The 21 Day Healthy Challenge

About 3 years ago I made the decision to make some major lifestyle changes and work to lose weight.  I thought that making small diet changes and starting to workout would be easy.  I was wrong.  It was hard!  I was however able to persevere, thanks to the help of my family, and lose nearly 70 lbs.

As we have worked through this holiday season, I have been like most and eaten more than I should while working out very little.  As a result my wife sent me the 21 day health challenge last night.  No junk for 21 days.

So today I start the 21 day junk food challenge and a new round of P90X3.  New Year is often a time for resolutions that become broken a few days later.  I have found that posting my resolution online for all to read helps me to stay on track.  Make your own health challenge and try to stick to it.  I can honestly say that losing 70 lbs changed the way I feel and has made me much more confident that I will be around to see my children grow up.  It is worth it.

Good luck on your New Year resolutions.

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The Reason We Work

This Friday I get to participate in one of the best parts of my job, graduation. I am proud to work at a community college because as much as any organization, we work every day to try and improve the lives of our students. Many community college students can barely afford to pay for the bus ticket that brings the to one of our campuses, but through education they are able to change their situation and make a new life for their families. I was blessed to have parents that encouraged education, to have friends that pushed me to succeed, and to have professors that challenged me every day and helped me press on even when I didn’t think I could make it. Not all of our students have had the same encouragement at home and from friends that I had. I do however know that the minute they step on a RCCC (or my former employer CPCC) campus they are built up, encouraged, coached, and cheered on to achieve goals they likely never thought possible. The accomplishment of graduation is something to be celebrated, and this Friday I can’t wait to applaud the success of our students and the great work of our staff. Thank you Dr. Michael Smith for being that professor who made such a difference for me. Although I am not a professor, but an administrator, I hope I can live up to the example you set and always be an advocate for our students. Happy Graduation RCCC students, and all of my friends who are graduating this time of year, well done!

Presenting at Acuta

Had a great time presenting about being a CIO at a community college at Acuta a little over a week ago.  There may be challenges, but there are also amazing opportunities working in a community college IT group.  It is quite rewarding to go home feeling like your work is helping someone make a better life for themselves.

The Right Focus

Too many times I see occasions where IT professionals are touting the newest technology, the latest tool, or the “cool” innovation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love new toys as much as the next guy, but I think all too often we focus on the cool at the expense of the important.  Innovation is vital to the success of our organization, but releasing the latest gadget is not always the best way to be innovative.  Sometimes using an existing tool in a new way, or to full potential, can provide the greatest innovation.

Lately I have determined that there are two areas where increased focus can lead to great things:

  1. Setting and meeting expectations
  2. Culture

When you set expectations, and then meet them, it provides a true opportunity to see where time is available, and where innovation may occur.  All too often we are reactive to the newest requested item.  Unlike some companies we have multiple technologies, tools, and customers we have to support.  It is easy to get lost in the “urgent” request/need.  When we set an expectation for how we handle “emergencies”, and how to manage projects, then we are able to be a proactive organization, not reactive.

Culture is more vital to the success of the IT organization than most people realize.  I have seen more traditional companies  scoff at tech companies who have a deep focus on culture.  In many cases these traditional organizations only see culture as a means to reduce pay or as a nice bonus.  What I have found is that focusing on the culture of the IT group provides a workplace where people are enthused about their work and feel empowered to make a difference.  Culture is not telecommuting, or time off, or even how projects are managed.  Culture is how we interact and work together to pursue a common goal.  It is how we empower employees to accomplish their work and feel a sense of ownership.

The new technology, the cool tools, are always fun and innovation can definitely come from something new.  I just see more and more that real innovation comes from the people you have and how you encourage their talents over any particular tool.

Presenting on Being a CIO

Recently I made a rather large transition in my career, I became a CIO. For years I have worked as a developer, team leader, and eventually Executive Director. When preparing to make the transition I did not think it would be tremendously different from my previous work. Although there are a lot of similarities, there are also a number of changes from my previous life.

In 3.5 weeks I will be speaking at the annual SEDUG conference about being a CIO in Higher Education. I hope to share information that might help others determine if they want to become a CIO, or how to better serve as a CIO in their organization.

When I think about the topics I want to cover, and how I want to present the information, I immediately think about a few topics:

  • Providing focus and leadership to your team
  • Three keys to success as an IT leader: collaboration, transparency, communication
  • Dealing with legacy decisions
  • Setting the right tone
  • Preparing to innovate

I am sure as the event approaches I will think of more topics to cover.  I am also sure that I will try to impart some of the great wisdom passed to me by amazing leaders and friends like Kevin Roberts (Abilene Christian University), Phil Komarny (Seaton Hill University), and David Kim (Central Piedmont Community College).

If you happen to be attending the SEDUG conference stop in and listen, heckle, question and we can all learn together.