Friday, August 29, 2008

Summertime Is Here!

About a month ago, when I was in Cheyenne, WY, I had the absolute delight of seeing the band, War. They were one of my favorite bands in the '70s and one of their biggest hits was, "Summertime Is Here." When they played it in Cheyenne I was on my feet singing at the top of my lungs.

If you remember the song, it speaks to riding around town with all the windows down and other activities that summer brings. Well, the truth is that summer is on it's way out. Labor Day, Monday, officially marks the end of summer.

So my suggestion is this. For one more weekend, do summer stuff. Even if you are going to a football game do some summer stuff. Ride with the windows down, slather some lotion on and lay out, char some meat, have a cool whatever and think about the good things that happened during the last few months.

Cold weather will be here soon enough. For one more weekend think, "Summertime is here."

Have a safe Labor Day Weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

YaaaaaaaaaaaaaY! The World is Back in Order

The world is back in order. College football starts tonight at 8 pm with South Carolina and NC State.

Everyone has something in their life that--when that thing is in place--life seems in order. For me, it’s college football.

Sports are so pervasive in our culture that many people (ok, mostly women) blow off sports references, analogies, stories, and interests. But, hear me out.

I’m sure that for me the connection has to do with the color and excitement of the sport; the tailgating; the energy of the crowds; the promise of the future that I see in all the young people; the speed and violence of the game; seeing old friends; the tailgating; the dreams coming true for the young men on the field; the pretty girls at the game; and the tailgating.

When I sit in Kenan Stadium at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and look up at that big Carolina Blue sky and the team comes running out to the roar of the crowd I believe that anything in life is possible.

I gain a tremendous sense of energy and possibility from college football. When I think about all the meticulous planning that not only goes into the games on the field, but into the activities that make the games possible, I slow down and start doing a better job of planning in my business.

I envy the fact that at the end of 3 hours there will be a clear winner and loser. Most of life is not like that.

I get much more out of college football than it ever gets from me. My question to you is, “What, in your life, does the same thing for you that college football does for me?” You have a force like this in your life. It might be your children and their futures. It could be your contact with spiritual. It could be your garden, or golf, or pets. It can be whatever you want it to be.

Find the thing in your life that gives you a sense of joy and possibility. Do more of it. Think more about it. Use your area of interest as a metaphor for life. Use the basics of the issue to outline a plan for doing bigger and better things in your life.

And think about me at 6:30 pm on Saturday night. I’ll be sitting in Kenan Stadium with a huge smile on my face.

Go Tar Heels!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are You In or Out of Balance?

I want you to get a piece of paper and draw a good-sized plus sign at the bottom of the page.
Put a small 0 in the center, at the intersection of the two lines. Then write a 10 at the end of each line, and a 5 between the 0 and each 10. You should have a 0 in the center, then 4 5s halfway out on each line and 4 10s out on the ends of the lines.

Next, look at your graph as if it were a clock face. At the top, at 12 o’clock, write the word Health; at 3 o’clock, write Mental/Spiritual; at 6 o’clock, write Relationships; and at 9 o’clock, write Work.

Now, as I describe each word I want you to grade yourself in each category from 0-10 by putting a dot wherever you think you are. 0 is 0, 10 is Excellent.

How Healthy do you feel? How do you feel each morning when you wake up? Do you exercise; drink enough water; get enough sleep? Make a dot.

How do you feel about your work? Are you working at what you would like to do? How many Perfect Workdays do you have? Make a dot.

How positive are your Relationships? Do you have friends and family with whom you spend time on a regular basis? Is that time energizing or draining? Make a dot.

In the Mental/Spiritual category, do you have mental activities, spiritual or otherwise, that take your mind up and away from the cares of the day? Do you consider yourself to be on a spiritual path? Make a dot.

Now, draw a circle connecting the dots. The short side of your circle should show you where you need more balance.

However, Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE says that balance is a myth. He says that if you are of a certain age in our society (30-50) and you have any ambition your life will not be balanced.

What you need to do is seek sources of recreation and energy and understand that there will be out of balance times.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Who Do You REALLY Work With?

16/67/17

The Gallup Organization, the same people who do many of the polls we hear about right now during election season, polled 3 million workers and 80,000 managers about work issues. Some of their findings were disturbing.

The poll discovered that only 16% of workers are Engaged in their work. These people see themselves as professionals at work and are fully engaged in their tasks. One of the most frequently featured topics in training magazines is how to keep employees engaged.

The largest group, 67%, is Disengaged. Issues ranging from their work load, mood, or even the weather, may affect whether or not they are engaged in their work.

The final group, the Actively Disengaged, comprise 17% of the workforce. Many of them spend more time thinking about how to get out of their work than they do actually performing the work. Worse yet, they are talking about their slack behavior to their peers.

The Actively Disengaged are like a virus in the workplace. If you are a manager and can identify these people (and they are usually easy to spot) you should do everything you can to get rid of them. In the vast majority of cases you will not change them. Even if you could, they would rarely be better than a lower level Disengaged employee.

Understanding where you and the people around you fall on the 16/67/17 scale can help you make decisions about what to change or maintain in your workday.

Interestingly, the poll showed that when people join an organization they almost always start in the Engaged group. But over time, unless the organization is creative in finding methods to keep the person Engaged or the individual has a strong enough character to keep themselves Engaged, they will tend to track down to the Disengaged group and then possibly the Actively Disengaged.

The more Engaged people you have around you the more Perfect Workdays you will have.

Great Resources: Look for the books by Marcus Buckingham to describe the research and practical ways to stay vaccinated against the virus of the Actively Disengaged.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Matters

It’s Monday. I know, I know.

But, hey, it’s only a one week until Labor Day Weekend! College football season starts! The reinvigoration of fall begins! And, before you know it it’ll be…ok, ok. Too much energy, too many exclamation marks.

Mondays matter, though. On a practical point they can be used to get yourself and anyone you manage, business or family, focused on what should happen in the coming week. Some managers use Monday morning for “Lightening Meetings” of 2-5 minutes to get a quick summary of what everyone is doing…or should be doing.

Debbie Tenzer, a marketing professional in Los Angeles got tired of her friends complaining on Monday mornings and decided to do something about it. She realized that while she couldn’t create world peace she could do one nice thing on Mondays, her most difficult day.

Tenzer’s efforts have grown into DoOneNiceThing.com and a worldwide group of “nice-oholics”in 53 countries who have done everything from send sweaters to children in Iraq to belts to kids displaced by Hurricane Katrina. That’s in addition to trying to do something nice every Mondays.

Another interesting site and book is, EveryMondayMatters.com. They list 52 big issues and show where your efforts can be focused. These folks ARE trying for world peace.
Mondays matter in little and big ways.

I love the fact that every Monday is a fresh start. Right now, as I write this on Sunday night I am eating a waaaaaaaay too large dish of ice cream on top of Hawai’ian pie. And you know what? On Monday morning I’m going to eat an apple for breakfast. A new Monday, a new week, a new start.

Have a big week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Acid Test

Ok...so it's Friday...you've worked all week and are looking forward to the weekend. If you are a manager or superisor you may have the "Thank God It's Friday!" feeling because your folks (or, one of them, specifically) are driving you crazy.

In today’s workplace or volunteer organization there will always be people who don’t step up and do their part. Whether you must manage those people or work beside them as a co-worker, trying to understand why they don’t do their jobs can be a challenge. Use this Acid Test to determine what the real problem might be.

1. Does the person know what the job is? How do you know?
2. Does the person know the quality of performance expected? How do you know?
3. Has the person performed the job correctly in the past? If so, the answers to #1 and #2 are probably “Yes.” The cause of lowered performance is probably a recent event.
4. Is something going on in the person’s life?
5. Is something going on in the person’s job environment? Has the job changed over time or since the last time the person performed it or since the last performance appraisal? Look for changes in people (co-workers), information or things (ex. Equipment or tools).
6. Does the person want to do a “good” job?
7. Does the person have adequate resources to do the job? Resources might be time, authority, $$$, tools or information.
8. Does the person lack the ability to do the job? What skills or knowledge do they need?
9. Is over-qualification the problem? Over-qualification leads to boredom.
10. Does the person know that they are not meeting your expectations?
11. Have you explained the problem specifically?
12. What might you be doing to contribute to the problem? Do you have an observer or colleague who will be candid with you about your management style and performance?

Start at #1 and work your way down. I'm betting you'll find a reason why the problem person is acting the way they do. Use a little time on today or over the weekend to formulate a plan to deal with them. Then come in on Monday morning ready to implement the plan. This is a great way to end this week and start the next one.

Have a great weekend! See you Monday.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A $1200 Latte

A barrel of latte at Starbucks would cost $1,200. Kinda puts that $115 barrel of oil in perspective, doesn’t it?

Last week, Todd G. Buchholz, an economic advisor to the older, smarter President Bush, wrote an opinion for the Wall Street Journal that presented a much less frantic, and panicked, view of the economy than what we see and hear on television and read in the newspapers. In short, he noted that most of the important economic indicators, with the exception of housing and financial, are not doing bad at all.

I’d love to know that something I could do, some decision I could make, would have a dramatically positive effect on the economy. But you know what the only solutions I can come up with are? Be creative, work hard and smart, pay down my debt, and have big dreams. Those are the only solutions that affect me, mine, and those I’m trying to help.

When it comes to economics, here are two strategies I’ve used over the years that seem to work for me.

First, I have a limit of money that, if I want something that costs the limit or under, I go ahead and buy it and don’t worry about it. Years ago, when I first started my own business the limit was $5. If I saw something that was $5 or less and I wanted it I bought it and didn’t worry myself to death about it.

I’m all for being frugal. But, pinched pennies pave the road to stress as far as I’m concerned. Every night when I come home I throw whatever coins I have in my pockets into a dish. When the dish is full I put the change in a jug. Every summer I cash out the jug and use the money for fun on vacation. In 15 years I’ve never had more than $197 dollars in change. A good shrink today will cost $200 for one hour. I’ll take $197 worth of beer and wings at the beach any day.
And by the way, my business is now successful so my limit has absolutely doubled.

I use the second strategy every time I go to the grocery store. There’s that person holding the silver can of LeSeure little green peas at 89 cents in one hand and the Food Lion peas at 87 cents in the other hand. 89 or 87? 89 or 87? I say pick the silver can and live it up!

I’m not an extravagant person. No flashy clothes, car, watch, or wine. And, yes, there are times when money is tight. But, there’s got to be more to life than worrying about the Benjamins.

I realize some folks are in tight situations, often due to market forces they don’t control. But, waaay too many folks believe the economy is tanking based on what they see and hear on the tube and in the paper.

Here’s what I’m going to do…Be creative, work hard and smart, pay down my debt, have big dreams….and vote in November.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher

The folks at Beaufort County Schools were great yesterday. I had a chance to present the beginning-of-school keynote to about 1,000 teachers, principals, and support and administrative staff.

As I closed the program I asked for the group’s indulgence for a moment in order to explain an issue in which I deeply believe. I’m asking your indulgence now for the same reason.

We are fighting a war that is only rarely clearly explained in the media. The war on terrorism is only a small part of the bigger conflict. The war is for the survival of freedom…(this won’t get political, so don’t stop reading yet).

What most of us don’t understand is that America and its promise of individual freedom are not done deals. America is still an experiment. The concept of individual freedom is still relatively new and rare in the history of mankind.

In order for the experiment to succeed we need an educated populous. I didn’t say that, Thomas Jefferson said that. Teachers have never been more important to the experiment of America.

However, The American Institute of Stress released a report revealing that teachers often experience levels of stress that exceed those experienced by police officers, air traffic controllers, ministers, and medical interns.

Three things are the biggest sources of stress for teachers: External Issues (community, administration, students’ parents, media), Internal Issues (students and coworkers), and the teachers’ attitudes and behavioral habits (ex. health).

I’m for teachers having as many Perfect Workdays as possible because that means they are spending more time teaching than being babysitters or bouncers. So, whatever we can do to support teachers is a good thing. There are a number of community programs to which individuals and companies can contribute so teachers won’t have to buy classroom supplies that school systems and parents can’t afford.

And yes, if I was King for a Day I’d pay teachers the same as rock stars.

Until that day comes though, I’m for paying attention to a bumper sticker I see occasionally. It says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”

I’m going to do that the moment I finish this blog.

Monday, August 18, 2008

2-5 Minute Lessons

If you are a manager you should take 2 to 5 minutes to touch base with each of your employees on a regular basis.

If you manage 5 people you should reach out to them every day. If you manage 500 people you should try to do it once a year. Let them see you and hear you.

The best use of the 2 to 5 minutes is to praise people. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, authors of The Carrot Principle, cite various studies showing that recognition consistently rates as one of the rewards employees most desire.

In 2 to 5 minutes you can find out who they really are. What are their dreams and aspirations? How do they feel about their work? What ideas for work improvement might they have? What is their communication style? What problems do they know about that you can “nip in the bud’ as Deputy Barney Fife would say?

Another use of 2 to 5 minutes is to teach. Short comments about values, goals, attitudes and habits serve to reinforce your organizational culture.

If you are an entrepreneur you should be spending 2 to 5 minutes on the phone with your best customers. Reach out and touch them to say “Hello” and don’t try to sell them anything. Just find out how they are doing, what is going on in their lives, and where their lives and businesses are going.

In short, simply ask the Bugs Bunny Question, “What’s Up Doc?”

You will be stunned to discover how this sort of simple courtesy binds them more tightly to your business. In short, you are teaching customers how to better work with you.

2-5 Minute Lessons. They can make all the difference in the world.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It Ain't Heavy, It's My Life

A health educator was once explaining stress management to me. She raised a glass of water in front of me and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water? " I told her I thought it was about half a pint. She said, “No, how heavy is it?”

I guessed between a quarter to half a pound.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

That's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we cancarry on with the burden.

So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment.

Relax; pick them up later after you've rested.

Life is short. Enjoy it!"

It Ain't Heavy, It's My Life

A health educator was once explaining stress management to me. She raised a glass of water in front of me and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water? " I told her I thought it was about half a pint. She said, “No, how heavy is it?”

I guessed between a quarter to half a pound.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

That's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we cancarry on with the burden.

So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment.

Relax; pick them up later after you've rested.

Life is short. Enjoy it!"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

11,000 Days

If you work from the time you are 18 until you are 65 you will work for 11,000 days.

11-Thousand Days!

But, here’s the scary part. You won’t be at work for all 11,000 days. You’ll be at work for only 8,000 days. The other 3,000 will be the accumulated hours away from work that you think, ponder, worry, agonize or rejoice about what is going on at work.

Those 11K days should not be like being poked in the eye with a sharp stick. There should be as many Perfect Days as possible. You make the choice.

11,000 days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How About a Nice, Juicy Excuse

Today's blog will seem like a dramatic contrast to yesterday's. I'm jumping from how to succeed to how to get out of work.

But, you know, sometimes ya just gotta blow it off.

So, in the interest of a Perfect Workday NOT being all work, here are some of the basic, best excuses. Feel free to sprinkle them wherever needed.

I will if I can get permission from my psychiatrist
Who, me?
I’m not late, I’m punctually challenged
It’s a set up
I’m too cool to care
Sorry, I’ve got a call waiting
I didn’t want to make the others look bad
I couldn’t find a pen
It’s your fault, you were supposed to remind me
My battery is getting weak
I have a hernia
I didn’t know you wanted it NOW!
Would I lie?
I thought you knew.
Not my job, department, specialty, etc.
I don’t make the rules.
I was just following instructions.
We’ve always done it like that.
Oh, you meant this week?

If you try to use the same one twice in a row I hope you get caught. If you have a good excuse that is not on the list, email me and I'll use it in the next list.

Success Beyond Measure

Everyone wants to succeed. I've never met anyone who says, "Please let me fail. Don't let me reach my goals and enjoy the fruits of success." But are they...are you...willing to do what it takes to succeed?

Now, here's the simple part...succeeding is easier than you think.

Here are four amazingly simple suggestions that lead to almost certain success:

1. Show up on time. Literally and figuratively, show up on time and be ready to work.
2. Do what you say you will do. Underpromising and overdelivering are rare in today's workplace.
3. Finish what you start. In fact, finish strong. Be the person about whom other people say, "We're sorry to see you go."
4. Say please and thank you. Simple etiquette is rare in today's work world, show it and you stand out.

These seem like common sense, don't they? You may be thinking, "This is kid's stuff. Surely there must be more to succeeding than these?"

Nope. The four qualities are so rare in today's workplace that if you exhibit them you almost automatically stand out as a rare person. When that happens you attract attention and the attention can be turned into opportunities. You will be given more chances to exhibit the qualities. The opportunities can be turned into rewards...dollars, accolades....and you'll find success faster than you imagined.

Try exhibiting the four qualities for one week. That's it. One week.

At the end of the week I'm betting two things will happen. First, the people around you will notice a change in how you do what you do. Second, and most importantly, you will notice a change in yourself. You'll feel more appreciation for your work and you will feel more successful.

That final benefit is more than worth the effort.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Sound of Gunfire

Someone once said, “There are two types of people: Those who, when they hear the sound of gunfire, run in the opposite direction; and those who run toward the gunfire.”

Dealing with confrontation in the workplace and in life is very similar to the reaction to gunfire.

Some people immediately duck away and avoid the conflict. They are like turtles pulling their heads in when confronting an aggressor or an obstacle. The problem they run into is that sooner or later they end up as doormats. People in their lives understand that if situations get a little confrontational the Turtle will fold.

Another group seems to seek out confrontation. Not only do they welcome it, they will often initiate it. In some circles this confrontation style is known as "The Shark." The problem with being a Shark is that sooner or later they run into a bigger and meaner shark.

Another group is the Compromiser. They look for ways to say, "I'll give up a little, if you'll give up a little, and we'll meet on the commons." Compromisers are good to have in the workplace. They are often able of calming an escalating situation and sometimes can rescue a deal or relationship that appeared to be lost.

The best group is the Win/Win group. When faced with confrontation they step back and ask, "Is there any way we can both get what we want?" If so, great. If not, then they have the option of using the other styles.

One of America’s treasures, the writer James Baldwin, said, “Confrontation does not solve a problem but you must confront a problem before you can solve it.”

Knowing your confrontation style can help you make better decisions. If you are a Turtle you can train yourself to step up. If you are a Shark you can calm down. Compromisers can use their skills to help move through obstacles. However, it's the Win/Win folks we follow over the long haul.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Little Swimmy Headed

I have to admit that I tried to hold my stomach in for so long on Saturday morning that I got a little swimmy headed!

Making a presentation to 200 dance teachers at the Dance Teacher Magazine Summer Conference in New York was more than a little intimidating.

First, I'm looking out at a LOT of people who are waaaaay more in shape than I am. What these folks do keeps them in condition, what I do keeps me going to the gym.

Second, these folks are art in motion. Now think about that, they create art with their bodies, and then it's gone. It isn't like they can create a painting or record a song. They perform a movement or a dance, and the art is there and then gone.

Third, they are artist/athletes. Now, this is the part I really admire. If you want to get a feeling for what a real dancer can do, try this; pull an ottoman out into the middle of your living room, now jump over it. Now, do that about 50 times in a row. If you can do that without breaking your neck or having a heart palpatation then you have a shot at being a dancer.

By the way, my lawyer told me to add, "Do not do what Mike just told you to do. He's just making a point."

There are times, like Saturday morning with that wonderful group, that I believe what I do has an artistic quality. They enjoyed the program, made great comments, and asked smart questions. But, I'm not running, jumping, spinning, and standing on my toes for an hour at a time.

Dancers do what they do for the love of it, like I do. Dance teachers do what they do because they want to pass that love on to the next generation. Could you say that about what you are doing today, and what you will do this week?

It's hard to have a Perfect Workday if you don't have pride in what you do. I asked about a dozen dance teachers if they ever had Perfect Workdays.....they looked at me like I was crazy. One of them said, "Of course we do. Every day we get to dance."

Is your work a dance you love to do every day?

I sincerely hope so.

Luckily, mine is.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A New York State of Mind

The rap on New Yorkers is that they are rude...at least by Southern standards. Strangers don't smile at you on the street, service people are curt, and everyone in a vehicle tries to run over you.

Ok, so the last one is true. When I crossed here at 56th and Broadway a limo almost ended up with the biggest hood ornament in The City.

But, I'm finding on this trip, as I have on others, that the other two stereotypes are just that. New Yawkers are wonderfully helpful with directions and I haven't run into a service provider yet who was anything but great.

I'm here to present two programs, Guerrilla Marketing Time Management, for the American Association of Dance Teachers. Lots of lycra and lots of folks in waaaaaaaaay better shape than I've ever been.

But, back to the New Yorkers. I don't interpret the lack of smiles and acknowledgements on the sidewalk as rudeness. I see it as focus. Those folks have a place to be and they are, to take a line from the third Lord of the Rings movie, "showing the meaning of the word haste."

Too often in our days we lose focus. We get distracted by the silliness or minute-to-minute chores of life and we forget where we were going...if we ever knew. The more often you can remind yourself of your destination the more your mind (and the universe) will line up to get you there as quickly, and as efficiently and effectively as possible. Then, all you have to do is let yourself go and move with haste.

I just had a Hello Deli Club sandwich at Hello Deli, one of the places often featured on David Letterman. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place where the owner and counter guys create a great product and move with no wasted motion. They have a job, they do it, they move on to the next one. They are excellent examples of the New York attitude.

Might you use a little bit of New York state of mind in your day? As far as I'm concerned a Perfect Workday is, as we Southerners' say, "All about gettin' after it." New Yorkers do that. Maybe lots of us could take a lesson from them.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Gets You Into Heaven?

Just finished speaking to the Basic Skills and Adult Literacy Conference in Winston-Salem, NC. The topic was "FUN Is Not a 4-Letter Word!"

The folks were great and we had a big time, and as I walked away I kept thinking about a comment from the welcoming speaker, Dr. Gary M. Greene, president of Forsyth
Technical Community College. He said to the attendees, "You are both the first line and last line for people who need basic literacy skills."

His point was that these folks are the first people adults turn to to learn to read and, hopefully, learn more effectively. But, the point that has stuck with me is that they are also the last line of hope for adults with literacy challenges. Because, as Dr. Greene eloquently put it, "If you can not help them they have little hope for a positive economic future in this day and time."

I'm sure you are having a relatively easy time reading this blog. But, what if you couldn't read it? What if you could not read a road sign, a menu, or a job application? What hopes would you have of living and succeedng in today's information society.

I believe teachers in general, and especially the people who teach literacy skills, deserve to move close to the front of the line at the Pearly Gates. They'll be up there with soldiers, police, and firemen. Ya gotta get points for the patience and grace it takes to teach anyway, and these folks deserve more than the average points.

In your job, what do you do that earns you points; not just dollars, but points that count as positive Karma. I once profiled a guy for a business publication who, when I asked him what he wanted on his headstone said, "He always made money for his friends."

I think that if that is his greatest accomplishment he deserves to give up his place in line to anyone who let me in the flow of traffic when I was trying to get out of Chapel Hill after a Carolina game at Kenan Stadium.

What do you do on a regular basis that gets you into Heaven? Or, at least that moves you up in line?

You can do well by doing good.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Buzzword Bingo

Recently I attended a meeting in which a speaker must have used the word "paradigms" 15 times. I kept thinking that in one of my seminars I explained that where I grew up "pair-a-dimes" was twenty cents. It got great laugh.

Some friends of mine work for corporations you see on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal about every other day and they love to tell me about playing Buzzword Bingo. It's a game surreptitiously played during business meetings. Participants mark off buzzwords, jargon or “in” phrases as they are spoken until one player coughs discreetly to indicate a victory.

Feel free to add your organization’s or meeting leader’s favorites to the list below and photocopy the list. Give the lists to meeting attendees. Make up your own rules or count the first use of a word or term as two points and each subsequent use as one point. First person to twenty points wins.

Bandwidth
Core Competencies
Download
Drill Down
Face Time
Full Palette of Services
Low-Hanging Fruit
Mindshare
Operationalize
Outside-the-Box
Paradigms (count this as a bonus word, just for me!)
Proactive
Repurpose
Results Driven
Reverbiagize
Risk Management
Sheeple (People in the organization who are essentially sheep)
Strategic Initiative
Synergy
Transparency
Zero Drag

Monday, August 4, 2008

Babes and Bozos at Work

Ok, so the title of this blog grabbed you. If you are a woman the simple fact that I used the word “Babes” may already have cranked you up. Interestingly, most guys won’t get similarly exorcised about men being referred to as “Bozos.” Therein lies one of the basic differences between men and women in the workplace.
I’m not stupid enough to believe—or certainly not to say—that one sex is smarter than the other. Anyway, a former president of Harvard University has already done that and was hammered for it. So let me offer my politically correct disclaimer: No, I don’t condone sexual harassment, men or women in power using their positions to obtain sexual favors, telling off-color jokes to people who don’t enjoy them, sexual innuendos in or out of the workplace unless they are between consenting adults, or visiting porn sites on company computers.
So there.
The simple fact, though, is that we are different and we often bring those differences to work with us. I believe our differences can enhance the workplace, but today’s culture of political correctness has created a level of hair-trigger anticipation that seems to neither tolerate nor forgive the inevitable slips, slides and stumbles that occur when two creatures as different as men and women work together.
I can assure you that if you go to work with a gender chip on your shoulder you’ll spend most of your time so overly sensitive about a wide range of issues that the possibility of totally focusing on your work vanishes. I can promise that you won't have a Perfect Workday.
This isn’t the “Boys will be boys and girls will be girls” explanation. This is the, “We are all adults in the workplace and unfortunately some don’t act like it sometimes” explanation. Your co-workers range from brilliant to boorish; consider the sources.
If someone says something or does something that crosses your sword then pull them aside, in private, and explain your concern. If they do it a second time take’em public; just be aware that life may not be fair.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

It Isn't Monday, It's Friday, August 8

Some of you have told me that you read this blog first thing in the morning, so I don't want you to come in on Monday morning and read what I wrote last Friday...

So, Welcome to Monday!

If you want to get more done this week take a few minutes and try this exercise: Assume that it is 5 pm this coming Friday, August 8. Look back on the week and write down 5 things (big and little) you have accomplished during the past week.

A wide variety of efficiency experts note that writing things down (a To-Do List) somehow focuses our energy and helps us get more done. The author and producers of the bestselling book and video, The Secret, agree that internalizing goals as if they have already been accomplished somehow brings universal forces to bear on our goals.

Take a 3X5 index card and write your goals as: I finished the financial report. I met with Bob and John for lunch. I coached Hanna regarding her sales technique. Keep the card with you all week and look at it first thing each morning, at lunch, and at the end of each day.

At first, this technique has an odd feel. But, it works more often than you would imagine.

Mondays matter. Move away from the frame of mind, "Holy Moly, it's Monday again," and get into a, "Great, it's Monday, let's get something done." Use the list technique as a way to focus and assume an attitude of success.

If you can do that you'll have lots more Perfect Workdays.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Joni Mitchell and The Tax Man

TGIF! I'm about ready for a weekend, aren't you? Summer is two-thirds over, which is not good. But, college football season is only 4 weeks away, which is great!

Yin and Yang. Both sides.

In 1970, Joni Mitchell sang about "Both Sides Now," (there's a great video on You Tube) and I've been thinking about that song in relation to taxes.

Last week, I heard some people on a plane whining about how their taxes are used and abused. I avoid discussions like that. I'm one of the few people who does not think my taxes are wasted. I don't know about your taxes, but mine are used to repair bridges, teach children, provide better equipment for the military, and offer services for military families.

Stay with me on this for a moment. Tax use is most often explained in percentages; "12% of your taxes go to farm subsidies," that sort of thing. Well, mine aren't. I know this is a simplistic way to look at taxes, but I believe that all my taxes go for the things the government is doing that I agree with.

It's not that I'm in agreement with all the decisions made by my state and national government. But for the good things they do they have my permission to use my tax dollars. If you drive a lot, like I do, your tax dollars go for stop signs, interstate highways, good roads, and federal regulations (and the people to enforce them) that encourage car makers to create safe vehicles. I don't believe that any of my taxes go for the silly and stupid things some politicians decide to spend money on.

If you believe your government is doing things you don't want them to do with YOUR dollars, then do something...vote. In the last election 92 million Americans had a dramatic effect on the election...they didn't vote.

I hope you are now asking, "What in the world does this have to do with having a Perfect Workday?" Here's the deal. We tend to worry about so many things that we have little or no control over...taxes and how they are used is one of them. Worry takes energy away from getting more done during the day and enjoying life.

So, do something about the things that directly affect your life and figure out a reasonable way to understand the other stuff so that it worries you less.

Have a great weekend!