2100 Solutions – NEW Ruby on Rails website NOW in production on Heroku

After a few embarassing announcements, and failed launches, I have successfully re-crafted my website2100solutionsLogofor 2100 Solutions Consulting, LLC.   This branding of my services includes, Program Management, BPM Strategy, Quality Assurance, Testing, Performance Preparation and Strategy, Automated Testing and Product Development.

Here is a URL for the Ruby on Rails website I just launched using the Heroku enviornment this weekend.  http://2100solutions.com

Heroku was by far the easiest host to implement.

Now a stable 24/7 presence with links to my external blogs and pursuits.

I have other RoR websites completed, but not yet launched on Heroku.   All published websites will be managed through GitHub.  My account at GitHub is WAFulbright, if you’d like to see or follow or contribute to my code!  Let’s do talk before you contribute!   Thanks!

Bill Fulbright




So many of these people who lost their jobs are the victims of a poor economy or a struggling company or both. They are capable and hardworking, and their unemployment is not due to their lack of effort or desire.

Some people, however, lose their jobs due to factors they could control. I recently polled a number of leaders and asked them to tell me the top reason or reasons people lost jobs in their organizations. I asked them not to include those whose jobs were eliminated due to economic or financial reasons of the company. I was able to group their responses into ten categories. Although my poll is not scientifically validated, I think it is nevertheless instructive. Below are ten responses, listed in order of frequency, and realizing that there is some overlap in the categories.

  1. Failure to keep current in their field. “Rapid change” has almost become cliché. One leader said he had to dismiss some people who were acting like it was still 2007. In other words, if you haven’t kept current or updated your skill set in the past five years, you are incredibly behind your coworkers. Other leaders said they expect their employees to reinvent themselves regularly.
  2. Poor relational skills. Those deficiencies include an inability to work well with others, poor self-awareness, and a self-centered attitude. I note the latter issue separately below because it was mentioned frequently. One leader told me that he let go of two of his smartest employees because their attitudes were toxic to the organization.
  3. Moral failure. I expected this response to be near the top and it was. Some of the most promising workers have been fired for actions that could only be described as stupid.
  4. Failure to carry out assignments. Some of the leaders expressed amazement at the number of people who failed to carry out an assignment and offered no explanation why they failed to do so. “One former leader on my team,” a CEO told me, “ignored my assignment for months without explanation. I guess he thought that the task would just go away.”
  5. Failure to take initiative. Some of those who responded to me were leaders in mid-size to large organizations. Their direct reports were brought into the organization with the expectation that they would be highly motivated workers. But when they failed to take initiative, their value to the organization diminished. “I need people who can come up with ideas and strategies on their own,” one leader said. “I don’t need to be giving them assignments with specific instructions every time.”
  6. Negative talk. Some people lost their jobs because they were the sources or carriers of rumors. Some were incessant complainers. And even others were simply negative people. Their dispositions and conversations made the workplace unpleasant and discouraging for others.
  7. Laziness. “Most lazy workers do not realize that everyone in the organization knows they are lazy,” a midlevel leader told me. “You can’t hide poor work hours and poor work ethic from others. I have to deal with lazy people in my division before that attitude permeates the entire division.”
  8. Attitude of entitlement. We did go through an era in America’s employment history where adequate work and sufficient tenure guaranteed some employees a lifetime job, benefits, and retirement. That era exists no more. Those who still have an attitude of entitlement may soon find themselves on the sidelines of employment.
  9. Failure to demonstrate productivity. Workers in organizations should regularly ask if they are being treated fairly for the work they do. If not, they should pursue other options. Workers can likewise be certain that now, more than ever, they are being evaluated in the same manner. Are they productive? Do they truly “earn their keep?”
  10. Self-centered attitude. More and more workers are evaluated by their attitude as well as their direct work. Are they team players? Or do they always and obviously act in their own self-interest? Do they demonstrate humility? Or do they demonstrate hubris?

The workplace is changing. In many ways, all of us are more free agents than career workers. We have to demonstrate our worth each day. Those who do so will have many options before them. But those who don’t may find themselves in the ranks of the unemployed.

What do you think of this list? What would you add, delete, or rank differently?

Remote Freelancing

I started my career, working without at net. Full commission insurance sales with my family’s business. Scary. The good part was that my father believed I should get into as much debt as possible as an incentive. Heh. No kidding.

However, he was one of the most successful salesmen I ever met (in many ways). He taught me two really important things: how to prospect, and how to follow up. If you can do that, you will be successful at anything. Now you have to understand what those two simple things mean….

  • Prospecting =
    • Cold Calling
      • Phone calls to expired insurance policy holders
      • Walking into a business “cold” and asking to speak to the owner.
    • Looking for new or closed businesses as you drive around, taking notes
    • Looking at commercial trucks to see if they are maintained well and clean, taking notes
    • Who do you know, what do they do?
    • Can you help them by looking at their present insurance?
    • Can you do a better job that what you found?
    • Can you out price the other policies?  If you can’t, can you sell service?
  • Follow Up
    • Keep your word – Do what you promised to do
    • Provided Customer Service that leaves “not a penny on the table”
      • the customer will be so satisfied, he will never go anywhere else
    • Remember important facts and details to provide stellar Customer Service
    • Earn your customer’s business with service
    • Be honest

No, this is not an insurance course, but it is one of the foundations that I feel makes a person successful at anything.  No, you don’t have to do it exactly like this.  But these are good to know.   If one plans to be on their own and freelance, this would be a great framework to learn.  Can you see how this would be of value?  Has anyone ever laid this out for you?

Oh, one more thing, one of my dad’s friends (and clients) invited me up to his office one day.  This was before computers.  Yes, I am still alive!  He taught me about his “treasure chest”.  Let me explain what kind of guy this was.   He was the son of a man who built a moderately successful chain of appliance stores.  He leveraged his dad’s few stores into a multi-state empire, which ultimately went public.  Have I gotten your attention?

The treasure chest was a metal box large enough to hold a set of 3 x 5 index cards, and a set of 3 x 5 index cards with daily dividers for the month.  He said this was his secret to success.  Well, it was more than that, but it was the principle.   Each day, he would go to the date for that day, and look to see what index card he placed in it for that date.  He would do what ever it took to give that prospect, customer, or issue the best customer service and make a sale.  What ever it took.   This was a CEO who walked the floors, visited his properties, solved problems on the spot, took care of his employees (including paying for them to go into rehab).  He EARNED his way into everyone’s heart.  What did he get back?  LOYALTY.

This one word is the fruit of all these ‘tricks’ of the trade.   I have used them in several careers, including the last 19 years in the IT / QA business.  I have  been independent Contractor, Full Time Employee, but not yet a “FREELANCER”.  Why?  I guess I didn’t feel my network was strong enough.

Enter TopTal Software Development group.  I just signed up yesterday.  Why?  I am on the market, trying to do things the “old” way.   I found that TopTal has a structure, a framework, and a network – different than all the recruiters in the world.   I am writing this to show that I FULLY APPRECIATE what it took to build such a company, filled with loyal, inspired, talented and gifted creators and artists in the technical trades.   I also am making a transition out of quasi-technical coding into pure language coding.  No crutches.   I only need to be with a group that is willing to share with me if I need it.  I will do my part.

So, not only has Toptal Software Development group challenged me to write an article that features them, I am challenging them to show me as well what kind of company they are.   I am betting they will exceed my expectations.

About me?  I was in insurance for 9 yrs with my family, 8 years full time Professional Entertainer, helped to build two booking agencies, started and built a management consulting firm for 12 years, became a Sr. V.P. of Operations for a Mortgage Company, and finally struck out on my own as a grunt tester 19 yrs ago, with the express goal of working my way up from the bottom to learn the industry.  I have been a tester, Lead, Manager, Sr. Manager, Practice Head, Trainer, Offshore leader, Delivery Manager, BA, system analyst.  I learned the Credit Card and Insurance back end systems for CITI, JPMC, BoA, Home Depot, AIG, CNA, Zurich, Bank of Montreal, President’s Financial, Fireman’s Fund, and survived the big 5 consulting machines.  My last contract was as a Sr. Business Architect using Mulesoft API Designer, Kibana, Elastisearch, Cloud hosting, PHPStorm, Ruby, Cucumber, JSON, Jenkins, and so on to reverse engineer a legacy platform driven by a hard coded front end with PHP, into an extensible framework of RESTful API and Microservices delivering as part of a Java middleware to the unchanged database.

I was a music major in college.   I learned all this on the fly, and because I wanted to.   Now I am retooling again, and plan to be more successful than ever.  I am betting on Toptal!

Want To Start a Testing / Delivery Practice?

cropped-qa2100_gravatar.pngSo many of us do.  However, looking at starting something like this from scratch, is truly starting a new business and requires much thought, planning and many “hats”.  Here are some points I have used to assist others in grasping the needed vision, depth of effort, types of talent, and sustainability of the effort that will be required.

Visit my Linked In group at:  QA 2100 Testing: Financial Services

Roles and Resources
It requires full time attention to each of these Roles and Resources:
1.  Experienced and Qualified Prospecting and Sales force
2.  Pre-Sales Preparation, RFP/RFI Replies, as well as Attendance at Presentation (Orals) – for each opportunity.
3.  Attained Status as Preferred Vendor, or Vendor
a.  Requires relationship with Client Companies
b.  Requires meeting their criteria for becoming a vendor
1.  Capacity to perform
2.  Liability Insurance
3.  Fiduciary Responsibility
4.  Legal Compliance
4. Developers for the domains you wish to pursue, with the appropriate skill sets, and experience
5. Business Analysts and Business Architects for the domains you wish to pursue, with the appropriate skill sets, and experience
6.  QA Leaders, Managers, and Testers with domain experience
7.  Project / Engagement / Delivery Managers to connect with the Client and the Teams
8.  Financial Resources to sustain the ramp-up of business, infrastructure, and delivery of services
9.  Financial Resources to sustain Market Research, Marketing Strategies
10.Partnership Alliances – to give you value added leverage when positioning for new business
11.Budget that will include all the above, balanced with enough sales to justify the effort, or a plan for ROI over 5 years for investors.
12.Business plan and road-map that demonstrates all the above, and it’s veracity.
13.Staff on the ground – available, ready to work on-site, near-shore, no visa issues, or proven offshore teams that have a solid delivery history.

I am writing this not to discourage those interested in pursuing such a goal, rather to create curiosity and and interest in taking on the challenge.   These concepts and work efforts are real elements that have to be in place before it can be a successful venture…. even for an established company wanting to build a new practice.

Business Plans:
In other words, this effort requires at least:
Experts to Initiate, Drive and Deliver
Business Concept(s) meeting Market needs; Business Need/Justifications
Planning: Initial Steps to Initiate, Milestones at 3 mo., 6 mo., 1 yr, 18 mos., 2 yrs., etc. till 5 years
Identified Services and Products
Multi-Phase Financing: Start-Up Money, Mid-Term Money, Long-Term Money, Planned ROI’s for each phase
Market Research for Service / Product Viability,
Strategy for Launching the Business,
Scope of Ramp-up,
Planned New Business Market(s)
Planned Costs
Ability to Staff and Deliver
Motivation, Determination, Desire, Mission and Purpose
Commitment to see it through

None of these comes pre-packaged, or comes easily.  It all requires vision, leadership, experience, clarity, strategy, good communication, follow through.

I am certainly not giving away the store here, but sharing some thought work I have used to help prepare business not only in the IT world, but as part of my 12 yrs of Management Consulting before my last 19 years in the IT business!  These principles hold true in any enterprise!  I have written many accurate and successful business plans for new or international or established companies seeking investment money to fund a start-up.

As a thought leader and architect of Quality Assurance, and Business Process, I have learned through experience these tenets, which will not be learned so much at school, but by living it and delivering it – with successful outcomes.  That does not mean there weren’t failures, or massive challenges along the way – that is where the real learning takes place.