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Bold leadership

October 10, 2016

freedom-lies-in-being-bold

In a recent discussion with my former Vistage chair, who I respect tremendously – Mitch Pearlman, he shared an exercise from the recent Vistage Executive Summit (if you’re not familiar with Vistage, check them out – incredible organization: Vistage).  The exercise was centered around “Bold Leadership”.

The handout began with a concise definition:

Bold: (of a person, action, or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous: a bold attempt to solve the crisis.

It then went on to ask the following questions:

  1. What is Bold Leadership to you?
  2. How have you shown Bold Leadership in your life or business (one powerful short example!).
  3. What Bold action are you committing to, to get yourself and/or your company to the next level.

While I wasn’t able to attend the summit and participate in this exercise, this struck a chord with me.  In my opinion, people who make the best managers are those who strongly support the people they manage.  To me this means being bold in making the tough decisions; being bold in always and without fail backing your people; being bold to remove obstacles in their path and take a personal interest in their success; and in a backwards kind of way, being bold by doing it most of the time without expecting thanks.

I think this is a good quick mental exercise by which everyone would be served.  Take a few minutes in your day to think about making more of an impact to those around you.

Scott

www.statusnotquo.com

www.linkedin.com/in/scapistrano

Originally posted on LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2ds5uPH

 

The number one thing I love about Slack.

October 7, 2016

slackThe best solutions are those that are home grown through sheer necessity (or desperation!).  Slack is a cloud-based communication and collaboration tool, originally used as an internal tool.  Here’s a fun fact: did you know that Slack stands for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”?

Slack works in a web browser, a local program, or a mobile app.  You can use it to create “channels” for conversations of any topic.  In addition, it supports direct conversations, or any mix of individuals.  It can also be used to communicate with others outside of your organization.  It facilitates images, attachments, videos, links – you name it and Slack handles it.  And it has been highly leveraged through integrations with other companies.  It even integrates with Giphy – although that one is arguably dangerous lol.

Status Not Quo introduced Slack last year.  Not everyone was a fan of “one more tool to use”.  However, as a custom software development company, we were trying everything we could to cut down on email while also improving productivity.  How well we execute our projects is everything.  Yes, we need to be creative and programming experts, but execution is where it all comes together (or for many companies, falls apart).  Thus, anything that enhances or streamlines communication is something that grabs our attention.

To cut to the chase, it absolutely cut down on email and streamlined communication, all while enhancing the flow of information.  But none of that is thing that I love best.  The best thing is how it enhanced our culture, and connected our Status Not Quo family even more tightly together.  Culture is already at the top of our list.  With hiring for fit at the top of our recruiting requirements, we already start with people who are a good fit in some way (mind you, we’re an incredibly diverse group).

However, now the conversations in Slack go far beyond “the projects”.  One favorite channel is the “Random” channel.  On any given day you might see posts and discussions about light sabers, movie quotes, new games, National Taco Day, and just about anything related to pop culture.  And our conversations don’t just happen during the week during business hours – Slack is a 24/7/365 conversation.  It’s a conversation that people “want” to be a part of, rather than “have to” for work.

If you haven’t tried Slack, check it out.  It will impact your communication and culture for the better!

Scott
www.statusnotquo.com

www.linkedin.com/in/scapistrano

SNQ opens new bear sanctuary

April 1, 2016

Status Not Quo (NYSE: SNQ) is thrilled to announce the opening of a bear sanctuary within its corporate offices located in Valencia, California.SNQ Bear Sanctuary

Citing the ongoing misunderstandings of human and bear confrontations out in the world, SNQ felt a a critical step towards reconciliation was providing the bears with a platform for a unified voice.  SNQ has set aside a portion of its office, 2,000 square feet previously referred to as the SNQ “Studio”, as the new bear headquarters.

“Bears really have been misunderstood.” says Jeff McIntire, a Senior Programmer at SNQ.  “I’ve walked hundreds of miles in the shoes of my bear friends.  Most times, they just want to give you a big furry hug!”

SNQ’s President, Scott Capistrano, says he supports the new initiative, but with some  reservations: “We’re excited to help move the conversation forward, however, not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I still have this nagging feeling that the bears have a different agenda.  But we’re moving forward with a positive outlook.”

The first bear delegation will be arriving today.  Regardless of the pace of moving bear and human relations forward, SNQ is also hoping to possibly leverage the bears’ expertise with web and digital marketing work to help balance the investment.

We Go Together

January 8, 2016

We go together

Your company culture can form the solid foundation from which your company can reach for its goals, or it can be an unstable mass of shifting sand, constantly undermining your efforts.  There’s so much data about culture these days, it can be overwhelming – not to mention contradictory!

Here’s a different approach to the discussion:  with all due credit to Stacy London and Clinton Kelly of What Not To Wear , the components you build your culture from don’t have to match, but they do need to go together.  Since culture is driven by the people in the team (or department or organization), we’re really talking about personalities and value systems.

No one wants a company filled with pod people or clones – groupthink can be hideously destructive, and a lack of innovation has left many failed companies in its wake.  That said, the opposite extreme can be just as bad, resulting in failed communication, opposing goals, and a lot of strife and stress.  A great culture is built from individuals with common ground or value system, which provides a space to meet and work through the differences that will occur.  Complimentary personalities and skills result in a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.  So the next time you look at your team, instead of worrying whether everyone matches, ask yourself this:  do we go together?*

 

*And now I have We Go Together from Grease for an earworm…

Will Apple Force the Market to Evolve Again?

January 6, 2016

In 2008, Apple released the Macbook Air, the first major computer without an optical drive. This was a revolutionary idea, perhaps too revolutionary. No one I spoke with at the time thought this was a good idea. After all, the floppy disk was replaced by the optical drive. But what would we replace the optical drive with?

Year after year, Apple continued to remove optical drives from their computers, and others followed suit. This forced consumers to adapt to a new reality. With the fall in price of flash storage, USB and flash drives came into popularity. Services like Dropbox and App Stores filled the void. Today it’s rare to see optical drives in laptops.

Rumors of the new iPhone 7 have begun to swirl, the loudest among them is the removal of the 3.5mm Headphone Jack. This has sparked some debate in our office. The consensus here is that people are simply not ready to give up their antiquated hardwired headphones and earbuds in favor of wireless versions.

Personally, I think this move will lead to positive change in the headphone/earbud industry. There are few companies that exist that can force us to rethink an entire marketplace. Apple has that power, and it will be difficult for hardware manufacturers to ignore the spendy Apple user market.

What are your thoughts?

3 Lessons from 4 Months of Project Management

December 30, 2015

As the first of January heralds in 2016, I’ll be hitting my 4-month mark here at Status Not Quo. While I’ve worked in team environments before and I’ve been responsible for bringing projects to completion, this is the first time I’ve officially donned the title of Project Manager. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that the last 4 months have been much like an accelerated learning program—and today, I’ll share 3 of the biggest takeaways thus far.

1. Don’t Get Comfortable
If you’ve ever talked to someone about what it’s like to work on a small development team, chances are they’ve talked to you about how many hats they wear. This expression is much more about function than fashion, as the hats they’re talking about represent the different roles a team member must fulfill to carry a project to completion while drawing from limited personnel. Chances are, if you ask this hat-happy person what their title is, they’ll respond with, ‘producer,’ ‘project manager,’ or something else along those lines.

manyhats

In my 4 months here at SNQ, there’s rarely a day I don’t take on a task that requires a new set of skills. Yes, it takes some extra effort, but it’s also what makes my role appealing to me and what makes me appealing to the role. Adaptability and willingness are two exceptionally important pieces of project management.

2. Accountability is Paramount
So far, I’ve noticed a very simple, important theme: When individuals take clear ownership over tasks, good things happen. That being said, it’s equally important to recognize that accountability isn’t about knowing where to put blame, it’s about knowing who to go to for solving specific problems.

This concept doesn’t just apply to the developers who are actually building things. Every member of the team, from top to bottom, needs to be responsible for whatever they’re working on, whether this is scheduling, programming, QA, or anything else. When issues overlap or dependencies arise, there’s nothing better than knowing exactly who to go to for answers.

3. Eyes Up, Solider.
This last lesson is applicable to everyone, but it’s doubly important for project management. The end of each day should involve looking at what’s in store for, at the very least, tomorrow. While switching off at the end of a shift and enjoying some downtime is undeniably important, being aware of what’s in your immediate future allows you to passively plan.

Surprises are best reserved for birthday parties—look as far down the road as you can without losing focus on the here and now. Iron out kinks before they crop up and be ready to create detours that you know will ultimately reconnect with the freeway to the finish line.

 

These three lessons are just the broad strokes of project management; there’s a veritable ton of expertise left to gain and skills to sharpen. As we move into 2016, I’m excited for the lessons I’m sure to pick up along the pathway of completing great projects.

A Summer Internship at Oddly Even

September 29, 2015

I spent my summer as an intern working on mobile development which is making phones apps, in sunny California, for Status Not Quo. The feelings I had when I had left to move to California were that of excitement and also terror since I had not traveled far from home in Illinois on my own. Although, being out in California was scary and I missed my family back home. I wouldn’t be the same person I am at this time without it. When I say I would not be the same person I mean that figuratively because working has expanded my knowledge and has grown me as a person.

I got to experience a wide spectrum of so many parts of mobile development and programming. I know, you mean what did you get to experience and I will tell you I got to learn about parts of programming I did not know even exist. Such as, a RESTful Web Service. Yes, I know I was like “What is that? Let me go Google that real quick. Could you explain it?” the simple answer is yes I can explain it. But well no. Also, I got to work with mobile devices sensors so I can create an accurate location tracking. I had no interest in do anything with location based technology before but now I want to work more with it. Then, I work with storing information on phones which to be honest isn’t that interesting but it is important because if you can hold on to something how can you expect something to run again and again. How could a phone hold onto what people had previously select if you did not store information and data, it can’t. I mean these are some interesting thing especially to someone starting out who might not have seen them until later on after joining the workforce with a degree, but I got to make them work together.

Now, that was just one project. Also, I am kept busy because I always have something to do. There is a project and each project is different. I have gotten the chance to update and modify apps with my work. Other times I get to test other people’s work which is something I enjoy. There is feeling that things are going to work out because before I get a chance the apps are tested by their maker. However, nothing is perfect and it takes many revisions to get an app to an acceptable state. That has ended up being true while building an app.

There was a project was to verify that X was a problem and was it easy to fix. Well that project turned into terror; however, I learned several things from another’s mistake. Like the importance of naming and not having every part of a project call the rest of the project. That project was like a Russian nesting doll that never ended. Currently, that is still being worked on and I am not for which I am happy for because that project gave me a headache.

Now, all good things have to an end and I am grateful for the chance and opportunity to learn and grow with Status Not Quo and Oddly Even. Now, I am excited by joining their ranks to continue to grow, learn, and enjoy the wonderful California weather.