Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Notable movies of 2011

Notable movies of 2011:
These movies impacted me in 2011. I recommend them if you haven't seen them yet. I'll write more about each soon. 

Thrillers:
This thriller will keep you guessing the whole movie. Its very well acted and well written.

Drive (2011)
Ryan Gossling and so the movie itself is so beautiful. Gritty and real.

Limitless (2011)
This movie is just pure fun. Don't expect anything mind bending. Not very realistic.

Drama
Made me want to become a director. Shows how big the universe is and yet how precious live is.

Surprisingly fun and fresh.


Rom Com
Great plot, very unexpected ending. Did I mention Ryan Gossling is in it?
50/50 (2011)
Gritty and real but still funny
Bridesmaids (2011)
Oh my gosh! Don't let the kids watch this!!

Sometimes you need to watch this after a hard day at the office.

Cute movie

Sci Fi
Melancholia (2011)
What would really happen if another planet came near to crashing into Earth? This movie very intimately shows what might happen by focusing on two sisters and their families, each react to the event in their own way. Kirsten Dunst plays a strong woman on her wedding day. She holds a high position in a marketing company who now faces the possible end of the world. There's much interaction with her cold mother, play boy father, controlling sister, and most fascinating of all, her calm collected brother in law, played by Kiefer Sutherland. The movie creates a very strong emotional reaction. My husband says its one of the best sci fi movies he's ever seen. I won't go that far, but can't help think about it regularly even after several weeks.
In Time (2011)
It would happen, and now it has. The 99 percent protest movie. Money is Time serves as the movie's premise. Rich people have lots of time. Poor people live day to day. The creators of the movie flesh out the concept and we end up with a fun movie. They create a very strong simulacrum with our US economy, but the metaphor breaks down at a fine point.  I'll have to write more on this in a separate blog post!

Well done. The main character is an ape and we fall in love with him and cheer for him.
Super 8 (2011)
Scary and fun.
Great movie from beginning to end.
Real Steel (2011)
Even if my friend wasn't in this fun movie, I'd still have gone to see it for Hugh Jackman and robots!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Best Five books of 2011

Studies and common sense tell us that decisions are stressful. Deciding which four books to select as the best out of the 50 books I've finished so far this year is definitely a stressful decision. Note this books may have been written in other years, but I only finished reading them this year.

The categories will be:
Best Non Fiction Personal Development
Best Non Fiction Business Development
Best Biography
Best Science Fiction
Best General Fiction

I've written articles on most of these already in my blog.
http://www.betterworkinc.com/2011/11/review-of-non-fiction-books-of-second.html

Best Non Fiction Personal Development
The Social Animal (****) by David Brooks

Best Non Fiction Business Development
The Ultimate Sales Machine (****)  By Chet Holmes

Best Biography
American Prometheus The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (****) By Kia Bird and Martin J. Sherwin

Best Science Fiction
Makers (***) by Cory Doctorow
Cory wrote an epic book of our near future when 3d printers begin changing the way we buy things and what we value. Cory's wrote a tighter plot in his other novel Little Brother, but the journey isn't as imaginative.

Best General Fiction
 The White Tiger (****) By Aravind Adiga
http://www.betterworkinc.com/2011/12/white-tiger-by-aravind-adiga-book.html


If you only read these 5 books, you'll have missed out on a lot of wonderful books, but you'll still get a good set of books.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga book Review

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Author Aravind Adiga in The White Tiger does for the political curruption in India what Charles Dickens does in Bleak House for court systems in England. Both create funny engaging stories full of vivid characters and griping descriptions of poverty.
What does an entrepreneur look like in Banglaor? According to the Balram Haliway, the main character in Aravind Adiga’s book, he looks like a White Tiger. Only one born every thousand years.
The poor village man in India travels to be come a servant in the big city. This man “lives in darkness.” The poor in India do not escape because they are like rosters looked in a cage. Their cage is that if they escaped the huge families they left back at home will be murdered as retribution. Because their family is all they have, they do not dare escape.
Balram, which means boy, tells his story to a Chinese official who wants to know how to turn China into a land of entrepreneurship.

The story of Balram doesn’t leave out any grim or grit which he lives in in India. We watch him slowly become more sophisticated as he comes of age. The writing evokes strong emotions in the reader from disgust at the skin diseases and the prostitution in India to excitement of getting a job as a driver for a rich family.  

 
Adiga writes so that the reader feels each moment of Balrams life from poor village child to owning his own successful company in Bangalore. He uses sensory language to make it pierce the reader. You won’t escape from this book without the smell of a slum. Read it if you are fearless and are ready to head into "the darkness."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

FInished NaNoWriMo

They call us winners for finishing writing a full novel during the month of November, and I feel like one.
I got up to 50,330 words.
I'll write more later, but right now I need to go drink something!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review of Non Fiction Books of the Second Half of the Year

Here is the recap the highlights of the non fiction books I finished since June.
This year I listened to or read on my kindle app about 1 book a week.
For the full list go to www.bettworld.com/about_me.asp#books


Personal Development:
Willpower - By Roy Baumeister, John Tierney
Success can be traced to two main factors: Intelligence and Willpower. This book focuses on the one factor we can effectively influence. The authors give lots of studies to back up their practical ways to increase your willpower. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get more out of their life, kick bad habits, or wants to raise self disciplined kids.

The 4-Hour Workweek By Timothy Ferriss
Ferriss' controversial book should be read by anyone who wants to be more effective in all aspects of their business life. He gives lots of productivity tips. He also teaches you how to create an automated money generating business. Ferriss' methods might be far too extreme for the average person, but I think anyone can become more productive just by listening to his philosophy of work life balance.
Finish the whole book before you judge it.

Talent Is Overrated By Geoff Colvin
Talent is another one of those traits that is a factor in success that we are either born with or not.
Colvin compiles surprising research on success and finds that the core is deliberate practice followed by coaching instead of a gift. I recommend this to anyone who is serious about improving their performance in the things they are passionate at including work.

The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
Wondering why your relationships feel like work? Son of the famous Stephen Covey discovers Trust is the grease in the machine which allows everything to flow.
Lack of trust makes your transactions take longer and cost more. He digs into the importance of trust in many ways. I recommend this book if you are having issues in your relationships at work or at home.


59 Seconds - By Richard Wiseman
Wiseman gives a series of scientifically proven exercises you can do in 59 seconds to live a happier more successful life. I've implemented several of them to help me with Novel Writing Month including:
I hung abstract art- Abstract art increases a person's creativity
Brought live plants into my work area- Live plants (not pictures or fake plants) increase a person's productivity
Decorated my work area with Green - Green boosts creativity. See the picture.
He gives many more concrete tips you can do in 59 seconds.


The Social Animal By David Brooks
This is one of my favorite books of the year. Here is a copy of the write up I wrote earlier.
David covers an entire couples lives from before they were born onwards and their social interactions, professional careers, political careers almost as a novelist would with emotions and descriptions. Where this books differs from a novel is at each step in their development he includes a summary and examples of research on that aspect of life. He wraps us up in his characters, who are quite interesting and lead interesting lives, but he is also teaching us an enormous about of information and putting into context of how we live day to day.


Business books
Start with Why - By Simon Sinek
Companies with a clear answer and who can communicate the answers to "why they are in business" resonate with consumers who identify with those answers.
Sinek gives lots of examples and exercises to help you come up with your answer to Why, What, and how.
I highly recommend this book if you are starting a new company or wondering where your previously successfully company went wrong.

The Ultimate Sales Machine By Chet Holmes
Holmes definitely knows how to sell and he gives it to you straight in his 12 step plan. He covers everything from time management to how to interview and identify the best sales person. He says that you can know the 12 steps, but you won't be successful unless you implement them with "pig headed discipline" Better read the book, Willpower along with this one.

The Intelligent Entrepreneur By Bill Murphy
Murphy masterfully tells the stories of three successful entrepreneurs. I found the structure of the book helpful. He writes a chapter in their stories following all three in each phase of their adventure. Then follows it with a chapter dedicated to analyzing the lessons they learned in that phase. He brings in research and references other examples in these analysis chapters. This book focuses on those starting large companies, but the lessons can be applied to smaller companies as well.

If you want to know how I finish so many books, I always listen to books when I am not reading text. I listen to my audible books on my iPhone on my audible app. I buy the books from audible because it’s easier than getting them from the library and fiddling with CDs. I listen when I am driving, cooking, showering, walking around.
I also listen to them on high speed. In this way I can finish more than one a week if I work on it.

Try it next year.

Penultimate Date of Novel Writing Month- Bitter sweet

A heavy heart fills my chest in direct contrast with my hero's triumph. With only 1,283 words remaining to write, I feel like I am going to miss my characters as they leave me to continue on their own journey without me.

Its been a wonderful ride. I started reading Sol Stein's book On Writing earlier this week. His book's practical advice would have helped my book, but its too late now. I;ve been applying his principles in the last few thousand words. Three things I got from Sol which have made my last few chapters come alive are the following:
1. Fiction's purpose is to create an emotional experience through characters and events more interesting than the readers daily life. Non fiction is meant to convey facts. Once Sol pointed this critical difference to me, I've been more deliberate in identifying the emotion then crafting each word to evoke that emotion.
2. Every scene must be active. I realized most of book just summarizes what happened off stage. Readers want to see events not be told that some events happened sometime before. In my last few chapters I focused on writing active scenes.
3. Characters need to desperately want something. The thwarting of their desires is the core of the plot. I spent far too many chapters giving my characters the things they wanted.

I'll have to keep these three key points in the forefront of my mind when I write my next novel. You might say, so you spent a month writing a boring novel, what a waste of time! But I see it as I spent a month on an exhilarating ride, I developed the habit of writing 1,667 words everyday , and I learned what makes a better novel so that my next one will be even better.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 24- Thanksgiving for 40,221 words and a family who still loves me

National Novel Writing Month tests not only your own stamina for plot, character, and the wherewithal to sit down and write 1,667 words every single morning, but also the love and patience of your family. As I sit here in the kitchen surrounded by the family getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner, I am filled with thankfulness that they are so patient with me. They all are so supportive. My sister also types away on the family computer near by. We shout out our word count to each other to encourage each other onwards towards the 40,003 words our schedule demands of us.
The smells of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes drift by me trying to distract me from my writing. Every thirty minutes or so its time for a dance break. I get up with my sisters and dance around to a Maroon 5 song before getting back to writing.
I wish I could write a novel every month just for the thrill of hitting my word count each day.

Thank you NaNoWriMo!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Supporting Wikipedia

As I write my novel as part of National Novel Writing Month, I often need to check a fact. My first stop is Wikipedia. That is why I am so happy to support them with a donation.
You should too!

Support Wikipedia

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why I am starting Software Architecture Symposiums International

Why I am starting Software Architecture Symposiums International:


I love software architecture. I believe software architecture is the most fun job in the world. When I wanted to become a software architect I couldn't find anyone to tell me how to do it, so once I became an architect I vowed to help others become software architects too. The future needs more software architects. Software architects are people who know software development in and out but they also have communication, leadership and end to end vision for a software system. They are the linchpin in the creation of complex systems which run our world.

I am starting a new organization called Software Architecture Symposiums International. This organization will create experiences for developers who also believe that software architecture is the most fun and creative job and want to get better at it. The symposiums will share the best practices and passion from dynamic experts with the developers who crave the knowledge to continue to be the guru in their organizations.

I am so excited about this new organization I dream about it. I want to share it with everyone I know. You can read more about it at www.sasicentral.com.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Poem for National Novel Writing Month for Poetry Day

My Poem for National Novel Writing Month for Poetry Day

All writing is rewriting
Novels don't write themselves 
Daily 1,777 words emerge kicking & biting
National Novel Writing Month is a test of ourselves

an orginal poem by Bett

This is your life

I am sharing this with you because I found it inspirational.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11 of Novel Writing Month

Today is Day 11 of Novel Writing Month.
So far everyday has been a breeze to write the 1,776 words to make the 50 thousand word by Nov 30th required by National Novel Writing Month.
I get up early and write for two hours before work. Writing for two hours before work really jazzes me up for my  job. I am ready to get stuff done when I start.
I don't usually think about  my book the rest of the day, but sometimes when I am driving or sleeping I think about my characters.
Today was the hardest day so far. I got up late and only wrote about 250 words before work. I didn't like any of them. This evening my sister asked me to go to a coffee Shop with her, so I decided to get the rest of my writing in there.
When I got there I still had nothing. So I pulled out  my note pad. I started writing a letter from one character to another. Then after two full pages I realized what had to be done next in the book, and got out my ipad and started writing a storm. 1,981 words later I finished only because they were closing down.

If you are like I have always been, meaning a person who always wants to write something, but never does... Here are three things I've learned from National Novel Writing Month, affectionately called, NaNoWriMo:
1. Schedule the time to write and focus during that time. It doesn't happen by accident. If I don't put it on my schedule I'd never be able to find time to write.So if you are serious about writing, then put it into your schedule and make it sacred. Don't check your email or answer calls.
2. Just start writing. Often I have no idea what I am gong to write about, I just start writing. I'll write a line of dialog and then describe the physical position the person who said it is in. Then I add some emotion. Then I give the location. Soon I have a gripping scene painted before me.
3. If you get stuck, get back into your character's mind set. Dialog or write a letter from him or her. This will let you back into their world and allow you to recapture the story line.

Hopefully these lessons will help you as much as they are helping me. Write because everyone has a story from their unique perspective to share.
Let me know :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

On Week 42 of the Year, on book 45

Checking in on Serial Experiments Bett on week 42 of 2011. I started with the goal of a book a week, and I am on schedule to be three books ahead. This is a good thing since next month I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. I am very concerned I won't have time for many of my other hobbies. My main goal will be getting the 50k word novel completed in the 30 days of November.

I am bracing myself.
Wish me luck!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Creativity Tools

Last month, September, was National Sketch Writing Month. I did my duty to write one sketch everyday. The first two weeks I found it quite difficult to write a "good" sketch. I wrote anyways. The last two weeks I would get ideas from everywhere. I'd over hear bits of conversation that made me grab my note pad and type it in. The news gave me ample material. I could barely pick which thing I wanted to turn into a sketch from the multitudes of ideas.

This gives me three insights into my creative process which I shall share with you. I am also giving a speech on Creativity at a Creative Communications conference on the 29th. Please come out if you are in the Tampa Bay area.

First, I manufactured motivation. For me being part of an event helped me focus on writing sketches. I had to write them otherwise I wouldn't keep up with everyone else. Know what motivates you. Think back to a time you were productive and recreate it. You can control your life. Manufacture motivation today.

Second, I fed my mind. Once I figured out what made a good sketch, I listened to things around me. I absorbed all the inspiration that was flowering everywhere. I let it soak in. I also started reading other sketches and comedy materials. I tuned my ear to it by feeding my mind.

Third, I sat down and wrote. Sometimes you just need to force yourself to do it. Often when I started writing I had no clue what I was going to write. I sat and put my fingers to the key board on a blank page as an act of faith and started typing. I needed to have the will power to sit and start.

This is just a very high level overview of what I learned. To learn more come out to hear my speech on Saturday Oct 29th.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lead like Oppenheimer

In the Pulitzer Price winning book, American Prometheus, by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, the authors describe the amazing life of J Robert Oppenheimer. What I found amazing was Oppi's leadership during the Manhattan project. I'd like to share the three lessons I learned from the book.

First, Oppenheimer adapted to his environment. Oppi had never led anything more than his lectures before he became the leader of the Manhattan project to develop the atom bomb in 1942. The project slowly grew to staff 130,000 people. In the beginning everyone knew that Oppi was very unprepared. He showed this by creating a very elementary org structure in the beginning. But after only a few months he had adapted to be a skilled administrator. Everyone, even those who didn't like him were amazed at his change. Being adaptable is a key part of leadership. No team or situation will ever be the same as the last one you lead. You have to listen and observe your new situation and adapt.

Second, Oppenheimer was a consensus builder. Often arguments would breakout between scientists and Oppi would listen very carefully to both sides. Then he rephrased each person's argument and when he was done there would be no conflict, just harmony. He did this over and over. He saw both view points and showed how the two sides had much common ground. In this way he built consensus. There was very little time and everyone worked long hours, so each time he cut through the noise and brought the consensus forward, he brought them another step closer to victory. Even if you are not leading a team in such a critical project, you should still build consensus and seek common ground.

Third, Oppi's presence brought clarity to a room. He didn't even need to say anything, but just his being in the room with the team helped them. He brought energy and urgency to the meetings that made everyone be their best. They wanted to be as brilliant as he believed them to be. They were reminded of their mission and focused when he was there. Any leader needs to imbibe her team with that type of focus and energy to make a project successful.

These are the three main leadership lessons I learned from reading about Oppenheimer. I felt very inspired by his leadership and I think everyone can employ these tips in their own situations to be successful.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Learning at Krav Camp

Last weekend I went to Krav Camp. At Krav Camp weekend we learned the basics of self defense against many attacks including choking, grabs, holds, knives, sticks, and guns.


During the time I learned a few lessons that critical to learning a new technique.

First, I trained with a lot of different people. Training with certain ones was incredibly energizing. I thought about each one as I trained. I realized the difference between the ones who energized me and those who didn't was the ones who energized me were giving me 100% of their focus and energy. They brought a level of intensity and realism to each drill. Training with them cemented the techniques in my mind.

Second, deliberate practice became the primary focus. When you learn how to defend your very life, you realize there nothing more important than getting it right. The whole camp focused on deliberate practice and coaching. Deliberate practice ensures that as you get more and more fatigued you will still execute the technique correctly.


Third, I learned how much stamina I have. We trained at 12 hours plus a two hour test. During that time we were physically active in the heat of the Florida day. The final test measured our intensity level after the 12 hours of training. Shihan wanted to know how'd we react to a threat when we were exhausted. He wanted to know if our techniques would fail as we got more and more tired. The tired factor is something we often forget. We need to train for stamina.

Training for 12 hours plus testing really clarified the best way to learn a new technique. I am totally wiped out now, but I am thankful for the experience and for the knowledge of what I am capable.

Check out more about Krav at http://www.pmatampa.com/.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Three times a day

I've set an alarm to sound three times a day to ask me if I am doing something effective.
Try it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What are you chasing?

If you are chasing importance, you'll be distracted by everyone who dismisses you.
If you are chasing your dreams, you'll treat as irrelevant anyone who dismisses you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning and Teaching to avoid plateaus

Ever meet someone who has plateaued? I am an avid swing dancer. I often find dancers who reached a level competence and never grow any further. Its like they decided, “Yep, I am good enough and that’s all I need to do to get by.” They fail to realize that getting by is not the goal. The goal is constant improvement. One key way to never reach a plateau is to remember the essential techniques and to keep learning and teaching.

When we are actively growing in an area we are identifying the essential techniques that make others successful. We are sponges and driven to find out why those a head of us are so good. Your senses are keen in the beginning which later will become dull due to apathy or self confidence. This is the time that you need to be documenting each essential technique. 


Each time you have an Aha moment and record it in a blog or journal. This is not a diary that little girls keep, this is a journal which you will go back and read regularly to remind yourself of the essential techniques which made you successful. When you find technique that works, note it down. When you find something that didn’t work, note it down. Note down important quotes you read or hear.  Sketch your ideas and then any comments on them.


These notes are not just techniques; they are a documentation of your passion. Later in your career, go back and read your notes. These will remind you of the little things that made you successful. The little improvements usually are around the basics that you discover early in your career. For example, a swing dancer needs to focus on connection with their partner and listening to the music. When you move along in your career you’ll get distracted by the politics and forget those essential skills.

Writing down your ideas is a good start, but the next step is to share those. Sharing what you learn will concrete the lessons in your own mind.  Sharing can come in several flavors. You can either teach a group or mentor an individual. You can also write a blog, article or book!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Technology and business

The question is often posed, does business driving technology or technology driving business?

Technology allows new business models to be created that would not have made sense in the past. The brilliant business person will analyze new technologies and ask, "What new business models can this technology enable?" We each need to take the technology and utilize it most effectively in the business models which the business folks create. We also have an advantage if we are paying attention to both technology and the market to create our own companies to take advantage of new technologies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making an impact

This post is for all of you out there struggling to make a difference in the world but not seeing any results. This week I had a rare glimpse at some of the impact that I personally have made in the last year. At the end of last year you'll recall that I was doing an experiement to see how much one person could handle. Well I've often felt that my efforts with my architects club have gone without results. That is until this week.

I first met Charlie at my first architecture meeting in January. I encouraged him to come to my monthly club meetings and he said he would but that he was in production support so it didn't really impact him. A few weeks ago when I asked for the speaker for August 1st, his eyes lit up and he said he wanted to talk on Cloud computing. He knocked all of our socks off with an amazing 30 minute speech on how the cloud impacts each development job today. After the meeting I told him how impressed I was. A few days later he told me that he had just been hired as an architect in another group. He said that I was the reason that he started thinking down those lines. I suddenly realized that I had impacted his life! I was so thrilled.

So even when you think your not making an impact, when you don't see any results, even when lots of folks think that your wasting your time, DONT GiVE UP! You are making an impact.

And if someone makes an impact on you, TELL THEM! They might not hear it from anyone else. You might be the encouragement that keeps them going.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Trust

“Trust is the one thing that changes everything” Stephen M. R. Covey

The following is a summary of some of the key points from The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey

In every situation your priority should be to build trust with those around you. Trust decreases cost and time in any effort. Think about how long it takes to get through security now that we can’t trust passengers due to the one person who decided to take a liquid bomb on the plane. It costs lots of money to hire all those security officers and it takes an extra hour to get on an air plane instead of 30 minutes it used to take.

The three ingredients required for trust are the following:

1. Integrity
2. Intent
3. Competence

Let’s ask questions on each aspect:
1. Integrity
Integrity is different from honesty. Honesty can be leaving out information or saying the truth in a way that misleads the person. Integrity is communicating clearly and making sure the person fully understands the reality of the situation.

2. Intent
Intent is hidden inside a person and can be a cause of speculation. Its best to tell the person your intent so that they understand it. Your intent should be win/win, and if its not then you should examine your assumptions about what’s important.

3. Competence
Someone can be sincere, but if they don’t have the ability then they need to recognize that. If you wish to be trustworthy, constantly increase your competence in your area. Delivering results is the fastest way to build trust.

The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey is an excellent book which covers how trust impacts relationships and your success from your family to your company’s brand in the market and how to build trust in each of those domains.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Becoming Radical

Kathy Potts' green eyes flashed as she looked at us across the table and said, "I had to become radical to implement my vision." We ate our last dinner of our Destination Breakthrough weekend. Kathy Potts orchestrated the entire weekend to unleash 10 women as part of her OnCore Performance Group mission to touch 5.5 million lives. "Become Radical" she repeated. This struck a cord with me. When you have a huge vision you can't be a regular normal person to fulfill it. You have to change your mindset and how you live in such a way that people look at your and realize you are Radical!!.

Kathy created a detailed experience for the 9 participants. We were at a spa resort in Vail Colorado for Friday night, Saturday, leaving on Sunday afternoon. From a trust walk on Friday night to eating a 5 course meal blindfolded, to visioning our most exciting future event in detail, to getting spa treatments, to climbing the mountain at sunset and declaring our goals she carefully planned every detail for radical impact.  I've never experienced anything so well thought through and well implemented. Her audience, amazing powerful women, completely enjoyed and benefited from the intense mindfulness she put into the experience.

We bonded, shared dreams, shared doubts. She taught us how to get out of "the cave" (the place we go when doubt fills us).  We created accountability partners who could keep us on track. This is the right way to change your life!

We had to create a 1 year plan to make our vision come true with the exact steps we needed to take. My main take away is that I can't be a normal person any more. I have to become Radical to make my visions come true. My goal is to reach my target audience of software developers with the steps to become a software architect.

I am happy to say that after the weekend I completed the first half of my book, and I got a paid speaking engagement!
Thank you Kathy!!

Find out more about Kathy and what she can do for you.
Use your head. Use your heart. Choose the Game.
Perform at your best!
Kathy Potts



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Right Thing or the PC Thing?

What do you do when the right thing to do is not the politically correct thing to do?

What do you do when you could reduce the workload of a group people but it will cost money, vs leaving them in their misery and saving money?

Computers can automate things and make peoples work easier, but sometimes creating the automation is more costly than paying someone to do the task.

So what are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Intuition vs Super Crunching- two book reviews

I recently finished two books rarely read together:
Incognito by David Eagleman which is all about how the mind works and Super Crunchers by Ian Ayers which is about how the crunching huge data sets gives better results than experts can give. Incognito celebrates our complex mind in all its sundry functions. Eagleman explores the training method that allows trainees to develop the instinct of determine if a chicken is a profitable female or a worthless male by having the trainee work with experts and approving or disapproving their decisions until they get it right 100% of the time.

 Super Crunchers explains that human experts are reliably unreliable. Observing only can't give the expert enough information to make a good decisions in picking baseball players, medical diagnoses, valuable wine, and high earning movie scripts. Super crunching is the technique of data minding huge data sets and using probabilistic equations to make predictions and the reliability of the prediction. Often data is created as part of the Super Crunching, like the way Google will test out two ads and which ever one gets the most click-thrus will become the default. Eagleman will be the first to admit that the mind isn't good at solving all problems, but the problems that Ayers describes would seem to lend themselves to human reasoning such as movie plots. 

My conclusion after reading both is that I can't trust my own reasoning about some decisions, like what I should title my next book. There is a balance of using creativity and super crunching to validate and test.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Three women win Google science fair

I just heard that Google's three winners in their Science Fair are women. I hope this encourages more girls to get into science and engineering. The more diverse a field's contributors the more inventions they'll create that will be useful to more people.

I've been in groups where we created a business case for a new product several times. Recently, I was the only woman on our team. Many of their ideas of how the product would be accepted were unthinkable to me as a woman. I had to keep explaining my own response to the features they were suggesting. They had a very hard time thining like me. I realized that its very important for any project to have a variety set of options early. Otherwise we will end up with a lot of products and services that are terrible.

I personally joined computer science field because my future husband showed me how a program he wrote in BASIC which accepted my name and printed it across the screen in lots of different colors. I was in love. But many girls never get this exposure.

What are some other ways to encourage women to get into science and engineering?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mid Year Report on Best Books so far

I've decided to give you the top three books I've read this year to hopefully convince you to read them. Two of them were published in March of this year, and one was published in 1975.

These three books have strongly impacted me by shaping my view of myself and the world around me and I hope you will read them and let me know if you have a similar reaction. All three are works of profound minds at the height of their talent. They are all non-fiction, but build narratives which are as gripping as War and Peace (which I read last year).

First Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Anne Dillard, published in 1975, shaped my view of the natural world. Anne delves into details of the creek near her home in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. She slows down to study the animals and insects living, mating, eating, and dieting all around her. She pulls in philosophy and religion to weave a full picture of human knowledge on the interaction she witnesses during spring, summer, fall and winter. She doesn't shy from the raw descriptions of nature's violence. I've never been much of a studier of nature, but the wonder and awe she feels as she seeks the answers to life's meaning in the moment of fish and praying mantis's is contagious.

Second book to completely blow me away was The Information by James Gleick. Gleick's book paints the picture of the scientific world from early man to modern and into the future. His awe and wonder come thru every page and change the way you view Information Technology. Its how we understand the world. Communication shapes our society in a way we can't segregate into "geekdom." Its shaping the way we see ourselves as DNA replicators. We live so that genes can propagate. His argument needs to be absorbed and then discussed at every level.

Third book which I am almost finished with but can't wait to post about is Social Animal by David Brooks. David covers an entire couples lives from before they were born onwards and their social interactions, professional careers, political careers almost as a novelist would with emotions and descriptions. Where this books differs from a novel is at each step in their development he includes a summary and examples of research on that aspect of life. He wraps us up in his characters, who are quite interesting and lead interesting lives, but he is also teaching us an enormous about of information and putting into context of how we live day to day.

So these three books give three scientific views of our world each focusing on a different aspect. Learn about nature thru Anne's narrative adventures, learn about how information is who we are, and learn about how social skills are more important to success than IQ and why.

Let me know if you get to read these three and what you thought about them!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Umair Haque on Global Prosperity: Building a better Economy

I've been following Umair Haque on twitter for a few months. Umair's comments on the economey are always interesting. When I saw he had posted a video, I took the 11 minutes to watch it.

Umair Haque Eudaimonics Redesigning Global Prosperity.: Video: Building a 21st Century Economy

I completely agree that we need to on shift from our current materialistic focus to a more actualization.

My sister and I have already started. Through my work with Toastmasters I help people communicate their ideas and passions with their communities. I help folks learn leadership skills to lead change in their own circles of influence. My hope is each one will go out and make the difference in a person's life whom I couldn't reach.

My sister Julie teaches martial arts to kids and adults. She loves teaching each of those groups for slightly different reasons. For adults its to help them stay in shape and learn self protection. For kids its for those two reasons but also to challenge the kids and make them grow intellectually. She teaches them life skills like focus, discipline, and respect.

I am happy my sister and I are part of this new economy already. Let us know how you are part of this new economy by posting a comment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Childs Play vs Improv

On Sunday I was lucky enough to travel around the world with a famous detective. We were searching for hidden treasure. My detective was almost 10 years old and we travelled to Egypt, Paris, London, Venus, Greece, and more during the 3 hours we played together. . We had a huge green grass yard shaded by huge oak trees in central Califorina to shade us. We fought of several types of assailants including a lign in the accropolis.

To me playing with him was not very different from doing improv with my improv group. The rest of the adults were talking about boring things, so my 9 year old detective was much more interesting. The main difference between playing with a kid and my improv team is that the kid would block me.

In improv if I say, "WOah, look at all the diamonds in this cave." My detective partner should say, "Yes, and lets collect them for our laser cutting machine." But my 9 year old detective instead would say, "No theres no diamonds in this cave, only a rusted sword." So I would say, "Yes lets take the sword to use for our quest" and he'd agree'

In life we tend to want to say "No" automatically. Its just a default from when we are kids. We just think we know whats there. So when someone tries to give us something else we weren't expecting, we reject it. I am trying to be more open and see what diamonds are hidden in plain sight. You can try it too

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The power of Yoga

You should have seen me this weekend. I ran an first timers games section of the Toastmasters District 47 conference for about 130 folks who came at 8am. With the goal of getting to know each other, they played improv games and laughed and laughed.

In the afternoon that day, I ran for election for Division C Governor in Toastmasters District 47. I won! I now will have 7 areas in the Tampa area for which I am responsible. My term starts on July 1st 2011 and runs till June 30th 2012.

Then on Sunday evening I performed in an Improv show with Gavin Hawke. We were very connected and at the top of our heads. We came up with some pretty funny characters and scenarios including a couple on their first date after meeting on eHarmony. They were a perfect match because both wore bubble suits. That scene ended when one of the characters rolled away down the stairs while dancing. I laughed all the way home since I couldn't laugh on stage. I am still laughing.
But the glow started to wear off on Monday. Work was full of complications. I sorted thru the varies names I have for my area governors, and ran the architects meeting at my office.

I worked till late and then had to pick up some items from the health food store. I had the goal of going to my favorite hot yoga class on Monday night. I barely made it in time. When I sat down on my mat, I was completely exhausted. My teacher, talked to us a bit about why we do yoga, to help us help others. I just thought to myself that I couldn't help anyone in the terrible state I was in. Then we started doing all the posses and slowly my tension left my body via the flow of sweat that rolled off my face.

When I lay on the matt at the end, I felt very thankful that I made it there. You've got to take a little time to refresh, I told myself. I am glad I listened.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good to Great

If you haven't read Good to Great then you need to. Jim Collins studies 11 companies who had 15 years of lower profits followed by 15 years of 15 years of better than the market results.  They also had 11 comparison companies who didn't make the transition from average to above average.

I really enjoyed this book. Jim has a very down to earth style of writing and his findings make a lot of sense.

The core results are that there are three things your company must do to be great:
1.  Disciplined people
2.  Disciplined thought
3.  Disciplined action

This seems so simple to write, but nothing is more difficult. Discipline seems to be a rarer and rarer quality. I see and am guilty of a wildly undisciplined mind. I and those around me can’t help checking their mail every few minutes. This distraction prevents the structured thought that is required in becoming great.

My new motto, which I break, but am really focusing on is, do one thing at a time.

The second thing that I found from his book is that almost all of these companies had servant leaders he calls "level 5." These are leaders who care more about the company than their personal reputations or gain. They don't need credit for things. I know several of these types, and Collins says that there are plenty. But these folks are quiet so they don't get recognized.

The third thing I liked was the hedge hog concept. A hedge hog just knows that they need to roll up in a ball when they are getting attacked. The same way, a great company really focuses on what they can be great at, and ignores the other things. This is convicting to me. The idea that I need to focus on what I can be great at is challenging.
Are you focusing on what you can be great at? Are you being disciplined? Are you a level 5 leader? I think we all have a lot of work to-do! So let’s get to it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My productive year

If you recall I said at the beginning of the year that this world be the most productive year of my life, and boy 
was I right. 

I've done six improv shows in front of audiences. On Saturday my fourth play was performed.


I've finished taking a software architecture class from Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute. 
I've finished 18 books. I've written two chapters in my book on architecture.

 I got a new job which is really cool. I've been nominated to be division governor in Toastmasters for July 2011 thru June 2012, which is a great honor.
 I've taught two soft skill classes at my office. I started a club for architects at my work. I've helped run a leadership program at my work. 

So far I've worked out three times a week this year. 
I've been eating pretty healthy by making sure I am consuming foods that are anti-inflamatories. I've spent a lot of quality time with my husband.

Why am I boring you with all this? Well it's an experiment to see how much a person can do and how the subject performs.

I've learned that as far as lifestyle choices I must work out to keep up my energy, I need to get at least 7.5 hrs of sleep, I must avoid caffeine.
For tools I've got my google calendar, todo lists, and I recently got an iPhone so I can check my schedule quickly. I've watched less movies or DVDs. Probably less than one a week.

I feel better than ever and I'll let you all know how things are going again in a few months.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Next 100 Years- Book review

The Next 100 Years- by George Friedman

If you like Sci Fi, this is almost a good book for you. Friedman strengths lie in his insights into past trends. He is able to digest complex history and give a summary of why things happened giving us today's current state. Beyond this strength, he has a very good imagination and he uses his knowledge of how things turn out based on a lot of imagination.
But as we can see, unexpected disasters, stir ups, can throw a wrench in the best made prophesies.
I only recommend the first few chapters in this book, so get it from the library and enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Limitless opportunities

It never ceases to amaze me how blind people are to the endless possibilities and opportunities constantly surrounding us everyday. In his fantastic speech, Acres of Diamonds, which if you've not read yet, you need to read it now, Russell Conwell, gives example after example of fabulous opportunities literally in peoples own backyards. He also points out that you don't need a title or a position to start doing great things.


I've worked with a person at my company who swore to me that there are no opportunities to grow or get promoted at our company. I just shook my head. Three years later and two job positions later for me, he is in the same spot. He had the same opportunities that I had, the same education, same network. The only difference was he didnt have his eyes opened to what was clearly there. 

Attitude is the key to success. I often like to talk about my brother. He is extremely smart, he's got fantastic people skills,  but he lacks drive. I get weary trying to encourage him to go out and show the world his incredible talent. It breaks my heart to see talented people waste their lives because they are blind to how much they could do. I say if you going to dream, dream big and open your eyes to the limitless opportunities around you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Start-up nation

In the new book, authors Dan Senor, Saul Singer, give an explanation of why Israel has The most startups.
This book was not the book I was expecting, instead of it being about how companies are structured, or about regulation, it was all about the culture of Israel. Their culture and how their society is structured creates entrepreneurial people who have both the desire, knowledge and network to create companies. The structure comes from several building blocks which are carefully laid out and compared and contrasted against similar countries. The mandatory military service is the embryonic stem cell which generates the other building blocks:
Multi-discipline
Network
Questioning everything/Lack of recognition of hierarchy
Maturaty at an earlier age from combat experience
Because lIfe and death questions are always front and center the common Israeli is very disciplined and focused.

What this book does not do is give a step by step how to on transforming your country into a startup nation. Israel is very unique place which no other country could or would want to duplicate.
I recommend this book for general background on Israelian culture and history which are well told. Also the type of people and the pre-reqs for an entrepreneurial culture.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Managers vs Leaders

 
Managers Motto: Who will do what by when?
§Leaders Motto: How can I help you achieve your goals while you help me achieve mine?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why Improv is my favorite new hobby

Lately I've been doing nearly 8 hours of improv acting every weekend.

It’s definitely the scariest thing you can do. You get up in front of an audience with no script working with another person who could do anything.

Here is a video from my teacher Ricky Wayne
http://vimeo.com/20435861

The three things I've gotten out of Improv, and why I recommend it to anyone:

1. The "YES, AND" philosophy is the center of Improv. Getting used to saying yes gives you a more open view point in relationships and in life. You wouldn't believe the things that happen when instead of automatically saying "no," you say "yes." Once you've faced not only being on stage talking and doing things, but doing it without a script, you definitely feel more courageous. You start telling yourself, Yeah, I can do a lot more than I thought before. It really expands your view of the world.

2. Mainly Improv is supposed to be comedy. Doing improv has enriched my funny bone. Being on stage hearing what audiences like, lets you become more sensitive to what is funny and what isn't. I can now use this new sensitivity to enhance my other speeches.

3. Increased enjoyment of all life. When I am on stage in a scene, I have to act like I am somewhere else doing something as someone else. These challenges force me to pay close attention in the rest of life. When I meet a person, I pay attention to how they speak their unique attitude. When I am doing any activity, doing the dishes, I pay attention to how I hold them, the weight. This attention makes just day to day living more exciting and enjoyable.

If you want to learn more and you are in Tampa Bay, get in touch with Toby Martini. He has improv workshops which are very focused and effective. I just finished taking it and really saw a lot of improvement in my improv!

 I think you'll really get a lot of benefit out of doing improv, no matter what reasons you need it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wishing to change the Past

One way to be sure your wasting your life is to spend it wishing you could change the past.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The New Business Model for News

In Googled by Ken Auletta, he shows that the news paper model is defunct and going away. But he didn't give us the new model.
I'll now lay out a new model. But first let’s do an overview.

1. Quality News is highly in demand. A democracy must have well informed citizens, thus to have a continued happy country, News is still crucial, required and highly desired.

2. High quality reporting is an expensive undertaking: traveling, equipment, research, fact checking, smart insightful reporters.


What other products are in demand and expensive and business models are changing due to technology? The three big ones are Movies, Music, Books.

These four products never faced any situation like this today.

All four of these products are intellectual property type products. Meaning unlike a car, they can be easily stolen, copied and shared with the entire internet for free.

How have the other three managed this new world of electronic copies?
1. Movies files are large and hard to move around and deep fines are inflicted upon those who steal it. The customer who wants to avoid fines has an easy alternative. Movies are cheap and easy to access via Video on Demand services once the movie is released to DVD.
2. Music files are small and easy to move around, thus sprouted Napster and other files sharing services. But now that iTunes makes it so easy to get the music you want quickly, there’s no reason to deal with viruses and other issues around illegal downloading. Because people can choose to buy just a single, musicians need to step up their work to ensure all their songs are high quality.
3. Books are now available in electronic versions with Amazon and the Kindle way a head. But libraries now offer the ability for patrons to download their library books temporarily. Buying an eBook is so easy and inexpensive that no one has any reasons to steal one.

After checking out a few different models, we see that the key to keeping people from stealing copies of your content is to:
1. Make it easy to get
2. Make it inexpensive
3. Make it high quality/unique/valuable
Now I'll propose a model:
1. Have a subscription based model and a single time payer model
2. All the subscription to be accessed anyway the customer wishes: App, web, hardcopy (if available), audio

The model that I've seen is The Economist. Of course they have their print version which I've been getting for 3 years, then they added an audio version which I've been enjoying for a year, then I just got the App for my iPAD. It’s absolutely awesome. I can listen to the audio inside the pages of the magazine. They have beautiful photos. I think this model will really get folks excited and support the continued high quality news coverage that we all require. I pay about $2.19 per issue, which is a great deal. I have one account which lets me have access to all formats.

I'll keep looking for more models that work for me. Please feel free to post your own ideas too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Almost practically radical

Almost does count in business books. William C. Taylor's new book, Practically Radical, compiles a list of case studies on how companies innovate. He goes thru themes like how company executives study their company's roots to rediscover it's original purpose to reinvigorate it's profits. The problem I found is this book rehashes bunch of other books I've read including, Delivering Happiness, Outliers, Drive, Seth Godin's books + more. This might mean you can just read this book instead of those, but for me I was let down while looking for new insights. There were a few cases that I hadn't heard before, and those made the book almost worth reading.

Your world is Googled

The impact of Google on our world is huge, but how huge? In this excellently researched book,
Auletta, thoroughly lays out the impacts of google on traditional media.

The real value in this book is the consolidation of all the news that we hear over the years, but never piece together to get the full picture.

Ken interviewed hundreds of both google and old media executives. He shows how Schmidt changes his own views over the years on business models for media. Page and Brim also worry about Hollywood gossip placing higher on google news than serious news. The world is influx. Auletta lays out a clear case for a new business model which will allow hybrid media with high quality news reporting which pays the expenses incurred while doing such reporting. But if your looking for the answers, read this first then keep looking and thinking, because the answer isnt here.

Stress and Waking up in the middle of the night

Today, I had lunch at an outdoor cafe with some of my Toastmaster colleagues. After talking about the Oscar nominated movies, one of my colleagues mentioned that he is waking up in the middle of the night at 3am and not being able to fall asleep till 6am. I used to also wake up in the middle of the night. We both have and had thoughts racing through our minds: the worries of work, family, responsibilities, money, and health. Our bodies are reacting to stress in our minds.

It’s a very interesting phenomenon. We are one unit, mind and body. My dentist often complains that I am grinding my teeth down during my sleep.

Change = stress. Life is always going to be full of change.

So how do we get control of it?

Easy, just stop doing everything your doing!

Ok, so maybe that’s not an option.

Things going wrong happen. Things are going to change. The idea is to accept these changes. Say, "I am on this path because God put me here. These open doors or closed doors are there because God has a plan."

There’s no mistakes. You can't see it all now, but you will one day or at least in the afterlife.

Try this and see if it helps, if not, try quitting caffeine ;)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Joseph Miller died today

Today at 1:30am Joseph Miller died.
He dedicated the last few years of his life to helping others.
He focused on the best thing he knew for changing lives.
A proven way to increase the joy and personal achievement. But more than just personal goals, a way to reach out to the community. His focus was on Toastmasters clubs. He started over 70 in the last few years.

In case you don't know what Toastmasters is, its an international speaking organization. But it's also the reason I started this blog. One club meeting, our club members had to give a speech on the one thing they would change about the world. I racked my brain. I went thru dozens of ideas from birth control in the water to mandatory marriage counseling. Finally I realized what I really wanted is for everyone to be in the best job for them and that they would love it. And this this blog was born.

Toastmasters changes everyone who is serious about following the program. That's why Joseph Miller was so passionate about his mission to start clubs so others could discover the joy of communication, self confidence, and making an impact.

Thank you Joseph Miller. You will be missed, but your legacy continues.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is your Comfort Zone hiding opportunity from you?

One of my favorite books on presenting is by Tony Jeary called Life is a Series of Presentations. I just found an article written by him. Tony wrote the following:

"The people who have trouble recognizing opportunity are most likely the same people who are unwilling to leave their comfort zones.  What is a comfort zone?  First and foremost it is a mental state in which people lose the momentum to pursue a vision because they have accepted where they are as the best they need to be or do. Identifying and capturing new opportunities always requires strategic change and the nature of strategic change always disrupts comfort zones.  That is why change is a big deal to people and is so difficult to achieve. The pain that accompanies change can be financial, physical, or emotional, but regardless of the type of discomfort created by change, recession and hard economic times demand that you embrace it if you intend to remain competitive and effective. "

To read more:
http://www.innovationtools.com/Articles/EnterpriseDetails.asp?a=391

Friday, January 28, 2011

Inequity?

I just finished Aftershock by Robert Reich. His theory is that the growing gap between th very rich and the middle to poor Americans is growing and making our economy unsustainable. He says that since the 70s middle class has been using "coping mechanisms" to keep up with the Joneses. First they sent the mothers to work, then they worked more hours, finally they used debt. All the mechanisms are used to their limit. There's only two parents, there's only so many hours in the week to be worked, and credit has dried up.

He says that the rich have created a separate society with it's own social clubs, universities, and positions which the middle class have no access to. He shows that the bubble where allnthe Wallstreet bankers won at every turn is proof that the whole system is rigged against middle class.

The January/February issue of the Atlantic also has an article which says there are two economies. The article titled "the rise of the new ruling class- how the global elite is leaving you behind" by Chrystia Freeland.

Both authors have taken a good look at our world and drawn the same conclusions, namely that you can't change your stars. If your born into wealth and privilege your set, if not you'll struggle for your daily bread.

Reich's solution is government enforced redistribution of wealth by taxing highly income over 250k and placing money into people's pay checks who make less than 50k a year.

So the only question left on the table is does any of this matter?

Farmers in the developing world are using texting to get market prices and weather tips to increase their profits. Small businesses owners can start their dream company with little start up costs using web 2.0/cloud computing services. People who have been repressed for decades are using social media to organize on a nation wide basis and creating a new government. The world is unrecognizable if we look at the level of inexpensive communication we now have access to.

Yes, the world isn't fair. But has it ever been? I am reminded of the middle ages. Talk about not being able to change your stars!

Yes, we can aim for more equality, but I strongly don't think government redistribution of wealth is the answer. Also telling people that because they were born poor that the system is against them and there is no hope isn't a helpful strategy.

Take me for example. My family has nine kids. My father is a minister at a small church. At one point we had to get food stamps. We wore clothes donated to our church in large garbage bags. Us kids would gather around the bags with the same excitement as Christmas morning. I got my GED when I was 17 after finishing the 10th grade in home school. I was a maid in a bed and breakfast. If you showed my case to Reich no doubt he'd tell me my prospects were doubtful for success.

But a few things helped me which I think can help anyone in my "doubtful" position.
1. I read alot which made me realize how many possibilities exist and that more doubtful cases than mine have made it I.e. Lincoln.
2. My mother said I could do anything. She always believed in me.
3. I got a pell grant to go to community college. I believe that gov assistence for college is very effective. I am happy to allow my tax dollars to help those who are serious about their future.
4. Mentors in every aspect of my life who gave me advice and showed me the way. These folks are too numerous to name and yet they live in my heart forever. I make it my mission to mentor those I can to pay the debt forward.

These are the ways to level the playing field. It's hard to keep a determined person down, especially when they have a large support base who believes in them. Spread the word. The world needs more hope, and each of us can make a difference.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

‘If’ Is An Assault on the Community

I wrote this a few years ago and just rediscovered it.

Read this to understand: If by Rudyard Kipling
‘If’ Is An Assault on the Community
 by bettworld.com
Rudyard Kipling's 'If' is a humanistic open-form poem about being responsible for your own actions and destiny. It is clearly meant to incite individualism and self-reliance. When a person reads this poem and realizes their potential, no goal will be too high and the world will be theirs. This sort of attitude is dangerous for the community. Our community needs people who think alike and do what they are told without questioning.
The tone of the poem is of a father giving his son advice on becoming a man. Kipling gives his son thirteen conditional statements using simple phrases.  He uses some metaphors for the body and aspects of human character.
The words “keep your head” mean that you can retain control of your mind and more importantly your actions “when all about you are losing theirs.” This is a disturbing sentence for a couple of reasons. First, the idea that you own your mind gives the reader a feeling of individualism. This confuses the knowledge that the mind is part of the community and should be used to help the community and not used in self-centered activities.  Second, it implies that the community could lose control, which is not realistic because the community is always perfect; thinking otherwise is blasphemy.
The phrase, “trust your-self” promotes a very self-righteous attitude. Why would anyone want to trust him or herself? How often do you make mistakes? You should trust your leaders and your role models in movies, on TV, and in magazines to lead you. Do not trust yourself because when you trust yourself you gain a sense of independence, which leads you away from the community.
The concept of a lie in the line “Or being lied about, don't deal in lies” is illogical; it is based on there being a truth. The concept of truth is far too limiting and ostracizes people causing resentment, anger, and eventually violence.  The issue of hating in the line  “Or being hated, don't give way to hating” would not be an issue if people did not go around saying there was a truth. Believing there is a truth is hurtful to the community.
“Dreaming” is acceptable as long as it is about a movie star that you want to sleep with or about buying things you want to buy. These dreams are safe for the community. Thinking should not be your aim; it leads to thoughts that are not acceptable to the community. 
Again the narrow ugly word “truth” is seen. This line is saying that a crafty person takes the words you have spoken and makes them into a trap for not so crafty people. It is teaching you not to say anything controversial.
The passage “If you can make one heap of all your winnings, ” uses metaphor of a heap or pile of wealth implying hording of money, which is self-centered. It will be much safer to spend it on things that make you happy than to  “risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,” which is alluding to gambling. You can share the wealth and show off the gadgets you buy.
The medical phrase “If you can force your heart, nerve, and sinew,” is also figurative for aspects of the human character.  The heart, the muscle that pumps blood throughout the body, is also the seat of the emotions. The nervous system is a connection of fibers, which carries messages throughout the body to the brain; nerves also refer to courage.  Sinew is muscle and tendon, which enables the body to move, and refers to strength. If you can control your physical body, emotions, courage, and strength “to serve you long after they are gone,” then you will have conquered your body and you can do anything.  However, if you do what you are told by your leaders and community, you will not have to fight with your body.  Apathy is so much safer for the community.
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue” implies that talking with crowds would cause you to lose your virtue. Crowds are made up of members of the community who are good and respectable citizens. To think of your fellow community member as a non-virtuous person is a self-righteous perspective and should not remain in your mind.
The next lines talk about kings, foes, and “loving friends.” These terms are narrow and make some members of the community more important or less important and even imply that some are enemies. No one should prefer one person’s company to another. These words should not remain in the vernacular.
“Then you will be a man, my son.” This type of distinction is extremely sexist, and no one should ever distinguish one gender from another. Each is as valuable as the other. The author is saying that, if the reader does all the things mentioned in the poem (the author seems to think that his points are healthy and desirable) then the reader will become a “man.” The idea that one particular gender is better shows how biased the author is.
Rudyard Kipling’s “If” is an assault on the values of the community. Though the ideas of individualism and freedom seem romantic, they are very dangerous in this day and age of terrorism, mental illness and depression. We must encourage children to focus on TV and movies for their ideas instead of breaking off from the crowd and thinking on their own. If they want to pierce their eyelids and dye their hair orange and green, then they should. This sort of “safe” individuality is encouraged, if not directly, then by the media they watch. All their “uniqueness” is based on healthy consumerism and can be monitored and controlled. Teach them that they can be unique, as long as everyone else is unique also. Watching TV limits their thinking already, but we must ensure that they do not read poems such as “If” lest they wander off and begin questioning.
 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How's Your Culture?

Most people complain they work in a company with terrible Culture.
Most people complain they live in a town that lacks culture.
Most people complain the US culture has gone down the drain.

Most people complain.
But not you. You've realized complaining about things doesnt make a difference.

Instead you make your own culture which then you can export and share with those you love.

Companies are made of people. You can create a culture of sharing information just by doing it and encouraging others to do likewise.
You can support the arts in your town by visiting local theater and donating to local arts.

You can turn off your tv and stop "watching US culture" if it's so disturbing to you. My family got rid of our antenna in 2004 and we've enjoyed a higher quality of life ever since.
You control your experience of culture. It's called your family rituals.
For instance you can institue family meals made of wholesome food eaten at a table.
You create game nights with your friends where you learn about eachother and grow your friendships.

You can pick and choose which cultural elements you enjoy from around you and use them in your families experience.

You curate your own culture. Instead of complaining, try it. Most people won't

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leveraging the Cloud

I love reminding myself how much power we have today with all the technology at our finger tips. The Cloud is bantered about quite a bit. Clouds can be used by small businesses and large businesses to reduce their expenses. For a very small business it’s the difference between survival and death. Many of the cloud services are free like Google Docs.

Today I was talking to a friend who designed a really great T-Shirt she wants to sell. She had even bought a press. She was trying to figure out how to create a shopping cart. I told her about www.cafepress.com which allows you to upload your logo and apply it to all kinds of products. They take care of creating a shop for you, processing credit cards, printing the logo on the merchandise, and shipping the order directly to your customer. But this is just one example of the cloud.

The fun thing about the cloud is its like the perfect spouse, everyone has a different view of what it is.  Let’s talk about what it means:

Data center
When a company uses a cloud for their data center it means that instead of buying a building, filling it with networked machines, cooling it, they buy space, speed from a company like Amazon.com.

Off the Shelf Applications
When a company uses a cloud for off the shelf applications such as emails, web conferencing, spreadsheets, word processing, contact management, blogs, wikis, sales lead software. These are hosted by the application service provider company. Instead of buying Word from Microsoft in a shrink wrapped package, they buy a login to the application service provider's web site which allows their employees to edit word documents.

Customized Applications
When a company uses a cloud for their customized applications such as custom inventory management system, they would hire an application service provider. The application service provider would document the company’s requirements and create an application and host it on the application service provider's data center.

Widgets
When a company uses a cloud for a small part of their own systems such as credit check, address validation, they would buy a widget instead of creating that small piece. For example, if the company wants to have a credit card processing module, they can get one from a credit card service provider. These widgets then can be mixed and matched to meet their needs.


When you leverage the cloud, you can get more done with less startup costs. That will allow you to spend your money on your core competencies.