About My Deconstructions

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at 08:19 AM with 0 comments

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When I started writing here at The Hot Iron, the name came from the expression, “strike while the iron is hot.” Though my entry into the world of blogging could be considered more functional than creative, taking burning topics – whether business, technology or personal – and boiling them down was far from anything new to me.

Much thought has gone into the direction of my blog lately, which is one aspect of the thought into my greater self. As I have considered the focus on what I write, I have also focused on how I write, namely in the approach I take with covering a topic. The product of this quest is what I am calling My Deconstructions.

What is a deconstruction? As I write here and elsewhere, I will strive to take my analysis and reporting on a topic and conclude it by breaking it down into essential points and conclusions. In some regards it will be similar to my book takeaways; rather than rating a book I share what I gained from the time spent reading it. In some cases it is a summary, and in others I look back on something I took from it and am surprised I came up with it! The deconstruction may be takeaways, action items, next steps, essential components, revelations or something else I haven't thought of a category for.

Like anything, I have already started writing these and will see how it evolves. As a reader, whether your first time or as a long-time one (and I know there's a few of you out there), I welcome your thoughts and feedback as this new approach appears in my future posts.

Deconstructing Deconstructions

Why shouldn't what I write about deconstructions have one itself? As time is always of the essence, taking the time to make or reiterate the main points from something is always useful to whoever is consuming it. It also helps the reader understand your main points, as you never want to assume someone has gleaned them from reading your work. In the end the reader – you – will say if these deconstructions are helpful, and please let me know in the comments to this post either way.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways So Far From The Book 1 Page At A Time

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 03:08 PM with 3 comments

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A consequence of being in a routine is that our entire body can be consumed by it. Where things like repetitive strain injuries or simply being sore from sitting on our butt for a long time are obvious, what isn’t as apparent is the impact on our brain.

If you don’t believe me, here’s an example – you are buzzing along in what you do all day and someone comes along and asks you a question, and all you can do is stare back dumbfounded. They may have well as used a Sharpie and wrote it on a pool noodle and hit you with it. Call it brain fatigue, but does it show a sign your brain needs some exercising?

When I saw the book 1 Page at a Time – A Daily Creative Companion by Adam J. Kurtz sitting on the shelf at Judy Maxwell Home in Chicago, I couldn’t help but pick it up. (If you don’t know about this store, think Spencer Gifts with an old-world flair and a sharper edge; it’s also owned by actress Joan Cusack, so that adds to its eccentricity) It only took me flipping through the first few pages and I was sold. It is an adult workbook, with a page a day dedicated to a brief creative exercise to do in the book.

Each page presents a unique activity, from making a list to drawing a picture to whatever. Some are quick and easy, some require actual thought. As it’s a page a day, and I started late last year, I am not done yet – thus the “so far” in the title – but I have enjoyed every exercise so far.

Though I have much to go, I feel my takeaways from 1 Page at a Time will endure and be reinforced as I go through it.

Think Different – Borrowing from the infamous Apple tag line, this book does just that. It asks you to do things you most likely don’t normally do on a regular basis as part of your job or even for fun.

Challenge Yourself – As some of the activities have required me to sit back and ponder before putting pen to page, it’s been extremely helpful to have a challenge that is outside of my normal work and life challenges, which tend to be more technical, business and child-focused.

Draw – When was the last time you drew a picture? For the fun of it? This is probably why adult coloring books are all the rage these days. Where many of you reading this may not consider yourself an artist, the drawing I am talking about is not about being an artist. Rather, it is about expressing something with visualization.

On occasion a day or 2 go by when I don’t do a page a day, but then I catch up on them. I tend to do them in page sequential order, but there is no reason you can’t flip around and choose one at random. I never read ahead, as I like to approach these with some spontaneity.

I highly recommend getting a copy of 1 Page at a Time, or get 2 – 1 for yourself and 1 for a friend. If you have it and are using it, I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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2 Ways to Export Your LinkedIn Connections And Information

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 10:23 PM with 2 comments

”LinkedInWith the news this week of Microsoft acquiring the business social media site LinkedIn for US$26.2B, the first thought I had was, “gee, when was the last time I exported my LinkedIn connections and information?”

As you read that, you may have thought, “gee, I can export my LinkedIn connections and information?” Yes you can, and if you didn't know that 1) you are not alone, as many people are unaware of this, and 2) you still can do it, and I'll show you how.

After all, they are your connections

As you have built your connections and updated your information in LinkedIn, you have compiled a wealth of data over time. For many of your connections, you may not have their business card or any other record of them outside of the site. With LinkedIn's messaging service, you may have been in communication with someone without ever sending them a regular email message. Many people also keep their LinkedIn profile more current than their resume.

With the reality of our reliance on Web services like LinkedIn, this is not surprising. Fortunately they also offer the ability to export key data – your connections and other information it has collected on you, such as your profile. If you have never done it, there's no time like the present, and here's the quick and painless steps to execute these not-so-obvious functions.

Exporting LinkedIn Connections

Whether you have a handful or 500+ connections (LinkedIn will only show you the true number you have and nobody else for some reason), you have the ability to export them. When you perform an export, key information you'll get is name, current employer and title and email address, as most everybody has this information on their own profile. Name and email is in my mind most important as you have a way to reach them.

Here's the steps to follow to export connections.

1. Log into LinkedIn using a Web browser and select Connections from the My Network menu.

Log into LinkedIn using a Web browser and select Connections from the My Network menu

2. Click the gear icon for Settings on the right side of the screen.

Click the gear icon for Settings on the right side of the screen

3. Click the link “Export LinkedIn Connections” on the right column on the screen.

Click the link Export LinkedIn Connections on the right column on the screen

4. You have the option to select the format you want your connections in. I have always selected “Microsoft Outlook (.CSV file)” as this gives me a delimited file I can easily open in Excel or Open Office. The other formats may better suit for importing into another program or Web service. Once you select your desired format, click the Export button.

Once you select your desired format, click the Export button

5. You will be prompted with a CAPTCHA for a “security verification” to ensure LinkedIn that you are a real human being requesting your contacts. Enter the CAPTCHA value and click the Continue button.

Enter the CAPTCHA value and click the Continue button

6. You will get a popup in the browser to save or open the file (the actual appearance of this will vary by browser). Make your choice, in this case I am going to save it.

Make your choice

7. Open this file in Excel or your favorite spreadsheet and you can browse and process your contacts.

Open this file in Excel or your favorite spreadsheet and you can browse and process your contacts

What you do with your contacts is of course up to you. Even if you have no immediate plan – or time – to do anything with them right now, you at least have a backup of the contacts your spent a long time curating.

Exporting LinkedIn Information

In addition to your contacts, you have profile information and activity performed on LinkedIn, such as messages, etc., which you can export as well, though you may have to wait at least 24 hours to get it. This is probably due more to load on their servers than an element of control (I hope!), but within a day you can get it all, and here's how to request and receive it.

1. Click on your picture icon at the top right of the screen and select “Privacy & Settings / Manage” from the menu.

Click on your picture icon at the top right of the screen and select Privacy & Settings / Manage from the menu

2. Scroll down the page and click the “Getting an archive of your data” link.

Scroll down the page and click the Getting an archive of your data link

3. Click the button labeled “Download” on the right side of the screen.

Click the button labeled Download on the right side of the screen

4. Wait. The message on the screen will say you will receive an email within 24 hours. In this case I got 1 email with a partial file within a short period of time, and then within a day I got a second email with a link to the entire archive of information.

Wait The message on the screen will say you will receive an email within 24 hours

So what's in this archive Zip file? In addition to any images you have posted (your profile picture, banner, etc.) there are several delimited files in CSV format with everything from profile information to what you have searched on. Take a look!

Again, what you do with this – and when – is up to you, but it is yours, and now you have it in your digital hands.

Deconstructing Data Exporting

Since LinkedIn launched in 2003, many, including myself, assumed the service will always be there, every time we want it, as it has been. In the recent past it has added and even removed features, like Answers, where many posted a lot of information. Where it's their platform, at least they realize it is your information and make it available to you. With the unknown of the future, plus a future under Microsoft's ownership, why not get a copy of your LinkedIn information today?


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Why Chicago Needs Dedicated Festival Grounds

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, April 04, 2016 at 06:40 PM with 2 comments

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The motto of the city of Chicago, Illinois is “urbs in hortu” which is Latin for “city in a garden.” The motto for Chicago is not “festum in urbs” or “festival in a city,” yet festivals large and small draw people to the city – to visit as well as to live – and contribute tremendously to the unique place it is.

It is the large festival concerts that of course draw the largest crowds, including myself. For me personally, there is nothing else like watching live music with tens of thousands of strangers, to say the least! As great and memorable as these festival concerts are – the likes of Lollapalooza, Pitchfork and Riot Fest – they also have an impact long after the last note is played and people leave, namely in the physical damage done to where the concerts are held, which is in public parks across Chicago.

The damage to parks is eventually fixed, and the cost is mostly covered by the concert promoter. However in 2014, the concert and amusement festival Riot Fest, which called the city’s northwest side park Humboldt Park its home for the past several years, was denied a permit to return there after neighbors complained about damage not completely repaired and other issues related to crowds. The 2015 concert was held on the other side of the city in Douglas Park.

I can understand the issue of park damage. Lollapalooza, the annual concert that consumes Chicago’s Grant Park along Lake Michigan, takes most of the park out of commission – including use for locals – for many weeks to repair the damage, which in their case and for Riot Fest is usually due to rain and millions of footsteps wrecking grassy areas which need to be replanted or resodded. It’s not only an inconvenience, but people are denied access to a park they pay for with their tax dollars.

While existing spaces and places make a great setting for concerts, namely in aerial photos of the crowds, a solution that could make everybody happy – from concertgoers to neighbors – would be a permanent festival location for such events.

Dedicated festival grounds

What you say, Mike, build out an open space for multi-stage concerts or other large festival activities and events? Yes, I am, and allow me to make the case for such a venue.

There’s plenty of space in Chicago. If you’ve ever traveled across this fair city, whether by train, car or even over it by airplane, there is all kinds of “vacant” land across the city. I use “vacant” in quotes as clearly someone owns it. But it is there, and not being used.

This is not an original idea. The concept of space for events is nothing new. The Midwest is dotted with fairgrounds, with indoor and outdoor facilities. Growing up in Massachusetts, the Eastern States Exposition grounds hosted not only the Big E, the annual 6-New England state fair, but events large and small throughout the year. Also, about 90 minutes north of Chicago is the Summerfest grounds along lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is designed and used for varying sized events.

Can be designed for its use. By building out a space for such events, it can be designed for multiple stages and the crowds that will stand and watch them and walk around, ideally not on grass but asphalt. Not to mention having some “permanent” fixtures like real bathrooms! Perhaps the event organizers, including Lollapalooza’s Perry Farrell, could have a say in its design too?

Can be designed to scale. Not all concerts and festivals draw the same size crowds, and the venue can be designed and built to accommodate different sized crowds.

Better accommodations for inclement weather. It’s rare than a little rain (or a lot) doesn’t fall on an outdoor festival event. This can be factored into the design of the venue with shelters and indoor facilities.

Better offering of VIP services. In addition to general admission tickets to such events, VIP tickets are more and more commonplace. Designing this into venues can provide a greater experience, at a greater cost, for VIPs, which can contribute more to the cost of the venue itself.

Better transportation planning. Or maybe simply “transportation planning” as such a venue would have planned transportation options – not to mention working in public transportation, paths and parking to accommodate it?

For all of these great reasons, it doesn’t mean that it will just happen. Especially in a city like Chicago, with burgeoning deficits, its politics and everything else making headlines, it could take years for something like this to ever happen. Plus, the city has a long history of hosting great events with little physical traces of them years later, such as 2 World’s Fairs in 1893 and 1933.

But nothing is ever easy, and because of it, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about it. “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” was a quote from Daniel Burnham, the famous Chicago architect and author of the Chicago Plan, a design for the city that was implemented in part, just like there would be some compromise on such a venue.

Could this happen in Chicago? Should it happen? Does the city have more pressing priorities? I welcome your thoughts and opinions on my idea in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Manage Your Day-To-Day

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 08:22 AM with 0 comments

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So, how is your day going?

Whenever asked that question, or just now as you read it, you may have begun it with a sigh or groan, or some insincere sense of enthusiasm. As much as we can plan days and focus on whatever we need to do, there are plenty of factors working against us and disrupting our momentum. These disruptors will never go away, and our only choice is to try to bring elements in to manage or counter them.

When I heard about the book Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind I said to myself, “self, how can I pass on reading this?” The book is a collection of writings and interviews with 20 “creative minds.” Where some I have heard of, like Seth Godin and Tony Schwartz, most of the rest I had not. Yet each of the contributors were very intriguing, yet practical. Manage Your Day-To-Day is a good read that gets you thinking about your own routines and practices and how to get the “most” from them, whatever “most” means to you.

As I read the book, my takeaways from it were not from the specifics of the book, rather from its big picture, and are as follows.

Misery loves company, but only if you want to be miserable together – As I read the dozen pieces from the 20 authors, nobody was saying that they have overcome chaos and their lives are exactly as they want them. Yet they did admit to challenges and offered both general and specific advice on how they are conquering what challenges them.

You deserve a break today – How many times have you been working on something and someone asks you about lunch, and you are thinking, “gee, I just had breakfast!” (Ok, you can put your hands down now.) I have written man times here at The Hot Iron about the creative process – or if you are so inclined, simply thinking – and the need to get away to change the scenery, recharge the brain and come back with a fresh focus.

In my current role, in the employee handbook for my firm it actually mentions taking breaks during the day just for that reason. As a matter of fact, I am writing this very blog post on one of those breaks. And on the way to the Starbucks where I am writing this, I was able to easily think through something for work that my brain kept tripping on. Where I thought I dropped the ball on something, I actually did not, and completely followed through. A nice thought to have in my head as I return to the office.

Where was Scrum? – As I read this book after reading Jeff Sutherland's book on Scrum, using Scrum would be a perfect way to help you manage the creativity. As a matter of fact, I recently setup my own scrum board for myself, with tasks such as writing this blog post and fixing the closet doors in my kid's bedroom.

I recommend Manage Your Day-To-Day for anyone who is looking for ideas and encouragement on improvement of their productivity or just to add some calm into their lives. This book is one I bought myself after reading about it somewhere – sorry, I forgot, as I have had the book for a while. As I always pass along books, for this one I placed it on a shelf in the kitchen of my office with other books people have left there as a mini-library. It will be interesting if anyone takes it, and even more so if they took it after reading this blog post!

Have you read Manage Your Day-To-Day? I welcome your thoughts on the book in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Google Contributor Offers Interesting Approach To Blog Revenue

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, February 07, 2016 at 11:46 PM with 2 comments

Would you pay money to read The Hot Iron? And what if by paying you saw less ads on the site?

I know I have asked this question before when I added CentUp to this very blog. Another new revenue model for writers has come about from Google called Contributor. As I have no illusions (delusions?) of grandeur in earning a living from this very site alone in itself, I was more intrigued to try it to how it really works.

How It Works

Google Contributor allows a Web user to contribute money monthly for ads to not be shown on Web sites it visits. The ads specifically are ones from Google’s own ad services, AdSense and DoubleClick. So if a banner ad comes from another source other than Google (and there are many) that ad will still appear. In the place of the ad it may be blank or a thank you message for supporting the particular Web site.

From the Web site owner’s perspective, if they are displaying on their site through Google, rather than getting the money for someone seeing and clicking on an ad, they are getting money from the user’s Contributor account, in a sense offsetting the cost of the ad usually paid by the advertiser.

A few items of note on Contributor. Currently it only works in the US. By someone contributing money, either US$2, US$5 or US$10 a month, they are still going to see ads. As shown in the chart below, by contributing those 3 previously mentioned dollar figures, they will see respectively 5-15%, 15-25% or 25-50% fewer ads. These fewer ads are across all Web sites with Google ads not just one in particular. So if you contribute $10 a month, thinking it will all go to me for reading The Hot Iron, it will not.

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Is It Worth It?

That’s a great question – is it worth it? I honestly don’t know, as I have just set it up on the blog, and I have also signed up as a Contributor at the whopping US$2 a month level.

Here is a screenshot of this blog with an ad appearing at the top:

”screenshot

Here is a screenshot of this blog without an ad appearing at the top:

”screenshot

I know – the difference is amazing!

It will be interesting to see how often I notice the ads not there. Last year was the 20th anniversary of the Web banner ad. As I heard somewhere – and I forgot the source – it was marking 20 years of people ignoring banner ads! So even if it technically works, it will be interesting to see if anyone notices.

Are you a Google Contributor? Did I convince you to join, or not join? I welcome your thoughts in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book 52 Motivational Quotations For Salespeople By Tom Cruz

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, January 04, 2016 at 10:27 PM with 0 comments

photo of back cover of 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople by Tom Cruz

We all sell. Whether the word “sales” is in our job title or not, we all “sell” in some regards. From persuading a solution at work to convincing someone to date us to everything in between and all around, there is some element of selling in our lives.

Where we can succeed in selling, many times we do not. And when we do not, we can react to it in any number of ways. Whether we like it or not, we have to try to sell again. For some, getting back into the proverbial saddle is easy, and for others or just other times, we may need help. One way to get that help is from words of encouragement.

My good friend Tom Cruz has had the word “sales” on his business cards over his entire career (and when I say good friend, I stood up in his wedding and once flew live lobsters out to his house in LA from Boston, but I digress). When I heard he wrote a book titled 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople, I knew I had to read it. Of course it is always to support a friend, bit I knew it would be a great collection and motivator as well.

Friend bias aside, I enjoyed this short book. Each quote is on a separate page, allowing you to tear them out and hang them up. As with any book, I had a few takeaways from it:

We need to find what works for us – Reading through a book of motivational quotes in itself won’t necessarily make it a better day. Or maybe it will. We have to find what works for us, though trial and error, and it may be a third-party sharing something with you.

Explore beyond words – We often hear names of people and quotes that have been attributed to them. But who are these people? Were they business or religious leaders? Were they ax murderers or musicians? Does the quote define them or just confuse you? As I went thru this book I ended up searching several names I did not know.

Write your story – Where these quotes are just that, individual sets of words from others, combined they are part of my friend Tom Cruz’s life journey, and thus tell part of his story. We all have a story to tell or at least record for curious others – now or in the future – whether our child or a stranger. No matter who, our story may be of interest to someone someday.

Note Tom did not ask me to write this, nor did he give me a copy of it. I will make sure to give him a signed copy of my future book someday! As I pass along book I read to others, I am sending this one to a common friend of both of ours, who also works in sales, and should publish his own book too.

Were you intrigued or inspired to get 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople? Have you thought of publishing your own quotes? I welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Most People Spend Most Of Their Time Around Their Job

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 07, 2015 at 10:12 PM with 0 comments

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It came to me a while back, something I guess I always knew subconsciously but only then came to the forefront of my mind – most people spend most of their time around their job. I then decided to put fingers to technology to see if I was right, and here’s my analysis and further thoughts on it.

Jobs and all their trappings

When thinking about how we spend our time, our jobs tend to be at the top of our list. This is of course assuming we don’t sleep most of our lives, but I digress. The job itself is the major time hoarder, assuming the typical 8-hour day. But if your day is anything but typical, it in itself is probably more than 8 hours, give or take a few minutes to a few hours.

As the TV infomercials say, “But wait, there’s more!” There’s the commute to work, both to and from it. You then need to prepare to go to work – wake up, shower (hopefully), eat and of course thinking about work. After work, there is probably some decompression, which involves more thought. If you work for the bare-minimum tech-savvy company, you can probably check your work email on your mobile device, and that adds up quickly, whether it is during the day or off-hours, including weekend. Then there's time devoted to things like doctor's appointments if things aren't so great on the job, but I don't have to go down that path here, do I?

Speaking of those off-hours and weekends, you are also thinking about work in addition to being connected to it. You may also be shopping for work, whether it is clothes, food or other supplies to get you through the day. And let’s face it, you may even take time after (or before) hours and on the weekends to actually do work, taking those time-consuming thoughts into even more time consuming actions.

So what’s your point Mike?

Now that I have set a somewhat somber point, you may be asking why? Why even bring this up?

Where I have thought about this very topic for a while, I wanted to write it out to make it real, tangible, and in my own face, and as a result in yours as well. By doing so, it is a realization that this will play into my upcoming goals for the new year. Where this time allotment towards my job may not be a direct or the primary input to my goals and decisions, but acknowledging it, I am realizing it will have some impact on it. From what I buy to where I live to what I do outside of work to whatever I may not have even thought of, the amount of time that my job currently occupies my time will come into consideration.

This time consumption perhaps consumes you as well – hopefully less, but perhaps even more. And let’s face it, it consumes most everyone. I say most everyone as I realize there are those who may not have to or want to work as much, and have the ability to disconnect from it. It may be because they are wealthy, live a simpler life, have a business or job that does not require as much of their time, work part-time but make enough to make them happy, or something else I couldn’t possibly fathom, but would love to.

Even if your job takes up most of your time, that may be ok, providing you love it, or maybe just a strong like. Or it’s convenient to where you live so your commute time is shorter. Or whatever it is or are, when you look at it written out, I hope you are at a minimum content with it.

The lay of the land

Now that I have painted the picture, do I (or you) want to hang it on the wall, or change it? I am not trying to draw any conclusions here – just simply putting it out as I said earlier, but reserving the right to refer to this in future writings.

I welcome your thoughts on this in the comments to this post… and please leave out any specifics about your job in those comments!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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All Progress Requires Change But Not All Change Is Progress

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, December 03, 2015 at 10:08 PM with 2 comments

”the

Recently a friend posed this question to me, “hey Mr. Blogger, answer this: all progress requires change, but not all change is progress.” Yes, asked me it in just like that, and they did not tell me why they were asking me or if the statement came from somewhere other than their own brain.

Needless to say, their question got me thinking. I really didn’t care about the source and why as much as the statement itself… so much that it compelled me to write this.

When I first heard this, 2 things came to mind. The first was a quote from the song “Freewill” by the band Rush, which goes, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Don’t ask me how this association was specifically made; I have always loved that line as it is one that frequently comes to mind when faced with a difficult situation or choice, or after I was and I may not have chosen or waited too long and options may have gone away.

The second thing that came to mind was the pure definitions of each word – progress and choice. Maybe it has something to do with growing up a few miles from the home of the original American dictionary. Where that is part of it, I always like to set my foundation from which to build a thought and idea from. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of progress is movement forward or towards a place; the process of improving or developing something over a period of time. The word change is the act, process, or result of changing; an alteration, transformation, substitution. There is more depth to each definition and each word is linked to its full definition.

Gut reaction followed by reflection

Going into writing this, I agreed with the statement. I equate progress to forward motion and accomplishment, and change to something being a catalyst for it, though forward motion and accomplishment is not necessarily progress in itself. You can change your surroundings, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to progress in your life. Each one in themselves has tangible qualities, but only progress has the positive intangibles of pride and satisfaction. This speaks to why the organizers of the 1933-1934 Chicago’s World Fair likely nicknamed it “A Century of Progress” and not “A Century of Change.”

As I thought about this more, I found these 2 words – change and progress – need each other. In order to progress and move forward, you must act, evaluate and most likely change something in order to move forward. Whether it’s where you live, a job, a customer or whatever, many times doing what you did before to get you where you are won’t take you any further. That change doesn’t have to be monumental – it may just be a tweak – but something different is often needed.

Change in itself is always happening – whether the weather, people, etc. – and reacting to that change with appropriate actions – big or small – will lead to progress, not the mere change itself.

Of course this is how I interpret this statement today. In the future, with whatever happens in my life – and changes and progresses – will most likely have an impact on this analysis. At least for now, I hope this addresses my friend’s query. It has definitely adjusted my thinking as now I will be looking for progress in my life. It this statement impacted your thinking – or not – please share your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Web Content Horror Stories For Halloween

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 09:20 PM with 0 comments

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Come gather children and adults, huddle by the flickering fire, sip on hot apple cider, all while I, in the shadowy light of the fire, tell stories this Halloween season – true stories, horror stories of Web site content!

The Scream

Many, many years ago I worked for a tech consulting firm that was undergoing rebranding. This exciting process was to include a new look to the Web site. As we were in the business of building Web sites, we were going to build out the ability to maintain the site as well. Note this was years before the term content management system, or CMS, was ever in vogue.

The project was assigned to myself and another senior guy I will call Rocky. There was a little bit of competitiveness between us, partly due to our own cockiness and confidence in our abilities, not to mention he was a Packers fan and I was a Patriots fan, but I digress. In some regards I think that's why both of us were put on the project. We would be building the technology, integrating the new branding and graphic design from the marketing firm and designing sample content, as the president of the company would be writing all of the content, as this is what he told us.

Despite our attitudes, Rocky and I worked very well together. We built out the front-end, back-end, database and sample “lorem ipsum” content. And we did it all on time.

Here's where the story gets scary... the president asked to meet with us at a predefined time in the project plan to review our progress. To his surprise – which quickly and surprising to us we saw on his face – we showed him a, for the most part, complete Web site. All it would need is a few small adjustments... and a lot of content.

Though we were in a brightly-lit office, the room got suddenly dark and eerie. The typically congenial voice of the president got heavy and creepy. Then, timed with a hypothetical clap of thunder, the screaming began.

As time and attempts to forget about this have clouded specifics, in general our frightening leader said, “how dare you finish on time when I didn't even start to write the content!” What? We were numb to the proverbial “second one” he was ripping into us, and it seemed like hours afterwards we were still stunned. Then, after he left, we laughed, hysterically, for what also seemed like hours.

The Original Blank Page

It was a work day like any other, multitasking away in and on my Web consulting business. A friendly chime sounded as my often co-collaborator and an amazing graphic designer n her own right – we'll cal her Sierra – called as we were partnering on a Web site proposal. It was mostly written, reviewing back and forth by email, and we were meeting to make a final walkthrough together before submitting it to the prospective client.

As we went through the proposal line-by-line, word-by-word, it was almost as if a light springy piano tune was playing in the background by none other than Liberace himself. As we got through the end of the document, where we listed references and example Web sites, we both paused as we were reviewing the list. Even though we were on the phone, over 1,500 miles apart, it was as if we were in the same room, pointing to the same spot in the document.

Just as Sierra began to say what I was thinking, it was as if Liberace was vaporized to dust and the Phantom of the Opera took over at the bench and with the flick of some switch, the piano became a pipe organ, and the Phantom played the most sinister music known. Then Sierra spoke, "THIS Web site... when was the last time you looked at it?” The silence over the phone was broken by more organ music, which was timed with each of us typing the Web site's URL into our Web browsers.

As we navigated beyond the home page the music got louder and more daunting, as we looked at empty page after empty page, with nothing on them at all – not one word of content! The shrieking in our voices was beyond our control. This Web site had been live for almost a year with several completely blank pages, to which we could not believe. My gut reaction took over, as I logged into the CMS for the site and placed some basic “coming soon” messages. There was no way we could use this great looking Web site with blank sub-pages as an example of the great work we did. Where the placeholder text was not the ideal situation, it was really all we could do, and in the end turned out to be sufficient as we won the proposal.

Only a Few of Many Stories

Over the years I have encountered Web content horror stories, almost from the time I started creating Web sites. I share these stories not to criticize people or to make fun of them, rather to serve as a cautionary tale of the importance of content development for Web sites. It is not something to do casually – or not at all – and is vital to the success of your site.

Boo!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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