Posts

Would you prefer to have an adventure, or read about one?

While there are a few adventures I would prefer to read about, for example, anything that triggers my selective fear of heights, having an adventure is far better.  How to get those adventures takes some thought, which I’ll demonstrate with a couple of examples. My first trip to Europe is one type of adventure, one where you’re so completely thrown into a new environment that it’s overwhelming.  When Jeff and I landed in Paris we picked up our rental car, destined for our hotel.  We did a half-circle around the périphérique, exiting at the proper spot, landing on the streets of Paris without a clue where the street signs were located.  Using our map and counting intersections and roundabouts, we miraculously found the hotel.  After checking in we decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower, again figuring to use our obviously excellent map skills to locate.  After a few blocks, we noticed that the street signs are located on the sides of the buildings, about ten feet or so off the ground.  Tha

What are some of your favorite smells?

I like many aromas but some of the best are the ones that can only be truly appreciated when they are totally immersive, when every breath brings another wave and you’re compelled to breathe through your nose.  I played golf years ago in Florida on a course that doubled as an orange grove.  The sweet smell of fresh-squeezed oranges was everywhere.  Then on my first visit to the Hawaiian island of Maui, I walked out of the hotel room to be greeted with the smell of bananas and noticed the banana trees were planted all over.  Finally, we took the lavender tour at Matanzas Creek Winery in the Bennett Valley region of Sonoma.  The stroll through lavender fields was awesome and when we ended the tour at the drying barn’s open barrels of lavender seeds, the aroma was overpoweringly delightful. Other smells are not in-and-of-themselves pleasing, however, they invoke a happy memory or perhaps just a feeling of a happy memory.  The smell of certain burning plastics brings back one of those happ

If you could thank anyone, who would you thank and why?

That would be a very long list of family, founding fathers, entrepreneurs, and managers that led me to where I am today.  From my German immigrant ancestors, the writers of the Constitution, computer hardware and software pioneers to those people that gave me a chance and trusted I would deliver.  But I give the nod to the question posed to Joseph Gayetty of New York and his 1857 introduction of a product I’m so thankful I don’t live without. The 2020 pandemic caused panic buying of everything from cans of Spam to packets of yeast to lots of paper products.  It made everyone step back for a minute and decide what they could not live without.  While Spam is not considered by many, except myself and the entire state of Hawai’i, a delicacy, it’s shelf-stable for 3-5 years.  I wonder who has hundreds of cans they now regret buying.  Why yeast was gone is a mystery; it’s not like most people bake bread all that often.  Maybe the thought was you could make your own pizza dough and avoid cont

What have you changed your mind about over the years?

Swiss cheese.  That’s the first thing that came to mind.  When I was a kid, Swiss cheese smelled so bad I wouldn’t get close to it much less add it to my sandwich.  I avoided Swiss cheese until my thirties and only then due to an experience in Paris, France.  My co-worker Jeff and I were sitting out at a restaurant on the Champs-Élysées and he ordered us a plate of cheeses to go with our glasses of wine.  The cheese was fabulous and far “stinkier” than the Swiss of my youth.  I realized that my taste buds had changed, or perhaps weakened, over time, along with the rest of me, and I needed to revisit tastes, smells, sounds, etc. to see what else my older self now appreciated.  Getting older is the first key component of mind changing. People.  Like most people I grew up in a sheltered environment, meaning people that were raised in similar economic, religious, and moral backgrounds.  Not having a greater perspective, I naturally thought most people were more or less like me.  While I th

What is your definition of love?

Like many other powerful words in the English language, love has been used to describe those strong feelings you have about your football team, pair of jeans, or flavor of ice cream.  That description of “love” is better described as “I really like this one the most”.  But my definition treats it as a noun, not a verb, and is a real thing that lives deep inside you. I believe love is formed when a person opens their heart to another and lets that person become a part of them.  Open long enough and carefully nurtured, that person becomes an internal part of you, as important, if not more, than yourself.  You want for them everything you want for yourself, safety, happiness, security, and more.  You will put yourself in danger so they’re not.  You’ll put their feelings ahead of yours.  They become a part of you.  When you lose them, it’s unbearable, at least for a while, because you’ve lost a part of yourself, not just them, and you miss that dearly.  

Are you more like your father or your mother? In what ways?

This is a really tough question.  I clearly look like an Otto, my mother’s side of the family, as does my sister and youngest brother.  I got my hairline from my grandfather Maurice Otto.  My Dad was six foot tall, had dark hair, and weighed a constant 150 pounds, none of which describes me at all.  My mother was about 5’2”, had blond/brunette hair, liked Manhattans, and was a frequent visitor to her chiropractor.  So while I’m 5’9”, the rest is a perfect fit. My Dad was a pretty smart man, being an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Dayton.  I think I have similar smarts, at least those kinds of smarts.  My SAT scores for math and science were right at the top, calculus was my favorite college course, I dropped philosophy and couldn’t manage better than a “B” in English.  Computers and programming came easily, all that logical stuff fit neatly inside my brain.   As I was raising kids I came to the realization that Dad primarily taught me to be responsible and my

What was your best boss like?

I’ve had the fortune of working for not only some very excellent bosses throughout my career but also the companies themselves.  The relatively few moments I spent in malfunctioning companies made me appreciate how building an organization that is morally rich is really hard but the benefits to its employees and customers are enormous.  You’re engaged, excited to start another day at work, and know you make a real difference.  These companies listen more than they talk, push decision-making down to the people that know best, and never push their responsibilities or blame on others.  My best bosses exemplified these attributes.   Most of the CIOs I reported to did not have technical backgrounds but understood it well enough to make good decisions.  The CIOs that did understand Information Technology knew they weren’t the experts but recognized when the experts did not appreciate the bigger picture.  Their biggest value was knowing the right people throughout senior leadership, what was