Happy November!!  I hope you enjoyed Halloween!  It was the warmest Halloween I can remember in Idaho—however, I still wore my down jacket, my gloves and my cowboy hat.  It’s the best JR Ewing impression I have! (From ‘Dallas’- few people remember that show from way back-wore that same outfit 11 years now!).  And prior to Halloween, I was working on losing a few pounds to get in shape for Eggnog season—and then came trick-or-treating with all that candy!  So a few candy bars later (I like the chocolates) I’m back to my ‘cut back on the sweets’ routine... at least until tonight when I may have another bowl of ice cream!

The family is all doing fine and we are right in the middle of enjoying football season.  Pulling for the Boise State Broncos to finish out undefeated.  It’s all about expectations—interesting how when you get so used to ‘teams’ excelling your expectations are set very high.  One loss becomes a huge disappointment.  Yet, other teams you expect a few losses and it’s ok (Notre Dame, Minnesota Vikings, Titans, Bucs).   That can apply directly to ‘family’ and raising children.

So which is better when it comes to raising kids?  Establishing high expectations with their grades and then experiencing disappointment when they blow a test?  Or lowering the bar and then when they blow a test or a grade you smile and say ‘no big deal’?  Which is the better approach?  Curious as to your thoughts...   I wrote my thoughts on this topic on the Family Blog!

The biggest accomplishment this past month was writing up a non-technical white paper on Retail IT:  Store focused or Enterprise Focused?  Check it out on my IT Management blog.  It takes pieces from the book I’m writing on managing IT, but zeroes in on some concepts I used when I went to work for Albertsons and carried through my days at Supervalu.  I’d love to hear your thoughts/feedback/input/criticism on the article!

Social Networking... yes I continue to evaluate the use of Facebook, Twitter... very interesting ‘movement’.  There are many that say it will go away, get replaced by something else...  the point is that it is being used by ‘many’ for a means of communication.  For example, I’m an assistant scoutmaster for a scout troop and I’m maintaining a Facebook page for the scouts and their parents.  We share pictures from the activities, mention upcoming activities, things that need to be done during the coming week.  Another way of communicating... 

With Twitter, (@garybronson7 is my twitter name) I’m seeing a number of companies using it to provide better service and get a stronger relationship with customers.  Also, there are a lot of people interacting with friends and using less email.   Again, another ‘product’ that will evolve or get replaced, but the observation is the form of interaction continues to evolve.   

My current summary on the whole social networking movement:  With all this electronic interaction, people still need quality ‘real’ time and need to interact with real people and experience ‘outdoors’.  Virtual reality is anything but reality—a good friend of mine that sails all over the world shares his pictures and stories with me—but I’m not getting wet or experiencing the same feelings he gets just by hearing about them and seeing pictures and videos! 

My advice:  On a regular basis, take a deep breath and put down the cell phone, the ipad, the android and computer—then step outside and enjoy the birds chirping, the fish jumping, the mosquitoes biting, the snow falling, the kids skiing, the deer feeding, the eagles soaring, the horses trotting, the sun setting, the stars shining, the rivers rushing, the lakes luster, the mountains majesty, the broncos winning, the Vikings losing, the leaves falling and life’s meaning!

As for consulting, it’s been fun this past month—doing more learning as I deep dive in Retail IP Telephony.  I’ve been working with a company called Vertical Communications.  What’s interesting for me is an opportunity to re-track some of my steps and understand why I hadn’t looked closer at their solution before.  We had some of their older equipment deployed in a few stores but never let it ‘grow’.  They are focused on the specific ‘vertical’ of retail and have built some specific features that simplify telephony for store associates—will do a write up next month I what I learned.

I also touched base with a company that focuses on reporting, or more appropriately:  IT analytics.  Seems all of us (IT) seem to spend months and months maturing and evolving our reporting and metrics.  So this company has built 100s of reports that can simply be brought in and loaded.  As I learned about them, I contrasted them to the ‘big vendor’ (I won’t say their name) approach where they try to maximize revenue by offering years’ worth of strategy and consulting to get to the same place this little company would get you to in a few weeks.   Of course, you don’t get the hours and hours and hours of meetings and training sessions that seem to drag on for weeks and weeks and weeks—meanwhile, you aren’t learning anything about your business! 

So the summary of my ‘consulting’ learning’s from this past month—big companies have complex issues that are large and difficult—so the successful leaders simplify and bite it off in small chunks-base hits-singles avoiding the ‘swinging-for-the-fences-strikeouts’.  The even ‘more’ successful leaders use that same approach but prioritize and bite off the small chunks that are more visible and helpful to the business!

As I continue the book, I caught up with some former staff.  During those visits I’m always interested in what they remember or what they continue to hold to as learning’s’ and best practices.  This helps me validate, not what I think is important-but what had an impact on the lives of other people.  So thank you to all of you that provide me feedback.  If you have thoughts along those lines, I’m all ears!

And yes, it continues to get colder...  So, out came the sweaters, the gloves, the coats and turning on the pilot light for my gas fireplace!  I can’t wait for our Thanksgiving vacation—FLORIDA!!  Where it will be just a tad warmer!

Hope all is well with you!!  Get ready for the Holiday Season!!

Have a great month… and yes, The Best is yet to come!!