It is rather seldomly that I become speechless. When it happens it is because something too good or too bad happens.
Fortunately it is something good that has caused it.
I was not going to talk about it, yet it has become public and this I think I need to address it.
Today I was granted the "Prometheus Award"; the top-notch Lenovo Marketing recognition. The best part of it is that it is given by peers, not by management.
The sheer fact that the people I work with everyday consider me worth being awarded is mind-blowing. I don't think I have enough words to thank the awesome people I find myself working with on a daily basis.
Although David (da Boss for those readers outside of the lenovo entrails) says he had nothing to do about this I know differently. If it weren't for him (and Jim) making a leap into the void and getting me into their team this would of never been possible.
The fact that a guy who has managed to inspire and challenge me in so many ways writes this about me makes me feel almost too good about myself.
Enough self-promotion for the day. I only have "thank you" left to say.
Picture a bomb exploding inside your computer. Imagine that it scatters files, folders and emails all over the place. On the desktop, under various folders under that lousy micorsoft idea that is known as "My Documents", and every other corner of the hard drive. That should give you an idea of the state of (un)tidyness my ThnkPad yields.
I got to the point where I had more stuff on my desktop than my desktop was able to display. And I use small icons. And I have a 1400 x 1280 screen resolution. Finding anything had become an ordeal.
And I havent yet mentioned emails. Amidst 24 x 7 Olympic watch and way too much stuff to handle, admin and think some emails went without reply for far longer than I like. Usually I reply within the hour; while clearing stuff today I noticed some had gone without a reply for some 20-odd days. Shame on me.
So, after all the fun and exitement that the Olympics represented I'm down to the task of trying to put some sense back into my file system and email. It is similar to the day after throwing a party: you have to clean up everything. Only difference is that I get to clean my computer without a hangover.
What on earth led me to believe this week was going to be somewhat quieter? The exact oposite is true; it has been a crazy week, with little sleep, lots of things to do and some fire drills.
We have just made a minor face lift to the "Voices of the Olympic Games" site.
Odd timing, you might think, since we're only 1 week into the games and with one more week to go. Well, we realized he had an overflow of content coming in, and felt that our visitors might loose a lot of the action.
What has happened is that most of the page is absolutely dynamic and ever changing. There are only 2 elements that remain static, and I might "fix" that soon...
We have such an overflow of cool video, pics and posts coming in from where the action is happening that there might be some sort of information overload!
Now visitors will be able to see 5 featured stories, the latest 4 youtube videos, the twitter feed, the latest pictures and the latest athlete posts on a single glimpse.
Go ahead and pay "voices" a visit; then let me know what you think!
My first post with a "29" in the age field. Interesting times.
I'm in the verge of having to taking some decisions soon. Somewhat scary, I must admit.
As usual I can't say too much (what did you expect?) but the plot thickens and things will sort out one way or the other.
The good thing is that all options look good. Certain paths seem more promising than others from a certain point of view. But looking at them from a different perspective other paths arise as being best.
How do you take your own decisions? How do you weight what is best in the long run?
Anyway, fun times ahead, I'll keep you updated.
Off the phone with my ISP. They have "technical issues" with Google. I need a panic Button.
Whenever I try to use the search, iGoogle or many other services I don't get a server not found or a timeout or any error, just a blank page.
Although I have to work on Google I welcome this if it does not last longer than a couple more hours. I need to work on other areas, and this gives me the perfect excuse to get my head off the gadgets and stuff for a little while.
6:30AM, dragging myself out of bed. I'm not a morning person, and ever since the Government decided to apply daylight savings time I'm still off the clock hours. It feels like 5:00 or 5:30 AM rather than 7. I quietly drag myself to the living room, power up the suspended ThinkPad and try to bring my senses back to life. It usually takes me about 1 hour to feel coherent enough to cope with any logical arguments. This time around I don't have that option it is already 7:00AM and I must dial into a conference number to talk to our guys in China.
Only half hour into the meeting (which I lead) I start to feel like I'm grasping some sort of sense and getting to communicate some concepts. Communication is a problem all by itself. In this instance I have an interpreter on the other end of the line translating my words into Chinese and asking the team's questions for me, then translating those back to English. The impression I always get is that when I say things like "This is not going to get approved" it'll get translated to: "we need more spaghetti".
It is not a minor task to try to bring teams from different parts of the world together. Language barriers and time zones are limitations that are hard to cope with. I don't expect people in China to talk in English (or Spanish), quite on the contrary I feel in debt because I wish I knew some Mandarin to enhance our dialogs instead. As for Time zones, I'll just say that wife has already learnt to ask when we can have dinner or go to sleep, since I usually have some appointment with the other end of the planet at the oddest times.
But it is all well worth the efforts, in most cases. There is such an underlying richness and potential behind the sheer fact of counting with all those differentiated human backgrounds that make me gladly do those things, even when I hate the world around me as I turn off the alarm clock at 6:30 AM for a conference call.
Cultural clashes are a significant portion of such interactions. What one can regard as a smart comment, or a funny allusion might be interpreted as insulting or not understood at all. Words must be chosen carefully and the tone in which statements are thrown out through the impersonal phone line must be well tuned and orchestrated. Engaging is also quite defying. I know how to wind up people in my own culture, but that does not quite work the same way for people with a completely different background. I struggle to motivate people from across the globe, people whom I've never seen in my life.
The difference that cultural background makes on the way people solve similar problems is a power that only a handful of companies are able to unleash. What usually happens is that a certain way of doing things is choked down the throat of everyone, the results are usually not pleasing.
If imposing methods and ways of doing things is not the answer, what would that answer be. To watch and learn. An acute observation of the subtle differences of a way people in distinct cultures work and interact can yield as a result some changes and tweaks on how to improve methods and processes to fit perfectly. It is only through that that a good result can be achieved.
I'll use an example that is close to me. Argentina is an odd country in many ways. Our everchanging political panorama, economic crisis and sparse resources force most of us to be in a continuous state of adaptation. Since there is not a maturity (from society or government) to plan with more than a couple of months we become great improvisers. Thus, semi-chaotic situations seem to fit best the "Argentine Breed". On the other hand long term planning and process set up are not our best strongholds and neither can we adapt well to structured processes (this, of course, is a very broad generalization, you get the point).
In a world where working with colleges with the most differentiated backgrounds is an everyday thing only those companies who are smart enough to adapt to the particularities of every place will have a leading edge in terms of service and production.
Home sweet home. Over the past couple of weeks I've spent well over 60 hours in buses traveling around. That is over.
After a 22-hour bus trip worth of a horror film (with two passengers getting sick right there, and a small kid who yelled a good 14 hours) I'm finally safe and sound at good old Buenos Aires.
Spending time with the family was good. That does not happen very often in my life, since we're all scattered around. Having to work while doing so put my concentration to the test. I somewhat passed. I'd give it a C+.
This next couple of weeks promise to be a representation of the term "sweatshop". I might rant, but I actually enjoy deadlines, stress and a couple of tons worth of pressure lingering right above my head. Business as Usual makes me numb, I'll take a good crazy deadline and complex project anytime.
My soul staying at Buenos Aires up till the end of February, when I plan to take a short vacation.
I've survived another end of year, and, quite surprisingly I feel more full of energy now than in December. Impeccable timing, I'd say.