Category Archives: Conference/User Groups

Future Midwest

In response to a horrible piece by Dateline last night regarding Detroit, I wanted to share a positive look into our city, via a very well-made video: http://vimeo.com/11021663 put together by FutureMidwest.

I attended FutureMidwest last week (a 2 day conference held in Royal Oak) which is helping to raise awareness, educate and push innovation in our area.

For those looking for new opportunities, another site you might want to check out is: http://detroit.startupweekend.org/

If you have an idea, or desire to contribute to your own “startup” I highly encourage you to check them out – it’s an [aggressive] process that has been growing nationally, and this is the Detroit flavor.

Naturally, there are more traditional ways to starting your own business, but this could be a fun way for you to get exposure, experiment and maybe even learn something??

Hope to see you there!?

Troy Toastmasters Club

I’ve seen statistics that show people fear speaking in public more than they do death.  I used to be one of these people.  I learned this lesson first hand several years ago, when I was the best man and had to give a few words and toast at a wedding in front of a few hundred people.  This was the first time I was ever in front of that large of an audience, with the attention solely on me (even if it were for only a few moments.)

While preparing I felt pretty confident, I knew the material, most of the audience and wasn’t really too nervous about it, that is until 30 seconds before I was handed the microphone.  My heart sunk, my hands trembled and I eecked out a horrible display of public speaking, full of filler words and disorganized thoughts.  In hindsight, there was a clear lack of appreciation for true “preparation.”  That was a valuable lesson for me, as I sat down and tried to calm my nerves, trembling, trying to drink some water, I vowed to never embarrass myself like that again.

From there, I went on to read several books about public speaking, I even took a class at a community college in the evenings to learn about the discipline of public speaking, preparation, research, outlines, etc. Needless to say, I’ve improved.  My confidence in speaking publicly has also improved.  That’s not to say I’m a polished speaker, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve overcome the first of many barriers – I no longer fear it more than death.

Speaking, communication, negotiation, whatever you want to call it is a fundamental skill in today’s society.  Being an effective communicator is crucial to your own success, credibility and influence you have with your peers, friends and even family.  In my role, (and active community involvement) I get asked from time to time to do talks on various subjects, inside and out of my organization – each of which I draw from my experience; sure I still get nervous, but after each I gain in experience and confidence making each future talk more manageable and in some cases I even look forward to them.  One day, I may even hope to give a talk at a TED conference!  Shoot for the stars – right!?

I, like you, have probably heard of Toastmasters, but until recently didn’t know all that much about them.  A good friend of mine, Danielle (@ddelonge) of Davenport University – helped to motivate me to check out a local Toastmasters here in Troy, MI.  The Troy Toastmasters, Club #2357 (Area 23, Division E, District 28) – meets weekly at 11:45 each Thursday at Dupont Automotive (950 Stephenson Hwy, Troy, MI, 48083.)  This group (to me) was the exact venue to help keep me engaged, further developing my speaking skills, as large gaps (and busy schedules) can prevent me from practicing and the TM group (along with Danielle) provides a positive support system – much like a workout friend.

Not having had exposure to other Toastmaster clubs, I can only assume they all as well run as the Troy group is.  If you’re looking for an outlet to increase your confidence speaking publicly, increasing your verbal (and non-verbal) communication skills, confidence and all the benefits that come along with it, I HIGHLY recommend you check them out.  The group has well balanced experience, with very polished, experienced speakers, as well as total beginners, starting at step 1.  The group is highly organized, with distinct roles & responsibilities to ensure each and every meeting is good use of your time, getting everyone involved, and most importantly introducing you to the benefits of becoming a good speaker – both through positive reinforcement as well as constructive criticism.

The Troy group also has access to excellent facilities, from a large auditorium stage with stadium-style seating (for large, formal speaking engagements) to conference rooms (where most presentations occur.)  Formats include several timed, structured speeches, to one-minute intros and table topics, as well as debates – getting you full exposure to all different types of communication formats and environments – which will surely help you increase your confidence while preparing for you next big presentation – hopefully I’ll see you there!

“The mission of a Toastmasters Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.  We have fun in the process.”

Looking forward to TEDxDetroit!

The area’s leading creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers will gather on Wednesday, October 21st to share what they are most passionate about — positive ideas for the world from Detroit.  For more info, visit: http://www.tedxdetroit.com/

TED is an annual event where the top minds in the world share, connect and inspire. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three subjects that, collectively, shape our future. The event draws CEOs, scientists, creatives, philanthropists and extraordinary speakers including Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Frank Gehry, Sir Richard Branson, Philippe Starck and Bono.

You can view hundreds of other interesting an engaging TEDtalks from extraordinary speakers like Al Gore, Jill Bolte Taylor, Seth Godin, Elizabeth Gilbert and Tony Robbins at TED.com.

Are CIOs Suffering from Technology Presbyopia?

I had the honor of seeing Andre’s presentation in person a couple weeks back at the CIO Executive Summit | Detroit (in Dearborn.)  If you are remotely interested in technology and the increasing speed of innovation, this talk is worth it’s weight in gold – very “TED” esq.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.   http://www.bycios.com/posts/view/id/5116

Abstract:

Every recession of the past few decades has spawned massive restructuring of technology and an abundance of opportunity when the inevitable rebound occurs. Special Olympics International Global CIO André Mendes sees a veritable maelstrom of change sweeping us into the next generation of innovation, with life-changing consequences for people worldwide. In this inspirational keynote, Mendes envisions a near future where culture, business and technology are tightly intertwined and virtually indistinguishable; where societies are forever altered and where technology serves as a guidepost for a “higher level of reality” in the fast-evolving world of the 21st century.

TEDxDetroit Invitation

Just received confirmation for attendance to TEDxDetroit – the area’s leading creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers which will gather on Wednesday, October 21st to share what they are most passionate about — positive ideas for the world from Detroit.

If you haven’t applied, better hurry up – this invitation only event is filling up fast!  More details can be found:

Much thanks the @Charlie, Curve Detroit and the whole crew for helping to bring this awesome event to Detroit!

Detroit CIO Executive Summit Recap

Whew!  Where to begin?  I spent the day out in Dearborn, MI attending a CIO Executive Summit  organized by Evanta and the CIO Leadership Network and I must admit, I was very impressed.  As the CIO of Billhighway.com I tend to participate in a number of local and national events, conferences, workshops, you name it – but the quality of content today was just superb.

The opening keynote by Ed Ruggero, Former U.S. Army Office, Author and Military Historian re: A Winning Culture: Leadership as Competitive Advantage set the stage for a very productive day.  Mr. Ruggero is a great story teller and excellent speaker – making countless comparisons between the military and IT leadership.  The CIO Leadership Network will be publishing videos of each presentation soon, and I’ll be sure to post a link once its available.

After a short break, Phillip Bertolini, Deputy County Executive & CIO of Oakland County along with L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive had a unique presentation about the “marriage” between the CEO and CIO, which was very well done.  They touched on the typical stages leading up to and into a successful marriage; courting, building trust, communication and partnership.  A couple noteworthy highlights:

  • CEO Vision + CIO Tools = ROI
  • CEO must have some understanding of Technology
  • CIO must have some understanding of Business
  • To gain the trust of the CEO, the CIO must build and delivery dependable, predictable, repeatable strategic technology solutions

At 11am there were several break out sessions, in which I attended “Achieving Higher Performance in your Current Role and How to Successfully Transition into Your Next Role.”  A couple of the takeways I found here were:

  • Have executive/leadership presence (this is something I’ve been hearing alot lately)
  • Be inspirational, captivate, motivate and lead by example
  • Handle touch situations with confidence
  • Build Relationships
  • Enhance Collaboration
  • Integration your Personal Values

Lastly, a couple book recommendations: Why CEOs Fail & What got you here, won’t get you there.

At lunch, Andre Mendes, SVP, Strategic Planning & Global CIO of the Special Olympics International gave a talk on Crisis-Driven Innovation: The Ultimate Change Agent, which I found very uplifting.  Not only is Mr Mendes extremely intelligent, but a great speaker – very TED esq. touching on a broad spectrum of topics, where we’ve been, where we’re going and the speed of change, often unrealized by industry that’s so closely engaged in the day-to-day business affairs.  This will be another great talk to catch online, once it’s available.  A few takeaways here, for a CIO’s to-do list:

  • Build abstraction layers
  • Consolidate – streamline line of business applications, investigate SaaS
  • Virtualize – reduce hardware footprint, increase manageability
  • Co-locate – ping, power, pipe are commodities, leave this to the pro’s
  • Cloud IT – have the applications you want, without any of the headaches

Lastly, Mr. Mendes challenged CIOs to get out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to the unknown and take [managed] risks.  Abstract technology, focus on the business.  Scalability, availability and security all have their place – in the abstraction layer; don’t let them choke innovation.  To me, this means if you’re spending any respectable amount of time here, GET OUT OF THE WEEDS – you, as the CIO are not allowing your business to realize the value of your role.  Oh yea, and don’t be a “NO” man, as we get older and more experienced, it’s natural to become complacent – not embracing “change”, however if/when opportunities get presented to improve X, you might be better served by giving it a try.

The day closed out for me with a session about eight simple rules for Survival, by Greg Schwem, president of Comedy with a Byte who was very entertaining, keeping things on the lighter side and some pointing out some (often overlooked) examples of Do’s & Don’ts.  Closing keynote was by Kevin Summers, Corporate VP & Global CIO of Whirlpool Corporation who shared some rare insight into the operational aspects of overhauling a nearly 100 year old, multinational organization.  His 10 Transformational best-practices were:

  1. Create a strategic roadmap
  2. Implement a formal change management program (and team)
  3. Adopt (and standardize) an Enterprise Architecture early
  4. Invest time/energy into Value Chain Integration (it works)
  5. Align vision/strategy with business partners
  6. Leverage strategic partners (reduce key vendors where possible)
  7. Manage IT like a business
  8. Talent management is key (yet more about Top-Grading, if you’re not familiar with it, take time to read up!)
  9. Ensure stable operational practices exist
  10. Markets (and opportunities) will return – so be ready!

That about summarizes it, overall GREAT day, packed with invaluable content, excellent speakers and thought-provoking subjects.  I literally took pages of notes, but this should suffice for those that couldn’t make it.  If you get the opportunity to attend this event next year, or in another city, I highly recommend it!  For more information visit: http://www.bycios.com/

TiECon 2009

What is TiE Midwest 20?

TiE Midwest 20 is a new program at the TiECon Midwest annual conference. TiE Midwest 20 acknowledges excellence among 20 startups within five industry tracks including Software, Wireless, Cleantech, media, Life Sciences. TiE Midwest 20

TiECon Midwest 2009 is an entrepreneurial conference , attracting Hundreds of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other professionals. TiECon Midwest has been running from 2008 in Detroit with well known keynote speakers. This year TiECon Midwest is being held on Oct 23-24, 2009 at The Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn.

Selection process:
TiE Midwest 20 finalists will be selected by a combination of public opinion polls and an experienced panel of industry judges. Last date for Nominations Sep 21th 2009.

The Benefits:
TiE Midwest 20 winners will be honored with awards of excellence in front of hundreds of entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists and other professionals at TiECon Midwest 2009. Additionally, the TiE Midwest 20 winners will get special invitations to PowerConnect premium networking sessions at TiECon and will be part of ongoing recognition from TiE Detroit throughout the year.