Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mad Skills

My uncle Tom Capone was an Operating Engineer - Crane Operator. When I was young, I would work in construction for the summers, making money for college. People would say to me “You... are Tom Capone???”  But you are so young! Oh no, you are talking about my uncle…..I’m no crane operator. 

See, in his world, Operating Engineer Tom Capone was famous. He had mad skills operating a crane. In hindsight, it was like how some kids today can master a video game, and others can’t get past the first level.

In big (“heavy”) construction, cranes are key to the job site. The speed, efficiency, and overall “production” of the crane and crew sets the pace of the job. It could easily cost a General Contractor thousands of dollars per day to rent a crane and crew.

Now, if you had “mad skills” like my Uncle Tom, you were always in demand and NEVER out of work. In fact, it was known that many times a General Contractor would ask for my uncle by name, because they knew that his crane operating skills, his talents, his ability would save them - make them money. I know of times where jobs were delayed - they would not start the job until my uncle was available. They would rather delay the start of the job - knowing that the value of my uncle’s crane operating skills were worth waiting for.

It was not just the General Contractors that knew of my uncle’s reputation. The workers on the ground - the laborers, the iron workers, they all knew of Tom Capone. THEY WANTED to work on jobs where Tom Capone was going to be operating the crane. They felt safe. And because they felt safe, they would work better. They would be able to focus on the work at hand, knowing that a true master operating engineer was at the controls. It would all add up, creating a multiplying effect. My uncle’s skills allowed him to create maximum productivity on something that was costing the owner thousands of dollars per day. The rest of the job site would benefit from a form of “trickle down” efficiency. The safe workers would produce more, the entire job site would be running at the pace of the crane.  If the big rig could “do an extra ten or twenty picks” a day (construction lingo) that adds up fast. The efficiency of the crane and crew can shave days (or even weeks) off the overall schedule of the job. This savings can add up to really big money. If the job is big enough (a bridge or a tunnel or a stadium) this could translate into millions of dollars in savings.

If there is a "franchise player" on a job site, it might be the operating engineer crane operator.  

The speed of the crane is the speed of the job.

The world that we live in now - the global workforce - creates the same opportunity for people to stand out - to be “in demand”.  Just as there are many, many “crane operators” in the world, there are some that have a reputation. There are some that will be asked for by name. There are some general contractors that will say it is worth delaying the job - the decision is made that it is worth waiting for this person to become available. 

This person is worth waiting for....... powerful.

The Internet allows for coders, designers, webmasters, project managers, bookkeepers, teachers, even doctors - to work from anywhere in the world. The Internet has created a true global workforce.  But there is still an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, maybe now even more than ever. Clayton Christensen, is an example of a man in demand; a man with “mad skills” like my uncle. And now, thanks to the Internet, he can appear in YOUR office, your home, your laptop.

I miss my uncle Tom Capone, and his brother (my father Anthony). Thirty years later, I am still learning from my summer jobs, working construction.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Our Worlds are Colliding

A Collision is an event in which two or more bodies exert forces on each other for a relatively short time. It is a short-duration interaction between two bodies or more than two bodies simultaneously causing change in motion of bodies involved due to internal forces acted between them.

The attend the last week as a media guest. At first I questioned the name “Collision” for such an event.

Now, the choice of the name “Collision” is crystal clear.

More than 11,382 people attended the Collision technology show in New Orleans according to numbers from conference officials. That’s almost 4,000 more than attended last year’s conference in Las Vegas. The show moved to New Orleans this year to take advantage of the week in between Jazz Fest weekends. It ended Thursday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Other numbers from the Collision conference:
  • 332 speakers and moderators on stages and leading roundtables
  • 630 startups exhibited
  • Trello, TenantCloud, and were the startups that investors most wanted to see
  • 407 investors scoping out startup talent
  • 60 leading funds took part in Office Hours, where investors met with promising startups
  • 700 investor/startup meetings
  • 400 mentor hour sessions where experienced entrepreneurs and investors offered advice to startups. That’s around 133 meetings per day. Mentors included Jeff Glueck of Foursquare and Katy Dormer of
  • On the CollisionConf app, the most favorited startup was Trello. Investor Chris Sacca was the most favorited attendee
  • The average length an attendee spent in one session was 8 minutes and 43 seconds

What’s exactly is Collision?

When Web Summit started as a small 400 person startup conference in Dublin in 2010 nobody imagined that by 2014 it would grow to 22,100 attendees from 110 countries around the world.

Collision is Web Summit’s sister conference in the United States. It started in 2014, but is growing faster than Web Summit ever did. Maybe they should change the name from Collision to “Chain Reaction”.

If I were asked to define the word “Collision” this time last week, I would have described a car crash, or maybe the elastic collision of billiard balls. But now, I think of the permanent change that a collision creates. I have been in business since 1983 and I lost count of how many trade shows, events, and conferences I have attended over the years. is the master of them all.

So many times people attend conferences because they “have to go” or because their boss made them go to “work the show”. This is not the case for Collision. The people that I met (and I tried to meet all 11,000+) all wanted to be there. Desperately. They attended the conference because it was in their DNA to attend. They were compelled to attend. They needed to be there, not just to attend, but to interact, to experience, to “collide” with their tribe.

I understand that if you are into horses, or cooking, or cars (or anything) there are trade shows and industry conferences for YOUR area of interest - there are events for your world. I get that.

But here is the point: everything in YOUR world, will be changed by the people who attended Collision. The next Facebook. The next Airbnb. The next Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Uber, Apple, Twitter, Tesla come from the fertile minds and passionate entrepreneurial spirits of the attendees of Collision.

YOUR WORLDS shall collide with their worlds. It is inevitable. Your business, your industry, your life, will be changed forever by the people who were in New Orleans this week. And when worlds collide, things cannot remain the same as before the collision.

Worlds are indeed.........colliding