Last I wrote, I was just about to start my first day at ProSites, my current employer. That was six months ago, and while I had every intention to do a post here and there to comment on my progress, it just hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, I’ll summarize events and provide a few thoughts.
Category Archives: Work
After a little more than two years, yesterday was my last day with Edify. God truly orchestrated the strange series of events that led me there and I am so thankful for how I was able to play a part in the growth and development of that organization. Even in two years, the addition of staff, of countries operated in, and programs offered was great to watch. I can also honestly say that I was part of a family and that I have made some lifelong friends as a result.
Tomorrow, I start my new chapter with ProSites as their IT Director. Like any other new job, it will be certainly a whirlwind of new faces, names, practices, and projects. In getting to know my new boss and some of the upcoming plans, I’m excited to dive in.
So, if yesterday was my last day with Edify and tomorrow is my first day with ProSites, then I guess that means today, technically, I’m unemployed. It’s kind of a strange feeling. I wonder what I can watch on NetFlixâ€¦
Gryphon Software, a fun look back
This past week, I ended up digging through the attic and ran across a box of software from the olden days of my career. Continue reading
Counting your inboxes
When you think inbox, the first thing that comes mind is probably the one for your email. Try again. How many different inputs do you have that require your attention and effort to review? Hereâ€™s a longer (and not even exhaustive) list: Continue reading
Making working from home work
The commute to my office is over 50 miles and even with my workday starting on the earlier side, it currently takes over an hour to get to the office and almost two hours to get home. Fortunately, I am able to work from home three days a week which helps considerably to maintain my sanity. Since the vast majority of IT work can be performed from anywhere, it’s a decent arrangement for everyone. Continue reading
Getting creative for employee on-boarding
Working for a small, international, non-profit has many challenges. One of the biggest I’ve encountered is managing all the internal details involved in on-boarding employees and helping new staff get sufficiently oriented regardless of their location or technical competency. One tool I’ve been a fan of for years is Trello and, based on an idea they shared, a colleague and I got to work. The solution created has been in use for almost a year-and-a-half with over two dozen new employees brought onboard since that time.
When a new employee is slated to start, a workflow is kicked off using an internal Trello board shared by a few different people involved in the process. It represents a master checklist of steps that will be needed to complete the numerous necessary tasks. Some of the steps include:
- Confirm that an offer was accepted
- Confirm employee’s contact info and title
- Get a headshot and bio
- Create email and other server accounts
- Create orientation board and account
- Send welcome email with getting started instructions
As an operations-minded person, myself, I like to standardize wheneverÂ possible. A multi-cultural organization, however, demands acknowledging and accounting for differences in culture. The balance I shoot for is 80/20: 80% standardized and 20% contextualized. We took that into account with our solution. The bulk of the board is the same for all staff and covers the baseline common to everyone. Things like our mission, vision, staff resources, and must-watch or must-read items. Folded into that are lists specific to the team they’ll be joining as well as the country which they’re located. All combined, it’s proven to be a great resource. We also incorporate the feedback of each person that uses it so it can be improved in future iterations.
The best part is that it’s a free service which is always a good thing when the goal is to apply every dollar possible towards our programs. Want to donate?
Peay It Forward
Ok, I admit that the title’s lame, but I thought it was fun. You’re here reading this so I suppose it’s not all badâ€¦
As one progresses through life and their career, knowledge and experience naturally accumulate. As you get exposed to new things and tackle the novel or unexpected, you generally amass a significant catalog of skills, insights, and, hopefully, wisdom. Over time, you consciously (and subconsciously) incorporate those numerous learnings into your day-to-day playbook to make yourself more efficient or effective. It happens almost automatically because nobody wants to spend more time or effort on something if they don’t have to. Continue reading
A Good Trip to Ghana
Last week, I returned to Ghana to participate in Edify‘s 2nd annual Education Technology Conference. The conference was well-attended and I enjoyed being part of the launch of our e-reader project in conjunction with our partner, Worldreader. Using Kindles to improve the reading ability and enjoyment for students will be a big benefit for many.
Following the event, a group of us had lunch atÂ a rather unique local restaurant: La Tante DC10. Built out of an abandoned DC10 next toÂ KotakaÂ Airport in 2013, it’s not surprising that it stands out. Very memorable.
Not just a team, but a family
Not surprisingly, in working for Edify I’ve learned that life inÂ a non-profit requires being very thoughtful and judicious about how we use our resources and spend our money. Certainly, we could expand our manpower by hiring more staff or simply ‘throw money’ at every challenge that arises. That doesn’t work very well in the long run. In daily practice, the challenge is to find creative solutions or strategic trade-offs to keep our focus on our mission: To improve and expand sustainable Christ-centered education globally.
I’m happy to say that there is one thing, whichÂ comes at great expense, thatÂ is one of our wisest investments of our time and money: our annual team meeting. Each January, our (growing) team gathers to spend time together in fellowship, devotion, training, and sharing. In the past, the meetings have been in San Diego, but this year’s was our first in the field: Ghana.
When you think about all of the effort and expense that goes into flights, visas, lodging, food, and all the related logistics, it would be so easy to for our management to decide against it. Instead, the commitment to the time by our founders and senior management gets stronger each year.
I was fortunate enough to join Edify shortly before last year’s meeting so the one I’m just now returning from is my second. We now total 53 with over a quarter added in the past year alone. As I’m involved in getting each one set up and oriented, I have the benefit of being familiar with names and roles from the start. Hearing their voices on a weekly prayer call or other phone conferences only goes so far to really get to know people. Seeing them in person, sharing a meal, trading stories, is the only way to truly make a connection. That I did at every opportunity.
I can honestly say that my family has grown considerably since I joined Edify. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share my time and talents in service to them and our collective goals.
I have been blessed by the opportunity I’ve had. I cannot wait for us to be together again in 2018!
Old-Fashioned Drone Video
Back in my early Sony days when I worked at RedZone Interactive, a friend and I got into RC planes. Since the rest of the studio didn’t generally roll in until about 9:00 or 10:00, we had the opportunity to take our planes out in the lot behind the office in the mornings while the winds were quite gentle. It’s a fond memory.
About the same time, I saw online a wireless video camera that was about the size of a matchbook and immediately thought of attaching it to the plane to get a cool POV video while flying.Â I should note that this was 2004. GoPro didn’t exist yet let alone theÂ whole ‘sports camera’ category. Neither did drones that are so common nowadays.Â Am I a trend setter? Not really. I just thought it was a fun idea.
Not surprisingly, it was very jerry-rigged. The camera with built-in transmitter was mounted on a stick protruding from the side of the canopy attached to a 9v battery for power. The receiver was on the ground attached to a video camera recording the results. My friend had to spend the entire flight watching the small screen on the camera while constantly adjusting a tuning knob on the receiver to keep the signal usable. The results are pretty poor by today’s standards, but I think it turned out pretty good, all things considered:
Fun times. I still have the plane, though I haven’t used it in years. I just may have to pull it out and see if it still works. I probably won’t bother with the camera.