Dust Leadership
Posted: 11:09 am
April 21st, 2015
| Post a comment
Rant

It seems like everyone I talk to on Facebook is in a process of writing a book these days. It’s a noble pursuit, one that will have you eating well above the dollar menu at McDonalds one day. But I’m also asked for an opinion or worse, contribution, and I hate to be discouraging. I also hate to to sugarcoat what I’d like to say so here is my take on it, my experience with it and hopefully something useful:

Y’all is wasting your time.

ebookThere are high points. I know, I know – you get to call yourself an author, just the fact that you got an ISBN number will impress people who know what that means, gaming Amazon sales ranking will get you a ton of social media cred, you’ll be able to leverage this into a speaking opportunity that will pay above minimum wage, you’ll rake in credibility left and right…

Except you’re writing junk very few will buy, far less will read and almost none will implement.

But clearly you have time to piss away so here is something I would like to challenge you to do.

Start A Blog

Unless your name is Karl, you’re not going to be making money selling home décor tips to the homeless. Or technology advice to people with complete contempt for it. Karl has already done it. And from 20 different angles complete with seminars, webinars, worksheets and even Mad Libs for MSPs. Game over as far as trying to help people goes.

So if you’re writing for prestige, writing to open conversations, writing to engage people on your level (or above) in a meaningful exchange of ideas.. the book isn’t going to cut it. I’ve got a pile of books, that explore ideas that could have been summed up in a blog post, that I know I’ll never get to. Yet I’m on top of blogs every single week.

There is a reason why blogs (or for attention challenged Twitter and Facebook) and social media are so popular – they help connect people and start the conversation. And, it turns out, you can learn a lot from others.

Vladville, written in a crude street language, is such not because I dropped out of middle school – but because that’s what keeps people reading and commenting. Offer a polarizing idea and you will get feedback not just from people that agree but also from people that disagree and will take the time to educate you on their point of view.

You don’t have to write either – if you have the knowledge you can record videos and podcasts too – all of which will bring you an audience far wider than your book, all of which will be consumed by more people than you’ll ever imagine, all of which ultimately generate more interactions than you’ll know what to do with.

You will earn much more from a conversation than you will from a lecture. Unless you’re serious about committing to a business of writing books, you’re infinitely better off starting conversations that help fuel your existing business.

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DaaS Problems
Posted: 11:07 am
April 7th, 2015
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Boss, Cloud

Once upon a time, in the long long ago, I started writing a book on Cloud Services. More specifically, I wanted to write a book to help people build or add a cloud line of business inside their existing technology service.

So I laid out our entire process – that was the book outline.

Then I started outlining each section first starting with how things actually worked.. and then a list of ideas, suggestions, recommendations and ways things really should work.

The more I worked in this world of fantasy about how things “should work” instead of as they really are the more it became a wishlist than a blueprint. And I realized that if I ever actually completed and published this work of fiction I would lose all credibility and self respect. Yes, I’d become an IT coach.

Disingenuous As A Service

Let me be clear – I am not a genius. Not by a long shot. Yeah I’ve built some nice businesses and lots of beautiful disasters over time – some worked out and some didn’t – but there is no real skill in consulting, just the self confidence that your pile of bullshit will actually get a cashable check after you send your victim client an invoice. And this is not just a slam piece on coaches, which I’ll destroy the few that aren’t out of business already later, rather than the inevitability of business reality.

Here is my theory, business managers fall into two groups:

1. Those that know the uncertainty in what they are doing, consider opinions, act, evaluate, revise and actually do the hard work needed to succeed. There are few of these out there.

2. Then there are those that are certain that someone else knows exactly what they are doing. And yet, instead of becoming millionaires and billionaires running successful franchise spanning the globe, they retire to their basement to sell emotional security and confidence conveniently wrapped in a blueprint that can’t fail – they haven’t tried it but other people are paying them for that advice so surely it must be worth something!

Listen, I get it, it’s hard running a business. Everyone needs a cheerleader. But I get the same SPAM you all get – for all the promises about transforming your business that you’ll get what you’re actually getting is a bunch of wishful thinking combined with the ugly realization that everything you need to do will require a lot of hard work or a ton of money for someone else to do it. And if you’re smart enough – you realize that no third party understands your business like you do or the kind of talent you have or the kind of clients you serve.

I can boil the whole effort of any consultative effort to you in a single line:

Ask your clients what they want, ask your team how to do it.

Then figure out how to make $ with it.

This first coaching advice is free, if you need more I am available on contract basis. Smile

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Still Alive
Posted: 10:39 am
March 18th, 2015
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Misc

I have a lot on my mind but relatively little that I can blurt out in a Vladville post… but since the vlad@vladville.com is piling with pings, life checks and requests for info, here is a brief and unorganized update.

I’m alive. I’m at work, at both jobs, just all over the place and doing great.

That last part is a total lie. I’m literally, figuratively and physically overwhelmed with everything I’ve got going on. It starts with work related anxiety over the amounts of money that are in play. I try to remind myself that I’ve got everything in the world I’ll ever need, that business is just a game of numbers.. but while I’m on my 2nd warehouse of cars the “numbers” aren’t just that to the people that depend on us making the right decisions, exceed our clients expectations, launch everything flawlessly and continue to rock at everything we do.

Top that off with some personal issues. My third job is being a father and trying to make sure my kids don’t grow up with the same bad habits their daddy has. So while I’m all done being mentally drained at work I have a part time job of talking, chauffeuring, organizing and trying to keep them off junk food and sugar… where I’d rather have a few shots of whiskey… which I can’t have because I’m trying to shave some of the weight I gained during the marathon weight (all carbs, all the time) to a more trim triathlon weight and diet that’s significantly less carby.

The combo of all this isn’t healthy… But like everything else…

It’s temporary.

And that’s what I’ve got going on. I’m trying to focus on what is important right now, what makes a difference, what my time is immediately most effectively applied towards getting the entire plan put together. I’m trying to ignore all the whiny bitching I’d rather be doing because I honestly don’t see how it does anything for me or what I’m working on, just wastes time. And honestly I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t fun, hard as it may be.

The core of this blog is explaining the mistakes I’ve made or the mistakes others make in the technology business. So I’ve got a lot of things to write here. I just don’t have the time – and that my friends is the difference between reality and fiction so the book writing and coaching will have to wait a little bit.

Carpe Diem. Or YOLO. Whatever works.

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Best College Class For Anyone Looking For A Job
Posted: 11:31 am
March 2nd, 2015
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Boss

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of getting sucked into Facebook debates on the value of college. From dumb people pounding their chest over how rich they are and how much college sucks to old disaffected liberal arts majors arguing that college isn’t a trade school. Let’s just say your mileage may vary. Reality is, no matter how much your counselors and professors lie to you about your job opportunities straight out of college, you will not be starting in the upper management.. and on your way up you’ll have to deal with a lot of people.. ewww #amirite

Dealing With People

Not something you’re taught in college.

And I hate to tell you this my fellow millennials.. but you’re fucking weird. And to older folks you’re just outright awkward. So when you walk into that job interview, looking and behaving nothing like what they are used to, it feels like wearing a full suit to the beach. And it only gets worse from there if you actually get the job.

So for the love of god.. get a customer facing part time job while you’re in college.

Learn how to deal with people.

Learn how to diffuse angry people, learn how to read body language, learn how to control your emotions, learn how to prevent insane and rude people from ruining your day, learn how to figure out what people actually want, learn how to communicate with people effectively.. observe and learn.

I know what you’re thinking.. “But Vlad, I’m a marketing major with a minor in psychology, I’ve read a ton about this and gone over so many case studies I can lecture for days” – I’m impressed. But without any actual experience you’re just another homeless realtor and trust me people around you can tell and you don’t want to be pushed into the immature corner by the very people that may be in charge of your career and success.

crowdtarding

So go – get out there. Some people may tell you there is no honor in working a minimum wage job, that you shouldn’t waste your time on thing that aren’t directly related to the field you want to be in, that you should focus on your classes 100%, that the only thing that matters is who you know, what you know.. And everyone has an opinion.

But when you get a job you will be dealing with people. A wide variety of crazy, tired, drugged, angry, vengeful, unfocused, distracted people. Get ready for it now because your first day as a professional is not a lab experiment, you won’t be able to reboot the people you accidentally insult. Get ready – and bring that fact up in your job interview: People like me!

No matter what business you end up working in, trust me, it’s a people business. Even if you’re a coroner or crime scene cleaner.

Boss | Comments Off


How to interview for a professional job
Posted: 11:42 am
February 11th, 2015
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Boss

I’ve been out of the job market for a while and I’ve also been out of the HR / interview part of our business long enough to actually be surprised with how poorly college students are prepared or even informed about how to interview for a professional role. If you are looking for a job, I hope this helps.

1. Always dress professionally. Always. There is absolutely no excuse: not the weather, not the company, not the job title, not the connection you have or the area that you live in.

2. Find out what the company does before you go in. Nothing screams I don’t really give a damn like not even checking out the company before you head in for an interview. You don’t have to read the 10K but you have to know the company mission and have at least a basic idea of who the people interviewing you are.

3. Try not to act like an entitled millennial. Job interview is not the time to start haggling over pay, benefits, time off. It’s also not a good idea to ask for the corner office. The purpose of the job interview is to figure out if you are a fit and an opportunity for you to sell yourself to the company for the role you want. Make them want you. Once you actually have an offer in hand is a time to haggle.

4. Ask actual work related questions. Every person I have ever interviewed wanted to know about the perks, the flexibility, the time off. I understand that is really important to you. But you haven’t gotten the job yet. Ask about the company. Ask about other employees. Ask about the company future. You know how so many job interview sites train you to answer “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” – how come a single candidate didn’t think to ask that of the person interviewing them?

5. Ask for a tour, show interest. Don’t take the HR process for granted, these people actually work for the company you are interviewing for. Ask questions about the work environment – fast paced or slow? How often do you stay after 5PM? How many hours a week do you typically put in? Do people ever get together outside of work? Where do you go for lunch? Ask actual questions that go beyond the role-responsibility-company that is going to be spelled out for you anyhow.

6. Bring your resume. Bring your references. Bring your portfolio if you’ve got one. Bring your collateral. Bring your relevant course schedule. It seems that everyone has gotten the memo about a resume being a one page affair. Fantastic. It got you in the door. What else can you show me so I don’t have to fill in the blanks myself? The more you leave up to my imagination and judgment the worse.

7. Do not reschedule. If you can’t even keep it together before I’ve met you…

8. Answer questions completely, fully and honestly. Interview questions are your opportunity to talk, explain and sell why you should get the job. If you just provide short answers that makes my list of questions mighty short because I figure you’re hiding something.

9. Show up early. Show up at least 30 minutes before your scheduled interview. Odds are, you’ll waste at least 10 of those trying to figure out where to park, how to get to the office, sign in with security, etc. What do you do with the other 20 minutes? Drive around the office and figure out where you will have your lunch. Is there a nearby daycare. Is there a bar in the walking distance? How about a post office or Kinko’s or anything else that you forsee yourself needing to do on your lunch break. If the office is in the middle of nowhere and you have a 30 minute lunch and have to drive 15 minutes to the closest Wendy’s…

I hope this helps you. Listen, the odds are against you in the current employment environment so, no matter how much you may hate it, you have to sell yourself. You already have their interest, keep on offering reasons why you would be a valuable asset for the company. For every position we offer we get well over 1,000 candidates. Of those about 900+ are immediately dismissed – so that gives you less than 10% chance that you’ll even get a phone call and less than 1% chance that you’ll actually get a job offer out of it. 

Boss | 1 Comment


Donut Cheesesteak
Posted: 1:02 pm
January 26th, 2015
1 Comment | Post a comment
Humor

Americans have a fascination with the weird sweet and salty fatty foods – from General Tso chicken to Hawaiian pizza. But that’s for ordinary people – taken to the extreme county fair levels you get a donut cheesesteak.

How exactly do you make a donut cheesesteak that doesn’t give you an instant heart attack? If that’s on your mind maybe you shouldn’t try this. Ever. Otherwise you start with your ingredients.

IMG_8733

First of all, whenever dealing with a mixture of weird stuff, start with the things you already like. I obviously ignored that when it comes to cheese because I had no way of melting it onto the steak without messing up my hot plate.

First: Freeze your donuts. In order to actually be able to hold it once it’s done you need to crisp it up. And unless you intend to make it with 2 donuts for buns (in which case you will only taste the donut) you’ll have to cut your donut in half which is only possible once you freeze it. Otherwise chop stuff up and drop it on the hot plate.

IMG_8734

It took about 5 minutes and bulk of that for the onion and the jalapeno. Slapped together and enjoyed the hell out of it. Honestly, it was really good!

IMG_8737

This shit is going to kill you

As will just about everything else. So take your negativity elsewhere, wuss.

The caloric breakdown goes as follows:

1 Donut (190 cal)

1 Cheesesteak (100 cal)

1 Tbsp “Cheese” from a can (90 cal)

So at 380 calories (and likely less since you burn off a lot of sugar and fat while cooking) this has less impact to your daily diet than a McDonalds Fish Filet or the lowest calorie grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A. Just in case you’re under illusion you’re eating healthy in a fast food chain.

IMG_8741

How did it taste though? Amazing. Explosion of different flavors. Spicy. Sweet. Salty. No two bites were the same. I could do without the fake cheese though. Tune in tomorrow, cooking something with donuts every day this week after a 3 marathon, 2 half marathon January :)

Humor | 1 Comment


What’s your beef with Tesla?
Posted: 10:28 am
January 15th, 2015
3 Comments | Post a comment
Gadgets

I was recently asked why I hated Tesla so much. “Did Elon kick your puppy or something?”

fuckyouandyourpriusTo be honest, I hate all electric cars. From golf carts to Tesla. It’s just that I think Tesla cars, inside out, are perhaps the ugliest things ever made. From the original roadster that took the ugliest British car ever made (and you know you’re digging deep when you’re taking stuff even the British consider ugly) Lotus Elise panels, to the current Model S which looks like stuff that even Ford wouldn’t come up all the way to the newly unleashed Tesla Pontiac Aztek.. err, Model X. But I hate all of them. I hate them because they have no soul. Yes, I’ve driven more than one.

I don’t want to dismiss the benefits of electric vehicles – Never having to visit a gas station sounds appealing. So does the fact that you can charge your Tesla for free at many superchargers around the country. Ditto for the ability to have solar panels that provide free energy and free miles. The features are great if you only view your vehicle as a factor of transportation. If you get no joy from driving, if you don’t find any appeal in vehicle design, if you don’t enjoy the sensation from the ability to control then electric is an answer to your prayers. There is no arguing technical green facts. But how do I put this in a classy and delicate way

Suggesting to someone that loves driving that we’ll all be driving electric cars in the future is as appealing as a proposition to only have sex with ones wife with a huge dildo. Hint: You’re missing out on a whole lot of fun.

Now, if you’re dead inside, I understand. Nisan Leaf looks like a perfectly adequate vehicle. And if you’re from Western Europe you probably see no issue at all in a family vehicle being a Vespa with a kid basket in the back. Why, civilized people use public transportation.

But. And again, with all due respect… fuck you. And the golf cart you rode in on. I don’t want to hit the brakes to turn the corner, I want to pull the ebrake and swing around it.

I don’t want an automatic transmission and neutered mufflers, I want to understand how this 3 ton beast I’m inside is somewhat related to physics.

I don’t want another computer screen and regenerative brake stats, I want the blood pumping through my veins like a cocaine junkie that just got his last hit in a week as I’m on E and that light and every alert/gauge is flashing about the empty fuel tank.

I don’t want a car with safety systems written by the cheapest programmer you could find on oDesk, I want a beast with steel, carbon and a hundred+ years of engineering in line with Newtonian laws. No thanks Google, I don’t want the idea of rebooting my brakes as I’m about to hit an 18 wheeler in my plastic car the size of a clown car.

But most of all.. by Allah.. To all you retards hypermiling and “driving as if you have no brakes” – No, you have brakes, drive up to the light and stop, if I see you gliding down the street towards a traffic light I am buying a monster truck and driving right over your ass.

Note: Meant in a satirical way. It is none of my business how you have sex with your wife. But I am totally interested in a monster truck driving over a pile of electric cars.

Gadgets | 3 Comments


Self Help Guide To People In A Need Of A Bitchslap
Posted: 11:41 pm
January 5th, 2015
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Boss

buddha-225x300It’s time for New Years Resolutions and Prediction blog posts, or as I like to call it: Strategically avoiding work by coming up with potential work that you’re not doing because it’s not really important to you. Doubt that? Here is my example: Every day I look in the mirror I see a huge spare tire around my otherwise normal looking 12 year old girl body. Is it important to me not to be fat? Of course. Is it more important to me than hot dogs with bacon toppings or prosciutto and brie snacks? The mirror answers that question pretty well and I don’t have a six pack for a reason. I’m OK with that.

You should also come to terms with the parts of your life or business that you dislike but don’t dislike enough to change. And here is a really fucked up part:

If you really had the capacity to have resolve and restraint, how did you end up in your situation to begin with?

Resolve to stop bullshitting yourself: You don’t like to sell. You’re not good at marketing. You like doing shit that doesn’t materially impact your company/career. Focus on winning the Ms. Congeniality award instead.

Do and Don’t Of People Who Aren’t Pathetic

Do come up with small plans. Personally, I don’t do annual plans: I don’t have the attention span to do anything for more than two weeks. In fact, two weeks in Vladville may as well be eternity. If you’re going to do something, do something small and get in the groove.

Do not come up with vague objectives. Whatever you do better be measurable and documented. Write it down. Throw a reminder in your calendar to remind you to check how you’re doing.

Do not share you’re your objectives. If this is not something that directly benefits/hurts those around you, don’t share it. Again, honesty, you got into this for a reason and likely on your own. You don’t need people around you “supporting” you. If you can’t stop yourself from eating the 16th hot dog at the all-you-can-eat BBQ then what is the point of having people around you avoid hot dogs if at the first sight of one you lose control. Through the damn gauntlet, if you can’t learn discipline you’re just bound to be right back where you started at.

Do come up with a punishment. Most people only think of rewards. Tough love moment here – if positive reinforcement worked on you then you wouldn’t have stuff to change, you’d easily motivate yourself to change anything you disliked immediately and you wouldn’t have resolutions. Besides, who really gets hurt if you don’t make that one more sales call, followup or cross of another to-do item? Exactly, it can wait till tomorrow and nobody is around to slap you. So slap yourself.

Tradeoffs

Like I said, while I have a general idea of what I need to do in the following year, I have weekly or monthly plans at best. And in my world (and yours) the only finite item is: time.

So with a schedule that is already packed… I ask myself: If I am about to implement this change, where does the time come out of? Maybe I’m alone at this.. but my mediocre effort almost always produces pitiful results. I am only effective when I am at something 100%, 100% of the time. So if I’m taking up something, what else am I willing to see go to shit? But that’s just me.

Even though I’m on the border of the millennial generation, nobody has ever given me shit. Once you have to build your own business and work for every dollar you get a more sincere appreciation for the value of time and just how much more, proportionally, effort it’s going to take to make an additional dollar. Which is something many employees will never understand, as they expect a raise just because they did the job they were paid to do. And if you share that mentality, maybe you should be working for someone too.

So calculate your tradeoffs, look at your objectives, keep them to yourself, measure them and kick yourself in the nuts every time you fail yourself.

Boss | Comments Off


The worst thing about business that nobody tells you
Posted: 11:16 am
December 5th, 2014
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IT Business

Once upon a time in the long long ago, right after college, I went for an interview with a Fortune 50 company and after a few interviews for an engineering job they went with someone else. About a week later they called me back and wanted me to come in and discuss a VP role. Quote: “You just seemed too sociable and too friendly to work in engineering long term and we think you’d do better leading the place”; few more interviews, all day meetings and calls with different offices later they again chose someone else. I was pretty bitter about that for a long time but it was good to be crushed at such an early age:

High profile jobs, with few exceptions, are not given. They are earned.

hustle-defintionThat’s not the lesson, I’ll get to that in a moment. Bringing in outside talent to an already thriving organization breeds disloyalty and crushes the corporate culture that is built on climbing the ladder. Why climb at all? Because to lead effectively and grow not just the profits but the team it’s about far more than just being qualified. It took me a while to figure that out.

Now.. what I’m about to tell you is not something a book can be written about because it’s not glorified feel-good bullshit people tend to seek out while they fantasize their way out of the daily struggles to manage and grow a business. Here is the truth.

Making money is hard. Sustaining it over the long haul it’s extremely difficult.

And that’s the way it should be.

The sooner you accept that – the better off things will be. It’s hard, it’s brutal, it’s without external motivation and very few people are cut out to do it. That’s business.

I have disagreed on this topic with many of my ex employees. Among the more triumphant failures I’ve tried to mentor are scores of stay at home moms, SEO experts, multilevel marketing sales frauds, sandwich flippers, family business part timers and other lifescapers who thought they knew better. I wish them all the best. But in so many ways I feel sorry for them and for the day when they look for a real job again and realize what HR does to resumes that have large holes between jobs and how hard their “willingness to work” will be questioned some day. But that’s their problem, not yours if you are trying to build a strong organization.

In a workforce full of dreamers is the reality of overworked and underpaid people who channel their frustration into solutions and success. If you think about what it took to build your business, that most certainly describes you. And while peons and dreamers will come and go, the people that can make it through the thick and thin are the ones that will be there for the long term and will ultimately succeed in the long term.

Not really a feel good motivational tidbit, is it? But it’s the truth. While people are stuck daydreaming about working at Google and being given a free paycheck and time to go find themselves on spiritual journeys through Indonesia (of which I’m almost certain there are like 6 people with those choices just for the sake of PR) the rest of the people are grinding it out like everyone else.

Don’t dream. Work. It doesn’t get easier, you just make more money. People that win have the mentality that it isn’t about the temporary annoyances but about smashing long term expectations.

And that pursuit, of overcoming adversity while excelling at your craft, is what careers are made of. And damn it feels good when you finally make it. Maybe it’s for you, maybe it’s not but I’ll tell you what – earning something always beats being given something and it sure as hell beats holding a sign asking for $15 an hour for a job that people beat you down at.

IT Business | Comments Off


Two of the most obvious secrets to success
Posted: 10:22 pm
November 29th, 2014
2 Comments | Post a comment
IT Business

That nobody talks about because nobody can get paid off of them.

holeIn my new life in the cash business I spend bulk of my time exchanging ideas with some very smart people that spend a lot of time pouring over government employment and economy reports, of which this past week was full. Long story short, it sucks to be poor in America and it’s going to suck even more. But I don’t want to talk about bashing the poor, I want to talk about the business practices that will keep you out of the hole. Namely, two of them:

Avoid Envy

I’ve never really understood the passive complex of sitting around and expecting someone else to give me a cut just because they are doing better than me. If anything, it’s always been a mentality of finding out who is doing well and trying to do what they are doing.

If you’re sitting around in the paralysis over comparative analytics (which is what many of you that went out of business constantly questioned me about).. just stop. Worry about your own business. Beyond knowing what is working and what others are charging it’s on you to build a profitable business. Otherwise just go buy a franchise.

Be Flexible

There are tons of opportunities out there. Tons of really great paying jobs. Great career advancement possibilities and perks. The only trouble is, nobody wants to move to Buttfuck, South Dakota or #holyshittherentishowmuch, San Francisco.

Far too many people get hard headed about things other than making money and then wonder why they eventually can’t make more than scraps. The line of “forget the cloud, I’m making thousands in margin on every Cisco device I move” is stretching around the unemployment office (where you’ll find those same masterminds). 

Long story short

Find out what others are doing and if they are doing well, copy them. Even if it’s uncomfortable, little money is better than no money and I don’t care what the late night infomercial or unemployment IT festival speakers told you: making money is hard. So just come to terms with it that nobody is going to cheer you up, everyone will try to beat you down – and unless they are about to do your work for you f em and just keep on working.

Do those two and everything is gonna be alright. Or preoccupy yourself with the circus and you’ll soon find yourself in it.

Your choice.

IT Business | 2 Comments







 

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