Nick Russo blog http://njrusmc.net/ Nick 2019-08-17T05:00:01+00:00 Automating Networks with Python 2019-06-07T05:00:01+00:00 2019-06-07T05:00:01+00:00

Announcement: My Automating Networks with Python course has just published on Pluralsight! For a link to the training content, please visit my courses page.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/hide/ps-py-net.html
Protocol Deep Dive: IGMP/MLD 2019-03-08T05:00:01+00:00 2019-03-08T05:00:01+00:00

Announcement: My Protocol Deep Dive: IGMP/MLD course has just published on Pluralsight! For a link to the training content, please visit my courses page.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/hide/ps-igmp.html
Protocol Deep Dive: ICMP 2019-02-27T05:00:01+00:00 2019-02-27T05:00:01+00:00

Announcement: My Protocol Deep Dive: ICMP course has just published on Pluralsight! For a link to the training content, please visit my courses page.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/hide/ps-icmp.html
Protocol Deep Dive: FTP and Its Variants 2019-05-10T05:00:01+00:00 2019-05-10T05:00:01+00:00

Announcement: My Protocol Deep Dive: FTP and Its Variants course has just published on Pluralsight! For a link to the training content, please visit my courses page.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/hide/ps-ftp.html
Getting Started with Software Development using Cisco DevNet 2019-08-07T05:00:01+00:00 2019-08-07T05:00:01+00:00

Announcement: My Getting Started with Software Development using Cisco DevNet course has just published on Pluralsight! For a link to the training content, please visit my courses page.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/hide/ps-devasc1.html
Automating Networks with Ansible the Right Way 2019-03-30T05:00:01+00:00 2019-03-30T05:00:01+00:00

Announcement: My Automating Networks with Ansible the Right Way course has just published on Pluralsight! For a link to the training content, please visit my courses page.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/hide/ps-ans-net.html
One Year in Business 2019-08-17T05:00:01+00:00 2019-08-17T05:00:01+00:00

Loop Free Consulting, my first company, has been in business roughly one year. It's been an incredible ride and deeply satisfying as the business is both profitable and growing faster than I can keep up. It's a good problem to have, but it was not without its challenges.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/08/17-one-year.html
Ansoff Matrix 2019-08-10T05:00:01+00:00 2019-08-10T05:00:01+00:00

While listening to a "Great Courses" business book on marketing, I was introduced to the Ansoff matrix. It's a simple 2x2 matrix that intersects customers, new and existing, with products, new and existing. I wanted to talk about the Ansoff matrix as it relates to my personal business offerings. I'd encourage you to repeat the exercise for yourself.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/08/10-ansoff-matrix.html
Hidden Costs 2019-08-03T05:00:01+00:00 2019-08-03T05:00:01+00:00

I am always astounded by how many purchasing departments measure costs. They are quick to break out their spreadsheet programs to tabulate the cost of parts, labor, freight, and capital. Inept Government officials do it, too. While the cost of capital helps approximate the ever-decreasing value of money over time, it doesn't account for other hidden costs: those of transaction and opportunity.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/08/03-hidden-costs.html
Forecasts 2019-07-27T05:00:01+00:00 2019-07-27T05:00:01+00:00

I'm always thrilled when I can find a bridge between books on completely separate topics. I've recently read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's 2012 book "Antifragile" and, coupled with my extensive research into Lean thinking and the Theory of Contraints (TOC), I've reinforced my opinion about forecasting.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/07/27-forecasts.html
American Colleges 2019-07-20T05:00:01+00:00 2019-07-20T05:00:01+00:00

Let's not waste time today. The cost of higher education in the United States is becoming oppressively expensive without a commensurate increase in quality, modernity, or relevance.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/07/20-american-colleges.html
Good Debt 2019-07-13T05:00:01+00:00 2019-07-13T05:00:01+00:00

I've heard many different explanations around what qualifies as "good debt". Sometimes the answer is "nothing" and sometimes the answer is "everything". I think Robert Kiyosaki's definition from his 2015 book "Cashflow Quadrant" provides the best answer.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/07/13-good-debt.html
Ideas Are Commodity 2019-07-06T05:00:01+00:00 2019-07-06T05:00:01+00:00

One of my favorite quotations is "Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not" by Michael Dell. It's a frontal assault on the falsehood that big ideas alone make the world go 'round. Everyone has ideas. Literally, everyone. Putting those ideas into practice is what matters.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/07/06-idea-commodity.html
Loser DNA 2019-06-29T05:00:01+00:00 2019-06-29T05:00:01+00:00

A friend of mine is big into Gary Vaynerchuk, so I decided to check him out. I was immediately attracted to his "I'm a winner and I don't care what you think" attitude. My favorite phrase from Vaynerchuk so far is "loser DNA".

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/06/29-loser-dna.html
Conferences 2019-06-22T05:00:01+00:00 2019-06-22T05:00:01+00:00

I love speaking at conferences, especially big ones with big crowds. It brings out the best in me and many other speakers I know. I think many speakers tend to forget what conferences are all about; entertainment.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/06/22-conferences.html
Monopolies Are Bad 2019-06-15T05:00:01+00:00 2019-06-15T05:00:01+00:00

I've recently started reading some of Peter Drucker's work. The man is brilliant and is rightfully hailed as a thought leader in business management. The 2009 book "The Essential Drucker" concisely summarizes his many decades of work. Early in the book, he speaks of monopolies and their impacts on business. He isn't saying monopolies are bad for consumers, which is obviously true and well-known. He claims it is bad for the monopolizer, too.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/06/15-monopolies-are-bad.html
How Not to Write a Book 2019-06-08T05:00:01+00:00 2019-06-08T05:00:01+00:00

My first foray onto the global scene was in the summer of 2016 when I self-published my first book. The topic was both highly technical and highly specialized. These aren't bad things per se, but the manner in which I developed the book was just plain stupid in retrospect.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/06/08-how-not-write-book.html
Procrastination 2019-06-01T05:00:01+00:00 2019-06-01T05:00:01+00:00

If you came here looking for motivational advice, you might as well stop reading now. I'm not going to try to inspire you to do the things you know you should be doing. I'm going to take a more analytical approach. The antidote to procrastination is strategic thinking. Be deliberate with what you will and will not do.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/06/01-procrastination.html
Sales Ethics 2019-05-29T05:00:01+00:00 2019-05-29T05:00:01+00:00

Earlier this year, I consulted for an organization with about 8 independent data communications networks. Some of these networks were highly sensitive and warranted such separation, while others could, both technically and politically, be merged onto shared infrastructure. Such a hardware consolidation would reduce both capital and operating costs for the customer. Now, suppose you were a network device supplier staring at a 70% drop in revenue.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/05/29-sales-ethics.html
Perception Is Reality 2019-05-25T05:00:01+00:00 2019-05-25T05:00:01+00:00

A friend and fellow securities investor provided some unsolicited but constructive feedback on my blog. In his experience, blog quality is directly proportional to the perceived effort invested to maintain it. That is, the minimalist nature of my blog looked like a second-rate rag not worth reading.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/05/25-perception.html
Consulting "Rates" 2019-05-18T05:00:01+00:00 2019-05-18T05:00:01+00:00

In consulting, the word "rate" implies measuring some quantity against units of time. Dollars per hour, meters per second, sick days per year, etc. For decades, the world-renowned consultant Alan Weiss has lambasted the use of time-based fees in consulting. I want to summarize his arguments using my own words, thought processes, and examples.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/05/18-consulting-rates.html
Quality is Free 2019-05-11T05:00:01+00:00 2019-05-11T05:00:01+00:00

In his 2013 book titled "Gemba Walks", 2nd edition, Dr. Jim Womack makes the statement that "quality is free". The claim is made within the context of a manufacturing environment where rework (the process of repairing defects on products just built) is far more expensive than doing it right the first time. Womack is not alone. Phillip Crosby's 1979 book "Quality is Free" coined the term.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/05/11-quality-is-free.html
The Comfort Zone 2019-05-04T05:00:01+00:00 2019-05-04T05:00:01+00:00

Last spring I saw the writing on the wall. My efforts to help a longtime customer build a world class service provider network finally paid off. The problem was, they didn't need me anymore, and quickly started to hold my opinions in progressively lower regard. Despite extraordinary operational impact and commensurate acclaim, I was unhappy. I felt disrespected and discarded. Renowned or not, I stayed long past my useful shelf life.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/05/04-comfort-zone.html
What is Your Time Worth? 2019-04-27T05:00:01+00:00 2019-04-27T05:00:01+00:00

I've written about the time value of money before, and I think all people have an innate understanding that time is money. Employees sell fixed units of time to their employers in return for fixed sums of money. When the time unit is one hour, we call this a wage. When its annual, we call it a salary. But what do we call spending (or losing) money in return for time? Unpaid vacation?

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/04/27-time-worth.html
It Is Too Complex 2019-04-20T05:00:01+00:00 2019-04-20T05:00:01+00:00

I'll come out strong; I hate this excuse. It's a thinly-veiled attempt at propping up what is likely a failing status quo mindset around a challenging problem. Now, with that out of the way, let's examine why people say it.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/04/20-its-too-complex.html
The Real Power of Kanban 2019-04-13T05:00:01+00:00 2019-04-13T05:00:01+00:00

I've written about kanban before, and many of you know that I use it extensively in my personal and professional lives. In my 16 March 2019 blog about kanban and scrum, I ended by saying kanban surfaces problems. What does that really mean?

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/04/13-kanban-surface.html
Well, Technically 2019-04-06T05:00:01+00:00 2019-04-06T05:00:01+00:00

We've all heard it. Maybe we've even partaken in it. Someone makes a comment that is generally correct or reasonably illustrates a point. Perhaps the statement was incomplete or too vague. Either way, the "well, technically" brigade comes out in force to pick your pithy remark apart with minutia. How to react?

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/04/06-well-technically.html
Single Points of Failure 2019-04-05T05:00:01+00:00 2019-04-05T05:00:01+00:00

This blog might seem like clickbait for the technically-minded who expected a sermon on how to build highly-available data communications networks. Not so. I'd like to share my thoughts on risk management instead, and for the techies, I'm sure you'll see some obvious parallels.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/04/05-spof.html
Win Together 2019-03-30T05:00:01+00:00 2019-03-30T05:00:01+00:00

The name of this blog is sure to rile up the cynical folks in the crowd and perhaps drive you one step closer to nihilism. I want to provide a few simple examples of winning together in the business world, and specifically, beyond company boundaries.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/03/30-win-together.html
The Soul of a Slave 2019-03-23T05:00:01+00:00 2019-03-23T05:00:01+00:00

"The soul of a free man looks at life as a series of problems to be solved and solves them, while the soul of a slave whines, 'What can I do who am but a slave?'" writes George S. Clason in his 1926 book "The Richest Man in Babylon". No, this is not a blog post on the heinous act of slavery. It's not a money talk, either. It's a blog post on overcoming problems using mankind's inherent gift; critical thought.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/03/23-soul-of-slave.html
Kanban vs. Scrum 2019-03-16T05:00:01+00:00 2019-03-16T05:00:01+00:00

This comparison has been beaten to death on the Internet by people much smarter on these topics than I. I'll briefly review both and explain how I've seen these methodologies work firsthand outside of software development.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/03/16-kanban-scrum.html
How To Read More 2019-03-09T05:00:01+00:00 2019-03-09T05:00:01+00:00

In late 2017, I was struggling to understand some of the core concepts underlying DevOps technologies. I knew deep down that I simply did not have time to sit and read traditional books. Some of you are saying this is an excuse. With a full time job, a wife that works full time, and a 1 year old daughter at the time, it just wasn't going to happen. Both my wife and I are regular gym-goers and aren't willing to sacrifice that. Many of you have followed me on the web for years and know how much I contribute to the community, and I'm not willing to tune that down, either. I had to find a way to keep expanding my knowledge without investing more time.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/03/09-read-more.html
My Secret To Success 2019-03-02T05:00:01+00:00 2019-03-02T05:00:01+00:00

I'm not going to hold anything back. Get rid of your television. Being entertained via TV programming is probably the most passive activity in the world, except for sleeping. I'm not knocking it because it is physically lazy (although it certainly is), but rather because it has the capacity to completely transform someone's life in a negative way.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/03/02-secret-to-success.html
Net Income vs. Cash Flow 2019-02-23T05:00:01+00:00 2019-02-23T05:00:01+00:00

If you are a professional accountant, investor, or business owner, you can stop right here. This blog is for the financially-challenged technocrats among us. It wasn't until early 2017 that I realized how ignorant I was on these topics, so I picked up a $10 Udemy course by Chris Haroun titled "An Entire MBA in One Course". It's a great place to start and one of the best $10 purchases I've ever made.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/02/23-net-income-cash.html
Good, Cheap, Fast; Pick Any Three 2019-02-16T05:00:01+00:00 2019-02-16T05:00:01+00:00

The age-old adage says that you can only choose two attributes from the list of "good, cheap, or fast". I've seen all kinds of fancy mathematical graphs depicting a three-dimensional parabola that shows the limits of how the inputs of quality, cost, and lead time all interact. The CAP theorem for databases similarly suggests you can choose consistency, availability, or partition tolerance, but never all three. You can choose two, we are told, and trade-off the third. Intuitively, this makes sense, but is it a general truth? Let's examine all three possibilies.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/02/16-good-cheap-fast.html
Mind Your Own Business 2019-02-09T05:00:01+00:00 2019-02-09T05:00:01+00:00

Robert Kiyosaki's 1997 book "Rich Dad Poor Dad" suggests that we all "mind our own business". He's clear in stating that your "business" isn't your place of employment, but rather what you do to make money. Are you an author, podcaster, weekend lawnmower, investor, or something else? Figure out what topics interest you, and start thinking about how you can deliver unique value in those spaces. Note that non-profit or charity work qualifies as a "business" too, so long as you aren't someone else's employee while you do it.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/02/09-mind-business.html
Busy is the new Lazy 2019-02-02T05:00:01+00:00 2019-02-02T05:00:01+00:00

Perhaps a controversional topic, but an important one. All sectors of all industries have their share of eternally "busy" people. They peck away at their laptops during strategic meetings, dial into back-to-back conference calls, and contort themselves into cogs that fit perfectly into the machine that preserves the status quo.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/02/02-busy-lazy.html
Time Value of Money 2019-01-27T05:00:01+00:00 2019-01-27T05:00:01+00:00

"That makes no sense", I told a business manager. "Why would we pay $100 per month for that service when we could buy a compute platform to run it for $3000? It pays for itself in two and a half years." I was convinced that these office-dwellers had no idea how to multiply.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/01/27-time-value-money.html
Cleaning with Lean 2019-01-26T05:00:01+00:00 2019-01-26T05:00:01+00:00

At Cisco Live US 2018, attendees could volunteer to support an effort known as "Clean the World". Volunteers would create support packages for the world community where sanitation is poor or nonexistent. I always volunteer for things like this because it is good for humanity and doesn't take much time.

Nick http://njrusmc.net/blog/2019/01/26-lean-clean.html