Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dashes and the Spaces in Between

A typical workday usually includes periods of work (represented below with dashes) and periods of not working (represented by the spaces between the dashes):

Although the specific placement of dashes and spaces may vary, what's important to notice is that some of the work-dashes are longer than others -- and some of the non-work-spaces are shorter than others. (For you contrarians out there, note that the opposite is also true!) It's an interesting phenomenon:

  • Some people prefer to space their work and take regular breaks throughout the day.
  • Some people prefer to bunch their work and then take longer breaks in between the bunches.
  • Some people prefer to bunch their work and then leave early.
  • Some people prefer to arrive late and then bunch their work.
  • Most people, though, never consider that they can even change how they work.
The relevant question, though, is this: What do you want your dashes and spaces look like on any particular day?

Try experimenting with what works best for you. You may be surprised with what you learn.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Influence versus Control

Significant frustration, aggravation, and stress can occur when we think we can control what we can only influence.

As example, let's say you're trying to get your boss to focus on a particularly important, yet subtle, topic of concern. But your boss just doesn't think it's relevant or meaningful. Clearly you cannot control (and are not controlling) your boss' response. But, if you approach the conversation a bit more strategically, you very well might be able to influence the boss' response.

How? Here are four steps that help:

Step One - Think through the issue until you're sure you understand both the obvious - and not-so obvious - implications. (You want to speak from a place of passion and insight, not just from passion alone.)

Step Two - Tell your boss that you can, in fact, do it his/her way, if s/he'd like. (Bosses often look first to see if you're with them - or against them - and if they feel you're against them, your conversation can quickly take a turn for the worse.)

Step Three - Let him/her know that you have a few things you'd like to validate about the matter, though. (Frame your dilemma in terms of a fork-in-the-road, and talk about how your views aligned with the boss' until you hit that fork, but you're not sure you understand why s/he took a different fork than you at that point.)

Step Four - Ask for advice as to how the boss navigated the fork as s/he did. (Ask insightful follow-up questions that start with phrases such as "But wouldn't it work better if ..." and/or "I get that; the part I don't get, though is ...")

While you may not be able to control what happens next, engaging your boss in a meaningful and relevant conversation affords you greater influence over what decisions are made and how things roll-out from there.

Try it and see for yourself.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Chicago Tribune quotes Barry Zweibel

In the Business Section of today's Chicago Tribune, there was an article called, Moving on often best fix for blunders. I thought that staff reporter Susan Chandler did an excellent job on it. That she quoted me several times was nice, too!

It actually was nice on a number of levels:

Level 1 - Anytime you can be quoted as an industry expert - especially in a major paper like the Trib - it's a good thing.

Level 1a - The Chicago Tribune is my hometown paper.

Level 2 - The subtitle of the piece: "Embarrassing the boss doesn't have to mean the end of your career; it could, perhaps, enhance your relationship," was one of the major points I stressed in my conversation with Susan.

Level 3 - I was the first person quoted in the piece, which is always nice.

Level 3a - I was also the last!
Whenever I prepare for these types of interviews I don't just try to have something interesting to say, I also try to figure out what the Grand Finale might be - that final point that can bring the entire article home. It's a fun challenge that keeps me on my toes.

That the Grand Finale in this article was exactly what I thought it should be is particularly gratifying on this sunny, Chicago, Monday morning!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

GottaGettaBlog! 3 years later ...

It was three years ago today - July 17, 2003. That's when I posted my very first blog entry, here at GottaGettaBlog! By no means was I one of the earliest adopters of blog technology, but clearly, an awful lot of people are now blogging.

Just look at these stats, courtesy of David Sifrey over at Sirfey's Alerts:

Wow! Blog-popularity has increased over the last three years - dramatically so. To the extent that you have helped increase the popularity of my blog, thank you very much. I hope you continue to find GottaGettaBlog! a meaningful and relevant read.

And, should you ever find yourself with a little extra time to spare, please feel free to peruse the Gotta Getta Blog! Archives (over in the right-hand column of the page) and see some of what was posted before you arrived.

Thanks again for your continued support - if there's a particular topic or question you'd like me to blog about, just let me know.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Create an Incubator File

  • Ever have a fabulous idea ... and then, poof! ... it was gone?
  • Ever have a wonderfully keen insight ... and then, snap! ... lost forever?
I don't know about you, but I absolutely hate that feeling of knowing I knew something. So a number of years ago I started keeping an "Incubator File" to capture all these little nuggets. You might want to, too.

There are all sorts of ways that Incubator Files can take shape:
  • You can capture your ideas in a manila folder.
  • You can capture your ideas in a special file on your computer's desktop.
  • You can captte your ideas on a set of index cards.
  • You can capture your ideas on different-colored Post-it notes.
  • You can capture your ideas on a yellow legal pad.
  • You can capture your ideas as an Outlook Task, or Note.

The point is, though, that you do capture them (or just get used to that vague sense of having had a brilliant idea ... no more).

Here's how to "incubate." Whenever you get a flash of a great idea, or inspiration, write it down and put it in your incubator file. Done.

How's that for easy?! (Now I also like to include the date and a little context information to help me remember when the idea came to me, but that's completely optional.)

Then, on a monthly basis, take a half-hour, or so, and visit your file. See if any of the kernels inside are ready to pop! Don't worry if some of your "incubatees" lay dormant; sometimes it takes time for Seeds of Brilliance to properly germinate. And your Incubator File will insure that they're not forgotten in the mean time.

After all: "Even the best ideas still have to be remembered."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pimp my ... Leadership?!

I like the MTV show, Pimp My Ride - Those guys at West Coast Customs are pretty wild!

But today's USA TODAY reports that WCC's been 'pimped' in favor of the far more corporate-looking Galpin Motors.

Now in all fairness to Galpin, they are the world's largest Ford dealer (and have been for the last 16 years) and, according to the article, "pioneered the van craze in the 1960s by installing wild touches such as chandeliers and fireplaces" in the first place. Add their brand new Galpin Auto Sports customization shop to their 'cred' and, who knows what insane stuff Xzibit and the boys will come up with in Season Four.

So, okay what's this have to do with leadership?

It's about delegation, actually. It’s about taking a fresh look at how (and what) you delegate.
My guess is that there are a number of ongoing routine tasks (reports, analyses, audits, etc.) that you have on delegation auto-pilot - the same people who've been doing these things continue to do these things. Fine. But maybe, it's time to change things around a bit. Maybe, it's time to look around and see who's bored with their assignments - and who's looking for some new things to be challenged by - and do a little 'customization' of your own.

Shifting who does what is often an excellent motivational tactic. And besides, making little changes like this is often a great way to get staff more 'change-ready' for any larger strategy shifts you may have planned for the second half of the year.

Try it and see for yourself.


Monday, June 12, 2006

I've never heard of such a thing!

You've heard of whistles that only dogs can hear? Well now there's a cellphone ringtone that only teenagers can here! This, according to an article written by Paul Vitello and published in this morning's Chicago Tribune.

It was originally called Mosquito, "an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected." But with a bit of hacking here, and a bit of tweaking there - and the use of the Internet to transport the pirated sound far and wide - Mosquito was morphed into a ring tone pitched high enough for only kids (and presumably dogs) to hear, but not adults.

Now if you'll excuse me, my kid just told me my cellphone's ringing!


Friday, June 09, 2006

Sometimes I go too fast

I received a very long, beautiful, and heart-felt email from a woman yesterday. In scanning her email I learned that she'd been going through a very difficult time recently and was looking for ... hoping for ... asking for ... some life coaching. (I get a number of these types of emails from men, too, by the way.)

"I'll re-read this in the morning when I'm fresh and able to reply more thoughtfully," I told myself. And with that, I x'ed out of her email and apparently hit the delete key, too. Because by time morning came - poof! - her email was gone.

She's not heard back from me yet. And she never will. (All of my deleted emails get purged at the end of each day so I have no way to retrieve her email or contact information.) I feel absolutely terrible about that ... and I can't even apologize!

Sometimes Unintended Consequences come from me going too fast.

Thank you, whoever you are, for helping me remember that about myself - you being the one who did the coaching is an irony that's not lost on me!


Monday, June 05, 2006

Knowledge versus Intelligence

Here's a distinction - Knowledge versus Intelligence. Per Miriam-Webster:

Knowledge is the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity and is often gained through experience or association. In other words, it's what you already know.

Intelligence is the ability to learn or understand or deal with new or trying situations. In other words, it's the ability to successfully apply your knowledge.

Agree or Disagree: It takes both Knowledge and Intelligence to be successful - neither is sufficient on its own.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Interviewee Tip

Preparing for a job interview - or any type of presentation, for that matter - can be a pretty stressful thing. One thing you can do to help reduce that stress, though, is to go right to its source by asking yourself:
"What specific questions do I really hope they don't ask me?"
Why? Because once you get clear on what questions you don't want to be asked, you can then figure out how to answer them should they actually be asked.

You'll be amazed how much more confident you feel from this one extra step. Try it and see for yourself.