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Amazon Web Services Isn’t the Enemy of the VAR, it’s More Like the Cold Shower that We Didn’t Want but We Actually Needed

2013 April 8
by Jeremiah Cook

I just got back from a leadership conference where I met with many of my peers that run datacenter VAR (Value Added Reseller) businesses similar to Varrow.  One message that came up from a few during the meeting was that “The Cloud is going to totally transform the VAR industry and that folks like Amazon are our new enemy”.  I definitely understand that it is possible that Amazon Web Services will have a negative impact on the “traditional” datacenter VAR but I’m not sure I’m ready to call them the enemy.  I would rather describe what AWS and others in the public cloud have created as a surprise wake-up call that has opened the eyes of an entire industry while we were taking a little nap.  I think this wake-up call will lead to huge change and also huge opportunity.  This whole “Cloud” thing has been kind of like an unexpected cold shower to some of us.  We sort of expected it but man it is a little colder than some of us thought.  In reading the book, “One-click“, that describes the story of Jeff Bezos and the rise, it becomes apparent that any extremely large and progressive web-heavy IT organization could have done what Amazon decided to do by creating Amazon Web Services. Basically, the concept was to automate everything, and make everything as scalable and as easy to consume as possible (Web GUI and API).  Then when you figure it out, sell it to others and let them enjoy what you have built.  Many organizations were probably trying to build the same type of IT infrastructure and they probably are still trying.  Amazon is just more progressive, faster and the best at marketing it seems when it comes to delivering in the IaaS/PaaS space.   They did well in the Startup and SMB and Mid-market space and now they are beginning to attack the enterprise space, which we didn’t think would happen quite so quickly.  And when you are the best innovator and you change the game, some will regard you as a hero while others will see you as the enemy.  I just see it as the unexpected but necessary cold shower that has woken many of us up to the new reality.

The cold shower analogy continued to develop this morning while thinking about a story that was told to me by a good friend, Nelson Stover.  Nelson went on a trip to India last year to bring computers to a poor village school in a rural area outside of Mumbai.  The children in this school come mainly from poor families that live in the forest around the village.  The kids live at the school during the school session and go back home only on breaks.  The water for the school comes from a pond that is refilled each year during the monsoon season and is also depleted prior to the next monsoon.  Water is trucked in when the pond is empty.  Water is used for drinking, cooking and bathing for all the kids and school staff.  During the weeks that Nelson was visiting the school, one of the students would bring Nelson a large pot of hot water every morning so he could bathe (hot washcloth bath I guess).  Nelson said the mornings were very cold and having the hot water was one of the high-spots of the day.  I asked him if all the kids and staff were given a hot pot of water in the morning.  He told me that the kids were not given hot water for bathing and that they instead bathed daily with cold water directly from the pump.  I assumed this was to save gas but Nelson told me that was not the reason.  The reason the kids were not given hot water is because they would not have hot water when they went back to their families and thus it would make it harder for them to adapt to the forest-life when they returned. Also, he told me they kept the pump to the water manual because an electric pump with a tap would lead to huge amounts of water waste because collecting the water would be too easy.  At first, I thought this was a crime not to give the kids hot water for bathing but the more I thought about it, the more I understood.

It would be more of a crime to disrupt their way of life and give them something that we think is a requirement but they seem to be fine without and can’t afford to have anyway.

Once you’ve had hot water for bathing though, it is extremely hard to bathe without it, almost impossible if you ask me.  In fact, when my tank-less hot water heater wasn’t working a few months ago, I got really angry, especially when it was supposedly “fixed” the week before.  I really “need” that hot shower in the morning.  Without it, I feel like I just can’t function and I was pretty darn cranky that morning when I called the plumber again.  I went to my parents house to shower that day because I just couldn’t deal with the cold water.  I solved the problem but I didn’t “adapt”.

So how does this apply to the datacenter VAR?  Well, we are used to working with the IT departments at our clients to help them build their datacenter infrastructure of servers, virtualization software, networking and storage hardware/software. However, it is becoming more and more common that business units are skipping IT entirely for some of their projects and just spinning up virtualized servers in the cloud.  This is especially true with customers that have a lot of developers but the thought is that many customers will begin to have departments that are thinking this way and just skipping IT.  I’m not preaching doomsday, the public cloud isn’t for everyone and in fact, most of our customers won’t be moving their production data to the public cloud for a long time, but change is already starting to happen and there is more to come.  We have already begun to offer Varrow Managed Cloud services to our customers but it isn’t the right fit for everyone looking for cloud solutions.

And it isn’t as if we can just tell our customers that the Public Cloud doesn’t exist.  “Hey, you don’t want any of that stuff over there at Amazon. It is too easy, it is too scalable, it is too quick to consume.  They are too big.  Once you go there, it will change you. You don’t want that. ”

But competition to the technology VAR is really nothing new.  We are used to comparing our products and solutions to other VARs and the manufacturers they represent.  We are used to comparing our people, our represented product features and even our prices.  But with the customers that are moving to Amazon Web Services and other public clouds, often times, it isn’t even about price or features or the smart people we have available to help them. For these customers that use AWS and others like them, the focus is about flexibility and time-to-productivity and the ability to only pay for what you use for as long as you use it.  Also, they like the fact that the infrastructure is all abstracted and simple to consume with no commitments.  Amazon Web Services and Rackspace and others in the public cloud XaaS are taking away the competition that we (the datacenter VAR) are used to and bringing on a brand new level of competition that we were not expecting.  This hasn’t happened overnight and the hot water isn’t out yet but we can slowly see the signs of our hot water being taken away.  And when someone takes away the hot water that you are used to, you want it back, right?

Well, what if the hot water isn’t coming back?  Can you adapt?  And if so, how fast can you adapt?  This is the question being put on today’s VARs. Can we adapt to the new world of Cloud, Social, Mobile and Big Data?  And if so, how can we adapt while at the same time taking care of all of our clients that are in the traditional Enterprise IT mindset?

Agility and adaptability and discipline are going to be key attributes of the top VARs in the years ahead.  The Cloud is still new but moving at a blistering pace that has not been seen before in the world of technology.  We must focus on more than just the private datacenter if we plan to play a key role in helping our customer’s build for the future.  The new platforms of tomorrow are coming at us fast and the water of tomorrow may not be the temperature any of us expect.

So go ahead and take some cold showers now to get ready, according to this blog post, they are actually good fur us. :)

Thanks for the wake-up call Jeff, we all needed it.

Check out the book “One-Click” here

It’s pretty impressive what Amazon has accomplished.  Who woulda thunk it?  A book company.

Not afraid to Try, Not afraid to Fail

2013 February 28
by Jeremiah Cook

Have you ever had a great idea but… you were afraid you might fail, so you didn’t even try to make the idea come to life?  I know that has happened to me countless times.  Even multiple times in a single day.  It’s a good thing that didn’t happen to Jack Andraka or he wouldn’t have come up with an early detection solution for pancreatic cancer.

This kid is an inspiration to us all.  I first heard about Jack last night while at the Greensboro TEDx (at proximity hotel) live video stream of the real TED event. Here is a TED video he did last year but he also did another one yesterday that isn’t on youtube yet.

Jack, a 15 year old boy from Maryland, just decided one day he would try to see if he could come up with a better way to detect pancreatic cancer.  Once he decided, he started googling.  After googling and reading tons of articles and coming up with a theory for early detection based on what he had read and analyzed, he started writing university professors to see if he could get time in their labs to test his theory.  He wrote 200 professors and 199 of them turned him down.  Finally, one professor allowed him to come into his lab.  Jack worked tirelessly on ways to create a simple solution to test for pancreatic cancer by isolating a specific protein in blood or urine.  And it sounds like he has come up with a working solution.  You can read more on Wikipedia about his invention.

After watching Jack speak last night, I was blown away by a few things.  1st, I was impressed with his intelligence.  The kid is obviously brilliant.  But even more amazing than his brilliance is his belief in himself.  He truly believed from the outset that he could solve this problem of early detection of pancreatic cancer.  This problem has been unsolved by modern medicine for over 30 years and yet a 15 year old kid (albeit an amazingly intelligent kid) with just his sheer belief and grit and work ethic and ingenuity and determination , could solve the problem in less than a few months. Wow!  Just think about the impact this kid has just made on the world, it is incredible!!!  And it all started with “I think I can fix that”.  And he followed that up with action. And he had a ton of failures along the way but he had so much endurance, he just kept after it.

I’ve so many times looked at an extremely complex IT or business problem and just said, “I think I can solve that but it is really hard and I might fail, and everyone else has failed, so what makes me think I won’t fail?”.  And then guess what happens, I talk myself out of even trying.  Or maybe I let someone else talk me out of trying.  Anyway, I could go on and on here, but I think you get the point.  It isn’t as if you will always end up with success if you try, but you will never succeed if you don’t even begin.  And come on, for me, I am just talking about IT problems.  IT was created by humans.  IT has directions.  I should never be afraid I can’t understand something with directions.  This kid wasn’t even afraid of something without directions, something so complex, I can’t even begin to imagine taking it on.  Like I said before, this kid is an inspiration.

Hopefully this post and video will be an inspiration to someone else, I know watching his video last night has been an inspiration for me.  I believe we can each have a huge positive impact on the world in our own way if we just try to make our ideas come to life?  What is your idea, you can just talk about it or you can act on it.  Give it a serious try, don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid to fail.  And don’t give up on that idea, you very likely can make it successful with the right amount of effort.

Thanks for listening

Here are a couple Edison quotes to ponder that seem to go well with this discussion:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison

Varrow’s Journey to the Cloud – Varrow’s Internal IT Story

2013 February 1
by Jeremiah Cook

Varrow is now an 87 employee company that just celebrated its 5th year anniversary.  Happy Anniversary Varrow!  I still can’t believe how much we have grown and how much we have accomplished in such a short time.  We truly have an amazing group of people and I am still pumped from a really awesome company kickoff event that we just had in Blowing Rock, NC.  One of the things we presented at the event was our new cloud strategy and messaging that we would be presenting to our customers.  You can read a little more about this in Paul Penny’s blog. (  Paul has more posts to come on this subject but the first blog post sets the stage.  Paul talks about the transformation of IT and how we should just embrace the word cloud (as much as we sometimes don’t want to) and apply it to our entire IT ecosystem.

I am usually talking with customers about their cloud/IT strategy, but for this blog post, I want to talk about Varrow’s internal IT systems and tell you how we are using cloud as a small business to get work done.  From this point on, I will just use the words “our cloud” when talking about our internal IT infrastructure at Varrow.  Before I get started, I want to clarify a few things.  First, we have a much smaller organization than many of our customers so many of the things we do may not fit well into a larger organization , at least not yet anyway.  Second, our organization is young (5 years old), so we don’t have a lot of legacy IT systems and data that are slowing us down as we move along our journey to the cloud.  Finally, we are trying to use IT in a way that we think many of our customers will be using it in the future.  We want to be ahead of the curve and doing things that will help our customers see what a possible IT future could look like, even beyond the things we can help them with today.

So, following Paul’s recommendation, we have decided to look at Varrow internal IT and call it “Our Cloud”.

1st private cloud move: Building Windows 2003 VM on ESX in 2005

The history of our cloud began with a windows 2003 server running terminal services with Quotewerks, Quickbooks and Timeslips on it in 2005 when we were still Cook Consulting Services.  This server was a virtual machine running on ESX in our Greensboro office for many years along with a few AD domain controllers, an Exchange VM, and a VM that hosted our website.  We could access our Terminal Server from anywhere, which was important as we traveled all over the Carolinas and worked from our homes and cars and coffee shops.

1st public cloud move:

In 2008, we first adopted as our CRM and that was our first foray into the public cloud.  We were less than 10 people at the time and made it really easy to adopt CRM quickly without any IT burden.

2nd public cloud move: Hosted Sharepoint

Also, in 2008, we started using a hosted Sharepoint solution as our document repository for the company.

3rd public cloud move: Hosted Exchange

In 2010, we began moved to Microsoft’s hosted exchange platform

4th public cloud move: Migrated from Sharepoint to

In late 2010, we moved from hosted Sharepoint to (now known as for all of our file collaboration needs.  Box has been a huge benefit for us as it allows us to access our files from any device and share and collaborate on those files with anyone as we see fit, both within the company and with our customers and vendors.

5th public cloud move: Projector PSA

Also in late 2010 or 2011, we moved to Projector PSA for our professional services automation tool.  This is another cloud service and again allowed us to start small and scale without having to build and maintain an app inside of our infrastructure.

1st cloud social move: Yammer

In 2010, we adopted as our internal social collaboration tool.  Yammer has had a great positive impact on our distributed culture and allowed us to share tiny updates with each other in ways that we couldn’t have otherwise.  We have built quite a fun little social community around Yammer, I don’t know what we would do without it.  It really makes me feel connected to the organization and I’m so glad one of our engineers got us started on it.

Cloud for Expense Management: Concur

Concur has been a great benefit for all of our sales people and non-billing staff.  No more home grown expense reports, now it is all managed in the cloud.

First Cloud Integration Project: Quickbooks to Salesforce

In 2009 and 2010, we began integrating Quickbooks data into Salesforce, this forced us to learn a lot of web services work.

Cloud Ticketing System: Salesforce Service Cloud

When we started our Varrow Managed Services organization in 2011, we had to build out our ticketing system.  We decided to extend our Salesforce CRM solution by adding on the Salesforce Service Cloud module.

Move to Office 365 from Microsoft Hosted Exchange platform

In 2011, when we moved to Office 365, we also got the benefit of using Lync in the cloud as well.  Lync has been a huge benefit for us and keeps short messages out of our email system as well as allowing us to have quick meetings.

Current cloud projects:

We are moving from Quickbooks to Intacct for cloud based accounting, more to come on how that works.  We have done a lot of custom integration work so far to integrate our salesforce configuration with Intacct and have more to go.  We have a server in Amazon Web Services that we use as an integration point.

Moved Vsphere VM’s to Varrow Managed Cloud which lives in a SSAE16 certified datacenter:

2011, we moved our existing terminal server to the Varrow Managed Cloud in Charlotte, NC.  This is the same high-performance and reliable VMware, EMC and Cisco Cloud environment that is used by our Varrow Managed Cloud customers.  We have 5 or 6 production virtual machines in this cloud, a few domain controllers, a Xenapp Server, a cloudgateway virtual machine, an appcontroller virtual machine, and a Netscaler virtual machine.

How we acccess all of our cloud applications:

As of a few months ago, we now use Citrix Cloud Gateway as our single-sign-on enterprise app store for access to all of our public cloud applications and private cloud applications. I use firefox on my macbook to access cloud gateway and I don’t even have to install a Citrix Client since we are using the HTML5 receiver.  I’m pretty much living out of firefox these days.  If I have my ipad, I do use the receiver app on my ipad to access all of the same applications.  Here is a video showing off our Cloud Gateway solution:

Video of our CloudGateway Enterprise App Store

Notice in the video that I only had to type in my password one time and then I had access to all Xenapp apps (which opened up in a tab in HTML5) and then all my web apps that also opened up in a tab with single-sign-on.  Pretty amazing.  I can do everything I need to do in a web browser now and on any device.

The devices we use at Varrow:

Our employees use Thinkpads, MacBooks, ipads, iphones, android phones and tablets and more.  With our Citrix Cloud Gateway environment, we can access any of our cloud applications from any device from anywhere.

Summary of Our Cloud at Varrow as it stands today:

Office 365 for Exchange Mail and Lync IM (SaaS) for file collaboration (SaaS)
Projector PSA (SaaS)
Concur (Saas) for CRM and Service Cloud (SaaS)
Intacct Accounting (SaaS)
Varrow Managed Cloud (IaaS) – Windows Apps such as Quotewerks and this is also we host our Citrix Enterprise App Store Video of our CloudGateway Enterprise App Store, we also host multiple other VM’s here that we use to run our Varrow Managed Services division.
Amazon Web Services (IaaS) –  I used this because I wanted to build a quick SUSE linux VM for some SaaS to SaaS integration and I didn’t want to deal with downloading a SUSE image and installing in Varrow Managed Cloud because it was really for test/dev and I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep it.  I also wanted to get a better understanding of AWS so it has been good learning.

Other cloud services:

We use a combination of Webex and GoToMeeting as needed for different types of web collaboration when Lync doesn’t fit the bill.  We use Paychex for our Cloud HR system.  We use HireVue for video based interview systems.  We have used successfactors for strategy management but have left it for now and decided that we would come back to it when we were more ready for it.  We use Evernote business edition for sharing of notes between our engineers.  We have used surveymonkey for online surveys as well as and formstack for creating quick custom apps in the cloud.  I also forgot to mention that we use Heroku to do some integration between Intacct and Concur.


I’m glad I could share what is in our cloud.  Just like all businesses, we use the tools that make sense to solve the business problems at the time of need.  As we continue to grow, I’m sure our cloud will continue to morph and adapt.  As a business owner, I really love SaaS applications as they allow my team to focus on business processes instead of IT infrastructure processes and allow us to scale and move to current versions of software with very little work on our part.  I can see a division of our organization in the future focusing more on SaaS application integration.  We have guys on our team that are already becoming quite good at SaaS to Saas business integration points.  We are already beginning to get more and more requests to help people move to Office 365 so I suspect there is more SaaS to come.  Other popular cloud SaaS applications that I am hearing about at our customers include Servicenow and Workday.   The cloud world is a great place to be and I look forward to sharing more about our internal IT organization as we continue to grow.  And like I said before, what we do in our cloud most likely won’t fit your business 100% but hopefully you read some things that will give you some ideas. Our cloud journey has been a lot of fun so far and I think our cloud helps us to be extremely productive in our business.  We look forward to talking to you soon about your cloud and helping you along your cloud journey.

If you have any questions as to why we made certain decisions, please reach out to me on linkedin or via email or twitter.

Thanks for listening,


Handling separation in a relationship

2011 October 5
by Jeremiah Cook

This is sort of a mixed post, I recently had an employee and friend move to another state.  That is sad for me and tonight also came with the sad news about Steve Jobs.  That bit of news pushed me over the edge to write something about relationships and separation that I have been meaning to write.

So I just finished watching the Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech from 2005.  Very moving.

This is what I remember from the speech.

1-the dots will connect looking backward

2-Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, keep looking for what you love and don’t settle.

3-Ask yourself every day “if this was your last day on earth, would you be doing what you are about to do today” –

4-Stay hungry and stay foolish

Wow, I am so so sad to see Steve go, he has had a huge impact on my life and career.  It is very likely I wouldn’t be in the position I am in without Steve.  That goes for many of us.  The first consumer laptop with TFT and palm rest, the first home pc with a mouse, the graphical user interface, even the beautiful fonts that we see on the web, including what you are reading now.  And most recently, I can’t even imagine my last years without an ipod, iphone or MacBook or iPad.  Those things have really changed our industry yet again and have created opportunities for so many people that we can’t even begin to express.  Steve, you truly made your dent in the universe.  You have inspired so many of us with your passion and energy.

I think a lot of people, including myself, that never met Steve, feel like they had a relationship with Steve.  Crazy to think that technology now allows us to have relationships with people we have never met.  Our relationship was our connectedness to his products and his dreams…… and our connection with others that were connected to his products and dreams.  And now even though we still have his products and dreams, we are all dealing with a feeling of separation.  Very strange feeling indeed.  My heart and my prayers go out to his closest family and friends and I know my feelings in no way can even measure to what they must feel right now.

Handling separation in the case of death is very sacred, so I will not talk about that at all in this post other than to say people do live on through those that they inspired, and in Steve Jobs case, he inspired millions.

The rest of this post is me kind of rambling and thinking about relationship separation in general, specifically dealing with a recent situation where a colleague/friend/coworker/tribe-member moved to another state with a different employer  This has happened to me a few times and each time it happens, it really makes me wake up and pay attention.

I have been through many separations in my life before starting my business: falling out of a friendship, breakup with a girlfiend, a friend moving away, a divorce, many more…

In business though, I have had to learn a few more types of separations.  Getting separated from a customer and getting separated from an employee.  Both of those things are really tough.

Every relationship that goes through a separation is tough though.  How you deal with separation is different from individual to individual and situation to situation and there is no “right” way to deal with any of it.  However, one thing that I have to remind myself is that every relationship is a dot in my life and hopefully a dot in someone else’s if that person or organization has or has had a relationship with me in some form or fashion.  All those relationship dots do add up to make up a very large part of your life so each should be treated with respect.

So speaking of treating relationships with respect….

I have always wanted to build strong friendships/family-like relationships with my fellow Varrow’ers.  Those relationships I think form a bond that help us accomplish great things together and allow us to stay together even when the going gets tough.  Those relationships also fill a space in my heart and in my life.  Working with my team at Varrow inspires me daily.  There is no way I would still be doing this if I didn’t have the team that I have, it just wouldn’t be any fun.  The best part of my job is the relationships I get to build and the growth I get to see in myself and others.  So when any of those relationships break, it is very hard.  Sometimes the relationships break hard/sometimes they don’t really break but just become more distant.

Recently, we had one of our engineers move to another state for family reasons.  He ended up taking a job where he could work more locally and we understand, although we wish he were still here.  We will miss Andrew but we won’t forget him and we hope he won’t forget his experience with us.  Andrew really grew a lot while at Varrow and I really enjoyed the relationship we built, however short.  He is definitely the kind of guy that you can trust and would do anything to help our company and most of all, take care of our customers.  He has an awesome attitude, loves to learn, loves technology and has a knack for writing as well.  It’s a bummer to see him go.  Our relationship won’t end just because he is no longer employed here, though.  Heck, I’m a VA boy too and Andrew and I are both Hokies so although we will speak much less frequently, we won’t lose touch.

One really sad part of the separation is removing Andrew’s blog from the syndication but I’m still going to put Andrew’s blogs on my google reader(which hits RSS Runner on my iphone) and keep in touch with him the best I can.  And I’m still going to keep up his older blog excerpts on (those are the ones he wrote while employed with us).  Here is the link if you want to keep an eye on his blog, I’m sure there will be lots of goodies to come.

Andrew, keep in touch, know that we miss you and remember the following:

1-the dots will connect looking backward

2-Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, keep looking for what you love and don’t settle.

3-Ask yourself every day “if this was your last day on earth, would you be doing what you are about to do today” –

4-Stay hungry and stay foolish

Hopefully our dots will connect in the future and I know for a fact looking backwards we have learned a lot.

And Steve, thank you so much for all you have done.  You have been ….. and will continue to be an inspiration.

Varrow Private Customer Community – Social interaction for Varrow Customers

2011 June 19
by Jeremiah Cook

We are creating a private Yammer community to allow Varrow employees and Varrow customers to converse in a private twitter-like community. This will allow all community members to support each other with technical issues or give them a trusted outlet for techie things or business things they may want to share or need help with. Varrow employees and Varrow customers tend to be people passionate about technology and passionate about growing their technical network. But they are also busy people that don’t necessarily want more emails in their inbox and they don’t necessarily have a great way to find all the right people to follow on Twitter. I think Yammer private communities could be one answer to solving this challenge. Let’s give it a try.

If you are a Varrow customer and interested in joining the community, please send me an email to In addition to Varrow employees, this community will include CIO’s, IT Directors, Storage Admins, Network Admins, Backup Admins, Desktop Virtualization Admins, Server Virtualization Admins and lots of other great people around the Carolinas and surrounding areas that are passionate about Cloud, Virtualization, Storage, Disaster Recovery, Backup, etc. Again, send me an email if you are a Varrow customer and I’ll send you an invite. We are taking advantage of the new Yammer communities feature.

Varrow employees have been using Yammer for internal communications since late 2009. This helps reduce email clutter and also helps us stay in closer touch with each other and it just has a good vibe to it. Yammer is kind of like Twitter but for intra-company communication only. In 2010, Yammer added the ability to create secure communities that would allow for communication between companies and groups. Since reading Tribal Leadership, I have become extremely interested in strengthening our internal Varrow tribal relationships but also extending the concept to the larger tribe (including all of our vendors and customers). I’m really excited about this as our tribe has grown to include a lot of other great tribes but there hasn’t been an easy way for us to all communicate with each other and get to know each other better and share what is going on.

Twitter is awesome but sometimes there are things I don’t want to post out to the whole world but I would like to send out to all of our customers. Thus Yammer communities are a perfect fit. And I think some of our customers could learn a lot from each other and I would love for them to start building relationships with each other. It also allows us to get feedback from customers in a group setting where everyone can see everyone else’s feedback.

If this community takes off, I think a lot of good things can come out of it. Let’s give it a shot.

There are Yammer clients for iPhone,iPad,android,Mac and PC. We hope also that you may find yammer useful for internal communications inside your company. One bummer is that you can’t post to both yammer internal and yammer communities simultaneously, but that is for security purposes. I guess if you do want to post to both, just copy and paste.

If you are a Varrow customer and interested in joining the community, please email me

Thank you for your business and looking forward to seeing you in our community. Thank you again for your business and thank you for helping us make Varrow better.

Be a Mensch Video Blog

2011 April 14
by Jeremiah Cook

Reading this book called Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki, recommended to me by Andrew Miller. Thanks Andrew, good timing . Great stuff. Check out this book, be a mensch and go enchant some people 😉

Look up Bruna Martinuzzi “How to be a Mensch in Business“, that’s where Guy got a lot of this.

The two things Guy added were focus on goodwill and Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Here’s my short little video blog for those who rather watch the human talking than just read the words .

There is a ton of other great stuff in this book with regard to how to sincerely become  “enchanting”.  Great read so far.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Networking for Life and Updated Fire Burns Inside Song

2011 April 1
by Jeremiah Cook

-Updated 4/2/2011 – song link updated to new version

I recently read the phrase “networking for life”. It was in a great article written by the CEO of Pariveda Solutions. Basically,the point is that to be successful in business and in life, networking is not something you do from time to time… it’s something you do all the time. I really believe that. I just interview and talk to people all the time even if I don’t have a job open at the very moment. We are always growing it seems and so I am always recruiting even if we are not always hiring. When you need someone, you need them now and so you need a pipeline. But even more important, if you network with people with the purpose of truly understanding their passions and learning about them, you do way more than build a pipeline, you build true human connections. And sometimes these connections can lead to other great things that you didn’t even know you were looking for. Anyway, I ended up networking with someone by the initials of CT recently. She loves storage and after some good conversation I realized she also loves music and loves to sing. Hmmm. She ended up reading my blog and my youtube and noticed some songs I was working on. It is pretty obvious I don’t have a lot of singing talent but she liked my verses. She decided, without me prompting, that she would do some background tracks for me to lay on top of some of my songs. Just a little gift. Wow! That is so awesome. She just wanted to share her art and collaborate even though we had just met. I think the blogs and the music gave us an extra level of connection. Anyway, it is weird how things happen like this and it is super cool. One minute you are looking for a storage person, the next thing you realize is you have found someone you were looking for to help you on your audio tracks. I love networking and I love technology. Turns out we both had macbooks, we both had garageband and she loaded up dropbox and now we are collaborating via garageband and dropbox. Voila. Crazy right. I love technology.

OK, so here is the remastered version of The Fire Burns Inside with her on the track. This song is soooo much better now, I was looking for someone to do the hook but I never said it out loud that I was looking, I just sort of wanted it to happen. And I got lucky and it did happen. Thank you CT. This song is just about passion and motivation and about the need to run and work through the pain. And even though the pain hurts, we love it and we need it to feel alive. And its about the stress we go through when we are fighting through the struggle of achieving something. And just in general, I want it to be a motivational song to others in my life (others anywhere) to push them to accomplish more than they ever thought they could. It is also a song to my kids and also a song to myself just trying to get out something I was going through. I probably need to re-record the rap but like Seth Godin says, sometimes good to just ship it.

Here it is: FireBurnsInside

Thanks for Joe Kelly for having the guts to be vocal and continuing to push me/us and force me/us to think. And thanks to all of you at Varrow who continue to push yourselves to achieve great things and inspire me and others.

I hope all of you get to enjoy the feeling/pain of the “fire” burning inside you and forcing you to do more.

My songs on MP3TWIT

2011 March 29
by Jeremiah Cook

These are the songs I have written over the past few years.  Started out with I am T-pain and then have moved to garageband.

FireBurnsInside is the new one, really the only one that doesn’t mention computers or Varrow.  But it is still about me and about Varrow.  I need someone to record the chorus for this new one.  Did my best :)

It was an iPhone weekend

2011 March 28
by Jeremiah Cook

Let’s try this out, did this whole post using blogpress on iPhone.

OK, so this weekend was like an iphone fest for me, tried out lots of things related to iPhone, just thought I’d list a few.

Blogpress for iphone rocks, I can take a video of myself from within blogpress on the iphone and then write a few lines of a blog and then press publish and it puts the video inline on the blog and then also sends a link to facebook and twitter automatically for me.  I’m sure there are a thousand apps that do this but thought it was cool.

Also, I tried out Zentap Pro for iphone, really slick way to write text, it has a really cool autotext feature, you can have templated text that is re-usable, you can do spellchecking and you can even do translations.  I’m not quite sure what I will use it for yet but kind of cool, the main thing is the templated text feature, maybe I will have a situation where I realize that I say the same thing a lot and don’t want to retype it, so I will template it maybe, I don’t know.

One of my friends, Sean, also pointed me at a site called , yet another pseudo blogging site with some extra social stuff  ….has a nice iPhone companion and offers some cool group features and very media friendly, thought it was neat.

Something else cool i did on the iPhone was upgrade to 4.3 and enable home sharing.  So now I can share songs among computers and even cooler is if I have a song on my home PC but I haven’t put it on my iPhone, I can play it on my iPhone or iPod or iPad over Wifi without having to sync up.  really cool.

And then finally, I became a $99/year iPhone development member.  And I also bought a $99 copy of RunRev livecode (installed v 4.5 on Friday and then 4.6 was released on Saturday) and have started playing with developing my first Hello World app.  Pretty fun stuff. One of the blogs I am reading to learn more about livecode happens to be on posterous, what a coincidence, as I just learned about it.  Anyway, good blog here with lots of cool video training on livecode.  One day maybe I’ll write a decent app but I really want to see if I can teach my kids to write apps for the iPhone and the iPad.  I think that skill will come in handy.  I think Livecode will be easier than objective C, but nothing’s too easy it seems.

Oh yeah, and then I also tried out 1Password this weekend, doing free trial now.  I’ve got the chrome extension on my macbook pro for 1Password and also got iPhone app.  I’ll let you know more as I find out more.

Also, tried to write some songs lyrics this weekend but couldn’t really get started.  Was thinking about doing something to a instrumental beat of Tracy Chapmans “fast car”  …. maybe like “I am a stress ball”.   Also thought of doing a song to “love the way you lie” that was done by Eminem and Rhiana but haven’t figured it out yet.  But I really love the beats to both of those songs, I keep listening on my iPhone hoping something will hit me.

Anyway, Blogpress is cool, did this whole post from iPhone

Thanks Mr. Jobs and thanks Apple, your net promoter score just went up, I think I’m starting to get it now, even though I didn’t originally want to “get it”.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Video Blog 1-16-2011 – Books that are inspiring me right now

2011 January 17
by Jeremiah Cook

Here is a video blog that I put together this weekend about some cool books that are inspiring me right now. Please post a comment and say what is inspiring you. A lot of stuff about culture and business, but some other stuff too. Hope you like this. I need to find a service to transcribe the video blog to text. 2 of these books mentiondc we bought for Varrow employees to give at next company meeting. So much for surprise. :) And Dad, I will get one of your books in my blog posts in the future, promise. BTW, here is a link to my dad’s blog. Cool post today references the movie Avatar. Great blog to check out. A little plug for my Dad there :)

Ooops, I want to record this again but I won’t, almost better to let others see something I did wrong. Something I am reading right now in Tribal Leadership is that to get to Level 4, you will want to stop using the words I and me and my so much. Instead use the words our and we and us. Ughh, got some work to do on being a better tribe member. Oh well, this is good learning to see how you present yourself, now I know how to catch it. Learn something new everyday. Please help me remember this if you see me doing this, habits are hard to break. Hopefully in future videos and future speaking, I will fix that. Very important to all of us that we focus on the tribe as a whole and less on ourselves as individuals.