Windows 8 is Getting There…

I like what Microsoft is trying to do with Windows 8. I really do. But they still have three fundamental flaws they don’t seem able to overcome.

  1. They still have Ballmer at the helm. Get someone with a character like Jeff Bezos or Tim Cook and they’d be all set.
  2. They still don’t have a clue how to market to the average consumer. Stop telling us how cool Windows is because of its specs, and start showing us how to use it in every day life. Use words like “magical.”
  3. They need to build their own hardware. Don’t release “Windows 8 for Tablets”… MAKE a tablet. Make it beautiful, reliable, and don’t quit on it two years later. Make Windows 8 work perfectly on it. Then rebrand ALL of your software with the Metro look and feel so it’s a consistent experience.

They’ve got a good shot at making this thing work. Here’s hoping they get it right.

What’s Next?

I consume a large volume of industry news on a daily basis, most of which is general business and technology oriented. It seems that a vast majority of the content is focused on what’s next.

Focused on tomorrow’s technology.

Focused on what’s the next big thing.

Focused on Company X’s new, soon to be unveiled product.

Focused on what we don’t have, but we can have later.

It never catches up. There’s always tomorrow’s technology, and always something we’re supposed to look forward to. We’re so focused on tomorrow’s things, that we miss today’s moments.

When you’re planning your day, are you thinking about what you’re going to deliver tomorrow, or are you thinking about what you need to deliver today? Tomorrow has its place in planning, but once the planning is done, tomorrow is most importantly not today.

Plan for tomorrow all you want. But live for today.

With Great Exposure…

I am amazed at how many times I’ve heard clients who have said “I have some work for you… it doesn’t pay well, but it will give you great exposure.” As though it’s an honor to be able to work for them, almost to the extent that we should pay them for the opportunity. Even more amazing is how many of those people actually believe that their exposure is so fantastic that consultants would be fools not to jump at the offer. It’s as though they think their affiliation is so valuable that doing business with them is like shaking hands in front of a crowd, and everyone will want to work with you because you work with them.

There was a time in my career where I was suckered into this lie. A time when I thought exposure was far better than great pay. But the truth is, clients with that mentality actually bring neither great pay, nor great exposure. What they bring is frustration and high demands. They want a Mercedes for the price of a Chevy. They want premium service to advance their business, not an opportunity to help you grow yours.

When they say, “it will give you great exposure,” what they’re really saying is, “I want this to give me great exposure.” And they come borderline close to adding, “I don’t really give a rip what you get out of it.”

If you’re a small business owner, particularly one who offers consulting-based services, recognize these problem clients right from the start. Watch out for phrases like, “we don’t have a lot of money,” “we think this could be a great opportunity for you,” “this will go like gangbusters,” or “we’ll be able to pay you once we get our seed capital, which is coming ______.”

Most of these people are perfectly well intentioned. Most of them actually believe what they’re saying. Most of them aren’t trying to defraud you. Most of them are wrong.

Important For Us

What’s important for you, isn’t necessarily important for me. What’s urgent for you, isn’t necessarily urgent for me.

Similarly, what’s not important for you, may actually be important for me. What’s not urgent for you, may be urgent for me.

I think we’ve all experienced times where we’ve felt the urgency, or the importance of someone else’s priorities. The pressures of someone else’s deadline. The pains of someone else’s mistakes.  But the truth is, none of us have the same priorities, and yet, we all have each other’s priorities.

It was once said, “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” But when you’re part of a team, poor planning on your part very often constitutes an emergency for everyone else. Not by choice, but by reaction. Your failure to meet the needs of your team because you failed to plan your time properly causes everyone else to scramble to fix the problem for the sake of the team, or for the benefit of the project.

Is there a solution? Well the simple answer is, “start planning your time properly.”

The harder solution is, “be more transparent with your team, and plan things together, and meet your deadlines.”

The best solution is,

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”copper”]If you’re part of a team, and someone else is counting on you, there are only two right times to do your work: yesterday, and now.[/pullquote1]

Seeing What Is, Not What Isn’t

Most of us tend to see the world around us the way we are, not the way it is. Take other people for example. We see how others work in their jobs, how they raise their kids, how they spend their off-hours, how they drive, how they shop, even how they maintain their online social lifestyle.

But we see these things relative to how we do it. We see the coworker’s behaviors relative to our own; their ethics relative to ours. We see others’ kids relative to how we raise ours. We choose to “follow” or “like” in social media based on how others fit in to our “circle.”

Are we really seeing what’s there? Or are we seeing what we expect to see, because of who we are? Are we seeing people fairly, or are we simply seeing our own inadequacies in them?

Guy Kawasaki said it best in his recent book, Enchantment,

People deserve a break. The stressed and unorganized person who doesn’t have the same priorities as you may be dealing with an autistic child, abusive spouse, fading parents, or cancer. Don’t judge people until you’ve walked a kilometer in their shoes. Give them a break instead.”

A Thousand Words

I’m a huge fan of infographics. In my line of work, I often have to communicate technical information to people who aren’t technically-minded. In many cases, they aren’t even interested.

Worse yet, I need to share a lot of detail to explain a concept, so I tend to be long-winded. Infographics however, have the capacity to communicate a large amount of information in a manner that most people resonate well with, and these have helped me to avoid getting into the trap of verbosity.

I’ve even found that I get a point across faster, clearer, and with greater retention and agreement by the audience by simply conveying the concept visually.

As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

So it begs the question, when did you last spend time sharing a thousand words, when just a picture would have sufficed?

What Constitutes an Expert?

I once read that “you’re an expert if you call yourself an expert.” It sounds funny, but it’s true. I’ve met plenty of people who, by education or experience, are classified as experts. And yet those same people are evidently not experts because their skills prove them to be otherwise.

Education alone isn’t enough. Experience alone isn’t enough. Consistently delivering an expert result is really all it takes.

Call yourself an expert, if you will, but back it with your results.

And, make sure the delivered results for which you’re calling yourself an expert are actually the results you’re delivering. If you’re outsourcing half of what you do, then your subcontractor is half the expert, not you. If you’re outsourcing a core competency, you’re not the expert in that field. You’re an expert contractor.