All Business iHeavy Newsletter

How about an easier tip jar?

Tip Jar Walking around New York you find yourself stopping at plenty of different places to grab some takeout for lunch. There are Vietnamese sandwich places, pizza shops, noodle bars, taco stands, juice bars and of course your daily coffee shop. You’ll find an endless variety.

As is customary in New York, even for takeout there is usually a tip jar at the checkout. Many of them have a large bowl, or glass jar in which you can throw your change as tips, or if you really love the place and service, a couple of dollars.

Of late I’ve noticed a few have placed those small plastic boxes with a tiny slot on the top. You try to put some change in the slot, and half of the money falls on the floor. It’s as frustrating as threading a needle while suffering from astigmatic vision. Now when I come to a place that has this plastic box, I don’t even bother tipping. I get a headache thinking about my change falling all over the floor. All I keep thinking is, why make it so difficult to tip?

All Book Review CTO/CIO iHeavy Newsletter Startups

Book Review – The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup coverWhat do you do after founding not one, but two companies and watching them fail miserably all by the time you were barely out of college?

Move to the Valley, make shrewd investments in other startups and become insanely rich like Sean Parker? A Bit lofty perhaps. How about try, try again and succeed. Then reinvent yourself as a guru dishing out startup wisdom through your blog and publishing a book that ends up the top of the New York Times Bestseller’s list. That’s essentially what Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup did.

True entrepreneurs fail many times before they succeed and continuously find opportunities to reinvent themselves. Ries is one of them. He’s taken all that he’s learned from his failures, and later successes, from his college years in the 1990s right through the dotcom crash, and packaged them into a guide for startups to consult in their quest for world domination. 

All Business iHeavy Newsletter

Open Insights 65 – How Many Hats?

What is your strongest suit?

I talk to a lot of clients, prospects, and human resources folks everyday.  Every so often I’ll be asked “What is your strongest suit?  Would you say you are stronger in Oracle or MySQL?  You’re really on the database side, so you don’t do much systems administration, right?”   I hesitate to go with an either or answer because my exposure to technologies really has been mixed.  It’s easy to think in either or terms.  You can’t be expert at both database platforms, can you?  A lot of folks do specialize in one platform, or one type of work so it’s not surprising we tend to compartmentalize without thinking about it.

What about a jack of all trades?

Perhaps a better question to be asking is how many hats can you wear?  A generalist who can deep dive into the details when necessary can be a great asset to a business.   A manager who is watching costs, and a tight budget needs resources who can solve a lot of different types of problems, and hiring folks who wear a lot of different hats can be a great asset to them.

Specializing Job Roles

Unfortunately due to the way we think of education, we normally major in one thing, and further specialize through years of on-the-job experience.  This type of focus is important, but it can also be a detriment.  Psychologists argue that we naturally have mental blind spots.  Because of that we tend to bias heavily to what we are most exposed to, and see things with those glasses.

Take for example if we specialize in a particular programming language, we’ll likely see that as the best solution for all tasks.  If our job is on the operations side, we may see the business and it’s application in terms of the components and servers that host it.  We probably think about security, and performance, and reliability.  And if we are a developer, we’ll see it as a series of software components that interact in a certain way.  We may well focus on functionality, and the details therein, but think less about performance or upkeep of those infrastructure that sits on.  If we’re a manager or CEO, we will see the business as a whole and what solution it brings to it’s customers.  We are intimately aware of costs in human resources, infrastructure, and day-to-day operations that it takes to make the business continue to move forward and grow.  However we may not understand the intimate details enough to notice a design flaw a developer might, or understand the security implications to the business of a certain infrastructure decision.

The forest for the trees

Given all of this we can see how pervasive each of our blind spots are, and how they influence our frame of mind.  It’s very easy for us to miss the forest for the trees unless we are vigilant.  Communication can help us, and goes a long way towards helping the business as a whole be able to do this.  It can’t hurt to also have a few generalists who can wear many different hats, and plug in to projects in different and creative ways for the business.

BOOK REVIEW:  Cordelia Fine – A Mind of It’s Own, How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives

Here’s an interesting read that elaborates and clarifies how we are biased, how our minds tell us convenient fictions everyday.  Most people are overly optimistic, for instance about their driving ability, or their chances of success.  She explains that this is exhibited by healthy minds, and that there are a class of people that actually see things closer to reality.  Their perceptions of themselves are more even, and their predictions tend to be more realistic.  Apparently people with this unusual quality tend to be clinically depressed.

She divides the chapters up into some of our favorite vices, vanity, immorality, delusions and further being over emotional, secretive, weak-willed or bigoted.  Whatever areas are our particular trouble spots, we all exhibit some of these traits at times.

The author goes a long way towards explaining how and why we do this, and what can be done to improve the situation.  With her insights in mind we can hopefully make better decisions, and communicate better with those around us.

View A Mind of It’s Own on Amazon