Avaya Engage Dubai 2016

I was surprised to get an email on a Monday, requesting I deliver a keynote at the Avaya Engage event in Dubai the following Thursday and could I bee in Dubai in just 6 days. After clearing it with my family, I got a great rate on Emirates ($830 roundtrip!) and away I went. This event was different in that the attendees would be ~1,400 CxOs and I’d only have 20 minutes to cover my topics in a way that would make sense to this audience.

I got in on Sunday night but the conference did not begin until Monday at 3pm, so lucky for me, this conference was at the Atlantis, The Palm, where they are not only right on the ocean but also have a waterpark. Did I rehearse my new slides for Thursday? No, I hit the water slides:

The best one I rode that afternoon was the Leap of Faith. Here’s someone else’s video of the ride:

Then we had some great speakers with just Avaya and our Authorized Business Partners in the region. I even got to see an Avaya colleague/friend (but I was speaking on Thursday, not Tuesday as he tweeted):

The next day started off with some very lively culture from the Emirates

We had great keynotes like this one from Nidal:

as well as some analysts speaking on the industry

The next morning started off with a beautiful sunrise (notice the sun reflecting off the skyscrapers on the right) and more great sessions

Then next morning was my chance on the big stage. Here is me mic’d up, before they opened the doors.

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I’m happy to say my preparation paid off and the presentation went well. It was a really big screen behind me, 30 meters (100 feet) in 16×9 format with resolution of 6000x 1008.

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A colleague recorded a good deal of the presentation and I’ve stitched the individual clips together here:

With that out of the way, I returned to the waterpark and found my new favorite slide, Poseidon’s Revenge. As the video below (not my video) shows, you start standing straight up and then the floor falls out from under you. You fall for a split second and then land in the tube and whip around, hitting 37mph. I liked it so much, I went ten times!

The aquaconda was pretty cool as well given its sheer size:

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All in all a great trip, but I was, as always, happy to return to my family.

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Rec Depart Soccer Rotations

I’m lucky to live in a great city where we have a wonderful Recreation Department that runs a soccer league for pre-K through 2nd grade. They do a great job of encouraging fun with minimal seriousness.  I’ve been coaching my own kids teams now for three years and as a coach, I’m encouraged to make having fun my number one priority. Soccer skills are second and we try not to even keep score. There are no goalies in this league and as the coach it is important to me that each player have an equal opportunity to play offense, defense, and take a break.

I looked online for mobile apps or documents to help me manage this on the field, but none do what I needed: equal playtime between offense, defense, and sitting out. No goalie and no assigned positions.

Instead, I created an Excel document that includes a variety of possible scenarios depending on the size of the team and the number of players the league is recommending playing at a time. I use it by:

  1. Having a “blank” copy of each relevant scenario on my clipboard before each game.
  2. Before the game starts, I count players and find the right sheet.
  3. Fill in the players’ names in the proper column using a pen
  4. Tell each player where they are for the first shift.
  5. We play ~ 5 mins between rotations
  6. I call out each player’s name and what their next role is in the new shift
  7. Use my pen to cross out the shift we just did so I don’t lose track of which shift we’re on.

I’m sharing the document here in case others would like to use this as well. All I ask is that if you find an error or have a suggestion for an improvement, please contact me using the contact information on this site so that I can update the document accordingly and re-publish here for everyone.

Please bookmark this post, not the actual file, as the filename of the file may change over time, but this page’s URL will remain the same.

The Excel document can be downloaded here.


Huffington Post Live segment on obsolescence of resumes

I had a great time on Huffington Post Live tonight discussing whether Social Media and Big Data have made resumes obsolete.

 

Give the video a watch here.

 

When thinking about this topic before the event, I wrote down some of my thoughts below. Please forgive the ramble.

I think an important thing to remember in this conversation is that there are two completely distinct approaches to resumes: that of the applicant and that of the employer. From the perspective of the applicant, I’m attempting to market myself. Why limit myself to black and white text? Why not a personal website where I can show of examples of my work, videos highlighting who I am, etc.? While I’m not nearly that creative, I do include in the header of my resume the words “Google me.” I want an employer to not only see all my bullet points, but also the blogging I’ve done.

From an employer’s perspective, you have an incredible volume of applicants for most positions, a great deal of which will not be qualified. You don’t have the time to watch everyone’s homemade video on YouTube about their ukulele skills when you need a Java developer. So, what do you do? You build a web-based form on your website that forces all the applicants to fill out the same 100 fields and then you let a software algorithm find the most qualified candidates and you start there.

The last time I was looking for work, a friend pointed me to a startup in Denver. Their website said they were so flooded with applicants that they gave you 150 characters to say what makes you unique in hopes it will catch their eye. I simply wrote “Brevity is underrated” and got a call the next day. These hiring managers are looking for anything that will set you apart from the pack

Like so much today, it’s the tradeoff between convenience and quality.

People like to talk about Social Media replacing the resume, but I think we need to broaden that and just say online persona.

I think most of us would admit that when we meet somebody knew we are quick to Google them to see what we can learn about them. When I met my new neighbors, I looked them up and found that one was writing a very interesting parenting blog and another had been a contestant on Survivor. So, of course an employer will Google a candidate. I know it’s the first thing I do when a resume comes across my desk. I’m going to see what you’ve been tweeting about, what athletics you were involved with in school, etc. As such, my advice to friends and family looking for work is to Google yourself and if you find anything embarrassing, you need to work to either pull it from the web or bury it behind lots of positive content.


Read this post now… or later

Like many of you, I’m a consumer of information. At this point in my life, almost all my information is digital in nature and thus it seems almost all my consumption is on a screen. To help keep my life organized, I’ve adopted the principles of Getting Things Done (GTD), which at this point is all about how I manage my to-do’s via email folders. This worked well for me but as my consumption has moved more and more to Twitter, my system was failing me.

My time on Twitter is mostly in small intense bursts; I don’t have hours blocked out to leisurely view my feed. After half a day, I could be so far behind that tweets would be lost and I would worry (no snickering now) that I was missing some information I would find quite valuable, and this would cause stress, something I couldn’t afford.

As I prepared to close out on our first quarter and prepare for a winter holiday trip, I asked for advice from my social networks and GetPocket (f.k.a. ReadItLater) came highly recommended. This service allows you to save off any URLs to read later. Not only does it save them off but it will cache a copy of the page, allowing you to read the content offline. This made a huge difference for me when consuming Twitter and Facebook content. When I saw something that looked interesting on my phone, I could either email the URL to pocket or copy the URL and paste it manually into the Pocket client. When on a PC, Pocket has a great plugin for Google Chrome that allows you to one-click save a page you are looking at to Pocket.

I was enjoying the service but even after getting the hang of it, I found it cumbersome to get content to Pocket when on my iPhone. However, that all changed when I purchased TweetBot for iOS. This was my first paid Twitter client and I immediately saw the value. Not only did it offer great features for Twitter, but it also had an integration with GetPocket. Now I could save off content with only two taps. Furthermore, the source tweet would be saved with the content, allowing me to remember where this came from. When using the iOS GetPocket app, I can access that original tweet directly, allowing me to retweet, quote, reply, etc.

After two months now, I’m still loving GetPocket and TweetBot. In fact, I’ve learned to use GetPocket for all the reading I do. That way, when I’m done I can mark it read, but it will remain searchable. Days or weeks later, I can easily go back and find an article that I read. I’ve become so dependent on TweetBot that since they have no Windows client, I only do Twitter on my iPhone. When/if I move full-time to Mac, I’ll be sure to purchase their MacOS client.

My biggest problem now is that I have 30+ items waiting for me in Pocket, forcing me to be a little more picky about what I really want to read. The last thing I need is another to-do list to feel behind on.


Les merveilleux!

“So long as the three great problems of the century—the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light—are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world;—in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use” – Hauteville House, 1862

My wife and I finally broke our no-movie-streak. The last time we saw a movie in the theater (not counting two documentaries at an independent theater) was before our twins were born, over four years ago. With family watching the kids, we went with my sister and brother-in-law to see Les Misérables. I’ve been a Les Mis fan since grade school when I used to listen to the soundtrack every night as I went to sleep. I’d seen a production in Indianapolis as well as on Broadway in NYC. Heck, in show choir, I sang many of the songs as solos for class.

I thought the movie was excellent in a variety of ways. First off, as advertised, allowing the actors to sing the songs as they feel right (instead of recording their audio on a soundstage and then lip-syncing to it on film), really allowed for great acting.

As many of the reviews have already said, the singing was impressive. Hugh Jackman could go toe-to-toe with almost any other voice of Jean Valjean. Anne Hathaway was also quite impressive as Fantine. I was not surprised to learn that Samantha Barks, who played Eponine, got the role because she was Eponine in the 25th Anniversary of Les Mis. She was amazing and I expect this will be a break out roll for her in Hollywood.

While Russell Crowe acted an amazing Javert, exposing a conflicted and internally tormented and unsure man, his singing was subpar. I should say that compared to the average singer, he has a great voice, but this is the Superbowl of singing as far as I’m concerned and his voice just wasn’t up to the task. If this was a George Lucas film, the re-release would include a better singer’s voice dubbed over Russell’s. Russell still deserves a good deal of credit for the way he portrayed Javert. I especially enjoyed how he handled Stars, on top of the roof, when combined with the mirror scene of his suicide.

I heard negative reviews about the very tenor voice of Marius, saying that he came across as not manly enough and thus hard to support. I was definitely feeling the same until he sang Empty Chairs, where upon it became apparent to me that the man can sing a beautiful baritone. Perhaps, instead, this was a conscious decision to show Marius as the young boy he was, becoming more of a man through the death of his friends.

All and all, an engaging story comes to live on the big screen like never before. I was somewhat disappointed to not hear the full score (no Turning or Dog eats Dog, and others were simply truncated), but at a running time of 160 mins, I understand some cuts were necessary. Even still, my fellow movie-goers and I were crying through most of the movie, either because of the plot, or just the joy of seeing our favorite musical in its best form to date.


I Would (did) Walk 500 Hundred Miles

After years of back problems resulting in physical therapy, I knew I needed to make a change. The biggest problem for me was the 11 hours a day I spend at my desk, hunched over my keyboard. After discussion with my handy wife, a treadmill desk seemed to be the best way forward. And I’m not alone, HBR did a great article on it: Sitting Is the Smoking of Our Generation.

I’ll explain in a bit how we built it, but once in place, I averaged ~6 miles per day, with my best one-day distance being around 11 miles. When on a video conferencing call (which is becoming more and more common), I can’t use the treadmill at all, so I just stand. When on an audio call, I typically walk at about 1.5 miles per hour. Any faster and the noise of the treadmill becomes noticeable to the others on the call. When not on any call, I can walk between 2.0 and 2.5 mph while still being able to type and work.

Not only had this helped me lose 10lbs in the four months, but also my back issues have all but gone away. The best thing about it is that I got all this exercising in without adding any more things to my schedule. 500 miles felt like a big accomplishment and I look forward to seeing how far I can go in 2013. So, if you are at all interested on how mine is setup, keep reading. As my primary care physician said: “Sitting is the new smoking.”

There are many great solutions out there if you are starting from scratch, but we had a treadmill in the basement collecting dust for years and I had recently purchased two new tables. The other oddity, if you will, about my office setup is that I have a lot of screens. I’ve got a Dell 960 with an Nvidia NVS video card, allowing me 4 DVI connections. I use three monitors (the 4th connection is to my Plasma TV), a tablet-style phone from Avaya (The Flare on ADVD), and a MacBookPro. So for me, I was going to need to retain a great deal of desk space.

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We brought the treadmill up from the basement and my wife (who is wicked talented with any such project) went to Home Depot to buy a 2×8 board long enough to not only go across the handlebars of the treadmill but also extend beyond it to give me a good deal of space for my wireless keyboard, mouse, and other things. The handlebars on our treadmill, however, tilt down, so she used some brackets and more wood to raise one end up striving for a level shelf. We consulted OSHA diagrams, based on my height, on how high the keyboard should be. The result, not attached, looks like this.

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We then used some 4×4 posts and plywood to essentially build cheap tables to go underneath our existing tables and raise them 33”, which was the height we needed in order to get the monitors at the proper viewing height for me (again, via OSHA). Below is the finished project.

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Updated based on additional questions I’ve received:

I haven’t gotten motion sick at all reading while walking and I haven’t experience any noticeable increase in eye strain. I used the OSHA guidelines to be sure my eyes were at the right angle and distance to my monitors (although OSHA doesn’t have guidelines for multiple screens, so I just measured to the middle monitor.)