My Takeaways From The Book Equal Is Unfair

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 04:11 PM with 6 comments

photo of Equal is Unfair back cover

This past spring I attended a debate held by Chicago Ideas Week between Dr. Yaron Brook, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute and Dr. James Galbraith, an economist and professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, on the topic “Is Equal Fair?” Where it was a debate about a heady topic, there was a good connection with the audience on the subject of equality and inequality in our society.

As someone who owned his own business and believes my success and failures are my own doing, despite all outside factors and influences, I personally take a more conservative look at this topic. That being said, I came into this debate with an open mind and was interested in hearing both sides to see how either could influence my thinking. In my humble opinion, Brook won this debate not only on substance but in style and how he presented complex economic models in simple terms.

After the debate I bought a copy of the book Brook co-authored with Don Watkins, an Ayn Rand Institute fellow, titled Equal is Unfair as I was interested in reading more on the points Brook made during the debate. As I expected, it is a very comprehensive book, with economic charts and data. However, it has an interesting and engaging narrative that explains well to the non-numbers person like myself without taking anything away from the topic.

As I read Equal Is Unfair, there were a few overarching takeaways I took from it, including:

Nothing Is Ever Equal – Other than a well-formed math equation, it is hard to say that all things are truly equal in the world, or can be. Many people have advantages in one area over others where they may have disadvantages in other areas with the same people. Especially in an ever-changing world, it’s hard to predict everything and keep things in equal, especially when there are unpredictable and unanticipated forces that may come along and have a negative impact, at first, and from which someone may recover or not.

By artificially trying to make something equal that naturally isn’t, it is simply going against a tide that is hard to maintain. Rather, do you look for another way, a Plan B, to gain advantage as compensation? For myself, I don’t look at being equal as the end goal.

What Do You Really Want? – The idea of equality is discussed in the book, as it was in the debate, to bring people in line with others who have better access to resources or information. To this end, I think to myself… is the goal for everybody to be equal, or to have the opportunity to be all the want to be?

Consider the Ripple Effect – Efforts to make all things equal may have unforeseen consequences, such as costs incurred or diverted, that have to be paid for somehow from somewhere. Anything new will have an impact on time and resources which are not infinite.

Whatever side you are on this issue or whatever your political and societal positions are on the topic of equality, I recommend reading Equal Is Unfair for a unique point of view on this topic.


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


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7 iPhone Apps I Am Thankful For

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at 04:25 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of icons for 7 iPhone apps I am thankful for

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Americans and everyone else celebrating the US holiday! As we gather with friends and family, I am certain we will all have our mobile devices close at hand, as the perfect diversion from political debates and to catch the latest sports scores.

Where I will try to keep mine at bay for much of the long weekend, there are some apps on my iPhone that I consistently count on, dare I say I am thankful for. I will now share them with you, in the order they are on my iPhone, across several screens.

ParkChicago – Several years ago the bill to outsource parking meters in Chicago, rammed through the City Council with barely a glance by former mayor Richard M. Daley, has been considered one of the greatest municipal outsourcing blunders of all time. And only a few years into the 99-year deal, its cost to drivers and the city is growing with no end in sight in our lifetimes. Fortunately, the app that is provided by the outsourcing firm to pay for parking helps paying the fees easier, if that makes any sense. It’s fast, efficient, and you can extend parking right from the app, whether in a bar or a Broadway musical. The app, available to visitors and residents, takes a little edge off the sharp pain of parking in the Windy City.

DRYV – My on-going quest since living in Chicago to find a dry cleaner with convenient hours and great customer service ended when I installed this app. DRYV is like the GrubHub for laundry and dry cleaning, partnering with cleaners in Chicago and now Detroit and Los Angeles to pickup and deliver dry cleaning as well as wash and fold laundry and alterations. Their customer service is top notch and their prices are also on par with other cleaners. As one of their first customers, I have also been able to watch this service evolve and improve, and win out over other competitors. And if you use code THEHOTIRON you can get $10 off your first order (and I get $10 too as part of their referral program).

BugMe – I stumbled upon this app when I found a login for an old Web service that evolved into this app. It allows you to create digital Post-It notes you can write on and set alarms for them. I use this all the time, whether it’s an idea or to remind myself to do something. Being able to scribble with my finger on the note is also handy when the idea comes up when riding on the train and it’s easier than typing… providing I can read my writing at a later time.

Headspace – I am trying meditation. I don’t do it every day but I wish I did. And when I do, I use the Headspace app. It was recommended to me by many people who meditate, and where it has a monthly fee, so far it has been worth it. You can also have it send you motivational quotes on meditation throughout the day, which sometimes make you think and other times make you smile. You can try the app at no charge, and if you are considering meditation I highly recommend it.

W Hotels – I don’t stay in W Hotels as often as I would like to, but this app can give the ambience of the hotels to any space you are in, even a Motel 6 (though you may have to close your eyes too!). The app, which allows you to view their properties and reserve hotel rooms, features music from various genres you would here in a W – from chill to poolside to dance. If I want an escape from the reality I am in, or need some music to write to, this app provides the soundtrack.

Xfinity My Account – Calling Comcast, now Xfinity, customer service has always sucked. Then one employee took to Twitter and revolutionized their support, albeit for a short period of time. The next iteration of their support is this app. When I think my Internet service may be out, I can simple open up the app to confirm it, along with an estimated fix time it that’s the case. It also allows me to pay my monthly service bill in fewer steps than it takes with their Web site. Though I don’t use this app all the time, it excels for me when I need it.

Keeper – Whether on my Mac, in a Web browser or on my iPhone I use Keeper on an almost daily basis, several times a day. It secures and manages my myriad of logins and passwords for apps and Web services, as well as key information and images I need on occasion. I have used this secure app and service for years and they continuously improve its features and user interface. Keeper comes with an annual fee but you can use its basic services for free. Of all my apps, it’s ROI is probably the highest. And by listing it last is no indication that it’s my least favorite app – I am not disclosing what screen I have it on!

Deconstructing Apps I Am Thankful For

The more reliant we are on mobile technology, the more we seek out and find apps that are vital to us on an almost daily basis. Of all of these, I did not say email or messaging, as those are core or “plumbing” apps. Rather the apps I have presented here are all third-party, non-Apple apps that improve the productivity of using their hardware. And for that, I am thankful.


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


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Thriving In A Culture of ASAP

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 04:57 PM with 0 comments

screenshot of ASAP definition page heading

When you see “ASAP” in an email or text, do you cringe? Sadly most of us do – I do – as the acronym, which is made up of pleasant words, has ended up becoming a harsh term.

Looking up the definition of ASAP in the dictionary you see it stands for “as soon as possible” which is, as I said, pleasant. But thinking back to the cringe-causing event (or more likely events) that come to mind when you read the opening of this post, do you think the person typing ASAP really meant “as soon as possible?”

Hell no I can hear you say! Rather than asking you to do something as soon as it is possible for you to do so, aren’t they really asking, “drop all you are doing and respond to this right this fucking second!” Let’s be honest, this is what should be listed in the dictionary as the true definition of what ASAP means, and not just the words behind the acronym.

The Culture of ASAP

Most organizations have a culture of ASAP. In this hyper-connected world where any information can be had in seconds, we have a heightened expectation that seems to come with a narrowing window as time goes on.

Note I say “any” information and not the “right” information or even accurate information, or any other qualifying adjectives that requires strategic thinking. This has no place in the culture of ASAP, as everything is being responded to fast and furiously. Even if the answers or responses have already been prepared and presentation in reports or dashboards, the person slinging ASAP around has no time for these tools and want the answers from you and right now, though ironically they may be the owner of said reports and dashboards.

Succeeding Under ASAP

It goes without saying that to get beyond a culture of ASAP takes leadership. Part of that leadership is in communications – sharing expectations of greater foals and what may be asked of a team. As well, the team is given time to ideate and strategize the big picture down to their area of expertise and can thus be proactive in using information sources or channels.

In the absence of that leadership, there is still the ability to make gains and efficiencies yourself to make your life easier. Simply documenting ASAP requests is a great start, by recording overall what is being asked, looking for trends, and comparing it to what you are doing now. Incremental improvements to processes or reporting can be made as a result of this analysis. As requests come in, make sure you are clear as to what is being asked and – if appropriate – why it is being needed. The “why” can influence “what” is created. These latter steps are things I do on a routine basis to make both the collection of data and reporting of information much more efficient.

Deconstructing ASAP

Priorities in business change frequently and requests can come in that need to take top priority. With some analysis and a small series of successful changes, dealing with ASAP can be made much less harsh, as it is likely to not go away altogether.


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


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Stir The Soul

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, November 04, 2016 at 08:08 AM with 0 comments

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Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for winning the 2016 World Series, ending a 108-year championship drought! As a fan of the Boston Red Sox, who ended their own 86-year drought in 2004 – ironically just after I moved from Boston to Chicago – there has always been a kindred spirit between the teams, and I am glad to see them win it all.

As I watched the final out of the game – at home, after leaving the pub where several families and their kids stayed far too late on a school night – I heard the jubilation in the neighborhood of literal screams and shouts. I was happy for the team and Chicago, especially for friends and colleagues – loyal fans who have been waiting for “next year” to finally come.

Though I was happy, I can’t say I was emotional about it. Granted, it was after midnight, but the strong feeling I have experienced when others of my teams – the Red Sox, New England Patriots and even my adopted Chicago Blackhawks – won their championship titles was just not there.

That is, until I saw this. Click on the embedded video below to play it, or click this link to watch the video on YouTube.

The video is from Budweiser and was released on the morning after the game. It is an extremely creative piece, combining modern video of Chicago and its fans watching the game and vintage video and audio of the late legendary Cubs announcer Harry Caray, edited to match the final out of the game. It’s as if Caray was alive today, making the call himself.

This got to me. And I finally felt the emotion I would expect to feel, as I have felt in the past when not only a team of mine won, but for other exciting events in my life.

Why it got to me is not surprising. As someone who grew up in an age before ESPN (interestingly, ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen was a local sports reporter where I grew up before he started the cable network) and the ability to see games all the time, we may have gotten 1 or 2 games a week on TV, but radio was where all games were broadcast. In those days, play-by-play announcers had a much different style than they do today; they were much more conversational, and in the absence of today’s computer-generated bombardment of stats, filled gaps with anecdotes that gave you a broader sense of what it was like to be in the ballpark.

Where I knew about Harry Caray and his antics in Chicago, for me it was Ken Coleman who was the play-by-play announcer for the Red Sox. An older gentleman, his mellow voice was a contrast to today’s announcers, and it was like listening to old Uncle Ken telling the story of today’s game.

To say they don’t make them like that anymore is more than cliché. Where Coleman, as Caray, did not see a World Series for their teams in their lifetimes, it was nice that this tribute to Caray was crafted.


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


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I’m A Teacher

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 09:35 PM with 0 comments

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Who would’ve thought a wedding reception in Indianapolis would be where I’d realized something that has helped shape the path I’ve taken with my career?

It was following the wedding of my friends Jen and Bill at their reception where it happened. Bill was making a speech, and though I don’t remember it verbatim (sorry, Bill!) he began talking about teachers, as he is one himself. Then he asked everyone in the room who was a teacher to stand up.

And I stood up.

Not only did I stand up, but nobody snickered or asked me to sit down either. This is when I first realized I am a teacher.

Define Teacher

When I lookup the definition of the word teacher in my favorite book of words, it reads, “a person or thing that teaches something; especially: a person whose job is to teach students about certain subjects.” This is why I have never thought of myself as a teacher, namely as I have never had a title with the word “teacher” in it before. My job titles have had “consultant,” “manager” and “president” and other business titles – but never teacher.

As I look at my career present-day and past, I have always been teaching in some capacity. There is teaching in the formal sense, were I have developed training and offered classes in the US and internationally on Web application and their underlying technology, I have also developed Web portals to host and deliver these materials. Then there’s teaching in a more advisory role, where I am consulting with people on business decisions and how to apply technology to help solve them. In some cases I am coming in with the answer after strategizing on it, other times I am troubleshooting in real-time to come up with a solution.

In the above cases, teaching is pervasive. I’m not simply saying to a client, “do X,” rather I am explaining what “X” is, answering their questions on “X,” informing them about “y” and other letters of the alphabet, and ensuring they have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

Educating vs. Selling

Some of you reading this may be saying, “yea, but aren’t really selling something to people in these cases, not teaching them?” Part of that answer is certainly yes, but when someone or some corporation is shelling out a lot of money, they need to understand the why, not only from a pure dollars-and-cents point-of-view, but with regards to how to best leverage and use it among other aspects. Teaching of course is an important role for sales and account people too, not just for the technology strategist like myself.

This is of course not to say that everybody is a teacher (I don’t recall everybody standing up at that wedding reception). Many don’t like to or want to teach. Each to themselves, but for myself I have always found this as a very rewarding aspect of what I do, past and present. Not to mention making my job easier by working with a well-informed client.

Deconstructing Being a Teacher

There are many more people out there who are teachers than realize it. We always envision a teacher as someone heading a classroom in elementary or high school, and has the word “teacher” in their title. I am not saying I am a replacement for them, rather someone complimenting their contributions to society with my own.

And you can give me an apple anytime!


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


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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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7 Netflix Parental Controls I Would Love To Have

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at 04:36 PM with 0 comments

”Netflix

I remember when I had my first cable TV box back in the late 80's and saw a lockout switch on the back - you could select channels you wanted to block, then flip the switch in the back of the box and you couldn't tune them in. You could even put a padlock over the switch to secure it.

How I wish I had something equivalent to that for Netflix today.

The idea of parental controls for technology today - from computers to mobile devices to apps and Web sites on them - is one of interest and concern for parents. As much as we want to watch all of what our kids get into and trust them completely, neither are realistic. We can always remove the devices from their hands, but with schools using more Web and app-based educational tools, the devices will be within their reach more and more.

Going into this list, I have no illusions (delusions either) that any form of parental control functionality will be perfect. That being said, they can begin to make an impact and provide some form of management without needing to watch over their shoulders 24/7. Plus any controls are technology chasing technology and a moving target, and even these things are for right here, right now.

In somewhat of a top-down order, here;s my 7 suggested Netflix parental controls.

1. Separate Profile Passcodes – Netflix has the ability to create a unique profile for individuals who share an account. Where there is the ability to set a profile as a Kids one, there is no stopping my Thing 1 or Thing 2 from browsing Mom or Dad's profile. If each had a unique passcode (or password or PIN) then you could limit them to their own profile. Of course if they watch you enter your passcode, the idea is moot.

2. Disable Profiles – Once you lock down profiles (or at least your own), having the ability to lock or disable individual profiles is ideal. Is Junior grounded for a week but still has homework on the iPad to do? This would be a great way to keep them from getting entertained by Netflix programming.

3. Deselect Shows or Series – Don't want your princess watching Mako Mermaids until she is older? Having the ability to browse to a show or series and click a “disable” button and then show the profiles which you want to block it from will give you piece of mind.

4. Limit Number of Shows Watched – Do you have a little binge-watcher in the making? Setting a limit on the number of shows watched over a particular period of time (day, week, month) will not only limit their screen time, but will also give them some self-training in managing their own time.

5. Limit Time Watched – In addition to the number of shows watched, you could limit overall time by period as well, with an option to let them finish watching a show in progress (or not) or not even watching one longer than their set time limit.

6. Remove Search – By removing the search option within Netflix, it will limit them to browsing which may force them to watch something presented early to them. Of course search requires spelling, though it's unclear if spelling “My Little Pony” benefits their education.

7. Reporting – She watched the same Monster High movie 33 times? Having the ability to see what shows were watched – and when – is helpful in determining how to set parental controls, in essence how much of a challenge you have.

Deconstructing Netflix Parental Controls

Online streaming, or video on-demand as was called when I had that cable TV box, is prevalent today. With more people “cutting the cord” from cable TV, services like Netflix are the de facto form of entertainment for kids and adults alike. I am not talking here about auto-pilot filtering of content, rather tools being available where I can set them for my children as I see fit. And I'd be willing to pay a little more for these tools, too.

Do you think these would be helpful for you as a parent? Or for yourself too? Or do you have any other suggestions? I welcome your thoughts and ideas 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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2 Ways to Export Your LinkedIn Connections And Information

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 10:23 PM with 5 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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Ridin’ Writer’s Block Out

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, June 05, 2016 at 08:24 PM with 5 comments

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A few days ago I experienced something I never have before in my life. And looking back now, that was ok.

I had writer's block.

Over the last decade of blogging I have grown to love writing. What started out as cranking out a few paragraphs for my first dozens of posts here at The Hot Iron has grown to a passion for writing out – ok printing, but on paper – what I have sketched out and organized in my head and then type up to post. This is a similar approach I take with writing for my day job, as well as guest posts I have made on other blogs and sites.

As I write this in the first week into June of 2016, I look back and I did not post anything on the blog during the month of May, making for one of the longest recent stretches for me. Where I can say with confidence I did a lot of other things over the past month, both professionally and personally, I did not spend any “me” time to write. With that as a cloud over my head (ok, a thin cloud, but sun-blocking nonetheless) I tried to force the issue and do some writing.

A window of opportunity presented itself, with a meeting being canceled during noontime, and I saw this as my chance to get in some writing. I grabbed my notebook, pen, and headed for one of the few local Starbucks where I have written much of what I have written in the last year. After pouring a little whole milk in my grande dark roast I spotted an open seat at the tall table where I like to sit, put my stuff down, took a sip as I opened my notebook... and just stared at the blank page.

And I stared for what seemed like an eternity. I had a couple of topics to choose from, however nothing seemed to go from my brain to my hand to my pen. I even tried to go back and look at something I had started previously, and simply X'ed it out writing “trash” over it. Trying harder to focus didn't work either, as my mind was more focused on the sounds of the espresso machine and Frappuccino® blender, not to mention the people walking outside of the store. I was besides myself as I had been able to focus while sitting at this very same table where in the past the other 5 stools were occupied by police officers and I was able to tune them out! Realizing I had spent about 40 minutes and was only able to choke out not even 1 page of something I haven't looked back on yet, I closed my notebook, grabbed my coffee and made my way back to the office.

Not My Time

As I sauntered back to the office, frustration segued to reality as it came to me – this was not the time to try to write. Where everything else lined up into place – an hour of time, dark roast available brewed and not as a pour over – the one thing that was not ready was my brain. I had too many things on my mind, everything from the work I had to go back to when I returned to the office as well as everything else going on in my life. Forcing it right then and there wasn't going to change the situation, so I just needed to find another time to do it. Like right now, several days later, where the words are flowing faster than I am able to type them.

In the end I simply need to ride out writers block. And that phrase – ride out – came to me as well as I was walking back to the office, where the only real thing I was concerned with was avoiding panhandlers and other pitch people on the sidewalks. Of course my brain, which was schooled in 80's rock music, quickly dropped a needle on an old REO Speedwagon album, playing “Ridin' The Storm Out” over and over as I wrote this. However unlike the other day, the song served as an inspiration and not an impediment.

Deconstructing a Writer's Block

Over the years I certainly wouldn't say every time I sat down to write was an ideal time. This one time was the worst of them all. No beating myself up over this “lost” 40 minutes is necessary either. Had it not been for it, I wouldn't have written what you are reading now, or thought of that REO Speedwagon song, or gotten myself psyched up to write some more. The creative process can't always be controlled.

If you're not familiar with the song in my head, you can watch the video embedded below, or if you can't see it you can click on this link to view it on YouTube. Interestingly, this video was recorded on my 18th birthday.


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


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