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Four leadership skills even Attila the Hun could have used

Miki Saxon writes in her blog about four leadships skills that even Attila the Hun could have used:

  • leading people
  • strategic planning
  • inspiring commitment
  • managing change

"... it will be the executives and managers who get it; who understand that these skills need to be embedded in the company’s DNA; they are not CEO skills, but core competency requirements to thrive in the 21st Century."

Great CIOs mix business and tech skills

Interesting article in CIO Insight on why having both business and technical skill is important to get ahead in IT management. And having the ability to translate from tech speak to biz speak and back again is vital.

The author knew he had connected with the C-level staff when at a buget cutting meeting the President said “IT isn’t staff,” he said. “It’s a core business function.” Now that is music to an IT manager ears!

Cash, Strategy, and a Way to Thrive

Summary

The recession and credit crunch have made cash a strategic asset.  While debt and equity financing is still available, these sources of cash have become unreliable and difficult to tap, increasing the importance of operating cash flow.

Optimizing cash flow requires the close scrutiny of incoming and outgoing cash transactions and the implementation of credit, purchasing and strategic decisions that impact cash.

Simply put, maximize cash by spending wisely.

Reduce and Control Expenses

Headcount is a main driver of operating expenses.  In good times as well as bad, organizational rightsizing is essential to effective cash management and controlling the company’s “expense burn.”  Operating expenses are also strongly influenced by the company’s business model and strategic focus...

Weekly Monitoring of Cash Flow

Another component of effective cash management is the preparation and review of a weekly cash flow statement.  This report should show in sufficient detail the items comprising cash receipts (cash sales, A/R collections, etc.) and cash disbursements (payroll, benefits, inventory purchases, etc.) for the current week and projected for the next 4 – 8 weeks...

Cash as a Strategic Asset

There is no question that in these uncertain times, cash and ready access to cash are strategically important and may make the difference between winning and losing.  A company that manages its cash well will be in a strong position to weather the downturn and take advantage of the opportunities to strengthen its market share...

To read more, please CLICK HERE or visit:

http://mappingcompanysuccess.com/2009/06/

cash-strategy-and-a-way-to-thrive/

Ducks In A Row: Do You Have People Or Persons?

 

 May 19, 2009

By Miki saxon

 

Do you work for a company or a manger? Phil Gerbyshak manager over at Slacker did a great post on the fact that people quit managers, not companies—great because it is so true.

If you ask most people who they work for they’ll name a company, but if you ask them why they love or hate it, stay or leave they’ll usually mention a manager, the people or the culture, which is a projection of the manager and the people.

People quitting is expensive and bad for team morale, but, as Phil pointed out, they can quit and not leave, which, from a management perspective, is the worst thing that can happen.

Think about it, who do you manage? And How?

Adequate managers manage employees.

Good managers manage people.

Great managers manage persons.

Yes, persons.  Individuals, because you can’t manage (or lead) everyone the same way...

To read more please visit:

www.leadershipturn.com/ducks-in-a-row-do-you-have-people-or-persons/

10 tips to recession proof your development career

With the current economy it is important to know what will help you keep you current job or easily get a new one if you need to. Here are my tips for recession proofing your development career - let me know if you have any other suggestions!

1.    Have a positive attitude. When a manager has two developers with equal technical skills but one is optimistic/"can do" and the other one is grumpy you can bet that grump will be laid off first.


2.    Keep your promises. If you promise to complete a piece of code by Thursday make sure than you do. If you don't think you can make a deadline it is much better to speak up ahead of time and renegotiate what can be done, or get help, rather than say "yes" when you are not sure. If you have agreed to a deadline and things change tell your manager or client as soon as you know, so that you can both come up with a  plan B.


3.    Keep your code simple. Simple code is easier to read and maintain, generally runs faster and has fewer bugs. Clever code has a way of biting you or someone else in the rear end. Yes it sometimes takes more thinking to write something simple and elegant instead of complex -- and your future self will thank you for doing it!

4.    Communicate clearly. The number one way projects fail is poor communication - misunderstandings with clients over scope, missing features, upsetting email threads. Confirm verbal meetings afterwards in bullet point emails. If a topic is getting heated in email then switch to an in person meeting or phone call to defuse it, then document what was agreed in email afterwards. Keep your ego out of the office and out of your code. Focus on what is best for the project and client.

5.    Bring up questions early. If you get stuck on some code (and who hasn't some time or other) then bring up questions early. There is nothing worse than a late deliverable that could have been on time if the right questions where asked sooner. If being assertive doesn't come naturally to you read a book or take an evening class on assertiveness.

6.    Don't add bells and whistles. If the client has not asked for a feature don't add it without asking first. Maybe they really like the idea and will pay extra for it. Maybe they would rather wait until version 1.0 is released before adding the feature. Maybe it is not of interest to them or the users at all. In any event you are better off asking before adding features that are out of scope.

7.    Test and proof read your code. Clients and managers can not directly tell how good your code is but they sure can see when you have a bug! Test your code every time you make a change - there are no changes too small to test! The other thing that clients will spot is typos and spelling mistakes - I know that it is not fair but they will initially evaluate your code based on how it looks, not on what is does under the hood. If you can't spell well or don't have a good eye for user interfaces then get the help of someone who does to give your application a proof reading before you send it to clients to review.

8.    Keep Learning. Technology is always changing and companies keep those who have the most upto date skills. Read books on evelopment, follow blogs, attend user group meetings and go to conferences. And if you do have to find a new job it will be easier if you have CF 8 and Flex experience on your resume.

9.    Network. If a developer has amazing skills and a great attitude but no one else knows them then it will be hard to get a new job. You never know who may refer you to work in the future. Go to user group meetings and talk with others, help others out on lists, attend the networking events at conferences, trade business cards. Focus on what you can give to others and then you will receive in return at another time.


10.    Volunteer. A great way to stand out is to volunteer at your local user group, conference or company committee. Speak, write or blog. Just be prepared to do this on your own time. Consider it an investment in your future.



Attending a conference such as CFUnited will let you learning new skills, learn better project skills and network with more people than you could meet in 210 days at home!

Boxes Don't Hamper Creativity by Miki Saxon

Miki Saxon is quite a perceptive woman.  Virtually every month we feature a new article of her's in our newsletter, and for good reason.  They are interesting, well written, and have different takes on virtually every aspect of corporate life.

Her latest entry is about how encouraging people to think "outside the box" as people say, is futile.  Everyone has a box in which their imagination is contained.  Trying to think outside of it is against the purpose of these boxes.  Saxon feels that the way we come up with new ideas is to recognize the size of your box and try to expand upon it. 

Obviously, those who are very creative and have built their lives on their creativity have much bigger boxes.  The objective is to expand our boxes so that our creativity increases.  But everytime we "think outside the box" a new box is created around it, thus we always have a box.  But if we keep expanding, the sky is the limit.  You can read all of Miki's article HERE.

Staying Afloat in a Bad Economy

Because I am such an avid reader of Miki Saxon's Blog, I saw an article that most everyone can relate to, even billionaire company owners.  As unfortunate as it is, we are in a recession, especially with rising fuel costs and housing crisis that won't ever seem to bottom out.  WIth even the cost of groceries rising exponentially, people are spending less everywhere to save on the things they need.  This translates into companies having less money across the board.

During an economic downturn, it makes logical sense for executives to cut costs, and the easiest way to do this is simply to start letting people go.  If you fire people, obviously there's less people to pay, and a company will retain the money they're used to, with the exception of those people who were fired.  Right?  Not exactly.  Hopefully the people you have on your staff are there because you think they should be there.  Releasing them just because the economy isn't going well will only put these valuable people on someone else's payroll, so that when the economy comes back, you'll simply be out the right peole for the job, and people who've already been trained in their positions to boot!  To read Miki's entire article, just click here.

New TeraTech Website

For those pacing in anticipation for the brand new TeraTech website, the wait is over.  We have launched our brand new site that is, dare we say, much more enticing. 

Along with it is our brand new campaign.  As we are ColdFusion experts, we specialize in keeping your servers and applications healthy with a similar approach to the healthcare industry.  It is best to get your servers and applications checked regularly, making sure that preventative measures are taken to keep them running up to speed.  The earlier a problem is found, the easier it is to correct it.  This holds true in virtually every instance in life, and sick or slow servers are no exception.  TeraTech suggests having your servers and applications checked regularly so that they might be resolved quickly and efficiently by our expert staff.  Sometimes the worst problems are those that sneak up on you slowly and become disabling from within.

But some times there are problems that need to be solved now.  Problems over crashing servers can’t wait for the weekend or even tomorrow morning.  For those problems needing immediate attention, we have the ability to quickly and efficiently fix problems with your servers, similar to going to an emergency room.  We can respond immediately to these types of “emergency” situations, ones that cannot wait until the next day.   Our ability to work at unconventional hours allows us to help our customers in any fashion they need. 

"A Snapshot of Entrepreneurs"

Miki Saxon as always, has a keen sense of the business world.  While many people would like to believe that the majority of the latest, greatest corporation founders are 20-somethings who just end up with a great business.  People constantly hear about stories in which mere kids are becoming gazillionaires when they may not have even attended any college, but just formed a business with their best buds.  Well, there are those stories, a bunch of them.  But Saxon realizes that we look at these as stories as if they are the norm, not the exceptions.

 

The truth is, most American born founders are not these cosmically lucky kids in dorm rooms, but are college educated adults, many of which from Ivy League schools.  That we look to the exceptions, where kids get lucky with a cool new website or idea is merely the fact that we are more intrigued by young, sexy, stylish people becoming hugely popular, sometimes only because they are the newest or latest idea.  So if you graduated from schooland are looking back in spite on all these young adults becoming filthy rich, know that the likelihood is in YOU will be the founder of the next biggest thing.  Check out Miki's full article here.

 

 

Where Did TeraTech Come From?

I sat down with TeraTech President and Co-Founder, Michael Smith, to truly understand the vision behind TeraTech.  From its 1989 inception TeraTech (partially a play on “Microsoft”, micro = one millionth, terra = one trillion) has proved itself as experts in ColdFusion and gurus at solving complex web based problems.

In 1989, Smith, originally from England, came off a programming project in the Netherlands and decided to travel to see what he wanted to do next.  He landed in Rockville, Maryland with the idea of opening his own business, one that focused on software quality, did not adhere to the typical 9-5 work-week, and that treated its clients and employees with mutual respect. “Certainly, the atmosphere is what’s important to me,” he notes.  He met up with Liz Whitaker to actual begin this business on their own terms and with their own rules. 

They began by working on Clipper Programming for the World Bank in 1989 and soon acquired ProBas, a basic DOS library, in 1991.  Quickly, things started picking up and getting bigger.  Also in ’91, they started doing Visual Basic for Windows programming.  1993 however saw the passing of co-founder Liz Whitaker.  Remaining true to his goals, Smith continued pursuing his vision of TeraTech.  In 1997, TeraTech took a turn that would ultimately change its course.  Smith decided that the newly released Allaire ColdFusion web development language was the direction the company should go, and has since never looked back.  In 1998, TeraTech became the leader of the Maryland ColdFusion User Group, and has held a meeting in Rockville every month since.  1999 saw the first annual CFUnited convention, hosted in Bethesda, MD, which has since grown from a weekend event to a 4-day, 1000 person convention attended by every big name in the ColdFusion community.   

The sense of community stayed close to Smith.  He realized what the CF community had given him, and wanted to find ways to give back.  In 2000, he created a ColdFusion tag poster, set up classes training in ColdFusion and Fusebox, and began running websites www.cfbughunt.org as a public forum to track bugs, and www.cfconf.org which gives the latest updates on all events in the CF community.  He has spoken at many ColdFusion user groups and events around the world.

This long journey is far from over for TeraTech.  We are still striving to improve software quality worldwide and solve complex programming problems and sick servers.

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