Tuesday, January 17, 2017

leadership dot #1691: rich

I recently listened to a speech by Kevin O'Leary, one of the "sharks" on the television show Shark Tank. (For those who do not know, Shark Tank provides aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their idea to potential investors [sharks], exchanging capital for equity in the new company.)
O'Leary made an interesting observation that what Shark Tank participants were truly seeking was freedom. "Success in business sets you free," O'Leary said. "Entrepreneurs in pursuit of personal freedom."
I had not really equated freedom with business ownership, but the two are definitely entwined. The amount of control I have over my time -- and the HUGE life benefits that brings -- far outweighs anything I ever anticipated. We always equate money with success, but if this past year has taught me nothing else, I have learned that having money is overrated if it consumes your life to earn it.
Save as much as you can. Live modestly. Be frugal and avoid excesses. Construct your life in such a way that you can live from earnings that allow you time to enjoy life. As the sharks know, you are far richer when the equation between freedom and funding is in balance. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

leadership dot #1690: march

The speech that really brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into the spotlight was his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington in 1963. King galvanized the 200,000 participants at the rally to demand civil rights for all Americans and the March became a powerful symbol for unification and hope.
Another March on Washington will occur this Saturday, and thanks in part to the power of social media, the crowd is expected to be much larger. Men and women of all ethnicities and ages -- will stand together in solidarity to support the human rights of all people. The Women's March on Washington was organized in response to the insults and degradation of women and minorities by the incoming administration and is designed to foster connections and grass roots change much like the March on Washington did in 1963. Hopefully, there will be a modern-day Dr. King that can inspire and rally hundreds of thousands to work for change in today's era of civil unrest and inequality.
Whether you are in Washington to participate or whether you partake in one of the local marches (happening in every state and many local communities), I hope you let your voice be heard. As that "overrated" Meryl Streep so eloquently said: "Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence." Model respect and non-violence as Dr. King did, and do your part to make his dream a reality.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

leadership dot #1689: stranded

Last week, the last leg of my flight was cancelled. American could not get me another flight until the following day, which would have left me stranded at O'Hare for 36 hours. Instead, I rented a car and drove the three and a half hours home in weather that did not seem to warrant air travel disruption.
I learned the news about the cancellation when I landed, so there never was a gate assignment and a group of people gathered that were heading toward the same destination. I wished there was a way to get in touch with the others on my flight, as I was sure that at least some of them would have been happy to ride along with me.
A software developer should create a new app for similar situations. You would type your flight number into the "Stranded" app, and show that you wanted to share a Plan B transportation with others. Or maybe it is more broad than that and just becomes "Ride Share" so you could use it at the airport, but also at other events, like wanting to share rides home from a sporting event or concert. Either way, if someone responded, you could connect via the app to find a location to rendezvous and take it from there. 
With today's air travel entwinement, being stranded happens regularly. Why doesn't someone do more to minimize the cost and disruption of such occurrences? And think about your organization and points in the process where things frequently do not go according to plan. How can you have an alternative ready to seamlessly step in and mitigate the problem?
Don't leave yourself or your clients who are stranded to handle the resolution on their own.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

leadership dot #1688: small batches

You've heard of craft beers and microbrews for alcoholic beverages, but now the concept is happening in the non-alcoholic realm. Craft sodas are growing in popularity, with ever-increasing varieties and flavors. There is even a clearinghouse website to categorize, review and rank all of the niche beverages: Five Star Soda.
When I was in Illinois for the holidays, I got a glimpse of the explosion at Rocket Fizz -- a boutique shop that sells old-time candy and dozens of flavors of specialty pop. You could buy bacon pop, grass soda, key lie pie in liquid form or even a bottle of drinkable peanut butter and jelly. I do not vouch for any of the flavors, but they did make a tempting array of new taste sensations.
Some craft sodas are for the aficionados who want the perfect root beer or cream soda. Others are for the novelty. A few years ago you would have never thought there would be a market for coconut cream soda or pumpkin pie pop or numerous companies crafting their own concoctions. But whatever the cause, the craft soda industry and its accompanying stores, web sites, producers and clients are on an upward trajectory.
How can you take a lesson from craft sodas and create a small batch of a specialized product or service? Can you target the few instead of the many in a way that makes sense for your organization? Is there a way you can craft something new instead of reaching into the well over and over for the masses?  Like with sodas and beer, small could be very big for you.
Source: Your next soda should be a craft soda, American Way magazine, January, 2017, p. 18 and FiveStarSoda.com
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Rocket Fizz, St. Charles, IL

Friday, January 13, 2017

leadership dot #1687: the best managers

In addition to running a massive search engine, Google undertakes research projects to better understand human behavior and the performance of their employees. One such study was entitled "Project Oxygen" and sought to identify traits of managers that made some more effective than others.
The study concluded that eight skills that corresponded with the best management. The good manager:
  1. a good coach
  2. empowers and does not micromanage
  3. expresses interest and concern in subordinates' success and well-being
  4. is results oriented
  5. listens and shares information
  6. helps with career development
  7. has a clear vision and strategy
  8. has key technical skills
This does not seem like rocket science. To be an effective leader of your staff, it seems to go a long way when you treat your people like people and care about them personally. It doesn't mean you have to be buddies, rather genuinely respectful and trusting.
Take a look at the list above and assess where you could improve. Better yet, ask your staff which area you should add to your new year's resolutions. You and your organization will both benefit if you practice the above eight skills until they become part of who you are.
In Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg, 2016

Thursday, January 12, 2017

leadership dot #1686: ribbit

There are definitely days when I stare at the computer dreading that I need to write a blog -- staring for as much time as ultimately takes me to write the darn thing. I think I need to adopt Brian Tracy's philosophy and start my day by eating a live frog.
Actually, it was Mark Twain that said if you started each day by eating a live frog it would probably be the worst thing that would happen to you all day so good to get it over with! Brian Tracy just brought Twain's logic into the new millennium. 
A frog, as the logic goes, is your most important task of the day. And if you start by accomplishing your one big task, not only do you check that off the list, but you save time by not avoiding it. Tracy suggests that developing a habit of "eating the frog" right away will pay countless dividends over time. He offers these five steps to master the skill:
  1. If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. (in other words, start with the hardest task and stick with it to completion)
  2. If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn't pay to sit and look at it very long. (so stop staring at the computer and start writing!)
  3. Take action immediately. (develop the discipline to begin and work toward results)
  4. Develop a positive attitude.  (success will help you become addicted to accomplishing more)
  5. No shortcuts. (practice eating frogs every day)
I have eaten 1686 frogs now, and you would think that they would begin to taste better, but that is not always the case. Perhaps I need to review Brian Tracy's ebook on the subject and adjust my palate. I hear frog legs are a delicacy!
What frog should be on your morning menu?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

leadership dot #1685: passion planning

To start the new year, many people purchase new calendars or appointment books, ostensibly to track their scheduled events in the coming months. But what if you want a vehicle to organize and plan time for those events that aren't time-specific -- the pieces of the big goals that are what, as Stephen Covey calls "important but not urgent." How can you get a handle on this type of scheduling?
There are many options out there, but I will offer two formats that help the creative or entrepreneurial person add some structure to more fluid projects. One is Natalie MacNeil's Conquer Your Year Planner. She combines space to track top priorities, well being, gratitude and progress toward the big picture all in one spiral notebook. (see below)
Another is the Passion Planner -- a type of pre-formatted Bullet Journal that allows you to track larger goals and weekly appointments plus other information all in the same place. Both planners allow you to express your creativity and to multi-function throughout the book.
There is more to life to plan out and schedule than just dentist appointments and meetings. Find a system that matches with your goals and temperament to maximize your effectiveness in the year ahead.
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from Natalie MacNeil's Conquer Your Year Planner
Thanks to Michele and Amy