Attitude Trumps Skill

When it comes to identifying and developing top talent in today’s marketplace, skill is necessary but attitude is a differentiator. My first college degree provided me with a highly-recruited skill at a time when the overall economy was in a deep recession (sadly, I’m referring to 1982 – not 2009). My perspective was that the skill I had obtained (computer programming) was of critical importance and would be the key driver for my future career success. Many employers also valued that skill and believed the aptitudes behind it were of paramount importance.

We were wrong. As it turns out, technical skills in our industry remain very important, but they evolve very quickly. Other skills such as project management, collaboration and communication have risen to a level of equal or greater significance in the field of information technology.

Skill requirements change. New ones are learned and old ones become less relevant. Attitudes are more enduring and more foundational to success. Some of the same attitudes that could have propelled or derailed my effectiveness as a new college graduate in 1982 offer the same potential for graduates who received their diplomas last month.

Recruiting tends to focus on experience and education. Performance management processes are usually weighted heavily toward results and outcomes. Experience, education, results, and outcomes are all very important. But are we giving adequate consideration to the underlying attitudes that frame our pursuits and our actions?

An attitude of entitlement may contribute to a poor work ethic. An attitude of indifference may explain why deadlines are frequently missed. A pretentious attitude may compromise teamwork.

A generous attitude can inspire trust and loyalty among co-workers. An attitude of humility can remove barriers to feedback and promote collaboration. A thankful attitude may promote genuine customer appreciation and outstanding customer service.

There is one more very important consideration about attitude – it can be chosen. Unlike many skills or experiences, all of us can choose the attitudes we bring to the table. Those attitudes can be modeled. As leaders we can coach and evaluate attitudes as a component of performance, even though we often avoid doing so.

Take a look around you and consider who impacts you most favorably. I’ll bet the impetus of that impact is attitude, not skill. For me, when all else is equal, attitude trumps skill.

Larry May
President


Your Ticket Out of “The Waiting Place”

– Ray Pritchett, Business Unit Director


I was once again reminded of a classic Dr. Seuss book a few days ago, when I opened an invitation to a local high school graduation ceremony. The last book written under Theodor Geisel’s pen name, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is certainly an appropriate theme for graduation, as it inspires the reader to view life as a great adventure, constrained only by the limits of your imagination and other self-imposed obstacles. For those unfamiliar with the story, one of the primary obstacles in the adventure is “The Waiting Place” – a place where everyone is interminably waiting for something to happen. Applying this theme to today’s business world, I think it’s fair to say that ever-increasing internet access via broadband is making visits to “The Waiting Place” shorter and less frequent for most of us, even as we all grow less tolerant of waiting.


Still, most of us accept there are times and places when lack of broadband access dooms us (as well as our business partners and customers) to “The Waiting Place” – a place where the applications and data that we depend upon are at least temporarily unavailable. But is it possible that this, too, is a constraint imposed by our lack of imagination? In the case of one of our recent projects, the answer was clearly “yes.”



The client in this case is Best Home Furnishings, a mid-sized manufacturer and distributor of furniture, who sells their products to retail dealers both large and small, through a sales force of independent reps. Their product line is both deep and broad, with large numbers of models, fabrics, features, and options from which to choose. While they have long since used the web to extend the reach of their product catalog, customer order management, and sales analysis applications and data, their sales reps still regularly find themselves in geographic locations and other situations where web access is either non-existent or insufficient.


Best Home Furnishings’ ticket out of “The Waiting Place” came in the form of a custom-developed iPad application with its own local database. Reps can now create and display sales presentations, complete with high quality images of any products they choose, virtually anywhere and anytime. They can browse the catalog with customers at their sides and assemble quotes and orders at a desk or from a sofa on the showroom floor, while they receive immediate feedback from the customer. They can record inventory status from warehouses, and drill into a customer’s sales history, even in rural areas where cellular broadband access is spotty or unavailable. Then, when they return to their office, hotel room, or local Wi-Fi coffee shop, rather than logging on to the web site to key orders and/or generate and retrieve customer sales histories for the next day’s appointments, they simply click the “synchronize” button on the iPad app. The iPad then automatically sends orders to the customer order management database, and retrieves any new or updated catalog or customer data, all while the rep heads out to dinner with the customer (although synchronization typically completes in a matter of seconds).


Are you wasting time and money in “The Waiting Place”? Are there great new places that mobile versions of your applications and data could take your business? Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of this product and how you, together with Keller Schroeder, can benefit your environment.


Your Finger on the ThreatPulse of Security

– Jeff Starling, Sr. Networking Consultant


Traditionally, protecting web traffic and enforcing acceptable use policies (AUP) for an organization was a fairly straightforward process. End users at branch offices obtained their Internet access from the corporate office and the centralized solution for managing those flows was maintained within that single location. The architecture may have scaled up or down depending on the size of the organization, but the concept was consistently applied across a variety of different solution providers.


In the more modern view, though, the process has become considerably more complex. The proliferation of high-speed bandwidth at remote offices makes the process of collapsing all Internet access to a single main office seem like a less attractive alternative. The mobility of the workforce in terms of laptops and personal devices which connect to multiple networks that enter and exit the corporate environment makes enforcing policy more difficult. When one or more of these more complex security concerns becomes an issue for IT resources, cloud-based Web-Security may be an alternative worth considering as part of your overall approach to securing web traffic.


In a cloud-based service, such as ThreatPulse from BlueCoat, organizations can provide real-time web threat protection and control for all subscribed users, regardless of location. The protection can be provided to fixed sites or roaming users, all while being managed from a single web interface for policy management and reporting. The services offer dashboards and drill-down reporting just like the traditional appliance-based offerings that organizations are used to maintaining, without the requirements to either deploy multiple physical boxes or to force all internet traffic out a single link.


Solutions such as ThreatPulse can make business sense for smaller organizations looking to offload the administrative and maintenance overhead of filtering software installed on appliances, to allow for support of a more mobile or remote workforce, and could align well with other SaaS offerings that businesses have already embraced. For larger enterprises, the solutions can be appealing to support distributed operations, remote offices, and roaming users. They also allow for expedited implementation without the need to deploy on-premise equipment or rely on local expertise.


The benefits and applicability of a cloud-based web security solution vary greatly depending on an organization’s networking architecture, the locations of users, and the levels of acceptable risk. In an increasing number of cases, the case for moving those services to a hosted solution is becoming more compelling. As you consider how your organization is prepared to handle the increasing complexity of securing your end-users’ web traffic, contact your Senior Account Manager to schedule a time to talk in more detail about whether current on-premise or cloud-based solutions may be beneficial to your environment.


Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of this product and how you, together with Keller Schroeder, can benefit your environment.


Proactive Performance Management

– Gina Minnette, Sr. Account Manager


Do you or your IT staff frequently find yourself in a reactive role regarding your systems and network? Do you use technology as a competitive advantage in the marketplace and need assistance maintaining the proper health of your unique environment? Or could you simply just use an extra set of hands now and then?


Keller Schroeder can help!


As part of our suite of Touch Point Services, we are pleased to introduce a new set of offerings: PPM (Proactive Performance Management) Agreements. To help you avoid finding yourself in a reactive position with your infrastructure, let us assist you in taking a proactive approach by ensuring your systems are running as efficiently and effectively as possible. Keller Schroeder has PPM Agreements available for your Voice, Network, Virtualization, Storage, Systems and Security environments — all of which include Advanced TechLink features such as ticket prioritization, shared organizational view, and a Members Only forum.


While each agreement is customized to your specific business needs, a basic Systems PPM includes (but is not limited to):

  • Log review, capacity planning, and system assessment
  • Summary of systems status, including improvements recommendations and areas of concern
  • Installation of patches and upgrades for servers and workstations
  • Documentation of all systems covered in the agreement
  • Technical input on design and architecture decisions
  • Systems administration and maintenance for all Windows servers


    Keller Schroeder engineers assigned to your agreement will perform the tasks above at a scheduled, mutually agreeable time and with each PPM Agreement, the benefits are clear: less unplanned downtime and more productivity for you and your team.


    Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information regarding Proactive Performance Management agreements.


  • Spotlight On…

    Employee Owner: Chris Haynes

    Chris has over 13 years of experience in the Information Technology field. His career has spanned Distribution, Financial and Healthcare environments. In his previous job, he supported several hundred AIX, Linux and Solaris healthcare servers nationwide. His responsibilities included OS installation, migrations, upgrades, patches; backup & recovery strategy and design; security hardening, performance and tuning; and project and team management. He has administered many of the infrastructure applications that typically run in the UNIX/Linux environment, including several major backup and monitoring applications. In addition, he has supported several types and brands of Storage Area Network (SAN) technologies and implemented VMware virtualization. Since joining the Keller Schroeder Systems Team, Chris has broadened his experience, and as a Senior Systems Consultant, he has specialized and become certified in NetApp storage & VMware server and desktop virtualization technologies. Chris designs and implements storage/virtualization solutions and optimizes backups for those solutions. Chris has performed many installations, upgrades, and migrations in these technologies, migrating critical customer systems from other storage solutions, as well as numerous physical to virtual (P2V) migrations from stand-alone Windows and Linux servers to virtual machines. Chris has kept current on his Linux administrative skills as well and continues to support our own Linux based NetMinder solution, and many of our customers’ Linux systems too.


    Chris’ certifications include Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 Certified Technician (RHCT), VMware Certified Professional (VCP) 3 & VCP4, Cisco Unified Computing Technology Design Specialist.


    Chris and his wife Dawn celebrated their 19th Wedding Anniversary in April. They are both originally from the Effingham, IL area and have lived in Evansville since 2002. They have two sets of twins, 10-year-old girls, and 7-year-old boys. Their kids’ after school sports and events keep them quite busy. They enjoy camping and exploring as a family and try to visit a famous US landmark or attraction at least once a year.


    Contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager to learn more about Chris and how you can leverage his experience and skills to the benefit of your organization.