Summer – Vacation Time!

In Kansas City, there’s no way to miss the fact that summer is here.  100 degree days with high humidity zap your energy and make the office warm in the afternoon.  It’s also vacation time!

I strongly encourage you to find time to unwind and recharge this summer.  Burnout affects us all, and a short break will lead you back into the office with renewed energy and a better attitude.  A friend posted a quote on Facebook yesterday “The world is full of people who will go through their whole lives and not actually LIVE one day”.  A vacation is an investment that will generate great returns.

Last month, my family took a roadtrip vacation to Nashville and Memphis, with a day trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, AL.  (Space Geek side notes:  In the past 3 years we have been to Space Camp, the Smithsonian Air & Space, Kansas Cosmosphere, Kennedy and Johnson.  My wife will probably put her foot down next summer!  First trip back to Space Camp since I attended for 2 weeks in 1989.  It’s an amazing place that has only gotten better over the years.)   During normal life at home, our family of five is going all different directions with friends, practices and games, so it’s refreshing to spend extended time with all of us together.  When we get back home, we actually miss each other for a few days!  I actually left my cell phone behind most days (gasp!) and survived!  It’s easy to overlook how pervasive technology has become over the past 10 years – make sure your vacation includes not just a physical break from work, but a mental one as well.  Even just a couple of days will make a difference, and it WILL be ok!

 

Learning Opportunity, teleworking in the future

Have you seen KhanAcademy.com?  This website claims you can watch and learn almost anything, for free.  It seems to be true, with over 2100 videos ranging from algebra, chemistry & physics to the banking bailout and Fed policy, there is something for everyone to learn.   The videos are pretty informative and broken up into nice 10-20 minute chunks.  Check it out on a rainy day and learn something new!

I caught a great article on working remotely by Greg Lindsay in the Southwest Airlines Spirit magazine this month.   I especially like his theory he calls the Law of Connectivity – every technology meant to circumvent distances electronically has only stoked our desire to traverse the distances ourselves.

These technologies, from the telegraph and telephone to the Internet and video conferencing, have allowed us to expand our social and business networks exponentially.   But rather than replace our need to meet face to face, we have even more dreams to meet in person – today along with business meetings, we have “tweetups” and trips to meet our Facebook and LinkedIn friends, many for the first time in person.  As a result, the number of air passengers has doubled in the Internet era.

For many, this ever increasing nomadic lifestyle means they don’t need a “real” office.   Most of the IT vendors I work with on a daily basis are highly virtual.  Over 40% of IBM’s employees work from home or a client office, and 33% of AT&T’s managers also work remotely.

The benefits to the company are huge – lower physical costs such as rent and utilities, and a distributed workforce that can more quickly respond to client needs.  Certainly, the right person also enjoys some benefits of working remotely, and many are more productive than they would be in a large office.   This demographic works from home, airports, coffee shops and executive suites.

This movement is leading to new developments such as Mesa del Sol in Albuquerque, NM (btw – one of my favorite destinations).  Located right near the airport, Mesa del Sol is a new, planned community aimed at the remote worker.  The community will be small, walkable and self-contained.  The homes will all sport a purpose built home office, equipped for the teleworker and separated from the rest of the house.  Scattered throughout will be shared meeting rooms and on-call support staff.   What a fun trend to watch!  Check out the full article here:  http://www.spiritmag.com/click_this/article/the_corporate_latter/.

20 Years, Four Plans

May 2011 marks the 20th anniversary for Network Innovations!  When reaching an important milestone like this, many choose to focus on statistics:  it is true that over the past 20 years, we have served hundreds of small business customers, generated millions in revenue and supported many families through our employees.  But I believe the real legacy of our company is much more than facts and figures.  It is in the people – the relationships that have been built, the companies we have helped grow and reach their goals – the people that we have walked alongside as they struggled with life issues, and celebrated life successes.  The truth is, the technology stuff is really irrelevant.  Sure, that is the platform we use to serve our clients, but I can assure you not one of our clients from 1991 is still using their Lantastic peer to peer network.  In fact, you probably aren’t using much of anything we installed more than five or six years ago.  What people remember and love about our company is in the interaction of people – not the mechanics of business.

We have to make money to pay the bills and keep the lights on. It is important to have enough profit to make payroll so our employees keep coming to work.  But the critical component of what we do is in the serving – not the selling. It is in meeting the needs of people – in being a true part of your team.  If we take care of people, I believe good things happen. That is the legacy of Network Innovations.    THANK YOU for being a part of it.

Another thing milestones are good for is reminding use to take time for assessments and planning.  Yes, I just groaned right along with you.  Planning is hard, it’s not fun, it’s not fast.  However, it’s simply mandatory if you intend to be successful.  One of my favorite quotes from President Dwight Eisenhower sums it up well “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.

You might recall that I am an active member of an IT Peer Group – I meet quarterly with 11 peers that own IT businesses around the US.  Our goal is not just to be successful in business, but to be successful in life.  With that in mind, we prepare four plans, and we choose one each quarter to review and revise.  Many (certainly not all) business owners have a Business Plan – but have you thought about these other plans?

Leadership Plan  – Answers the questions:

  • What will you do specifically to lead your company to achievement and success?
  • What will you do specifically to lead your family to achievement and success?
  • How will you achieve your commitments?  Key milestones, priorities and dependencies for success

Life Plan  – Answers the questions:

  • Why do I get up each morning and do what I do?
  • How will you battle the balance between life and work?
  • What important life priorities do you intend to accomplish over the next 12 months?
  • Should involve the most important people in your life, should include your “bucket list”

Legacy Plan – Answers the questions:

  • How will you live?
  • What will the impact of my life be after I am gone?
  • What is my PERSONAL mission statement?
  • Should include:  Will & Estate plans, a spreadsheet of key information necessary to manage your life if you are impacted by illness or death
  • Reduce stress, difficult decisions and family conflict

Preparing my four plans helped me to define who I am, and who I want to be when I grow up.  I use the plans for guidance when making difficult decisions, and they allow me to be confident that I am on the road to success in life.  If you are interested in preparing “The Four Plans that change Everything” for yourself, contact me and I’ll be happy to get you started!

Video Conferencing, Spam, Typewriters!

Does your phone system also provide Chat and Video Conferencing?  How about cell phones?  Ask me about our new solution from Zultys!  Not only do you receive secure, corporate Instant Messaging (to cell phones as well), but desktop video conferencing with up to 4 parties, full cell phone client and integration, and VERY powerful rules to control how your calls are handled in different scenarios – WITH Outlook calendar integration!  I would love to show you how Zultys could benefit your company.

What a crazy month!  In mid-March, a spam “botnet” called Rustock was identified and taken offiline.  Immediately, spam levels dropped by 30%, from a starting average of 168 billion messages per day, to 119 billion messages per day.  We thought this was great news, but someone out there was very unhappy about this.  Two weeks after Rustock was taken down, the amount of malware sent as an email attachment increased over 400%!  Please be careful, and make sure you never open an attachment that is unknown or unexpected – these days you should still be wary even if you know the source.    Some recent spam trend notes:

  • In the first quarter, The most popular spam topic was pharmacy ads, representing 28% of ALL emails sent.
  • Mass mailings of “parcel tracking information” appearing to come from DHL and UPS accounted for 30% of all spam messages
  • Hacked Facebook accounts lead to the creation of harmful Facebook applications and ultimately viruses
  • PDF Files with embedded scripts (malware) were distributed
  • In April, Spam levels averaged 149 billion spam messages per day, compared to 142 billion in Q4 2010 and 198 billion in Q3 2010.

Protecting yourself againts these threats requires a multi-pronged approach:  a hosted spam/virus filter solution, a firewall with “UTM” capabilities (a second spam/virus filter), local spam & spyware software on the desktop, and attentive, vigilant users.   A single virus outbreak can cost more than all of those items combined!  Let me know how we can help.

The last typewriter factory in the world closed its doors on Monday, 4/25.  Convergence today is speeding up obsolecence for sure – cell phones will eventually replace point and shoot cameras, ipods and portable gaming devices.    What’s next in the office world?  A company like ours has very little need for a fax machine these days, but many industries still rely heavily on them.  I’d love to hear your thoughts – send me an email at brian@netinn.com