Looks like an extended vacation is coming up soon on the out of office calendar.
6 months and 1 day until retirement.
That’s it. I finished the 2017 Tour Of Sufferlandria. I’m not sure how, but I finished all 9 stages.
Last year’s tour was challenging. This year’s tour? Well, let’s just say that it was one of the hardest things that I have done on a bike in recent memory. Sure, there were probably times when I was racing way back in the 1970s when I probably killed myself on a ride. This year’s tour, coupled with a smart trainer, provided a new definition of suffering on a bike.
I’ll need a couple of days to recover from all of this abuse.
More like a couple of years.
Definitely for a good cause though.
Wish me luck.
On my about page, I make the following statement:
The site is not connected with my employment. In fact, I go out of my way to limit any direct references to my career. Absolutely nothing that I have written should be taken as an expression on my employer’s behalf.
The rant that follows is just my rant. And it is all about unsolicited vendor emails and telephone calls.
On a quiet day, I’ll receive 40 or more unsolicited vendor emails — this is apart from the 300-400 emails that usually come in every day. Fewer calls, perhaps only 3 or 4. If I had to read, reflect and thoughtfully respond to each one, I would be spending anywhere between 2-3 hours a day on those emails. Imagine how much time would be taken if I agreed to meet with even half of the vendors that call me to request time on my calendar.
In a word, cold calling has become totally out of control.
I often wonder whether the companies that force people to do the cold calls see any kind of effective response rate. I used to reply personally when the volumes were more like 10 or so a day. When the volumes started to increase, I began to use a canned email response:
Thank you for your note and for your interest in our company.
Due to the very high volume of unsolicited requests for meetings and telephone calls, I can only make time available where we have a specific need or interest.
We do not have a specific need or interest in this area therefore a meeting or call is not required.
I even toyed with the idea of automating the canned response by creating a rule or macro to run whenever certain keywords showed up in an email coming from an outside domain. Life, however is too short.
A friend shared me with this top ten things not to do to successfully sell to the CIO.
- Spell my name right. Did I really need to tell you that? Apparently for many of you I really must.
- Know what my company does. Please don’t try to sell restaurant point of sale software to me. I am not the CIO for an Iron Chef.
- Spend 5 minutes to review what you send. Do not just import the address you got from the mailing list directly into mail / email merge program. Letters that are addressed to “Dear Mr. Smith, L J “ really lose that personal connection you are trying so hard to make
- Don’t request a “read receipt” from me. Instant delete! It is bad enough that the NSA, Facebook and Google are already tracking me.
- Don’t send me offers for gift cards to meet you. First of all, it is just plain wrong to bribe people into meeting with you. Secondly, it probably violates most company policies, and maybe even some laws, to accept gifts from vendors. Finally, it is really insulting to me that you think I am sorry or desperate enough to forgo my ethics for a Starbucks gift Card.
- Don’t send your assistant to ask me to a meeting. Any email that starts out “my Director, Mr. X, is in your area on Tuesday April 22 at 9:15 and would like to meet with you” gets deleted. Wait; better yet I’ll have my assistant delete it.
- Resist the impulse to send an email the instant after you leave a voicemail. If I had the time or inclination to answer the phone, I would have.
- Learn when to give up. Persistence may be a valuable, but there is a limit. When you receive no reply after say, 3 attempts, don’t continue to fill the inbox (voice and email) with additional messages. It stands to reason that if I am not interested the first 5 times, I am not interested in the 6th.
- Don’t send me a list of the 10 dates and times that we can meet in the next 2 months. If anything will convince me to meet you it is a reasoned outline of the product you sell and why it benefits my company, not the fact that you happen to be free.
- Don’t solicit me if my company is already a customer. If we already buy your good or service, we probably won’t buy it twice.
At this point, I have given up responding to unsolicited emails and calls. Most of the unsolicited vendor email is coming into spam anyway which is where the vast majority belong. There are some rare emails that look to be of potential interest. I do give unsolicited emails the benefit of a doubt. I’ll spend maybe 10-seconds on an email to see if it deserves any kind of follow-up.
Most of them are so poorly done, that I can usually delete them within the first 5-seconds.
Banker’s boxes. We have many. Roughly 50 or so in a storage unit.
Our goal is to reduce the banker’s boxes to zero. Scan those items where we want or need to keep them and ditch the rest.
Then I found the original receipt, warranty card, manuals and schematics for my 1982 Fender Super Champ.
The amplifier cost me $399 before tax in 1982. Today, that amp is worth about $1,400. And my Super Champ is super clean. Aside from having to recap and retube the amp, it looks brand new.
I haven’t used it in a very long time and I may decide to sell it for someone else to enjoy.
Hard to believe that it has been almost 36 years since I bought that amp. It has traveled with me for a long, long time.
I had better keep these items with the amp.
My good friend Trevor has been spending quite a bit of time lately with the Boss SY-300 guitar synthesizer. Trevor has an incredible array of sounds that he can pull from his instruments and he uses most of the same techniques that guitar players use to create new sonic textures and tones. Namely, lots of pedals.
He recently did up a video on the Boss pedal. Although he is renting it right now, I suspect he may add it to his pedalboard. My take is that Trevor needs a much larger pedalboard anyway.
RJ Ronquillo published a YouTube video where he shares his perspective on how to become a better musician.
I’ve paraphrased his points a little:
- Find your inner rhythm, the drummer within.
- Play with others
- Take chances and go outside your comfort zone
- Listen to music, really listen to music
- Don’t take it all too seriously
Like many things in life, the journey of a musician takes a lot of discipline and effort to master an instrument. Much of it is physical and mechanical. Learning where to place your hands. Learning how to play in time. Learning how to make an instrument sound good. All of which could be described as developing the conscious musician.
There comes a point where the advanced player transcends the conscious musician. The physical and mechanical attributes of playing an instrument fall into the shadows. The musician discovers a musical voice. And that musician can speak with their instrument without conscious thought. There is no active consideration of where the hands need to be placed. There is no active consideration of how to create music through the instrument.
For want of a better term, the music flows through the artist. And you can see it when that happens.
All too often I see players fixated on reading charts. Unable to be free of the mechanics of what to play when, they invariably play poorly. Almost stilted. As if the chart itself is somehow making them play the correct notes.
For myself, I try to move from conscious to unconscious play whenever possible. And that usually means freedom from a chart. In addition to RJ’s tips, I have found that learning arrangements, committing them to memory, and playing them without worrying about where the tune is going, provides so much opportunity to play with freedom. And playing with freedom generally means playing better.
Here is RJ’s 5 tips to becoming a better musician.
I do a lot of playing in church settings. For Canadians, this might seem a bit odd. Our culture is decidedly post-Christian and few people in Canada regularly attend churches. Mention the word “church” and visions of organs and choirs would quickly come to mind. Not of drums, bass, electric guitars and keys.
That said, I play out in church settings on guitar at least twice a month. I love to serve in this fashion and there has been a real renaissance in guitar playing with styles that build from bands like U2 and Coldplay.
There is a vibrant and broad community of guitar players who play in church bands. Thousands of them. Most are in the United States. I follow numerous forums and guitarists online and one model of guitar that keeps popping up online is the Veritas line of instruments. They can be purchased as a standard or custom offering.
The Portlander, pictured above, is a popular model in the church community. Here is a video with David Ditrich, a worship leader, talking about his Veritas Portlander. A great looking and great sounding guitar.
This was our stage from the final performance of Celebrate Christmas. Celebrate Christmas started out way back in December of 2009. The vision was to share the joy and meaning of the Christmas season with our community in Kingston. Each year, a team would be assembled and, each year, we gave it our best shot.
Over the past few years, we gained a lot of support for the program and we selected the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts as our venue. A beautiful concert hall.
The last two nights of the program were very special for me personally. More important though was bringing together a great team of people to make something special happen.
Trevor posted our team photo with the following statement: Greater things can always be done “in team” than alone.
Thankful for all of the wonderful support by this team.