Running and Recuperation in Provence

It is July and we are finally in the Luberon, a serene and stunning area of rolling hills, lavender, wheat, and sunflower fields in Provence just east of Avignon. Nestled in between the Luberon Mountains, we are in a small villa about 5 kilometres outside of Reillanne, a medieval perched village.

C RunningMy family has had a tough 2016 and we desperately needed to get away from Paris for everyone to rest and recuperate. We have extended family with us to help watch the kids but this place more or less watches them for us. Our villa is safely tucked inside a valley where my mobile phone doesn’t get a signal much to my wife’s delight! The kids can run freely and explore the property while enjoying the view of the five horses that roam the field just fifty metres from our front door.

Our kids, my wife and I all need time to rest and recover from what has been a tough yet formative year. I’m off work for a while to focus on the family. It has been very rewarding as my bonds have grown deeper with my wife and my kids. Several mornings a week the girls crawl into our bed for a proper snuggle and we often find ourselves falling asleep again for another thirty to sixty minutes. The extra rest is welcomed to help us feel refreshed. Continue reading

You Are The Culture

How do you think your staff and colleagues feel when your number pops up on their caller ID?

A few years ago one of my managers told me I was too nice. He said, “People need to fear you more.” This never resonated with me and still doesn’t today. When I get tough on people I tend to go too far and it backfires on me. As I mature and better understand who I am and what skills to exercise in a given situation I am discovering that I need to remain true to my personal nature. Yes, people need to know when they are not meeting expectations but managing with fear doesn’t work for me and for most individuals fear doesn’t motivate them either. I have to be tough yet respectful and empathetic. I’m in a leader position to support, inspire, coach and guide the team to perform at the most optimal level.

I think people with big egos and no self-esteem need to “show people who is the boss.” Ok, maybe I need to have a little more compassion. There are many people who come from crappy childhood backgrounds where they were never given the necessary grounding to build self-confidence or develop a good emotional intellect. These people fear they will be fired, or not accepted and as a result, they fret over the wrong things and drive people from the wrong emotional position. Often these people are very, very intelligent and manage up extremely well but don’t manage across their peer networks or down through their teams very well at all. For years they will pull the wool over their senior managers’ eyes and get promoted, eventually getting to a position where they can no longer hide their lack of emotional intelligence. Then people in their teams start leaving or performing at sub-optimal levels as they don’t want to rock the boat, be called out negatively in front others, or risk dealing with the negative behaviours. Continue reading

Why Do You Go To Work?

About five years ago I was on a solo date with my eldest daughter who was four at the time. We were at our favourite fusion Mexican restaurant sitting on the upstairs patio. It was a warm spring evening, the sky was blue, and the sun’s rays casted a beautiful warm light. I cherished the moment alone with my daughter.

I said to her. “I really enjoy spending time with you.”
She responded. “Then why do you go to work?”

I can’t recall how I answered, but I know it wasn’t deep or profoundly insightful. I recall smiling and being stunned at her wisdom. She has always had an old soul.

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The old soul

I wished I’d answered. “Because I love my job, I work with great people, am constantly learning, and we are building and selling enduring products that deliver real value for our customers.” I’m not sure a four year old would have understood this answer. The point is that I haven’t always loved what I do and I wonder how this impacts my family.

I can understand why she would pose this question. I could see her brain working. “You love me. I love you. We have fun together. Why would you want to leave me?” Continue reading

Just Start!

Just StartI recall a long road trip with a friend back in university. I was at the wheel while he read a self-help or business book. At one point he looked up from the book, gazed at the horizon and said, “I really need to be nicer to people if I am going to influence them and get ahead.” I thought this was a good reflection as he was sharp with his words and critical of his friends and colleagues. Hours later we arrived at our destination to discover the hotel had messed up our reservations. He was frustrated, immediately raised his force and started giving the hotel staff a miserable time. I laughed and reflected back at his thoughts in the car. Later I raised the subject with him and he was embarrassed and laughed at himself. It’s not easy to read these books and immediately think you’ll be successful. It takes personal reflection and an ability to be candidly honest with yourself. And sometimes you just need to stop reflecting, dreaming, and thinking… and just start. Continue reading

Enduring

If there is one word that describes my personal journey I hope that word is enduring. I’ve always believed in building relationships, businesses, and institutions that take on purpose and value to withstand the ebbs and flows of time, the ups and downs up markets, and the trials and tribulations of families. In other words, building enduring relationships, families, and businesses.

One wouldn’t describe my roots as privileged or financially and emotionally secure. I come from a family that was embroiled in turmoil. From a very young age I knew I had to define my own destiny. As a child I understood my parents had to make trade offs. I heard them constantly stressed about finances. I recall one day shopping for a toy I really wanted but when the moment came to buy the toy I cowered and told them I no longer wanted it. I feared for the family finances and any resulting stress. I was already wearing the responsibility to take care of myself as a primary school boy and wiring my brain to help me thrive in what I observed as a very chaotic world. Continue reading

Opportunities – How do you make them?

My career in enterprise software got started thanks to an ex-girlfriend.

In my early twenties I wasn’t quite sure what path I would take, however, I knew I wanted to be in high tech. It was the early 90s and I was studying business at university. I had put myself through school thanks to years of working in a bike (pedal bikes) shop. It is at the bike shop that I learned the importance of customer service, differentiation in value, and commitment to delivery and quality. My bike shop years were formative. I did sales, accounting, inventory management, service, and any task needed to keep the business going. It was a passion, a career, and a family. I applied myself as if it were my own business. Despite the passion for bikes, I didn’t see a prosperous future. In 2nd year of university I bought a computer and started learning as much as possible about software, business applications, and about how to install, configure, and exploit the software. I clicked on every button, experimented with everything I could get my hands on… but the programming and coding side of software never interested me. At least it never stuck. Continue reading

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