Entrepreneurial Leadership and Management . . . and Other Stuff

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May
20

Just Answer The Question Already!

I’ve already been in four or five meetings this week that went way too long (and longer than scheduled) as a result of one, simple problem; at least one person involved in each meeting was incapable of answering a question without retelling the history of everything that led up to that point and, sometimes, forecasting the future of everything to happen from that point on.  Virtually every time this happened, someone else in the meeting either lost patience (often me) and cut the speaker off or abruptly asked them what, in fact, was the answer to their original question.  To no avail.  The behavior persisted.  I suppose it’s a style thing.  One that drives me up a wall.

Hey, if you’re giving a presentation and you’re working within the allotted time, go for it.  Talk about how your kid did at her piano recital that week or the status of the fungus growing on your toenails.  People in your audience may not like it but, sometimes, weaving a tale creates the groundwork for the best presentations.  And, if you’re within the scheduled time, the audience is likely to give you some latitude – especially if you’re entertaining.  If, however, an interactive discussion is taking place, say your piece – precisely – and relinquish the floor.  Filibusters are not allowed in business conversations.  They waste everyone’s time and I can promise you, will eventually get you killed.

It certainly doesn’t have to get to just “yes” and “no” (although sometimes, those are perfect answers), but you have to get to the point quickly.  Otherwise, the people around the table will stop caring what your answer is and will focus more on how annoying you are than the point you’re trying to make. 

Brevity is highly underrated.

 May 20th, 2009  
 Will  
 General Business  
   
 10 Comments
May
17

Recent Reading

Fault Line: A Novel by Barry Eisler – Having read and thoroughly enjoyed all of Eisler’s John Rain books, I was anxious to give his new non-Rain novel a go.  The book was entertaining, but didn’t hold me as well as the Rain stories.  While I liked the character of the older brother, an ultra-cool trained assassin (like Rain), the younger brother is just OK and the legal sidekick, Sarah, was just annoying – well beyond what Eisler intended her to be.  Overall, enjoyable, but I’d recommend Eisler’s fantastic John Rain books if you’re just starting off with the author.

Long Lost by Harlan Coben – This was my first book by Coben and I liked it a lot.  The hero, Myron Bolitar, has apparently appeared in several of the author’s books before, which I’m now interested in going back and trying out.  The characters are fascinating (although not completely exposed in this book, I suppose they are explained better in previous volumes) and story kept me guessing.  The ending is a bit anticlimactic, but far from disappointing.  Definitely a fun read.

Afraid by Jack Kilborn -  I think the genre is horror, but never having read a horror story, it’s not clear to me.  The story is full of violent death vividly described.  The story kept me riveted, but not without making me wish it would end sooner.  The writing was good and for fans of this type of book, I’m sure it’s terrific.  Certainly an interesting premise and platform for loads-o-killin’.  Just not my gig.

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell – This is the only non-fiction, non-technical book I’ve read in the last month.  It’s the story of a Navy SEAL team dropped into Afghanistan on a mission and how everything comes unglued, resulting in not only the deaths of most of the team (thus the name of the book), but in many additional SEALs sent in to save the original team.  All I can say is that you just can’t make this shit up.  This book is fantastic.  If you don’t cry at some point, you’re not an American.  While the broad-brush attribution of the “liberal media” for military problems gets a little tiresome, it is far from the focus of the story.  This book will keep you in awe of the men and women who serve in the American military.  A must read.

jQuery in Action by Bear Bibeault – I’ve started to play with jQuery on this blog with PHP and on my web site that is .Net-based.  Since I’m not a JavaScript expert, I was hoping that the book would lead me down the path of implementing jQuery within a more basic JavaScript framework.  It does not.  It is simply a detailed description of jQuery and how it works.  A better reference book for jQuery than a tutorial on its use, IMO.

The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel – The original version of this book was the go to reference for cycling training.  This new edition adds loads of new data and more detail about stretching, nutrition and periodization.  While more appropriate for the racer than the recreational cyclist, if you’re willing to do some dynamic editing, any cyclist with a desire to improve can get something from this book.  It is not basic, however.  If you’re new to the sport, you may want to read something targeted at beginners.

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 May 17th, 2009  
 Will  
 Books  
   
 1 Comment
May
06

Wrong Direction Parking

Parking Ticket_Page_2

So, I was in Cambridge, MA last week and parked in a public lot while attending the TechStars Boston Mentor Dinner (really great group, BTW).  I searched the 10,000 little signs around the lot to find out if I needed to fill a meter somewhere and felt fairly secure that I didn’t when I found an obscured sign that stated that sacrifices to the parking lot gods were not required after 6pm – it was 5:58.

Imagine my dismay then, when I came back to my car later that evening to find this parking ticket on the car.  Not because I neglected to fill a meter, but because I backed into a parking space (see arrows).  I suppose I can dream of reasons why this is a rule, most of them having to do with bad drivers, but I can’t think of any logical reason why this should be a problem (Massachusetts requires front license plates, so that’s not it).

I had to hunt around the parking lot to find the small sign that told parkers that they had to park “head on” only.  It was there, but it wasn’t obvious.  It was posted and I was, therefore, wrong.  I just think it’s absurd – both the rule and the poor posting of it.

Anyone know why this type of parking restriction is mandated?

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 May 6th, 2009  
 Will  
 Misc Thoughts, Stuff with a Motor  
   
 25 Comments
May
04

The Coming of the V-6 Muscle Car

I’m a car guy.  I’ve owned many cars and have driven dozens that I haven’t had the opportunity to own (yet).  Hands down, my all time favorite car was my new, at the time, 1984 Camaro Z28 HO (High Output).  An 80s example of the classic American muscle car.  It had a clutch pedal that took Schwarzeneggerian strength to depress and a shifter with a softball-size shift knob and a throw worthy of a shot-putter or, as it was aptly often nicknamed, a rock-crusher.  It could leave rubber in third gear and could get going from a dead stop in fifth.  It didn’t actually require a steering wheel – there was so much oversteer that one’s right foot did the job in most cases.  Man, I loved that car.

If you’re a car-as-transportation kinda person or believe that automobiles are all about getting from point A to point B, you may not understand this, but the sheer enjoyment of driving any vehicle is greatly about time and place.  Much of what I cherished about that car had to do with the fact that I was in my early twenties, unattached (other than to work) and relatively reckless – on the road, anyway.  Did I mention how much I loved that car?

At the time, the Z28 HO carried a Chevy small block – a classic, smallish 305 cubic inch one, although referred to as a 5.0 liter motor so Chevy could seem more European – that generated an anemic 190 horsepower with torque in the low 200 ft-lb range I’d expect, although I don’t recall precisely.  It drank fuel faster than the Exxon Valdez leaked oil.  I recall getting about 13 mpg.  Of course, it’s not like I drove with conservation in mind.  Oh, BTW, I paid about $19K for the car when new.

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you know that a new generation of muscle cars has arrived from the Big 3 Detroit-based auto companies [note: if you’re reading this long after it was written, there may be a smaller number].  Ford has its Mustang, Dodge has its Challenger and Chevrolet once again has its Camaro.  Of course, each of these vehicles comes in a V-8 version that, to quote Car and Driver Magazine, “reduce tires to a gray haze that hangs on the horizon like a thousand dirty sweatpants.”  They are, after all, American muscle cars.  Unlike the original muscle car days, though, these cars are also all available outfitted with V-6s.  Lest you scoff at the idea of dropping only six cylinders into the engine bay of a muscle car, read on.  There is interesting news here.  At least from The General.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro RS The Camaro LS/LT sports a 3.6L (I guess the metric system won out after all) V-6 that generates 304 hp and 273 ft-lb of torque.  It goes from 0-60 in 5.9 seconds, pulls 0.87 g on the skidpad and is rated by the EPA to frugally travel 29 highway and 23 combined city/highway miles on a single gallon of refined dinosaur remains.  This not only kicks the ass of my favorite vehicle of all time using two fewer cylinders, it beats the original 1960s era Camaro SS with its huge 396 cu in engine to 60 mph by 0.7 seconds while riding in more comfort and safety.  The icing on this automotive cake is that the car starts at less than $23K.  In 25 years, that not much of a bump.

While the bashing of American car companies is certainly in vogue and pissing on GM, in particular, is the stuff of headlines, it’s great to see cars like this fighting back in showrooms and on the streets.  There are many who will say that the Prius is now rated at 50 mpg and that any car that gets lower mileage than that should be banned from the streets.  Those people are welcome to buy all the Priuses that Toyota can produce.  I look at the advent of cars like this – cars that address our emotional desires as well as our economical ones – as a huge advance for the auto industry and a monster opportunity for the auto buying public.  Who knows, maybe my new favorite car is coming soon.

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 May 4th, 2009  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 8 Comments