The Big Rocks

I’m was in Silicon Valley in 2019 for a few days to attend our yearly Sales Engineering (SE) training. It’s a great way for the growing SE team to get together and talk shop. I find these yearly meetings very useful but they’re hectic. Fun but hectic.

I love being in California. It’s such a wonderful place for the outdoors and ‘chilling’ in cities like San Francisco. I’m a big fan of the SoCal desert areas and Joshua Tree is one of my favorite destinations. Ever since I lived in Albuquerque, I’ve had a pull toward the mountains and deserts. Yet it seems that I won’t get away this time for much-needed fun out in those mountains.

There’s always time for work, but never enough time for yourself or loved ones.

I pondered this as I was flying 36,000 feet over the United States and it reminded me of Franklin Covey. I’ve learned that YOU have to take the time for yourself. You have to make it point to go work out, hike, and have fun. It’s those “Big Rocks” that Franklin Covey once wrote about. The Big Rocks are those important things in your life. Family, love, personal care/growth, etc/ Put those in a jar and you’ll see that space is still there. Then you add sand, and the sand fills everything up. The sand is your work life. There’s always time for work, but never enough time for yourself or loved ones. 

…noise robs you of your precious time.

It’s easy to lose track of this habit and I’ve been guilty of this for sure. Still, it’s not a bad thing to lose your way from time to time, the real bad thing is not to course correct. 

To achieve this I plan on digging out my old 7 Habits for Highly Effective People and giving it another read-through. I’m going to focus on all the habits but I’ll spend time revamping my Google Tasks to accommodate something called “quadrants.”Covey broke down tasks into four subcategories and when you do that you identify the tasks that are noise.  This is important because noise robs you of your precious time. Spend more time on important tasks and don’t do the unimportant ones.

What legacy am I leaving behind?

Once you do that you can free up your time to focus on those Big Rocks, and that becomes your legacy, and I ask myself what legacy am I leaving behind?

What legacy are YOU leaving behind?


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The Social Contract is Broken

Workers are organizing and fighting back – it’s about time

I’m happy to pile on to this video that exploded over the weekend. It’s of James Iannazzo formerly of Merrill Lynch. He was, until a few hours, a wealth management advisor and supposedly one of their top performers. He’s been fired and now arrested.

All over a smoothie.

Good. Fuck that guy.

This shit happens more than you expect because it happened to me when I was teenager, over 35 years ago. I worked low wage jobs in the 1980’s. I pumped gas, I bused tables as a bus-boy, and I worked the overnight shifts at a 7-11. I had to deal with all kinds of ungrateful people that wanted to shit over a kid trying his best to serve them.

…he flips his lid and threatens to “put my ass in a sling.”

I remember one Sunday afternoon when I closed up the gas station. It was 5:55PM and I needed to lock the pumps and count out the register. That would take me all of 5 minutes so I’d be done at 6PM. Why not close at 6PM and stay till 6:05PM, you ask?

Simple, my boss told me to do this because he wouldn’t pay me after 6PM and I shouldn’t donate my time for free. Wise words from “El Heffe” but looking back now I realized he was a pretty cool boss.

At 6PM, just as I’m about to lock the front door a guy comes in to get gas. He jumps out and asks me to fill it and I kindly reply we just closed. He starts to get cranky and tells me to get the key to open the station back up and I reply again that we’re closed. Not getting the answer he wants, he flips his lid and threatens to “put my ass in a sling.”

So now I flip my lid and proceed to tell him that 1) he’d be assaulting a minor, 2) I memorized his license plate, 3) people are watching (it was a busy intersection), and 4) to go right ahead asshole. Call it 16 year old hubris or stupidity but I wanted to fight. He thought about what I said and got into his car and drove away.

Looking back, my altercation couldn’t gone a completely different and possibly violent way if it happened today.

The customer is not always right

I’m here to write that the customer is NOT always right. They’re not right if they belittle you, verbally, emotionally, or physically assault you. Once they attack you in any of these manners you have a right and a duty to fight back. If your manager or company doesn’t have your back and tells you to take it because it’s part of your job, then you tell them to fire you or quit on the spot.

Low wage workers are told they’re expendable, are forced to work in crazy conditions, and get paid at a poverty level.

I told my boss what happened the next day and he had my back. He called the police and let them know what happened and gave them the license plate of the guy’s car. I don’t know if anything ever happened to that jackass or not, but at least if he came back and this happened again it would be on some record somewhere.

I get it, everyone has bad days but don’t take it out on people that are working too hard for minimum wage. They’re people too and you are not always right.

The great worker awakening

Ever since the pandemic took hold workers have realized that 1) they keep the corporate machine running, 2) they’re treated like shit, 3) and are severely underpaid. The Trump and Biden direct payments was the match that struck this new worker revolution.

(c) Pixabay

Workers woke up and realized that they’ve been getting the short end of the stick, the social and moral contract between humanity was broken. We keep hearing horror stories about this especially from companies like Amazon and 1000’s of others. Low wage workers are told they’re expendable, are forced to work in crazy conditions, and get paid at a poverty level. Companies than cry when no one wants to work anymore when workers just get up and leave. They leave because they’ve been treated like shit.

Wouldn’t you?

Add in the deaths of nearly 1,000,000 Americans, early retirees, and people quitting en masse because of the Covid19 shit show, you now have a recipe for workers to demand more and get more. Add in Internet and smart Millennials that can out maneuver Boomers and things are looking good for workers.

The current system we have in place is broken

For the first time in a generation, workers of today can change the narrative of the social contract between us all, if they stay together and “put the pedal to the metal.”

The social contract is broken

I fully believe that our addiction to permagrowth and toxic capitalism will destroy this planet. It’s already destroying lives by treating people as expendable labor units – in MBA school we called them labor units. Yes, the dehumanizing starts in business schools.

A growing majority in Congress still fights to prevent us from having universal health care and caters to the corporations over the citizens that they’re supposed to represent. There are so many other ills in our society (i.e. racism) that it would take paragraphs to shed light on them, but the one thing that’s clear is that the social contract – what it means to live as humans with one another – is broken.

The current system we have in place is broken. When we have the richest men and most valued companies in the world and yet we still have poverty and hunger in this country. We have so many inequalities and so many wrongs that need to be righted.

The current social contract needs to be ripped apart and rewritten. We need a new social contract, one that values us humans as humans. One that has universal healthcare, one that treats workers with respect and pays a living and increase living wage. We need a new contract that actively fights systemic racism and one that mandates equality.

We need a new social contract that satisfies the needs of people first before it satisfies the greed of a few. We need to realize that there is power in the tribe and there is an unspoken rule that if you “shit on one of us, you shit on all of us.”

We must make this change before it’s too late, before we leave our children a dead world while we clutch our dollar bills in our graves.

Work From Home is Here to Stay

Work from home (WFH) is here to stay if you’re lucky and fight for it. I keep hearing from my customers that more and more companies are starting to reopen and call back employees to the office, except many are not coming back!

That’s music to my ears!

After dealing with the sudden pandemic shutdowns, juggling work-home duties, and dealing with the isolation, the majority of American workers powered through this hell. We did it. We kept our companies afloat and not just survived, but thrived. I don’t know about your work environment, but we accelerated our productivity over the last year.

As companies open up, they’re making demands for workers to come back to the office. They’re asking employees to prove to them why they should keep the privilege of work from home.

Say what?

We kept your asses afloat during the pandemic and you want US to prove to you that we should be able to continue WFH?

SLAM! That was the door closing on the employee exodus. Workers are not tolerating this bullshit and it’s leading to a massive talent shuffle.

Boomers Love Control

I recently shared a Bloomberg article on my LinkedIn wall and added some commentary.

I wrote:

Seven years ago I left the Civil Engineering industry where Work From Home (WFH) was frowned on. The people in charge of the companies assumed that you’d be goofing off if you did WFH. Then the Covid19 pandemic hit and those Engineering companies HAD TO ADAPT and allow WFH, after all, there was always a deadline to meet.

This Bloomberg article really nails the feeling of many professionals that are forced to come into work when a WFH scenario is in everyone’s best interest.

“…there’s also the notion that some bosses, particularly those of a generation less familiar to remote work, are eager to regain tight control of their minions.”

“They feel like we’re not working if they can’t see us,” she said. “It’s a boomer power-play.”

This article is a shot across the bow to all industries. WFH is here to stay and if you want to attract and keep key talent you’re going to have to evolve AND fast. #careers #engineering #workfromhome

Technology has allowed a massive swath of workers to WFH, except those in charge refused to let us do it. Because they were afraid we’d be sleeping on the couch.

Do you know what we did with WFH instead? We saved at least 2 hours of commuting every day. We were able to pick up our kids at school without rushing out the door of the office. We got to spend more time with our families or friends. We had a life in that fucked up work-life balance platitude we keep hearing.

And we were more productive than we ever.

Fight for Work From Home

The Boomer tyrants are going to work hard to get you to come back to the office, fight for your right to have a flexible arrangement.

I get it, some people like the office interaction and seeing their colleagues – I do too – but do you need to go to the office 5 days a week? Why not do a 2 day in the office / 3 day WFH, or so another arrangement that makes sense for you.

Whatever is the optimal arrangement is for you, the main premise is this: a flexible work schedule makes a lot of sense from cultivating happy workers AND productivity.

Hell, you might not need so much office space anymore and cut back on leasing costs. This might lead to less development of commercial real estate, which is OK in my book.

How Blogging Led to My Personal Growth

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging now for over 15 years. I’ve written 100’s of posts, some short and some long. I’ve had my shares of ups and downs here but in the end, I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s made me realize that blogging has led to my personal growth. Blogging has become a career!

What’s happened is that I’ve been reposting and repopulating old posts from my archive. I took these posts down a few years ago thinking they were of no use, but now I realize I was wrong. Sure there was some cringe-worthy type of posts back then, but I look at them now and smile. I’m so far removed from them now and I realize I am so different now.

As I repopulate these posts I can’t help but remember where I was in my personal and professional life. I also notice how busy I was. My posting frequency is proportional to how crazy my work and personal life are. Yet still, I wrote at least a few posts a year. 

Year 2007 to 2009

Back in the early 2007-2009 era, I spent a lot of time blogging about Forex, Stocks, and using AI to trade the markets. It was during this time that I first wrote my RapidMiner tutorials. They brought me a lot of traffic and I adored the attention. I market timed and moved money in and out of my accounts, thinking I can beat the market. Lo and behold I was wrong. 

I made a sharp career change. I couldn’t believe how fast things could change, but they did for the better.

I also held onto some crazy ideas back then about Objectivism and Libertarianism. As I grow older I realize that this selfish way of living is a folly. Life does not have to be a zero-sum game. Yes, invest in your future but also invest in deep relationships, love, health, and Nature. Cultivate those and you’ll find balance and true wealth. 

Year 2010-2014

In the 2010 to 2014 era I saw some big changes to this blog. I ramped up my blog posts around Machine Learning and what was to become Data Science. I created a lot of YouTube videos on how to use RapidMiner and it generated even more traffic for me. I was still working full time as a Civil Engineer but I began to dream of moving into the Machine Learning space. As luck would have it, RapidMiner moved to Boston and got VC funding. 

In 2014, RapidMiner offered me a job as a Sales Engineer and I accepted. I made a sharp career change. I couldn’t believe how fast things could change, but they did for the better. 

I learned that passion, learning, and dedication can change your life. If you want something bad enough, you must chase it. You must work hard and learn, face the obstacles and work through or around them. After some time, you’ll see how far you’ve grown and how successful you can be. 

Year 2015-2017

From 2015 to 2017 I cut my teeth as a Data Scientist. I learned so much about Data Science, Marketing, and especially Sales. I’ve come to realize that I LOVE working in Sales. No matter how crazy and stressful it can be sometimes, it matches my personality. It’s who I am. The stars have aligned!

I’ve always loved public speaking and presenting and now I was presenting to CTO’s and CIO’s all over the USA. Yes, the travel burned me out but I learned how to compensate for that (now). I did make A LOT of bad decisions for my health. I ate too much, drank too much, and sat in my chair. While at RapidMiner I gained about 40 lbs, something I’m working off now. 

It’s been a wild and rewarding ride ever since!

I left RapidMiner in 2017 to start my own Data Science and Engineering consultancy. I built up a client base in both fields but left after a serendipitous phone call in July of next year, more on this next.

In the end, those years were tough working years. I loved every minute of it. The startup life was and IS for me. I looked back and kicked myself for not making the leap sooner. I learned that you can’t hide who you are, you must BE who you are. The longer you hide from that, the more miserable you will become. I know it’s scary and I’ll admit that I was scared, but there comes a time when it’s now or never. I chose now. 

Year 2018 – present

I worked in my own consultancy for over a year before I got a phone call from my now colleague J. We had met back in 2014 when she was a new hire at H2O.ai. She reached out to me because she had an extra ticket for H2O World in New York and offered it to me. I declined because I had some client meetings but I did tell her that I left RapidMiner last year. 

That call set up a chain reaction where two weeks later, I had an offer to join the Sales team at H2O.ai. I made preparations to close down my consultancy in September 2018 and joined the team. It’s been a wild and rewarding ride ever since!

I owe it all to Blogging

I owe everything to Blogging. I do. I took my passion for AI and turned it into a career. Along the way, I’ve met so many awesome people and now I’m surrounded by so many awesome people. I’m part of the Maker culture where you “make stuff” happen and I’m humbled to be there. It’s crazy, wild, stressful, adventurous, hard, enlightening, and plain awesome. 

I would’ve never been here if I resigned myself to my fate back in 2007. Do what scares you, do what you love. Make your world sing.

Do it!

If you’ve ever wondered if you could blog yourself to a new life, you can. I share some tips on how to do it in my How to Blog Yourself to a New Life post.

Humility and Equanimity in Sales

Dear Friend,

I’ve been meaning to write about the importance of humility and equanimity in sales. From my personal past observations, it seems these are attributes only a few salespeople have.

What are humility and equanimity?

Humility is defined as:

“a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.”

Equanimity is defined as:

“mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.”

The Monkey Brain

Recently I was enlightened by a sales colleague about the concept of the Monkey brain. It was from a book he read.

The Monkey brain is hubris, fight, flight, any emotion or reaction that ties us back to the days when we started walking upright.

Our reaction must be the same, always.

When you give a presentation, it’s the Monkey that says “you’re going say stupid things” or “you don’t look pretty enough.” When you sign a great sales deal, it’s the Monkey that says “YAH! I’m the King/Queen, nothing can touch me!”

The Monkey Brain is not enlightened. It is the attachment to this world, it is that prevents you from achieving moksha. It is what causes the downfall of many a Salesperson.

Leave the Monkey Behind

When you are in Sales, you are essentially asking someone to trade resources (money) for something you have to offer. Your offer must be more of a perceived value to that person that they are willing to part with their money.

This offer. It can be anything. It can be a product or service.

You must sell it so that your organization can survive.

It is the Monkey that goes out hunting for the tribe.

The Monkey gets scared if the potential sale appears to be falling through.

The Monkey parties when the sale goes through, just like if he killed food to bring back to the tribe.

The Monkey falls into the same trap every time because it is the Monkey Brain.

You must leave the Monkey behind.

Humility and Equanimity

Humility is not of the Monkey, it is an understanding that you do not understand everything. Humility is looking inward to oneself and finding that Monkey, hiding in your emotional trees and quieting him. Humility means that you will try your best and do your best, but not let the Monkey control your fears.

Equanimity is not of the Monkey as well. When the Monkey wins, he is elated and thumps his chest. When the Monkey loses, he gets angry and depressed. In life, we will win and we will lose. We will learn and we will make mistakes. It is how we react to the good and bad that is equanimity. Our reaction must be the same, always.

We are doing our job when we win and we are doing our job when we lose.

Be Humble.

Be Equanimous.

Millennials can’t catch a break!

This is just nuts. Millennials just can’t seem to catch a break. Now AI is coming for their jobs.

Research released by Gallup on Thursday indicates a collision between technology and “business as usual” is coming soon, and the fallout will be ugly, especially for Millennials. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are among the most disruptive forces descending upon the workplace, says the Gallup report, and 37% of Millennials “are at high risk of having their job replaced by automation, compared with 32% of those in the two older generations.”[via Forbes]

If you’re considering a career move, get a beat on what jobs are trending up (software engineer) and which ones are on their way out (reporter). You can boost your skills through a boot camp or with a traditional degree, no matter what your industry is, but know that some companies may prefer a regular degree over a boot-camp certificate or DIY learning.

But those industries might be susceptible to offshoring.

Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that programmer and coder jobs will decline 8% due to outsourcing to other countries from 2014 to 2024, there will still be plenty of work, and in many cases, it will be too unwieldily to move massive operations overseas.

So in other words, Millennials can’t seem to catch a break. If I were part of that creative and awesome generation, I’d probably go the route of entrepreneurship.

Update

Some Millennials are grabbing market share and are changing the world. Uber is the first one that comes to mind but there are many other small niche businesses and startups. I really love the Millennial generation, speaking as a Gex X’er, because I know what it’s like to be given a raw deal from the Boomers, who are on track to become the most hated generation on record.