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Monthly Archives: April 2008

Last night was the latest installment of why I am frustrated with Verizon FIOS.  Our love / dislike (I do not use the H word, just not part of my vocab) relationship with Verizon FIOS has been going on for over a year now, and I have to say that for the last several months it has been more of dislike than love.

Now before you go and pass judgment on me for what I am about to tell you, just hear me out and focus on the problem and not the superfluous details that surround the problem. OK, I admit it, I am an American Idol watcher (actually dedicated follower), I have not missed an episode all year, that was until last night. To be safe, we have a season pass set up so we do not miss a beat, but for some reason last night our FIOS DVR box decided it did not want to record American Idol, WTF? I mean, of all the episodes to miss, it had to be last night. Now this is not the first time that FIOS has done this to us, for some reason it was having difficulty recording LOST while we we watched it delayed by 15 minutes or so (conspiracy? I wonder if the magnetic force of the island had something to do with it????) But for me, last night was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I am just about ready to end this relationship with Verizon FIOS, but I cannot.

See, we switched to FIOS because we were fed up with Directv, and I will not under any circumstances go back to them. I mean the mere mention of a rain storm in our general area and the satellite signal went missing. That was enough to make you want to pull your hair out. Our local cable provider is Comcast, and I cannot remember the exact reason why we switched from them to Directv, but I am sure it was a valid reason. So what do we do? I guess we will continue to suffer through the FIOS “glitches” and just deal with it. One thing that would be helpful, at least from our perspective, is to have a better management interface, maybe, just maybe that small improvement would help up to better manage what in the world is going on with our DVR box. I got it, how about a web site where I can manage everything, kind of like Verizon does for their VoIP phone service, now there is a thought 🙂 .

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Whether you realize it or not, if you work for a startup, you are involved in sales (I know, you can stick your finger in your mouth right now and say yuck! I apologize for all my sales friends, but it is not one of my strong suits, or so I thought) in some way, shape or form. Now it may not be in the traditional sales sense that you might be thinking, I mean unless your startup is selling enterprise software or some service, chances are the only thing you are selling are ads (and isn’t that what Google AdSense or <insert ad network name here> is for?)

So then you ask, how can I possibly be involved in sales and have a sales pitch? Easy, if you are like me and attend a social event or two here and there in your local tech community or even attend a conference, chances are you are delivering a sales pitch and you do not even realize it. I know you all have been in this scenario: You are at an event, you meet someone new, they look at your name tag and say, “oh you work for <insert company name here>”, and they say I think I have heard of that, what is it exactly that you do? Here is where you deliver your sales pitch, so I hope you have rehearsed it time and time again and deliver it flawlessly.

The key to a good sales pitch is to have a well articulated, well defined value proposition that everyone in the company understands and can speak to. If half of your employees think the value proposition is one thing and the other half think it is something else, you have problems my friend. Every employee should be able to (whether they want to or feel comfortable doing it in a social setting) articulate what your value proposition is. Because everyone is different (that is what makes us unique) the delivery or “sales pitch” will most likely vary (greatly depending on what type of person they are and what function they perform within the company), but the spirit of the pitch should be the same.

So the next time you find yourself out and about, at a conference or other industry event, and someone asks what your company does, take a deep breath, put on your sales hat, and sell the hell out of your company!

You know how the old saying goes, “you cannot fit a square peg into a round hole“. OK, makes sense, right? I mean how can you possibly put an object of one shape into an object of another. So why does it seem that in this day an age of openness, data portability, APIs, RSS feeds, yada, yada, yada that everyone seems to think that everything is a definite fit with everything else? (OK, maybe not everyone thinks this way, I am certain there are many of you out there that would agree with me that it is not always the case, but attend a conference or two and you will see that there are a lot of peeps out there that do think this way).

I agree that there are certain synergies (there I go with a buzz word no no) that do exist between companies and their technologies or companies and open source technologies, but there are boundaries and limits as to what makes sense and what is a stretch (hell not even a stretch, just down right does not make any logical sense). So why is it if these stretches exist, that people are convinced one: that they are not a stretch and two: that of course X fits in perfectly with Y? I just do not get it, if the shoe does not fit, do not wear it. But time and time again I have seen companies try to force the proverbial square peg into the round hole and what you are left with is a square peg sticking our of or sitting on top of the round hole.

Are the reasons these things are happening because the wrong types of people are making the decisions? Is it that they think they know what they are talking about but in fact when you get to the devil in the details, that they haven’t a clue as to how to make it all work in the first place? I think it is a combination of factors, but I at least believe that the decisions to integrate product X with product Y should be left to those that know what is going on and how to make it work – the ones who actually built the things in the first place, not someone on high (and by this I do not necessarily mean executive management, I mean those that can only scratch the surface, at best, with knowledge of how things really work).

So the next time you are convinced that your square peg will fit into that round hole, I suggest you look for a square hole instead.

I know that I can only speak for myself, but I have the terrible habit of opening my mouth and blurting something out before my mind has had time to process it and determine if that is something that should or should not have been said. Sometimes it works to my favor, as it is something extremely funny and it makes everyone laugh (which by the way is one of my quarks, I feel like I always have to make people laugh and make them happy, not sure why I do that, perhaps some intense therapy may help but I will save that for another day) other times it comes out all wrong and winds up offending or upsetting the person. The latter scenario sucks, and it is not one that I like to find myself in.

I need to take into account that not everyone is like me, I am the type that does not get offended easily nor do my feelings get hurt easily, but that does not mean that everyone else is like me (although it would make for a perfect world if they were, but I digress). Being mindful of other people’s feelings is important, it is something I need to work on. When I say things without thinking, I have no idea what is going on in that person’s life at the time, maybe they are having an extremely bad day and I am the straw that broke the camels back.

Now I am not advocating that one should not say what is on their mind, what I am advocating is that you think before you speak, and understand that what you are about to say may offend someone or several people depending on the situation and you are prepared (well as best as you can be) for the potential fall out of your comment. At least by doing this, you have given some thought to what you are going to say and you know that it may not sit well with everyone. On the flip side, there are those people who could not care any less as to what people think about what they say, and that is OK to, that is just how they are. For me, I often find myself in the conundrum where I do care about everyone’s feelings and I always want to make people happy and I blurt out stuff without thinking. Not always the best scenario to be in.

I know I have work to do (old habits die hard, I have been this way as long as I can remember), so it will be a work in progress. Until the time comes that I change (do not hold your breath, I can guarantee that it will be quite some time), please bare with me, I do not mean to hurt your feelings, it is just that my mouth has gotten the best of me.