Scope Creep

There is an accepted theorem of IT projects that what starts out as a great idea for better productivity – before the actual ‘Go Live’ moment – will ‘take twice as long, cost twice as much, and be half as effective as expected’… at least prior to the v1.1 release.

A corollary exists in home projects.

Add new hardwood flooring to the living room and that sofa and love seat just don’t seem to work like they did with your carpet. Hire the neighbor’s landscapers to mow your lawn and, by golly, come spring you’ll have them trim the shrubs, add mulch and plant some colorful flowers, too. Go to the Russian River Valley for a wonderful vacation with your spouse and you’re still getting things from the wine clubs you joined 18 months later. Oh, and you needed to buy a wine cooler to hold all those bottles.

OK, maybe that wasn’t ‘you’; it was definitely ‘us’.

The key to not having this happen is simply to increase your planned capital outlay… every time.

That way when you put in a tankless hot water heater and later find out that each year you need a service call to do something to the coils but then the first time he comes he tells you if you’ll add an external water softener then you won’t need to have him back as long as you add salt every three months to the large black container that’s visible from your street and you just know your HOA is going to make you plant a shrub in front of it because of deed restrictions and then it turns out you actually go through salt in six weeks so you make a lot of trips to Home Depot then carry two 40-pound bags from your driveway to the opposite corner of your house.

Of course, that would never happen to ‘you’… just ‘us’.


Childhood Memories

When Kathy’s parents moved into assisted living four years ago, at their request we brought back to our house furniture that had belonged to her grandmother. We also cleaned out her childhood bedroom… discovering her mom had saved a lot of things that once belonged to Kathy: grade school report cards; childhood books; high school clothes; jewelry; letters; scrapbooks; bulletin boards; thingamabobs; doohickeys; gizmos.

I held up each item and Kathy said, “keep” or “trash.” After many hours of reviewing and reminiscing, we took a lot of things to the dumpster and departed with a filled back seat.

After nearly 30 years of marriage, we’ve collected quite an array of ‘stuff’ ourselves. Enough Christmas ornaments to deck three trees, along with dozens of decorations for Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Gifts from holidays and birthdays past. Books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, albums and electronic devices that would fill a section at Barnes and Noble.

Heck, I kept my Boy Scout merit badges, a folder containing photos cut from 20 years of Sports Illustrated, and all of my college essays. Plus, we have a cabinet filled with the ‘best of’ our kids’ elementary school art projects and other youthful designs.

Which brings up a perplexing thought: will they care about these things when we’re gone, or will they simply sort them ‘keep’ or ‘trash’… then head to the dumpster?

Perhaps it’s not about passing things on to my kids that has me saving things from my childhood. Maybe it’s actually about holding on to the past – and that raises the question: what is that keeping me from accomplishing in the future?


Quote This

Amidst this record-setting shutdown, each day seems filled with more negativity and uncertainty. Negativity about our elected leaders, our core values, our place on the world stage. Uncertainty about the economy, the climate, the future of our children.

Rather than wallow in what could go wrong, I find it better to focus on what will go right. Since I’m no expert at predicting the future, I typically pull out my Word document that contains more than 30 pages of inspirational quotes and let others impact my thoughts…

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” ~ Booker T. Washington

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the airplane, the pessimist the parachute.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.” ~ Frank A. Clark

“By working together, pooling our resources and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things.” ~ Ronald Reagan

“What is worse than having no sight is being able to see but having no vision.” ~ Helen Keller

“There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inactions.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“When you do BIG things, you make big mistakes. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” ~ Walt Disney

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~ Denis Waitley

“The problem in my life and other people’s lives is not the absence of knowing what to do, but the absence of doing it.” ~ Peter Drucker

“Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.” ~ Joan Wallach Scott

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” ~ Alfred A. Montapert

Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” ~ Will Rogers


More 2018 Lessons Learned

Part II of II

Here are more lessons I learned during the past year:

Express Lane – Remember the Information Superhighway? That’s so last century. Web 1.0 brought us static pages. Web 2.0 provided interactive connectivity. Web 3.0 is here, and as Peter Diamandis noted in his November 18 ‘Abundance’ newsletter: “During the next 2 to 5 years, the convergence of 5G, AI, a trillion sensors and VR/AR will enable us to both map our physical world into virtual space and superimpose a digital layer onto our physical environments.” This technology leap will impact how you receive news, how companies advertise, and how you shop. Diamandis is a visionary and worth a weekly 10-minute read.

Continuing Ed – After deciding to become a coach 16 years ago, I sought the most successful coach I could find who would agree to teach Kathy and me how to build a sustainable practice. Taking that approach, I never attained certification… which was no big deal until people started asking me about it a couple years ago. So, in March 2017, I began the journey to gain credentialing from the International Coach Federation – and after 150 classroom and mentoring hours, plus 500 new hours of coaching clients, I earned the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) designation in May. Sitting in a classroom for day-long weekend training, having a Master Certified Coach critique several of my recorded client sessions and passing a certification test enhanced my coaching skills and instilled renewed energy in me.

Savings Grace – It’s amazing how quickly 37 years passed since I was last in a classroom in college – and retirement is visible on the horizon… albeit probably in 2028. We are three semesters of college tuition and apartment rent away from our youngest coming off the family payroll, so we’ll soon be getting a raise. The volatile stock market this year reminded me of the importance of diversification, especially in the twilight of a career. Those ‘don’t worry about the ups and downs’ long-range views I had after the 2008 crash have changed to ‘I really don’t want there to be another major correction now that I’m getting close.’

Giddy Up – The best quote I saw for the first time this year is from the late writer Alfred A. Montapert, who published ‘The Supreme Philosophy of Man’ in 1970: “Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.”

Gift Giving – If you’re looking for an end-of-year goodwill gesture, please consider contributing to an organization that helps those devastated by the California wildfires. One that’s doing good things is Direct Relief (100 score on Charity Navigator), which has worked around the globe for 70 years to ‘improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations.’ Every contributed dollar designated for California wildfire recovery goes directly to local aid, with none for administrative or fundraising purposes.

I’ll conclude with this from Kelly Clarkson, who was the talk of Twitter during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for singing live in freezing temperatures instead of lip-synching: “The thing about Christmas is that it almost doesn’t matter what mood you’re in or what kind of a year you’ve had – it’s a fresh start.”

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings. May 2019 be your best year yet… and continued success in all things.


Lessons Learned 2018

Part I of II

During the 14 years I wrote a monthly newsletter, the December issue focused on the ’10 Things I Learned’ the previous 12 months. While Fast:Forward ended a year ago, I am inspired to share these 2018 lessons:

Experience Speaking – Last month during an alignment meeting, a boss gave this advice to my client, his high-potential employee: ‘You do a great job interacting with peers and those who report to you. However, always know where the line is, and don’t ever cross it.’ Then, fully transparent, he shared his own story from some 20 years before, when – having had a few soda pops – he climbed on stage at a function, took the microphone and told jokes about the competition. A few weeks later he didn’t get a promotion and learned that while most people laughed and applauded that night, a senior leader watched quietly from the back of the room. That person nixed his opportunity… feeling he wasn’t mature enough for the assignment. ‘It took me two years to overcome that 10 minutes,’ he said.

Long Runway – One of our strategic goals this year was to diversify and add new clients outside of the energy industry. The first action steps were launching a new website and creating a couple of marketing flyers. Next up was contacting several target companies and starting to develop relationships with key decision-makers. While it’s been a slow process, we added three new clients. I also was vetted and approved by another large organization and look forward to having an engagement down the road.

Civil Obedience – The political race for the U.S. Senate in Texas saw incumbent Republican Ted Cruz face a strong challenge from previously unknown U.S. House Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Crisscrossing the Lone Star State by van, Beto energized the electorate and turnout soared. The incumbent held on by a few percentage points, while Beto created a brand and might be a candidate for another office in, say, 2020. Regardless of whether you’re Red or Blue, it’s exciting to see more people heading to the polls and exercising their right to choose.

Go Team – Kathy and I spend fall football Saturdays in Austin for UT home games… tailgating with our kids and good friends. At the TCU game in September, more than 100 people – Horns and Frogs alike – attended ‘Papa’s Tailgate’. We drive from Houston the night before or morning of, depending on kickoff, and assist three other couples cooking the day’s food. It’s a wonderfully joyful experience, especially for those of us who bleed burnt orange. The best part – regardless of whether Texas wins – is having conversation with people we don’t know that well and see at most a half-dozen times a year.

Frozen Tundra – I’ve never liked cold weather. Give me Houston humidity. So, of course, I made three business trips to Canada the past six weeks, including twice to far northwest Alberta… a 75-minute connecting flight beyond Calgary. Of course, I purchased thermal gloves, wool socks and a Patagonia ski jacket that’s good to 10-below in order to survive. (My client who lives in Kansas City jokes that I start wearing a sweatshirt once the temperature dips below 70, while he’s still in shorts when it’s 50. That’s not much of an exaggeration.)

Tomorrow: Web 3.0 is here