My Personal War On Woke Now Includes My Sarcastic Profile On LinkedIn

I was very early to LinkedIn, as I was to blogging, Twitter, Facebook and others.

When I got fed up with them going woke or being so biased that I didn’t trust them, I de-platformed Twitter and Facebook.

Recently, LinkedIn stopped allowing revenue to anyone who is in their words a climate change denier. I worked in the Green and Sustainability Industry long enough to learn these things about climate and politics.

  1. At the top, it is about money and power, not saving the planet.
  2. The people that believe it treat it as their religion. The ones I’ve met are the real science deniers. This just confirmed it.
  3. You can’t change the weather, it comes in cycles.
  4. Bonus: They are hiding the past where the weather was the same as it is now. It’s a version of 1984 Newspeak.
  5. Double Bonus: It is based on predictions that never come true, they just predict another one.
  6. Triple Bonus: when they debunk the current cause of global warming, they change it as they do the name (note I used the first name of this nonsense).
  7. Quadruple Bonus: Carbon Dioxide is plant food. It’s why they plant trees for an offset.
  8. Quintuple Bonus: Almost everyone likes warmer weather and farmers grow more.
  9. Not a Bonus: As with LinkedIn, when they don’t agree or lose the argument, they try to shut down the discussion and facts. I expect to lose readers at this point and doubt they’ll read any further, missing the point of the post.
  10. Also not a Bonus: It is an excuse for everything from racism to global cooling.

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.” – Bertrand Russell

As soon as there is a problem, they change their tune and are now burning coal in China and Europe.

So, when I heard that LinkedIn banished one side of the conversation on anything, I changed my profile to poke fun at them. Here are some of the changes.

My education is now Faber -Knowledge is Good. I put my fraternity as Delta Tau Chi. If you don’t get this reference, you missed one of the all time funniest movies. It was also a stab at my real college that went woke. I won’t even mention them here because I banished them too.

I changed my current Job to writing a sarcastic blog and not finishing several books. This is actually true. I was in their Associates Program which is for freelancers, but I’m blowing them off now.

The rest of my work life is true for now, but I don’t give enough of a tinkers damn to take LinkedIn serious now, so I’m having fun where I can.

I now want to freelance on the boil of wokeness that is on the ass of regular people by elites.

I decided I didn’t care that much about them to take them seriously. Besides, I retired because I hate the corporate nonsense. See here, here and here for the above stated wankers.

You got the bonus plan:

12 other woke companies to avoid

On This Day, 10 Years Ago…..A Momentous Occurrence Happened To Me…..

I retired and enjoyed the heck out of it. If you want to know what I did, go to about and about me.

I started planning for it when I was in my 30’s and knew it would be a long game to have enough. I listened to Larry Burkett of Crown Financial Services, a biblical based ministry that taught me to save and to live debt free. I posted about it a while back on how an average Joe can become a millionaire.

Was it hard?

You bet it was. There were a lot of sacrifices and a lot of learning about investing, managing money and faith in God. It turns out that we were blessed with an abundance of riches, only a small amount of which are financial.

We were alone.

Fortunately, my wife was on the same page. Heck, my Mom even taught me how to save as she lived through the depression. She could make anything last longer than possible. That woman sacrificed for us and I noticed. My siblings however never learned. Mom told me she taught each of us the same lessons, but said no one else listened to her.

I caught a lot of crap from my friends.

Working in the airline industry is very common for my family and friends. We have many pilots and flight attendants in that group.

One of them, with whom I went to school with since 7th grade, gave me a ton of grief when I was in my late 20’s. He was serving cokes for a living (flight attendant) and wasted 15 years of his life doing it. He was broke when he quit.

I spoke to him one Saturday when I was at work. He told me that he only worked 2 weeks a month and was off to Hawaii, rubbing it in my face that I had to work. When I hung up, I knew right then that I was making a short term sacrifice for long term gain. I would be retiring early while being financially safe and knew I would have to work hard. I said to myself that I would make it my goal and I’d be playing golf while he was working. He still is working today, and when he got to the real world I’d had 15 years of experience. I had owned my own business shortly after that conversation. FWIW, I played golf this week.

Did I get even with him?

I chose not to rub it in because the facts show our different outcomes. I’m glad I have mine.

Being an introvert, I don’t want to get into it anyway and he doesn’t want to talk much anymore. I don’t care what happens to others as I can’t control anything other than my destiny. I’m sorry he didn’t listen to me. He told me he resented that job for 13 of the 15 years he did it and hates his current job.

A theme and a pattern.

It wasn’t only my siblings and friends. When I sold my business and went to work for IBM, they were the same. When it came time for me to say goodbye, my house was paid off and we had saved. Almost no one could believe that I was pulling the plug that early. They thought it was some scandal that I had to quit and were very disappointed that the reason I retired was because I could. Most of them were keeping up with the Jones and didn’t save. I looked some of them up and they are still stuck working at the same job when I left.

At the end, IBM was a terrible place to work (see managing executive ego’s, the good, the bad and the ugly). I actually pulled the trigger a year early to get out of that hell hole. To a person, everyone said they wished that they could do what I did, get out. They were too far in debt to do so.

I turned down moving to New York to “climb the ladder” because living there sucks and I didn’t want to raise a family there. People told me when they moved to New York, they got to pay 30% more for everything, for less than I made. Again, I knew that I was making the right decision for my family not to go there to “get ahead” (behind would have been the actual case if I’d gone there).

My Father.

Dad worked until he was 70. Work defined his life. He was lost when he retired.

Working was only a means to an end for me. To be fair, I was fortunate enough to be highly successful and God decided that I should be compensated for it. That helped make it happen, but if you go back to my siblings, they earned more than me at times. They still work though as most of it was wasted on useless stuff.

Dad couldn’t understand my goals, but I had so much going on that work was interfering with my life, so I stopped. I never regretted it.

A lot of the IBM’rs died shortly after retiring because they had to work a long time. I saw that and knew I wanted to enjoy my life. Now, every day is Saturday for me.

I have enjoyed each day these last 10 years. Heck, I’m the president of the how to enjoy your retirement club. Never once did I think about going back because I didn’t have to.

If there is any lesson, it is in the post of how to become a millionaire.

Short term sacrifice for long term paradise.

How Meetings Are a Waste Of Time and How To Avoid or Get Out of Them

facepalm  I read a WSJ article on ineffective meetings.  It is about the manifesto to end boring meetings.

This brought back thousands of hours of meetings I wished I could have back or would certainly decline to attend had I realized what I know now.  Most of this post is tongue in cheek unlike the WSJ, but I’ll bet everyone wishes they weren’t in so many meetings.

First, let me start out with some quotes I found from The Quote Garden, starting with the one that reminded me most of the meetings I’ve attended:

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.  ~Barnett Cocks, attributed

worfgif

A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours.  ~Milton Berle

To kill time, a committee meeting is the perfect weapon.  ~Author Unknown

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.”  ~Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

Our age will be known as the age of committees.  ~Ernest Benn

If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock.  ~Arthur Goldberg

A committee is an animal with four back legs.  ~John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It is impossible to imagine the universe run by a wise, just and omnipotent God, but it is quite easy to imagine it run by a board of gods.  ~H.L. Mencken

A “Normal” person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee.  You know, “Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray.”  ~Alan Sherman

A committee is a thing which takes a week to do what one good man can do in an hour.  ~Elbert Hubbard

A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee.  ~Author Unknown

A committee is a group of the unwilling chosen form the unfit, to do the unnecessary.  ~Author Unknown

If you live in a country run by committee, be on the committee.  ~Author Unknown

Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club?… Creative ideas do not spring from groups.  They spring from individuals.  The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam.  ~Alfred Whitney Griswold

We always carry out by committee anything in which any one of us alone would be too reasonable to persist.  ~Frank Moore Colby

I don’t believe a committee can write a book.  It can, oh, govern a country, perhaps, but I don’t believe it can write a book.  ~Arnold Toynbee

There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee.  ~Lester J. Pourciau

Any committee that is the slightest use is composed of people who are too busy to want to sit on it for a second longer than they have to.  ~Katharine Whitehorn

Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.  ~John Kenneth Galbraith

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.  ~Thomas Sowell

AND OF COURSE, THERE IS BRADLEY’S BROMIDE: “If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee — that will do them in.”

I WORKED FOR “THE” MEETING COMPANY
I worked a large part of my career either for or with IBM, which many have joked that it stands for I’ve Been in a Meeting. I could have been years more productive and retired earlier if it hadn’t been for all of the meetings I’ve spent time in.  Projects would have been completed weeks in advance were it not for meetings.

Usually, the meetings were a way to get other people to do your work for you, or to assign work to others they wouldn’t do or volunteer for were it not for the fact that they were at a meeting.  The only time this didn’t work was when I actually needed to get a speaker for a press briefing for an interview with Time Magazine when print media was important.  His manager, John Callies then VP of Netfinity or X series at IBM(x86 servers), wouldn’t let the speaker leave the staff meeting stating, “it’s only your job” as the reason.  See how manage executive ego’s for more on this. I’d have never imagined having to cancel an interview with what was then an important publication due to an executives’ ego. I’ve seen bad manager moves in my time, but this was top 10 worst of the worst for me.  He still ranks as the number one suit I’ve ever worked with.  The below meme was how it felt to be in a meeting with him.

Execs have also had meetings in places that they wanted to visit (click on the link to see who it is), and most people knew that.  That was a waste of travel time and money for a wasted meeting. There were other reasons they had meetings, but read the quotes at the beginning to find out why said were held.

Avoid training meetings, unless it was a way to be busy during a meeting you want to avoid.  This is especially true of diversity training.  It is a waste of time (same exact meeting every time every year for the required legal reason) but is more important than almost any other meeting, so it serves 2 purposes.  No one will go against diversity training for fear of being politically or legally incorrect.  It does allow you to miss another meeting and no one pays attention anyway.  It’s an opportunity to get work done while the training is going on in the background.  Your attendance is recorded so you are twice as effective as you complete your work, earn your mark for training and ignore the same speech you went through last year all at the same time.

MEETING RULES TO SURVIVE

The best way to deal with a meeting is to avoid it.  If you can already have a meeting at a time that the scheduler proposes it or be busy and/or somehow away or out of the office.  Teleconferencing kills that strategery  unless you can be found traveling, but sometimes it’s unavoidable (see how to get out of a meeting below if you have to go).  The people calling the meeting are really only people who want the meeting anyway.

For things to do to avoid meetings or how to goof around during a meeting, go to the link How to goof around at work.

HERE IS MY RULE WHEN TO DECIDE TO ATTEND IF I HAD A CHOICE: if there were more than 4 people, don’t go.  Nothing will get done other than resulting in another meeting to have to attend.  This is especially true if there are more than 1 executives, as each brings a team of competing players who guarantee the death of productivity.

The WSJ agrees with me, but goes on to say that if it has 17 people, there is no chance anything will get accomplished.
Don’t speak at a meeting if possible. It usually wastes time and extends the meeting length.  There are only a couple of people who really have something to contribute, the rest want to hear themselves talk, show off their PowerPoint skills to bore you, or think they are more important if they speak.  These show offs can be  insufferable, but they offer time to check your email at best while pretending to listen.

This is in the department of redundancy department, but it is so important to note is to be careful when attending because the meeting leader’s purpose is to assign their work to others or get people to do work they wouldn’t do because they can’t decline in public (this is a corporate tradition).  This further kills your ability to be productive at your real job.  There are some who want to look important by accepting work magnanimously to show off, thinking they were climbing the ladder.  Gladly accept their offer as most people have 10 hours of work for an 8 hour day anyway. Only accept it if it produces revenue or if you are the only one qualified to do it, but generally don’t, especially if you perceive it as a make work project.

Especially avoid planning meetings.  A meeting to plan another meeting is one to be skipped unless you are the project manager and called the meeting, then you have to do it.  Avoid these at all costs.  Once nobody shows up, the meeting gets cancelled for email updates, which is a far better use of your time.  As my grandfather said, they are as common as pig tracks and as useless as teats on a boar hog.

Avoid staff meetings.  These are like planning meetings, but they occur regularly and when you miss one, nobody really cares (especially if there are more than 4 people). Only attend them occasionally as you work with these people everyday anyway, it’s not like you don’t know what is going on.  Email your boss on a regular basis with your activity and you can plan something more productive during that time.

HOW TO GET OUT OF A MEETING

The tongue in cheek part really goes here.  I’ll bet there are folks out there far more creative about this than me.

My favorite methods are to have a customer who needs you.  They are your business and that overrides almost everything.  Even your boss can’t deny this.

Pre-plan an emergency.  I occasionally had another employee phone or knock on the door to call me out (email or text isn’t as good as that is not public enough) to get you out of a meeting.  The trick is to never return. You’ll get the notes anyway, I promise. Since I worked with the press and analysts, I sometimes had a co-worker say that a reporter needed me right now.  They were my customer and no one could say no.  Many times there was no real emergency even if the press did call, it was the best and most efficient use of my time to leave the meeting so as to be actually working instead of being at a meeting.  I usually dealt with the press immediately unless I had to do some digging to get back to them.

Attend meetings by phone if possible.  You can always put the phone on mute and get your real work done, or surf the web or watch TV, which is usually just as productive.  It’s easier to go to the bathroom, which brings me to…

Go to the bathroom.  Offer to get a water to others when you go, then take as much time reading the sports page in the stall as you can.  You are just as productive as listening to someone prattle on about their project.

Send your meeting information in by proxy.  See above where someone is willing to talk.  Give them your results or input so you don’t have to be there.

 THE KIND OF MEETING TO HAVE

I realize that some meetings are necessary, so I understand that it’s the only way to get some things done.  For the other majority of the time, see above.

The best meeting is a hall meeting.  You run into the person you need help from and in 5 minutes, you’ve explained your need, what they can do and your time frame for doing it.  Problem solved.

I also recommend having meetings with introverts and/or men.  They don’t like to talk much (most of them) and want to get it over as quickly as you do.  Attire requirements are less of a priority as is small talk.

Here is the net net, don’t go to a meeting if you don’t have to, get out early if at all possible and above all, don’t speak unless you have no option.  Consider it a victory if you don’t attend, or a minor victory if you have to attend but don’t come out with anyone else’s work. You are a complete failure if you open your mouth and double your workload on something that is not tangential to your job or career.  Enjoy your job more by having the time to actually be productive.

After Being Dissapointed by Lenovo One To Many Times, What PC Did I Buy Instead?

I’ve had PC’s since before the IBM PC in 1981.  I’ve built hundreds of computers over different phases of the PC life cycle (for myself, others and at computer stores I worked at for years).  I’ve personally owned many ThinkPads since they were introduced…likely between 40-50 including my multiple work PC’s. The same is true with Microsoft. I’ve worked with DOS and Windows, Windows for Workgroups, (built and wired my first network in 1994), NT, 95, 2000, XP and you name it.  I first put up webpages since 1993 and every version of DOS or Windows made starting with 1.0 for both.   I’ve finally had it with the declination of the quality, service, especially customer service and workmanship of IBM/Lenovo and Microsoft products.

I began to desire a different machine when the smartest guys at IBM (IBM Fellow’s) and the smartest (and of course some of my favorite) IT analysts starting using Mac’s.  It told me times were a changin’.

WHEN THEY WERE GOOD

It used to be that when you went to a frequent flyer lounge at an airport, it would be a ThinkPad convention because they were so tough, now everyone is switching to an iPad which I now also love and  have.

Further, when I retired, I bought what I thought would be the ThinkPad which would last me for at least 5 years (pictured below).  It was the worst PC experience to date, see the beginning below.

In reverse order, after 1.5 years, one of the USB ports failed, the screen is falling apart (for the second time…the first in only months), the battery died in the first 6 months (they fixed that under warranty after 1 month of calls and forcing a manager intervention because customer service blamed me) other hardware and software problems which eventually got fixed over hours of calls (the final fix was always simple and could have been easily accomplished from the start).

I called the Lenovo help desk and not only did they refuse to fix most of my problems (all within the warranty period), but they were with the exception of one person, unhelpful to me and not proficient in English 95+% of the time (some were rude, but tech support is a thankless job).  Note: I like the people from other countries and think that they are hard working so I have no problems with the people, rather the policies they are forced to adhere to put them into positions they shouldn’t be forced into.  I’m clearly calling out the company, not the people here. It’s just in this case we couldn’t understand each other and they mostly were not trained or who couldn’t fix problems and just couldn’t help fix issues Lenovo created.

Here’s what my screen looks like now with use that is less than normal due to my retirement status:

pc pic

SHIPPING DISASTER

This was compounded by the fact that they originally shipped me a computer which was in for repair as I found it had someone else’s  password on it.  Tech support recognized the serial number as someone else’s machine and I had to ship back a PC so that they could ship me what I ordered which  was supposed to be new.  They at first required me to pay for the return shipping for the machine which they wrongly shipped me in the first place.  It took them 5 weeks to get me this wrong machine once I ordered it in the first place, so needless to say, this added to a dissatisfied experience.  Let me summarize it: The 1st machine I received was in for repair which they shipped to me as my new machine.  They finally agreed to pay for the shipping back to them after weeks, but I was in dis-belief by now as I had to get upper management approval 3 levels above my call to tech support to get shipping approved and the machine I ordered sent to me.  This was a 6 week timeframe that I put up with to get a ThinkPad that looks like the one above.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COMPANY PURCHASED FROM IBM?

So, what happened when Lenovo bought the PC Division from IBM?  Quality and customer service have apparently suffered, at least for me.   It is fair to note that Lenovo is the PC leader even though PC’s are a dying breed and are now a commodity item, but that the lead is mostly due to HP executive incompetence and Dell lack of innovation.

WORKING FOR IBM PC DIVISION, MORE THINKPAD BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE THAN MOST HAVE

I worked with ThinkPads at companies before IBM.  I then did communications for the IBM-PC (PSG) division back in the early 2000’s.  IBM-PCs were a rock solid product that introduced many technologies from the floppy disk, HDD on PC’s, open system motherboard, the start of an incredibly successful industry, creation of millions of jobs, Bluetooth and WiFi to the industry.  It was well accepted by industry leaders as the standard to compare against and I was proud of representing the machines.  By then, we had slipped to about 4th place, but IBM had other priorities by then.  Analysts always recognized that the IBM ThinkPad was the industry leader, albeit most of the time the expensive option.  I never had a problem educating them that it was the industry leader to be compared against.  I also learned from IDC, Gartner, Forrester and others that Dell and HP were sub-standard compared to the ThinkPad.

THE IBM TO LENOVO EMPLOYEE TRANSITION

The co-workers who went to Lenovo were mixed.  The developers were good, with the chief designer being one of if not the best, but he obviously had nothing to do with my 410S.  The Press communications team however was a joke.   Much of the management that I had worked with were handcuffed by the new ownership.   However, with the non-inventor taking over control, changes in leadership including many Dell executives,  it has appeared to make it less than the leader of rugged laptops, a position it once enjoyed.

MY LATEST PURCHASE

Since my ThinkPad failed and the screen basically fell off (I am retired and don’t travel anymore so it didn’t have the wear and tear to justify its condition), the keyboard keeps sticking, ports not working and the other problems I’ve described have forced me to buy a new PC.

Side note: I worked with Microsoft since 1981 in one form or another, as a partner, but mostly as a competitor as Microsoft was very belligerent and went out of their way to be anti-IBM  (see my joint announcement wrap up).  I’ve worked with their products since DOS 1.0 which I still have installed on an original PC at home.  They loved Lenovo when the purchase was made and the difference was an overnight sea change in their attitude of helpfulness and pricing.

So the combination of Lenovo’s product being poor, their customer service being unhelpful led me to buying a MacBook Pro (but I got much more computing power and a brand new experience in helpfulness).

But, both Lenovo and Microsoft lost me as a customer and I can’t be alone.

Here is my new computer, a 13 inch Macbook Pro:

macbook pro

It sync’s with my phone and iPad seamlessly.  I don’t have weekly Microsoft security updates or blue screen of death experiences.  It is powerful, I can read Windows files and have converted them, multimedia is a snap, graphics are beautiful and most of all it works without gyrations to make drivers, port configurations and software incompatibilities work.  I have never before been an Apple fan except when I ran an advertising department for a few years and understood artists needs for them.

When managing a store at a computer chain, my store was recognized as the retailer that lead the nation in Apple sales so I do have experience with them.  My store also was a leading promoter of the first Macintosh during the famous 1984 ad time.  In other words, I know them well, but I’ve used Wintel computers most if not all of my life until now.

Further, I called their tech support and went to an Apple store and guess what, they were friendly and helpful, and it just works.  I paid less for the software than the PC version (I just built a multimedia PC for my TV viewing so I am fully aware of company configured, or self built PC’s vs. Mac machines hardware and software.

THE TREND OF PC’S

Mobile devices are killing standard laptops at a rate far faster than laptops replacing desktops, but there is still a need for machines that do more than a tablet until they increase in input efficiency, storage capacity and business application conversion (there are tons of legacy apps still out there as the average person still interacts with COBOL 13 times a day).  This hasn’t caused me any issues with my new laptop though, it just works.

The company that is easy to work with, keeps up with the trends and produces quality equipment will be the one who has market leadership.  I have voted with my money.

WORKING WITH THE COMPETITION ON A JOINT ANNOUNCEMENT – What went on behind the scenes with Microsoft, IBM and Intel

I wrote a while back about doing a joint announcement with a competitor.  Communications wise, it was from the standpoint of Analyst Relations.  Since I also did Public Relations for many years, I had the opportunity to lead an announcement with Microsoft and Intel.

CODE NAME FIRESTORM

Recently I came across a press release that I had coordinated on behalf of the Netfinity Server (System X now, update: It has been sold to Lenovo) with Microsoft and Intel in the early 2000’s.  In reality, all the work was done between Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft and me for IBM.  All other parties weren’t interested enough to contribute as long as their name and content was in the release. It was done to best Oracle in the TPC-C benchmark category (there are multiple TPC benchmarks but this one worked for effect).  While the machines pale in comparison to recent server announcements, it was quite an achievement in 2001 terms.  The code name internally at IBM was Firestorm and had the high priority and secrecy of a CIA mission with me having to sign a non disclosure agreement that expired on announcement day just to know about it.

HOW IT WAS RUN

We had weekly internal meetings to cover the progress as what was at stake was having DB2 exceed Oracle in database transactions, basically one-upmanship in a bake-off.  I coordinated it for IBM even though there was a Software Division product at stake.  Since it was run on an IBM server, that established what the importance to the company was and to this day servers are still a critical product to the company (you can’t run software or have services without one).  I told the then PR manager for DB2 that I would run it for them as they didn’t have much involvement in the benchmark testing (their PR group didn’t even know about it during the testing) so it was cleaner this way.  She was bossy and turned out to be a back stabber so my instincts were right. It was already going to be hard enough to work with multiple companies which turned out to be true, so this kept the cooks out of the kitchen. Moving her out of the announcement was vital to being able to get anything done at IBM.

If you recall, there was bad blood between Microsoft and the IBM PC group since the beginning of the PC era (which Netfinity was a part of, until PC’s were sold to Lenovo).  It was apparent from the start to the end of this process.  I had to also keep the GM of Netfinity, John Callies out of the process as he was a useless suit whose ego commanded his actions which weren’t always good for the division.  The GM of the overall PC Group was also hopeless (see the letter below) so I ran the process and kept the ego maniac suit and the helpless suit from ruining things.  They were part of the old IBM who got their jobs through working the system rather than competence.  It is part of executive ego managing, a tool that everyone needs to know when dealing with executives.

The other PR teams jointly listed in the release didn’t have the spirit of the announcement as their focus, rather it felt like we were in the cold war.  This happened even though IBM did all the work (it was built and conducted by IBM technicians, then independently verified by the TPC committee) and handed to the other companies as a freebie.  Back then, Microsoft then had the clout of IBM PR during the System 360 and initial PC days when they were king of the hill and could (and did) throw their weight around.

THE PRESS RELEASE BATTLE

As I recall, there were over 30 revisions of the press release before we got to the final (below).  It seemed as though every word was contested.  This is how it went; I’d send a press release draft around which had the details giving all parties credit and explaining the products and process.   A few days later I’d get back a draft which talked about Microsoft with relatively little mention of the process or an understanding of why the benchmark mattered to database users.  It was a combination of elbowing IBM out-of-the-way to get headlines and a general lack of understanding of what we were announcing.  Intel went along with us as they were confident in our ability to make a successful announcement.

The negotiations went on for about 3-4 weeks prior to the announcement until 2 days before the big day.  We couldn’t agree to the verbiage and finally Wagg-Ed suggested that we just each write our own press release.  While I disagreed with this strategy, we actually agreed to it just to make the deadline and got it approved by the IBM executives. I didn’t want to do it as this inherently would present problems like why are there 2 separate releases if the companies are working together?  However, since I knew the reporters I knew I was going to tell them the background off the record.  I fully understood that a press release is merely a place holder and a conversation starter.  No self respecting reporter would use someone else’s words if they were worth their salt.  Only the companies really care what it says.

THE RESOLUTION

The announcement was to be made on a Monday which we could agree on for effect (good PR tactics in those days, especially with IBM/Microsoft/Intel vs. Oracle in the headlines).  Our final joint call occurred the Friday before the announcement and was attended by PR teams, spokesmen and company executives (note this was the first time I recall an actual Microsoft executive on these calls).  It was on this call that a Senior VP from Microsoft (who reported to Ballmer and Gates) stated through his heavy French accent that having two press releases was a stew-peed idea and which idiot suggested it (I agreed with him).   I pointed out that it was Microsoft’s idea which we accommodated.  I’ve rarely heard such a gasp of silence as all parties realized what was going on.  They quickly agreed to do a joint release and we cobbled together what to me was a very neutral (and useless) document.  I silently was grateful that he asked this question that I’d pondered the whole time I dealt with this crew.

I had known the whole time that this was a press release wording struggle and the real work was going to be done in the one on one’s with reporters after the press release hit the wires.  I also was informed that Microsoft was only going to speak with a couple of magazines they viewed as their buddies.   I agreed and kept quiet as I knew that this left the door open for us to lead the announcement.  One has to have one’s priorities in focus and getting proper coverage was mine.  I knew the reporters they wanted to talk to and they wrote my story and told me they didn’t like how pushy the W-E PR team was.  See the part about relationships.

It is important to note that a press release is merely a document to get an interview except when a wire service will run it early hours to beat a deadline.  It is the relationship that the PR person has with the reporters that is the key to getting results.  It didn’t hurt that so many big names were seemingly working together on this and that it had the element of controversy (IBM teams with Microsoft and Intel to beat Oracle) which is a headline grabber.  It was then that I knew that things would work out despite our differences.

For strategic purposes, I saved the IBM draft version of the release and used it for my press work as it described more accurately what we were doing, including a better presentation of how Microsoft and Intel contributed.  Since Microsoft was only interested in the press release and thought they would get minimal coverage, I didn’t bother telling them and they didn’t care past the document.

THE RESULTS

It turned out that the IBM team did the bulk of the publicity work (we had the most invested so no surprise).  There was only a few joint calls with Microsoft and Intel where the executives touted the significance of this benchmark and during which everyone worked together like professionals.

After hammering the phones and working with reporters for days, we received thousands of articles which was a shock to the other PR teams, especially Wag-Ed.  While they tried to claim coverage, it was heavily nuanced to the IBM side of the story as we did the actual work both in the test and in the PR effort so no one believed Microsoft’s Wagg-Ed team.

I worked with most of the reporters who covered it to give them the real story of the benchmark, and just left the press release controversy alone.  I even fed them the line that we “Blew the doors of the TPC benchmark” which got printed and made it to the halls of Armonk.

THE AFTERMATH

While I was glad it was over, I learned a great deal about working with others such as keeping the big picture in focus.  It was one of the years largest announcements for our group and garnered massive coverage.  I received my one and only personal email from Lou Gerstner praising the results.  He stated that he had no interest in bake-off’s, but that this one was significant given what we had accomplished.  This meant a lot as I thought Lou was one of the two best executives I had worked with at IBM, and I had a great deal of respect for his saving and running IBM as a company.

I also received a personal note from the head of our division.  The reality was that the IBM PC group had managed to fall to about sixth in the industry by then behind the likes of Dell, Compaq, HP, Acer and E-Machines, and this was one of the more competent things the group did while I was there.

EPILOGUE

If you go to the link at the top of the page, you find that the Analyst joint announcement I did with Oracle was a far better experience, go figure.  I received a personal note from the GM however.  Note that he got my name wrong which caused me to chuckle and save it for the memories.  Execs like Callies and Thomas cost IBM market share and progress.  It was surprising that the doors opened some days in the PC division with people like that running the place.  It is an indication of why they were 6th behind companies that didn’t exist only a couple of years later.  The division fell off the map at IBM and was sold to Lenovo who took it back to the top of the industry.

Overall, it was tenacity over talent, execution over ego but it is how the game is won.

 

Next Article Table of Contents Previous Article

IBM, INTEL, MS CLAIM WORLD’S FASTEST SERVER CLUSTER

IBM, Intel and Microsoft announced the world’s fastest server cluster for commercial use, recording performance levels that triple the performance of Oracle running on a Sun Microsystems cluster, at one-third the price.

Using the performance measurement technique agreed to by all computer makers (TPC-C), this alliance of leaders in industry standard computing achieved record-breaking results in server and price performance.

“This benchmark constitutes a solution that will entirely bypass the normal glitches and costs of second implementations that accompany exponential transaction growth rates,” said Marshall Freiman, CTO, Web Emporium LLC, an IBM customer. “It also offers scalability for e-businesses affected heavily by the transaction spikes associated with the holiday seasons. This is the type of cooperation between industry leaders that we should expect. With IBM, Intel and Microsoft making a move like this, others are bound to follow.”

“Scalability concerns for e-businesses are a worry of the past,” said Perry Cain, vice president, Neoteric Solutions, also an IBM customer. “With this benchmark, we receive the cooperative efforts of IBM, Intel and Microsoft yielding a standardized and tested solution with double the transaction capabilities of anything else before. These technologies are no longer dreams of engineers.”

IBM, Intel and Microsoft joined forces on this groundbreaking effort to prove that a combination of Netfinity Servers with Pentium III Xeon processors running at 700 MHz (megahertz) with 2 MB (megabyte) L2 cache, IBM DB2 Universal Database and Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server operating system provides a highly scalable environment. This technology combination is ideally suited for data-intensive applications like business-to-business (B2B), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

“With this record-breaking event, IBM has once again demonstrated the power of DB2, and has raised the bar for industry-standard servers with Netfinity,” said Ralph Martino, vice president, strategy and marketing, IBM Personal Systems Group. “IBM’s strong, productive relationship with Microsoft and Intel, and our collective ability to achieve extraordinary results as we did with this benchmark, is changing the way the world views industry-standard computing.”

“Achieving strong industry-standard benchmark results is one of the leading ways to show the industry and our customers that Windows 2000 is a highly scalable operating system for mission critical enterprise deployments,” said Jim Ewel, marketing vice president for IT infrastructure and hosting at Microsoft. “Beyond the numbers, this benchmark effort illustrates our commitment to working with IBM and Intel to deliver to customers the largest and most reliable enterprise-class solutions.”

“This breakthrough performance on Intel-based servers and achieved by IBM’s Netfinity 8500R server showcases the incredible scalability of our large cache Pentium III Xeon processors,” said Raghu Murthi, director of marketing for Intel’s Enterprise Platform Group. “Intel-based servers are designed for large enterprise class implementations and we worked closely with IBM and Microsoft to deliver outstanding performance and solutions tailored to meet the rapidly growing e-Business economy.”

Benchmark Configuration Details

The configuration included an unprecedented 116 terabytes of physical disk space configured for high availability using RAID 1 and RAID 5 arrays.

The Netfinity 8500R servers, containing Netfinity X-Architecture features adopted from IBM S/390 and RS/6000 servers, contributed to this benchmark’s success. Specific features that convinced the benchmark team the servers were up to the test include the 8500R’s expansive memory, the number of processors supported, the number of PCI slots available for add-on components and the amount of LAN I/O for the transfer of data in and out of the system. In addition, the setup utilizes Giganet cLAN interconnects for fast server-to-server communications.

Key components of the cluster included:

  • 32 IBM Netfinity 8500R servers running Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server and IBM DB2 Universal Database Enterprise-Extended Edition V7.1
  • Four 700MHz/2MB L2 cache Intel Pentium III Xeon processors per server
  • 4GB ECC SDRAM memory per server
  • Eight IBM Netfinity ServeRAID-3HB Ultra2 SCSI Adapters per server
  • 96 IBM Netfinity 5000 servers were used as TPC-C clients for the Webserving, Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server on each client.
  • Two 9.1 GB (gigabyte) 10K Ultra 160 SCSI drives and 218 18.2GB 10K Wide Ultra SCSI drives per server
  • One EtherJet 10/100 PCI Management Adapter per server
  • 2 Giganet cLAN 5300 switches

DB2 Universal Database

This announcement highlights IBM’s leadership in the database market. DB2 demonstrated record-breaking results in transactions and in the ability to manage the world’s largest database of more than 116 TB of online storage – this is equivalent to a stack of paper 3,480 miles high.

A proven foundation for B2B applications, DB2 Universal Database Version 7 integrates breakthrough technologies that enable customers to slash development in many cases nearly in half and perform high-speed text searches as much as ten times faster than traditional relational database search engines.

DB2’s ability to scale to 1000 nodes, using a single database spread across the cluster offered significant advantages in scaling and management over other data management solutions that follow a federated architecture (i.e., one database instance per machine, each requiring individual management.)

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server was configured using a scale out approach to run on each member of the cluster of the Netfinity servers. Scale out architecture ensures that customers creating enterprise solutions will be able to achieve the highest possible levels of scalability and reliability with unmatched price and performance; this benchmark is further evidence of the performance, scalability and economic advantages of the results that can be achieved using Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

COM+ is a complete, mature set of component services for quickly building scalable, reliable applications that is delivered in the Windows 2000 Server family of operating systems. COM+, the most popular component model in the world, includes critical scalability and reliability features necessary for building large-scale applications by integrating the features of the Microsoft Transaction Service (MTS) deep into the COM component model. This integration makes it easier for developers to create and use scalable software components in any language, using any tool.

Windows 2000 Advanced Server is a solution that includes additional functionality to enhance the availability and scalability of e-commerce and line-of-business applications. The Windows 2000 operating system is the ideal platform for the next generation of business computing; helping organizations Internet-enable their businesses with a reliable, manageable infrastructure that is optimized for existing and emerging hardware.

Intel Pentium III Xeonprocessor at 700 MHz with 1MB/2MB of L2 Cache

The new large cache 700MHz version of the Pentium III Xeon processor has a record 140 million transistors. The processor is based on Intel’s advanced 0.18-micron process technology, and offers 1MB and 2MB of Advanced Transfer Cache memory with Advanced System Buffering, which boosts performance by placing a full-speed, level-two cache memory directly on the processor die and increasing the width of the data pathway to the processor.

The processor also offers a 100 MHz system bus and on-cartridge voltage management for increased system reliability. The new processors also are built on the same form factor, enabling server manufacturers to use them with existing server platform components, accelerating time to market.

For more information about: — IBM Netfinity servers and DB2 Universal Database, visit www.ibm.com — Intel, visit www.intel.com — Microsoft, visit www.microsoft.com.

The Transaction Processing Performance Council is a non-profit corporation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable TPC performance data to the industry.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is a worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Sun’s Enterprise 6500 cluster achieved 135,461 transactions at a price performance of $97.10 tpmC. IBM, Intel, Microsoft cluster achieved an audited record attested to by TPC-C (Transaction Processing Performance Council, type C benchmark) of 440,879.95 transactions per minute at a price performance of $32.28 per tpmC.

Data is current as of July 3, 2000 and is subject to change without notice. For the latest benchmark information, visit www.tpc.org.

Solution specification, pricing and availability information is subject to change without notice.

Contact John Simonds, IBM, 919-254-9732, jsimonds@us.ibm.com or Deborah Young, Waggener Edstrom for Microsoft, 425-637-9097 deborahy@wagged.com.

#ARchat, A New Paradigm for Analysts and Analyst Relations Professionals

There has been a new collaboration between both Analysts and Analyst Relations Professionals emerging on Twitter called #ARchat.  For the record, it occurs every Monday from1-2 ET. Here is a description for A/R professionals.

DESCRIPTION

ARchat is a weekly themed conversation on Twitter for business professionals that deal with Industry Analysts and Influencers. This includes Analyst Relations (AR), Public Relations (PR), Investor Relations (IR) and Marketing professionals (especially since many in small firms function as all of the above), not to mention Industry Analysts (IA) themselves. Our focus involves both best practices and pressing issues or trends. All tweets are tagged with #archat which makes following the discussion very easy with applications like TweetDeck, TweetChat, TweetGrid or Twitter Search.

I recall the days when even speaking with a person from a competitor would be grounds for dismissal (OK, I did start working when we were still building fires in caves) and now we are collaborating on best practices.  This doesn’t take the place of services like SageCircle (although they participate), rather it is the natural progression of social media in the Analyst Relations practice.  I give kudos to Fred McClimans (Twitter handle @fredmcclimans) and Stephen Loudermilk (Twitter handle @loudyoutloud).

We’ve discussed issues such as the proper social media tools and other best practices.

What is interesting to me is the back channel conversations I have with the other participants during the conversation about what is going on.  It makes the whole experience much richer.  While there is serious discussion of what is best for our practice, there is jocularity about certain analyst’s proclivities (tweotches) or habits like Ray Wang (@rwang0) staying up all day and night.

I invite all the analysts and A/R professionals to participate, learn and contribute to this discussion.

See you there, Aloha.

Doing a Joint Announcement With Your Competitors

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, it was cat fight supreme with territorial ism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies when in Analyst Relations didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As and aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s)and because of t the belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly create product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal amongst the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with other than on the announcement.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

Managing Executive Ego’s; The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I’ve worked at 8 different IT companies in my career and have seen many people in management roles. I’ll draw upon my career and the colorful stories for this discussion.

Managing Executives is a very sensitive issue.  This process is critical to the relationship and results with the press and Analysts.  Much of the time this is unseen externally, but the machinations exist under the covers for us to get to the discussion in an orderly manner.

Executives have many demands on their time and are pounded or pulled at from every angle, but they make the big bucks so butch up.  They might have come from a great meeting or one that they got machined gunned to death right before the analyst briefing.  Different people handle stress in different ways.

A common thread I’ve noticed is how much ego they bring, and how much control they have over it. Either way, the executive is the messenger and the content owner in the eyes of the audience.  It is our job to make sure they are best prepared, deal with the issues, understand the big picture and be as professional as possible to achieve results.  In some ways, we have to pull the strings and push the buttons behind the curtain to make successful analyst engagements happen.

As with the movie, I’ll take it in order.

THE GOOD

There are some executives that intrinsically get that analysts are deep thinkers, they have influence over customers, press and our reputation.  The media are rarely deep thinkers, but need to be managed and have influence, albeit less and less.

The really, really good ones know that the analyst can provide great input into the strategy and can point out any holes or landmines in our strategy.

The really, really, really good ones (Buell Duncan) understand that it is about creating a relationship and that no matter how much influence they have at IBM, they can put that aside and get the message out and deliver value to an analyst discussion.

One key is they can manage their ego’s and those of the analyst (not the point of this post, but it is related throughout).  The executive I’ve linked above always comes off as you’re smarter than I am, although it’s rarely true.  He also accepts that criticism is part of the deal and doesn’t take it personally.  I’m not sure if it was his basic nature or that he came from sales (I attribute a big piece to the fact that he’s from the south and is more polite than most) but no matter what the case, his briefings always were a home run.

These executives are of course the best to deal with.  Some have higher maintenance levels than others, but when you know your big gun is going to deliver, you want to make sure his gun is as loaded as possible with bullets.

There are always disagreements over issues, but when an executive can put their ego aside and listen to input, everyone wins.  These people are very perspicacious.

boss or leader

THE BAD

Everyone has a bad day.  That can precipitate a less than optimal discourse.  I’ve worked with some who just weren’t as good as others at dealing with media and analysts, although practice usually improved things.  Some executives just shouldn’t be doing briefings as it isn’t their strength.

As described in the GOOD section, I’ve seen good executives come off distracted as they just got chewed out, or a multi-million dollar contract is about to be lost….it happens.

Some need more coaching and preparation than others, that’s our responsibility in communications.  I’ll discuss this in the Executive Preparation post, yet to come.

There are some that are not cut out for analysts briefings.  They should not be put in this situation.  There is always someone else on the team who is the one really best suited for dealing with the  analysts.  They may not be as good with a P&L, but they get the strategy and the relationship issues.  I use them as much as possible as it produces results on both the analyst and the company side.

Some just don’t get give and take.  I don’t put them in the ugly as they just won’t budge on the fact that their solution is what it’s going to be, but many times they can be right. It is better for the company for them to make the tough choices and stick with our side of the argument.  It rarely makes for a successful analyst engagement, but I defer when history shows that they didn’t take the analyst advice and the company or division benefits.  Again, this a time where a lieutenant is best for dealing with the analysts.

I’ll bring up human nature here as I’ve been in a situation where an executive who is generally great at working with analysts has a beef with a person for some reason.  In one case, both the analyst and the executive described the other person in to me terms of a deification orifice.   Sometimes you just have to separate people and agree to disagree.  This situation is a challenge in communications.

Some of the bad are nitpickers.  The get caught up in details that are not relevant to the big picture.   They are a distraction and a lieutenant is again best.

Another category that could be BAD or could be UGLY are the quick triggers.  They fire off a response without considering the consequences.  The reason I put it into BAD instead of UGLY is you never know how it’s going to turn out.  It usually depends on the audiences’ response.  Either way it is high maintenance.  The quick witted exec’s can play this one well though, I’ll give them that.

I had to work with one entrepreneur who thought he knew more than anyone.  He managed to pick a fight over a lie that he was making a product (disk drive) that he bought from Control Data.  The reporters and analysts knew it and the company credibility was shot.  I had to tell one reporter not to equate me with him as I was not going to lie for him.

The last of the bad is the death by PowerPoint crowd.  They drone on and on and on and on without letting the analyst get a word in (when don’t analysts like to offer an opinion?) and everyone dreads these meetings.  Their objective is to get through the slide deck come hell or high water.

These executives are hard to work with, but sometimes you have to do it and get through it.

THE UGLY

These are the worst experiences of anyone’s communications career.  They also regularly put the company behind the curve with the relationship with the analyst.  I have only experienced this a couple of times, but they are burned into my memory as times I don’t want to relive.  Fortunately, I don’t work for or with any of these people anymore.

It almost every instance, it  is fueled by the over estimation by the executives of the importance of themselves.  These people also come in various flavors.head_up_ass

The Ugly Flavors

The Suits – These are people who have made it through the system via the Peter Principle. They pontificate, but aren’t well respected by anyone on either side and as with everyone in this category, are difficult to work with.  They are found out quickly by the analyst and it hurts the cause to come to the table with them.  Once, he called his assistant before a Forrester briefing to see if he could change his flight out so he could be home early and asked me to cut the analyst meeting short.  This was less than professional and was very hard to explain to the analysts why he obviously was blowing them off.

Another Suit (A former head of NetFinity and IGF named Callies) incident came up when I had landed one of the highest level press interviews of my career.  It was major media headline quality “Article of the Year” that anyone with half a brain would throw their best people and research at.  I had to pull the speaker (his lieutenant) from the Suit’s “staff” meeting.  The lieutenant was the best speaker I may have worked with and the Suit was one of the worst.  Said Suit wouldn’t let the speaker go to the briefing threatening him with “it’s only your job if you leave”, or I’m more important than anyone else.  As it usually happens with these types, I had to work around him to get the job done and got our name up in lights despite his efforts to torpedo any progress.

A different flavor suit flavor is described by Lou Gerstner in his book “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?”  He describes an executive who wrote memo’s on how to deal with him including what type of gum to have and how to set the clocks (pg. 32).   These are unusually high maintenance people who want celebrity treatment.  There is a good song about this syndrome, watch the video here. Adios reality.

The Terrorists

These people give me nightmares.  Almost everyone has worked with or heard about these tyrants.  Nothing you can do is right, nothing is good enough and the analyst is wrong because they are right.  This is different than the BAD  situation from above.  The BAD executive there is making a tough choice not to go with the analyst view, but it is well informed choice.  The terrorist doesn’t really care about outcomes or just doesn’t know, rather it’s about what they want and their career, power and usually their insecurity.  Every company has one and the main IBM terrorist (who is known as much by one name, Sandy) has many dead bodies behind her quest to climb the ladder.  She made it up the chain and managed via the Dark Side as a corporate climber who both played favorites and pitted employees against each other.  We in communications had a support group for those who survived a term working for her and kept their job.  Once, I even wrote a press release for one of her female employees  just so she wouldn’t get fired, even though it never went out.  She personally set back diversity according to the women who worked for her.  I’ve rarely seen less respect for an executive.  When she got promoted, her employees were high fiving in the hallway that she was leaving.

No matter what the SJW’s try to redefine diversity rules to, the smart companies promote the best performers.

Sandy used to bring us through about 50 revisions of Powerpoint charts.  Most if not all changes were bad, but were done precisely as she had demanded.  We were later castigated with “why did you do this, I didn’t ask for it?”   She didn’t command much respect with the Press and Analysts who saw through this level (lack) of competency.  It was embarrassing to be in a press conference with her.  Although being a promoter of WITI,  she internally hurt the path for many women, and certainly made many question affirmative action and diversity policies at IBM.

Having to sweat through every meeting prior to and with an analyst is counter productive and has never lead to the results that could be achieved.

I’ve noticed that the terrorist is found out by press or analysts by many means.  Sometimes it is inconsistency in charts, sometimes it is through unusual calls and/or requests by A/R, many times it is through colleagues and sometimes it is through working with them enough times that your .

I’ve had one other terrorist who is now the VP of External Relations.  I called him to warn him of a problem that a reporter alerted me to.  It is expected that you let the person in charge of an area know if there is an issue so that they can deal with it as it is their turf.  I was being the good employee (in my first 4 months) so I left a voicemail explaining the situation and doing the hand off so that I wasn’t infringing on another person’s PR territory.

I got a call back from this type A New Yorker (a former Ed Koch employee) who lambasted me for my efforts.  Apparently, he was insecure as he kept reminding me that he was the boss and I was a nobody.  Let me point out that this was not a morale booster for a new hire who was trying to do a good job and be a team player.  Such is the life of working with terrorist Communications leaders.  I found out later that he regularly abused most people who worked there.  He deducted IQ points from those in the South which is another form of anti-diversity and discrimination.  Most just refused to help him or stayed away so as not to have to deal with the chewing out.  I’ve personally witnessed them confessing that they didn’t want to help him because of his temper.  What a shame.

Terrorist’s can come with unrealistic expectations.  I to this day am not sure how to handle them.  In both cases, I chose to move on and out as quickly as I could.

SUMMARY

To be effective with press and analysts, you must be able to manage the executives.  Executives come with many styles.  It is imperative that you learn the style and manage it for effectiveness.

Since people are different, one must adapt to each person.   Just hope you get the good, deal with the bad and escape the ugly.  As for the terrorist, I advise grabbing a parachute and jumping.  The plane is usually going to crash anyways.

Here is a quote that sums it up terrorists for me: “They are simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

Update: SageCircle links here with a good post on improving executives.

For you Clint fans and movie buffs, here is the song and movie opening video.

Analyst Predictions for 2010. Everyone is Going Out On Basically The Same Limb

I’ve been keeping track of the analyst predictions waiting for enough time for them to post a listing of them.  I think that since it is the last day of 2010, and that there is a sufficient amount of them out there, it is time  to list them. Analysts are the prognosticators of the IT Industry and they should be right, but then meteorologists tell us about the weather, and they are great if they are only 50% right.  In reality, they can’t tell us what next week will really be and yet we are basing many decision on what 20 years from now will be.  I’m trusting that IT analysts are more accountable and have more tangible facts less subject to acts of God than the weather.

In reality, Carter Lusher and SageCircle is where you should go to get your A/R best practice as to what to do with these predictions, but I have to make some calls of my own.  Here is what I’m going to use the predictions for in addition to Carters recommendations:

  1. Use it as the basis for discussion with the analyst showing that I have been reading and following them.
  2. Using them as analysts to select for briefings and consults based on their area’s of concentration
  3. Good natured ribbing if they really blow it at the end of the year. (note: not necessarily an A/R best practice here)
  4. Use it as part of my A/R plans to present to the executives I support.

So here is my listing.  I’ll note that they are in no particular order as I’m getting them from my feed reader as they come  up.  I like and work with almost everyone on this list, so I am not going to show favorites in a listing order, it will be entirely random.  You will note a trend very quickly as to where most of them are going for the year.  See if you can pick it out.

Analyst Predictions for 2010

IIAR video of Gideon Gartner on the state of the IT Analyst Industry.  (Note that this is not a part of the trend, just that it came up first).

IDC Webcast by Frank Gens, Robert Mahowald and Henry Morris. It has a link to the video which is worth watching, but the theme begins here with the discussion of the Cloud.  I’m glad they consider the Hybrid model.

Laurie McCabe of Hurwitz Associates and her 2010 Top 10 SMB Technology Market Predictions. At least she waits until number 7 to get to Cloud, thanks Laurie.

Bruce Tempkin of Forrester discusses Gen Y.  While not really a 2010 prediction, there is no denying the fact that the attitude, social media ability of Gen Y’rs and their length of patience is a big HR issue we all face.  They will help define the workforce make up as boomers exit.

James Governor of Redmonk leads the list with 20 predictions.  Note the continuation of the trend as James has Cloud at numbers 1 and 12.  I admire him for also considering the hybrid model as the cloud is not one size fits all.  As I work with James quite a bit, I’m surprised to see Google and Green further down the list than I expected.

Carter Lusher reprimands the A/R Community to pay attention to Social Media or suffer the consequences.

Amy Wohl and you guessed it, 2010 Predictions on SaaS and the Cloud. Note the build up in the trend.  I still swear to random selection, but Cloud is getting a lot of attention.

Judith Hurwitz titles her predictions as: Predictions for 2010: Clouds, mergers, Social Network and Analytics.  I’ll give her credit for the Social Networks as I delve there in my predictions also.

Claire Schooley again talks about Gen Y.  While not an official 2010 prediction, there is no avoiding that we’ll  have to address the issues of this culture in the  workplace.

Rob Enderle in 2008 on 2009 highlighting Security. I’m including this as Security becomes an issue with the uptick in terrorist activity, both online and direct attack like flight 253.

Jonny Bentwood also covers this topic in his yearly round up. He actually gets to it first and we cross over quite a few, but I’m not going to use everything in his list so that you have a reason to to there and check out additional predictions I’m not covering.

Lee Odden’s 12 Digital Marketing Predictions. There is a lot of good Social Media info here to look at.

Rob Enderle checks in again with one of my beliefs, that the Private Cloud will Win over the Public Cloud Model. Anybody picking up the Cloud trend in predictions yet?

John Levitt from AnalystXpress on the Top 10 Wireless predictions for 2010. Of course Cloud makes number 3.

Chris Collins of Yankee Group posts a Webinar on 2010 predictions.  Cloud Computing is a tag needless to say.

David M Smith of Gartner discusses the Psychology of Predictions, a different way of looking at it starting with caring about being right.

Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang discuss what’s coming to 2010 in a video with Robert Scoble.

UPDATE: Laura Cecere and Alan Johnson Of AMR have come to the table with another set of predictions.  You need to be an AMR client for this one.  Here is a link to their press release.

2010 Client Virtualization by Benjamin Gray

So between my list and Jonny’s list, you have most of the predictions for 2010.  Will the analysts be as good or better than the weathermen?  Only the Shadow knows.

My Turn at Making Predictions

Since I’m listing others predictions, it’s only fair that I put out my own.  Disclaimer: I’m not an analyst, so I don’t feel any need to get to 10.

1. The Cloud is important, although I think the hybrid and private models are more important than the all everything public model

2. Twitter will continue to erode the number and quality of good bloggers.

3. We need to find a new Twitter as the current model has now been compromised in security, and there are just too many people on.  We need another back channel to connect with our real business contacts.  Plus, I’m an early adopter, so let’s find that new best method.

4. All predictions go out the window if there is another Terrorist attack.  The top prediction will be Security.

5. Success in the economy will be defined as less of a loss than we expected.

6. Who you hire from Boomers to Gen Y matters to your ability to connect to the tech crowd when considering hiring practices.

Final note.  At some point this year, I’m moving Delusions to a new host.  Mine is bad so obviously I’m publshing on a back up blog.  Stay tuned for that .

The Back Channel, My Most Important A/R Tool

Getting to the person you want to meet with or communicate with when you want to is vital.

Relationships ultimately are very important, but I find that an A/R best practice is knowing the Back Channel.

My First Back Channel

I’m skipping the phone in this discussion.  Most people screen calls.

Backing up a few years when I was in PR, I remember when public email first started.  We were using MCI Mail on DOS and  300 baud modems back in the mid 80’s to reach influential people in the industry like John Dvorak, Paul Sommerson, Bill Machrone and others.  I think there were about 10 of us using it.  I was beating the big PR agencies and they couldn’t figure out why, as I was working for a small company that shouldn’t have had the presence we had.  We were the inside club.

Email then of course became mainstream so we lost that advantage.

The Next Tool –  IM

It’s hard to believe that as much as we use instant messaging now,  that at the beginning of the technology not many were using it and again it was the way to reach those who were using it.  At this point, Email immunity was beginning to take hold and if you weren’t important, you fell quickly out of the realm of first responders.  I read a tweet from an analyst recently who noted his inbox was so far gone that he was about to delete everything and just start over.

IM also fell to everyone abusing it and we moved on.

Twitter:

Skip forward a few years and you have  Twitter.  This worked until the recent explosion of everyone being on the platform and it again became commonplace.  It still is somewhat effective if you are high on the other parties list.

The Point of this Post:

I was meeting with an very influential analyst a few nights ago and to be honest, I’m not that high on his list.  I decided to ask him, what is his back channel when I really need to reach him.   The condition was that I wouldn’t abuse it so that when I really was using it, I had something of value to speak about.   He was up front and gave me a personal address that he said he will look at.  Bingo.

It occurred to me that this is the best practice.  First, be high on the relationship, you will get through that way.  Next, find out how the analyst wants to be communicated with as a preference and DON”T abuse it.

When you use that method, you get to them and they answer.  Sure they will answer you anyway out of courtesy, but at some point, you have an I need it now, or you are on the road and don’t have your usual access.  In a way, it’s part of managing the relationship properly anyway.

More on Twitter, the Positives/Negatives and Sturgeon, Now Refinement of Sources Makes It Powerful

Update: Now that a lot of social media pressure has cut the lunch/poop talk down, combined with multiple Twitter platforms, it has become a powerful tool.  I find myself opening Twitter as my first site now to find out what is going on.  I have refined it to include those people and topics that are meaningful to me and it gets me the information I need better than almost any other platform.

I get a lot of information from blogs still that I tweet or vice-versa and can know what is going on around the world on multiple issues.  Again, refinement is the key.

I define the refinement requires that I only follow what is crucial to my interests at the time.  Since what I’m following changes, so does my sources of information.  That is why I’m not too worried about who or how many I follow, nor who or how many follow me.  Attaining numbers is far different from attaining knowledge and information.

Platforms like this along help me eliminate bias which is killing former information platforms like the network news and print media.

I follow trends.  I’ve seen much about this platform recently that has caused me to think about it. I use it sparingly and don’t post that much as I’ve always maintained that no one cares that much about what I’m doing with my time.

As an Analyst Relations Best Practice, I find that it is good to know what the analyst is doing to be on familiar terms with what they are doing.  Additionally, when I can’t reach them, I direct message an analyst as a back channel and it is very reliable.

The first article I noticed though was by Zach Whittaker who wonders “Twitter, is there any point”?

I often wonder this as Twitter follows Sturgeon’s Law.  If you look at the comments of this blog, it laments that many talk about lunch, flights and bowel movements.

On the plus side, he notes: “Twitter is what we call an “Enterprise 2.0″ application; not only a web application which tells the world what you’re doing, but is highly influential in the way businesses run, keeping customers and partners informed and gaining feedback on services. ”

On the negative is: “Whilst it may be a next-generation application, I still struggle to see the point it makes, or the impact it has. With the API and development opportunities, it’s certainly made an impact in developing technologies such as Adobe AIR, but besides this I fail to see why I should continue to update mine; something I haven’t done in months.”

The next thread was the Mumbai terrorists following Twitter.  I’m not so sure it’s a good thing to tell them where you are if they are trying to kill you.  It is not as bad though as CNN ratting out citizens trying to hide.

Recently TPTB declined $500 from Facebook to buy Twitter, so I’m wondering if they know something I don’t about its value.  The jury is out for me other than as a tool to reach certain people, but I know that the hunter in me instinctually says look for cover, not expose yourself.

Getting Your Executives to Cut Down their Presentations

The first thing I read today was by Carter Lusher on this subject.  He calls it getting them to Change their presentations.

As always it is a good read and of importance to Analyst Relations.  After talking about this subject to analysts before, during and after presentations and conferences, I’ve developed my personal pet peeve list.

His example was an executive using a sales presentation for a deck which happens about 387 out of 365 days a year.

With that lead in, here is the list of issues I’ve thought about having done or been a part of close to 1000 analyst presentation decks (likely over that number).

1. Carter is right, don’t bring your sales presentation to the table, instant credibility loss.

2. If you can’t get your message delivered in 15 charts or less, you likely have clarification issues.

3. Analysts (most people) look at the number of charts and immediately judge what point they are going to listen to before they check email.

4. Send it in advance and ask what is clear and what is important to them to get to the point.  If you have to get through a couple of set up charts fine, but say that in advance.

5. No chart is golden, (many) could (should) be sacrificed.

6. Discussion about strategy and technology is a much better use of time than chart after chart preaching.

7. Don’t take offense in chartsmanship, most people aren’t that good at it.

8. If the analyst wants to go off the charts, be willing to go as long as you stay on topic.

9. Use A/R to speak to the analyst before the briefing/discussion/meeting/conference to see what is the analyst goal and actually make charts to answer the issues, not pound your chest on what your end of year rating is based on.

10. Accept criticism where appropriate, the analyst is right.

11. Never fail to have a chart to say, what do you think or are we on topic, message, right course or other to let the analyst offere advice or opinion.

12. Consider using web conferencing if your audience is over 10 people.

13. Personal opinion here – I hate powerpoint, it’s been used as a crutch for too long and we were able to get our job done well prior to it’s invention.  Please someone invent the next tool.

14. A presentation deck has a life.  Don’t recycle charts too long.  I’ve seen analyst eyes glaze over with “I’ve seen this before blaring in neon” on their face.

15. Be aware of your audience.  We at IBM run more conferences than months in the year by at least double.  I’ve seen the same charts at multiple conferences where I knew their were the same analysts (this is a similar comment to 14).

16. Leave time for questions at the end.  Don’t look at the time and gauge the number of charts you can cram into it.

17. Give the analyst a copy if you haven’t sent it to them upfront.  Sometimes there are circumstances that prevent one from sending early (the executive didn’t finish until 5 minutes before the presentation, been there and done that double digits).

18. If there are multiple executives presenting, have them compare notes prior to the briefing so they don’t conflict or aren’t redundant.

This is a time I’d almost rather be an Analyst

Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy my career in analyst relations, it’s just that the uncertainty of the times makes for endless opportunities to prognosticate.

Economic Downturn Cycles

This is the low hanging fruit.  Depending on the product set a company has or where it is on the technology lifecyle chart, it could be doomed, about to bust, ok for now, suffer in the second wave of non-buying or could surf into the annals of profitability.

Companies are clamping down on expenses buying and new technology investment.  The easist things to cut go first like travel.  So count the travel companies as first victims, except that they rely on technology so the companies they buy from get a deduction or a delayed deduction in the upcoming buying cycles.  I wouldn’t doom them as we are going to travel, but suffer would be appropriate.

Older technologies fall in two categories.  A lot of financial institutions have tons of legacy infrastructure that has to be maintained.  There is a trade off in the cost to maintain vs. the savings gained by using newer technology.  This is an easy decision on the lower security issues, but where privacy and security reign, don’t count on rip and replace.  The other category is replace any easy system that saves money or has broken, cut out the rest.

My datacenter experience has been that no matter what you are promised, the cost recovery is rarely there for the first years of a new technology implementation.  There is too much training, running dual systems for integrity, and of course the unknown.

The second slowdown wave is where contracts need to be renewed or lack of spending holds off sales.  These companies could be parts suppliers or those who have customers who aren’t buying.  That will be tough to tell as the first wave of immediate non buying will blend into this wave.  Earnings statements should give us an indication of this wave.

Finally, there are companies who have technology that makes sense (SaaS could be an example) where they will be in the right place at the right time and iff (iff is if and only if for you JCL and OCL types) you can show value, save money or help a company make money.  Everyone is watching their tails and hedging their bets so this is the sweet spot.

I thought of one last class, those companies who can manage to hang on long enough for the economy to turn around, but how many IBM’s, Microsoft’s, Google and Apples are there?  This is a good question for Yahoo to answer.

Analyst or Meteorologist

Everyone cracks the joke that being a Weathernan person is a great job as you can be paid even if you are wrong half the time (jokes here range from William Ayers to global warming).

This is where a good analyst earns their mettle.  How to forecast what is reality for which industry.  Eventually, except for examples like unstopping drains, there is IT involved so it gets back to our industry.

Predicting is next to impossible, advising and reporting are key elements of the analyst value to us right now.

WHY

There is a bigger chance to be wrong then right here, so why would I like to be an analyst on this one?  The challenge of finding out the answer is intruiging.  It is the thrill of the hunt, not the kill.   The endless amount of machinations of companies succeeding, treading water or drowning will happen at a rapid rate.

We’ll get to see who and what groups are what they say they are, the pundits.  No pressure right?

Talking to the Analysts vs. The Press

As I’ve noted before, I’ve worked almost all sides of this.  I’ve been in PR, in AR, I’ve been the content expert/spokesperson, the quiet informer (somehow deep throat just seems wrong) and I’ve been the writer.

This week, I’ve been at a customer conference where we have analysts giving supporting presentations on SaaS and the Cloud.  Most are the typical IT analysts, but there is one from a consulting group (nameless except that Lou Gerstner worked for them before IBM).

I had private conversations with the analysts at the event and we couldn’t wait to talk about what we are doing in 2009 and how everything from the credit crunch to IBM relationships are affecting what and how we are doing.

THE PRESS

Conversely, there were press at the same event only one day (they didn’t really care about the event, just the story) and we had to sequester them for interviews and likely spent more time trying not to say something wrong or reveal more than what our goals were.  In truth, the conversations we had with the analysts would have been above the technical level of most reporters, but that is why we tell the analysts.  They help explain it to the reporters.

What a difference.

So knowing your constituency really matters.  I’ve heard horror stories about when things got printed in the press that shouldn’t have been written.  I almost got into that doghouse once, saved only by the fact that the actual mistake was committed by an incompetent PR manager who works at the company we sold the PC division to.

WHY I LIKE ANALYSTS MORE

It’s because of the depth and transparency of the conversation.  Sure we get called to the floor more and are told far more often that we are wrong, off base, off message, off color, but when we go public, our messages rarely fail to improve.

The depth and breadth of the conversation goes from technology to economics to social implications.  All of this is very enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.

Blogging and Analyst – SageCircle

I haven’t blogged much lately, because everything that I want to say, Carter has covered, or has said better than me.

He points out the obvious errors of my ways though with these facts.

Question:     I would read vendor AR blogs if they had relevant, useful, timely information (pick one)

  • 20% – Yes, regularly
  • 31% – Yes, occasionally
  • 26% – Yes, episodically related to major news or announcement coverage
  • 5% – No, because I do not read blogs
  • 8% – No, because I do not have time
  • 9% – No, because most vendor blogs are a waste of time
  • 1% – Undecided

I’ve been reluctant to blog on category 3 as I don’t want to be the site for here’s the latest IBM announcement, you can go to IBM.com to see that.

The key is relatively useful and timely.  The jury is out as to whether I’ve been useful, but timely is a very fine line for me.  Here’s why:

Timely for me is way before the news, that’s when I want to get to the analysts.  It shows the trust and the very personal relationship we have to hash out our future prodcts, pricing and plans.  That is diametrically opposed to how to blog, being transparent about what you are doing.

So what’s a mother to do?  I have found that I’ve been able to reach analysts via the blog, twitter, social media back channel for speaking to them.  Heck, I’ve had analysts say to me that they didn’t want to wind up in my blog for me trashing their competition for timeliness.  So it’s how you use it that counts. I’m use social media as an analyst relations tool and find it an advantage over my competition who don’t use it or use it out of etiquette.

I can’t argue the points above though.  Carter as usual is right on.  But then I break all the rules of good blogging anyway like staying on subject and consistency, so there you go.

More Social Computing Education and Analyst Relations

In an effort to keep our A/R team in Software Group as up to date as possible, we did another education call, this time on podcasting. We were joined by Steve O’Grady and Cote of Redmonk who presented on the subject, and members of our own communications team who do some excellent podcasts.
Besides having the education, we’re moving on to how we can use this in the A/R discipline. Among the usages are announcements, standards discussions and other related events where it can be either educational or directional. It becomes a piece of the informational package around a technology, standards or announcement info that can be downloaded.

We currently have a series that covers some analysts that we’ve done podcasts with on our Analyst Inputs and Outtakes, and hopefully, the creative minds in our a/r group will come up with more creative ways to use this and the other components of Social Computing. So far we’re blogging, podcasting, have a wiki and are part of the greater IBM social networking programs.

Blogging at IBM, a snowball rolling down hill

This time last year, we put up the developerWorks blog as the first external IBM blog site. It was a small snowball barely dropped from the top of Mount IBM.  It turns out be an end around being able to blog at IBM who now want to establish a company wide policy that will smother and restrict effective blogging communications.  Fortunately, IBM Corporate Comm’s is clueless and so behind the times and we were able to put this site up under their noses without much effort.  Since we did it without asking, it now can’t be taken down as too many people look to this site for blogs.  Many people are trying to get on to it so for now, we control the outbound blog content unlike comm’s department in Armonk which moves at the speed of smell.

Armonk communications is a bubble that can’t see past New York, led by a hot head who ran Ed Koch’s liberal political campaign.  Their lack of vision is the bane of much of the sterile communications that you read about when IBM is discussed.  While they see it as a well oiled machine, the rest of the comm’s team who actually does all the work, know that they are a ball and chain that has to be worked around to get anything done.  The developerWorks blog site is a prime example of how to work around people such as those in Armonk.

It’s funny, almost like the tail wagging the dog, as we are doing what we want, whenever we want, while the rest of every word written from IBM goes under the microscope at the home office, effectively removing any creativity or actual information that might be helpful.  If you don’t believe it, read a press release.  It is quite enjoyable to usurp the Stalin like control that they try to impose on everyone else, and act like a regular company who understands how to deal with the media.

I decided to list my blog there as I was the first official blogger for IBM analyst relations and have set many of the policies up until now, including starting and running blogging for IBM A/R.  When the corporate communications machine finds a way to destroy the effectiveness through obsessive guidelines overseen by people who have never written or likely read a blog, any control I currently have will diminish.  They are so paranoid from the monopoly trial that they manage to put effective PR into the stone ages. Fortunately, they are so obsessed with the media right now, the most effective communications program is on the analyst side as they don’t understand what it is.  Anytime they try to interfere, they treat A/R like pr and look silly.

At that point, my blog may or may not be on the corporate site depending on the rules and guidelines. Since I don’t care what they say (and best of all am not in NY, which the powers that be can’t see beyond) and have learned to be more creative about communicating through social media than they have, I’ll make that decision as needed on my terms.  I’ll likely then be on new social media platforms that are industry wide so it won’t be tough to stay ahead of them while keeping current with the rest of the world.  Since they move so slowly for fear of actually stepping out into the real world, I won’t have to worry about it for a while.

With prodding from the outside (thanks to the analyst community) and many unconnected but interesting bloggers, we got the fever. Now there is the internal blog with thousands of bloggers going at it (another IBM communication killer since the audience is IBM’ers), a mainframe blog, gamers and worst of all attention on this from the top.

What I see is momentum for blogging that started as grass-roots inertia (bottom up, not the usual top down) which I believe is best (ask RIM or Palm). Sure, we were a bit later than some companies, but it won’t be that long for us to catch up. Fortunately, I started my blog and put up the developerWorks site like we did and that is how it will be done.  All we need is a few rock stars to start writing.

Now the blog plan is prominent in the outreach plans for new products and announcements.  Normal companies do this and since I came from the outside where I honed my skills staying ahead of companies like IBM, it is important to connect on terms with the audience that are mutually agreeable and most effective.  I knew that I’d already won and would get the message of the company I represented if there were IBM communicaitons people in the room.  Sure, they were the 800 lb. gorrilla in the room, but as soon as I got time with the media or analysts, they were far more likely to work with me as A) I wasnt’ trying to write their story and B) I actually was working in the 20th or 21st century.  I’ll bet those same comm’s folks were hell with tabulation machines and IBM 360’s.

So it’s more like cells dividing, people from all over the world in IBM are jumping on this as they should. Many of the execs who are the busiest people in the world are blogging Buell Duncan and IWB.

I’ve watched trends for a while at IBM, lots of hype at first, then some catch on or fizzle out, but this one has legs…the snowball is now big, and for now the only blog site at IBM until the wonks in IBM corporate communications figure out how to sterilize this also.  The fact that I can write this clearly shows that they have no clue about social media at this point, nor do they move faster than cold honey.

If you’re reading this, you likely had something to do with IBM blogging brought to you by developerWorks. Thanks.  We offer more information on a timely basis that is more meaningful than you’d ever find from the wonks in Armonk.