THE CODE ISSUE 4

July 2nd, 2015

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Here is another one of my favorite quotes from the special double issue of Bloomberg Businessweek on computer coding (Paul Ford, “The Code Issue”, 6/15/15–6/28/15, p. 27):

One study by a researcher at the University of Hawaii found that 88 percent of spreadsheets contain errors.

That one almost reminds me of the proverbial:

29% of all statistics are wrong.

Go figure.





THE CODE ISSUE 3

July 1st, 2015

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Here is another one of my favorite quotes from the special double issue of Bloomberg Businessweek on computer coding (Paul Ford, “The Code Issue”, 6/15/15–6/28/15, p. 26):

Years ago, when Microsoft was king, Steve Ballmer, sweating through his blue button-down, jumped up and down in front of a stadium full of people and chanted,

‘Developers!

Developers!

Developers!

Developers!’

He yelled until he was hoarse: ‘I love this company!’ Of course he did. If you can sell the software, if you can light up the screen, you’re selling infinitely reproducible nothings. The margins on nothing are great—until other people start selling even cheaper nothings or giving them away. Which is what happened, as free software-based systems such as Linux began to nibble, then devour, the server market, and free-to-use Web-based applications such as Google Apps began to serve as viable replacements for desktop software.

Expectations around software have changed over time.





THE CODE ISSUE 2

June 30th, 2015

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Here is another one of my favorite quotes from the special double issue of Bloomberg Businessweek on computer coding. This one may inspire you to think about the art behind computers (Paul Ford, “The Code Issue”, 6/15/15–6/28/15, p. 23):

A computer is a clock with benefits. They all work the same, doing second-grade math, one step at a time.

. . . The turn-of-the-last-century British artist William Morris once said you can’t have art without resistance in the materials. The computer and its multifarious peripherals are the materials. The code is the art.





THE CODE ISSUE 1

June 29th, 2015

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In my reading, I occasionally come across something that stands out, something that is extra special. That is how I felt about the special double issue of Bloomberg Businessweek on computer coding. The entire issue is devoted to helping the reader understand how computers work and what writing code involves. It covers technical points, mathematics, the culture and quirks of coders, and how coding fits into the larger business world. It is a very big topic to cover, yet Bloomberg Businessweek does so in a very informative, thorough, and occasionally humorous fashion. I thoroughly enjoyed the lengthy read.

Although I feel the issue is an indispensable read in today’s world, I sadly realize that many folks simply will not take the time. Therefore, beginning today, and for my next many blog posts, I will simply be sharing what I felt were the most interesting, timely, and exquisite quotes from the issue, and with minimal commentary from me. Most of them speak for themselves very well.

Whether you are a hardcore geek, a coder, a PC novice, someone who just never thinks about coding, or a technophobe, I think that you will find something of value in at least some of the segments I share. With that said, here is the splendid opening segment that enticingly leaves the reader hungering for more (“Introduction” by Josh Tyrangiel, 6/15/15–6/28/15, p. 13):

Software has been around since the 1940s. Which means that people have been faking their way through meetings about software, and the code that builds it, for generations. Now that software lives in our pockets, runs our cars and homes, and dominates our waking lives, ignorance is no longer acceptable. The world belongs to people who code. Those who don’t understand will be left behind.

. . . [This issue] may take a few hours to read, but that’s a small price to pay for adding decades to your career.





ENCOURAGING LEADERSHIP

June 26th, 2015

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Great leaders always choose encouragement over discouragement. That does not mean that the team and the leader never make mistakes. Of course they do. Nevertheless, great leaders have a default setting of choosing to encourage and thereby focusing on the positive instead of choosing to discourage and thereby focusing on the negative. Part of the reason this is such an important leadership quality is the intense effect it has on the team.

Jennifer Fleiss is the cofounder of Rent the Runaway. She shares an unfortunate leadership situation that did not display encouragement and the effect it had on the team (Arianne Cohen, “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/13/15–4/19/15, p. 76):

I still remember a senior executive at a large bank barking ‘Think!’ when she didn’t like my work. As a mother, she could have been a role model for young women in the finance industry. Instead, she made me feel unsure of my career.

Leaders who choose encouragement over discouragement are the people we should seek and the people we should become.





NURTURING LEADERSHIP

June 25th, 2015

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Great leaders know that all true leadership flows out of relationship. Therefore, they work continuously to build those relationships. Additionally, they have an automatic respect for the unique strengths that each team member brings to the table. They are not threatened by that; they welcome it because those strengths often compensate for the leader’s weaknesses. That is why they chose those team members. Great leaders are not afraid to bring people who have very different skill sets into the team. That team member’s skill set becomes the leader’s strength too because the entire team benefits.

Hoyt Harper II is the senior vice president for global brand management at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Group. He affirms his commitment to putting these concepts into action with his team (Arianne Cohen, “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/13/15–4/19/15, p. 76):

I host regular outings at my home for my team and their families, and I hire team members who have very different skill sets from me.

Leaders who know how to nurture their followers and call forth their strengths are the people we should seek and the people we should become.





EMOTIONALLY POSITIVE LEADERSHIP

June 24th, 2015

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We are all human and we all have emotions. Great leaders have mastered the art of using their emotions positively to build up their followers. Using emotions positively produces terrific results for the leader and for the team. This is true even when the team does not deliver exactly what the leader had in mind.

Chris Kormis is the associate dean at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. She shares an unfortunate leadership situation that did not display the positive use of emotions (Arianne Cohen, “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/13/15–4/19/15, p. 76):

I worked for an architectural firm and was asked to color drawings for clients. My pencil strokes went in all directions. The boss was furious and tore them all up.

Leaders who have mastered the art of using their emotions positively to build up their followers are the people we should seek and the people we should become.





LEADERS WHO COURAGEOUSLY COMMUNICATE

June 23rd, 2015

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Great leaders commit to courageous communication when that is necessary to correct a bad situation. Sometimes, specific personalities or team dynamics threaten to undermine progress. A great leader is willing to identify who needs to hear what, and then makes it happen.

Catherine Courage is the senior vice president for customer experience at Citrix Systems. She reflects upon a leadership situation that demanded some courageous communication and the effect that it had upon Courage and her team (Arianne Cohen, “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/13/15–4/19/15, p. 76):

My team of 20 was reorganized under a leader who knew little about our business and didn’t engage us. Support was never coming, so I learned to tell him what the team needed. It’s a lesson I’ve carried through my career.

Leaders who courageously communicate are the people we should seek and the people we should become.





LEADERS WHO BEGIN WELL

June 22nd, 2015

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Great leaders understand the importance of good beginnings. This is true whether you happen to be the leader or the follower. How we begin those relationships can have lasting effects in many ways. Some leaders begin very well, and then there are those who do not begin as well.

Douglas Merrill is the CEO at ZestFinance. He reflects upon a beginning that was not nearly as good as it could have been and the effect that it had upon him (Arianne Cohen, “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/13/15–4/19/15, p. 76):

The head of a hedge fund recruited me. When we were negotiating salary, he asked how much of my previous salary I needed, and I answered ‘Roughly half.’ I expected him to say, ‘That’s silly. You shouldn’t take a 50 percent cut.’ He didn’t—he gave me half. I resented that until I left.

Leaders who begin well are the people we should seek and the people we should become.





RULES-SHIFTING LEADERS

June 19th, 2015

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Sometimes the greatest gift the leader can give is to prompt people to think differently, even when that might involve a reframing of your rules. As people, we all have blind spots. The wise leader knows this and looks for them. Being a catalyst to remind people to be open to a new perspective is powerful and effective.

Charlie Young is the president and CEO at ERA Real Estate. He reflects upon a boss who embodied these characteristics and the effect that it had upon Young and his team (Arianne Cohen, “Good Boss, Bad Boss” Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/13/15–4/19/15, p. 76):

My boss at a consulting company shaped my management philosophies, including ‘Play offense, not defense,’ so we’re forward-thinking and aggressive. Whenever I’m stuck, I remember how he challenged me to shift the rules.

Rules-shifting leaders are the people we should seek and the people we should become.