Tricks used by different kinds of workers [2009]


Piano Salesman: If you see a potential customer eyeing a piano, estimate their age and calculate what year it was when they were 18 years old. Play a big hit from that year on the piano they’re looking at. With a lot of preparation and a little luck, you might play the exact song they were listening to when they lost their virginity, got married, or drove their first car. The emotional resonance will overcome sales resistance and even open their wallets to a more expensive piano.

Nurse: Patients will occasionally pretend to be unconscious. A surefire way to find them out is to pick up their hand, hold it above their face, and let go. If they smack themselves, they’re most likely unconscious; if not, they’re faking.

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Teacher who defended Little Brother against principal will keep her job! (please reblog!)


A Florida principal broke his own rules when he cancelled a summer reading program to avoid kids being exposed to “anti-authoritarian themes” in Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. When Mary Kate Griffith objected, she faced misconduct charges and her job was on the line.

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Why I do what I do.

The optimist inside me still sees way to lead and change this industry. The pessimist in me sees that I keep running into the same wall over and over. 

The people whose minds we need access to (to convince), aren’t in the trenches. I cannot appeal to their sensibilities, their desire to change isn’t “the greater good” it’s selfish, inward focused and ill advised.

So I usually get frustrated and take a step back; why am I doing this? What do I want?

I look at why I want orgs to understand the difficult challenges that lie ahead. I want humanity to succeed. I want to build a world where my kids will be gainfully employed in an enjoyable position (like I am), and where they are free to be creative and build and start a family.

So I focus on them, teach them, talk to them about everything. I turn everything into a teaching moment and I delight and praise their learning and curiosity.  I tell them I am proud of them.  And then I realize they are set for anything that comes their way.

Then I go back to trying to make businesses better. How do we enable a business to employee these kids that want a free life, great balance and creative and enjoyable jobs. THAT is what I’m working on.

It’s time to change the way people work, and if the businesses don’t catch on, our valuable time will be spent on better businesses.

Seems a bit off-topic, but I wanted you to know where my head was at.


On analysis

Today I read an analyst report. I’ll admit, aside from googling “Gartner MQ” and looking at images of the quadrant only, this is the only analyst content I’ve ever read aside from blog posts.

Now I’ve spoken with a lot of employees at analyst firms and these people are smart wise. They are smart too, but really a lot of it comes from experience, talking, listening and poking things.

After reading the piece I realized some things:

  1. It costs $2,495 to read this report
  2. That number looks arbitrary to me
  3. The piece is opinion based on truth
  4. Everyone in our industry needs to read this stuff

These revelations are clearly contradictory to a lot of things I stand for; transparency, freedom of information, the greater good and the right for people to improve their situation.

So I think to myself “I should start an analyst firm” or “I should be an analyst” or “I should write more” or “How do I get someone to pay me for truth based on truth - specifically that kind of cash?” Or some variation thereof.

After some thinking out loud on twitter, @cote pointed out that 451 research was a major disruption to the analyst market back when they started in 2002. And then I realized why my idea will never work.

This industry doesn’t trust free. We don’t respect and reward people who work without promise of money. It’s a money machine. If I can pay $90 per user per month, why would I use the open-source version? We haven’t paid help desk employees and IT staff for speaking at conferences… (#TFT excluded). Vendors expect them to beg for free passes and swag, instead of being treated like the valuable resources they are.

And why?

I suspect it’s big budgets, big salaries and risk-averse leaders. Paying $2k+ to avoid making a $2.2m mistake causing a leader to lose their 100k salary for two weeks is a bargain. And can you trust bar-talk? Can you take the advice of peer in another company? Who will you point at and blame when your ITSM implementation goes awry? Better to point at an analyst or firm than to take the credit.  Better not stick your neck out. Better not lead.

How people stay in this industry and don’t become ultimately cynical of humanity and business… I’ll never know.


Yes, folks, it's just that simple!


All you’ll need is an idea and some free time. The platform and the infrastructure underneath will not be anything for you to ever worry about.

I think this is most people’s view of programming.

I think I would rather have people view programming this way so they at least try to get positive change going? Rather than just shrugging and saying “it’ll never happen”? 

Is this my usual naivete talking? Don’t get me wrong, I know building things CORRECTLY is really really difficult. Jeez - just choosing a platform or stack is impossible in most orgs.  But I want to dream that any goal is possible with money, talent and tech?




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