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 building43.com, 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.



Selling Out – One Post At A Time. Yes, I Sold A Post.

I sold a blog post today – literally.  Some time ago (I won’t get specific) I wrote a 32 word blog post that had a random (seemingly) phrase in it that recently caught someone’s interest.  The phrase was also the blog post title. 

It was a “catch phrase” that I just made up – but now, (some time later), a company is launching a product that uses the same catch-phrase I coined (some time ago).

Since the way my post used the phrase was contrary to the goals of the company, and since it was unique, and it had good “Google Juice”, the company very politely, and without any threat or fear of threat (they acknowledged that I had “coined the phrase” long before they had) offered to pay me to kill my blog post.  They just wanted “clear title” to the phrase – and they wanted to be found if someone searched for it.

I cannot go into specifics about the post (now deleted) or the terms.  But it was substantial enough that I elected to delete something that I alone created and controlled.  It would not buy a car, or allow me to retire.

Sure – that info is still “out there” somewhere – in Google Cache, for example.  But in a very short time the Google Juice I have for the phrase will be dead, and the new owners of the phrase will get top billing on the search results. 

Which is what they wanted.

I didn’t delete anything significant – there were not even any comments on the post.  It was, like many of my posts, just “something weird I thought of and posted”.

Did I sell out?  I sure did.  But I didn’t sell anyone else out, so I am comfortable with my decision.

Did I get rich – no.  Would I sell another post for money – I doubt it – this was a very unique situation.  You could not, for example, pay me to delete any of the negative posts that I have written about any company or service here.

Some of my most popular posts are ones that I either praise or punish some company that I think is worthy of my opinion about them.  I would never consider selling those posts.

If you are shocked by my actions go look through your blog history and tell me there isn’t a single insignificant post you wouldn’t sell to help put your child through college.  I am sure you have a meaningless post or two that nobody would ever miss.

I traded a useless, silly, and ignored post for a chance to get my kid through college.  Judge me if you wish.  I have no regrets.  

Textured walls only make sense if you have a headboard.


Quick update, random thoughts

Celebrated my daughter’s 17th birthday today.  It was nice.  I made T-Bones (3/4 inch cut), baked potatoes and a fresh salad. For Lauren I made a beef tenderloin, since that’s her favorite.   People always ask me how I get steaks so tender and juicy.  Tender is easy – take them out of the ‘fridge about four hours before you are going to grill them.  Get them close to room temperature.  I don’t know why this works, but it does (the 3/4 inch steak helps, of course.  Thin steaks get chewy).  As for juicy, just make sure the grill is as hot as you can get it before you put the steaks on.  You can always turn the fire down after you’ve seared both sides of the steak.

Next – we’re just a few days from launching the project I have been working on since last May.  We launch in a limited Beta at CeBIT – where “ones and zeroes turn into billions”.  Let’s hope.  Anyway, the last minute bugs and feature crawl is kicking into high gear – so as you might imagine, I am busy!  It’s a good busy though.

The cool thing is that very, very soon I can start telling you what I’ve been working on, and a little bit about my boss/partner, and now friend.  I won’t be doing most of that here – we already have a blog for the new product – but I hope you won’t mind me linking and/or cross posting to that news.  What I do, and who I choose to work with, is a great part of who I am.

And as part of that effort, and news – I’ve already committed to giving 1%  of the current valuation of the company – not just 1% of my share of the company – to charity.  Sure, the valuation will perhaps change and eventually that 1% may be diluted.  But maybe not.  And even if it is, I think we are talking about a very cool contribution.  Details on the charity to come in the future, but it will be a charity that focuses on helping third world businesses start, and grow.

It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t always been fun.  But I absolutely love what I do.  That’s probably why I do it for 18 hours a day. 

And yes – I have had several requests from people asking me to describe exactly what it is I do.  Look for that post soon.  Its not a short answer.  It is actually pretty complicated 🙂

Ok, sorry for the jumbled post.  Time is short, bugs are many, and launch is immanent!