How to Work Remotely

Welcome to the Global Plague of 2020, courtesy of COVID-19. The world has not seen something like this in a century, even the polio, cholera, and various influenzas that have struck since then haven’t created the worldwide need for isolation and restriction that we’re currently seeing.

One major kink in all that is the need for businesses to, somehow, keep operating. Everyone is worried about the effects to the economy, a faceless pseudo-entity that doesn’t provide anything more than an indicator of wealth, forcing businesses to attempt to remain operating, potentially affecting (and infecting) the very employees upon whom they rely to make the business operate.

The COVID-19 epidemic comes at a watershed point in human history. Never before in our developed world (I count the planet, here, not specific countries) have we had the capacity to conduct our operations apart from one another at scale. We have the technology to continue … but there’s a little more to it than that.

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Healthy 10th Birthday, Choo Choo!

A decade ago right now, Mommy and I were preparing to go to Foothills Medical Centre. There, Mommy would have a caesarian section and you would be pulled forth into this world — not of woman borne! — with your arm draped around your neck like a feather boa, safe and sound.

Well, mostly. That whole anti-K thing and all, as we remind you of every now and then. Which is almost a bizarre parallel to today: almost immediately after you were born, the doctors wanted to whisk you away to the NICU to ensure that the anti-K situation wasn’t affecting your health. You were isolated.

Ten years later, you’re isolated again. This time, none of our doing (biological or otherwise), but because of COVID-19. You’re spending your birthday apart from nearly everyone but your family.

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The Story Is Key

Years ago, I started blogging because I had moved away from home and wanted those I knew and loved to know what I was up to, things I’d done, and that I was, in fact, okay. (The grand irony in that belief is that I wasn’t, in fact, okay, and that this blog made that pretty clear to everyone but me.)

In the years that followed, these stories started to give way to my “professional” life, and the need to publicize my own wisdom and knowledge and bla bla bla. Yeah, I soapboxed a lot. Most of it, when I read it now, makes me feel ill. Because that’s not what I really wanted to do — I did it because I felt I had to.

It’s high time to get back to story-telling.

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10 Years in Canada

I was born in what was once the small town of Oakville, west of Toronto. I lived there until I was 18, when I went to university, and split my time between Waterloo, Oakville, Ottawa, and Toronto, until January 1998, when I moved away, apparently forever.

I moved to Vancouver, where I spent two bipolar years of amazing experiences and painful relationships. I came to Calgary in March 2000, got married, had a kid. In 2008, my family made the epic decision to move to a completely different part of the world for nearly 18 months of … well, painful experiences and amazing relationships.

Ten years to the minute of this post, we came home.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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