Sunday, March 2, 2014

Day 150 3/2/13 Never-ending winter

March can be a bit much in MN but you can be assured that the snow that falls will not last long and that the real cold was over a few weeks ago. At 10:21 AM it's -9F and going for -15F tonight.  With a 50% Norwegian heritage I'm genetically conditioned to respond to all of this with "that's the way it is" or as my half-baked Lutheran Norwegian relatives would say "God has a plan."  Last year it snowed in May.  We have about three feet on the ground and it's 6+ feet high in the plow piles.

Typically all this snow insulates the ground a bit which is good.  Septic systems are less likely to freeze which results in a temporary Satellite unit in your front yard and neighbors timing your bladder and bowel control.  This year the water lines from the main in the street to the houses are freezing.  The pipes freeze under the street where there is no snow cover.  Everyone is taking the temperature of their cold water.  Ours is 40.5F coming out of the tap which means it's about to freeze under the street.  The city fathers and mothers have recommended that if your cold water is less than 41F just let it run until April.  Apparently the frost is about eight feet down and perhaps further under the streets.  Even in a more temperate year you can find frost in May.  On the upside it will be a shorter summer with fewer ticks and mosquitos.

Work Stuff...
Recently I came across this innovative writer/artist Austin Kleon who has written several thought-provoking books on shameless self-promotion.  While they are focused on the more creative side of the workforce much is relevant for the corporate climber, as well.  After all, we're all just making stuff up all the time and stealing (borrowing) from others.

Austin recommends creating your own online persona that survives the trends.  Facebook is projected to be a dead app by 2017 according to my son.  Austin comments that no one remembers MySpace.  I created my first online presence almost a decade ago but I think life got in the way of leveraging this but clearly the idea was right and it was early enough.  During my 27-year gig it is clear that for many of the technical and process innovations that I implemented and attempted to implement that I was far too ahead of the curve.  Today they are still trying to implement ideas I pitched almost a decade ago to deaf ears.

My better half has convinced me to watch Shark Tank where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of very successful investors who choose or choose not to invest.  The comments from the panel can be quite entertaining.  The more annoying panelist, Kevn O'Leary, is quick to discount the pitchmen when they question his offers with the quick qwip "you are dead to me."  I wish I'd been more outspoken during the 27-year gig and used that line.  It may have caused me to move on more quickly but you can't play country western for a jazz crowd.  Finding the right venue is paramount.  Austin Kleon pitches that notion of creating your own crowd online.  I've been a bit hung up on business the old fashioned way, not that I don't think brick and mortar to be more or less dead, but that you work in a context, a company or an organization comprised of people that come together for whatever reason and then you make plans from ideas and strategic opportunities.  Unfortunately you spend all your time educating people who might be riding the short bus and you suffer from the money-changers controlling strategy.  Austin Kleon is correct.

I follow another blog written by a guy in the Pacific Northwest who is a farmer and a writer.  While certainly he's attached to the land and the traditional farming paradigm and while there are strong movements within agriculture for healthier and better land-conservation methods he's facing the monetary reality of really big agriculture.  A recent post talked about the importance of sharing thoughts and feedback from the geographically dispersed rather than the locals.  Writing about farming, his approach to farming, might be are more rewarding and profitable direction.  One of my employees once embarked on a big landscaping project which was a disaster, including him rolling the Bobcat, getting a third-degree burn, etc. At the point he hired a real landscaper we discussed the importance of doing what you are good at.  You can poke around at the other stuff for fun, etc., but leverage the your core good skills.

I'm good at certain organizational challenges but I'm much better at seeing their opportunities and the parts that need repair.  That's the disconnect.  Organizations, regardless of what they say, do not want to change, or they are simply incapable of rapid change.  As individuals we have the same problem.  I'd like to move away from this snow and ice but I'm burdened by stuff and real estate.  Were it as simple as walking away I'd leave in an hour.  So now I'm almost one-half year into this change.  This journey is starting to come into much clearer focus.