Interview with Rob La Gesse Chief Disruption Officer Rackspace

Here is an interview with Rob La Gesse ,Chief Disruption Officer ,Rackspace Hosting.
Ajay- Describe your career  journey from not finishing college to writing software to your present projects?
Rob- I joined the Navy right out of High School. I had neither the money for college, or a real desire for it. I had several roles in the Navy, to include a Combat Medic station with the US Marine Corps and eventually becoming a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist.

After the Navy I worked as a Respiratory Therapist, a roofer, and I repaired print shop equipment. Basically whatever it took to make a buck or two.  Eventually I started selling computers.  That led me to running a multi-line dial-up BBS and I taught myself how to program.  Eventually that led to a job with a small engineering company where we developed WiFi.

After the WiFi project I started consulting on my own.  I used Rackspace to host my clients, and eventually they hired me.  I’ve been here almost three years and have held several roles. I currently manage Social Media, building 43 and am involved in several other projects such as the Rackspace Startup Program.

Ajay-  What is building43 all about ?

Rob- Building43 is a web site devoted to telling the stories behind technology startups. Basically, after we hired Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica we were figuring out how best we could work with them to both highlight Rackspace and customers.  That idea expanded beyond customers to highlighting anyone doing something incredible in the technology industry – mostly software startups.  We’ve had interviews with people like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of FaceBook.  We’ve broken some news on the site, but it isn’t really a news site. It is a story telling site.

Rackspace has met some amazing new customers through the relationships that started with an interview.

Ajay-  How is life as Robert Scoble’s boss. Is he an easy guy to work with? Does he have super powers while he types?

Rob- Robert isn’t much different to manage than the rest of my employees. He is a person – no super powers.  But he does establish a unique perspective on things because he gets to see so much new technology early.  Often earlier than almost anyone else. It helps him to spot trends that others might not be seeing yet.
Ajay – Hosting companies are so so many. What makes Rackspace special for different kinds of customers?
Rob- I think what we do better than anyone is add that human touch – the people really care about your business.  We are a company that is focused on building one of the greatest service companies on the planet.  We sell support.  Hosting is secondary to service. Our motto is Fanatic Support®

and we actually look for people focused on delivering amazing customer experiences during our interviewing and hiring practices. People that find a personal sense of pride and reward by helping others should apply at
Rackspace.  We are hiring like crazy!

Ajay – Where do you see technology and the internet 5 years down the line? (we will visit the answers in 5 years 🙂 )?
Rob- I think the shift to Cloud computing is going to be dramatic.  I think in five years we will be much further down that path.  The scaling, cost-effectiveness, and on-demand nature of the Cloud are just too compelling for companies not to embrace. This changes business in fundamental ways – lower capital expenses, no need for in house IT staff, etc will save companies a lot of money and let them focus more on their core businesses. Computing will become another utility.  I also think mobile use of computing will be much more common than it is today.  And it is VERY common today.  Phones will replace car keys and credit cards (they already are). This too will drive use of Cloud computing  because we all want our data wherever we are – on whatever computing device we happen tobe using.
Ajay- GoDaddy CEO shoots elephants. What do you do in your  spare time, if any.
Rob- Well, I don’t hunt.  We do shoot a lot of video though! I enjoy playing poker, specifically Texas Hold ’em.  It is a very people oriented game, and people are my passion.

Brief Biography- (in his own words from http://www.lagesse.org/about/)

My technical background includes working on the development of WiFi, writing wireless applications for the Apple Newton, mentoring/managing several software-based start-ups, running software quality assurance teams and more. In 2008 I joined Rackspace as an employee – a “Racker”.  I was previously a 7 year customer and the company impressed me. My initial role was as Director of Software Development for the Rackspace Cloud.  It was soon evident that I was better suited to a customer facing role since I LOVE talking to customers. I am currently the Director of Customer Development Chief Disruption Officer.  I manage building43 and enjoy working with Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica to make that happen.  The org chart says they work for me.  Reality tells me the opposite :)

Go take a look – I’m proud of what we are building there (pardon the pun!).

I do a lot of other stuff at Rackspace – mostly because they let me!  I love a company that lets me try. Rackspace does that.Going further back, I have been a Mayor (in Hawaii). I have written successful shareware software. I have managed employees all over the world. I have been all over the world. I have also done roofing, repaired high end print-shop equipment, been a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist, done CPR on a boat, in a plane, and in a hardware store (and of course in hospitals).

I have treated jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge – and helped save a few. I have lived in Illinois (Kankakee), California (San Diego, San Francisco and Novato), Texas (Corpus Christi and San Antonio), Florida (Pensacola and Palm Bay), Hawaii (Honolulu/Fort Shafter) and several other places for shorter durations.

For the last 8+ years I have been a single parent – and have done an amazing job (yes, I am a proud papa) thanks to having great kids.  They are both in College now – something I did NOT manage to accomplish. I love doing anything someone thinks I am not qualified to do.

I can be contacted at rob (at) lagesse (dot) org

you can follow Rob at http://twitter.com/kr8tr

Citrix Webinar – Time Management for better Time Sharing

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I always liked Citrix products when I was a member of the Technical Advisory Board at the University of Tennessee. I especially liked enabling SAS software , R software, Matlab software , ONLY from a browser.

Data Mining through cloud computing, yes University of Tennessee’s analytics server http://analytics.utk.edu was way ahead in 2009- all these softwares at one portal no software needed on your own PC, simply upload data and work on any analytics software.

Here is a nice citrix webinar on managing Time (so you can read more webinars! nah. I think Youtube live streaming events with interactive question and answers is the way of the future while webinars are for Baby Boomers- you can do a test and control experiment yourself if you are in the webinar business. its a web2.oinar)

Register here

http://learn.gotomeeting.com/forms/26May11-APAC-ANZ-G2MC-WBR-L1?url=decisionstats

Standard Disclosure- I have not received any monetary or indirect compensation for promoting this webinar.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Interruptions are productivity killers – between email, phone calls and back-to-back meetings, how do you find time to work on your top priorities?

Join top time-management guru Kent Curtis and learn how to stop “living in your inbox” and start prioritising tasks, messages and appointments according to what is most important.

This webinar takes the best principles from FranklinCovey’s world-class productivity training and teaches you how to apply them while using Microsoft Outlook as your scheduling tool.

Attend this interactive, one-hour webinar to:

Stay focused every day with a reliable planning system utilising Microsoft Outlook.
Control competing demands such as email, voice mail, meetings and interruptions.
Apply a planning process that gets better business results.
Reduce stress by eliminating low priority activities and distractions.
Register for the Webinar

Please forward this to colleagues who might be interested in learning more.

Kind regards,

H.R. Shiever | Managing Director – Asia Pacific

Citrix Online
A division of Citrix Systems, Inc.
http://www.citrixonline.com

Online Meetings Made Easy

GoToMeeting Corporate
Live Webinar

Title:

The New Time Management: Stay Focused Every Day with Reliable Planning

Date:

Thursday, 26 May
Time:

12 Noon Australian EST
10 AM Singapore SGT
7.30 AM India ST
Speakers:
Kent Curtis, Senior Consultant, FranklinCovey

Register here

http://learn.gotomeeting.com/forms/26May11-APAC-ANZ-G2MC-WBR-L1?url=decisionstats