I Need A Project

28 February 2006

After all the planning and preparation, a large technology project I’ve been leading will wrap up in the next two or three weeks. It’s been a great success for everyone involved.

What’s next? That’s where I need you—fellow participants in life’s Rodent Regatta—to offer some suggestions. I’m looking for a big project. Define big along any of several dimensions: numbers of participants, scope of the challenge, timeline, budget or mission/impact.

Some examples might help:

Leaders at Bass Pro Shops are talking about taking a public arena off Memphis’s books and turning it into one of the great destination stores in the USA. Once they finish the contractual details of acquiring or leasing the property from the city, the fun begins. Architects, engineers, merchandisers and a broad selection of contractors and subcontractors will take the next two years and $75 million to transform the Tomb of Doom into a store rivaling the company’s 300,000 square foot flagship store in Springfield.

Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana has a dream. When oil sits at $200 a barrel and gasoline is $6+ a gallon, many initiatives that have been dismissed will be pursued desperately. Let’s pursue something right now on a national scale. I could see myself spending some time making the Fischer-Tropsch process economically viable in a production environment.

There’s also corn.

Rick Warren’s dream is as big as they come. There are five problems in the world that have proven nearly intractable in the face of government efforts.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation and Samaritan’s Purse each have great ideas.

Unfortunately, I’m looking for something other than a voluntary opportunity. Who is hiring folks to rebuild the Gulf Coast? The volunteer opportunities abound, but I’m looking for a project-for-pay.

I’m ready to go to work. I’m looking for a project. Let me know what’s on your radar screen! If you’ve got contacts that have inroads into one of these initiatives, I’d like to talk to them. If you know of other big projects, use the comments to tell us about them. Oh…and thanks!


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Living It

16 December 2005

There’s a Slashdot pointer to an Ars Technica history of the most popular computers in the personal computer industry.

As someone who built a large computer dealership, then helped build one of the largest PC distributors in the country, there’s a lot to recall about the greatest days of the industry. We sold to commercial users of personal computers. Most often we were talking to people who were looking for alternatives to stand-alone word processing systems and better terminals to the “mainframe.”

Clearly, there was a consumer and hobbyist demand that sustained the market for small, personal computers in the earliest days. Yet, the industry was built by sales to those with volume requirements for PC’s. There were some tricky periods within certain eras. Difficult to imagine today are the moments when it wasn’t completely clear that AT&T or Texas Instruments would ultimately give way to IBM’s clout. Would Compaq or Corona prevail or would both fall by the wayside?

Faced with buying inventory, training field engineers, stocking replacement parts and selecting software, the choices of brand were anything but trivial. Our dealership launched in 1981. I sold in 1990 and helped build one of the big distributors. By 1994, it was obvious that consolidation would bring about some huge reversals of fortune. I left the PC distribution industry and largely observed the implosion from afar.

Organizations built around names like Computerland, Entre, Inacom, MicroAge and others began to fold in the face of slow shifts from their controlled (franchise) distribution models to the wide open distribution models being pursued by Ingram Micro, Tech Data and (ultimately) the major manufacturers.

In those years, owning computer inventory was like owning heads of lettuce. One day it had value. The next day it looked a little brown around the edges. By the next day it was beginning to smell. What a great place to learn high-speed logistics, sophisticated inventory control and zero-stock distribution models. Some got it. Many did not.


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Day Dreaming Over Coffee

1 December 2005

This morning I’m writing without a solid outline. The topic blends the recent news about TextDrive, Joyent and hosted (ASP) applications. The thoughts are partially fueled by Seattle’s Best made too strong this morning, but also by this entry in the TextDrive forums.

Read on...


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Your AP Courses Won't Count

1 June 2005

Scoot over U. of P. It’s time to catch up MIT. Both of you will have to make a great deal of room for the one, the only…

Trump University – Take Charge of Your Success.


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People Adrift

20 July 2004

Inquiries for help come in waves. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of counseling with people who find themselves adrift. Men have lost jobs. Women want to go back to work. Homes are broken. Recent graduates are uncertain.

In so many cases, the people we talk to have become obsessed with themselves and their circumstances. They’ve lost the ability to see service to others as the path out of the dilemma. Some are worried about how they are seen by others. Some are worried about keeping up a charade.

Some bury themselves in their appearance. Obsessions with makeup, appearance, exercise and diet block all other thoughts. Some are merely muddling through, focusing on nothing. They are ”hoping” that something will ”come along.” They are without a method.

Others are living in clutter. They see every event through the lens of ”how does this affect me or how do I ’feel’ about this?” They cannot see that their negligence in small things is directly impacting the bigger things in their lives. They seek more ”stuff,” but remain confused about why they are unfulfilled.

What are these people to do?

Many times there are similarities from one case to another. The woman who spends hours in personal grooming each day (her family’s claim, not mine) faces the same issues as the guy with piles of material he intends to read, but hasn’t. Here are a few of the components of the common denominator:

  • lack of discipline
  • lack of focus and direction
  • lack of ambition and motivation
  • selfishness
  • unclear priorities
  • no method for solving problems or making decisions
  • missing or limited structure and routine
  • envy and jealousy
  • sullen demeanor
  • confusion over what’s a symptom and what’s a root cause
  • materialism
  • unable to be alone without feeling lonely

Plenty of psychiatrists would diagnose ”depression” as the problem. Plenty of drugs get prescribed to treat these conditions. Without a doubt, there are cases of clinical depression. They should be treated professionally with the best that the medical industry can provide.

However, every unfocused, selfish person is not a case of clinical depression. Some of them are simply lazy. Some are merely self-absorbed. Some are unwilling to change. Some truly are content in their misery. Others want to change, but need a method. They want a structure and some guidelines for their lives. Someone needs to use a bit of compassion and tell these people the truth.

Deadlines, checklists and accountability work wonders. By simply narrowing their options, some their places of service. Once they realize that there are more important things in life than how they feel or look, they begin to get better. They find meaning.

It sounds harsh, but it is not. If they seek a job, there is a way to go about that. (Wishing is not a method.) If they seek appreciation, there is a way to find real reward for service. If they seek direction, there are methods for finding the way. If they are tired of living a compartmentalized life where they appear outwardly prosperous and well-adjusted while fighting turmoil within, there’s a pathway out.

If you’ve been ”hoping” for a change, isn’t it time to really seek a disciplined way to make change happen?

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