10 Things to Inspire You This Month

“It’s in the chasing of the idea that we catch it.”

As it is Veteran’s Day, I wanted to extend my gratitude to those serving or who have served our country. Men and women who are brave enough to put their lives in harms way, to protect and defend our country and the principles upon which it was built. These men and women are heroes in my book, and like those emergency responders who also lay down their lives for others; these everyday heroes deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.

veterans

Continue reading “10 Things to Inspire You This Month”

Tech Tools for Life with a Chronic Illness

Technology is a tool people use to improve their lives.

Let’s face it. We’re lucky to get out of bed, get our hair done, and make it to work on time with the same color socks some days. Life with a chronic condition is challenging every single day. I fight fibromyalgia, what’s your superpower? So anything I can do to make my day/week more productive is alright by me.

“There was a time when a nail was high tech. There was a time when people had to be told how to use a telephone. Technology is just a tool. People use tools to improve their lives.” ~Tom Clancy

Continue reading “Tech Tools for Life with a Chronic Illness”

Business Travel with a Chronic Condition

The days are usually long. The rooms are usually cold. The food options aren’t the best. And sleeping in a strange bed without your pillow is never very fun.

Traveling for business requires different strategies than traveling for pleasure, because you can’t always modify your schedule and you don’t have a built-in support network of family to help lug your bags around. The days are usually long. The rooms are usually cold. The food options aren’t the best. And sleeping in a strange bed without your pillow is never very fun.

For many of my work trips I am traveling with some of my employees or co-workers and have vendors to meet. Not showing up to a session doesn’t always work for me, unless I am calling in dead. So I have crafted a few strategies that help me survive business travel while dealing with the chronic pain and fatigue I experience.

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.” ~ Albert Einstein

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Rainbow Bridge

Bridges are beautiful structures and can be what separates us or joins us together.

via Daily Prompt: Bridge

Picture taken at the Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (October, 2015)

Challenge Accepted! As I just finished up the two week Blogging Fundamentals, I decided to explore some of the daily prompts. I posted this picture on one of my first blog posts, but figured it was worthy of a repeat for this prompt. Not the best quality picture, I will admit, but I love the fog and the rainbow effect coming off of the water. You see why it is called the Rainbow Bridge! This picture was taken from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls where I was visiting with my father last year, looking over at New York. It was quite remarkable to just stand and watch the falls in all their majesty. I was in awe! Looking at this brings back the memories of it. I highly recommend it if you ever get the opportunity. Continue reading “Rainbow Bridge”

Make a Difference 

“One person can make a difference, and every person should try.” – JFK

October 22nd was Make a Difference Day. “Since 1992, volunteers and communities have come together on Make A Difference Day with a single purpose: to improve the lives of others.” Now before you point out that I am a week late with this post, rest assured I know. However, last Saturday, on the actual day, I was volunteering for the Alliance of Technology and Women at their GreatMinds event.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

GreatMinds stands for “Girls Reaching for Education About Technology and Moving in Directions for Success” and it is an outreach program to encourage young girls to learn about and pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This year the event was held at Southwest Airlines’ training center and gave young girls an opportunity to tour the facility and hear from some of their female employees. Now I did little more than help set up, hand out T-shirts and goody bags, talk to the girls during the exercises, and help clean up. But I myself was inspired by some of the speakers they had, as well as the girls. Continue reading “Make a Difference “

Cybersecurity for Bloggers

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This blog is a little out of the ordinary for my personal blog, but today my personal life and professional life are intersecting. By day, I am a technology manager, charged with supporting software applications, building technology solutions for complex business problems, and making sure those solutions are secure and our end-users are properly trained. By night, I usually blog about those random things in life that inspire me. Lately, that has been security.

As this is National Cyber Security Awareness Monthcyber_blog1  (NCSAM), I have been running a campaign at work to raise end-user awareness about simple security tips to use at work and home, as well as posting information on social media under my personal accounts. As a member of the “Stop. Think. Connect.” global online safety awareness campaign, I use many of their materials for this initiative. And when I came across “Safety Tips for Bloggers” I figured I would share this week, as the theme is “Our Continuously Connected Lives,” hoping I could share some useful information with my readers. Continue reading “Cybersecurity for Bloggers”

IT Leaders Rise to the Challenge

I find myself reflecting and considering what IT leaders are faced with and how we need to change to take on the challenges in this brave new world.

Originally posted on my LinkedIn profile under the title “IT Leaders Must Change to Meet the Future,” September 22, 2016.

I have just returned home from two business trips in recent weeks – the Smart Water Summit and Disaster Recovery Journal’s Fall World – and next month will be attending my seventh year in a row of Gartner Symposium (marketed as the “world’s largest gathering of CIOs and IT leaders”). Symposium is like a Woodstock for Geeks, as some of the brightest analytical minds gather to talk about technology trends and the technology and operational challenges these leaders face. The theme last year was “Rise to the Challenge” as analysts were talking to CIOs and IT leaders about the skills, tools, and mindsets the need to move into a digital future. This year they are promising to tie together that last several years to give a clear vision of what they have been trying to communicate, through the theme “Lead 360. Drive Digital to the Core”. As my thoughts are focused on Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, and especially Cybersecurity and its ever-growing threat landscape, I find myself also reflecting on past Symposiums and considering what IT leaders are faced with and how we need to change to take on the challenges in this brave new world.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

We are surrounded by connected technology both at work and home. Security breaches are all too common headline news, which threaten our personal and financial information. It is not a matter of “If” it will happen, but rather “When“; and it is not just an IT problem, but rather an enterprise problem which IT leaders must convey. At work we deal with legacy applications while trying to keep up with the changing technology landscape. What are these IT leaders to do to stay current? CIOs and IT leaders need more than just technical acumen. What are those skills, tools, and mindsets they need to move into a digital future?

The Top 5 barriers to Innovation have really remained constant: The lack of skilled resources, funding, enterprise culture, misalignment of IT and the business, and legacy challenges. IT leaders face these challenges daily, and must become creative to overcome them. CIOs must lead organizations that are able to be Guardians who look out for threats and provide security; Operators who deal with digital disruption and keep the lights on; and an Innovators who can transform the business. Big challenges to overcome, indeed!

But innovation can be hard to achieve when the relationship between IT and the business units has changed. IT used to control 70% of the technology budget. By 2017, it is expected that only 50% of that budget will be under IT control. Is that bad? Not necessarily, but IT needs to have a strong relationship with the business units to be able to influence the direction of that spend. Look to Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) to develop that trust and help yield that influence. They can ensure IT’s technology initiatives connect with the business’ strategy, and that business value is achieved.

IT leaders need to have a whole toolbox of skills to deal with the changing technology landscape and working with the C-suite. These leaders are looked to for stability and safety and for driving technology changes. They need to be:

  • Resilient – IT should act like an intelligence officer and not a police officer. They need to detect threats and respond to them.
  • Strategic Thinkers – Know the questions to ask to get you where you need to go. Strategic thinking provides a framework for leaders to focus and provide guidance. Leaders need followers. And they need resources who can be challenged to think as well, rather than just following blindly along.
  • Visionaries – They have intuition and imagination and they can solve complex problems in unusual ways.
  • Transparent – Leaders must be visible, explain the “why” explicitly, and demonstrate cultural values implicitly.
  • Engaging – Request and expect CEO involvement, as they are directly interested in changes to the business. Engage employees and ask questions. Engage the business so you can influence their point of view. Even spend time with competitors to drive industry changes.
  • Cultural Change Agents – The CIO has to focus on changing organizational culture in order to be successful at bimodal or any digital change.

A leader is not a leader without followers or a vision. Use strategic thinking to develop your vision and plan, as well as to empower your team. Use BRMs to help build relationships with the business and communicate the vision. Sharpen the tools in your kit, so you can be that Guardian, Operator, or Innovator with a strategic plan for the business’ digital transformation. By adapting our own skills and mindsets, IT leaders can shape the organization’s future and face the challenges ahead.

 

Are you doing something to take on a new challenge?

Cheers!

Cynthia