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Encounters With Greatness

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to interrupt, but can I ask you question? Did you drive the 43 car?

Yes, I did.

I was standing in the middle of Atlanta’s Hartfield airport. I just got off the plane from Salt Lake. I’d noticed him in the gate area in SLC. It’s hard to miss him: black cowboy hat, feather hat band, sunglasses, bushy black mustache with black boots and jeans and a huge belt buckle with the letters “RP” on it.

It was either him, or someone that was trying really hard to impersonate him.

He was the G.O.A.T. Most sports have one.

Swimming? – Michael Phelps
Basketball? – Michael Jordan
Hockey? – Wayne Gretzky
Boxing? – Muhammad Ali

Some sports don’t have one.

Baseball? Could be Ruth. Could be Mike Trout. Could be Mariano Rivera. Could be Griffey Jr or Ichiro. (Could NEVER be Bonds or Clemens.)
Football? Maybe James Brown. Maybe Manning. Maybe Walter Payton

His was NASCAR.

Is it a sport? 500,000 people watching the Daytona 500 think it is. And he won there 7 times. He won 200 NASCAR races. The next closest? David Pearson won 105. He won the Winston Cup Championship trophy 7 times, tied with Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt.

He transcended generations. To my uncle’s generation, he was a race car driver. To my kids, he’s the voice of Mr The King in the Pixar Cars movies. The thing is, he really was the king. Before LaBron James or Felix Hernandez adopted that nickname, there was Elvis and the driver of the #43 car.

I didn’t ask to take a picture. I didn’t want to bother him and honestly, in person he looks just like his picture.

It was only a brief encounter in an airport. It shouldn’t make a difference to my state of mind. And yet, knowing I’d just shaken the hand of the greatest driver ever made me smile all through my next flight.

King Richard Petty. The best there ever was.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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Doing What’s Never Been Done Before

Did you know the Boys Scouts of America changed their name? They are now called Scouts BSA. Kind of ironic since the “B” in BSA still stands for “Boy.” But, they had to change their name. They are no longer exclusively a male organization.

This year they allowed girls to join the Boy Scouts. It caused quite a stir when it was announced. I have to admit that I was opposed to it at the time. I’ve been involved with Boy Scouts my entire life. I started as an eleven year old scout. I worked my way up through the ranks to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout when I was 15 years old.

I stayed involved in scouting through my years as a young man. I became a scoutmaster at 20 years old. I was also a missionary for the LDS Church at the time.

I was excited when my own sons we scouting age. Two earned their Eagle Scout awards. Two did not, and the juries still out on the fifth one.

So, the idea of girls being Eagle Scouts seemed foreign to me. I wasn’t against girl organizations, of course. I have eight daughters and I want the best for them. But, why not create a separate organization? Why not make something new?

It’s not really my call, of course. In a few months the Mormon church will be disassociating with the Boy Scouts. My church group sponsors a troop. They will stop in January and if I want to continue my association with the Boy Scouts, I’ll need to go find a community troop.

This summer my friend Julio and I put on a scout camp. We did a Scout camp two years ago as well. This year, probably because of the impending separation of the BSA from the LDS, we had a tough time recruiting troops. In fact, my troop and his troop both declined to attend.

It’s not terribly expensive to hold a scout camp, but it’s not free either. So, we started looking for other troops to join us. We were approached by two troops of girl. . .scouts. . .girl-boy scouts. . .SHE-scouts. They had only been in existence for a few months. Obviously they had never been to camp before. But, they were willing to pay to attend our camp.

So, we ended up with a Boy Scout camp that included two Boy Scout troops and two troops of SHE-scouts. We instituted plenty of rules. Buddy system at all times. Girls’ campsites away from boys’ campsites.

Boy Scout camps start and end the day with a flag ceremony. It’s a pretty symbolic event. It’s one that I’ve been part of countless times over the past 44 years. It’s, in some ways the essence of what it means to be be a Scout at camp.

And last week we held our scout camp. The first day I experienced something I’ve never seen in over four decades of scouts and camp. The flag was posted by a group of girls, SHE-scouts.

And you know what? They did a fantastic job.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

If You Run You Can’t Grow

Run-Grow-Transform

IT Function Model

I like learning new business strategies. I’ve read a lot of business books. I read for two reasons. First, there’s some valuable information. (Not all of it, but a lot.) And it’s important to speak the language of your industry. My industry is IT. I need to understand “seats on the bus” (Good To Great,) and “Chickens are involved but pigs are committed,” (Agile development.)

Last week I heard about a new IT business strategy. It’s new to me. It’s called Run-Grow-Transform. The idea is that your IT business all falls into one of these three categories. The “ideal” ratio is 70% of your time spent on Run Operations. The remaining 30% is split between Grow activities and Transform initiatives.

I was in a global summit meeting last week where the idea was introduced. Management was already using it and they were sharing their plans with us. They told us they wanted our roles. . .my role. . .to be 50% on Run and 50% on Grow/Transform.

And then they said something revelatory. They said,

If you are personally responsible for Run you can never Grow. Run will always dominate.

They didn’t even consider Transform. My job is to manage the IT relationship between my company and one of our biggest clients. That means I often take on the project manager role for small projects. I’m also responsible for our overal system availability. And if anything goes wrong it’s my job to figure out how to get someone to fix it. I’m also responsible for looking at innovation opportunities for our business.

I’m the guy for Run, Grow and Transform for the IT business between our two companies. And I realized why I’m not the project manager for large projects.

Projects: have a set of features, a budget and a set timeline

Projects are governed by their schedule. They involve a lot of people from various teams. Project meetings typically happen once per week. I attend a lot of project meetings. But, there is one thing that occasionally interrupts my ability to attend project meetings.

When we have an outage, I’m the guy that gets called first and I’m the last one on the call. After the outage is over we have to record any lost agent minutes, or LAM. I’m the one who has to approve the LAM report.

And that’s what keeps me from being the project manager on many large projects. If we have an outage that is my first priority. I’m responsible for both Run and Grow and Run always trumps Grow.

The good news was that this global summit was focused on how to get us to the 50/50 Run/Grow-Transform. And they were the ones that said you can’t be the Run and Grow guy.

Understanding why I struggle to Run and Grow at the same time, helps me to finally understand an important part of my job. And understanding is the first step.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Movie Premier: No Crime In Sin

TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses child sexual abuse, a topic that some readers may find disturbing to read about.

I don’t think I’ve ever put a trigger warning on a post before. I’ve also never bolded text in a post before. The first is probably more significant than the second.

No Crime In Sin
June 20th: 7:00pm
Doors open at 6:00
Tickets $8
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
138 Broadway
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
www.nocrimeinsin.com

Kristy Johnson will be holding a panel discussion after the screening. Kristy is my friend. Kristy served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints in Chicago the same time as I did. She’s a wonderful women with an engaging smile and a pretty horrible story.

You see, Kristy is also a victim of child sexual abuse. That’s the topic of “No Crime In Sin.” It’s a documentary about her family, and about the man who abused her and her siblings. A man whose duty was to defend her and her sister, but who instead stole their innocence.

Kristy and I hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years. We met again last fall at a missionary reunion here in Salt Lake City. We found we had a lot to talk about. My family has also suffered through childhood sexual abuse. While our stories are very different, they are also sadly very similar. Kind of the antithesis of Leo Tolstoy’s quote from Anna Karenina.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

When it comes to child sexual abuse, most stories are very similar. Secrets. Shame. Hiding. Abuse.

One of the worst parts about abuse is that it never goes away. Sure, you can treat it. You can (and should) go through therapy. But, it’s like being in a terrible car accident where you break your leg. Eventually the bleeding stops. The doctors can treat your leg. Eventually you might even get over the pain. But, the scars are alwasy there. Every time you change your pants you are reminded. You might not be in pain, but you always remember the pain.

How people respond to abuse is as unique as the individuals involved. “No Crime In Sin” explains how Kristy and her siblings responded. They end up confronting her father about his abuse.

I’ll be out of town during the premier.

If you are in the Salt Lake City area, I recommend a visit to the Rose Wagner theater on June 20th.

But, be aware that the subject matter can be triggering.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Things That Went BUMP In The Night Driving

It came out of nowhere. One minute we’re driving along at 80 MPH talking about the Festival of Colors at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork and the next minute, we are staring at a fragmented truck tire directly in our lane.

I was driving with my daughter. Actually, I was teaching her to drive. Or at least practice. She’s a month away from getting her license and all she has left is “night driving.”

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a new driver in your home, you may not remember the requirements for a drivers license. You must have 40 hours of driving practice. And ten of that must be at night.

My daughter got driving hours from several different places. She had done the school Drivers Ed program. She had done ten hours of driving with A-1 Driving School. And her foster mom had done some driving with her. And, of course, I was doing driving. I’m not sure how I ended up with all the night hours. My daughter kind of mumbled, “Not sure” and quickly changed the subject when I asked her.

Anyway, the easiest way (and by that I mean least stressful) to accumulate night hours is to do freeway driving. No stops. No turns. And not a lot of traffic.

This was the second night we’d been out. My daughter is a pretty safe driver. We took my other daughter’s Honda Civic. It’s smaller and easier to handle than any of our other cars.

So, there we were cruising back from a trip south of Provo. We’d been driving about 90 minutes. We were about 30 minutes from home. And then suddenly the truck tire appeared as if by magic. There really wasn’t time to react. Fortunately it went directly under the car. UNfortunately, it was about six inches too tall to fit under there cleanly.

To my daughter’s credit she did everything perfectly correct. She didn’t swerve. She slowed gradually. She pulled to the side.

I got out and checked for damage.

Using the flashlight on my phone I could see the condensor was dented. Dang, I just replaced that a few months ago. Oil and radiator fluid were slowly creating tiny pools on the black asphalt.

I had my daughter turn on the AC. One of the two fans started spinning. So far, so good. She turned the car off and then turned it back on. It started immediately.

I think I’ll drive from here.

The rest of the way home I watched the temperature gauge very carefully. It stayed rock solid. I kept waiting for the oil indicator light to come on. It didn’t.

I dropped my daughter at her foster home and drove the five miles to our house. Did the automatic tranmission seem to be skipping? Was the lingering smell of burning the result of failing systems, or the remnants of the smell of the tire from being pushed along the road?

I pulled the car into the driveway and blocked it in with my car. Tomorrow will be soon enough to see what the damage is.

And I just got done fixing this car.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Doing The Impossible Isn’t As Hard As Convincing Others You Can

I have twelve weeks to bring up a call center in Alabama. That’s a really tight timeframe. It’s nearly the shortest I’ve ever had to meet.

There are lots of pieces that go into bringing up a call center. You have to involve about a dozen different teams. You need contractors. You need furniture guys. You need painters, carpet layers, desktop engineers, network engineers. You need architects, and project managers. You have to involve the client’s teams. You have to involve recruiting and training and operations and IT and account management. Every team has it’s own deadlines and schedules.

It’s a major undertaking. And it normally takes about four or five months. You can do it in less time, but not easily. And the shorter you cut the schedule the greater the risk.

All development is a triangle.

Schedule – Budget – Features

You can change any two. With our call center we want to hold the schedule sacrosanct. That means one or two things have to happen. We either need to increase the budget (pay overtime, expedited delivery, etc.) or we need to decrease features (fewer seats, less polished finishing) or both.

But at some point, no amount of money will produce a workable solution in too short a time frame.

One woman can produce a baby in 9 months, but nine women cannot produce a baby in one month.

People are often surprised at what they can accomplish. My team is exceptionally good at what they do. We’ve pulled off the impossible before. But, knowing you have a “Mission Impossible” team and convincing other people you have a “Mission Impossible” team is a different thing.

And you know what you never see in those Mission Impossible movies? You never see the team trying to convince people that they can actually accomplish what they say they can.

Every time I start on one of these impossible journeys I have to spend a lot of time convincing new members of our team that I’m not crazy and despite my Mission Impossible analogy, the task is not actually impossible.

But, how do you prove you can do the impossible, until that is, you actually do the impossible? You can’t. Instead you talk about “We’ve done this before.” You tell people, “we can make it work.” You look for every scrap of schedule you can squeeze.

And you continue to believe in yourself and in your team. And you surprise the people who’ve never seen the impossible accomplished.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I Think The New Neighbors Are Going To Work Out Just Fine

It was not your typical lemonade stand. Oh sure, it had the typical card table, loaded with lemonade and cups. It was manned by two boys. They were probably about 8 and 6 years old. They even had a sign.

Lemonade: fifty cents

Pictures: $1

Turns out they were on commission. The eight year old was running the lemonade business, the six year old was the artist. They were new to our neighborhood. They’d moved into a house in a new development just one block over.

Their budding business empire was being watched over by mom and a future partner still in diapers occupying a stroller.

What can you draw?

Oh, I can draw anything you want.

His confidence was overwhelming. I also wondered what a six year old might specialize in. I opted for something safe.

Do you like the Avengers?

Sure.

Who’s your favorite Avenger?

Probably the Incredible Hulk.

Why don’t you draw me a picture of the Hulk. Can you do that?

Sure. Give me a minute.

And as I sipped my lemonade, the pint-sized artist went to work on his sketchpad. It turned out he was in high demand. As he was finishing up mine, another car pulled up and another customer got his lemonade and asked about commissioning a piece.

I was worried that the artist might rush mine since he had another $1 commission lined up right behind me, but fortunately he produced a crayon masterpiece.

It could have been a movie poster.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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