The Adventures of Johnny Bunko

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I’ve read Dan Pink’s previous books, Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind and enjoyed them thoroughly and wrote reviews of them. Just recently I read Dan’s latest book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need. This book contains several important career lessons that it helps to be reminded of periodically. I liked its creative approach of using Japanese Manga comic style for a business book. It makes the lessons much more memorable and fun to read. The book has 6 lessons, namely:

1. Your plans and jobs will change, so don’t try to plan out your entire career in advance. Each position will help you learn what you’re good at which can help to direct your career. Positions will sometimes change or move away, so you shouldn’t get too attached to a pre-conceived notion of what your long term career plan must look like to be successful. Despite what your parents may have told you, there are no safe “fallback careers” anymore. Also, if a job is safe but you can’t stand it, then it is no way to spend your career.

2. Find positions that focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses. If you work in an area that requires you to do things that don’t resonate with your strengths, it will be nearly impossible to be successful. There are some good resources recommended about finding your strengths, such as the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. Knowing your strengths will allow you to better choose positions where you spend more of your time doing things that you do well and enjoy.

3. Your career is not about you, but rather about what you do to help customers, clients, and co-workers to be successful. Using your strengths and enjoying your job is important, but they must be applied to helping others, not just yourself.

4. Persistence is more valuable than raw talent. Your career isn’t a sprint, but more like a marathon. You need to continue to show up, practice, and never give up.

5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The only people who don’t make mistakes are those who never try anything. When you do make mistakes, make sure you learn from them. If you make a really big mistake, you’ll know because it may be named after you (This has something to do with the choice of the main character’s name).

6. Leave an imprint. When you look back at your career, you’ll want to be able to know that you made a difference that mattered.

There are a lot of business/career books out there that have useful information, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that has as much great advice concentrated in as few words as this book. I was able to read the entire book during a lunch break. One of the common objections I hear from my colleagues who tell me that they don’t read business books is that they don’t have the time, but that excuse won’t work for this one.

This may be the “last career guide that I’ll ever need,” but I’ll certainly look forward to any future writing Dan Pink does on the subject.

My First Christmas Letter

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I really enjoy getting those Christmas letters where people tell us all about their lives, what they did, where they traveled, what their kids did, etc., but we’ve never written one ourselves. It’s probably because we don’t have any kids. People will stand just about any amount of bragging you do on your kids’ behalf because it’s only human to do that, but when you don’t have kids, it’s a challenge not to come across as a pretentious twit, or, worse yet, as an insufferable bore. Getting something akin to a form letter from a friend or relative can be a little ‘off-putting’ because it loses that personalized touch. Of course, it can always be signed by hand, offering at least a modicum of personal attention to the recipient. Regardless, I can’t wait to dive in and read them whenever they arrive.

So I’ll offer something like an end-of-year posting for those who might care enough to read my blog, a no doubt small and, with the lack of recent updates, dwindling audience. I’m afraid it won’t have the personalized flair of my signature.

We started the 2006 year with a trip to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. It had been about 8 years since Terri and I had been there when we did a few stints at the since-discontinued Comdex computer show. CES is a lot more fun than Comdex because it’s easier to personally identify with the products being showcased. Terri came down for a few days and we got to see Jay Leno perform at the Mirage and had a few nice dinners at the local restaurants. The rest of the time was spent performing obligatory booth duty at the Blu-ray and HD-DVD displays. A highlight of the show was running into a high school friend, Bob Wanat, who I hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years. I was almost interviewed by Andy McCaskey of SDR News, but declined because I didn’t want to contribute in any way to the controversy surrounding a format war about to commence between two competing HD formats. I wish I was going this coming year, because I’d be able to wax lyrical about my new product, the HP Media Vault, and would welcome the opportunity to get it on SDR News.

In June we took a trip to Europe for two and a half weeks. I wrote about it quite a bit in this blog although I never did finish the complete write-up. I’ll have to make it a New Year’s resolution to get all the writing finished. In short it was a wonderful trip with visits to Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and Amsterdam.

In July I traveled to Suzhou, China for the production start up of HP’s Media Vault, which is a a new product category for HP (Networked Storage for the home), and spent a week making sure everything was going OK and the product was ready to ship. I started a new FAQ and user group for the product. Shortly after arriving back in the U.S., I traveled to Oshkosh for my 15th Airventure and had a great time. There’s a blog entry about it here and here, describing my little side adventure on the way home.

In September, we went to Long Beach, CA to update firmware and software on the first two containers of HP Media Vaults prior to having them shipped to retailers. Terri came out for that visit too because it extended over the weekend. That part of the trip also got its own blog entry.

In December, we spent a week up in Steamboat Springs to do a little early season skiing and just enjoy the sights in and around Steamboat, which is one of our favorite places in all of Colorado.

This past week, we had what was by far the biggest blizzard Terri and I have ever experienced in Colorado with most places shut down for at least 2 days and a White Christmas is now guaranteed…a white New Year’s too. Judging by the mountains of snow piled up everywhere, the evidence of this storm will take weeks to melt even if we get warm weather. Five days after the storm and it still requires 4WD to get out of our neighborhood!

Terri shoveling snow
Merry Christmas,

Lee

Oshkosh landing

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Someone with a professional grade digital camera snapped my picture when I was landing at Oshkosh this year and put the photo in a very nice photo archive. I’m in good company too since the photo archive included Harrison Ford, seen in backseat of a Blue Angels FA-18 jet. If you click on the photo, you’ll the full sized image as I land at the ‘busiest airport in the world.’

September update

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything so I just wanted to give a quick update about what I’ve been doing. About 2 weeks ago, I traveled to Long Beach, CA for some work-related business and it required that I stay over the weekend. Terri flew out and joined me for the weekend and we spent some time exploring the Los Angeles area. I had been to LA previously, but never got more than about a mile from the LAX airport. Terri hadn’t spent much time in the area, so there were a lot of things for us to see.

My hotel was located very close to the Queen Mary, the ship that brought my mother to the U.S. from England in 1953. It was retired about 40 years ago and parked in Long Beach as a hotel/tourist attraction. On Friday evening, we took a self-guided tour of the ship and then had dinner in its restaurant. The ship had her maiden voyage in 1936 and had a long life of sailing around the world, mostly from Europe to the U.S. under the Cunard Line and was retired in 1967. I can still recall an old suitcase of my mom’s with the Cunard Line stickers from her trip over on the Queen Mary. The suitcase and its contents were all she had when she arrived. The RMS Queen Mary has now spent more time as a tourist attraction that it did as a form of transportation. I guess that’s a fitting tribute since the whole cruise industry has become more about the tourism than it is about transportation. Airplanes are just too fast and convenient when compared with ships.

On Saturday we drove up to Santa Monica to walk along the pier and the beach and eventually ended up down in Venice beach which has a kind of carnival atmosphere. There are many T-shirts vendors, artists selling their work, fortune tellers, and performance artists. It makes the Boulder Pearl Street mall seem very tame by comparison. We resisted the temptation to get any tattoos or body piercings even though we felt quite out of place without them. We had beautiful sunny weather with a nice ocean breeze, enough that I got nasty bad sunburn which I’ll not soon forget.

After walking back to Santa Monica, we decided to drive over to Hollywood to see the Walk of Fame. It was very touristy, but since we had never been there, we figured we might as well do the touristy things, even if it included purchasing a ‘Map of Movie Star Homes (and Shocking Crime Scenes )’ We drove on Santa Monica Boulevard, then crossed over to Sunset Boulevard, and eventually got on to Hollywood Boulevard which is where we knew we had arrived at a tourist trap. I always wanted to see the ‘stars’ on Hollywood Boulevard and the handprints/footprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We even strolled by the Church of Scientology where they offered us ‘free stress test’ which involved being hooked up to E-Meters. That made us feel like real Hollywood celebrities. We were waiting for Tom Cruise or John Travolta to show up at any minute.

Later we used our ‘Map of the Stars Homes’ to get as close as we could to the Hollywood sign for a photo op and then cruised Mulholland Drive from the 101 to Laurel Canyon. We got back into Hollywood and headed west on Sunset through Bevery Hills, Westwood, Bel Air, Brentwood (right near where OJ used to live), Pacific Palisades, and eventually got to the coast. Then we went north to Malibu where we ate dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant. There was a major traffic jam on the Pacific Coast Highway southbound due to an accident so we decided to use the Malibu Canyon road to get back over to the 405. By the time we got back to Long Beach, it was nearly 11:00 p.m. We decided the next day we’d take it easier.

On Sunday we drove back up to Hollywood to check out the La Brea Tar Pits, another attraction that we noticed on our tourist map, and we were quite astonished at what we found. It was a genuine Tar Pit/museum right on Wilshire Blvd between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Imagine that! You’d figure that by now a tar pit on valuable real estate would have been sucked dry, turned into oil and paved over but there it was. It even had working archeologists in it, pulling prehistoric fossilized bones out of one of the pits. The museum was amazing, one of the best I’ve seen in terms of archeological treasures. I’d highly recommend that if you’re ever in Hollywood that you check out the La Brea Tar Pits.

Later we came back to the hotel and visited a Russian Scorpion submarine which was set along side the Queen Mary as a tourist attraction. It was a fascinating experience to think that it was operational until just a few years ago. Although it was built in 1972, the technology in it looked ancient, probably because that type of sub was designed in the 1950s. I had only been in one other sub before, and that was German U-boat in Chicago and that was also quite fascinating. It amazes me to think of the number of people that can live in these cramped quarters for months at a time.

So we got to see a lot of things in a short time, many of which were on my ‘list’ for whenever I got a chance to visit LA. We avoided the really touristy things like Disneyland and Universal Studios…maybe we’ll see those on a future visit.

I’ve stored some pictures of the trip here.