She is still small and she does not know much English yet. She knows English letters but sometimes she is confused with Russian letters since some of them look as English ones but pronounced differently. As you can understand, she cannot read in English yet.

A couple of days ago she went to a skating rink for a first time in her life. And she was very excited about that.

Then the funny thing happened. All of a sudden when she was on the ice she saw a Tim Hortons advertising of the board. She could not read what was written there. But she recognized what it was and said to mom “Mom, it is Tim Hortons”.

This is power of a strong brand. Had Tim Hortons brand managers heard a small child recognizing their brand, they would be proud of their work.

Someone asked my daughter what her name was. And she said that her name was Elizabeth. That person told her that her name is the same as the name of the Queen.

She immediately replied: “Yes, I know that. But I was born as a regular girl”.

Baby Talk

October 16, 2008

I started this series to capture what my little daughter sometimes say. She is only four now and the only time when she does not talk is when she sleeps. Every now and then she surprises us with priceless thoughts.

She talks mostly in Russian. I know that even the best translation cannot be as good as the original. But I will try to translate her as close as I can and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

In his blog Steve Olson wrote a great post “Leaders Wanted – Please Apply Within” about leadership. He did not rant about the speech that he heard on the radio. He wrote his speech, the speech that he thinks the leader should deliver in the current economic situation.

First of all, as a leader, you should acknowledge mistakes. And you should not blame someone else. Don’t say that “the problem was created” or “wrong assumptions have been made” since these things did not just happen. We live in a real world and ghosts or aliens did not cause these problems. And by the way there are no ghosts or aliens (someone could probably argue that). Real people and their irresponsible actions caused these problems. That’s why it is much better say that “We created the problem”, “We made wrong assumptions”, etc. We and not somebody else will fix it.

Show that you are a leader. Show that you are not lost and don’t know what to do. Show that you have a plan of fixing the problem. Engage the best advisors that you can afford. Create a road map from the crisis.

Motivate your people. Encourage them. Because they believe you. Because they trust you. Because they support you. Tell them how great they are. Tell them that you believe in them. Tell them that you believe that they can make this happen.

Actually, you don’t have to be head of state or a CEO of a big multinational corporation to deliver such speech. In the same way you can speak to your development team that must meet a tough deadline or to football team that desperately want to make to playoffs.

And this is what real leaders should do: acknowledge, motivate, lead.

Blue Jays 2008 Season is Over

September 29, 2008

Yes, it is over and once again they did not make post season this year. As many other Blue Jays I was excited to see the team starting the season. As many others I hoped that this was THE season for the Jays. And they had a chance. It was obvious that Yankees were not as strong contenders as they usually were. Nobody has ever taken Tampa Bay Rays seriously. And nobody could expect that the standings in AL East in the end of the season would be as they were. If before this season Jays and their fans only worried about Red Sox and Yankees in their group, now they will have to worry about one more team.

When we summarize the season we only want to remember positive things that happened during the year. At the same time there was couple of things that we wish did not happen such as trading Reed Johnson and several injuries of key players.

On the positive side, releasing Frank Tomas (with all due respect to the guy) showed that the team wanted to win. No doubt he is a great player. But his previous success did not contribute in any way to the team this year. It was not easy for the general manager to release such player as Frank. This decision showed a strong leadership of the management. It showed that you could only be a part of this team if you can contribute to it now. Your previous success cannot hit the ball out of the part, you should do that.

Another great thing was signing Cito Gaston. And it showed so far how big the impact of bringing him back is. We all could see how team improved after his return. Unfortunately it was a bit late. I would not say impossible, but it was very hard to compete for post season at that point. And in the end they signed him for 2 year extension.

Looking forward to a new season we all hope that the team will be healthy and will make the post season.

Let’s Go Jays!!!

P.S. We need a leader for Toronto Maple Leafs as well. Do you think Leafs could negotiate with Cito Gaston to work with the team before baseball season starts? Just kidding….

How long did it take you to create your first blog? Minutes? Hours? Days?

I decided to host my blog on WordPress.com.

WordPress.com are trying to help you create a blog in just several clicks. They redirect you to the page with some of the required information already pre-filled for you. But is the rest of the registration process easy, fast, convenient, straightforward? I don’t think so. At that point several things can go not as smoothly as you would expect.

It took me too long to start blogging. Aside from the common procrastination, it took me long time decide about the blog name, blog platform, blog provider, etc., etc. But when I started actually doing that I found several obstacles on the way.

The first thing that I found was that there was no place on the WordPress site to check if the certain name is available. Does such thing exist? The only way that I found was to type <name-i-want-for-may-blog>.wordpress.com in the browser address bar. If name was already used by someone else, that page was loaded. Is there any better way to check the name?

And here was another frustration. I found that there was a huge number of dormant blogs created long time ago and never used. You could see that these blogs just had several standard pages generated when blogs were created. I believe that most of the people who created these blogs just abandoned them. However you cannot use these names for your blogs. That is the downside of a free service. When people pay for the service, when they need to renew their registration, they are much more responsible. But it is free to create a blog, you don’t have to pay for account along the way (unless you want extra features). So why would or why should you care?

When you finally find the blog name that you like, that reflect what you want to talk about, that is not already taken, when you fill all fields in the first registration page, when you enter your password twice, you are forwarded to the next page. And when you get there you can see a new surprise. The name that you selected for your account name is not available. Some usernames are already used by other bloggers, some other are reserved by WordPress.com. My question is why when the user enter all information on the first page he is not notified that the username is not available? Why he is notified about that only on the next step and has to return to a first page.

To make a long story short it took a lot of time to register this blog. After that everything was pretty smooth and straightforward. My blog was up and running and all I needed was select the design, select categories and start writing.

The risk for the service provider (WordPress.com in this case) is that at some point of this registration process a potential customer (me in this case) could give up and look for other blogging service provider. This is the first thing that a new user experiences on this site. This initial experience could be much better if there was a easier way to find the available name for the blog and the username. I think that this is the area where WordPress.com can improve and this will have a positive effect on the number of their subscribers.

Can you learn swimming without getting you feet wet? Can you learn skating without falling on ice over and over again? In the same way you cannot learn writing without actual writing.

Since my early days in school writing has never been my strongest skill. Math always was. But writing was not. My essays were written poorly. It took me very long time to write just a couple of words on the paper. I admit that I always hated writing. When I was accepted to university I was happy that I only needed to pass two exams – science and math. I was happy that I did not need to write an essay, since that would definitely fail me. At that point I was also happy and relieved and thought that I would not need to write ever again. And if anybody said that I will write and I will write in English I would just laugh.

But things change. I am back in school. This time I am working towards my MBA. This is something different from what I did before. All my previous studies were around engineering and science. There I only needed to speak using the language of formulas. And now I found myself in a position that I must write a lot. I need to write research papers, reports, cases, you name it. And I must be able to write well if I want good marks and I want to be able to compete. And I have to write in English and I will need to compete with all those people for whom English is there first language.

And my biggest surprise was that now I want to write and I want to write well. I want not to be scared of the blank sheet of paper. I want to be able to write without thinking what the next word should be.

I must confess. I started blogging in order to learn how to write better, to learn how to tell compelling stories. I did not start this blog to make living of writing. There are way too many people that do that professionally, do that much better than I can. Although I live in Canada, English is not my first language. I guess, you have already noticed that. I hope that writing will improve my English.

I wanted to share my thought and ideas. And blog provides a great media to rich other people.

I also started blogging because I wanted to learn more about blogging. Being a software developer I was always interested in new technologies and trends in software industry. And the best way to learn about it is to try it. I know that I should’ve started blogging earlier.  But due to procrastination I did not do anything about it more than just a reading.

But enough is enough and it is better late than never. So here I am and here is my blog. I realize that my writing is far from perfect. But I’m constantly working on it and I will happily accept any your comments and constructive criticism.

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