Friday, December 29, 2006


5 things you probably don't know about me...

1)I got B's in my English classes in college. I'm not great at organized writing!

2)I drive a golf ball an average of 220 yards usually fairly straight.

3)I was born at home... intentionally.

4)I hope to write a book someday which more than likely will have a spiritual focus. If it doesn't I have sold out.

5)I grew up on a dairy farm in a town with a population of less than 2000... people, not cows.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Just Say No

This word has long been in the minds and vocabulary of human beings. To many parents it seems to be the only word their two year old knows. It is the response we are taught as children to have when confronted with illegal and damaging behavior. Teenage boys fear it because of its potentially tight hold on their romantic confidence. It is the enemy of the people pleaser and the friend of the prudent. In a world of grey hues and fence riders it is one of the last remaining concretes that allows us to take a stand verbally. It takes our hand and leads us through every stage of our lives, yet many businesses are releasing it's grasp and clinging instead to the hand of the "yes man."

In my short and incredibly humble time as a contributer to society I have noticed this trend with many companies who are in growth mode either as a company or regionally. They are so desperate for business they take on unrealistic or unclear projects the client throws their way in an attempt to gain market share or professional respectability. If the contributors are not able to deliver however, the opposite unfortunately occurs. Time and resources are spent and after weeks of spinning and churning the product is frustrated contributors and an unhappy client. Had Mr/Ms Salesperson declined the project and continued to dig for more feasible opportunities would the company have been better off?

Let me be clear. My stand is not to look adversity in the face and quickly retreat. The '66 UTEP Miners and the '80 USA Hockey Team were both historical proof that perserverence through seemingly impossible circumstance can end in victory for the under dog. The imperative aspect however is those two teams had a definite time line of either success or failure. When the buzzer sounded they were either winners or losers. Time outs, half time, and periods were their opportunities to make adjustments.

Perhaps time limits and intermissions are the answer to the difficult decision of whether or not to take an opportunity on. Have the contributors give it their best for a set amount of time with an intermission half way through to reevaluate and if they do not deliver to the client's specifications when the time clock expires simply walk. Of course this theory is incredibly simplistic and naive. After all the fault could be in the contributors and I acknowledge that. However, if you find yourself with a team of contributors you trust and no results for the client, take it from Nancy Reagan and "Just Say No." If you have the killer instinct in you and want to swing for the fences atleast put a time line on it. After all, even baseball sends you back to the bench after three strikes.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Quick Lesson in Egocentrism

I have the same knee jerk thought upon hearing of one of my fellow humans doing or saying something that is down right inappropriate. "Tonight we've arrested two suspects in the burglery of an 80 year old woman," or "Breaking news... police are asking for tips on what seems to be a car jacking of the local meals on wheels van." I am not sure what you are thinking after reading those two headlines, but my thoughts don't immediately go out to the victim, but rather the mom of the perp. Unless she's Ma Beagle she's dissapointed, crushed and wondering where she went wrong. Instead of her kiddo thinking of the consequences of his decision on the lives of other's, his mind was missile locked on his own selfish desires. This mentality transcends illegal behaviour and often times rests comfortably in the minds of many job seekers and employers. I will give you an example of both just to be fair.

It's decision time and you have two companies after you. After careful consideration you decide on Company A because of its onsite gym facilities knowing good and well you will more than likely never set foot in there. Instead of contacting Company B to tell them of your decision to "bulk up" you proceed to screen the company's call. You get that dip in your stomach when you see the familiar number and instead of taking it like a (insert gender) you SCREEN it. Of course time will erase that sinking in your stomach mostly because the company will stop calling, but I assure you, there's a dissapointed recruiter who is blaming themself and it could have been avoided had you owned up to your decision.

Fresh from a meeting with the heads of your departments you sit down to an email from a persistent candidate who desperately wants to know their status. You just had the VP of Finance tell you straight up they were no longer being considered because of their lack of experience but you hesitate to respond. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news so you wait days to respond an avoid the difficulty of telling someone no. What you may not realize is every day you wait is another day this financial analyst is picking apart every comment and conclusion they made in the interview. It's also feasible they are following the behavior of the candidate in the above scenario and screening the calls of less desirable Company B because they are waiting to hear from you.

Kind of like the old chicken and the egg delima. Who tipped the first dominoe in the bad communication train... the recruiter or the candidate? Finger pointing obviously gets people no where so the solution I believe is to simply act in a manner that would make your momma proud. Candidates, if you have an interview scheduled, don't cancel the day of. I am an avid believer in not slamming doors before you atleast walk through the threshold and an even bigger believer in being an individual of your word. Companies, follow Midas's favorite rule and treat these candidate appropriately. Perhaps if everyone considered the time and feelings of all parties potentially effected the whole recruiting process might be just a little more productive. Well that's my sappy idea anyway...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


BY FAR my favorite game at the arcade is pop a shot. The adrenaline of racing the clock, the challenge of a constantly moving rim and backboard, the feeling of accomplishment when tickets pour out of the machine, or the competitive nature in me that erupts when I get only a couple of tickets and quickly anty up for the next go. It's ironic that this scenario is appealing to me, yet I am completely deflated in a work environment when I encounter a task that is a moving target.

Employees face this challenge in every industry. IT project managers who work tirelessly to get a team cohesive and briefed and BAM "Mr/Ms PM, we have reevaluated and it's in our best interested to dissolve your team and go another way" or the Advertising Exec who pours their heart and soul into a campaign only to have it squashed at the last minute. After writing those two scenarios I am immediately mad for these fictional characters and have already have thoughts of what I would say in that situation. But why? Is it this so different than pop a shot? Why don't I immediately think "I can't wait to go back to the the drawing board and anty up my resources and knowledge and see if I can't win them over!"

I think it all lies in expectations. I know what is about to happen when I step up with a tiny rubber basketball in my hands and wait for the countdown to expire before I start firing. In work for some reason we have this unrealistic expectation that people are going to have ideas and opinions and keep them... FOREVER. It's like asking a child what they want in line at McDonalds and getting frustrated because at first they wanted the hamburger, but now it's chicken nuggets, but right before you order they scream "ice cream." Now granted in that situation I would not set myself up for frustration by asking a child's opinion, but in the work environment we don't have that luxury. We are forced to listen and adapt to the higher ups if we want to remain employed. There is of course the option of "chunking it all and starting your own think tank."

My advice to myself and of course any of you reading that share my frustration is to alter your expectations a bit. Acknowledge people and situations change and make your success about the experience and not necessarily the end result. After all more than likely I go back to pop a shot not because I win, but because I like basketball.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I spent the good part of yesterday at Innotech here in Austin as an attendee and have great things to report on my end. I thoroughly enjoyed my first session from Ciber on implementing SOA geared toward CEO's and executives. I scanned the room and realized I was probably the only person listening who could sing the lyrics to an entire N'Sync song. Originally I attended for the sole purpose of honoring my registration with them, for a free pass to the conference, but obligation definitely turned into a great learning opportunity.

The speaker, Dr. Khalid Mansour, did a wonderful job of presenting and certainly said a handful of things that added significantly to my understanding of Service Oriented Architecture. What struck a chord with me however wasn't his explanation of coupling, or reuse, or the importance of data, but rather his sidebar on the importance of a cohesive team during every phase from planning the roadmap to implementing the best practices. I got excited because that is precisely where I come in and have the potential to make a contribution to a service that is proven to add significant value to a business.

There was a time when I had the naive misconception that recruiting was a matter of matching skill sets to a well written job description. There are definitely industries that support this emphasis on sourcing, but as Dr. Mansour stated, successful SOA project aren't solely about finding candidates who know the language, database, or middleware the project requires. What is the stick in the spokes of this cut and dry method you ask? I would argue complacency. There is a world full of really smart people who simply walk around going through the motions without a passion or pursuit in the world. These candidates are excellent fits for certain positions that rely heavily on consistency and predictability, but from what I have gathered, that isn't the nature of SOA projects.

I think where the harmony comes is when each teammate respects the fervor of the person sitting next to them. They may not agree 100%, but they know their colleague has given serious consideration to what is coming out of their mouth, so odds are they're going to listen and respond back with equally thought provoking material. I definitely am still learning tips on determining early on who these people are by the questions I ask. Ideally I would love to get to the point where I can have a conversation with a candidate who may not be a perfect fit for the requirement I am working on, but can consistently direct them to companies, industries, and teams where they will thrive. In the mean time, I look forward to any insight into what I can do now to lay the ground work to get there.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Calling All Thought Leaders

I was giving heavy consideration this weekend to if I could step forward leaving a world full of slackers and sheep behind to answer the call of thought leadership. I am not referring simply to thoughts in general or extensive knowledge for that matter. If this were the case I would quickly make my way to the front if the topic for discussion were College Football, Gilmore Girls, or Jane Austin novels. As I mentioned however trivia buffs need not apply to this one because knowledge is meerly the first step in forward thinking.

This is the world I have found myself in as a technical recruiter for a provider of Service Oriented Enterprise consulting. Our practice managers have set the bar at gurus and evangelists and show no signs of adjusting the limbo poll. It gets really interesting when they add on a side of 75% travel, coupled with excellent communication, and spoon on some humility for good measure. Humble thought leader? I am checking now if Webster gives that phrase as an example under the over used word "oxymoron." I can confirm they don't.

So are these managers being unrealistic? I used to think so, but I have found some pretty close contenders. Service Oriented Architecture is doing amazing things to bridge the gap between business and technology services, but where I get excited is realizing the impact it is making on business and technology CANDIDATES. No longer are MBA's concerned solely with dollar signs and profitability and developers and architects are now right in the middle of a heated discussion concerning bugets and profitability. Hopefull this means there are less boardroom duals where 20 paces and two drawn pistols are what seperates business and technology from productivity. But how did we get here you ask?

I have thought quite a bit about what it was that caused these individuals to break out of their molds that college degrees had long cast. Perhaps Big Bang... or what some like to call the .com bust. Did the techies realize they needed to start placing eggs in other baskets in order to support their families and their new acquired expensive taste? What about the business and financial analysts? What got them to cross the boundaries of supply and demand into the unknown of C++ and Java? I have no idea. You tell me! I suppose that's what a blog is for.

Bottom Line... candidates continue to amaze and impress me. More amazing than anything are the number of candidates who give themselves a 10 out of possible 10 for SOA during my phone screens. I never realized there were so many "Fathers of SOA." For those of you who I have screened and are reading my blog wondering if you rated yourself 10, don't worry I more than likely gave you a 9 regardless of what you said to help your chances... that is if I liked you. In all seriousness I am encouraged by the quality of candidate I am seeing and look forward to the continued evolution of the IT candidate.

By the way if you're interested in applying for a job with MomentumSI we simply ask that you prove your membership in Mensa as well as provide us with a tape of your appearance on Jeopardy (don't bother unless you were atleast runner up).