Friday, December 12, 2008

If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it

Margaret Thatcher

Say It Honestly

The late Don LaFontaine was famous as the distinctive voice of hundreds of movie trailers and promos. You may remember him for coining the beginning phrase, "In a world where..."
When he talked about his own work and other voice- over actors, he said, "They're concentrating on all the stuff they shouldn't be concentrating on. What they should be concentrating on is saying what's on the piece of paper and saying it honestly."

LaFontaine's words are good advice for anyone who presents. Gather your information. Put it in a logical sequence for your audience. Select and shape the words so they match your message. Practice on your feet and out loud. Get comfortable with your content and the flow of your ideas. All that preparation is crucial to your success.

Then, when you deliver your presentation, speak from your heart. Let your audience see and hear your conviction about the subject, and say it honestly.

Know me, care about me
Hear me, listen to me Help me review my contributions and feel proud
Let me see my value and importance
Focus me, help me grow, challenge me.

Feeding the Wolves
Feeding the good wolf is an old Indian proverb about the dualistic soul of man. In it a good wolf and a bad wolf struggle for control. You can't get rid of either, but you can make one stronger than the other.

My boss's, boss's, boss and I had a brief conversation the other night. He is one of the people who knows Larry Ellison personally. I'm sure there are lots of people who know him personally but my BBB worked with him at the very beginnings of the Oracle Corporation. I sought him out because I know people have talked about me to him, but I haven't spoken with him much and it was time he got to know more about me.

It was the reason I was in Columbus last week. We had a company update and the news is not all good, but it is plenty good enough. We have plenty enough nuts stored for the long economic winter ahead but it is going to get cold. We can see our pipelines freezing up, millions of dollars of indecision sitting on the table in front of us. It has been said that the best thing to do when you cannot work is to study. So I see both of those turns for me, in work I will probably spend a lot more time learning new technology; in my avocation here at Cobb while the Republicans are out of power I am learning more philosophy and theology. So the conversation there was about what the reasons are for shortcomings in corporate IT's view of technology vs what we could accomplish at our level. At least it veered that way after a third party joined our conversation.

I originally questioned my BBB to find out what Ellison was like and I learned three things. The first is that he likes to simplify. That which is over-complex he does not like. The second is that he has faced a transforming near-death experience. The third is that he believes in intramural competition.
I don't like intramural competition. But Larry Ellison will set teams of product developers at cross purposes and feed the winning wolf and starve the losing dog. Many things at Oracle are self-organizing in that way, it draws a number of type A personalities. I've known a lot of things about people and work ethic at Oracle, but I never quite understood it that way. It is a good way to organize a large, all encompassing organization. In fact, it's probably the only way. I expected to hear something about Ellison's fascination with the Orient - but I can see how that's somewhat beside the point. When you hire someone who is the best of the best in the world, you only have them for a moment. You cannot expect to keep them chained to your ambitions and dreams. You can only give them a place to thrive - you feed the good wolf. Hiring is hospitality. In the context of owning the whole of the woods, you can only direct competition. You simply control the incentives.

That says nothing about the sort of work that is most interesting to me which always has to do with the transference of ideas, and thus must involve a different sort of collaboration. In my world, in order for a team to achieve a perfect understanding and maintain that understanding, there must be harmony. Harmony conveys a different sort of excellence which requires tuning. Feeding the biggest wolf give you a solo. And yet I'm perfectly satisfied in considering a simplistic duality of good and evil for the maintenance of personal integrity. What works for the one, doesn't necessarily work for the many.

Fascinating animation:
Immigration to the US, 1820-2007 v2 from Ian S on Vimeo.

Great Ad, sexist but great, click me, click me
Also see the yellow Corvette (corvettejaune)

Patience with others is love, patience with self is hope, patience with God is faith

ADEL BESTAVROS Egyptian deacon and lawyer, 20th century

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You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

Harlan Ellison