If you don’t want to read about our rebranding (who could blame you), just know that we are the same Ripple, but with a new logo. If you’re the curious type and want to know more, read on.
IT is often seen as an expense. It’s treated as an expense on most income statements, and most companies work as hard as possible to minimize it, like any other expense. Except that IT is not an expense, any more than hammers are an expense for carpenters, or factories are for manufacturers.
IT is, for most modern companies, the means of production. The No. 1 tool of the trade for knowledge workers. That makes it an investment. Ask any craftsman the best ways to screw up a job: Crappy tools. Cheap tools. The wrong tools for the job. But, all too often, since IT is treated as an expense, rather than as investment, it is skimped on, stretched and ignored. Which is weird because the employee using that tool might make $150,000 in the three years that his or her $1500 computer is usable. A 1 percent investment. At Ripple, we try to help our clients see the value in keeping IT current, and we give them strategies for doing so in the least painful ways possible. Here are a few things that can help: continue reading
There are a lot of skills companies look for in IT people. Smart, analytical, experienced. Windows, Cisco, Dell. The one most often overlooked is Nice.
When I started Ripple, it was in no small part because of the way IT people were acting. Busy, smug and secretive. So I set out to build an IT company with a culture of being nice, friendly and approachable. Pretty regularly people will say to me “well, that’s neat, but does it really matter?” Yes, and it’s a meaningful IT skill. Here’s how I know: continue reading
I was interviewed for Smart Business Magazine a while back, and we discussed The Cloud. These were my thoughts:
SBM: The cloud seems to be everywhere. What should businesses be thinking about? Is the cloud right for everyone?
Me: The short answer is: Yes, it’s right for everyone. The long answer is: Maybe not right now, and not for everything. continue reading
Let me put this out there: I am a Work Utopia guy. I want people to come to work and feel like it’s more than a job. I want them to feel a deeper sense of meaning, connectedness, and engagement. I have implemented many, many ideas that would help make Ripple a Work Utopia. So when I read about ROWE in 2006 I was struck by how Work Utopia it was. Complete freedom! A Results-Only Work Environment. How much more Work Utopia could something be, really? Even with a Work Utopia mindset I still struggled with the perceived loss of control. I wondered: “How the hell could that even work?”continue reading
A while back I answered some questions for Smart Business Magazine about Macs in a PC world. Here’s that conversation..
SBM: How is it that Macs have gone from being the computer of choice only for graphic designers to becoming a popular choice for mainstream computer users in business?
Well, Macs always had a reputation of being easy to use, but, for a variety of reasons, lost the business market to Microsoft after the release of Windows ’95. It really wasn’t until after the iPod that things began to shift. Everyone started using iPods, then iPhones, and a ‘Halo Effect’ started making people curious about Macs. That led to an increasing use of Macs for people at home. For a lot of people, they started wondering why they couldn’t use their Mac at work. So it was, in many ways, a home-user invasion of business.
SBM: So why would a business want to take a look at Apple? What are the advantages?
Right now, businesses are often not looking at Macs at all. They just come in the door. When the CEO starts using his Mac at work, things start to shift for IT people. They are often thrust into the world of Macs, and its trickier cousin — cross-platform networks — as the PC network has to begin accommodating the Macs. I would suggest that a business is better served if it has a Mac strategy in place now, rather than having rogue Macs popping up in the office. The reasons people want to use them usually boil down to:
• Macs are cool. This might seem like a silly reason, but there is value in the cool factor. People used to dismiss cool offices, casual work attire, flexible work schedules and other ‘squishy’ work things too. Increasingly, people want the computer they use to be something they like to work on. More and more, that’s Macs. Happy people is a high-value strategy.
• Macs are less vulnerable to viruses and malware. There are basically no serious Mac viruses in the wild today. In the future, that probably won’t be true. But the Mac world will start some 300,000 viruses behind, so it’s a safe bet that Macs will be less prone for the foreseeable future.
• Lots of business software runs on Macs. With the release of Microsoft Office 2011, the last gross vestige of incompatibility (an Outlook client) is gone. So, The Office Suite, Adobe Creative Suite, Quickbooks and many others have Mac native versions. Cloud apps also run very well on Macs since Safari is one of the most Web-standards compliant browsers available (Macs can also run Chrome and Firefox).
SBM: What are the disadvantages of having Macs at work?
The disadvantages are generally compatibility issues. Those break down into two categories:
• Some business software either doesn’t exist for the Mac, or the Mac version is different. A lot of accounting packages, including Quickbooks, have different functionality. There are legacy apps that were written for PC that are not being actively developed. And there are a lot of apps out there for the PC that just don’t exist on the Mac. So it’s not for everyone.
• There are issues of network compatibility. Network issues are nearly all non-issues with IT people that have a track record of experience integrating Macs and PCs. But for a system admin or an IT company that is new to Mac and PC support, there is no shortage of ‘gotchas.’ File naming conventions, file server configuration, e-mail setup and configuration, fonts and Active Directory authentication are the most common issues. That’s generally why we think it’s best to have your Mac strategy in place before the Macs come walking in the door.
SBM: What if someone wants to use a Mac but needs to access applications that are only available on PC?
There are a number of solutions for that, some more complex than others. Generally, there are two options though: Running PC virtualization software on your Mac (Parallels or VMware Fusion), or accessing PC applications using server-based solutions like Citrix XenApp or Microsoft Terminal Services. If it’s a few people needing a handful of apps, local virtualization is probably most effective. If it’s lots of users, then server-based needs to be considered.
SBM: One thing we hear is that Macs are more expensive. Are they worth the cost?
Macs are more expensive, but I think that issue is negligible. Here’s a few considerations: Macs generally have no truly bare bones configurations. But for most business users, bare bones won’t work anyway. So the purchase price is often much closer after the computer is configured the way a business will need it. Macs hold their value. After using a Mac for three years, it has a decent value on places like eBay. PCs are usually depleted of their value, and we often find that businesses have to pay to have them taken away.
One thing to beware of is that Macs come with only a one-year warranty included. Most business-class PCs have a three-year warranty, which we would recommend. So it’s usually best to buy an extra two years from Apple. That adds to the price. In the end, a comparable Mac might be $200 more than its PC counterpart. Over three years, including interest, that’s going to be about $8 a month per user. Probably less than a company spends on coffee. So my feeling is that if it will make an employee happy or more productive, it’s probably worth the eight bucks. That said, costs will go up dramatically if you don’t have a properly configured network or the support you need, so a proactive strategy for handling Mac users is the best bet for making a transition smooth and keeping costs down.
The story about the JetBlue flight attendant who lost it after dealing with a rude passenger reminded me of an article I wrote in 2006. I think it still holds up.
Sure. Why not?
Seth Godin has a post about people being rude and disrespectful to airline staff. His question is: Should companies “blacklist” bad clients?
Ultimately it’s a question of how much long term benefit (working with desirable, respectful clients) you are willing to trade for cash right now. I would argue that your workplace is a better place when you move on from clients that are disrespectful.
At Ripple we love our clients, and work damn hard to make them happy. But we have let several go over the years. Fired them. Not because they weren’t profitable or because they were financially burdensome, but because they were disrespectful (although the correlation between disrespectful and low-profit is high). Because they treated our staff like servants, or lied to us, or in some way showed a pattern of disrespecting Ripplers, we let them go.
Companies need to enforce a level of respect and dignity with customers. An airline should not tolerate abusive fliers and they should blacklist them. They make the airline staff and all of the other passengers uncomfortable, and they lower the bar for the rest of us. The entire culture of flying is degraded by the “entitled” flier. The abusive flier.
The airline industry is frustrating. I have done more than my share of complaining about it. But every business needs to draw the line at personal attacks. If the airlines started banning certain customers, they would send a powerful message to their own people: You matter. We expect the highest level of service and commitment from you, and you’ll get respect in return. The gratitude and re-humanization that airline staff would feel would be 100 times more powerful than all of the lame morale programs trotted out by the airlines to try to fix their service.
Airlines send a powerful message when they turn their cheek to such behavior: The lowest person that walks in here with $200 is more important to us than you, our ten-year employee. Abuse is simply a part of the job, and you need to suspend your dignity while you’re in the uniform.
Fire them. Fire them and send out a press release. Fire them and tell the world why you did it. Fire them and let people know that incivility won’t be tolerated at your company. Fire them and send the message to your employees that they matter. Fire them and make your company a better place.
You are a product. Your resume and interview are your marketing. And a product has to differentiate itself to have a chance of being noticed and valued. It astonishes me to continually get the same generic resumes, the same attempt to prove diverse skills, and the same generic answers – that I must conclude are coming from the world of resume/interview advice. The prevailing theory seems to be “offend no one, never take your self out of contention.” Imagine that process recruiting for a sports team or a movie cast. Terrible. So I have my rules.
No one else will have my same rules, which leads us to Rule #1.
1. There is no such thing as the right resume, no right interview. Remember, this is not much more than a professional date. There are certainly a few things to do every time (no burping, no shorts), but every employer is different in nearly every other way. It’s easier to be yourself than to try to figure me out.
2. You can’t fake who are without being no one. When you try to be the person you think I like, I don’t like you. Because you seem insincere and full of…something. There is no need to fake who you are, or what your background is. You don’t know what I want.
3. This is a 2-way street. You’d better be interviewing me too. We’re in this together, so there is not a lot to be gained by being a sycophant in the interview. Make sure you want the job. More importantly, make sure you want the company. I should be sharing my company with you too.
4. Well-rounded is safe. And safe is dangerous. Name one well-rounded famous athlete. OK, there are two. Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson. And neither could play hockey. But basically, no others. Even MJ couldn’t do it. Well-rounded means you are not awesome at anything. And I’m looking for awesome. At something.
5. You are weak. At something, probably many things. So “struggling” to find a weakness is lame. A weakness of being “too organized” is lame. When I see that pained expression where you try to find weaknesses but “can’t think of any,” I think: “weak.” Trot out your real weaknesses, they actually accentuate your strengths.
6. Leave me with a story to tell. I am going to leave our meeting with an impression of you. And, if you have done well, a story to tell others about why you’re the person for the job. So find a pointed, true narrative to weave in about yourself that touches the every part of the interview from beginning to end. No story = lost in the shuffle.
7. Thank me. Twice. When you get home, do 2 things. Send me an email thanks, and drop a real (handwritten!) thank you note in the mail. Even if think you bombed, a handwritten note will put you back in contention. Class stands out.
Bonus for Entry-Level Job Seekers: If you are entry-level, I am looking for a bargain. The very nature of entry-level is: “I’m cheap, and I’m willing to prove myself.” You can’t be bringing experience, which means you need to bring something else. Ambition, a record of achievement, raw talent, personality, something. Something that makes me think you’re a bargain. Because cheap labor, absent some returned value, is not a bargain. Figure out what your something is.