The Prophets of Innovation (or The 4 Steps by Real Risk-Takers)

These days there are no lack of “experienced professionals” and “entrepreneurial prophets” professing the value, ways, outcomes, means, ends, or any other particular snake oil they are peddling about innovation and its aptly associated sibling, risk-taking. They espouse their version of the truths of innovation about the little guy making a different, or even changing, the world. The philosophize how the evil overlords of corporate <insert country name> need to be overturned and disrupted by the Ubers of the world.

Mind you, there are actually quite a few writers and bloggers and podcasters of innovation, disruptive or otherwise, that I respect and that actually have experience in doing so. These truly experienced few have done more than just write/blog/podcast about it. They’ve done it, in their particular ways. More about them later. But there are others who also do the same soliloquy of innovation and how we must all “fight the great fight” to bring our ideas to the world and leave it forever changed. Yet they’ve never done it. At least not in the way that better demonstrates taking the risks on a truly passionate and sometimes maniacal crusade to bring ones idea to the world. That way being without the cocoon of millions or thousands of corporate dollars. Without the soothing safety of organizational infrastructures that, while may be slow and bureaucratic, offer a significant reduction in the risk of jumping out of the airplane with quite the uncertainty as to whether the parachute will actually deploy. Or even having entered a “startup” at a stage where they are cashflow positive, growing money in the bank, success is certainly not guaranteed but the major hump up the hill is over. Now it’s looking for a few smaller hills to overcome.

It’s not too dissimilar to the old comical adage of the priest giving advice about premarital sex. Father, if you can’t give me real world expertise and perspectives based on your own successes and failures, I’m not willing to be a guinea pig for some textbook. There are the academic (aka I read this in a book, so now I’m gonna teach it) and there are the real world (aka I did it, I probably failed once or twice, maybe even succeeded) ways of telling the story. I’ll take the real-world every time!

Look, I’m not saying that there are not good intuitions from people in the world that could possess particularly gifted views on subjects that for some reason come naturally to them. It could happen. I would rather learn (or avoid the mistakes) from the experiences of others that have been in the trenches, have taken risks, maybe have thrown caution to the wind (such as goodbye paycheck) and given their yeomen’s go at it. Whatever it is.

In my limited experience of having thrown caution to the wind, made sacrifices from financial to professional to family, and can certainly recount my successes and failures alike, these steps seem to make sense to me as well as set themselves apart from the posers of innovation prophesying and philosophizing.

  1. Goodbye paycheck. Sure many people need to pay the bills and it’s noble to try to keep that semblance of sanity if you’re raising a family. After all, good ideas and passion don’t just come from 20 somethings with only the recurring cash need for burritos, craft beer and Uber. But there is a certain mental commitment to your passion when you’re not being recompensed for it on the 15th and 30th of every month. You’re just gonna have to cut back on that $200 a month crossfit gym membership or coming up on the latest Tesla S waitlist.
  2. Living the life…NOT. When one is pursuing their passion of truly changing the world, the late afternoon yoga class and Thursday night book club tend to take a backseat. There is NO 9-to-5 in the world of truly executing on real innovation!
  3. Patience IS a virtue. Yes, you need patience as a real game-changing entrepreneur. No shit, Sherlock. Thanx, Captain Obvious. And other notable quotes of the apparent and evident. Here I refer to your family, friends, loved ones. There will be a certain degree of “damage” to be done to those relationships, unless they happen to be your business partners. In which case, good luck…that’s a topic for a future rant. No, you’re going to see them, have dinners with them, travel with them, go to the brewfest with them a LOT less. They may resent you. Unless they are your spouse (and that’s not guaranteed, take my word for it) they may even sever their relationship with you.
  4. Learn the word NO. I don’t mean learn to say it. This word is unknown to the real innovators. “Can’t” is another one. What I mean is learn to hear it a lot, and at the same time become very proficient and continue the trudge up the hill while on the sidelines everyone is saying you can’t do it, or no you’re not going to make it. Sure those of us in corporate life hear it from time to time. Actually we hear maybe or nothing at all most of the time. But even so, this is not as emotionally taxing to us corporate animals because we simply find the next project to get our names attached to that has been funded.

I’m sure there are others, but in my experience, these are the top 4 differentiators between the real risk takers looking to make the world revolve a slightly different speed and those that have read about those people, and somehow now think they are authorities on the matter. There’s no real punchline here. I’d love to hear about your own opinions, perspectives, flames and generally whatever you have to say on the matter. There’s no magic mathematical algorithm. There’s no magic bullet. And there’s no magic business book on Amazon Kindle. Just sheer will, perseverance and desire. With that said, get your ass out there, take the risk even with no guarantee of reward (at least not monetary) and savor the journey! For every single startup experience I’ve had (some not so successful), the journey and the people are always what engrain themselves in my memory.1

5 Steps for Battling Roller-Besity

Roller-besity is newly developed slang for “roller bag obesity”. Let me explain. Imagine you’re at the airport (like I was a little bit ago…now I’m in the air) and you’re pulling your roller bag along with hundreds or thousands of your best friends at good ole PDX airport (or wherever you may call home). Those roller bags are typically being dragged by the owner with one arm, and most usually alongside them. Let’s say you are approximately 2.5 feet across in terms of the width of your body, including your arms. Well guess what? The roller bag will add about another foot and a half if you’re dragging it alongside you. But here’s the kicker. It seems that EVERYONE who’s pulling one doesn’t realize that! It’s as if their roller bag is of an exotic new celestial material that is transparent to the rest of the molecular world the rest of us live in. They can turn corners with them and the roller bag goes right through walls, like some bizarre new David Copperfield magic trick. Or better yet, the molecular structure of their roller bag is such that it will go right through people and their legs and feet, like the apparitions in the Ghost Whisperer trailer (God, I hate that show!).

I was waiting at PDX Airport gate C7 (it started C3, but I digress) as the plane I was to board to Chicago had its prior passengers deplaning. So there is a stream of passengers flowing out the gate ramp, through the gate forest of seats and out into the brave new world of PDX Airport before descending upon the City of Portland (or maybe their connecting, but I digress again…my head does that). Mind you space between the groups of chairs at gate C7 is wide enough for not only people in wheelchairs, but probably Rosie O’Donnell, Tin Man and Scare Crow skipping and singing “We’re Off To Meet The Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz”! But no. What happens instead?

  • They turn and their roller bags flip around after knocking down someone else’s roller bag. Must have missed that “Careful Wide Load” sign on their splash guards.
  • They run over my toes (I’m wearing flip flops…I like being comfortable on the plane) and pretty much everyone else’s toes, shoes, purses, laptop bags, strollers, children IN strollers, children NOT in strollers, and that Starbucks grande latte you left sitting on the floor…amateur!
  • Oh and here’s where it gets interesting. They’ll get this look on their face of, “hey, WTF is going on here that people keep bumping up against my roller bag”. I’m sorry Mr. I-Don’t-Give-A-Shit-Who-I-Run-Over-With-My-Swiss-Army-Roller, I failed to notice your Higgs Boson roller bag recently discovered at CERN and I also failed to modulate the resonant frequency of my flip flops to enable transparent pass-through of your fucking roller bag!!!

Come on people! It’s just not that hard to not be “that” guy or “that” girl with the poor roller bag etiquette. Here are a few tips.

  1. Acknowledge that you’re a fat roller-slob, and give yourself the wide load clearance you’ll need exiting the restroom without barreling down that dude who had too many Corona’s on his flight cause his mom gave him a bunch of Delta food coupons.
  2. If you’re bringing the roller bag onboard (hah, who isn’t!), it’s not hard to temporarily dislocate your shoulder so that you can pull the roller bag directly behind like Dale Earnhart (bless his soul) drafting behind…well, some other racing dude. Don’t worry, once you try to lift your roller bag to put it into the overhead compartment (IF you find space), your shoulder will pop back in…sorta.
  3. Alternate to shoulder dislocation: The beauty of the rotator cuff of the shoulder is that you can actually and comfortably twist your arm (this requires modification of hand grip on roller bag handle) and perform the same drafting move like Dale. Careful, the dislocation may occur when you try to lift the roller bag to overhead compartment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  4. If you’re training your offspring to carry so itty bitty cutesy Sponge Bob roller bags, teach them some courtesy and manners! Just have them refer to tips 1 thru 3.
  5. Finally, just check the damn thing at the gate. IT’S FREE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! Then when you pick it up at baggage claim, you’ll be in the authorized Roller Bag Collision Area as you head out to get your cab/text your Uncle Pete you’re at door 7 (of the 5 door 7’s in the airport)/take the shuttle to Hertz (FUCK, my rental is at Enterprise).

Next installment of my Bitching About Stupid People series, FatBackPack Assholes…aka, OH, I forgot I was wearing a backpack, so didn’t mean to give you a black eye in seat 20D while I swing around to see how many people are behind me waiting to get into their seats.

Thank You…that is all.

Zombies, Mayans and “world-enders”

We are in the midst of the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21st, 2012. We have also been inundated (almost literally) with zombies and the impending apocalypse precipitated by them. What does it all mean? Coincidence? Colorful fancy and daydreaming by marketers and merchandisers to cash in on the public and media frenzy? Probably a bit of all of the above and more. I mean, I am waiting feverishly for the third season of Walking Dead to arrive on Netflix 🙂

Zombie.jpg

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But I’m curious as to seemingly all of society’s infatuation with this “end of the world” or exaggerated apocalyptic scenarios.
  1. Are we bored and want something to talk about during our drab lives day after day?
  2. Maybe it’s the ADD (adult and adolescent…look a dog!) kicking into high gear and just another topic to throw into the mix.
  3. Are we so enthralled with pop culture and mainstream media garbage on TV and the internet that these just happen to be mass cultures’ equivalent of Y2K.
  4. Or is it all of the above with some religious fanaticism thrown in for good measure?

I vote for 4! But I’m still curious as to whether there is a good scientific reason or theory that might explain this. I happened to have read a great article in Big Think (love the periodic newsletter I get with the Big Thinks of that day) titled, Why We’re Obsessed with the Apocalypse. Here’s quite the interesting statistic that they referenced from Reuters from earlier this year.

“This year, a Reuters poll found that one in four Americans believe the world will end within their lifetime. Globally, the figure is one in seven people.”

In case you didn’t catch that…ONE IN SEVEN PEOPLE ON THE PLANET! So approximately 15% of us believe that the world will come to an end during our lifetimes. Note that the average human’s life expectancy is 67.2 years (on a world scale) and 78.3 years (in the United States…thank God for Obamacare). So apart from all the pop cultural or religious fanaticism which are perfect Petri dishes for gravitating to the apocalypse, it’s no wonder that some of us are averaging 3-4 zombie T-shirts in our dressers these days. However how either naive or self-aggrandizing are we that we think the likes of Planet Earth would come to an end during a 78-ish year period, maximum! The Big Think article goes on to say…

“Earth having existed for billions of years, probably existing for millions if not billions more, and our own life in comparison—however long and fruitful—being an almost infinitesimally insignificant instant in the middle of it all. So fleeting and so far from either end of the story that many of us behave like individual black holes, mentally warping time to write ourselves into the grand finale.”

We’ll all have some fun with these doomsday thoughts, predictions, and business models. How interesting of the human condition to put ourselves on the same level of a multi-billion year old geological entity such as our planet. I actually think it’s a good thing whereby we don’t suffer from believing ourselves so insignificant in this grand universe by believing our mother Earth’s end in a few decades…just don’t hold your breath or sell all of your baseball card collection quite yet.

Fascinating story of a people near and dear to my heart.

TheAdventuresOfDr

                                          

                                          

                                          

I’m not going to go over the details of how we got to Cuba because I see them as irrelevant to the bigger picture of the circumstances that came to be.  It would also be unpatriotic to reveal the ease of purchasing a ticket with cash money from any one of the dozens of travel agencies throughout Cancun, all selling discrete backdoor entrances into the infamous Pearl of the South.  Nor will I divulge deeper in the fact that we found ourselves on a plane full of Americans doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason; to see the “surreality” of existence in this mythical, fabled land before the carpet rolls out for capitalism to get it’s hands onto one of the last places on earth that not only hasn’t welcomed it with open arms, but exclusively blocked it with a socialized shield.  For…

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SHIFT HAPPENS!

This post is from my Facebook friend, Robbie Lauren. It was so thought provoking I thought I’d repost it (with due credit) in my Life, Connected theme for this blog.

SHIFT HAPPENS especially when you least expect it. You may think you are doing everything right and following a path you feel will bring you to a place of happiness and then — one day – a change happens that turns your world upside down. Sometimes change is brought about by external forces and sometimes it comes from within. Regardless of origin, change is often painful and riddled with paradox. When the moment comes – many people are rarely prepared for what happens and often times they become overwhelmed with fear and get stuck dwelling in the past.

The Shift is the Gift The key to embracing a change is to see it as a gift and to see the value in the present moment – no matter how overwhelming it may feel. Yes, that’s right – the shift is a gift and seeing it from this perspective can present significant opportunity. Life has a way of bringing us significant shifts when we need them most. A shift can present the time to examine what it means to live a life of fulfillment or how to achieve balance. The key is knowing the right questions to ask yourself when shift happens. The answers are inside of you and sometimes they just need a little space, time and help to surface.

Purpose is Powerful Your life belongs to you and no one else and living a fulfilling life is a radical act. Maintaining the status quo is for many both the path of least resistance and the antithesis of fulfillment. Listen to yourself – the answers are always inside of you. It’s often been said the quality of life is driven by the quality of our conversations. When you are going through change -what is your default conversation? Do you automatically listen to others or do you listen to the voice inside of you? When was the last time you sparked a powerful conversation with yourself? If you’re comfortable listening to your inner voice, which voice are you speaking with – the voice of love or the voice of fear?

Powerful Questions The most valuable wisdom I’ve learned is the power of the right question – especially during a transition. Powerful questions can ignite the spark to help you transition from living passively to living actively. Powerful questions help get you unstuck and find purpose and fulfillment.

Key Questions to Spark Personal Growth What do I really want and what am I willing to sacrifice? Who I am is who I say I want to be. Who do I want to be? What story do I need to stop telling myself? And what story do I want to begin? What commitment do I want to make to myself in this moment?

Life is Short and You are Magnificent That’s right- you are magnificent! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You have strengths, experience and a perspective unlike anyone else. Be kind to yourself and celebrate the uniqueness of being you. What’s important is knowing yourself, knowing your purpose and embracing the possibilities of the power of this moment.

Thanx, Robbie!

Nations First Mobile Emergency Messaging

The state of California recently announced in cooperation with Sprint their Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) will be rolling out a mobile emergency messaging service to its residents, http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/768874. This is certainly a great idea that has been around form quite some time especially so around heightened emergency incidents such as Columbine, Fort Hood or any such events that require a localized emergency notification to inform people what to do or where to go.

The cellphone is THE most pervasive messaging device available at the finger tips of pretty much every citizen, resident or visitor to the United States. Short Message Service, or SMS, the the least common denominator for every one of those same cellphones whereby all the cellular operators support this ubiquitous protocol. I commend CalEMA for standing up to do something about it. But speaking of cellular operators, where are the #1 and #2 in Verizon and AT&T in supporting this emergency notification service along with Sprint and CalEMA? Irrespective of the prepaid, postpaid or MVNO subscribers on the Sprint network, they pale in comparison to Verizon and AT&T.

I guess we have to wait for phase 2 on the roadmap? Not much of a consolation for those California residents on Verizon and AT&T that didn’t get the text during the next wild fires, floods or God forbid school shooting.

The ABCs of xANs

Recently I’ve had some discussions with industry analysts, friends in startups and even large companies regarding the alphabet soup of xAN (example: LAN for Local Area Network). The discussions primarily centered around how fragmented the technical abbreviations are getting across a multitude of industries. An example is LAN is associated to the IT industry (not others) and IAN (Incident Area Network) is associated with public safety, but again not others. I figured it would be a useful exercise to catalog the xANs and the industry(s) that they generally apply to.

Maybe a frivolous intellectual exercise, maybe a candidate for Wikipedia, maybe nothing at all. Here goes. (Ed. note: I don’t have all the answers but some and several guesses). And thank you, Wikipedia for many of the definitions!

  1. AAN: n/a
  2. BAN: Body Area Network, relatively new term that is self explanatory to the network of devices within an individual person (example, a soldier or firefighter); applies to IT, Public Safety, Military/Defense
  3. CAN:
    1. Controller Area Network, a vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other within a vehicle without a host computer; applies to IT and Computer Engineering
    2. Campus Area Network, a computer network made up of an interconnection of local area networks (LANs) within a limited geographical area; applies to IT and Telecom
  4. DAN: n/a (though it Divers Alert Network is near and dear to me as a scuba diver 😉
  5. EAN: Enternet Aggregation Network but there is an Enterprise Private Network which could apply, network build by an enterprise to interconnect the various company sites (production sites, head offices, remote offices, shops etc.) in order to share computer resources over the network; applies to IT.
  6. FAN: Facility Area Network(?); applies to Smart Grid and Energy Utilities, based on recent discussions.
  7. GAN: Global Area Network, a network used for supporting mobile communications across an arbitrary number of wireless LANs, satellite coverage areas, etc.; applies to IT.
  8. HAN: Home Area Network, a residential LAN which is used for communication between digital devices typically deployed in the home, usually a small number of personal computers and accessories, such as printers and mobile computing devices; applies to IT+Smart Grid
  9. IAN: Incident Area Network, an emergency responder network focused on the immediate geography of an emergency incident occurrence; applies to Public Safety.
  10. JAN: Jurisdictional Area Network, an emergency responder network possibly containing multiple IANs and with a higher level onsite command structure than the IANs; applies to Public Safety.
  11. KAN: n/a
  12. LAN: Local Area Network; applies to IT
  13. MAN: Metropolitan Area Network, common network and administrative domains within a city or municipality; applies to IT and Telecom
  14. NAN: Neighborhood Area Network, analogous to MAN although a more constrained geography localized to a neighborhood; applies to IT and Telecom
  15. OAN: n/a
  16. PAN: Personal Area Network, a network of devices constrained within a room or individual office, sometimes proximity based in the case of wireless; applies to IT
  17. QAN: n/a
  18. RAN: Radio Access Networkpart of a mobile Telecommunication system. It implements a radio access technology. Conceptually, it sits between the Mobile phone, and the core network (CN); applies to Telecom
  19. SAN: Storage Area Network, an architecture to attach remote computer storage devices to servers in such a way that the devices appear as locally attached to the operating system; applies to IT
  20. TAN: Tiny Area Network, a local area network with 2–3 nodes connection. Usually implemented for shared files, folders and printers in a home or small office environment; applies to IT…also defines what you get on Miami Beach (time unbounded TAN evolves to BURN)
  21. UAN: n/a
  22. VAN: Vehicle Area Network, an electronic communications network that interconnects components inside vehicles; applies to Automotive and IT…is also bigger than a car
  23. WAN: Wide Area Network, a computer network that covers a broad area (i.e., any network whose communications links cross metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries; applies to IT and Telecom
  24. XAN: n/a
  25. YAN: n/a
  26. ZAN: n/a

Comments, corrections, flames? BTW, I wrote this on Virgin America flight between San Francisco and Ft. Lauderdale connected to Gogo Wireless (combination of a LAN and GAN…WiFi + Satellite). I already paid the $12.95 so may as well consume some bandwidth. Now time to consume the “May-I-Have-Another-Cocktail Area Network”!