Archive for December, 2007


E tu, Crallus?
Posted: 4:49 pm
December 31st, 2007
Microsoft

28772-hi-Mojito From the “It’s only negative when Vlad criticizes it” department comes a blog post from Mark Crall beating up the Lifestyle business segment of the IT population. For what its worth, I love the “lifestyle business” movement and if I could do what I do by myself and only work two months out of the year, I’d be the first guy blogging this by the pool in my red Speedos sippin’ on a mojito.

[ pause to let you scrub out your eyes from that visual ]

What exactly is a lifestyle IT partner? I first got this term from someone fairly senior in the Microsoft Patner Program organization, talking about the partners who are only committed to the client base that fits their lifestyle: seasonal, low stress, low demand, highly strategic customers with onsite IT and just general IT direction (vision) requirements with the execution left up to someone else (usually me, thus the reason I love them).

Here is a partner lifestyle business card:

retired

That’s just beautiful. Photo credit: John Behneman

I guess Mark will have to reprint the riffraff shirts and put his name on it too. What a divider. :) And this is the guy I am paying to represent my interests to Microsoft? Even Andy is falling off the RR train, he just sent me a wonderful email:

Dear Blood Sucking Vendor,

I just wanted to be your last piece of official hate mail for 2007 ;-)

C Ya,

HA

Damn community. Personally, I am curious what the Crazy Ligman Impound Lot & Software Assurance team is up to. Big announcement is tomorrow night.

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Praise & Purpose
Posted: 10:37 am
December 31st, 2007
IT Business, IT Culture, Vladville

Got some pretty big praise for the blog from Karl Palachuk over the weekend, though to be honest it’s pretty high praise every time anyone links to this blog:

You may not agree with everything he says, or the way it’s presented, but for an analysis of the business you’re in, Vladville is the smartest blog on the internet. Just look over his posts for the last week! In fact, this entire post was inspired by his article on Arthur Miller and the Death of an SMB Tech Salesman.

I highlighted the italicized part because I get it all the time: “I don’t agree with everything, but I love it!” – and to stay true to disliking the delivery: well no sh.. sherlock, 90% of what I put here is op-ed and as my good friend Albert would put it: opinions are like ass..es, everyone has one!

So much for ending the blog in 2007 on a high note!

My opinions are just that.. the world as I see it based on the limited facts I have to work with at the moment. Sometimes I’m right, most of the time I’m wrong, but because I voice it I get attention from thousands of people that are just pouncing to give me more information and let me change my mind. If you agreed with my every opinion and my every word made you feel great about who you are and what you do, you’d have a cause for concern… it would mean I’m patronizing you. And while there is good money to be made in patronizing people, lying their face while selling them out to the highest bidder, telling them everything is just great and peachy and if you only tried a little harder you would have a Ferrari… First, I can’t bring myself to be that full of crap for free (though for a $ I will sell a pig like a supermodel) and second, running a business and being an engineer, in any market segment, isn’t easy! Making money isn’t easy, getting attention is even harder, separating yourself from the herd requires a ton of time and effort and making success last is damn near impossible.

So why, oh why, do so few of you have an opinion of your own that you care to share with your peers? Some of you believe that it is easier to just open up the checkbook and join a group based on how big of a check you are willing to write – and waste the time, the money, the enthusiasm with other people that came over just because they wrote a check too and the only question they have is “What do I get for my money?” – the enthusiasm, money and time that you could be pumping into your own blog that could address your peers, your customers, your market, your community – and let them come to you because you prove yourself to be of value. That is marketing, not postcard spamming.

So if you’ve ignored my posts over the last week and are a “resolution” type of a person, why not make it a resolution for 2007 to have a blog and be proud of what you are able to do for your audience?

I for one have made my investment – Debra Hart May’s Proofreading Plain & Simple. $12 to make this place look like it’s not written by a 12 year old that got left behind.

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Saying Goodbye to 2007
Posted: 6:32 pm
December 30th, 2007
Vladville

Just one more business day left to go and I can breathe another sigh of relief that we’ve made it out of 2007. Businesswise, 2007 was as phenomenal of a year as it was frustrating. Every month was the record month on the books, both in terms of year over year and all-time totals in terms of months. That is nothing short of spectacular, and I think it speaks volumes over how we’re positioned against our competitors in nearly all core areas of the business: ExchangeDefender, Virtual Services, Hosting, Data Center Ops, Offsite backups…

It was a frustrating year at times as well, dealing with the growing pains, complexity, new relationships, negative feedback, product delays. I kind of have no way not to take some of these personally because of the level of effort and involvement I have in my business as open as I am and as easy to find as I am to find, sometimes it gets to me that people are not able to bring things to my direct attention. But that brief bit of doom and gloom really helped me figure out just what my role within Own Web Now really needs to be and has absolutely re-energized me over the past few months.

January tends to be the slowest time of the year so we’ll be mostly on the skeleton crew as everyone retrains on Windows 2008 and we hammer out our product offerings and pricing for the rest of  2008. Lot’s of new and exciting things are coming out and I’ve got to say that 2008 looks better than any other year on record and man am I looking forward to it.

So here is to 2007, I hope you too are excited about what 2008 brings to you.

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WordPress 2.3.2 patches a security issue
Posted: 1:48 am
December 30th, 2007
WordPress

Of note for us WordPress fans is the release of WordPress 2.3.2, urgent release fixing a bug that can reveal the contents of your draft posts and database table structure.

Upgrading WordPress tends to be very simple – just grab the .zip file and uncompress it – upload everything except wp-content directory and wp-config.php file and hit /wp-admin to update the database. Thats all there is to it.

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Arthur Miller & Death of a SMBTechSalesman
Posted: 1:22 am
December 30th, 2007
IT Business

From the mailbag (vlad@vladville.com):

(excerpt from longer email):

Did you say SMB IT is slowing down? Is this nationwide or just your area?

What I actually blogged about previously was not the slowdown in the SMB IT, but that more and more SMB IT shops are closing doors. There are many reasons for this (incompetence, piracy crackdown, more stable infrastructure, more complex infrastructure) but the single biggest cause behind the exits is the fact that the consumers are getting more savvy about the technology that they use and demand less and less consulting. Notice that I said “they demand less” not that “they require less” – there is a difference, look up the definition of “ignorance”.

There are several trends that are causing the bottom of the market to fall out and even some of the middle sectors of the IT field. First, the bottom feeders. Several years ago, if your inkjet had enough ink in it and you could buy perforated business card templates, you were an IT consultant. That segment has been eliminated, the complexity of even the simplest network infrastructure has gone beyond the weekend distractions of the elderly hasbeens and 20-something-ITT-dropouts. The semi-legitimate operation of these shops has made it  more difficult for these shops to exist, with Microsoft’s crackdown on piracy, promotion of the Small Business Specialist and push away from the FPP. The guys I used to see around a few years ago are gone, the calls from the same type of “consultant” no longer need to be turned away, they are done. To a certain extent managed services have driven a few of these shops down and out as well – for the past two years being a geek has simply not been enough. The bottom tier of “I know technology, therefore I am a consultant” have had a harder time competing for business against the full solution providers that can talk more than just spyware and reinstalling Windows. What tends to get lost in the conversation among the many “Turn MSP Today!” pitches is that you actually have to have some business sense to advise a business on their technology spending, and with most geeks never having gone through the business school and most running shops smaller than 10- or 5- employees likely all in the same department, the pitch to the CIO and CEO of a large company tends to be a test of humility.

Strangely enough, this has opened the exit door for a lot of the really experienced IT people in the market because they realized their worth is far higher with a lot less stress in the employee role than an employment/manager role. Years 2003-2007 have been phenomenal, but with the uncertain future I talk to more and more IT guys that are selling their shares and moving into executive and IT management segments of their largest clients. One of my best friends in this space just took an offer for a 9-5 VP MIS role paying $180,000 which according to him is nearly twice what his 6 employee firm netted him in take-home income in 2007. He sold his interest and moved on. Many are taking the same road, knowledge in a larger businesses is more lucrative with less stress than small business ownership and stress of dealing with the small business owners that are getting more knowledgeable and more cost sensitive.

Finally, and perhaps most tragically, the business models have not evolved with the industry and IT Solution Provider product offerings have not become strategic but rather organic. I’ve seen many businesses either outright flop or walk away with the tail between their legs from the large multiyear investments / contracts they signed for tools to support the infrastructure they have not yet sold. When you put it that way it does seem ridiculous but the number of people that have told me they regretted going with XYZ and ABC has been spectacular. At the same time that the SMB IT Providers are being locked down by the vendors and restricted, the customers are looking for the more open and unlocked relationship – result: more and more partners are walking away from those customers because they do not have an answer for services advertised in Time / Business Week / Newsweek and those services don’t pay for the tools they want to deploy! I’m not going to shamelessly plug my own products here but I will tell you that most people tend to be surprised with what we are offering and supporting under one umbrella – but they only seem to look at us after their trip through the foreign helpdesks and incurred a massive reputation hit on their competence in the eyes of their clients.

So people are.. slowly.. dropping out because they lack the vision or capability to execute their strategy in the way they envisioned it. Whatever the cause may be, this huge black hole of IT consulting is turning into a goldmine for those of us in this segment that have profitable lines of business, multiple revenue streams (ie: not just contract labor or blocks of hours but actual services, tiers, multiple technologies and product lines reaching both the desktop, server, cloud and data center), multiple points of presence or connections to help companies with multiple locations streamline their IT support through the same provider that is more in line with where they are heading. The alternatives to legitimate business are also slipping away, with less access to reliable pirated software, less need to pirate software (if a free alternative is available you can offer it instead of walking away from the client), better argument to go with a stable service company instead of a large takeover / M&A speculative or venture capital firm backing (Web 2.0 competition anyone?), portfolio of clients, long term ties to the local business, evidence of market participation..

.. that last one is something I want you to consider as well. This blog, www.vladville.com, outmarkets and outsells anything else OWN does on its own as a corporation. My presence is felt every single day, and it has been followed by press, competitors, partners and customers for years. The same is true for any local business that actually leads, and as my friend Dave Sobel would say it: In order to lead you can’t just say it while doing the same thing as everyone else, you actually have to do something. The opportunity is growing as the riffraff is falling by the wayside, what will you do to seize it in 2008?

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Apologies & Retractions
Posted: 12:26 pm
December 29th, 2007
Vladville

I’ve got just one thing to say: Friends don’t let friends blog under the influence of Nyquil.

This was a rather miserable week for me. I went to visit the family and inlaws last Friday – Christmas and my parents tried to kill me, as they always do, with their AC. I’ve pretty much decided I will never go home again and stay with them. Allow me to explain how it works. First, my parents live in one of those luxury skyrises in downtown Fort Lauderdale where you can see the ocean and the Sawgrass Mills mall – so they have plenty of air flow that can keep the kitchen, dining room and living room relatively cool. By comparison, the rest of the place is an inferno. Meanwhile, the guest bedroom bed has 3 sheets, comforter wrapped in a designer decorative bag and a real life replica of earths layers. Trust me when I tell you that there is magma flowing under those sheets. So here is the trick: they wait for us to go to sleep and drop the temperature to 65. There is no way to avoid getting a cold.

So I got a cold on Saturday and spent Saturday – Wednesday in bed. I went to work once this week and since then just spent my time talking to partners and trying to figure out some outstanding support issues. Over the course of the week, and the Nyquils, I said some stuff that I ought to clear up:

ExchangeDefender Annoyarizermaster 6000

What a popular thing this turned out to be! To be honest, I figured it would just be an annoying little taskbar memory hog like they all are but I’m among the 99% of the ExchangeDefender customer base that just does not look at the SPAM reports. I can’t remember the last time I found a false positive in ExchangeDefender but something had to be done for those people that don’t want SPAM but need to have an easy access to their junk mail at all times. For the longest time our answer was “Just create a desktop shortcut that automatically logs them in” but that seemed to go nowhere because it’s easy to ignore.

Frankly, I am conflicted on the issue of user experience and interface design when it comes to these things. People pay not to be annoyed with SPAM but clicking on an icon is too much of an effort? So we design something (IMHO) annoying and people love it! So we’re trading a big pile of annoying for an hourly annoying and our customers are content. So the lesson here is: anything that blends into the backgrund of the computing experience is going to be ignored, while anything counterproductive to the users productivity that opens up the range of options and reminds them of possibilities.. is a good thing? I dunno, just seems counterintuitive.

Howard Cunningham

Howard is one of our best partners not because he brings us a ton of money but because he, like many others, has reaized that he is our partner, not just a client. This is the basic premise behind Own Web Now that makes so many of our partners very successful and very profitable: we listen to the input and we design our products and services based on the user experience. For example, every Own Web Now customer, partner and tech has direct access to our errata and our bug and feature request forms. They are under Development > Bugs / Features section of our support portal. If you were to take a moment to go through those, you will find many of the issues documented, many of the features we are currently working on first proposed and virtually everything we do is based on that.

The reason OWN has been so successful in SMB is because we have a global network, ton of resources, and our partners told us how to focus because they spotted opportunities for us! So when something goes wrong, when something can be done better, when someone has an idea… they bring it to me, or they note it in the portal and we work on it. The problems they have get addressed, get taken back to the client and our partners can show them how the product works for them. Gotta love it. On the flip side, I have the partner-client hybrid, the people that look at us as a vendor only and think we can read into their support tickets – so they never bring the issue to me, never file it as a bug, never give us a chance to address it – and they eventually just move on. Those are the ultimate “shoppers” that would rather spend a ton of their own time seaking out a solution than advising their partner and giving them time to bring that solution to them.

I can say that opening up our development process in 2007 has been the best thing we’ve ever done because it has encouraged a lot of my partners and even customers to give me a call, email, etc and actually work with us as a partner. Not only does it mean a whole heck of a lot more money for us all, but it makes this job very fulfilling at the same time.

The SPAM Problem

At the height of my Nyquil high this week I sat in my Nyquil chair refreshing my SPAM count page. My work address (vlad@ownwebnow.com) gets about 20-40 messages a second.

Mac Stuff

I didn’t quite spend enough time on my Mac this week but I have to admit that the more I use it, the more I hate it. The concept of only being able to launch a single process from its little dock, and using the same as the running task, is completely foreign to me. I ended up launching multiple Firefox processes from the terminal just so I can have different processes in different screens (because you can’t move individual windows among different spaces and its a pretty frustrating environment for people like me that have 10-30 FF windows open at all time). I’m guessing this is just something I don’t know how to do and that there may be an elegant way of managing it but at this point I find it frustrating enough not to use it. However, I’m pretty impressed with the gadget Dashboard. So it makes for a cute gadget, frustrating work OS.

iPod
Lost my iPod this week. :(

That’s all thats on my mind, how was your week?

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New Years Resolutions or Last Years Mistakes
Posted: 10:53 pm
December 27th, 2007
IT Business, Vladville

Pre-emptive DFWVF post, since it’s almost Friday and things are kindda light so I wanted to share something different with you:

Those who don’t learn from their mistakes are bound to repeat them.

This is the time of the year that people set out to make big new years resolutions, most of the time opting for drastic changes to their behavior patterns stretching years if not decades.

Try something different this year. Instead of looking forward and making changes, look back at the mistakes you did this year. Is there something you did this year that you regreted? Did you lose a deal over something trivial that could have gone either way? Did you offend or hurt someone with your actions or words? Is there any little thing you could have done all year long that would have made 2007 a spectacular year for you? Is there anything you ignored that could use more attention?

Note: This is going to be painful, not for the weak heart..

Admitting your mistakes to yourself can be gut wrenching. Not only does it relive some of the most negative things about who you are and what you did, but it also brings the feelings of regret, anger, (if you’re not over it even vengence) and hopefully humility. But now you are older, hopefully wiser and can look at the events with a little more clarity.

To make this easier, here are a few tips:

  1. Make it simple – everything that went well is a success, everything that went wrong is a mistake.
  2. Make it relevant – of the above mistakes, are there any that you would repeat?
  3. Make it slim – narrow down the mistakes to ten that you feel ought to be addressed in the first two months of 2008.

The first step is the giant list of everything that could have gone better. The second step is a filtering process, making sure that the mistakes are indeed mistakes and not just business decisions that affected you negatively in the short run. For example, while it may seem like a mistake to kill a product line that was profitable in the short term it may be a good decision if it opened up resources for a more profitable project with a longer payout term. Finally, be realistic – you’re only going to be able to focus on this stuff for a month or two before you start making new mistakes.

Example: Lost clients

Lost clients are both the most difficult event to experience and the easiest mistake to make, that is under your control that is. So start there. Take a look at the accounts you lost this year, opportunities that were missed.

  1. Find out why the client left you. Was it your fault, was it their fault, was it that they perceived it to be your fault?
  2. Find out if its really a mistake. Losing a low profitability client that is a drain on support resources can be a net positive. Holding on to a bad client that is badmouthing you to the potential prospects is worse than getting rid of their client and the problems they cause your reputation.
  3. If it was a mistake, find out what you did wrong.
  4. When you find out what you did wrong, find a way to fix it. (customer will almost always tell you what actually caused #2)
  5. Fix it, document it, make it a part of the process.

Step five is far longer than I made it seem and there is a secret twist to it. There is what you think happened, and then there is what your client thinks happened. You probably spent hours trying to make it right for the client, pulled an all-nighter on a support call with a vendor, comped half the support cost and still got dumped. Why? Because the client lost confidence in your ability to handle the problem after it wasn’t fixed immediately.

That calls for a company policy of notifying the customer within the hour of the extent of the problem, possible charges, different resolution steps, counseling/resolution steps to be mentioned in the future, etc.

Remember, policies are set after you realize you suck and you messed up. They also come as a definition outside of the logical loop, which means: We have policies because we didn’t reason through our rules correctly.

Take a day

This can take a whole day to put together and is best done somewhere comfortable where you can do nothing about fixing it. I urge you to do this especially if you’re a geek. The first problem you spot you’ll try to fix, right there and then, which is the wrong way to do it. The best way to do it is to get all your mistakes on the paper, meet with your team (or if you’re one man shop) or trusted peer and review them. Get someone elses input. Call some customers and tell them you’re considering doing something new to improve your service. Run it by a competitor and ask them what they are doing?

Finally: Act. Learn from your mistakes before you have a chance to repeat them. Define a short term strategy and a long term strategy – sometimes its easier to quickly patch the problem areas than to prolong the issues in order to get it perfect. Start something today, make a small dent in the problem you are facing and put a one hour block each week to continue chipping at the iceberg of problems. No big mistake gets fixed in a day. Take small steps. Process & strategy are long term plays, they take a lot of molding, tuning, tweaking, modifying and work – but they all start with just a little tiny step.

This weekend is a perfect time to take that first step.

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You’ve got… SPAM!
Posted: 3:10 pm
December 27th, 2007
ExchangeDefender

Oh, and we also released the SPAM Monitor tool today for ExchangeDefender. It sits on your taskbar and every hour pops up a bubble saying “You’ve got this much SPAM” allowing the user to click on the box and get right into the ExchangeDefender web portal.

Interesting background behind this software. It all started with a fight over semantics I had with Howard Cunningham (not the guy from Happy Days). I have this remarkable talent to choose just the right kind of a word to piss off someone to no end – for Howard that word was “courtesy” as in “Email reports are not a reliable way of reporting SPAM and are provided strictly as a courtesy”; Howard felt that if we didn’t use the word courtesy then staff would put more priority on fixing the issues as they came up with the email reports. The problem with the email reports is really a problem of bottlenecks, the mail log database is replicated from master servers to slave reporting servers that crunch through the mailog and report on the SPAM contents of ExchangeDefender quarantines. When something breaks there it always breaks on the database end and can at times take us a full day for the indexes to be rebuilt and service to restored to the customer. And since the reporting engine (driven by the database engine) has limitations beyond what we’re able to control, we decided to say that email reports are a “courtesy” and left it at that because nobody looks at their SPAM anyhow. Besides, you can drop a link on the desktop and let people access their SPAM in realtime/search/settings and all that so why should I drop six figures onto infrastructure benefiting nobody?

And then Howard explained the issue to me in a far better way that actually showed me where the money is pouring out of the pocket. It is not that people like seeing their SPAM reports or even that they look at them at all to begin with – it’s that when the customer reports a ticket the first step in troubleshooting is to ask them to look at their SPAM Report. Yes, the one in Junk Items. Click, right click, click, right click, Find..

spamcap

So now we have the Annoyarizermaster 6000, also known as SPAM Monitor. It sits in the task bar and wakes up every hour to tell you just how much SPAM is waiting for you. It also lets you click on it and automatically login to the portal without providing your username and password. Problem solved.

There you go, the magic of software industry in the making – if you can’t solve the customers actual problem then at least create something annoying to distract them. If you gotta be a monkey… be a gorilla.

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Relaxing.. Focusing.. Grooming Pointy Hair..
Posted: 2:44 pm
December 27th, 2007
Shockey Monkey

icon_the_boss Today, I am the perfect Pointy Haired Boss from Dilbert Comics. Not only because I run a software company or the genetically deformed head that extends outward symmetrically right where the pointy hair grows, but because I downed three bottles of Nyquil and god knows what else over the past three days. Those of you that had to talk to me this morning, sorry.

So here I sit with my 3 IQ points, reading Karl’s book and contemplating the release support strategy for Shockey Monkey. The software itself doesn’t matter, I could be launching Sheep Herder 3.0.8 and still have the same problems and the ethical dilemma that comes with the support of such a product.

Regardless of situation, there are only two ways to provide support for a software product: before shipping or after shipping.

Support for software before shipping comes in the form of writing documentation, designing the web site, etc. Pretty much the stuff that nobody ever reads. Support for software after shipping comes in the form of frustrated, angry users who have encountered an obstacle that must be fixed, yesterday. Because everyone is aware of nobody paying attention to #1, they end up costing out #2 as an expense that is variable with the product uptake – if lots of users use our product, then we’ll have lots of revenues and lots of room to provide technical support to people that didn’t read the manual. But eventually the firm just stops writing a decent manual to begin with because the smartest people that can actually use the product will be able to get it going right off the bat while the ones that don’t will likely give up on the product no matter how well its documented.

So I find myself in an interesting position. I have already written and sold a ton of Shockey Monkey, so my commercial launch timeline is flipped backwards. Now I’m sitting here trying to figure out the documentation aspect – video, audio or a book?

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Vlad Big Book of IT Firm Staffing
Posted: 10:10 am
December 26th, 2007
IT Business, IT Culture

From the mailbag:

“Just because you’re a sociopath doesn’t disqualify people who won’t carry a mobile phone every time they leave their house from working in the IT field.”

Dear gmail.com “IT professional”, since blog comment concept seems to be beyond you, let’s discuss this in a full blog post.

Bxp28048Not being passionate about what you do doesn’t disqualify you from holding a job. It just makes you a crappy employee. Visit your local Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Sonic, Subway, Quizno’s, Moes, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dominos, KFC, In-n-Out Burger, Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, Panera Bread or any minimum-wage-dwelling institution and look at people between 25 and 45.. You will find defeated people hardly dragging themselves the 4 feet between the fry machine and the counter. Their jobs are nothing but a deficiency of the Henry Ford production line optimization – it’s cheaper to employ them at $6/hour than to automate the process!

IT works in pretty much the same way, there are so many technology jobs out there that exist solely because some dude cheated on his Numerical Analysis class and the peer code review happened to fall on a Friday before a long weekend. But as software and hardware get better, those jobs are disappearing or at least being farmed out to some third world nation where a 13 year old is sitting chained to a phone reading the kb article to someone that couldn’t figure out how to use Google.

So if you’re a minimalist and have no passion for IT but happen to do it because it’s easy…

Motivation

Now, let’s say you’re a business owner, and you have one of the gmail.com people in your organization. How can you tell if you have a team of exceptional IT people that are passionate about what they do vs. McDonalds fry man. There is a very simple way to figure this out, let’s call this one the Vlad Fry Test.

 

Vlad’s Fry Test

Pick a member of your staff and ask them if they have anything going on tonight. Repeat until you find one that doesn’t. Make sure you aren’t abusing the labor laws, that this person isn’t being paid significantly below the market average for their role – this is an IT Professional test, not a test of how far you can push a college kid thats trying to earn tuition. Pick the member of the same sex, if you own an IT company odds are you have a personality of a door knob and your attempt to gauge employees after-hours availability will come off as a very poor pickup line. So if you’re a boy, pick a boy. If you’re a girl, pick a girl.

Assign them two tasks at exactly 4:30pm: one challenging that you guess could take an hour, and one that is dead easy drop in the bucket 2-minute task. “Hey, if you get a chance, could you take care of these two?” – notice there is no obligation, notice there is no penalty, notice there is no deadline.

If they do the easy one and hit digg.com for about 20 minutes waiting for the clock to hit 5, you’ve got an opportunistic minimalist. This person is with you simply because at this point it is just easier to work there than get a new, better paying job. The moment they get offered more money, or better opportunity, they will bolt. They likely have no loyalty to their profession or to your organization so if this is what you’re building your business on its time to re-evaluate your roster.

On the other hand, you may have someone totally oblivious to the clock, that will get totally immersed in the problem and will work till its solved. Even if it takes two hours more. This type of a person is the one you give a raise to, because they take pride in their job and profession over the ticking sound the clock above their head makes. They are not focused on the opportunistic “will leave you as soon as I can get a better job offer” qualities, but on the challenge that the job presents and that gives them fulfillment. They will stay with you forever.

Now, let’s say you’re not into profiling… (this works great around this time of the year):

“Today we are focusing on operational efficiencies. I want all of you to sit at your desk from 9-5 and look at what you do every day. Is there anything we could do better, anything that we are doing that takes up a ton of time that we could get rid of, anything that we should be doing, anything you do that could be fixed??…. anyhow, just focus on that and let’s see if we can make this place a lot less stressful than it usually is.”

Turn on the webcam, go to Panera and get an ice tea. Say hi to the dude you fired four paragraphs above. Open your laptop and watch the zoo. True geeks will be so happy that they got one day without running around like they got their heads cut off that they will focus on writing documentation. Writing a script to nuke all those patches that are piling up on the servers. Building a virtual machine. Reinstalling the OS on their laptop to make it run faster. Downloading an eval of the software they heard about. Ordering the spare parts that seem to be running low and we always don’t have them when the most important clients need them. Sitting around the spool crimping ethernet cables.

… Or maybe they spend the day on youtube.com, digg.com, monster.com or better yet freeones. If that’s the zoo you’ve built I recommend this video (safe for work).

Anyone else want to take a spin on vlad@vladville.com?

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