Head in the Cloud

Key Point: We can’t afford to waste time redoing work. I was reminded of this the hard way last Thursday night. The experience negatively impacted my readers, writing partner/editor, company team members, dinner guests, and me. I was very frustrated and this cascaded to my executive assistant and IT support team as well.

I write my blogs in advance of the night Garrett and I review it and schedule publication. We know it’s important to our readers to receive the blog consistently (every Tuesday and Friday like clockwork). Quite a few of our North American readers make it part of their personal routine to read it first thing the morning it’s published. So it’s important not to miss. It usually takes me 1.5 to two hours to write the draft of one blog. This past week, I wrote blog No. 2 of the week on a Tuesday flight to Toronto. After getting the draft done, I saved it on my device, an iPad Pro. I knew I had meetings all day Thursday and a dinner meeting Thursday night, resulting in a very tight timeframe for Garrett and me to review that night before scheduling publication for Friday 5:00 a.m. PST. As soon as my Thursday all-day meeting ended, I grabbed my iPad and expected to pull up my draft, add a few finishing touches, send to Garrett and head out to my dinner. Easy, peasy.

Surprise… All my company email had completely disappeared off my device. My blog, sitting in a draft folder in outlook, was inaccessible. Two hours later, after heroic efforts by my exceptional assistant and a top notch IT teammate, my email was restored. However, the event permanently wiped out my draft blog with zero recovery options. So two hours late for my dinner meeting and having to do a complete rewrite, well frankly, I lost my energy and practical window to create a new blog. Garrett, his ever creative and resourceful self, wisely chose to write an apology blog and attach a helpful article. You know the rest.

With current advanced cloud based networks like Google’s, the process of digital work is changed forever. I’m writing this blog in my Gmail account, and that is now securely stored in the Google cloud. So what happened last Thursday will not happen to me again. I will never press “save” again and store content in a folder held on servers behind a fire wall and/or on any device. With my drafts in Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, etc, my blog will always be available. All I need to do is grab ANY device, log in and my stuff is always there. There is a remote chance that the Google network could go “down,” but if that happened we’d likely be experiencing some catastrophic “world” event in which having access to my data would likely be a secondary priority.

Cloud based storage and fantastic productivity/communication platforms like Google’s G Suite results in the work experience changing for the better, forever. Accessing content from anywhere there is internet access, on any device, at any time, allows us FREEDOM and CHOICE; two huge contributors to personal happiness. And how we work is being transformed as well. Being able to video connect individuals and groups easily, having multiple people from anywhere working on a single version document, resulting in one version of truth, integrating with search, etc. etc; well the possibilities regarding reinventing work are limited only by our imagination. It is very exciting, and possibilities for 10x work improvement are literally endless.

In my new role as Chief Evangelist, my team and I have the unique opportunity to make Google’s G Suite platform available to 5,000 of the best teammates in the world. Thinking about how these superb workers are going to apply this tool set/platform almost makes me giddy with excitement. The key thing to understand is that this initiative includes superb new technology AND is also first and foremost about being able to contribute and create more effectively, individually and collectively. We will also be able to more seamlessly integrate work into the way we want to live today!! This is BIG and it is TRANSFORMATIVE! Lucky us.

Character Moves:

1. Commit to working and creating with the most modern collaboration, communication and innovation tools/platforms/systems available. In today’s work this means your digital device has platforms like Google’s G Suite and applications like Slack, WhatsApp, Linkedin, etc.

2. Recognize and embrace these modern platforms from the perspective of living with more autonomy, unleashing your creativity, connecting better with others and becoming richer in every way. And as I often say: Do it now because you’re worth it.

Clouds in the Triangle,


P.S. if you need any help learning to use these digital tools /platforms find a 9-year-old like my grandson; they are excellent tutors and fun to hang out with too!!!

One Millennial View: As my Dad knows, I often have to push myself to “do it now.” I can be a world-class procrastinator, and sometimes try to convince myself that I’m magically “more effective” if I’m on a tight deadline (probably B.S.). Thankfully, these easily accessible applications play a huge role in my professional and personal life, and despite any challenges that 2017 might bring, it’s incredible what we have access to. What a time. There’s no excuse not to utilize them.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Transform Our World

Key Point: This blog is a little different because I’m asking for our wonderful community of readers to help our company attract game changers. Hopefully reading it will also tweak your view of the organization you work in.

Are you able to be the one and/or attract the people who just make a heck of a difference? These folks have a powerful, sustainable impact and inspire those around them. When they enter a room, you can feel the heat in the best possible way. Kinda like Justin Timberlake, they’re into always bringing “Sexy Back,” but through the intersection of knowledge, passion and a jetpack that’s always fired up.

I admire Google’s definition of a “Moonshot:” To positively impact one billion human beings. Now that’s thinking BIG! At ATB Financial we want to transform our part of the world too. We want to reimagine banking and make it really work for people. We’ll start with our own mini-moonshot aimed at four plus million people, including every Albertan. We have been Alberta’s bank for nearly 80 years. Over 5,000 team members put on their ATB name badge everyday, and fully embrace the privilege of serving Albertans in everything they do that involves finance. 

However, the sobering fact is that people need banking, but they do not necessarily need banks (including ATB Financial). But, if we think BIG and “YES” first, we genuinely believe we can reimagine banking so that it becomes an indispensable and integrated part of each of our customers’ lives. We are right in the middle, sandwiched between Canada’s world-class charter banks and a swarm of financial technology startups nibbling at our margins. And we like it. The big guys challenge us by heft, scale and scope, while the upstarts buzz over us with their ingenuity. This provides huge energy and the motivation to be more agile, inventive and resilient. We have so many strengths to build on. We have a highly engaged culture, recognized by outside experts as one the top 10 places to work in Canada. We’re a deeply experienced, fired-up, leadership team playing to win. We’ve employed a world class banking system that gives us one version of the truth, and have the highest customer advocacy scores in the industry. ATB is a crown corporation and our AA+ bond rated single shareholder has a long term view. ATB has demonstrated sustained profitability, embraces an Albertan entrepreneurial spirit, has market share leads in both retail and commercial markets, a growth and disruptive mindset and much, much more. 

At the same time, we need to add some key ingredients into our mix. That may include you or someone you know. The spice we want to add into our transformation recipe is a person who lives fully immersed in the digital world, may be a data science thought leader and/or a genius purveyor of innovation. This includes someone who wants to make a legendary contribution to ATB’s Story and already lives what we call our 10 ATBs. When you read the descriptions of both declarations, you know that’s a mirror of who you are. And you are ready to bring it and to seek heat, and to become part of our very personal moonshot here at ‪ATB. Additionally, joining the team and journey includes the courage think BIG… Be BIG… With sleeves rolled up, a renowned ability to get S#!* done, while still having a lot of fun. One more thing: You are a collaboration magnet! People just love working with you.  

If you want to kick around the possibility of becoming part of our promise to reimagine banking and execute on making a memorable, positive difference in millions of people lives, click on this link and see where it takes you… Maybe to the “moon.”

Character Moves:

  1. Please help us find these people. Connect on LinkedIn with me and/or send me something at lrubis@atb.com. Many of our readers are outside North America. We want people focused on Albertans, yet we recognize they may come from elsewhere… After all, almost everyone in this province once did too. Thank you.

Lorne Rubis 

Close the ‘Spin Room!’

Key Point: I think it’s time for almost (if not completely) full transparency in organizations. There may be some information that should be closely held, but I’m hard pressed to identify what may qualify as a legitimate “secret.” Perhaps a pending merger or acquisition in a publicly traded company? I guess an organization restructure where people’s jobs are impacted deserves confidentiality out of respect to those impacted? Even the sacred world of compensation could use more visibility. In public companies, the compensation of top executives must be disclosed. Why not for all of us internally? If it has to be kept a secret, I wonder why. 

At Google, TGIF stands for a weekly meeting with ALL 70,000 full-time Google employees. It’s hosted by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google. The meeting now happens on Thursday to accommodate the Googlers in Asia. According to Google people, it’s usually the best 45 minutes of the week. Larry and Sergey NEVER miss a meeting and using Google tools, Googlers anywhere are encouraged to ask any question on any topic. According to insiders, it is always an authentic, unvarnished, open conversation. In fact it is so transparent, ALL Google employees are considered insiders and can only trade stock in restrictive periods based on the rules applied to what constitutes inside trading. Another example of this transparency is that any engineer has access to Google source code. (Of course if someone tried to download it to an unsecured non-Google device, Google security would likely unleash some serious consequences). Being open doesn’t mean being naïve, or weak in the matter of protecting intellectual intelligence. It does mean trusting people to navigate through and sort through what’s important to them.

At the company I work for, we are really opening information up. As an example, non-execs are given an opportunity to attend our top management meetings, board committee sessions and even full board meetings. Every Monday and Tuesday we share what’s going on in the company by having our top execs available for a virtual, company wide town hall. The social platform tools are now robust enough to share information in real time and to trust people translating and interpreting the key messages. The idea of top management going into the “spin room” to manage a company wide message is becoming very old school. In fact, if one of our execs sends an email or even a video, we are often surprised by the low “open rate.” We just haven’t got time for “spin,” regardless of how well intended it may be. We want it real, open and straight up so we can make up our own minds.

This week 100 million people are likely to tune in and watch the U.S. Presidential debate. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook will give us instant, real time evaluations on the event. The pundits in the back room trying to “spin” the outcome after the debate are likely too little, too late and probably irrelevant. Millions of viewers will decide and trend the outcome. The “spin room” is losing it’s luster everywhere, and rightly so.

Character Moves:

  1. Confront old ideas and “truisms” regarding information. If information is power, why not empower everyone? The “need to know” guideline may be an outdated idea? Most of the time, we are far from having real “state secrets.” The more people know and understand context, the better can they contribute.
  1. Being open and transparent doesn’t mean all of us running around sharing our most personal matters. The last thing I want to know is the “dark web” in most people lives. Please keep that locked in your mind where it safely belongs. However, in organizational life, I deeply believe a company gets more done by sharing openly on all the initiatives. It builds trust, and treats team members with respect.

Transparency in The Triangle


One Millennial View: I completely agree. I know my company is trying to be more transparent, and it’s helpful… If I can better understand how my actions can further the goal of another department as well, then that’s only going to help strengthen the success of the entire company as a whole. Isn’t that what we’re all ultimately trying to do? Trouble is, if we don’t communicate or inquire, we’re all just on separate islands… It’s time to build some bridges, not sink ships.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Deep Machine Learning… Wow!

Key Point: Those of you that regularly read my blog know that I write a lot about “repotting ourselves” through personal disruption and reinvention. I also point out how digital disruption is impacting literally all organizations surrounding our personal eco-systems. However, sometimes I read or watch something that just makes stop in my tracks and think, “Holy S#!&, Lorne do you REALLY know what’s going on out there? In his recent article on backchannel.com, Steven Levy writes about Google remaking itself as a “Machine Learning First” company. It made me pause. 25,000 top-notch Google engineers worldwide are dedicated to this. Facebook is doing the same. What does this mean to you and me? Please read a few quotes from the article to get the drift:

  1. “Though machine learning has long been part of Google’s technology — and Google has been a leader in hiring experts in the field — the company circa 2016 is obsessedwith it. In an earnings call late last year, CEO Sundar Pichai, laid out the corporate mindset: ‘Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we’re rethinking how we’re doing everything. We are thoughtfully applying it across all our products, be it search, ads, YouTube, or Play. And we’re in early days, but you will see us — in a systematic way — apply machine learning in all these areas.’”
  2. “Obviously, if Google is to build machine learning in all its products, it needs engineers who have mastery of those techniques, which represents a sharp fork from traditional coding. As Peter Domingos, author of the popular ML manifesto The Master Algorithm, writes, ‘Machine learning is something new under the sun: a technology that builds itself.’ Writing such systems involves identifying the right data, choosing the right algorithmic approach, and making sure you build the right conditions for success. And then (this is hard for coders) trusting the systems to do the work.”
  3. “’The more people who think about solving problems in this way, the better we’ll be,’ says a leader in the firm’s ML effort, Jeff Dean, who is to software at Google as Tom Brady is to quarterbacking in the NFL. Today, he estimates that of Google’s 25,000 engineers, only a “few thousand” are proficient in machine learning. Maybe 10 percent. He’d like that to be closer to a hundred percent. ‘It would be great to have every engineer have at least some amount of knowledge of machine learning,’ he says.”
  4. “Google’s bear-hug-level embrace of machine learning does not simply represent a shift in programming technique. It’s a serious commitment to techniques that will bestow hitherto unattainable powers to computers. The leading edge of this are ‘deep learning’ algorithms built around sophisticated neural nets inspired by brain architecture. The Google Brain is a deep learning effort, and DeepMind, the AI company Google bought for a reported $500 million in January 2014, also concentrates on that end of the spectrum. It was DeepMind that created the AlphaGo system that beat a champion of Go, shattering expectations of intelligent machine performance and sending ripples of concern among those fearful of smart machines and killer robots.”
  5. “The competition to hire recent graduates in the field is fierce, and Google tries hard to maintain its early lead; for years, the joke in academia was that Google hires top students even when it doesn’t need them, just to deny them to the competition. (The joke misses the point that Google does need them.) ‘My students, no matter who, always get an offer from Google.’ says Domingos. And things are getting tougher: Just last week, Google announced it will open a brand new machine-learning research lab in Zurich, with a whole lot of workstations to fill.”

Character Moves:

  1. Look… You and I may never be ML (machine learning) engineers, but we better know what the implications are for our organizations and ourselves. It’s like, geez, “I’m just learning about the impact of all things digital, the Internet of everything, full mobility, new Gen Data science, block chain and now this advanced ML?” Yup! (for ATBers who read this blog and want to be part of Pinnacle 3, you will aspire to learn copious amounts about block chain, AI and cognitive ML).
  1. Within five years, there are credible predictions that 45 percent of what we do will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning. How will it impact you? How are you going to participate? Know this: When companies like Google apply 25,000 engineers at 100 percent focus, hang onto your hat. What hat is that going to be?

Deep ML in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Man, sometimes I wish I paid better attention in math class. I waved bye-bye to engineering skills circa 7th grade, but all joking aside, it certainly makes you think about your relevance. We’ve all likely seen Tesla cars driving themselves. There will always be a role for us humans, and I don’t think we’re facing a Terminator situation anytime soon, but staying relevant is obviously something we should be frequently asking ourselves. Basic understanding of concepts like ML keeps us ahead of the game, because rest assured, a machine can likely learn something a lot quicker and cheaper than you can. Even Millennials have to be wary about getting left behind by rapid technological advancements like ML. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
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The Character Triangle

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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle


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