Tom The Architect

Technology and other Interesting Stuff

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Another Andy Grove quote

Andy Grove one of my all time favorite business icons has a great quote in his book High Output Management. Writing about the consequences of and the rates of change enabled through globalization he says:

When products and services become largely indistinguishable from each other, all there is by the way of competitive advantage is time.

This quote makes me think about the time related components within a strategy and consider how they can be optimized prior products and services becoming equivalent.

Unconquered

One of my favorite poems, I find myself re-reading it on occasion.

Invictus
By: William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Three Interesting Things about Me

  1. I have done every terrible job on a construction site, and know firsthand the value of a working trash pump.
  2. I wrote my first BASIC program in the 5th grade and was the only 11 year old in programming class full of adults.
  3. I could eat pizza everyday of my life, It is my favorite food.

2 lessons I learned that were critical in my career

Key lesson #1:
One of the most powerful things you can do for the people around you is provide clarity. Clarity empowers people, improves execution and allows for greater accountability. I always try to keep in mind the quote by Lewis Carroll “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”. 
 
Key lesson #2:
We all need help along the way and my success can not be attributed to my efforts alone. I have succeeded because others helped when I needed it, sometimes without my knowledge. So having been a beneficiary of many investments of help throughout my career, I have an obligation to repay those investments by helping others when they need it. 

 

The future

My absolute favorite quote about the future:

The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

William Gibson

Quotes for the week

Jeff Bezos in the December 3, 2012 issue of Fortune Magazine

Your margin is my opportunity.

Amazon’s willingness to operate on lean margins, with a customer focus, and a long term perspective creates a powerful competitive advantage. Mr. Bezos and Amazon may be drinking your milkshake next.

Matt Honan in January 2013 issue of Wired Magazine

Even the sharpest 4K set, with the thinnest of bezels and darkest of blacks, isn’t going to help you track down that episode of Breaking Bad you missed.

Even with great design and technology, a product still must solve the right problems.

Sage Advice

“Eating other peoples lunches is great, BUT you better also eat your own damn lunch’

Do you have Professional Courage

Aristotle wrote in the Nicomachean Ethics:

Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.

And for a great example how it applies to our professional lives watch Ben Horowitz explain the importance of courage in his interview with Kevin Rose. His explanation starts at 17:50 but I recommend watching the entire interview. Ben Horowitz is brilliant and if you don’t believe me try reading his blog.

Within companies there is always talk of openness, honesty, integrity and many more virtues. How often do you hear courage being discussed. I wrote about the Steve Yegge’s approach to presenting to Jeff bezos. Steve describes his source of courage, he writes:

I worked hard and had fun, but every day I honestly worried they might fire me in the morning. Sure, it was a kind of paranoia. But it was sort of healthy in a way. I kept my resume up to date, and I kept my skills up to date, and I never worried about saying something stupid and ruining my career. Because hey, they were most likely going to fire me in the morning.

His courage came from believing he had nothing to lose. He could suffer a fate no worse then being fired.

Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting and former member of the U.S. High Diving Team has a good article on courage , he writes:

courage is the lifeblood of such important business concepts as leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. Indeed, in the absence of courage, these concepts don’t exist!

It is not often you see or hear of courage in a professional setting. No one has an annual objective to demonstrate courage, but in the end we all must possess it and demonstrate it. Without courage, we would be full of honesty, openness and integrity but with no willingness to act.

Courage first and then everything else.

A product, is a product, is not a sandwich

In many businesses you hear people refer to the things the company sells as product, or material, or skus, or content. The abstraction of a burger or a mop, creates detachment between how the business thinks and how the customer thinks, resulting in a lack of accountability for the experience and value the customer receives. I cringe when I hear Suzanne Greco, Vice President Of Research & Development, SUBWAY refer to the things Subway sells as “product”.  There is an intimacy we all must have with the things we sell, and customers don’t think about how great a Subway product would taste. The customer thinks in concrete and tangible terms and so should the businesses that hope to meet their needs.  In Subway’s case they sell food, Sandwiches made of bread, lunch meat and cheese. Just listen to the video linked above and replace the word product with sandwich or bread. The interview in my opinion has a completely different feel using real and intimate terms. So, lose the abstraction, be real and intimate with the things you sell.

My favorite view of London

My favorite view of London by TomC
My favorite view of London, a photo by TomC on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
At the Tate Modern in London, on the 5th Floor (I think) there is a door right next to a snack shop and gift shop. If you aren’t paying attention you will miss it. But walk through that door to a Patio and you will see this view. This panorama doesn’t do the view Justice. When you walk out on to the patio the first words out of your mouth will be WOW! The view is Art all by itself, a modern ever changing canvas. The act of walking through a standard doorway compresses the view and then once over the threshold the view explodes. Just another justification for taking time to explore and look around in all directions.