Posted by: Joyce T | 29 May 2012

Still Excited about EMC World this Week…

Although I didn’t attend EMC World in person this year, I was able to watch the keynotes live over EMC TV.  Speaking in the Executive Briefing Center, it’s important for me to remain on top of the dialogue, as customers always want to know the latest when they come to visit with us.

I think it’s difficult to address everything at a conference such as EMC World.  The content tends to be split between very high-level messaging and then very deep dives on individual product families or solution sets. Connecting between the two really becomes highly contextual, based on individual customer needs – but that’s exactly what we do in the Executive Briefing Center! In the EBCs we are able to move back and forth, from the strategic level to the specifics of a customer environment and tie it together in a meaningful fashion.

The good news for our customers is that our message is iterative, evolving in a coherent manner. If you have liked what we’ve been up to at EMC, then you’re probably really happy about what we had to say this year. At the same time, the evolutionary parts of our message really are also really exciting – many of our customers are living the IT Transformation message and sharing their experiences with us, and the Big Data story has greater context now. As someone who cares about security and governance, it’s also good to see that Trust is becoming a clearer and more important part of our offerings and message as well.

I got to brief a federal customer at VMware’s EBC last week while most of my colleagues were still in Vegas. I shared some of the key messages and product updates. It was a good conversation with strong resonances between the messages that Pat Gelsinger and others articulated in their keynotes and things that the customer CIO was thinking about for his environment. 

As IT Transformation occurs, our customers are dealing with management and security issues on the technology side, but they’re also dealing with more people and process issues as the technology transformation allows them to have greater stakes in business conversations. From my viewpoint, the conversations are great because regardless of which subset of our products is relevant to our customer, the strategy is germane and cogent across the portfolio. It is also because we continue to learn so much from each customer, and that gets processed back into everything we do – continuing the process of refining our customer interactions.

It’s certainly a good time to be an EMC employee, but more importantly, I think it’s a really good time to be an EMC customer. 

When I started practicing yoga nearly 8 years ago, I started with the asanas, the physical poses.  Practice meant spending at least an hour a day on the mat.  As I learned about pranayama, meditation, and the other 5 limbs of yoga, I tried to work them in, study them, and understand their role in my life.  I was single and without children, and working in a job that have very flexible hours, so I could take an hour here or there to attend a class, I could attend kirtan or retreats and fully embrace a wide-ranging practice.  I started reading the Yoga Sutra and many of the classic texts and great teachers, hungry to learn as much as I could.

In the last 8 years, I’ve gotten married, moved overseas, changed careers and had a son.  Each of these changes has improved various aspects of my life, but they have also constrained my ability to practice yoga as I once did, with a mat-centered practice.  It is also difficult to meditate on a schedule or go on retreats, or any of the other luxuries I had in that previous existence, especially with a small child and a job with regular hours.  At first I was frustrated – I felt I was losing touch with yoga, or somehow not as dedicated as I was.  And then I remembered the readings I had encountered about yoga in various life stages.  According to the texts, life ideally is spent in four stages.  The second stage, which ideally lasts between the ages of 25-50, is called grihastha, or life as a householder.  To be a grihastha means living in the world and practicing around daily life.  It is understood that this is the time of raising children, of working, of attending to the needs of the daily world, and not a time of retreat from the world.

For a while now I have been meditating on what it means to be a grihastha. What I think it means for me is that here is a balance challenge, more difficult than any asana – how does one balance spiritual practice and daily life?  It is so much easier to think about the yamas and niyamas on the mat, to practice finding equanimity in a quiet room where you know no one will disturb you for the prescribed time.  It is much more difficult to find a way to teach and demonstrate-through-living ahimsa, or non-violence, with a two-year-old stuck in mid-tantrum. It is challenging to practice santosa, or contentment when gridlocked in rush-hour traffic.  And yet at the end, the only way to journey through the week sanely, is to embrace the yamas and niyamas. More than anything, it is about practicing Isvara pranidhana, which means remembering there is something greater in the universe than one’s own self, and then most importantly, surrendering to it.

As I write this, it’s a weekend day, my family is out and I have a few precious minutes, which I chose to use writing this blog.  I view this piece as today’s meditation, which I offer up to you and say – here is where I am, here is my journey, come walk with me and know we are all in this together.  My intention for today is to get through this day in a way that honors myself and my practice of Isvara pranidhana.

Posted by: Joyce T | 3 April 2012

Why Big Data IS a Big Deal to Me

Because I am talking so much about Big Data in my day job, I find it is on my mind a lot.  I’m thinking about a lot of different angles that I’ll touch upon in this post and then expand upon in more depth over time. Which more or less means I’m all over the map here and to some degree thinking out loud.

On 29 March, the Obama Administration announced a “Big Data Research and Development Initiative”, designed to improve the government’s “ability to extract knowledge and insights from large and complex collections of digital data.”  At the launch, six Federal departments and agencies committed $200 million in various programs to support the development of Big Data tools and techniques. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is driving the initiative in conjunction with several Federal departments and agencies.  The announcement today is intended to be a first wave of agency commitments, so in the words of the Carpenters, we’ve only just begun.

One of the great things about this announcement is it gives $200 million of credibility to a concept that some skeptics still doubt is more than a marketing scheme. In essence the federal government is taking a stake in the future of Big Data and the opportunities it offers. On the vendor side, we certainly see the value of this technology and its potential.  Public sector will be a great consumer of Big Data techniques and technologies, and this is probably the first of many projects we’ll see.

As a marketer, I get swept up in the excitement of Big Data. I’m a forward thinker (an NT for you Myers Briggs enthusiasts) and I am always excited by possibilities and potentialities.  However, I attended the RSA Conference back in March, and I got some good exposure to the possibilities and potentialities of the dark side of Big Data too.  The most obvious danger of Big Data for most folks is what it could do to our already fragile privacy.  Pair that with the fact that any tool, including those of Big Data can be bent to nefarious purposes, and sobering concerns arise.  Happily, the InfoSec community and government agencies like Defense are also embracing Big Data, in order to invent new ways to protect and defend both our privacy and us.  I’ll stop there today, but I have a lot more to say about this issue over time.

Then there’s the economy. And small things like the future of America. As the mother of a young child, I worry about these things quite a bit. I want my son to be employable in a competitive marketplace when he becomes an adult. I want him to get the right education and training, and I also know that many if not most of the jobs that will be available to him probably haven’t been invented yet.  So I think not only about his education, but also about our national investments in research for science, technology and the future overall.  Big Data is very important to me in this respect, because I think it highlights one path we should take.  We need to train Data Scientists now, so there is a whole emerging job market blossoming all around me as I write this. But longer term, the areas those data scientists are focusing on now will also create the science and technology areas of the future that will open up many more jobs.  Knowing that government has begun to fund research in those areas now means strategic positioning for the future, and I appreciate that deeply when wearing my Concerned Mom hat. Of course I have a lot more to say on this too.  Stay tuned.  I’m still working my way around these topics.  Talk to me if you feel moved to respond.  I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Today I’m all about work and IT transformation.

I currently work for a tech company – EMC – in a position as an evangelist and tech advisor in the executive briefing center, which means that I am paid to have conversations with customers all day. Not bad work in the grand scheme of things. People who work with customers tend to have great passion for technology and what it can do. There is a natural tendency to focus our time and energy on it – yet for all the excitement and discussion that technology engenders, I find that the real interesting conversations revolve around people and the impact that technology has on them.

Many of my current customer conversations focus on how changes in IT are transformative. IT departments are evolving from being cost centers that ration technology, to active partners in the business offering the platforms and know-how necessary to grow the business in the digital age. We’ve worked out maturity models for this approach, and depending on where the customers place themselves in that model, the conversation shifts dramatically. Early on we have a lot of conversations about where the customer is, how much they’ve begun to virtualize their infrastructure, what their philosophy is around cloud computing and what are their challenges are. As IT leaders continue to virtualize their infrastructure, they shift their focus from the underlying technology issues to the greater business challenges. And with that change what becomes clearer is that – it’s the people that matter much more than any technology.

As I said to a customer just the other day – if a server or SAN is going to be virtualized, it has no say in the matter – it’s an object and gets virtualized. That’s straightforward. However, the owner of that server or SAN may not be so easy to deal with! After a lot of head nodding and bemused agreement, we usually try to work out just what the issue is for that customer and see if we have any experiences we can share.

People’s concerns are varied. Sometimes it’s consensus. Some cultures accept directives from the top without question – other groups require consensus and agreement that takes much longer to reach than the actual movement of the workloads in question.

Other times it’s fear. People fear real or imagined loss of control, loss of value, loss of power, loss of prestige. As one IT manager shared with me recently – he told an IT colleague that he needed to virtualize his workload. His colleague told him there would be all sorts of performance issues – then the IT manager informed his colleague that in fact he’d already done the virtualization a month ago and there hadn’t been any problems, performance or otherwise. The IT manager said his colleague was furious with him, but it had been worth it in order to make his point.

In EMC’S own Cloud Transformation presentations, we share that the number one lesson learned is to socialize with internal customers and gain executive buy-in. That’s frequently more important than remembering efficiencies or seeking measurements, or any of the other lessons you’d expect to have learned.

As you proceed with your own virtualization, ask yourself if you’ve done enough socializing? Is there such a thing as too much? Have you found yourself facing people challenges in your IT virtualization or transformation plans? Please share your stories of what you’ve tried or experienced, and what worked – or didn’t work. I’ll run future columns discussing some of our findings and share the good stories.

Posted by: Joyce T | 19 March 2012

Clearing the Yogic Air

Today, I’m posting on yoga.

I need to vent about yoga in the US for a while.  I realize that the yoga universe is infinitely large and has space for everyone, and yet I need to vent a little bit of my frustration.  Mind you, these are just my frustrations with the asana limb, but it’s an important start.

I started to learn yoga overseas, in Italy to be specific.  The style of teaching and learning are very different in Europe than they are in the US.  I’m not at all certain it’s better for me here.  I can of course only speak for myself.

At a top level here are the things that frustrate me:

  1. US teachers talk too much – Yoga is supposed to be experiential.  It is difficult for me to focus on the experience and be present in my body if you do not stop talking.  A certain amount of talking is okay – but that’s for cuing and explaining.  There are two sets of talkers.  One set reads passages or tells stories as a way to distract us from the fact that we’re holding a pose for awhile.  Excuse me but distracting the mind is exactly the opposite of what we’re supposed to be doing in yoga.  The second set talks to tell me what I should be feeling and where, based on what they feel and where.  Thanks but this is my body and my experience.  With all due respect, I don’t care what you feel in your body. In silence is where the important things happen.  My master would occasionally teach classes in complete silence. Not a word was spoken.  Those were intense classes.
  2. US teachers are infatuated with surya namaskar (sun salutes.)  I spent more time in downward dog and the 3 warriors in my first year in the US than I ever did in all my years of yoga study in Europe.  What is the obsession with these poses in this country?  There are hundreds of poses and thousands of variations and yet I spend probably 70-90% of most classes in some variation of sun salutations.
  3. Floor poses are taught as relaxation poses.  The only pose where my Master in Italy ever had us “let go” was savasana at the end of class.  (This is the only pose that’s ever called by its Sanskrit name consistently in America – and I suspect that’s because the English name – corpse pose – creeps out too many Americans.  But that’s a different rant. ) What frustrates me is that when we get into many of the floor poses (seated and lying down), American instructors encourage me to let go, to let everything go and relax.  To be fair, I have found a lovely instructor now who constantly reminds us of sukha sthira – the notion of being gentle and soft yet steady and firm at the same time.  It seems that for some poses, the notion of sthira is not necessary.   I have challenged various teachers to do a class completely of floor poses (and not 90% standing poses) because the perception is they are not work.  Seated poses are actually rather challenging.  Which brings me to my next irritation –
  4. Yoga is all about standing poses and getting a good workout.  I expect this mentality in gyms. I don’t expect it in yoga studios. Nevertheless there it is.  The hardest classes I ever took were in Italy.  I emerged from classes soaked, with relaxed yet rubber-bandy muscles as I had given all I had.  And yet no one ever talked about “getting a workout.” It was just practicing vigorously on the mat.  These classes were framed for discussion on energetic levels and balance levels, not getting a workout. We were told to go to an aerobics class for that.
  5. Muscles and ligaments and tendons, oh my – In the US, classes seem to be focused on two things – opening the hips and opening the shoulders.  To be fair, this is largely a gym problem.  In yoga studios we get a little more energy-focused.  But in Europe, we had fire classes, water classes – classes for opening the heart chakra, classes that balanced digestive energy, classes that opened the ajna chakra, classes for the feet,  and so on – the focus was much more systemic, esoteric and interesting.  If I want to work on body mechanics, I’ll go to pilates thank you very much.  To be fair, the Iyengar types in Europe were very concerned with form. My Iyengar teacher in Italy would not tolerate any of the US classes I go to as there is a much greater tolerance of bad form.  If this were really not an issue, then books warning about the dangers of yoga done wrong would not be such controversial hits in the marketplace.  Americans want to do the full poses immediately! Completely!  It drives me crazy that I have a teacher that does reverse triangle most weeks within the first 15 minutes of class.  Really?  Keep in mind that most people in that class cannot touch their toes and still need blocks, so my issue is with the level. She does the pose so much because it’s one of her favorites! We certainly DID focus on form in Italy, but the focus was the spine, and it started with basics.  You had to be able to bend forward from the hips, not the waist, and that takes time and effort for most people. The spine is the center of everything in yoga, and yet I’ve only ever heard one teacher express this in the US.  That would be the same teacher who understands sukha sthira by the way.  She’s a keeper.

As I write these frustrations down, it occurs to me that this is truly a philosophical difference in approach between Europe and the US.  I realize I’m generalizing, but I do classes wherever I go, and I expected, living in the Bay Area to find an amazing community for yoga.  Instead, I am largely frustrated and disappointed. The focus is much less philosophical and holistic here. It’s much more compartmentalized here, which would be okay except many of the compartments seem to be neglected if anyone ever knew about them at all.

I suppose that is another thing that irritates me.  In Italy at least people tend to find a school and a program they like and then become students of that tradition. Also, people would not dream of becoming teachers after 2-3 years of yoga practice. My master had been teaching yoga for over 30 years – yes she was over 50 (she started in her teens) and always in the same school.  Here people tend to pull eclectic bits together, practice what they like and disregard what they don’t like or don’t understand.  They want to get a better understanding so they go through teacher training and then come out the other side prepared to teach downward dog and hip openers.  Sigh.  It’s not wrong, but the world of yoga could be so much deeper than this. I’ve found a couple of  good teachers and I believe if I keep searching, I’ll find others.  I can’t be the only one who wants to know yoga at this level.

Posted by: Joyce T | 19 March 2012

I’m back….

Okay, I’m restarting this. Officially as of now. Had a bit of a career shuffle 6 months ago (same company, completely different work.) It is much easier to blog now, so here I go.

As always, opinions are mine. They are not those of my employer. Those of you who know me will find this statement hilarious, but it’s good to remind the world occasionally. As if I ever had a dearth of opinions on anything.

Stay tuned. The first couple of posts will be a bit wonky but it’ll get better over time. Come jump in and let’s chat.

Posted by: Joyce T | 16 June 2010

Further Travel Adventures of a Working Mom

I am about to set off for Washington DC for business travel.  I will be at a conference in a hotel all day – the same hotel I’m staying at, so pumping should be easy.  Or I will be at a company location.  I am fortunate enough to have my family traveling with me again, so my son will be with Daddy during the day, which will make things significantly simpler again.

I wanted to give a heads-up to other pumping Moms on some practical tips and experiences I’ve had.  I’ve been to a couple of one-day conferences in hotels where I had to pump at some point during the day.  The Hotel Nikko in San Francisco was great.  They loaned me the manager’s office for as long and as often as I needed it.  They were gracious and understanding.

I also had a lovely experience at the Westin Casuarina in Las Vegas.  I had borrowed a female colleague’s room to pump in.  She had requested a late checkout to give me time to use it.  Through a miscommunication, the room was cleared early along with my pump.  When I went to find out what happened, I found that housekeeping staff had treated my pumping paraphernalia well and with respect, and the hotel promptly found me another empty room to use and again made me feel welcome.  This was quite a pleasant surprise in Las Vegas!

With hotels, I usually approach the front desk first thing when I arrive, explain that I am a pumping mother and ask them what they recommend I do.  I explain the organization I am with and the event I am attending and I have yet to have any trouble.  Then I can plan pumping around the day’s schedule and get myself organized quickly.

Last month my company had their annual user conference – this time  in the Boston Convention Center.  It was a 10-15 minute walk back to my hotel (after a good 15 minute walk to exist the Convention Center) so going back to my room wasn’t practical, and I didn’t relish the thought of using the toilets (although they did have private handicapped facilities w/power outlets which would have worked in a pinch…)  Instead I checked with the information desk and they gave me a great suggestion – the First Aid room.  So moms, the next time you’re in a big convention center or other type of conference where hotel rooms are not an option, try the first aid center.  They were not surprised to see me, it was quiet and clean and it was really convenient to getting in and out and back to work.

Please feel free to share any experiences or tips you might have had with me.  I know I expected pumping on the road to be a lot more of a challenge than it has been, and I think it’s important to get the word out to Moms that it can be done and that there is actually a lot of support for you out there!!!!!!

Posted by: Joyce T | 7 June 2010

What my baby teaches me about yoga

I’ve been studying yoga for about 5 and a half years now. It’s been a beautiful journey, but in many ways I still feel I’m just getting started.  For me I want to embrace the entire 8 limbs of yoga and it is as much a spiritual and mental experience for me as a physical one.  And therefore this frames the thoughts I’m sharing.

I practiced yoga through about the middle of my 8th month of pregnancy before I became too awkward and tired to do most of the asanas.  After the baby came, I used yoga to start to get back to my body and find out what had become of it, how it had changed, and what that now meant.  Now as my son turns 7 months old, I find myself thinking again about my practice in light of watching my son.

My son is just beginning to crawl; he chased after me and the vacuum cleaner today with fierce tenacity.  And he’s hauling himself into standing position using anything on which he can get purchase – tables, toys, furniture etc.  He falls too.  A lot.  And he gets right back up and tries again.  Yes he gets frustrated and I get that angry call for help when he’s stuck or tired of trying, but what’s amazing is that throughout this journey of discovery of his physical person, he does everything without judgment and without questioning whether he is capable of doing the things he sees others doing.  He has not begun to limit his world.  Of course he also has that annoying baby trait of perfect flexibility – he chews on his toes with aplomb! And I want to be like him.  Sure it’d be nice to be able to raise my foot up over my head, but what I really admire is his mental approach and his serenity in approaching new physical limits.  I appreciate that he knows when to stop and when to push – not always but most of the time, and that he knows how to fall (in slow motion) and that mostly he laughs at himself and doesn’t take it all too seriously.

I want to be more like my son in how I approach yoga, but I also want that approach for life in general.  I hope he can hold on to this approach for a long time.  One last thing, perhaps the most important is this: I want to help him hold onto that outlook too.   What a precious gift he shouldn’t have to lose.

Posted by: Joyce T | 3 June 2010

Airports and nursing working moms

I have to say I think I’m really fortunate that SFO is my home airport.  At least the United terminal has patient security personnel who treat moms traveling with a computer AND a baby and all the baby accouterments really well.

McCarran in Las Vegas has also been good about bringing milk through without a baby.  They were fine when I told them what I had. They ran it through security and moved me along.  They didn’t subject me to any extended security and were polite.  This is Vegas. Breast milk is tame.

I really don’t like Skyharbor airport in AZ (there’s AZ causing a fuss again…)  I was treated as though I was trying to smuggle hazardous waste rather than breast milk.  They wanted to open a bottle and test it which I politely but firmly declined.   They then told me that was my prerogative but turned around and took everything I had out of every  bag and subjected me and every object to a lengthy security check.  What did they find?  A very frustrated working mother and 6 bottles of breast milk.

I’ve traveled with my baby through Logan in Boston and O’Hare in Chicago and they’ve been fine although I’ve not had to take milk through.  My next stop – Dulles in DC at the end of this month.  Should be interesting.

I don’t have to do international until later this year but I hear it’s more challenging.  Fortunately my husband’s family is Italian and the Italians treat mothers and children rather well when traveling, so I’m less worried about it.  I will avoid London’s Heathrow as it’s one of those airports that pretty much guarantees misery no matter who you are or what your travel situation is.

Posted by: Joyce T | 26 May 2010

What I’ll be up to here…

I am a mother and a full time worker in high tech.  I travel a fair amount and I like many of the principals of attachment parenting.

With this in mind, I’d like to share some of my experiences as a working, traveling, breastfeeding mother.  My son is currently 6 1/2 months old.

Of course I also plan to blog on anything else that comes to mind, as the title of my blog implies.  But I think this is going to be a major focus of mine for awhile.

I welcome any conversation people care to share.  Also, let me state here that all opinions, positions taken or attitude problems shared here are personal and do not represent the opinions or positions of my employer.

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