Posts Tagged 'Football'

October 30, 2011

Celebrating and Looking Forward

Inspired by Robert's NFL rival blog, I thought I'd contribute my own football-related post. Before I go any further, I should probably say, "PONY UP!" As a proud alumna of Southern Methodist University (SMU), I'm always happy to share where I sent to college, but when the SMU Mustangs take down our biggest rivals in football, you can bet that I'll talk about it. For the past century or so, SMU has battled the TCU Horned Frogs for "The Iron Skillet," and this season, that skillet headed back to Dallas (where it belongs).

In a HUGE upset, the Mustangs beat the Horned Frogs 40-33 in overtime to break a four-year losing streak. The past four years have been "rebuilding" years under June Jones, so this win over a quality, ranked opponent was even more significant ... Which is clear since I'm still talking about this game in particular a few weeks later. But this lingering buzz is nothing compared to the roar of attention to SoftLayer's international expansion.

We're not exactly the "underdog" anymore, but October marked a huge step in the growth of our company when our Singapore data center and network points of presence in Tokyo and Hong Kong went live. The SoftLayer passport is starting to fill its pages with stamps.

As we put the finishing touches on Amsterdam, we have Softlayer staff on three continents, so day-to-day operations get a little more complex in some areas of the business. As a member of the social media team, I've been watching the clock a lot more these days ... And that's not to suggest that I'm counting down every day until 5pm (which isn't really a "stop time" for me anyway since social media doesn't turn off at the end of our time zone's business day). What I mean by "watching the clock" is that I've had to start thinking about reaching customers on the other side of the world with relevant SoftLayer messages. I feel like I need five clocks above my desk like what you usually see in newsrooms.

When engaging in the world of social media, timing is everything. Whether it's a matter of coordinating with a press release, trying to reach people in a completely different time zone, or just responding to issues, being where you need to be when you need to be there is 90% of the battle. When you think about it, everything in life comes down to that!

Sometimes events can be planned like SoftLayer's global domination. Others catch you by surprise ... like the SMU Mustang victory. As I get close to my three-month mark as a SLayer, I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time to join the SoftLayer team. I'm excited to see how our business is going to grow, and I'm looking forward to having to invest in more time zone clocks to keep track of the local times in all of our new data center markets.

Oh, and GO MUSTANGS!!

-Rachel

October 29, 2011

Coworkers and Divisional Rivals: Football at SoftLayer

Cheering for the hometown team has always been interesting at SoftLayer. With U.S. data centers in Dallas, Houston, Washington DC, Seattle and San Jose, the "home team" varies throughout the organization. It's always fun to talk about games with fans when I'm not invested in the outcome of a game outside my favorite team's division ... And when it comes to the NBA (which no longer has a team in Seattle), it's easy to cheer for the teams that other SLayers are cheering for. When the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championships, our Dallas techs were going crazy, and their enthusiasm was pretty contagious.

When it comes to NFL football, things are a little different. Prior to the launch of our San Jose facility, supporting each data center's home NFL team with some playful banter was normal. When San Jose came into the mix, that meant we'd have a lot of new employees (Yay!) who are probably going to be fans of my Seahawks' divisional rivals, the San Francisco 49ers (Booo! :-)). Now cheering for games gets a little trickier since we don't want a football-related civil war between offices.

In reality, I'm sure it'll never be an issue, since SLayers are like a big, diverse family ... That being said, I'm glad I wasn't in the office on the Monday after the Seahawks' opening game loss against the 49ers. My California peers would have probably been quick to chat about the game, and I probably wouldn't have wanted to talk about it. It's different for me to have coworkers who are die-hard fans of a rival team due to their geography (and not just because they are a bandwagon fan), and as we keep growing, I'm sure the football support between offices is going to keep getting more and more diverse ... My vote is that we avoid adding a data center in another NFC West rival's market, though.

The interoffice atmosphere is just another reason why I love working for SoftLayer. Our team is so different, but we're united by the common goal of making SoftLayer the best company in the world (for our customers and for our employees). For right now, I'm glad that there aren't as many soccer fans in our halls ... You don't want to see me in my soccer hooligan mode.

-Robert

September 16, 2011

Social Marketing v. Social Media - And Them Cowboys?

Once again the Dallas Cowboys let a game they weren't supposed to win slip away from them in the 4th quarter. Again it was Tony "oops" Romo that had a hand (or "didn't have hands") in the loss. I can't blame it all on him as I saw many problems that led up to the defeat. I, as a master football coach of 4-6 year-old flag football, could write multiple paragraphs on that subject, but because this is a social media blog, I will get back on topic.

After last night's "4th quarter of doom" that probably led to crazy nightmares for my sleeping kids (I may have been yelling loudly and often), I decided to open Twitter to see what everyone in the world thought about the game. I have to admit I was a little shocked at how many Cowboy haters are out in the wild. Of course the game was trending, and the conversation was ... diverse: You had your die-hard Cowboy fans that were saying, "Shake it off, you weren't supposed to win anyway." You had your fair weather fans that were saying, "Great, another season opener loss, I guess I'll follow the Texans instead." You had the fans of other teams that were saying, "Haha, the Cowboys lost again – Go (Insert your team here)!" And, of course you had the pure Cowboy haters who were saying, "#$%^#$%^#$ the Cowboys they #$%#$% and #$%# and then #$%#$%. Eat it!" I would say most were Cowboy haters, and most of the tweets were not even close to being rated PG-13.

Stay with me now ... I'm finally onto the real topic.

Social Media
What I saw on Twitter last night was real Social Media to me. It was current, real time, opinionated, cool and sad all at the same time. It encapsulated the thoughts and reactions of the public to something that was happening or just happened. Why is social media cool? A couple of weeks ago when the earthquake struck the northeast, people were saying that they received tweet updates of the ground shaking and notifications that an earthquake hit seconds before they felt the tremors in their area. Think about that and how many possible uses that has in lots of different industries. X happens, Y needs to know about it right away, Z tweets it or posts it on Facebook (or any of the 2000 other social apps out there), and like magic you have the information almost before you are supposed to. That's viral social media.

Social Marketing
Social Marketing isn't nearly as sexy. It's only and exactly what it sounds like. We do it at SoftLayer: You see tweets from us talking about press releases, new products, our new website, our new international locations and some of the other value we provide to customers because we know how easy it is to miss some of the best stuff in the noisy social sphere. It helps us build our brand and helps with awareness by getting our name in front of people who may not have seen it otherwise. It drives traffic to our website and straight to our order form. It is significant to our bottom line.

The challenge with this kind of engagement is that the volume of content can seem overwhelming to some. Some customers only want to hear the viral social media kind of stuff with up to the minute news (which is our vision for @SoftLayerNotify), but it's tough to abandon the social marketing piece because it's been so measurably successful for us.

With that being said, we want to hear from you about what you like and don't like about our social engagement. What you would like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Do you like it? Do you hate it? We're definitely listening ... Well as long as we're not busy getting ready for the next flash mob.

-@skinman454

September 24, 2008

Fantasy Football

Football season is BACK!!! I know that not all of our customers really care or keep up with what is going on in the National Football League…. But I DO!  Along with this comes the hobby/obsession with Fantasy Football.  I will admit that I myself am a fantasy junkie, a nerd, but also a king.  While I am not very involved in the MySpace community and only slightly in the LinkedIn community I am proud to be a member of the vast and consistently growing FFL community. 

(Note: you can check out our SL Facebook world at http://www.facebook.com/SoftLayer

We have been able to form an office Fantasy Football League that consists of Accounting, Development, Marketing, and SLales staff are all involved.  We have called the league the Fantasy Layer, and many of us have our teams named after characters or minor points from the movie “Office Space”.  Characters like Milton, Lumbergh, and Lawrence (the guy who lives next door that you can hear through the wall) to simple things like the red swingline stapler and the fax machine that never works are all involved in some pretty creative team names.

60% of our league has never played before and this is their first crack at it ever.  Even though we are only one week into the season there has already been a lot of entertainment based on the name of our league alone.  If I can help it there may be a good deal of trash talk coming very soon.

Like with most internet communities you can put endless amounts of time into fantasy football leagues, or very little.  I have put a good deal of my off time into researching the teams I have put together this year and I feel confident about them.  Even more rewarding is that the efforts I have made are not only to my benefit, but Michael Miller has directly made use of my research and through him even my own Vice President (Steven Canale) was able to benefit second hand.  I am happy to say that we have all gotten off on the right foot and are dominating our leagues so far.  

Note: When I say dominating I don’t mind beating my chest a little bit in telling the rest of my league that “This is the greatest team ever assembled, and I will teach you the meaning of the word Fear”.

And now coming back down to earth…

Fantasy Football is completely hit or miss.  I get it.  I used to be a complete cynic before seeing the light by getting involved.  Still even though this type of thing isn’t for everyone (nor is it meant to be) it is a good example of how the internet has grown in the past couple of years.  The internet and internet based communities have moved beyond the realm of the stereotypical geeks and created entire new geek realms bringing us all closer together.  For some, these types of on line communities are the only reason that they even log on to the internet or have any reason to associate with it.  The thing that seems to continually tie new people into the fold are the common interests and sharing of information.  I know that if we continue to share what we have found in our own experiences we will continue to attract more people to be a part of what we are involved in ourselves. 

I encourage everyone to share and invite new people to be a part of what they already know and involved in, but for now I am just looking forward to Week 2 of the NFL season.

-Doug

Categories: 
December 7, 2007

Time for Change

As I watched the Dallas Cowboys dismantle the Green Bay Packers last Thursday night, I noticed an ever so slight – almost invisible – passing of the torch from Brett Favre to Tony Romo. It became quite clear – Football is a young man's game.

As I sat and pondered what that must feel like for Brett and his crew, I noticed frightening similarities between hosting and football. Hosting appears to be a young man's sport as well.

Now, before you guys (there I go again) pile on and beat me down – hear me out. I am not saying that Brett and his older brethren are washed up and incapable of playing football – but I am saying, their primetime has passed and any future success should be considered borrowed time on a great career coming to conclusion. Facts are facts – professional football is a very physical and mental job and the youth + skill appears to outweigh age + experience.

This leads me back to hosting. A world full of very young and extremely talented players. An industry where degrees and certifications come in a distant second behind skill and innovative thinking. I often find my thirty-something (barely) resume on-the-line with both new and old competitors. I can assure you, the young competitors terrify me, and the older ones typically bore me.

The recent interviews for potential new hires here at SL are eye-opening. Young Guns coming out of high school with Cisco Certs, college students working on cutting edge technologies and of course – the prodigy that shows up from time to time who was born to design and innovate beyond all our wildest dreams.

I often tell Mike, our CFO, that technology is changing the rules of business and how things will be done going forward. In Mike's accounting world, graduates come out of college with lots of book knowledge and very little experience and gain experience over their career. In the technology world, I would argue the younger talent holds more technical knowledge (book or real world) than the older more established crowd What I bring to the table is business and technical experience; but I find myself learning more and more technology from my younger team members everyday. It's a never ending battle to stay on the leading edge – but I wonder – how long will it be before I hand the torch?

Go Cowboys!!

-@lavosby

November 2, 2007

No-Huddle

With the NFL season in full swing and the usual suspects up to their usual tricks, a question was raised as to why some teams opt to run a "no-huddle" or "hurry-up" offense when their backs are against the wall with the clock ticking away, while other teams seem to constantly be in a "hurry-up" mode throughout the game and have a significant degree of success with it. In either case, the objective is to keep the competition off balance and have steady advances to the goal. An obvious example of an undeniably successful team that employs such methods is the reigning NFL Champion Indianapolis Colts.

Before I go further into lumping praise onto the Colts, I feel that I am obligated to state that I am not a die-hard Indy fan. The team that I root for shall remain nameless for this article as I am still traumatized by the hammer that they leveled on my team of choice on the NFL's opening night (Hint: Rhymes with "The Aints.").

Okay, so this observation invites the question: how did the Colts become champions by performing in a manner that, to outsiders, may appear to be rushed and distressed? One could say it's because they have trusted, senior individuals in their skill positions implementing the plan. Another might say that by focusing on rapid incremental results, they are able to execute more efficiently. An additional point might be that the constant communication amongst the players allows them to adapt to the circumstances that are constantly changing so that they may deliver and reach their goals.

To those of you not caught up in the imagery of football, you might recognize that these are some of the same traits that characterize successful adaptations of Agile Software Development. With the goal of delivering continuous and valued improvements to our applications and supporting software, the Softlayer Development team practices many of the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto. While "moving the chains" toward the end-zone alludes to the incremental success of an NFL team's offense, we speak more in terms of functional and valued releases towards achieving greater customer satisfaction. This is afforded to us by the skilled players on our team, constant communication, and a continued focus on producing measurable results. We are determined to keep "moving the chains" so, stay tuned to the Developer Network, Forums, and all channels Softlayer as we continue to push towards our goal.

-DJ

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