As Mark Twain said… “Eat a frog first thing in the morning”

 

Mark Twain: Eat a frog first think in the morning.

 

I often forget to follow this simple piece of advice.  Everyone has dozens of things they hate doing, and the procrastinate doing them.   Its a common problem, everyone like doing the easy thing.  In fact what i see is people often go read emails first, or do some surfing of the web.   They really avoid the biggest problem.  I eat breakfast and start reading emails.  Now at the end of the day I write the list of to-do’s for the next day.  And usually I get that list completed.  Often though its by the end of the day.

What I should do, is prioritize by what I don’t want to do first, and do that first.  The expression eat a frog first think in the morning, is saying do the thing you hate most first.  If you get that done first, the rest of the day can only get better.   Later in the day when you review your to do list instead of looking at the thing that you still didn’t do you and dread doing, it will be done.  Before you go home, and you are making the list for tomorrows to do’s the list will be shorter by one frog.

I did this for the last two days (Thursday and Friday) and found myself a little relieved.  I have changed my calendar a little bit, the one thing being I know block some time to eat frog along with my breakfast.

I should be adding a disclaimer, so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  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

Very few see the work, and less the mistakes.

I know I have told this story a lot.  I have an artist friend, he was amazing.  There were some paintings he did that were of chrome that was sick.  I mean, you swear it was a photograph it was that good.  I was fortunate enough to go to his house once and hang out with him and his wife.  I got to see more of his work, one painting was more impressive than the next.

After a while, I told my friends wife, that she is married to an amazing painter.  Then I found the secret.  She walked me to the backyard to the shed.  In the shed, dozens of broken up canvases, and an ax that he had used to trash them.  Those were all the mistakes that he had made.  For each successful painting that I saw, there was probably more than one bad canvases.   For the first time I realized that artists (and really good ones) were not perfect.  In fact they need to practice and practice, they make mistakes, they are human.   Before that moment, I really thought that they would start a painting, and finish it.

It made me realize, than in my job, I don’t have to get it right first.  I just need to get it right.  When I design screen, or system architecture.  I ask for opinions from other team members. I use the feedback, and sometimes go back and scrap the original design, or just make some changes.   I do not worry that people don’t like my first attempt, as long as we get the last one right.  I even now have a presentation on how one application went from initial design to final application.   So now people see the work that went into building the final project.

Just a reminder, I am not doing this for profit,  this is not my day job, I am just doing a brain dump.  I don’t spend any money on marketing, design or images.  I welcome comments (but moderate) and all I ask for you is to enjoy it.

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.

Parts is Parts…..

Years ago there was a Wendy’s commercial.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_oem9BqUTI Now, although it was making fun of parts is parts.  What people don’t realize is the cleverness behind that statement.

Problems often seem huge, like a giant mountain.  And there is there a fear of starting something (change) that also seems overwhelming.  But if Parts is Parts, then break the big problem into smaller pieces, and keep breaking into smaller pieces until the problem is solvable.  And just solve one problem at a time.  You don’t need to tackle the biggest piece first, often talking any part, starts momentum.

I once decided to replace the screen on an iPhone.  The first time i watch the video and saw how small the parts are, and how many parts there are was daunting.  But after watching the video and seeing how they broke down the fix into some steps, and parts is parts.   I did it, in fact eventually I was doing it regularly (having teens that break phones is not fun)  but that video reminded me, that the iPhone is just parts, and parts is parts.

Are you Edison or Tesla….

I always thought that you need a great team combined of the right skill set and diversity.   You can look at the meyers brigg types, or other types that you think are right.  But there is one that I am starting to realize that you need, you need an Edison and a Tesla.

Tesla is widely known, and someone even admired him so much he named a car company after him.   But at the end of the day, what did he invent?   He was pure visionary, had great ideas, great thoughts but limited execution.  Edison is looked at in two lights, first for the sure number of inventions he created, and lastly his attitude.  Lets drop his attitudes and issues, and go with purely the stuff he created.  He worked hard, he sweated constantly to come up with products and inventions.  He remarked that inventions are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

I admire them both for what they accomplished.  And when building a team I need at least one Tesla, and as many Edisons as I can find.  If i have all Tesla’s i would  not deliver as much as I need to.  If I had all Edisons, I would miss many things we should be thinking to create.

I ask people, are you Edison, or you Tesla, or maybe you are combination of the two…

How you phrase a question….

Do you think by simply changing the way your phrase a question can change the answer you get?    The answer is yes.   One of my favorite TV shows, Brain Games.  had a great example.  I apologize for not remembering the episode, but they are on the national georgraphic channel web site.  The setup, was simple.  Show a car accident, and then have a policeman ask questions of witnesses, and see if they can help figure out who was at fault.   The policeman asked 2 different groups the same question, but in two different ways.  In fact it was one word in each sentence was changed.

The officer asked the witnesses, how fast do you think the car was going when it tapped the other car, or how fast do you think the car was going when it smashed into the other car.  The witnesses had 2 different answers.  And it should be obvious.  Those who believed that the car was speeding, and those who thought the car was barely moving.   So changing one word in the question actually changes what someone saw.  The car was going the same speed for everyone.

Just seeing that, I now think about more about what I say, and how I phrase questions.

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.

Having two stamps, Yes and Hobby.

I was reminded a bit ago of a story from my college years. I wanted to be a musician, not just a musician it a professional. A star, famous, everything that came with it.   Of course I was not the most talented person, nor did I always have the best work ethic, as I wanted to do 100 other things also.  But I was out there trying.  To make it in the music business it is partly due to “persistence” more than anything.  You keep writing, making demos, and knocking on doors.   When I was a kid there was no real way to publish yourself on YouTube, soundcloud or ITunes.

Often I was hit with a lot of No’s.  It was often disappointing, and in fact sometimes it was downright depressing.  I needed to pick myself up and try again.  But someone did motivate me, but in a very different way than you would think.   Some people are motivated a lot by no’s and push through to finally succeed or crash.  Some people get a few no’s and that is the end of their desire.  Many of those quit playing altogether.  They were not going to become musicians, so they would now focus their energy on something else.  This was a travesty.  But sometimes there is something better than a no.

Upon one of my many attempts to succeed I ran across a record executive who had a different approach than most.   He didn’t reject anyone.  He had two stamps.  One that said “Contract” which meant he was going to sign you, and you were on your way to coming a star.   But he had a second stamp, that was a bit unusual compared to many of his competitors.   This stamp was “Hobby.”   In a quick conversation with him, he never wanted anyone to quit playing.  He thought everyone should be playing an instrument.  Not as a professional, but for fun.   So he came up with another stamp other than no.  The Hobby stamp was used a lot, and he let people know that only a few people can get contracts.

This was the first time I saw something like this, and I don’t think I ever saw anything like it in any other endeavor whether it be sports, arts or business.  People often hate rejecting, in fact many times they hide behind keyboard and texting on phones.  If the lesson to be learned is if you need to reject, figure out the right way to do it so that it directs the person forward not backwards.

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 you drive a Camaro

When you are young and single, you buy yourself a hot car like a Camaro.   Yes I know some people are mustang fans, and others are into Japanese crap, but for the story let’s stick with the Camaro.  It’s great seats two, and not much in the back seat, you look cool with your hair slicked back, ray bans on.  Drive around with the windows down and the radio blasting on ocean ave by the shore.  The goal to impress chicks, and guess what?  Some day you do, and you finally find the one.

Of course the first few years of marriage, still driving around in the Camaro it’s cool since it is just you.  But eventually you have to 2.3 kids, and when they are really little, they fit in the back.  You by strollers designed by origami experts so they fit in th trunk, but runs to Cosco are not that easy as you need to load up on diapers etc.  As kids get older and they have friends it’s hard to squeeze the 4 kids and 2 adults in the car, yes kids can sit on each others lap, and while they are young, they seem to be ok with this.  But as they get bigger it’s harder.  The funny thing is that you don’t blame the car for the issue, but the situation. That the car was fine in your 20s its fine now.

Fast forward 20 years, the kids are gone, and now you have an antique Camaro that you take to car shows as its all original, and mint.  You tell stories of how you and your wife met and how you squeezed 6 kids in the back once, and tell fond stories.  Noting there is nothing wrong with the Camaro.

It’s not that every tool is right for the situation, but sometimes you do have to use a hammer, sometimes you have to use a screw driver, and sometimes you can drive a Camaro

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.

The power of saying no….

Simply put, when you have less on your plate, you have more time to dedicate to the items that are there, and to do them with 100% attention.  If you say yes to everything, you are continuously having to split your attention to multiple things, and there is no way you can get it all done at your best.  Delegate, get things off your plate.

No can also be not now, like I can’t do this until the other things are done.  I have a hard time teaching this to people, about blocking out time on their calendar to get something done.  If you have multiple tasks, you need to block out more time, and get one done at a time.  Turn off Outlook alters, put the phone on silent, remove distractions.  If you want to succeed and giving something 100%, your need to give it your 100% attention.  Of course while I am writing this I have the Stanley Cup playoff game on.  The issue, I cannot tell you what’s happening in the game, it is background noise.   But as soon as this is done, going to rewind and catch up on the game.

So I can’t find a graph that I used for years, but it is a graph showing how productive software developers against the number of tasks (systems) they are coding.  When a developer has a single application he or she is working on, they are 100% efficient.  Now you think giving them a second application, they would be 50% efficient in each, but it actually drops down to about 33%, give them a 3rd and they are 10% efficient, and after that they are so inefficient.  The proof is when we hire a new developer.  To bring them on slowly we give them one application to work on.  Once we see how competent they are, we give them more.  After the third application we start wondering if we hired the right person, they were so productive a while ago.  This plays out everywhere I worked until I figured it out.  Now I keep my team somewhat productive, by teaching them to say no to doing more, and if they have to, but blocking out time.

The goal is how do you say no, how do you tell someone that you can’t do something for them.  Or as my teenage daughter does, is say yes to one activity, then a 2nd one that comes along and is better.  What to do?  Its really simple, be open and honest.  I have xyz to do, you would be the nth Priority on my list.   Most managers understand, some will say “this is the highest priority” which you say, then you are giving me the OK to go to the others and say they will be delayed.   To me this is basic as a rope with three ends tug of war.  On one end is quality, the other is time, and the last is number of tasks.   If you increase any one, it will affect the others.  If you want to keep in balance, you must be assured you have enough time, or be willing to sacrifice quality.  Often the best way to keep the balance, say no.

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.

What is the difference between Annoying and Interesting?

What is the difference between Annoying and Interesting?

Its very simple, when there is a massing problem that is hard or impossible to figure out and its happening to you its is interesting, when its happening to me its annoying.   — Larry Gold  circa 1994

There should be no explanation necessary.

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.

Being a parent…. on simple lesson to be a better one.

Definition of Adolescence. “The 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day battle to not be embarrassed” – and “Any kid would rather be perceived as bad, then dumb”

Why does that mean anything?   As a parent you do millions of things that have an effect on your children.  But often you don’t see the motivation behind some of the behavior.   And this one is key.  Sometimes the acting out etc, is not because they are bad, it’s because of a perception.  If they perceived to be dumb, they are thrown into a “group” which it is hard to get out of.  Being “Bad” is a group that is good to be in for an adolescence.    So when you have kids, this is something to keep an eye out for, but it does also happen as adults.  If you see the behavior in your child, make sure you don’t have the halo effect and think they are smart.  Look at what they can or can’t do, and the best think you can do is get them the help so they learn what they need to learn.   The stupid label on them, is tough to shake, but catching it as acting bad, and then getting them help will stop the bad behavior and fix the root cause.

What does that have to do with being a better person?   It is often we need to dig deeper into the cause of the behavior not just the behavior.  If people around you are acting in a way that seems off, you can either say “they are just bad”  But they may be ignorant and hiding it, thus causing a problem that shouldn’t be.   You being the better person, has to rise above the pettiness and not get into the shouting match, the argument and the name calling.  You must take a step back, and find an alternative to figuring it all out.

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.