Shut Up and Take My Money: How to Attract Business Investment into IT

Shut Up and Take My Money: How to Attract Business Investment into IT

There are two kinds of IT departments. The first kind is the cost center. IT is an expense to be managed, like the utility bill. IT focuses on unit cost reduction and efficiency. IT is a means to an end, and a necessary evil to participate in the modern economy. The business needs IT, but doesn’t love it. This is a race to the bottom. The goal is to make the IT widgets that the business needs as cheap as…

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Who Wants a Laptop Sticker?

Who Wants a Laptop Sticker?

Geeks love to cover their laptops with stickers. It’s a form a self-expression. It tells those around us about what kind of technology we are into and what brands represent us best. You’re a tech, and you are going places. You are working on your leadership skills to influence those around you. You are an avid reader of this super-cool blog that speaks to the challenges you face. Now, you want to show it. That’s why I made the Zach…

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You’re a Tech, Figure It Out: Stay with the Problem Longer

You’re a Tech, Figure It Out: Stay with the Problem Longer

Early in my career, I was a desktop support tech. I wore a pager, took dispatches from the help desk, and wandered around corporate cube farms solving computer issues. I had a tech lead over me. He was responsible for handling the escalations from the techs for anything they couldn’t solve. There was some significant variation on when team members would escalate. Some techs, like me, would work problems hard and thoroughly before escalating. Others really didn’t seem to have…

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The Best Way to Scale Your Impact: Zach’s Theory of Delegation

The Best Way to Scale Your Impact: Zach’s Theory of Delegation

I’ve observed over the years that we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to our own career growth. We initially succeed through mastery, but it is mastery that holds us back from moving forward. Being the best in the company on a particular subject matter is great. It makes you the go-to person, gives you purpose, and earns you respect. This is a really strong motivator. It is so strong, that we hold fast to it, even…

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Mind and Machine: How I Learned to Become a Technologist from my TI-85

Mind and Machine: How I Learned to Become a Technologist from my TI-85

Technologists have a keen ability to push the limits of technology to maximize the difference it can make. We aren’t born this way. However, we all develop the curiosity to tinker with technology long before we make a career out of it. This journey started for many when they got their first computer. My brother was this way. He learned to program our Atari ST computer and push it to the limits. Surprisingly, this was not my start. I saw…

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The Business Value of Wearing a Costume to Work

The Business Value of Wearing a Costume to Work

So, I’m a bit odd, I know. For many years, I’ve conspicuously come to work on Halloween dressed as a science fiction character. The last couple of years, I’ve taken it even further by assembling my entire team for a meeting, giving it a theme, and conducting it in-character. Why on Earth would I do that? On the surface, it appears that I like to have fun, and that’s true. It also appears that I have a general irreverence for…

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Transformation in Progress: Leadership Lessons from Satya Nadella

Transformation in Progress: Leadership Lessons from Satya Nadella

I recently read Satya Nadella’s new book Hit Refresh, and I also heard him speak at Microsoft Ignite and Envision last month. As a technology leader, and as a Microsoft fan, there’s a lot to like about Satya’s approach to leadership, so I thought I’d write a blog article summarizing my learnings. I am biased I’ve been a long-time fan of Microsoft. Frankly, I owe my career to the company. Starting nearly 20 years ago, I built my skills on…

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Let’s Clear Up the Confusion: Cloud is in the Eye of the Beholder

Let’s Clear Up the Confusion: Cloud is in the Eye of the Beholder

I love the cloud. I’ve had the opportunity to run mission critical cloud services and applications at several large enterprises. I migrate workloads to the cloud. Sometimes, I migrate workloads out of the public cloud into a private one. In enterprise technology, we have an odd relationship with the cloud. We often get it right, but sometimes, we get it wrong. I’m writing this blog to level-set the discussion. The cloud isn’t a Visio shape Once upon a time the…

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Worth the Drive: Commute to the Work You Love

Worth the Drive: Commute to the Work You Love

I live in Brooklyn Park and work in Inver Grove Heights. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Twin Cities geography, that’s a 30-mile one-way commute straight through the middle of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It’s funny. When I talk with people about my job, this is the first thing we always discuss. We don’t talk about work satisfaction, career growth, company culture, employee benefits, or company profitability. We talk about my commute. I’m sure that I drive past…

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Rules for Advancement: Managing Up is Not Enough

Rules for Advancement: Managing Up is Not Enough

As a leader looking to advance, you have to manage effectively in a number of directions. You need to lead your function well (managing down). You need to have a good comradery and collaboration with your peers (managing sideways). You also need to be a courageous follower of your leader (managing up). This, however, is not enough. At one point in my career at a previous company, I thought I was doing really well. I was leading a high performing…

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