Thirteen years ago for Mother’s Day my wife took our two little boys to Washington DC from Seattle for the Million Mom March. She felt strongly that our country was in need of tighter gun control laws and wanted our boys (then ages 10 and 9) to be a part of the rally.
After traveling across country, she and the boys were among the some 750,000 mothers and children rallying around the Washington DC National Mall. At one point, she thought she had lost the younger son when they were separated in the mass of humanity. She later found him in the designated meeting spot much to her relief.
The convictions of Shari Song have always been that strong and obvious. She wanted our boys to grow up in a safer environment. She wanted to teach our sons that each of us has a voice in America.
Since then, the US has seen more horrific gun violence in our schools with mass killings in Columbine (Colorado), Newtown (Connecticut) and Blacksburg (Virginia). While the march itself was somewhat controversial with strong emotions on both sides of the debate, there was no doubt where our family stood at the time.
Today, we all continue to stand for tighter gun control laws. However, my older son is now a gun owner. Neither his mother nor I am happy about that but he is old enough to make his own choices. In fact, we’ve learned a few things about why people would even want to own guns. It’s always good to understand different perspectives.
He still says he is for tighter gun control including stricter background checks for gun permits. He is very safety-conscious and takes gun ownership seriously. The other son has never had any interest in guns.
For this Mother’s Day, I’d like to remember all the mothers and everything they do on our behalf, and for being so passionate about their convictions in life. They are not just nurturers, they are also role models.
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The recent bombings at the Boston Marathon has affected people around the world in different ways. At SDL, we have two offices in the Boston area (Waltham and Wakefield) and many other persons with Boston ties. One of them is Warren Sukernek, VP of Social Business. He is a Boston native who moved to Seattle 7 years ago but still has very strong ties to his hometown. In fact, he often vacations every summer on Cape Cod, visiting friends and family in the Boston area. Like most of us, Warren was moved by the event at the Marathon on Patriot’s Day. He had several friends running in the race and at one time lived around the corner from the finish line.
To show his concern for the region, Warren created a heartfelt presentation on Slideshare that incorporated public images distributed on social networks around the world in the days following the Boston Marathon bombings. In my opinion, the presentation has captured the sentiment of the city and resonated with viewers globally. In the past 3 days, more than 30,000 people have viewed the presentation. As a result, the presentation was honored with a ‘Slideshare of the Day’ award yesterday. Warren said, “As a Boston native, I was moved by the events over the week and the images published on friend’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Curating this presentation was a labor of love and made me feel particularly connected with my city.”
The events this week in Boston impacted all of us around the country. The SDL family is a tight community and we really came together during this dramatic week. We will never forget and always remain #BostonStrong. Warren’s presentation expressed how we all felt and we are proud that his passion for his home and community was recognized by Slideshare.
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The happiest people in the world are those with healthy meaningful relationships with other people. These can be with family members, friends or even co-workers. This is true whether you are an extrovert or an introvert.
Wealth in of itself doesn’t make people happy. Absence of money or other stresses in life can adversely affect relationships, but money cannot buy happiness on a sustainable level.
I’ve seen this to be true time and time again as I’ve traveled around the world. The poor young Vietnamese boy taking care of his sick father can be “more” happy than the young affluent American teenager with absent parents.
If we all know this, then why do we tend to take the “good” relationships we have for granted? Why don’t we invest more into our relationship with our loving grandparents, a supportive co-worker, a dependable friend or our spouses? Strange we humans are.
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The single most important component of teamwork is TRUST. It’s through trust that groups of people can attain great accomplishments.
However, building trust can be difficult within groups of people. There can be cultural, personality, leadership, environmental and many other barriers to trust.
Some societies are naturally more trusting than others. I believe the US, despite its reputation as a nation of individualistic citizens, has people with a high degree of propensity to trust one another. Americans tend to be able to form groups that can innovate rather easily. Such propensity for societal trust has led to a rich and vibrant financial market that gives good access to capital for entrepreneurs and businesses.
Others in parts of the Middle East, may unquestionably trust family members but can be naturally suspicious of everyone else. This would lead to many successes at the family-business level but less so at a global business scale.
The ability to pull together and innovate and reach big goals is largely based on how easily people come together to solve problems in a trusting environment.
The difficult thing about trust is that it cannot be just prescribed. People must come together and learn to trust one another on their own personal terms.
Whether in a marriage or in a work environment, trust is a vitally important human ingredient to accomplishing great things collectively together. It’s worth your time to consider carefully.
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At Nordstrom, new employees will either fit into the work culture or they are going to feel uncomfortable right away. This is also true at companies such as Facebook, Deloitte Consulting, Apple, Microsoft, Abercrombie & Fitch, or Boeing.
By “uncomfortable”, I don’t mean feeling bullied or physically intimidated (although that can happen too). I mean the work culture (customer-orientation, the communication style, the work ethnic, accountability, levels of hierarchy, corporate value-system, etc.) will be so obvious that people who do not share them, will feel out of place for better or for worse.
At Microsoft, there is a lot of “mental-wrestling” where meetings are full of critical thinking. Many times, it’s as if people are trying to figure out (or prove) who is smartest in the room. This works for the software industry with dynamic and constant market changes. It doesn’t take long for a person to figure out if he fits in or not.
There are labor unions at Boeing who narrowly define roles. Anyone who tries to solve problems (or do work) beyond those definitions is discouraged. An ambitious young new employee would immediately start to have difficulties working there.
While some work cultures are infamously demanding or possibly bureaucratic, I still believe it is better to have a distinctive work culture than one that is ambiguous or too accommodating to every work style or different priorities. At least it would be immediately clear what any new employee is getting himself into. A distinctive work culture unifies its people on the way to approach the market and how to work together. This isn’t mandated by some HR policy or code of conduct. It’s the over-riding DNA of a work environment. The management has the responsibility to make sure that the work culture is effective and appropriate for the company vision and goals.
For me, I want people to understand and be on board with our vision or find work elsewhere. This does not mean blind faith and devotion, but general buy-in on what we are trying to accomplish and a desire to be a part of that vision. I want them to care enough to provide constructive feedback whenever necessary. I want the people interviewing for jobs with us to immediately get a clear sense of whether our environment is comfortable for them or not. I’m focused on making our work culture more distinctive moving forward.
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By 1997, ARIS had about 1,000 employees in the US and the UK and generated more than $100 million in revenues. ARIS was a high tech consulting and training company publically traded on the NASDAQ. Leading and managing a services company is much more difficult per revenue and headcount than a non-services company. I remember working very, very hard.
At ARIS, I played various executive roles as the company grew from a basement of a house to an international public company in seven years. The whole experience was tremendous as our young executive team learned so much basically drinking out of a fire hose of growth.
By 1999, I had decided to leave for a chance at a dot com dream. I had missed the startup environment and was not having much fun helping to run such a large company with the obligations of being public. Since then, I’ve stayed in the startup arena leveraging my experience of building companies to various early-stage liquidity events.
This April my earn-out for the sale of Intrepid expires. However, I don’t believe that my work is finished yet. The social intelligence space is very dynamic and poised for another inflection point of rapid growth. We have an exciting value proposition and some new releases coming up that will help define where this industry will go in terms of delivering actionable and predictive insights from social data.
There have been five ventures since those ARIS days for me. Now at SDL, I’m rediscovering some of that drive to make impact at a larger level. Right now, this is the right company with the right CEO and executive board to keep me focused and excited about what we are doing together.
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The other day, I was visiting Portland with my wife sampling the different food trucks and shopping. Oregon has no state sales tax and decent shopping. After following her to the usual department stores, we walked into the new downtown Nike store. Right in front was the display for the Nike+ FuelBand. Finally some fun gadgets.
The Nike+ FuelBand uses a sports-tested accelerometer to measure your movement in NikeFuel, a universal metric of activity. It calculates how many steps you take, your sports activities like basketball and tries to count the calories burned (this not accurate but it’s consistent). Cool stuff.
I’m not a person obsessed
with fitness. However, I’m pretty disciplined about a healthy lifestyle. I don’t work out all the time, but I’ve “learned” to enjoy healthy and balanced foods. I don’t count calories but I’ve “learned” to listen to my body about how much to eat. I lift weights when it feels right and stretch in hot yoga when my body tells me to. It’s not a routine but a sustainable lifestyle that works for me as I live with a lot
A Nike+ FuelBand is perfect for someone like me. I’m naturally competitive and keeping score would be motivating.
At the store I could not decide between the white or the gray one. So, when my wife walked by, I enthusiastically asked for her input. She, looking very annoyed, said that I didn’t need another gadget that is going to just sit on the night stand for months. She told me to just donate the money to the homeless instead. She then walked away.
When the guy helping me started putting the bracelets away, I said, “Hey, hey, wait. Don’t put those away, I’m still buying one!” He looked somewhat worried for me but sold me the gray one.
In selling, always learn who the budget owner is. Don’t let the other opinion and noise distort your view of who is the actual buyer. I guarantee in the flea markets of Turkey or Vietnam the vendors would have known that they always had me.
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