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.

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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.
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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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