Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sand in My....Everything

Yesterday I stopped by my college fraternity to have lunch. I'm on the board of directors of the housing corporation responsible for the maintenance of the fraternity house so it's a good thing to drop in unannounced every now and then just to see how things are going.

As I approached the back yard I noticed a pile of sand with some tiki lamps stuck in it. I thought, "Sweet! They must have had a party with a beach theme!"

When I walked around the house's corner to enter the back door to the kitchen I saw a bigger pile of sand at the end of the parking lot. I'm thinkin', "Must have been a big party."

Surf's up!

Little did I know.

When I walked in the kitchen i asked the chef, a good friend and fraternity brother, about the sand. He got one of those, "You're not going to believe this," looks on his face.

Evidently, the kids had dumped a truckload of sand INSIDE the house. And, while they had done a reasonable job of cleaning up the sand I saw the event sanded the finish off the floors, the sand that can't be vacuumed out of the carpet will age and wear it down at three times the normal speed, and there's sand in every little nook and cranny.

As I've noted in the past, the great American philosopher Albert Ashby Ward, says, "Sometimes crazy looks like fun from across the room."




Monday, August 26, 2013

Wait For the Perfect Or Whack It With a Shovel

Yesterday morning I cut down a Redwood-sized evergreen and three Volkswagen-sized bushes…with a shovel.

Mmmm….ok…the evergreen was about 7-feet tall and the bushes were more the size of deckchairs…but you’ve got to give me some credit for using a shovel.

For you gardening types, the shovel was a spade with a flat edge. I kept whacking at the base of the plants with the edge and then pulling and tearing. The evergreen was a hoot. After getting a good chunk cut out of the base I grabbed it about 3/4ths of the way up, pulled it back and fell on the ground with it (which elicited substantial snickering from my observer). The big boy popped like snapping a big pencil.

Hah! Mission accomplished!

Sometimes you don’t have exactly the right tools, systems, words, habits or people. That doesn’t mean you can’t get the job done.

Instead of waiting for the perfect maybe the best thing to do is to get started, whack away, correct on the fly and get the job done.


You can spend eternity waiting for the perfect.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Rock On!!

Easing into the end of summer creates its own kind of craziness. With that thought you need to know that today is the beginning of the world air guitar championships in Oulu, Finland.


I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again, if there is something you enjoy that’s outrageous, silly, funny and fun and it doesn’t hurt others…do it!


Have a great weekend! See you Monday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ring Me Up

Yesterday a friend and client who’s a business executive asked me if I thought someone’s telephone ringtone said something about them.

She’s running into a situation in which some of her managers, people who by most appearances look and sound professional, have ringtones with Mickey Mouse, explosions, silly or provocative sounds, and tones that don’t sound…mmm…professional.

I asked if she thought it was really a problem or simply an annoyance. The way to determine whether an issue in the workplace is really a problem is to ask three questions:
-        Does it negatively affect the person’s work?
-        Does it negatively affect the work of others?
-        Does it negatively affect the image or reputation of the organization.?

If you can answer one or more of the questions with, “Yes,” the issue is a problem and needs to be addressed.

The more I thought about it the more I was convinced the ringtone issue fit the second and third questions.

In today’s digital world your ringtone says something about you. Think about it, that’s why you chose the tone in the first place…it says something. In private and in public.

Whatever your ringtone might be, what does it say about you?


In private is one thing; in public is very much another.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Move Along, There!!

While driving into Raleigh this morning I kept running into backed up traffic. I make the trip enough to know when the windows of time are in which—if I catch’em just right—I miss the backups.

This morning, though, there were a couple of places where traffic backed up and when I finally discovered the source it was—you guessed it—drive-by voyeurs slowing down to see some little bump-up pulled over on the side of the road.

I never understand the reason for slowing down. The bumpees are pulled far enough off the road that they couldn’t fall into traffic’s path if you catapulted them out of the back of a pickup. The cop dealing with the accident isn’t going to jump in his car and pull someone over for passing the accident a little slower than the speed limit. Yeah, it might be someone you know, but if they are really important in your life someone will call and tell you. And no, you probably can’t help, especially if the bumpees are standing off to the side calling their insurance companies on their cell phones.

If you think about it, we all do this in life in a variety of ways that slow us down and keep us from living the life we have the potential to live. Reality television, silly arguments, bad habits, all sorts of things take our eyes and lives off the path to fulfillment.

I had this talk with a friend a few years ago and he said, “Hey man, it’s like John Lennon said, ‘Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.’”


That may be true, but I wish our fellow drivers would plan on keeping moving.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Expo of Life

Getting ready to speak to a group in a couple of hours about expo marketing. You’ve been to some of these events. They’re known as expos, tradeshows, exhibitions and networking events. A variety of businesses and organizations have booths and exhibits. Someone stands at a table and, hopefully, meets and greets people strolling by.

Believe it or not this topic brings with it some tips that work in any type of job and in life.

The first thing I ask attendees to do is look over a list of 18 goals they can accomplish when marketing at an expo. I ask them to circle the top three goals they have for the event…then I ask them to put a check beside the most important one.

This little exercise forces them to focus on one specific goal. In work, as in life, you can’t have everything. Or, at least you can’t have all of everything at the same time. It might be an interesting exercise to make a simple list of why you work (try to come up with 10 reasons) and then pick the top three…and then the main reason. Your real reason for working might be different than your quick-and-easy answer.

The next thing I talk to attendees about is how they prepare for the event. I push them to include information about the event in their marketing and to contact all current and potential clients about the event. Too many business owners and managers leave expo marketing to the local chamber of commerce or expo company.

In work and life you’d better be pro-active about marketing yourself; your good work may easily go unnoticed.

Finally, I encourage attendees to have an after-show plan to get in touch with people they met at the show. By staying connected they raise the potential for immediate or future sales.

Whether you like it or not, networking in work and life shows the truth of the old saying, “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.”


When you think about it, life’s an expo. We’re walking around checking out the vendors, picking up some samples, deciding we’ll connect with a few groups and saying “no thank you” to others. The key question is that when—as was said at Elvis concerts—you’ve left the building, will your bag be full of goodies and you can say you had a great time?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Swinging Across America

On May 17,  Luke Bielawski, 24-year old law student from Indiana, teed off on the beach at Ventura, CA, and started golfing across America…because no one had ever done it. He estimated his “course” at 5,078,382 yards (2,928 miles).

Early this month he took his 46,805th and final stroke and hit a biodegradable golf ball into the Atlantic from the beach near The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, SC. The round took Bielawski 93 days. Along the way he raised money for a variety of charities.

And, speaking of money, along the way lost 5,540 golf balls. If he had played Titleist V1x at $51.99 a dozen the balls would have cost $24,002.05.

I’m sure some of you had exactly the same thought I had when I read that number: I can think of a LOT of things I could use 24 grand for other than golf balls that I’d lose anyway.

True.

Here’s the point, though: Bielawski hit golf balls across America because no one had ever done it and because he wanted to.

No other reasons were needed.

In fact, no reason other than he wanted to do it would be needed if that’s all it had been.

No one was hurt in Bielawski’s effort (although there are reports that he got into a confrontation with a long-distance runner who didn’t like it) and he wanted to do it.

Enough.


What—no matter how ridiculous it might seem—would you like to do?

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Decision to Go

Am reading Joe Calloway’s book, Becoming a Category of One, and have spent half my time saying, “That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.” either in my mind or out loud. He makes a crucial point within the first few pages.

Calloway notes that some people want to be part of the parade, some people want to lead the parade and some people want to stand on the sidewalk and watch the parade go by.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those positions, but if you talk a lot about wanting to lead the parade but you continue to stand on the sidewalk you’re just fooling yourself.

Calloway points out that winning organizations—winning people—make a choice to go. Then they start taking the necessary steps to actually go.

And, then they go.

They go and start doing the things they need to do to get where they have said they want to go.

Some folks want the good feelings they get when they talk about going. They collect motivational sayings and posters and read inspirational books. Nothing wrong with that. I like reading those things and thinking about them; the activity gives me a good feeling.

But the going is the hard work and they don’t really want to do that. There’s nothing wrong with talking and not going, just be honest with yourself that that is what you’re doing.

The more I read Calloway’s point about going I thought about a line from one of Esquire magazine’s What I’ve Learned column. In an interview with Robert De Niro the actor said, “If you don’t go, you don’t know.”

I took that saying to heart a long time ago. I’ve gone some places that, later, I saw as mistakes. Some I could recover from and others I couldn’t. I’ve gone some wonderful places and have been greatly rewarded by the experience. I’ve gone some places that, when I got there, I thought, “Why the Hell did you come here?” and I’ve gone places and thought, “Why the Hell didn’t you come here sooner?”

If you don’t go, you don’t know. But, you’ve got to make the decision—and act on it—to go.


Now, go have a great weekend! See you Monday.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Unbogging

While I was sure there was no such word as unbogging I was mistaken. In fact, if you go to youtube.com and enter the phrase “Unbogging an Abrams tank” you’ll see some soldiers unbogging a 60-ton Abrams tank.

Unbogging means getting yourself out of a situation in which you’ve bogged down.

I’ve been bogged down in a project for a few months and just could NOT find a way to get moving again.

Then, I happened to take a few baby steps which led to making some progress. A few more baby steps and I was gaining traction.

I’m not back to full speed on the project but I am making progress every day and I can see some light.

We all get bogged down at times in various situations in life. If you’ll try a few baby steps the actions will—simply by virtue of definition—get you moving.


Get unbogged.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Puttin' Up With It

Last night I was talking to a friend about a management situation she’s backed into. She’s discovered a wide range of issues in the workplace that should have been handled but haven’t been addressed.

And why haven’t they been handled? Why didn’t the previous manager…manage?

Sanctioned Incompetence.

Sanctioned incompetence happens when managers and co-workers put up with incompetence from others because they (the managers and coworkers) don’t want to step-up and do their jobs.

It could be that they don’t know how to step up. Poorly-trained or young managers will let poor performance slide because they don’t have the human resource skills to deal with the situation.

Sanctioned incompetence often happens because people are afraid of confrontation. Maybe the slackers are bullies, or people who take advantage of company policies or have the victim routine down pat. No individual on the team has the courage to step up and confront the situation.

The slackers certainly won’t point out to the managers that they should be doing a better job managing or calling out coworkers for not saying anything about having to carry more weight…doing part of the job the slackers should be doing.

After awhile sanctioned incompetence becomes the norm. In all honesty, sanctioned incompetence is one of the basic reasons for poor customer service across the business landscape.

And it’ll keep building until something happens. The folks in my friend’s workplace don’t know it yet but things are getting ready to change. My friend is a great manager and she’s getting ready to be some of these folks’ worst nightmare; a manager who knows slack performance when she sees it, who has the skills to deal with it and who deals with confrontation with a steely eye. Some of the slackers are in for a rude awakening.


What are you putting up with in your workplace?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Cockroach Theory

This was on my FaceBook page yesterday. I don’t know the source:

Have you heard of the Cockroach Theory for Self-Development?

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but ...it landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching with amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it's my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me. It's not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it's my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.
Lessons learned from the story:
Do not react in life. Always respond. The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.


Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of, just and right to save a situation from going out of hands, to avoid cracks in relationship, to avoid taking decisions in anger, anxiety, stress or hurry.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chunk It

Ran into a good strategy for planning when things are so crazy you don’t believe you have time to plan.

Break your day into 3-hour chunks. Then, ask yourself, “What can I realistically get done in 3 hours.”

The 3-hour chunk creates a higher sense of urgency and focus. You can work on one project for 3 hours and then move on to another one of the “putting out the fire” project or issue.


Chunking is a great strategy when you’re overwhelmed.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Working for the Weekend

A couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation about weekends.

Most people’s weekends start on Friday afternoon and end of Sunday evening. Weekend workers and some shift workers have “weekends” during the week and at various times of day.

Considering the flexibility of what I do for a living and the fact that I love doing it it often seems that I’m on a continual weekend with intermittent hours of work.

The problem with some folks and their weekends is that they try to jam as much as possible into their days off—their weekends. So, at the end of the weekend they’re almost glad to get back to work just get some rest.

No one can run wide-open all the time. If you don’t take time to recharge you’ll get to a moment at which you need your reserve and your tank will be empty.

If you’re trying to make every moment in every weekend count—whenever during the week your weekend might be—you should try to take some time every now and then to just kick back and relax.

Speaking of the weekend, have a great one.

See you Monday.


PS…if you want to get your weekend off to a great start go to youtube.com and listen to “Weekend” by Wet Willie and “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy. Google “30 Great Weekend Songs” for a wonderful list.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I Wish a Bus Would Hit'em

Tomorrow morning I’ll be on the road traveling to Southeastern North Carolina to present a program, “How To Deal With Difficult People.” The real title is, “How to Handle Jerks!”

We can’t use the real title in promotions because it would: A. Offend some people B. When someone went to their bosses to ask if they could attend the program their bosses might think that they—the bosses—were the jerks.

So, it’s Difficult People.

You’re probably like me and most of the folks who will be in the program tomorrow. You don’t want to think about how to deal with difficult people you just want them to change or be gone. With some of them, if a bus hit’em, it would not be a bad outcome.

I have a couple of difficult people in my life. One of them came with a person who came into my life. The other came with a project I was involved in.

Both these folks have caused stress, hard feelings (that’s a Southern phrase meaning conflict) and wasted time.

While studying up for the presentation I came across a way to think about difficult people that I hadn’t tried: Put yourself in their shoes. If you look at the situation through their lenses you can often determine why they act like they do. The realization can be a real, “Aha!” moment.

The Put Yourself In the Other Person’s Shoes strategy can, as I noted, have unexpected results. What if you use it and realize you were the one at fault? That doesn’t feel very good, does it? At the same time, a little self-awareness can be a good thing.

Aristotle said, “The best knowledge is self-knowledge. It’s also the most difficult to gain.”

Interestingly and unexpectedly, when I tried the strategy it succeeded in helping me understand one of the situations and lower the stress caused by the difficult person.

When I put myself in the person’s shoes I realized that in my contact with them I acted in a way that meant they did not get what they wanted and expected. I realized that in the project in which I worked with them they were more interested in being the center of attention than creating the outcome for which the project was designed. I focused on outcome and didn’t focus on them. They didn’t get what they wanted so they became difficult.

By looking at the situation from both sides I realized that, in the end, I did the right thing and the other person didn’t like it. Looking back though, I realized I could have, and should have, handled the situation differently. I’d still go for the outcome as I did, but when they acted as childishly as they did I wouldn’t respond by poking a stick at them, as I did, and making matters worse.

I should have simply let the matter drop and moved on.

Next time I’ll know…I hope.


Who’s your difficult person? What does the situation look like through their lens?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Are You Wearing Clean Underwear?

Today is National Underwear Day!

No kidding!

In fact, if you want to be part of an effort to break the record for the most people gathering in their underwear (the current record is 2270 in the Guinness Book of World Records) you should go to Times Square in New York City between 5:30 pm and 7 pm today.

There’s the old joke that our mothers told us to always wear clean underwear because “you might be in an accident and what would the people at the emergency room think of me if you showed up wearing dirty underwear?!!”

I don’t know about you, but my mother didn’t tell me that. I just think putting on clean underwear in the morning or after a shower makes us feel cleaner and better.

That’s my point for today: What small things can you do for yourself during the day that make you feel smarter, cleaner, more youthful (if that’s a goal), sweeter, stronger or whatever/however you need to feel?

If what you need to do doesn’t hurt someone else, why not do it?

And remember, wear clean underwear!

…or none.


Nothin’ wrong with goin’ commando.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mr. I'm Sorry at IHOP

A couple of days ago I was at IHOP trying to pack on some pounds prior to Saturday’s weigh-in for the 90-day fitness challenge. The guy sitting in the booth across from me was on his phone.

(I know, I know…you’re probably like me, when you see folks on a phone in a restaurant you want to go grab the phone, walk into the kitchen in the back and drop it into the deep fryer….you don’t think that? Is it just me?)

Anyway, whoever he was talking to was evidently giving him a spanking because the side of the conversation I—and everyone else in the restaurant—heard was, “I should have stayed on top of it. I should have stayed on top of it. I should have stayed on top of it.”

Something had gone off the rails and this guy was at the bend over and grab your ankles stage.

Look around in your life right now and ask yourself this question: What should I stay on top of?

If you have more than three things you’re trying to stay on top of I can tell you unequivocally that you are not doing a good job of handling any of them. 

So, what are you on top of? And, in which areas do you feel like Mr. I’m Sorry! at IHOP?


Have a great weekend! See you Monday.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Want My MTV!

Thirty-two years ago today MTV was launched.

I remember sitting on a couch in my apartment watching video after video. It was a whole new way to experience music.

Today, music videos are nothing new. Like most media some of the videos are interesting, some are wastes of time and some are art. But, some days or nights I still catch myself watching video after video.

(Go to youtube.com and watch Marc Broussard sing, Come In From the Cold and watch almost anything from Daryl’s House)

Is it entertaining? Some of the time.

Is it a waste of time? Almost all of the time.

What little (or big) habits have you gotten into that waste your time? They’re so comfortable you sometimes don’t see them as habits you see them as an indispensible part of your life.


I’m glad there’s an MTV and a CMT and a VH1. If there had never been any of those would I have missed them? Probably not.