Who does Yahoo! think they are? (or How To Turn Away Your Biggest Fans)

Flickr: Really cool.

Yahoo!: Really big.

I decided to use a Flickr account for the youth group that I work with at church. In order to do so, I needed to create a Yahoo! account (yes, I got in after the acquisition). I created one, uploaded some pictures and then went a few weeks without signing in.

Of course, I forgot my sign-in information. I’m not a one-password-fits-all guy because that’s just too easy.

Here’s where the ridiculousness of big Yahoo! comes into play. A password retrieval from Yahoo! now requires your month, day and year of birth and your zip code.

Normally, I’m pretty honest on web forms and stuff in case someone decides to do something like this. But I don’t go back and check the form two or three times to make sure I didn’t fat-finger my birthday. It’s never mattered before.

OK, fine. They’re looking out for my security. I guess I’ll send a request to customer service and maybe they can help. No such luck. This was included in the automated response: “Please remember that Customer Care may not reset your password…”

This means I’ll have to start over again, I suppose.

  1. Go create yet another Yahoo! account (which I can’t use my existing email address for – so I’ll need another email address).
  2. Create another Flickr account.
  3. Upload all of my pictures again.

Or, I could go find another service that hasn’t been swallowed by Yahoo! and post my pictures there.

And encourage all of my friends to do the same.

What Happened?

Last Friday I celebrated my last day of work in a job I wasn’t suited for. On Monday evening, I flew to New Jersey to teach a 3-day class on a technical certification. Right before I boarded my plane home, my worst short-term fear was realized. The project: cancelled. I return home from my first gig essentially unemployed. Maybe I didn’t do an effective job managing my own expectations. Maybe I left a hole in my plan. Where’s plan B?

Unfortunately, there is a complex plan B gotcha. Before disaster, plan B seems like a silly — almost pessimistic — exercise. After disaster, plan B (or C or D or E) is an order of magnitude more difficult. After disaster, plan B becomes plan A. Now plan B doesn’t seem so silly, does it?

Right now, at 34,000 feet, the cities, roadways, and earth all look a lot smaller than they do when I’m lost in Newark or at home worrying about next month’s mortgage. February 9th, 2006 will look less and less significant as I take off from this runway. I know it will work out. I have enough faith in God and in myself to know that in 6 months, I’ll have something much more trivial to worry about.

There are a few odds-and-ends facts about me that seem relevant tonight.

  • I’m impulsive: I make decisions quickly.
  • I’m resiliant: Even though I take first hits poorly, I quickly decide (see the last fact) that it’s not worth worrying over (will I care about this in six months?).
  • I’m brilliant: Impulsive decision-making and poor-planning notwithstanding, I learn quickly, retain everything and am passionate about sharing knowledge.

Side note: I’m flying over DC right now and (in the dark) the Washington Monument is lit and clearly identifiable from 34,000 feet. Good design.

I’ll get back to bragging about myself (I don’t do this often, so let me have my moment).

This week reminded me how much I love teaching people things that I’m interested in. I’m good at it too. I guess that makes sense; My dad was a good teacher. Now I’ve got a fresh infusion of teaching mojo and no students to teach.

I think a lot about finding a purple cow. I am a purple cow.

  • I’m ideological (that’s dangerous).
  • I’m enterprising: I appreciate the freedom to make a difference.
  • I’m creative.
  • I’m personable. I like people and I’m easy to get along with.
  • I’m purple. There aren’t many people like me, you see. I have quirky behaviors, quirky memories, and off-the-wall ideas.

This is little more than a bragstream. Maybe it’ll give me enough motivation to completely turn this situation around in a few weeks time. Let’s hope so, I can’t afford any more plane tickets right now.

New Opportunities

On Tuesday, I promised you news soon. When I first did my ‘passion intersections‘ months ago, I listed technology instructor as one. About 3 weeks ago, my sister made me aware of a teaching opportunity with the company she works for.

I followed the appropriate process, and went to a 3-day training session in Philadelphia, PA. My employer graciously allowed me to take some unpaid leave time to train and keep my old job until everything was squared away with the new gig.

Today was my last day of work with my old employer. I’ll respect professional boundaries and leave out the name of the company, but will say that my last day of quality assurance work came just in time. I’m looking forward to the freedom I’ll have as an independent contractor teaching roughly two weeks a month.

This situation will allow me to pursue several of my passions while making a living doing another. Should be a great situation, I’ll keep you informed.

Use Your Experts Wisely

Congratulations on your new company. I hope you’ve found some experts that you expect to make your job as CEO easier. Hire a graphic artist to do your graphics, give him direction, but don’t hold his hand. That’s his thing. Hire an accountant to take care of payroll and taxes. Don’t ask him to cook the books for you. Hire a marketing guy to help design your product*.

Many CEOs (I’ve seen it too many times to count) have the best way around every problem. Or so they think. Maybe they do. Maybe they should be a one-man show. If you’ve made the decision to hire someone as an expert, let them be your expert. You’ll help out the company by getting the job done by someone who knows what’s up. You’ll become an employer people are dying to work for because they’re allowed to be creative, allowed to do their jobs, allowed to recycle the positive energy you’re helping them create.

Expect personal news from Bryan soon.

*This fact is outside the realm of this post, but make sure you go read Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

Meetings: Good Idea, Bad Idea

It seems that the one carryover from brick-and-mortar, manual, old school business to the new knowledge-based economy is that upper management likes to have meetings. Meetings are necessary. Meetings suck. Here’s my meeting school:

Meetings are good:

  • Task assignments are best identified by the team, rather than just direct orders by a superior.
  • Resource allocations are easier with the minds of many.
  • Well executed meetings facilitate brainstorms.

Meetings are bad:

  • Tyrants use meetings for short-sighted task assignments.
  • Long or frequent meetings waste the time of the team.
  • Reactionary meetings facilitate blamestorming.

Make your next meeting productive. Set a timer, bring a list of things to talk about, don’t shoot down ideas, and come up with next action lists.


Happy New Year! I think. Hopefully your endeavors for the year are off to a good start.

If you’re a leader working to motivate people, I have some ideas for you.

  • Compensation alone can only motivate temporarily. Substantially higher pay for mundane work may get Samuel motivated to work on a project for a very short period of time, but if your project will last for a long time, he’ll get bored and stop producing.
  • Substandard compensation is only sufficient if people love what they’re doing. In the depths of human subconscious, love is a much stronger motivator than money.
  • People who cannot envision the possibility of a completed project, they can’t be driven to it. “This task is impossible” will break even the most contrarian initiators if they actually believe it’s impossible.
  • Tell the truth, at all costs. Even if you think you’re pulling the wool over their eyes, they’ve got you figured out. Even if you think the truth will cause mutiny, the silent mutiny caused by a lie will break your team.

Are you motivated to do what you’re supposed to be doing right now?

Bryan and Murphy

Just as if I needed further convincing that I’m in the wrong place, the yesterday’s work day was beyond terror. The sick feeling I get when walking in the building was met by a few brilliantly-placed and crafted processes (read: “who came up with this idea?”), personality conflict and overall frustration.

Then Murphy bears his wicked countenance. The (50-week-old) iBook’s hard drive has crashed. Like has happened so many times to me, it seems that the platters are bound or there has been a head crash.

“Ok, don’t panic. Bryan when’s the last time you backed up? Crap. Ok, what did we lose? Crap. The pictures, Quicken, music, my music, the custom scripts.”

Damage control proved more fruitful on yesterday’s iBook crash than it has in the past. After spending an hour in the refrigerator, the hard drive decided to spin up again long enough for me to pull a few really crucial files off.

After sitting cool again overnight, I was able to pull about 15 GB of additional data onto my external drive. I hope and pray that after sitting again all day, I’ll be able to pull the last 10 or so days of pictures from it (those are the ones I missed with my last iPhoto-to-DVD backup). After that, I’m going to drop it off to our local Apple Certified Repair place (of course we have no Apple Store). After that, I presume I’ll be without the iBook for about 3 weeks. Sigh.