Attributes of Successful People

Posted by one of my friends on LinkedIn .. Attributes of Successful People

Successful people:

  • Have a sense of gratitude
  • Compliment others
  • Forgive
  • Give others appropriate credit for victories
  • Read everyday
  • Share information and ideas
  • Embrace change
  • Keep a to-do and/or project list
  • Set goals and develop life plans
  • Continuously learn
  • Keep a journal
  • Accept responsibility for their failures
  • Operate from a transformational perspective

How to survive your first few hours on Stand Up Paddleboard

I used to do yoga on a regular basis.  Hot yoga in fact.  There are a few skills and strengths that hot yoga taught me, including how not to panic when starting a completely new and foreign sport that requires at least a little core strength (unless you don’t mind swimming a whole lot).  Yoga gives you core strength for balance and endurance, breath control to calm the body and lower your heart rate, and mind control to allow a peaceful, tranquil zen like meditation.  Hmm. Sound like it should apply to this thing called Stand Up Paddleboard?   Here’s my experience.

Day One

So on a nice sunny Austin weekend, we hit the Texas Rowing Center to rent our very first Stand Up Paddleboard.  With waivers appropriately signed and some 7316400978_28cd24f9e9_zgreen changing hands, now we’re on the dock to get sized for a paddle.  Paddles need sizing?  Oh.. to do this right, you have to actually stand up on this board thing, so since it’s a ways from your shoulders down to the water you need a long paddle. Got it.  Now they zap strap this bungee cord onto your ankle so you can’t steal the board .. or just so when you go dive into the drink, you don’t lose the board .. and your main flotation device.  Got it.  Climbing onto the board from the dock was interesting, and I managed to do it without careening over the board into the drink.  Kneeling on the board, it was a little awkward to maneuver away from the dock, but didn’t take long to get the hang of it.  A ways out from the dock, I started the rather harrowing process of standing up.  From the kneeling position that is pretty comfortable and stable (and also good for praying), lean forward and plant your palms on the board.  Gradually get your feet underneath you so it looks like you’re crouching on the board.  Raise your butt up to the sky kind of like you are doing a downward dog, but with poor form.  Now realize the trick is to raise your butt up to the sky first, then just stand up.  I’ll tell you the last step was the hardest, since by now the board is rocking side to side like a dingy in a perfect storm on the ocean, with your legs uncontrollably shaking like you’ve never used them before in your life.  Of course having absolutely no room in my mind for any other thoughts than panic, I could only think of balancing myself by holding the paddle out in front of me parallel to the water – one big balancing act. Turns out I looked like one of those high wire acrobats that manages to cross Niagra Falls with nothing more than a rod for balance .. except I definitely wasn’t that good. I must have been a circus performer in a former life, rather than the scientific mind that I thought I had in this life. It doesn’t dawn on me until Day Two that a much better strategy for balancing on the board initially when standing up would be a three legged stool, versus the two legged wobbly tower of my body.  Why not just brace yourself with the paddle in front of you to make a tripod?

by now the board is rocking side to side like a dingy in a perfect storm

The water on Town Lake in Austin in August is bathwater warm and it’s about 95F with bright sun. Last time I checked I wasn’t make of sugar (or salt), so I’m pretty sure I won’t melt if I do bite it into the drink. Except for the lake weeds where we are currently have been known to tangle people up so badly that once they’ve fallen in, they are never seen again. No trace whatsoever. Great incentive not to fall in.

As we make our way through the hour of allotted terror time, I’m able to stand up twice for a whopping total of 60 seconds.  Back to the dock we go.  How to get off the board back onto the dock?  This should be entertaining.

Ok, Let’s catalog Day One accomplishments: Got on the board from the dock without crashing into the water? Check. Manuvered out from the dock greater than 10 yards? Check. Actually stood up on the Stand Up Paddleboard? Check. Well kind of .. twice for 30 seconds each. Manage to get off the SUP back onto the dock without dragging the attendant into the water with me? Check. Realize that Kayaking is much safer and probably the better sport for me? Check.

Day Two

Realizing that the uncontrollable shakes in my legs were probably from a lack of balance or core strength in the legs, I decide to do a week of balancing on one leg whenever I could.  Looked pretty funny brushing my teeth teetering on one leg like a stork, but sure seemed to help on Day Two.  Foolish enough to return to the dock of terror for another run at Stand Up Paddleboard, I grab a life jacket and paddle and again manage to navigate away from the dock.  This time we paddled out and over to an open part of Town Lake – no weeds, so there’s nothing to hold me back except fear it self.

I manage to stand up, this time using the paddle against the board to stable myself, and manage to stay upright for over a minute without dying.  My legs have tremors just like Day One, but the feeling of the board is more familiar.  I realize that the board it actually pretty stable and you don’t need to perfectly balance on it – a little wobbling side to side is just fine!  First breakthrough feeling.  I begin very gently paddling up the lake towards Mopac bridge and although I’m not moving very quickly, I’m not falling off!  Still lots of leg shaking going on.  Small paddle strokes like a little girl, I work my way up the lake.  One piece of advice: look over the lake to the horizon or some other point away from the board .. don’t focus on the water just in front of the board.  Another break through.

About 20 minutes later I absolutely have to kneel back down on the board to give my legs and toes a break.  No kidding, there were indentations where my toes had dug into the board.  Paddling while kneeling seems to be pretty easy, but you just can’t get any speed going.

I stand back up again (including the mandatory stabilization with my paddle on the board), and ignore the tremors from my leg muscles.  It was the strangest thing, I could apply power to each paddle stroke regardless of my shaking muscles.  Break through!

Day Three

Heading out on Day Three was an amazing experience.  Not event a hint of shakes from my leg muscles I was able to stand up right away and paddle pretty hard up past the Mopac bridge, standing up the whole way.  What a great sport!  Definitely a good workout, with strong paddling, each stroke works shoulders, arms, core, and legs (if you’re stoking hard enough).  So now the freedom of movement on the lake is amazing!  I’m starting to consider buying a board.  Lots of good options for SUP boards and gear in Austin, including the awesome SUPATX store that provides the boards for Texas Rowing Center.SUP GPS  By the way, TRC is the largest SUP rental operation in the world with over 120 boards.  Even then, you probably want to go during the week days if it’s your first few times, since it’s popular and you will likely have a wait a bit for a board on the weekend.  The venerable REI also has a great selection of SUPs and add on accessories.  Being a gear hound, REI was like a candy store .. straps to make board carries easy and even suction cup based lights you can mount on the board for night paddles.  One note, you do need to hit the Round Rock REI store since the downtown REI doesn’t carry SUP gear.

Day Four

By Day Four, I was feeling like a SUP rockstar, but wanted to know how much of a workout an hour long SUP session would be .. so I strapped on my heart rate monitor, put the iPhone into an otter box (so if i did dump, at least I wouldn’t have to buy a new phone).SUP Heartrate

It didn’t take very much heavy paddling to figure out how to lean into the paddle stroke so there is a huge amount of power there .. enough the board is leaving a consistent wake with only three to four strokes per side. We paddled out from the TRC dock up the lake past the Mopac bridge and past the UT Rowing Center dock.  Took about 17 minutes to get down there, but with the wind blowing west over the lake it took quite a bit more effort to get back and took about 20 minutes (of pretty concerted paddling as you can see by the ramp up on the right side of the heart rate chart).  Digifit claims the out and back paddle was 1.88 miles over 1 hour and 13 minutes (yes we took some time for a lay down on the boards out at the furthest point) and burnt 318 calories.

Coming back into the dock, I hopped off the board onto the dock without even getting my feet wet.

We are now planning entire workout routines around SUP, including working on having the balance and coordination to try yoga on the board. has some great groups for all sorts of outdoor fitness activities in Austin, including SUP based yoga. Kinda cool! Lots of good places to get SUP boards and gear in Austin including the venerable REI,

So that’s it.  After four days of Stand Up Paddleboard, I’m hooked. Of course it helps that there is all sorts of gear you can buy to enhance your SUP experience and for a gear hound like me, that’s awesome!


How to get a standing ovation

In HP Enterprise Security Products conferences, there are many presentations made by System Engineers, Customers, Product Development types.  Sridhar Karnam gave some excellent advice on how to get a standing ovation for your presentation.  I’ve saved his posting here:

In many surveys conducted people have chosen to jump off the building rather than face the crowd for public speaking. As I am typing these sitting in my cube and not facing people trust me with these tips, you WILL get a standing ovation at HP Protect or HP Discover events whether you are delivering breakout sessions or technical talks such as turbo talks.

My top 10 tips that will help you get the standing ovation:

  1. Number of slides: Divide the number of minutes by 2 and that is the number of slides you need to prepare. For instance, a 45 min breakout session would need a maximum of 22 slides and a 25-minute turbo talk would need a maximum of 12 slides
  2. Structure your story/ not content: Do not worry about adding too much content on the slides. You deliver the content. Use PPT only as a pointer not as a newspaper. This of your presentation as car driving and PPT as a GPS device. Use it to navigate, but you will drive the car to your destination
  3. Images/ graphics: Text is meant to be heard, and visuals are meant to be seen. People usually read faster than you if it is on slides. So, use PPT to put bullets and images, but have texts in the notes section so that you can still refer to notes when you need
  4. Entertain and storytelling: Even if you are presenting the advanced deep dive technical topic, make sure to entertain your audience with examples, use cases, results, and benefits. Always have a story. People can read story later, but they are in your room to listen to your side of the story
  5. Know your audience: Understand your audience. Start with a poll or few questions so that they know you and you know them. Ask them questions (quiz) in your presentation to make sure they are engaged and they interact with you
  6. Start with your Story: Who are you? People want to connect with you as a person before they want to hear your content. Spend a minute or two giving them your story and connect with audience personally. Tell a funny story (not a sad one). Also do not overdo it. Limit your story to 2-3 minutes max.
  7. Show & Tell: It is better to show than tell. Giving demo in the middle of presentation may be a lot of work. However, you can always embed 2-3 min videos in your PPT. At least create a screen shot storyboard if you don’t have video demos. Change of pace from slides to images to videos keep your audience engaged
  8. HP brand: Stick to branding requirement. You are a brand ambassador for HP. What you say or show becomes what HP thinks or shows. Use proper logos, messages, images, color, templates, and be a brand promoter
  9. No Architecture/ marchitecture diagrams: Avoid rectangles, arrow marks and abbreviations of words to showcase marchitecture. There will always be 10-20% of the people who have no idea of what those abbreviations are.
  10. Practice: Practice until you get it right. Record, look in the mirror, screen shot with voice recording, do whatever it takes to provide your best foot forward.

Good luck and go get the standing ovation…

Reputation and Success Formulas

Your reputation is built from not only what you do but also how you do it and the level of knowledge others have about what you’ve done.

Reputation = Accomplishments x Communication x Attitude

Your probability of success on any endeavor can be calculated by ranking the following elements 1-10 (1 = low, 10 = high) ..

Motivation  1-10

Belief  1-10

Effort  1-10

% probability of success = ( (M + B) x E ) / 200

In other words if Motivation = 10, Belief = 10 and Effort = 10, probability of success = 100%

Drive for Meaning

Sometimes staying motivated in any particular role for a long time can be tough. In the information security world, the upsides include proactive customers that take protecting their company values, mission and intellectual property (shareholder value) seriously. The downside includes prospects that are completely clueless about the risks they face. Some very wise investors whos advice I follow say when evaluating a company to invest in, there are four M’s that potential shareholders should pay attention to: Meaning, Management, Moat, and Margin. The company has to do something that resonates with you, they need to have skilled management that has shareholder value in mind (they aren’t traitors that spend shareholder owned money for their own luxury or enrichment), they need to have some inherent competitive differentiator, and finally they need to have a current valuation that gives prospective shareholders a return on their investment.

Equally, to stay motivated in a role, individuals need a sense of accomplishment. Paul G gave a great synopsis of this by condensing it down to four key attributes that any role has to have to provide an individual with the motivation to do great things: Compensation, Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery. It’s been proven that money is not an effective motivator by itself .. an example being the difference between a cash payout versus some meaningful memory.  If an individual receives $5,000 in bonus money, although it’s appreciated and goes to some purpose, three months later, it’s difficult to recall exactly what that money was spent on.  Where that same individual receives an equivilent value item (prehaps a mountain bike or a trip to a vacation spot), three months later, the reward is still very tangible. Purpose, autonomy and mastery are all needed to give an individual the tools and space to make a tangible difference, where it may be difficult, if not impossible, for them to make a lasting difference without all three attributes.

The parallel between these two sets of concepts is clear: a company needs individuals that are motivated to be the best at what they do and compete for the win better than our competitors.  Individuals need a company that will not only provide these motivational tools, but has the capability to do so.  For a company that is not managed well, doesn’t have a competitve offering, or is under capitalized, they won’t be able to attract and retain the best individuals that they need to win and thrive.

With any major change, such as starting another degree, changing jobs or moving cities, things can be overwhelming. It takes every ounce of strength and stick-to-it-tivness to navigate these changes and focus on the end goal.  Finding ways to motivate yourself can be challenging when faced with the overwhelming task of taking on that degree or life change. Just like strength training in any fitness program, one fantastic outcome of these challenging circumstances is the realization that we can do it .. and that new strength is our new norm.

Al’s Bucket List

Everyone has a bucket list. Some are written down, some are just in the person’s head. Sometimes it’s just a list of really interesting stuff you’ve done. This is kind of both for me. To get the creative juices flowing, I have both stuff I’ve done and stuff I want to do on here .. in no particular order. Maybe I should put some pictures in here some day too.

Live in a different city
Become a minister to officiate a wedding
Get a Masters degree
Take up mountain biking .. learn to ride technically challenging terrain

Learn how to pick a lock
Hike Mount Kilimanjaro
Learn how to swim laps
Re-learn how to shoot a pistol and how to handle a gun
Dive off Belize, Bonaire, Curaco, Great Barrier Reef, Mediterranean
Learn how to roll sushi
Become proficient in Spanish .. spoken and reading
Run a half marathon
Go bare boat sailing

Austin Pics

Here’s the start of a few pics from Austin that are either Al’s or Amanda’s favs.

Texas capitol building in Austin

Austin Java

Al's fav .. Austin and Apple

Fantastic Food almost for Free

Neat sayings

  • Are you where you want to be?
  • Are you who you want to be?
  • The getting lost was worth the coming home.  🙂
  • What I fear, I can create.  We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.


  • 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  CIA moto

How to give and receive feedback

From HP headlines:

Imagine setting out on a journey without a map and signposts. That’s what it would be like if you tried to do your job without feedback from customers, partners, members of your team, and other key stakeholders, said Piau-Phang (PP) Foo, managing director and senior vice president of Global Sales, Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ), in a recent Leading Ideas webcast.

Feedback can be a powerful tool to foster learning and drive better performance. “When executed well and on a consistent basis, it helps get people on track,” said Foo. “It serves as a guide to assist people to know how they are doing and how others perceive their performance.”

Ten tips for receiving feedback and five tips for giving feedback.

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