” in the 25 Point Implementation Plan To Reform Federal IT Management (9 December 2010).

Then came “Sharing First” and “Future First” in the “vision for information technology” (25 October 2011).

According to Federal Times (31 October 2011), there are many more ‘firsts’ to come– with a “set of principles like ‘XML First,’ ‘Web Services First’ ‘Virtualize First,’ and other ‘firsts’ that will inform how we develop our government’s systems.
At this point in this blog, I can’t even remember all the ‘firsts’ I just jotted down, so my question is at what point does assigning ‘firsts’ become ‘second’ to managing our tremendous IT asset base for the government?”
Some more firsts just to be first in starting this “list of firsts”:
“G-d First”
“Country First”
“Democracy First”
“Freedom First”
“Human Rights First”
“Capitalism First”
“Equality First”
“Justice First”
“Fairness First”
“Family First”
“Charity First”
“Caring First”
“Giving First”
“Love First”
“Health First”
“Mission First”
“People First”
“Insource First”
“Outsource First”
“Integrity First”
“Ethics First”
“Truth First”
“Communication First”
“Leadership First”
“Innovation First”
“Passion First”
“Security First”
“Safety First”
“Reliability First”
“Agility First”
“Adaptability First”
“Sustainability First”
“Planning First”
“Governance First”
“Execution First
“Project Management First”
“Performance Measurement First”
“Best Practices First”
“Learning and Growth First”
“Sharing First”
“Collaboration First”
“Transparency First”
“Interoperability First”
“Reusability First”
“Reputation First”
“Simplicity First”
“Requirements First”
“Effectiveness First”
“Efficiency First”
“Data First”
“Quality First”
“Customer First”
“Service First”
“Standards First”
“Cost-savings First”
“Business Process Reengineering First”
“Critical Thinking First”
“Jobs First”
“Women and Children First”
Essentially, there are a lot of ‘firsts’ in life and the challenge is in prioritizing and deconflicting these.
So with all due respect first, now let’s get back to the business of government and technology. 😉
(Source Photo: here)