Thursday, January 02, 2014
Posted by Erik Burckart at 11:07 AM
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
It is New Year's day when I am writing this (perhaps not when you are reading it). I find New Year's day as a great day for reflection on the past year and looking forward to what is happening in the next year.
I will start my review with work since it will be quick since earlier in the year I had described my first year at PointSource. We continue to grow at PointSource and will be over 40 employees in Raleigh by the end of January. We have been so blessed, we have over doubled employees and revenues year-to-year. Since my letter above, we have hired an incredible sales leader in Luke Langford which has further accelerated our business. We also have shifted towards certain strategic investments which we believe will fuel our company in the out years. More to come in various launches throughout the first half of 2014.
Personally, I have grown a good bit. The largest change has come through the constant internal battle I have between workaholism and family I have learned to balance even better and be humble enough to be told when I am screwing up and being a workaholic by my wife, family, and friends. Although IBM required hours to get the job done and that was an easy place to retreat, my work life at PointSource has become a part of my life. Small business ownership shifts from a career as part of your life to a career as part of your identity pretty easily. I have learned to maintain first my identity in Christ, second my identity as a husband, father and friends, and third the CTO/Partner in PointSource. That sounds simple when said, but the better part of 2014 was God teaching me that. Meanwhile, Heather has been steady and faithful throughout by my side and loving me every moment. I can't ask more of her and she gives so much of herself that she daily shows me Christ's love for me.
2013 was not only my first full year at PointSource, but it was Heather and I's first year of zone defense as parents of 3. We survived. Ava is a beautiful and active 1 year old who listens well and brings us great joy. Meanwhile, Anna started first grade and Maddie started kindergarten, both at North Raleigh Christian Academy. Anna started piano and this year played soccer. Anna and Maddie both did ballet. Anna and I also started Indian Princesses this year. Overall, a very active and exciting year for our girls. They constantly amaze us with their faith, understanding, and smarts.
We decided since we have such sweet girls and life seems to easy, we'd mix it up in 2013 for 2014. We have a boy to be born in 2014 due February 14th. A boy! Many people believe we were trying for a boy but that truly isn't true this time. Anna and Maddie are 18 months apart and we hoped for Ava to have a little friend like Anna and Maddie do. God choose to bless us with a baby boy and we have no idea what that will be like. We wouldn't have planned on it ourselves because a baby girl would have been more comfortable. But we are thrilled and excited about a little boy coming into our lives!
God has blessed us greatly in 2013. Some other things God has done: Heather became the Children's Director at our church, Harvest Bible Chapel North Raleigh. We had a great Babymoon in Chicago a day before we attended our first Harvest University. God took me to West Africa (another blog post will be coming about that soon) for a missions trip that changed lives- at very least mine. And so much more. We are thankful for our friends and family in our lives and if it is God's will, we pray for a 2014 together of continued growth and learning for God's glory.
Posted by Erik Burckart at 10:45 AM
Friday, December 20, 2013
We have been doing something amazing for the past year and a half at PointSource. We have pivoted a company, created a culture, hired many people, and been blessed with a successful business that is growing at a rate and pace I could not have imagined. Our company was recently up for North Carolina's fastest growing small company by NCTA. Our success elicits a few different kinds of responses from peers in the past including a sense of entitlement, envy, or happiness.
Posted by Erik Burckart at 6:25 AM
Saturday, May 11, 2013
As the Chief Technology Officer for a PointSource, a business which concentrates in building mobile applications, I often get asked what some of my favorite apps are. I find people are usually looking for the little known apps which can solve "problems" they don't worry about - in other words convenience apps. Here are 4 of my favorite recent finds:
Some people are getting better about formatting phone numbers in your calendar to easily dial in from mobile phone, but no app that I have found makes it easier to dial into conference calls than
MobileDay. Give MobileDay access to your calendar, and it reads it and creates a big touchable button to dial into the call. It doesn't matter whether people formatted the call for one click, if they identified the call-in number and passcode it makes life simple. I wish I would have found MobileDay when I worked at IBM and had 12-15 calls on some days.
When outside doing some landscaping, I have several times wondered questions like
"What is this tree?"
"How big will this get?"
"How and when do I prune this?"
Leafsnap has made it easier to figure out what some trees, bushes and shrubs are by taking a leaf, placing it on a white sheet of paper, and taking a photo of the leaf. Leafsnap then searches its database and gives you lots of info on your new find.
I know less about wines than I'd like and I have a horrible memory for wine names - particularly correlating names with whether or not I liked those wines. Vivino is the way I have started to try to remember and organize wines. It allows you to snap a label of the bottle and enter a rating. Often I have had fix the year, but it hasn't missed a label for me yet.
Similar to Vivino, this helps you remember beers you drank but with more of a social aspect around sharing your favorites. I haven't found this as useful yet but it is a cool concept for sure.
Posted by Erik Burckart at 1:08 PM
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
"Do a health and sanity check on your career at least every two years." That is the advice I give many of the people I career mentor and advice that was given to me at an early stage of my career in IBM. It has been almost two years since I did some career introspection and I have no one to blame but myself. But, it was time to start this past May and I thought I would give you some insights as to how I do this health and sanity check.
Step 1: Review past notes (if you don't have past notes, take good ones this time for next time)
First, I have gone back and read some of the analysis I did in the past some of which was in public and some of which was in private. About three years ago I decided to make a career shift within IBM and started working towards something new. That something new led to the job I have today. After about a year of pursuing that, I did some analysis in early 2010. First I read through my private notes which started in the January of 2010. Some of these made it into blogs which I thought I would link through here in chronological order:
- Decisions at the Crossroads -- Introspection and decisions have to be made and the process I was going through to make them.
- Life in the fast lane -- Sometimes when you have to get out of the fast lane to realize how fast you were going. I changed jobs and realized how fast I had been going.
- A lot to like about working at IBM -- This was an explanation of my introspection about what I like about my employer.
- Choosing family over career -- Discussing the tough choices that fathers like me face every time we check our own fast paced intensive careers and the effects on our families.
- What has recent work added to your resume?
- What have you done outside the workplace to improve your resume?
- What holes do you have in your resume?
- Of the things on your resume, which are you strongest in and which are you weakest in?
- Have you spent enough time in your job to be considered senior and loyal but not institutionalized?
"I’m not staying become a lifer. [...] 6 years is fine. 12 is getting long unless your company is totally rocking!" - Mark Suster
- What is your resume missing to make your 2 year plan?
- What are ways you can improve yourself outside of the workplace?
- What can you change in your workplace to improve the climate?
- How can you become a better employee?
Posted by Erik Burckart at 8:53 AM
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
My letter to our NC state Senators based on the PROTECT IP Act:
Senator Burr and Hagan,
As a technology professional who works at IBM in North Carolina I appreciate the importance of intellectual property. In fact, in 2011 I filed the most patent applications in IBM in the state of North Carolina and as you may know, IBM leads the US and world in patents issued every year for the past 19 years. I do not write this representing IBM however but instead representing myself as your constituent. So let me share my thoughts with you which do not represent my company.
Protecting intellectual property is a large concern of mine. I want to be able to innovate freely and protect those innovations which are difficult discover. I was very interested to read the PROTECT IP Act but once I did, I was appalled. The full text of what I read was from Senator Leahy's website here: http://leahy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/BillText-PROTECTIPAct.pdf
While it is important to protect intellectual property, it is not worth opening the door to censorship this great. It is my understanding that the text in this bill will allow those with the most lawyers and deepest pockets to potentially demand that free speech be censored from the American people. This Act alone is not worth the worldwide damage it could cause to the cause of freedom of speech. In fact, there is no intellectual property that is worth the loss of freedom of speech.
Furthermore, in a worldwide economy, censorship in the United States of the Internet alone will do little to stop the bleeding of our intellectual property into products and services abroad. Foreigners may still freely access and share another's intellectual property regardless of whether the US people can see it. It has more potential to hinder US innovation due to less information being available and more legal troubles being possible within the US. For example, individuals and institutions overseas may choose to stop publishing materials such as research papers to sites available within the US because of legal fears.
As your constituent, I urge you to oppose the PROTECT IP Act. These bills will risk censoring the American Internet, ultimately stifle innovation, and provide a way for limiting freedom of speech worldwide.
Read more about this issue at these places:
Google's site about the issue
Stop American Censorship
Fight for the Future
Posted by Erik Burckart at 6:28 AM
Saturday, December 31, 2011
I write this on December 31, 2011 with about 8 hours left to go in 2011. Its been an amazing year and I was thinking about trying to recap this great year.
The year started with a flurry as our family bought a new house in the beginning of February and moved at the end of February. This is the third house Heather and I have lived in and second the kids have lived in. Our new home was a foreclosure, 2 miles and 1 stop sign away from our old house within Bedford at Falls River. We got a contract on our old house in April and it sold at the beginning of June.
We also became members at our new church, Harvest Bible Chapel North Raleigh, in February. Heather and I spent over 8 years at our previous church before being called to Harvest, a small church plant in our area. We have been active members and have enjoyed serving and having fellowship in the church ever since. If you are in Raleigh, come check us out at Fox Road Elementary School at 10 AM.
In April we went outside Jacksonville Florida with Heather's extended family. The girls had a blast and it was warm enough to spend most of the time on the beach. We also celebrated Maddie's 3rd birthday that month. Maddie's 3rd birthday was a ladybug party at our house.
In May, my mother (aka Oma) visited over mother's day weekend and that was very exciting. Then towards the end of May we watched our friends 4 yr old twin girls and Heather and I got to experience being outnumbered 2:1. They were great and luckily we were smart enough to expect if we had another two for it to be that easy. :-) Their stay lasted two weeks and afterward we celebrated a belated 8 year anniversary date.
We had a couple fun trips this summer including going to Figure Eight Island near Wilmington NC and going to Maine. Here are some great pictures of our trip to Figure Eight. We enjoyed that trip with Heather's family at the end of June. In early August, we flew up to Maine to visit with my family. This trip was Maddie's first flight and the girls did great. We enjoyed picking blueberries, riding on the lake, and having a sea adventure with Diver Ed.
In September, Anna started preschool for the first time going three days a week. She really loved it and has is looking forward to winter break being over. We also started finishing our attic in September. As part of that work, we cut the cord and got rid of cable. We are enjoying a cable-less household now. We capped off October by having a very small Alice in Wonderland girls only 5th birthday party for Anna.
2011 sadly didn't pass without some significant losses as well. We mourned the passing of Heather's best friend's father, Jeff, and a last grandparent, Maw-maw. These two family members will be missed and we have been praying for our whole extended family who have felt the effects throughout the holidays.
This fall/winter we also had great visits from my dad (Opa) as well as Oma, my sister, brother in law, and niece. This combined with seeing lots of Heather's family for Thanksgiving at our house and Christmas at their houses made for a great end of the year.
We are preparing for a fun new year in Raleigh, have enrolled Anna in school for the fall and Maddie in preschool for the fall, and are embarking on new adventures all over the place. For our extended friends and family, we hope that our 2012 adventures will include you.
Posted by Erik Burckart at 4:08 PM