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  • Dean Waye 9:41 am on June 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    From Cord-Cutters to Cord-Nevers to What’s-A-Cord? 

    My kids don’t want cable TV.

    It’s Summer, and often during the Summer I get cable TV service. Partly to test some of the systems my employer builds for Time Warner Cable but also to provide entertainment options for my schoolteacher wife and our kids. The rest of the year, we use TWC Broadband for all entertainment (TV shows, movies, music, games, the web… we are HEAVY, HEAVY broadband users).

    My kids are girls, 9 & 10. And this year, TWC has a nice offer of $29 (plus many fees, no doubt) with a handful of HBO channels thrown in.

    My wife grew up with TV, and she wants it back.

    But this year my girls are not interested at all. We aren’t a sports family, so no one misses live sports. Without that hook (anchor?), the online options from Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube on our ROKUs fill in whatever they’d want from TV. When I explained that we would have TV, but not Hulu or Netflix, the whole idea was stamped out quickly.

    I told them that they could watch the newest episodes of their Netflix/Disney Channel favorites. Not interested. They said they can watch those on Youtube whenever they like.

    I told them that when their friends mentioned a show from the night before, they’d be able to talk about it. They said kids don’t do that these days.

    I told them that we would have movie channels. They said they watch movies whenever they want, and Redbox has movies, too.

    And that was it. I don’t watch live TV, so only my wife was interested. And her habit of leaving the TV on in abandoned rooms means she can’t count on me for a vote. That stuff drives me crazy.

    So here with are. School ends tomorrow, and this year no cable TV.

    Maybe I’ll buy it anyway. Happy Wife… as the saying goes.

     
  • Dean Waye 4:45 pm on December 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Sadness 

    I was ambling around downtown Winston-Salem last night around 7, and happened past this cubicle. I took the picture with my phone.

    Depressing Cubicle

    It’s below street level, so you are looking down at the employee as you walk past.

    As if that wasn’t depressing enough, the image itself struck me. There’s a lot going on here.

    The chair looks like the one you see in a hotel room. No support, uncomfortable.

    The cubicle is dirty (from age). See the cupboard cover in the upper right.

    She has added a tapestry to the carpeted cubicle wall, though it is nearly as colorless as everything else. I am assuming she is a she, from the Lladro-style figurine of a woman in the exposed cupboard shelf and the nearly depleted Purell dispenser, plus the tapestry itself. One visible picture of family or friends, stood under the monitor where she sees it many times every day, consciously or not.

    Two visitor chairs, different color from her chair, in a cramped space. And a banker’s box under her desk, because she has so little space.

    An actual rubber stamp, next to the beige (!) adding machine, next to the mousepad centered where she must have to lift her arms over it to type. And the Cisco-style VOIP phone with papers falling over it.

    I wonder if she even thinks about any of this. Maybe not.

    We all get used to our spaces. Then they fade into our background.

     
  • Dean Waye 10:16 am on October 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    My 3 Earliest Sales Lessons 

    Were you selling as a kid? As a teenager?

    I learned 3 selling lessons from my teenage and college days that I still use today.

    Lesson 1: Words Matter

    My father taught me the first lesson. My parents had just bought the local grocery/convenience store in our little town, and at 14 I was working the cash register. A customer was unloading their basket for me, and I asked “Is this it?”.

    Big mistake. I happened to catch my father’s reaction, and it wasn’t good. When the customer left, he said “You never say ‘Is this it?’ to a customer. It sounds rude. Say ‘Will this be everything?’. It’s more polite, plus it lets the customer pause and think about anything they might have forgotten to buy, or to look at the candy.”

    Phrasing the question differently helped add impulse sales and forgotten items to the typical sale.

    Lesson 2: Sell Differently to Different People

    Years later, I had a commission-only summer job, selling ice cream from a bike, similar to the one in this picture. It was a simple proposition. Ride the (heavy) bike to a place with people, ring the bells  on the handlebar, and wait for customers. Mostly kids, sometimes outdoor workers.

    English: Dickie Dee Ice Cream cart in the earl...

    English: Dickie Dee Ice Cream cart in the early 1980’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    The first part of my route started in an office park. No outdoor workers, everyone in offices, no one could hear my bells. In prior years, the sales rep would do a cursory ride through, then head to a residential area. But I decided that office workers in summertime would be bored, and happy to have a treat. So I created a new procedure.

    I went to each building and told them I would be there the next day and every weekday, at exactly the same time. I would walk into the lobby to let them know I was there, and I would wait for some number of minutes.

    Every day.

    And it worked. Office workers are just like everyone else: they like ice cream. They just needed someone to sell it to them in a way that accommodated them.

    Lesson 3: Learn The Script, But Be Ready To Toss It 

    The next summer, I took a job selling cellphone service to small businesses. Cellular was pretty new back then. We learned a script for cold-calling. Part of the gimmick was to call using cellphones, so we could introduce how good the call quality was. Except it wasn’t. And it was killing sales.  So I went home, to make my calls from there. And the quality was even worse. But I lived a long drive from the businesses I was calling, and it turns out that having any service at all in my area was a selling point for some of them. So I started making all my calls from home, told them where I was, and talked about how even as far away as my town, coverage was still possible. I didn’t set the world on fire with that job, but I learned my lesson: selling scripts are made for the typical situation, not your situation.

     
  • Dean Waye 9:30 am on October 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Remember: Strategy is applying your strength against the opponent’s weakness… 

    … or applying your advantage(s) against an opportunity.

     

     

    Courtesy of Richard Rumelt.

     
  • Dean Waye 10:28 am on September 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: america, , middle class   

    Could America Have designed A Better Rival Than China?

    Probably not…

     
  • Dean Waye 12:23 pm on September 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Communications, leadership, pre-sales, presages, Public speaking, sales, Toastmasters International   

    What Toastmasters Taught Me About Selling 

    Toastmasters (great organization, terrible name) teaches people about selling, without them knowing it. It actually teaches public speaking, but the lessons for sales people are powerful.

    I recently moved back into a selling role at my company, after time in the consulting and engineering groups. And as geeky as I am I always feel most at home in Sales. More specifically, technical pre-sales, the geek who works with the actual salesperson. Recent lessons from Toastmasters reinforced the things we forget too easily when we deal with prospects.

    1. Know what the audience should say “Yes” to.

    Public speaking is about persuasion. And you’re only persuasive when you are clear. When you sit down to create your PowerPoint deck or script, you should start with what the prospect should say yes to.

    Maybe that’s an agreement to have another meeting.  Maybe it’s Yes to a trial or a demo. Or maybe they are supposed to stand on the table and say Take My Money. Now!  🙂

    Either way, if you know what you are aiming for, your  pitch will reflect that.

    2. You need conflict, every time.

    Taking a page from Duarte, there’s where you are today, and where you want to be. Your presentation needs to show some sort of gap, a disconnect between today’s business or tech problem and how your company’s solution fixes it. Toastmasters teaches you to call out the difference, and keep the audience interested by including conflict.

    3. Stories, but not what you think.

    It’s common today to hear your Sales VP talk about ‘our story’. But with enough practice in public speaking, you start to realize that your story isn’t the key here. The audience members tell themselves their own story. If you know enough about that story, you can insert yourself into it. And that is a powerful takeaway in a presentation.

    4. The Call to Action?

    Yes, we started with knowing what we wanted agreement to. We included conflict in our pitch. We even worked on putting our company into the prospect’s own story. But did you forget something?

    I was at a client meeting last week in Atlanta, and when the salesperson pointed out (pre-meeting, thankfully) that we hadn’t included a Next Steps slide (what Toastmasters calls The Call To Action), I was embarrassed.  I harass other people about this stuff, but I forgot it myself. What I should have done is followed my own template.

    If you haven’t tried Toastmasters, or you need more practice with public speakers, you can find a club here.

     
  • Dean Waye 10:50 am on September 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    New Website! 

    I now blog at Men of a Certain Wage. Check it out.

     
  • Dean Waye 8:26 pm on September 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: citibank, citigroup   

    We don’t care if he’s a crook, we are making you pay him 

    So, I bought a Macbook Air. A great computer so far.

    Like most people when they buy their first non-Windows computer, some software simply can’t be left behind. For me that was Microsoft Office.

    Microsoft now makes a very snazzy version of Office, Office 2011 For Mac. Since I was paying for it myself, I went online to find the best price.

    Using http://www.nextag.com, a reputable site I use several times a year, I found a sale, a download-only edition for $50, limited time only. No DVD, and it would take a long time to download, but cheaper, from a merchant I didn’t know. So I bought it.

    It turned to to be a pirated version.  This was obvious immediately after the download finished (the skull and crossbones logo was a useful hint).

    Now, $50 is not much money. I could live with losing it (I didn’t install the software). But since I paid with a credit card, I figured the thief who was about to profit from the illegal activity shouldn’t get paid. All Citi had to do was deny the transaction. After all, it was stolen property he was selling.

    I contacted Citi with a secure message on their website and on the phone. I provided all the details, Web site, name, offered screenshots. I explained that I had gone through the tedious anti-piracy reporting process with Microsoft and could prove it. I asked that they not let this guy earn money selling illegal stuff.

    Today, Citibank informed me that they were going to go ahead and pay him. Or, that I was going to pay him, since they were reinstating the charge.

    Awesome.

    Looks my everyday card won’t be a Citi card anymore.

     
    • telangs 8:08 am on December 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      They did not let you dispute the charge? I believe they should help you dispute the unauthorized charges.

  • Dean Waye 2:47 pm on May 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: merlin mann   

    This is not for everyone… 

    Includes profanity. But the message is good.

    (not safe for work, by the way)

    << For those who don’t have 27 minutes to watch a talk from a conference, the lesson: everyone is scared, don’t worry too much about that, make the change. But he says it better.>>

     
  • Dean Waye 1:02 pm on April 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Just Goes To Show How We Don’t Know How Much We Don’t Know 

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704547604576263261679848814.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

     
  • Dean Waye 10:30 am on November 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Best Career Advice I Ever Got 

    The list below was once much longer, and contained items from some really great people and mentors, but as I edited (and edited, and edited) the list to fundamentals, I ended up with just 4 items.

    4 isn’t enough, right?

    So I put the list away for a while, and came back to it yesterday. And I remember these, it turns out, because they are variations from a Tom Peters book I read more than a decade ago.

    And I still use them all today. So maybe 4 is the right number after all.

    1. Become valuable outside your own small area (in particular, to your company’s customers, instead of to your boss). That’s real job security and the path to advancement.

    2. Think about what your resume says and work to make it better. You aren’t going to be in your current company forever. At resume-writing time, you don’t want to look back and realize you did the same job for x years, and it looks unimpressive on paper. So write your resume once a year or so, and decide what to focus on next year.

    3. Ignore the performance review process. See #1 above.

    4. You work for yourself, your employers are simply your biggest (or only) customers.

     
  • Dean Waye 9:40 am on November 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dayton Ohio, Frequent-flyer program, , ITA Software, Orbitz, Recreation, , ,   

    My Mileage Run 

    Boeing 767-300

    Image via Wikipedia

    (Why I flew to these airports, GSO-IAD-DAY-ORD-MCI-ORD-GSO, in a single day)

    Lately I have been digging into the details of ‘travel hacking’, which is a subset of (mostly business) traveling details where you exploit inefficiencies in how the travel industry operates to get either free flights, free hotel stays, or at least a better level of elite status, in order to get the former.

    I’ve been doing something similar at Hilton hotels for years, because of how they’ve structured their Hilton HHonors program. To get to their Diamond level, you need to stay 60 nights, or 28 stays, in a calendar year. The 60 nights is self-explanatory. The 28 stays is where the inefficiency lies. I don’t travel enough to spend 60 nights at hotels per year. But 28 nights, that’s achievable.

    At Hilton, a stay is a check-in +check-out. It can be of any length, and at any price point. And Hilton has a nice habit of putting their hotels near each other. To reach Diamond, I spend each night per business trip at a different Hilton property. Since most of my recent travel has been to the Washington D.C. area, I have 4 hotels there, and move daily. Most trips last 2 days, so it’s not a big deal to switch hotels once per trip.

    28 nights/stays is still a lot of travel to many people, but it’s been pretty typical for me since I moved to America.

    Note: An irony of doing a lot of business travel is that during your personal time the last thing you want to do is travel, but your family wants to ‘go somewhere’. Fortunately, when kids are small, even a local hotel is a treat, as long as it has a pool and breakfast.

    So, back to travel hacking…

    A few weeks ago I noticed that I could move up from Nobody, to the bottom level of Somebody on United Airlines, by doing the same thing I do at Hilton. I needed either 19,000 miles, or 7 segments, to get to Premier.

    My local airport is Greensboro International, a small airport, and I almost always have to fly very small regional jets, the kind where one side of the plane has just 1 seat, the other side has 2. Small. No legroom. Always cramped. Premier level would let me select exit row seats and give me automatic upgrades, and ensure I always got on the plane before nearly everyone else. My trips are typically short, I only have carry-on luggage, and the front-of-the-line perk meant I’d always have enough overhead storage space (and yes, I know these all sound like small things, but what’s airline travel except many small inconveniences and indignities piled atop each other. Relief from a few of them means a lot).

    In case you don’t fly much, a segment is the equivalent of a hotel stay. When the wheels kiss the runway, you just completed a segment. The price you paid, the length of the trip, the size of the plane, none of these matter. Did the plane land? Good, that’s another segment in your account.

    Remember, to get to Premier, I needed 19,000 miles, or 7 segments, by the end of this calendar year. There was no way I would be flying so many miles. But the segments, that I could work with.

    I knew I had one more planned business trip this year, for 2 segments, so that left 5 segments. I also wanted an extra segment in case I had a dispute with the airline. To book this mileage run (really a segment run), I needed a trip that could be completed in a single Saturday, would include at least 5 segments (6 for a safety margin of one), and it had to be inexpensive.

    To book a trip like that, you don’t use the popular travel sites like Expedia or Orbitz. What I needed was a specialized tool. The travel hacking sites point to ITA, a company bought by Google a few months ago. You can’t buy a ticket there, but if you spend some time learning the different search options, it will find you a trip as crazy as you like. In my case:

    1. I wanted a 6 segment trip

    2. I didn’t want to pay much

    3. I wanted to leave and return home in the same day

    4. And I didn’t care where I went.

    I ended up in Kansas City, Missouri, after trying a few options. Specifically, I started at 6AM in Greensboro, flew to Washington D.C., then to Dayton Ohio, Chicago, Kansas City, back to Chicago, and landed in Greensboro at 9PM the same day (last Saturday). The price was $158 plus tax. Because of how airline pricing works (or doesn’t work), it’s likely that anyone sitting next to me and flying between just two of those destinations paid more than I paid for the entire trip.

    After ITA found me the trip I needed, I booked it at United’s website.

    Summary

    The next day, the segments posted to my account, and now I’m 1 segment away from Premier. Not bad for under $200.

    Some observations:

    1. It was boring. Many times that day, I thought about how I would have been happy to pay United Airlines the ticket price and stay home. Of course, travel hacking is about inefficiencies, and that option isn’t available. Someone pointed out that my carbon footprint for that day was really, really bad.

    🙂

    2. I didn’t bring a laptop, for probably the first time in 15 years. I did bring a Kindle, and it’s a great travel companion. I brought an Ipod, and never used it. I brought my Spint Evo cellphone to text my wife every time I landed and to use an app to keep my flights & gates organized. Highly recommend it.

    3. The flight had so many segments, I couldn’t print all my boarding passes from United’s website. It has a maximum of 4 segments per day.

    4. Kansas City has the stupidest layout I have ever seen. Every time you leave your gate area, you can’t return without going through Security (complete with X-ray) all over again. Want to cross the aisle and buy a coffee? That’s a security check when you return to the gate.

    5. I’d probably do it all again, but I hope I don’t have to.

     
  • Dean Waye 11:29 pm on November 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    A Neat Quote From ‘Mad Men’ 

    We all live in the space between what we want and what is expected of us.

     
  • Dean Waye 7:23 pm on November 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Misc. Stuff. An App That Tracks McDonald’s fries? 

    This would only be useful in urban areas, but I’d like to see a location-based smartphone app that had updates on the quality of McDonalds fries.

    McDonalds fries, when they are great, are really great. But most of the time, they aren’t. And sometimes, I feel like getting some fries, but it’s a gamble on whether they will be any good. If only there was an app that could tell me the latest reviews of fries, so I could go to the closest McDonalds that was making good ones right now.

    *PS I know the trick about asking for fries with no salt, so that they have to make a fresh batch just for you. But that feels like cheating, and delaying other people’s orders.

     
  • Dean Waye 8:06 pm on October 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brian Gordon, , , , Search Engine Optimization, Social network, ,   

    Finale: Nobody Finds A Job Alone 

    Adriano Gasparri - My LinkedIn Profile

    [This is the second part of a two part article on finding a job in 2010-11. The first part is here]

    In the first part of this series, I discussed the past decade and how some individuals helped me find new opportunities, and how I had done the same for others. And up until my most recent employer, all these jobs were found in ways that haven’t changed much in the past many years.

    In 2010, there are new tools, and a new (very) general acceptance about using them. Things have changed a bit. Not as much as you might think, or hope. But changed nonetheless. And some new lessons are appropriate.

    Caveat: I’m not 25, and I’m not looking for my first real job. So what I write below might not be as useful for people under 30 as for those over 30. I recently read an interesting article here that might be more helpful for younger folks.

    1. Old but true: You still need to Google yourself occasionally.

    Why? Several reasons:

    • Every day, the likelihood of a potential employer doing it increases.
    • You should know what’s there, before someone else searches for your name and then asks you (or passes on talking to you altogether) because of what’s there.

    But it’s not just about playing defense. You can do a lot to influence what Google puts into those top 10 search results. And don’t think it’s difficult and not worth trying. Search Engine Optimization might be big business, but that’s because if you’re Coke, getting on the top of Pepsi searches is nearly impossible, and therefore expensive.

    You’re not Coke.

    If you have a very common name, like my friend Brian Gordon, you might be able to skip this step, because it really will be hard to float to the top with so many other Brian Gordons out there. The same might even be true if your name isn’t common in the USA, but it is in e.g. India or China, so the result is the same. But the less common your name is, the more important this step becomes, because it is easier to find the real you.

    When I Googled my name last summer, there was basically nothing on the first page that was really me. And the first page is the most important of all, since virtually nobody goes past it to look at page 2. Under my name, there were a couple of Amazon.com reviews I don’t remember writing, a handful of listings for those creepy public record sites that scrape government webpages, and some Usenet postings (see? Usenet. I told you I was over 30).

    Today, the creepy sites are gone, only one Amazon review remains, and everything else is from my blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Much better.

    2. Today, we don’t have privacy, we have content (aka Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and you)

    If I am hiring today, I go take a quick look at what the web shows about you. It’s easy, and since we’re strangers, I’d rather know something about you than nothing at all.

    I won’t dwell here on the obvious things about Facebook, since I doubt beauty pageant winners with grabby boyfriends (or girlfriends), or silly  people who like to photograph binge drinking will ever read this blog. But there’s something subtler at work here, a possibility, that you might appreciate: you’re not a spectator or minor character in your online presence. You’re the movie producer.

    Like a movie producer, you can’t control all the variables (actors!), but you get to set the theme, the overall direction, and to solve the problems. It’s the same with what I see about you online. The best way to influence what I see about you, since you’re never going to be famous and no one else is likely to intentionally write about you, is to crowd the other stuff off the front page. You, my friend, need to write. You need content.

    So write. But do it in a controlled environment, like forums, blogs, personal websites that aren’t blogs (remember those?). And sure, write on Facebook. But let’s be serious here: for as long as you live, Facebook is now a megaphone for you, not a never-ending public conversation. You look outward, the way radio shows and businesses do there. Your days of Liking, commenting, and posting things you wouldn’t want your 9 year old niece to read tomorrow, are over. And whatever you can clean up today, do it. I have spent a lot of time tweaking Facebook privacy settings. You haven’t (be honest). Plus, Facebook changes them all the time. Stop playing chicken, and stop being reckless. The only people who should spend lots of time on Facebook are people who aren’t in the workforce and never will be again.

    PS Same for Twitter, with a twist: if I see that you posted thousands of items and retweets, and the top couple of dozen aren’t quality stuff and interesting links, I might pass on you. Who has that much time to spend on Twitter? BUT, again, you benefit from the same effect I mentioned above about Google’s first page of results. Virtually nobody looks at page two (who has that much time?). So post 25 good quality tweets, to crowd out the other junk you put up there. Then either stop cold turkey, or keep up the good content stream.

    And that brings us to LinkedIn.com

    Older than the others, and smaller too. Much more boring. Incredibly boring. Like 75 million resume-length business cards, LinkedIn is the anti-Facebook. Everyone’s profile on LinkedIn is either non-existent or chock full of descriptions from (apparently) the greatest business people to ever walk the Earth:

    strategic thinker, innovative planner, and hard worker

    – versatile professional with a decade of experience in multi-system global logistics who personally saved $1.2316 million by optimizing throughput in 3rd shift plants (how? where? is that a lot, relative to what you had to work with?)

    –  John Smith, 3 LinkedIn contacts

    Yet, LinkedIn is where the recruiters go. They might look at Facebook second to find bad stuff and save themselves embarrassment, but they go to LinkedIn to find good candidates. So when you are writing your content for your LinkedIn profile, you should lean more toward what you would write on Facebook than what others write on LinkedIn. Like I said, LinkedIn is smaller than FB, but it’s still 75 million strong, and that’s a lot of competition. Plus everyone there is scared of messing up, the place reeks of tension, so it’s easy to be noticeable by loosening up just a little. You need to stand out. Good news for you, everybody else is as boring as heck. So make your content as warm as you can get away with, write as much as you’re allowed to, and if someone writes you a generic recommendation send it back. And you, you write good, memorable recommendations for other people. Write for them first, pay it forward. Sow and reap. Any questions along that theme, read the Part 1 article again.

    LinkedIn is so important, I am going to rephrase what I just said: This is where people find you for new jobs. Be as warm as you can while staying professional. Generate lots of quality content in your profile. Link to, or embed, your other content from your blog/Twitter. And show that you think (I know that you think, so show it). A weakness on LinkedIn is that your competition focuses on saying what they did but in the most generic possible way. You say what you did, but show that you think about stuff too.

    (You can do this. Honest. I know you can. In most of life, ideas alone aren’t worth much, but they are valuable when someone is willing to write them for public view. So show us yours.).

    Some other thoughts about LinkedIn:

    a. Upload a picture. I use a cartoony graphic mainly because I want something that looks the same on computer screens and mobile phones, can be used on my blogs and other profiles, and would generally carry across wherever I was found and be recognizable. Someday I will switch to a photograph again. You should start there, if you can. And in your picture, fill the whole frame, look at me, and smile. Please.

    b. Think about buying a premium membership for a month or two. There are some interesting features included.

    c. Invite me to connect with you (just search for Dean Waye). Don’t use the generic message LinkedIn offers you. Tell me why we might be able to help each other, or be interested in working together someday. Or tell me you want to write a guest post on my blog (these things don’t write themselves, you know 🙂 )

    d. Join some groups, especially groups in your industry and your college. It’s a good way to connect with new people. Don’t join jobseeker groups, though, except maybe for a day or two, to find the recruiters and connect with them. Then quit. Tip: The recruiters are the ones with 9000+ connections.

    Summary (where it all comes together)

    It’s great when someone hassles you to take because they know you’re a great fit. Absent that, you can do a lot with social networking sites to put your best face forward and show that you’re a thinker and a doer who is responsible enough to manage the Internet Age’s replacement for personal privacy on Google and everywhere else. Be personal, post the odd trivial piece, but mainly keep the least impressive parts of your life off Facebook, and swing a little bit the other way on LinkedIn.

    And if you find a great use for Twitter, send it to me? I still don’t truly see the potential there for individuals, yet. Maybe I should think about it…

     
  • Dean Waye 12:18 am on October 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Employment, Job Search, Labour economics, , Olive Garden, Red Lobster,   

    Nobody Finds A Job Alone 

    University of Central Florida

    Image via Wikipedia

    Nobody finds a job alone.

    I was thinking about this last week, after dinner with a former co-worker on Thursday. Both of us had been brought into my current company by the same man, who was trying to get him to return to the company the rest of us still worked for.

    As I was driving home after dinner, I thought about the dozen or so jobs I had helped people (some friends, some acquaintances) start over the past decade, and I realized that none of them had ever helped me get a job in return.

    But, you know what? I haven’t yet helped the three men who found jobs for me:

    • Neil , a former grad school roommate who moved to America ahead of me and guided me into his company;
    • Marty, who called me for months before I finally agreed to interview;
    • and Mark, who I briefly worked for at Kronos, and who introduced me to my current employer after moving there himself.

    All great men. All, I’m sure, have helped many other besides me. I’m part of their dozen, and others are part of mine.

    Isn’t that strange? It’s as if career assistance is a giant game of pay-it-forward. Three people helped me. I helped a dozen. Hopefully, some of that dozen will help others whom I will likely never meet. And on it goes.

    Which brings me to to 2010. I last looked for a new job in 2007, and I believe the landscape is very different today. For me, 2007 was like 2004, and 2001. The companies and jobs I have found through connectors like Neil Wornes, Marty Wells, and Mark DeArmon, have been good fits, even if I didn’t think they would be at the time. The jobs where I connected through unknown third parties tended to be brief, and bad matches, despite my initial feelings after the interviews (I’m looking at you, Robert Half).

    But 2010 is different, apparently.

    Prior to this year, I didn’t notice much of a social networking component to the job market. I joined LinkedIn in 2003, but only recently have connections there crossed over into the real world. I’m one of the geeks who has 400+ LinkedIn connections and actually knows nearly every one of them personally.

    So I want to to walk you through a decade or so of job search history from age 29 to today, and discuss what worked and didn’t, and what I still recommend and don’t, and a few lessons that I hope are useful to anyone about to start a new job hunt.

    Part 1: Prior to social networking sites.

    Lesson 1. If you are young, and especially if you are in school, get out there early.

    I was lucky (and financially already in trouble) when I started, so I had nothing to lose by taking anything I could.

    When I returned to school after my bachelor’s, I walked directly to the career placement office and told them I wanted whatever odd jobs a technical person could do. That got me two short-term gigs almost immediately, as the ‘computer guy’ for an A/V company at a large annual software conference, and as a trainer for a subsidiary of MCI teaching people basics about MS Office and the web. The first led to my meeting a local event planner, whose small jobs kept me fed while I was in school. The second led to an opportunity to write a 1-day primer course for local telephone company workers who were being introduced to this new Internet thing.

    That 1-day course course, and being the trainer who conducted it, eventually led me to a job at that telephone company. That was my last full-time job before I left for America.

    Lesson 2. If you get the call, jump. Trust your new friends to know you.

    When my former roommate called me from a company in Virginia, and told me I would like working there, I needed convincing. I had never lived in America, and I had about 10 reasons why the timing was wrong. But I decided to live in the States for 2 years, get some experience, and return to Canada.

    [Note: over time, I met a lot of guys who have moved to America without already having family here. Those who remain here seem to fall into 2 groups. They came for a job and stayed for a woman, or came for a woman and stayed for a job. I’m the former)]

    I stayed with that company for two years, but left after talking with a recruiter at another firm about the job of a lifetime that really wasn’t.
    Lesson 3. As soon as you can, start speaking to groups, meeting folks, and helping others get work.

    After a couple of years, including immigration issues and a post 9/11 economy, I met Marty through our accountant, who I think put us together because we were roughly the same age and were ‘computer guys’. We hit it off, in part because we were (and still are) in different parts of the industry; he’s hardware, I’m software.

    Other than a one-time introduction to Darden Restaurants I made for him (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, those guys), which didn’t work out for either of us, I don’t know why Marty kept in touch with me, and kept asking me to join a company he had become a manager with (after meeting the owner on a plane, in first class, of course. Marty’s often lucky like that). But he kept calling, and eventually the budget opened up for a new position, and while I wasn’t sure about the company, I trusted Marty, and joined.

    That job was my first return to management in years, and gave me the chance to help a lot of people get hired (and to hire some myself). I especially focused on helping recent grads and immigrants, spoke at colleges and universities, and at one point offered whatever help I possibly could to a meeting of 400 international students at UCF.That talk at UCF was a valuable lesson for me. I was the last speaker, and it took me half an hour to get out the door after I finished. Those folks were motivated to find work (this was about two years after 9/11, things in Florida were still bad), and a small mob peppered me with questions and requests before letting me leave.

    From my talks at colleges I ended up either placing or directly hiring at least 4 people in my short time working alongside Marty, including one who graduated from UCF and, I swear, called me every 10 minutes for as long as it took to get me to hire her. I am still friends with her and her husband today, they are great people.

    Extra Lesson: You never know where your next connection will come from. That UCF speech was by invitation of a truly amazing lady related to my wife, Melanie Parker. Today’s she’s at MIT, where I’m sure she helps many, many people find jobs after graduation.

    Lesson 4. Know what your salary number needs to be, and especially if it’s a big boost for you, argue for it. Once you accept the job, you join the annual review / salary adjustment track, and might never see a big boost again.

    From working with Marty, I went to KRONOS, and set to work getting more great people hired there. KRONOS was the kind of company where, if you set your mind to it and didn’t mind the travel, you could meet an awful lot of people, both colleagues and clients. I worked with Honeywell, GE, state and county governments, and many, many others. I also worked with a lot of client HR teams while working both with and for KRONOS (I was a KRONOS customer when I worked with Marty), learned a lot about payrolls, and saw the truth of the old adage “People don’t get what they deserve, they get what they negotiate”.

    If you could see who-earns-what in your own company, or the company you are looking at joining, you would be SHOCKED. Many of the hardest-working and critical people in every company earn so little, you can’t believe they actually raise a family on it. And some of the lowest contributors (and least useful) people earn so much, you can’t believe they are kept on. Also, in my experience, especially these days, few people actually rise within a company. And the larger the company is, the truer this becomes.

    Extra Lesson: My busiest day ever at KRONOS was when a large layoff was anounced. I knew several people who were laid off, and from a Jackson, MS airport spent hours on the phone (took a later flight) to call everyone I knew who might have openings, to place people into new companies as quickly as possible. The lesson… somedays, it’s your turn to deliver real stuff to real people. When that day comes, don’t hold back. Don’t hold back. Don’t hold back. Pay it forward.

    Lesson 5. Somedays, it’s your turn to accept the phone call. It never hurts to listen.

    Near the end of my time at KRONOS, Mark DeArmon was hired and became my manager, only to leave six months later. Soon after that, KRONOS went through some major changes. I had been there three years, and decided to accept his introductions to hiring managers at my (now) current employer. Similar to Marty, I don’t know why he singled me out and kept calling me, but he did, and after talking to three different hiring managers, I joined that company.

    Summary of Part 1:

    These are three men. There are people who think they are ordinary, or worse. But they made big dents in my universe. As I made big dents in others’s. No one finds a job (or starts a business, or does anything big) alone. There are people who can make a difference. You already know who they are. Stop putting them off to another day, a better time, or any other excuse you have. Let them help you. If I knew you’d, I’d help. I have to pay it forward, especially since I haven’t helped them yet.

    Next: Part 2: What Social Networking sites change about the job search (and what they don’t).

     
    • missdisplaced 7:58 pm on October 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Help out a grad student researching modern job search methods. This is not Spam and I am not promoting anything. It is a real research project.

      Follow the link below and complete my survey. Thank you!

      The following is a survey examining methods employed by individuals in the job search process.
      http://qtrial.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_cHgX07Q6uMKYckY

    • derek hoekman (bighook) 6:59 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Dean Yeah its me .A ghost from those long ago days in Nfld.Read your blogs and have to say very impressed though not surprised.You always had a way of charming the pants off people.My self included.Anyways continued success in your ventures and I agree with your pay it forward philosphy.It is a much missing moral in todays selfish ,trashtalking, instant gratification society .I especially agree with your comments on facebook as I know an out of control teenager who currently uses it to document her partying life style posting pictures of herself and friends blitzed and showing large bundles of drugs and what not they consumed during a weekend.The Paris Hilton scandal lifestyle choice is really impressive. Oh well nice to see you are alive and well and have prospered in the important aspects of life.Anyways I understand if you are too busy to reply with an email but suffice to say I am still alive and happy to see you are as well.Derek

  • Dean Waye 8:50 am on October 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bill O'Reilly, , Communication, Consulting, Education and Training, , , , ,   

    Dear Customer, 6 Things Project Managers Don’t Tell You 

    Project Management Knowledge Areas

    NImage via Wikipedia

    (I wrote this 3 years ago(!), before moving back to technical presales.)

    1. I have fewer people than you think, and that’s good

    No matter how big or complex the project is, I never have enough people and that’s okay, because adding people leads to additional lines of communication, self-sorting into groups or specialties, and a tendency to shirk (someone else will do it). A small team has its own risks, but overall you can’t beat the esprit de corps, the sense of being needed, and the nimbleness.

    2. I use my project management tools sparingly

    In a perfect world, we would live inside a project plan, having deep discussions about Earned Value and Critical Paths. In reality, I use the tools of my trade less than I would like to, because the messiness of your world spills over into mine , and those tools don’t  keep up well. Instead, I use other means to manage my projects, especially…

    3. There is a reason you see me so often, even though I live far away

    I recently made my 400th onsite trip to a customer site. In 3 years. The team that actually works for me (in my industry, it’s software development) hardly ever sees me, and lives all over the world anyway. You see me so much, to you I’m local. It’s even possible that I know more people inside your company than you do. But forget the project plans and status reports (no, not really), my main job is to get the different parts of your company, and your other vendors, to work with me, to talk, and be reasonable.

    I once saw a show where someone discussed how to be treated well as a guest on the Bill O’Reilly show, and the simple answer was, go to his studio. If you attend via satellite, he’ll cut off your mic, etc., but sit across from him (or anyone) and the tone changes. Get people outside their email fortress, and real stuff happens.

    Making real stuff happen = project management.

    4. Project management is the worst job in the world, except for most of the others

    It’s thankless. It’s stressful. The hours are terrible, and the true hourly rate (annual salary divided by # of hours worked) is not as much as it should be. But for a certain type of person, the kind that doesn’t like to be comfortable for long, the kind that likes to struggle, it’s the best seat in the house. Especially if you’re the ‘Outside’ type in the next section…

    5. There are 2 types of project managers, and I am not the one you think I am

    Most project managers are ‘inside’ project managers. A smaller percentage are ‘outside’ PMs. Here’s the difference:

    Inside PM: The budget for the project is coming from the same company that issues your paycheck. That means, in her job, delivering within budget and on deadline are ultimately the definition of success.

    Outside PM: The budget for the project is coming from a customer, or other outside entity. So, ultimate success is some combination of making sure your own company makes a profit this time while making sure the customer is happy.

    See the difference?

    If you are an Outside PM, you know that customers can still be happy even if a project is late or goes over budget, as long as the final result’s perceived value is high (whereas an employer is NEVER happy when you go over budget).

    Read that above line again. Twice. But keep it between us.

    6. If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t be here

    Thanks in part to organizations like PMI.org, plus the international standardization of project manager credentials, and growth in IT globally, the number of unfilled positions for Project Managers with proven track records is still pretty good. PMs who consistently show a profit (or don’t lose money) have even better options.

    PMs are continuously recruited. We are here because we are interested in your company, or the project, or both.  So as far as customers go, you’re alright :-).

    Hey, I like you.

     
  • Dean Waye 5:21 pm on September 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: brian wansink, , Business and Finance, Business model, Cialdini, clay shirky, , , , , ,   

    Is Project Management Peaking? 

    Arthur Rudolph

    Image via Wikipedia

    After catching up on Brian’s progress, I started wondering if my own job was easy to outsource to the other side of the world, and decided it wasn’t. Well, it is, though not really. But I started doing a little thought experiment on what might make it obsolete altogether.

    The Thought Experiment: What could make most software project managers obsolete?

    Project managers, in the best cases, can add a lot of value. The best (paid) ones manage undertakings that are either:

    (1) complex, and would surely never happen without someone experienced in the challenges and tools to manage them

    (2) necessary, but hard to make a profit on, without someone who knows how to do that

    (3) fraught with risk, where the PM’s main contribution is to manage the project in a way that avoids loss or ‘failure’

    The above are general enough to suggest that PMs will always be with us. But can a case be made that 10 years from now, most won’t?

    There are a lot of project managers in the world today. There are nearly half a million PMP-certified ones, and most people in a project management role today are not PMP-certified.

    For #1 above, what if complexity gave way to smaller sized efforts? The inefficiency of communications between departments, teams, individuals, or countries yields once the complexity subsides.

    Likewise for #2 and #3, more and more software profits are based on services and other add-ons, where ‘regular’ managers with some project management knowledge could become the norm.

    #1 The March Toward Less Complexity

    These are the questions that are on my mind. Because I read a Wired magazine article a few weeks ago that showed how it is traffic from smartphone apps, not web surfing, that cellular networks are groaning under. And because of an article a few weeks ago about how more and more software development is being based on the iPhone/Android model of strictly defined frameworks (the smartphone/tablet operating systems) instead of more general frameworks like Windows, and that this is being done to protect users from malware as well as handset/tablet/iPad manufacturers from the general bugginess Windows users face. The same security model will, I think, become popular across all software, not just phones and tablets, and while it’s good overall, there are implications.

    Also, apps are less complex in general that other software. They tend to be single purpose, and the definition of a successful one isn’t that it does everything, but that it does something well that you find useful. As those companies (or more often individual coders) try to add in more features, they quickly run up against limits on the device itself. In most cases, they create additional apps, instead of bloating their latest success.

    What could this mean for high-end project managers? Maybe very little for the very best of them, because there will always be some complex projects needed, somewhere. Even if it is primarily to care for the current complex systems. After all, there are still people making a living with buggy whips.

    For the lower-end project managers, it might even be a boon, and these are often the types of location-independent project management jobs that can indeed be sent to a different country.

    But for those in the middle it could mean their ranks will be thinned out. As usual, the middle is the most dangerous place to be. Take out complexity, and you’re left with depending on inefficiency for your job’s value. Since much of the inefficiency is due to the size of the community or bureaucracy those PMs deal with, when it is reduced, so is their value.

    If I was in the middle right now, I’d make a 5 year plan to move up the value chain, move down (by relocating to a cheaper place), or move out.

    #2 The Project Manager Yields to the Profit Manager

    Making a profit is hard. Most project managers whom I know never have to think about doing it. Staying within budget, yes. Adding profit, no.

    Staying within budget is like being on the cost of side an enterprise, instead of the revenue side. In every enterprise, there are the people who focus on cost containment/reduction, and the ones who focus on revenue generation. Some management people have to do both, but generally it’s one or the other. The head of HR isn’t thinking about revenue creation, the head of Sales doesn’t care what paperclips cost. No matter who you are, you are one side of this split.

    If your interest, as a project manager, is on cost containment, then the (merely possible, granted) reduction in complexity as a general trend means this role is less necessary than before. Another reality of our modern life lately, the freemium, means the pressure to find additional ways to create a profit will grow.

    Personally, this is where I contribute most of my value as a project manager*, whichever company I am working for, and it’s tricky. At the last company I worked, I eventually had an entire system fashioned for myself, never shared**, that had me bringing in extra revenue for my employer amounting to 10x my salary. I have been sitting on the article I wrote about how to do it for a while now, because I am sure it would kill my career. It was 100% ethically conducted, but why even let the topic come up in conversation with a customer?

    #3 If I Wasn’t Here, You’d Be Screwed

    This where most of the project managers I know live. Their ultimate role is to manage or protect the project against loss, financial, time, or otherwise, by keeping things moving in the right direction. It’s hard work. It’s time consuming, maybe even life consuming. And it’s thankless. It really is a thankless job. But somebody’s got to do it.

    But what is that somebody isn’t you?

    What if the general trend really is toward smaller, less complex, inside tighter frameworks? Or what if the general business model is moving away from high priced services and toward offshore project managers where the first taste is free? If I lived in this space, I’d be the most concerned. Not only could the general trending be against my favor, but most of the project managers in my world are in the same boat, so there’s going to be price competition for the jobs I want. Price competition is bad.

    If either or both of #1 and #2 come true, depending on #3 for your value to the enterprise becomes risky. I could even argue that we see this already… how many project managers now run multiple smaller projects, where neither is big enough to justify their salary?  Specifically, how many of us have seen this become more common over the past few years? I know I have.

    Relax, Maybe I’m Wrong

    I could be completely off base, by the way. Maybe projects will become more complex. Maybe profits will become easier to create (okay, I’m being facetious about that one). Maybe the PM role won’t change much over the next decade.

    Maybe. But I still feel better having thought about the what-if.


    * Interesting note: percentage of project management job listings online that mention the word profit anywhere? Zero.

    (** If you are interested in the basics, you can contact me, but you can’t publish it anywhere. It’s a blending of lessons from this book, and this one, and this one. Oh, and what triggered this post’s creation was the first 3 chapters of “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, by Clay Shirky. It wasn’t new stuff, it just triggered the other memories. But maybe it would be new stuff to you…)

     
  • Dean Waye 5:17 pm on September 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Some days you are the tortoise 

    image

    Just before the Avis bus lumbers out of its parking spot to take us to the terminal, a young attractive couple manages to jump on. Not married.

    At the terminal they leap off that bus and run, yes run, ahead of me.

    Security line. I see them again but I am ahead of them somehow. They get lucky and end up in the faster line. For the second time today I see their backs as they run.

    Through Security. Putting my belt on (mental note, wear this new belt through the metal detector someday. It might not need to be removed).
    I see them emerge on the other side with me. Again they were behind me somehow . Hello again, backs. Bye bye. Run, backs, run.

    Now they are getting on the shuttle just before we leave. I am sitting and try not to watch them. Careful of those doors!

    They are ahead of me again, looking at the departure board. Wrong terminal.

    Today I am the tortoise.

     
  • Dean Waye 5:13 pm on September 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Cambodia, Florida, , Google Alerts, Information technology, Outsourcing, South Florida, Southeast Asia, , YouTube   

    Brian, Outsource Yourself 

    Location of Southeast Asia. This map primarily...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Brian Gordon, American born and raised, just moved from South Florida to Cambodia, and I am trying to help him reverse the outsourcing dilemma you might be worrying about in your own job.

    Dude!

    It was good to hear from you, and I was glad to see that the move to Cambodia was trouble-free, given how problematic the months leading up to it were.

    Now that you are settled in, and want to find work, consider marketing yourself in a way that takes full advantage of your situation.

    First, I think that your story is compelling. The Great Recession + the Florida housing bust wiped out your equity, and then you got laid off. I used to live in Florida, and so I know you weren’t unusual. It was just bad luck – you weren’t sub-prime, you got crushed by falling prices, like millions of other people. And getting laid off during this recession happened to millions of people too, not just you.

    But what you did next is what makes the story so interesting. You picked a place you visited once before and liked, gave yourself a September 1 deadline to find a new job in America, and when you didn’t, you left.

    Now, you can geo-arbitrage. You can work for American companies (or really any company, anywhere), undercut your on-shore competition by 20-30%, and take advantage of the lower cost of living in Southeast Asia.

    Not many people could make the kind of change you did. And even fewer would even try. But you did it.

    So, now, how do you find clients?

    This is the weak spot in your strategy, since ideally you would have lined something up before leaving, but I don’t fault you for it. A big change like that means sticking to a date no matter what. Otherwise, maybe you would have never had ‘enough’ clients, and therefore never moved.

    The situation is what it is. Let’s just get started.

    1. You have a domain name, and an email address (brian.gordon@kronosreports.com). Put your story on your website, along with the type of reports you have done and can do for clients. Keep it friendly. (Note: Brian’s specialty is creating database-driven reports for HR systems)

    2. Decide on a rate schedule you can live with, and stick to it. If possible, be the second-highest cost provider among your competitors.

    3. Get someone to send you a MagicJack, so you’ll have a US number that you can use and a voicemail box for the calls you can’t take (sounds simple, I know, but it matters). While you are at it, sign up for Google Voice.

    4. Email everyone you know, individually. Especially former clients. Tell them your story, give them your contact info and website and let them know that you can handle their work easily from where you are, at prices they won’t find locally, at least not with the experience level you offer.

    5. Record some high-quality video and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. At a minimum, record a 1 minute introduction to your website, again telling your story and how you are able to offer American-style work in a way that benefits the client. Then embed  the video on the front page of your website (this is easier than you think, honest).

    6. Set up Google Alerts for keywords that include your specialty, former employers, and former clients, and when you see new business deals announced, contact the people mentioned and offer to supplement what they are buying with your own offering. We both know the crazy markups that services like report creation have. Some of those companies will be happy to reduce their costs and get the same results.

    7. Subscribe to Help A Reporter Out. Yours is a story that is extreme enough to get media attention, and that sort of publicity will help you get clients and make them more comfortable with you.

    8. Start a blog on WordPress.com, and write about your career adventure. Posts there are picked up by search engines very quickly. I just googled ‘brian gordon‘ and I am pretty sure none of the top results was you. Even ‘brian gordon reports’ didn’t return anything about you. You have a common name (sorry, it’s true), so you need to start getting noticed by Google, buddy. We can’t all be named ‘dean waye‘.   🙂

    9. If one exists, join a group on LinkedIn for people who either do what you do, or are in industries you have sold into. I joined my first 3 groups the other day, and I was blown away by how many project management jobs are listed. Also, post either your website address or this post to Facebook/Twitter, and ask your friends there to pass it along. Mainly for the Google search results help, but it also might you pick up something.

    10. Finally, take a look at the freelancer sites like elance, guru, odesk, and TweetMyJob. They can get you started on something until you get established.

    Also: Dear Reader… yes, you, you right now, reading these words… What do you think? Got a comment, or a suggestion to help Brian?

     
    • deanwaye 9:14 pm on September 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Hey Brian, It’s been 4 hours since this was posted, and while ‘brian gordon’ and ‘brian gordon reports’ aren’t showing you yet on Google, you’re number 1 for ‘brian gordon cambodia’. So, that’s a first step.

    • Brian Gordon 2:03 pm on September 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Dean – Just wanted to say thanks. I registered on elance and HARO and will submit my story tomorrow…also, I forwarded your article to a few friends and colleagues and this is where I stand

      A former colleague who now recruits technical talent is marketing my background at 4 companies with crystal report projects

      A controller I used to work with is now looking for me to rewrite standard reports from access

      You spelled out perfectly what I need to do.

      As my cost of living in Cambodia is a fraction to the states I can market my expertise in business reporting AND essentially undercut all competition on price….I think I can own this space with quality work and be the best bargain globally for business reporting….and as long as my revenue is below 90K it will be tax free as the US foreign tax exclusion is 90k……

      Thanks again for such a great roadmap.
      Brian

    • lucythorpe 5:13 am on September 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      You are clearly a great friend with some sound advice. We could all do with a new road map every now and again! As someone who gives press and publicity advice I think finding your story and getting it out there is a brilliant start.

  • Dean Waye 5:40 am on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: airport, , , , , ,   

    Dear TSA, Do Boarding Passes Matter? 

    Right Date, Wrong Airport

    Dear TSA, do boarding passes matter anymore?

    Last week I posted about being full-body scanned in Raleigh en route to Montreal, and no one looked at my boarding pass to ensure I was supposed to be in the airport in the first place.

    This week’s trip has me flying from Greensboro to D.C. and this time (it is really early, 4 AM-ish) I accidentally handed the wrong boarding pass to the TSA agent that examines boarding passes & IDs. He takes a good long look, he initials that he checked it, and lets me go forward. There is no one behind me in line, so no hurry at all.

    So what was he checking, exactly? He wasn’t confirming that I was in the right airport for that flight. Or that I was on any flight out of Greensboro today.

    If he had given it all a cursory check I could understand. But that’s not the case. He took his time.

    Do boarding passes matter?

     
  • Dean Waye 11:17 am on September 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Update: Raleigh Intl airport called me this morning, and my bag is being flown to my local airport this afternoon. Wow. I was sure I’d never see that sucker again.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:02 am on September 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Business Services, Company, , Kronos Incorporated, , , , , , ,   

    Dear LinkedIn.com, How Should I Write Recommendations? 

    Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

    Image via CrunchBase

    Dear LinkedIn Colleagues,

    I wrote my first personal recommendation on linkedin.com 7 years ago, in October 2003. Since then, I have written at least 35.

    My early ones were lousy.  Over time they improved,  when I re-thought the audience. At first I was writing for you. Later, I started writing for your prospective hiring managers, in a friendlier tone, highlighting fewer things about you, but hopefully doing a better job overall.

    I think I have gotten better over time. But practice makes perfect. I’ll rewrite yours, if you are one of the early ones 🙂

    * A short note. People are, in general, bad at requesting these recommendations. Virtually no one knows what they want highlighted. Instead, it’s left up to me. In those cases, you have to take what you get. So please take a moment to consider what you want someone to say to your next boss on your behalf. Also, unfortunately, LinkedIn.com recommendations have zero feedback available. So we never know if anyone reads them, likes them, hates them, or even notices them. Maybe LinkedIn can address that in a future release.

    Here are some examples of what I have written for others, in chronological order.

    1. October 2003, for Raj Vennam at Darden: Raj has the tenacity and sunny personality that make for a great coder.

    [sorry Raj, you deserved better]

    Same day, for Uday Shivaswamy at Microsoft: Uday is one of the best programmers I have ever worked with. Very cerebral, with quick insights. [This one had a typo, that I fixed today, after 7 years!]

    2. February, 2004, a little better, this time for Roy Crippen at Digital Fusion: Roy really set the model for me on what a CEO is and does… broad strokes, vision, incredible people skills, and integrity. I’ve measured every other boss against him, and most can’t measure up.

    3. December, 2005, for Rich Bergmann, programmer extraordinaire: When I needed answers about solving a tough software problem, Rich’s answers were the only ones I trusted. He was the only person we all trusted. If Rich said it was possible, you went back to your desk and worked harder. If you still couldn’t figure it out, Rich was always there to help you. If I had ever been as good a programmer as Rich, I probably wouldn’t have moved into management.

    4. February, 2007, for Nader Hooshmand at Kronos: For me, Nader defines conscientiousness and tirelessness. He cares about every aspect of his job. I’m not sure how he does it. He throws himself into it, I’m not sure he ever sleeps, and he’s one of the smartest people I have ever met. Promoting him to be a practice manager was probably the easiest decision his boss made that year.

    5. May, 2007, for Aaron Fausz at Kronos: Change Management is such a difficult field to excel in… blending the science and art of it takes a certain kind of person, and a certain kind of approach. When I choose people to wade into my customer’s organization, I’m very picky. I have to be. I want someone who has perfected the art of “think fast, but talk slow”. That’s Aaron. He’s the only one I know who expertly does both, so all types of businesspeople feel they are in good hands.

    6. December, 2008, for Uta Grzanna, a former client: None of the multinationals (GE, Honeywell, etc.), governments, or tech clients I ever had at Kronos knew as much about, found as many flaws with, or offered as many solutions to our software’s architecture as Ute. She’s ‘that’ client… the one that keeps pushing you to be better: better designed, better implemented, better supported. If I had my time back I would chosen her as my FIRST Kronos client…  having done the work required to make her happy, I could have cruised through my remaining years at Kronos 🙂

    7. August, 2009, for Sudhamen Chandrasekaran at InfoSys/Time Warner CableWhen Sudhaman QAs your product, you end up treating him like he’s the actual customer… a true pain in the ass customer. He treats your product like he’s the one buying it, and picks at it from end to end. He shines a light on every nook and cranny, and writes you up for every little deviation from the spec. And he doesn’t back down.

    If he wasn’t such a super nice guy, you’d wish he would fall in front of a bus. But somehow he manages to be tough and picky and pleasant, all at the same time.

    8. Last month, for Charlie Shaw, PMP:  Charlie is the project manager I always think of when I think about the PMI, and my own PMP certification.  For me he has always been the PM’s PM. The standard bearer of the PMI Way.  And the project manager you look to when you need the job The Right Way.

    9. Yesterday, for Usman Bashir at Time Warner Cable: Someday, Usman needs to do my job for a day. And I need to do his. Someday, Usman will have to give up that fabled deep-focus thing he does, and handle all the trivia and minutiae and cheerleading and threatening I do, and I will get to focus solely and deeply on that day’s problem until I emerge on the other side with the simplest, most elegant answer ever seen. And manage to know the latest cricket scores at the same time.

    Someday… but likely not.


    So.. the later ones are better than the early ones, right? I hope so. Later, I will tell you the secret behind the recommendations others have posted for me.

    *Something occurred to me. This blog is indexed by Google within an hour after the article posts… if your name is mentioned above, this post will soon show up whenever someone Googles you. Try it.

     
  • Dean Waye 5:50 pm on September 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: audible.com, , Beverages, , , , , , ,   

    Dear United Airlines, 5 Good Things About Your Losing My Bag 

    United Airlines 777s

    Image by matt.hintsa via Flickr

    Dear United,

    Forcing myself to look on the positive side, I came up with 5 pros to what you did you me yesterday (the cons being a lost bag, 5 additional hours stranded at Dulles on a Friday night, and your overall frustrating ineptitude).

    So, here they are, however weak:

    1. Forced downtime (1): I got to enjoy some alone time, listening to “The Big Short” on audible.com. Excellent book about the 2008 financial crisis.

    2. I tried a coffee my wife likes, and it was good: Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte. Not as froo-froo as I expected.

    3. Forced downtime (2): I cleared all my work email, so Saturday morning was free.

    4. I didn’t have to lug around two bags. A mixed blessing, for sure, but nonetheless…

    5. I had two hands free, for writing articles. Like this one about you. Ah, the circle of life…

     
  • Dean Waye 7:21 pm on September 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Asia, , , , , ,   

    Dear Starbucks, UAL Ruined My Evening But You (& Bob Marley) Helped Me Get it Back 

    Dear Starbucks,

    Thanks for being, this evening anyway, the Anti-United-Airlines. In Terminal D at Washington-Dulles airport.

    Aregawi from Ethiopa (on the right), and Hsueh Ho from China, both immigrants like me,  were rocking out to reggae, upsold me a snack even though I am not hungry, and reminded me that not everything about modern air travel sucks.

    Thanks to both of them. Hope they like their picture 🙂

     
  • Dean Waye 6:21 pm on September 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airports, , , , , , , , united airlines sucks, United Breaks Guitars, Washington   

    Dear United Airlines, I Can’t Even Look at You Right Now 

    Dear United,

    I checked my carry-on bag plane-side, and you managed to lose its tag while it was inside the plane. That’s a new one for me.

    So we landed and you gave the other carry on bags to the other passengers but you wouldn’t let me leave with my bag.

    Of course I had my claim check. And of course it was useless because you managed to lose the tag on the bag itself, while it was inside the plane on a 1 hour flight. So you told me to go to baggage claim, get my bag there, come back through Security all over again at this intermediate airport (Dulles) and try to make a tight connection.

    And of course you then managed to lose my bag during its 5 minute trip between the plane and the baggage area. And it doesn’t have a tag (remember, you lost that inside the plane?). Let’s be honest here. That bag is gone forever.

    And, naturally I missed my connecting flight. So I have to wait 5 hours for another one.

    Here’s a tip, United.

    I appreciated that everyone was polite and somewhat helpful, within the very limited orbit you allow them to be. But mine was the only plane-side bag ‘unclaimed’ and I was the only passenger claiming it. I had a claim ticket. And you messed me up instead of being sensible.

    Now I understand the ‘United Breaks Guitars‘ guy.

    Oh, and my flight tracker app  just alerted me that my intended flight has landed in Raleigh while I sit here in Washington.

    Nice.

    I can’t even look at you right now.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:01 pm on September 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Health, , , Montreal, Paris Hilton, Reproduction and Sexuality,   

    Dear Hilton Hotels, Thanks for the Condoms (?) 

    Hilton Place Bonaventure

    Dear Hilton,

    Sometimes, you crack me up 🙂

    I DO appreciate the option, at the Montreal Hilton downtown, to buy different internet speeds (are you reading my blog?). Although, having wi-fi only in the lobby is not useful.

    On the other hand, I have to give you points for creativity, or understanding (some of, but not me) your customers… this is the first hotel in my experience where next to the snacks and a mini-bar, you also sell ‘Intimacy Kits’, with condoms, lube, and ‘obstetrical towelettes’. (I confess, I have no idea what those are, but I am not willing to pay $12 to find out).

    Still, someone must buy them, or you wouldn’t sell them. Go Montreal!

    Canada…. it’s like a whole other country.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:06 am on September 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Department store, , , , , , , Vending machine   

    Dear Hilton, Why Aren’t You Selling Me Anything? 

    Hilton Brand Logo

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Hilton,

    I am at a new hotel near the Raleigh Durham airport right now. And it is the same, hotel room experience as always.

    Which started me thinking… why is it always the same experience, everywhere?

    I mean, you have me here and there, at hotels all over this country (and others), and what do you sell me besides a benign experience? Why do you only ever try to sell me the same thing, for the past decade(s)?

    –  A pay per view movie? I can get movies and TV shows from a lot of different places now. This is 2010, not 1990.

    –  A spa-something? Never been interested. And only offered at a fraction of locations anyway.

    –  Internet access? Well, now it is free. Thanks for that. But let’s be honest. It is uniformly lousy. Have you seen that iPhone commercial where the person in the hotel is using the video conferencing on their phone? That could never happen with any hotel wifi anywhere.

    Can you please think about selling me any of the following?

    –  On demand fast-as-blazes wireless Internet. Sometimes I need a g.d. fast connection.  This is doable. Honest. I’ll pay for it. If only because it would let me watch TV and movies from the sources I prefer anyway.

    –  Something in the vending machines besides stuff that could have been put there last year.  Because I get hungry at night.  I work a lot. And I can pay for real food.

    •  Car detailing … since I am leaving it in your parking lot all week. And it is dirty.

    –  Freemiums.  People in hotel rooms are bored (sorry, in case this is news to you).  There must be a ton of other companies that would be interested in your guests. Internet services and very small sizes of things would be the logical first step since I already packed without making room for more stuff. And national brands would work best, I suppose, or items that are not location-dependent, since I might not ever be back here. Anything I would buy using a laptop can work.

    … A hotel room is one of the last places where that sort of shopping or sampling can be done privately.

     
  • Dean Waye 8:34 am on September 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Technology, , , USA   

    Dear United Airlines, You Did the Minimum Right Thing 

    United Airlines SFO luggage counter

    Image by rynosoft via Flickr

    Dear United Airlines,

    Just wanted to say thanks for doing the obvious, minimum, and (for me) critically necessary.

    When I checked in online, and saw that my ticket put my name as ‘Dean Dean Mr Waye’ (no, that’s not a typo), your agent, who I found after checking with Get Human, was straightforward and sensible, and changed it to the right name and got rid of the ‘Mr’ part altogether. For free.

    I know, especially to those who don’t deal with airlines often, or maybe live outside the USA, that this sounds like the most mundane ‘Dear… Thanks’ post yet, but you and I know that this was no small thing, and that my odds of getting this fixed in a single call, on a holiday, the day before an international flight, is nothing short of a small miracle.

    So, thanks. I appreciate this. So much so, I listened while the agent ran through her script trying to sell me a United Airlines credit card, just to be polite. And her script about booking a rental car in Montreal. And… well, that’s where I stepped off. Sorry, 2 is my limit these days.

     
  • Dean Waye 7:39 am on September 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Radio, Scanning, Security, Security scan,   

    TSA and new faith in technology 

    An image of Susan Hallowell, Director of the T...

    Image via Wikipedia

    I just cleared security at RDU airport and for the first time in recent memory not one person looked at my boarding pass to make sure I was flying today. But the new full body scanner they put me in makes that unnecessary, right?

    By the way, the picture on the right is of Susan Hallowell, a director at the Transportation Security Administration.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 802.11, , , Apple Dippers, Burgers, , Chicken McNuggets, Data Communications, , Happy Meal, Hospitality, , Restaurant Chains, Wi-Fi, Wireless   

    Dear McDonald’s, Thanks for the Wi-fi 

    List of McDonald's trademarks

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear McDonald’s,

    Thanks for free wi-fi. Last week when I nearly bricked my Evo (android) and needed a fast(-ish) connection to download ideas on bringing it back to life again, you were conveniently located, and happened to serve food, too. Nice job.

    Also, thanks for being everywhere. Jeez, seriously. Even crappy little middle-of-nowhere towns in are-you-sure-you-aren’t-lost?-Virginia have a McDonald’s, where I can get a fast drink and half a dozen bags of Apple Dippers (don’t ask, and yes, I decline the caramel).

    About that Filet o’ Fish I bought Tuesday, though… first time in a decade, I’m sure, and never again. Yikes.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arts, Bacon, ,   

    Dear Hilton, What’s My Type? 

    Hilton Brand Logo

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Hilton,

    Do you group guests into types? If so, what type am I?

    Is there a type for people who stay often, but only for a night or two, don’t drink at the bar downstairs, but do fill out the feedback surveys online that you send out?

    Is there a type that wishes the internet speeds were better than what I could get on AOL ten years ago over a phone line?

    Maybe there’s no group for that type, because it would contain pretty much everyone. 🙂

    PS Thanks for the bacon at the free breakfast. You guys make my favorite bacon anywhere. I eat it every stay, even though I shouldn’t. I tell myself that it’s rare for me since I might not be a another hotel again soon (though we both know that’s a lie).

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Credit card, , Licensing, , , Personal Finance, WinRefunds   

    Dear McDonald’s, Thanks for the 1/5479th 

    Sign outside McDonald's Plaza, one of the four...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear McDonald’s,

    Thanks for the refund today, and the quick turnaround, since it’s obvious that I didn’t need a large iced tea and also the drink that comes in the combo meal. And thanks for just giving me the $1.08 in cash, instead of asking for my credit card back.

    One question, though.

    According to the revenue numbers here and also here**, the average McDonald’s store does about $5,479 /day in sales. Does it really require a manager’s approval for a $1 refund? The cashier doesn’t have authority for a single dollar in refunds, 1/5,479th of the daily sales?

    ** “Four years ago, the national sales average per store was about $1.6 million. Today, Huebner says, it’s close to $2 million.”

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Dear Starbucks, She Knew My Order! 

    Starbucks Ueno

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Starbucks,

    This morning I went to this store, and even though I only buy there maybe 50 times a year (I don’t live near it, or within 300 miles of it, actually), the same lady always seems to be working the morning shift, and she actually had my order on the counter before I got to the cash register. I am impressed. My local Startbucks doesn’t do that, and I go to that store a lot more often that this one in Reston, VA.

    Nicely done. And thanks for the tall bold (Gold Coast today) that didn’t need to be requested. I know it’s a ‘small’ thing, but at the very least, it told me I travel too much 🙂

    And also that you do as good a job as any brick and mortar company I know for the small things around customer service.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , iPod Touch, iTunes, ITunes Store, , Operating system, Patch (computing),   

    Dear Apple, Why Does iTunes Need 90MB Downloads to ‘Update’? 

    Ipod Touch at Apple Store

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Apple,

    Nice work on the iPod Touch, it’s a great device. I have the 64MB version, and it’s been very handy while traveling. My Evo has made my Touch mostly obsolete, but nice work nonetheless.

    I confess, I rarely buy music from you. I don’t mean that I steal it instead, I just prefer to use subscription services.

    But I do use iTunes a lot, for podcasts. And I don’t understand this quirk about the software: why, when it needs to upgrade, do I have to download such a huge file?

    Seriously, that’s not an upgrade, it’s a re-installation of a whole program. I update my iPod Touch apps all the time, and that’s a small effort. I update Windows every month, and that’s a small update (usually). Even when Windows needs to restart, it’s the operating system, so an occasional restart is fine.

    I’ve worked in the software industry my entire adult life, and I can’t understand this one. You really can’t just issue a patch that replaces the files or libraries that need it, and leave it at that? It has to be a 90MB+ download?

    I bet this is a way to ensure no one calls you after a failed update , or maybe you don’t trust customers not to mess it up somehow. But really, if even Microsoft can do this well, surely you can, too. Yeah, I said Microsoft…seriously, have you no pride?

    Related Articles

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amazon Kindle, , , , , Seattle, ,   

    Dear Starbucks Float 

    Dear Starbucks,

    I LIKE the free drink after every 15 coffees. I always use it to buy something  expensive  (in this case, my better half bought a frap, a venti).

    I DON’T LIKE that I have to load my Starbucks card with money first, then pay with that card. I liked it better with the card from last year, the black one with the gold cup on it. Where I got it swiped with every purchase, for the 10% discount, but didn’t have to pre-pay you.

    My shiny gold Starbucks card is nice, it has my name on it too, but the new way just seems sneaky. Do you make much on the float, the time between when I give you my money and the time I use it?

    Is it worth it?

    PS I may have eaten more of your turkey-bacon breakfast sandwiches than anyone else in America… one question, why is it such a production to get it cut in half before wrapping it up? The folks behind the counter never seem to have a food-safe knife. Really, it’s that unusual to want something cut in half? Sometimes I don’t want to eat the whole thing, they’re chewy as heck and very filling.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on September 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Conrad Hotels, , Hampton Inn, Hilton HHonors, , Homewood Suites by Hilton, , ,   

    Dear Hilton, A Key That Works at Every Hotel 

    Hilton Brand Logo

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Hilton,

    The other day, as I was checking in, I wondered… why do I have to check in at all?

    Avis didn’t make me stand in line to get my car: I walked to it, got in, and left. And unlike a hotel room, I could actually take a car. Away.

    The airline (!) didn’t make me stand in line for a boarding pass, I printed it before I left home.

    Why can’t I check in on my smartphone before arriving at the hotel and skip the line? Why can’t I use my free Hilton HHonors membership card as my room key at all Hiltons? I don’t carry it today, because it’s useless, but I’d carry it if it opened my door wherever I stayed (especially this one).

    Instead, I have to wait in line, again, even though I have stayed at this same hotel several times, as recently as last week, on the same days of the week. And again, the guest  in front of me has apparently never stayed at a hotel before, and doesn’t understand why things are the way they are.

    On that, fellow traveler, we agree.

    The takeaway: If your hotel membership card was also your door key wherever you stayed, wouldn’t that be a game changer? If your favorite chain had that feature, and the other chain didn’t, wouldn’t that help keep your loyalty?

    Related Articles

     
  • Dean Waye 12:00 am on August 31, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , blackberry, BlackBerry OS, , , multitasking, productivity, Research In Motion, smartphone   

    Dear BlackBerry Friendly Gas Station… 

    U.S. service station (1950s)

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Gas Station,

    Have you thought about switching back to full-service and putting up a sign that promises a fill-up that takes 5 full minutes?

    You see, that way I could read and answer my email while you pump gas for me, and I could pretend that I am multitasking and being productive yet still be a responsible driver.

    Maybe a future AAA app that shows gas stations could also flag the ones geared towards BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android owners 🙂

     
  • Dean Waye 1:20 am on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Certification, Education, , , , , Project Management Institute, Project Management Professional,   

    Dear PMI, I Just Thought of an Article You Will Never Publish 

    Project Management Institute

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Project Management Institute,

    Thanks for the PMP certification. I have had mine since 2004, and it keeps me warm at night.

    However, I just had a funny thought… an article you will never publish in our monthly magazine: “The Project Manager Who Broke All Our Rules, and Won Big!”.

    Get it?… because you set the standards, so it would be weird to celebrate flouting them. Funny, right? No?

    Well, we can agree to disagree on this one.

     
  • Dean Waye 12:30 am on August 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Filling station, Financial Services, Gasoline and diesel usage and pricing, Insurance,   

    Dear AAA, About That Thing I Wrote the Other Day… 

    Gas prices on 2008-04-30. Hess Station in Wilm...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear AAA,

    When I wrote this, I knew there was something else I was missing, but I didn’t ‘have it’ in my fingers at the time. Does that ever happen to you, too?

    Well, I have it now.

    I’m sure you understand this even better than I do, since you live with it every day… AAA has a classic sort of branding problem, doesn’t it? No one thinks about you until they need you, and they rarely need you. You’re about about as exciting as term life insurance. That’s why programs like using the membership to get discounts are so important. And why you always manage to get mentioned on the radio around holiday weekends, predicting how many people will be on the road, and saying  how much gas costs*.

    So, back to the note I wrote the other day. Can you add in gas prices? Or even better, just show me the 3 lowest priced gas stations in a 3 mile radius. Don’t make me download a second app for my Android/iPhone, just add this into the current app.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Why does it always cost more than whatever state I live in, regardless of how often I move? Is that a coincidence, or does Alaska/California always skew the number higher?
     
  • Dean Waye 3:00 pm on August 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Los Angeles, , Website   

    Dear Hilton, About Your Website… 

    I’m sure this is just an oversight, so I will point it out without complaining…

    Did you know that when booking at your website, I can sort by Relevance (?), Brand, or Distance, but not by price?

    Isn’t that strange? Is there anyone who hasn’t, at least once, wanted to sort by price? You display the prices, so you clearly know them…

     
  • Dean Waye 8:00 pm on August 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , HiltonHotels,   

    Dear Hilton, The Bed is Nice, but You Missed the Point. 

    Hilton Brand Logo

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Hilton (in this case, the brand new Doubletree in Sterling, VA),

    Thanks for the nice bed. It is comfortable enough, I suppose.

    But how did no one notice that the bathroom ceiling fan never turns off (there’s no switch for it), and the AC unit sounds like I am trying to sleep next to a jet engine?

    I stay at a lot of hotels each year, mostly Hilton properties, and this issue is more common than not. And as a Hilton Diamond person, I assume I am not even in the worst rooms.

    So why all the interest in beds? Is it because the beds are an easier problem to focus on than a noisy room?

    Because I have to tell you, the best bed in the world doesn’t do much for a tired traveler if the room is noisy 24/7.

    You are still my favorite hotel chain though. 🙂

     
  • Dean Waye 7:56 pm on August 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brainstorming, , Government, Innovation, , Muse, Seth Godin, Ships,   

    …  from Seth Godin:

    One approach to innovation and brainstorming is to wait for the muse to appear, to hope that it alights on your shoulder, to be ready to write down whatever comes to you.

    The other is to seek it out, will it to appear, train it to arrive on time and on command.

    The first method plays into our fears. After all, if you’re not inspired, it’s not your fault if you don’t ship, it’s not your fault if you don’t do anything remarkable–hey, I don’t have any good ideas, you can’t expect me to speak up if I don’t have any good ideas…

    The second method challenges the fear and announces that you’ve abandoned the resistance and instead prepared to ship. Your first idea might not be good, or even your second or your tenth, but once you dedicate yourself to this cycle, yes, in fact, you will ship and make a difference.

    Simple example: start a blog and post once a day on how your favorite company can improve its products or its service. Do it every day for a month, one new, actionable idea each and every day. Within a few weeks, you’ll notice the change in the way you find, process and ship ideas.

     
  • Dean Waye 10:30 am on August 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Access Providers, Cable, Cable television, , , , TWC,   

    Dear Time Warner Cable, Yesterday’s 20 Minute Outage Was Awkward 

    Time Warner Cable Arena

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear TWC,

    Well, here’s what happened… I was doing one of my many weekly conference calls with folks at … Time Warner Cable. And lucky for me, I wasn’t using Digital Phone, but rather wireless (Sprint). Lucky, because my cable service went out during that call. No email, so I couldn’t read what the QA guy had sent us. No IM, so the TWC project manager and I couldn’t have our back-channel chat alongside the official call, and if I had been using Digital Phone, I would have been dropped from the call altogether.

    Now, the last time I had an outage, I used my cell phone to tell @TWCABLEHELP on Twitter about it, they confirmed it wasn’t just me, and ultimately got my service restored, but seriously, couldn’t TWC have texted me a notice that a planned outage was about to start, so I wouldn’t be left wondering if it was you, or me, that caused it? I bet I could even get that set up for you (http://www.linkedin.com/in/deanwaye).

    Or, maybe have a Foursquare account called Service Outage, so if my cable went out I could check to see if that truck/guy/crew was in my neighborhood?

    Or, maybe use that new Facebook Places to do the same thing?

    There are so many ways to communicate with customers today, or at least to let them check status. Let’s think about it, okay?

     
    • J 4:44 pm on August 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sure they will take your suggestions to heart… and in the mean time feel free to take your business to another local cable/internet company. Oh yea… you can’t. Say.. have you tried their new tiered bandwidth pricing model?

      • deanwaye 9:41 pm on August 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Do they offer tiered pricing in my market? I have Turbo…..

  • Dean Waye 10:23 pm on August 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hotels and Motels, , New York City, , Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Waldorf-Astoria Orlando   

    Dear Hilton, Thanks for the Points 

    Logo of The Waldorf=Astoria Collection

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear Hilton,

    Thanks for the points. Seriously.

    My kids are young enough that staying at a hotel (even one around the corner) is a treat, and if you asked them to name their favorite meal, they would say “hotel breakfast!”. So thanks for the points, because I get a ton of them, they don’t expire, they rarely suffer from inflation (2010 being an exception), and all those accelerators I have (Double Dipping, the Amex Surpass card, staying at a different hotel every night of my trips to hit Diamond faster) all make for a much better customer experience than I ever got from airline points.

    One suggestion… is there ever an opportunity to use money + points for an upgrade, the way airlines do? Just asking…

    Speaking of upgrades, I used points to stay at the brand new Waldorf-Astoria Orlando this month, and it was WONDERFUL. One of the best hotels I have ever seen, and definitely worth 50,000 points (Low Season). My family is looking forward to the ‘real’ Waldorf-Astoria in December. Look out, NYC.

     
  • Dean Waye 6:52 pm on August 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: amazon.com, , Dear Amazon, E-book   

    Dear Amazon, I Am a Good Customer, Please Help Me Buy More Books 

    Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...

    Image via CrunchBase

    Dear Amazon,

    A wonderful friend bought me my first Kindle (a new DX) recently, and I like it a lot.

    I have also been an Amazon Prime customer for as long as you have offered that plan.

    Sometimes, when I am looking for a new book on my Kindle, the price is higher than I am willing to pay. Often, when I go amazon.com,. the dead tree version is priced lower.

    Please note the following, I am sure I am not alone here: Sometimes, I would prefer to wait 2 days, receive the paper version of a book, and save money.

    BUT THE KINDLE ONLY SHOWS KINDLE PRICES (while amazon.com shows all options & prices).

    Can you please add the other delivery/pricing options on the Kindle store?

    I am trying to make a purchase here, and you are trying to lock me in. It’s un-Amazon of you.

     
  • Dean Waye 6:39 pm on August 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Tow truck, ,   

    Dear AAA, Thanks for the Android App 

    The AAA logo

    Image via Wikipedia

    Dear AAA,
    It will soon be time for me to renew my subscription. With cars so reliable these days, and roadside assistance available from many providers (including my cell phone company), my AAA membership renewal decision breaks down to 3 components:
    1. I travel for work, so if my wife has car trouble she has someone to call
    2. A small discount on hotels (which I don’t pay for anyway, see #1)
    3. Possible discounts using the ‘Show Your Card’ program at some retailers and other providers.
    For #1, since the same tow truck shows up no matter which roadside assistance plan I belong to, I have decided it’s basically a wash.
    For #2, no one really cares if I save $5/night on a hotel. Choosing a cheaper flight is much more important.
    That leave #3, and this week when I was traveling with my own car and needed new brakes, I didn’t remember to ask, nor was I offered, a discount via AAA. In fact, I am not sure one was available.
    But if I had thought to download the AAA Android app for my phone that could point me to a place that did offer a discount, a single purchase could have saved me enough to justify my annual membership.
    Thanks for the app… did you ever send me anything, telling me it existed?
     
  • Dean Waye 8:06 pm on July 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Motorola, Verizon, Windows Mobile   

    Thanks, Google. Android is Awesome. 

    Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...

    Image via CrunchBase

    An early job during college was sales for Rogers Cellular (back then I lived in Canada). They issued me my first ever cell phone. It wasn’t even as pretty as this one. Mine was a dull/shiny battleship grey.

    Here’s what I learned from that job:

    1. Cold calling sucks.

    2. Some of the best fun I ever had was applying hard thinking to sales/marketing.

    3. Having a cutting edge cell phone is awesome.

    Fast forward to today, and after years (and years) of some of the best phones around (Windows Mobile, even), I now have my first Android phone, the Sprint Evo 4G.

    I love this phone.

    And I just wanted to say thanks to Google for the Android OS. Thanks for making it free, thanks for letting it be promiscuous across handset manufacturers, and thanks for continuing to make it better. It makes my Apple iOS 4 device seem clunky. It makes my Blackberry (sorry, Canada!) laughable. It makes me seem cooler. People even stop me and ask about it now. That hasn’t happened since I owned the one in the picture above. And I hear the new Droids, including the upcoming one from Motorola, will be even cooler.

    Maybe I’ll even switch to Verizon to get it. Someday.

    After I am finished with my Evo.

    Cheers, Dean

     
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