About Guy Churchward

I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

The Second Machine Age: 5 Things Our Kids’ Kids Won’t Know About Transportation

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

 

  1. What it’s like to drive a car
  2. What it’s like to queue at the DMV
  3. What’s a Taxi
  4. How buses had a pre-defined route
  5. How Top Gear was a show, not the latest fresh garms.

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There’s a lot of fervor over what some of today’s best business minds are describing as The Second Machine Age. Decades in the making, the Second Machine Age represents another fundamental shift in the way we live, work and, yes, play.

Like the first Machine Age, technological innovation and the quest for automation are driving the change, but this time around it will be the automation of information (or ‘knowledge works’) that will define the period, impacting lives on a whole new level of magnitude.

In fact, while I was researching electric vehicles this past weekend, it struck me just how Teutonic these changes will be and how close they really are, which brought home how every aspect of our lives will be irrevocably different.

Continuing reading on our sister site Reflections.

Tenth Day of Blogmas: Help! I’m Stuck in the Muck That’s Become My Job, Part I

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

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I have no idea how sage writers churn out endless gems in books that help us better navigate our careers but they do. I’m not a voracious reader but I have stumbled on a few books that seem to parallel my thought process. My short list includes:

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t (Collins)
  • The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (Sutton)
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Gladwell)
  • Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions (Kotter)

Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve had a playbook career, but my personal way of muddling through has worked out pretty well over the years and along the way, I have learned a few things that have helped me tremendously—my own gems, I guess you could say. Some I’ve gleaned from reading, but most are from my personal work experience, family and peers, as noted.

Recently, I’ve found myself on a few speaker tracks talking about some of these gems, so I figured it might be time to write them down and share them. Whether you’re navigating a career in business, medicine or IT, these gems apply. The list is different if you’re a manager or a non-manager, but reading both will benefit you short- and long-term—perhaps even broaden your perspective a bit.

Gems for non-managers:

  1. The only person who’s going to manage your career is you. If a manager is taking an interest in you and your career, take advantage of it.
  2. A job is a job and a career is a career. I spent nearly 14 years at the same company, albeit in different roles. When I left that company, I realized what I had was a job, not a career. Yep, I’d stayed 10 years too long!
  3. Keep an eye on your résumé. Every inch of your résumé counts. If you haven’t enhanced it recently, then it’s time for change. After all, a job is a job and a career is a career (see #2).
  4. Have a 3-5 year plan but be realistic that it will likely change. It’s good to dream and it’s fun to look back with friends and say “Did you ever imagine we would be here three years ago?”
  5. Being invaluable at a task will keep you employed but will likely stunt your career. What’s never said is managers want people who are good and stable in their roles. So, if you’re good, they’ll likely prefer you to carry on doing what you do best without any disruptions. If this is the case, you and they will inadvertently stunt your career.
  6. Being a selfless utility player will make your career rich and rewarding (Graham). Continuing the thread from #5, I was once challenged by a boss to learn a unique skill—something that would make me “invaluable.” He told me to document it, try it again, teach someone it and make myself redundant. THAT’s how you make yourself invaluable to a business. Incidentally, I was going about this in the polar opposite way, so this piece of advice was a massive help to me—and my career.
  7. If you figure something out, document it, try it again, teach someone, make yourself redundant (see #6) and raise your hand  for the next tough assignment. Remember every inch of your résumé counts.  Keep learning (see #11 below).
  8. Learn to like the crappy jobs (Dad). Try and find a successful executive who didn’t fight on the way up by taking the harder road!
  9. Figure out who you are and how you think. Are you a Tank or Plumber? Are you a Linear or Abstract Thinker?
  10. Figure out what you’re good at and, more importantly, what you aren’t good at. Most careers stall or slide when you don’t know these two things or are insecure in your ability and get ahead of your skis. If you do this, guess which part of your so-called skills will be critical in your next job? Be forewarned!
  11. Keep learning. Rinse and repeat is good for your hair but not your career. There is nothing worse than doing the same thing year after year.
  12. Try not to live where you work (Mick). A small commute can help you detox. Don’t take baggage home; it will stunt your career and hurt your home life.
  13. If you find yourself underwater with to-do’s, make a list (Edmundo). On Friday, write down every task you know you have to do (make a separate list for business and personal). From this list, identify your top 10 tasks for the upcoming week.  For an added cool factor, send a copy of your list to your boss. You’ll have a better weekend; you’ll figure out what really is important (see also Heidi’s post “Have You Taken the ‘Repeat Test’?”) and you’ll stay on course.
  14. Take all the advice you can but act on only what you see is correct (Uncle Richard). Translation: Two ears and one mouth.
  15. If you start a new project or idea, don’t let it creep too far (Andre). Most projects fail from never-ending creep. Lock your plan down and execute, and then adjust.
  16. Raise your hand. If your job doesn’t challenge you, and even scare you, at times, you’re not stretching far enough. Make sure people know you have extra capacity.

IT friends, are you stuck in the muck that’s become your jobs? What resonates from this list? Tweet me at @guychurchward or comment here.

IT and business leaders, my gems for you in my next post!

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013

Second Day of Blogmas: Will Your Decisions Stand the Test of Time?

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

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Being crammed into a metal tube more than 30,000 feet in the air seems to release the mind to wander aimlessly through the archives of fragmented memories, half facts and interesting tidbits you’ve picked up along your journey.

Perhaps it’s a sleep deprivation thing. Perhaps it’s the first sign of madness. Whatever the cause, I’ve come to understand that these thoughts are subconscious beacons, rather like an inner voice laying breadcrumbs to an “aha” moment.

My latest pondering has been centered on the fragility of time: How many of the things we witness or decisions we make have life well beyond the window in time in which they occur. A comet, the twinkle of a fading star, a serendipitous encounter, the “luck” in being in the right place at the time.

Even our careers are seldom planned; we think hard, work hard and aim well, but how much of our journey has really been about the action of “carpe diem”? At a specific historical moment, we remember making a decision and living with the consequences. For me, things like signing up to move to the U.S., making a bet on Mr. Manley as a classy CTO and less successful decisions like that black run I decided to attempt on my ATV, come to mind.

So, where do these breadcrumbs lead?

To the question of how to recognize the difference between fad and trend. Fads tempt your impulse gene but likely have no sustain. A trend may feel the same, but the journey takes a very different path and has very different consequences.

A decision in “data protection” should never be taken lightly; whatever we sign up to has ramifications far beyond our sphere of accountability or involvement. I’m guessing for backup architecture, decisions come around maybe once every 5-10 years.

Careers and life are more transient than we’d like to admit. Likely speaking, in a couple years’ time you’ll have moved onto some new project and so, too, will the sales teams that assisted you in the decision-making process; the only constant will be the solution you invested in for your company.

So, what do you want your legacy to be? How do you mitigate risk and yet deliver results that will be celebrated as your legacy?

Choose wisely, correlate the facts, seek sage advise and, importantly, bet on technologies you’re confident will stand the test of time. And, above all, make sure you surround yourself with vendors that do the same. Fads won’t be there with you at the finish line!

May the force be with you!

Themes of #the12daysofblogmas, 2013.

 

What Hurts Us Does Make Us Stronger…IT Too

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

181907694It’s funny how chance meetings can impact our lives… change our perspectives.

Three specific occasions immediately come to my mind.

The first occurred, of all places, on a cruise ship to Alaska. My wife and I were playing cards in one of the lounges when in comes a large group of service men and women—all ages and nationalities. As it turns out, there was a veterans meeting taking place. We hung around to listen. People literally from both sides of the conflicts in Afghanistan to Hiroshima to Hamburger Hill.

Continue reading on our sister site Reflections>> 

Help! I’m Stuck in the Muck of My Job, Part II

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

147285353“I enjoyed the bit of introspection that followed the quick read as I started my day–it helped put the tasks for the day ahead in perspective!”

This is just one of the comments I received from my last post. Others shared their personality types with me (#9 from last week’s list); and many others told me they were adding one or more of the books I mentioned to their ‘must-read’ lists. To say I’m flattered to hear this is an understatement. Wow!

Okay, so now it’s your turn, managers. As promised, below are my 16 tips for you. Check them out—and let me know what resonates. Tweet @guychurchward or comment below.

My Gems for Managers:

  1. Remember, the monkey is in a tree. When you look down, all you see is smiling faces. But when your team looks up, all they see is (fill in the blank). Lead by example and don’t become complacent. You hire smarter people than you, and they will naturally watch and judge.
  2. Always be sure to have a Plan B: Markets change; businesses shift; and super stars leave. Be ready and flexible, the larger your span of control, the more you have to watch for the holes.
  3. Dont create single points of failure. Make sure you have invaluable employees but also make sure there isn’t any one person who holds the only key to your future. It’ll choke your progress and create bottlenecks, and inadvertently you may feel held for ransom.
  4. Professional managers.’ Professional managers have the same MO. They generally work on the same timeline: they join, assess, ask lots of questions and start to make changes within 2-3 months. Much sooner or much later than this generally shows a lack of understanding of the business, I’ve observed. So, be sure you test your managers continually as you gain knowledge about them and their management styles, and, importantly, as they say in the States, make sure to make changes before you’ve drunk too much of the Kool-Aid.
  5. Find managers who have a shared belief system. Figure out what’s common among your team and rally around it; this is ‘the glue’ that will bind you together. For my team, it’s the fear of failing. This may seem odd, but in practice, it isn’t at all. Not only do my teams strive not to be the weak link, but they also don’t want to fail the team. They are there for each other when a ball is dropped. Teamwork at its best (see #6 below)!
  6. Empower your team. You want your team to work together but you also want to challenge each person on your team to see the bigger story and its value to the organization. On your part, don’t keep information to yourself. Share it. Impart it as actionable data bytes to stimulate debate and innovation.
  7. Provide clear direction and dont re-steer the boat until it lands (Joakim).  Part of empowering your team (#6) is conveying a clear plan and, importantly, giving them time to execute. Fail to do this and your team may spin in circles, and they won’t deliver results for you.
  8. Plan for the time continuum. Everyone is good at thinking in some ‘window of time.’ Some work best ‘in the now,’ others a couple of years out, and still others are bigger picture, longer-term thinkers. You want to build a team that spans this continuum—and that’s good at the handoff between phases (Wai). The norm is big thinkers who can’t connect back to ‘the now.’ They talk a big game but don’t execute nearly as well.
  9. Dont try to blur your cultural identify with your corporate values. In a diverse business, divisions and locations should have their own cultural identity but share corporate values and objectives.
  10. Embrace the Yin and the Yang. No individual or team is perfect but if you strike the right balance, you’ll see powerful results. Product management and product marketing, as examples, are two sides of the same coin (70/30 or 30/70 technical inbound/business outbound), as are sales and pre-sales.
  11. Read Good Is Great and take heed of the ‘window mirror’ section. Good managers look out the window for praise and in the mirror for mistakes. Bad managers do the opposite.
  12. Eliminate HIPPO thinking. Managing according to the Highest Paid Persons Opinion (HIPPO) principle (i.e., bring questions and the boss gives you the answer) is archaic. HIPPOs must evolve from ‘THE decision maker’ to ‘THE question asker.’ You want your team to arrive at the answer by applying the right data to the questions posed. If your team is used to delivering data and waiting for someone to make a decision, you create a bottleneck and confirm it’s okay not to apply any logic to their jobs.
  13. Root out the trouble employees. Bad vibes travel faster and take exponentially longer to recover from than good vibes. Figure out who fits the ‘arsehole rules,’ evaluate their value to the business and either box them in or agree to part company.
  14. Ensure learning is continuous. Teams that are continually challenged with new projects and ideas tend to stay together. You’ll lower your attrition rate and, following on #6, you will help energize people to think for themselves. From an engineering perspective, try to ensure you have more than one technology or project going on in each location. Keeps things interesting and helps with #3.
  15. Dont over communicate or over produce communications. Authenticity and believability is huge. Your team needs to understand ‘who you are and where you come from’ and your customers need to believe in your business. Connect at a ‘real’ level. People buy people!
  16. Listen to your customers! It’s amazing how little customer feedback actually makes it into a business plan or roadmap. You have to work hard at getting this right or your business will lose context.

Finally, remember, “Managing is not measured when things are going well, it’s measured on how you react when things are upside down. So assume they will be and you won’t be disappointed.”—Chasing Mavericks