Monday, December 31, 2007

GottaGettaBLOG! has been rebranded and is now being published as/at: www.LeadershipTraction.com/blog.

Please update your bookmarks and automated feeds accordingly.

Thanks!

Please note that GottaGettaBLOG! posts from the years 2003 through 2007 will be permanently archived here at www.ggci.com/blog, under the heading of"GottaGettaBlog! 2003-2007". And GottaGettaBLOG! posts from 2008 and 2009 will be  at: www.ggci.com/blog2.

 

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last Post of the Year: 2007

A moment out to thank everyone who played a part in making 2007 a truly wonderful year for me both professionally - through GottaGettaCoach!, Inc. - and personally. Again, thanks.

See you in '08!

Wynton Marsalis: Leadership Lessons

  1. THINK BIG, BUT DON'T BE IMPATIENT. Deferring the rewards of long-term success is difficult but necessary if you are going to have the mental fortitude to achieve them.
  2. BE PERFECT IN INTENTION; YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT IN EXECUTION. Mistakes, by you and your staff, will happen.
  3. YOU CAN ONLY 00 THE BEST THAT YOU CAN DO. Keep your goals high, but don't set yourself up for failure. Be patient.
  4. DON'T APOLOGIZE FOR A MISTAKE. APOLOGIZE IF YOU DON'T PLAY. Knowing that effort is what matters gives people the courage to always try their hardest.
  5. STAY INSIDE YOURSELF; WHEN YOU DO, YOU'LL TAKE A RISK-BUT YOU'LL MAKE AN INTELLIGENT DECISION. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
  6. BELIEF IN OTHER PEOPLE'S CREATIVITY ALLOWS PEOPLE AROUND YOU TO BE THEMSELVES AND ACHIEVE THEIR INDIVIDUALITY. If your staff members have the freedom to achieve as individuals, the returns will be manifold.
  7. APPROACH YOUR TASK VERY SERIOUSLY-BUT WITH HUMOR. Discipline should never come at the expense of closing one's self to new ideas, and vice versa.
  8. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO MAKE TOUGH DECISIONS, AND MANY TIMES THEY ARE UGLY. It's best to be very direct.
  9. IT ISN'T MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY. Learn to compromise and be flexible.
  10. WHEN YOU'RE A LEADER, SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW, TOO. Good leaders know they don't have a monopoly on brilliant ideas. Be objective and willing to follow Insights you may have missed.
  11. HUMILITY INSPIRES PEOPLE; ORGANIZATION INSPIRES A STAFF. Always try to give your staff clear plans and goals, but allow them room for self-empowerment.
  12. RESPECT THE FREEDOM OF OTHER PEOPLE AND THEIR CREATIVITY. JAZZ MUSIC TEACHES THAT ABOVE ALL ELSE. Giving your staff the freedom to improvise opens the floodgates on innovation.
  13. YOU CAN'T LOOK AT ANY PERSON AND TELL WHETHER THEY CAN PLAY. ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE CAN PLAY. Some of the best talent can be found in the most unexpected places.
  14. THERE IS A LIMIT TO WHAT YOU CAN DEMAND FROM SOMEBODY ELSE. Nothing erodes the spirit like a boss who can never be pleased.
  15. BE FUNDAMENTALLY TRUTHFUL. Without truth, your success will unravel.
---
from Success Magazine, July 2007

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Prescription of Description

Here's an exercise to help challenge (and sharpen) your creativity. Time needed: About 5 minutes.

Pick an object and write down as many words as you can to describe it without actually naming what it is. When you run out of descriptions, rotate or flip the object to get a fresh perspective and continue. When you run out of descriptions again, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, put a smile on your face, and try once more.

Repeat with different objects as often as you'd like.

Source: Mental Agility (as cited in an article from a magazine who's name is nowhere to be found on the clipping I saved - Oops!)

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Who Said Quitters Never Win?

As reported in the December 2007/ January 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind magazine:
"Psychologists asked 90 adolescent girls about their tendency to hold on to unattainable goals. Over the next year, they found that the girls who said they never gave up had more quickly increasing blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) as compared with the girls who were moderately good at letting go. High levels of CRP often precede the development of heart disease, cancer and diabetes."
Add to that the teachings of Seth Godin in his 2007 book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick):
"What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly while staying focused and motivated when it really counts. Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt..."
So, as you look to complete the final month of 2007 and get ready for 2008, what "unattainable goals" might it make sense for you to quit?!

----
Thanks Eddie!

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wall Street Journal quotes Barry Zweibel

The Wall Street Journal quotes Barry Zweibel, GottaGettaCoach!, Inc.
Perri Capel, columnist for The Wall Street Journal quotes Barry Zweibel in a 12/4/2007 piece titled, "When a Boss Is Unreceptive To New Views" published in both the on-line and print editions of the paper.

The WSJ CareerJournal quotes Barry Zweibel, GottaGettaCoach!, Inc.
An expanded version of the article was also published by WSJ CareerJournal under the title of "How Can I Defuse TensionsWith a Difficult Manager?".

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Chuck Norris is afraid of choking

The Chicago Tribune reported today that movie star Chuck Norris re-affirmed his intent not to run for public office ... for fear of "choking." Norris? Afraid? Choking? Well, sort of ...

In the tough-guy's own words:

"Let's say I run for a position in politics and I am debating my opponent and my opponent starts attacking my character and I leap over the bench and choke him unconscious, it's not going to help my campaign."

Ohhhh! Norris! Afraid! Choking! I get it now!

Isn't it interesting how a little context can so completely change the meaning of a message?

The underlying coaching questions, of course, are these:
How might YOU be misinterpreting others and how might THEY be misinterpreting you? And assuming it's happening, what do you want to actually DO about it?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Favorite New Quote

Here's my new favorite inspirational quotation by, poet and gardener, Genine Lentine:
"The question I am asked daily by the world is this: Was that all you wanted?"
And here's my new favorite recipe for having an incredibly-awesome day: Ask the world for something that will have it sit upright in its chair and say, "Wow! You've got my attention. Now let me see what I can do for you."

Try it and see for yourself. (Just don't get greedy.)

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fun Family (Thanksgiving) Rituals

Fun Family Rituals - the notion is that each family does stuff that may seem insignificant to others, but is actually very special in how it helps define family values, camaraderie and cherished memories. The fun, sometimes silly, stuff that families do, look forward to doing, remember doing and continue to do - through the years.

In honor of this Thanksgiving Day, here are some of the family rituals and traditions included in my Fun Family Rituals compilation (available for download at: http://www.funfamilyrituals.com/) as written by the very people who use them to celebrate both today's holiday, and their families:

" On Thanksgiving, my kids make a Thankful Box and have everyone in the house "deposit" an index card telling what they're thankful for. Then, before dessert, we read them one at a time and laugh and cry and thank our lucky stars for our family and friends."

"We always make a turkey for Thanksgiving - even if we go to a relative's house. Gotta have our own leftovers!"

"After Thanksgiving dinner, all the moms of our extended family get together with handfuls of cash. We take whatever we were planning on spending on each of our 13 nieces and nephews for Christmas and neatly separate it all into envelopes - each marked with a child's name. When everyone is done putting their money in, the moms get their own kids' envelopes so that they can spend the money on gifts 'on behalf of' the aunts and uncles."

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Vulnerability, Teamwork, and Personal Growth

Last week I had the opportunity to spend two days on a rustic team building retreat at Joy Outdoor Education Center in Clarksville, Ohio, courtesy of a corporate client, Hill-Rom, where the group learned about their Insights® colors (courtesy of Scott Schwefel), did a high ropes course and related activities, endured gusts up to 34 mph and wind chills down to the teens (brrr!), shared emotionally-moving and personal stories deep into the night by light (and warmth) of a bonfire, slept in cabins, ate camp food, and stretched and grew in ways that were truly amazing. And that was Day One!

Day Two included a morning of coaching and facilitation, courtesy of yours truly, and an afternoon of detailed departmental planning and goal-setting, led by Phillip Saxton, president of MiTowne.

Initially, I perceived, and prepared for, my role as that of catalyst: "an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action," as Merriam Webster might say. But as I settled into my bunk that first night it struck me that the 'change' I was there to provoke had actually already happened. Every single person, in their own special way, had already become so much more open, courageous, real - and vulnerable - with each other. The team knew it, liked it, and matched it, with a collective support, respect, regard, knowing, and appreciation.

That was the good news. The not-so-good news was that pretty much everything I had prepared for the following morning was now unnecessary and wrong! I no longer needed to help them change; my job was to help them solidify their changes.

It's one thing to watch others being vulnerable; it's something entirely different to be vulnerable oneself. Yet to be truly in service of the group I was there to coach, facilitate, and support, I knew I needed to honor and respect where the group now 'was' - and be completely present to, and enabling of, whatever needed to unfold from that point forward.

So, pre-dawn, and in keeping with the "Pushing the Limits" theme of the retreat, I decided to take what was to be the 'end' of my facilitation - an article called "Life is a ten-speed Bicycle," - and use it to start a conversational unfolding, if you will, where I would rely on my coaching instincts and the collective wisdom of the group to reach for something essential, but as of yet, unknown.

And so, for the next 3½ hours, quite powerfully at times, we explored, realized, agreed, and fine-tuned, what else was needed for this group of smart, capable, and caring professionals to truly coalesce into a single, unified, and unshakable, whole.

The ultimate outcome? Well that remains to be seen. To be sure, they're off to a very good start, but the team must consistently apply the Lessons Learned, aha's realized, and courageousness experienced for the ongoing magic to happen.

Will it be easy? Probably not. Is it doable? Definitely so. Is it likely? I actually believe it is.

As for me, I know that like everyone else, my comfort zone was significantly stretched these last few days - and in a number of different ways! (As I reflect on what that means, I feel a contented little smile coming to my face.) So for that, I thank each and every one of you who helped make that my new reality.

Now if I can just get that campfire smoke smell out of my clothing, I'll be all set!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Done with your Performance Reviews Yet?!

Been putting off those year-end performance evaluations because you can't figure out exactly how to say what you know needs to be said?

Well help is available in the form of an easily downloadable Special Report called: Employee Performance Discussions: 10 Important Things a Boss MUST Know How to Say.

Employee Performance Discussions e-bookGiving effective employee performance reviews is not about being a jerk. To the contrary - it's about being respectful, caring, succinct, and on-the-money with your observations, comments, recommendations, and requests. The better you do this, the more likely your staff's performance will improve. Perhaps more importantly, though, the better you do this, the more likely your staff's improved performance can be sustained over time.

Employee Discussions shows you how. In it, you'll find:
  • 10 specific conversation "clarifiers" that can dramatically improve the performance of all employees - from your very best, to weakest, and everyone in between
  • Specific phrasings of what to say, including when to say it, and why
  • Concrete examples for you to follow in your own performance management discussions with your direct reports and lower-level employees
  • An Application section that includes typical employee problem scenarios along with clarified and simplified scripts for giving constructive criticism
  • A Locking-in-the-Learning section, where important coaching questions are raised for you to answer, and homework assignments for you to complete, so you can integrate these lessons more quickly and thoroughly into your management skill-set
  • Primary Focus questions that directs your attention to recognizing how best to apply each specific ‘clarifier' to your current employee performance situation.
Procrastinate no more - get your copy of Employee Performance Discussions at www.employee-discussions.com today and finish up those employee evaluations already!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Coaches and Therapists - How Different?: ICF Conference Breakout Session

While I've been to coaching vs. therapy presentations before, they were always lead by coaches. So I thought it'd be particularly refreshing to hear about it from the other side, as it were. Enter Dr. David Orlinsky, noted professor of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.

Of all of his charts and descriptions offered, this was the one I found most helpful in articulating the differences:

David Orlinsky analysis

Good set of distinctions, don't you think?

Thanks, David.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Julio Olalla: ICF Conference Keynote Speaker

The opening keynote speaker and Honorary Conference Chair of the International Coach Federation's 2007 Annual Conference was Julio Olalla, MCC, founder and president of the Newfield Network, an international education, coaching and consulting company.

A very engaging speaker, Julio spoke about the 'cognitive schizophrenia' that has developed in the modern world. He suggested that the world insists we focus on our exterior knowing - science, business, objects, the 'real' world, etc. - which we dutifully do. But lost in the process is our ability to connect with our interior knowledge - our hearts and souls, passions and beliefs, hopes, dreams, values, love, loyalty, appreciation for the wisdom of others and the very "cognitive possibilities" that flow from emotion.

The answer is not to swing the pendulum all the way to the other side, or even learn how to ably switch between exterior and interior paradigms in an effort to achieve so-called balance. Rather, he said, the answer is in learning how to unify our exterior and interior knowledge into a cohesive whole. (Coaching, by the way, is one of the few mechanisms available for directly enabling this type of learning.)

Easy? No. Possible? Absolutely.

Our existing 'cosmology', says Olalla - the story we've created for ourselves about how we fit into the world - is externally based:
O --> A --> R
Observers (us) take Actions that yield specific Results. Should we not like the Results, we simply change our Actions and try again. Note that we don't typically consider how we might change ourselves to modify the outcome.

What if we allowed ourselves to change in addition to (or even in lieu of) changing the actions we take? How might we more consciously and intentionally incorporate more of our interior knowing into the "O --> A --> R" model?
Quite possibly, the Actions we'd subsequently take (and want to take, for that matter) would be sufficiently different to enable some completely new Results heretofore unavailable to us.

Easy? No. Possible? Absolutely.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Coaching Next Level Leaders: ICF Conference Breakout Session

Scott Eblin, president of The Eblin Group, and author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success, started this session by positing that a full 40% of new leaders fail within 18 months. Some of the external reasons for that include shifts in the market and organizational dynamics, but it's the internal reasons that are more often the cause:

  • being afraid to say, "I don't know"
  • not listening well enough
  • not getting the "lay of the land"
  • fear
  • not learning the new rules of the position
  • the urge to control things
  • not clarifying expectations and requirements

In looking for what to do about all this, Eblin interviewed several hundred seasoned executives, asking them two key questions:

  1. What do you recommend executives "pick up" and "let go of" in order to be successful in their new roles?
  2. What did you "pick up" and "let go of" that resulted in your success in your new roles?

Three key leadership presence elements emerged - personal presence, team presence, and organizational presence - each having 3 key elements to "pick up" and 3 key elements to "let go of":

Thanks, Scott.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ICF Conference 2007

Last week I was in Long Beach California attending the 12th annual conference of the International Coach Federation, along with about 1,500 other coaches from 36 different countries. International, indeed!

In addition to coaches from New Jersey, Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Maryland, among other states, I also met some wonderful coaches from Japan, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Columbia, France, China, Australia, and New Zealand, as well. It's truly amazing to me how much the ICF - and coaching - has grown over the last several years.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about some of the keynotes and breakout sessions that I thought were particularly interesting, intriguing, and relevant to a wider audience.

It was nice to be away. It's now nice to be back!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Not Still Spelled "Busy-ness" for a Reason

It was a good idea gone bad. "Let's call it 'busy-ness'," they said, "because that's what we want people to be at work - busy."

And so it was for about 200 years until, around the 14th century, some bosses started realizing that being "busy" wasn't exactly what they were looking for from their underlings. True, they did want diligence, but it had become apparent that what their minions diligently worked on made a huge difference in the profitability of the company. Who knew?!

So with this subtle, but powerful, distinction now understood, a similarly subtle, but maybe not as meaningful spelling change was agreed upon. The "y" was dropped, and an "i" was put in its place, and the word "business" was born! (At least that's the story that I made up about it.)

The problem, though, is that so many people are still so busy being busy, that they haven't stopped to read the memo.

So for the record, there is a difference between doing 'stuff' and getting stuff done. There is a difference between driving to work and driving key business results. And there is a difference between the busy-ness of work and the work of business.

Take a moment and review this with someone you're mentoring, would you please? It is a subtle, but powerful, distinction that everyone deserves to understand.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taking it Off-Line

Scenario: You're attending a staff meeting, tensions are high, pressure is rising, and your boss turns to you and asks a very pointed, but tangential, question that the answer to which is likely to drag things (and possibly you) down further. You try to take it off-line, that is, suggest you talk about it later, but the boss says "No. We're talking about it now."

What to do?~

Talk about it now, responding as quickly, crisply, and in as a respectful, non-defensive manner, as possible, pushing back when necessary, but doing so because it's called-for, not just because you feel like it or don't know what else to do. And hope that it doesn't turn into an inquisition, of sorts.

That said, what can you do to increase the probability that your next 'off-line' request will be agreed to and accepted ? Here are some ideas:
  1. Stay calm and composed - Nothing encourages a boss to go on the offense more than someone's defensiveness. Practice poise under pressure. It will serve you well.
  2. Frame your rationale - There's a huge difference in wanting to talk about something later because it makes more sense to, and wanting to do so because you're trying to avoid even having the conversation. Clearly frame your reasons accordingly, citing one of two compelling reasons why a different time and/or different setting for the discussion would better serve to boss and be advantageous to everyone else.
  3. Leverage your reputation - If your boss already knows you as a trusted advisor, this whole process becomes much more simple. Showing you're not afraid to 'dig in', 'hit things head on', and 'make the tough choices' - on a daily basis - will go a long way in times like these. Building a reputation that says 'credibility' gives you a foundation to stand on in such circumstances.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thank You Notes

Here's a page from the Old School manual - send a 'thank you' note.
  • Someone gives something nice to you - send a thank you note
  • Someone does something nice for you - send a thank you note
  • Someone says something nice about you - send a thank you note

It doesn't have to be fancy. It doesn't have to be more than a sentence or two. It doesn't even have to be hand-written. (An email or voicemail is just fine).

All it really has to be is sincere.

Of course the sooner you send it the better, but, as they say, better late than never!

If you're not in the habit of sending thank you notes, I invite you to try it. It's not hard to do; it doesn't even take all that much time. But it will quite likely make both you, and the person you send it to, feel pretty good. So why not?~

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Right Idea, Wrong Way

I, for one, think it's very cool that the Geico cavemen have their own television show. Not that I intend to ever watch it - and not that it'll be around for much longer, based on the horrible reviews it's gotten. But this is the first time that a TV show was created from an ad campaign, isn't it?! That's the part I'm impressed with.

And while I really like the idea, I think they implemented it the wrong way. If I was going to do this, anyway, I would've made it with a variety talk-show, with the other Geico character - the gecko - as host. talk show host

Think of it like the Late Late Show for animated television advertising characters. The gecko would start with a short monologue - a la Craig Ferguson - and then bring on a series of guests to interview and have hawk their latest work. And here's the best part - the show wouldn't even need any commercial breaks!

Think about it - wouldn't you like to hear a little more from the Aflac duck?Mucus Guy Or from his new sidekick the goat? How about Honda's Mr. Opportunity? The Pillsbury Dough boy? Maybe Erin, the Esurance save-the-world lady? And we can't forget the mucus guy' from Mucinex?! Mr. Tivo could even be invited in!

Who else?!

And to spice things up a bit, there could be a segment called "Mr. Peabody's Way-Back Machine" Mr. Peabody and Shermanwhere he and Sherman could interview advertisement characters long-since retired?! I mean who hasn't been wondering what Joe Camel's been up to lately?! Or the Frito Bandito for that matter?!

With the gecko as emcee, this variety show could really rock! Speaking of which, I bet if they really tried, they could probably get Gorillaz to be the show's house band!

Three-Two-One ... and ... we're live!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Higher Understanding through Ping-Pong

An absolutely wonderful article in today's Chicago Tribune titled, Mastering the art of Ping-Pong: Sensei says you must become 'calm and rushed' by By Kevin Pang:

Young Grasshopper hopes to one day become master of the Ping-Pong realm, but Young Grasshopper lacks the wisdom of Ardy S. Taveerasert, flower shop owner by day, sensei by night. Listen to the words of the sage in T-shirt and short shorts:

"Table tennis is like chess and running at the same time," Taveerasert dispenses, encapsulating 30 years of Ping-Pong perspicuity into one sentence.

Young Grasshopper nods. He absorbs. He understands. Everything Young Grasshopper has learned about Ping-Pong must be unlearned.

The setting: A warm, pastoral evening at Daley Bicentennial Park, steps from the Pritzker Pavilion, an iron monkey's leap from Lake Michigan.

The apprentices: Members of the Chicago Slam Table Tennis Club, a faction of all ages and nationalities. Five nights a week, they clash in the struggles of competition (and ostensibly, mankind), and to take in the knowledge of one Taveerasert.

The sage hails from Thailand. In his youth, Taveerasert's older brother forced him to play Ping-Pong. One day Taveerasert finally bested his brother, and then he did it again, and again, and again. A dream was born: to assemble a legion of Ping-Pong warriors, and to make the sport as ubiquitous in the U.S. as Little League baseball. A year ago, the sage became commissioner of the Chicago Slam Table Tennis Club, and a dream was realized.

On this night, Young Grasshopper enters the dojo with a dozen combatants of Ping-Pong at various levels of mastery. One student is Mike Mezyan, a 27-year-old from Jordan, who wears a royal blue athletic crew shirt, collars popped. He shuffles his feet from side to side like Baryshnikov over hot coals. His forehead glistens with sweat. He owns not a paddle, but a blade, which costs $500, and some $300 more a year to maintain its rubber surface.

As blade contacts ball, Mezyan grunts with a feral rage emanating from the depths of his soul.

"You need to be calm and rushed," Mezyan explains. To acquire swift instincts, one's inner-self must remain calm.

Mezyan goes on: Wait for the ball to reach the crest of its arc. The ball will momentarily stop in mid-flight and freeze.

At which point, Taveerasert says -- now standing opposite Young Grasshopper -- do not try to hit the ball.

A counter intuitive strategy, it seems. But soon, the sage's wisdom becomes clear: Trying to hit the ball means one is aiming to hit the ball. One should not aim to hit the ball. One should not try to hit the ball.

One should hit the ball.

"Harder," Taveerasert implores.

Young Grasshopper's guards prevent him from hitting the ball as hard as he could. He does not trust, nor does he realize, his untapped powers.

Harder! Taveerasert's brows furrow.

Young Grasshopper must release his inhibitions.

Harder! Harder! Harder!

Young Grasshopper, with all his might, swings his right forearm in a blur, the blade striking the white ball at the apex of its course. The ball streaks over the net, curves to the right, strikes the table once, past Taveerasert and his outstretched hands. It bounces several times off the floor before coming to a rest. The young apprentice scores one point off the sage. Eyes bulge with shocked disbelief. The student is humbled and the sage smiles.

Through the silence, Young Grasshopper and his master achieve a higher understanding.

-----
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

4qtr2007 of "Not Just Talk!" now available

There's an interesting paradox to personal growth. On the one hand, we need to get out of our own way so we can step more fully into our Best Self. On the other hand, we need to accept who we already are because being one's Best Self cannot occur without acceptance of self, as is.

The 4qtr2007 edition of Not Just Talk! - the quarterly newsletter from GottaGettaCoach!, which is now available at http://www.ggci.com/NotJustTalk/ - looks at this paradox from a few different angles to see what we see.

First up is The Real Reason People Won't Change, a review of a Harvard Business Review article of the same name that looks at getting off the dime in terms of understanding the "why" behind our inaction ... and the "how" in front of our future actions.

Next, we flip over the coin with Authentically Munch, a piece about Richard Belzer's SVU character and consider how we might better embrace who we already more readily to show up more completely in the world around us.

The Ask the Coach segment follows. How can 'black and white' thinkers inject a little color and creativity into their personal growth and development efforts without sacrificing their beliefs about how they think? Find out how.

And, of course, there are several Notable Quotables: Great Things I Didn't Say (First) provided for both your amusement, and to help lock-in-the-learning from the aforementioned pieces.

To help round out this issue of Not Just Talk!, some highlighted titles from last quarter's GottaGettaBlog! blog postings, and the What's News at GottaGettaCoach! segment are also included, as well as some helpful resources, links, and product offerings, for your consideration, down the right-hand column.

Questions, comments - and suggestions - are always welcomed. I'm just an email or phone call away.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Visual DNA Assessment


Some Friday Fun: Visual DNA assessment.

"What does your choice of images say about you," ask the folks at imagini.net? "See how you compare to over 4,000,000 other people from all over the world who've done this simple and fun test."

Take it yourself and see what you see. It only takes a few minutes and it's visually quite appealing. Just click on whichever picture best completes the sentence for you and follow the sequence through to the end.
----
Thanks to The Ladders for pointing this one out.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

For Future AND Incumbent Executives - Today


What are the most desired management abilities for Future Executives (and incumbent leaders, too, if you ask me)?

According to Right Management Consultants, they are as follows:

  1. Motivate and engage others
  2. Communicate effectively, strategically, and interpersonally
  3. Think strategically
  4. Lead change
  5. Create a performance organization

Sure, these elements make sense, but let's make them relevant to you and your world. Therefore,

  • What will you do to better motivate and engage others - today?
  • What will you do to improve how effectively, strategically, and interpersonally you communicate - today?
  • What will you think more strategically about - today?
  • What will you do to more assertively lead change - today?
  • What will you do to actually create that performance organization you've been talking about - today?!

Think about it - and then do something desirably executive-like - today - whether you're an incumbent leader, or not.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Top/Down Hubris: Bottom/Up Winfrey

According to a Business Week survey of 2,000 executives ...

1. Are you one of the top 10% of performers in your company?

2. Which person would you most like to be your direct boss?


These answers are just too much! And with 97% of all executives surveyed believing that they're in the top 10% of performers in their company, no wonder why so many people would rather work for Oprah - as least she admits her show has commercial breaks!

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Monday, September 17, 2007

The Doubting Loop and the Confidence Radial

In thinking about confidence, many people get discouraged because of a non-supportive doubting loop they have that has them circle in and around not feeling particularly confident, trying again anyway, but messing things up ... again ... which only strengthens the I-don't-feel-so-confident part all the more. the Doubting Loop

Can anything be done about this?

Well, you can certainly try to not try as much! But, if it's your turn to step to the plate, more likely than not, you really can't say, "Sorry, I'd rather not." If you can, though, it might be a nice temporary respite for you every now and then.

More likely, though, when it's your turn, it's your turn, and there's no getting away from it.

Enter the Confidence Radial©.

Developed several years ago by yours truly, the Confidence Radial recognizes the circularity inherent in the confidence dynamic, but puts it to better use, as the following diagram shows:
the Confidence RadialIt all starts with acting like you already have the power. But this simple notion goes beyond just trying. It speaks to trying ... again ... with the expectation that you can, indeed, succeed. In order to succeed, though, you need to "know what you know." And to do that, some research is required.

Then, armed with that research, you can begin to interact with others on that topic - not so much to show off what you know, but to find out what they know. And, because you'll likely understand what they're saying, they'll be likely to help you expand the conversation by referring you to other knowledgeable/interested contacts (if you ask).

From there, you network with them on the same topic, which will help them get to know who you are and how you think. And from there, you now have several new connections who can help you feel more confident as you talk about this, and other topics of interest to those you do and don't know. (I'm defining contacts, here, as people you know, and connections as people who know you.)

So the key to jumping out of that Doubting Loop? Jump in to the Confidence Radial. All you need is something you're interested in knowing more about.

For more on the Confidence Radial: www.ggci.com/confidence.

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Friday Afternoon, Idealized

sleepy meeting
Courtesy of Bark Magazine, October 2007

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Which is really harder?
  • To be creative enough to create a hit song out of thin air, or to take that song on the road and play it consistently and passionately, night-after-night-after night?
  • To do what it takes to drive a high-profile project through to its successful completion or to seamlessly operationalize the significant changes likely resultant from that project's completion?
  • To lose 20 pounds, or to not regain them?
  • To get a new job when you're unemployed, or to stay positive when you're unemployed and not getting any job offers?
  • To significantly improve your performance or to ably sustain those improvements over time?

There's a tendency in business -and in life - to judge others by what they do, or don't, do particularly well. Prematurely. Repeatedly. Unfairly.

Given that you're, quite probably, already familiar with what it feels like when others - prematurely, repeatedly, and unfairly - judge what you do, how might you actually be prematurely, repeatedly, and unfairly judging others and what they do or don't do?

Remember, what goes around, comes around.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Creative Listening, redux

Back in March of 2005 I wrote a post titled, "How are you at Creative Listening?" I mention it here, again, because, just today, the idea that employees might not communicate as clearly as we might hope came up - not just once, but twice. Here, then, is an expert from that post:

"People are always telling us things. And more times than they probably realize, WHAT they tell us doesn't always make sense - at least not at first. One way to deal with that is to ignore whatever doesn't make sense. But that's a lesser strategy.

"The stronger approach is to become a Creative Listener, listening not just to what IS said, but to what might be MEANT by what is said, as well. This is particularly important when the subject matter is emotionally-charged."

So the next time that someone says something to you that doesn't quite make sense, give them the benefit of the doubt. Be patient. Ask questions. Say back what you're hearing to see if it's correct. Assume that there is an excellent nugget that's just too important to miss buried somewhere in their words.

You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that there actually is.

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

And what will YOU be doing over the Labor Day weekend?!

messy desk



I

know

I've

got

my

plans!












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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Getting a SLANT on Doing Better

A while back, the University of Kansas created a "Starter Strategy" to help students learn how to engage more thoroughly in their classes, called SLANT.
  • S - Sit in the front of the room
  • L - Lean forward
  • A - Ask questions
  • N - Nod your head
  • T - Talk about the material

As with SMART goals, there are several variations as to what the letters in the SLANT mnemonic actually stand for, and I've used the ones that resonate best for me. Regardless, the idea behind SLANT is that if you do the five things more consistently, you can't help but do consistently better in class.

But not only does practicing SLANT make the student a better learner, it also makes the teacher a better teacher! Why? Because when students sit toward the front of the room, lean forward, ask questions, nod their heads, and talk about the materials they're learning even after class has officially ended, well, how can a teacher not be jazzed be by that?!

Given such a receptive audience, who wouldn't want to prepare more thoroughly so they could ineract that much more engagingly and communicate that much more persuasively?!

Now, let's consider how this might apply in a business setting. Ever been in a really boring meeting?! No?! Oh, well then never mind!

The point is that you might just be able to help your boss, and coworkers, for that matter, become more engaging ... and compelling - and end up doing a better job with that yourself - by regularly practicing SLANT.

Try it for a week or so and see for yourself.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Is That Me Really Me?

I don't remember the source, but I do remember that we each have three me's:
  1. The 'me' that we think we are
  2. The 'me' that others think we are
  3. The 'me' that we really are

And while we'd like to believe that all three me's are one in the same, they often times are definitely not. Take, for instance:

  • The boss who doesn't think we're nearly as competent or capable as we think we are
  • The coworkers don't think we're nearly as helpful or collaborative as we think we are
  • The friends who don't think we're nearly as available or giving as we think we are
  • The family members who don't think we're nearly as loving or supportive as we think we are

The thing is this: In each case, there's probably some truth in what they're saying, even though our 'me' may think otherwise.

So what does it all mean? It means we're human. But its implications can be far more reaching because if we don't allow for the possibility (probability?) that the 'me' we like to think we are ... isn't, then we're likely to find ourselves in the middle of some very uncomfortable conversations/situations, moving forward.

So for the boss who doesn't think we're nearly as competent or capable as we like to think we are, and for the coworkers who don't think we're nearly as helpful or collaborative as we like to think we are, and for any friends who don't think we're nearly as available or giving as we like to think we are, and for our family members who don't think we're nearly as loving or supportive as we like to think we are ... yes, certainly help them understand where your 'me' is coming from, but be sure to allow for the very real possibility (probability?) that their views of your 'me' are as accurate, if not more so, than your own.

The 'me' we are would expect us to do nothing less from us.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Check Email MORE Regularly

Time, again, to play the Contrarian.

Much talk these days about how email is a huge time-management saboteur. As such, many experts are recommending that we only check emails twice/day ... to minimize our interruptions. But I think that's a pretty bad idea. Here's why:
  1. Checking for emails only twice a day will likely result in an inability to keep our inbox current. The resultant Inbox Overload, which I believe is one of the main triggers of workplace overwhelm and procrastination, is a centerpiece of poor time management.
  2. Checking for emails only twice a day will likely result in us missing important, time-sensitive, communications that, quite possibly, could save us from a LOT of unnecessary make-work ... if we only knew that priorities had changed ... before we did all that work we just did.
  3. Checking for emails only twice a day signals to your coworkers that you don't really care much about what they have to say. Being so disrespectful (intentionally or not) is hardly a smart move for anyone who has to depend on collaboration, teamwork, and cooperation to get things done.
  4. Checking for emails only twice a day undermines our cogitation, that is our thoroughly thinking things through before reacting or responding to them. You have to know it's out there before you can even start to think about it.
  5. Checking for emails only twice a day makes you a bottleneck which means that an increasing amount of what you have to do will be under increasingly tighter time frames.
  6. Checking for emails only twice a day prevents us from productively using our in-between moments. Consider:
  • Time you loose while waiting for meetings to officially begin.
  • Time you loose while waiting for meetings to officially end.
  • Time you loose while waiting on conference calls for others to finish discussing what doesn't involve, or impact upon, you.
  • Time you loose while waiting for your boss to finish that umpteenth phone call interruption.
These in-between moments are absolutely ideal for quickly checking your email and getting a meaningful leg-up on reading through some of those FYIs you typically ignore, or replying to the easy-peasy requests you know are buried in there somewhere, or previewing (so you can start cogitatating on) the more complex ones that probably just arrived. Go for it I say.

Can checking email too frequently become a time management problem? Sure. But because of the reasons just stated, I think checking your email too INfrequently creates even more time management problems than it solves.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

The F-L-I-G-H-T of On-Site Executive Coaching

While the vast majority of my work is done by telephone, I've been doing more in-person/on-site work this year, shadowing, observing, debriefing, and coaching my executive clients as they do whatever it is they they have to do on a given day. It's a fascinating, informative, enlightening, fun - yes fun -, intense, different, and often quite powerful day-in-the-life for both me and the individual executive I'm working with that day.

With this, a fair amount of air travel has come, which I've found to be pretty okay, actually - certainly far better than I first expected. I dunno. I guess you could say that there's just something about the flight that I've really come to enjoy:
  • F - Figuring out what to pack, bring, etc. to look and feel my best
  • L - Letting check-in and security personnel do their thing without affecting my mood
  • I - In the air with my thoughts, a good book, some new tunes, or just some pleasant conversation with a fellow passenger
  • G - Getting ready for a full-day of shadowing, and all that implies
  • H - Harvesting whatever observations, insights, and implications the day has to offer and putting them in whatever context best serves my client
  • T - Turning around after a good day's work and heading back home, a bit wired, a bit tired, and very much at ease
I think my clients enjoy the 'flight' too, although perhaps for slightly different reasons:
  • F - Figuring out what meetings to schedule and the agenda for the day
  • L - Letting me interact with more and more of their 'true self' as the day progresses
  • I - Inquiring more and more about what else I was noticing - and what else they seemingly weren't
  • G - Getting more conscious and purposeful about the impact and influence they're having - and can have - on others
  • H - Holding the day just completed as an invigorating, albeit slightly exhausting, growth experience
  • T - Thinking deeply about their Lessons Learned and how best to integrate them on an ongoing basis
So to all those I've shadowed so far, thanks. To all those on the docket to be shadowed, start planning your pre-flight checklist. And to anyone else interested in being shadowed for a day, please give me a call!

---
related: http://www.ggci.com/management-coaching/mentoring.htm

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Goals, Priorities, Procrastination, and Deadlines

According to Dictionary.com, the word goal was coined in 1275. (I actually thought it would have been penned earlier than that. You, too?) In contrast, the word procrastination didn't get formalized until the mid-to-late 1500's.

So it sure must've been a particularly productive 300 intervening years, don't you think?!

Or maybe, just maybe, they had the word procrastination all ready to go, but just kept putting it off, day after day, until someone finally put their foot down and made it a priority. (The word priority was formally recognized sometime between 1350-1400, placing it after the goal was established - and after it was probably due - but before anyone really got around to working it!)

So let's review:
  • Goals were established in the late 1200's.
  • Some 75 years later they were made into priorities.
  • About 150 years later people started to admit that, yes, maybe there was a bit of procrastination going on.
  • And 450 years after that, the boss got totally fed up and invented the word, deadline!!!
Perfect, no?!

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Maximizing the Probabilities of Agreement

I was going through some old papers last night and came upon an article I saved from the August 2005 issue of Business 2.0 magazine. Titled "This is Your Brain on Advertising," it offered a three-step process for "deliver[ing] the right sensory elements, at just the right time, to maximize the impact" of what you have to say:

  1. Establish the Mood

  2. Build the Tension

  3. Deliver the Message

Yet while these three steps (in this particular order) have worked very well in B-to-C (Businesses selling to Consumers) communiques, don't automatically assume that they're the solution for B-to-B-type communications - like when you're trying to sell your boss or coworkers or customers on a new idea or creative solution.

My suspicion ... the steps to take, and order to take them in, are decidedly different for such B-to-B interactions.

If so, how?

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Networking Mnemonic

Ever not sure how to keep a conversation going when networking?

Here's an easy-to-remember acronym attributed to Dexter Yager by Bob Burg in his book, Winning Without Intimidation (subtitled: How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion in Today's Real World in Order to Get What You Want, When You Want It, and from Whom You Want It - Including the Difficult People You Come Across Everyday!) - The F.O.R.M. method of asking questions:
  • F stands for a question about their Family.
  • O stands for a question about their Occupation.
  • R stands for a question about their favorite types of Recreation.
  • M stands for a question about their Message, or what they want you to know about them.*

Should you find yourself in one of those Awkward Silence moments with someone you don't really know, ask a F-O-R-M question. In other words, ask a question about their Family. Or ask a question about their Occupation. Or ask a question about their favorite types of Recreation. Or ask a question about their Message.

Another Tip: If they just said something particularly (or even reasonably) interesting, but you're not sure what to ask next, simply say, "Really, tell me more." Then breathe!

Great ways to keep the networking badminton birdie in the air, don't you think?

* "Message" was originally meant to mean, "what they deem important," but I took the liberty to tweak it and make it a bit easier to actually apply.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Handling Your Mistakes

It's often said that if you're not making mistakes, you're not learning. But in that mistakes can sometimes be messy, how you clean them up after them is an important skill to learn.
  1. Respond quickly. Once you realize you've made a mistake, deal with it sooner rather than later - even if what happened was completely unintentional, or not entirely your fault.
  2. Apologize, thoroughly. Don't just regret that you did something wrong; apologize sincerely for what you did wrong - even if it resulted from the best of intentions.
  3. Take responsibility. Sure there were probably mitigating circumstances, but in most cases, they're irrelevant. These situations are often more about insuring that whatever you let happen (or failed to make happen) doesn't happen again. Resist the urge to blame others or wiggle out of things. That rarely works as well as you think it might.
  4. Check in. See if your apology was received as complete and sufficient. Remember, while it starts with how you clean up after yourself, it doesn't end until your apology is actually accepted.
  5. Accept accountability. Sometimes, you'll still be warned or reprimanded for what you did. If that's the case, accept whatever lumps you have coming. Hopefully, they'll be few.
  6. Get back to work. You made a mistake, responded quickly, apologized thoroughly, took responsibility, checked in, and accepted accountability for your actions. Now it's time let it go and refocus back on the tasks at hand.

Failing to take responsibility for the mistakes we make can often have career-limiting implications. But if handled appropriately, mistakes can actually help one's career - by showing others how we deal with pressure, how we handle criticism, how we learn from what doesn't go well, etc.

As with so many things, the choice of how you respond is up to you.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In Lieu of Email Abandonment

More and more, people are wanting to literally abandon their email inboxes. And increasingly, messages like this are wanting to be sent:
"Sorry, but in my effort to catch up on my unread emails, I've "accidentally" deleted most everything in my inbox. If you've been patiently waiting for me to reply to something you sent - or waiting not-so-patiently, for that matter - please resend it at this time."
If this feels like a breath of fresh air for you, maybe you need to start training your associates how to send better emails. Here are some suggestions:
  • Inform others that each new topic within a given email is to be numbered and bolded to make identifying their segues not only possible, but easy.
  • Inform others that email subject lines are to be used more meaningfully and to indicate more precisely what is to follow and what is expected from you - Approval Needed, Vacation Request, Policy Issue, Project Status, Critical Update, Some Good News, Yikes!, etc.
  • Inform others that their FYI-type updates and emails providing answers to your questions are to be obviously marked as such.
  • Inform others that you're now scheduling your email inbox 'work' (not unlike how the USPS schedules their suburban mailbox pickups) so that the onus is on them to send emails needing your attention on a more timely basis.
  • Inform others that time-sensitive queries are better made in person or by phone, and NOT by email, unless you prefer otherwise.
  • Inform others that 'reply all' responses are to be used judiciously and cc's selectively.
  • Inform others that you will, unabashedly, and as a matter of courtesy, return to sender any email messages that do not comply with these simple criteria. (After all, they'd probably appreciate knowing that you're ignoring whatever it is that they wrote because you don't have the time or interest to try and decipher whatever it is that they intended for you to glean from the obfuscated email they just sent you, right?!)

Sound harsh? Maybe, but the July/August edition of Fast Company (page 46) indicates that improved email sending practices is saving Capital One approximately 11 workdays - that's more than TWO WEEKS - per employee per year, and that Union Bank is saving in excess of $750,000 (based on employees spending just 30-minutes less per week reading emails) per annum.

If none of this works for you, don't worry - there's always Email Abandonment!

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

GottaGettaCoach! Celebrates 7-year Anniversary



Thanks for your continued support, everyone!

- bz (7/4/2007)







Thursday, June 28, 2007

Keys to Personal and Professional Growth


Consider how this works:
  • If something is New Information AND Relevant, it's likely to be Important.
  • If something is New Information AND Resonant, it's likely to be Meaningful.
  • If something is Relevant AND Resonant, it's likely to be Memorable.
  • And if something is Memorable, Meaningful, AND Important, it's likely to enable Growth, on either a personal or professional level, yes?

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Monday, June 25, 2007

When the cat's away...

What's it like when you return back from a conference or seminar or vacation? Are things running smoothly or are they coming apart at the seams. Which do you prefer? Regardless, each scenario says things about you as a leader - quite different things, actually:
  1. Things are a mess upon your return and you don't like it one, single, bit - Welcome back! And if every fiber in your being is trying to prevent yourself from screaming "Did you do anything right?" at your direct reports, the problem has probably a whole lot less to do with your team than you realize. Chances are that much of the angst can be traced back to you doing a very poor job in preparing them for your absence, or dealing with some long-standing performance issues. Grade: -10.
  2. Things are running smoothly and you don't like it - Welcome back! Your staff did a great job! Every thing's fine, except ... you're suddenly feeling like you're not as needed as you used to be. An extra cog in the wheel? Better off not even being there? Oh my. Is my job at risk? Oh, dear, my job is at risk. Rather than being happy for all that went well in your absence, you're acting small and disrespectful to the people who really worked hard to keep things going. Grade: -5.
  3. Things are a mess and you kinda like it like that - Welcome back! Clearly, you were missed and it's good you're back because you're needed, hero. And yet, if this is the case, it's likely that your ego is getting in the way of you properly challenging and developing your staff. Grade: -15.
  4. Things are running smoothly and you like it - Welcome back! Some good stuff happened while you were away and they're glad you're back. It isn't easy filling in for you when you're gone, but they did a really nice job of it. And now, they're ready to turn the reigns back to you. It's not easy doing what you do. They have a much better understanding of that now. And they're that much more appreciative of just how good of a boss you really are. Bingo! Grade: +10.
The ultimate litmus: If your staff works harder when you're out of the office than when you're in - and you're properly appreciative of the fact - you're probably a pretty good leader.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He

Back in January, in a post titled, [W + (D-d)] x TQM x NA, or not, I cited the work of Cliff, Arnall, a professor in Wales who 'mathematically' determined that January 22, 2007 would be "the most depressing day of the year." Here's how the formula formula worked:
  • W: How bad the weather is at this time of year.
  • D: Amount of debt accumulated over the holidays minus how much is paid off.
  • T: The time since the holidays.
  • Q: Amount of time passed since New Year's resolutions have gone south.
  • M: Our general motivation levels.
  • NA: The need to take action.
So that was the bad, or shall we say, depressing news.

And now for the good news, that is, the happiest news.

According to Arnall, today, June 22nd, is the happiest day of the year! Here's his formula for determine that:
    O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He

    • O: Being outdoors and outdoor activity.
    • N: Nature.
    • S: Social interaction.
    • Cpm: Childhood summers and positive memories.
    • T: Temperature.
    • He: Holidays and looking forward to time off.

    So be happy, everyone. Because if Professor Arnall is right, it's likely you can be anything else today!

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    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    Hey, Your Shirt Just Texted Me!

    Okay, so I really get a kick out of this one - interactive t-shirts - or, as the folks at Reactee* say it, "shirts that text back"!

    Here's how it works:

    (1) someone sees my t-shirt - but it could just as easily be that someone sees your t-shirt - one that you go and create right after reading this post;

    (2) from their cell phone, they send a text message, to the t-shirt, by following the simple instructions on the t-shirt. With my t-shirt, they'd text the letters GGCI to phone number 41411;

    (3) the shirt automatically texts them back with an important (or not so important) message!

    Try it! (Standard text messaging charges apply.)

    Isn't this a hoot?! It is to me, anyway!

    Each t-shirt is fully-customizable (within the boundaries of good taste and available colors and sizes) and the message that gets texted back to people can be changed as often as you like. To create your own, just click on the link: http://reactee.com/114.html*.

    So what are you waiting for?!

    ------
    * This is my affiliate link. If you order via http://reactee.com/114.html, they will pay me a small commission (at no additional charge to you) as a thanks for helping to spread the word about their product.

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    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Making an Indelible Impression

    Hey, sports fans! While this is likely to be one potent double play combination, Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance it's certainly not.In a move that's even more bizarre than the way the team's been playing this year, the Chicago Cubs organization has announced that their Sunday, June 17th game vs. the San Diego Padres will be "Sharpie Day", during which, they'll happily be handing out permanent markers to the first 10,000 fans entering Wrigley Field.

    Now call me crazy, but have they gong completely nuts?! The question isn't IF the ballpark will be trashed - it's HOW. Will it be:

    (a) by bored kids or drunk adults?
    (b) on the seats in front of them or the people next to them?
    (c) by frustrated Cubs fans or elated Padres fans?
    (d) by an errant Sox fan or two? or
    (e) ALL of the Above?

    It'd be one thing if they were passing out water paints or hand soap - at least they'd spruce up the place. But indelible permanent markers?! Oh, brother.

    In an excellently-timed related story, Mayor Daley announced that the parents of "youthful graffiti vandals" should be fined for the indiscretions of their children. Well, at least someone is looking out for the historical landmark called Wrigley Field.

    What could the Cubs marketing department possibly be thinking here?

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    Monday, June 04, 2007

    My Very Own Storm, "Barry"


    I've never had a storm named after me. And then came tropical storm "Barry."

    Certainly not the biggest storm on record. And not the most horrifc, either. To the contrary, actually:
    • According to the folks at AccuWeather, "Tropical Storm Barry will be remembered as one of the most beneficial tropical systems to affect the United States in recent years."

    • And according to Weather.com, "Barry's legacy will be welcomed rain in the South, where almost seven inches fell in West Palm Beach, Florida; eight inches fell in Mount Vernon, Georgia; over six inches fell in Hardeeville, South Carolina; and almost two and a half inches in New Bern, North Carolina."

    How nice. Good for me, I say!

    Okay, it was a bit Freudian that my storm chose Florida - were my mom lives! And now it's creating a bit of a mess in New Jersey, where my in-laws live! But hey, we storms do that sort of thing.

    The only bad thing - ever since Barry has been downgraded to a tropical depression, I've been feeling kind of sad! (Get it?! Depression? Sad? Clever, huh?!)

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    Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    Practice 'Flexing' your Style

    We all have 'default' ways in which we respond to difficult situations at work. Some people react quite seriously - they default to an almost Zen-like belief that when we work we should work. Others default to a far more casual affect. 'Not to worry,' they say, before digging in to get things done.

    Even though our natural tendencies may suggest otherwise, there is no one right way to "be." Consider:
    • Sometimes, people need a stern talking-to to get them going;
    • Other times, they need support, encouragement, and a friendly smile more than anything else;
    • And still other times, they don't need much of anything but to be left alone to do what they know they need to do!

    A range of possible scenarios implies a range of responses.

    So, when faced with a difficult situation at work, it is advisable to stop your 'default' reactions before they happen, and instead, purposefully choose a response that will best serve you - and those around you.

    Admittedly, such a 'flexing' of style takes a bit of practice. After all, you don't have to think when you respond out of habit - you just respond! Too, there's that pesky issue of not being able to initially calibrate your flex as accurately as you'd like. Again, it takes practice.

    It's like asking a power pitcher to learn to throw a slow curve ball for strikes. At first, it isn't easy - some might say it's impossible! But with practice, he learns how. And once he does, it makes his fastball – and all his pitches for that matter – much more effective.

    Similarly, if you typically react one way to problems at work, it may not feel natural to react any other way. But once you learn how, flexing your style actually increases your effectiveness. Why? Because it gets people to naturally pay more attention to you, that's why.

    And for a variety of reasons that could be a very good thing, yes?!

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    Friday, May 25, 2007

    Hobson's Choice and the Counteroffer

    Ever been in a situation where a boss has given you a choice between two or three equally UN-appealing alternatives? That's called a Hobson's Choice, named after Thomas Hobson, (1544–1630), "a livery stable owner at Cambridge, England who, in order to rotate the use of his horses, offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door—or taking none at all." (source: Wikipedia.)

    If so, how do you handle it?

    Keep in mind that often times, a Hobson Choice is often less about reality than a lack of imagination, flexibility, and creativity. While, true, you may sometimes just have to comply, it's quite often possible that your boss would actually be open to another idea or suggestion - a counteroffer - from you.

    In the case of Hobson, himself, I could see you proposing a counteroffer whereby, for an additional fee that you'd be happy to pay, he'd send his apprentice to fetch you when your horse-of-choice is 'next up.' (Did you like how I used the word 'fetch' to give it a late 1500's/early 1600's feel?!)

    In the case of your boss wanting several things done by the end of the week, I could see you proposing a counteroffer that has you completing his/her topmost priority by Friday morning, and finish the rest up over the weekend.

    What has been your experience with proposing counter-offers? How have they actually expanded your discussions (and rapport) with your boss?

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    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Use Your Resources

    One of the main ways people become successful is by doing what they do really, really, well. That often leads to them being promoted, which is generally a step in the right direction. But one of the main ways people fail to remain successful is by continuing to do what they did really, really, well in their prior position, in their new one.
    Classic Example: The analyst who's promoted, but acts more like the work group's super-analyst than its supervisor.
    (Surely you know someone like that. Odds are you've been someone like that - I know I have!!)

    It's not easy to let others do what you know you can do so much better yourself ... if you only had the time to do it yourself. But therein lies the rub because you don't have the time to do it yourself. It's likely that you barely have the time if someone does it all for you!

    No, relying on others isn't always easy. But it is important. And as we move up-the-chain, it becomes increasingly imperative - not just advisable or desirable, but imperative - for you to fully utilize the "people" resources available to you. And you've likely got more of them than you realize:
    • Direct Reports
    • Peers
    • Staff in other areas doing related work
    • Vendor personnel
    • Colleagues
    • Customers
    • Other outside contacts and connections
    • Even your boss!

    So what do you need some help with? Identify three people who could provide you with some meaningful assistance on it. And ask them to help.

    Even if two of the three say no, you'll still be better off than trying to slog through it all yourself.

    You know I'm right.

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    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Happy Mother's Day!

    from Nan's garden

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    Friday, May 11, 2007

    What Next? By When?

    "I'm in a real backlog situation, Barry. How can I dig out?"

    Although it may seem a bit odd to phrase it this way, the problem here isn't so much that there's too much to do as much as it is that not enough is getting done soon enough.

    Phrasing it in terms of having too much to do can actually slow you down. Why? Because the time spent thinking about how much there is to do is time no longer available to get 'er done.

    Conversely, phrasing it in terms of not enough getting done soon enough begs the question "What Next?" which is the key to moving things meaningfully forward. Many (most?) managers have a pretty clear sense of what needs to be done, but far fewer really grasp what needs to be done ... next.

    Starting there is always a good idea.

    A corollary of the "What Next?" question is "By When?"

    You don't leave for work in the morning without any sense of when you'll get there, do you? You didn't do your taxes without any sense of when the 15th was, did you? But you probably do assign tasks to your staff without telling them when you need them completed by.

    "Jimmy, take care of this," is not nearly as effective as "Jimmy, take care of this by the end of the week," or "Jimmy, take care of this before leaving for lunch today." Deadlines not only help things get done, but they also help things get done sooner. And that's the point, right?!

    So the next time you find that not enough is getting done soon enough, try managing based on deadlines rather than just on deliverables and see what "What Next?" and "By When?" can do for you.

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