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A day in the life of…

New Office Setup

Sitting in a Walgreen’s waiting for a prescription mid-day is quite atypical. (It’s hard to stop from eavesdropping on people’s private conversations sitting here: I keep getting nasty looks…and what’s that guy with a pocket full of change on the counter buying a “needle” for? Oh-oh! Security to the front of the store!) But that’s where I find myself as I start to write this post answering the question I get asked at least once a week: what’s your day like?

Normally, I am much too humble (or shy?) to write-up such a navel-gazing post, but as I keep getting asked the question on- and off-line, I’ll document here.

“The Office”

First, I work from home. Rather, from the RedMonk Austin office ;> RedMonk doesn’t have office space as such: Steve works out of his loft and coffee shops in Denver, while James sub-lets space from Yellow Park in London. Obviously, if we’re on the road we work where ever we can find a ‘net connection. Press rooms are often a nice refuge from crappy wifi service, but sitting out in the hallway is more fun.

At home, I have a small room with my desk. Frequently I’ll go sit in the living room which helps me slouch a bit more. Either way, I use my trusty PowerBook, so I’m not tied to any particular desktop.

When I first started, I’d go out to coffee shops about ever 3rd day or so. This was kind of nice, but I’ve settled on staying at home as (a.) I enjoy being with my dogs and cats, and, (b.) the travel to and fro different places is too distracting to me. Also, I can never get comfortable in the chairs at places I go. I’m a shifty sitter.

In place of going to coffee shops to get out of the house, as James has commented on, I go out to lunch often. I love lunch: no problem with a shrinking lunch hour here, bub.


But, what do I do while I’m shifty sitting? There’re 3 “core” groupings of tasks:

  • Consuming Content
  • Creating Content
  • Talking

Consuming Content

My role is to be an expert (shallow or deep as required or desired) in things related to IT. That’s helplessly broad, but the idea is that I like thinking about and talking about computers, software, and the (more importantly) the cultures that involve and use two.

Now, of course there are areas that I like more than others and “specialize” in: software development, IT management, and as I like to put it “all the concepts and software that’s currently in the bucket labeled ‘Web 2.0.'” But, in general, I keep up with what’s going in the software world. I’m not too big on hardware in itself, but as it relates to doing interesting things, I’m always curious.

So, to inform that, I read lots of blogs, search around on the web for demos and other write-ups like specs, straight up web sites, and even white-papers (which can be useful for understanding not just what a company does, but what it thinks of itself). For some reason, I don’t read too many books “on the clock”: mostly in airplanes and in bed.

Creating Content

Coupled with consuming all the above information streams, I try to make myself create at least one “thing” a day. That “thing” can be as simple as a handful of bookmarks with commentary, several (lengthy) blog posts, a podcast, or longer form content like presentations and the extremely rare white-paper.

In reflection over the past year of “blogging professionally,” I’m quite picky about what I post: I’m not one for posting a “hey-look-a-this-cool-URL” sorts of posts. Long ago, when I started blogging, I certainly did that.

I have no problem with reading those posts myself — I read a ton of ’em! — but I tend to leave creating them myself to my bookmarks and links posts. Instead, unless I have something which I feel is original (or originally said if it’s just an explanation of something) to say, I tend not to post.

This means I post less frequently and the results are longer form. I try about once a month to start smaller more frequent points, but I can never get up to the task.

The end result is that I can spend about 1-2 hours a day writing up blog post. More if there’s more to write, or none if I don’t post. I don’t write a post if there’s nothing much to talk about. Unlike a newspaper, I don’t have to publish every day no matter what. And there’s always those links and (now) Twitter.

Where do the topics for posts come from? Events I’m at, announcements and news, briefings I’ve had, ideas and suggestions, overviews of new “trends” and ideas, and increasingly (which I love) people asking me to look into or (further) explain something.


Talking Ecosystem

The most regularly scheduling thing I do is talking with people: in briefings, consulting, IM’ing, IRC, email, and face-to-face. We talk with all manner of folks: vendors, buy-side, developers, investors, other analysts, and all the people in-between…anyone that will or wants to talk with us. Getting involved in ongoing conversations with all these people is large part of the job that primarly unstructured and has little “artifact” written around it. (I’m hoping Highrise will be gas on the fire more than distilling to work-item.)


Briefing and consulting are the bulk of my talk-time. A briefing is, more or less, when a vendor tells about their product, service, and/or self. For example, as I wrote up yesterday, I talked with an IT management modeling company, a RIA framework company, and a data warehousing company recently. RedMonk briefings are always free and usually last 60 to 70 minutes.

Typically, they start out with an intro to the topic and then quickly evolve into a discussion with the presenters. We’ll ask questions to figure out what’s going on, offer “free advice” about the offering (what’s good, bad, missing, and future directions and relationships), and whatever else comes up. Briefings are a chance for both sides to sniff each other out: we learn about a company and they learn a little about what it’s like working with RedMonk. Yes, it’s one way of generating leads, but we try to sell by doing rather than telling, so to speak.


Consulting is time we spend working with clients. It’s the primary thing we get paid for. Consulting is ranges from anything in-between going through presentations, websites, and even papers, to talking about high-level strategy. For example, we might go through a client’s pitch, presentation, or even over-all messaging on a given topic. We do a lot of “kool-aid tasting” as one of our clients put it to give an objective, informed third-party opinion about a clients offering: have they been drinking too much of their own kool-aid? Of course, if the answer is yes, we help get those red stains off their lips.

Oftentimes, we’ll consult on “point issues” like “ooo, that’s not the best way to approach this mini-scandal.” Also, people often spend their consulting time getting market-level overviews and suggestions from us. We might tell people about working with company XYZ or what the general offerings and opportunities are in a “market,” for example, SaaS IT Management. Because we tend to build long-term, comfortible relationships with people and companies we can often help people get things done within their own company. Much of this is our low barriers to entry approach to getting involved with RedMonk — blogs! — and our predilection for paying attention to management and practitioners.

We’ll also do on-site consulting that usually consists of a half or full day with a room full of people talking about anything and everything. For example, we might talk about open source strategies or developer relations and community building. Steve has done several internal presentations at for all-hands meetings of late.

Yesterday someone asked me if we “write up” these meetings. While we might do a presentation to set the agenda at consults, typically, we don’t produce a written artifact afterwards. That said, if people want to use time to have us write a summary or notes, we certainly do. Also, of course, if the information is, or becomes, public there’s a good chance we’ll write blog post about it.


While there are lulls, I do a fair amount of podcast recording and editing. While we’ve done less of our RedMonk only recordings, we’ve done more “briefings as podcasts” were we talk with “guests.” These guests can be clients or not, and we welcome both.

I keep threatening to record more quickie podcasts — in the style of the LiveMink, who’s beat me to the punch — but I haven’t gotten to doing it consistently. As conference season ramps up this Spring, we’ll see what happens.

Talking with Press

The other talking I do is talking to the press. We’ll take press calls out of the blue and we’ll take press referrals from clients (where a client tells a reporter to call us for comment). Depending on the reporters time and interest, a press call can last 2 minutes to half an hour.

For example, when I talked with Paul Krill about Microsoft joining OpenAjax the other day (“pretty good news”…ugh), it was about 2 minutes. On the other end, when I talked with reporters about Sun open sourcing Java, I’d spend up to 30 minutes on the phone explaining and offering non-nerd-talk articulations for how to explain things like the Java Virtual Machine, the GPL+Classpath Exception, and even open source.

This “talk” is about 1/3 in email and 2/3 on the phone. I haven’t ever spoken to a reporter face-to-face. All but one time have been print.


Carpet Clouds

Getting to those face-to-face meetings and conferences requires, of course, travel. I live in Austin, and most everything happens in the bay area, New York, or Boston…occasionally Las Vegas and Orlando. I travel most often to conferences, “analyst summits,” and other events.

Travel eats up a lot of time because you’re always waiting and taking cars to a hotel. Once you get there, you usually spend most, if not all of your time in the hotel or conference center. On many trips, I never set foot outside of the hotel I’m staying at except to go to and fro the airport, esp. the IBM events that are in Rye Town and other New York suburbs. It’s kind of weird at first, but at least they’re nice places and the content-flow is super-high.


Finally, there’s a fair amount of admin work to do: booking travel, filing expenses, and most/worst of all scheduling meetings. Meetings are scheduling through email, the common denominator between all parties. It can take quite sometime and it’s terribly tedious. Just coming up with free/busy times is a battle.

Other admin work includes website and WordPress futzing, deleting blog spam, preparing proposals, follow-up with links and content promised from meetings, following-up on projects, and the rare trip to buy some paper or envelopes…maybe make some copies.

What’s Left

There are a million other little things, as they say, left over that I’m sure I didn’t mention. But that’s the bulk of it.

For those that have asked, does this answer your question?

Disclaimer: Sun and IBM are clients, as are parts of Microsoft.

Categories: The Analyst Life.

Comment Feed

2 Responses

  1. You discussed consulting in terms of working with software vendors. How about describing in an upcoming post how consulting feels to a large enterprise…

  2. Wow, if I didn't have such a cool job already, I'd have written, "I wanna be analyst when I grow up".

    That's a great insight, thanks.