It’s all about the community. #BMPR

This past Thursday we hosted over 100 local business, media, and PR professionals from the local area as guests at my employer’s office. The group is called BMPR, affectionately called “Bumper”.

I’ve been lucky to meet many members of this group, to include most of the founders, well before this event. What started as a Tweetup has grown into a community of like-minded people that want to help each other raise the bar – to get better at reaching, serving, and satisfying their customers. And to teach each other how to get better – which is the real key. Vibrant communities are built when people care more about US then they do about “me”.

This is a pure grass-roots organization, with no dues, no real rules, but a lot of shared excitement, and curiosity, and a desire to both learn, and to teach.

I was lucky enough to speak at BMPR two months ago, and I had fun with it. I had the dorkiest slide deck ever because I’m not a fan of slides. I would rather “talk story”, as they say down under.

So for three years, almost, I have been talking about this company I work for, and how amazing it is. And I know some people were probably getting tired of it, because it just sounded like me beating a corporate drum. But last Thursday a lot of my friends got to come and see why I love talking about who I work for.

It is not a perfect place, but it is most often a magical place. Being able to share that with 100+ of my friends, and the friends of my friends was really cool. I was pretty proud to have them see what we did with an old shopping mall – how we turned it into a very comfortable home for Fanatical Support to live – and grow.

Managing over 100 guests at a time, to include a tour through offices with a thousand or more people actually doing their day jobs isn’t something many companies would welcome. My bosses supported the idea from the first email I sent that asked, “What if…?”.

They were so in sync with me on my desire to just show off a little bit of what we are building – we are not done by any means – both our mall (The Castle) and our company are still expanding very quickly. They had no clue who BMPR was – they just knew it was important to me. Important enough that a member of the senior leadership team took some time to welcome people, and stayed around for most of the session.

I’ve been a Rackspace customer for a long time – and approaching being an employee for three years.  The things Rackspace has let me do – the ideas they have let me pursue; the chances they have let me take…  It really is a different kind of company.  Where the Chairman might call me at 12:30 am if that is the only time we can find to talk, or I might have a 1:1 dinner with the CEO.  Where a Social Media team is built off of engineers and not marketing.  Where one over-riding goal of “Be Helpful” permeates everything we try to do.

Where a great idea can get funded if you are passionate enough to pursue it.

That doesn’t happen in a lot of companies our size.  It is a little magic. And I’m glad I can invite in guests that can get a bit of a sense of that magic.

Everything starts with community.  From the way we are building our company to why BMPR matters.

If you want to make your life more full – get involved with your community.  There are some amazing people out there wiling to both learn and teach you.  Find them.  They are looking for you too.

We all need each other.

Thanks so much to my friends in BMPR for letting me show you a bit of my world – and for sharing so much of yours with the rest of us.

Note – edited to link to my dorky slide set, per request.


Just clarifying a little something

I’ve written several posts on this blog about SeaWorld, San Antonio.  I love SeaWorld.  I love that I have friends there.  I love that they share new events with me.

I have NEVER taken a dime from SeaWorld (and they have never offered me a dime!), or anyone else, for any post on this blog.  My thoughts are my thoughts.  Sure – if SeaWorld shows me something cool, I will probably write about it.  This is NOT any different than what Robert Scoble does, what Techcrunch does, or what any other news blog does.

Why is this coming up?

A recent article in Forbes mentions SeaWorld in conjunction with a pretty negative post about Izea, AKA PayPerPost.

A long-time reader saw that article – and asked me, rather bluntly, if I had taken blogola.

I absolutely have NOT.  I have sold a few ads over the years (maybe totaling $500) based on content I had already written and published, but I have NEVER written a post in trade for anything.  Not even a free beer.  I write what I want to write – nothing more, and nothing less.  NONE of those posts that paid me ad revenue were in any way related to SeaWorld.

It is also true that I *did* sign up for PayPerPost, back in the day.  Back when they were being raked over the coals for being unethical.  I didn’t want to take the word of someone else – I wanted to see how it “worked”.  So yes, I signed up on PayPerPost.  I have NEVER received a dime from them, or submitted ANY content to them.

I find it distressing that SeaWorld is even named in the same post with PayPerPost/Izea/Ted Murphy.  I am also distressed that this has caused my own motives/ethics to be questioned.  I don’t know what is going on in Orlando, Florida, but I am very confident in the SeaWorld San Antonio team, and how they handled the invitations for me to attend events.  They never asked for ANYTHING in return from me.  And I have been to large events, like launching a new roller coaster, to small events, that were more about their vision for the future, etc.  I might have eaten a free taco, but those of you that know me know that I am not an eater – so free food cannot bribe me.

SeaWorld San Antonio is my friend, and I have made many friends there.  My daughter has a season pass that was PAID for (by my ex).

So no.  There was absolutely zero quid pro quo in any of my posts about SeaWorld San Antonio.  Nothing more than friendships.  Like many of my posts, I do talk about cool things friends are doing/have done.

I don’t know the details of this, beyond the article I reference above.

I just know MY SeaWorld here in San Antonio.  And the PR team I have dealt with.  And they have treated me with nothing but respect.  Had they offered to pay me to post, I would have been offended, and they would have lost a customer, and an advocate.  And probably a friend.

Instead they DID respect my morals as a blogger (and as a person) and offered me nothing in exchange for my attendance other than the ability to attend.  To me, that was payment enough.  Friends launched something – and I wanted to be among the first to play with it.  In this case, it was an idea, or a roller coaster.

In most cases, it is a website.

But to me, the same criteria applies – I have to be interested in it, and I need an emotional investment in it.  In the case of SeaWorld San Antonio it was a combination of both.  Loved the new coaster I got to ride, and am emotionally attached to some of the staff.  They are friends.

And friends don’t need to pay me for a post.  Friends know me well enough not to offend me by offering.  Friends know I will write about them when they do something that interests me.


SeaWorld Coaster Challenge

If you came from the SeaWorld site, and are looking for my previous posts on SeaWorld, San Antonio, they are here.  I expect to have my post (and picts) from today posted tomorrow sometime.

It was fun!


It is a hard thing to point at.

I helped build WiFi, and WAY BACK THEN (~6 years ago) my kids were young. I could walk with them through any electronics store – Best Buy, CompUSA, Radio Shack etc – and point at what I did. “Our chips are in that, and that, and that”. It was very cool, and I was a hero to my kids and their friends. Wireless was (and still is) some VERY cool stuff! If you love your WiFi, throw me, and a very talented group of engineers some love!

Now I do Cloud Computing – it is very hard to point at something and have my kids understand exactly what I build. I could not even bring them into our data center and point at a machine that one of my domains runs at. There is no “machine”. There are thousands of machines. (And even as the Director of Software Development I don;t have the credentials to get into our datacenters – I don’t need to be there).

What I build is hard to point at – much more difficult than a Wireless enabled laptop, or a WiFi Router.

But I am building something even larger than WiFi. Imagine that – larger than WiFi! Think of it – where were you last in a decent sized city and you couldn’t find free WiFi somewhere?

It is everywhere, And I am helping to build something even bigger, but different.

And struggling with how I explain it to people. Even my kids.

We went through this with Wireless – where people just didn’t get it – until they used it. Cloud computing is kinda like that. You don’t know that you want it (yet). In a year you will be pissed when you can’t get it.

And the Winner Is… Me! (and Mosso)

I have just accepted a position as Director of Software Development for Mosso.

Mosso is based in San Antonio, and is part of Rackspace.

So, why did I choose Mosso?  From the web site:

We started Mosso because we knew there were web developers who wanted a reliable platform for their applications and email–without being the ones responsible for all the technology.

Basically, Mosso does, on a much larger scale, what I have been doing as a consultant for the last few years – stripping as much of the technology details as possible out of the lives of people that have an idea and/or dream – they want to build the idea, not manage the server, or the databases.  They want to be able to focus on building what they envision.  I’ve helped people focus on that – Mosso lets thousands of people do the same.

That’s what Mosso does.  And more.  And in very cool ways.

Mosso also passed all of my test points:

  • I need to build teams.
  • I need to work with smart people.
  • I need a voice.
  • I need responsibility, accountability, AND authority.
  • I need the security of a larger company with the atmosphere of a startup.
  • I needed a company that is nimble – it can quickly adjust to change, and new ideas.
  • My work must have value to me, and to others.
  • The impact has to have a large footprint.  I like building big!

So, how did Mosso do on this list?  Extremely well.  I will not be building one team – but several teams.  I have met some of the smartest people – all in one company in downtown San Antonio.

My position is a senior one – I will eventually have a large team – and many of them I will need to hire.  That is important work that is important to the company, and to my new coworkers.  I’ll be allowed to run my teams and do my job – I’ll be helping grow/invent/implement some very cool technology.

The work environment is amazing – we have real humans at Mosso 24/7.  We have developers on call 24/7.  We work 24/7 (so you don’t have to!).  Developers build their own schedules for covering “on call” – they don’t need a “manager” – they are managing quite well right now :)  So I will focus on improving our processes and hiring more talented people (call me if you are interested – 210-845-4440).

New employees get their choice of computers.  You want a Windows desktop? – no problem.  One monitor, or two?  You want a 17” MacBook Pro (I Do!) – that’s cool as well.  One monitor, or two?  It’s really up to you.  Since we are building computing for the cloud, the systems we personally choose don’t really matter (except for where you feel most productive!).

Like any startup, you have a lot to do – your job description might as well read, “Succeed”.  I like that.  But we’re also backed by Rackspace – a very strong company (and a very cool company to work at in their own right – they’ve won a lot of awards for being a cool place to work).

I first met the Mosso crew when I invited Robert Scoble to come to San Antonio – I was just introduced to a couple of them – I didn’t get a chance to talk to them.  But a few weeks later I looked into what they were doing.  I became a customer.  I was (and am even more so now) impressed.  Those blog posts started a conversation that eventually led to here.  It was not planned.

But I am very pleased to be in an exciting position at Mosso – and am very happy to be part of the Rackspace family.  I am a Racker, and already proud of it 🙂

I won’t be able to talk much about what I am doing for a while.  But once I can, I’ll be sure to share my experience with you.

But as I learn more about Mosso, and what my teams look like – I’ll share that with you. 

Because I wouldn’t go to work for a company that didn’t excite me   And challenge me.

This one does.