Resource Design

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If you are part of a large organization that is concerned about automation and AI, clearly you are not alone.  The world is at a tipping point and we need to prepare ourselves for imminent change.   Even I am not immune to these forces and at the age of 44, have started taking programming classes, the latest of which is Python.  Everyone needs to evolve.  I am responsible for my own well being, earning a living and adapting to the environmental changes taking place around me.

Companies need to embrace change too.  Automation is an evolution that will happen regardless of your best intentions.  Each of us needs to look at our own role in the larger corporate context and understand the potential that we could be replaced.  We need to be honest with ourselves.  From there we can evaluate the best course of action, and our career strategy.

Organizations are not addressing automation in the context of being creative in their approach to using technology to revolutionize their business model.  They are contemplating automation as an initiative and not as a culture.  It could ebable them to leverage existing respources as a competitive advantage.  I have written a whitepaper presenting a 3 step plan to creating a foundation for companies to embrace automation as a feature inherent to the decision making process.  You may find the thought process exciting.  Workers would be wise to focus on how to be part of this revolution.

As I note in the paper, companies do not have the skillset to fully leverage the opportunity.  Over the coming weeks I will be recording a video series as a training program for viewers to learn the skills necessary to embrace and evangelize Resource Design as a core component in your company.  The whitepaper is free to download HERE.

If you would like to be added to the mailing list and get further access to content, please enter your email address below.  You can also indicate interest in the video training series to get early access to the program.  Lastly, I will be starting an “Insiders” group to gather and share insight to evolve the knowledge base for Resource Designers.  I will be limiting this group to the first 50 people that indicate interest on their submission below.  I look forward to partnering with you!!

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Fatherhood 5) Cultivating

Haley horse coaching pic

This is where I am right now.  I’d guess that about age 12, middle school, is when things really start to change.  Puberty is kicking in.  Emotions and hormones are running crazy.  Kids start to realize that they know stuff.  We are leaving them home alone.  We give them autonomy and trust.

Along with that comes the attitude of “I dont’ really need you.”  It totally sucks.  Your baby no longer really sees you as a necessity in their lives.  You struggle to remain ‘cool’.  You search for relevance.  If you ask, “How was school today?” there should be no surprise at the inevitable one word response.  My new favorite expression?  “It’s fine dad.”

I’m certainly no expert here and I fumble through each day trying to make myself useful, just like every other parent.  But what I have learned is that you can find a way to be part of their lives by cultivating the thing they love.  In some cases you do that in exchange for the things you love yourself.  After years of giving, this is just one more example of how we happily keep giving to our kids.

I have talked about this in other posts.  You can try to find a way to be a coach.  Since we most likely do not know as much about their passion as they do, you have to leverage what you know and meld it into something they are doing.  Use what you know about something else, to help make them better at their thing.  Examples…

  • For Taylor, my interest in exercise and healthy living has translated nicely to her desire to be a great soccer player.  Coming back from her LCL tear, we did a lot of work on strength, speed and stamina.  It’s great for me whe she talks of hitting goals, how she feels stronger or when she can do more push-ups than kids on her team.  Last night she was the only cadet to win the silver level award for presidential fitness in her JROTC unit.  That means she is top 85 percentile in the country.
  • Recently Haley has gotten excited about strengthening her core and legs specifically to give her more strength for riding. It’s awesome how she has taken to this herself.  She is now doing situps, pushups, squats and supermans daily (actually more than I can do… sshhhhh).  She and I have also talked a lot about breath control and visualization skills.  We have practiced when she is in the saddle before her riding classes.  I believe it has helped to get her mind in the right place.

Another manifestation of this thinking is to co-opt a life experience by doing something that they love as part of things you would do anyway.  Taking vacations is a great example.  Most likely you wanted to take a vacation anyway.  But you can theme the trip around something they are passionate about.  I’ll elaborate on the point with a few recent examples of things that we did that went over well.

  • Two years ago as our ‘summer vacation,’ Taylor and I went to Canada to see the women’s World Cup. It was a weekend full of soccer. I was able to put a little spin on it, by purchasing tickets to the Jazz festival in Ottawa. Overall the focus was soccer, though I think even Taylor would admit that we saw some good shows.
  • Last year Haley and I took a vacation and went to the Rolex Kentucky 3 day event. I even got tickets to the Hunter Hayes show (I am not much for country music). But as with Taylor, I was able to put a little spin on the trip as we drove around the University of Kentucky campus. Haley felt excitement for college in what I felt was palpable for the first time. Of course we stopped to pet every dog on the show-grounds. (side note- The weekend turned into a nightmare for travel reasons, but we were having a great time up until then.)
  • This summer Tay, Sara and I are turning a trip into a joint vacation, college visit & soccer camp to the Air Force academy (we did last year too).
  • Sara and I are also looking for horse shows near a lake or beach to try to take a few days that we could all enjoy.

I think that the notion of being a coach in the Cultivating phase is the most important one.  Part of being a coach is seeing the bigger picture of what possibilities can come from the thing they love so much.  Despite all the challenges, moodiness and emotional rollercoaster, I admit that this is my favorite time in their lives.  Being a parent is much more rewarding when you share your life experience with your kids and get to see tangible results.  Parenting is hard, but it starts to be more rewarding when you see that you can affect real change.

Tay Running Text

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Top Fives

Theater

I love the over-riding theme in the movie High Fidelity where they keep naming the top 5 songs for some given circumstance.  I listen to a lot of music, but I just couldn’t come up with music lists that easily.  Besides, I don’t really remember lyrics.  I focus more on genre and the artist, being critical at random times.  You’ve seen the 4-Song Set rules, I can be pretty critical

But I do know movies.  And so I thought I would list off my top 5 favorite movies of all time.

  1. Grosse Point Blank – I am a big Cusack fan, and this dark comedy is nothing short of brilliant.  The movie has action, comedy and romance.  What more can you ask?  Not to mention, this is my dream life 🙂  A hit-man goes home for his 10 year high school reunion while one of his ‘competitors’ is trying to unionize the assassin industry.  I can watch it over and over
  2. The Matrix Trilogy – Movies that make you think are awesome.  And I am a sucker for SciFi.  If you ask me, the Wachowski’s redefined everything with this one, and not just because of bullet -time.  (side note- props to them for coming out)  The subtleties, the twists, an amazing soundtrack, the way this movie, the MMORPG game and the back story videos all come together, is the future of entertainment.
  3. Indiana Jones – When a movie combines the real world, history, archaeology, religion, mystery, science, math and obstacle course-like adventure…I’m sold.
  4. Forbidden Planet – Of course you haven’t seen it.  My dad might be the only one I know who has.  I use the reference “monsters of the ID” all the time, but no one gets it.  Leslie Nielsen in a straight role?  Awesome.
  5. The Family Man – In all seriousness, this is closer to my dream life.  I love this story, and Don Cheadle kills.  But yes, Tea Leoni is what does it for me.  I’m a big fan.

I know the girls will ask why I don’t include Holy Grail, Red, Top Gun and Mr Right (their favorites).  Holy Grail and Top Gun were on the list at some time or another.  But have since dropped off.  I watch a lot of movies and I think the movie is an enduring form of entertainment that will continue to stand the test of time.  You can learn a lot about people by the kinds of movies they like.  While I want to revolutionize the experience, the core of telling a great story and visualizing the experience, makes it something that I will always love doing with friends and family…and Sara’s precious popcorn 🙂

These 5 movies have been on my list for a long time.  I think it’s pretty representative of me.

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Fatherhood 4) Connecting

bumper sticker

I would guess that at about age 11, kids start to figure out what they really love.  They’ve done the sampling thing and you start to see something rise to the top.  They also think they know everything, which means that you are no longer going to directly teach them squat.  You become a facilitator of their lives.  You chaperone to events and practices and you answer homework questions when they pop up.  Sometimes you are lucky enough to help them understand a challenging concept, but all in all, they don’t want you for much.

Hormones start kicking in during these years too, and so good luck finding any way of guiding them through life.  They are on their own path, they know people smarter than you, so stay out of the way.  “You’re not funny, dad”.  This is a time that really tests your sociological skills in parenting.  I call it “Connecting” because you are just looking for ways to build a bridge to the things in their life that get them excited.

For Haley, this meant I had to learn about horses.  Now I don’t know much, but I know some.  What I can do is listen to her talk and generally ask an intelligent question here or there.  For me, horse shows are great because everyone has dogs, and I can talk bassett-speak to them.  And the bigger shows have tractors.  Tractors are cool.  I try to understand as much as I can and by embracing the community, they take pity on me and give me lessons.  Finding parallels to the horse world, let me enjoy the experience at the same time that Haley did: It didn’t matter that it was for a different reason.  Special hat tip to Lucy, Miranda and especially Julie for helping me understand leads and diagonals (which I learned are not wire cutters) and ABC.

With Taylor, soccer was a little easier to understand…there is a lot more commentary and content out there.  Talking about a game, positioning and what the coach was asking her on the sidelines, was a lot easier.  We were always driving all over creation for a practice or a game.  I took particular pride in embarrassing Tay from the sideline when I would try to get in a workout.  Hell yes I brought my sprinting parachute!  I even threw a boulder around once.  Her team got a kick out of that.  Exercising at the same time that they did, let me razz them on their lack of intensity for working out and warming up.  And they felt comfortable giving it back to me.  It broke the tension.  I was able to build a bridge based on the simplicity of athletics.

Building a bridge is not easy.  I would guess that the most successful and empathetic politicians are ones who are close with their kids at this age.  You have to find common ground with someone whose interests are completely different than yours.  You might even disagree with the very notion of what they love (why can’t you use your hands to touch the ball, and isn’t that mean to sit on the back of an animal?)  Regardless of your opinions, you find a way to break through the wall they create – because clearly you don’t know anything – and find a connection to their heart.  In my case, you might even come to love something new too.  Kids are great, they help you see the world in a whole new way, sometimes they even change what you believe.

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Do the Right Thing

There is a great scene near the end of the movie The Family Man when Nick Cage engages Don Cheadle.  Cheadle plays an angel of sorts and takes the form of a convenience store clerk.  He intentionally gives an extra $5 to a woman as change for her purchase and you see her waffle over the decision to return the excess.  She does not, and later he says something like, “For 5 bucks, really?”  It’s a great scene to illuminate the choices we make in life and when to do right.  In that case, someone really was watching.

This past Saturday morning I was heading to Taylor’s JROTC drill team meet at Pinkerton.  Looking for a spot in the lot, all of a sudden a green and silver Subaru backs out of a spot on my right and hits me broad side.  I’m already running a few minutes late, so I’m kind of pissed. We get out of the cars and I see a very young girl, probably Taylor’s age.  She walks over and apologizes 20 times, “I was just following someone and I didn’t look!”

In the past, my first inclination would have been to be mad and make a big deal.  But given her age and sincerity, I felt guilty instantly freaking out and I stayed calm.  We walked over to the right side of my car and by some miracle, there was absolutely no body damage.  It was a soft bump and so she must have just hit the tire with her bumper.  What a stroke of luck.  No harm no foul.  We shake hands and go our ways.  There is a nagging voice in my head and so I write down her license plate number, just in case.  I head into the meet.

As I drive away from Pinkerton, I instantly notice that my steering wheel is set up crooked: The car is out of alignment.  Great.  Later in the day, I am driving on rt 28 and am startled when the ABS system is randomly kicking on and pulsing the brakes at 50 mph.  Nice, the accident must have messed up a sensor.  Checking the tire, I notice a new scratch on the rim.

On Sunday, I go to the Derry police station.  I have little faith that anything can be done, but I have to try.  The officer explains that since they weren’t there, he can’t investigate anything.  It’s her word vs mine.  “Can you send her my information and see if she contacts me?”  Nope.  No accident report, means I can’t file a claim with insurance.

On Monday I called Pinkerton campus security.  They don’t give out student information.  Yeah I know that, I would expect no less.  But I was hoping the school could reach out to the student and her parents’ good nature (assuming she goes there and they have her plate on record for the parking permit).  Because as pathetic as this is and goes against everything I believe about self-reliance, the lesson I learned is to always call the cops.  That is no fun and a waste of time and resources.  I am hoping that maybe I can reach out to Pinkerton’s PTA and appeal to their sense of what is right.  Because it is not ‘right’ for what will certainly be me eating an approximate $200 + repair for a student’s carelessness, and my civil naivety.

So I will send this post, and a nice note to Pinkerton, in the hopes that someone will at least make a good faith effort to, even anonymously, do the right thing on their own.

tire1p-lot

(Picture of the rim and scratch that I didn’t notice because my phone screen is messed up, and the site of the collision.  Taken just after she drove off)

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Fatherhood 3) Sharing

Skiing 2009

I still remember sitting on a quad once with the girls and someone making a comment about skiing with them when they were so young.  I re-used a line that I always found funny, “Yeah I had to create people that like skiing with me.”  Sharing your passions for life is more than just trying to get your kids to do what you do, it’s about showing them that there are myriad options for having passion, you just have to find one that fits.

Somewhere around age 6, first or second grade, kids start enjoying something for the experience itself, and not so much about going just because we make them.  I think it has to do with telling their friends about an experience in school.  Regardless, as a parent, you are the primary arbiter of new experiences.  I always thought it was best to expose them to as much as possible and see what sticks.  I have done my best not to push one thing or another and we dropped something when it was not enjoyable anymore.  You can’t put your passion on them, as much as you may hope that they will love it too (see “Skiing”).  But finding things to share, makes child-rearing more of an exercise in building a life together and less of a life as a chauffeur.

We tried a number of things, each one beneficial in its own way…

  • Dance.  Did not go well, Haley hated wearing tights
  • Rock Climbing.  I bought a cute little 4-point harness.  I bet they would still enjoy it.
  • Soccer.  Originally, Haley showed a lot more promise than Tay, but then one summer it all switched.
  • Hiking.  I don’t care what is going on, we still have the best conversations when on a trail.
  • Skiing.  Some of my best memories with the girls were skiing together.  I started them both when they were 3.
  • Baseball.  I even helped asst coach a team, but yep, my kid (Tay) was one of a few doing cartwheels in the outfield.
  • Gymnastics.  It was fun to watch them both and I still believe it builds great balance.
  • Swimming.  We have always been in water, weather it was the lake house or the pool.
  • Snorkeling.  Always fun to explore the ocean.  Tay and I both want to get certified to dive.
  • Zip lines and ropes.  Should definitely do this more.
  • Watching movies.  Movie nights have been a staple for years.  I pride myself that the girls love both The Holy Grail and Maximum Overdrive
  • Reading books.  I watched Haley plow through a 600 page book in one weekend and be able to tell me the whole story. Crazy.
  • House projects.  Well I tried at least:)
  • Horses.  Taylor, not so much.  Haley? Yeah well you know.

I’m sure there are other things we have tried.  As I started thinking them through I figured I would write as many as I could remember.  I think it’s a good representation of all the experiences we shared together and how various ones played out to affect who they became.  We all know that Taylor is soccer.  I remember years ago when she started explaining to me the beauty of the game and how she likes being part of all the pieces working together.  I can’t imagine I need to say anything about Haley and horses.  I see adults that are passionate about their chosen profession and wonder how young they knew it.  With Haley, there is no doubt.

Shortly after the picture above was taken, I started wearing a helmet too.  After all, sharing means that I share in the experience with them too. I can’t insist on wearing a helmet for safety’s sake and then not show that I am committed to safety too.  The girls shared that concept with me, and I am better for it.

 

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Fatherhood 2) Foundations

t-and-h-young

The girls and I have a series of #1 Rules.  The one I cite most often is “The number 1 rule of [blank] is to always do #2 first”.  I use it with tailgating, soccer, horse-shows, or generally any long road-trip.  We have other #1 Rules like “DBD” – Don’t Be Dumb, or “Be like the Mace” or “Always make your bed in the morning” (h/t to Admiral McRaven).

But without doubt my number 1 #1 Rule with the girls has always been “Always tell me the truth, and I promise I won’t be mad”.  I’ve been drilling it in since they entered the second phase of childhood, which I am dubbing the Foundations stage.  It sets the tone for all of our interactions and has created a culture of honesty within the walls of our home.

From ages 2-3 until about 6, you are in a process of building a strong life-foundation with your kids.  It’s that stage when they are learning to talk and think and reason.  They are exploring that basic trust that you asked of them when they were in the Patience phase.  There’s not really much about life you can teach them in these years.  They are so fascinated with the world and the idea of exploring it, that they are already getting hit with a fire hose of stimuli on a continuous basis.  Nothing you say really gets through.  Certainly punishments never do.  And to a lesser extent, positive reinforcement is largely ignored in exchange for whatever pleasure they got on their own.  Your best shot here is to work on a few broad themes that will only have benefit later in life.  That’s why I call it a Foundation.  They don’t really have the attention span to actually be taught any lessons, so you subconsciously reinforce themes that hopefully form the basis for who they are as persons as they grow older.

I’ve been pretty good over the years of perpetuating the themes that I think work best…

  • Always tell me the truth
  • Work hard and put in 100% effort in whatever you do
  • Learn, read as much as you can

Telling the truth, even when uncomfortable or painful, has made the most difference in our relationship.  I know they have told me things that were really difficult to share with a parent, and true to form, I am pretty sure that I have not freaked out once.  I even try to remind them of this fact when they are skittish about letting something out.  “Have I ever yelled at you or punished you when you told me the truth?”…  “No, dad”… “Same thing now, just talk to me.”  I must have said the expression “Just talk to me” at least a thousand times.  In their defense, even I am sick of it.  🙂

The truth between the girls and I has been the foundation of pretty much everything that has evolved as they grow up.  I am honest with them, and I ask them to be honest with me.  I admit it is hard, and the message has to be 100% consistent, even when others are pushing them in opposing directions.  But I believe that it is critical to keep building a culture of trust and closeness.  The staying calm part is key.  But in the big scheme of things, I have always felt that a long term investment in their trust and honesty, is much more important than a punishment or anger in the short term.  People always compliment on how the girls have turned out and how they are maturing, I always think of the Foundation as the key.  That’s where it all started.

 

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