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How to Castrate A Bull

Dave Hitz

Scientific Truth: I believe the Universe is an understandable place, with objective facts that we can discover by using the scientific method

Useful Truth: Individuals are often better off believing things that are not scientifically true

Described how both Yahoo and Cisco bought hundreds of their servers because they were (much) cheaper and allowed scalability, but both were very unhappy with NetApps reliability. So Hitz set up a program called "LoveYahoo/Love Cisco", with aim of doing whatever made them happy. Idea being Customize (for Yahoo and Cisco) then Standardize (the changes for all other customers). Main goal not so much to make Y and C happy, but to learn from them, and apply lessons to everyone else. If you could satisfy yahoo, then cd satisfy any Internet company.

People only open their wallets (become customers) when they're in pain. When money easy, attitude is "I'll be promoted if I keep things working, so I won't go off into uncharted waters of new tech." Changes to "I'll be fired if I don't cut costs" when recession hits, and that's when the innovative ideas get an audience.

All animals have instinctive behaviours, which make sense in the evolved environment. Cliff dwelling seagulls push out any rocks that fall into their nests; they retrieve any eggs that roll out. How do they decide what is a rock and what is an egg? Researchers found the gulls pushed out anything with sharp pointy corners. They identified rocks by feel, ignoring colour. But if an object was outside the nest they ignored shape, and simply retrieved anything that was same speckled brown colour of their eggs. So of course the sharp enquiring minds of the reearchers wanted to know how the birds would respond to a specled brown cube. So put this evil "egg" in nest and this is what happens: first the gull pushes it out, because its got sharp edges. The it pulls it back into the nest because of the colour. This goes on forever; out of the nest and into the nest all day long. Looks stupid, but in natural environment, without mad scientists, the simple rules work perfectly: sharp-equals-stone, speckled-equals-egg.

"After becoming VP of engineering, I noticed that when I whined about things, people would run off and try to fix them. At first my lesson from that was that I'd better complain as accurately as possible. The better I could describe what I didn't like, the more likely my staff was to fix the right problem. Finally I had an epiphany: whining is the evil twin to vision. Accrate whining is a careful description of how you wish the world was not. Vision is a careful description of how you wish the world would become. Whining is a sign that you have an opportunity for vision. They may be closely related, but vision is much more motivational."

(Possibly UL) story about George Lucas walking around his under-construction ranch, noticing a newly-painted building and making an off-hand comment to an aide who was with him that he thought it was going to be a slightly darker shade of brown. The next day he walks past building and it's now a darker brown. Tells the aide "I was just making a comment, I didn't mean you had to go and repaint it!" Walks past day after, and it's back to original light brown!

How to end a meeting - stand up: they will stand to, and you can then walk them to the door

Company needs engineer-type thinkers (spot problems and try to fix them), management-type thinkers, and customer centric thinkers (ID customer pain and figure out what to do about it)

Life is a long game - absorb that and you understand why morals work

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