It’s been a minute…

Uncategorized, Vladville
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Hard to believe that it’s been 5 years since I retired and nearly 3 years since I logged out of most socials & blogs. While I’ve really been enjoying the peace and quiet, I find myself in a similar predicament as when I started this blog: Everyone I hang out wants to know about the same stuff and I keep on having the same conversation over and over: AI.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an AI bro nor do I have the set of promps/process to sell you to make extra cash. Nor am I about to post 3,000 Midjourney images. That aspect of the AI in our media (along with endless doom & gloom) is on the same level as popups that tell you MILFs in your area are looking for you – you know better than to bite that clickbait.

The technology around AI is getting more and more impressive by the day. I’ve been playing with it for the past few months and it truly feels like back when Google came out and suddenly there was a new group of superhumans that were good at writing Google search queries that got the right data.

Well, it’s 2023. That data query now has a batch process, memory, agents, state, queueing and it get’s infinitely more complex and cool from there.

The potential AI has to make us more productive, more resourceful and more knowledgeable is enormous.

And since that’s what everyone everywhere wants to talk about, I figured I’d get back to Vladville and keep notes here as I learn. Most people I hang out with aren’t CS nerds but they still have business challenges that AI could address in fun new ways so I look forward to playing with different use cases and posting my notes/ideas on here.

I hope you find them useful and they inspire you to go tinker with this AI stuff on your own.

Love, -Vlad.

Social Media Against Society

Social Media
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I originally wrote this blog post back in March. I didn’t post it because I thought this subject of Americans vs. Americans was touchy as we were entering Covid quarantines. Then I didn’t post it during the riots. Then I didn’t post it during the election season. Then I gave up on social media entirely. This year has seemingly found a way to drive us all further and further from each other, and I hope this in some way serves as either enlightenment or a goodbye because I am not willing to lose more friends and family due to a difference in opinion. I love you all. Except vegans.

In my opinion…

1997. I’m sitting at the next table over from my boss who is fighting with a Juniper rep over some BGP configuration issue. I am not sure what they said to him but the words that came out of his mouth were:

“Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.”

At that moment I was building our new Usenet server (Linux software raid with experimental kernel drivers), to host one of the first and largest distributed discussion/bulletin board systems. And, alt.binaries.* aside, the largest pile of opinions nobody asked for.

If you ask me, that is what made America great: everyone had an opinion, they were smart enough to keep the idiotic ones to themselves, and anyone that shouted it from the corner with a megaphone was a nutjob that you ran away from faster than a dude handing out hooker business cards on the Las Vegas strip.

We all have personal thoughts and opinions – and they only matter to us.

The age of dimlightenment…

Your opinion is worthless.

Your opinion of my opinion, equally worthless. Even more so, because you’re free to misinterpret what you think I said. Social media makes that easy.

Yes, it’s fun to debate, to argue, to joke, to tease, to post memes – but it does not carry any value. Yes, debating and defending your opinion might excite you, empower you, educate you – but it’s very much a personal and internal matter that is of no consequence to the real world. Yes, I love Florida Gators and I think they are the best despite the record, but there is a profound difference between screaming at the TV and getting tackled full speed by a 300lb linebacker.     

I’m sure you can all relate and agree.

But things get a little tricky when you throw in social media and some Psychology 101 on a quest for eternal profits.

Suddenly, your opinion is no longer some irrelevant BS you’re slinging with your buddies over wings & beer.

Your opinion, nearly instantaneously, is delivered in black and white to your friends, family, and people that hate your guts. They are free and encouraged to “react” to your opinion, or share it out of context with their friends and associates.

Your opinion now not only matters, it has a score. Thumbs up. Thumbs down. Love. Care. Sarcastic care. Sadness. Retweet. Heart. Shared. Screenshotted. Reposted. Facebook does a great job of delivering constant notifications and reactions to your opinion, compelling you to react back in an environment that is designed to embrace your short attention span and need for frequent dopamine.    

Your opinion, that you likely formed and decreed from your porcelain throne while regretting your lunch at Chipotle, is now how your friends and family see you.

Your afternoon started with saying yes to queso on your burrito, but 15 toilet paper sheets and flushes later you’re sharing a joke on Facebook and some dude you haven’t seen in a decade is calling you a racist. 

Facebook enabled all of us to be that crazy guy shouting at people passing by. Facebook not only normalized and boosted sharing unpopular opinions, it’s gamification and algorithms outright weaponized it for profit. They handed us the megaphone and surrounded us with familiar people/pictures/names so we’d feel safe being ourselves.

By all means – share. And then to reward you and incentivize you – here is a way to react. Because it’s a way to have an emotional outburst without the effort of actually thinking of a response. It drives engagement, which can either positively or negatively validate the poster.

On social media you’re never a raving lunatic – you’re an influencer!

But that’s not how Facebook makes it’s money. Just like a drug dealer, Facebook makes money by getting you addicted to the neverending stream of opinions that will glue you to your phone and keep you scrolling. The longer you scroll the more likely you are to make their job even easier, by emotionally reacting to something that further perfect the trap. Cause the longer you scroll, the more paid me$$ages they can get in front of you. The hell with western civilization, they are just innocently broadcasting everyone on a mission as an advocate of freedom of speech. Except, they operate more like Al-Qaeda. Here is a process in a nutshell:

  1. Fill out a survey when you join Facebook to show your interests so that they can build a model for the type of content you’re into.
  2. Based on what you like, and how you “react” to content, Facebook suggests additional content that is along the same lines.
  3. They track which links you click on, what you scroll back on, who you mute/ignore or become a top fan.

Facebook actively incentivizes you to share your opinion. Whether it’s through dopamine/validation hits when others react or engage with the content you share, or by showing you content that they know you can’t resist commenting on, it is always your eyeballs that and mindless clicks that are relevant. Never forget: They want you scrolling and clicking, not reading and thinking.

Tell Facebook what you like. Tell Facebook what you hate. Tell Facebook which charities you support. Put it on your profile picture. Show it how you react (directly, or indirectly by leaving it as you scroll past something unsavory) – and rest assured that they’ll give you endless content to keep you glued to your stream.

That last algorithm, the one that looks for more addictive and blood pressure raising content, is the most dangerous one: the one that suggests pages and groups to follow. Where Facebook’s “community standards” police is usually looking the other way because those very same places produce shareable and engaging content that draws people in.

The biggest problem

The biggest problem with all of social media, according to me, is:

Social media tricks you into thinking that your opinion matters.

You are stupid (or emotional) enough to sit there and defend it. You take opinions of strangers as if they are attacks on your very core, as if they carry value and meaning and as if they aren’t musings of someone bored on their toilet.

And all these groups, all these pages, virtually everything you can feed into Facebook, is there to monetize your inability or unwillingness to close the window.

It even goes one step further, by providing you convenient ways to justify your opinions along with easy access for anyone that has a different opinion to disagree with you. Now go on, feed it more.

Real World

In the real world, your opinions don’t matter and you rarely have to defend them. Your thoughts, your interests, your values – they all drive your actions – and that is what defines you.

On Facebook (and social media in general), it’s the exact opposite: there are no actions, just a lot of hot air. Incentivized and monetized by a company pretending to be about free speech while developing and profiting from the technology designed to drive us apart and pin us against each other. For some of you observing and participating in that is a form of therapy, and I understand and appreciate that. It’s not worth the tradeoff for me anymore.

We cannot let our cities and our civilization burn down just so some weirdo dweeb that couldn’t get laid can stack a few more billion.

We cannot let the opinions and the outrage over opinions stall our progress as civilized people.

We are allowing things that even we’re not that passionate about break up friendships, marriages, families – over our limited understanding of the world around us, our lack of empathy, our inability or unwillingness to see someone else’s point of view and do something about it.

For me, it’s doing something that I in good conscience am not willing to feed because I firmly believe that we’re stronger together than apart, when we work on solutions to common problems, not when we just debate our disagreements.

To that end, I hope you keep on following Vladville if you’re interested in what I do and how I can be of some value to you. As for Facebook, I’ll just let it know when I post stuff here, but it’s license to bother, manipulate or profit off my attention and my relationships is hereby revoked.

Kindness over Everything

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While social media has achieved an amazing feat of connecting us all, it has done at the expense of our kindness. You see, social media enables us to express ourselves freely with a delusion that our opinion actually matters. The kinds of antics that are common on Facebook and Twitter these days have historically been the game of town drunks and crazies that yelled at people that passed by. The guy that stood on the street corner with a megaphone and a sign yelling at strangers – he got Twitter and followers now. Not only is that insanity tolerated (instead of briskly distanced from), it’s actually rewarded.

You get a higher rank on social media by offering your opinion – about food, about politics, about sex, and increasingly about things you have no clue about. The kinds of statements that would get you punched in the face on the street are rewarded with likes, followers, emojis. Suddenly we’re not just able to share freely, with no consequences, we even have platforms and mediums to support our right to have an opinion and scream it at complete strangers. And lord have mercy on your poor soul if you disagree. We don’t see each other as human beings anymore – we see walking labels, stereotypes, threats – and while that may always have been true to a certain extent we’ve never had an entire army behind us to reinforce our shitty attitude towards one another.

It has made us lose faith in each other as friendly people that are just trying to enjoy life.

It’s become a game – of winner take all, where winning is not just everything, or the only thing – far too many people are actively celebrating the defeat of someone we don’t like. Suddenly it’s not just about the pursuit of happiness, it’s also about the pursuit of misery of those who dare disagree.

Watching and observing humanity pass by on Facebook has been a fascination of mine. This coronavirus panic is shining the light on the way we cope – through disbelief, rage, disappointment, satire, jokes, fear, and anger.

We all want to help.

When pressed, we want to help our fellow man. Even the quiet shuntins and loners, who under ordinary circumstances had little more than a coffee / cat / Netflix obsession, are on Facebook several times a day trying to share tips and hints for making it through a self-quarantine.  

Ok, it’s about to get cringeworthy and for that I apologize in advance.

I am typing this blog post at 35,000 feet in the air, aboard a practically empty Delta 2323 flight to Los Angeles.

On a ticket I booked about 10 hours ago.

Fully aware that when I return to Orlando I will not see my friends, my team, or my family for two weeks.

Why? Well, I had to explain this insanity to my son Timmy last night, as he was laying on the floor crying freaking out about . And now I’m going to share it with you.

Son, not everyone out there is as fortunate as we are. I build software that helps people manage small businesses. And those folks are about to go through the kind of pain and suffering that you can’t even imagine. These aren’t just folks who work for a company and will just easily hop to the next job at the earliest opportunity. These are folks that take out loans they have to repay, who believe they can do something better than anyone else. And they make things happen, at their own cost, all the time. Sometimes it’s financial, sometimes it’s time to train someone, sometimes it’s to give someone an opportunity, sometimes it’s to provide something special or unique to their community. In a sense son, these are people that look to serve.

I am going to Los Angeles tomorrow because I am going to give away something we’ve built for ExchangeDefender, something that has made all the difference in building our business and afforded everything you see around you. It’s going to take some creativity, some repurposing, and some lifting to make it happen. Yes, it’s not an ideal time to go. Yes, I probably could force/pay someone else to go.

But people are hurting right now son. They need to be able to go home and take care of their families and stay safe – but they need to continue working too. Because nobody is coming to their door with a handout. I’m in a good shape, I will be careful, but…

But son, I have the ways and means to help people right now. And yes, I could just go hide in the master suite and spend the next two weeks in the hot tub trading stocks and watching cartoons. But I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror if I did that. I would not be able to go into all the small businesses that you enjoy because if they are out for weeks or months they won’t get back on their feet. And son, they can’t afford to work the same level that Fortune 500 companies can. Jerry (his guitar teacher) is not making money if you aren’t next to him. Our economy is dependent on the movement of money and spending (Yes, I preach economics at home nonstop) and when Jerry doesn’t get your money he can’t go spend it on food. And then the food store doesn’t need as many employees or as many items. And then the people that make the food, that deliver the food, that test the food, etc don’t have money to spend. Everything that we enjoy, comes to a halt. (and now we’re both crying)

I have the means to help son and I’m going to. I’ll be fine. Or I won’t, I could crash my Corvette on the way to the airport and die. You don’t live your life expecting the worst case scenario, life is too precious and you have to live it.

And you have a purpose.


My team at ExchangeDefender has built Wrkoo (formerly Shockey Monkey) as our business management platform. We do literally everything in it from managing our staff, punching the clock, keeping track of spending, collecting $ from clients, provisioning services, storing passwords, working on projects, solving problems.

We’ve spend millions of dollars building it over the decade, and yes, we offer it as a successful commercial product at #ABP

You could have paid for it as a monthly subscription until yesterday.

But right now, we’re in this together. Right now, it’s our moral responsibility to help as many companies like ours survive a sudden downturn in activity. We can help people go home and still keep track of all their employees, vendors, and clients. And Wrkoo is yours just for asking. It will stay free for months, until we get out of this uncertain time and things get back to normal. No bait and switch, you will not be prompted for a credit card.

As a matter of fact, my team has worked relentlessly through the weekend to rewrite the onboarding process and make it something that will deliver immediate results in about 3 minutes after landing on the splash page.

We’ll be making a big deal about it over at in a few hours when the team has dumbed the thing down to the level than anyone can do it without looking at documentation. We’ll also be running ads on Facebook – cause I get it – if you’ve suddenly got to adjust your operations and minimize travel, if you can’t get all your folks to the office, or if you’re just being smart and prudent and NOT even attempting to do so because you live in a major metropolitan area. I’ve got your back. We’ve got to help each other out. This is no time to shame people for not having anything, and it’s definitely not the time to take advantage of people and gauge the small guys that are just trying to survive.

We got you. Till at least June, possibly longer. There is no tip jar, no contract, no commitment, you don’t need to name the kids you accidentally make during the quarantine Vladimir (for the love of god don’t do that under any other circumstances either), you don’t need a computer science degree to set it up. If you can figure out Facebook, you can figure out this…. Start here:

And I might be biased but it’s just friggin beautiful.

It powers my dream. I hope it can do the same for you. Or, at the very least, get you through this mess while keeping you sane and productive.

Be safe. Be kind. #BeBest

Do Something

Cloud, ExchangeDefender
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About a year ago, I retired. More on that later.

                          What if an outage meant compromise/breach?

Over the past year or so, I’ve done quite a bit in terms of email security research, bouncing ideas at random hours and even more random levels of sobriety with my team @ExchangeDefender. And while there is a thin line between genius and insane, there is a very clear red line when it comes to compliance, standards, international/national/state/industry/blah regulations that are governing email at an increasingly detrimental value to the email user. At one point earlier this year a large email provider went lights out for an entire day and this post caught my eye:

“We’re rerouting email. We cannot afford for the client to be down, but we also can’t just point it direct and risk that someone clicks on something that gets them hacked.”


Since then I’ve talked to some of my industry friends about a concept of a non-profit email research service focused on sharing security information. Much like my pile of Corvette projects, it remained in random stages of discussion and whiteboarding.

Then Dorian came up. Ever since the earliest days of ExchangeDefender (and it’s ETRN predacesor at DialISDN) we’ve offered free email failover MX service to folks in a way of a disaster, and it’s always been popular. But thanks to the red tape, freebie anonymous access to the ExchangeDefender would blow compliance on many levels. That bugged me but, really, not much I can do.

WineFast forward to Friday afternoon, while enjoying a lovely glass of pinot noir waiting for my 4-hour-delayed flight… Dorian got upgraded to a category 4 hurricane. My flight got delayed again due to storms in Dallas, and my glass of wine got upgraded to a bottle. I called my boy Travis (CTO, ExchangeDefender) and after hearing “No” about 94 times, he agreed to vlan off some decomissioned hardware for the project. Three days of writing, testing, and tweaking the first inbound node went up at It’s already up and running and queueing/delivering mail for servers in the way of this storm.

Once I come up with a less stupid name, I will announce it here. Once the nonprofit is organized, licensed, etc we’ll make a big deal of it but here is the skinny:

$x is an email security/resiliancy project. Nearly all the security problems organizations have start with an email and relying on the user to stop them is just simply naive. Commercial email operations are more concerned about selling advertising / productivity software and devices than they are about a working communications product, further discouraged by an excessive regulatory process that is slowing down innovation. I am building $x as a free email security layer, designed to provide a layer of common sense security at the edge of the network.

DorianMore on all that later. If you are in the way of the storm, send me an email at and point your secondary MX (of a significantly higher weight) to

We’ll make it through this storm together. There will be more storms. There will be stronger storms. And when we’re not fighting mother nature, we’ll be fighting a random assortment of Russians, Chinese military, and an occasional African prince that really, really, really needs to get his fathers money out of the country. Worst case scenario, an unscrupulous marketing scammer will be forced to get a real job. And no matter how funny, all of these people pose a direct threat to you. So.. you can sit at the airport and get drunk or you can do something.

Confessions of a Facebook troll

Gaypile, Social Media
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Forgive me father, it has been a while since my last blog.

Now that I’m at my ripe, old age of 40, retired, living the dream (more on that later), I really wanted to see if I can help so many of you that are struggling with a social media fighting addiction and you don’t even know it. Namely, have you ever gotten into a random argument on Facebook and an hour or two later you can’t even figure out how you got there?

Technology that gets you addicted and keeps you in social media fights is written by the generation who never got it’s ass kicked for having a stupid opinion. Or got it’s ass kicked period. That coddled no-spank generation, who knew that any in-person confrontation would get recorded and tagged online for all eternity, learned how to keep it’s blood pressure down while keeping all the nastiness and pettiness online.

Now, what happens when that technology gets weaponized, gamified, and introduced to older people that do know which kinds of arguments will get your ass kicked? Interestingly enough, depression and even more irrational and emotional arguments.

There are too many studies, too much research to quote but I’ll help you double check this quickly: Compare Wall Street Journal articles to Fox News opinion pieces. Now compare them to Breitbart comments. All conservative sources, all discussing pretty much the same event (yes, it works for liberal content, too). Notice how much more combative, derisive, and offensive content gets the further away you get from actual fact reporting and into opinions?

But what you probably didn’t notice is how much more time you’ve spent reading that juicy Breitbart comment thread than the boring WSJ report. There is a reason for that.

HINT: We are naturally drawn more to the content that triggers an emotional response than a dry factual one that requires logic and reasoning.

I’ve personally made millions of dollars on that simple bit of Psychology 101. If you excite people, if you engage people, if you get an emotional response they are far more likely to remember you and engage you than if you appeal to them facts and logic alone. And it doesn’t matter if you’re rude and abrasive while making your argument either – they won’t remember that, they’ll just remember the thrill.

Welcome to the Thunderdome

Far too many of you simply don’t know when you’re being gamed.

HINT: It starts the moment you get on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or any other threaded conversation / direct message system.

Sometimes the opinion is so wrong, so stupid, so wildly uninformed and out of touch with reality – that you just have to say something. Gotcha, sucker!

The second you make a comment your argument becomes weaponized – now you’re on the receiving end of a barrage of likes, reactions, counterarguments, mentions, insults, and worse – your friends are likely to see your comments as well even if it’s not a post on your wall. Now strangers, most of whom you’d probably never go with beyond even the basic situational pleasantries, are discussing something with you that is deeply associated with your own values. Your brain interprets their opinion as a personal insult of your core values and the way you see the world around you. And because they are associated with a friend (or friend of a friend) there is an additional weight to them. And because social media will keep on reminding you and using it to drag in other comments and opinions – that attack gets amplified. Your social media profile also gets skewed to keep on showing you the kind of content you like to engage on – so whatever it is you’re arguing about online with strangers, that is weighing on you, is now getting stacked because they want you to keep on feeding it content. It’s really that simple.

So what now?

For far too many people, your own insecurity keeps you from recognizing that you’re being manipulated. Sorry. That same insecurity, that you try to overcome by trying to convince strangers of something you believe, has an unfortunate consequence of making you miserable online. I’ve lost count of people in real life that are trying to unplug just to run back to their accounts like a crackhead.

Now, some of you didn’t have central European grandparents chasing you around the table with a wooden spoon to teach you to act right. But the answer is surprisingly the same. Stupid hurts. Until you can associate stupidity with pain, you will continue being an idiot that wastes time in online fight and you’ll just be more miserable for it.

Get you a rubber band:

Every time you even look at a Facebook post that isn’t making you money or has anything to do with your subject matter expertise, instead of commenting pull that band and let it give you the physical and emotional feedback that you crave so badly.

“But Vlad, they are wrong, I can’t let them be stup…” – If you’re thinking this, your rubber band isn’t thick enough and you didn’t pull it far enough. Add more reps until your skin changes color.

Hopefully this bit of common sense (millennial translation: “life hack”) helps. Just remember: Nobody gives a fuck about your opinion and it’s probably worthless. Someone is making money out of baiting you into it: There are two kinds of people in this world: Those that keep on doing stupid shit that causes ruber band pain and those that use the ruber band to keep their benjamins rolled up. The choice is yours.

Encouraging Millennial Workforce

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Last time I discussed how to build a great team with millennials and how some of the old “best practices” just don’t work in the new world. Now, I’d like to turn your attention to a subject of appreciation and encouragement, something that was essentially nonexistent when I started working (beyond token employee awards and the corporate ladder system, neither of which will do you much good with millennials in SMB):

The millennial language of appreciation is deep in encouragement, reinforcement and ultimately improving your team even if doesn’t directly benefit you financially.

Now that I’ve lost like 94% of my audience, yes, I acknowledge that the subject of employee empowerment that doesn’t directly feed the bottom line is somewhat taboo in business. And as alien as it may seem, you’re not going to get incredible employees from another planet, so you may as well just drop to your knees and thank whichever deity you believe in for giving you people you can develop into what you need them to be.

And for the sake of statistics, these are not your ordinary folks – you’re lucky if even 10% of your workforce has any bit of a genius and hustler mentality. The other 90% of your staff, that you have to hack, manage, provide alarm clocks and constant reminders and encouragement to do the basic parts of their job… I’ll cover that in another post. But for now, let’s focus on your geniuses.

Unicorn Millennials

If you’ve somehow managed to find these unicorns that speak your language while still having an open mind to be plugged into all the new technologies and trends, your old school appreciation language is not going to work. I mean that sincerely, I could fill up two books with all the ways I’ve failed to motivate and build up people over the years, and they would probably be word-for-word identical with what you can read in any business book: focus on corporate ladders, title, status, raises, promotions, written notes, perks.

Meanwhile your average millennial employee is more concerned about not having to fuss about their attire, being able to listen to their music as loud as they want to at work and they don’t care if you have them working out of an Amazon box – they care that they can do work somewhere outside of the “office” entirely.

Good luck reconciling all that. I will in another post. I know, I know, I’m teasing you but I want you to understand that I have been through this whole thing too and everything you’ve ever had work with grownups is going to backfire (sometimes horribly) with the new generation.

The reason I bring this up is simple: the new generation is magnitudes better than we are or ever were. The really good ones just don’t have the patience to play the game by the current rules which is why they’ll end up getting nowhere… but that too is for another day.


I want you to pay attention to the following, read it as many times as necessary for it to sink in:

When you have incredible people you can’t help them by cheering them on in what they are already doing, their ego doesn’t value your encouragement. It doesn’t need it. They they already know how to get moving.

They are doing it because they love to. It’s their passion.

You can help them, you can encourage them, you can build them up – but there is only one thing that they will value because nobody has done it for them before: push them past the point where they would ordinarily give up.

Your opinion, your cheerleading, your encouragement, your input, your work ethic, your contribution, your ____, should only show up when they have reached their limit. And working with them to get them past what they thought was the limit of their capabilities.

Pushing them past that point, through whichever means you have at your disposal, is how you’ll get great employees from the next generation. Treasure them, value them, build them up and build a mission together with them. Win-win.

It really is that simple and that time consuming. Yes, it’s gonna take time, money, research, effort – everything you thought you were going to worry less about by hiring people in the first place! And if you’re stupid, this is a great time to stop reading. If you aren’t, you have probably figured out what the payback is: These people aren’t going to be going on to another job at a different company: they will run the next company. The more you can teach them, the more value you’ll get out of them, the more aggressively you commit yourself to getting them to the next level the faster they will get your business and all your other employees above the typical corporate malaise and mediocrity.

Building A Millennial Team

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No matter what you’re doing in business, you are going to need great people to run it. And I’ve been fortunate to have some great people over the years but inevitably they were almost always surrounded by shit. At the time, though, I didn’t know that: Do great people make their coworkers look like shit or are some people just exceptional? If you don’t know the answer to that question, read along, chances are you’ve made the same mistakes I have and I urge you to fire everyone, today.

Mistake 1: Hire slow, fire fast

You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, entire books have been written about it – and it doesn’t work with millennials. We’re dealing with a self-absorbed generation that has been cultivating their “personal brand” since adolescence and every aspect of their life is on-demand. If you’re thinking the person you’re interviewing is the person that’s going to show up for work, you’re sadly mistaken. What’s worse, they are impressive at faking it, so if you run a business with any bit of wiggle room they’ll find a way to do nothing of any value while pretending to be hard workers.

Mistake 2: Hire for potential, train for greatness

Another bit of common sense passed down to you by people that didn’t plan for their retirement and are still working like it’s the age of personal responsibility: for every self starter you find there will be hundreds of people only interested in taking a shortcut.

Hire the best. If you can’t hire the best, outsource to someone that will have a contract dictating their level of responsibility because, son, parenting is hard.

Mistake 3: Promote from within

Worst, fucking, mistake.. ever. If you have an opening in your company and an existing employee isn’t already doing that job, you don’t have an internal candidate.

Let me say that using smaller words because it’s important and it fooled me too: If you suddenly have a workload that requires a skill set, one of your employees has already started doing that job. If they have, and they are good at it, just pay them more. The end.

If you need to qualify, train, motivate, or do anything other than adjust their salary.. repeat after me: you don’t have anyone to promote. At best you have an incompetent person about to make a mess that will take you forever to clean up.


Hire professionals. I know, they cost more, you can’t afford it, the time is not right for the high salary person, budget – make any f’n excuse you want I’m just a blog post I’ll hear you out – but mark my words, you will have to clean up the work of an amateur and that’s going to be a lot more expensive.

Care about the people that you hire. Or fire them. If you run a business that doesn’t give a crap about it’s personnel, if you don’t want them to do the best job they possibly can, if you hate people… they’ll hate your business and your clients too. Flown lately? I know this is gonna make some of you cry but the sooner you accept the Word of Vlad, the better it will be for you: You now run a millennial daycare.

Build up the people you hire. I always looked at career development through the clown mirror I saw myself through: just throw more money at the problem. Truth is, for almost everyone more money is not the solution. Nobody is sitting there at their desk trying to solve a problem and thinking “I’d be much happier doing this if I only got an extra $3.50/hr for doing it” – no. You need to talk to your m’f’n people and find out what they are into. Figure out what sort of weird shit they like. What’s their favorite soda. What their hobbies are. Then mold your training, your flex time, your approach against that. Got an employee banging a girl in Miami every weekend and got a big project? Trade him a day on a weekend he’s not down there for a 3 day weekend and see how quickly the morale improves. If you’re paying people to do a job, pay for something that is going to make them better at their job.

Mind your own f’n business. I know a lot of you are religious, so you do your thing and let the god judge them. I used to have a hangup about drugs but I overcame my fear of needles but the thing that matters to me the most is whether we do our job and take care of the client. I’m as interested in your drug cocktail as I am in your pornhub playlists, if you can do the job and do it well, what you do to yourself is between you and Jesus.

IMG_0057Watch what you say. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. And when you do say it, ask them what they heard. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being tortured by me on the phone or a webinar or in person, you know that I will repeat the same f’n thing 3 times. I’m not senile or a pothead, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. Yet, I still make mistakes. I have an amazing branding person. She is in my office a dozen times a day doing A/B tests on me and checking if we’re taking all the marketing and service stuff in the right direction. I used to say “I don’t care” to people for the longest time but they heard “Vlad doesn’t give a shit”. Then I started saying “You do you” which apparently means “Go fuck yourself.” – what I meant to say is “I pay you a lot of money because I trust your judgement and expertise, you’re better at this job than I am and while I appreciate you keeping me on top of everything, the decisions on these issues are in your domain because you spend your entire day thinking about it and I’m just here to tell you I really don’t like the color orange.”

Now, if you’re not cool with that person, you’re never going to make that point. If you are, you put it on a tshirt.

Team. As much as you have to love all of your work children, none of them (or you for that matter) come ahead of the team. If you run a company that has a bunch of disposable mouth breathers, you need to fire them right now. The rest you have to drill the following into constantly, repeatedly, and thoroughly: This company has a mission and everyone here has a vital and critical role in it’s success. If anyone is not here 100%, leave. I am not going to fire you, but I will make this place a living hell for you and all these other people that depend on you doing an incredible job will beat you around the clock. If you’re lucky, the wusses will leave without causing any more damage (hint: they probably already caused a ton of it, you’ll find the surprises later). The people that are left behind will take an even greater ownership in the business, do more for your clients, take responsibility for issues and make sure that whenever you get a lazy/dumb slob they get pushed out swiftly. Here is the thing though: you have to build the team. Not just hold a weekly meeting or a lunch, you need to know the mfers, you need to know how to talk to them, how to motivate them and how to break up fights among them. You have to give them the tools to work with each other as well as they work with you.

Here is the thing: all of this stuff is simple. It just takes a ton of time and hard work that you have to do yourself. Yeah, it’s no coincidence that people can’t build great companies but a dozen “coaches” pop up every day. So, you have a choice. Or if you’re smart, you know you really have one option.

Here we go with 2018


Here we go with 2018!

Hard to believe it’s been about 10 months since I wrote my last actual blog post. And what a frustrating, insane, motivating, and incredible ten months it’s been.

Feels like a lifetime ago.

Long story short, over the past year I’ve changed just about everything about my tech business and the team that makes it alive.

Over the next year, I look forward to taking you through the journey of where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m heading.

Where I’m heading is simple: Before I turn 40 later next year, I will retire from ExchangeDefender/ Own Web Now Corp. Of course, retirement for someone that works 80+ hours a week looks different but one of the blessings of everything I’ve been through this year is that it’s reignited my passion for everything I do across my multiple companies.

Look forward to sharing it with you.

Happy New Year!


PHP 7.1 with Apache on CentOS 7.x

Linux, Open Source, System Admin
Comments Off on PHP 7.1 with Apache on CentOS 7.x

Back in the long long ago you could roll out LAMP with a single yum command. In 2017, distro game has hardly kept up with the evolution in PHP and still comes with PHP 5.4 – to go to 7 in RHEL/CetOS 7 you have to do some surgery.

First remove all the php packages. Then let this rip.

yum install epel-release yum-utils

rpm -Uvh

yum-config-manager –enable remi-php71

yum install -y php71-php-pecl-memcached php71-php-mysql php71-php-xml php71-php-cli php

That’s all, just restart httpd and hack your /etc/php.ini (needs explicit definition for the time zone)

Universal Basic Income & Robots

Boss, IT Business
1 Comment

You may have noticed Bill Gates, Elon Musk and tons of other technology executives talking about the reality in which we will need far less humans for basic tasks like retail, manufacturing, driving and so on – tons of jobs will be going away. Their solution: tax companies that leverage robots and kiosks in order to provide a basic income for folks that won’t be able to find employment. Two thoughts on this:

Between Bob & Robot, I’m gonna hire a robot. 100% of the time.

I don’t even know Bobby!

But here is what a robot will not do: Take personal time. Not show up for work. Show up for work stoned. Show up for work angry, hungry, sleepy, horny, bloated, sad. Robot won’t quit without notice. Robot won’t get into a fist fight with another robot. Robot won’t get too drunk at lunch, throw up on my couch and proceed to throw up and clog a community sink. Robot won’t come to work at 11pm and bang another robot, under the security camera. Robot won’t masturbate at work at 3am to Tumblr pissing videos.

Yes, it happened. All of it. F’n humans.

So no disrespect Bobby, but I’ll take a robot over you every damn day. At worst, the robot will just be there on time not doing any work – already better than 50% of the folks walking around.

Those that are seeking a massive tax as a deterrent to robots removing them from the job market.. sorry, but it’s not going to work and that brings me to the second point.

Why is this something tech CEO community is concerned with?

Well, who do you think will be building, programming and managing those robots? Not Bobby the truck driver or Bobby the manufacturing simpleton. Sorry, it’s going to be Bahrat (Bobby) Patel from whereever the IT labor is cheap and $1000 a month goes a long way. It’s the tech companies that are going to be bringing the next massive forced obsolescence of labor – much like they have for the past 4 decades.

But why are they talking about taxes all of a sudden? Since when are a bunch of billionaires from California concerned about the rust belt?

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that they are seizing the political climate in which half the country is almost religiously devout to the notion of lower taxes and not paying those lazy people to sit on their ass and collect welfare! Danggumit! Get a job!

Tech companies can quickly focus on developing robots and disrupting industries with minimal government interference and obstruction until it’s too late for people to understand their jobs just got jacked.

They are talking about a basic income, literally free money handed to you for the sole reason that you were born in the right place at the right time, because they know the current political climate will not allow it to be discussed, debated or have their agenda impacted.

It’s not the cost that has kept robots at bay – it’s the social norms. When supermarkets and warehouse stores came out with self checkout lines people hated them. To this day I age discriminate when I’m buying groceries at Target – If you look like you’re under 20 I am waiting in the longer line that has an older person working the register. You know why? Someone that’s over 15 knows what vegetables are and doesn’t have to play the fucking Pictionary game in the checkout line for 10 minutes trying to figure out the difference between garlic and white onion.

You’ll soon see self driving cars. And centrally managed 18 wheeler trucks. And farming. And, and, and until whichever industry you or your clients depend on to make a profit gets rid of enough humans for you to realize that you might never have a job again.

That’s depressing. But by talking about taxes enough people will get upset about a side argument without considering the big picture.