October 30 - Grateful

Beautful Skyline over Villanova
I am starting  a series of posts that talk about how grateful I am. I am hoping to do this bit at least 2x per week.  I am not sure how this is going to work, let's just call it an experiment.

Today, I am grateful for woman I ran into at the Chipotle. The interaction was so small, but it has left me thinking over these last couple of days. Let me set the stage - My family and I had just order our wonderful food (Burrito and soda for me) and I was walking over to fill my cup with some Coke and there she was.  A tall, african american basketball player from Villanova University (The sweatshirt with Villanova basketball written on it and her height were a dead giveaway).

As I got closer, I noticed that she had only filled her cup part way. I waited as she finished filling her cup till it was full. As she finished, she apologized for taking so long - there really was no reason for her to apologize. You see, as with many soda machines, the setting for the CO2 (I like to call it the fizz factor) was too high.  So naturally, she would fill it to the top and then have to wait for the fizz to go down, rinse and repeat. My response was a typical, no worries, and then said, "the fizz makes it impossible to be fast".

And I am grateful that she laughed at my stupid joke and smiled.  While it seems silly to be grateful for something so simple, I knew by our short few interactions that she was a nice woman that cared about others, no matter who they were.  So thank you to that pleasant young woman, you made my day.

Building a Team - a lesson from ETSY

Photo by Eric Ziegler
As I was reading the blog post from the retired CTO, Kellan Elliot-McCrea, from Etsy, I became interested in more about who he was and what made him so special.  So I did some research and came across this awesome article.

How Etsy grew their number of female engineers by 500 % in one year

Yes, you read that title correct. Etsy grew the number of female engineers by 500% in one year. As part of their efforts, Etsy launched "Etsy Hacker Grants" to provide need-based scholarships to talented women engineers enrolling in Hacker School (a three-month hands-on course designed to teach people how to become better engineers).

As part of their hiring, they setup the parameters for success:
  • Be serious but inviting
  • look for balance
  • optimize for building together
  • optimize for data gathering
  • normalize within your organization
  • conduct your experiment publicly
What I found interesting was that these ideals and principals can be applied to people of all cultures and teams. You can apply this to engineering teams or teams doing operations work. And you can apply these principals to not only hiring and helping others, but you can apply these principals to how you team should and could work together. 

What I also found interesting was their philosphy that a team should either have 0 women on it, or 2+ women on the team. One woman on the team ends up making her a woman engineer vs just being an engineer.

Making False Assumptions

Most of what you see and think is a lie. When I first read the title of one of John Stepper's blog posts (John is of Working Out Loud book fame, I wasn't sure what I would find. The title, The man singing falsetto in the ladies' room, definitely attracted me to reading his blog post.  And when I read it, what I read was not what I expected, which is exactly what John was trying to do with the title of his blog.  If you have not read the article, go read it, it is totally worth the 5 minutes it will take you to read it.

In John's blog post, he highlights that most people will make assumptions about the intentions of an action by another person.  We take lots of little pieces of information in based on our observations and then fill in the rest with our imagination.  Basically, what we do is fill in all the missing pieces. And by filling in the pieces, we often get it wrong. 






While it is not possible in all situations, if you catch yourself making assumptions about someone else or guessing what someone is thinking based on their actions, take a step back and try to assess the full story, ask questions and be thoughtful before making a mistake based on false assumptions. 


Go read the article, it is worth it and the punchline is awesome.

Continuous Intelligence


Continuous Intelligence
Photo by Eric Ziegler


Where is business intelligence really going? Is it just about the data or the analytics or is it about the true business value that can be obtained by doing better and faster analytics in real time.  At the recent Amazon Web Service conference, re:Invent 2015, Sumo Logic talked about the idea of continuous Intelligence. This quote from the article highlights what I am referring to
 Shifting from rear-view insights to anticipating the insights to the questions not yet asked because those unknowns will make the difference between the next generation winners and losers.
The true business is all about getting ahead of where our customers might go and helping them by predicting ideas, thoughts that they might come up with. The goal is to look forward and anticipate our customers needs and desires. if you think of a sales organization, can you help them know who they should be talking with?  can you help them know what they should be talking to their clients about? What would it take to get there? And are you basing that information based on just the information you have or based on a broader view of the full client?

Visions - what are they and what to do with them

As you read my blog, I think everyone might be figuring out that I do a lot of reading and I like to highlight the things that I find most interesting. Mostly this writing is to help me synthesize my thoughts and to write down concepts I want to reference again later.  By posting them publicly, and sharing the blog posts openly, my hope is that others will gain something from it. Not only do I read a lot, I also listen to podcasts

One series of podcasts that I listen to is specific to leadership. While there are several very good podcasts, I like listening to Andy Stanley and his podcast,  Andy Stanley's Leadership Podcast. He has a perspective that is not unique but what I find to be very insightful. In a recently episode of his podcast, he talked with the former CEO of Home Depot, Frank Blake. In this episode they get into a deep conversation about visions of companies and what it means to the company and the employees.

A conversation with Frank Blake on Vision.

They did not get into what a vision is or how to create one, but rather, how to make a vision stick. how to get people to understand the vision and to make the vision the rallying call for the company. Andy has an entire book on how to create a vision, live the vision, and celebrate the vision. You can find his book, Making Vision Stick, on Amazon. I have not read the book yet, but if you do, please share your thoughts back here.