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Do you rock at your “one thing”? August 1, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Personal, Work-Related.
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Have you heard of the “one thing”?

And no, I’m not talking about that part in City Slickers where Curly says that life is about “one thing”….

I’m talking about something much more hard to reach. I’m talking about the “one thing” it takes to be the best – the “one thing” it takes for people to notice you – the “one thing” that only certain people know and that helps them get ahead in their careers. Do you know what it is? Do you rock at it? Do other people KNOW you rock at it??

In a company as large as IBM, it’s hard to stand out. Sure, you can stand out in your team or your business unit. But to stand out beyond that is a little difficult if you’re not in the right position. Now, Luis and Gia (when she was Blue) stand out. They are in above-region positions, and have the “reach” of a much larger audience. More people get to see what they do and how they are in their job. And, each one of them bring/brought to the table that “one thing”! They have and share the one thing that makes them stand out and makes people want to leverage them. They rock and everyone knows it!! 🙂

But, if you’re in the trenches – how do you get your “one thing” noticed? If you think you rock, how do you know for sure? How do let other people know your “one thing”? How do you get other people to WANT your “one thing”? And what if your “one thing” isn’t something that’s typical of your job? Then what? How do you stand out? How do you move ahead?

I’m at a loss here, folks. I think I have that “one thing” – but I can’t seem to get it known – or wanted – above my little “sphere of influence”. How do you expand that sphere? Can you help?????

Or…maybe…I just don’t rock.

I’ll share my jungle gym! (Part One) July 25, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Work-Related.
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4 comments

Do you share? Are you ok with other people using your toys?

What about your assets? What about those things you spent a LOT of time putting together? Do you hold them near and dear to your heart or did you really learn that all-important of preschool lessons?

My work team got together this week for a much-needed face-to-face and one of the questions during our session was “Is there anything we could be doing better”?. Wow. Loaded question

You see, my company is 40% mobile. That means that my team (all 8 of us if you include our manager) live all over the territory (Great Lakes). None of us live in the same cities. So, as you can imagine, there’s not a lot of “togetherness” happening unless it’s by chance or by well-planned design. And, to top it all off, most of the team is new to the role (5 of 8), so many are still learning the ropes and just able to keep their heads above water. So, when we finally got together, I found it interesting how we replied to that all-important, loaded question of “WHAT CAN WE DO BETTER”?

While we had many ideas, I found it interesting that it really boiled down to 3 main categories:

  • Enablement (E)
  • Teaming (T)
  • Assets (A)

And of those categories, a very large majority of items within them really pertained to SHARING. I’ll expand (with a letter designation to one of the three categories above) …

  1. E- When a team member gets training, he or she should “Pass It On” so that the rest of the team can gain that value.
  2. E – Each team member should present at our regular meetings on something they know.
  3. T – Everyone on the team should have a blog and should update it regularly with their knowledge.
  4. A – We should have a repository to store all our assets so the full team has access to them
  5. A – We should all deliver a consistent message
  6. T – We should all share VMWare images, demo scripts, etc.
  7. E – We should provide information to new team members about the role and how to find things

So…let me see…#1 – SHARING! #2 – SHARING! #3 – SHARING…sharing, sharing, sharing, sharing!! Say it with me now – S H A R I N G!!!!!

So, no matter the “category”, the bottom line is that if we shared more, we should be able to accomplish more!!

Duh, Drea, you’re saying. We ALL know that!

Of course you do! But do you DO it? I mean, REALLY do it? And if you do, HOW do you do it?? And, why don’t you do it MORE OFTEN???!!!!!!

So, we’ve figured it out, and we’ve put in motion a plan – because we all want to share! And I LOVE that! We all learned that lesson! (WHEW!!)

In the interest of sharing, I’ll keep posting on our progress and our plans. I think it’s gonna be a GREAT ride!

And hey – you — the reader….SHARE! How do YOU share????

Oh…and for you “socialites” out there…YES..social tools WILL be involved in the sharing!  Don’t worry about that one!!  😉

What’s it like to be a Lotus Pre-Sales IT Specialist? July 21, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Work-Related.
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2 comments

You know, I constantly get asked what I do for a living. I usually just say “I work for IBM” and that ends the conversation. People just don’t know how to respond to that. I’ve been told it usually conjures up visions of geeks locked in rooms, serious math-types with big brains furiously typing away.

Sometimes, the unsuspecting person follows that up with “So what do you do there” or “What does that mean”? And I launch into a typical elevator pitch..(which is some variation of the following)

I’m a pre-sales technical specialist in the Lotus Software Group that focuses on collaborative technologies using Lotus Software. I help customers define their collaboration and social software strategies to help foster a collaborative, innovative and globally aware work environment. I remove technical inhibitors and questions for these products by conducting demonstrations, architectural workshops, proof of technologies and giving insight into deployments and administration

That invariably leaves them with a “huh” look on their face and immediately ends the conversation!!!

So what does that mean? What do I do? How do you “remove technical inhibitors”? What is the “Day in the Life” so that people know if they would like this job, or if it’s fun or cool??

Well, first of all – there is NO “Day in the Life”. I don’t have a typical day. Every day, every week is different. I think the best way to answer this is to tell you what my life as an ITS was like last week. It wasn’t a great week, but it was about as “normal” as one could be. So, bear with me..here goes…

Monday

Monday morning started off with a bang – what a way to start the week! First up – a critical situation with a pilot install at a major customer. Things are not working, the customer is in an unsupported configuration, and tensions are high. How does that translate?
7:45am meeting
9:00am meeting
12:00 meeting
12:30 meeting and
4pm meeting.
All phone calls – all 1/2 hour or so – all for the same customer.

In between those meetings, I’m checking email, making additional phone calls to support and other team members, looking up technical information for the customer, trying to secure an on-site resource and trying to get something done for other customers as well. My day ends relatively early at 6pm. It’s a high-stress, tear-your-hair-out, nothing can go right kind of day. Definitely in need of a post-work pick-me-up.

Tuesday

Tuesday – another early morning for the customer critical situation then hit the road for a meeting with a customer that is a 1.5 hour drive away. So..
7:30am meeting
9:30am meeting
then drive for 1.5 hours – on the phone the entire drive! (thank goodness for hands-free bluetooth in my car!!)
11:00 meeting – go over who’s going onsite to the crit-sit customer, talk about strategy for approaching the crit-sit, provide more executives with more updates, etc, etc.
12:15-12:45 – actually get to eat lunch today! Tried out new noodle place near office – YUM!
12:45 – head to my 1pm-4pm meeting.

My afternoon meeting, was great! I had 3 hours with a customer we hadn’t been able to get in front of before – one that had been threatening to go to MS. I pull out my Mac (which gets the typical conversation going with — “What..IBM supporting Mac’s??”), pull up my Notes8.5 client and a few presentations, and have an open, free-form discussion. I go over the new Lotus strategy, talk about Notes/Domino 8 and 8.5, talk about new products, how they can upgrade from their current version, all that stuff. And the whole time, they just wanted MORE!! More info! More products! And, they LOVED what they saw! I think our meeting clinched it — they will stay with Lotus! I walked out of there with a smile on my face, and feeling much better. Nice way to end the day (plus the 1.5 hour drive back home).

Wednesday

Still dealing with the customer crit-sit from Monday, but beginning to not be my problem anymore. I handed off my knowledge to another on-site resource and am able to move on to my other customers – which is good, because they’ve been neglected. Calls for today:
10-11am – training on new unified communications tools to demo to customers
11-1230am – design partner update call for Notes/Domino 8.5 beta
3:30-4:30 – meeting with co-workers to discuss new account coverage strategy

So, this was not a bad day! It was a busy morning with back-to-back calls, but the afternoon opened up. I spent most of that free-time in the afternoon on follow-up items from my BIG customer meeting the day before. I put together a TON of information for him, which took some time to gather. The rest of the afternoon was spent answering emails, phone calls, and the occasional Sametime message. Oh – and I got to catch up on some of the comments from dominoblog.com – the Domino development blog I’m helping out with. Fairly easy day – done by 5pm!

Thursday

Another big day of teleconferences:
8:30-9:00 – crit-sit customer update
10:30-11 – Prep call for big presentation to the technical community on Friday
1:00-2:00 – Call with customer about Notes email archiving options, best practices, etc.
2:00-3:00 – Prep call for executive presentation next week for large customer
3:00-3:30 – 1:1 call with my manager (partial, have to move the rest to tomorrow)
3:30-4:30 – All-hands business unit call regarding Q2 results, etc.

So, my ear hurt by the end of the day! Still, in-between calls, I had enough time to do some screen captures for some documentation, answer emails, send more info to the BIG customer from Tuesday and call it a day by 6pm!

Friday

My goodness…will the conference calls ever stop!!! TGIF tho! Man – WHAT a week!! Calls for today:
9:00-10:00 – Tech team open mic call – discuss week’s stuff, what’s going on, accounts, etc. with my peers
11:00-12:00 – 1:1 call with my manager – finish up our discussion that started yesterday
2:00-3:00 – Technical Community council call to discuss competitive info for one of our products

So, not a bad day of conferences, but enough is enough! I’d been on the phone almost all week, and I was done! Still, I got to spend some of the day researching planning tools for my Mac. I found a couple of good ones, and will spend some time over the next couple of weeks testing them out. I also got caught up on my blogs, and contributed to a few activities and social software tools. Not bad.

Wrap-Up

So there you have it – a “typical” week. Although, I was only actually on-site at a customer for one day. Some weeks, I could be on-site every day at different customers, some weeks, I never leave my house! The phone conferences are pretty typical though, and I’ve even had days where they have been back-to-back. Yup – as in, have to dial in, tell them to give me 5 mins just so I can have a bio break!! UGH! I HATE those days!!

I’m not sure if that gives you any idea what a “Lotus Pre-Sales IT Specialist” does. It pretty much only says where I spend my days, I guess. Not sure if you want the gory details, but I think you get the idea!

WHEW!…maybe it would be easier to rent umbrellas and chairs on a beach!!! 😉

Help! I’m in Lotus Notes email jail! July 18, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Work-Related.
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Admit it – you’ve all faced it.

Email jail.

Your Lotus Notes mail file is approaching astronomical size and you keep getting nasty-grams from your system administrator. “Delete messages or you will no longer be able to send or receive mail”. Or something like that, right? And even though you feel like you NEED that whole, 1GB mail file (or smaller, depending on the kindness of your system admin), you have GOT to get rid of things.

So, how do you know the size of your mail file? How do you find the big stuff – you know – those messages with the 20MB attachment? And more importantly, once you get rid of the big stuff, why doesn’t your mail file size show smaller?

Dah Dah Dah Daaaaahh….Never fear, Drea is here!! 😉 (sorry – couldn’t resist)

Ok – first step – just how big is that mail file of yours? And, since you think you deleted a bunch of stuff but your quota isn’t changing – why not?

Finding the size of your mail file is pretty easy. From Notes8, in your mail file, just select “File, Application, Properties” (or, File, Database, Properties in Notes6 or 7). That will bring up a dialog box with the details of your mail file. Then, click on the little “i” tab…like the picture below.

In this picture, my mail file is showing it is 890MB in size. WOW! Also, notice I have a percentage next to my disk space information. I clicked on the “% used” button to get that indicator of how much of my mail file is “white space”. As you can see here, I have about 77% white space in my mail file – that’s not great. It’s telling me that while I have deleted a bunch of messages, the system still sees my mail file as bigger than it really is because there is a bunch of white space in there. So, if I then click on the “Compact” button, it will clean up that white space and tell me how big my mail file REALLY is! As a rule of thumb, you want to keep your white space percentage at around 95% or higher.

So…now that you’ve validated the size of your mail file, and you know you don’t have a lot of white space, you might still need to get it smaller! Let’s talk about how to do that.

One of the easiest ways to know where those big messages are is to go to your “All Documents” view in your mail file. When you’re in that view, you will see a column for “File Size”. When you click on the column header for file size, it will sort all the messages in your mail file by size. (see picture below.

If you sort it in descending order, your biggest messages will be at the top (or vice versa for ascending order). As you can see in the picture here, I have several mail messages that have large attachments or are fairly large in size (who sent me that crazy 15MB message??!!). So, I could delete these right from this view. Or, I could open them, detach the attachment to my hard drive (or Quickr or other location) and re-save the message.

You get the point.

Some other ways you can stay out of email jail:

  • Use the calendar cleanup tool in Notes7 or higher to delete old calendar entries.
  • Change your preferences to not automatically save a copy of all sent messages – make it prompt you.
  • Use archiving – it’s a great tool and is VERY easy to use!
  • Use Quickr or Activities plug-ins to Notes8!

So, good luck with those mail files! Hopefully these little tips will help keep you out of jail!

Dashboards for Quickr Domino July 13, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Work-Related.
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Have you ever wished there was an easier way to see all your to-do items, latest news, calendar entries, etc. across all your Quickr places? Quickr is relatively new in the space, and while it’s a great tool, there isn’t an easy way to see all your stuff in one place (yet).

When you log into Quickr, you see a list of your places, and that’s great. But without going into each place, I’d really like to see things I need to act upon – new posts, new documents, upcoming calendar entries and the like – wouldn’t you? Sure, you could use WebSphere Portal and the Quickr APIs to create some cool portlets – but if I’m not a Portal user, then what?

Well, enter a Lotus/IBM Business Partner, OpusNeo.

Opus Neo has a tool called Neo.Dashboards that creates a great dashboard-like page for Quickr Domino places. This page can be modified/customized as it essentially has some sytylesheets associated with it and is a bunch of iframe-like portlets. It’s a great way to show those things like tag clouds of the metadata, a list of what’s new across all your places, calendar entries, tasks or to-do items across places, etc. It’s a very cool product, and I’ve shown it to a couple of customers so far who have loved it!

And, Neo.Dashboard provides a ton of other stuff besides just the pretty interface! They give you easier administration for things like administration of places, customization and logging.

In fact, Opus Neo’s Dashboard product was nominated for the 2008 Lotus Award for “Best TOTAL Lotus Software Solution”. They are a great company to work with and even have a demo out there you can watch.

So, if you have a lot of places and use Quickr for Domino, take a look!

Tap, Tap – Uh-is this thing on?? July 12, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Personal.
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2 comments

Ok – I’m doing it. I’m starting my own little blog. I called it Drea’s Notes, Thoughts and Tips for a couple of reasons. First of all, my friend Graham called me Drea in college (Hey Gray-ham!!) and I wanted a blog that wouldn’t necessarily be about my work, but about the real me. There will probably be some work-related posts here, but you know – not always. I have a lot to say. I’m not usually shy about saying it!

So I’ve been goaded enough by my co-workers and everyone else to “Get Out There” (you’d think I was coming OUT or something), so here it is..my blog.

FIRST order of business…about me.

My name is Andrea (hence the Drea reference) and I live in the Cincinnati/Dayton OH area. I currently work at IBM as a pre-sales technical specialist in the Lotus Software group. I have been working with Notes/Domino and Lotus collaborative technologies for over 12 years now (gosh, has it been that long?) and I LOVE groupware, collaboration, social software, etc, etc. I can’t imagine a world without it! As a pre-sales technical specialist, I get to work with customers to help them determine and define their collaboration needs as well as what they can do from a Lotus portfolio standpoint to embrace collaboration for better innovation and growth. (say that real fast!!) 😉

But..my life is not just about work.

I have 2 dogs – a beagle and a beabull (half beagle, half bulldog), 3 cats, a husband and the occasional goose or duck from the pond out back. I just recently made the transition from PC to Mac as my primary work (and home) laptop. It’s way too cool! I like technology, but I don’t LIVE by it! I’m NOT the person who fixes my family members’ pc’s. I let my husband do that!! 😉

Anyway, I can’t think of other stuff now. I have a TON to say, so don’t worry – there will be more! Oh yes, there will be more!!