Microsoft Exec Leaves Over Tweets

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Wednesday I posted about how social media can give away information about companies when all of the employees posts, tweets, and updates are viewed together in my post about Sharing too Much.   I think it is also important to note that posting a little too freely can have negative impacts on a personal level, like was the case with Joe Marini.  Marini was the principal program manager at Microsoft for the Windows Phone web platform, and from what I’ve read about his case on tom’s GUIDE it appears different to me then many other social media mistakes that have cost people their jobs.

“I just got a chance to try out one of the slickest looking #Nokia phones I have ever seen. Soon, you will too! #wp7,” he tweeted on September 7. Not stopping there, he decided to actually rate the device with a firm ‘8’, saying that it had a solid feel, a good camera, a responsive UI and nice little touches on the body construction. So far, the phone sounds like a slick device.

But rating your unreleased product probably isn’t a good idea. Explaining why your product didn’t score a 9 or 10 probably isn’t the best promotional tool either, and likely a good reason to receive a swift kick out the door. “The camera was good, but I didn’t have optimal lighting,” he responded when asked why the device only scored an 8. “I’d like a larger screen too.”

While we have all heard stories about people posting pictures from the game on the day they called in sick, bad mouthing the company in tweets, or just releasing some things that are just too revealing, I think Marini was just being too honest a little too early.  Perhaps he knew he shouldn’t have released the information, or even worse given the new phone less than a 10; regardless, it shows that sometimes it is worthwhile to stay quiet about something.

Advertisements

Sharing too much

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

An article on Bloomberg yesterday, called Hewlett-Packard Shows Hazard of Sharing LinkedIn Profiles: Tech, showcases potential negative effects of sharing too much on social networks.   Our posts, tweets, and status updates could inevitably be monitored by our employers competitors according to the article.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) Vice President Scott McClellan gave away more than his job status when he mentioned the computer maker’s new Web-storage initiative in his profile on LinkedIn Corp., a professional-networking site.

While I was already wise to our current employer taking a look, or future employers as part of a screening process, the level which outsiders could pay attention to them was only a small thought. 

As workers put more information about their lives online through status updates, location check-ins and resume changes, employers are more at risk of competitors watching their every move.

Understandably, the VP of Hewlett-Packard no doubt has more people with an interest in following his updates then someone further down the chain like myself; however, as the quote above gives mention to even someone such as myself could reveal valuable information.  This becomes even more true as the information can be aggregated with others to get a real sense of what is going on inside of a company.  A company here in India had chosen to follow 20 other companies using social media as a study, using employees LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.

At one of the companies, workers began to indicate in their postings that business was slow around October 2010.

“We could sense that they were edgy about something,” Sonwane said. A few months later, a vice president wrote in a LinkedIn status update that he was looking for a new job. When his followers asked why, he responded that the company was about to file for bankruptcy — which it did less than six months later, Sonwane said. He declined to identify any of the companies in the study.

While a wise onlooker may be able to see trends like this without the help of social media it would probably be wise to limit their access.

Startups from Disrupt

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

At Wired.com Ryan Singel and Mike Isaac posted a list called “The 7 Coolest Startups You Haven’t Heard of Yet,” which has a title that pretty much explains it all.  These new startups in the list were all presented at this year’s TechCrunch’s Disrupt Conference in San Fransico.  Out of that list two really stuck out to me:

Trello – Trello is a simple, powerful and free tool for team collaboration from well-known programmer/entrepreneur Joel Spolsky at Fog Creek Software. Projects are broken down into “cards”, which can be assigned to team members, with to-do lists on each.

Team members can see the entire board, keeping an eye on who is working on what, and what the progress of the project is. It’s akin to Basecamp and Pivotal Tracker, both online services popular with software teams, but Trello’s intended to be useful for all sorts of project management, from class projects to running a company. Expect this to be widely popular as its free features are hard to pass up and premium features are expected in the future.

I remember during school working on projects using a number of different programs of tools to colaberate with team members, Google Docs, wiki spaces, and email of course.  Despite having teams with great communication abilities, determination, and general know how our work on projects could often get confusing.  Who is doing what, is this updated, has this been finished, and other questions could require some effert to answer.   Having a free service which gives users basic project management functions could be helpfull in so many areas, and while I haven’t used Trello I am going to spend some time to experiment with it.

CakeHealth – Insurance companies want to screw you, plain and simple. Documentation is intentionally convoluted, deductibles and out of pocket maximums are difficult to keep track of.

CakeHealth aims to cut through the confusion of dealing with health care. Enter your provider and personal enrollment information, and the service acts as a financial planner that keeps track of your activity throughout the year. From warnings on potential billing errors to knowing exactly how much you’ve paid into meeting your deductible, it’s a clear dashboard amid confusing noise.

There’s an added bonus for mobile users — forgetting your insurance card at home is no longer an issue. With the iPhone app, you’ll never leave home without it.

For me dealing with my insurance company and doctor’s office to resolve issues could never get too easy.  So anything that can consolidate information, digitize my insurance information, and show me potential problems will get on my radar.

Creating Rituals

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them–build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

A post Tony Schwartz at FastCompany.com circled around the idea of determination and creating excellence within yourself.  Schwartz asserted that excelling at a skill isn’t something that we are simply born with, but instead put the weight of research behind the adage “practice makes perfect.”

His list entitled the “Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything” are:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualized practice

Schwartz provides some explanation and support for each of the points in his post that are worth reading, and while some or all of it may appear as common sense its helpful to find it written out like this.

Out of all the points listed the last one is the one I thought about the most.  I know that once you get in the habit of something it becomes easier to do, in the sense that it becomes easier to motivate yourself to do it.  For me that is getting in the habit of regular visits to the gym, daily visits in fact.  Once I start going everyday it becomes a habit, and I don’t even think about it.  I just go.  Personally this becomes a cycle, one I have fallen out of a few times.

Schwartz writes in another post on the HBR Blog Network, called The Skill That Matters Most, about building our self control as a skill.  Developing that skill is one way that we can increase our determination, giving us the willpower to do or stop doing the things we know we should or shouldn’t.  Once we build a ritual, or a routine, around something it makes it easier for us to will ourselves to do it by making it easier to maintain our determination.

Ironically part of how we build this skill is by creating a healthy lifestyle, like visiting the gym, because getting to that stage requires energy.  It is easier to will ourselves to do something when we are at peak levels because all of this determination and self control depletes our energy reserves.  Maintaining our energy reserves obviously has an impact on our ability to contribute, but it also impacts our ability to will ourselves to do things.

TechStars

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

 

A post at TechCrunch yesterday sparked my interest in a new documentary “reality TV” show, which premiered last night on Bloomberg TV, about a group called TechStars.  I had only briefly heard of the organization before, which is best described by their own words:

TechStars is the #1 startup accelerator in the world.  We’re very selective – Although thousands of companies apply each year, we only take about ten companies per program. We have selection rates lower than the Ivy League, so you have to be among the best of the best to be in TechStars.

The show, which will give viewers an inside look on the TechStars process of mentoring 10 startups from the “class of 2011,”  could be worth watching for numerous reasons.  First, it could give me an inside look to the types of ideas that could be emerging in technology and cloud computing in the coming years.  Secondly, and of a bigger interest to me, it could provide a better view of how startups like these need to refine their ideas, present to investors, and work with different companies to support them.  

I haven’t been able to watch the premier episode yet, or the trailer, so I could be wrong about the show.  What I do know is that I have had family set my home DVR to record the show, and I will need to sit down and watch it when I get back.  Hopefully, my predictions of the shows content are correct and there will be something valuable and insight recorded back home.  In my mind that is a rarity with reality TV.

 

 

TechStars – Top Minds In Tech from Elizabeth Gould on Vimeo.

What We Eat

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

From Visual Economics

This info-graphic from Visual Economics caught my interest, and caused me to compare it to my own diet.  After some thought I could easily tell some things are out of proportion with my personal intake, strikingly so if you spend 3 months in India.  I often think of how much my diet has changed from being back home and how much, and why that is.  There is definitely less meat, as most days are purely veg, along with less dairy, fruits, and soda in my diet.  Some things I expected, like less meat, but less fruit surprised me when I got here.  That isn’t to say it is available, but it isn’t part of my normal meals.

The most interesting application of something like this is thinking about how things add up over the course of a year, much like how Mint.com summarizes my spending habits over time.  In my case both exercises have told me I most likely spend to much time at local diners back in Milwaukee.

Drive to Innovate

September 8, 2011 1 comment

I agree with the notion that to make your mark you need to not only do your job or run your business well, you need to innovate.  I happened to read an article at FastCompany.com yesterday that reinforced the idea called, “Thomas Friedman To United States: Innovate Or Else.”  One of the quotes that stuck out to me was:

Nor is innovation confined to the private sector. “The army’s on to all of this,” says Friedman, “their lives depend on it.” In an eye-opening interview, America’s top armed forces official, the future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, tells Friedman that the need to innovate is eroding the hallmark of the military: hierarchy. In the past, “we would have said we want men who are physically fit, educated, and disciplined. Now, what we way is that we want someone who wants to belong to a values-based group, who can communicate, who is inquisitive, and who has an instinct to collaborate.”

I may have to pick up a copy of this when I get back to the states, but in the meantime I actually checked out a copy of Successful Innovation, by Michel Syrett and Jean Lammiman, from the library at my office park.  So far it seems to be making the case that companies need to innovate to stay competitive.  Specifically to quote the back cover:

Successful Innovation is crucial to a business’s competitive edge, even its survival, but study after study reveals that many organizations are failing to tap the potential of their staff.

The quick one sentence summary on the cover seems to agree with Freidman’s point above, but the book was written 10 years ago.  I don’t think that these writers viewpoints have gone unheard, I believe almost everyone understands the need for innovative ideas and people; however, I think people fall into the trap that Nilofer Merchant writes about in her post on the HBR Blog Network.  She writes that people are often afraid to speak up and put forth the ideas that need to be said, the ones that are sometimes obvious and right in front of us but never get shared.  The difficulty is the same many teachers face in the classroom, how to get those students/members of your group to speak up and contribute.  To get over the fear of being wrong.  So I will end this post with the words she wrote to motivate us.

The silence needs to be broken. And perhaps risking being the fool is necessary to move forward. Underlying all that is courage — Courage to speak, courage to risk, courage to step forward rather than sit quietly. Courage to break the silence and when you do, the blind will see, the different viewpoints will be heard, and we can reduce suck-ness where we work.

Could it be….you’re ready to speak up?

%d bloggers like this: