Friday, November 25, 2011

When the Deer no Longer Freeze in the Headlights

#12 - Deer in HeadlightsImage by elviskennedy via FlickrI remember when an occasional deer would be caught in my headlights and she would freeze in her tracks. She was caught off guard – surprised, shocked, even frightened.

But today, the deer wander around my neighborhood just like the squirrels. Neither cars nor people scare them. They are no longer afraid to approach the house to feed on the buds. They no longer freeze in the headlights – a car driving down the road is a familiar sight to the deer in my neighborhood. They have become complacent.

But the deer are not the only ones who no longer fear the headlights.

The unemployment rate stays high and we expect that unemployment benefits will be extended.

We no longer flinch when our jobs are sent overseas – we expect it.

Another financial institution or government is in crisis and we expect that they will be bailed out.

Our country’s leaders fail once again to reach agreement on a key issue, and we continue on as if this were okay.

I could argue heartily that fear is not a healthy emotion. Yet without it, we lose that adrenaline rush that causes us to buck up and take action. Without fear, we risk becoming a society of complacency and entitlements.

When was the last time you saw a deer in the headlights?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy… To What End?

occupy berlinImage by tranZland via FlickrIt started with Wall Street and it has spread just about everywhere. I am talking about the Occupy movement, of course. Even in my relatively quiet town, I drive past a sign that says, “Occupy Poughkeepsie Until We Are Free.”

Yes, the sign used the word “free” and I flinched as I read it.

You see, I’m not going to try to convince you that there isn’t value in fighting for change, or even demonstrating for change. I’m not going to try to convince you that there isn’t growing inequity between the very rich and the very poor. And although the middle class has been hurt – badly – by the current economy, I strongly believe in free speech.

Yes I used the word “free.”

In the interest of exercising my own right to free speech, I challenge the occupiers with the sign asking for freedom to define exactly what they are asking for. We are certainly are free to protest, and to write whatever we want on our signs. We are free to wear what we please. We are free to choose what to study, what work to pursue, where to live, and how to spend our time. We are free to vote and yes, we elected the politicians we are so unhappy with.

While “freedom” is clear in protests for civil rights, I believe financial success is something to be earned rather than handed out. But if we want change, we need to be clear about exactly what we want. So tell me please, what are we fighting for?

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Humorous Perspective on the Republican Presidential Debate

ROCHESTER, MI - NOVEMBER 09:  Moderators John ...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeNote: This account is fictional, and not intended to represent the candidates’ actual views. Any similarity to words actually spoken by the candidates is coincidental. This is for entertainment purposes only.

And now for the last question of the night from Maria Bartiromo: “Down the line, thirty seconds. Describe in your own words, the color of the sky.”

Governor Jon Huntsman: “When I was in China there were days we couldn’t see the sky. But I know that sky. It’s grey.”

Representative Ron Paul: “As far as I’m concerned the sky can be any color you want it to be. I just hope I’m still here to see it after the election is over.”

Governor Rick Perry: Well, I see three colors; white, and there’s some grey, and oh – what’s the third color... wait, it will come to me. I’m sorry; I can’t recall the third one.

Representative Michele Bachmann: “The answer is very clear. If we just look we can all see that the sky is blue. The same color as my eyes.”

Former CEO Herman Cain: “Maria, that’s the wrong question. We need to be looking at the clouds in the sky. I see one there that looks a nine. And oh – there’s another, and another. 9-9-9, that’s what I see.”

Former Senator Rick Santorum: “Well, if there are clouds in the sky I probably introduced them.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Look. To answer that in thirty seconds is a little bit absurd. The color of the sky affects every American. But just so that we’re clear, I know the sky better than anyone here.”

Former Governor Mitt Romney: “It really doesn’t matter what color I think the sky it. What matters is how the markets see it. If the markets like blue, then blue it is, and we should let the markets work.

What was your take on the Republican Presidential debate? Was there a winner?

Friday, November 4, 2011

What is Rometty Up Against As She Takes the Helm at IBM?

Ginni Rometty of IBM and interviewer Jessi Hem...Image by Fortune Live Media via Flickr“She’s tough. She’s demanding.”

That’s what IBMers who have worked for the company’s new CEO say about her. Of course, she would have to be tough, demanding, and a lot more than that to reach the top spot. In fact, the few women who have achieved this level of success have often been called aggressive and other terms that women generally consider unflattering.

There is no doubt about it – Virginia Rometty’s rise to the top spot is groundbreaking – both inside and outside of IBM. At IBM, she is the company’s first female CEO, and she is one of a very small club of female CEOs. But the few women who have achieved the top spot in technology companies don’t always fare well.

So, what is Rometty up against?

While she won’t officially take the reins until January 2012, this announcement comes with IBM stock at a near-all-time high. Rometty needs to continue to drive growth, certainly an enormous challenge in today’s economy.

Rometty is home-grown IBM talent, having joined the company in 1981 after a short stint at GE. Her background at IBM is in sales, marketing, and services. Knowing the inner workings of IBM, and IBM’s clients will surely be an advantage. But will she be able to hold her own as a technology leader?

Her direct reports were once her peers – all male with the exception of Linda Sanford – and many who were also considered to be in the running for her job. These include Steve Mills, the iconic leader of IBM’s Software and Systems Group and others who drive IBM’s technical strategy.

Rometty is going to need to draw upon the considerable talents of this team, while holding her own as the final arbiter and decision maker. Most importantly, she will need to continue to convince Wall Street that IBM has the right strategies and can deliver – something her successor, Sam Palmisano, did masterfully.