Category Archives: Vision

How Your Learning Mindset Can Cost Your Job (and how to avoid it)


It’s Labor Day (U.S. Holiday) A great day to write about work.  If you work in a computer-related profession you can never stop learning if you wish to remain employed.  And that trend is spreading across professions like wildfire as the benefits of technology influence almost every profession.  But not everyone is cut out for a lifetime of success through learning.  In a recent article published by Salman Khan, the creator of KhanAcademy.org, he wrote about Learning Mindsets:

“Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has been studying people’s mindsets towards learning for decades. She has found that most people adhere to one of two mindsets: fixed or growth. Fixed mindsets mistakenly believe that people are either smart or not, that intelligence is fixed by genes. People with growth mindsets correctly believe that capability and intelligence can be grown through effort, struggle and failure. Dweck found that those with a fixed mindset tended to focus their effort on tasks where they had a high likelihood of success and avoided tasks where they may have had to struggle, which limited their learning. People with a growth mindset, however, embraced challenges, and understood that tenacity and effort could change their learning outcomes. As you can imagine, this correlated with the latter group more actively pushing themselves and growing intellectually.”

In other words, as I often tell my daughter as I’m dropping her off at school “Have fun and make lots of mistakes!”  Why? Because we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. This philosophy is a companion to “Turn your weaknesses into strengths.”

But back to my original point: lifetime learning. If you aren’t investing time in your professional development, then you are likely to become obsolete soon. Adopt a growth mindset and feed your mind. There are some fantastic education websites out there to cater to everyone from Kindergarteners to Post-graduates and every kind of special interest in between.  Many of these are free, operating under the philosophy that knowledge should be free to everyone.  Here is a selection of what I have found.  If you know of others, please share them in the comments for all to benefit.

https://www.khanacademy.org   Broad range of classes from math & science to business & entrepreneurship FOR FREE. Many public schools are integrating this free site into their lesson plans. (spell it right. There is an imitation out there that you don’t want.)
https://www.coursera.org   A partnership of universities supplying a broad range of classes FOR FREE.  Check out the wikipedia article.
https://class.stanford.edu/   Stanford University offers access to a variety of classes FOR FREE online. Not for the feint-of-heart. Check out the class on cryptography if you want a challenge.
http://www.lynda.com/  Drop the cable TV subscription and spend $25 a month being entertained and educated with unlimited access to thousands of courses.  (Including classes on IBM Connections software taught by my friend Bruce Elgort)
http://www.w3schools.com/  Learn computer programming languages FOR FREE.  Sponsored by a cool Norwegian web development company.

I know there are many others out there.  Do you have any to share?

The tone is set for #IBMConnect 2014 and How Computing Power is the next Utility


If you arrive for IBM Connect on Sunday, you’re late. There has already been a flurry of activity from great 2-hour Jumpstart sessions that dive deeper into topics that other sessions during the week won’t have time to do; to the chance to visit the product showcase Sunday evening where it isn’t competing with your time networking and attending sessions. As a business partner, the Sunday BP-focused sessions have been a wealth of info on how to better inform customers.

The diversity of the conference is actually quite refreshing.  It’s not all just about Lotus Notes.  Sessions covering Connections, Sametime, SmartCloud, Mobile, Kenexa, real world examples of using it all, and even some amazing Smarter Planet stuff, like a display in the center of the product showcase demonstrating how it can gather and distribute traffic data between cars in an area.  With such a diversity in sessions, you can’t complain if you feel pigeon-holed with no opportunity to learn new things.

For all the talk about communicating and collaborating via computing (mobile, tablet, PC) in more natural ways, the underlying tone is cloud computing.  It permeates everything.  With so much focus on IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, at this point there is no longer any doubt in my mind that computing power has become the next utility.

What do I mean?  For comparison, go back in time to the end of the 1800’s and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  When a business built a factory, they also built a power plant to supply it with energy.  Then along came the notion of creating large power plants and a network of power lines that would supply electricity to every household.  Then, these businesses realized they could also tap into that grid for supplemental power and eventually get all of their power from it without ever building their own power source.  Electricity as a Utility was born.

Jump ahead 100 years.  Businesses are building large data centers to house and manage their computing power needs.  This is the beginning of the Information Revolution.  Then along comes this network called The Internet.  It connects households to computer resources and “information suppliers”.  Then businesses realized they could also tap into that grid and now there is a movement to get their computing power from Cloud Computing providers like IBM, Amazon, RackSpace, and Google.  If history repeats itself, as I fully predict, the day will come in the very near future when data centers at corporations will all but vanish.

The one small, but significant difference is that information, unlike electricity, is not just consumed.  It is also created and stored, almost like houses that have solar panels which are wired to “sell” their surplus back to the power company.  This distinction is the wild card that adds complexity to this otherwise close parallel.  What do you think?

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