January 5, 2017

NDS-Cisco: Moving On

Posted in business networking, NDS-Cisco, Torah tagged , , at 1:34 am by degyes

Miketz, the Torah portion that was read last Shabbat, begins with a dream, and is followed moments later by an abrupt awakening; into the reality of impending famine. Pharaoh is not a particularly noteworthy leader. However, he is able to acknowledge his limitations. He does this by delegating management — in this case, of the Egyptian empire—to Joseph, who for all the imperfections in his family life, is clearly possessed of a Divine spark, and a deep wisdom that affords him a view into the future.

Pharaoh’s dream doesn’t only portend famine; it foretells also a period of abundance. We can learn from Joseph to see the purpose in both—times of scarcity, and times of abundant plenty—and to tap into our deeper wisdom and act with intelligence, so that we can aim to stay —despite external circumstances—in a place of abundance.


Gathering to bid farewell to me and to friend and colleague Batya Neppe

As Beresheet winds down, and we transition into Shemot a few weeks from now, it’s always with a pinch of sadness that I feel myself saying goodbye to a family story—not always a family without problems—but what’s clearly a series of family narratives in Genesis—as we enter into the wider world of nationhood that we emerge into during Exodus. I experience this latter book as perhaps less personal, but nonetheless a necessary step in growing out of our previous confines.

To borrow a phrase from Cisco management, it is with mixed emotions that I’m talking with you here today. On the one hand, I’m sad as I face leaving so many dear friends and fabulous colleagues of many years. At the same time, I realize that this is a necessary step; that only by blowing the dust off of skills, talents, aptitudes and abilities long dormant, do we really extend ourselves beyond merely surviving … only in doing so can we truly stay alive.


Passion? Excitement? Energy? Focus? It’s up to you!

I’ll share some personal examples that I believe could be informative for us all.

During recent weeks, I’ve done things that I’d only imagined doing over a period of decades.

  • Attending professional networking events and startup gatherings; not just to passively sit back and watch slides and listen to lectures, but with the aim of approaching strangers, pitching them ideas, and really hearing their feedback.
  • Participating in more general networking events like meetups sponsored by NBN. Some have asked, Why would you want to meet with Millennials, with people half your age? Well, one of them might be your next boss!
  • Taking a good look at your resume; and if you haven’t got one, write one. Send it around for feedback to the people who scare you the most.
  • Doing some pro-bono consulting, getting a sense of what running a business and managing clients is like.

Rabbi Nachman says “כל העולם כולו, גשר צר מאוד, והעיקר לא לפחד כלל”, that the whole world is a narrow bridge and the important thing is not to fear at all. I don’t fully agree. Fear is an emotion that all human beings share, and in fact, it’s part of our humanity. The important thing is not to allow that fear to take over and get the better of us. I hope we can all use it as a springboard to enable and inspire us to take proactive steps to prepare for any eventuality.

Yes, we’ve certainly been exposed to a lot of jargon and standard motivational phraseology these past several years at Cisco; and it can sometimes be a bit off-putting. But the important thing, I believe, is to ask what we can do to stay positive and true to ourselves.

Passion? Excitement? Engagement? Laser-focus? Well, that’s up to you. Because only you can decide what parts of yourselves you’ll bring to work. Though what I can say with near certainty is that the future direction for SPVSS won’t come from the top-down. Rather it will come from grass-roots efforts to chart a course for the business unit and making a convincing case to the leadership. Will Cisco succeed in selling subscription-based, cloud-hosted video and security products? I don’t know for certain, but I sure hope it does; and what I do know is that if it does work out, it will come down to extending ourselves beyond our comfort zones, taking some calculated risks, and reaching into the best parts of ourselves … in a word, being like Joseph.

Will you do it? I believe you will. And I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you what I believe sets you apart. Four words, all beginning with “I”.

Will you innovate?

Will you be inventive?

Will you improvise?

Of course you will! You’re Israeli!

… you know how to make things work. You’ve all done some great and courageous things in your lives, and there’s room for more.

The takeaway message here is that, like Joseph, you have the power to decide how to respond to circumstances. There’s the option to remain a prisoner. And there’s the option to reach into yourselves and find the resources that make you special, and that give you a sense of limitless freedom. What’s more—like we learned in Knowledge Sharing—you can collaborate to make those special qualities exponentially more powerful.


A parting gift for Batya

Folks, יהיה בסדר, it’s going to be good.

You’ll make it good.

That’s the NDS spirit. That’s you at your most real.

Thank you all, and God bless.


December 28, 2012

Gamification and LinkedIn Endorsements

Posted in business networking, Commentary tagged , , , , at 7:16 am by degyes

OK, I get it. Endorsements are LinkedIn’s way of gamifying its platform. Frankly, I’m finding this constant stream of endorsement notifications a bit pesky (though thank you to those who’ve taken a moment to endorse me). Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I’m more a fan of written recommendations. Even a terse one — provided it’s sincere, honest, and well-written — is far more meaningful and valuable than a point & click ‘endorsement’. Though naturally fewer in number, since they take effort to proactively request, and time for the recommender to sit down and write, wouldn’t an actual recommendation mean more to a prospective employer seeking intel on a job candidate? While I can see why some folks might get a kick out of seeing their endorsements stack up, would a recruiter even take them all that seriously? Is there something deeper or more significant that I’m not getting here?

February 19, 2010

Getting Buzzed (in the Google Sense)

Posted in business networking, technology tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:43 pm by degyes

A friend was just asking me to offer my take regarding the relationship between Buzz, Google Profiles, and other social networks. Providing an answer gave me an opportunity to place my understanding of all this into perspective, and I thought I’d share. This is all a bit off the cuff, so by all means, feel free to comment, correct, and complete.

The whole buzz about Buzz – as many out there have been asking and professing – is that It’s a question of cutting into business areas that were, until about a week ago, the almost exclusive domain of the pioneer social / business / micro-blogging networks, namely, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. (Yes, there are other networks like MySpace, but let’s leave those forums aside, for simplicity’s sake).  The idea is that all the things that you needed those networks to do — posting a personal / business profile, “friending” people, following contacts, posting status messages, “tweeting” (i.e. public distribution of text messages), controlling access to your information based on categorizing your contacts and setting security settings accordingly — you should now be able to do via Google and Buzz. OK, this medium still needs a bit of refinement. But considering that this product came out of nowhere right into our Gmail boxes at a surprisingly “ready for prime time” quality, it’s already succeeded in creating quite a “buzz” in keeping Google far ahead of the 8-ball as the global campfire around which we gather to do just about anything on the Internet — search / share information, find people / maintain contacts, store / organize data, find entertainment, and so on. By no means do I think Google Profiles / Buzz will replace the existing social networks, and I think it would premature (if not outright foolish) to forecast as such. But the fact that Google Profiles / Buzz offers a range of those existing functionalities, while integrating with them very nicely, does indeed force the incumbents to sweat a little in keeping their offerings attractive and compelling.


December 24, 2009

Google, News Corp & Microsoft: The Media-Tech Battle of the 2010’s?

Posted in business networking, technology at 11:55 pm by degyes

The Microsoft/News Corp vs. Google fight over search could really shape up to the media-tech business battle of the coming decade. Whereas Google has succeeded in democratizing search — in the context of a wildly successful business model (AdSense, etc) — it will be interesting to see how that model holds up against the combined resources of two behemoths of media and technology. My expectation is that the pressure that these companies exert on one another will provide the motivation — and necessity — for all of them to remain creative, and to innovate in ways that will ultimately benefit the consumer (we can hope!).


April 19, 2009

Targeted Spam or Business Networking?

Posted in business networking at 10:38 pm by degyes


I posted a Facebook status and Twitter tweet that resulted in my being “followed” on Twitter by someone trying to sell something. This experience got me thinking about Twitter’s yet unproven potential as a possible intersection between the worlds of social networking and targeted advertising. Also, I was prompted to ask myself where the domain of spam stops and that of legitimate business begins.


This past Friday morning I discovered a leak in our half bathroom. Upon closer inspection, whereas the drip was far less than a torrent, it was more than just dampness. So I spent a few moments confronting the emerging reality that my morning’s plans (remember, Friday is my “free” day, as Israel’s workweek runs from Sunday through Thursday) have just changed. At this point I’m focused on how we can avoid a large plumbing bill, meaning I’d have to bring the bathroom back online DIY fashion. Consider that we sank no small amount of cash into fixing the oven last week, an appliance that actually started falling apart before the warranty expired. So I poke around identifying the source of the leak, and conclude that I’ll need to purchase materials, as I start rehearsing in my mind what I’ll need to describe to the folks at the hardware store (my Hebrew vocabulary thins out a bit in the area of home repair).

My trip to the hardware store yields a positive experience (though that’s not the point of this article). Electro-Slil on Pierre Koenig street is open for business bright and early, and Bahder in the plumbing supply department hears me out as I describe my problem, is reasonably patient as I go over it again just to make sure there’s no miscommunication, and actually takes the trouble to draw a diagram to make sure we’ve got it straight before I put down any cash. I’m thinking that this must be one of the multitude of daily examples of Moslem-Jewish coexistence that go unnoticed behind the media’s account of the “Arab-Israeli conflict,” but again, I digress.

Anyway, I head home with my newly purchased supplies (only NIS 25, about $6). Then, after a couple of hours of patch-up work, testing, and fine-tuning (which included an additional trip to the hardware store to buy an NIS 3.00 item I’d neglected to pick up the first time around), the leak is sealed up near perfectly. If the patch-up job can stave off a major repair expense for a couple of years, then my time and energy were well spent.

How Does this Relate to Social Media?

Early that same afternoon, using recently-installed TweetDeck, I updated both my Twitter and Facebook statuses to reflect the morning’s events. Later, before I shut down the PC prior to my pre-Shabbat jog, I checked FB and discovered that a friend had left a comment on my plumbing-related post. I responded, offering a few additional details. I didn’t think much of it. Thread closed, right?

The next day, shortly after Shabbat ends, I open my Google dashboard and notice a newly arrived email indicating that Charles the Plumber is following me on Twitter. I don’t know Charles the Plumber. What’s more, since the plumbing problem was now long behind us (no pun intended), it took me a moment to make the connection with the previous day’s posts. So I click the Twitter link to find out more. The link leads me to Charles’ updates, which yield yet more information. Apparently, Charles has a legitimate plumbing and heating business somewhere in east-central New Jersey. Charles is trying to maximize social media as a tool for drumming up business. He does this it seems by following Twitter tweets and interactions on FB relating to his business area. He then “follows” those folks who post items containing certain phrases or keywords, offering his free advice in the hope that when you need to call in a pro, you’ll call him.

Just to be clear, the point here is not to gripe about having been social media “spammed.” I’m not mad at Charles, nor am I upset by his attempt to “follow” me (for what its worth, after a quick look at Charles’ tweets, I blocked him). If anything, my reaction was at most mild irritation and bemused annoyance. What piqued my interest here is really two issues. One, do Twitter and Facebook constitute a legitimate use of social networks as a tool for generating unsolicited promotional messages? Or, conversely, does this simply represent another cynical way of exploiting social networks, relegating what ought to be good and fun to little more than a virtual conduit for junk mail? Secondly, does Charles’ use of Twitter suggest a possible scenario for how Twitter—or any form of “micro-blogging”— could have a potential future as a tool by which businesses seek customers and target ads to those potential clients?

Much noise has been made of late by Twitter’s proponents and critics alike. The cheerleading section raves about what a wonderful technology Twitter offers (I’m even subscribed to a blog by a young woman who’s got her heart set on getting hired by Twitter); the critics claim that innovative technology or not, Twitter has yet to present a business model that’s likely to lead to any kind of actual revenue stream. A reliable flow of income would be essential for the long-term survival of any business, at least according to the old school, right? Some even allege that the Twitter phenomenon is a fad that will die out once this (perhaps old-fashioned but very real) fiscal fact sets in. These folks can even point to a CNN “Quick Vote” taking place as I write this piece. This CNN poll indicates that among the 350,000 who’ve so far responded, only 7% use Twitter. Of the remaining 93%, thirty percent hadn’t heard of it, further indicating —according to my own perhaps somewhat simplified analysis—that the 63% who are aware of Twitter and haven’t bothered to sign up are not convinced of the value it could add to their lives, online or otherwise.

So Why This Article?

The purpose of this blog piece is to stimulate thought and discussion. For starters, I’m sure folks are curious to gain some insight into the technologies used in identifying and aggregating Facebook statuses and Twitter tweets on a specific topic or knowledge area, prompting a Twitterer to begin following those postings and tweets. (I’m assuming the lurkers are not tracking this stuff manually.) Beyond the technology, the larger question is whether this manner of “lurking and targeting” is a legitimate business tactic, or yet another aggressive and unsolicited intrusion into our online lives. Wherever you stand on the issue, your thoughts and comments are welcome.