Monday, June 07, 2010


Do you run antivirus on each download you make off the internet? I sometimes do even though 99% I download from the sources I trust.

This one made me think twice :)

I remembered how once I was reviewing the invoice for one of the accounts I had been responsible for at the time. It was a portfolio of four projects with two quite sizable and two rather small, satellite work. Hours reported by the team of one of the smaller one totaled to 666 for the period. I even sent them an email about their "devil" work :)

And guess what, the guy in charge of the relationship with the client asked us to reduce it by one hour. "Just in case", he said.

It's good people don't hesitate to say "happy birthday" to me, it's on the 13th.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Speaking in public (and what kids do better than many adults)

Speaking in public is not easy. Even when you have done it for many times it still takes time and energy to prepare and a courage to walk on stage.

I have recently learned that writing for public can be as challenging. In some way it has proven to be even more challenging as the effect lasts longer.

We (a very small team and I) have recently published an online newspaper in the company I work for. It all started with an idea to do a newsletter. We wanted to start a regular process of news sharing in multiple angles (categories if you will) of our company's life and have it all in one place. Very soon we figured we lacked context, a solid information foundation to lay the newsletter onto. Many people would just skip it and don't pay attention as nothing would resonate well enough. So we needed to build a foundation first and that's how we came up with the idea of a larger Information Portal. "That's big", we thought and we knew we would not go "live" with it any time soon (and it's not because of technology challenge, the content challenge would be the killer). So that's how we ended up doing a step in between - bigger than a newsletter but much smaller than the yet-to-be Information Portal. The most important - it's out there. I hope we managed to lay down that foundation.

How was is it like speaking in public? It was our own personal project from start to finish. From the time the idea sparked to the time we signaled our CEO we are ready. We had to do many different things on our own(including engaging company management, and, of course, writing, coding, carefully selecting and then listening to critics of small preview groups, writing again). Letting it go public felt almost like exposing yourself in a way very similar to going on stage to deliver a speech. Almost. With a few small caveats.

Our company is 5,000+ and while not all will follow a link our CEO invited them to visit, a good half will. And it's there to stay for others to catch up. Quite an audience.

And it's there for people to comment on and provide their feedback so we can do a next round better. The speech delivered and is now in a way alive, there for the public to listen to and react, there for them to come back to and react again, there for them to notice all small defects and inconsistencies, there for them to be tough about it. I know who to listen to and I know that everyone is almost always wrong though none of this makes the number "5,000" small enough to leave the equation. It's for them we did it so the pressure and preparation and energy and courage - all is there.

still there.


This Friday I will have a completely different experience. I am sure I will like it as much as I like the aftermath of the newspaper though it will be a whole new setting. I am going to speak at my child's school, in his class, actually. In the 2d grade this year they run a "mystery visitor" project where a parent may chose to come visit the class room on Friday and talk about their profession, do something with the kids, tell them stories, read books, - do anything that would engage kids and teach them something. Not many do and my son really asked me to come. He does not yet know and I won't tell him to catch him by surprise. You wonder what I am going to talk about? I am sure kids will like to learn about computers, software, and everything behind their smartboard (the thing that looks and works like regular white board but also attaches to a computer and works as a display and a touch screen). I may also tell them about the country we came from as this is something kids like. I exchanged emails with the teacher and she assured me it will do.

They won't care if I speak a fluent no-accent English, they won't care if all I say is bullet proof, they won't care if I make mistakes, they won't care if they will need to ask me to repeat a few times, they won't care if I ask them to repeat a few times. The value for them is in what I will say, in the thrill of getting to know things they did not know, in the fact of my appearance to entertain them - in making their day a little better than it would have been without the "mystery visitor".

An audience that is totally rewarding without knowing what the word "rewarding" means exactly. The audience that will at some time forget, will need to have to learn what they had known so well at some point - how to appreciate and see the value in what's not exactly perfect from all angles. Apparently, ability to truly appreciate is a natural skill for kids and a mental exercise for adults, and not all believe it's worth their time and energy. Funny. It feels surprisingly good to truly appreciate somebody else's work so by not making that effort many grownups deprive themselves from enjoying it.