Hire Talented People

"You cannot surround yourself with the smartest and most talented people and then start looking over your shoulder or behind your back, worried that somebody smarter or better might be on your heels."
--Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, as quoted by The New York Times

Whether you are a one-person show or a large IT organization, you'll find youself having to hire or contract additional labor.

One of the most important secrets to success is to hire people that are not only talented, but more talented and smarter than you are.

Leadership Tips

One of the worst things about your boss taking a trip is that he or she will likely come back with some great ideas for you to implement, usually from reading an airline magazine (the articles appear between ads for duty-free and skymall items, so they must be right).

To turn that on its head, after my recent trip to India, here is a plan I plan on implementing to become a much more beloved leader...


10 Common IT Job Application Mistakes

Here are some quick tips on how to avoid common mistakes people make when trying to get hired for an IT job...

Getting Your Android GPRS Data Connection Working with Airtel

You'll need your SIM card setup and the data capability enabled on the account. You also need to know your phone number.

You'll probably get an SMS message telling you that your phone the HTC DREA100 could not be configured automatically. That's OK.

Got to settings/wireless controls/mobile networks/access points. Click menu/add an access point.

Set the following:
Name: airtel mobile office
APN: airtelgprs.com
Proxy: <not set>
Port: <not set>
User Name: Your mobile number preceded by 91
Password: <not set>
Leave everything else as is.

That should do it. Save your settings and try to open the web browser and it should open right up. Once you have that, your email and calendar should also work.

UPDATE 11/2010:
I replaced my G1 with a Nexus One and was having trouble connecting. The rules above didn't apply. It turns out to be even simpler.

Be Worth Talking To

I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.
--Oscar Wilde

When you don't know what you're talking about, it's hard to know when you're finished.
--Tommy Smothers

When dealing people, I always try to leave things in such a way that they are glad they talked to me.

Sounds a little egotistical spelled out like that, but I'm serious...

Tech Support and You

This really happened to me...

[User] (a nurse, calling my office for help) You have to get over here right away and fix this computer.

[Me] What's wrong?

[User] (getting madder) I don't know. You're the expert. Get over here.

[Me] Can you tell me what you are having problems with?

[User] (angrier) The computer. It won't even turn on. I keep pressing the "on" button and some green lights come on, but it isn't working. Look, I'm a nurse and I'm really busy and I don't have time to fool around with this. Just get over here and fix it.

[Me] Could you take a few minutes to answer some questions? It might be a simple problem.

[User] No! Get over here. Now.

[Me] OK. I'll be there in 30 minutes. I have to get a spare computer and monitor and drive on site.

[User] Whatever. (phone click)

(25 minutes later...)

[Me] (out of breath from hauling computer and monitor up 3 flights because the elevator was taking too long) OK, can you show me the problem?

[User] Yeah. Look, the screen's black.

[Me] (pressing the "on" button on the monitor) Looks OK now.

[User] Oh... (mumbles something incoherent and probably unrepeatable)

If you are in IT, you may have worked on, and definitely will end up calling, a Tech Support help line. If not Tech Support, then at least customer service.

Here's my advice: always, absolutely always, be nice. In fact, be nicer than nice.

Sometimes you have to be firm, but always be nice. Some environments make it difficult for the service people to really help you, but it usually isn't the person you are talking to's fault. If you need something, be resolute, but always be nice...

Paranoia is a Very Good Thing

Only the paranoid survive.--Andrew Grove

I'm not talking about paranoia with respect to your co-workers and your boss, though that might make sense in your situation. I'm talking about being paranoid about your own work product.

Whether you are writing some code, designing a network, or just opening a few ports on your firewall, being paranoid is a very good thing...

Internet Explorer Links & Shortcuts Hang or Display a White Window

I had a user that had problems with IE7 such that it wouldn't open when he tried to open a link saved to his desktop or the one on the "Quick Launch" shortcut.

The window would open, the "I'm doing something" indicator would spin, but only a white page would be displayed.

What I did was...

Failures, Mistakes, and Other Ways to Learn

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
--George Santayana

Are you committed to life-long learning? I am.

Why? Because, to paraphrase George Santayana, "those that don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them."

How do you learn? Some might answer, "I'm a kinetic learner" or "I learn by reading" or "I am an auditory learner". And that would be true for them, to some extent. There are many learning styles, preferences, and methods, but there is only one common method that is makes such an impact that almost everyone learns something from it. I'm talking about FAILURE.

Many of the most memorable lessons I've learned have came from my failures, not my successes.

AFAS: Ask First, Answer Second

People who think they are smart tend to think that when they are asked a question, they should be able to immediately provide an answer.

Not so.

The problem with that is, because we are human, we tend to misunderstand the question and provide either the wrong answer to the right question or the right answer to the wrong question.

If you really want people to think you are smart, and you want to answer the actual question, first, ask some good questions. That way, you know what the question really is about, only then should you start answering the question. AFAS: Ask First, Answer Second.

Won't that annoy the person asking the question? Yeah, sometimes, but I'd rather answer the right question correctly than any of the alternatives.

There are many reasons why people ask the wrong question, but some of the ones I've run into include:
* They are trying to solve the wrong problem
* They don't understand the problem correctly

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