Monday, August 15, 2011

What's next?

May was an extraordinary month for me.  The process of building AOL's open source strategy in 2011 had been fantastically inspiring.

On Monday, 5/16, on the way to lunch, I concluded that the only way to build the five products I had imagined over the past week would be to start a company. And, in the few steps between the car and the restaurant, I concluded "I am going to start a company."

Friday of that same week, taking a break from work at Graydon Manor during AOL's 2011 Monster Help Day, I facebooked:
  • Favorite quote of the day: "I thought you'd given up on that." -- "I don't give up on anything."
  • Lessons learned: I can do my job anywhere.
  • Lessons learned: You don't have to plan ahead. You can help anytime, anywhere, if you ask, and you listen.
  • Lessons learned: It's ok to make mistakes.
  • Lessons learned: Use the right tool.
  • Lessons learned: everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Work with your strengths.
  • Lessons learned: Working as a team, we do great things, and help the world.
  • Lessons learned: When helping others, we help ourselves. Aka, what goes around, comes around.
  • Favorite quote: are you using Kanban or agile? Kanban. Is that better than agile? I think it depends on the team?
  • Quote of the day: "We start a project; we finish a project!"
  • Lesson learned (2004): "I joined AOL to work with a wide array of people, learn from them, and grow as a person."
  • Lesson learned (2009): "I joined AOL to learn about leadership."
  • Lesson learned (2010): "I joined AOL to learn about working with large teams."
  • Lesson learned (2011): "I joined AOL to learn about leading teams effectively; helping them to realize their potential."
  • Lesson learned: You don't have to do all the work; you don't have to finish the job yourself. Just making a problem clear (e.g., making a big pile of leaves) can be enough to encourage others to work together to solve the problem for you.
  • Lesson learned (2011): I joined AOL to learn how to start, and run, my own company.
By the end of May, I had documented eleven product ideas that I was excited to pursue.  Today, the count stands at fourteen.

In June, I had reaffirmed my commitment to AOL and was poised to continue the effort to take our open source strategy to the next level.  But, the Universe works in mysterious ways, and on 7/20, it was clear that my final observation from 5/20 would be tested sooner than I had imagined.

Stay tuned for what's next!


What's next:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Farewell to AOL

For AOL co-workers, AOL Alumni, family and friends I have been unable to reach -- Monday, 8/1/2011 will be my last day with the company.

After seven great years with AOL, it is time for me to ride off into the sunset.  I joined AOL in July 2004.  While posting status updates to facebook during our 5/20/2011 Aol Monster Help Day, I noted: "I joined AOL to work with a wide array of people, learn from them, and grow as a person."  As I continued to update my status that day, it became clear to me that that goal had been accomplished many times over, in new and more spectacular ways every year I worked with AOL.

I have had the opportunity to work with four CTOs, a range of EVPs, SVPs and VPs, and much of the Technologies leadership over the past few years.  The range and depth of experiences as Chief-of-Staff, Technical Director, and Program Director have surpassed my wildest dreams.

This year, I have been very fortunate to be able to reconnect with many of my colleagues from across the Technologies organization, and to meet many new colleagues.  It has been my pleasure to work with you all.  And, it has been an honor to be able to share in the effort to turn AOL around. 

But, the time has come for me to move on; new adventures await.

As I head out, I'll close with a few thoughts – those I offered just last week in the recent "Great Place to Work" survey – if it were left to me, AOL would be ranked #1.  I have been accused of being an optimist; and for my vision of the future, I suppose that is true.  But, those who have worked closely with me know me as a pragmatist.  I believe that both attitudes are present in this response to the survey:

> Is there anything unique or unusual about this company that makes it a great place to work? Please give specific examples.

With Tim Armstrong's arrival in 2009, it was clear that AOL would finally change in meaningful ways; ways that would lead the company, its employees, products, and customers forward into the future. 

With the mission "to connect, inform and entertain the world," a clearly defined set values, executive management accountability, a clear brand strategy and effective portfolio management, and clear business and product strategies, as a public company in 2010, AOL was finally poised to become the greatest turn-around story in the history of the Internet. 

In 2011, with the refinement of those strategies, and increasingly effective execution to bring great products and services to life, AOL is more alive than ever before. 

> If you could change one thing about this company to make it a better place to work, what would it be? 

Show, for consecutive quarters, significant revenue and profit growth to finally prove to the world that the AOL turn-around is complete!

If we’re not already connected, you can find me at:

I wish you, AOL, our leadership, and all our employees nothing but the best.  I am proud to join the ranks of AOL Alumni.  And I know that you will all continue to do great things with AOL!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

History repeats

"FDR embraced policies that aimed to stop prices and wages from correcting and embarked on the boldest federal intrusion of the private sector in the history of the U.S.—all justified by a crisis made worse by previous attempts to stop prices and wages from correcting.  And when his policies didn't cause the promised happy days to return again, the golden tongued-FDR could be counted on to shift the blame—to Hoover, the Republicans, greedy businessmen, flaws in the free enterprise system."

There was a better answer, once...

As President, Reagan sought to inspire renewed confidence in the nation.  In his Inaugural Address, he declared, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."  Reagan also sought to inspire a belief in freedom abroad, especially among those living in Communist countries.  During his second term, Reagan and his counterpart in the Soviet Union, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, negotiated reductions in nuclear arsenals and helped bring about an end to the Cold War.

Distinguished by his charisma and oratorical skills, Reagan is considered one of the most influential Presidents of the 20th century.
- U.S. Postal Service, Ronald Reagan Centenial Stamp

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What do you want to be?

When I was 5 years old, my mom always told
me that happiness was the key to life.  When I
went to school, they asked me what I wanted
to be when I grew up.  I wrote down "happy".

They told me I didn't understand the assignment.

I told them they didn't understand life.