The Blog

Snow…Finally

Been five weeks since I last wrote. If only I had an extra couple of hours in each day…or even in each week. Since I normally don’t sleep all that much, can’t turn an hour of the little I get into work time. Hmmmmmm, as I wrote that last line it popped into my head that perhaps that is somehow related to the fact that I never have suffered from jet lag and almost immediately can operate on local time no matter how far off it is from real time. Real time being that of Birchrunville, of course. GMT -05.

Lots has happened since I got back from my Africa travels. I’ve run a number of EOS Annual Sessions for clients which is always great fun. I get to see how things went last year and see what they’re looking to achieve in the new year. I’m pleased to report that all my clients did quite nicely and expect the new year to be even better.

Shameless plug: If you’re not getting what you want from your business…give me a call.

Other than that, we had a huge snowstorm. At my place in Birchrunville we got over 30 inches…which my aching back, arms, legs, feet, hands, fingers, and for some reason butt…will all attest to. Then a couple of days ago it was in the low single digits with heavy winds. A bit chilly to be out but when I walked around it reminded me of my time living in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Lest you think I’m kidding with that name, here’s the official website of what used to be my little country. Lots of snow, trees, cows, snow, ridiculously cold winters, maple syrup, snow, empty space…and, did I mention, snow and ridiculously cold winters?

A couple of folks reached out and became new clients, a few old clients wanted to know if I’d do some more work for them, and a number of people decided to go out of business rather than talk to me. First two are nice, third not so much.

Since it finally got cold, my woodpile has shrunken a bit. Another 7 or 8 years of this and it will be used up. Luckily I have lots of pre-firewood logs piled up waiting to become my famous organic, handsplit, random design, perfectly dried, spectacular looking and burning…firewood.


2015-12-30 05.30.20

While looking for a picture of the snow in Birchrunville I came across this picture from my trip to Tel Aviv the end of December. It’s the box they fill with smokers in Ben Gurion Airport. It’s right in the main concourse. Kind of odd. As you can see, they squash a bunch of people into a small closed space and then force them to all smoke at the same time. I never found out what infractions gets you sentenced to be put inside.

 

Finally found a nice picture of the snow apparently taken at 8:29:47 on February 5 while I was walking around. Amazing that my phone knows the time to the second. Maybe someday I’ll take a picture where it matters to the second when it was taken…but I doubt it.

2016-02-05 08.29.47

One last picture. This one was taken from my hotel room in Accra, Ghana a few weeks ago. It’s a little dark which I would fix if I had any idea at all how to let there be light. And yes, I went from nice warm 90 degree weather in Ghana to freezing my butt off when I excited the airport in Birchrunville. Gee, maybe I should have put these pictures in the opposite order. Nah, figure you, my most intelligent readers can figure it out.

2016-01-09 16.02.12

Week after next I fly off again. Detroit. If all goes according to plan, I will enjoy my stay in the wonderful Westin inside the airport and never set foot outside. Best way to ignore the weather. Kind of like Minneapolis where you can walk all around the city through the tunnels and overhead walkways and it’s always a pleasant 68 degrees with minimal precipitation no matter what’s going on outside. I hear there are people who haven’t experienced the real weather in years. They live in Minnesota and don’t own a single coat, sweater, or even heavy shirt.

Other than that, nothing much happening. A bunch of people running around with bazillions of dollars behind them making pretend they’re regular people and competent to be President when they grow up and learn to tell the truth and stop being nasty to each other, a Supreme Court that’s one justice shy of a full deck which apparently means Senate gridlock will get even worse…as though we could tell, and the chance that we might wind up in a real war in the Middle East with everyone running around with modern weapons we gave them…or that they took from those we gave them to. At least we have cheap gas again. Okay, enough with politics.

Just a little something for you to think about until next missive as I throw another log on the fire and go off to get some breakfast.

PS: to you eagle eyed readers, I saw that it says “excited” instead of “exited” in the verbiage between the snow picture and the Accra hotel picture. (I do re-read and edit before sending…even if it doesn’t look like it) Not sure if it was my fingers or that damn spelling correction thing that happens automatically but did think it was much funnier than the word I should have used. Go back and re-read if you missed it.

Thoughts From Dakar and Accra

As I write this I am in Accra Ghana having been in Dakar Senegal earlier in the week with a stop in Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire. Suffice it to say, lots of travel in a short time. Especially since I was in Israel between Christmas and New Year. I am looking forward to a few days of rest when I return.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

Before I forget, several people interested in the CTO position I shared in the last missive, Great Chief Technology Officer Position, responded and are sending me resumes. Until someone is hired we’ll be continuing to speak with good candidates so spread the word or apply yourself if you’re a good prospect. Do It Now!

Back to travel. Here is a picture of where I was sitting doing lots of work while in Dakar:

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Then on to Accra. Here is picture of a very odd apartment building across the street from my hotel:

2016-01-07 13.02.03

One of the things I like most about my travels is the huge diversity of things I get to see and experience from super hotels like the Dakar Radisson Blu to tiny falling down places someplace in Ghana. And then there is that apartment building…

Been visiting with cancer experts and seeing a few hospitals which always reminds me that no matter what you think about your healthcare…unless you’re one of those among the millions that we continue to be unwilling to include in our healthcare system…it is way better than in much of the world. Those out of our system are a whole different story and have healthcare not too unlike the poor in Africa. What does this say about our supposedly best in the world healthcare? Of course lots of statistics show in spite of having the most expensive system that is quite profitable for drug companies and such, we actually aren’t all that great as far as health outcomes go. But that’s the difference between ideology and facts, one based on what we’d like it to be and the other based on reality.

Anyway, enough of that rant. We’re working away at helping improve the cancer care across Africa…which is quite the load to bear. Not often do I get to do something designed to affect an entire continent and all its 54 countries.

Still, it’s always fun to return. Been in places where it’s quite warm so looking forward to the freezing temperature in Birchrunville as I have lots of wood piled up waiting to be shoved into a fireplace. There is something of the pyromaniac in me, actually probably more than just something, so the anticipation of piling up the kindling, stacking some wood on top, firing up the match (always use matches as they are just so much more satisfying than those gas thingies), and watching it burn. And then there’s the heat which for some reason is so much different…and nicer…than that which comes from vents or baseboard gadgets.

In case you forgot, I have something like a bazillion nicely organic, hand made by a true firewood craftsman who learned his trade at an early age from a master, oak, cherry, walnut, hickory, ash, and a bit of this and that wood pieces waiting for someone to come along and take them home. Free! Yup, Free!

If I don’t get rid of some of the wood piled up around the house I don’t where I’ll put that which is waiting still in logs to be added to the piles once carefully split into artistic perfectly sized and dried pieces.

Ooops, team just came and told me they need me. Now. So off to work I am. But one last picture. This is Dakar out the window of the plane as I was on my way to Accra.

2016-01-06 16.31.15

 

 

Great Chief Technology Office Opportunity

Andesa, a wonderful client of mine, is looking to fill this great position. They’re a Best Places To Work award winning company with insurance industry leading products. Excellent compensation and a possibility of equity. In Allentown PA.

Did I mention Andesa is a great company to work for?

Reach out and send me a resume or send your friends who qualify. I would love for someone I know to get this job.

Steve

Chief Technology Officer

Summary:

This position is responsible for the development and leadership of Andesa’s technology strategy and vision. The person in this role plays an integral part in Andesa’s strategic direction, development, and future growth. A key expectation of this position is to provide company-wide direction in a manner mindful of Andesa’s employees, clients and shareholders in areas of policy and planning to create an environment to foster the vision, mission and values of Andesa Services.

The Chief Technology Officer is accountable for:

  1. providing an industry-leading application offering in a SaaS-based “evergreen” environment,
  2. the safety, integrity and accessibility of the organization’s data and systems, and
  3. providing a work environment that supports the long-term growth and success of the technology department team members.

The Chief Technology Officer creates and maintains the Strategic Technology Plan. This document exists to serve the strategic business plan. It must assess the gaps between the current and future state and provide a roadmap that bridges those gaps. It must address:

  • the people, processes and technologies that are required to fulfill the plan,
  • the long-term viability of all major application platforms, and
  • long-term plans for the continuous improvement of software configuration management systems and Andesa’s Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Application visionary – Provides visible leadership for Andesa within the technology and insurance industries. Researches and provides direction for Andesa’s suite of tools, features, functions and emerging technologies.
    • Ensures application suite is available to and easily implementable by the Implementation Team.
    • Identifies and implements new services and tools.
    • Identifies and implements enhancements and efficiencies to existing services and tools.
    • Leads design, development and implementation of new services, tools and internal support systems.
  • Architecture visionary – plans and maintains IT infrastructure – evaluates and acquires necessary technology to ensure organization success. Proven record of finding efficiencies in current technology blueprint. Ability to analyze and review current hardware and data warehouse footprint and suggest recommendations for improvement. Ensures architecture supports established business process and is effectively designed to accommodate business growth.
    • Leads the development and execution of Andesa’s technology strategy and vision.
    • Monitors and reflects trends in industry technology, security and regulations as part of technology vision. Researches and recommends new technologies.
    • Develops and assures adherence to Andesa’s Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity processes.
    • Develops and assures adherence to Andesa’s architectural, security, development, coding and infrastructure standards.
  • Leads the development and maintenance of Andesa’s network, telecommunications, hardware and software infrastructures.
  • Develops and monitors Andesa’s technology budget.
  • Builds and leads a highly-skilled and service-oriented technology team.
  • Performs other duties as may be assigned.

Essential:

  • As a member of Andesa’s senior management team, this person must have extensive experience with the technology planning, development and operations in a responsive, innovative environment within the life insurance or financial services industry.
  • A professional accustomed to a fast paced, “can do” approach and who enjoys growing a team and making a significant contribution will thrive in this dynamic environment.
  • A motivated, self-directed professional willing to accept responsibility.
  • Entrepreneurial and business-minded professional accustomed to wearing many hats.
  • Experience working with a company in the $20-$200 million dollar range with multiple office locations.

Beneficial:

  • Experience leading in a BPO / Cloud-SaaS / outsourcing environment preferred.
  • Experience with life insurance professional technology services organization and/or user groups are a plus.
  • Ability to effectively communicate with clients and all levels of employees within the organization.
  • Ability to develop and implement short and long-range technology capacity and operational plans.
  • Demonstrated, problem identification, systemic thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Skills in examining and re-engineering operations and procedures, formulating policy and standards as well as the development and implementation of new strategies and procedures.
  • Knowledge of current technological developments/trends in areas of systems, tool sets, hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Knowledge of financial/business analysis techniques.
  • Knowledge of practical application of engineering science and technology as it relates to software development.
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Computer Science, Information Technology, Engineering, Mathematics or related field. Masters degree preferred. Regarded as expert in field.
  • At least ten (10) years of experience leading teams in a dynamic, growth-oriented technology environment; life insurance industry preferred.
  • At least five (5) years in the lead technology leadership role, setting and implementing a company’s technology strategy and vision.

Reports To:

  • Chief Executive Officer

Direct Reports:

  • IT Operations Manager
  • Senior Systems Architect
  • Senior Data Architect

 

 

Travel, travel, travel…and a Great Job For You!

I’ve run into a few of you, and heard in random ways from a few others of you, that I’ve been MIA. Actually this is not true at all. I’ve been IA. The M part is due to my complete inability to find the time to sit down and write this little missive since…November 17. November 17. a full month ago!

Some of you know that I don’t sleep a lot to begin with. You’ve discovered I’m almost always up and about by 4:30 or 5 while winding up missing my goal of dropping off to sleep by 9:30 or 10 almost every day. Except when I doze on the couch in front of some boring television show, of course. Where is the time to write these ramblings?

A lot has happened. Since telling you about Barcelona in my last missive, I’ve been to Marrakech. Great place even though I mostly was at something called Aortic 2015 so didn’t get to roam around the countryside much.  This is the annual all Africa cancer conference that draws the best cancer people from across Africa…and the rest of the world. I liked Morocco so much I’m thinking about doing something I never do…take a few days and go and wander around the country on my own nickel! If you’d like to join me, let me know and perhaps we can do a cool little jaunt across the desert of North Africa. When I do this I’m also going to stop in Djibouti which is a whole different kind of place.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Area General Manager

Krapf School Bus

Yup, this is the great job I mentioned way up there in the title. If you happen to be an excellent manager looking for your next wonderful position or if you know anyone who might like to work for a great company, let me know. Right now! By the way, Southeastern Pennsylvania actually means an area that wanders around from Wilmington to York to Allentown and all parts east of these cities in Pennsylvania. And yes, I know Wilmington is in Delaware but figure such astute people as my loyal readers will know what I mean. So read on…and send me a note or even better a resume. Now! And if you can’t figure out how to contact me, perhaps you’re not a candidate!

Area General Manager

Krapf School Bus

         Rapidly growing company needs an Area General Manager to direct the operations of multiple locations. The primary responsibilities of the position includes setting goals for each operation, developing the management teams, providing excellent customer service, and implementing training and safety programs. Budgeting and cost control experience is a must. The right person for this position has a proven track record of leading an operation with revenues in excess of $30 million.  

         Qualifications include at least 8 years demonstrated success in operations management with profit and loss responsibility. Must have the ability to hire and develop managers and supervisors in multiple locations. Transportation experience a plus. Excellent benefits. Southeastern Pennsylvania location.

Krapf

Did you apply?

On a totally different note, did you notice the weather? It is so warm here in Birchrunville that a client dragged me out to play golf this past Sunday. We saw a big cherry tree that was starting to bloom! When I got home I saw a stink bug crawling across the floor no doubt thinking spring had come so he needed to get outside. And then there are those polo shirts I’ve been wearing sans jacket.

Luckily it’s just cool enough at night that I can have a little fire. I do love having a fire. I figure based on the wood need so far this fall I have enough split wood for about 20 years and pre-split wood for 100 years. Just had a neighbor give me a huge hickory tree followed by a huge ash tree. Huge slices piled up waiting for my splitting maul to fall.

Which reminds me…need any firewood? I have the best price around: free. And if you’re really nice to me and not too far away I might even deliver it. Stacking doubles the price.

I understand that in Miami which is rapidly sinking into the sea, many are not so happy about climate change. I’m mindboggled that they have elected officials there up to and including the governor who are walking around with water up to their knees and still claiming climate change is a fraud. Ideology so strong it beats the evidence of your own lying eyes and wet legs.

But here in Birchrunville, climate change hasn’t been so bad. About 15 degrees warmer than average this year which means no snowstorms so far and thus the power has been on continuously. I could get used to this.

I’m getting ready to fly off late December 25. I have a Wharton Global Consulting Practicum trip to Israel…for 4 days. 11 or 12 hour direct flight there and a 15 trip back December 30 due to a connection. Back two days to celebrate New Year’s and then January 1 I fly off to Senegal and Ghana, back January 10. When I return I have a packed rest of January with a number of EOS days, some other client stuff, and a nice new client starting up.

February I rest.

The bad thing about my travel is I now have to spend a fair bit of time explaining to people in other countries what is going on in America. They think we have gone nuts. Frankly, I tend to agree with them. They’re fascinated by how we have a bazillion guns up to and including military weapons designed with one purpose…to kill lots of people quickly…floating around and yet so we wonder why we have so much gun violence. Recently I had someone ask me how is it possible that Congress voted not to keep those on the No-Fly List from getting guns. After all, those on the list are there because they’re potential terrorists. My question is how is it that regular people understand this and our elected officials are oblivious?

I figure I’ll get a number of questions about why Los Angeles and New York school systems both got the same hoax bomb threat and LA shut down 900 schools and searched them all while NY figured out it was a hoax so kept the schools open. Personally I think think this shows the terrorists are smarter than we are. An email that costs nothing led to who knows how much chaos, fear, and expense in LA. It was so successful that I’m sure we’ll see more of these emails.

And don’t even get me started about the questions on our neverending political horror show. I figure the hate, vitriol, misrepresentations, and outright lies being flung around have cost us an unbelievable amount of good will around the world and are accelerating our decline in standing and power. Which in spite of what the isolationists think, will cost us dearly. Where do they think all those cheap imported products that fill Walmart come from? Who do they think buys all our exported goods and services? And where are they going to hide their ill gotten gains if the foreign hidey holes decide to stop dealing with them?

Okay, enough ranting about the incompetents. Hopefully some adults will appear and send them to their rooms to sulk and think about changing their bad behavior.


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And before I forget, it’s that time of year. Have a wonderful time over the holidays. Take a break and rejuvenate your body and mind. Lots going on as we enter the new year to keep you amused.

 

Missive From Barcelona

Aargh! I’ve been so busy I forgot to write! Seems it’s been three and a half weeks since I sent off an update on Steve’s World. Last missive I mentioned I was off to Nice and Monaco. As I write this I’m now in Barcelona and soon to be in Marrakech. Last night I was thinking about how weird this travel is. In spite of all my travel over the years, I had never seen the Mediterranean Sea until I visited Tel Aviv a few months ago and stayed at a hotel right on…the Mediterranean Sea. And managed to find the time to spend a few hours walking along the beach that forms the east end of the Mediterranean Sea.

Then I was in Nice and Monaco where I walked along the beach that forms part of the central north side of the Mediterranean Sea. Yesterday I walked along the beach that forms part of the very western north side of the Mediterranean Sea. And if a few days I’m going to be on the western end of the south side of the Mediterranean Sea. How weird is this? I figure I’m going to have to find some reason for a client to send me to visit Tunisia so I can see the central part of the south side of the Mediterranean Sea. Since the east end of the Mediterranean Sea is the Strait of Gibraltar, no beach there to wander along.

medsea

In case you’re wondering, so far all parts of the Mediterranean Sea are quite nice. I highly recommend visiting any of them. And the cities I’ve explored are also great places to visit. Of course, as you know, I find anyplace I go exciting and interesting so perhaps I’m not the best person to get travel advice from. Especially since I rarely get to any of the major tourist attractions in the places I visit.

I’m in Barcelona to be part of a Junto that Packet CEO Zac Smith puts on in various places. This one is in conjunction with Dockercon 15. Those of you who clicked on the Packet link and the Dockercon link are no doubt laughing hysterically at the thought of me being part of these nerdiest of the tech nerd things possible. I must admit it amazes me too that I, the technology incompetent, is considered a part of this world.

As to how this came about, I’m an advisor to Packet (and now a shareholder!) where they have implemented EOS as their company operating system. They give me great credit for helping them get the way their business works humming. If all goes well, this just might lead to another cool client or two. And yes, this is a hint to you that I’m always looking for new clients needing to get their company running better so send me a referral. If you do…I’ll mention you in a future missive and even in the Benari Blog. How’s that for a bribe? Oooops, reward.

Dockercon is about 1500 of the most technical geeks you ever heard of. These are the people who are building the things that actually make the internet work. My guess it that few if any of you have ever heard of their companies. For example, anyone know RackN?

Just this morning I spent an hour talking with Rob Hirshfeld, RackN Founder and CEO. I even understood several words he used when describing what they do. Okay, I’ll admit it, the words I understood were “and” “the” “a” “many”. I leave you to go to their site and figure out what they do as there is no way I can explain it.

Meanwhile, back home in Birchrunville…I’ve had to light a bunch of fires to keep warm. The woodpile is diminishing. Luckily I have cords and cords of wood split, dried, and ready to burn. And piles of pre-split wood waiting for my splitting maul. I must admit, the pyromaniac in me comes out as soon as the leaves start to fall from the trees.

Almost forgot, you probably don’t know what a Junto is. It’s another thing invented by Ben Franklin. I have no idea how he managed to be involved in just about anything that happened when he was alive. Anyway, it’s a random and diverse group of people who get together to think deep thoughts and in general hang around and enjoy stimulating discussion and thinking up new ideas while helping each other. In Zac’s case, he likes to pull together people to think about where the world is going not just in technology but in everything.

And they always take place with around 15 or so people in a nice restaurant with plenty of good food and drink. This one will be at Restaurant Loria in case you happen to be around and free at 7:30 this evening. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the discussion.

 

 

 

Travel Planning

Hectic, hectic, hectic. Did I mention that it has been hectic?

I’ve been working away with EOS and Benari clients, walking, writing my weekly Benari Blog…every damn Tuesday morning lots of people around the world expect to get it or they get really irritated, visiting the Birchrunville Store Cafe, walking around and walking some more, dealing with my Wharton Global Consulting Practicum responsibilities as we get going for the year, doing lots of phone interviews for a board strategy project…and running the strategy session – in Chicago, doing the laundry, and watching Black List. Also doing a lot of walking.

Since I wrote I finally got my new underground cable working. You know the cable I mean, the one I wrote about in the last three missives.

It wound up needing a Comcast Business Tech rather than a Regular Person Tech to figure out the problem. First off, the underground cable installers who finally showed up did not correctly put the little metal connector gizmos on the ends of the cable properly! And then they didn’t check to make sure it was working! Result: well, you know.

The fantastic Business Tech showed up with another guy early Saturday morning. Took him a few minutes to figure out the problem and fix it. Seems the other fellow is a corporate office guy on his annual day of following a technician around to see what goes on out there in the world of customers.

I figure you already know what I did when I discovered this. Yup, bent his ear a bit about my neverending Comcast horror story. He listen patiently and commiserated but wouldn’t agree that a year or two’s worth of free service was reasonable after what they put me through. He did say he would share my story with one of their customer service people who would reach out and talk to me.

Line fixed…so we all thought…and off they go. I sit down at the computer and peck away. In about 5 minutes, I kid you not, same old problems appear. I am not happy! Luckily the Business Tech has a real Business Card which he gave me. And it has his mobile number so my fingers fly over the phone. Dan answers, I share my story, he sighs and says “only thing left is that gateway sitting on your desk that makes it all work. Wifi must be bad. Good news is I will bring you a brand new updated super duper gateway. Are you around first thing Monday morning?”

First thing Monday morning he appears…without the corporate guy…installs the new box, powers it up, sets a bunch of things, and…Whooopeeeee! It works. And continues to work spectacularly well.

Best of all, that Monday afternoon I get a call from Phil, the customer service guy. We have a nice chat which leads to his offering me some free service to make me feel better. What the heck, I accept.

Around all this I have been preparing for my trip to Nice and Monaco in  a couple of days. I’m pretty excited as this is all about launching the Ocean Fund which took an unbelievable amount of time to get organized and signed off on by they various parties. But…it’s on its way. The first fund set to raise bazillions of dollars to protect the ocean…all of it. If you have any spare cash – a million or two or 50 would be nice – and are worried about what’s happening to the oceans, let me know.

Then a week or so later I have to go to Barcelona for a junto that my great client Packet is putting on at some tech conference. I get to be part of a dinner conversation with a bunch of big deal tech people talking about this and that. I expect I won’t have a clue what they’re talking about so am planning to sit there looking very wise and inscrutable while muttering incomprehensible things under my breath. I figure I’ll throw in a few frowns as they seem to add gravity to any conversation.

Then after a couple of days in Barcelona I return to Birchrunville. I’m being pressured to go to Marrakech 3 days after returning from Barcelona! For something called Aortic. Really. If you look at a map you will notice that Marrakech is about 900 miles due south of Barcelona. Am I going to go there the short way? Of course not. If they get me to do this I will fly 4000 miles back to Birchrunville from Barcelona and then 4000 miles from Birchrunville to Marrakech 3 days later! Is there a psychiatrist reading this?

Looking to get some rest after all this I decided to go to Hawaii and space out for a few days. Or maybe St Bart’s which I like quite a bit. In either case, I am going to detach from the world the beginning of December. Before I have to go back to Israel on December 26 for a few days. Couple of great Wharton Global Consulting Practicum projects going on there I’m going to check in on.

Don’t get me started on what my January looks like.

Aside: I almost forgot. Jose Garces invited me to the most spectacular 10th Anniversary Party for Amada. While standing there drinking a glass of wine and scooping up amazing bits of this and that as they passed by, two different people asked me what my next Dos Equis commercial was going to be about. 

Meanwhile, my wood pile has begun to shrink as it has gotten colder at night. Luckily a neighbor had a big hickory tree keel over so I now have a huge pile of wood ready to split for next year. As soon as I get done splitting the wood I already have that needs right sizing.

Sitting in airplanes interspersed with hand splitting firewood and advising clients with quite a bit of walking around tossed in at odd moments. No wonder I’m feeling a bit tired. Time for a nice glass of wine while sitting in front of the fire. Join me?

 

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Comcast Horrors

This is now the third post in a row where I have to share how totally incompetent and customer unfriendly Comcast is. Since I am so disgusted and irritated I figured I’d jump right in and rant a bit. Who knows, perhaps one of the Comcast Minions will read this and take pity on me.

In case your forgot, early September I noticed my internet was not working right. It was slower, did some weird things, seemed to briefly disappear and then reappear. At the same time, suddenly my phone which is also on Comcast stopped ringing. (okay, enough with the jokes about no one wanting to talk to me!) So I called them.

This in itself was a horrible experience since it takes forever to get through their irritating automated phone tree useless messages and finally figure out how to get a real person. I persevered and got a repair guy to show up September 5. Yup, today is October 10 and it still isn’t fully repaired. You do the math,.

Anyway, he figures out that a critter had somehow tunneled along to my underground line and chewed on it. To give me temporary service until the underground guys could come and put in a new line, he cobbles together a bunch of scrap pieces of line he has in his truck, lays it across the ground for about a 100 feet from the house to the pole, and gets the system working.

He says the underground guys will show up in 4 or 5 days and fix it properly.

When no one shows up in a couple of weeks I call, go through the same damn phone tree, get someone in India who follows his script which asks lots of useless questions, and finally tells me that there is no record of me needing the underground guys so they were never scheduled. But…he will fix everything and get them to my house.

They will show up in…you know already…4 or 5 days.

Instead a guy shows up, wanders around, agrees that they underground guys have not come and the line is still laying on the ground, and lets me know that…they will show up in, are you ready, 4 or 5 days.

I wait forlornly at the end of my driveway for the Comcast truck to appear. The neighbors bring me food and I use the woods for other needs. It’s a bit cold at night but I persevere. Finally I realize they aren’t coming so…do the whole damn phone thing again.

This time the nicest Comcast Repair Guy Ever shows up. He is aghast at my story. Takes some information and goes off to talk to his boss and get it fixed quickly. Jeremy even gives me his personal cell phone number to call him if it’s not done quickly.

A week passes, no underground guys. I call Jeremy over the weekend. He comes out first thing Monday morning, talks to me, gets me to fill out some more papers, tells me he is going to talk to his boss again and figure out what is going on.

A few days pass. The service is deteriorating (see second paragraph above). It’s Friday and I have a lot to do requiring internet access. I call Jeremy at 0700 but don’t get him. I buck myself up and do the Comcast Call Center Horror Show. I finally get someone else in India. I rant at him, prefacing it by saying that I know it’s not his fault but…

He says a repair guy will come out first thing Saturday morning. It’s Saturday morning…

Now you might wonder how you got this if my internet is kafloooey. Which it still is. I leave you to ponder this.

On a more positive front, I got a nice job leading an association board planning meeting in Chicago so am off to do this next week. Someone else asked me to lead a 2 day EOS Annual Session for them in December. And I got asked about helping someone think through a new growth strategy. Seems like I’ll make a few bucks before the end of the year which is nice.

And my trip to Nice and Monaco is rapidly approaching. Then a week or so later Barcelona. And…I am thinking about going to Hawaii and ignoring everything for a few days in early December.

Best of all, it got cold enough that I’ve had to burn a bit of the cords and cords of firewood piled up all over my property. Another few decades of burning without chopping and I might get rid of all of it.

 

Need a Job? Read On.

Yesterday I booked flights to Nice and Monaco. Okay, those of you who have been in that area know that you actually fly to Nice which is right next door to Monaco so one flight – two countries. As you know, I like seeing new things and since I’ve never been to either place…another twofer. Sometimes one of you asks me how many countries I’ve visited…meaning worked in since I never go anyplace except for work. I have no idea as I run out of fingers and toes when counting them. But it’s now going to be one more…not 2…since to my dismay Nice turns out to be a city in France and not another country like Monaco.

Leave the evening of October 28, 12 hours from takeoff to landing (with a plane change in Madrid) arrive noon the 29th, do some meetings and dinners, flit back about 2 in the afternoon on November 1 and 14 hours later (this time London plane change) land in Birchrunville at 8 or so in the evening. Time changes are weird things.

When I was on Whidbey Island I found some time to go hiking in Deception Pass State Park which covers the north end of the island. It is spectacular. Here is a picture of me on a bridge that crosses and inlet:

2015-08-23 16.29.39

Here’s a sign for the less aware they put at the edge of really high cliff:

2015-08-23 16.14.51

It’s 150 feel straight down on the other side of this sign.

The drop is about as steep as pictured.

Notice that it only could be deadly if you take one more step.

Now about that job. I mentioned this before but just in case you missed it it, they’re still accepting resumes. It’s a great job for a great company led by a great CEO. All those greats are totally unbiased even though the CEO is a client of mine. So if you meet the criteria and just might want to work for a great company…apply!

Rapidly growing multi-state transportation company needs an Area General Manager to direct the operations of multiple locations.  The primary responsibilities of the position include P&L responsibility, developing the management teams, customer service, and overseeing fleet activities including driver recruitment and training and fleet maintenance.  Budgeting and cost control experience is a must. The right person for this position has a proven track record of leading an operation with revenues in excess of $50 million.     

Qualifications include at least 8 years demonstrated success in operations management with profit and loss responsibility.  Must have the ability to hire and develop managers and supervisors in multiple locations.  Must have excellent interpersonal skills and good accounting and computer knowledge.  Southeastern Pennsylvania location

Send resume to execrt@verizon.net. Mention you saw it in Smolinsky Worldwide.

And they actually pay you well even thought I keep telling them it is so cool to work for them that they can charge people to work there. Good luck.

In the Great Service category, on September 5 Comcast came to fix my cable. I mentioned this in my last missive. I’m pleased to tell you that they still haven’t come to put a new underground line in so I have a ratty old temporary line laying across the ground. It was supposed to be done in a 4 or 5 days. If I do my math correctly, it is now 21 days. And several calls and 2 visits by people to look and make sure it’s still lying on the ground. Like I would make this up!

In the How Stupid Are They category, I saw a story about workers who blew a whole in the side of a high school in New York City. It seems 3 workers were testing a gas line in John F Kennedy High School in the Bronx. How did they test it you’re probably wondering. The usual way. One lit a match. It worked well as they found out they had not fixed the line when the leaking gas blew up, burned all 3 of them badly, and blew out some walls and windows and such.

Mayor Bill de Blasio showed his great understanding of such things when he said about this accident, “I do not believe this is standard procedure.” He then cleverly added in case you didn’t understand his first comment, “I believe it was a mistake and obviously a very costly one for the 3 workers.” Ya think?

One last thing, my faithful old SAAB turned 200,000 miles while I was returning from a client visit to Ithaca (for and EOS quarterly meeting in case you’re wondering) a few days ago. Lots of bumps and bruises, quite a bit of vibration and rattles, and the leather seat I sit in has seen way better days. But…still chugs along the interstate at the usual 80 mph and gets good gas mileage. Good old Cliff Story and his guys are great mechanics.

Now he has Jen working there to help him keep the customers under control. And to my great amazement, she used to live way out in Mukilteo Washington. This is the place the ferry to Whidbey Island starts! And she worked for the ferry company! Yup, she went from driving huge boats to helping keep my SAAB running. Now if she could only get me a discount for the ferry…

Yikes! It’s Been A Long Time!

I have thought about putting fingers to keys to share my latest exploits for weeks. But life keeps intervening. However, enough of you have mentioned that you haven’t received these musings in quite a while and wonder what happened that I got tired of finding reasons for my failure. After sharing with someone last night that I have been held hostage by Islamic State for the last few weeks but luckily they got tired of me yakking at them so they released me, I decided it would be easier to skip a few client meetings and pound out a missive.

As they say, be careful what you ask for…

So, as far as interesting things go, I just discovered that a fellow I’ve known for a few years who is a globally famous cancer researcher is friends with the wife of President Kufuor of Ghana. Long time readers might remember that I am friends with President Kufuor. How weird is this? He doesn’t know him and I don’t know her so we decided to go to Ghana and invite them to join us for dinner. Probably in January.

Which reminds me, a few days ago I got invited to visit Nice and Monaco the last few days of October. Since I’ve never been to either…I agreed immediately. After about a year of work I managed to get the Ocean Fund to launch and I’m off to meet some people who are very interested in participating. The Ocean Fund…the only fund dedicated to helping the entire world ocean. Who knows where else I’ll float to after Nice and Monaco. If all goes well everyone will accept my idea for a logo: My smiling face on an octopus.

My trip to Whidbey Island was interesting. On the good side, my client there upped our relationship…meaning more visits. Seems he decided that a few hours wandering around with me discussing improving his global business is worth putting up with me in his guest cabin. Now if I can just get another client while I’m there…

On the not so good side, it’s a rain forest climate but now in the middle of a terrible drought. The plants and animals are stressed. This has let things like pine borers run wild since for some reason they seem to love the drought. When the wind blew in the right direction, you could see and smell and taste the smoke from the wildfires east of Seattle. People are stressed too as they hear that this is just the beginning of the climate changes coming. Another already here change is that the drought and other changes are leading to significantly decreased snow buildup in the mountains which means less and less water from snowmelt…which provides lots of the water that the west drinks.

Anyone who believes that climate change is some weird global plot on the part of terrorist environmentalists should wander around the Pacific Northwest. Or Arizona. Just occurred to me that I was getting the same message when I was in Phoenix some weeks ago. Not the rain forest problems but the desert becoming even drier and the water disappearing. Seems there are now whole communities whose water has totally dried up. They’re taking dust showers and learning to absorb any moisture in the air…not that there’s much…through their skin. Reversing the sweat process. Evolution at work.

Meanwhile in Birchrunville I started to have weird problems with my internet and phone. No dial tone, ssssslllllllooooowwww loading of webpages, weird blips happening in programs. Freaked me out…but you knew that. Reached out to my Tech Nerd in a state of frenzied stress. She checked things out and then reached out to Comcast. They decided they needed to send out a technician. Since I am incapable of having an intelligible conversation about my tech problems Tech Nerd met him and got it all straightened out.

Turns out a critter had chewed into my underground cable! Comcast Technician Man actually could figure this out by checking the signal something or other. He can tell that it was a critter bite and not a construction shovel or a stretched line (whatever this is) by the signal. How cool. So he hooked up a temporary cable and laid it on the ground until the guys come who will put a new line underground. After it’s back underground a guy will come who will adjust my signal as it seems it can be made stronger and better once the new line is in.

All good except…it’s now 3 or 4 days past the day they were supposed to have the line underground. Yup…still laying there in plain sight. But everything is working well so I’m just hoping to get the line underground before it snows…if it ever does. (see climate change above)

Cable in lawn 3

My cable still on the ground today

Philadelphia is going to be a madhouse next week when the Pope pops in and shuts the city down. I’m thinking it might even affect downtown Birchrunville where there might be as many as 3 cars at a time trying to get through the main intersection. Just to be sure I miss it all, I managed to get a client to invite me to do their EOS quarterly session at a cool hotel in Ithaca New York when the Pope is around. It’s about a 4 hour drive due north so I figure that should be out of the crazy zone.

We’ll see…


Woodpile 2A

You might be wondering why suddenly there is a picture of one of my woodpiles…the silvery thing on the right is my truck in case you’re wondering about that too. Well…it seems in spite of climate change, winter is coming. Some of you probably guessed this based on the calendar or that it’s getting a bit cooler. I use the old fashioned way:

Stink Bug 2A

Yup, last evening when I returned I found the first fall stink bugs clinging to the screens trying to get into the house for the winter. Luckily the firewood is ready. Hmmmm, since I spend a lot time with my chainsaw and splitting maul I have piles of the stuff all over the place. I hear that people who see it think I’m some kind of crazy eccentric mountain man. Anyway, if you happen to live within a reasonable distance of Birchrunville and want some natural, handmade, wildly artistically shaped firewood, let me know. If you go to buy firewood this fine it will cost you 2oo or 250 bucks a cord. And since no one really knows what a cord is…you usually get a lot less than you think.

But…for you loyal readers, a deal. Free!

 

Pass Me Around

It’s been an odd August in Birchrunville. In spite of this year being the hottest year on record worldwide so far, it’s been quite pleasant here. Warm but not oppressive during the day and nice and cool at night. As someone who has to air condition the old fashioned way…I keep the windows open…it is wonderful.

A couple of days ago I participated in a client board meeting…in Pinehurst. All of you who play golf know what this means. You others, look it up. (I gave you a link!) One day of being part of their strategy meeting, one day of wandering around with a funny stick in my hand. It was great fun in spite of my being a bit off my game. (Golf game. I was spectacular at the meeting part) Okay, just in case any of you happened to see me on the course, a lot off my game. Such is golf. Kind of like life.

Speaking of life, to my great dismay not a single person who reads this missive applied for or sent someone to apply for the great job I’m helping a client fill. See the last missive, Transportation General Manager Job Available for all the info but suffice it to say here, it is a great job for a great company that pays really well and if you get the job you get to see me there sometimes. Hmmm, perhaps that’s why you didn’t apply.

How about you don’t have to see me sometimes if you’d rather not.

Luckily we have some good candidates that ran things for companies like FEDEX and UPS so I figure we’ll wind up with a great Area General Manager but it would be so nice if one of you exceptional readers filled the seat. Or one of your friends or relatives.

Saw Tooth Man Terry last week. He put in a new part to continue the process of turning my mouth, or at least one tooth, into a space age appliance. One more little part this coming Friday and then off to the crown guy to get the part that hides the electronics and makes it look like a regular old tooth. When it’s done they tell me the tooth will eat by itself so the rest of my teeth can take a vacation.

By the way, Tooth Man Terry is the best. He is not only great with drills and hammers and chisels but he has cool anesthetic that makes your whole head numb. And he’s a wonderful fellow who is fun to talk to when he takes his hands and tools out of your mouth. This visit I got to see this wild little screwdriver gizmo he used to take out one little part and replace it with another.

Saturday I’m off to Whidbey Island and Detroit. Whidbey Island, a wonderful island in the middle of Puget Sound where I actually have a client or two. This visit I got asked if I will help build a stone wall while I’m there. Dry laid. Seems they discovered my past life as an exceptional stone mason and Japanese garden stone setter. I do love stones. And now that they’ve passed that new law this has a whole new meaning…

Then off to Detroit for the quarterly EOS Worldwide meeting. You remember EOS, best way ever to get what you want from your business. We now have around 2000 companies running on EOS as their operating system. So if your business is running you down rather than building you up…you know who to call.

Okay, enough with the ridiculously obvious plug. But speaking about business, how about those airlines? The roundtrip direct flight coach fare from Birchrunville to Detroit is around a thousand bucks. You heard that right. (I just checked. Right now the fare is $1383! This is the highest I ever saw it.) But, my fare going from Birchrunville to Whidbey Island to Detroit to Birchrunville is $1163. And I have big seats in the front of the plane!

Roundtrip Birchrunville to Detroit: 1464 kilometers (910 miles for those in the US)

Birchrunville to Whidbey Island to Detroit to Birchrunville: 7647 kilometers (4742 miles)

Since the major cost for the airlines of getting my butt someplace is the cost of fuel, how can these fares make any sense at all? Roughly 5 times the distance for less money!

One last thing, those of you interested in leadership and management and running an organization more effectively might take a look at the brand new revamped mobile ready Benari LTD Blog. The last missive was Book Club or Cocktail Party. And you might as well peruse the whole Benari LTD website..it’s short, but wonderful. (perhaps I’m biased)  To my great amazement I am getting huge response and tons of new readers. Some of them even pass me around to all their followers. I never realized how much fun it can be to be passed around. Amazing.

I leave you with a picture of the airplane I saw out the window while boarding my flight back on my recent trip to Israel.

2015-07-14 21.24.50

Addendum: I already hear you muttering about this website. “How come Benari LTD got upgraded and made mobile and this is still the same old site?” Give me time. As the technophobe you know I am it was stressful to deal with one site. I am recovering and will get this one upgraded as soon as I can. Benari was first since it helps pay the bills…and fund this fine missive and website.  Hmmmm, if you feel like donating to get Smolinsky Worldwide updated…I accept any currency or form of payment that exists anywhere. Just saying…