Yesterday morning I spent a few hours with one of Quaero’s new software partners. The goal of the session was to educate each other on how we execute, not at a business level, but at a day to day project delivery level. We discussed methodologies (we are an agile shop and they stick to waterfall), design approaches, technical capabilities, and other “in the weeds” topics that are at the core of our respective company’s beliefs. At the end of 2 hours, both of us felt a greater appreciation for what each other does and knew the discussion would pay dividends as we continued our journey together. Through this mutual openness and mentoring, we were able to take a partnership that was simply a signature on a contract to one that is mutually beneficial to each of us…beyond the normal sales leads and marketing support.
Whether you are a consulting company working with a software vendor or a parent raising a 9 year old, partnerships are an integral part of our lives. Your boss is a partner in your success (or should be). Your wife or husband is your partner in life. The owner of your local pizza shop is your partner in food consumption. The person sitting next to you on the bus is your partner in public transportation. Your dog is your partner in getting outdoors. The dude with the headphones on in the cube across from you is your partner in corporate survival. The list of partnerships that we engage in on a daily basis is endless.
What do these everyday interactions have to do with the partnership I have with our software partner? The answer could be nothing or everything depending on what you do with them. In all cases it comes down to open communication and bi-directional discussion. (Yes…even with your dog. Just ask Cesar Millan.) If you don’t take the time to work openly with, support, and understand your partners then the full extent of the relationship will probably never be achieved. If you do spend time to nurture the situation, the partnerships have a chance to go beyond what is on the surface and turn it into a relationship that is beneficial to both of you. In addition, a little nurturing may also tell you that a partnership is not worth your time, which can be just as important for someone who is already overbooked in life.
Give it a shot. The next time you are about to have a meeting with one of your partners, try to answer the following questions and see what happens:
What can I teach this person about me?
What can I learn from this person?
How can I make this person more successful?
Trust me. Your dog will love you for it.
What are you doing to build stronger relationships with your partners?
Today I was walking out of a local coffee shop and saw a woman coming towards the entrance. She was about 30 feet from the door so I had every right to just keep on walking. Instead I decided to wait and hold the door for her as she made her way up the stairs. As she approached she made no eye contact with me. As she walked passed me through the door she didn’t even pause to slide me a quick thank you or a smile. I even followed up on the phantom Thank You with a “your welcome” but that did not slow her down. She was stuck in her own little world walking with an air of righteousness that made me laugh out loud inside my head while holding back my innate desire to stick my foot out.
As I do on most Saturdays, I went to my local record store, Newbury Comics. They were having a moving sale which meant there was less to choose from but I could buy twice as much as I normally do. What a good start to the day.
As I browsed around, I began to think about how I choose the music that I buy. In most cases it is based on recommendations from friends, songs I have heard on the radio, or MP3 blogs I have read. Sometimes though I walk into a store, as I did this morning, with no set list of music in mind. What drives these types of purchases?
Personally I think it is instinct. This innate knowledge of what music you will like is based an unlimited number of factors that blends your own life experiences with the music genre’s that are laid out before you. This powerful combination of memories, images, sounds, emotions, and curiosity in conjunction with how music is inherently categorized helps guide you through the sea of artists and ultimately deliver you what you want, or more importantly, what you need. What’s great is that your needs could change every time depending on the moods or thoughts that are following you around on that specific day.
Try it out sometime. Go to a record store without a game plan and let go. Of course you will end up with some duds every once in a while, but in most cased I bet you will be surprised at the great things you end up with.
The albums that I bought today represent what happens when I let my instinct take over. Today it all worked out nicely.
People often ask me why I use Twitter. Until recently I found it hard to explain. I have to admit, it took me over 5 months to post my 2nd update after my first “Trying out twitter” post. It just didn’t click with me the first time around. Until I took the time to use it for a while and successfully make that step across the “Ah Ha!” threshold, it just seemed a bit pointless. Why in the world would someone care that someone they don’t know is about to hit Starbucks or buy a new drill at the Home Depot?
The answer is simple…at least for me. After I took the time, Twitter opened my eyes to a world that is full of people who want to help me, people who are looking for help from me, interesting points of views with a fresh voice, new friends, new opportunities, and of course companies that want to help improve the experience that I have with them.
Ok Ok Ok. I know. That sounded more like a sales pitch than I wanted it to. I told you it was hard to explain. You need something more concrete.
Let me share an experience I had on Twitter that shows the power of this little communication engine in action. Sharing my actual experiences with JetBlue (@jetblue) and how they used Twitter, on 2 separate occasions, to enhance my customer experience and address my concerns in real time, sheds more light on the power of Twitter than any white paper or elevator pitch ever could.
When asked to bring a food item to a holiday party or other gathering, it is always nice to have a “go to” dish that you know will be a hit. The Raffaele Family-style Antipasto is my weapon of choice. It is a dish that my family, to this day, starts every family dinner with but for others the Family Style Antipasto is received as a special treat. I have decided to share this recipe and let everyone see how easy it really is. A 1/2 hour of prep and a 1/2 hour of configuration and you will put on quite a show. Try it at your next party and I promise folks will enjoy it.
Keep in mind that this recipe is just a guide. Since I tend to wing things in the kitchen, these measurements are only rough estimates. Have some fun with it. It is almost impossible to mess up.
(Thanks to this guy for lending me this picture. Though mine does not look quit like this, I thought it set the mood nicely.) Check out the recipe
Feedly has made reading my RSS feeds more enjoyable. If you are a Google Reader and Firefox user, this Firefox extension converts your RSS reader into an online magazine. Not only does it include a slick interface but it also makes scanning through the mountain of information you receive easier by allowing you to group and view your content how you want to see it. Getting to the stuff you want to read and clearing out the stuff you want to ignore makes living in this content driven world just a bit easier to manage.
The Richard Solo was one of the first iPhone battery backups on the market. At around $60, this little gadget was a no brainer for me. Before I go to sleep at night I simply plug my battery backup into my iPhone and then plug the battery into the wall adapter. When I wake up in the morning I have a fully charged iPhone and a fully charged back up. If I am on the go and start running out of juice, I just plug in my Richard Solo and continue using my iPhone without skipping a beat. It is great for the those long coast to coast flights.
If you own an Apple TV or Airport Express, you know how nice it is to listen to your iTunes music over your stereo. But what happens if you are on a website (i.e. The Hype Machine, MySpace, Blip.fm) that has a built in flash music player and you want to listen to those tracks over your stereo? Airfoil comes to the rescue. This little $25 application, which is available for Mac and Windows, lets you stream any sound that your PC makes through your Apple TV and/or Airport Express. Go ahead and try it out. Everything sounds better through a real stereo system.
I Love Photos’ wants to make your digital photos more functional. Their first free product launch (for mac only) runs a face recognition process against your photos and allows you to assign each face it finds to a tag or set of tags via a nice drag and drop interface. When I tested it out, the product found my big head pretty easily. I tagged all of the photos that included my face in them as “Huge Noggin” and now all I have to do is click on that tag to see all of the pictures that contain me. I am interested to see how this product evolves over time. I wonder if they will start to identify landmarks and other non-facial targets as well. I am not a huge fan of having to use more than one application to manage one subject area (i.e. photos) but at least I Love Photos offers bi-directional syncing with iPhoto, my main photo management system.
I just picked up a new lens for my Nikon D70s yesterday and it has quickly pumped life back into an old hobby. I have been using the Nikkor 18-70mm that came with my camera for the past 2 years. It is a great lens but I really have been hankering for a some more zooooom. After putting the purchase off for a while I finally bit the bullet and dropped the pesos for the Nikkor 18-200mm. I could not ask for a better everyday lens. Read Ken Rockwell’s review if you are interested in hearing more about it. Up close or from a distance this lens has got it covered. The only other lens I need now is the Nikkor 12-24mm super wide angle and I will be all set. I may just have to sneak that bad boy into the wedding registry.
Sp, with my new gear in tow I headed out this morning to take some pictures. I find that getting up early on a Sunday morning with nothing but a cup of coffee and a camera is a great way to clear the brain and prepare for the week ahead. Here are some shots I took on my journey around Harvard Square. I plan to do this every week and with a few photography lessons strewn though out the year I am hopeful, and excited, to see the progress I make with my pictures.