Entries from July 2009 ↓

Lessons from poker

A few years back, I was trying to improve my poker game (as a real geek if I start doing something I have to research it; I can’t just experience it).  I read a few books and one of the pieces of advice I received (probably from author Larry Phillips in his book of Zen advice for poker) has stuck with me well into other areas of my life.

Simply put, it’s this: don’t make yourself into a character in a story.

In the game of poker, this basically means that you shouldn’t let yourself see patterns in the randomness of the game which influence you.  After something improbable happens a few times, you might begin thinking “That always happens to me,” and next time there’s a chance of that happening, you back off, frightened.  Your ace-high flush bested by a full house twice in one night becomes “I never win with flushes,” and next time you get a flush, you fold the winning hand.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for situations where you misread the game — perhaps you are “always” losing with the second-best hand because you aren’t evaluating the probability of the winning hand being present accurately.  But that’s not what Phillips is talking about.

This advice carries over into the professional world as well.  How many times have you encountered people who claim “I just don’t get that kind of stuff,” when faced with a new problem?  “Oh, I’m no good at writing,” or “I don’t get all this social media stuff,” or even “I’d never make a good manager.” These individuals have written themselves into a story; instead of seeing all their options, they are living life like a character in a book, their reactions predetermined by the plot they’ve built in their head.

Not only are these people missing out on their own potential, they are advertising their closed-mindedness to their colleagues, customers, and managers.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t be self-aware.  Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, knowing where to invest your energy and where to cut your losses: these are vital skills to acquire.  But do it knowingly, by choice, and carefully.  Don’t project the “oh well it’s not meant to be” attitude of the two-dimensional character in a pulp novel.

Welcome Data Domain

This morning the news hit the wire — EMC and Data Domain are now one company.  It’ll take a few days to cross all the ts and dot all the is but the deal is done.

I didn’t have much to say about the acquisition during the “battle” for the company, because I don’t know much about the business side of the products involved.  What I find fascinating is the people side of this. When Data General was acquired a decade back, we in the CLARiiON division had mixed emotions.  We were frustrated at being acquired by someone we viewed as a competitor, but were excited knowing our products would have a new channel into the market.  We figured EMC’s acquisition of us meant we were right about how important the market was we had been targeting for years.

Data Domain isn’t in that same kind of position.  I assume their fears revolve around what EMC will mean to their culture, their history of innovation, the things that got them where they are.  Their hopes are probably the same, though — entry into new markets, the EMC brand standing behind your product.  Good stuff.  Hopefully their fears will be somewhat allayed by the announcement that their CEO Frank Slootman will be heading up an entirely new division which more products will eventually join.  I would like to think this means EMC not only values how Data Domain got to where they are, we want to see that “special sauce” applied to other products in the future.

I’m looking forward to seeing an influx of new faces and ideas inside our corporation.  What’s exciting about EMC these days is that even though Data Domain will be a separate division, the cultural mingling can begin immediately, as soon as employees “meet up” on our internal web sites.  People talk all the time about the social web as a force multiplier — this is a textbook case.

Brothers (and sisters) in arms

A couple weeks back, I got quite a surprise when I was informed of a reorganization within my division which was moving me, and my team, out from the senior manager we had reported to and under a new one.  You read my post last week about Ionix — it’s worth noting that my team had quite a few more questions about this move than they did about the launch of the Ionix brand.  This isn’t to say that Ionix is not a big deal, it’s just that people tend to focus on their immediate surroundings.

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RIP RMSG, long live Ionix!

For a couple months now we here at EMC have been getting teases of a big announcement in July, but it wasn’t until EMC World that I started to hear the pieces come together.  A month ago, I found out the whole story.  And now that it’s July 8, I can spill the beans.  There is no more Resource Management Software Group at EMC.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  The group’s here still, but it’s got a spankin’ new name: Ionix.

And what comes with that name (besides business cards and new splashscreens)? I’m glad you asked.

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Fear and Loathing on Facebook

“We fear change.”
Garth, Wayne’s World, 1992.

You can’t announce a font change on Facebook without the townspeople gathering their torches and pitchforks. Everyone loves Facebook, and wants it to remain exactly as it is today. And that’s been the story for years now. Of course, if Facebook listened to those users, it would be a little website for Harvard students and nobody else would use it. Clearly Facebook needs to know when to ignore their users and press bravely on. They’re doing a good job so far, and they’re about to take another step forward.

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