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MILLENNIALS ARE BECOMING OBSOLETE—ALREADY!

by Tom McBride

The first time I heard the word “obsolete” was when I overheard my father talking to a stranger on a bus. They were speaking about a new expressway that the city had built, and the stranger said, “That thing was obsolete before they ever opened it.”social media MS OFFICE

I was impressed. I went home and looked up the word. And in time I realized the stranger was right. The builders of the new road had put in four lanes but should have put in six. Soon enough, traffic was snarled, and eventually cars started avoiding the route altogether. Then the side streets became overcrowded with autos. The whole thing was a mess.

“Obsolete” was a terrible word. It still is. If something or someone is obsolete, then he, she, or it no longer works. He, she, or it languishes in irrelevance. And then he, she, or it comes to be avoided altogether. Everyone would rather take the side streets. Obsolete things are just in the way. They are like old professors on college campuses. The young sneak behind buildings in order to avoid them.

Today’s Millennials are not obsolete—yet. Born between 1980 and 2000 they came to this planet during a fairly prosperous time, so they represent a population glut. There are already more Millennials alive than Baby Boomers, who constituted the mother of all population explosions.

percent of workforce MS OFFICE

Corporations are working overtime to figure out how to market to this bunch of fickle young consumers, who have an embarrassment of choices. Human resources directors are wondering how to motivate them in the workplace. They are praised for wanting a more healthy balance between work and life (some of them think overtime is evil), and they are feared, almost, for being digital natives. Unlike the rest of us, they grew up high-tech, so what do they know about cyberspace that we don’t?

phones and tablets MS OFFICE

Others can’t stand them—why won’t they look us in the eye at Starbuck’s instead of staring at their phones all the time? And a few of us older people see them as symbols of a world we don’t want to have much to do with. The whole idea of “looking something up on your phone” (which has more data than your local public library) seems repugnant somehow.

infographic MS OFFICE

But there’s one thing these non-obsolete Millennials can’t avoid: In time, they will become obsolete, like the city expressway of my childhood. They will seem irrelevant. They will be in the way. Young people will hide from them. The new generation will have to work around them.

The question, though, is how can Millennials tell when they’re becoming outmoded?

startup venture MS Office

Like, invest in my startup, huh?

The answer is simple. It’s when they start beginning sentences with “These kids nowadays…” I’ve heard early rumblings of this sentence, as when an older Millennial said of younger Millennials, “These people just take wireless computing for granted.” He was too young to say “these kids,” but give him another ten years.

loft MS Office

The truth is that older Millennials are already far enough along to have teen-aged children. A Millennial born in 1980 is now thirty-six and may well have a fourteen-year-old around. In just ten years that will be true for Millennials born in 1990. They will enter that most dreaded source of becoming old-fashioned and resented: parenthood. And then you will hear such sentences as these:

“You kids have it so lucky. We actually had to flip switches to get lights on in a room—none of this decadent voice-activation stuff.”

“You’re lucky, you kids: When I was your age we couldn’t get our genes edited at birth to make us better-looking.”

robot MS Office“When I was your age, we didn’t have to pay extra to get an actual human being to teach us calculus—unless you kids can learn on a machine, you’re going to bankrupt me.”

“Yes, that’s right, kids. Only when a political party isn’t in power does it object to big government deficits. That’s the way it’s always been. Don’t think that you kids can change it!”

“You kids just trust technology too much. I don’t want to have a robot remove my appendix even if it is cheaper.”

Do you hear the notes of weary impatience in these sentences? Do you detect the tone of resentment in the voice of older people when they encounter the youth and idealism of their kids? Do you sense the envy of the young? Do you pick up on the fatigue of bearing parental burdens?

time magazine MS OFFICE

Yet every one of these sentences will be spoken by…a Millennial. They will be speaking to their offspring, which will be called something like Generation Alpha.

And what about the rest of us—old Boomers and Gen X types? Most of us will be even better than obsolete. We’ll be dead.

But don’t you feel better knowing that these young whippersnappers today will also go the way of all flesh? That’ll be true even if, as predicted, people will be immortal by having their brains downloaded into a computer.

Eventually, even the computer will become…obsolete! Ha!

Cell Phone Girl MS Office

Tom McBride is co-author of The Mindset Lists of American History

and The Mindset List of the Obscure,

and the author The Great American Lay: An All Too Brief History of Sex.

He lives in southern Wisconsin.

Graphics from MS Office.

This article appeared in News From Heartland

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TO BE OR NOT TO BE HACKED?

by William Shakespeare,

alias Moises J. Goldman and John Jonelis

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Hamlet—To be or not to be hacked? That is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of phishes, gouged by creatures who boast no scruple, nor affect any purpose higher than foul destruction—and by opposing, end them?

[Editor’s translation—Hackers are a bummer. This is war.]

 

William “Moises” Shakespeare

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Or may say ‘tis wiser to remain in dungeons rank and old—to sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub. For in that sleep, what dreams may come? The internet makes cowards of us all.

[Editor’s translation—Should I upgrade the robustness of my internal infrastructure and firewalls?]

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Horatio—But soft, me lord, to think upon the many turns a kindom make.

Betwixt two means shall we choose to take.

[Editor’s translation—There are two good options.]

 

Hamlet—Ay, the dilemma. To guard an angry pack of dogs that tear and rent and hack away till strength and blood be spent—or flee? How wouldst thou fight, Horatio? I would not hear your enemy say you could do it. Nor shall you do my ear that violence.

[Translation—Don’t feed me a pack of lies. If we encrypt all sensitive data and cyber-secure our network we still can’t achieve fail-safe.]

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Horatio—Hear me lord; I make my case:

Should bits and bytes habitate high Cloud

A kingdom’s gold to free?

No arms, no knights, no castle wall to tug a purse’s string so proud!

‘Stead exult in markets, foul of hogs and sheep and goat?

Entice the sorcerer to play in darker art, in unknown moat?

To raise a legion—conquer lands anew beyond the sea?

And so extend a kingdom’s reach?

[Option #1: The Cloud is cheap.  Save your money for marketing, R&D, and expansion.]

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Hamlet —Methinks this boy hath soundly grounded thought. He makes PaaS-ing SaaS at learning dearly bought. It takes no brain to buy his train of thought.

[Seems like a no brainer. The Cloud.  Platform as a Service—Software as a Service. Let’s do it!]

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Horatio —But soft, me lord, I fear foul play!

This Cloud by wild winds be cast astray.

It boasts no force to hole such gauze with tumult and in fray,

And by doing so, steal treasury of intellect away.

‘Tis best, to build yon castle walls of stouter stuff, some say.

Keep bytes and treasure close and spend on fodder and on hay.

[Option #2: The Cloud is way too vulnerable to attack. Update your in-house network.]

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Hamlet —Wouldst thou squeeze gold from a lark? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. But harken thee—where may best advantage be? What odds see ye?

[That equipment’s really expensive! What’s the probability of getting hacked either way?]

Horatio —Sorcerers be that wouldst draw

Straight crook from snarled oaken saw.

[Mathematicians use probability trees.].

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Hamlet —O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right! 

[I hate math!]

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Horatio —Of haste take not. Outcomes be but three.

Take heed of which I shew to thee.

[No big deal. There are only three probable outcomes.]

Hamlet—Hold, varlet! A fourth ye lacked—that one repent and not be hacked.

[Hamlet has noticed a missing variable: An enterprise upgrades internal systems and yet escapes hacking.]

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Horatio—‘Tis true M’lord, yet is it moot?

Foes be met; nought ground ‘neath heel o’ boot.

Complication wears poorly on thee.

There be no guarantee.

This outcome we call 1-P3…….(1)

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Hamlet—Ha! There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

[Maybe I’m not as dumb as I look.]

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Horatio —‘Tis sooth, my liege—I seek not to deceive.

Perchance I draft a map—deeper knowledge ye may tap.

Yon magic shall appease;

Thy grace’s ire set at ease.

[I’ll make it simple, so even you can see. Take a look at this probability tree.]

 

M’lord do you see?

If systems new and hacking lacking,

Probability is simply 1-P3.

[The probability of an internal network not getting hacked.]

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Hamlet—What make I of this wonder? To ask a fool is to blunder.

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Horatio—Magic formula ye seek, to make right your decision?

Fortunately, Shakespeare knows it with precision.

[Be cool. I got this.]

Look here, dear Ham, and spy yon enterprise,

Floating on the Cloud ’tis wise.

Not to hack or nick sharp blade.

We dig our likelihood with spade.

‘Tis thus: P1+(1-P1)(1-P2)=1-P2(1-(1-P1)………(2)

[The probability of not getting hacked on the Cloud.]

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Hamlet [Aside] Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go. A screw is loose. He rhymes like Dr. Seuss.

[Horatio’s gone bonkers.]

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Horatio —But hark—magicians work dark secrets in a day

That mortal man can plumb no other way.

I spell it in a cypher so you see

The final answer to this mystery.

[Here dummy, I’ll spell it out for you.]

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Hamlet—Indeed, this must I see.

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Horatio—Floating on a Cloud,

Yon enterprise two chances escape plunder,

To hide from doom, not hacked asunder.

The Cloud foul Russian must attack rapaciously

Before cursed knife shall reach its mark with certainty.

[If your enterprise is on the Cloud, hacking is a two-stage process. The Cloud may get hacked. But even then, your enterprise may escape damage.]

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To ride the Cloud in skies of blue, equation (1) must be less than (2).

Hence:  1-P3<1-P2(1-P1)…….(3)

We boil down that poison thus, and there we gain the clue.

If fates would their due, we sing this song,

Our enterprise will float along.

And thus:  P3>P2(1-P1)

 [This is the absolute condition for an enterprise to go to the Cloud.]

 

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Hamlet—Dost thou think me easier play’d on than a pipe? For ‘tis sport to have the enginer hoist with his own petard, an’t shall go hard.

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Horatio—M’lord salves the ego with a threat.

Is this the way your friends are met?

But hear me, sire, ‘tis plain to do.

I will write it out for you.

Be ye not a foe to the way the numbers go.

Ye shall recall the probability of hacking free be 1-P3.

If wise man, on gauzy Cloud his merit bent,

To the tune of 80%,

The numbers shew:  1-P2(0.2)

[Here ya go, Mr. Bigshot CIO—if the probability of not getting hacked on the Cloud—P1—is 80%, then 1-P2(1-0.8) hence 1-P2(0.2)]

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Hamlet—Still it be Greek to me.

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Horatio —Here, my lord, I will unravel

The way that ye must travel,

To the ending of thy quest.

Be in knowledge, not in jest.

[Gotcha!]

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Hamlet—Get it over before I die.

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Horatio —Here’s an end so ye may rest

Like bones inside a chest.

If P3>(0.2)P2 be true,

To the Cloud get ye hence,

Else makest equipment new

And play yon cards close to thy vest.

[This is how the CIO makes the decision.]

Hamlet[Aside] This be a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He rhymes obtuse like Mother Goose. Yet I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart.

[Translation—Good! Let’s get some pizza.]

[Curtain]

[DOWNLOAD ARTICLE IN PDF FORMAT]

.Read the sequel – [THE JOB INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM SHAKES]

NOTE – This example follows similar logic and Decision by Professor J. Sussman used in his lecture to the Engineering Systems Division entitled, DID BELICHICK MAKE THE RIGHT CALL?

[READ BELICHICK PART 1 – PDF]

[READ BELICHICK PART 2 – PDF]

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About the Authors

Dr. Moises Goldman is uniquely involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). He is a member of several advisory boards at MIT and is a founding member of the TALENT program at IMSA.

John Jonelis is a writer, publisher of CHICAGO VENTURE MAGAZINE and NEWS FROM HEARTLAND, author of the novel, THE GAMEMAKER’S FATHER. BFA, MBA from Kellogg.

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Photography and Graphics – John Jonelis, MS Office

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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CHICAGO—THE BEST INCUBATOR IN AMERICA?

by Denny O’Malley

Recently, Inc.com published an article about the best cities for early-stage companies. The premise: Chicago is the surprise winner.

Why would that be? San Francisco and New York are both beautiful, thriving cities that dramatically represent the diversity of American ideas. San Fran—younger, more venture-oriented, with beautiful natural vistas. New York—the classic, bustling private and public equity concrete jungle.

What do they have in common? It costs a kidney to pay rent for a closet. Continue reading

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INQUIRY AND INNOVATION

by John Jonelis

What happens when you invite the community into your high school and send your high school students into the community?

Amazing things! You create a THIRD SPACE in people’s lives.

[Britta McKenna is the Chief Innovation Officer at IMSA.]

Britta – “You have your home and you have your work and you have third spaces in your life where you feel comfortable and find a community. Robert Putnam believed in third spaces. He has a book called Bowling Alone 1. It used to be that bowling leagues were that third space. People at the bar. Cheers. We want IN2 to be that third space in people’s lives.”

“Look at the ceiling. Look at the lights. Do you see the pattern?

IN2 – Symbolism in Architecture

It’s that intersection of outside and inside. Community coming together to make this a real learning laboratory experience. We want to come in and work on real-world problems and opportunities.

“People can bring problems and opportunities to us and say, let’s figure out how we can work together. Like the State of Illinois with the hackathon we just did—finding solutions to childhood lead poisoning.

“Think about all the things kids are doing that are not helping. Here’s a great place. I hope IN2 can be a third space in people’s lives.”

[The grandness of the idea and the imaginative scope hit home, but ask Britta how IN2 will implement it.]

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Innovation

“We can’t stand still. Education—if it’s doing the same thing over and over and over—is not moving ahead—it’s falling behind.

“IN2 is the intersection of what we do at IMSA and the community. We’re partnering with Invest Aurora, the Woman’s Business Development Center, the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center—they are all resources to help what we’re doing here grow and scale.

Business Mentor

[Britta anticipates my next question and gets even more specific.]

“We’ve opened up a cohort of LINKubators 2 These are actual startup companies.  We have three working in the space as a pilot.  Our students intern with them and our network can help them grow.  Our MENTORS, our IDEA BARISTAS, our SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS can all help them grow. 

“Next fall we hope to have ten LINKubator startups working in the IN2 space during the day when the kids are in class. We’re trying to see what we’re good at and get a rhythm to the space.

“So whether it’s somebody in the community with an idea or a problem—whether it’s students that want to accomplish something new—whether it’s mentors from the community coming here to help the next generation of learners—whether it’s subject matter experts helping a non-profit grow—we want IN2 to inspire students and community to go on and be entrepreneurs and develop their ideas.

“Our goal at IN2 is to blend in with IMSA and be that resource for students and community beyond the classroom. That’s what this is all about.”

Student Entrepreneur

Inquiry

“I think one of our signature programs is our STUDENT INQUIRY AND RESEARCH program or SIR. That really distinguishes us because we don’t have class on ‘I-DAYS.’ Those are inquiry days—that happens most every Wednesday. Traditional class shuts down. We have class Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

“‘I-DAYS are meant for independent exploration—inquiry or research. On ‘I-DAYS, student go down to 1871 and other locations to intern for startups. Now, with the new IN2 facility, our students can work with entrepreneurs right here as well. Either way, through the SIR program, they’re doing research with mentors and business teams.”

Sue Fricano & Tami Armstrong

[I’m joined by Sue Fricano—IN2 site coordinator, Tami Armstrong—Director of Public Affairs]

Sue – “MONDAY NIGHT LIVE is an event put on by Dr. Carl Heine each week. He brings in speakers and he develops programs for entrepreneurs.

Carl Heine

“He puts external students on his TALENT board—entrepreneurial students coming in to learn the different stages of building a business and different skills used in building businesses.”

Tami – “A lot of the students here are part of that as well as members of the community that come to learn more about entrepreneurship.”

Sue – “At IN2 we are trying to give them the expertise to go out and make the initial steps of developing.”

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[Betty Hart is the Innovation Center Program Manager.]

Betty – “We have girls in the STEM program, which is a mentoring peer-to-peer program for girls in 6th to 12th grade.  We have events such as IMSA DAY OF CYBER, which focuses on encouraging students to seek cyber security careers.” 

Betty Hart

Betty – “We have TEAM STEM CAFE, which is a network of local high school students who host quarterly events focused on STEM related topics. And we have THINK CAFE, which is a community initiative that invites organizations to come in and pitch a problem or an idea.”

Britta – “Our charges really are this: The first is to be a STEM teaching/learning laboratory for our best and brightest students across the state. Then we have the FUSION programs.3 These are after-school programs at schools, grade 4-8, all around the state. And we also have the charge of educating the educators. We bring the teachers in and give them professional development, which helps them in science and math.”

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Bring Back Socrates

[I pose a thorny question:  Why teach entrepreneurship at such an early age, rather than prepare the students for college or jobs?]

Tami – “What we’re doing is launching the students so when they leave here, they’re prepared. There’s a big demand for ideas and innovation. Innovation is valuable, and very coveted. We’re supplying that to the workforce.

“We’re also launching research. How can students advance the human condition and solve the world’s grandest challenges?

“That’s what comes from IN2—the ability to make very difficult innovations. When you can harness them, bring them to a place like this, and connect the students with business and industry, dream and idea become reality.”

[Suddenly I get it. I asked the wrong question and now realize the goal is really quite straightforward—to encourage students to think for themselves—to let them discover how to learn. IMSA does it the same way it was done almost 2,500 years ago—self-directed inquiry and innovation—the Socratic Method.]

Student Entrepreneur

Possibilities

Britta – “People think we’re just this gifted school for 650 sophomores, juniors, and seniors from around the state, but we’re not. And people think we’re a private school and we’re not—we’re public. We don’t want to be the best-kept secret in Illinois.”

“And we have a student team called IMSA ELEMENT that teaches the lean startup methodology. Build—measure—learn. Students developed a whole curriculum and teach it to each other. We’re entertaining possibilities.”

  • “We need to be open to ideas, be able to move quickly, and say YES.”
  • “And have FAST FAILS.”
  • “And move toward SUCCESS and ITERATE.”

“We’re not afraid to do that here. In a world where you’re dealing with high-caliber students who don’t fail often, failure is a difficult concept. But once they get the hang of it, they actually become quite good at fast fails.”

Entrepreneur with a solution

The 17%

Britta – “We’re not looking for the vast majority to really understand this space, because we can’t hold everybody. But about 17% in the world are innovators. That’s who we’re looking for—that 17%. Once we get a few of those, they bring their networks. Those are the early adopters, innovators, and they see things much earlier.”

Those are the people IN2 was built to serve.

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This is the final article in this series.

Go to Part 1 – THE NAME IS IN2

Go to Part 2 – POWER PITCH

 

References

  1. BOWLING ALONE – Robert Putnam
  2. IN2 Launches LINKubator for Fox Valley Startups
  3. IMSA FUSION

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IN2 Contact Info

Address – 1500 Sullivan Rd. Aurora, IL 60506

Website – https://www.imsa.edu/

Carl Heine – heine@imsa.edu

Britta McKenna – bmckenna@imsa.edu

Tami Armstrong – tarmstrong@imsa.edu

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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YOU MIGHT AS WELL DANCE

help-t-ms-officeIT Guys—Stop Playing Defense

by Howard Tullman

Not feeling enough love? Yes, techies are under appreciated until spit hits fan. But if you’re one of them, you’ve got a bigger role to play than you think. Here are three ways to raise your profile.

I feel bad for the guys in our IT department because they suffer the same career issue as the heads of Homeland Security. As we all know, terrorists and other scumbags only need to get it right one time and horrible things happen. Yet our counter-terrorism teams and other law enforcement agencies must try to be right every time. Then, when nothing happens, no one bothers to thank them or offer recognition for their work.

it-guys

People whine about cost, delays, and all the stupid rules. They figure that protecting us is what we’re paying these folks to do. The best the good guys can hope for is a tie. No harm—no foul. And no credit for keeping us safe.

I Don’t Get No Respect

IT departments in almost every business get the Rodney Dangerfield “I don’t get no respect” treatment. They’re taken for granted and get little or no recognition—from anyone—even though the complexity, significance, and risks associated with their responsibilities have multiplied exponentially in the last decade.

Face it, we humans only understand the degree of our dependence on machines and systems when they shut down, data disappears, and systems stop delivering the information we need to proceed.

help-ms-office

The truth is, you can’t do anything intelligent today without solid, timely, reliable, and accurate data. It’s the oil of the digital age and the IT guys are the ones with their mitts on the meters, mechanisms, and measurements. IT infrastructure is the make-or-break gate, tool and tunnel through which everything critical in our data-driven world passes. If they don’t get it right, your business simply doesn’t get done. Relative to your competition, you might as well be in the Dark Ages.

The Tide is Changing

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time with IT teams and I’m encouraged to see a few positive signs.

  • A slowly growing acknowledgement of the importance of IT.
  • Recognition of the turmoil caused by under-investing and under-appreciating the IT team.
  • How neglect exposes your entire company to critical and severe problems.

But time only changes what you don’t change first. I tell all the IT people I meet that they have to be their own best advocates and change agents if they really want to see meaningful improvements and add real value to their businesses.

This is no easy sell. These folks aren’t really built that way.

Selling their ideas is the last thing they ever thought they’d be stuck doing. But the waves of change are coming—and you can swim with the tides or sit still and be submerged.

I’ve found three specific ideas and approaches that senior-level IT folks can focus on to make a serious contribution to the future of their firms.

connected-devices-ms-office

1—Be a Weapon, not a Shield

Playing great defense isn’t enough. The smartest IT players are extracting from the plethora of connected devices and turning the data they develop into “weaponized” information—decision tools that move their businesses ahead by providing better and more timely solutions, both to internal users and outside clients. What gets done is what gets measured. Help your team optimize every aspect of the operation with real-time decision support. That puts everybody in a position to correctly make the most critical calls—like when to double-down on winners and how soon to ditch dogs. Providing increased metrics and visibility is what the best data-driven IT strategies are all about. Money is just expendable ammunition. Data is power and guess who’s in charge of the data?

future

2—Focus on Future

Everything is about the future. We need bridges—not more bandages. The network is the name of the game. Help your team exploit the extensive resources outside of your own shop. Connect your company to critical partners, collaborators, and new technologies that are beyond your four walls. Do it securely, without sacrificing speed, accuracy or ease of access.

Make sure your people are an active and effective part of all the “social” conversations that concern your business because these new channels are changing the way we all confer, compare, communicate, and consume. Unless your products and services are part of the ongoing conversations and decision sets, when the buyers are ready to buy, you’re nowhere.

Holding down the fort isn’t enough; you’ve got to do more than simple maintenance because your business needs a vision and a path forward—not another Mr. Fix-It.

be-the-solution

3—Be In the Room Where It Happens

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. As a senior IT professional, step up and insist that your presence and your input is central to securing the best solutions for the business. If you’re not there, if you don’t have some skin in the game, if you’re just a spectator, then the changes that do happen will happen to you, not through you. It’s not always safe to step up, but it’s the smartest bet you can make. If you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, who else will? And take my word for it; waiting never gets you to a better result. The world is moving too quickly to give anyone the luxury of time. Just like in racing, you need to understand that no one waits for you.

If it’s any consolation in these tough and troubling times, just remember that they’re going to blame you for anything and everything that goes wrong anyway. So, if you’re already walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.

howard-tullman-double-gulp-t

Howard Tullman is the father of Chicago’s 1871 incubator.

Read his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_A._Tullman

Check out his websites at http://tullman.com/

and http://tullman.blogspot.com/

Write him at 1871@Tullman

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

This is an excerpt from an article in INC.

http://www.inc.com/author/howard-tullman

Image credits – Howard Tullman, Getty Images, MS Office

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
.
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DON’T GET DOWN—GET BUSY

Howard Tullman Double Gulp Tby Howard Tullman

If you run a startup you’ll hit a wall or screw up big-time at some point. It goes with the territory. What doesn’t is letting yourself get stopped. Adversity doesn’t need any help. There are things you can do to right the ship—and the first is to right yourself.

The bond between the best entrepreneurs and their businesses is often tight and all-encompassing—so much so that they can make the easy mistake of confusing who they are as people with what they do for a living. They can lose sight of some of the more important things that distinguish earning a living from having a life. And because they typically take the ups-and-downs of business so personally, there’s virtually no separation between work and what little time is left for the rest of life. Family, friends, everything suffers.

If the business takes a hit, which startups do on a regular basis, the tendency is to feel like a personal failure—to feel fundamentally worthless. If that sounds overly dramatic or overwrought, come live in my world for a few weeks and you’ll change your mind in no time. The external stresses of business creation are nothing compared to the mental beatings and recriminations we administer to ourselves. It’s not healthy, it’s not smart, but it’s common to what we’ve chosen.

Frustration from Getty Images

Getty Images

Having said that, I want to be clear that I believe that there’s no such thing as “just business.” It’s essential to take your business personally if you want any chance of real success—if you want to build something that matters and makes a difference. But, at the same time, I don’t think that you can let your identity and your sense of self-worth be entirely subsumed by the day-to-day crises and fire drills and the many setbacks that we all deal with. The ups and the occasional wins are nice; but it’s the downs and learning how to deal with them that makes all the difference in the long run.

We all get depressed from time to time because—and I hope this doesn’t come as a complete surprise to anyone—life isn’t fair. Even the nicest people get knocked on the head from time to time. The very best of intentions are scant protection from the vagaries of the startup world. And especially in the startup world, few things work out the way you planned. Sadly, and far too often, just being in the right time and place, or catching some other lucky break beats out a lot of better ideas, a bunch of long hours, hard work, and even much better technology and solutions. Bill Gates is a spectacular example. That’s just how it goes. But where things go after something good happens is up to you. How do you handle the bruises and blisters that are all an essential part of growing any business?

I’ve watched hundreds of entrepreneurs handle every kind of adversity, and lived through more near-death experiences myself than I care to recall, and I’ve concluded that there’s a right way to proceed and a lot of ways that are wastes of time, leading nowhere. Some of these approaches are just common sense ideas, but it’s easy to look past them when you’re feeling down and troubled. So here goes.

 

What Won’t Work

Playing the Blame Game

There’s always someone or something to blame. Usually it’s the people not in the room or circumstances you can’t do anything about. It doesn’t help to whine. Worse, by putting your fate in the hands of circumstances or third parties, you give up your own power to change things. Sitting back and feeling sorry for yourself isn’t ever a viable solution.

 

Settling for a Situation that Sucks

Nothing I know gets better by itself. If you want a better outcome or result, you have to take control of the situation and make things better. Standing still means you’re sliding back while others are racing ahead. As often as not, when you settle for less than your best, you end up with even less than you settled for.

 

Trying to Ignore the Problem

If you don’t want to believe or accept something, no amount of evidence will change your mind. But, if you ignore a serious problem long enough, you’ll eventually have a crisis on your hands and then you’ll have no choice but to take action. It makes much more sense to get started on a solution before things get out of control. Ignoring the unhappy facts doesn’t make them go away; they just fester.

 

Trying to Be Superman

You can’t solve everything by yourself regardless of how many all-nighters you pull. Important problems are complex and require a competent team to address and resolve. A team distributes the burdens, stresses, and makes for a much better result.

 

Trying to Distract Yourself

You may think that you can re-direct your focus on trivial things—see a show, a movie, take a run or workout, have a few drinks—and magically you’ll stop worrying about the elephant in the room. But that’s not the way an entrepreneurial brain works. It never shuts down completely. Convincing yourself that you don’t care isn’t as easy as you might imagine, regardless of what a great sales person you are. And even if you momentarily get your head out of the game, your stomach will still keep score.

 

What Will Work

Do Something Now to Fix the Problem

Nothing beats now. You may not get it totally right but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t get started. Better to do something constructive and move the ball forward than to sit in a pile of pity. People who work hard and still can’t find the right answers don’t come to a screeching halt. They bend the world to their needs and desires. They create their own solutions. They make conditions and circumstances that succeed.

 

Raise Your Sights and Expectations for Next Time

At 1871, one of our favorite mottos is: “It’s Only a NO for NOW.” The most critical skill of any successful entrepreneur is perseverance. Get knocked down. Get back up. Try again. While you’re at it, aim a little higher the next time because selling yourself short is stupid. Ignore all the people who tell you why things can’t be done.

 

Focus on What is Working and Build from There

I call this “eating the elephant one bite at a time.” Not every problem can be solved all at once. But you can build off the foundation formed by the accomplishments and successes that you’ve had to date and then break the remaining barriers down into manageable, bite-sized challenges. Take tasks on one at a time. A lot of small steps, pushes, and the occasional shove—as well as a little bit of patience—will get you there.

 

Acknowledge that Things Could Be a Lot Worse

People who aren’t living this life think that all entrepreneurs are cock-eyed optimists who view everything through rose-colored glasses and believe that trees grow to the sky. But we know better. Serial entrepreneurs will tell you that it’s never as bad or as good as it looks. Every day you must put on a brave and excited face for the world and your team. Deep down inside, it may pay to be a little paranoid, but it’s essential, in the privacy of your own mind, to be proud—proud of how far you’ve come when so many others never could, proud of what you’ve built so far and all the people you’ve benefited along the way. There are much worse ways you could spend your time and your life. Admit it and get on with it.

 

Remember Why You’re Doing This in the First Place

We didn’t come this far to quit or to only come this far. We didn’t come to play; we came to win. And we wouldn’t be doing this at all if it wasn’t important and likely to make a difference to a lot of people in addition to ourselves. That’s why we come to work; put our noses to the grindstone; and try to get better every single day. If it was easy, anyone could do it. It’s not.

 

Howard Tullman is the father of Chicago’s 1871 incubator.

Read his bio on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_A._Tullman

Check out his websites at http://tullman.com/ and http://tullman.blogspot.com/

Or just type his name into your favorite search engine.

 

Photo credits: Howard Tullman, Getty Images

This article is abridged from the version appearing in INC.

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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HAWKS

Hawk Logo_JAJ0561by Mark T. Wayne

“Quit talking business!  This is important!”  A shocking pronouncement coming from one’s employer!  I go mum.  We sit behind thick glass, watching the Chicago Blackhawks clobber the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the series.  The Hawks will win this game and go on to the coveted Stanley Cup.  That is correct, sir—an opportunity for a third championship in just a few years!

I comply with Jonelis’ rude order.  I do it because I sympathize with his lack of discipline in this arena of violent chaos.  And of course, like most men, I am quite prepared to revive my boyhood when the opportunity arises.  Certainly, there are subjects other than business worthy of utterance.

Mark T Wayne

Lonagan is at my right, constantly jostling, constantly booming, “Did ya see dat?” shouts the execrable fellow.  “He jammed da butt o’ his stick right into dat poor sap’s kisser.”  Permit me to note that Lonagan is able to perform a multitude of tasks simultaneously:

  • He shouts expert opinions about every detail of this free-for-all.
  • He gnaws great hunks from greasy bratwurst.
  • He swills beer from a paper cup with great skill.

I have never before witnessed a hockey game.  I attempt to test its worth with my closest scrutiny, but find it difficult to comprehend my editor’s rationale—dragging me out here to write about six bearded hooligans with faulty dental work beating up six over-muscled goons.  How can I stay abreast of the Chicago private equity action?  Nothing of impact happens in California.  Most of their financiers chase after the same-old, same-old mobile apps.  But I agreed not to talk business.

John thru the glass_JAJ05618B

Against the glass

Jonelis and Lonagan both jump to their feet and beer sloshes onto my fine white flannel suit.  “Goal!” they scream in rough unison, and the stadium erupts in opposing voices of victory and outrage.  Jonelis pounds my shoulder.  “Did you see that?  Did you?  A rebound—that’s the way to score a goal—always crowd the net!”  I am perplexed.  How can he possibly assume that I did not witness the occurrence?  Does the man think I am blind?  We are right here in the front row of the roaring crowd, watching this madness with an entirely unobstructed view!  A gentleman named Toews, who I am told, for some unknown reason, pronounces his name Taves, just flung a small black object into the goal by artful use of a stick.  I saw the act, as did every other bloodthirsty spectator in this crowded coliseum.

Meanwhile, Lonagan gesticulates broadly with both arms, then breaks into impassioned laughter that squeezes out a few tears.  He reaches across me and punches Jonelis square on the shoulder.  “Dis is da best!  First class airfare.  First class box seats!  I kin hardly believe I’m here!  What made ya ask me?”

Jonelis seems momentarily at a loss for words.  He grins sheepishly, then admits in a somewhat lower tone, “You know how to throw a party—I don’t.”  He clears his throat.  “After we win this game, I want to celebrate.  I want to do it right.”

I catch a glint in Lonagan’s eye.  “You want I should pour it on industrial strength?”

A wan smile.  “That’s the general idea.”

“Yer on!”  Lonagan grins like a slathering bulldog.  “What about old whisker-puss here?”

“He’s covering the game.”  Then Jonelis addresses me.  “Get the article out tonight, will you?”

I care not about a drunken felon denigrating the quality of my mustaches, but the second insult inflicts its sting.  My host reduces my status from guest to employee.  Such is the level of respect shown an accomplished novelist.  A writer is without honor, sir!  (I secretly resolve to delay the entire project for several days.  I, too, enjoy the Lonagan fellow’s raucous celebrations.)

Two huge bodies in bulky uniforms slam into the glass inches from my nose with an impact that rattles the structure of the enclosure.

I sit up and take notice.

Pinned, the Hawk reaches under an inadequate face guard and grabs the nose of the angry Duck, who bars his stick against the Hawk’s hairy throat.

A whistle!

With a bleeding nose, the Duck skates to the penalty box.

In the ensuing power play, I note amazingly deceptive and expert stick handling.  Fascinating!  Other members of the team, entirely out of the action of play, perform acts of sadistic menace upon each other’s persons.  These go unnoticed by the officials, otherwise engaged.  As an organ plays magnificent chants, I wonder how thugs learn to skate with such skill.

Toews scores another goal and I am wearing flecks of Lonagan’s mustard.  Only a few minutes have transpired since the splattering of beer—inadequate time to allow my suit to dry.

I stand and cheer!  “Hooray!”

This represents an important lesson!  Yes sir!  How is it that I have never before attended such an event as this?  And I speculate on the odds of bribing a season ticket from some luminary with the only real weapon I own—the promise to not write about him.

Read KIDNAPPED

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, Characters, chicago, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, Invention, investor, loop lonagan, Man's Favorite Sport, Mark T Wayne, Mobile, Mobile App, Mobile Marketing, vc, venture capital