Blog Business Networking

I’ve Joined Dragos! Networking!

Well, it is time to get back into the startup realm and after leaving 14 West, I’ve now moved to a company called Dragos! I’ve joined Dragos! To say that I am excited is truly an understatement.

Dragos has a clear vision of “saving civilization” with the security they’ve built for industrial control systems & cycber security.

Dragos arms organizations with the most robust industrial cybersecurity technology, backed by the industry’s largest team of ICS practitioners who built it.

For two years, I’ve been following them because of a past coworker from Inovalon, Laura Buell! And reached out to connect with their HR right when she had joined. Then, Bill Seamen joined Dragos, another past coworker from 14 West. When he saw a role, he reached out immediately to me about the opportunity.

Why do I share this? Networking is crucial for getting your next job!!!

I use a few tools in the process of networking to help keep me in the loop with those I know. Here are a few tools that I utilize:

  • Capsule CRM – integrates with google, mailchimp, and other tools for ease of keeping systems up to date!
  • Mailchimp – used to do mass emails for example keeping recruiters up with where I am with my job search or other people I recommend hiring.
  • Google Sheets – used as my single source of truth for all contacts (integrates across my gmail accounts and business accounts).
  • ToDoIst – used to manage my tasks for connecting, networking, and keeping up with people + using Capsule CRM for last connected date.

I know many people may see this as overkill but I will also say that during these odd times we are living it, it helped me get opportunity after opportunity and choose the one that was right for me moving forward!

Back to Dragos? I am thrilled to be at a company that is ready to utilize the skills I bring to the table! You should start watching them – they are going to be going big places. And, I’ve joined Dragos!

Business Ideas

The Launch of Randomly Famous

Randomly Famous looks to curate art, interview, and talk about the business investment strategy of investing in artists! And, Randomly Famous launched! So, we want to match artists with those who love THEIR art.

As you know, we have built many versions of Randomly Famous (sold some IP in 2011; tried to sell domain in 2012 (but only received the deposit), and we are ready to go again!

The team is built up of myself and Mike Stenger! And, a lot of great guest writers who are helping us launch. We want your involvement as well so check out our social networks, website, and let us know some artists that you would recommend.

Because of these things, here are a few posts to get you started in learning about what we are doing and who we are in Randomly Famous:

Osamu Tezuka – Lion King Inspiration?

Did Disney take inspiration from the most famous Manga artist Osamu Tezuka for Lion King? Well, his art is outstanding!

The Phantom of the Opera

Ever multitask while watching The Phantom of the Opera?

Networking in Annapolis as an Artist

During this time in life, artists are ready to be found & invested in. And communities of artists are looking for connections.

So, now that we’ve shared a few posts and ideas of where we are going… Who would you recommend connecting with artistically to review? Or, invest our financial resources in?

We are always looking for recommendations for the launch of Randomly Famous and want to hear from YOU!

Business Networking Research

Creating “That” Brand

Throughout my career, I have always had a focus on “amplifying” my brand and yet had difficulty in it because of all the things I enjoy: entrepreneurship, storytelling, agile, photography, project management, executive coaching, leading teams, development, and everything in between!

But, I have learned that this source of frustration is actually one of great pride as I’ve grown older. All of these things come together in a clear tag line that I have been living for years – “creatively . executing . ideas.” And, I am pretty proud of that.

In my research to figure out better ways to “create ‘that’ brand,” I’ve come across many articles and pointers that I wanted to share. The first article is from Forbes “3 Ways To Create An Addictive Personal Brand” –

Three Steps for a Personal Brand:

  • Perception | “This is what people think of (and feel about) you based on what you share publicly. A compelling moral code, an enchanting story and a collection of captivating anecdotes are what makes for the right perception.”
  • Positioning | “If perception is how people think of you as a person, positioning is more so how people think of you as an expert. You need one to get noticed (perception) and the other to get taken seriously (positioning).”
  • Promise | “Now you have to offer them a promise. This is the final piece of your tale of intrigue. As a master persuader, it is your job to present a superpower promise to your market. A transformation. A better after. A brighter future.”

Azhar points these three great points out that I have been reflecting on with my own brand. But, how do you use these three areas to be successful in the career you desire? Well, Forbes did it again and shared “This Is How Highly Successful People Achieve Career Goals”

How to Achieve Career Goals:

  • Visualize success
  • Dream big and write it down
  • Focus on the process, not the outcome

Because of these things, I realized there was a flow? The process of going to film school – learning to program – managing early scrum teams – leading agile implementations – and building high performing teams doesn’t seem to align with my original “visualized success” but that is where point three comes in of “focus on the process, not the outcome.” Because, as it stands now, I am exactly where I want to be!

My brand, my skill, and my ability to network have aligned to be highly helpful with the jobs that I take and the consulting opportunities I have. What are you doing to help strengthen your brand? What are you researching?

Blog Business Ideas

Opening Agile

Over the last two weeks, I have taken up a problem that I believe many of us want to solve: centralized agile playbook & toolbox that includes:

  • Guides
  • Exercises
  • Presentations
  • Templates
  • Plays

A group of us met yesterday and another group of us will meet on Friday to keep the discussion moving forward. In short, if you want to find out more information about this please go to the two following links:

Getting Tactical

We are working through keeping as much of this as “free” as possible while we build out and aim to solve the problem. To do so, we’ve agreed on utilizing:

  • Trello – the backlog of work items the team is developing.
  • Google Drive – a repository of presentations, tools, and such.
  • Google Sites – collaboration area for keeping notes and tracking.
  • Slack – communication and collaboration area.

This is just the start of being effective while remote!

Blog Business Networking

Recruiting Daily

There are many things that I aim to do on a regular basis: interview & network… Why? Because sometimes people get laid off and I had my first experience in February where I am now on the market.

So, how do I quickly warm up my recruiting leads and network? A few simple tools that I utilize:

  • Capsule CRM
  • Google Sheets
  • Mailchimp
  • GMass Addon

These tools in combination allow me to email out a list of recruiters I have worked with over the last year or few and share “I’m looking” while also allowing me to network a bit. You see, I have always had a rule around interviewing: do it monthly!

The ration that I am at right now for conversations: 15 cold job applications, 4 interviews, and 1 offer! Not a bad funnel at this time but I believe some of the automation does help (and so does keeping your network in a networking mentality).

So why do I call this “Recruiting Daily” – well, we are recruiting assistance through networking aren’t we? We are all in this together! We are all learning from each other and we all know that the job market is a game so let’s play it well!

Blog Business Download Ideas

My Analysis Process: APD(P)

I am often asked to analyze businesses, teams, and/or individuals to see how the processes they work in can be improved. Every consultant (internal or external) has their way of doing this type of work, but over the years I have solidified the method that I take, and the results have created strong wins over and over again for the groups that I work with. It is crucial to apply the following method in an agile approach as it iterates on itself as you go through it. Here is the process at a high level that I work through in each scenario that you can start applying immediately:

  1. Analyze – Analyze the situation that is at hand through 1:1 conversations, focus groups, and open retrospectives with the members that are part of the business or team. Finding and defining the problems at hand is crucial in this step.
  2. Prioritize – Work with those involved to prioritize the output from the analyzation so that those folks take the ownership of the findings and what impact needs to be. Looking for quick wins helps define what problems come first.
  3. Do (Produce) – Build an implementation method with SMART action items. When creating this, each item must have systematic owners who are responsible for making sure it moves forward which will help lead the change that came from the initial step.

This method for analysis was built off of my tag in life: creatively, executing, ideas… Everyone has excellent views and practices to do this work, but I have seen many consulting firms build out an excellent analysis of teams and yet forget that there is ownership and producing that must come as well. Analyzing businesses, teams, and individuals must produce results, not just the document stating the facts. The team needs to own this and deliver the wins/execute on the changes that were built out creatively. Be agile in the application of this, see what works and doesn’t. For example…

Sometimes I call it the APD method or APP method depending on the group that I am working on since “doing” may be the output required while other times “producing” may be the critical component. Building out an analysis works on many levels but needs to be continually done and not a one-time act. And in short, it can be applied to you as an individual as well!

Blog Business Research

Taking a Break – Work/Life

I am someone who loves what they do most days. If you were to ask me how I am, many days I would respond that I am living in paradise! Why? Because I sincerely love what I do and the team that I work with at Inovalon. I understand that this isn’t the case for most, but there is a downfall of doing what you love: work/life balance. Also, when I say work, I don’t just mean the 9-5 you may live in but also the honey-do list and the continual task list that will never be completed. All of these things need to be balanced out, and I’ve seen three significant steps that have helped me and encouraged me to have a better work/life balance:

  • Start Small – Simply start making time outside of a work a priority by taking small moments here/there for yourself that aren’t focused on work or the next to do item. Take a walk and purposefully not think about work!
  • Plan It & Do It – After you start small, start planning the priortized time that you will take and use for the balancing of work/life. More importantly than just expecting it, you must follow through and execute on it and take time for yourself. Take a weekend away with no technology and breath!
  • Separate from It – When you start small, plan your work/life better, and execute, you also need to make sure you separate yourself from the work that you have going on. With a connected world, this is hard, but also with how our brains are wired, we like to solve problems but take a break and separate!

Why is this at the top of my mind? Well, this past weekend I took my wife and kids to a cabin in Maryland only an hour away from home for a reprieve. We spent time outside, we didn’t use technology, we spent quality time together, and it reminded me of the importance of these type of moments for my kids, my wife, and myself. And, when I returned to work, I was rested and ready to tackle what work had coming to me. My mind, spirit, and body were revamped and capable of doing what I do: solving problems.

What steps do you take to help with the work/life balance that we all need?

Blog Business Download Ideas

Managing Time – Especially while Training

There have been many updates to my life since I last posted a blog, but it doesn’t negate the fact that time must be managed. One of the major updates in my career at the moment revolves around leading classes specific to agile methodologies (scrum, kanban, SAFe, and others). With that, there has always been a goal of live conversation and feedback during a class which can make time hard to manage while engaging the participants as well! What did I do to fix that? I created three key points to check against when taking questions during presentations as well as a tool in excel to help me manage the time well. Yes, I am all for timeboxing but what about when things are a bit more fluid than that? I ask myself (and sometimes the group) the following three things before going down a rabbit trail:

  • Does this help the group learn and apply what we are discussing?
  • Can we answer this as a group at a different time?
  • Is it helpful to remove time from another area of the presentation to handle this now?

When this conversation has happened, and I do a vote by class, I need to figure out how to keep managing my time moving forward! Below is the excel spreadsheet I created to help me achieve the flow (with delays) that often happens!

Excel Document: TimeDoc


Quirky – Organizing Problems

There are moments in life when you realize one thing…you are behind! I don’t know if I would truly consider myself behind but I would say that I haven’t written in a while. This should be a regular thing, so today I will start making it one. With that being said, let me get organized!

Yes, I really do mean organized. I have been a consultant/working for myself now for almost 10 months. I’m viewing this as a once in a lifetime opportunity (that will probably go on for a long, extended amount of time). In the process, though, I’ve become pretty equated with finding problems and thinking through solutions. One of these places that I enjoy checking out is Quirky. Quirky is a shop that is full of people with one interest and quality in mind: ideas. I definitely recommend that you hop on over and check it out!

After watching this site for almost a full year, I decided to take the plunge and purchase a product. I got the “cordies” to organize my life a bit. Now that I work for myself, I work at a standing desk and have cords wrapped around every possible inch of my work space. But more importantly, it is a problem that needed to be solved and the solution came from crowdsourcing. What an amazing way to solve problems!

Before & After

Back to the cord situation, I was a bit behind in fixing this problem and simply bought a solution. What do you think? Do you think this is a problem? Do you personally want it solved?

But really what I want to know is: what problems do you see around you daily?

Blog Business

Networking Again

There are many places to start this conversation but in short, I quite my job back in August and decided to make the break into the world of entrepreneurship. In this process I’ve learned quickly that I need to understand more about this realm of business. So, the best way to do this? Networking…

Networking is one of the best parts of my new style of life. I’ve been on a mission to learn more from individuals who are having success in areas that I aim to succeed in and Ryan Carson is someone who has had some major success in his startups. My personal goal was to learn his process for building out the startups. If you don’t know who he is, he is an entrepreneur who has started Treehouse. Treehouse is an online education tool that helps you learn new techniques from business to programming. Prior to that, he built out two companies that spun him in the direction of Treehouse. In these two companies, he learned what I am about to share:

  • DropSend
  • Carsonified

I wanted to learn three actionable items to apply to ahWriting and my consulting practice. Here is what I learned:

  1. Find Passion… He shared that why you are building a business, you need to build it around what others are passionate about as well. He explained that his goal was to find a way to not always be needed and this required believing in the team you build and allowing them to be experts in the areas they have expertise in.
  2. Hire Slowly & Fire Quick… Having this expertise means that finding people isn’t as easy as desired. Carson also explained that it meant learning how to have the hard conversations fast and firing when needed. He shared that it is a difficult thing to be comfortable with but that it is key to have the right people at the right time.
  3. Keep Priorities… The final thing that stood out that I will be applying is the idea of keeping the priorities. He aligns his goals and executes on them. He prioritizes and completes by staying focused and keeping excited / passionate about what he is building out as a company. Ryan aims to have a purposeful task list.

What was the biggest take away for me? Prioritize and Complete. He recommended reading How to Win Friends & Influence People… Ryan Carson was a passionate individual who kept his eyes on the goal and took passion and made it action.

PS – He wakes up at 5:00 AM to get going and keeps to a four day week! See his blog here: