1.01.2005

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» TIP: When the project has hit the wall
» TIP: What you may not know about Entrepreneurship
» TIP: Tell me a story, and I'll tell you its "point"
» TIP: Career lessons from the top 10 newsmakers
» TIP: You're "really busy" - so what?
» TIP: The many 'faces' of a situational leader
» TIP: Keep your goals where I can see them, Boss
» TIP: Make your actions count
» TIP: When you "blow it"
» TIP: Judo your Presentation
» RANT: "Step away from the computer Sir and put your hands up in the air. Now."

TIP: When the project has hit the wall

via CIO - The harder the team pushed the less the wall moved. In fact, it seemed to be tipping backwards, threatening to crush everyone underneath. The wall is of course a metaphor for the intractable forces that so many teams find themselves up against when developing a new product, initiating a new release or implementing a process upgrade.

Teams do not like to confront walls; managers like it even less. Obstacles are factors that all managers face and how you face them is a measure of who you are as a leader. Most managers deal with the external obstacles very well - the assembly of a team, the marshalling of resources and the lobbying for support-however, many managers fare less well on the internal side-dealing with difficult people, sudden challenges or even personal setbacks.

These obstacles exact a toll on the psyche. While commitment to the enterprise is laudatory, managers must be careful not to take things too personally. Internalization leads to a build up of stress as well as the formation of another wall-one between manager and staff. Instead of reaching out, managers under duress either lash out at others, or seal themselves off. Either instance can be costly, not only to the project, but to the manager himself...

(Management today is coaching; it is about bringing out the best in others, but managers, too, may need assistance.) More and more companies are turning to executive coaches to help their managers... Some managers may be resistant to coaching from an outside source because they feel as if they are being called on the carpet for some deficiency... The question of when to hire a coach arises first... Executive coach Mark Sobol employs the "5 when's" approach... "one, when executives believe they need the insights and objectivity of someone 'outside the system;' two, when they are seeking new pathways to success; three, when they are questioning their definition of success; four, when they are transitioning to a new role of increased responsibility; or five, when the skills that have served them so well in the past are increasingly less effective in the present environment."...

Here are some suggestions for what you can expect a good coach to do...

  • Know the organization. ...What is appropriate for one organization may not be appropriate for another. For example, asking a manager to delegate more is fine but if the people in the organization are not prepared to assume authority, an issue of responsibility arises. The coach must help the manager prepare her people to assume more leadership roles.
  • Guide, not dictate. In a successful coaching engagement the executive coach serves as a guide, not a dictator. For example, say you want to improve delegation skills. The coach must find out why the manager is not delegating first, and then find ways to encourage the manager to delegate. The coach can provide some ways to encourage delegation but it is ultimately up to the manager to take ownership of the behavior. The role of the coach is to make suggestions that the manager comes to regard as important and therefore necessary to implement. Furthermore, says Crane, "It takes great self-restraint to observe or witness challenges and coachee blind spots and not rush in with the answer." He advises, "It is far better to ask the right set of questions that cause self-reflection on behalf of the coachees, so they can discover their own answers."
  • Know when to say when. ...If you hire a painter to paint a room in your house, the painter should ensure that the paint has dried appropriately, that the color is right, that it won't crack or peel and that you are satisfied that the room now looks the way you wanted it to look." Of course, she adds, "You can always bring him back" to paint other rooms, or in the case of coaching "to change another behavior." Managers have to resist the temptation to over-rely upon a coach, or cede decision-making. Sobol advises establishing two parameters. "First, every engagement should be sharply focused and defined as well as measured for success. Second, a series of engagements is appropriate only if the client's capabilities are continuously and visibly being built."...

Highly performing managers want an edge that will enable them to get to the top of their game and stay there. And that is one reason that executive coaching is catching on. Most often managers have what they need to succeed; it's a matter of self-discovery and self-application. That's where a coach can help. As Sobol puts it, "The role of a coach is to listen more than talk, discern rather than judge, and to shine a light when it's hard to see the way." Frequently the coach will provide insights into self that will lead managers on a leadership path; that is, they will learn to leverage the talents and skills of others to become more skilful managers and more committed leaders. So much of leadership is about putting others in a position to succeed.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Opportunity vs Trap

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TIP: What you may not know about Entrepreneurship

Jeff Cornwall wrote about the gist of Entrepreneurship.
  • Every Business is About Solving Pain: Find the People that will Pay For It.
  • Ideas are Meaningless: Many Think It, Few Actually Do It.
  • People and Effective Managers that Execute are the Only Thing Business is All About.
  • Sorry, There are Absolutely No Right Answers In Business: It Always Depends on Your Point of View!
  • Having Your Own Business Takes Resiliency: It's A Rollercoaster That isn't Fairly Built.
  • As an Entrepreneur, You can make a Difference in This World: Create Jobs, Products, and Markets.
  • Know the Numbers, and that they Lie: Follow only the Metrics.
  • Cash is King: You go out of Business when You Run out of Money.
  • Focus. Focus. Morph: Focus on a Competitive Sustainable Advantage
  • Go Forth and Sell: Every Business's Strength is their Customers.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Opportunity vs Trap

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TIP: Tell me a story, and I'll tell you its "point"

When Jesus wanted to say something important, he usually told a story, benjaminsternke blogged. For those who paid attention (ears to hear), the story worked its way under their skin without their knowing it, transforming everything before they were even aware of it, confronting falsehood, killing off old dreams, and opening up new possibilties. For everyone else (no ears to hear), they were simply the stories of a quirky redneck teacher (can anything good come out of Nazareth? they said, snickering). Then in private, to his disciples, Jesus "explained everything." The disciples got the propositions, the "point" of the stories.

It seems we do things the other way around. Jesus told the story first, and gave the propositions later, to a smaller number of people. We say the proposition first, and then "back it up" with our stories, which aren't really art as much as they are "illustrations." That is, illustrations of "the point". The proposition is king, art is the embarassing step-child.

Perhaps we're afraid to leave things hanging for people. Perhaps we feel the need to wrap everything up in a tidy 30-minute package (sitcom sermons?) so people won't leave feeling disrupted or uncomfortable. But it seems that Jesus told the stories so that people would be uncomfortable and frustrated. Perhaps we need more preaching that dismantles and tears down and rebuilds and replants. More trickster preaching: Preaching that raises questions and winks and makes startling connections and shakes worldviews and causes us to recoil in horror and surrender to grace...

Working Smart's quick takeaway: when you find yourself in a sitiuation where you need to beat around the bushes to see who's on your side, telling a story about your 'rival' (without revealing your "points") is a good starting point to provoke and collect comments.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Opportunity vs Trap > Beat around the bush

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TIP: Career lessons from the top 10 newsmakers

via Monster - Every year, a few names and faces dominate the headlines and everyday conversation. Ten such newsmakers -- whether in politics, sports, business or entertainment -- made waves in their careers in 2005, for better or worse. Now it's time to discover the everyday career lessons you can learn from their successes and failures

Michael Brown

Disaster preparedness and response are serious matters, so it's surprising Brown's background wasn't vetted more thoroughly before he was appointed director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2003. His glaring lack of experience in emergency management became evident in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Under fire for his agency's slow response, Brown tried to blame state and local officials as well as the residents who didn't evacuate -- many of whom were too poor or frail to flee -- for the unfolding disaster. Two weeks after the storm hit in late August 2005, the year's poster boy for the bad fit resigned.

Your Lesson: Make sure the candidate you select for a critical position is battle-tested.

Mariah Carey

Carey has a stunning voice and was the best-selling female artist of the '90s. But even with such assets, she hit a career slump in 2001 when she made Glitter, one of the most critically panned movies ever, and suffered a well-publicized emotional breakdown. The losing streak continued with the movie's soundtrack album. Carey's 2003 follow-up, which, like its predecessor, featured a new, whispery singing style, didn't exactly set the charts on fire, either. All that changed when "The Emancipation of Mimi," heralded at its April 2005 release as "the return of The Voice," went quadruple platinum and netted Carey a bevy of awards.

Your Lesson: For career success, stick with your strengths...

Judith Miller

The New York Times has seen its share of scandal in the last few years (Remember Jayson Blair?), and 2005 was no exception. This summer, veteran Times reporter Miller chose to spend 85 days in jail rather than testify about her conversations with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, in a CIA leak investigation. After Miller relented and was released, the Times blamed her for running with later-discredited information before the Iraq war that alleged Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Amid infighting and scandal, Miller retired in November. In a recent interview with the BBC, Miller gave her side of the story: "The intelligence information that I was accurately reporting was wrong. I guess if your sources are wrong, you're going to be wrong." Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd, who called Miller a "woman of mass destruction" in her column, responded during a Radar interview: "Just because your sources tell you something, you don't put it in the paper."

Your Lesson: To ensure your credibility at work, double-check your information...

Terrell Owens

Since the beginning of his NFL career, Owens has been known for his antics both on and off the field. The latest debacle came about when he publicly chastised both the Philadelphia Eagles organization and quarterback Donovan McNabb. This was the last straw for the team, who suspended TO for the remainder of the season and will not be re-signing him next year. Owens may be one of the best wide receivers today, but his egotistical behavior has cost him millions of dollars -- not to mention the goodwill of many fans. Recently, Owens apologized to his fans and teammates in a public statement and said, "It really hurts me not to be part of the team anymore. I feel really bad...my strength is sometimes my greatest weakness."

Your Lesson: If you can't work well with others, it may be hard to find work.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: You're "really busy" - so what?

Have you ever wondered why two people, who have started with all the same advantages and disadvantages, which seem similar in almost every way, can end up in different places, Alex Cleanthous asked?

Have you ever wondered how somebody can start with all the disadvantages in life, yet achieve success that surpasses those who start with all the advantages?...

Successful people are satisfied by pleasing results. Unsuccessful people are satisfied by pleasing actions. Successful people are focused on the result they achieve. Unsuccessful people are focused on how they do the task.

Being results focused means setting goals and objectives, and doing everything in your power to achieve them. Being results focused means only being satisfied with results. Being results focused means not wasting time. Being results focused means taking action on the most important tasks and getting them done.

You've heard about the 80/20 rule? This simply means that 20% of your activities are responsible for 80% of your results, and 80% of your activities are responsible for 20% of your results. Being results focused means knowing what the 20% of tasks contribute 80% of the results and working single mindedly on those tasks until they are completed...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Strength vs Weakness > Efficient to Effective

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TIP: The many 'faces' of a situational leader

via ChimaeraConsulting - ...a situational leader is one who can adopt different leadership styles depending on the situation. Most of us do this anyway in our dealings with other people: we try not to get angry with a nervous colleague on their first day, we chase up tasks with some people more than others because we know they'll forget otherwise.

Ken Blanchard, the management guru best known for the "One Minute Manager" series, and Paul Hersey created a model for Situational Leadership in the late 1960's that allows you to analyse the needs of the situation you're dealing with, and then adopt the most appropriate leadership style... Blanchard and Hersey characterised leadership style in terms of the amount of direction and of support that the leader gives to his or her followers...:

  • Directing Leaders define the roles and tasks of the 'follower', and supervise them closely. Decisions are made by the leader and announced, so communication is largely one-way.
  • Coaching Leaders still define roles and tasks, but seeks ideas and suggestions from the follower. Decisions remain the leader's prerogative, but communication is much more two-way.
  • Supporting Leaders pass day-to-day decisions, such as task allocation and processes, to the follower. The leader facilitates and takes part in decisions, but control is with the follower.
  • Delegating Leaders are still involved in decisions and problem-solving, but control is with the follower. The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved.

Effective leaders are versatile in being able to move around the grid according to the situation, so there is no one right style...

Clearly the right leadership style will depend very much on the person being led - the follower - and Blanchard and Hersey extended their model to include the Development Level of the follower...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Opportunity vs Trap > Diagnosis then Prescribe

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TIP: Keep your goals where I can see them, Boss

via OneMinuteManager - I've seen a lot of unmotivated people at work in the various organizations I've been employed in over the years. But I've never seen an unmotivated person after work. Everyone seems to be motivated to do something. One night, for example, I was bowling and I saw some of the 'problem employees' at work from my last organization. One of the real problem people, who I remmeberd all too well, took the bowling ball and approached the line and rolled the ball. Then he started to scream and yell and jump around... he got a strike. He had knocked down all the pins...

Why don't you think he and other people that excited at work? Because he doesn't know where the pins are... How long would he want to bowl if there were no pins? (That's) what happens in most organizations. I believe that most managers know what they want their people to do. They just don't bother to tell their people in a way they would understand. They assume they should know... When you assume that people know what's expected of them, you are creating an ineffective form of bowling. You put the pins up but when the bowler goes to roll the ball, he notices there is a sheet across the pins. So when he rolls the ball, and it slips under the sheet, he hears a crack but doesn't know how many pins he knocked down. When you ask him how he did, he says, I dont know. But it felt good... - SpencerJohnson

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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TIP: Make your actions count

via Fool - (Two lessons from Buffett) One, is act like what you are going to do is going to end up on the front page of The Washington Post because by the time a man is 60, he has the reputation he deserves. That is one of them, it sounds sort of corny and midwestern, but it is a good way to live.

Secondly, think of yourself as you go through (working) life as standing at the plate and people throwing you pitches. It is a very special baseball game. There is no one calling the balls and strikes and you can stand there forever. You have got all these people in the bleachers saying, "Hey, swing you bum!" on every second pitch. You just have to learn to ignore them and when a pitch comes along and it is straight but it is a little high inside, you let it pass. Another one comes along and it is a little low outside. Every once in a while a pitch comes along that looks like the sweetest, juiciest, fattest pitch you are ever going to see. And when it does, you swing from your heels on it. You come out of your shoes on it. That is how you go through life. And you are only going to get about ten swings like that, maybe five swings. That is what you wait for. Too many people go through life batting at every other pitch. So just wait for your opportunities and when they come you swing from your heels...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Strength vs Weakness > Efficient to Effective

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TIP: When you "blow it"

Thanks to her apology, Oprah is the only one who seems to be emerging from the James Frey scandal smelling like a rose, Jane Genova blogged. A genius in human relations, Oprah knew the power of an apology. Yeah, it's totally disarming. When I worked in the hospitality industry, apology was the only tactic that never ever ever failed.

Unfortunately, in a number of legal circles, apology is underused or verboten. The most some attorneys will allow us to do is express regret. Forget that. Apologies can make perfect legal sense. What matters is how you position/package your apology... strategically apply the power of apology to communicating their point of view. They can do this with ease, grace and no legal reservations, if they get the mindset that an apology is form of empathy... The apology has many genres... The key here is to play around with the apology scenario until it is a perfect fit for the speaker.

Need more convincing? As a speechwriter I've had clients who, once they discovered the magic of apologizing, wanted me to "dream up" reasons for them to say they were sorry. Oh, I thought up reasons. And those apologies worked every time.

The best example of that was a chief-marketing-officer (CMO) who was giving a commencement speech during the 2001 global downturn. He said he was planning to apologize for having a good job when so many of them didn't as yet have any or were making applications to Starbucks. But then he thought about it. Since the average CMO keeps a job only about 23 months and he had his 19 months, he should soon be joining them with steam burns making lattes. He had that audience in the palm of his hand.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Something vs Nothing

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TIP: Judo your Presentation

via PresentationZen
  • Strive for maximum effect with minimum effort: Make no mistake, "minimum effort" does not mean to slack off or give less than full commitment to the moment. Rather it implies the use of experience, intelligence, and skill. In the presentation context, it could translate into simple yet powerful visual support, a delivery style that makes complex data accessible without confusing, endless, overly verbose explanation. Sometimes, for example, a short story (minimum effort) can have a huge and lasting result (maximum impact).
  • Strive for mutual welfare and benefit: Presenters often seem focused only on their content from their point of view. Audiences - especially potential clients - want to know "what's in it for me?" Presentations should be two-way; they should be conversations. And while it sounds like a cliche in 2005, "win/win" should be the goal.
  • Strive for perfection as a whole person: ...in all our business dealings, including presentations, we must always embrace too the ideals of integrity, honesty, character, kindness, and so on. It is never just about winning the contract, as lofty a goal as that may seem at the moment... Think about the last challenging presentation you had that just did not go as well as you had hoped. Perhaps there was more "pushback" than you expected. Could you have done better by engaging your audience and answering the difficult questions while "reacting spontaneously and naturally without hesitation and without purposeless resistance"? In my experience, when I have received challenging questions from a skeptical or even hostile or aggressive person, a natural, non-aggressive response from myself always was more effective than showing any irritation or defensiveness. Butting heads is very easy to do, but usually leads to a sure defeat for us as presenters... "Victory over the opponent is achieved by giving way to the strength of the opponent, adapting to it and taking advantage of it, turning it, in the end to your own advantage."

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Strength vs Weakness > Style vs Substance

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RANT: "Step away from the computer Sir and put your hands up in the air. Now."

via CNet - (Is it possible to get too much of a good thing?) The typical office worker is interrupted every three minutes by a phone call, e-mail, instant message or other distraction. The problem is that it takes about eight uninterrupted minutes for our brains to get into a really creative state... The digital communications supposed to make things run more smoothly are actually preventing people from getting critical tasks accomplished...

"It used to be: 'I've got to be online, it's so frustrating that I can't get on,'" said Chris Capossela, a vice president in Microsoft's Information Worker unit. "Now that's happened. People are ultraconnected. And you know what? Now they are starting to realize, 'Wow, I want to actually stop getting interrupted.'"...

Desperate for some quiet time to think, people are coming up with low-tech strategies to get away from all their technology... "If you don't have that sort of free time to dream and muse and mull, then you are not being creative, by definition," said Dan Russell, a senior manager at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif. After concluding three years ago that he was becoming a slave to e-mail, Russell decided to put his foot down. These days, he takes his time replying to messages. All his responses say at the bottom: "Join the slow email movement! Read your mail just twice each day. Recapture your life's time and relearn to dream."...

It's all part of a culture shift that has accompanied all of the new modes of communications. These days, corporate culture frowns on those who turn off their instant messaging software or don't respond quickly to the latest e-mail... "People start to look at you with contempt or disgust if you shift away from the technology," Honore said... Technology has kind of turned the tables on us," Honore said. "We move to its speed and its rhythm."...

Russell says humans just aren't that good at doing many things at once. The problem, Russell said, is that there are only certain types of tasks that humans are good at doing simultaneously. Cooking and talking on the phone go together fine, as does walking and chewing gum (for most people). But try and do three math problems at once, and you are sure to have a problem. "The paradox of modern life is that multitasking is, in most cases, counterproductive," Russell said.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Strength vs Weakness > Success breeds Failure

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