How to Repair a Manual Bilge Pump

A big part of living on a boat is maintenance and repair. Last week our bilge pump on the 27′ Oday sprang a leak. We ordered a repair kit from West Marine (about $35). A few days later the kit arrived and Brian got to put his handy man skills to work. If you don’t like fixing things (or you don’t love someone who likes fixing things), you may want to reconsider the choice to own a boat.

Watch the short video below to see how we did.

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Your BI vendor is working With you, not For you

In the past years I’ve had the opportunity to work on both sides of the BI vendor table, as both the consumer and the retailer. I’ve seen many projects succeed, some projects fail, and some projects that seem to surpass all expectations and all parties involved are delighted. The latter group of success stories all have one common factor: TEAMWORK

These successful BI implementations often end with kindred feelings of friendship and it all starts with the attitudes of the two parties involved. When you approach your BI vendor as a team mate it is easier to see that you both have the same goal: a smooth, successful BI implementation.

This means that both sides will need to do their due diligence. Roles are not always clearly defined and a team work attitude will encourage flexibility. Your BI vendor will not always be an expert on the content of your data, so be prepared to source internally for validation stages.

Consider the two options for communicating with your BI vendor below:

Teammate Attitude: Our data doesn’t look correct, let’s investigate to see where the problem might be.
Authoritative attitude: Your data is wrong, you need to fix it so that we can go live, this project is already behind.

The teammate attitude opens up the opportunity for further conversation. As a BI vendor I will be able to request specific examples of inaccuracies and I will feel comfortable asking for help if the data appears to be non-standard.

The authoritative attitude shuts down any potential for creative problem solving right away. The assumption behind this statement is that the BI vendor did something wrong and is aware of how to fix it. What super-techie, number-crunching, data-loving nerd would knowingly choose to display inaccurate data? Ahhh! Sounds like a nightmare for any data guru.

Remember, when you’re shopping for your BI vendor, you are shopping for a partnership, not a dine and dash vendor. The earlier you help cultivate that partnership, the smoother your BI implementation will go (assuming you pick an awesome vendor to work with).

Getting Experience

We’ve now completed two sailing courses and we’re getting letters in the mail that start with “Congratulations Sailor”, which always makes me chuckle.

The final words of wisdom from our last instructor was to get some real experience and put some hours in practicing. Brian found an awesome opportunity on Craigslist and we ended up renting a 27 foot O’day sailboat for the rest of the season! It cost 2k, but we have unlimited access to Surfside anytime we want. We have even stayed the night on her and I have to say, sunsets at Lake Tahoe are even more beautiful when viewed from the water.

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Renting a boat on these terms has proven to be super beneficial. We may have just gotten lucky, but if you are looking to get sailing experience you may be able to find a similar deal out there.

More to come on what we are learning and what has surprised us ($80 for a new main sheet, really?)

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The Value of Doing Nothing (at work)

Today some coworkers and myself were standing around the kurig joking about how you couldn’t actually sit at the table in our office. The chairs (while totally cute, thanks Ikea) are made to be perfectly fitted beneath the tall table, leaving mere inches for thigh comfort.

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As we explored this table conundrum other questions of logic and functionality arose.

We began to discuss design methodologies and patterns that presented themselves as opportunities for automation. As we each chose to ignore the time briefly (it isn’t easy with 5 clocks on the wall) the conversation evolved into an incredibly valuable brainstorm.

These creative processes are often stifled when we are busy jumping from one meeting to the next. Try scheduling some “do nothing” time this week and see what problems seem to solve themselves.

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time,” is like saying, “I don’t want to.”

~ Lao Tzu

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Using Leadership Training to Solidify Your Company Culture

When growing your organization you seek greatness, not mediocrity. You hope to recruit ingenuity, not bland worker bees. You desire to empower inspirational leaders, not just autocratic managers.

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In growing companies the natural leaders are often appointed as managers without any official introduction to leadership styles, motivation techniques, or communication methods. This works great when a company is still in its infancy stage, but how do you maintain the culture at your company as growth increases and the need for qualified managers becomes exponential?

As you are probably aware, the attitude of a team is generally a reflection of the attitude of its leaders. Some people naturally gravitate towards fostering optimistic and trusting relationships, but other people, who may be brilliant in a business sense, simply aren’t aware of the concrete benefits of slight personality tweaks. You want these people in management positions due to their in depth knowledge, but you also want to protect the culture at your company, which is invariably a reflection of your attitude and beliefs.

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My recommendation is to tackle this scenario in two ways: 1. Formal leadership training conducted by a third party. 2. Internal leadership training designed by current leaders that have a solid understanding of the company culture that you wish to encourage.

Formal leadership training covers the topics that might be acquired in a college level leadership class. This will help your leaders determine their personal leadership style and will aid them in determining the different communication styles that are helpful when managing a varied group of employees.

There are also tried and tested techniques for inspiring and motivating employees, encouraging teamwork, and how to provide feedback in a constructive way. For these areas there is really no need to attempt to reinvent the wheel when experts have been studying these topics for decades.

The second level of training provides the opportunity for you to personalize the employee experience at your company. If there are any “hard lines” that you would not accept as behavior then it should be covered in this personalized training. As an example, I believe that yelling or expressing temper in a work environment is never productive, so I might emphasize that there is never a scenario where this is accepted at my company. There is generally a lot of focus on the customer experience within an organization, but I believe that clearly defining the employee experience holds just as much weight.

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It is important to remember that the attitude of your managers reflects your attitude. The attitude of teams reflects their leaders and managers. And the customer experience often reflects the attitude of your employees collectively. The end result is the result of the path taken so there really aren’t any major shortcuts if you wish to protect and foster your company culture.

Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have other ideas that will protect the company culture as it grows.