I previously posted on social media, “The week of Jan 6 has been tumultuous. There are opinions & feelings at hot levels; mine included. There are companies/people that I will no longer do business with as a result of their actions or comments. I understand it will happen to me as well. I am okay with that. #BeKind” I want to clarify a few things and expand on the post, both here on the company website as well as on social media sites.

It is important to live one’s values as they see fit. What works for me may not work for others. That is fine and understandable. However, there are certain lines that need to be respected and adhered to. Many of us know these as societal norms. Some refer to the essay by Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things Some use The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, The Talmud, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, The US Constitution… etc. They all have some basic guideposts on how to live.

Those who know me have heard me talk about my beliefs and rules of living as well. I have shared them and had them on my personal website for well over a decade. The week of January 6, 2021 was the first time I felt that they were incomplete. I could not apply them cleanly to the situation. As a business owner I firmly believe that I have the right to refuse service to people, if they are not being discriminated against as a protected class. I put those beliefs on the website and even printed it on the back of our first piece of marketing material, a calendar.

The key item I keep coming back to as I wonder how to implement these beliefs at Advisist is the idea of, “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone.” In that section I call out various scenarios that would result in Advisist refusing to work with someone. I kept coming back to, “We believe in free speech, but that does not mean that there won’t be repercussions. We do not work with hate or extremist groups.” That is the line I set forth when I formed the company; that is the litmus test we will continue to use.

President Donald Trump, through his words and actions since losing the 2020 presidential election, entered into the realm of being an extremist. Mr. Trump’s action and words on January 6 and since then have become hateful and extreme.

What does that mean? If you are Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, Independent, or anywhere else on the political spectrum, that is fine; I am happy to work with you. If you still support Mr. Trump after January 6, 2021 I request that you look elsewhere for the services we provide. If you do not believe that the election was a proper election and the outcome accurate, I ask that you look elsewhere for services.

I understand that I may lose business and friends as a result of this approach, however I need to do what I believe is right. I believe in Free Speech and your right to your opinions; I will defend your right to have them. It does not mean that there are not repercussions.

In this age of collaboration there are many tools available to help teams work together. There is software to help automate processes. There is unified communications software. There is project management software. There is customer relationship management software. There is bug tracking software. I have found one thing to be consistent among all of these software packages and solutions. They are not panaceas.

Software will not magically fix all problems. A piece of software will not magically make someone efficient any more than owning a treadmill will cause one to lose weight. There needs to be a basic understanding of the processes and problems that the tool is supposed to be addressing. To lose weight, one needs to walk, waddle, jog, or run on the treadmill, plus likely modify their diet; one has to accept the weight loss process. To become efficient using a software tool the same idea applies; one has to accept and integrate the process.

I have been involved with various software integration projects and found certain things to be common within any software configuration process. It all starts with the user documenting what they are trying to accomplish. If one is specifying an audio, video, control or lighting system the first step is the same: get the user requirements and determine what they are trying to accomplish. When looking at software that same step must occur. It is not just picking the latest or coolest piece of software. If one cannot document the process and what they are trying to accomplish on a piece of paper, how can workflow through a piece of software solve the issue?

I use and leverage technology when I can for my benefit. I own and have tried various pieces of software for keeping track of things and thoughts: Dropbox, Evernote, Notes, iThoughts, Wunderlist, Clear, NoteTakerHD…and the list continues. The most effective tool I have for creating and tracking ideas is the whiteboard in my office or the notebook in front of me. I then transfer the thoughts and ideas into a digital format.

That is an important thought. Software is a tool that simplifies the analog process. It is still key to understand the process and follow it through to completion. A user needs to be aware of what the software is tracking and indicating. If an internal tool calculates, whether analog or digital, a task or project will not be completed in time it still must be communicated internally and to the client and then acted upon as the client will often not have visibility of the tool.

Most importantly, if the tool is collaborative everyone on the team has to use and engage with the tool. If not everyone is using the tool, the data it provides is not accurate and each person has varying degrees of information. If you notice I say tool and not software. The reason for that is that this idea is key whether one is using a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, a database, or a specialized software package. If the users do not engage and keep the data current the tool is worthless.

Do not confuse a software package with a solution. It is simply a tool. One can run a project in the analog domain, one can run a project in the digital domain. The process is the same in both; sharing information with interested parties and keeping the data current. Software might make it easier but it still requires discipline.

My loyal reader and twitter follower is aware, I just attended the InfoComm2014 convention. I found myself struggling what to do with all these business cards I had acquired. Not only the question of how long should I hang on to them, but how to get all the details into my electronic system. After looking at a few solutions, I have a request for all my readers – make the lock screen on your electronic device your QR business card.

As someone who has some nice Moo.com business cards, with 10 different pictures on the cards, I appreciate and enjoy the statement and symbolism of exchanging business cards. What I do not enjoy is trying to get all the data into my various electronic organization tools. It is time consuming. First was the problem of finding a good tool to scan and then read all the data. Then comes the problem of verifying all the data that just got imported and loaded into the computer. There are pieces of software that can do this for you, but even those are not perfect and require some tweaking.  I have tried CamCard for iPhone but am not totally happy with it. The interface is pretty good, but there are short comings. I do like that one can review and edit them on the web. However one cannot easily export it from the corrected version on the web. One has to give CamCard access to your contacts to load it into your contact information. I probably sound paranoid and stereotypical but giving a Chinese company access to my contacts is not something I feel comfortable with. I do like the batch scanning option though.

I can continue talking about the various options I have used and tried. I am using Evernote Hello for my personal contact management. It does not do as good a job dealing with unique layouts on cards. It also does not include a way to include the address.

The thing I would like for more people to start using is a QR vCard. There is a protocol that allows for embedding contact information directly into a QR code. The protocol does not require actually being connected to the Internet to retrieve the information. It simply requires the receiver to have a QR code reader, many of which are free. The process is fairly simple and painless.

  1. Load a QR Code Reader onto your phone.
  2. Using the camera on your phone ingest the QR code you are interested in
  3. View the results

I have created a QR vCard that is the lock image on my iDevice. (A QR card size of 450 pixels by 450 pixels about 305 pixels from the top of the image for an iPhone 4S works.) I do not even have to unlock the phone to provide the QR code to someone. I also have a QR application (Qrafter Pro) that allows for reading QR codes from pictures. I can take a picture without unlocking my iDevice as well. If you really want to be sneaky smart, take a picture of the person also so you can remember what they look like.

To get you started, here is a sample QR code that I created online. There are also sorts of other tools available, Qrafter Pro also allows for creating the grids.

Trial QR code

Go ahead try out your reader.

Relatively easy? Simple?

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go back to reviewing scanned business cards. I think I will even update my personal cards to have a QR code.

Shout out to Linda Seid-Frembes who gave me this idea years ago – You can read more about it at her blog.

Yes, I now that this topic has been talked about before but I really think it is worth considering.

I started wearing a tie to work in late February of 2013 and people are commenting, but not asking. So far only one person has asked me why I was wearing the tie. What is interesting is who asked me. The General Manager of my business unit, in other terms basically the brand president. Given how often he and I are in the office at the same time, he at first thought it was just that I had a client meeting.

I had just changed roles in the company, but he knew that wasn’t a reason for the change as the division has the same basic dress code. So the question was “Dude, why are you wearing a tie?”

The answer can be fairly simple of “Dress for the job you want.” I thought showing up as The Dark Knight Batman could be a little awkward. The better answer is multifaceted and has personal and professional overtones but figure you as my loyal reader would want to know the story.

Over the past year I have put on weight as my exercise fell in to oblivion. I got squishy and my clothes became unflattering. That kind of becomes a circle of feed back. So I finally decided to stop the loop and purchased more flattering clothes. I liked the idea of a tie to allow some expression and style.

I had a day at the office that I knew was going to require heightened focus, so I figured follow the cliche of dress for success. It worked better than I thought. I was pleasantly surprised when I found I had time for my usual Starbucks break midday and still left on time. I tried it a few more times and it worked very well.

So my answer to the GM, “it helps me get more done and people treat me more seriously. I also want to continue growing.” He was supportive and chuckled about the Batman comment.

A friend of mine has an aphorism of “Assume the virtue”. I think that sums it up. I assume the virtue of valuable employee by putting on the work costume, the more formal clothes. It allows me to both focus on work and also allow me to leave work more easily. Not just physically, but mentally as well. When I loosen the tie, I loosen up as well and work is done.

I did not realize how much the change had happened until about a week ago. I had to do remote support for an audio installation on the weekend. I could have done it at home, but I decided to go into the office. I still dressed for work, not the full work costume but still casual Friday level. After the session I was able to go home and change clothes and leave work behind for the short weekend.

Assume the virtue my friends. Give it a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.