Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Chowda Chat: Dan Keldsen

"Chowda Chat" is a periodic Beantown Web installment that features a conversation with an influential member of the Greater Boston technology community. The purpose of "Chowda Chat" is to provide Web technology professionals with information to help advance their careers. The format involves three questions and responses followed by one final thought.

Today's issue of "Chowda Chat" presents the thoughts and observations of Dan Keldsen, Analyst and Consultant at The Innovation Lab of Perot Systems and publisher of BizTechTalk.

1. Your blog, BizTechTalk, offers podcasting, one of many "Web 2.0" technologies that are increasingly being used to connect with an audience. How time consuming is podcasting and how can one get started?
"At it's heart, podcasting is just a slight spin on older technologies or media. As with any media production exercise, the key to producing content in a timely manner is in having a system or process in place to go from concept, through pre-production, production, release and marketing (and sales if you choose to monetize the content)."
"All of the podcasts that I have done so far (roughly 45 recorded, 30 or so released as of this interview) have been interviews with either one or two people, typically recorded over the phone or via Skype, so my examples will assume another person is involved in the conversation."
"Even with relatively minimal prep time to prepare a framework for discussion (I don't use set questions for each interview), you should expect easily 30 minutes as a minimum, and perhaps as many as several hours if you need to do any significant level of reading, summarizing and creation of your interview format for these interviews."
"Once the recording starts, we treat it as though we are live in front of audience, which helps to minimize the audio editing necessary on the back end. Depending on the effort you want to put into the final product -- some stammer, um and ah removal is typical -- add 100-200% more time to the editing process than whatever amount you have recorded. If you were not careful in applying some structure to the interview, editing the audio so that it makes a more coherent story can add a significant amount of time. Avoid that at all costs!"
2. The "Innovation Lab" of Perot Systems has assisted more than 20,000 professionals determine how to invest in strategic technology to create competitive advantage. What is the one non-technology skill that a technology professional should develop today to create a strategic career advantage?
"The ability to rapidly and thoroughly problem solve is at the heart of any job I can think of today, certainly in any operationally-focused technology position, but through more customer-facing and forward-facing new product development scenarios as well. If you can't solve problems on the fly, you are toast. If technology worked exactly as advertised, nothing would ever go wrong, but technology has glitches, and the swift survive on this one! Since I have a background as a musician, I tend think of life and work as one extended improvisation, where keeping one's cool while finding a solution is THE skill to have. Just don't let the thrill of solving problems instantly prevent you from keeping an eye on larger problems that may take more of an effort to solve."
3. The one-word advice offered to Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate was "plastics." Assuming that the two-word advice for today's recent graduates is "The Internet," what advice would you offer a young professional just getting started in a Web-related career?
"Great question - will have to throw that back on the queue in NetFlix! Stay hungry, and assume a love of lifelong learning, because the Internet has opened up opportunity across the globe at scales we wouldn't have imagined possible just 10 years ago. If you aren't learning from this massive experiment called the Internet, be prepared to be obsolete as those who ARE learning every day outrun you in the global (and local) playing field."
Final Thought: "Make sure you are personally using the tools of the Internet to keep yourself sharp, always be on the lookout for intelligent people to add to your network (LinkedIn primarily, from a professional standpoint), and keep up with the fast pace of change, not just in your current field, but in business, technology, and what is happening around the world. Eyes wide open, ready to spring into action, and you should be able to weather any change that comes at you. Chance favors the prepared mind!"

Thanks Dan for providing our readers with a perspective on podcasting and how Web technology professionals can stay sharp and prepared through networking and lifelong learning.