Fortune Favors the Brave

Something in Bill Gate’s interview has been hanging with me (see quote below).  I suppose he always says this, whether they are making risky bets or not.  And I suppose Microsoft can make risky bets all the time.  They can afford to.

We’re making sure we take some risky bets.


What’s hanging with me is the effect that ricky moves have on small companies.  The first thing to understand is that risk produces reward, just like the Roman poet Virgil said in 19 BC.  “Fortune favors the brave.”  That’s nice to know.  Its a special promise, just for the brave.  Not for the weak and fearful.

But that fortune can take years to realize.  What do you do in the meantime?  After all, you don’t just get brave on isolated occasions, and magically watch the fortunes roll in.  You must stay brave all the time.  So that’s the second thing you should know.  Staying brave is harder than it looks – a lot less glamorous than one might imagine.  And it’s boring.

Yes, boring.  You slog along through thick and thin, excersing your braveness along the way.  Nobody is watching.  Nobody applauding.  You just fight for your vision, and hope you were right.  Only time will tell.

But how do you inject bravado into your project team?  How do you energize them to fight when everyone else says give up?  The answer is simple: be a bright light in a dark world.  People will naturally follow.  No coersion is necessary, just a strong, clear vision.



Telecommuting: Got Motivation?

Over half (51%) of CIOs and top leaders dislike telecommuting.  See the CIO Insight article below.  If I were asked, I’d favor it… but only under certain circumstances.


I’ve telecommuted for the past 15 years, and it has worked great for me.  My next-door neighbor, Dean, is an IT manager, and he works from home three days a week.  With a 100-mile RT commute, that’s no surprise.  Personally, I wouldn’t work fifty miles from my work unless they paid me a lot of money!

But telecommuting doesn’t work for everybody.  Unfortunately, a lot of people suffer from a lack of self-motivation.  I personally don’t, except at about 4 PM on Friday afternoons.  Working from home can be a lonely proposition, especially if your family is away, or if you have no family.  What keeps the motor running?  Why work?  You have to be personally vested in your project team’s success.  You have to love it so much you’ll split rails to get your work done.  In our affluent society, that’s not normally the case.

Another problem: project teams can’t easily meet.  Yes, there’s telephone, email, and GotoMeeting, but are you using those tools?  Does your team meet regularly?  And if so, are you just a laptop screen on a conference room table?  Where’s the group dynamic?

I favor telecommuting when there are solid, measureable heads-down project goals, or when employees are financially vested in the project.