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Independence – upheld…

Posted Jul 3 2019 by in True North with 4 Comments

Tomorrow, Americans celebrate Independence Day:

Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776.

Wikipedia

We truly are:It’s today however, when Americans should commemorate the event that upheld our country’s independence; the event that prevented the United States from being cut in half; and the horrific toll paid for our independence and unity to triumph.

July 3rd, 1863 was the third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Of all the Americans who have ever died in all the wars our country has ever fought, almost half – 620,000 – died in the Civil War.  And of all the Civil War battles, the one battle with the highest casualties was Gettysburg – 51,000 Americans.  And within the Battle of Gettysburg, Picket’s Charge on July 3rd, 1863 was the deciding, bloody clash.

I know in today’s society The Confederate States of America; their monuments; and their flag are easily vilified.  But 156 years ago, these battles were fought by Americans not by villains; by brave souls both North and South who believed their cause was necessary to preserve their country; their way of life.  They were committed enough that they were willing to die for it.

I believe every American should visit the Gettysburg National Military Park and pay tribute to the memory of those Americans that preserved the fate of our union.  Thankfully, that battle and a succinct commemoration by one of our greatest leaders, who also gave his life for his country, ultimately prevailed:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

That day Abraham Lincoln spoke to unite all Americans, North and South.  Today, July 3rd, is the day to remember that it was on this day and on that battlefield that ultimately resulted in the United States of America remaining united.

May God bless you; and may God bless America!

GAP

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High stakes moments…

I attended a BrightTalk webinar titled, “What Sales Can Learn From a Navy Seal” recently.  It featured Stephen Drum, a combat-tested Navy Seal and senior enlisted leader.  He discussed what salespeople, sales managers, and sales leaders can learn from how Navy Seals prepare, practice, and perform in high stake moments.

Navy Seals – what comes to mind when you hear that term; combat; bravery; elite?  Navy Seals are engaged in high stakes moments for sure.  I was intrigued to see how sales, management, and leadership processes were going to be connected to their combat prowess.

To be clear; sales is not combat and the client is never the enemy.  Stephen Drum didn’t imply any different.  Selling is competitive but it is not life or death.

Stephen shared two points that resonated with my view of the sales profession.  Permit me to paraphrase:

There is a significant difference preparation makes between “responding” (you are ready) vs. “reacting” (you are not).

We all know that feeling.  Going into a high stakes moment, in our heart of hearts we know if we are prepared or not.  Interestingly, some sales people still succeed even without proper preparation – evidence for sure that the client is not an enemy.  Sometimes clients buy even when the sales rep sucks.  Sometimes.

When I go into a meeting or presentation unprepared I know it; I feel it; and it brings fear to my mind:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

In fact, I just did a presentation that I wasn’t properly prepared for and you guessed it – I sucked!  Thankfully, it really wasn’t a high stakes moment.  But it reminded me of that wolf and what it feels like to be unprepared.

It’s our preparation that enables us to respond in high stakes moments vs. simply react.  The former is more likely to prove successful results; the latter sits on pure luck.  I don’t think managers or leaders want their company’s success to depend solely on luck.  Navy Seals don’t.

Stephen’s second point described a critical preparation process Navy Seals follow:

“ARR” – After Action Review:  How can I use this event and corresponding outcomes to be better, more prepared, the next time.

He described the rigor Navy Seals go through to prepare; practice; review; execute; review; modify; and then repeat the process over and over again.  This is a rare discipline seen in the sales manager and sales leader ranks.  It’s almost impossible for reps to “respond” (they are ready) when their managers feel it’s OK to “react” (they are not ready).  Too busy you say?

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? 

John Wooden

In the mind of the Hall of Fame UCLA basketball coach as well as a Navy Seal, there are no “do overs”.

The sales profession is a repetitive game and we all face high stakes moments over and over again.  But our clients and our competition are not stationary objects.  Their circumstances are constantly changing so we must too, agreed?  That’s where our commitment to preparation and “after action review” is key.

Imagine if our teams adhered to the principles of practice; preparation; execution; and after action review.  Imagine if our teams developed the reputation of being like Navy Seals; elite; the ultimate go-to resource; winners.  Imagine; but let’s not stop there.  If we all adopted the Navy Seal principles of “respond” vs. “react”, that would truly make our teams great!

GAP

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A matter of degree…

The Vice President of my department likes to say all sales people are all competitive.  I agree with her.  Although, I believe there are degrees of competitiveness among me and my brethren.  Not everyone is an “alpha”:

In studies of social animals, the highest ranking individual is sometimes referred to as the alpha.  Males, females, or both, can be alphas, depending on the species. 

Wikipedia

I was thinking about competitiveness and alphas while watching the recent NBA finals.  It was the night that the Warriors beat the Raptors by one point in Toronto – the night that Kevin Durant returned from being out for a month only to tear his Achilles tendon.

When KD’s injury occurred, others had to rise to the occasion.  If you watched the game, who did you think had the highest degree of competitiveness?  The Warriors’ “Splash Brothers” (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson)?  The Raptors Kawhi Leonard?  Did you think of Steve Kerr as being the alpha?  Did you know that prior to this season Steve Kerr was already an eight time NBA Champion?

Wikipedia’s definition of an alpha states it’s the “highest ranking” individual.  In competitive situations, we sometimes think of an alpha as the most dominant player, true?  The degree of Steve Kerr’s competitiveness certainly does not come across as dominant; anything but.

I enjoy the intellectual discussion of competition; dominance; greatness; and success.  So many individuals and so many great stories come to mind.  I bet you have your favorite example.  I doubt Steve Kerr is on it.  Maybe he learned from an all-time great alpha in Chicago.

No, I’m not speaking about Michael Jordan.  MJ was certainly an all-time, dominant NBA player; one of my favorites.  But he wasn’t the alpha of the Chicago Bulls.  Just like Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were not the alphas on the LA Lakers; although their battle for dominance seemed the dominant storyline.

IMHO, the all-time alpha in the NBA was Phil Jackson.  I believe it takes an alpha to coach (or manage) dominant players.  You know, Phil was not Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or Shaquille O’Neal’s first coach.  But he was the first – and only – coach for all of their NBA championships.

To be sure – Phil has a dominant resume!

2 NBA championships as a player for the New York Knicks

6 championships as the coach of the Chicago Bulls

5 championships as the coach of the LA Lakers

Oh, and 1 Continental Basketball Association championship as the coach of the Albany Patroons

I have a little experience in managing competitive people.  Not as much as Steve Kerr or Phil Jackson mind you.  I was a good sales manager, but learned during my 6 years with two different companies that there are degrees of competitiveness among salespeople.

As a front line sales manager I led teams of dominant personalities.  Don’t get me wrong; their ability and their individual accomplishments were awesome!   In one case their sales performance likely saved one small, family owned company; and in the other they led me to the sales manager of the year recognition for a huge, international company.

It’s very challenging to manage people possessing heightened degrees of competitiveness.  I tried and might have succeeded to be the alpha among them.  But I tired of their continuous battle for dominance; with me; and among their peers.

I admire the abilities, patience, and personas of Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson before him – alphas among dominant performers for sure.

GAP

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To Dad…

Happy Father’s Day coming this Sunday!  Aren’t fathers and grandfathers great?  The memory of my father still brings a proud smile to my face (and my heart!).  If you’re lucky enough to have living fathers and grandfathers, give them a hug Sunday.

We fathers are so proud when our children demonstrate the skill of common sense we hope we have instilled in them:

Kid wisdom:

When your Dad is mad at you and asks you, “Do I look stupid?”  Don’t answer him. 

Michael

Sometimes our Dads employ “tough-love”.  The worst years of my life occurred when I was trying such a tough-love approach.  I wasn’t skilled at it; didn’t like the outcome; and today would caution any young father to be wary of this idea.  If I could do it over, I would do it differently.

But the good news is my children are resilient.  Yours are too.  (Did they get that from us?)  If we are tough with them from time-to-time, they know it’s not permanent – kids are smart:

A flustered father, stressed out from his day at work, was unsuccessfully texting his kids to come in for dinner.  Finally, he walks out on his porch and yells for his kids to come in.

At that point one youngster turns to his brother and asks, “I can’t remember, which one am I – Jesus Christ or God Dammit?” 

Unknown Sage

Some men have a very entertaining view of the world, true?  Take Mike Jaeger’s point:

Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you.  Tell him the plate you’re handing him is very hot and he’ll have to touch it to believe it.

Dads today take great pride in continuing to provide a home for their families, even if the definition of “home” has evolved:

Home, nowadays, is a place where part of the family waits ‘til the rest of the family brings the car back. 

Earl Wilson

And because my sons have children in their lives, I get to be the grandfather now!   Being the grandfather has responsibilities, too:

Sometimes the only difference we can make is passing our wisdom on to someone else who will make the bigger difference. 

Linda B. Gray

The older I get the more appreciative I am of the love and devotion I received from my father.   He wanted his sons to make a difference.  He also wanted us to be patient with some of his quirkiness.  I remember after my Mom died, my Dad ate his dinners at the hospital cafeteria two blocks from his house.  It might have been for the convenience; maybe for the memory of the last place he saw his wife alive.

He ate dinner there every evening for over twenty years.  So long, that the employees all thought Al Pokorn actually worked there.  One summer, he was even invited to their company picnic!  I didn’t mind this quirky charade.  But when he won the TV in the employee raffle, I told him he had to give it back!

We are all a little quirky I suppose.  Today when my children use one of my little sayings, or demonstrate a family value or tradition that has been passed down from father to son, it brings a proud smile to my face (and my heart)!

So here’s to my Dad; and your Dad; and everyone’s Dad and their family traditions.  They have helped us all make a difference – a tradition to be passed down.

GAP

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A 20-minute window…

Posted Jun 5 2019 by in True North with 0 Comments

Tough topic tonight.  If you’re not up for it, now is a good time to bail – it’s OK.

If you have read me before you know that I believe there is peace and power in maintaining a positive perspective.  I believe positive perspectives are a gift we give to those around us.  And I know remaining positive in the face of life’s tragedies can be too much to ask.  Today, permit me to write about those who can’t.

There are many things that are people’s worst nightmare.  It’s certainly personal.  Among life’s list of terrible tragedies is teenage suicide.  That nightmare struck a friend and colleague of mine earlier this year.  It caught him and his family by total surprise – there was not a single early indication; not a single clue; his teenage son seemed totally normal in every way.  But he wasn’t.  Or was he?

According to the first part of this article published in Sales Marketing Magazine “What managers can do about suicide” (link):

…in 2016, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34

Paul Nolan

Let that sink in for a moment… the second leading cause of death among our young people; as young as 10 years old.

The article goes on to cite additional, startling statistics, trends, and opinions but the conclusion offered is suicides are increasing and no one knows exactly why; nor exactly what the rest of us can do about it.

If isolation is a potential cause as some mental health experts suggest, then let’s at least start talking about this tough topic; let’s be more focused on our family, friends and co-workers; let’s add humanity back into our technology-laden world.

It won’t be easy in our daily multi-tasking, cell phone, app, texting world of distractions.   We will have to pay closer attention.  According to Susan Lindau a practicing therapist and adjunct professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in suicide and quoted in the article:

For many people in crisis, Lindau says, the most important thing is to get through a 20-minute window when they are the most tempted to end their lives. If they can reach out to family, friends or a co-worker and get through that moment, the pain won’t disappear, but they have much better odds of coming through the other side and moving toward treatment and recovery.

I know we all worry about many mortal risks.  Lord knows, the news media and our elected officials keep terrorism front and center.  But look at the comparisons.

According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism as published in Wikipedia (link), in 2016 there were 64 terror incidents resulting in 68 deaths and 139 injuries.  By comparison in 2016, there were 44,965 deaths by suicide.

44,965 vs. 68

I didn’t know that.

Our country’s fight against terrorism includes the popular phrase “see something – say something”.  Let’s use the same approach at work, home, and among friends.  Let us all commit to pay closer attention to the moods of those around us.  If they seem to be acting “different”, let’s take a moment for a caring “check in”.  “How are you doing?”  “Things OK?”  “Let’s talk.”

It’s a 20 minute window. We can spare 20 minutes, can’t we?  If we can help them get through that moment there is hope.  They may reconsider; seek professional help; chose life over death.

See something?  Say something – please!

GAP

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Just for fun…

When you need to decompress from life’s stress and have a little fun, what’s your routine?  Reading a book?  Working out?   Taking a vacation?

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking. 

Earl Wilson

Starbucks is a fun stop on the way to work for many.  Fodder-4-Thought heard someone place this order:

Venti, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, no foam, extra hot, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with light whip and extra syrup, please.

(Taking a breath now!)

My wife and I made a weekend getaway for fun recently; headed to the high country.  On the way we drove through Bailey, Colorado and that mountain town reminded us of being in bear country:

A bear who, displaying a $5 bill, had entered a bar and ordered a beer and; the owner of the bar directed the bartender to give the bear the beer, saying that since the bear didn’t look very smart to only give it 25 cents in change.

Having done as he had been instructed, and having watched incredulously as the bear placidly sipped the beer, the bartender finally could no longer contain himself and sought to engage the bear in conversation.  “You know”, he said to the bear, “we don’t get many bears in this bar.”  To which the bear is said to have replied, “at $4.75 a beer, it’s no wonder.” 

Norman R. Augustine

Ah that Norman R. Augustine; former head of Martin Marietta Corporation (now Lockheed Martin) a huge US Government aerospace contractor.  His sense of humor is fun!  Norman shared more fun in Augustine’s Laws ©:

Law Number III:

There are no lazy veteran lion hunters.

Law Number XIII:

There are many highly successful businesses in the United States. There are also many highly paid executives. The policy is not to intermingle the two.

Law Number XIX:

Although most products will soon be too costly to purchase, there will be a thriving market in the sale of books on how to fix them.

Law Number XXXI:

The optimum committee has no members.

Law Number XXXVI:

The thickness of the proposal required to win a multimillion dollar contract is about one millimeter per million dollars. If all the proposals conforming to this standard were piled on top of each other at the bottom of the Grand Canyon it would probably be a good idea.

It’s fun to poke fun at America’s political and economic policies, true?  And our elected officials view of spending taxpayer money – fun?

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.  

Senator Everett Dirksen

Entrepreneurs are fun too:

It seems that there was a pretzel stand in front of an office building in New York City.  One day a man came out of the building, plunked down a quarter, and then went on his way without taking a pretzel.  This happened every day for three weeks.  Finally, the old lady running the stand spoke up, “Sir, excuse me.  May I have a word with you?”  The fellow answered,I know what you’re going to say.  You’re going to ask me why I give you a quarter every day and don’t take a pretzel.” The woman replied, “Not at all.  I just wanted to tell you that the price is now 35 cents.” 

William Schreyer

OK – grab your besties everyone – let’s have a little fun!  Let’s head to bear country for some pretzels and beer.  I’m buying!

GAP

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Our Loans to Repay…

Happy Memorial Day in advance everyone!

Next Monday is an occasion to celebrate America – our America – our nation of great opportunity and great diversity, yes?  Even though we Americans are addressing many difficulties, Monday is a day to celebrate our blessings and our future possibilities.

On any other day, it’s easy to get mired in everything that’s wrong with America.  What concerns you the most? Politics?  The economy?  Health care?  World peace?  Cable TV costs? Lots of opportunities for worry, fear, frustration, and anger, I suppose.

Conservation of our Earth for future generations is another difficulty – and a hotbed of debate.  Nothing new about this however; it is a topic dating back to our country’s original landlords:

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children.

Native American proverb

Do you believe we’re experiencing (and contributing to) global warming?  If we are, what can each of us do about it?  Will our children feel the same way about lending us their Earth as we do about inheriting the Social Security trust fund from our parents?  (Not much “trust” in the use of that trust fund, true?)

Memorial Day is a day to remember and to honor the men and women of our armed forces who have preserved a country where cultures of diversity come together unlike any other place on Earth.  It’s a time to salute our service men and women; present and past; and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life:

We all benefit today from those who came before us.  But what are we making of our opportunities?  And what opportunities (and debts) will we leave for our future generations?

In every community, there is work to be done.

In every nation, there are wounds to heal.

In every heart, there is the power to do it. 

Marianne Williamson

Monday is a holiday and a time for celebration not worries; for national pride not fear; for appreciation not anger.  Monday, Americans can celebrate the interesting, diverse, and humorous lifestyle others have enriched us with as noted by our favorite, Unknown Sage:

Only in America…

can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in America…

are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America…

do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in America…

do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Only in America…

do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to  the counters.

Only in America…

do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America…

do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America…

do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning  “bloodsucking creatures.”

Only in America…

do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

Yes, remember “only in America” on Monday and enjoy the holiday.  Then we’ll go back to work Tuesday – working to overcome our difficulties; working to leverage our opportunities; working to preserve our way of life for future generations.

Let’s start working to pay back the loan on our planet Earth to our children and their children.

GAP

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Doing alright…

“How are you doing?”  That is a common greeting these days, yes?  And our response often depends on our mood.  For many, we have a choice over our moods; a degree of control; a consciousness of why we are in the mood we are in.  But not all of us…

Dedicated to those amazing people who unlike me, face each day “doing alright”; which means so much more:

Like Eric.  I have known Eric for 43 years this coming Saturday – his birthday.  Over that period Eric’s Mom and Dad have shared some of his most joyous occasions; and some of his most upsetting events; and in between these highs and lows Eric would tell you that he has been doing alright.  And for Eric, doing alright shows how amazing he truly is.

You see, Eric is the strongest person I know.  I’ll give you an example.  Close your eyes and return to the happiest day of your life – feel how you felt during your most exhilarating moments.  OK, now think back to how you felt on your saddest, darkest, most depressed day ever.  Just set those mental bookmarks in your mind’s eye.  There is an unbelievably wide and powerful range of human emotion, yes?

For most of us, we migrate from our highest highs and our lowest lows slowly; with long, “recovery” spans of simply feeling average in between.  Unfortunately, Eric is different; his mood swings back and forth, between euphoric highs and debilitating lows in a matter of minutes – multiple times – every hour!  Now picture your life with his type of mood swings – as if our other challenges aren’t enough to deal with.

Rapid Cycling – that’s the technical term for Eric and others who suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder.  And Eric lives every day with this unwelcome guest.  Medical science is not much help.  Bi-Polar Disorder is an affliction of the brain; and very difficult to properly diagnose and treat.  Trial and error, mostly.  That means people with Bi-Polar Disorder typically wind up dealing with this on their own.

Most can’t hold down a steady job.  Eric can – and he has consistently been a “go to” person for his company.  He is a skilled tradesman; good with customers; dependable; hard working; shows up no matter what; a positive attitude that no job is too tough; that’s Eric.  Most people with Bi-Polar Disorder can’t live independently.  Eric does – and if you met him, you would never know the internal turmoil he is living with.  He has a pleasant personality; a great smile; a nice sense of humor; knowledgeable of current events; just like the rest of us.

But Eric isn’t really like the rest of us.  Just getting up and facing the day; every day; takes enormous strength.  And he offers no excuses – never has.  Eric has earned success and experienced failure.  No matter; Eric treats each day anew, the best he possibly can. And when you greet him saying, “Hi. How you doing?”  you will almost always hear him say, “I’m doing alright”. 

If Eric does alright each and every day even though feeling these uncontrollable mood swings – should we do any less?

No, I don’t have Bi-Polar Disorder, but it lives next door. And though I don’t have it, I can see first-hand the strength Eric has as he lives with it.  I’m very proud to say that Eric is my son.  And one day I hope to learn the source of his amazing strength so I too can be, “doing alright”.

GAP

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Moms are special…

My Mom was special – I bet your Mom is (or was) special, too.  Sunday is Mother’s Day.  In mind; in memory; or in person; be sure to make it a special day for your Mom.  Sending flowers is not enough.  Make her the center of your attention if only for one day.

My wife is a special Mom.  She continues to lovingly mother our grown boys and our grandchildren even while their father worries, “How do I get all of these kids off the payroll?”  But I digress.  She keeps our entire, extended family together.

Our Moms have a special sense of humor:

A wife invited some people to dinner.  At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”  I wouldn’t know what to say”, the girl replied.  “Just say what you hear Mommy say”, the wife answered.  The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?” 

Unknown Sage

Our Moms are special teachers.  Remember the life-long lessons you learned from your Mother?  Back to our Unknown Sage:

What my Mother taught me:

My Mother taught me logic;

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My Mother taught me irony;

“Keep laughing and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My Mother taught me about the science of osmosis:

“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!”

Even Bill Gates has a take (including Mom and Dad in his reference to his parents – and ours):

Excerpt from Bill Gates’ speech to Mount Whitney High School, Visalia, CA:

Rule 1 – Life is not fair; get used to it…

Rule 7 – Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Our Moms have a special and immeasurable reservoir of power, true?  My Mom did.  She was stricken with cancer when I was 6 years old.  In fact, I can no longer remember a time when she was not ill.  The last 15 years of her life were spent undergoing continuous treatments:

I watched my Mom’s great power, which she needed in order to deal with a new cancer treatment in the late 1960’s that was so unimaginably harsh – that the administration of this treatment was solely based on the primitive science of trial and error – where the doctors’ routine consisted of observing how much of a dose could she tolerate without dying from the treatment.

It was an experimental treatment back then; offered only as a last resort for terminally ill cancer patients. This wasn’t a cancer cure; just a radical option to extend one’s life another year or two.  It was due to her staying power (and that of many other patients like her) before she finally succumbed in 1974, that has helped pave the way to the development of the commonly used, life-saving cancer treatment we all know today as chemotherapy.

How many special Moms have died fighting terrible diseases (and brutal treatments) so the rest of us can benefit from the exaggerated term, “modern medicine”?

Mother’s Day – make it special for your Mom if she’s living; make it special for you through your memories of your Mom if she’s not.

GAP

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Cloudy with a chance of change…

In my profession, the term Cloud Computing (aka “Cloud”) is bandied about liberally by any and all parties selling some product or service that can be connected to the Cloud.  The Cloud is the place to be!

Just watch how HP positioned their Cloud Prowess in a mere 2 minutes and 9 seconds.  (After all, they are mostly known as a hardware company so anything over a couple of minutes risks boredom, true?)

I recently listened to a podcast discussing the “Data Center Arms Race”.  The podcast ran almost a full hour; was definitely a deep dive; totally over my head; and contained quote after quote about complex Cloud technology topics that had my head spinning!

Behemoth providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Google are seeking to dominate data center services of the future.  They speak in terms of “bare metal hardware”; “bring your own chip”; “open source vs. close source technologies”; “race to the bottom of dealing with data and the cost for managing it”; “CPUs” to “GPUs” (thanks gamers) to “TPUs” (tensor flow processors from Google) whatever those are!

Mega data, and the data centers that hold it, requires size, scale, and sophistication unlike anything we have ever seen before.  One visionary executive summed it up like this:

Friends don’t let friends build data centers.

Not very interested in Cloud technology you say?  Fair enough.  It’s just that technology and the companies that dominate it do such domination over more than merely technology.  For instance – every single thing in every single person’s daily life is now impacted (for good or bad) by the Cloud.

And who are these people behind the Cloud with such influence (perhaps even control) over our lives?

There are 44 million developers worldwide; 1/3 with less than 5 years of experience… 

DM podcast executive

The youth of today running the world?  I don’t know about you, but that alone makes me nervous.  Accenture may alleviate our fear of youth (as a consulting company taking 4 minutes and 48 seconds to convey their message as compared to HP).

I’m reminded of a 15 minute and 42 second interview in 2014 with Zach Nelson, former CEO of NetSuite, about the “End of the Beginning”.  Zach pontificated on Cloud computing being “the last” computing platform in the evolution of technology platforms.  The DM Radio discussion suggests such thinking cannot be farther from reality.

Today, where data exists and how it moves through the Cloud has become material from a cost; security; privacy; and audit transparency standpoint; let alone business value and competitive differentiation.  He who gathers and then provisions access to the most data becomes king!  How comfortable are you with having everything you say and do stored in the Cloud?

All of a sudden we hear companies large and small speaking of the “Amazon effect”.  And now we start to see trends in technology decision-making having nothing to do with technology.  Amazon bought a grocery store chain so Walmart bought an eCommerce company.

Software complexity and “layers of abstraction challenges” are causing business executives to wonder if people will remain smart enough to advance technology.  Will the future depend on machines advancing machines?  If today’s youth make me nervous; the thought of machines running the world is no better!

An executive from DataStax suggested on the podcast:

We can’t continue to build things in complex ways because complex things fail in complex ways.

Perhaps we’re actually back at the beginning of the beginning – again!

GAP

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