Entrepreneurial Project Management

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Archive for the ‘off-topic’ Category

Interviewing Is Sales (and that’s a good thing)

Posted by matteverard on August 16, 2006

I’ve done a lot of interviews in the last couple years (since leaving my firm I’ve been on contract jobs that always require at least one).  Although initially painful, I’m grateful for the experience.  It’s made me grow up and understand who I am as a professional.  At the beginning, I couldn’t tell a coherent story.  I couldn’t discern if I was a good fit or not.  I was scared and, frankly, mostly interested in putting food on the table for the family.  I would have shovelled shit if necessary.

Later, I got more picky.  I’d sniff out the interviewers for signs of bad politics, project success rate, team agility and transparency.  It kept me out of a few really bad projects (I’d learn later from friends inside the org).

Ultimately I came to the conclusion that interviewing is really “sales” where I’m the product.  That was a great revelation b/c I could solve the sweaty palms problem.  In the early days I’d get seriously anxious at interviews.  Stammering speech, nervous ticks like pushing my glasses up, and clammy hands–I had ’em all.  Most of that was b/c I internalized the process, equating an interviewer’s rejection with personal failure.  If I didn’t get the job, I would be “worthless.” (yes, I’ve got issues, just pay attention).  Later I realized that I’m a good product, but this product might not fit here (I don’t due well in slow, bureaucratic places).  The interviews became more clean.  I wasn’t giving an “apologia for my life”;  I was peddling a product.  “You wanna buy?  If not, that’s OK, others will.”

Guy Kawasaki’s recent post “Everything you wanted to know about getting a job in SV but didn’t know to ask” is wonderfully articulate, witty, and on-the-money.   Advice delivered as only Guy can.  I particularly loved the “cast of characters” you will meet, their key question, and your key response.  The wunderkind, mom, Mr. CPG–hilarious.  Valuable reading for interviewing outside of SV, too.

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Change, Change, Change

Posted by matteverard on August 4, 2006

I remember first learning about Entropy in undergraduate physics and, like all classical laws of science it seemed wonderfully intuitive (Relativity or Quantum mechanics are just plain weird). So the universe is like a tightly coiled spring and it is gradually unwinding. Cool. Makes sense with how I experienced the world (hot things become cool, copies of copies degrade).

And, although I’m generally opposed to transferring physical laws into social contexts, the law of Entropy seems apply to personal lives–you have to inject “work” to have an orderly system. If left to natural forces, the “system” will devolve into a random mishmash of goo.

(Now you purists don’t need to write me with corrections about my physics…yeah, I understand that you really can’t inject “work” into the system when you are the system. It’s OK, just play along.)

The “work” I’ve recently injected into my system is a change of venue which implied a change of employ. I decided it was time to flee the baking clay flatlands of the mid-west and try living in a vacation destination. So the wife and I mulled over SanFran, NYC, London, Seattle, and Vancouver. This was a tough call. It was kind of a “career or lifestyle” decision. Well, we picked Van (which a friend likened to saying “up yours” the business world).

So the job thing. Well, it turns out there’s a lot of great opportunities in Van and I landed with a great company called Atimi–a software group led by Steve Gully whom I met through Darren Barefoot a few weeks ago. Steve’s a sharp guy and understands both the craft and the business of software dev and has a team of quality people. During our discussions it was so obviously a good fit that it was hard to put up a fight when they asked me to come aboard.

This means packing up the house and downsizing from 2200sf to 1000sf, moving across a large land mass and crossing a national border. With wife and kids in tow. After accumulating 9 years of random Target purchases. Lots of “work” here, believe me.

But “fortune favors the brave” as they say and the stars are aligning. Take for instance, housing. This is no small matter in Van as any native will tell you. We were looking at $2000/mo in Yaletown for a 900sf 2BR–beautiful, with all the bling and troubles of downtown living. Then my buddy calls and tells me of a non-profit apartment complex right on Granville Island that has a 3BR for $1400. I call the manager. We’re 4th in line. I think, “No way we’ll get it.” But yesterday we signed the papers. We move in Sept 6. Our new address is:

1390 Island Park Walk
Vancouver, BC V6H 3T5

Map, here.

Kids’ school and good friends are a 5 minute walk along the seawall. Shopping, restaurants, aqua bus, view of the northshore mountains, all right there. This is sweet.

And so the work injected into the system appears to be paying off. The spring is being tightened, and it feels very, very good.

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The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs

Posted by matteverard on July 25, 2006

I’ve just blown the last 30 minutes at this site.  My face hurts from laughing (don’t miss the comparison of Eric Schmidt to a squirrel).  From GMSV:

Quoted

“Wow. Will ya look at these friggin financials! Sales up 24%, net profit up 48%. And our EPS is 10 cents above what those imbeciles on Wall Street were predicting. Gosh. We are sooo friggin hot right now. We’re like the Michael Jordan of business. Nothing but net. Hey, Michael Dell, how you guys doing down there in Buttfriggerville? Huh? What’s that? I can’t hear you. Watchoo say, boy? Sales up 6%, net down 18%? Well, sorry to hear that, wall-eye. Hey, maybe you guys should try to actually invent something. Like, hire engineers and actually design a product. Or maybe not. Maybe just leave that invention stuff to us. Ha! We R 2cool2Btru!!!!! I am going to run out to the JobsMobile and do donuts in the parking lot!!! Then I am going to kiss Peter Oppenheimer on the mouth!!!! Later losers!!! I am so cool!!!!”– Excerpt from the laugh-out-loud funny Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, Aged 51 1/2

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Jon Stewart on Net Neutrality

Posted by matteverard on July 13, 2006

I’m continually amazed by Jon Stewart’s intellect, grasp of complex social issues, and, of course, comic delivery.  (His book, America: Democracy Inaction is a gem, especially as audio.)   For those you who were aghast by US Senator (and Chairman of the Commerce Committee) Ted Stevens “the internet is a series of tubes” speech, you will enjoy this 5 minute snippet.

Best quote: “People, if you let those tubes of the internet get clogged, how long do you think the gerbils that power the internet are gonna run?  No long!”

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iPod Revolution: Unintended Consequences

Posted by matteverard on July 10, 2006

My buddy, Todd, sent me this fantastic article on one significant cultural effect of the iPod–the death of Rock Snobs–and what that means for the world. A sample:

While the term “Rock Snob” has a pejorative ring, the label also implies real social advantages. The Rock Snob presides as a musical wise man to whom friends and relatives turn for opinions and recommendations; he can judiciously distribute access to various rare and exotic prizes in his collection. “Oh my God, where did you find this?” are a Rock Snob’s favorite words to hear. His highest calling is the creation of lovingly compiled mix CDs designed to dazzle their recipients with a blend of erudition, obscurity, and pure melodic dolomite. Recently, I unearthed a little-known cover of the gentle Gram Parsons country classic “Hickory Wind,” bellowed out by Bob Mould and Vic Chestnutt, which moved two different friends to tears. It was Rock Snob bliss.

Funny and poignant–I’m definitely one of the milkers and have felt, on occasion, that I’ve dishonored the high rock gods by mixing rare collections with the profane.

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Francis Fukuyama and the US Political Scene

Posted by matteverard on June 28, 2006

The Johns Hopkins Polical Scientist, Francis Fukuyama, has penned a couple of brilliant, controversial books (The End of History and the Last Man, Our Post-Human Future) which I found to be thought-provoking reads. Often he has been linked to the neoconservative movement, but in the NYTimes Magazine pieced (link below), he does a great job separating himself their mess and charts a course for the future that eschews war.

From Wikipedia:

In an essay in the New York Times Magazine in 2006 that was strongly critical of the invasion [5], he identified neoconservatism with Leninism. He wrote that the neoconservatives:

…believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States. Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.

He also announced the end of the “neoconservative moment” and argued for the demilitarization of the war on terrorism:

“[W]ar” is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle, since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a “long, twilight struggle” whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world.

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Life Near Appalachia

Posted by matteverard on June 28, 2006

Dueling Banjos

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Honesty in the Workplace

Posted by matteverard on June 28, 2006

Why I got fired from Apple (via GMSV)

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A Tribute to GMSV

Posted by matteverard on June 28, 2006

Each morning I spend a few minutes at Good Morning Silicon Valley. Johns Murrell and Paczkowski artfully review the news in high-tech with such wit that coffee often comes out of my nose. It takes great talent to come up with headlines such as “iPod inspected by #32 (please send amphetamines)” or “‘Course what we’d really like to do is “prioritize” some of these services right out of business …” or “Hello, You’ve reached Vonage Investor Relations: please leave a message (mailbox full)” but the latest one is truly a gem: “Gates, Buffett hail development of camel that fits through needle’s eye”.

Guys, this is great reporting and great fun. Thanks!

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Skiing Beyond Safety’s Edge Once Too Often

Posted by matteverard on June 28, 2006

A very human portrait by the NYT on Doug Coombs, steep-n-deep legend, and his recent tragic trip down the French Alps.

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