Where do you go to think, and learn?

Yesterday the State of Texas stamped their seal of approval on me owning a motorcycle by again renewing my registration.  OK – they just wanted the $65.  Whatever.

But it had been months and months since I had ridden (was a brutally cold winter).  So I went out today.  For a couple hours. Nothing amazing happened. I did not meet a field of bluebonnets, or a majestic owl.  I just rode a bit.

The thing I like about riding is that I seem to somehow be able to think about things that I am not actively thinking about – much like I sometimes do when I am sleeping.

Problems seem to get solved in the back of my brain while I focus on the road, the smell, the machine and the now.

Very few people that I know like for me to ride.  Most of my friends, almost all of my bosses, and my kids.  None of them really like it.  None of them really get it either.

When I am riding my bike, slicing through the wind, and leaning into the curves – when I am not thinking about kids, or work, or friends, or anything – I come out a better something after.  I come out a better friend, employee, parent, and boss. And a better me.

Riding a bike is something that escapes a lot of people. The freedom.  The sense of release – having to focus enough of your brain on the moment… it lets you forget the stress, the deadlines, the commitments. It lets you find that freedom, for as long as it lasts.

Interestingly enough, a 2 hour recharge can last many months. The promise of the next ride gets me through the times in between.

Not suggesting we all ride motorcycles.  Am suggesting we need something that rejuvenates us this way.

We all need a recharger.  And we all have different ones.

Lovers are whatever they are. You cannot fight this.

I work for a great company that sees people as people, and measures them based on how much they love our work, and take care of the customers we work for.

While we love to have employees that are in loving and stable relationships, we don’t judge what those relationships are.  We recognize, and provide benefits to both “alternative” (whatever that even means any more) and traditional (you know, 50% plus fail in five years) relationships.

I’m actually quite proud that here, deep in the heart of Texas, where some might expect some lifestyle prejudices (and they certainly do exist) – at our company they are not expected to exist. Like a snake – when we find them, we eradicate them.

The best people I have ever worked with have been in a happy personal relationship.  They have someone to care for. Someone they want to earn the respect of.  Someone they trust to have their backs. That could be a husband or wife. Or even a best non-sexual friend.  Or in my case right now, two young adult children that I still need to inspire, meld, guide (and feed, cloth, and educate, but that is a different topic!)

I work in a company where they don’t care if my lover is a man or a woman – or if I have one at all.

But we do know that happy employees deliver more, stay around longer, and show customers more love. So we encourage happy. We include partners, friends and family in our events (my son has attended many with me).  It is all about how we work together to change the world for customers.  Even if our worlds are vastly different. Customers still need cared for in the same ways.  Code isn’t written “gay or straight” – it is just written, and it is just bad or good.

I’m glad I lived in many places in the world that erased my prejudices and enhanced my world view.  I am glad I am not a close minded ass-hat.  I am glad I can look at people, beyond their religion, sexual orientation, or love of Windows vs Mac and just find a way to work with the human behind the face.

I am a Mac person.  So is my girlfriend.

Would you think less of me if I were Windows, or she were he?

If so, rethink your life instead of judging mine. Or anyone else’s.

And yes – this was driven by the loss of a great friend that never saw the difference between black, or white, gay or straight.  Not even Republican verse Democrat. She was the most open minded, liberal draft dodger, lesbian, Reagan voting, man-loving hypocrite of a human being I have ever loved. And she could sing.

And I miss her.

I wish you could all have learned as much from her as I did.



Veterans Day

It has been almost 30 years since I was on active duty.  I made about 8K/year back then.  It seemed like a lot.  I was a Navy Corpsman.

A few years later I married the Army.  My ex was a lifer.  An army Nurse who went to Iraq, earned the Bronze Star – she was no freaking joke.  But by then our marriage was over – but not the respect I had for what she was doing.

I had the kids, she had the country.

I had the better deal. We are almost a decade later, and we share the kids.  And they are not kids – they are both in college. We raised kids together, even though apart, in amazingly hard times for our [military] family.  This is what a military family does.  They sacrifice.  They deal with shit.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for what my ex-wife did.  What my fellow medics did 20+ years earlier.  What friends of mine are still doing today. Who my ex-wife is today.

I am proud to be a Veteran.  This year, last year, and next year.  Nothing can take away from that experience.

I can never not be a Veteran. It is part of what defines me, just as it was part of what raised me.  And I am a better person for it.

To all of the Veterans who cannot make a blog post today – you have my respect.

For Ever.


What my days are like, and why I love them so much

It is easy, looking at this blog, to discern who I work for. It should even be easy to figure out why.

I’ve never done a good job explaining WHAT I do on a day to day basis. I am sure some coworkers will be just as interested as anyone. In a company of over 3K employees, it is hard to know what people do. Especially people like me. Why?

I work at home most of the time. I manage a nomadic team, so they don’t need me in their faces every day. I trust them to do their jobs, and they trust me to let them. And when I work at home, I work with customers. A lot of them.

I am also part of a larger team that understands that I add a different value – one I can’t add in an office. Usually, at least :). I trust them to appreciate me, and to ask me for help when they need to. And I often ask them for the same. They are amazing people to work with, and they have a ton of my respect.

I spend my days, and nights (on good days and nights) talking to customers. Or potential customers. I love what I do, and who I do it for, so I spend a lot of time and energy doing it. I honestly don’t mind talking to a customer at 2am. 6am is harder for me though :).

I run Social Media for our company. And that is a pretty big job – we get a lot of mentions on Social Media. Our entire Social Media plan consists of two words though – “Be Helpful”. Not a lot of fluff there. No 37 slide PowerPoint Deck. We are singularly focused on helping our customers win. No fluff there.

I love customers – even one’s that aren’t happy with us – I spend a lot of time with them. I try to “fix” whatever we broke. A promise or a process has probably failed us. We are a big company – that happens. I want to fix it. It is not my job – it is my passion. My team has adopted it as their passion.

I’m empowered to cause change – and I empower my employees. And I have interesting employees. I have AMAZING employees, in fact:

Two Linux Senior Systems engineers that know more about hosting than I will ever know. Robert (Robot) Taylor and Robert Collazo have spent most of their technical careers helping customers.

Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica, who bring life to building43.com, and introduce us to amazing people that just need a bit of help by someone that just gives more than a shit. That’s why we do building43.com – it is helpful.

Yes – I have a team of five, and four of us are named Robert. And we have one Rocky. It DOES get confusing!

But we all have the same focus – to care for customers, share their successes, and help them build the value they deliver to their customers – that is our goal – we all win together. And it is our commitment. It is so simple.

And it is so fun! If you are not having fun, you are doing it wrong.

We have a different thought about “Social Media” than many public companies. We think we need to have a staff that knows the company and the products so well that they can actually FIX issues we see on Social Media. And we do. I am the former Director of Software Development for our Cloud. Robot and Rob Collazo are engineers that have built and supported our company for years. No fluff there either.

We also support and appear at as many events as we can possibly support. As recruiters, engineers, evangelists, speakers – it is all the same thing. We want to be where customers want to talk to us. And if that is on Twitter at 2am, you have a good chance of seeing me tweet my home phone number. Or one of my team reaching out to make sure we help, at almost any hour.

So yes – I love my role. I can touch a lot of parts of the business. But mostly, I can interact with a huge number of our customers – and help us find new ones. Mostly because I have a lot of people supporting me – from my employees, to my managers, to my coworkers.

And our Senior Leadership Team that is just willing to “think different” – and allow me to try some crazy ideas, (responsibly) and see where they take us.

And where they take me – which is to places I would not have imagined just 2 years ago when I went from a customer to an evangelist.

Find a company you love. Then find a job there. Then find a way to help them win. It is an amazing feeling.

You really can’t hire people that have the dedication my team has. You can inspire them, and empower them – trust them, and have fun with them. The right people weren’t looking for a job when they found you though.

They were looking for a mission.

Create one.

Why I am a Racker.

Published over on the Rackspace Talent blog, this is a pretty honest and painful to write account of how I came to my current position at Rackspace. Bottom line – I failed first.

Why I am a Racker