Showing posts from October, 2021

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

What is the longest project you have ever worked on?

Mead Corporation’s implementation of the SAP ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system began in the year 2000 with a four-year timeline and a $125 million budget.  Mead had looked at ERP systems a couple of times earlier in the 1990s and decided then that the company wasn’t culturally ready for a single, process-oriented system like SAP.  But late in the 1990s, multiple divisions began requesting funds to implement their own ERPs, different ones, of course, and corporate had already purchased an ERP called PeopleSoft, so another look was taken and SAP was the ultimate decision. The key focus of the project was change management, from executive management to division leadership to the employees that would transact in SAP every day.  Four years is not a long time to implement a $4 billion company and executives tend to lose their enthusiasm towards the end.  To jumpstart the project, a preconfigured SAP system was purchased from Monsanto, the chemical company, which was also in a continu