Saturday, February 28, 2015

Monetization and Non-Monetization

Work requires diligence and focus.  Writing requires effort and a focus on conveying messages and thoughts that appeal to a reader.  There are a number of blogs that I follow that contain no advertising.  The writers are very diligent, some more focused on daily production than others.

My intent in this was to chronicle my move to other employment or gainful income after the end of the 27-year gig and to write every day.  The "every day" component has not been achieved but at times I'm written more and that's been good for a number of reasons.

The intent of focusing on monetization has been good and a learning experience.  Yesterday I did receive and email from Amazon.  My blog posts with advertisements from Amazon are a result of participating in their 'affiliate' program.  A reader who follows an Amazon advertisement and actually buys something is good for those in the affiliate program.  You receive a small commission.  The email was nice but indicated no one had purchased and I would be bumped after 180 days of 'nothing.'   That's no surprise.  Lots of accounts go dead with inactivity.

With Amazon I have a couple of tracking IDs, one for this blog and another for a food blog that we write in conjunction with our cafe.  The blogs are linked to our Facebook pages.  Often our witty, clever and insightful Facebook posts are 'liked' but it appears that few people follow the blog post links from within Facebook.  My opinion is that if you want a lot of action on Facebook you have to have a lot of dancing cats and cute dog videos.

March  Goals ...
  1. Write a post on this blog daily
  2. Write a post on the food blog weekly
  3. Apply for one job at the Google Apps partner
  4. Add Adsense & Amazon Affiliate content to 'parked domains'
Friday Accomplishments...
  • Finally found 8x8 replacement ceramic floor tile
  • Replaced the protective screen plastic on my iPhone 5
  • Found the owner of a lost cane
  • Helped a couple of old ladies to their cars (who's going to help me)
  • Read with great enthusiasm the advertisement for a free Amazon AWS seminar
  • Pondered the usefulness of LinkedIn
  • Thought again if Seth Godin actually writes all his own blog posts or if he has a staff 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What does matter?

Nicolas Carr, in his 2004 release of  "Does It Matter?: Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage," proposed that IT was at a point of consolidation and standardization and that each company having it's own IT infrastructure (particularly servers, storage, security provisioning, IT Staff in support of the preceding) was all a bit silly.  At a point during the industrialization of the United States, businesses located themselves along rivers which they could harness to drive mechanical devices.  Not long after the water power was harnessed to produce electricity which replaced the water driven pulley and belt power distribution systems.  Each company produced their own electricity, most of it direct current but of different types and distribution mechanisms.  

As electrical distribution spread from manufacturing to residential communities the inconsistent power characteristics gave rise to a consolidation and standardization (ConEd =Consolidated Edison).

Over the course of my IT career there was a large migration from mainframe computers to distributed mini-computers, the evolution of personal computers and emergence of personal computer-based servers and then back to large storage systems and resource pools that allowed for processing and storage virtualization (dynamic).  Cloud computing moves much of that off-premise and into "the cloud" allowing for reduction in IT staff levels and a buy as needed philosophy.  We don't think twice about plugging into a 110v AC outlet; we know what's coming out.  That's the answer of cloud computing.  

At the time of the release there was considerable backlash from the entrenched IT executives and in particular vendors of premise-based IT solutions.  I found the concept intriguing, probably getting my first Amazon S3 account a few years later and tested it as a replacement for our expensive and on-premise backup solution.  

I'm going to apply for a position with one of the leading Google business application solution providers.  They work with companies to get them out of the IT business, allowing them to focus on their business, not on IT.  During my 27-year gig I formed a consortium of like executives in the commercial construction industry.  All of us were maintaining similar but separate infrastructures, often with under or over capacity challenges and always the battle of dollars with the CFO types.  We agreed in this small group that IT provided no competitive advantage to our highly competitive companies and we agreed that if we shared the challenges and successes and "finds" of our similar IT paths we would all live a bit better and all be more successful.  This group started in the late 1990's.  Had I been a Harvard professor I would have taken the time to write the book that Nicolas Carr wrote.

So I'm going to apply for a position with the local (with national recognition) Google Business Application company.  They'd like someone who can talk with C-level executives, primarily on the phone.  I've been on the buyer's side and negotiated the overly complex agreements and licenses qualifications with Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, etc.  I think I can sell Google.

Changed World
Stated before has been my position that I am not a big tablet user primarily because I like to have a real keyboard.  The web provides many resources and combined with a smartphone/digital camera you can pretty much figure out how to solve a lot of problems and gather a lot of information.

One of my children is moving to a new (old) house and I've been helping a bit with some of the upgrades.  My onsite equipment includes a lot of hand tools and a few power tools.  Strangely and progressively enough I also found it helpful to have a personal computer on site for finding answers.  This happens to be a Samsung Chromebook which runs the Chrome operating system and with which I most often use Google apps for writing, analytics, etc.

Music helps when work so I did also bring a Bluetooth speaker and streamed music from my iPhone using Amazon Prime Music, a few favorite podcasts and my own library of music which now resides on the cloud.

It's a much changed world of computing.  I'm not sure that we'll save all that much personally or in the business setting but we will eliminate the challenge of supporting our complex infrastructure. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Moving On, Good Tools & Bad...

Faced with an opportunity in our personal lives, perhaps even something that's challenging and difficult, we leverage our past experience or reach out to someone in our personal network that has that experience or who knows someone, the open ended friend of a friend connection.

YouTube extends that friend of a friend network.  If you want to do some brake maintenance on your 2008 Ford Fusion you can find it, and some person doing it casually will be more authentic than a slick video production by Ford (who would not do this anyway because of the service business revenue stream).

During our employment (or business ownership) we have a range of resources both subcontractors and vendors and of course our valued employees.  This is the strength of 'the organization.'

I used to judge my peers, fellow managers and executives, quite simply.  Would they make a good neighbor, honoring boundaries, showing up to help without solicitation and understanding the proportional responsibility of talking and listening.  Seth Godin writes frequently on his blog and in far fewer words than I use, convey thoughtful prompts at business, life, leadership, etc.

The essence of his blog post which started me thinking was on a theme of looking foolish.  Good leaders are willing to set down their guard, to not act corporate, not be aloof and to not play it safe.  

The long term CEO of my former employer was an interesting guy.  His grandfather started the business and he grew into his leadership role under the guidance of his father and at least one of his uncles.  Today I wrote the following:
Jim Ryan, while clearly in charge and in pursuit of his vision, drew his audience in, pleasantly comfortable with pointing the 'fool' finger at himself and others.  I enjoyed his ability to do that, not at the expense of others.

Revised Criteria List for Good Managers & Executives:

  • Would they make a good neighbor?
  • Are they comfortable being foolish?
  • If they were in the front of the room how long could you listen to them?

 My Facebook comment for this image was "
Consideration was given to attempting to re-enter the earth's atmosphere but there may be a problem with the heat shield...this is all I have to work with."  That seemed to be clever at the time.

Good tools and good people help us succeed.  The screwdriver and the Irwin Vicegrip are junk. The bolt cutter looks good but I fully expect it to explore in my face at the worst possible time.  The Milwaukee screw gun is old and but a 12V but I just bought new batteries for it because it was USA made.  The new batteries are Chinese.

People let us down, especially those that are tools.

The next time I'm in a hiring position for IT people I'm going to show the candidate this image and ask them 1) what the items are and 2) what are three things they could do with these. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lapse in Concentration

Performance Gap..
Now two weeks into a good winter cold an excuse could be made for a failure to post, but it's not a good excuse.  I've been reading a lot about blogging and blog branding in the pursuit of blog monetization.  Previous posts have mentioned that really successful bloggers are women between 25 & 40 who write about food, children, marriage, love and probably home decorating.  Who exactly cares about geezers and their pursuit of income?

The smart people, those of 'thought leadership' designation in the blogging world stress that 75% of all leads on pretty much anything come from Facebook posts, sponsored or not.  Blogs are a bit passe.  Readers want the short sound bite (word bite?  thought bite?) and have little interest in having to read a number of posts to understand your current post.  Certainly the food bloggers have individual posts stand on their own.  You don't need to refer back to previous posts to understand the food project of the day.  If you've seen one Rachael Ray cooking episode, you've seen them a can.

Social Media and the Pursuit of Work...
The outplacement firm stresses the importance of face-to-face networking and contacts, get in front of people.  I've sat through a number of seminars there and even the staff themselves seem not totally caught up in the social media world.  That's interesting because everyone checks out your social media presence before interviewing and that's how most of us find out about new position openings and it's how we keep in touch with key placeholders in our networks.  Just today I reached out to a Senior VP of Marketing who might not have taken or responded to a call but responded to a forwarded link on marketing/branding/innovation within two hours.

As I grind through the wrap up of business and personal taxes I'm focused on a second quarter income pursuit.  This includes putting a wrap on the outplacement resource.

Global Warming...
Conventional wisdom, actually contemporary wisdom on blogging would indicate that these should be single thought posts, but I'm not ready for that.  Historically JAN & FEB in MN have been tests of one's ability to deal with cold and snow.  This year I've rarely put on a hat and routinely don't wear gloves.  Now it's more or less 20 degrees F and some might find that nippy but the warmer weather makes it feel like March and certainly that is the time of the year to start shedding.

Agriculture & Bees...
After 50 years I'm about ready to wrap up the beekeeping.  My 75 year old beekeeper friend listened to me make that announcement, later commenting that I should have at least a couple of colonies.  Of course he milked 150 cows until he was 70.

There is the opportunity to bring back some of our ignored and abused cropland which my renter plants in corn despite my annual indication to do otherwise.  It's time for me to seriously attend the following and buddy up w/ the agricultural extension office:

Art & Culture...
The small business backs up to a railroad track which carries at least fifteen trains per day, most of them eastbound from the North Dakota Bakken oil field.  Boxcars, almost without exception carry graffiti from...well, I guess a lot of rail yards across the country.  This particular car was remarkably well done.  We it not for the brambles and the the fact the train was moving about 20 MPH a closer shot would be had.  Growing up next to the tracks which was a much a playground as the street in front of the house I have a sense of caution and preservation on getting too close and I'm always looking for my exit route as they rumble by and consideration is given to ignored maintenance and impending derailment.

The left end of the car has a nice image.  A final image was on the trailing end of the car.

What did catch my attention, too was the message "who's next?"  I'm quite certain I'm next in one way or another.