Post #2 in The Series: IT is from Mars, Business is from Venus

“Any marriage counselor will tell you there are two sides to every story. And that can be OK—as long as each side understands the other. But marriages suffer when the two sides can’t find ways to communicate and resolve their misunderstandings.

In many companies, the relationship between IT and business leaders is a very troubled marriage indeed. Miscommunication is rife, leaving executives struggling to figure out what’s working for the company, what’s not, and how to improve the situation. Can a marriage like this be saved?

It can, when IT and business executives have a clearer understanding of the needs of both sides, how they work and the challenges they face. That means business leaders and IT executives talking with each other about their operations and about how IT can help the company fulfill its goals, instead of talking past each other about how one side or the other is preventing that from happening.”

The text above is from Dr. George Westerman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which first appeared in an April 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal. It caught my eye because similar dynamics are at play between IT vendors, such as Intertech, and our business clients and their managers. The article went on to detail four areas where IT and non-IT executives often fail to understand each other clearly, and how transparency can help. My next four posts will explore those areas, leading with Dr. Westerman’s take and then providing my own from the vendor-client perspective.

Intertech Named One of the 50 Fastest Growing Firms in Minnesota

Intertech was named by The Business Journal as one of the 50 Fastest Growing Firms in Minnesota.  My thanks to our wonderful customers and tremendous employees… this award, obviously, would not be possible without you.


Hope Floats… An Inspiring Story of My Niece

The Herald Journal printed a wonderful, inspirational article on my niece Hope.

The article starts out with “Her name is Hope. Not Hopeski or Hopey or Hopeinator; just Hope.  For some people, their name just seems like a perfect fit.  That can be said about Hope, whose full name is Hope Salonek…

Hope tried to walk away from swimming at the beginning of this season, but Charnstrom convinced her to join the team again using a simple strategy — by calling her Hope. He used to be the one who called her Hopeinator and the other nicknames.  ‘Just call me Hope,’ she insists.  So Charnstrom did, and she joined the team.”

The article goes on to say, “Anybody who has gone to a Watertown-Mayer/Delano (WMD) girls swimming meet during the last three fall seasons has probably noticed Hope. It’s difficult not to. Hope swims two junior varsity events — 50-yard freestyle and 200 freestyle relay — and tends to have all eyes on her at the end of both races.  At the start of both swims, Hope enters the water with a sit-down dive off the pool deck instead of off the block, and she is always the last swimmer to the wall at the finish. But, nobody seems to care. Instead, her teammates seem to feed off Hope’s swims. ‘When you have 50 girls on the team, it is hard to have cohesion and it’s hard for all of them to cheer because they are all doing their own thing, but, when Hope is swimming, everyone stops what they are doing,’ said WMD coach Chuck Charnstrom.

‘The best description is reverse cheerleader, in that she is able to get everyone else to cheer and be a lot more cohesive, and is a rallying-point for the girls,’ said Charnstrom”

More cohesive.  A rallying point.  We all need a Hope on our team.

Proud of you Hope!

Lessons from My Father

In the post on my friend Pete Remembering What Matters, One Step at a Time, (thanks again to those of you who supported him by donating via his blog), I mentioned my dad.  It reminded of an article I wrote about him titled “Lessons from My Father.”

It was printed the first Father’s Day after his death and was published in Octane, The Entrepreneur’s Organization Magazine.  Below is a copy.

Lessons from My Father

For many, Father’s Day is a holiday of the worst possible definition: a phony event designed to sell cards and neck ties.

For me, though, this Father’s Day has special poignancy: It’s the first time I’ll be celebrating as a dad myself, and the first time that I won’t be able to tell my own dad how much he means to me.

My father, Theodore, died last year in a farming accident. It was a terrible shock, to say the least, and it put my life in perspective. In the months since, I find myself remembering all the things he taught me; lessons that I want to teach Theodore, my young son.

In 2001, a local newspaper published an article about how my company, Intertech, was named one of the 500 fastest growing firms in the nation. In the article, I credited some of my success to simple lessons that my dad taught me. Now I realize that my dad taught me so much more, and those lessons have been critical to my company’s ongoing success.

“Tell the truth and you’ll only have one story to remember” was one of his favorite sayings. After being in business for 20 years, I have repeatedly experienced the merit of my dad’s wisdom. Recently, an important client of ours hired a CIO who turned out to be a dishonest bully. He hoped posturing, changing his story and saying whatever would resonate with me would make me complicit with his deceit. It didn’t. The company fired him, but Intertech is still engaged.

This particular experience taught me that while it’s easy to encourage others to tell the truth, it’s harder to create an environment where truth-telling feels safe. To create an atmosphere of honesty, I’ve learned to support people when they fail. I also encourage my managers to tell those people who make mistakes that they’re OK. I’ll never forget how grateful I was when my dad did that for me.

“If you do nothing, you won’t make any mistakes” were his first words after I accidently sheared the axle on his truck when I was a teenager. After reminding me that only those who do nothing are perfect, he said, “Now let’s go take a look at the truck.” No shaming reprimand; just a straightforward focus on solutions. When mistakes happen in my business, I acknowledge it, learn from it and move on to the next step. At the end of the day, the mistakes are what make us great.

“If someone does something you don’t agree with, tell him directly” was another belief my dad modeled. He wasn’t confrontational, but he did speak his mind if he disagreed or had something corrective to say. When I asked him if this was hard to do, he would just shrug his shoulders and say, “I’m not trying to win a popularity contest.” I was able to apply this lesson when a valued business partner of mine messed up. We talked through the issue and he realized that, while I recognized his mistake, I was more concerned about the future of our company and his role in helping us move forward. I’m happy to say that he’s still with us today.

While popularity wasn’t his goal, my dad was beloved by many. At his funeral, many people recalled stories of how he turned their lives around or did good work. It made me realize that sharing sincere praise is precious. This is something I have institutionalized within my company with a program that encourages employees to nominate each other for demonstrating our company values. Sometimes as leaders we get so busy that we don’t give people the acknowledgement they need to excel. At the end of the day, awareness begets success.

My dad was a modest farmer, but he left a rich legacy of integrity, authenticity and kindness. His wisdom has helped me grow as a business owner and father. I only hope I can be at least half as effective in passing that legacy on to his namesake.

A digital copy of the printed magazine with this article is available at:

Thanks for the Wonderful Support of Pete

Thanks for all of the wonderful support of my friend Pete.  Since the article in the Star Tribune on Monday, there have been dozens of emails, phone calls, and donations.  Some of you asked how to donate (the online version of the article cut off the URL).  You can donate at Pete’s video blog or directly to Pete via PayPal.

I also received a some business-related inquiries related to the book offer.  To answer at large:



  • If you make a donation of $1,000 or more, I’ll send 100 copies of my book (a $1,000 value)
  • If you make a donation of $2,500 or more, I’ll deliver a 1.5 hour webinar on leadership, sales, or entrepreneurship (and include 100 copies of my book)

While I’m a past instructor the University of St. Thomas Graduate School of Business Management Center and sometimes conference/corporate/sales meeting presenter, with two toddlers, my priorities have changed and I’ve semi-retired.

That said, if you make a donation of $10,000 or more, I’ll travel to your location, within the Continental U.S., and deliver a talk on a topic TBD but within my areas of expertise (with expenses and 100 copies of my book included).

Thanks again.