Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Non-job Job!

Hmm, its been quite some time, since I've written. The thoughts have never stopped, just the perseverance to capture them. So, back to the keyboard!

The idea that's repeatedly come across my readings, my perusings, my dreaming time, my "when I win the lottery, that I don't play" time; has been that of a non-job job.  One where the worker isn't a worker. Where the job doesn't feel or look like a job.  Where you're office isn't an office, your co-workers are not really co-.

Okay, so are you over-alliterated yet? You shouldn't be, as it seems, that lots of folks 30 and younger are doing the non-job job here in Silicon Valley.  So, what is this dang thing?  Does it pay? Does it require skills?  So, time to collate some thoughts on non-jobbing a job.

The non-job, allows you to create your own job title -- Chief Evangelist (i.e highly paid Consultant), Superhero in Residence (overtaxed hubby or honey), Energy Tzar (Director of Facilities), Chief Values Officer (General Counsel), Stimulator of Minds (Adjunct Professor), etc., etc., etc.  So, my job titles like Policy Analyst, Program Officer, Deputy Director (jobs I held in the East Coast),  will turn any over-caffeinated New Economy non-jobber, comatose.  So, the first thing to do, is to find that non-job title. If it makes common-sense, dump it...go for something that's could hold out over a strong IPA during happy hour small talk.

Then, there's the job description.  Take a look around at what people write about themselves on Linkedin, Facebook, or any openly accessible social platform.  If you're reading their summary, and it makes perfect sense, then that's a job description.  A non-job description, on the other hand, is a sentence or two about what you like to do, and how you're trying to change this crappy world of ours to make it a better place for the 7 billion.

Some examples.  A futurist might say that he is "Into future tweeting, robotic animation, strategic mining of global big data, and trending analytics."  All of it makes some sense, sounds extremely hip and cool, and unarguably futuristic.  Don't get hung up over the gobbledy gook...cause that's old job mentality.  It'll hold you back, as the new-jobbers take over.  A hair stylist might say that he is into "hunger games style makeovers, infused with color and passion, a style with the dharma of your soul." So, if you're writing your job summary, give it some non-job panache.  Tell them what you're about, what you like to do, not what the company is making you do!

At its essence, the non-job job is where you work for the idea not for a company.  So, if there's an idea that you're passionate about, then, you need to find several avenues to work in that.  Imagine you're interested in changing poverty, development, design, connectedness, openness, or policy, etc.  You work the angle, rather than the domain.

Job Location:  A desk, a couch, a coffee shop, the Metro...many places, not one.
Salary: Money? What? Dude, its about satisfaction and making a difference. If you've changed the world, you make a lot, if you still changing the world, you make some; and if you're still on the idea journey, you can earn a few loaves of wheat-free, GMO-free, wholemeal, organic bread.

Well, there's more on the non-job jobber's world. I'm just embarking on that journey.  But, the rails for this mag-lev car have been laid, the power's turned on, and if you're looking for the next job, speak the language.

Cheers from the Bay Area!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

California Rides!

I embraced technology in two new ways last month - I purchased a Toyota Prius plug-in and I went to Disneyland.  

First the car -- I'd been driving my poster child of a safe car for the last 14 years, and had been thinking for the last 3-4 years that I'd replace it with a BMW 5 series. Why? Simple. I was at the Singapore air show a few years back with the big boss, and the Singaporeans ferried us around in brand new BMW's. I got a 5 series and a driver, and my boss got a 7 series and a driver.  That was one sweet car. So, since then, I was all about turbo, 200+ horsepower engine, soft supple leather (like a baby's behind), technology, etc, etc.  Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet...sweeter than a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar!

Then, I came to California, and discovered that there were three types of car folks. 
(1) I don't give a s*** about my car, I'm gonna drive it, live in it, and park it where ever the h*** I want, even if its falling apart, so go f*** yourself (but not in my car) type.
(2) Hey, you poor f*** I made it here in California, I got that payout, so, I'm driving a Porsche Carrera, a Tesla, and a Lotus, and you look kinda sad and dull and so uninteresting to me in that Volvo.
(3) Yes, I'm organic, vegan, dine in micro-bites and live this green lifestyle, and am wealthy and a free spirit, and could buy so much more, but, I brought a Prius, before Toyota even knew they were selling it. So, go quinoa yourself organically!

I know, I know. I've now insulted every California driver, including the ones that drive just regular cars (like you and me), by blithely categorizing car choices into just three types.

I started looking at those fast cars, and realized that even Tracy Chapman, knew what she was singing about -- I have nothing to prove to anyone, and therefore, almost no chance that I'll make it "payout" rich and get a fast car (see lyrics below for translation).

Having spent the better part of the last couple of years in a hybrid Honda Insight (I didn't live in it, I promise), I was convinced, that the type 3's had figured something out (minus the granola holier-than-thou attitude).  So, I bought a Plug-in Prius (PIP as its called).  I've now driven over 600 miles in it using 7 gallons of gas.  250 miles on electric charge and 350 on the hybrid engine.  Its changing my driving habits, and I feel excited about the choice. Now only the Nissan Leaf'ers...look down on my choice.

Now onto Disneyland. You're thinking like you often do, when and if you read this is she going to finagle this spuriously weak connection between Disneyland and technology?  I'm kinda thinking the same, but as you also know, that never stops me.

So, I went to Disneyland with Timoteo and the kids. The virtual world that replicates the real world, and vice versa.  So much of all that comes together in creating the ride experience. The Cars, Peter Pan, Finding Nemo rides - all artfully blend the imaginary, with the real, and really challenge the meaning of reality. Is the ride real, is the nostalgia real, or is the movie real?

So, take the Finding Nemo submarine ride. You go down in a mini-sub, and look underwater at Nemo's world around you.  There we were, sitting, and looking at the underwater world, when suddenly, there's a hologram of Nemo swimming by and saying Hello, in Ellen DeGeneres' voice.  All through the ride, I had a smile on my face as Nemo swam around with the turtles, the lobsters, and frolicked cluelessly (just like in the movie).  I felt warm and happy, like I'd reconnected with an old friend.  Nemo looked the same as in the movie, sounded the same, and was just as feisty and quirky.

But, I knew, it was the technology of computers coupled with servo motors and creative technical surfaces for projection, that brought the celluloid to the ride and my "fake friend" feeling to reality.

At various run-ins with work colleagues, strangers at conferences or like-minded folks, I had heard often about several companies in Silicon Valley that had "rendered" the animated images in several of the animated films.  The processing power needed to animate Shrek, the Pixar world, Lucas films, etc. And seeing Disneyland through my new-found eyes and those of the kids, I'm realizing that maybe we've culturized ourselves to experiencing strong emotions through new technologies.

So, what's the aha here?  Both the car and the Disney trip reinforced for me, the that I am seeing things differently, making different choices, and more succinctly recognizing the subtle influences of IT and Silicon Valley.

Tracy Chapman - Fast Cars
You got a fast car
And I want a ticket to go anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove

Cheers from Palo Alto!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

For $75 I became a Discoverer

I got some junk mail in my email inbox, and I took them up on it. It said, for $75 you can come to the Oracle OpenWorld and experience this mega-conference.  At this price, there were 3 draws for me.

First, I've been yammering about the Open World (3rd billion coming online, etc., etc., ) for almost two years. Its the anchor point for my time here in Silicon Valley. I thought I was original...with that name. (In fact, a couple of my colleagues had mistakenly referred to it as the One World, and I was adamant and corrected them - its Open World, not One World).  So, come to find about a year ago, that the name was also used by Oracle for their annual conference. So, Larry Ellison and I have something in common. Although, he's way way richer and I'm thinking way way more eccentric than me. But, I'm better-looking and way way more naive than him. That counts for something, doesn't it...?

The second draw, was the price. $75 got me into a conference that cost almost $3K for full admittance.  For the $75, I could attend the keynotes, the general sessions, and pick up trash, I mean "goodies", at the exhibition.

Finally, if you know me, you know, I love live music (any instrument, any style, and open air). So, the biggest draw of this was the 20 or so performers they had in the evenings, that the $75 got me into.

Thus, I became a Discoverer. I wish I could have earned that moniker doing something grand, like finding the rarest creature ever in a wine glass, finding buried bosons, alighting upon a new material on my hikes, digitizing oxygen -- anything would be cooler. But, I know my talent and its limitations...and this was to be it.

Some cool factoids and trends I took away from the conference:
- Of the world's $70 Trillion GDP, about $1.3 Trillion is in the IT space (2.5%). But, so much of the services side of the IT space is not included in this (vendors like amazon, e-commerce, wikepedia, twitter, blogging, etc.). So, the social reach could be even bigger than the direct IT-associated revenue reach.
- The growing social IT world is starting to magnify the unspoken clashes between the CIO and the CMO, both of whom are investing in their organizations IT footprint and presence.
- Creating mobile versions of enterprise functionalities (like payroll, human resources, budgets, revenue stream, employee approvals) is now a significant part of the middleware focus.
- The exciting intersect is big data, cloud, social, mobile (which I translated to mean, we can't define it, so our users can't either, so, let's make it cool and exciting. ) Yeah, I know, I do the same... ;-)
- The big world of meaningless and useless data (shhh...don't tell everyone) necessitates that apps for data will move to the data warehouse, rather than the data moving to the application.
- The Human side of Data - an EMC project. It's a creative project, and the first sign for me at the conference, that someone was thinking about more than HW/SW and about the ways that humans will use this censored, connected, social, mobile e-world.  Go EMC!
- The grey-haired woman w/a suit tooling around on a Razor  (did she win it or was she just SF cool?)

On the flash side, it was a huge flashy event. 50K+ registrants, huge booming speakers, 8 mega screens in the main hall, etc., etc.  This being my first mega IT conference, I was sufficiently dazzled by the thumping beat, the strobe lights, the general sense of you paid for the blurry lines between a nightclub atmosphere and a conference. (Veterans tell me, this is common in the bit IT conference venues). There were dozens of red tents everywhere (the Oracle logo being red and all), outdoor couch seating areas, a Tata sponsored juice bar (I got two smoothies), a Tap and Brew lounge at each exhibition area (I eschewed that, but, then got dazzled by the margarita in the flashing glass, so I tried that.)  They were clever as well, you'd be sitting and waiting for Larry Ellison to show up and kibbutz with 10,000 of us, and on screen would float by tweets about #oow or #oracle. Soon, the waiting masses figured out that if they'd tweet something, then, they'd see their hashtag on 8 screens in this large hall. Social @ #OOW appealed to all our basal instincts.  I'm copying it at the next conference I organize.

Of the multiple artists in 3-4 different venues each night, I got to see Jimmy Cliff (I can see clearly now the rain is gone...) - cool African reggae vibe; the English Beat (Sooner or later...) and their ska, reggae  alternative beats, the Dodo's (don't know what they were even singing or maybe they weren't. Indie music at its most indi-ness).  Got into a reception for well-dressed people at the Moma and the next day at a restaurant.

So, as returns go for becoming a Discoverer...all in all a well-spent two days. Now I've re-adjusted and back to being plain old me.

A few other thoughts continue to perculate (influencers, diversity), so maybe more later.

Cheers from Palo Alto!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An Ode to Time Spent Learning

Month 24

A gasp, that I'm finishing 24 months here! This is a milestone, the one that you place every mile, the one that's heavy, and just sorta sits there, and does nothing. As this blog often does!

This milestone will have to be an ode. Why an ode? Well, most of what I reflect on about my time here, are keywords, buzzwords, bits not bytes. So, to compose whole sentences and connect those to form paragraphs, would be too tedious. And you wouldn't stay awake through it anyway.

So, the ode, is like the East Coast elevator pitch, the West Coast angel investor pitch, with a bit of irreverent bohemia thrown in. Here goes...

June 2010 I came here in my car,
although it seemed too far.
I packed my stuff, and sent some on
thinking that I'd need it all.

I found out early, that in my suits,
I looked like a genius of a marketing excuse.
So, I tossed them aside,
And when I got many jeans
I felt I'd fixed the short-fuse.

So, then came the task
of finding the right project
that would matchmake both
my public and my private.

Hmm...I promise, a limerick, I'm not composing,
as, that would be too exposing.

It took me some time to meet new folks,
to get the vibe, so, I could jive.
I talked, I listened, I observed
and slowly, an idea took root.

It was a talking opportunity that catapulted it,
not to the sun, not to the moon
but over a cubicle or two.
But, that was enough to start the fire,
that's now burning much higher.

I made several great friends that were key to the journey
of growing and supporting the idea.
Their generosity coming without strings.
Their investment made in the promise.

The idea now in its pre-teenage years,
that I hope we will grow it into adulthood.
Its the quiet middle child, with secret potential.
Its The Open World Watering Hole

As for me, I have changed in some ways,
For the better of this life's journey.
I have seen with my own eyes,
and felt with my heart,
the magic of working on a passion,
and balancing it with a life.

I got what and more than I came for,
but, that was the dream.
I can't wait for the next chapter,
of public and private actors
romancing through security
with a modicum of privacy,
all while finding their identity.

I know that last stanza makes questionable sense
But stay tuned, cause without your filter for nonsense,
I'd be by my lonesome self.

So,what's next? I hope to continue, less as a newbie and more as a wiser adult. And the posts will reflect what I see in technology, the lessons I continue to learn and hopefully, our goal of building a community around the Open World.

Ciao from Palo Alto.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Goldilocks, Big Data, and Small Living!

First the Mea Culpa.  It was harder staying on schedule for a monthly blog than I expected (canned laughter here...).  It wasn't the discipline or the difficulty in finding things to opine about, it was discovering that there's just too much outdoor fun to be had in California for an outdoorsy girl.  And when you're having fun in your off-time, there's no real time to put fingers to keypad and blog.  

So, I am 'fessing up that I am in Month 19 as I write this.

My experiences seem to have blurred a bit...maybe all that fun, has made me more of a Californian than I expected. DC and my East Coast days seem a blur and I often find that I read up on national politics (i.e. the local DC politics) just before a phone chat with DC friends.  I too wanna blah, blah, blah about Obama, Newt, the debt, the government shutdown, the defense budgets, etc.  But, little do they know (until they read this paragraph in the blog) that my knowledge is headline-deep. But, oh yeah, I sound good emitting the blah, blah's along with them.  

Several minuscule things have happened in my work life in the last 4-5 months, but they seem too prosaic to report on this late. So, let's skip it, and get to the topic dujour: Big Data.  Yeah, I hear that its the buzzy'est term of the year for Silicon Valley. (And here, I was hoping that the honors would go to Open World!)   The calculations are that Big Data will sell products, services, clouds, apps, name it.  All roads lead to Big Data, and there are many roads in California!  Big Data will take care of everything under the California sun, except for rain (which we've lacked this season).

And the biggest Daddy of Big Data is Google followed by Facebook.  Ya'll already knew that. Then there are the sons and daughters of Big Data. Health records, your credit card purchases, your tax records, etc. (old world style data) - let's call this Little Data.  If you throw you email and texts into the mix - that might be Middle Data.
So, you're thinking...I gotta read this blog, to basically see the 3 bears come to life...and what and who is Goldilocks.  (Umm..I know you're really thinking worse!) But, bear with me.  ;-(

The thing that intrigues me about this rush to design, sell, develop anything Big Data is that we still lead small lives. Last I checked, I basically did the same thing every morning -- bathroom, coffee, emailed, facebook'd, showered, fed the cat, watered the dog, drove to get the point. So, what about my life and that of the 2 billion people online -- is so appealing to the data analytics world?  Ah, hah...its the fact that we create little data - those text messages and wall posts, blogs, youtube videos, etc.  

So, in the tale (let me remind you, since most of my blog readers are not 5 year-olds!) flaxen-haired Goldilocks comes in, eats the porridge, sits in their chairs, sleeps in their beds, and when discovered by the bears, runs away, never to return.  She temporarily disrupts the plodding lives of the bears, but that's it.  So, I've been wondering if all this consternation among governments (remember SOPA and IPA), industry, researchers, marketing folks is because Goldilocks (that would be you and me...creating small data), entered their lair with no intention to stay!  Oats for thought, anyway...

As for the small living, on that front -- I am better at guitar playing (have 4-5 songs in my repertoire). Tried paddle boarding at Half Moon Bay (so much fun), and bit the bullet and got a hybrid bike (looking forward to spring riding.)

Cheers from Palo Alto!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Summer 2 Arrives!

Month 13

The start of my second summer in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley continued to surprise, challenge, and humor me.  I think sometimes that the technology pros in the Valley, the ones who've seen ideas come and go, the ones that know what a provocative elevator  idea pitch sounds like -- those folks look at me and think,

"Good luck, East Coaster -- you're still a bleating kid goat, searching for its mama...  Ha, Ha, Ha...little do you know all the mamas are taken by experienced and proven entrepreneurs. People that can turn an idea into a product or value in 18 months."

At least, that's what I think they're thinking.

But, truth be told, I've been working on the Open World idea now since Month 5 or so, and through the months, several folks have also told me that there's something in the idea, no one's thinking about it, there's excitement, they sense my passion for the idea, and unflagging enthusiasm.  So, that keeps me going, and going, and going....

This month, my colleagues and I submitted a pre-proposal white paper on the Open World, and started fleshing out the concept.  My collaborators were in 3 different cities (which is run of the mill for folks here, but so non-sequiter for my East Coast life)...that I think its cool, and thus a blog-worthy mention.  It was the first "written

This month also included a vacation adventure...taking a week off and doing a grand tour of 4 National Parks in a RV.  Recreational Vehicle  -- for those not in the know of American transportation terminology or unfortunately missed the entire genre of Chevy Chase Vacation films in the 80's!

Now, that was a different way to travel. This was the first time either of us had traveled in a mobile home, and while we listened carefully to the instructions on how to operate the gadgets in the vehicle, drain/fill the black/grey/white waters, oil/gas/wiper fluid was a blur form me when it came to what switch turned what on, and when to empty what.  We managed with some Vacation-like minor mishaps -- I mean, you gotta screw up the sewage on your 1st'd have nothing to talk about in future years, otherwise.  There's even video of black water...and I gotta say, I laugh out loud every time I watch it. 

Chevy Chase moments aside, some of my favorite parts of the trip were seeing the country, in slow-mo, experiencing mobile park culture, meeting Navajo Indians when driving through Monument Valley, and generally, just disconnecting from wired-life.  
Well, a good start to Month 13...and yes, I'm now 4 months behind (its Month 17)!  

Cheers from Palo Alto!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Silicon Valley Year, in Reflection

Month 12:

Yes, its been a while since I've written. So, okay, I took the summer off to be lazy or just have fun.  One famous life principle I've always adhered to is "a job well done, is one that gets done.  Even if its way, way, rotting corpuscle late!" You're now thinking what the heck; I've never heard of this phrase, sounds bogus, made-up. Yes, well, you're right...its my blog, its my procrastination, its my rationale, and therefore, my phraseology! My father taught me, its important to own up to things (and that was before the Internet...forced you to own up to things.) Dad was way ahead of his time!

So, some trite thoughts on my first year as seen in the rearview mirror, the sideview mirrors, and in hindsight. Deepak Chopra move over...there's more motivational mumbo-jumbo here, than in Best of Deepak.

Rear View Mirror Duh's

1) Lots of smart people in Silicon Valley.
2) No idea is too outlandish here.
3) Don't bet on getting your ideas moved forward by socializing with just a few contacts or a handful of networks.
4) Taking an idea to fruition and a real product, is still the purview of perhaps the 1-2%. The jury's still out on me (note to self for Year 2).
5) People shrug their shoulder, roll and land on their feet, or just go into a short hiatus; with the breakneck pace of changes in the IT landscape; unlike a seagull shaking oil after the BP fiasco.

Side View Mirror Aha's

1) Helping hands come out of nowhere...its true, you never know when you'll run into one or two.
2) The hills of success and the valleys of despair aren't that great or that bad, really.
3) Don't beat yourself up for not having a solid scoped-out idea; intellectual contributors abound in conversations.
4) You must have faith in the "merit" of idea and ultimately in yourself, not in the system.
5) My motivation to persevere is proportional to the positive peer-pressure around me. (SO A BIG THANKS TO...Sue, Rich, Raj, Bill)

Hindsight Darn-Its

1) I wish I could start Year 1 now, at the start of Year 2. I'd have enough jeans and have the Duh's and Aha's under my belt.
2) I knew that competitiveness among companies in the Valley had to be strong, but, my naivete in how strong it really is, is only matched by their naivete in understanding Washington politics.

So, if my generalisms don't leave you deeply unsatisfied, talk to me.  I know Deepak Chopra's attorneys are chompin' at the bit ( not!!).  As for me, I hope for clearer waters and a continuance of Silicon Valley lessons, bounded only by fast healing of the wounds and youthful rebounding.

Cheers from Palo Alto!