Archive for the ‘Wisdom’ Category.

One in a Hundred

An important lesson about people and business:

From 2003 to 2005 I ran my own business fixing computers and such. I called it The Computer Guy,

I had just finished fixing a client’s broken email program (Outlook) and was packing up. I watched as he shut off his Windows laptop by simply holding down the power button until the computer died. My stomach lurched at the sight of it! I grit my teeth, and let out a breath to calm myself. I gently asked him if that was always how he turned off his computer. “Yes, it’s easier than finding that other way. I’ve never had any trouble.” I thought about the reason I was hired, to fix his mysteriously broken email program and told him there was a good chance it broke because of his bullet-to-the-head shutdown style. Then I started showing him how to shut down safely. He didn’t want to hear it, repeating how his current method was working just find. I redoubled my calm and told him, “Shutting down your computer that way is just fine ninety-nine times out of a hundred. That last time will break things but good. You’ve got my number.” Part of me wanted to shake him and make him do it right, instead I gave him a friendly smile, my business card, and left.

100 days later, like exactly 100 days later, I got a call! The computer wouldn’t boot. After I fixed everything, he was quite open to learning how to push the little “shut down” button instead of murdering his computer on a daily basis. When we were done, he gave me a very hearty handshake!

Important Lessons from QA

These are from when I was working as a QA (quality assurance) engineer around 2000 at Wavexpress.

The most important checks are the most basic. Our company created a big program for signing up for our beta program via a telephone number. I was not on this project and it was most certainly “not my job”, but I went and called the phone number on the flyer. It hadn’t been set up! I told the right people and the problem was fixed quickly. But the entire program would have been a bust AND given the company a black eye had I not checked the basics.

There was this nice guy who stayed late every Friday to swap tapes for the backup system. I liked him and wondered if the system actually worked so I put a file on my computer, waited 2 weeks, “accidentally” deleted it and asked IT for help. A day goes by and they hadn’t recovered my file so I check in. Another day. And a third. Finally, they admit to me that they had checked all the tapes and they were all blank! There were no backups at our software company! The most important checks are the most basic!

It is vital to end every meeting with an action plan. At the end of every meeting, I would always ask two simple questions, “Can I try to summarize what we talked about? [say it]” and “Ok, so what is the plan?” This was a tip I learned from some business guide. At first I was embarrassed to ask all these professionals such silly questions. If we’re leaving the meeting, “of course” we have a plan. But more often than not, (yes, like 60% of the time!) that final conversation ends up being the most important part of the meeting! That question has cleared up innumerable vagueries and misinterpretations since I started using it in 2000! I think this was the guide I read! Though I neglected to cited the original source!