Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Phil Simms Would Make an Excellent Software Consultant

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NFL Football

On a flight from Chicago to New York my seat just happened to be next to former NFL Quarterback Phil Simms. My first reaction was, “How I am going to hold a conversation with this guy?” He played in the NFL, won a Super Bowl and he is now an NFL broadcaster. I will clearly sound like an amateur if I try to have any football related conversation with Phil at all. What a dilemma!

As we were boarding the plane, I noticed that as Phil approached his seat, he was very friendly with everyone sitting around us. He was very helpful and offered to assist any lady within a couple of rows to put their luggage in the overhead bin. Not that I am a bad traveler – I certainly will assist any lady with their luggage that needs help if they ask. But now my approach is completely different. Instead of always trying to be the efficient business traveler, I take the pace a little slower and I am now a better gentlemen and offer help upfront.

Now towards the end of the flight I did strike up a conversation with Phil. It turns out he was watching the Bear’s game, which he just finished broadcasting. He said he likes to watch the games he broadcasts afterwards so he can see things he might do a little differently. That was great to hear from a consultant’s perspective. Clearly Phil was practicing “lessons learned.” Using that as a further conversation starter, I asked Phil how he plans out his week.

Basically Sunday is the end of his week and Monday is his day off. He told me that his initial preparation for next week’s game starts by watching 3 – 4 football games so that he can keep current. We talked about John Madden and his influence on how NFL broadcasting is handled. Phil’s week also includes visiting with the teams in his upcoming broadcasts to gather further detailed information about each team. That clearly is very good preparation.

All-in-all, I was very impressed with his approach to his work. From a consultant’s perspective, Phil’s week is strategically planned and executed. I know my Project Manager would be impressed! And this goes back to my original thought that with Phil’s dedicated approach to work and travel, Phil Simms would make an excellent consultant, when can we sign him up?

Steven J Brenner
Senior Principal Consultant
MIPRO Consulting


Oracle Direct Hosts 4th Annual Charity Golf Event

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The annual Oracle Direct Charity event has experienced amazing growth since its inception 4 years. This year the event included 175 golfers, 100 bean baggers and north of 100 volunteers – what an incredible show of support! The golf event raised over $100k for a very worthy cause.

Each year, the committee carefully considers charities in the Twin Cities and selects a charity where their contribution can have a significant impact on that organization’s goals. This year, after meeting with the Minneapolis Outreach team, they were touched to the inner core with the strength and commitment the workers have for their fellow homeless Minnesotans and the endless lives they have changed. This year’s worthy recipient was St. Stephen’s Human Services. To understand more, please visit:

Thank you Oracle for giving back to your community.

Life’s Unexpected Lessons

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mobile inventory

Not too long ago I attended a 1-day seminar titled “Essential Skills for the First Time Manager.” I thought it would be a day filled with useful information about how to effectively manage people, how to give not only positive feedback but also provide “constructive criticism” in a way that would foster growth, not resentment, and how I could motivate people to want to do their very best each and every day, to truly work to their full potential. Basically, if you are going to manage people, how to do it like a rock star!

While I did learn some of those things, the one thing that really stuck with me, that really made me think and gave me one of those “wow, I never thought of that” moments was this question that the leader posed: “How can YOU be a better employee to YOUR manager?” I am embarrassed to admit that I have never thought of that. Anyone else out there in those same shoes? Anyone else never think of this? If so, welcome to my world – here are some things to think about; if not, kudos to you and think of this as a refresher.

  1. Align yourself with your boss.
  2. Complement (not compliment) their style and approach.
  3. Stay ahead of the curve; be proactive.
  4. Make your boss look good.
  5. Never criticize your boss with co-workers.
  6. Support your boss’ goals and activities.
  7. Like the customer, your boss is always right.

I love the quote by Vernon Howard, “Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.” Just be ready to be surprised by what that something new is!

PeopleSoft 9.2: Modernization & Mobility with Paco Aubrejuan

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Oracle’s Commitment to Keeping PeopleSoft Current

In a recent article titled Modernization and Mobility, QA Magazine interviewed Paco Aubrejuan, Oracle’s Senior Vice President of Development for its PeopleSoft product line. It is a telling interview of Oracle’s commitment to delivering a PeopleSoft product that is both simple to use and mobile; things that today’s tech-savvy and busy-on-the-go users not only expect but demand. In the interview Aubrejuan discusses many of the recent changes delivered with PeopleSoft 9.2 including the Fluid User Interface, Selective Adoption, and the PeopleSoft Update Manager.

In particular, the Fluid User Interface delivers a flexible easy-to-use product. But Aubrejuan confirms, “This is not a different product. It is the same robust PeopleSoft behind the UI. PeopleSoft Fluid UI allows us to overhaul what people see.” So you don’t lose functionality and you gain a sleek, modern, intuitive interface.

The interview is an informative read on the latest changes to the PeopleSoft product, kind of a “Reader’s Digest” version. For further information about these changes, be sure to read these recent MIPRO blogs:

PeopleSoft Mobile Inventory

PeopleSoft Update Manager (PUM) – New Selective Adoption Model

PeopleSoft 9.2 Mobile Expenses

In the meantime, please be sure to contact Larry Zagata if you have questions about any of the recent changes to PeopleSoft or ANY PeopleSoft questions.

Casual Friday: Essential Cooking Techniques

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It’s Friday, we’re heading into a season where food is the raison d’être, and if you’re anything like me, you have no idea what to do in the kitchen. I mean, I can make cereal, even oatmeal, and probably toast. I can also boil noodles and slop a bottle of sauce on them. Sometimes, I manage to scramble eggs without having them turn out like dried paint. But beyond these dishes, my reliability and skill in the kitchen diminishes rapidly. I am not proud of this.

I plan on taking a few cooking classes, but before that, seriously watching every one of these 53 NYTimes videos that teach essential cooking techniques. I do mean essential, too: these range from cutting a mango, to holding a knife (I’ve been doing it wrong, by the way), to poaching an egg to stemming greens.

Literally almost every video in this series taught me something I didn’t know. I would say that’s how good these videos are, but when I’m your control group, well, your cooking study starts off pretty deep in the hole.

(Yes, I watched them all. For real.)


Check these out. Worth your time if you want to get better in the kitchen.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Recapping the Keynote: This Is Now Tim Cook’s Apple

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Apple had a big week. If you want to understand what, exactly, they announced, I won’t recap it here. Other sites do a better job of that than I ever will. In fact, I recommend you hop over to Apple’s mainsite to see new goods firsthand.

During the keynote, I posted to Facebook the thing that struck me most: this past Tuesday was the day Tim Cook made Apple his company.


Since Steve Jobs’ passing, Tim Cook has lived in the shadow of the Silicon Valley icon. His performance and more awkward speaking style was criticized from day one, with some of the vitriol verging on damnation. He’s no Steve Jobs, they said. He’s not the same quality of showman, they said. He can’t work the famous Reality Distortion Field (RDF) as Steve, they said.

And they’re right, all the voices. He can’t.

He doesn’t want to.

Tim Cook just said namaste to Steve Jobs and gently took Apple from his embrace. Tuesday was Cook’s christening in which he took his own bottle of champagne and set Apple on a new course – his course. This keynote marks the time when Steve’s fingerprints probably weren’t on anything Apple announced – this is, for better or worse, Cook’s direction and vision. And from what we saw, it seems pretty compelling.

So much was evident in the keynote – Cook was overflowing with excitement, and even through the awkwardness, we saw a leader in full. The room vibrated with energy, and every single Apple presenter was brimming with confidence. Cook and company knew this was the biggest keynote since the original iPhone debut in 2007, and they were geared up, ready for battle. Other industry titans – Samsung, Amazon, Motorola – all tried to get their newest stuff out before this past Tuesday, to gain some sort of first-mover advantage. Apple remains, to its credit, the 800 lb. gorilla.

So then: Apple is a company that has found it’s stride – again – under a new leader.

Two new iPhones (finally, bigger screens), a direct attack on mobile payments and, to some degree, services like Paypal and Google Wallet, revamped operating systems across all their products, and, of course, Apple Watch. The latter, naturally, was the big news, as it creates a brand new product category for Apple. You know it’s a big deal when Cook invokes Steve Jobs’ famous “one more thing…” quip before the introduction. That was a nice homage, and the geeks went crazy.

Products will always be products – the march forward is indefatigable. What isn’t so sure is how a company transitions leadership teams, especially when the baseline is Steve Jobs.

Cook did exactly that, and it was fascinating to watch.

No pun intended.

The Feed: This Week in Tech News and Commentary

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The Feed will be a new weekly feature here on MIPRO Unfiltered. What is it? News and micro-commentary from this week in the tech industry that you were probably too busy to catch. We’ve all been there – trying to stay in the know, but real life has a way of interrupting. We hope this lets you catch up on a few things you might have missed.

  1. Apple has given a minor refresh to its MacBook Pro Retina models. Nutshell: new CPUs (still not Haswell, though – for that you’ll have to wait until 2015), 16 GB standard in high-end models, pricing adjusted down a little. Nice inter-macrocycle refresh, just in time for school. Link.
  2. Facebook is now requiring users to use its Facebook Messenger app if you want to send a message to another Facebook user. People are outraged by this (for some reason), but in the mega-competitive messaging space (think SnapChat, WhatsApp, etc.) your app has to be standalone and feature rich, not a bolt-on to your main service. Messaging is huge. (Side note: remember Tim Cook said ‘Messages’ is the most-used iOS app.) Link.
  3. Hilton goes high-tech: the company is investing $550 million to make sure you don’t need to visit the front desk to check in. You just go to your room, hit a button on your smartphone, and you’re in. Hilton would like to see this complete on a worldwide scale by 2016. Link.
  4. Microsoft’s Siri competitor, Cortana, now has the ability to use Foursquare location and local recommendation data. This makes sense, as MSFT invested $15M in Foursquare earlier this year. Link.
  5. In a bizarre twist of anti-piracy antics, London’s Police Department is buying ads on piracy websites telling users that stealing movies is illegal. I wonder if the London PD understands their money is funding the piracy sites. Link.
  6. Free wifi is great, right? Not so fast. If you want to scare yourself silly by learning just how easy it is for people and companies to track you (literally) and gather information about you and your habits, this is for you. 6 minutes well-invested, in my opinion. If it appears too good to be true, it probably is comes to mind. Link.
  7. Amazon now has a section of their store that has about 200 items that are 3D printed on-demand when you buy them. The future is getting closer everyday. Link.
  8. Automattic, the company behind the mega-popular CMS engine WordPress, has created an app that more or less clones Instagram, called Selfies. Available on Android only, I guess the only remaining question is why, everyone has been going crazy and getting instant Instagram followers since then. Link.

Thanks for reading this week, everyone. See you Monday.

A Brief Dissection of Apple’s New ‘Stickers’ MacBook Air TV Ad

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This is ‘Stickers’, the new TV ad for Apple’s MacBook Air. It’s interesting on several levels. Watch:

I watch and dissect all Apple ads, and this one jumped at me. Why?

  1. It breaks from their traditional style. Most Apple ads show what you can do with the product, not 30 seconds of the product itself from largely one angle.
  2. It shows Apple products in a modified state. This almost never happens. (Well, in ‘Powerful’ they showed the device in steadicam rigs and attached to instruments, but that’s not the same.) Here, modified means user-modified, which implies an affection for the product, a sense of personalization, a sense of use. One would only bother putting stickers on a product of which they were proud, or used every day to perform their daily work. You customize your car; you don’t customize your extra gas generator sitting in your garage.
  3. If you look at the MacBook Airs you see flashing through the ad, you’ll notice blemishes, scratches, maybe even minor dents – again, this implies use and a sense that the machine is an extension of someone, not just a product on a pedestal. Apple is in the business of creating experiences, not just devices. This is what makes Apple products appeal (or not) to certain people. (I’d even go out on a limb and say that the machines you see in ‘Stickers’ are actual, real-world user machines, but I’m just riffing here.)
  4. Showing stickers all over Apple’s vaunted industrial design is actually a bit self-deprecating: it shows Apple isn’t taking its naked design as the canonical style. There’s a bit of jauntiness here, a sense that Apple isn’t taking itself so seriously. This is a good thing.
  5. What’s the key value of a laptop computer? The screen. This ad shows not a single shot of the screen. Again, this isn’t about how the device gets used – everyone knows that by now.
  6. Finally, the iconic six-color Apple logo makes a brief, staccato appearance in the ad’s final frames. Great touch, and nice to see.

This entire ad is about self-expression, not a product. It’s almost as if the Beats marketing team created it, and I don’t think it’s any accident it’s airing alongside Apple’s back to school promo.

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Have a good weekend, everyone.

The Daily Rituals of Great Minds

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Part One

I have become a bit obsessed about the daily work patterns of famous people. I liken this interest to my interest in biographies: it’s fascinating to see how someone who changed the world thinks and acts on a daily basis. Voyeuristic? Maybe. Informative? Like you wouldn’t believe.

My new morning habit is to read a single chapter out of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book’s premise is dead simple: it explains the daily rituals of 161 inspired minds – authors, playwrights, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians – particularly the self-discipline required to be great and navigate life’s frequent and annoying obstacles.


If anything, I find this book’s themes quite constant: diligence, discipline, set wake up/work times, and even a little bit of patterned self-medication. The book is truly fascinating, and you should buy it. My suggestion would be to get the hardcover, and pass on the Kindle version unless you are a 100% pure ebook hound. You want this one on your nightstand.

Part Two

In keeping with the above, here’s a website that’s equally fascinating: The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People. Don’t let the term ‘creative’ think this doesn’t apply to you: whether you write for a living or make presentations or run multiple businesses, creativity is part of what you do. Don’t fool yourself.

This site gives a daily timeline of about two dozen famous minds, from 12 AM running through the rest of the day. The graphic is below, but you need to visit the site to click around the graphic (it’s interactive) to see exactly what each person was doing in each segment. It’s awesome.


If nothing else, I find digesting information like this forces me to be more conscious of my own daily habits, much like reading about top athletic performers made me think about my own training and incorporate some new ideas.

Always be learning. It’s a secret to growth and performance I wish I learned 15 years ago.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

OK Go’s Latest Is a Music Video Mixed With Illusion

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OK Go is known for music videos that surpass even the most liberal definition of what a music video can be. Their latest video, for a song entitled The Writing’s On The Wall, is downright mind bending.

The video is below, but you should know a few things:

  • No CGI or effects are involved.
  • It was shot in a single take. Meaning: there are no edits, and exactly one video track for the entire thing. No cuts, no splices. No mistakes fixed in post production.

Here it is:

I’ve watched this at least a dozen times, because I’ve shot my share of video, and I cannot imagine how well the stars have to align to get this done in a single take. That’s astonishing.

Now, it did take nearly three weeks and over 50 takes until they got it right, which tells you how fragile the shooting strategy and set logistics were. But still, OK Go eventually nailed it, which is amazing unto itself.

Now, the question you should be asking is, “How did they do that? What was the setup? What did the set look like?”

I’m glad you asked.

In some ways, that video is even more enjoyable than the original, just because I kept distracting myself during the original wondering how they pulled shots off and got band members into new positions so cleanly.

In an age where everything is digital and you can’t trust much of what you see, what OK Go has done is that much more satisfying.

Have a great weekend, everyone. For our U.S. readers, have a happy and safe 4th of July.