I always wanted to be a hero…. never knew I already was

As a kid I had heroes, from athletes, to musicians, to actors.   I would dream about being a hero, being successful having everything I ever wanted in the world.  From reading books of swashbuckling swordsmen, to winning a Stanley Cup, to singing in front of fifty thousand fans what else would anyone want in a hero. There are even times later in life that I would daydream about it.  It seemed the world would be perfect if I could just be one of these superstars, it seemed like their lives were perfect.  They seem to do everything right, the worked out, looked awesome, made money, got the girls etc.

Every so often i would hear about chinks in the armor.  Finding out that the ripped athletes were taking drugs, professional wrestlers who were sworn enemies were actually best friends, and learning musicians were ‘taking drugs’ to write songs started to wear on me.  One of my favorite heroes Bruce Lee smoked marijuana and was most likely hooked on cortisone and there was no way he could reach the body fat he was without it.

So if heroes aren’t what they seem to be maybe I should be looking at it in a different way.  In the movie “A Bronx Tale” the dad shouts at C letting him know what real heroes are, stating the working man is the real hero.  I saw his argument, but didn’t think he was one hundred percent complete.

Three months ago, I lost my wife, and I knew I had to hold it together, it took everything I knew to not completely freak out.  What I found out that I had, or I should say we have a lot of good friends and family that stopped their world to be by my side.  It was overwhelming, it was unbelievable, and still is ongoing.  What took me three months to realize, I had been there for my friends in their darkest hours (and their brightest days) and will continue to try to be.  My sister has been helping out in my house, and many of my friends have been doing anything I ask.

Today I went to visit someone in the hospital, a friend who i saw at Shiva, but had not seen in a long time before that.  I didn’t think twice about trying to make some time during my crazy day to get there.

The notion of friendship, how to be a good friend, and to surround yourself with the right people.  That is what is makes a hero.  And its the ability to do the little things to make someones day, to help one another, In a book my father read to me Alexandre Dumas wrote “All for one, and one for all..”  The three musketeers were one of my heroes, and to realize I have grown up to be like them, or at least to follow what they have found in each other.   I have become one of my heroes, as well as my sister, many in my family, and most of my friends.  We may not carry swords and fight a bad king, we fight for one another.

 

The Blind Squirrel Theory… or Blind Pig Theory?

I have heard this saying thousands of times “Eventually a Blind Squirrel finds a nut.”  But even as I say this, I know the saying is wrong.  The original saying was even a blind pig finds a nut.  Blind Pig I remember the origin of when i learned the saying.  I was in high school, and was playing tennis.  I had to play a girl Sandy Stein.  All I heard was that she was going to beat me etc.  Well somehow I managed to beat her, and my friend Scott said “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut”  Yep it might be true, but for that day, I had a blind squirrel day.

I later heard Dennis Conner use the line “Eventually a Blind Squirrel finds and Acorn” was he was able to managed to win the 4th race against the Aussie’s winged keel boat in 1983.   Liberty (Dennis’s boat) won the first 2 races because of equipment failure against Australia II.  Australia easily one the 3rd race.  The forth race Liberty managed to win by under a minute, and led to Dennis Conner making the quote.  He knew they had a far superior boat.   It also led to Dennis Conner to saying sailing was on it way to becoming more of a science then an art.

There are dozens of other variations and stories I heard about blind squirrel/pig, and some compare the saying to a broken clock is right twice a day.  To me this is different, the blind squirrel gets lucky, the clock has the exact right combination, its just waiting for the world to come to it.    To me being right or victorious once does not mean much, but it definitely can make some interesting results.  What make march madness (for those who don’t know what it is, just google it ) so exciting is that anyone can beat anyone on any day.   My dad used to say this to me all the time.  And in March Madness, you do not need to be the better team, you just need to be the better team for that one game.  Sports that have the best of 7 series, its harder for a lessor team to win.

Being good or great means consistency.   Having a great game or great year is wonderful, but strive to be consistently good throughout your career.  This truly will make you the opposite of a blind squirrel.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

Sometimes you paint the fish, Sometimes you paint the car..

When I was in college i heard a story about one of my favorite cars, the Mako Shark corvette.  In particular how the paint job was finally agree upon.  You can see the story here  The jist of the story, Bill Mitchell the head of the team, wanted the car painted like the Shark he had on the wall, and the team tried.  Each time Bill would compare the fish to the paint job, and say it wasnt good enough.  At one point the team took the fish, painted the fish and the car the same.  When Bill went to compare the two, they were a perfect match, and he said “finally you got it…”

What does this mean, any time you are asked to compare two things, make sure you are changing the right thing.  Know your target, and sometimes you need to change your target.  One example was we once built a new system, and we were told that we need to compare it to the output of the old system.  For days we were struggling, but then we took a step back.  We looked at the code and calculations of the old system, and realized the calculation was wrong.  Getting the business to compare the old versus the new, would be useless when one is completely incorrect.   We finally were able to convince the business to start comparing it to what the answer should be, not the old data, and got back on track.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

 

Bruce Lee… And Defeat…

In April of 2017 my daughter was playing in the semi-finals to win a national championship for hockey in Michigan.  The team was tired, a short bench, and younger kids playing up in age group.  The survived the round robin, and won a quarterfinal game.  In the round robin game 2 we find ourselves down by 1, and managed to strike back.  In game 3 we were down 2, scored one late in the second, tied in the third, and won in over time.  But What does this have to do with Bruce Lee, we will get to that later.

Which leads us to the semi-final game.  Before the game, the coach was told that due to our record in the round robin, we had secured a bronze medal already (if we lost.)  In the semi-final game we found ourselves down by 2, how we got there is not material.  We had come back from down 2 before, so it should not have been the end.  But in between the 2nd and 3rd period during the ice cut, one of the players announced we were going to lose the game.   This was from one of the girls who was looked to as a leader.  Needless to say, other than 1-2 girls we came out flat and lost the game.

Once i heard the story I remember what Bruce Lee once said “Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”    The game was not over, yet once there a player or two decided it was, there was no chance to win.  And even in defeat to those who quit didn’t see any victory.  For those who fought hard till the end, who left it all on the ice trying to win, celebrated the bronze and can look back on the success.  For those who quit, will never look back and have that enjoyment, as it they will be reminded of what they could have tried to do.

My daughter was incredibly upset at losing, but more upset of those who quit, and others that serve to place blame.  Within hours she realized how far the team came, and what a successful season it was, and no longer accepted it as a defeat, but a victory to how far they got.  She turned to find a way to celebrate the season instead of harping on the loss.  Even Kurt Warner said his biggest regret was after losing the Super Bowl with the Rams was not celebrating how far they had gone that year.   Here is hoping the team gets together to celebrate what they achieved and will not be defeated.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading

How many “List of Successful things people do are there”….

In my twitter, facebook, email and other feeds I get a least one “Top X things Successful people do” Articles, and like a sucker I read each one.

  • http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-things-successful-people.html
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-friday-afternoon-2016-10
  • and over 3 million other links.

I don’t know why I read each one, hoping there is some magic pill that makes me turn from who I am to uber successful.  Then I woke up.   I finally realized, these articles are no better than the “fitness” in a bottle, or even lose weight on a DVD.   It does not take a genius to realize that you cannot lose weight by taking a pill, that no workout is going to rescue you from eating a crappy diet.   There is no study ever proving any of it, no matter what Dr. Oz or other idiot on the TV says.  Losing weight is purely about 1 thing, finding a calorie deficit, aka. burning more calories than you take in.  (If you read my fit.lrau.com blog you will see there are some questions about what is a calorie and a lot of interesting side thoughts but I digress)

So if you cannot lose weight in a $19.95 purchase, what made me think, I can suddenly become successful by reading an article and suddenly giving myself 10 new traits/practices etc.  And yeah it took years of reading these articles to wake up.  I woke up to the reality that anyone can find dozens are so successful people, find a few things they have in common and say “Hey guess what, do these or act like this” and you will be successful.   I chose to see what I hide in common with Bruce Lee to prove a point.  Lets assume we are both “successful” here is what i found we have in common.

  • We both took fencing
  • We both believe our children are our greatest accomplishment
  • We believe the relationship with our spouse is one of a team
  • We both had a miniature schnauzer for a pet
  • We both read a to on non-fiction to learn
  • We both multi-tasked often (reading / listening to music)
  • We both were constantly fidgety

Now of course I went for stuff that really seems insignificant, and that was done intentionally.  Success does not happen due to having some list of traits.  In fact I wish the articles would find people that had the same 10 traits and were not successful.  To me it would be like athletes are musicians.  I know 100s of musicians that I think are really good at playing or singing.  But very few “made” it.  Same with Athletes, 100s that are talented, work hard and look like they should be playing at the next level.   But only few of each ever make that ‘next’ level, and fewer stay there.

So what are you supposed to do.  Later in life my daughter had a hockey coach who carried around a saying in his wallet.  “My name is Josh Esformes, and I make a living being myself”  To me it is something that sank in, to be successful, you need to be yourself.  Taking the athlete example again, look at Borg, McEnroe and Connors as tennis players (Google them if you don’t know who they are)  They were as different personality as they could be, Borg was quiet, and just went to work, McEnroe somehow had to get enrage and angry to play well, and Connors needed energy from the fans and pumped his fist often.  Yet they were all successful.  You don’t have to be someone else to be successful, you need to be yourself, who that is, you must find out.  It is your inner journey, and Bruce Lee would be proud of that, as he always believed reaching up and learning (guess that is another thing we have in common)   I now carry that same saying in my wallet (changing the name of course)  and will let others determine how successful I am.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading.

Revisiting Plan your dive.. than dive your plan

One of my original posts has to do with planning…  Revisiting it and adding a little to it

When i was starting out in IT, I took a lot of classes to get certifications.  Most I realize were kinda dumb and not worth it in the long run.  In fact I think most of the certifications are for companies and software that no longer exists.  But back to the story.

When building and releasing applications the teacher used a metaphor of Diving.  Being a diving instructor as well as teaching IT, he stated I am going to teach you to plan your dive, then dive your plan.  He wanted us to make sure that our turnovers went smoothly, he taught us how to make sure we created install scripts, and tested them.  He wanted each step to be documented, and timed to the minute.   Once the scripts and the instructions were completed, we had planned our dive.   The next step, dive to the plan or execute the turnover.

This has stayed with me for over 20 years of building IT projects, and does help me get things done.  But sometimes you have to know when to “alter” your plans.  Each plan needs to come with some checkpoints.  These checkpoints have to be early than often.  You dont want to go 2-3 months into a project and realize the target has changed.  Do not be afraid to change course, but only change course after you have done some evaluation

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading.

Graham Cracker Theory

I forgot about this one when working on the book, which is funny as I use it often.  The Graham Cracker theory is very simple, if you are in the desert, and have not eaten for 2 days, and someone gives you a stale moldy graham cracker, it is the worlds best cracker you ever eaten.  I used this to describe the World Cup of hockey (as it really wasn’t the world cup – more just the world of NHL cup) and dozens of other situations.

In your personal life, you need to be aware of any situation, that you are not starving for something so much that you take it as the best thing in the world.  Understand and control your appetite.  I have heard the expression do not go shopping on an empty stomach, it is sorta of the same thing.  I have seen it time and time again, where people are making decisions just because they are starving for an answer.  Learn to be patient, and learn to understand what is good versus what just happens to be there.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

Sometimes someone writes something better than you could…

And this is one of the times.   19 Things that I wish my daughter learns….

Having two daughters I hope they learn all of it way before that.  The last is to find one charity that you can give to.   I have written about that previously.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

Why Management is so “stupid”….

I have seen this in every company I have been, though some of the senior manager were technically the brightest people I know, at some point they seem to be clueless.  Everyone underneath is always saying “why can’t they see X or Y” when its horribly going wrong.  And at the end of the day it turns out more to be ignorance versus brains.

Let start with most of the places I worked for them fathom themselves as a Meritocracy.  And managers try to promote and pay “key players.”  One thing about this is that anyone who is smart is only going to inform management of good things, and successes.  Anything going wrong they will try to hide and fix themselves in a vacuum.  Once fixed, they don’t let managers know as it is not that important.   Sometimes these hidden “gems” or issues are not fixed, and people move off or leave the projects, leave this technical debt for someone else.  Telling managers they made a mistake or there is an issue (whether it is their fault or not) managers often to shoot the messenger,

So this leads to often lower level people not telling their direct manager there is an issue.  Often until its “too late.”   Of course this goes for each level of management.  As each manager in a hierarchy going up gets less and less information.  Thus the senior management often is least in the know of what is wrong.   Hopefully there aren’t people telling management that “Every thing is perfect” who are outside the project, adding to the confusion.

Good senior management can not only see through the bull they is being thrown, but has gained the trust of his employees that he wont shoot the messenger.  In fact they reward people for digging in and finding issues before it causes a widespread problem.  Good management goes back to the phrase sunlight is the best disinfectant.  Its not easy to do, as often when someone gives you bad news, you don’t want to believe you are there, how you got there, and how much there is to fix, but in the end of the day, fixing the problems are key, and rewarding employees for success whether it is adding a new feature, or resolving a large problem creates a great working environment.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

Does your dog bite…

One of the funniest scenes ever was from the Pink Panther where Peter Sellers asks an innkeeper if his dog bites.   If you have not seen it, please watch and then come back, it will only take a minute.

Now that you laughed, you should have learned an important lesson.   When problem solving, are you asking the right questions? And are you solving the right problem?  Often I find developers never ask the right questions (good reason to have business analysts) they ask questions like “What do you want to see?” or “What do you do?” or “How do you do it?”   It is amazing how many times I am asked “why” and even I forgot to ask the user.   In fact there is a saying called “5 whys” which was developed  by Sakichi Toyoda for the Toyota Motor Corp.  It is also used by Six Sigma.

Asking why someone does something often gets to the root cause.  I am reminded of this a lot when taking my kids to the doctors when they have a cough.  They are usually given two medicines, one for the cough (the what) and often an antibiotic for the infection (the why.)   If you only solve the what, the root cause will persist, and the problem may never go away. In developing software, not solving the why gives the user not much better experience than he/she already has.

Why is not the only question to ask  But observe with your own eyes.  Sometimes you see what other have missed, and other times people are so “involved” with the symptoms they are missing the root cause.   Or in Peter Sellers case, he was making an assumption that the dog was the innkeepers, which apparently was wrong.  Don’t be afraid to ask anything you don’t know, and some things you do know to make sure.  Plenty of problems are solved simply by asking a question that may sound like every should know, but just haven’t asked.  Peter Sellers should have asked does this dog bite?   Anyway it gives me a great laugh to watch, and a reminder to make sure I ask the right questions, ask why over and over, and make sure I am solving the right problems.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

LrAu