Great Expectations

Meet Joseph Zimmerman.

Meet Joe

You may not know who he is by name but, what he invented changed the very fundamentals we hold at the center of our modern communications. He likely did not understand the gravity of his invention at the time. He likely saw it as the first successful implementation in a long series of attempts by many others before him to create a device that would be a boon to businesses everywhere, help their customers, and perhaps save them some money. Little did he know that at the heart of what he invented was a ground breaking paradigm shift. Something that would shift responsibilities and expectations we hold for others in basic ways. So, what was this device?

The answering machine.

That right. Humble on it’s simple mission, yet so very subversive. You see, before Mr. Zimmerman’s device, when someone called you on a telephone, and you were not available, the responsibility was on the caller to try again, not you, the receiver. There was no way to know if you missed a call. To businesses, lost calls meant lost customers. Therefore, operators and secretaries were often hired to take these calls, take down a message, and deliver it to the right person. To an individual, a missed call was simply that and no one but the caller held any responsibility for action.

The answering machine was welcomed by businesses and, by the time I was in my early teens, existed in many homes. If we called and left a message, we expected a return call. It alleviated much of our own responsibility for further action and replaced it with expectations we then placed on the recipient. For instance, expectations of a timely followup that are not agreed upon, are largely based upon what the person leaving the message feels is such, yet can only be the responsibility of those on the receiving end.

Of course, such responsibility shifts have multiplied further with the advent of email, voicemail, mobile phones, etc. Now, not only do we expect a response but we, more often than not, expect it in a time frame we have wrongly set for others. Without negotiation. Without agreement. A time that is generally and largely based upon our own response time and the expectations we place on ourselves. We, in general, mistakenly assume that everyone else is just like us. Therefore, if one is the sort of person who is always connected and reads and responds to email in minutes, we wrongly expect that everyone else is, or should be, doing the same.

But how do we counter this expectation? One way is to negotiate and set reasonable expectations for others. For example, in my last job, I let all of my coworkers know that I only looked at and responded to email twice a day for 1 hour. Once in the morning at 9am and then again at 4pm. Also, I set the email to manual checking so that, what I retrieved at those times was all I was going to see for an hour. If someone sent me an email at 4:15pm, I would not see it until 9am the next morning. It was the sort of job that took me away from my desk and the ability to check email easily so this agreement met with little resistance. It took a short time but, eventually, my coworkers learned that if it was something that required my immediate attention, the last thing they should do is send me an email. They called me on my mobile phone for urgent matters and questions instead and I, in turn, had less email to deal with and therefore could handle it in the allotted time frame.

While this may sound reasonable enough to do in a work environment, where one can address many people at once, in order for this to really work for everyone we communicate with is to have dozens of these little negotiations and agreements about how we handle all of our communications. Frankly, that is somewhat unreasonable. Must we help others with adjusting expectations on a near case by case basis? I mean, seriously, how does that scale?

Perhaps, instead, we should simply and collectively adjust our expectations of others. Perhaps we should all accept the responsibility that we are so easily and readily inclined to shirk upon others. And, maybe, just maybe, we should realize how valuable time itself is. How little of it we all have. Conversely, take the time to communicate to those important to you what they should reasonably expect. Maybe put it in your voicemail greeting or email signature. Replacing expectation and responsibility with compassion and understanding on all sides will reduce the stress of not knowing.

I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions. I simply have observations and the same struggles keeping up with the great expectations increasingly placed upon us all.

Introvert (NFJ)

My first time taking a Meyers-Briggs Personality Assessment, I questioned my MBTI score enough that I decided to take many more, at different times, to see if they would come out the same. They all did.

For those that don’t know what the heck I am talking about (which I assume is most of you), the score derived from this test is called the Meyers-Briggs |asihs|referrer|skenf
Type Indicator
(MBTI) To catch you up to speed, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the MBTI:

The MBTI preferences indicate the differences in people based on the following:

â–ª How they focus their attention or get their energy (Extraversion or Introversion)

â–ª How they perceive or take in information (Sensing or iNtuition)

â–ª How they prefer to make decisions (Thinking or Feeling)

â–ª How they orient themselves to the external world (Judgment or Perception)

By using their preference in each of these areas, people develop what Jung and Myers called psychological type. This underlying personality pattern results from the dynamic interaction of their four preferences, in conjunction with environmental influences and their own individual tendencies. People are likely to develop behaviors, skills, and attitudes based on their particular type. Each personality type has its own potential strengths as well as areas that offer opportunities for growth.

My MBTI is INFJ – which stands for Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging. That said, I want to mainly focus on that first part because that is the surprise – I’m an Introvert. Why is this a surprise? Because most people who know me in real life, and those that know me online, would likely never guess it.

The reason is that I do a good job of hiding this fact. I mask how completely draining most social interactions greater than a one on one conversation are to me. How much I value and protect my alone time. How my ability to interact socially, and talk, and appear outgoing, and speak my mind is a complete smokescreen to mask what I really feel – which is “I hate this. I’m frightened. Get me out of here so I can be alone”. That going to a small gathering exhausts me for a day. That going to a large event, means that it will take me weeks to fully recover. The way I hide this is by finding someone, or a group of people, that I know and talking their ear off. I cling to them for dear life in the hopes that I won’t have to be confronted with my sheer terror of the situation. Because these people see me as talkative, open, and liable to say anything, they likely assume that I am as outgoing, jovial, and energetic as any Extrovert. And don’t even get me started if I am somewhere I have never been and don’t know anyone. Putting me in a room with a group of people I do not know is like putting me in a tank full of sharks – I remain very still and quiet as possible and pray no one sees me while looking for the easiest exit.

Introversion in the MBTI does not always mean someone who can’t be social or behave in ways that the world would perceive as outgoing. In fact, many famous people and leaders would also fall in the Introversion spectrum. For instance, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela are all INFJs. It does mean that Extroversion is not where we derive our energy. It, in fact, drains it and that we can only recharge that energy through solitude.

What I have always found interesting, and this is purely my own anecdotal observation, is that most Extroverts have no capacity to understand Introverts. They just don’t get it. No matter how many times we might explain to them who we are, how we react in social situations, and how we feel. If you are an Introvert in a relationship with an Extrovert, it is not uncommon when having had a few days full of many gatherings, and then complaining about how tired you are, for them to cajole you into attending another. The reason being is that they derive their energy from such social interactions and have no capacity to understand that such a thing will not be the perfect anecdote to your ills. I should mention that I have spent my life surrounded by Extroverts, including my wife, I think many Introverts are drawn to them. Therefore, my anecdotes are based upon a lifetime of experience.

I guess all of this is just to share a bit about me. Why, though invited, you may not see me at your event, party, dinner or other gathering of two or more. Why, if I do come, and I know someone there, I will seem like a lost puppy, happy to find it’s master. Why you may not see me at another for a while. And why, before reading this, you had no idea why.

Another Crazy Idea

So, my friend [Chris]( had a headset problem. You see, he had bought this headset to use with Skype, but could not get it working on his Mac. Being that I am a [Macintosh Consultant]( by trade, he reached out to me on [Twitter]( to ask for my advice. I gave it to him, albeit a bit too late and after he already discovered the answer on his own.

Still this got him thinking about the idea that I should find some way to offer remote support. I have been consulting for a long time, my head is filled with years worth of tools, tips and troubleshooting tricks. The technology for me to be able to remotely support a Mac is not only out there but I do this anyway for a few clients already. The only question was how to “sell” that. How does one leverage the goodwill and following I have on [Twitter](, [Minimal Mac](, and elsewhere to help get the word out about my business, my remote support service offering, as well as help people who need it? We scheduled a conference call and brainstormed the idea a bit but nothing solid came out right away.

Then, a couple of days ago now, I was having lunch with another friend of mine. He is a really good friend and I value his advice and ideas. Therefore, I mentioned my other conversation about providing remote support. He then mentioned what became another crazy idea – Why not offer Mac support, on Twitter, for free? The thought being that, if I could answer the query on Twitter for free I would do that. If not, I would offer the person the option of getting their issue solved remotely for a reasonable fee.

I fell in love with the idea immediately. I went back to my home office right after lunch, got my business account – [@machinemethods]( – set up, configured and ready for action. After consulting with Princess Bethany and others about the idea, I launched it the next day. The verdict: Lots of win!

First of all, I really love what I do. I love to help people. I love to come up with solutions to otherwise frustrating problems. I love to be challenged by complicated issues. Furthermore, doing this kind of rapid support, keeps me on my toes and exercises skills and knowledge that I don’t use as often in my regular travels. Finally, doing so with the added constraint of a 140 character limit is a whole lot of fun when it is accomplished. Not only that but, even though it has not resulted in paid business yet, Machine Methods is getting a wealth of exposure and will continue to if I prove that I know what I am doing when it comes to Macs. It has kept me busy but it is not overwhelming (yet). But the few people I have really helped make it all the more worth it.

If you you have a Mac, are on Twitter, and need some support, [have I got a deal for you](…