Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

&%$@# the Network

March 27th, 2009
When it came time to set up my office with wireless communications for my computer and printer, it took three men and a baby to finally get it to work. First, set up appointments to schedule the technicians to come, and then wait for the required four hours. They never come at the beginning of that time window. Then, when they don’t show up, you have to run outside and stop them from leaving because they always say that they couldn’t find your eight story building with the two foot high numbers on the door.

Shortly after the installation, everything stops working, and everyone has to be called back from the cable company for one more dance. My speed dial is now populated with special 800 numbers that give you 42 menu selections in Spanish and English.

So, my cell phone broke. You’re probably thinking, he’s some big executive, just call the phone staff. Well, truthfully, my name now appears under the Administrative Consulting division as that phone person, too. So, my first stop; the phone store. After waiting for about 47 minutes, someone says, “Can I help you?” “Sure, my phone is broke,” I respond. The technician looks at it and says, “Yes, it is broken.”

He then walks away, only to return several minutes later to say, “We’ll arrange for you to get a replacement phone.” Well, there are no replacement phones in stock anywhere within the greater metropolitan area. “Here’s a rebuilt one, Mr. Jacobs, good as new.” When I ask them to transfer all of my information to the new phone, the attendant says, “No problem.”

About an hour later, she hands me the phone, and I head for home. In about 13 minutes, I realize that my calendar, my pictures, my text messages, my business E-mail account, and my personal writings are all gone, wiped out, erased. My heart begins to beat like a bunny in hunting season.

No calendar, no back-up, no idea even what I’m doing tomorrow. I called to happily discover that the old phone was still there 24 hours later. As I raced to get it, the young woman behind the counter hands me a few pieces of paper, and says, “Good luck copying that calendar.”

It seemed odd that she could transfer 2,800 addresses but no appointments, or pictures, or business E-mail. So, I scribbled appointments, returned to the office, and spent three hours putting them in the calendar. Then I discovered that this phone could NOT read the memory card. I went to the next store, told my tale of woe, and they said, “No problem, we’ll get you another phone.” Well, this time, I explained what had happened re: the kind of effort it took to install the calendar dates. They smiled and said, “We can do that for you, just bring it back.”

Of course, when the phone arrived, I went to the store to have the transfer, waited an hour, and they informed me that it was impossible, but that I could easily set up my computer to do the sync at home. I couldn’t! So, the help line was next from 12:30 PM until 5:30 PM, and five people tried to help from the wireless company, but no luck. “The $%#@$ number you have reached is out of service.”


TED and “me?”

March 20th, 2009

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been obsessing over TED. If you aren’t sure what TED stands for, it is an abbreviation for (Technology, Entertainment, Design) and TED is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration. It’s in California, of course.

While spending an absolutely delightful weekend a few months ago with several people who were creative, inventive, entrepreneurial, and fun, one of the most highly respected innovators in the world turned to me and said, “You should be on the agenda at TED.” You may wonder what qualifies one to be considered to be one of the most highly respected innovators in the world, but take my word for it, he is. He’s on the faculty of about eight universities, has offices in a couple of dozen countries, and is one of the most sought after creators of innovation anywhere.

Well, little did he know how much that comment meant to me. It shook me up, inspired me, and filled me with excitement. Why? Read that line above again, “an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.” Okay, I’ve been called a futurist, a creative, a right-brained whatever, and several of the things that we’ve done over the years have literally rocked the house (like this blog), but . . . in the world? It always seemed to me that my primary claim to fame was my ability to keep trying when some people not only wanted us to fail, but would probably have like to have seen me personally run over by a cement truck. I was persistent.

I’m not sure where I would fall into that description of the world’s leading anything, but it surely was flattering to have someone of that caliber say that to me. It’s funny, because every time I begin to allow the little ghosts come out of the sewers to pull at my pants cuffs with their negativity, I simply smile and think about our collective accomplishments.

This week alone, our consulting practice has taken me to a publishing company to help their employees begin to create what they would like to have for their future; then to a chain of hotels in New York City where the owner fully comprehends the merits of wellness for his employees; to a biomedical informatics startup company specializing in neuroscience; a nonprofit music group struggling to re-invent itself; and finally to an executive recruitment firm seeking a new business niche.

So, back to TED. If you have ANY interest at all in what goes on there, what gets said there, who speaks there, you probably would be surprised, or not. People like Dr. Dean Ornish, Bono, Bill Gates, Jane Goodal, and former President Bill Clinton have spoken there, but so too has Dr. Alan Russell from the University of Pittsburgh and a hundred other people who have simply made a difference –with extraordinary results. The good news is that, should you have any interest in seeing and hearing any of these speakers, just go to TED Talks on the web, and they’re all there for your inspiration.

For example, in a presentation by Scott McCloud, the cartoonist and comic book artist, we heard: “Learn from everyone. Follow no one. Watch for patterns. And “Work like hell.” Stefen Sagmeister has made his mark by creating public art with sayings displayed in public places like, “Everybody thinks they’re right,” and “Money does not make me happy.” My favorite, however, is “Complaining is silly. Either act or forget it.”

Jill Tarter, astronomer and a world-renowned expert on extraterrestrial life made this comment, “If we are alone, it is an awful waste of space.”

Seriously, take a look at TED and its companion, TEDMED, dedicated exclusively to healthcare innovation. Maybe, in my dreams, I’ll be giving my speech on kindness in the workplace, my 18 minute presentation on life, love, and a kinder more co-operative future.

Hey, we all need a dream. And I, too, have a dream.