Off To California

After a mad August, a week of sanity. Stopping to smell the roses and taste the grapes. Sacramento, San Francisco, Paso Robles, Palo Alto, Berkeley. Back in PDX (and back to work) the day after Labor Day.

Mahalo.

Roving England

It was Summer 2000. Y2k. The financial firm I’d interned at had just opened up a new office in London, England. Things were going well sales-wise but things were also FUBAR on the IT side. The poor reps were struggling with constant problems and my boss was constantly being woken up at 2AM. IT Intern Hero to the rescue!

An international business trip? I was delighted. A chance to come back to the UK, just a year after my first trip.

I’ve been to England three times, once in the Summer and twice in the Spring. Each time the weather has been exquisite. I suppose I’ve just been lucky. I shudder to think of the person who comes to Cascadia at just the right time and falls in love with it, figuring all the stories about grey and rain were just stories.

Ah heck, that’s how I ended up here

England. Green fields, green hills, green rivers. One amazing city. There are no cities like London west of the Mississippi. LA is an expanse, the Bay Area too, but both get thin not far from the downtowns. London has a radius. It’s thick, all the way out. You really have to spend time in England to appreciate how much of the country this one city encompasses.

Work in London is different too. Hours aren’t nearly as strict as they are in the US. Work starts around nine. You take an hour for lunch if you’d like. At a pub, if you’d like. You knock off around five. So it’s a lot more nebulous. And there’s none of the mad rush to catch up like there is on the west coast of the USA.

But people are people in England, just like everywhere, and people need help. And I was there to help.

I’ve often found that I get along well with sales execs because usually they’re easy: They just want the technology out of the way so they can rock.

The office in London was a mess. They were setup not just goofy, the goofiness was configured in a way to maximize revenue for the property management company. So untangling the mess not only solved problems. It saved us a lot of $$$ too.

I found out why my boss wasn’t able to solve the problems remotely. And learned a great lesson in the process. People are often not up front with their problems. There’s an interview process that starts with building trust. And no matter how well you do it over the phone, nothing comes close to face to face, seeing not only the problem firsthand but being able to communicate with everyone involved. Face to face.

Last of July / First of August

Summer is slipping away. It’s what summer is supposed to do. Summer isn’t time to be pensive or melancholy. Summer is ephemeral, fleeting. Most importantly, summer flows, or is intended to flow. If a dam gets put up, the intention is not to stop the water, it’s to back up just enough water to swim in.

Augusts of the past, friends and I would head down to the crick. Build a rock dam. Get a pool of water going up to our belly buttons and splash around for hours. Come in filthy and have PB&Js on our parents’ back porches. Then out again for more games.

We make summers like the past. Instead of kickball, we build businesses. Instead of freeze tag, we measure conversion ratios. Instead of water balloon fights, we time our inventories to match our sales cycles. On Saturday afternoons, we build little dams. Only instead of rocks, we use cafe patios and glasses of Pinot Gris.

Just like the dams we built back then, the crick finds its way over and around. To flow as a summer will flow. Work hard, play hard. Plenty of time for reflection and rest in the Octobers to come.