Ever try to fix a technology problem and find yourself going down a rabbit hole of google searches, phone calls, texts to friends, questions on Facebook. More and more questions. More and more possible answers. Trying this. Trying that.

And ultimately all you get is older, greyer, and more convinced you are an idiot.

This was my life recently. Trying to fix a problem with my daughter’s laptop. For those who can’t wait – I solved the problem. But I didn’t fix it.

And that is a big lesson for HR and mangers in general.

I hear you all saying “whuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut?”

I know …. It’s funnier when you hear someone say “whuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut” than when you write it. But say it in your best confused voice… it’s funny admit it.

A Non-Wireless Laptop – IE: Computer 1994

My daughter’s laptop started having problems connecting to the wireless router in our house when she visited. I chalked it up to some setting on our network. Then the problem started occurring on her home network. Then in public spaces with free wifi. The computer would connect – then it would drop the connection. Reboot. Reconnect. Dropped connection. Reboot… lather, rinse, repeat. Then it just stopped connecting. Call me old fashioned but laptops should be portable. Wireless access to the internet is kind of a basic requirement. Without wireless connectively you simply have an extremely flat desktop computer.

So I get the text –

Her: “Dad, I need a new computer.”

Me: “No you don’t. Buy a pencil.”

Her: “Daaaaaaaaaaaad.”

Me: “Okay – I’m on it.”

If you’re a father and you have daughters you know what I mean. If it had been my son I would have told him to go find some steel and an acetylene torch and go make a new one. (I may be contributing to the ongoing problem with gender bias in the STEM world… but step one is admitting the problem. Step 2 – she’s my daughter…)


But anyway… I quick change into dad geek pajamas that look remarkably like what Sheldon wears on the Big Bang Theory…  and start marathon google sessions. Changing settings. Updating drivers. Changing settings. Updating drivers. Shop for new wifi cards for her computer. Call expert. Take computer to expert who does EXACTLY everything I did (including the exact google searches.) Shop for new computers.

Buy 100 foot Ethernet cord. Connect to the internet.

That was the solution. Remember – I was trying or fix the problem by fixing the wifi card in her computer. What I really needed to do was find a solution to the real problem which was not being able to get on the internet from her room if the router is in the living room of her apartment. A VERY long Ethernet cable did the trick.

Puts thumbs behind suspenders and walks away to triumphant music score in the background.

70% Solution

However, that isn’t a 100% solution – you can’t run a cord from your house to the nearest Starbucks. Someone is bound to trip over it. And it is pretty damn expensive to get a 3 mile Ethernet cord. But then I remembered hooking my mother’s computer up to her wireless network a few years back. And her computer was a very old desktop unit with no wifi. I connected her by buying an external wifi “dongle.”



Check amazon. External wifi USB plugin about as big as a piece of Chiclet gum and cost… wait for it… $12. LESS than the cost of the 30 foot Ethernet cable that was currently stretched across my daughter’s apartment.

Solve the Problem – Don’t Fix It

See what happened here?

I started by trying to fix the problem. The problem was the card in her computer. I wasted weeks trying to fix that card. Which didn’t need to happen. What needed to happen was I needed make something that wasn’t wireless – wireless. If that had been my question I would have figured it out weeks early, saved money and looked like I deserved to wear those geek superhero pajamas.

Have problem at work? Step back. Ask yourself to reframe the situation.

Ask… am I trying to fix something or solve something? Big, big difference.

And if that doesn’t work. Google it and then buy the damn computer.