Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University.
Instead of separate physical rooms for each breakout session, this event had "virtual rooms". One speaker called it the "Software Defined Stage". Basically, there were five "rooms" in the main ballroom, and another eight rooms in a second ballroom.
Rather than blasting out each speaker's voice over loudspeakers, each speaker spoke softly into a headset microphone. All attendees wore headsets. Rooms 1 through 4 offered real-time translation, so attendees could chose to hear in English or Brazilian Portuguese.
In the other 13 "rooms", local speakers spoke in Brazilian Portuguese, but you still had to wear headsets to avoid speaking louder than the speaker next to you. For many of these, the charts were written in English.
My translators, Luciana and Marilia, explained to me the advantage of this approach. When speakers use English language, those who prefer must hear the real-time translation wore the "headphone of shame" which advertised to all others that an attendee's English proficiency was poor.
Sometimes, those who did not understand English well would not wear their headsets, nod or laugh with other attendees, but fail to understand the message. By forcing everyone to wear headsets, there is no stigma associated, and everyone can discreetly select the language they prefer to listen in.
Here is my recap for the breakout sessions on Day 2:
The day was capped off with a nice evening reception at the pool bar. Bartenders were serving Caiparinhas, a Brazilian cocktail traditionally made sugar cane liquor, sugar and lime, but in this case offered in other flavors, such as pineapple or passion fruit.
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Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University.
While I speak Spanish fluently, my Brazilian Portuguese is a bit rusty, so I was asked to present in English language, and let these two real-time translators, Luciana and Marilia, speak on my behalf.
A big challenge is that English is a terse language, but Brazilian Portuguese is more verbose. It takes more syllables, and thus more time, to perform real-time translation. I have learned to pause at the end of each sentence to give a chance for my translators to catch up.
In this table, you can see that some technical terms take more syllables in Brazilian Portuguese than English. Often, I heard the local speakers just say "Servers" or "Storage" for convenience.
Here is my recap of breakout sessions on Day 1.
I managed to understand the local speakers in their native Brazilian Portuguese language. In many cases, the charts were in English language, so I was able to read in English what I may not have understood was spoken.
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Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University. With over 12 million people, it is the most-populous city in the Americas. Our venue was the Club Med Lake Paradise resort on the outskirts of town. We had about 700 attendees.
We had several local speakers do the opening session. Here is my recap:
This was a good start for the conference. The three speakers of the opening session were passionate of what they were talking about, and people were excited to learn more as the week progressed.
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With IBM's CEO Ginni Rometty coining the phrase "new collar" workers, a reader asked me to comment on this 2015 Forbes article [Why We Desperately Need To Bring Back Vocational Training In Schools] by Nicholas Wyman.
The article starts out giving background history of the current mess we are in. Here is an excerpt:
My father was a mechanical engineer who enjoyed fixing cars and woodworking on the weekends. I had plenty of "vocational training" growing up at home, no need for me to have this in school, allowing me to focus on getting ready for college.
Nicholas asks legitimate questions at this stage: "So what’s the harm in prepping kids for college? Won’t all students benefit from a high-level, four-year academic degree program?" His initial response is:
Hard to argue that people are different, and learn in different ways. Not everyone is meant for college.
"...And not everyone goes to college. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that about 68 percent of high school students attend college. That means over 30 percent graduate with neither academic nor job skills..."
Here is what I have most problems with. To think that the 30 percent of high schools students graduate, but do not go to college, have neither academic nor job skills? I disagree with this, as there are many jobs where the academic and job skill training they received in high school is more than adequate. Nicholas then doubled down:
There are a lot of successful billionaires who did not complete four yeas of college: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Henry Ford, and Howard Hughes, just to name a few.
If you feel that the only purpose of attending high school or college is to get job-specific skills, then you are missing out on all the other aspects of those that teach you valuable life lessons, getting along with others, teamwork, communications, and other "soft skills" that aren't necessarily job-specific.
Teenagers entering college are still growing up, trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, discovering new ideas, new ways of thinking, and networking with people of different backgrounds and cultures.
"...The U.S. economy has changed. The manufacturing sector is growing and modernizing, creating a wealth of challenging, well-paying, highly skilled jobs for those with the skills to do them. The demise of vocational education at the high school level has bred a skills shortage in manufacturing today, and with it a wealth of career opportunities for both under-employed college grads and high school students looking for direct pathways to interesting, lucrative careers. Many of the jobs in manufacturing are attainable through apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and vocational programs offered at community colleges. They don’t require expensive, four-year degrees for which many students are not suited..."
The skills shortage is real, but until employers are willing to pay people for what they're worth, the situation will not be resolved. The free market has a way to fix skills shortages. High demand raises salaries, and causes people to invest in high school and college education in part to vie for these positions. That is in part why medical doctors are paid so much.
"...The modern workplace favors those with solid, transferable skills who are open to continued learning. Most young people today will have many jobs over the course of their lifetime, and a good number will have multiple careers that require new and more sophisticated skills..."
A few years ago, I was hosting clients for dinner in Tucson. The sales rep had brought his daughter and her roommate along, as there was a shooting at their college campus and classes were canceled for the week. The daughter asserted, "In 18 months, I will no longer have to learn anything again. I will be done with school." Her roommate chimed in, "Ha! I am a year ahead of you, and only six months away from that!"
I was the bearer of bad news. "Ladies," I said, "you will have to get used to learning new things the rest of your lives." The highest ranking client at the table overheard me, and she re-iterated, "Ladies, that is probably the best advice I have heard in awhile. I suggest you heed it carefully."
A big part of high school and college education is to teach you how to learn on your own. Learn to read, search out information, take measurements, gather data, make plans, and ask the right questions. These are skills that are useful in a wide variety of careers.
Nicholas concludes with:
"...Just a few decades ago, our public education system provided ample opportunities for young people to learn about careers in manufacturing and other vocational trades. Yet, today, high-schoolers hear barely a whisper about the many doors that the vocational education path can open. The “col
I agree the educational system in United States is broken, but I am not sure I agree with everything that Nicholas writes in this article.
It seems June and July are the months that folks provide career advice to recent graduates, or to students entering higher education.
This quote from Elliot Fletcher caught my eye:
"Have your own definition of success...so you can fulfill your dreams, not someone else's expectations of your dreams."
How do you define success? For some, it is based on their salary, or perhaps revenue they helped close for their company.
For others, their family life and the flexibility to handle work/life issues might be more important.
Still others look for certifications and awards from official agencies.
As a side gig, I sometimes do bartending on the weekends. Typically, these are for weddings or corporate parties.
I took weeks of bartender training and passed a three-hour exam to become state-certified to do so in Arizona. We Arizonans take our liquor seriously! If you think about it, bartending is just a notch below being a Pharmacist dispensing other drugs.
Surprisingly, some of my patrons will be condescending, "Don't you wish you can do more with your life than be a bartender?"
I am also certified "Laughter Yoga" instructor, and am called in at times to substitue for other instructors. Again, I took formal training and was certified to do so.
Again, some of my students will ask, "Don't you wish you could do more with your life than be a yoga instructor?"
In both cases, I would respond, "Dude, I earn six figures, and am happy to meet new people every week, how about you?" This usually shuts them up!
Bloggers often use "website traffic" as a metric to measure success. David Spark interviewed me for a Forbes article [You're Already Sitting On The Secret To Successful Blogging]
(For those interested, here are [my top 10 posts] which served as the basis of the interview!)
I am happy to be recognized externally and within IBM for my success as a blogger. Since I started blogging over 10 years ago, I have helped close over $4 Billion USD in revenue for IBM, written five books on IBM Storage, mentored dozens of other successful bloggers, and presented to thousands of clients at conferences, workshops and briefings.