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Merry Christmas, Steve Gray

joe —  Fri 24-Dec-10

Downpour.jpgOn the day before many of us celebrate the anniversary of the greatest gift given to mankind it dawned on me that my greatest gift may have come when I failed to give one.

Five years ago my wife and I were on our way to church during a very heavy downpour, the cats and dogs kind of rain. Along the way we noticed a woman standing at a bus stop without an umbrella desperately trying to pull her coat over her head. She was on the other side of the median divided road looking quite miserable.

Just as we passed, Beth and I looked at each other and knew we were thinking the same thing. “We should U turn around and give her our umbrella.”

We didn’t.
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What Do You Do For a Living?

joe —  Sun 28-Nov-10

Do for a Living.pngIt’s a mutual friend’s Christmas party and I’ve just been introduced to you. After a few minutes of conversation I ask you “What do you do for a living?”

How did you respond?

How do you describe what you do for a living? I always wrestle with that. I’m a degreed electrical engineer that became a software engineer and haven’t written a lick of professional code in 15 years of engineering management and leadership. Yet none of those are the right answer.

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Nothing can kill employee morale more than a corporate performance review. Nothing can kill leadership morale then having to give them. It doesn’t have to be this way and I have a very simple solution.

The critical mistake that most mid to large sized companies make is that they confuse dollars with performance. Dollars are an economic scarcity – there are only a limited amount of them available and they must me applied judiciously when it comes time to offer raises.

Performance is not. In great companies performance is in abundance – it has no limits. It is absolutely possible that everyone on your team has done an outstanding job this past year yet due to the economic of the situation you may be forced to declare 10% of them “underperformers.” Sound familiar?
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Your Inner Schizophrenic

joe —  Tue 1-Jun-10

Creativity is a fascinating beast. Some people seem to have it in droves – others, “Bless their hearts” as southerners would say, weren’t so equipped. But what makes a person creative – is it nature or nurture?

The answer is a resounding “Yes?” We all have different physiological profiles that makes us more or less capable, but the people around you have just as much influence on whether you are creative or not. To get to the nurture we first need to step through the nature and a tiny bit of science. I promise it won’t hurt.

You may have heard the expression “scientists have never found a gene responsible for creativity” and it is technically Continue Reading…

It’s like going to Wisconsin

joe —  Fri 26-Feb-10

It’s been a difficult week – a week of highs, a week of great introspection and a week where I discovered something very painful about my role here. To get to this discovery, I need to introduce a little bit of history.

Thirteen years ago I became the first engineering manager at a very small startup called Internet Security Systems. Like many startups, it was the wild west of times. We were brash, confident to a fault, energetic, willing to do whatever it took to conquer the world. It was the definition of Continue Reading…

The Red Honda Theory

joe —  Fri 5-Feb-10

I am a voracious reader when it comes to non-fiction, especially books on leadership, sociology and cognitive theory. However, little of what I gain from reading a book comes from the written material. The main reason I read is because of what happens after I finish.

In 1992 I was shopping for a new car and stopped by the local Honda dealership. After telling the salesman that”sporty” was the image I was seeking he told me to check out the new Prelude. I had seen the Prelude before – just a little nicer Accord in my opinion. This year was different as the Prelude had just received a sporty new overhaul. I loved it. I had to have it. Wow, I don’t think anyone knew about this well kept Continue Reading…

What a Coincidence

Joe —  Tue 12-Jan-10

PasteurHow many good things that have happened to you came because of your diligent planning? I imagine quite a few. Now think hard, how many were the result of a chance opportunity – maybe an opportunity that was pure luck?

As a leader of a Bible study that question comes up quite often. If you are a theist, is coincidence the result of God’s influence in our everyday life or does our Creator not get involved in every day to day happening? If you believe the latter or are a non-theist, is coincidence simply a state of natural synchronicity as conceived by Jung?

Wow – talk about deep, somewhat paralyzing thoughts. Regardless of which formative cause you believe, I think Louis Pasteur simplified things to a point that we can act when he said that “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” Continue Reading…