Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Getting to the Top

Event Review
Stanford Alumni Career Services - Seminar Series

Getting to the Top

Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Bishop Auditorium

This was my first business networking event of 2006. It had been a while since I attended these sorts of things and in the past, they were often afforded by a generous salary due to Cisco Systems, Inc. But in 2006, I'm my own "CEO." This was a foray back into the world of high-tech, top-dollar schmoozing.

I certainly got my money's worth. First and best of all, I got to see Tom Herbst from Cisco Systems, Inc. He got to show off his daughter's pictures. For me, and for him, it was great to talk about something other than geeky standards. He talked about pearl bracelets and raising his daughter.

I saw another Cisco business card on the table. It was like a Homecoming to see the corporate logo. Without really thinking about it, today I had even donned my own "Cisco IOS Technologies User Centered Design Team" sage green long-sleeved button-down. I have tons of old Cisco corporate heraldry in my wardrobe.

Some people never wear their old corporate heraldry. But this week, I was seen in a Celebrate History red shirt (c. 1998-1999), an Apple System 7 Answerline shirt (c. 1991-1992), and my roommate/houseguest Kate was sporting her own Green Knight Publishing t-shirt (c. 1999-present).

Which, as many people know, is actual corporate heraldry. "On a field vert, a chevron argent." I was always proud of the design. The holly leaves are a rather unique element, which is something like a verdant mantling with berries for miniscule supporters. I've always wondered how to properly describe it in the formal, ritualistic language of heraldry. Certainly met me know how you could describe it.

Anyhow, tonight I was in "business stealth mode." No business cards to hand out, though I was prepared to collect some and to pass out my email address. I was there to listen and learn, though I did ask a few salient questions (one before the audience which got a good laugh) and made impressions nonetheless.

Tom Herbst was the best contact I made, or re-made. I've known Tom for a long while from Cisco. Not the astronomer Tom Herbst, though I'm pretty sure he's cool too. I mean the Tom Herbst, gadfly and grand old man of IETF meetings. It's amazing you can still see the attendee list from a decade ago, eh?

We spoke about Cisco's present state and challenges. Surprisingly (or nit surprisingly), it sounds quite similar to the state and challenges of when I left in 2001. Names are changing though many are the same. The corporate rotations of who is in power and who is out continues unabated. The reorganizations are shades of the false attribution to Petronius Arbiter.

I'll probably call in to say hello to a few Cisco folks in coming days. Today I called and left a message for one of my fellow Advanced Customer Systems (ACS) fellows from years ago today. Just to say hello and thanks.

Getting to the Top. Quite a feeling. I kept thinking "I know what that feels like." I was there in Cisco. At the forefront. On the cutting edge. While at times we groused things could be even better, for a long while I have to say — we had it really good. So for me, tonight was about "getting back to the top."

Rich Mironov & Midcourse Corrections

Rich Mironov was the speaker who invited me. I ran into him near the door on the way in, even before I ran into Tom. He was also re-introduced to another old acquaintance from a life long past at iPass, a charming woman named Minty Sidhu. She told me about the time she had been spending with her family. And how her husband works at Cisco in Internet Business Solutions. She and Rich spoke about the days they had shared. I was not alone in knowing greener pastures in days before. All of us were poking our noses out of our houses to see whether it was safe to go back into business fields that we once loved. Indeed, it seems the time is very ripe. Quite a marked change from the nervous looks of 2000-2004.

Rich wanted to learn the origin of the term "mid-course correction" (also "midcourse"). He was proposing the term was only coined for the space age. I was wondering if it might have been an older nautical term, from the age of steam or sail or before. As far as I can see, it was mentioned in the "M" section of the 1st Edition (1965) of the Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms as "midcourse guidance" and in the Forward as "midcourse correction." Certainly Mid-Course Corrections (MCCs) were conducted multiple times even in a single Apollo missions, such as Apollo 15, which flew in 1971.

Certainly Merriam-Webster's has a definition which does not date the etymology precisely yet infers it is a space-age derivation: "being or relating to the part of a course (as of spacecraft) that is between the initial and final phases."

So apparently Rich is right on that part, as far can be shown. I'm still curious about the origin the etymology of the expression, and would still anticipate there to be a nautical term pre-dating Sputnik. Certainly let me know if you know something about this.

More to Come... The Talk Itself

I've got more notes on the talk itself. However, it's half-past two in the morning. I'll get to the details in a future update. Also, more about the post-talk talking. For now...

Onwards — to slumberland!


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