Why your manager sucks

This year, I celebrate 15 years operating as a manager, in one form or another. I am by no means an expert, I certainly wouldn’t be the sort of person to conduct high-priced seminars that espouse “empowerment” or “entrepreneurism”. I’ve had the luxury of having some really good managers over the years, who were solid mentors, able to point out what it would take to guide others, to handle problems practically, and offer feedback in constructive ways.

My many years of not being stuck in the weeds has also allowed me to look around at those with similar roles, and see how they approach the same challenges. The ability to talk to them, to see the results of their labours, to hear from those they manage also lets me get a better idea of what I’m doing right, and where I can improve. That’s given me a strong sense of what makes a good manager.

Like I said, I ain’t perfect. But if your manager fails any of the following, they’re doing it wrong. Continue reading “Why your manager sucks”

Dispelling a myth of centralized IT

“Information Technology”, or IT as it’s more commonly known, tends to get a bad rap. It’s a black box to organizations, there to serve arcane purposes that always seem to have a habit of getting in everyone else’s way of doing whatever they need to be doing. The end result is the idea that “IT is evil”.

It’s a bit unfair, truth be told. IT doesn’t try to be evil (heck, some IT organizations actively espouse not being evil), it’s often a net effect of just being misunderstood. And like any misunderstood creature, problems arise, misconceptions arise, and pretty soon people are chasing down systems administrators with pitchforks, and…

Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Let’s rewind a tad, shall we?

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She Choo-Choo choosed me

(Yeah, it’s grammatically incorrect. So shoot me.)

Choo Choo and Monkey did a couple of early Valentine cards tonight. The one Choo Choo gave me might well be one of the best I’ve ever gotten.

I’m rotating this 90 degrees from how she wrote it. But every word (and spelling) is hers.

I should add that Choo Choo is learning to spell.


y –
o – onoying [annoying]
u – usfull [useful]

a – a jerk [believe me, it’s a term of endearment]
r – relatev [relative; she’s not sure what this means, either]
e – evelushenery [evolutionary; I’ve never been called that before]

m – my dad
y – youth

v – vacation man [Best. Superhero name. Ever.]
a – amene [a meanie; see above note about being a jerk]
l – loving
i – I Love you [the “L” was backwards]
n – nativ [native; not sure what was meant]
t – tae [tea]
i – I Love you [the “L” is the right way around
n – nativ

 

Yeah, “valentine” isn’t spelled correctly, either. I don’t mind one bit.

A farewell to neighbours

We moved into our current home in March 2007, a few months before Monkey was born. We were not newlyweds anymore, we were bracing for a family. The home we had lived in was nice, and ideal for a couple. For a pregnant woman, the home was turning into a challenge; it would be hell with a child.

When we arrived, the building was bare, but it housed a history that we would slowly learn over the years to come, from those who lived around us. We would contribute to that, as well, as we brought our own lives to bear on the structure. This history was taught to us largely by our neighbour, Jo-Ann, who had been next door the large majority of her life. This week, she turned the keys over to a new family.

So let me tell you a few things about our friend.

Continue reading “A farewell to neighbours”

The importance of experience

“Experience” is a tough word to use in the digital marketing industry. Quite often, it’s used to encompass one’s adventure and awareness through a user interface of an application. It’s one of the most common applications for “experience”, but it’s not the only one.

There’s also the definition that includes knowledge and wisdom, held by those who have spent years honing skills, learning from mistakes, and becoming enlightened from real-world execution.

And it’s the latter that I’m finding, more and more, to be a key to delivering the former.

Continue reading “The importance of experience”

A wintery drive to Drumheller

I met my friend Nancy when I first joined Critical Mass in April 2000. She was my first project manager, as we slugged away at the Proctor & Gamble Presiva project (it’s a fringe product that thankfully died out about eight or nine years ago). We reunited on the Mercedes-Benz USA project, where we continued to do battle with the forces of … uh … weird client requests? Sure, let’s go with that.

Nancy (wisely) left the digital agency world over a decade ago, and went off to start her own business, using horses to teach leaders how to be effective. It was a novel approach, and it’s done well. One advantage of her doing that was moving out into the country (after all, that many horses do not do well in city limits). Which means she started to make good contacts with her neighbours.

Including one that raised sheep.

Continue reading “A wintery drive to Drumheller”

The last tooth has been lost

Well Monkey, you’ve hit a milestone: today, you lost the last of your baby teeth. You told me you pulled it yourself (rather brave, if I do say so myself), and presented it to me like a strange kind of trophy. Your last baby tooth. There’s only adult teeth, now (and quite a few to come). Does that make you … an adult? Well, not in the legal sense…

I remember when your first tooth came in, so many, many years ago. I remember naming your teeth … or at least being told their names. I remember when the first one came loose, and then fell out. You were quite a bit more scared than I thought you’d be, but I suppose things falling out of your head are cause for alarm when you’re a kid.

Man, is your tooth fairy going to be disappointed…

Continue reading “The last tooth has been lost”

20 years from Ontario

Two decades ago today, I did something immensely stupid: I left home. Literally and figuratively. Twenty years ago, I was still sleeping in my room on Gatestone Avenue in Oakville. While I had lived on my own at university, and while I was on my co-op work terms in Ottawa, staying at home was … comfortable. And as my parents didn’t object, it seemed like a good idea. Literally leaving home wasn’t the problem — I’d already done it a dozen times.

Figuratively leaving home — notably the familiarity of the Greater Toronto area, but Ontario in general — was another matter. I’d not really lived abroad, where going to my parents’ house was something I did in an afternoon. I decided to throw myself into the world without any plan whatsoever.

Twenty years on, it was the smartest move I ever made.

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The kids’ first New Years Eve

Okay, to be fair, Monkey is now 10, and Choo Choo is rapidly approaching 8. They’ve seen “new years eve” a few times, but they’ve been more the family-friendly type. Staying up to midnight is the new thing. The only time they’ve ever been up past midnight is because of travel, and that’s always been a bit of a struggle.

Last night, for the first time ever, they watched a clock tick from 23:59 of one year to 00:00 of another. Honestly, they fared better than I did.

And that, my friends, is not a good sign.

Continue reading “The kids’ first New Years Eve”