Saturday, January 24, 2015

Where Did We Meet?

I have always been a fan of LinkedIn. For professional networking it is unsurpassed, outdone only by live events where you can shake hands, make eye contact and exchange business cards.

I am not exactly sure when this feature was added but I would love to shake the hand of the person who enhanced the "relationship" tab to allow for notes and other information about each contact that only you can see. One of these special fields is "how you met."

I attend a lot of conferences, business meetings and social events which means I collect a lot of business cards. I have always been pretty diligent about keeping this contact information in my personal address book, but often the 'connection' is made on-line in LinkedIn as well. I also connect frequently with people who I meet by phone, video-conference, through publications or even by referral.

Of all the things I have the most trouble tracking it is how and where I first met someone. Being not just able, but prompted to include this tidbit of information when adding a new connection is pure gold. Now, when looking back at people, particularly people with whom there has been little contact for a long time, one can easily be aware of the source of the connection.

By the way, the section allows you to add multiple notes about the individual such as personal information or other background material you may have, activities or communications with the person. You can set up reminders to prompt you to call, write or take some other action. The contact can also be "tagged" or assigned to a group. 

By using these features, which are included in the free version of the product, you can have  pretty robust contact tracking system.

Recently, I started to go back through my contacts, reconnecting with people and carefully adding notes. Not only has it been working well, but I even get a laugh when some of them can't recall where we met either.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Swimming with the Sharks

When you see a ship in port it not only means the end of one voyage, but the beginning of another. And so it is that my ship has come into port again, ending an almost three year journey. This was the fourth voyage where I filled the role of captain, pulling a crew together from different parts of the ship and taking the systems of the vessel up a couple of notches.

The role of the CIO is changing in many ways and like an old sea captain it becomes more and more difficult to find a ship where people are comfortable with you and believe you will function well on the bridge. Some think you lack the energy while others might feel you haven't kept up with the latest advances in the engine room or navigation systems. In fact, many think technology has advanced so much the ship can practically run itself.

Well I may find myself on the bridge of another ship one day, but in the meanwhile I have embarked on a completely new journey. Toward the end of last year I joined the crew of a pirate ship. Well, not really, but I'm not sure there is a good nautical analogy for an investors group. I suppose we're more like a independent fleet of fishing boats, casting our nets and hoping for a big haul.

I am now a partner in the North Andover Investors Collaborative II. Week after week we evaluate different early tech based start-up companies to choose the ones we think are going to be winners. What sets this group apart from most is the collective brain-trust with a diverse cross section of disciplines and experience.  To select the investments we draw from over thirty seasoned professionals with backgrounds in law, finance, technology, and a variety of verticals.  I've only been a part of it for a few months but I can already see where this breadth of knowledge has quickly segregated the high potential candidates from the glitzy flash in the pan ideas.

Playing Shark Tank has been exciting, fun and a real learning experience. I am seeing some incredible innovations, new software, services and technology. There will certainly be no lack of material to write about.

This new journey may be more uncertain, with less clear direction and a much higher risk of return. But I am enjoying the wind and the waves, and the camaraderie. This role turned out to be quite a catch!

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Monday, November 10, 2014

ello, I Love Tsu, Won't You Tell Me Your Name

Almost as if right on queue a couple of new social networks have arrived in recent months. The last time I found myself between full time assignments, Google+ captured my attention and consumed a significant portion of my free time.

Perhaps I have missed some, and surely others will come along in time. But let me share some initial impressions of ello and Tsu.

ello popped up and when one of my good friends from Google+ days invited me to participate I thought I would give it a go. Signing up was quick and easy and I was in. It took all of about ten seconds to realize this was not a feature rich environment. In fact, I characterize the interface as rather spartan.

To be fair, I tinkered a bit, was not overly impressed and have not returned since. While I was "tickled" frequently for a few weeks, I have not received any recent notices of a new post or invitation to return. It seems to me activity there is quite low.

The promise of ello is a new place to interact with others of like minds without the fear of your content or data being exploited for financial gain. The operators promise the basic service will be free forever. They will never sell advertising on the site, nor sell data about their subscribers to anyone. Their plan is to up-sell with special features so compelling you will be happy to pay for them. This is a familiar business model sometimes called the freemium model.

Tsu, on the other hand, has a rather different approach. They will sell ad space and hope your content will attract eyeballs and drive revenue just like some other social networks we all know and love. The difference, though, is the 90 / 10 revenue sharing model. Yes, 90% of the revenue driven by your content will be credited to your 'bank' while the operators are only keeping 10% of it.

The interface looks like the what you would get if Google+ and Facebook got together and had a baby. It is very similar in appearance with a multi-dimensional stream, right side ad bar, and several other familiar features and functions including the like, share, friend and follow constructs.

I like Tsu and plan to continue to have fun with it, posting faux proverbs and the occasional story, graphic or video people might find amusing. I want to see just how many pennies I can accumulate under this novel business model.

Has someone finally come up with the magic to compete with Facebook? Will this new upstart grow fast and prosper, while its participants also prosper?

You can click here to sign up, explore and decide for yourself.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Sunday, November 2, 2014

No Lack of Focus

Often people view social networking as a waste of time or distracting. Sneaking a peek at your daughter's Big Bird costume or reading the tweet on who won the New York marathon is very likely to draw your attention away from whatever it is you are supposed to be doing.

Yet, I had an experience last week at the 2014 FW SIM CIO Executive Leadership Summit which suggests otherwise.

It was my plan to kick back and attend all the sessions, absorbing the wisdom and experience the world class lineup of speakers would share with us. I had no role in the formal agenda as a speaker, moderator or even panelist. But I did want to tweet and share an occasional nugget with all of you, my Twitter followers.

I have done this before at meetings and conferences when I saw an opportunity to pass along a catchy phrase, bit of news or novel concept in 140 characters or less. There are usually one of two pearls worth pecking out on the old iPad, even at the risk of missing the next sentence or two.

As usual, the CIO Summit lived up to its reputation with a long list of top notch presentations from the opening session on security with industry giant Whit Diffie and former head of the FBI Shawn Henry, right through to the informative and very entertaining close by noted columnist, author and TV host, David Pogue.

There was no lack of material to tweet. It felt like every other sentence was a sound bite that just had to be sent out to the world. But instead of this being a distraction, I found myself listening more intently and mentally digesting the ideas, concepts, facts and opinions of these thought leaders. I was paying more attention and remained more focused throughout the entire day.

In fact, at the close of the conference, our host and moderator had to catch a flight. I was invited to jump on stage and pinch-hit some closing commentary. With very little preparation, I was able to walk through the high points, still fresh in my mind.

Of course I refrained from tweeting while on stage.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stay on Task But Don't Lose Sight of the Mission

There is an old expression that goes you can't see the forest for the trees.

I was reminded of that the other day as I waited patiently behind a waitress who was diligently refilling the large coffee urn in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying.

I have been traveling quite a bit this year and stay in a variety of different hotels. Some are major chains like Marriott, Hilton, Westin, and Hyatt. Others are the "suites" such as Double Tree, while still others are independent hotels.

At this particular independent, the restaurant off the lobby offers full waitress service. Breakfast is included as part of the daily room rate. The usual fare can be found on the menu: pancakes, french toast, eggs and so on. But the deal includes a self-serve buffet, too. In the lobby, there is a coffee station where, after breakfast, I like to grab a cup of coffee to take with me on the ride to the office.

Dedicated to good customer service, this waitress was very carefully pouring in several pots of recently brewed coffee to make sure the urn was full. Her mission was to ensure customers could always fill their cups with fresh, hot coffee. That meant, of course, that she had to check the urn from time to time and, when necessary, fill it up.

She was concentrating so hard on her immediate task, filling the urn without making a mess, that she failed to notice anyone (like me) waiting to get a cup. She wasn't doing anything wrong, but she had become so focused on her immediate task that she lost sight of the overall mission; delivering coffee to her customers.

So it often goes in business that we get so caught up in the immediate tasks at hand we lose sight of the larger picture. Had my friendly waitress kept the overall mission in sight she might have paused for a moment to fill my cup with some of that lovely fresh coffee in the pot she held, allowing me to be on my way, and her to complete her task.

In my elementary school we were frequently reminded not to look down at our feet when we walked. While you could see where you were stepping, you might not know where you were going. It is good practice to lift your head and take in the big picture from time to time.

It will also keep you from walking into a telephone pole.

Captain Joe

Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC