December 26, 2007

Post Christmas Photos

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December 24, 2007

Somebody Stole Baby Jesus

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December 23, 2007

The Eyes of a Child

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First Check!

I got my first check for kevin sturm Consulting in the mail on Friday. The first of what I hope will be many...Yeah!

December 21, 2007

Jammies Party!

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December 20, 2007

Is There a Past Tense of Except?

I was reading my friend Tim's blog (he's an awesome photographer in Santa Barbara) and found this picture. He took it while in a WalMart in Torrence, CA. Seriously, how does this happen?

December 19, 2007

How Promotable Are you?

The other morning I was having coffee with my sister-in-law, Cara, discussing her current job opportunities. She is an up and coming tornado at Anthropologie and is now ready for the next big thing. In our conversation we talked about what employees that quickly get promoted do. Obviously there are the qualities of hard work, enthusiasm, knowledge of the business, years of experience, leadership, and such. But in most companies that is not enough, or at least not what is going to get you moving quickly to the next big thing.

In my experience there are a three lesser discussed things that can have a huge impact on your promotability. There are more than three even, but for brevity I'll focus on three.

Stop asking what qualities and experience is needed for a promotion.
As a manager I had an endless number of conversations with employees who would ask
me, "What are the traits you look for in a <fill in the title>?" This is a bad way to approach it. The question worded this way tells the manager you don't believe you are ready for the promotion but would like to be considered at some point in the future.

Instead of asking this question do some research to understand the position that you want and then meet with the manager to inform them that you want the promotion. Point out all the areas that you have the experience, qualifications, and successes to be great at the job. Outline how you specifically could add value to the organization in this new position. Then, if need be discuss what specific areas you need experience in before being qualified for the promotion, and ask the manager what opportunities exist in the near future for you to get the experience needed.
Leave your personal finance choices out of the discussion.
Most employees seek out a promotion or pay increase because their personal financial situation has changed and they need to make more money. Probably 80% of employees that asked me for a promotion or raise had this as a major point in the discussion. This is about the worst way to go about getting a promotion. It tells your manager you are spending money you don't have! That is a big red flag because it means you may not be as responsible as you should be. Additionally, don't make the focus of your discussion what says you should make. Unless you are working for a Fortune 500 company that pays at the top 10% it is not a realistic comparison.

A conversation about compensation and promotion needs to be focused on what you specifically do or will be doing to increase current revenue production for the business. If you don't know how you are doing this, you have no business asking for a promotion.

I once had an employee ask me for a salary increase and promotion with a breakdown of what affect his current salary had on the percentage of gross margin for the department, how his specific performance was increasing company revenue by tracking his revenue performance for 6 months, and that his requested increase would affect less than .1% of current gross margin for the department. He then outlined how he would further increase his revenue production, and how the increase would make him feel more valued for his hard work and his job would be more enjoyable. I gave him the promotion affective immediately, without even getting approval from our CFO. I knew that with that level of detail the CFO couldn't even say no.

Stop waiting to get recognized.
When I left my last company they asked me to complete an Employee Exit interview. One of the questions was about how often I got feedback from my manager.

How frequently did you get feedback on your
performance? What were your feelings about them?
I received feedback almost every year during my normal
performance review. I generally found they were informative and provided good feedback and opportunities for improvement.
How frequently did you have discussions with your manager about your career goals? What are your
feelings regarding these discussions?
As often as I initiated and felt it was needed.
However, I think employees who receive the best feedback seek it out versus wait for it. Generally those who wait patiently for recognition and guidance end up feeling slighted, abused, and unappreciated. I am a firm believer that opportunities are created and taken not given, and corporate recognition is directly related to how well you market yourself.

Recognition in the work place is like dating. If you're a wall flower it's tough to get recognized. If you are waiting for someone to give you pat on the back and a promotion for a job well done, you most likely feel like you work for a company that doesn't reward hard work, you often feel abused by the company, and that the company always says great job to other people but never you (there are companies out there that reward hard work all the time, I worked for one for a while). If this is you, stop waiting to get recognized and point out the value you bring the organization. Most likely the employees that always get recognized are self promoting while you are waiting for someone to notice you.

December 14, 2007

What's Your World View?

I had coffee yesterday with a friend and business colleague. We worked together at my former company and both left about the same time to go out on our own. He is doing consulting now as well on sales stuff and is a very smart guy. We got to talking about travel and how we were enjoying the opportunity to travel more. Chrystal's friend Sarah is going to be in South Africa for a couple of years so I was telling him that we are planning on visiting her at least once, and while we are there visiting at least one bank with Opportunity International.

My friend had never heard of Opportunity International so we got on the subject of micro finance lending. Inevitably it turned into a political conversation and he expressed an opinion that most African countries (and other 3rd world nations) are in the position they are in because of their own fault (political corruption and such), and most of them were better off in every economic way when under the rule of a colonial power. This is not the first time I've heard this comment, and each time I do it saddens me. It saddens me not because someone does not agree with my opinion, but that someone who is very smart with a college degree and has traveled extensively throughout the world can look at the situation of extreme poverty and respond with, "They created this problem for themselves and need to fix it. If we give them our money their corrupt government is just going to steal it from them anyway." I may be overstating his position but it was clear that he did not find it realistic to try and end world poverty. (I define poverty in this case as the 50% of people in the world living on less than $2 per day.)

I recommended that he should read "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey Sachs (I've posted about it before here). I also asked him, "If they did create the problem are we not in some way, as the wealthiest nation on Earth, responsible to help them?"

I know that there are at least a couple of readers of this blog out there and I'd like to know your thoughts. Can we as Westerners (or a least Americans) actually make a financial difference in economic support of 3rd world countries, or are we really just giving our hard earned money to a problem that will always exist?

Further more, if you are the in the top 10% of income earners in the US do you have a responsibility to help?

December 12, 2007

Importance of Fellowship

One of my favorite things about being self employed is getting to fellowship with friends in the morning over coffee. This morning I got hang with DJ at his SWEET pad in Santa Barbara. This place is seriously amazing because it has a view that is unique even in Santa Barbara. You can see Ventura and north Goleta practically. DJ and I were going to meet at Whales Tail downtown but we decided to have breakfast at the Freedom House instead. Crystal cooked us an amazing breakfast of French toast coated with corn flakes and almonds. It was 5-star style eating, plus we ate on the patio (which DJ had never done!) and had an amazing view to go with the amazing meal. Thanks Crystal! We also had mimosas with Dom Perignon that was left over from a get together the previous night...livin' the high life!DJ and I talked about how much fun it was to be able to just hang out in the morning to do what we felt was important (which may be to work, read, or fellowship) versus rush to be at work at 8:00 am. I really feel so blessed to have the freedom to do this and have friends like DJ to hang with and enjoy time together.

The view from DJ's patio as displayed by my iPhone!

December 10, 2007

I love my wife!

It was my birthday this past Friday. I turned 32 but I still feel 28. 28 is a good age I think.

My wonderful wife Chrystal (and my parents) surprised me with an iPhone. This is my 3rd PDA phone and it is by far the best. I'm a recent mac convert (switched when they went dual core processor) and I love the experience. Apple knows how to deliver an unparalleled experience.
Thanks sweetie for the best phone ever made!

That's Disgusting!

As a frequent traveler this video makes me want to throw-up. I've stayed at each of these brands multiple times and drank from hotel drinking glasses bunches of times. I'm always a little wary of the bedding and check to ensure it appears clean (I once found dirty underwear in my hotel bed!), but I've never found the glasses to appear dirty.

This is one of those things that would make me just not drink from the glasses though.

Don't Ever Drink From Hotel Glasses

November 27, 2007

It's Finally Done!

After long hours of figuring out html works and much gnashing of teeth my new "other blog" is finally done. As most of you know I quit my job and started my own consulting firm. As part of this initiative one of things I noticed was that there was very little online content in the way of blogs for hospitality technology. Most of the major industry media organizations have one as part of their website, but there really isn't anything from someone that works day to day in hospitality technology consulting.

So, as of tonight hospitality technology made simple is up an running. It's a blog about trends in hospitality technology. My hope is that the blog will be helpful to venues looking to implement new systems and to consultants in the industry looking to get or give advice. I hope to do some interviews with major figures in the industry, and if people actual find it interesting get a forum up where we can all share ideas for success.

I will only be posting every week or two weeks at this point, so I'll still be updating this blog regularly as my personal blog of business and life in general. If you know of anyone that may find the new blog interesting please point them to it. It will be a couple of months before there is enough content to be really meaty. You can also email me topics that you think would be interesting (if you care about hospitality technology). I'll need the content ideas.

November 21, 2007

Word of Mouse Marketing

My friend DJ always talks about word-of-mouse marketing. The power of the web in marketing is that if you do something unique it can get passed all across the world in hours. WHAM! You have gajillions (yes it's a word) of hits. Check out this website and watch what happens.

My friend Paul posted this. He got it from a friend I'm assuming (as Paul doesn't speak anything but English), and that person got it from someone. I'm betting I am way down in the chain of people to see this and I'm passing it on to all the people who read my blog (maybe 6) .

Reaching the Masses

One thing I love about blogging is that you can reach a bunch of people without being "published". It also means that you don't have to be a great writer to submit your ideas and opinions. And most importantly it's easy. But that doesn't mean that people will read your blog.

I was recently introduced to The Blog Readability Test by Justine Ungaro's blog. It is a service that analyzes your blog and tells you what the reading level of the person must be. I thought cool, I'll try it out on this blog.

It came back that my blog was at the reading level of college undergrad. I ran it on a few of my favorite blogs which include friends blogs and business blogs. The highest reading level I came back with was Junior High.

cash advance

I have no idea how this score is calculated, but I'm going to make an effort to make this blog easier to read. Chrystal is always telling me I say things in overly complex ways. Which just goes to prove that my wife is right again.
I also ran it on the blog I'm working for my business (currently unreleased) and this is what came back. But I'm not as concerned about it for this one because it's written for a very specific industry.

November 17, 2007

Delivery for a $1.00

I'm on my way home from my first client trip. I was at Microsoft's office in Seattle for three days (never saw the sun).
I was working out of the R&D building and tried to see the latest Microsoft Surfaces demonstration but no luck. I didn't even get to see the current one. Most of the things going on in the building we won't see for 10 to 15 years. How do you plan for technology products 10 years in advance? With as fast as technology changes that just seems unrealistic...but I suppose somebody has to do it. There were also supposedly 30+ researchers with PhDs in the R&D building! That is a whole bunch of brain power.

Most of the offices are in Redmond, WA and the entire city is pretty much Microsoft. From what I was told Microsoft employs 45,000 people at the Redmond campus! That is almost half the population of Santa Barbara! And the campus is pretty amazing. They have multiple soccer, football, and baseball fields, indoor and outdoor basketball courts, and all sorts of other fun stuff.

I was there to install eMenu, a software that will allow all Microsoft employees to order lunch via the company Intranet and have it delivered to their desk. Seriously. You can check out eMeu here, but don't order from this site because this place actually exists in NY. Microsoft has the most amazing company cafeterias with awesome food and now they are offering to deliver your lunch for $1.00 (plus the cost of the food). I think that is awesome because I'd take a lunch break to go work out and then have my lunch delivered to my desk and eat it there (in the scenario I had an office of course).

James, the Microsoft analyst I did the install with, had a futon, big screen TV, DVD player, Xbox and wii in his office! It was complete with a small movie and video game library. How would you ever get any work done?
Microsoft's countdown to release clock

November 14, 2007

Dinner of the Traveling Type

Sometimes when I travel the thought of airport food just isn't appetizing, so the free food in United's Red Carpet Club turns into dinner. Crackers and cheese with carrots and ranch dressing washed down with a Coke. Chase it with a chocolate chip cookie...who could ask for more?

November 12, 2007

"The Gratitude Dance" I just finished my "Extreme Marketing" post and was reading some of my fav blogs. On Escape From Cubicle Nation I found a link to The Gratitude Dance which I had to share.

I love this for two reasons. First because it fits well with the header from my blog. Sometimes my posts having nothing to do with what is up there, but I think they are all important things. Second because it makes you smile, and smiling is good.

  • spur conversation
  • create joy
  • foster thought
  • speak well
  • love another
  • practice forgiveness
  • embrace change
  • enjoy life
  • impart knowledge

When you wake up tomorrow, do the gratitude dance.

Extreme Marketing

Marketing is hard. Really. Once you are uber successful I'm guessing it gets much easier, but before that point it's hard. When you don't have a huge customer base all blabbering on about how brilliant you are the only option is to self blabber about brilliance. I've spent the last two work days self marketing. Whether cold calling, emailing, requesting references via LinkedIn, or getting my new hospitality technology blog (to be announced soon) together. This is all pretty much standard new business stuff though and comes with the territory. It's one of those things though before you start you think, "I've got a huge network, I'll get business." (at least that is what I thought). The reality is that it is a long ramp and you have to claw for every opportunity. Nobody starts at the top. People may indirectly reference you but most likely they are not looking for business for you.

I am a true believer that word of mouth marketing is king (especially in my business). But, if you can't tell one great story about yourself no one else will be able to either. To get one big deal someone has to believe that you can be successful with that big deal. And if you have no references for your greatness then you must become your own self reference.
This post was prompted by an absolutely outlandish extreme marketing example I saw in the Starbucks parking lot today. Check out this guys car. He caught me taking pictures of it which was pretty funny. He acted like it was a totally normal occurrence, which was more funny.

November 7, 2007

Chicken Little and Sky Catcher

My dad used to always say, “If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.” (though the saying is generally credited to Eldridge Cleaver). I've tried to take this philosophy with me to every project and believe it is a good rule to live by. For the sake of clarity I'll define this as being a person that brings solutions not problems (hugely insightful I know).
Everyone has been on a project with someone that has “Chicken Little Complex”. They bring up every possible pitfall in the project, why ideas won't work, and regularly send emails to the project team when pending disaster is inevitable - leading everyone on the project in a fire drill effort that generally could have been avoided (i.e. Foxy Woxy's hole). As a project manager or a project team member strive to be the antithesis to Chicken Little. I call this person “Sky Catcher”. I've held this title on projects multiple times in my career. Sky Catcher is the person on the project that objectively looks at each situation and offers solutions to problems, but more importantly becomes the person that helps advise Chicken Little.

Imagine how different the story would be if Chicken Little was productively educated by Henny Penny on the elemental nature of the atmosphere, the concept of gravity, prompted with ideas of what could have hit her on the head, and more importantly the danger of “forest frenzy” due to adoptive apprehension.

If you have a project team member with “Chicken Little Complex” make it your personal duty on the team to be “Sky Catcher”. Provide solutions but also help prevent others from only bringing problems. Most likely you will find yourself in the position to offer advice often, and may just find yourself leading the next project.

November 4, 2007

Take A Chance...Be Outlandish

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November 1, 2007

"Seven Steps to Success"

My friend Nazia sent me a "Tip of the Day" email with some wise words from Dr. Mark Goulston (author of Get Out of Your Own Way at Work) on things you should know the answers to when starting your own business. If you want to start you own business make sure you have an answer to these questions.

1. What do you love making (product) or doing (service) that has enough value that other people would be willing and want to pay for (your DREAM)?

2. What desire or problem is your product (what you make) or service (what you do) the best answer or solution to (your VISION and MISSION)?

3. What people or what company has a desire or problem that most urgently needs your product or service, i.e. who are the ones that "Gotta have you!" (your MARKETING)?

4. How do you get those people or that company to be aware of their urgent need for your product or service (your ADVERTISING)?

5. How do you convince those people to buy that service or product that they "gotta have?" (your SALES)

6. How do you get your product or service to those people or that company (your PRODUCTION and DELIVERY)?

7. How do you continue to increase the satisfaction and enthusiasm for your product or service, so they'll tell others (your CUSTOMER SERVICE)?

October 29, 2007

Reunions Are Awesome and The Great Experience

This past Saturday my friends Ryan and Chase got married. I love weddings because marriage is awesome (I may be partial since I'm married to an awesome woman) and because when good friends get married it generally means a reunion with lots of friends.

My best friends in the world were at the wedding and we had such a great time. I should have taken more pictures but we were having such a great time hanging out. Our little house was packed out with DocRoc and Weir sleeping on the couch, and the Wold family in the upstairs bedroom. Paul and family also spent most of the day time hours with us so it was a blast. I feel so blessed to have such good friends that will always be there for me if I need them.

The wedding was also fun because we had such a great time with the wedding photographer. I know some pretty awesome wedding photographers and Josh Gruetzmacher was awesome because he helped personalize the experience for the guests as well as the bride and groom. Most weddings I've been to have a photographer that stays behind the scenes to do their job. Well Josh was going far above and beyond by trying to hook Weir (a guest) up with the table of single girls. He put it best when said it was "a land of milk and honeys" over there. If you can quote scripture, make it so the person saying it and receipient was the same name as the guy who first saw the land of milk and honey, and create an innuendo all at the same time you have creating a memorable experience to an art form.

Josh (the wedding photographer one) is awesome and for someone so young could teach a lot of seasoned photographers what it means to create a remarkable experience. I'd recommend him now and that really is the point isn't it?

I did get some pretty good random shots through.

Andy's GQ advertisement (I think Lisa may have actually taken this picture).
The evening sky was a perfect shot with these cool Japanese lanterns
There was a beautiful sunset that night.

They had really great all white table settings.

October 26, 2007

Do You Have Different Types of Ethics?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at Westmont (my alma mater) to the Business Ethics class. There were even a few pre-med students in the class so they got to hear the story of a doctor bound student who took a different road.
In preparing some material I began to formulate some questions regarding having multiple types of ethics. I asked the class, "Have you heard of Marriage Ethics, Sports Ethics, Driving Ethics, or Raising Kids Ethics?" They all said, “No.” But they were taking a class called “Business Ethics”. Why do we have an entire subject dedicated to Ethics in Business?

Yesterday morning I had breakfast with my college coach and we were talking about how it is often easy to justify a different set of ethics in sports. A similar example came up in my conversations with the class when one of the students talked about the last World Cup the USA Women's soccer team won. I had not heard this but the USA goal keeper had stopped a shot during a shoot-out that won them the game. After the game was over a slow motion replay showed the goal keeper steeping forward towards the shooter. In soccer this is illegal as you can only move laterally to stop the ball during a shoot-out. In keeping with a single sports theme, would you slide tackle someone in soccer knowing you could not get the ball to keep them from scoring?

If you knew it meant the difference between winning or losing the World Cup would you take a step forward? It is cheating and against the rules, but could you justify it for that? I don't know if the goal keeper did it on purpose or accident, but she did break the rules.

As a separate example if it meant paying the rent or not paying the rent, would your normal ethical actions change? Do your ethics change when you have more to lose?

During my research I found a quote that my buddy DJ had told me a while back from John Maxwell and made it the topic of discussion with the class.
“There's no such thing as business ethics—there's only ethics. People try to use one set of ethics for their professional life, another for their spiritual life, and still another at home with their family. That gets them into trouble. Ethics is ethics. If you desire to be ethical, you live by one standard across the board.”

The discussion in class was great and they really had awesome insight. Way better insight than I had during college. They even asked me some questions that I had not thought about with regard to a few personal experiences I shared with them. The short of it came to the fact that when there is more at stake you are more willing to move the ethical line. I even got a question during one of the discussions from a student asking if there was any way to “spin” a message so that it did not seem so bad. He didn't use the term “spin” but I think that was the underlying question. It is the dilemma of a whole truth versus half truth. If you tell half the truth does it cancel out not telling the whole truth, and is a half truth more ethical when there is more at stake? I say no, but my experience has showed me that when more is at stake what is ethical becomes hard to see.
I have not read John Maxwell's book, but his underlying premises is The Golden Rule still applies to life. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Thanks to moms around the world (especially mine), you were right.

Care Enough to be Different

A couple weeks ago an old coworker, Kelly Oshiro, contacted me through LinkedIn, which is just rad because we had not talked since she left Santa Barbara. The world being so connected is really wonderful. Kelly and her boyfriend Sam just moved back to Santa Barbara and Sam was looking for a job. Kelly wanted to know if I could possibly provide any guidance. On Tuesday I met with Sam and it was awesome to meet someone so passionate about what he wants. He is a natural product evangelist and I know will be supremely successful.

We talked about what kind of job he wanted, the type of company he wanted to work for, and what was important. He knew what he wanted, but was making one of the biggest mistakes I see when people are looking for a job. His resume was normal, totally normal. Normal equals boring and unmemorable and when applying for a job you want to be remembered. Here was the basic format of Sam's resume.

Sam's resume looked like 99% of the resumes I've seen. He was using one of the common formats, which means his resume was not unique or rememberable because almost everyone is using those formats. If you want to

If you are putting together a resume there are a few big DOs and DON'Ts to keep in mind.

  • DON'T copy the exact format of the sample resume you are using. DO care enough to personalize the style of the resume making it different. Different gets remembered.
  • DON'T list bullets of what you were responsible for at each job. Frankly I don't care what you did, I care what you accomplished. Accomplishments should be measurable and show you you improved the company in some way. Here is a good example from Resume-Resource.
  • DON'T send 20 resumes that are generic to 20 companies. DO want a job bad enough that you spend time customizing the resume for the job you are applying for.
  • DON'T list your GPA unless you had a 4.0 and just graduated, and DON'T put it at the top of the resume.n DO list all education and certifications that are applicable to the job you are applying for.
  • DON'T list “Proficient in Word and Excel” if you're applying for a job that assumes you are. For most jobs it is already a requirement to know these applications. DO list applications that you are proficient in that are unique (i.e. Perl or Java) and make you remembered.
  • DON'T list an “Objective” that says something like, “To get a job and an exciting company in the IT related field.” DO create a “Professional Summary” that is basically your elevator pitch on why someone should hire you.
  • DON'T make it one page and hard to read because of information overload. DO instead increase it to two pages so it's easy to read, but put all the stuff you really want them to see on the first page.
  • DON'T write a cover letter to “Whom It May Concern”. DO enough research to find out the name of the hiring manager or recruiter in HR and direct your resume to them.
  • DON'T ever not apply for a job because you think you're under-qualified. DO take a chance and try to get a job that may be your next big move.
I could probably go on and on, but that seems to be good enough for now. Happy resume writing!

October 24, 2007

If You Can Read This You Are Blessed

I was whining the other day about all the ash that I keep having to wash off our patio. Our bathroom had a thin film of ash on it because we left the window open, which I also was bummed about because I had to clean it all up.

Then yesterday I got this email from one of my friends in San Diego and was brought back to the reality that I'm blessed. On my worst day I'm blessed because I have opportunities that at least 60% of the world does not.

If you're having a crappy day or are feeling like things are not going your way, remember that if you have the Internet and can read this you are blessed.

October 19, 2007

Last Day

And I got this fortune in my fortune cookie today. No Joke! How awesome is that?

October 11, 2007

Watch Out for Falling Rocks

I’m off to a rocky start.

A week ago was supposed to be my last day with Agilysys but I elected to extend my employment. I’ve been managing a large project for six months with a major account that has gotten delayed by one month, and after review decided it was better to not transition the project. There are a few reasons for this, all of which have something to do with hoping to get future business through my own company with the group I’m working with. Additionally the person it would transition to is a really great friend and already loaded with projects.

When I first announced I was going out on my own there were immediately some very large opportunities that came my way. Two of these projects were a year or longer and would have generated over 75% of my income for 12 to 18 months. One of the projects fell through a month ago because the company hired a hotel management company and the other fell through today because of a possible merger or buyout of some kind.

I found out about the second one by breaking one of my cardinal email rules. I was taking Brody to preschool this morning and popped open my email at 8:30 am while he was eating breakfast. The first email I read was from a client saying that it looked like the project was going to fall through and not happen. This immediately put me in a bad mood. Reading email first thing in the morning can do that to you, because email all too often has bad news. My bad mood then affected the family (and our cat who annoyed me and then took the brunt of my bad mood).

If I had waited till 10:00 am to read email I would have been in a better mood when I got to work, had my coffee before finding out bad news (which is important), and Chrystal and Brody would not have experienced my bad mood (and the cat would have had a better morning).

But as in all situations, you dust yourself off and....hi ho, hi ho, it's off to marketing I go.

October 6, 2007

Life Is Beautiful

I'm working on figuring this self-employment life out and feeling pretty confident about it. But there are always things that come your way that you don't have "a plan" for. About 10 weeks ago one of those things came my way. Chrystal and I found out we are pregnant!

What an absolutely awesome day it was. I had just gotten home from a trip and Chrystal surprised me with a special message that night. It was such an awesome memory and we are so excited.

We taped the first ultrasound and sent out a message to friends and family announcing that we were pregnant. Seeing your baby on that screen when it is so tiny with arms and legs and everything is so amazing! Life really is beautiful.

October 3, 2007

Still Swollen But It's Gone

So, my surgery yesterday was about 30 minutes with just a local anesthetic. It was crazy because Dr. Lapatka just kept chatting away the entire time asking questions and I kept thinking, "Can he do surgery on my face while I'm talking?" Apparently so because he did!

It is swollen still but slightly smaller than it was before he took it out. I did get to see what he took out because since I walked around with it for so long I had to (according to Dr. Laptka at least).

It was amazing how fast the entire thing was. It was like doing to the dentist really, and I got to leave with the right side of my face all numb.

October 2, 2007

Going Under the Knife

I'm going in for a minor surgery today to get a lipoma remove from the right side of my face. I've been asked a bunch lately if I have chew in my cheek, which is really funny! I also get the occasional, "Did you go to the dentist today?"

It's been a year long negotiation with the insurance company to get it covered so I'm relieved to finally get the procedure.

September 28, 2007

I'm So Bummed!

So I'm sitting hear tonight and went to check my bank account and make sure things were in order...and this is what I see. Oh jeeze! Nothing like getting information that you don' thave access to your bank information for 48 hours.

Before a bunch of people tell me I should be banking with an established brick and moter bank, I've had an account with Netbak for over seven years and loved every second of it. If I had a problem they resolved it immediately and they had the best bill pay program I've ever seen. I'm so bummed. Given current circumstances and that every bank now has online bill pay I'll probably switch...but we'll see how ING handles the transition.

Here's the kicker, your bank has no responsiblity to inform customers that they are in trouble and will be shut down by the FDIC. I understand why but it still sucks!

If things do go South I'll be creating a blog to raise money, so everybody be reading!

September 27, 2007

Your Job Description Isn't "Mail Manager"

I had a pretty crummy travel experience on my trip this week in missed flights and too little sleep, but I had an interesting conversation that prompted this post. I had a partner in my travel woes that was sharing with me how she often spent her evenings reading and responding to emails creating a 60 hour work week (thanks for the post idea travel partner).
For a long period in my career I received sometimes 200+ emails per day. I’d spend hours every night reading them all and responding appropriately. After about three years of this I decided there had to be a better way. Below is a combination of my and others tips in how to spend less time on email. They are in no particular order.

The Carbon Copy Rule
Build email rules that help you prioritize what to read. Create a folder called “cc mail” and create a rule that moves any message where you are in the cc: field to this folder. Never read them, they are saved for reference only. You may need to create exceptions for certain people or groups which most email engines allow. If you are nervous about this try it for two weeks. I was nervous about it at first but this single rule cut my email volume by two thirds. I’ve now been doing it for three years and have been asked less than a dozen times if I got an email. Most people cc you on message to feel important or CTA (cover their arse), so not reading it is usually no big deal.

I had a co-worker that joked delete every email you get and if it’s important they’ll send it again. If someone cc’s you on an email and needs a response they will most likely send it again directly to you.

It’s All About Me
Build another email rule that flags any email where you are the only person on the To: field in a specific color (my preference is red). This way you can immediately know which email you probably must read and respond to.

It’s All About Them
If you have certain people that you must read their email set them as an exception to The Carbon Copy Rule and build a rule that flags their email in a specific color so you can see them easily (my preference is green).

The Conversation Stopper
Use email as a method of communication not conversation. Request this of co-workers, employees, and clients. If you need to have conversations pick up the phone and talk to the person.

If you receive a reply email (RE:) quickly scan to see if there are multiple of them with the same subject. Sort your email by subject, select the most recent, and read the entire train starting from the top down. I suggest from the top because you may find quickly that you don’t need to do anything and just delete it. If you make it all the way to the bottom you are reading just to read or you’ll find you need to respond in some way. If it is going to take more than one email pick up the phone. You can most likely then delete the emails with the same subject line. If you follow the next rule all questions in the email will probably have gotten resolved and you won't have to respond at all.

e-mail Is Not On Your Task List (a slight variation on a Tim Ferris rule)
If you don’t have a daily task list before the day, start doing it today. Have three important things you must accomplish that day, and one before 10:00 am. Email should never be on that list. Look at email at 10:00 am, not before. After 10:00 am respond to email that requires immediate response, flag what requires follow-up, file or delete the rest. Schedule times to check and respond to email or you’ll spend 4 hours of every day getting nothing accomplished. Try to read email at 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 4:00pm. The 4:00 pm slot lets you respond to any requiring it that day.

Spending one full weekend emptying your email box is not actually accomplishing anything, except maybe generating more email. Avoid this really stupid way to spend your weekend.

Don’t Respond to e-mail on the Weekend (a tip from Tim Sanders)
This is one of the hardest things to do and I know from personal experience. But it is vital to managing your email volume. It is also a good habit if you are a manager because your employees will emulate your behavior. Sending email on the weekend sets the expectation that you’ll read and respond to email on the weekend. If someone really needs to get in touch with you they will find a way other than email.

The next step is to apply this rule to responding to email after hours. I promise, if someone really needs to get in touch with you they will find a way.

If you have other tricks and tips on managing the email nightmare post it for the world to benefit from your wisdom.

You Have to Watch This

Okay, you don't have to...but you should. This is a video clip from "Britian's Got Talent" reality show. It's just awesome! I got goose bumps watching the second clip. This guy is such a great story about following your dreams!

September 14, 2007

In Flight Entertainment

I've always been an isle seat person. But recently I've been enjoying window seats because of the in flight entertainment. I've been spending time on each flight being amazed at the world we live in, just looking out the window of the plane.

Here are few shots I caught from recent flights.

Seattle to Los Angeles. I love flying above the cloud line and absorbing the amazing view it creates.

City of Angels downtown

On your next flight put your book, magazine, or computer down for ten minutes and just admire what you see.

September 13, 2007

It's Not About You

I was visiting a church last Sunday and the pastor’s sermon started with, “It’s not about you…”. His next four words were “…it’s about God.”, but for this post I’m going to focus on the first half.

As I embark on this journey to be a successful hospitality technology consultant I have multiple times thought about the challenge of how to communicate clearly my desire (my mantra if you will) to help clients be successful. I find this especially difficult as a technology consultant because there are so many of us (versus them). This is also a challenge because many prospective customers have had poor experiences with consultants. How do you convince a customer that your desire is for them to be successful and that you can help create value?

I believe the first thing is to recognize that it is not about you. Focus on your customer and see how they react.

In short, use your ears and listen. Epictetus said it best, "We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak."
I’ve posted on this key successful trait before (probably because I recognize how much I need to improve in this area), but I find that listening can help a client believe you want them to be successful. Clients hire you as a consultant because they believe you have or can find answers. And they may be right, but having answers comes with the prerequisite of understanding the problem – vis a vis listening.

Success as a consultant is predicated on your client's confidence that you can make them successful. In your next client meeting build confidence not by knowing all the answers (because you won’t) but by listening and understanding the problems you are there to resolve.

September 10, 2007

Family Matters

This post has been moved to Next Gen Dads. Click here to see this post.

September 8, 2007

Proud Papa

This post has been moved to Next Gen Dads. Click here to see this post.