The objects of my affection…

So, you’ll hear more about the #1 object of my affection tomorrow (of the non human variety), but for now let’s talk about these…

I know what you’re thinking… “It should be illegal to be that cute.” It’s not. I find their cuteness obnoxious & they don’t even belong to me. They belong to her..

…the sweetest, most attentive, beautiful momma cat that ever walked the face of the earth. Her instincts are impeccable — she knows who her friends are & won’t hesitate to clearly warn those who could present a risk to her babies. She’s homeless & was found by the amazing shelter that Skrockette & I volunteer at. She & her kitties are Skrockette’s and my 2nd fosters. Our first was Rudy (yup, named after that Rudy), he was thrown from a car window at 4 weeks old & rescued by the shelter…

…he’s officially what the shelter calls a “failed foster”. He won’t leave his foster home because parting with him would be unimaginable. He’s a Skrocki now & forever. πŸ™‚

But back to our 2nd attempt at fostering — Momma cat & her four kitties. There’s Smarty (she was the first explorer of the litter & is always bright-eyed )…

… Harper (the social butterfly, she connects so deeply to the beings around her, Momma cat always has an extra eye on her)…

…Cougar (super sweet & reserved, not really like her namesake, but I wonder if she might not like branching out a bit)…


…and the little brother, Mr. Magoo (the sweet runt & last to open his bright blue eyes, but now the most confident)…

The only thing stopping me from not keeping them (ALL of them) is the fine line between me and an official “weirdo cat lady” title. Colorado is such a shelter pet friendly state, so I’m sure every one of them will find a home they love, but please do let me know if you’re interested in any of them — it would make me feel a thousand times better to find them a home with good people I personally know.

Many thanks!

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And now for some good news…

Did you see this story? “Little boy lost finds his mother using Google Earth” It’s remarkable, inspiring and will make you happy to be alive in times where global connectedness can make genuinely good things happen.

Those of you who know me, know that working for a company who is socially responsible is a big deal to me (& I’m not just talking about companies who have cheesy corporate responsibility posters plastered on their walls with little follow thru). Genuine social responsibility is one of the attributes I loved about Sun Microsystems & love about Valassis.

In addition to having the accolades and data to back up Valassis’ commitment to diversity, check out this social goodness

RedPlum is Valassis’ consumer brand. You probably see its coupon insert in your mailbox on a weekly basis (it looks like the image below). The next time you do, please take a closer look at the “Have You Seen Me?” section — you might be the conduit that reunites a missing child with their family.

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Welcome to infographic mania! Now, where are the standards?

While the “rush thru everything” part of me does appreciate some “chart porn” (as Dan Frommer puts it), the lack of reporting standards by which many infographic creators are operating is beginning to be a major turn off.

Infographics

Sure, infographics are shiny and alluring, but the data inaccuracy (or perceived inaccuracy due to missing information such as a date, data sources, etc.) diminishes their value. This is a real shame because infographics are an incredibly valuable format for delivering a high volume of data in a highly comprehensible manner.

As kids, we all learned basic reporting standards while being graded on the creation of countless book reports. Why should infographics be immune to basic reporting standards? Infographics creators go through the effort to create something that looks amazing, why not take a few minutes to validate it’s credibility with the following basic elements?

  • Date (freshness matters)
  • Author(s)
  • Data Source(s)
  • Advertisement disclaimer
  • Content license / distribution terms

This isn’t about hampering creativity. The graphics designers I know are real sticklers about leveraging standards. It more about reliability. These aren’t just pretty, traffic driving pictures — they have the potential to influence critical business decisions.

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Stuff I’ve learned in the last 22 months & what’s next…

During “Blogging 101” sessions, I’d always advise aspiring bloggers to not apologize in their posts for not blogging frequently enough, but after an unplanned 22 month blogging hiatus (not counting my ever-present micro-blogging action ;-)), I owe anyone who might still be listening here an apology…I’m sorry and thank you for sticking around!

I’ve been luma-focused on a massive project at Accenture that saw it’s first manifestation of validated delivery yesterday. It’s not yet officially launched in the marketplace, so I can’t tell you a whole lot about it, but can tell you that this milestone presents a nice exit point for my Accenture journey — where I learned a LOT, which isn’t surprising, but what is surprising is over the last 22 months, I have learned a lot about things I wasn’t expecting to learn (some at Accenture, some elsewhere).

Stuff I’ve learned in the last 22 months (pardon the randomness — many points are pulled from notes I would take while living off the grid at 30k-40k in the air):

  1. Clarity comes at 30k-40k feet where distractions are few.
  2. Give yourself permission to not be uber productive and responsible at all times. It’s OK to submit to sleep, daydreaming, socializing, offlinedness (<– not a real word, but it should be), etc. The work will wait. Life won't. I'm not suggesting a lifestyle of laziness & irresponsibility — the work/life scale has no meter & oddly it's sometimes hard to know when you’re actually clinging to the life scale by your fingernails.
  3. I suck at being a road warrior. I’m grateful that my world is a bigger place now & I have the passport stamps to prove it, but the most amazing places on earth look like a Disneyland facade when you don’t have the people who matter most beside you.
  4. Don’t expect acknowledgement and/or reward for your hard work, amazing contributions, and super powers — be your best because it inspires YOU. That’s it. That’s the only validation you need.
  5. Some of the most necessary career alliances aren’t about perfect partnerships, but are more about an unspoken agreement to use each other in a mutually beneficial yet respectful way. Augh. I hate that, but it’s true. To contrast that dark point, some of the most important career alliances are those few (1-3 if you’re really lucky) who stand beside you in the darkest, riskiest, most challenging, unpleasant situations…AND would love to continue working with you. I can say this…I am really lucky and really grateful.
  6. The war against the glass ceiling is alive and well. If you’ve not called bullshit on it when you’ve seen it, you are part of the problem. What did you do the last time you saw an act of discrimination? If the answer is nothing, you missed an opportunity to make a difference that matters.
  7. Often, moments of clarity are the recalibration that lead to the next moments of not having a clue as to what the hell to do next, but knowing you have to do something. Do something. Fine tune if it was the wrong thing, but don’t be paralyzed by the fear of doing the wrong thing. There’s nothing sweeter than seeing your your ballsy decision validated as the right one.
  8. Personal down time isn’t optional — it is required for self-preservation. The following do not count as down time: submitting expenses, bio breaks, daily grooming (you have a real problem if you’ve ever considered adding shower time to your calendar — that’s not normal), etc.
  9. As you advance your career, rigorously protect that part of your brain that remains open to weird ideas & free of your ego. It’s sad to see once brilliant leaders submit to making decisions that best serve their ego — I don’t think they actually realize that’s what they’re doing, by the way.
  10. Know when your personal stock is up/down and mold your conversations with your boss with that in mind.
  11. The most personally valuable lesson I’ve learned is I now know my physical, emotional and intellectual limits — this might sound strange, but it’s rather interesting to hit (and realize) your thresholds even if it is painful. I also have had much of what I’ve always known about my character and convictions validated. As a result of knowing my boundaries, I now know how to protect them.

What’s next…

I’m taking a couple weeks off to reconnect with family, friends & myself; then, I’ll take on a product management directorship at Valassis, re-engaging with a few of my former Sun friends/colleagues. More to come on that topic, but you can expect to see me dial up my engagement in the social space again — something I LOVED doing at Sun.

All the best & thanks again for sticking around. πŸ™‚

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My Next Gig

β€œEvery new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Today was the first day of my new job at Accenture. To be perfectly honest, I had become extremely complacent in the warm womb of Sun Microsystems & had a change not shoved me to stretch, I’m not certain that I would have, but I’m super glad I did. While I was still learning every day as a result of being around super bright people, I wasn’t uncomfortably challenged & therefore, probably wasn’t progressing as much as I probably could/should have.

I can’t post much on the details of the specific product/project I’ll be focused on just yet, but I can tell you that it’s going to be an amazing challenge & the silver lining is I’ll get work with a lot of super bright folks…most new, but a couple of folks whom I’ve worked closely with in the past & whom I highly respect: Will Snow & Liz DiTucci.

I want to extend a sincere thanks to everyone who helped me gain insight along the way (through good & even the not so good experiences) & especially those who offered such kind words of encouragement & direction — I owe you. Say the word. I’m eager to return the favor.

I want to offer a special shout-out to the following folks who went out of their way to give me a boost in finding my next gig: @WillSnow, @MMaryMary, @BrianHerman, @Neeraj, @Barton808, @twothirds, @Helzerman, @EvvivaKippen, @SnoopDave & , @JimParkinson.

To those faced with making a career change, aim high — you may be surprised. πŸ™‚

P.S. If you’re looking, Accenture is doing a LOT of hiring. I’m happy to refer you, if we’ve successfully worked together in the past.

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My Favorite Sun Microsystems Memory

In honor of the close of the Sun Microsystems acquisition, here’s my all time favorite tribute to Sun & specifically the people I was lucky enough to work closely with — the brilliant, hard-working, fun folks who built & managed Sun’s primary web properties.

Many thanks to Tim Caynes, User Experience Extraordinaire, for creating the following.

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“Social Media ROI: Socialnomics”

When chatting about corporate use of social media, I’m beginning to see a shift from “Why?” to “How to do we catch up?”, but if you’re still wondering why or are in the challenging position of convincing a decision-maker that it’s a necessary leap, you may find the data in the following video useful.

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