Author Archives: Brian Clark

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Hiring the Best Performers

I was fascinated by an article in the WSJ recently (June 1, 2016 “How to Hire the Best Performers“)

Mr. Sullivan noted that 5% of your workforce produces 26% of your company’s output!  He also said that often HR doesn’t measure failed hires.  Without a feedback loop, you can hire Homer Simpson and he stays forever and no one goes back and fixes it.  Also that a vacant position for a revenue-generating job costs a lot of money.  The best people are already working, you have to steal them — you try to steal your competitor’s customers every day, why not steal their best employees?

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We just got setup in the VMware Partner Program as a “Solution Provider-Professional” — This is one of the software platforms I believe in.  Let us know if we can help your company put this powerhouse software to use!


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Fast and easy antivirus

In the last couple of years I’ve really been impressed with the performance of Webroot Secure Anywhere business endpoint protection software. Its software client uses around 750KB and only takes around five seconds to install. The scanner component is lightning fast, using only 10% of CPU time and takes around ninety seconds to complete. We recently became a reseller of Webroot software because I really believe in the product.  I’ve always been conflicted about running antivirus on my server VMs, thinking that a properly patched and configured server *should* not have to worry about antivirus.  But, with the low impact AV of Webroot, it’s a no brainer.

Get your free trial here

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Marketing ‘Automaton’ (not a robot)

Recently we attended a couple of marketing seminars discussing the value of email marketing.  Not spamming, but targeted, personalized email that has a 4000% ROI.  We just got certified as a partner with Hatchbuck, a wonderfully effective yet easy-to-use CRM and email automation software.  If you are like me, when I get an email from a person whom I’ve ordered things from before, and they offer me something along the same lines as what I’ve gotten in the past, I’m impressed.  Now with Hatchbuck you can do the same with your products and services.  If you want to sign up, you can manage up to 2,500 contacts for $99 per month — Sign up Here!

It’s the coolest thing since pre-sliced English muffins — View our hatchbuck market listing

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ISO 9001 TAG

We recently became a member of the U.S. TAG 176, the committee responsible within the US for drafting the new ISO 9001:2015 standard.

What does this mean? Per ASQ’s website – Each country that has membership in ISO or IEC is represented by a national organization called a “member body.” Each member body has a mechanism for identifying issues, developing national consensus regarding the work items of the ISO Technical Committee (TC), and actively involving itself in the creation of international standards.

In the United States, work on the ISO/TC 176 standard on quality management is handled by the ANSI-Accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO/TC 176 (hereafter referred to as TAG 176). TAGs follow all ANSI procedures.

For each country, the primary purpose of the TAG (or national committee) is to develop and transmit to ISO, via their country’s national standards organization, that country’s position on activities and ballots of TC 176. TAG delegates are actively involved in the international negotiation and preparation of international standards.

TAG 176 develops the U.S. positions on international standardization activities of ISO/TC 176 on quality management and quality assurance. Delegates selected by the TAG actively participate in all activities of ISO/TC 176, including the development of ISO standards in quality terminology, quality systems, and quality technology. Participation in TAG 176 provides an opportunity for representatives of all affected U.S. constituencies (industry, commerce, education, etc.) to influence the development of international quality standards.

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Meeting “Killers”

Going through some old desk drawers I found an article from the WSJ I had saved called ‘Meeting the Meeting Killers’ from May 16, 2012.  I’ve been in a plethora of meetings over my years in and out of the corporate world.  My thoughts on the ‘killers’ below:

Meeting Killer Level of Nuisance Modus Operandi
The Jokester 33% cracks jokes and awaits response from co-workers
The Rambler 66% takes discussions to far-away places so people forget why they’re there
The Dominator 100% disrupts discussion, greatly overestimates value of his/her personal views
The Naysayer 100% waits until consensus is almost reached and derails meeting with major objections
The Quiet Plotter 100% remains quiet at meetings but later undermines leaders and decisions


I’ve followed some of the advice in this article with success to overcome these potential meeting killers’ behavior.  Take a serial “Naysayer” out to lunch before a meeting, getting them to vent and try to reach agreement to minimize the objections–this is a good idea even if you aren’t going to have a meeting!  A person who complains is much more likely to bring attention to legitimate problems than a person who, out of apathy, sits in a meeting like a knot on a log.

I really liked the idea of handing a chocolate to a person who is rambling.

Some ground rules you can set that can be agreed upon starting a meeting:

  1. Before voicing complaint, be ready to offer a solution immediately
  2. Allocate space on a whiteboard for ‘moonshots’ and ‘rabbit holes’ for later discussion
  3. Don’t sit down! – standing meetings really keep the discussion moving
  4. Ask early for objections to keep them from derailing discussion later
  5. Interrupt people who talk too long or talk to each other
  6. Set an ending time for the meeting and stick to it
  7. Stop “Death by Powerpoint” – limit number of slides or even go with the 10-20-30 rule

Here’s the article – what do you think?


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10x engineers?

I read a neat article from the tech lead of Twitter’s “Engineering Effectiveness” group, Peter Siebel.  In it he talked about how that engineers all start with something small and manageable, and as a business grows (in this case Twitter) that effectiveness can dwindle among engineering organizations.  A broader discussion resulted in the concept of 10x engineers, that is, a resource that works at a rate that is 10 times more productive than the average engineer.

“We don’t even really know what makes people productive; thus we talk about 10x engineers as though that is a thing when even the studies that lead to the notion of a 10x engineer pointed more strongly to the notion of a 10x office.”

He mentioned how that his groups motto is ‘Quality, Speed, Joy’ — building things right will let you go faster, building faster will give you more time to experiment, and everyone enjoys building good stuff and a lot of it.

How do you affect engineers productivity in a positive way?  Time savings is one thought — saving 5 minutes a day that engineers are waiting for things to happen would automatically lead to a 1% speed gain.  Also reducing distractions — how that it may take 15 minutes to ‘get in the zone’ but only an instant to lose it.  Also — for effectiveness across all of engineering, things need to be standardized.

A fascinating perspective from a team that has dealt with massive growth and peak workloads.

As a network engineer, I see how his insights reflect current best practices of lean, Six Sigma, and ISO 9001.

<shameless plug>

I can help you put those methodologies to work for your business!

</shameless plug>


I highly recommend Peter’s article –

Let a 1,000 flowers bloom, then rip out 999


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My elevator speech

Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the Pope watching from far below.

Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the stakeholder is watching from far below.

Praxis is a term implying not only the possession of knowledge, but that knowledge put to use in a practical way.  Many businesses either have departments or individuals that fill the role of IT, quality assurance, and engineering management.

One challenge may be to bring these talented people toward a common goal. Another challenge may be to keep these folks accountable.  When Michelangelo was tasked with painting the Sistine Chapel, was his progress measured by square feet?

How can you ensure that a group that you have assembled in your conference room are aligned with business goals– especially when everyone at the table may think they are the smartest person in the room?

There are scientific approaches to play to each team members’ strengths, and skills that can be applied to keep your best and brightest engaged and focused on your business’ success.  Our consulting services provide methodical and structured application of best practices for your business.

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