In 1993 I started on the road to a Masters in Business Administration. More commonly known as an MBA.

Completed in 2002, the MBA has given me a deeper understanding to theories driving business. MBAs are designed to provide a broad understanding of how organisations work. I found the most enlightening topics related to Legal studies and Accounting. I can now read a P&L, Cashflow and Balance Sheet with confidence.

Within a year of taking a management role after completing my MBA (est cost $16,000) I had recouped my fees.

What an MBA does not provide is how to manage people.

If destined for a management role, people management where you spend most of your time. Not reading contracts, dealing with paperwork and accounting. Each of these are specializations that have strict regulatory controls and therefore organisations employ experts to fulfill the roles.

People Management cannot be left up to HR. All managers are people managers first and foremost.

I contend that People Management: keeping your team motivated, working together and productive is the hardest job.

Learn this, and you have done your MBA.

I To Do Therefore I Am?

Lucy in the Window

Personal organisational skills. I can not has. They left me some time ago.

Microsoft has released some research on the gender differences of To Do lists.

About 70% of people have a To Do list.

20% of males keep their To Do list in their head.

Mine is a combination of email (whatever is still in there needs to be done) and my head (flexible rearrangement) and calendars (so I know where and when I should be)

If I spent my time managing my time I’d have no time to do stuff. And I’ve decided never to be so busy and stressed that I’ve got to have pages full of things to do. Been there, done that. Others are better equipped to deal with myriads of lists of things to do, delegating, measuring and motivating. I do, not to do.

Enjoying life is not cross items off a list. Life is in the doing.

Parents: where are your kids now?

Parents have this little internal GPS that sorta- kinda- knows where their children are in physical space.

Why should it be different with online?

The excuse that "computers are too hard" and "the kids are far ahead of me" just doesn’t wash anymore. This is like putting your kids on an unmarked bus to nowhere and hoping they return physically and mentally intact. You are abandoning your children.

Howard Rheingold, recently in Australia for educationau, and Heath at Catallaxy recenly commented on the wastage of taxpayer money on filters and a fear-mongering piece of dead-trees.

A well written explanation of what is online, and how to explore the world together would have been better. Education, not fear mongering. The mainstream media has overplayed the fear of the unknown and new. I’d like them to spend that time explaining Phishing and 419 scams.

Parents need to learn. In 10-20 years time, the best way of communicating to their grandkids will be online.

Learn with your kids, parents. Know where they are online.

Lost in Microsoft

togeekornottogeek 002

Up, to work. Parking easy as everyone is somewhere else. Frankarr on the internal TV system not doing LOLCATS. Speaking Shakespeare to promote TechEd. Even when Frankarr is not in the building, his Hamlet-ian ghost haunts us.

On way to desk, speak to Jeffa about his two way cool posts: Windows Server 2008 and the new cool roadshow demo hardware case.

I’m however, I am still Lost in Microsoft. Resolution: Need coffee. Need Neil Finn


Get a way cool email from my very own high school Ferris Bueller: Paul Dalby. Not only was he smart, he was funny. Everyone wanted to be Dalby. Paul sends me a link to Sam de Brito’s blog post: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the secret to life

‘…life moves pretty fast… you don’t stop to look around once and while, you could miss it.’

Crowded House and Ferris Bueller, and we’re away.

This is not the darkside, the moss is just greener here.

Moss is greener after 2 weeks away

What is your Geek Shed Project?

Growing up on a farm in country South Australia, I remember the smell of the work shed. The work shed is not where vehicles or animals were stored; it is where the welding, banging, fixing, wiring and general repairs were made. The smells of oil, grease, petrol, arc welding and seasons wafted out of the nooks and crannies also containing bolts of unknown vintage.

Out the back of the shed, engines from long decommissioned cars and trucks stood idle underneath the gum trees and galahs. In summer, the shed was a cool refuge from the 35 degree heat; and in winter a shelter from the rain and wind.

Farmers fix all their own equipment. From petrol and diesel engines to swapping the shears on ploughs. Blacksmith, engine mechanic, electronic technician, radio engineer: all bases were covered with a myriad of tools and bit logically organized in controlled chaos.

Sheds migrated to the backyards of many suburban houses at the same time as the population moved to the quarter acre block. Albeit smaller than their country cousins, the same smells of two-stroke petrol for the mower and a half-repaired washing machine from Auntie Joyce usually shared the same corner as a family of mice who immigrated from next door. The pool shed containing noxious chemicals just didn’t suit the poor noses of the domestic mouse.

The shed is a place of sanctuary for the blokes of the family. A hidden esky or better yet, a small fridge, contains a collection of beers and after the barbeque is turned off – the men retreat to the shed to talk about whatever men talk about. Their castle, the house, may have a spare room – but the kids have taken this over with their board games, or the wife has started a home business and the racks of stock just don’t mix with a good yarn and stories.

Also in the shed, are what are called “weekend shed projects”. Apart from Auntie Joyce’s washing machine – there is a half-completed rocking horse – promised to the kids for their 5th birthday, but never completed; a random invention for the garden that just didn’t work and a bicycle or two from the various lengths of the kids. Each of the bikes has something wrong: missing seat, flat tire or a handle bar that’s found its way into the washing machine. These projects are never completed as there will always be time at retirement to potter around the shed.

Sheds, and weekend shed projects, still exist in the online age. The human imagination has taken us blokes from painting animals in a cave to sorting out the 6000 digital images we captured on our last trip to North Queensland.

What is your weekend shed project? I’ll give you a tip: start now. Retirement is just too far away.

Scoble on Write-only Marketing

Robert Scoble, now earning a living dealing with PR people in the ‘valley, understands the difficulty of blogging from within large organisations. Robert refers to one of the 4000-or-so bloggers at Microsoft: David Weller.

The best way to learn about an organisation, its plans and products is with a search engine. Marketing and product teams are absolutely scared witless of the transparency that blogging provides. It’s not evilness, it’s the fear of informing the competition. Especially in the online world where the small is as powerful as the large, and products live and die within a 24-hour cycle.

Marketing and PR prefer a “write-only” internet. Sadly, the internet as we see it today is read and write, read and write.

Maybe Microsoft is not “ubercool” because it’s not obscure enough. Too much transparency, too many eyes, too many mouths. Please don’t forget for each one of these mouths, there is a matching set of ears. We are listening too. Bloggers write, and see the response, feed this back into the cycle of product development.

One wonders about other organisations, and if the “eyes” to “ears” ratio also applies. Read and Write.

Want to Study Gaming at University?

QuT has a Bachelor of Gaming and Entertainment. Coolness does not begin to explain this course. More than C++, it is also about the social aspects, history, design – the whole works.

Dr Ross Brown and Penny Drennan are really cool: passionate about their areas of expertise (and geeks from deep in their lives) – and pass on this to the next generation of games designers.

Follow the Eyeballs. And the Money.

Breakfast Bytes

At the Hill and KnowltonSurviving and thriving in the next decade – Technology PublishingBreakfast Bytes this morning, a group of eminent panelists in picture above, from the left:

  • James Tuckerman – Publishing Editor, AntHill. New relatively magazine about ideas, money and skills. Previously more print than online, but adding new online projects later in 2007.
  • Heather Craven – Director of Marketing & Communications, Circulations Audit Board,
    Australian Circulation Bureau. Sub-committee researching digital.
  • Brian Haverty – Editorial Director, CNET Networks Australia : Readers first, video and text style publishing.
  • Tony Sarno – Editor, APC. Adding new online APC projects later in 2007.
  • Peter Roberts – Managing Editor, BRW. Part of the Fairfax group, around since 1857. Noted that relaunched this week, and closed content model AFR Access continues.
  • Andrew Kirk, Hill and Knowlton: Chair

The theme from the morning’s panel and Q&A is that “there will be a mixture of online and print” and that “online and print” readers are treated as different readers by the big-names. My perspective as a corporate online/citizen journalist is slightly different.

Like the quintessential investigative journalists: Woodward and Bernstein learnt: follow the money. In the above listing of panelists, notice where their stated investment is going. It’s online.

From a traditional publisher’s perspective, the business is about employing journalists to gather hidden facts, connect, analyse and write stories. People buy the paper (atoms) to read the stories and maybe their eyeballs will stray onto an advertisement. The marketing groups of companies buy these positions on the paper in the hope that the right eyeballs are enthralled by the product and/or service – and buy the product. The core of a publisher’s job is managing the compelling content such that a specific audience is created that advertisers value.

The web is no different, except that anyone can be a publisher, and outsource the revenue side (advertising) to Microsoft or Google. Large publishers, such as Fairfax, are unhappy that their expensive infrastructure is subverted online: Peter Roberts mentioned twice that Google made $200 million in Australia without investing in the content-side.

Peter Roberts also commented on one of his competitors, Alan Kohler’s Eureka Report, having only an online mechanism but successful business model. My perspective is that Alan’s business is successful as he is seen as a respected and independent entity within Australia’s financial community. Alan Kohler is a trusted brand.

The Gadget Guy, Peter Blasina’s question near the end summarised the morning for me: What does the future really look like? Each of the represented panelist’s organisations (maybe with the exception of cnet) have their business strategies weighted toward print, and the brand-value that print brings.

Peter Blasina comes at this with credibility as a true multi-channel brand and personality: print, online and TV – and surmised that the coming generation will change the face of the print publisher’s world. And they know it.

The future for publishers is where the eyeballs are. And eyeballs are not going to be in print, it is going to be online. Eyeballs stay longer where this is trusted value, and most importantly where there is a community. Reading a magazine is an almost high-latency feedback medium; where two-way interaction is slow if attempted at all.

Demographics of the eyeballs are changing to more online: younger readers being digitally native and older generations having more time to explore online; with more females than males desiring a community and interaction rather than passive acceptance; high bandwidth connection to permit TV, Radio and Print being equal online mediums.

Whilst I have no research to back this up, I am going to state it here. A common refrain from print publishers is that “Radio did not replace newspapers, and TV did not replace radio” as their backwards looking perspective on why online will not replace these old media. My argument is that the internet can replace the media styles: with web pages, podcasts and vidcasts. As Rupert Murdoch is quoted as saying: “Big media no longer controls the conversation” 

James Tuckerman knows his readers, and I think has a plan to create value in Anthill’s community. He understands the emotional connection that he has with his readership. James also stated there are “population lumps” at birth-years of 1949, 1974 and 1985. According to the ABS, there is another population lump in the 2005-7 range too. My suggestion is to watch Anthill as a publisher. They are starting a conversation with their community.

A Question about SecondLife, the current “craze” in Australia potentially due to a visit in meatspace by a Linden Labs persona, resulted in Tony Sarno saying that “many PBL management have visited SecondLife”. I fear it is because of the gambling dens rather than the community aspect. About 20% of the audience of largely PR and technology industry attendees had logged into SecondLife, of which most had logged in once.

So, in industry parlance, what is the tip-on for online? It’s the community. Community is the new Brand.

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