Me – on a conference panel? Really?

Yeah – those of you that know me well, or have known me for a long time would be shocked by this. I am NOT a very public/sociable guy – which is weird, because I get paid to be one!

I love customers. Hate cameras. I’ve always focused on making sure the focus is on someone else.

So how in the heck did I get nominated for several panels at SXSW Interactive? Blame it on the PR machine 🙂 I do.  And they spelled my name wrong – it is “La Gesse”

But whatever – it is what it is – and I love these panels. I could talk about most of this in my sleep so I think my stage fright will be overcome quickly (besides, when Scoble works for you, you damn well better not be afraid of cameras!)

So what are the panels?

Glad you asked – here they are:

OMG My Customer Has a Megaphone

Companies used to get away with treating customers like livestock with no repercussions, but now customers have a megaphone: the social web, and they’re not afraid to use it. Hear from Rackspace and other customer-centric companies as they share real case studies and tips about how to embrace Customer Service 2.0

Building and Creating New Business Models in the Cloud

New models for product development and marketing using social media tools and techniques which truly engage users, partners and developers are emerging. Join Lew Moorman and Robert Scoble from Rackspace who will discuss Building43, a new online community breaking down barriers to new ideas for business, and changing the world.

Managing a Crisis in a Hyper-Communicative World

Today, crisis can spread like a disease, mutating and growing as it goes, and wreaking havoc on your reputation, customer base and sales pipeline. How can you take back control, not only for the benefit of your organization, but to best guide your customers and investors through the situation?

I am most interested in the second one, but most excited to talk about the third one.  And I love the first one 🙂

I am a customer guy – so I love all of these.  I would relish doing ANY of them.  I would probably be overwhelmed if I had to do all of them!

Voting supposedly closed today, but rumor has it that you have until Monday.  Doesn’t matter.  I planned this post for AFTER voting was closed because I’m just not that “whore myself out” kinda guy (except on Twitter, where I have damned near begged for votes!). OK, perhaps I am.  Whatever 🙂

If you are interested in SXSW – or me, or Rackspace, or customers – go see if you can still vote!  Click a link above.


My Father’s Day

I woke up early, which doesn’t always happen anymore.  I used to be up at 7 am no matter what.  Lately I’ve been staying awake much later than normal.  Call it part of my job.  But I love waking early.  My problem is that I also love staying awake until the wee hours of the morning 🙂

Anyway, this morning I woke to this drawing, emailed to me from my daughter.  She drew it on her Wacom tablet.

Happy Father's Day.

My daughter is always thinking of me.  She will make a great artist (and perhaps even a great wife and mother, should she decide to push her skill-sets) some day. 🙂  Love her to death.

Later my kids did the grocery shopping, and fixed me a wonderful meal, which they insisted we ate at the table together (at 18 and 20, my kids are rarely home for meals, much less eating together!).

My son has recently started cooking – and he has a knack for it.  Love him as well!

It was a wonderful day.

But not for everyone.

This conversation, which my friend Robert Scoble started, explains why.  Hard to enjoy this day when so much of the world is in pain.

If you can stomach it, here is the before and after photos of one father’s daughter on Father’s Day.  Don’t click if you are squeamish.  She was shot and killed while walking in a peaceful protest with her father.

I am proud that I served my country, and am inspired by all of those in Iran who are doing the same.  Sounds like a cliche, but freedom really isn’t free.

Ask Neda’s father.

Because we can’t ask Neda.

Why I Love What I Do

First, it’s all about the people.  From the Rackspace Chairman (Graham Weston), who I met long before I started working here, to the Racker I met in a fast food joint at lunch – there is an immediate sense of “family”.  We are Rackers.  We speak the same language.  What specific JOB we do isn’t really important.  We know we have the same customers – the same goals.  And we all understand the goals.

That is actually an interesting fact about Rackspace – every employee is treated as a trusted friend.  We see the books.  We know the numbers.  We know how we are doing, and how we depend on each other to get better, and to do better.

And we let people find what they are good at, and where they best fit in.

Think that is bullshit?

In 11 days I will have been at Rackspace for exactly one year.  After one year I’ll feel more comfortable calling myself a Racker.  I feel like one – just don’t feel as if I have “earned it” yet 🙂

I was hired in the Cloud division.  To manage developers.  I now work for Rackspace proper – doing something MUCH different then I was hired to do.  Many companies would not have worked with me to find that “sweet spot” – they would have parted ways with me before they put that effort into the relationship.

Instead, Rackspace let me go try something new (to us).  I took over our Cloud blog, and our Twitter account.  And it worked – pretty well.  They let me build an event for SXSW in Austin – which was amazing, and very well received.

And then they let me do something really out there – I hired Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica.  And then we built, which is yet another experiment.  One I have a lot of passion for.  One I truly believe in, and am passionate about.

And I think that’s the key that Rackspace has figured out – they let people follow their passion.  And they work with those employees to find a way to make that passion make sense.  For the Racker, for Rackspace, and for investors.

So I was hired to manage developers.  Instead I am managing emerging media, building a truly unique web property, and trying to find a completely new way to do both marketing and PR in a public company.

Not bad for the first year.  Wonder what they will let me try in the second?  Guess that depends on how these current projects work out!

But it is pretty damned cool to be able to TRY – to do something totally new.  To have the company see if it fails instead of demanding proof it will succeed before they even try.

If you think hosting companies are boring, you haven’t worked at Rackspace.  We are anything but boring – we are pushing the envelope in ways most companies aren’t.

And that’s why I love it here.

Join us 🙂  We’re hiring.



I’ve Been Busy!

Lately my time has been consumed by a new project.-  I’ve been building it with an amazing team of friends – some I’ve not even actually met yet.  That’s the power of the Internet!

building43logo I’ve even got a post on the new site.  But it isn’t my site.  It belongs to the community that builds it.  You can join that community.  Learn how here.

It’s been a blast working on the site.  This is something completely fresh – from the graphics to the design.  The content and the idea behind the site – all new.

My employer, Rackspace, is backing the site.  It is an interesting challenge.  It has been from the day we decided to hire Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica.  Interesting because the idea is so unique that it is hard to describe.  A site that has no revenue model.  No marketing message.  It exists to help people use the new Internet to improve their own websites.  Particularly businesses.  If we help a business increase sales 10-15%, perhaps they will hire another employee.  Perhaps the increase in their sales means on of their vendors needs to hire more help.

Perhaps we can help the struggling economy one helpful post at a time.  Who knows?  Since it’s not been done in this way before – nobody knows.  But we have sure busted ass trying to find out!

I encourage you to go look at building43.  I am very proud of what the team has built.  I am proud to have my name associated with it.  And I am very, very happy that Robert and Rocky are with us on this project.  On paper, they work for me – but in actuality, we all work for the same purpose.  We all have a burning desire to build something truly meaningful – something truly helpful.

Let me know what you think!


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.