Oversized meals, obnoxious heat and Boston accents

Highlights from SB IRE’s trip to Boston

Sunday afternoon back in Galway. July 20. Nearly August. Where has 2014 gone? Does anyone else feel like this year is flying by at an incredible rate? Having spent the last two weeks in Boston it’s been a nice relaxing weekend back “home,” kicking the jetlag and getting ready to get into a semi normal routine this week.

Two weeks ago today, myself along with our initial class of hires flew to Boston for a two-week training and on boarding program to get everyone up to speed on what it takes to be successful working for SmartBear. The team had a blast and learned a ton. It was great to have them spend time with their US colleagues so now there is a face behind the name as we get started working together from the Galway office this summer.

Founding members of SmartBear Ireland!

Founding members of SmartBear Ireland!

Throughout the trip I was continually fascinated by viewing Boston through the eyes of a van full of Irish who for the most part had never been to the city before. Yes, I proudly carted the team around in a white Dodge Minivan from start to finish, much to the delight of my former team in the States. We spent most the trip between the office and our hotel on Boston’s North Shore (where one teammate remarked the beds were so comfortable that the pillows felt like sleeping on melted cheese) but we also had a chance to get into the city over the weekend where we hopped on a Duck Boar tour and visited a few of my favorite Beacon Hill watering holes. The accents, cultural norms and climate were just a few of the talking points throughout the trip. One disappointment was my failure to convince the team that Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee is a daily requirement for success. Oh well, highlights included:

-The food: the team was blown away by portion sizes. There was nonstop banter on American food habits the entire trip, leading up to our trip to the Cheesecake Factory for our penultimate meal in the States before heading home. To say the team was overwhelmed by the choices and plates would be a massive understatement. And then the dessert menu arrived. “Dear god I’ve never eaten so much” was a phrase tossed around daily.

-Cultural norms: the Irish tend to not socialize right away at a new job, leaning more towards keeping their head down and trying to avoid making any early headlines, so they were very happy to see how warm and welcoming the entire Boston office was upon their arrival. As one team member put it, “We Irish tend to not socialize much the first year at a job, then the Christmas party happens where we all make fools of ourselves and hide away again at work until the following year.” Looking forward to our inaugural holiday festivities this year!

-Annual Scavenger Hunt through Beverly and Salem: to further integrate our new team members with the company we hosted the annual scavenger hunt across the North Shore a week ago Friday, splitting up each member on a different team to allow them to meet as many new colleagues as possible. The day was a hit as we all raced around town going after the various clues and challenges, with one of our Irish teammates jumping in the ocean with our CEO, and yours truly being filmed at least a dozen times over singing the opening verse to Born In The USA. Can’t wait to see those videos resurface over the coming weeks. Thanks again for that, Gerry.

With the Arts Fest in full swing and Race Week right around the corner, it is good to be back in Galway. Here’s a cool clip of the #redballproject currently taking place around town as part of the Galway International Arts Festival:

As a friend put it recently, between July and August there is no place in the world you would rather be.

I tend to agree.

 

 

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SB IRE’s New Digs! plus 2 more

2 July 2014

McCambridge’s. Pascal’s. Costa’s. The lobby at the Hotel Meyrick. The King’s Head. These are just a few of my favorite local haunts I’ve called home over the last four months to get some work done while our office space was getting sorted out (watching the legal process drag on and on the last few weeks made me feel that much better about not going to law school, apologies Uncle Yo). All amazing places with very friendly staff, however with our first batch of new hires starting this week I am thrilled to announce that we crossed off another big win for our expansion plans: signing a lease for our new office. Right in the heart of Galway City, SmartBear Ireland will be located in the Dockgate Building on Merchants Road-

https://www.google.ie/maps/place/12,+Dockgate/@53.271127,-9.0515268,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x485b96e4da03954f:0x2562eccea7ea1aee.

A great modern office building just steps to all the city has to offer, I can’t wait to finish off the build out and get our new furniture assembled in the next few weeks. Current floor plan has room for about 20 new hires, with an adjacent space right next door that I can see us expanding into as we continue to grow. Here are a few pics to give a sense of the building and recent progress.

Entrance to the new SmartBear Ireland office at night.

Entrance to the new SmartBear Ireland office at night.

During the day.

During the day.

Our bldg are the glass windows in the background. Currently working to befriend the local sailboat owners for future team building activities.

The Dockgate bldg is the glass windows in the background. Currently working to befriend the local boating community for future team building activities.

Future home of the SB IRE sales floor!

Future home of the SB IRE sales floor, during construction last month.

Ready for a fresh batch of sales rockstars to take over.

Now ready for a fresh batch of sales rockstars to take over.

New break out room, currently in break out phase.

New break out room, during it’s break out phase.

Breakout room completed. Currently taking suggestions for naming the 2 new conference rooms. Thinking of "Springsteen" and "Tweedy", feel free to add suggestions below.

Breakout room completed. Currently fielding ideas for naming our 2 new conference rooms. Maybe Springsteen and Tweedy? – feel free to add your own suggestions below.

Conference room / kitchenette in the making.

Conference room / kitchenette  during construction.

View from across the floor. Next up, furniture, computers and people to keep me company!

View from across the floor. Next up, furniture, computers and people to keep me company!

In addition to the exciting office news, here are two more pieces of interest to share this week:

1) I had a chance to chat with the Galway Independent last month about our Ireland plans. The interview went out this week and can be found here –

http://galwayindependent.com/20140625/business/opportunity-knocks-S40162.html

2) and last, but certainly not least, dig this clip of Paul Rudd on Letterman recently talking about a stag party he went to in Donegal. God bless the Irish.

Until next time – Boston I am heading your way this weekend with a fresh batch of SmartBear recruits, hope to see as many beautiful people as I can while we are in town!

MLK

Copenhagen to Zurich, and back

Of the approximately 4,356 different amazing perks to living and working in Ireland, the proximity and ease of travel across the rest of Europe has to be near the top. I was able to check off a fair amount of must see places back in 2005 while studying in Madrid and am excited to see even more of the continent on this go-around.

As my 90-day Visitor Visa was set to expire in mid June, I technically needed to exit the country in order to re-enter through immigration in Ireland with my new official Work Visa paperwork. Forced to take a quick jaunt into mainland Europe? Sure, twist my arm. In order to accomplish this while also getting some work done I created an agenda that accomplished the following:

-Conducted interviews in Dublin for our new growing sales team.

-Visited a long time SmartBear partner who handles a majority of our business in the Nordic region, based in Copenhagen.

-Met with an engineering firm based in Zurich who is interested in outfitting their clients with SmartBear’s award winning software testing tools all across Switzerland.

-Spent time with two old friends from the States who coincidently both happen to be living and working in Copenhagen at the moment.

-Explored both Copenhagen and Zurich, two incredible cities I had never seen before.

-Drank Vodka’s until dawn with a group of math geniuses based in Copenhagen.

-Toured the streets of Zurich in a brand new Tesla; I swore it felt like being in a James Bond movie.

-Experienced a “Free City” within a city in Copenhagen.

-Watched The Netherlands achieve sweet revenge against Spain in the first round of the World Cup with a bunch of Dutch guys who are studying at the University of Copenhagen.

-And for a fresh dose of reality on my return leg to Ireland, I experienced once again that connecting through London’s Heathrow Airport is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. I survived my first ever 10+ minute full on sprint through the airport, with two carry on’s in a full suit to arrive at the boarding gate, dripping sweat and out of breath, with moments to spare. I owe my friends at Aer Lingus for moving through their check in process extra judiciously.

 

Here are some pics from the trip; I had a blast on the road and can’t wait for the next adventure to begin!

With Klaus and Ole from Nordic Software, SmartBear's long time partner in Copenhagen.

With Klaus and Ole from Nordic Software, SmartBear’s long time partner in Copenhagen.

Fun to reunite with Chris Davis, fellow Stillwater MN native and current Math Genius in residence at the University of CPH

Fun to reunite with Chris Davis, fellow Stillwater MN native and current Math Genius in residence at the University of CPH

Copenhagen is gorgeous.

Copenhagen is gorgeous.

So many bikes in Copenhagen. It's truly amazing.

So many bikes in Copenhagen. It’s truly amazing.

Just as many bikes as cars on the roads. Very unique. I haven't felt this out of shape in quite a while.

Just as many bikes as cars on the roads. Very unique. I haven’t felt this out of shape in quite a while.

Davis gave me a tour of his school. I snapped this from his office. Straight out of Good Will Hunting.

Davis gave me a tour of his school. I snapped this from his office. Straight out of Good Will Hunting.

Davis yuckin it up with a local volleyballer.

Davis yuckin it up with a local volleyballer.

Sneaking in a few equations before dinner. The man is a legend.

Sneaking in a few equations before dinner. The man is a legend.

Our bud Tomas from Warsaw teaching us about his favorite Polish vodkas. These unfortunately were not on the top of his list.

Our bud Tomas from Warsaw teaching us about his favorite Polish vodkas. These unfortunately were not on the top of his list.

Great to catch up with my old friend Jill, a fellow Cactus Club alumni who married a Dane and now lives in Copenhagen.

Great to catch up with my old friend Jill, a fellow Cactus Club alumni who married a Dane and now lives in Copenhagen.

Was able to catch some Danish rock on Saturday. Couldn't understand a single lyric but the boys rocked.

Was able to catch some Danish rock on Saturday. Couldn’t understand a single lyric but the boys rocked.

The free city of Christiania, a fascinating place where no pix are allowed. I was able to sneak just one.

The free city of Christiania, a fascinating place where no pix are allowed. I was able to sneak just one.

The wealth and affluent culture of Switzerland is palpable upon arriving at the airport in Zurich.

The wealth and affluent culture of Switzerland is palpable upon arriving at the airport in Zurich.

View of the city from a great restaurant in Zurich. A beautiful view to say the least.

View of the city from a great restaurant in Zurich. A beautiful view to say the least.

Everyone should be able to drive the streets of Zurich in a new Tesla at some point in their lives. Nothing like it.

Everyone should be able to drive the streets of Zurich in a new Tesla at some point in their lives. Nothing like it.

 

Welcome to Ireland, SmartBear

**We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special announcement**

irelandinspiresSBwork

Hello friends,

Today is a very exciting day. For those beginning to wonder if my trip across the pond was strictly a ploy to document the lives of the talented Galway street musicians (it’s crossed my mind more than once), I’ve got news for you: Earlier this morning the IDA sent out their press release welcoming SmartBear Software to Ireland. A little more than two years since we started internal discussions around international expansion, SmartBear Ireland is officially live to the world. The IDA is the Irish government authority that attracts and advises on foreign inward investment from multinational companies that are interested in opening an office in Ireland. We’ve partnered closely with the IDA for the last six months and they have been a tremendous help. Everything from advising on strategic financial decisions all the way to recommending a decent place to find a meal when I landed in town back in March, they have been there for us. Without the IDA’s help we wouldn’t have made nearly the amount of progress in such a short amount of time. Most companies take over a year to accomplish what we have in the last few months. I can’t thank all involved enough for all their help along the way. It’s been quite a ride. Here you can find the link to the official release, and I’ve also included the full text below. Exciting day for SmartBear Ireland!

http://www.idaireland.com/news-media/press-releases/smartbear-software-establ/index.xml

SmartBear Software Establishes European Headquarters in Galway

Leading Software Application Quality and Performance Management Company to Create 100 Jobs over 5 Years in Galway Region

GALWAY June 12, 2014 – Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD today announced that SmartBear Software, the choice of more than two million software professionals for building and delivering the world’s best applications, is expected to create up to 100 jobs over five years at its new European Headquarters in Galway. The investment is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland.

Headquartered in Beverly, Massachusetts, SmartBear develops software that other software developers use to ensure their applications provide a superior user experience. Anyone using some of the world’s most popular online applications have benefited from SmartBear’s technology as it may have been used to develop, test or monitor the operation of these applications. SmartBear has customers in over 90 countries and additional offices in the United States, Sweden, Spain and Russia.

Making the announcement, Minister Bruton said, “ICT is a key sector which we have targeted in our Action Plan for Jobs, and over recent years, we have seen substantial growth in this area. Today’s announcement that SmartBear, a leading U.S. software application quality and performance management company, is establishing its European Headquarters in Galway and expected to create a hundred jobs is a great boost. This builds on the significant progress we have seen in the job market in the past two years, and I wish them every success with this project.”

“We are excited about opening our European Headquarters in Ireland,” said Doug McNary, CEO, SmartBear Software. “We were impressed by Galway’s vibrant ICT cluster, pro-business environment and attractive lifestyle. This coupled with the support of IDA Ireland makes Galway the perfect choice for SmartBear.”

Welcoming the announcement, Barry O’Leary, CEO, IDA Ireland speaking from Galway, where he will address the Galway Chamber, said “SmartBear’s decision to set up its European headquarters in Galway bolsters the city’s reputation as a location of choice for leading international technology companies. The Irish centre is strategically important to SmartBear as it will drive international growth for the company.”

The new office will create roles in Inside Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, Operations, Finance and Software Development.

For recruitment opportunities, email jobs@smartbear.ie.

 

Disconnecting on a rainy Sunday

8 June 2014

bookstore entrance

Probably the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make since moving to Ireland is the idea of being digitally connected nearly 24/7. During the workweek with my connections now to Europe as well as my team back in the US, it is typical that I am fielding emails and calls from 8am to midnight at least a few nights a week. I knew full well of this challenge when signing up for the opportunity, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, however by most Friday nights I am mentally exhausted.

great selection in Charlie Byrne's

great selection in Charlie Byrne’s

For this reason I welcomed the rain of this past weekend with open arms. Nothing on the schedule, just relaxing and refueling for what will be an exciting next few months ahead. Today with the rain continuing (god bless the Irish summer) I unplugged and walked down to Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop on Middle Street. No Wi-Fi, no cell service, just a great old school independent bookstore where you could get lost for hours. I spent an hour reading an actual physical copy of Irish short stories, something I hadn’t done in far too long. Stories of a retiree setting off on his new picture taking hobby in the Irish midlands, and teenagers trying to craft the perfect pop song. More importantly, not one word about slingin’ software, tech support, or quarter end deals. I left feeling more refreshed than expected. And when I returned home a few hours later, my inbox was unchanged and my Facebook feed remained dominated by a stream of newborns and wedding photos (I love you all I swear!).

life lessons from the local legends

life lessons from the local legends

So my quick lesson for the week is to not be afraid of disconnecting from the digital world. Even if only for a few hours, it will do wonders I promise. And the rest of your life will be patiently waiting for your return.

For a shot of Irish culture this week I loved this write up from Travel + Leisure on Galway and the west coast –

http://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-blog/carry-on/2014/5/20/galway-ireland-untamed

Until next time.

MLK

no idea who this lad is, but he's been keeping an eye on me as I write tonight at Garavan's across the street from my house.

no idea who this lad is, but he’s been keeping an eye on me as I write and have a quiet pint to finish the weekend at Garavan’s across the street from my house.

Waxing nostalgic on the streets of Galway City

Earlier tonight I was catching up with my Mom in sunny Manhattan Beach when I told her that for the first time in a few months I was struggling on ideas to write about. The inevitable “writers block” as they say. She recommended I go for a walk to clear my head, so I dutifully followed orders. She also happened to mention that Steve Nash is going to be her new next-door neighbor, which is by far the coolest thing I’ve heard in quite some time.

Former NBA MVP to be future wine buddy with EK on the beaches of LA.

Former NBA MVP to be future wine buddy with EK on the beaches of LA.

http://www.tmz.com/2014/03/23/steve-nash-retirement-pad-house-manhattan-beach-lakers-photos/

While walking the streets of Galway it dawned on me that tomorrow is the first Monday of June, which happens to mark my six-year anniversary at SmartBear. Unrelated but noteworthy I also passed by at least five Hen parties, several lads out on a Stag and hundreds more in the streets sharing a laugh and a few pints on this Bank Holiday weekend. Good thing the majority of Ireland is shut down tomorrow to recover. To say this town comes alive in the summer is a massive understatement.

But back to my SmartBear nostalgia: I will never forget how it all came to be. Spring ’08 I was bartending back at the Cactus Club, fresh off an incredible backpacking trip to Australia, and flat broke. My close friend Jim McD (better known as The Swaine) had recently joined a little startup company on Boston’s North Shore and mentioned he might be able to get me an interview. Being 23 years old and claiming to have it all figured out, I politely declined, citing my lack of technology background (or any real professional background for that matter) and lack of being able to locate Beverly MA on a map. Thankfully, I believe The Swaine’s response was something along the lines of, “Shut your mouth, put your resume together, I have an interview lined up for you with the CEO next week.” When The Swaine speaks, you listen. The rest as they say, is history.

MLK and Swaine in Chicago last summer for the Stanley Cup.

MLK and The Swaine in Chicago last summer for the Stanley Cup.

Since joining what was known as AutomatedQA Corp in June of 2008 I’ve been able to serve our expanding customer base in several different roles, help grow company revenues 12X, and experience the following key highlights through the years:

-2009, acquisition of Pragmatic Software

-2010, rebranded 3 existing businesses under what is now known as SmartBear

-2011, acquisitions of Eviware and AlertSite, further strengthening our brand in the software quality market

-2012, began discussions with senior leadership around international expansion, focusing on the EMEA market

-2013, acquisition of Lucierna out of Barcelona to bolster our APM offering

-2014, official decision to launch a new EMEA HQ in Galway, Ireland. Relocated in the spring to open office and build out new team of rock stars

Intense limbo contest on the SmartBear boat cruise, summer 2013.

Intense limbo contest on the SmartBear boat cruise, summer 2013.

The moral of the story is this: listen to your mother. She’s a treasure trove of good ideas. Oh and listen to The Swaine too, the man is a legend.

Thank you to all the SmartBear’s past and present I’ve been able to work with and learn from through the years. It’s been one helluva ride and I’m excited to see what the future holds for all of us.

For those reading this in Galway, or greater Ireland / mainland Europe and are interested in moving to the beautiful and rugged west of Ireland: I’m actively recruiting the next team of sales rock stars to join me as founding members of the SmartBear Galway office. If you are interested or know of anyone email me @ miles.kane@smartbear.com.

MLK

PS – for your dose of weekly Irish culture, MN export Josh Hartnett compares Dublin to Sin City, and the POTUS has a motorway service station named after him in Moneygall, home to his great-great-great grandfather.

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/tv-radio/josh-hartnett-compares-dublin-to-vegas-it-can-eat-you-whole-30311640.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/if-moneygall-can-throw-in-a-bouncy-barack-obama-we-re-there-1.1815282

Have a great week everyone, wherever you are in the world.

 

Irish slang and a few local shots

25 May 2014

I remember having a conversation a few months back with my friend and colleague Kendal Peiguss where she asked me something along the lines of, “Miles you gotta tell me what it’s like to talk with the locals in Ireland!!!” (Extra exclamation points are an effort to capture her seemingly never-ending energy and enthusiasm).

Now that I’ve been in Galway a few months I can say for the most part there has been a minimal communication barrier (save for a few local cabbies whose accents are so thick I just laugh every few minutes to provide positive feedback on their bits). However there are definite differences in what I would call the local slang. Maybe not “by the book” perfect English, but commonly used phrases that are unique compared to what you would hear walking the streets back home in the US. Realizing today is my 10-week anniversary of moving to Galway I’ve put together a list of the top 10 commonly used phrases I’ve heard so far in my time across the pond:

1) What’s the craic? Most common and iconic local Irish saying, meaning “What’s up” or “What’s going on?”

2) How ya keepin? Commonly used to start a conversation, meaning “How are you?” or “How have you been?”

3) Ey lads how ya gettin on? Similar to above, when referring to a group of gentlemen.

4) Happy days! No real direct translation to American slang. Generally used to mean your enthusiasm that something works great for you. Eg: “I have an extra ticket to the concert tonight for you. Oh, happy days!”

5) Brilliant, Grand, Class – Replacing terms like ‘awesome’ ‘sweet’ or ‘cool.’

6) Bullocks, Rubbish, Shite. Common phrases when describing something you don’t like.

7) Ya’right? For the bartenders out there, meaning, “Are you all set?” or “What can I get you?” when ordering at the pub.

8) Does that suit? I see this a lot in emails. Meaning “Does that work for you?” when scheduling a call or meeting.

9) H’ya! Used mostly for quick exchanges when passing by someone.

10) (and technically 11 but that would’ve screwed up the Top 10 theme) A tenner = $10 bucks, and No panic = no worries.

So there you have it. A crash course in Irish slang. Thanks again to Kendal for the inspiration. Hopefully you will get over to the new Galway office this summer to experience first hand the local culture!

And keeping with the anniversary theme, here are 10 shots I’ve recently taken around town. Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend back in the US. #forever1066 #resteasyBT

Sunset outside my front door last week

Sunset outside my front door last week

 

Galway street art.

Galway street art.

a life lesson that makes you think a little bit.

a life lesson that makes you think a little bit.

Inspirational.

Inspirational.

follow the signs to Sheridan's.

follow the signs to Sheridan’s.

good chance these show up at a future Fitz family Christmas..

good chance these show up at a future Fitz family Christmas..

 

will never tire of the views down at the Spanish Arch.

will never tire of the views down at the Spanish Arch.

can't beat the Irish outlook on life.

can’t beat the Irish outlook on life.

This one's for you Mike McD. A quiet night outside the Galway Fire Dept.

This one’s for you Mike McD. A quiet night outside the Galway Fire Dept.

exploring the streets of Salthill.

exploring the streets of Salthill.

P.S. – late breaking news right before I was about to post this tonight – the Kanye and Kim honeymoon is taking place in Cork?????? Take that as a sign the apocalypse is upon us.  http://www.independent.ie/woman/celeb-news/exclusive-kim-kardashian-and-kanye-west-jet-into-ireland-for-their-honeymoon-30303520.html

-MLK