Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Art of Goal Setting

Again this morning I braved the cold as the city slept. At the onset of 2011, I set a goal to wake up an hour earlier. I achieved my goal! For an entire year I awoke before 5am and got out the door after showering (hygiene is important). The streets vacant, the weather often cold, the sky dark....alone with my motivation.

I lead a strange professional existence. My job entitles me to work from home....I have never actually worked from home. Coming from a hyper-structured environment, I didn't trust myself to build a home office, so I spend the hours before others awake at the coffee shop. When you are arriving for your morning coffee, I am out the door on to phase 2 of the day. It's difficult avoiding the snooze button, but there is nothing more empowering than starting every day ahead of the competition.

I recently tweeted - "If you strive for perfection you will never fully achieve your goals". I will always set goals for myself that exceed the expectations of others. Achievement of everything is too much to ask if your goals are designed in proper fashion. The art of living is always striving for more.

2011 was a success - I reached my revenue goal. But, there are several areas in which I fell short. No matter how monumental our achievements we can always do more. Too often, we allow the past qualification of possible to drive our motivation instead of shattering the standard.

Five years ago, I evolved my business strategy: to do more with less. To try harder for fewer results....such were the times....they haven't gotten any better. The economy continues to struggle and there does not seem to be relief around the corner. With each year, I try harder to find the door in the dead end. I have learned that hard work always yields results, positivity is the only frame of mind one can possess, and creativity has never been more valued. With these skills in my tool belt I brave another year.

How can we take flight in the eye of the storm?:
1. Find a Larger Purpose
2. Shatter the Standard
3. Self-Assess

Stop Punching
If you are a person who dislikes bravado as much as I do it can be very difficult to "buy in". I understand that the "ra ra" thing can be distracting. That being said, you owe it to yourself to develop a higher professional purpose. In simplest terms:
a. Examine your organization's core values and mission statement
b. Develop the ability to derive personal purpose in every assigned task
c. Take a minute every day to research a personal interest

Work is (not just) work. You can create something that will benefit YOU from an instruction given by THEM.

~ I'm not sure why every organization doesn't present their core values to job candidates...?
~ Every instruction your boss gives you is yours to interpret and prioritize as you see fit.
~ It's a refreshing practice to google something you haven't thought of in a while.

Be Kind to the New Girl
I received a promotion in my company and was moved to a new team. The first thing I noticed was the negativity of the so-called team leaders. They thought I would respect their warnings. I thought, "I am going to be the number one producer on this team in six months".

Tenure can be a tricky thing. No one wants to be the new kid on the block and the tenured reps always seem to be more helpful than they need to be. In most cases, the old guard just wants to help the new folks. But the new crew has different ideas and experiences. Those who set the standard cannot seek to protect it.

There was a book written called the first 90 days. From what I can discern, this book offers suggestions about how to make a good first impression and with whom one should align oneself. I'm sorry....The concept of positioning yourself in an organization without results is complete horse shit!

We all know we can perform above the standards set before us but we must be humble in the process. I would recommend the following:
1. Don't speak unless spoken to
2. Don't ask questions with the intent of showing you know the answer
3. Keep your hand down in team meetings
4. Keep your phone on mute during conference calls
5. Don't drink too much and state your (real) opinions

Do your talking in the ring!

Be your worst critic, but let no one know
I know no one who has been massively successful that has allowed the company for which they work to define them. You must always set standards for yourself higher than those of your boss or the company you represent.

The art form is being consistently critical of your own effort without the slightest degree of public transparency.

Allow me to explain: You cannot endure life's challenges by beating up on yourself. Self-assessment is a healthy way to turn your weaknesses into strengths. Only you know how much time you have, how hard you tried, and what you could have done differently. The only person you report to is yourself!

Question: Have you ever given everything you have to every minute of an entire year?

Why not make this The Year...?

Don't Forget to Remember ~

Dave

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 5 ~ 2011

The readers of this blog and my long time friends know I live for this time of year. The movie High Fidelity and the All Songs Considered podcast consistently have me on the watch for the Top 5 records of the year. I love the process of finding new music and enshrining it into my Top 5. 

It was an interesting year in Independent Music. Electronic Music in it's various forms has surged into the mainstream, a bunch of old timers returned, and the Hip Hop genre has found a way to bring the streets into town cars. This list can be a tricky one. If an artist released a record early in the year, I tend to tire of it (blame it on the ADD). There are also those artist that are expected to be good all the time: Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, and the Decemberisits ~ I'm sure I will receive hate mail from them for taking their greatness for granted.

Here are my favorites of 2011. Feel free to add yours to the comments section.

Bon Iver by Bon Iver 
Expectations produce pressure. Justin Vernon had released a stunning home recording a few years back, some amazing collaborations, and a great EP. Needless to say the pressure was on the for his second proper full length. He exceeded expectations. His voice is enchanting to the point of being haunting, the vocal harmonies soar like a flock of eagles, and the soundscape towers as high as any mountain. Bon Iver took the space of the first album and filled it with layers of sound while maintaining the music's intimacy. This record will be in rotation for years to come. We all love to see the underdog win!

Sky Full of Holes by Fountains of Wayne
We all have bands that can never do us wrong. FOW have been at the top of my list since Welcome Interstate Managers - they have finally returned to that level of awesomeness. One cannot turn on this record without being thrown into a dance showdown with house guests. This record's early August release was a perfect way to celebrate the Summer. Many rotations on the back deck with beverage in hand while the kids swam in the above group pool.

All Eternals Deck by The Mountain Goats
I first discovered Mountain Goats while playing with John Vanderslice at the Noise Pop Festival at the early turn of the century. Both artists known for creating concept albums. John Darnielle has created flowing narrative over the last 2 decades. Consistently heavy in dialog, always well crafted. Very difficult to do. All Eternals Deck is another masterpiece from the mind of JD. Songs drenched in detail capturing the moments in-between: The metaphor of walks in the rain recalling less than forgettable moments.

Hysterical by Clap Your Hands Say Yea
When this band originated they were poised for a theme song on a reality show, car commercials, and tours with the flavor of the month band. They decided to just make great music. After some time off they return to glory with Hysterical. Within 10 seconds of listening to this album you will remember to power of Clap Your Hands Say Yea......and you'll be thankful they decided to keep it real.

Family Tree by Carlos Forster
The former For Stars front man and his college roommate M Ward had been in the process of a collaboration some years ago. Then M Ward became famous and Carlos decided he was tired of being the center of attention. The return of Carlos Forster is a wonderful reminder of different times....rolling waves, shimmering sun, falling leaves. This album recalls all the innocence of Southern California youth. One of music's truly legendary song writer's back for an encore.

Thank you for listening!

Dave

Monday, December 19, 2011

Good vs Evil

In 2011, two characters made themselves main stays in the popular media. One by accepting a job another by quitting a job. The world watched in amazement as Charlie Sheen metaphorically burned millions of dollars for all the world to see. Charlie's public display of anti-authoritarianism was cheered by some (while others shook their heads). Enter Tim Tebow a well-spoken college football legand with God on his side. All Tebow did was pray and practice. Even with the aforementioned accolades, Tebow was chastised by the popular media for his lack of fundamental mechanics. 

Charlie Sheen went on a crusade to fight the power. He figured he could dismantle the system while taking more drugs than Hunter S Thompson - he lost the battle. Tim Tebow also went on a crusade..to make God cool. Both men's goals less than run-of-the-mill. Complete opposites equally determined to do what hadn't been done before. 

In the movie American History X, Eric Vinyard was posed a question by his counselor "have any of your actions done you any good?" They hadn't. He found a person to help him understand the error of his ways. He learned and grew. That's the thing: to have people around you that let you know when you're being a jackass. Charlie Sheen's celebrity polarized him into a world surrounded by "yes" men. His kingdom was built around people who told him he could do anything he wanted to.....when he left the kingdom he found out otherwise.

Tim Tebow's kingdom was built by people who told him he could do anything. They gave him nothing but asked everything of him. So at some point, he figured out how to make it work. He won a National Championship and a Heisman Trophy only to receive more criticism. So he again concluded that he would do what others could not...make his destiny.

Tim Tebow and Charlie Sheen are men on opposite sides of the spectrum. Each with great accolades and an uncompromising commitment to winning. The difference lies in character. The villain is fun to cheer for momentarily, but in the end he always dies alone. Heroes possess something mere mortals do not....another gear. That point when Charlie Sheen stops training Tim Tebow pushes himself further. As Charlie sits on a stool complaining about the world, Tim Tebow heads back out on the field empowering those around him.

Ability and Determination are a beautiful mix when they come together properly. The bow with which you wrap them is also important.

There is always that guy at the party who consumes more than anyone else and gets the party excited. He may even poke fun at the quarterback. But when the quarterback is in church, the "party guy" is in his bed rolling though his regret. Regret fuels animosity which creates a need to win in spite of your detractors.
Commitment in this life is vitally important. It's hard! Everything in this life that has a long-term outcome is worth fighting for. If you are fighting to prove you are not wrong, you usually are.

I guarantee Charlie Sheen is more fun to hang out with than Tim Tebow. But if you were laying in the street in need of help Sheen would run you over in his viper, while Tebow would fashion a life saving device from a tree branch. Having fun is not always rewarding because fun is a temporary. With divine purpose you can create long term opportunity. Fun is temporary, Commitment is forever.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave      

Monday, December 12, 2011

There Goes My Hero

I spent a good portion of my youth in Mission Viejo, California. It's a great little Orange County nugget, a 20 minute a bus ride from California's golden shore. Like most 5th grade kids, I spent the sunny California afternoons playing sports: skateboarding, baseball, hoop and football. I had a lot of loyal friends, our kinship was strong. Our greatest bonding experiences were pick up games against the kids from the other side of town. There was a pride in our neighborhood and sports were our vessel.

So, you can image our excitement when the great Todd Marinovich left Mater Dei and came to Capo Valley High School. There was a massive national back story to Todd, he was known as robo-QB. My friends and I didn't really read Sports Illustrated but watching Todd Marinovich play made us proud of our hood. We loved watching him play! During games we would walk to the other bleachers to challenge the kids from the other side of town to tackle football games. We represented our big brothers and sisters and Todd Marinovich was our leader. He inspired us to be better.

As time passed, the media came to understand what we knew: Robo-QB was a kid like everyone else. It didn't offend my friends and I, but the rest of the world was furious. Todd wasn't perfect. People get mad when their manufactured heroes turn out to be human.

More than training or fundamental football knowledge, Todd Marinovich had a massive competitive spirit. He was an awesome basketball player, he fought the super-sized Food Nelson on the Viejo Elementary playground, he showed young people like myself to have pride in our effort. His crowning moment came after a game winning touchdown pass. An opposing team member offered to help him up after knocking him down. Todd offered him a middle finger. He had friends to lift him up, as did I. It made sense to everyone who followed his leadership!

Then we all grew up. We continued to play sports with the intensity that we learned from Todd Marinovich. After an improbable Rose Bowl win, it felt as if he had given us everything we needed. We were now ready to carry the torch. I saw Todd at my sister's wedding years later and said hello. I told him I liked his music. That was the extent of our conversation. I had hoped he might appreciate the fact that I didn't ask him to sign my tuxedo.

With great power comes great responsibility.

Is it realistic to think that a teenage sportsman should be a role model? Should not one be judged for how they play the game not what they do off the field. There are those who hold their heroes on a pedestal (and when they fail, they die inside). Others find their heroes in the hallways of their own home and forgive athletes when they lose a game. Football is just a game that happens in 60 minutes. The game of life does not have a clock and the goal lines are often cloudy in the distance.

I was really happy to see the Great Todd Marinovich was given an opportunity to tell his story on ESPN last night. Todd did not blame his Dad for an upbringing destined to unfair expectations. He didn't make excuses for falling from grace. He advocated youth sports and it's essential contribution to his human character.

As leaves turn and waves roll in, time becomes the ultimate judge of character. We grow stronger through our experiences, we learn to forgive, we forget heartbreak and we discover that challenges exist on and off the field. As my son races through the California sun with a football under his arm, I am thankful to Todd Marinovich for teaching me how to play the game.

"There goes my Hero....he's ordinary" - Dave Grohl

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave        

Friday, December 9, 2011

The 3 P's

Most often, this blog deals the bigger issues that relate one's personality to their professional development. Today, we will work in much more direct terms. As a Career Coach, I am often asked for the silver bullet methods for success that one can implement in their climb to professional nirvana. It changes based on variable factors but I can suggest the following:
Preparation
Purpose
Personal Attention

The 3 P's are a excellent method in differentiating a truly successful company from the pretenders. They are also a turn-key to good professional habits. It is important to conduct oneself in a professionally graceful manner. Follow the 3 P's......

Preparation
Do you get freaked out when someone you meet for the first time knows the college you attended, your favorite sports team or your past employers? Did you ever consider that this is information you have made readily available? Why wouldn't you be flattered if someone took a personal interest in you.

A 2 minute google search can tell you a lot about a person. Understand the common language that correlates to a person's lifestyle and work it into conversation. It's a great way to establish rapport and common interest.

The look of surprise is one of flattery not alienation.

Purpose
Common purpose creates a company identity that cultivates an organizational culture. A logo represents a professional ethos shared by everyone who humanizes a brand.

No two people are perfectly alike but let's consider a football analogy. The path to victory is driven by a style of playing the game and directives for success. Business is no different: every company has core values, every department has business critical goals. Professionals should be able to recite their company's core values and the top 3 directives of their business group. Purpose is driven by common goals and a style for achieving success.

Personal Attention
Can you commit to responding to every email/voicemail within 3 hours? I bet you can. Even if you do not have a perfect answer, you can at least lay out a plan of action or report that the process is under way. People love to know that they can ping someone and that person is reliable to the extent that any given task will be addressed in short time. Your boss loves it, your customers love it, your wife loves it.

Implement a 3 hour turnaround time!

In summation:
1. Google every person you meet
2. Believe in what you do (or do something else)
3. Implement a 3 hour turn around time

Don't sweat the small stuff but always remember the little things!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Monday, December 5, 2011

i-consider

You will find success when you learn to say "I" less!

A while back a team of several people presented a major proposal to a large corporation. In debriefing, our team lead went on and on about what she did to impress the client. She continually said "I did a really great job showing them....I told them exactly....blaw, blaw, blaw...". We won the deal and at some point our team lead was promoted. Proof that God does not understand the corporate world. In the court of the opinion of her peers the damage was done. Months of preparation by several people was reduced to an insecure young lady trying to prove herself worthy of a seat at the table with the big boys. The rest of us just wanted to put together a great strategy for our client. We went on working with the corporation we presented to and warned them with the aforementioned team lead was coming to town. While she attempted to impress them with another powerpoint we texted each other from across the table with eyes rolling. When the client (now our friends) laughed at my texts the team lead thought they were smiling with astonishment of her professionalism. What a Dum Dum!

I must admit that there are times when I have acted out of character professionally. I went out of my way to prove myself worthy of greater responsibility. I had side bar conversations with Senior Managers bringing to their attention my latest contributions. I look back on that point of my career with disdain. I simply didn't understand the image I was projecting. I was too naive to recognize my selfishness. My bravado projected insecurity.....not confidence. Over time, I grew up.

We all have milestones in our personal development. This is actually a critical part of our professional development. For some it comes from losing a big deal, others lose a job, and there are those who learn from winning. For me, the transition was very subtle. I saw people acting the way I had and I came to understand the inelegance of my former self.

There are 3 things to consider in consideration of others:
Stop saying "I"
Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat
Learn to blow off the unimportant

There is no "I" in R.e.s.p.e.c.t
I once worked with a man who was unable to delegate. He felt out-of-control if he passed anything along to his "lesser" colleagues. He really cared a lot....but he came off as mistrusting. As if to say, you are going to screw this up, so I'll work twice as hard. We heard the story of the team lead who took credit for her team's hard work. I told you of my shameless self-promotion. All of these people are well-intentioned but terribly presented. We often get so focused on the final score that we neglect the style in which we play the game.

Your boss will fire you tomorrow if someone better comes along. The company you work for could close their doors tomorrow. You will, however, always have a reputation among your peers. Your peers are the people who you see in the grocery store and at the kid's soccer games. When you lose your job, you will most likely look to your peers for support. The same people you see on the way up, you will see on the way down.

The Humility of Accountability
I love hearing post-game interviews with players who compliment their team. Interviews are stupid...we all saw the game, we know what happened. So those who take their moment on TV to compliment their peers are admirable. No one enjoys someone who brags when they win, no one wants to hear excuses from those who have lost.

It is best to be Humble in victory and Accountable in defeat.

Ignore It...
I remember being really upset about something incredibly unimportant. Someone had let the team down and had tried to pass the blame on others. Nothing upsets me more than lack of accountability masked in unilateral communication. After complaining like a little girl for 10 minutes, I asked my boss how he was able to endure such incompetence day in and day out. To which he replied, "I ignore it"!

From that point on, I learned not to take the mundane elements too seriously. I learned that everyone knows when the ball is dropped and attempting to save face is a natural human reaction. I learned to give people the benefit of the doubt when they fail and they will do the same for you. Yes, you too will fail!

No one is perfect yet we all need to approach life with the proper degree of confidence. We cannot go through each day second guessing ourselves. We have to make decisions and be confident in them....and when we fail we have to own it. A whole bunch of talk does not make one confident but the inability to express oneself is worse. We have to learn to pick our battles and to always present ourselves in a nature that is respected by others.

Years from now the team lead I mentioned above will deliver a pizza to my house....and because I'm a nice guy, I will tip her an extra buck. It is in those moments that the selfishness of poor personal promotion comes back to haunt us. In fact, the best personal promotion is no personal promotion.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave       

Monday, November 28, 2011

Still Thankful?

Well Friends - Thanksgiving has come and gone. Football played, turkey devoured, adult beverages consumed. A week's preparation for a week's clean up. This year I had the pleasure of uniting three generations of Kovacovich's in the beautiful ocean side location of Carmel by the Sea (in California). Between trips to the beach with 11 of the worlds greatest people, I fired up the Twitter back-channel. It was run amok with glad tidings from one cyber friend to another. There were blog posts, hashtags and charitable splash pages....all messages of thanks from one human to another for a year well served.

...on Friday, it was gone!

#thankful was replaced by #blackfriday. Stories of families breaking bread were replaced with pepper spray melees at the local Walmart. Thanks had given way to disagreements again. The spirit of the holiday faded quickly. Today, people are boarding their cars with furrowed brows hesitant to open their over-crowded inboxes. Have we reduced ourselves to one day a year to say Thank You?

We will spend the next few months rushing through stores buying things for people. A way to express our gratitude. "I spent money on you, so I must care"! Office desks will be crowded with wine we won't drink and chocolates that will weigh us down. We spend, consume, and pretend to care; in hopes that it might serve our personal gain.

My friend Pete shared a story of his need for brain surgery this last weekend. My friend Ralph lost his battle to cancer just a week before Thanksgiving. These are real stories that are happening to us every day. I am not willing to believe that we have lost our ability to make human connections at work. We cannot
ignore vulnerability in our co-workers for fear it will create more work.

Are you creating memorable experiences? Are you fostering meaningful relationships? Do you possess the ability to make others feel special?

Yes! You Do!

People need help....and YOU are going to help them. Here's how:
Lead by example
Be a good listener
Put dedicated thought into your Thank You's

If not you, then who?
Sometimes our advice to others is met with reluctance. We feel that we will offer words of encouragement and they will be rejected. What's the use?

People are more willing to accept advising from those who practice what they preach.
Take care of yourself....exercise, eat right and disengage in harmful habits.
Work hard....show up early, work late and be responsive.
Have a plan....short and long term planning allows for clarity of purpose and a fall back plan.

Two ears and one mouth
No one has an answer for everything. If they do, they are simply playing semantics. No one enjoys talking to someone who has a retort to every word spoken. We need to learn to listen more than we talk. We need to be able to take in information and give relevant feedback. Sometimes people just need to get things off their chest. Sometimes people need to be told in direct terms that their actions are inelegant.

Put away the cookie cutters
Now that Thanksgiving is over, you can put away the cookie cutters. It is the time of year when holiday cards come pouring in: Do you have better appreciation for a hand written note or a mass produced stock message? Cookie cutter thank you's serve the direct opposite purpose of their intended gratitude.

The greatest moments you will experience at work will have one thing in common: a lot of thought was put in to creating a meaningful experience. The best gifts you have received have been profoundly meaningful to you because someone took time to know you, researched, and made extra effort to give you something that was irreplaceable. This needs to be part of our every day!

We need to put thought into the experiences we create for our co-workers. Our co-workers need to become our friends.

It Can Happen!

If you put thought and extra effort into everything you do for others you will be looked upon favorably. When people respect you they will always listen to your advice. We will all grow together!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Friday, November 18, 2011

Enterprise 2.0 - Part 2.0

Earlier this week, I wrote of the mind meld that is Enterprise 2.0. The Santa Clara Convention Center and the Twitter back channel was filled with awesomeness this week. Consultants, Entrepreneurs and Community Advocates from Major Corporations gathered to contribute their Thought Leadership in development of a strategic approach to Social Media.

As a Social Media Evangelist, I can say this conference was equal parts inspiring and alarming. We are always trying to use technology to support our companies and customers in the best way possible. We want to keep up with trends while protecting our public reputation. It's tricky!

I pointed out the superstars of the convention earlier this week. Today I have a few take aways to challenge those who believe in the power of social media.

The Art of Presenting
I've been to a thousand conferences.....Human Resources, Training, Coaching, Sales, Music Industry....whatever. The thing that differentiates tech conferences like Dreamforce, Tech Crunch and E 2.0 from the others is the matter in which people present.

Two Things to Consider:
1. It seems a lot of the population in the tech industry are young entrepreneurs who are programmers by nature.
2. The Tech Crunch Ethos has created a very narrow window for presenting.

The aforementioned pre-qualifiers make for presentations that are either really good or really bad. The Great Aaron Levie of Box gave a super-charged keynote that included a plethora of information at rapid fire pace. He was focused, fluid, and passionate about the topic he presented. The Twitter back channel seemed lost in his pace of verbosity.....but I thought it was the perfect way to present.

A few things Presenters should be aware of:
1. Don't Product Dump!
2. Don't Tell Us About YOUR company exclusively
3. Act like you are actually interested in your topic
4. Deliver your message with passion

I would consider presenting at Enterprise 2.0 to be a pretty big deal. I was surprised how many people were unprepared. Just kind of reading slides. I understand that not everyone is comfortable presenting in front of people. All you need is a little humor, some energy, and a message that your audience can relate to.

At Dreamforce I saw an Executive from a Fortune 20 get in front of the audience and talk about her company...on and on and on.....The fact that this person is a Millionaire is disconcerting. If I am in the audience to improve my organizational strategy, I don't need a case study on YOUR company's success. I need you to tell me how your strategy can enhance my company. Show me the WHY not the WHAT.

FUN!
The most heated back channel discussion at E 2.0 involved Gamification. There are emerging companies that are using game theory to engage their employees. The crowd of ferociously competitive young professionals seemed put off by the idea that "work" would be a "game". Gen Y stereotype dispelled!

Gamification is a slippery slope. I have no issue with adding a creative way of bringing employees into a forum to showcase their degree of engagement. We got a peek at VMware's Niko Niko, a single-touch daily employee feedback function. There are other concepts of Avatar driven virtual rewards that employees seem to view as a waste of time. As long as the metrics of the "game" attach business critical behaviors to organizational directives a little creative design never hurts.

You Are Welcome   
As evolved as Social Media has become, it can still be a good old boys/girls club. In participating in Social Media people also submit themselves to criticism. The attendees at E 2.0 seem to be aware of this and were thus massively supportive. In a Twitter back channel of thousands of posts, I saw very little negativity. People were also willing to have in-person discussions. The mood was profoundly upbeat. There was not a feeling of competition but a Community of Collaboration. It feels great to walk into a conference with the willingness to share without being judged. Thanks to everyone who made me feel at home in Santa Clara.

Parting Message:
Adoption is Social Media's greatest challenge. People are apprehensive to participate in social media for fear they will have their message misinterpreted, will be judged, and will ultimately have their reputation (and the reputation of their company) damaged.

For those who participate in social media forums.
* Judge Not!
* Try to see all sides
* Be Positive

For those on the fringe.....as I stated earlier this week, Social Media is no longer the elephant in the room ~ it is a Fire Breathing Dragon! It is not a fad, it is not going away, and it will be a pre-qualifier for your next job! It is very important to put your predisposition aside and get your feet wet.

Know this, your reputation will not be damaged if your intentions are good:
a. Share in the interest of everyone
b. Don't assume people think a certain way by researching their profile/company
c. Don't be an asshole!

Collaborate!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave Kovacovich

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Observations from Enterprise 2.0

Every year people gather in various cities to discuss the next phase of the inter-webs....also know as Enterprise 2.0. This conference is a thought leadership explosion uniting the directives and intangibles that guide the next day of the ever-evolving world of social media and the like. The degree of collaborative thinking is encouraging to say the least. New platforms are introduced and strategies are discussed. We learn how to measure the ROI of social media, how to sell it our executives and what trends to adopt/ignore.

With my blogger pass proudly displayed around my neck (pictured). I braved the halls of the Santa Clara Convention Center. Here's what I learned on days 1 and 2:

Community Evangelism
We often think about social media as it applies to the organization that employs us: our employees and how they can use it to boost revenue, our executives and their degree of adoption. This year's focus has been firmly on product end-users, program administrators, and customers. It has become abundantly clear in 2011 that company reputations are rooted in social media. Product reviews, staff responsiveness and leadership accessibility are always on trial in the social media world. It's not just an awareness of poor Yelp reviews anymore. Great companies are embracing transparency and are showcasing their customer service practices on Twitter, Facebook and the like. Fan pages have become a community for those who love certain products to evangelize. The question at E 2.0 - how do we incent our community of customers?

Erica Kuhl of Salesforce.com lead a great break out session on Monday. She introduced the Salesforce MVP program. This program recognizes the world's best salesforce.com Administrators. This is not a passive customer loyalty program. MVP's are granted access to product managers, invited into exclusive community forums, and empowered to drive the success of their companies by improving product development at SFDC. The concept was fresh and inviting to me. Show us you love our products/services and we will give you not a gift card, but more work to do....the difference: the people who work as salesforce admins love their work. They are willing to do more to make product administration more streamlined to their companies.

Throughout the sessions presenters have differentiated customer satisfaction from Community Evangelism. Lessons learned that social media is no longer an option, it is a necessity that drives your organizational reputation. Ignore social media and your customers will ignore you.

Organizational Contortionists
At Dreamforce 2011, the great Gary Vee was asked by an audience member how she could evangelize social media to her reluctant organization. Gary commented that you don't need a title to sell the merits of social media internally. Along this line of thinking, Daniel Zucker offered the description of Social Media Leads at Autodesk as Organizational Contortionists. (he wanted me to be very clear that this phrase was coined by his manager, Maura Ginty)

Gary's advice and Autodesk's qualifications are the essence of the existence of social advocacy. Great organizations have the ability to find their catalyst. That person who represents well...sometimes its a Sales Professional to speak at a conference, sometimes its a programmer to share her vision with a client. At present, the social media realm is not completely defined - an opportunity for advocacy.

I find it a great luxury to work for a company that has empowered me to drive organizational social media strategy (albeit as a volunteer). I also see it as a massive opportunity for anyone who has the willingness to lead the charge.

Simplicity
The standout Keynote of the Enterprise 2.0 event was presented by Tim Young, VP of Social Enterprise at VMware. Tim introduced the concept of About.Me as the template for future of social media. In short, simplicity rules. No one can argue that adoption of social media will require executive approval. Bring a CMO a list of 28 sites you wish to integrate into a congruent strategy and she will slap you across the face. Tim's message was perfectly appropriate, if you are asking people to do something new make sure it is a simple transition. Words to live by.

As we move forward....
I love being in the presence of people who have something to share. The feeling that there is something new that will change the way we work is massively empowering.

A resounding message from Enterprise 2.0:
Social Media is no longer the Elephant in the room...it is a Fire Breathing Dragon!

It is no longer an option to ignore social media. Your customers, competitors and your girlfriend are in the community.....if you pretend it doesn't exist, neither will they!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave Kovacovich

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time To Live

I remember hearing that people die in 3's. Death seems to come in greater numbers in recent days. The loss of Steve Jobs, Al Davis, and Joe Frazier upset me. As people pass through this world we hear recollections of their time here: all lives well-served, legacies intact. That is the wish any of us strive to fulfill - time well served and a few people to carry on our legacy.

In reading the eulogy to Steve Jobs, I renewed my mission on earth: to never be distracted by detail, to Love and let those I Love know as much, to be loyal, to be honorable, to be accountable, to be humble...and to lift up those around me.

I appreciated hearing of the true devotion Steve Jobs had to his family despite his fierce pursuit of professional perfection. I know Al Davis helped a lot of people despite his reputation. Joe Frazier remained a loyal friend to Muhammad Ali despite the public embarrassment "the champ" caused him. All men of great achievement with the self-awareness that they were not bigger than the least of their counter-parts. A trait to be mindful of.

In 1998, Mark Oliver Everett wrote an album in tribute to his father, sister and mother...all of whom had departed the world. The album concluded, with the phrase:
"I was thinking about how everyone is dying, and maybe it's time to live"

In my moments of most profound reflection, tears come to me without being released. I think of my sweetie and how every day I work to earn her love...I will never be worthy. I think of my son and how profoundly proud I am to have him carry my name long after I am gone. I think of my daughter sitting in the tree house of my heart. I conclude to live every day as if it were my last.

Precious moments with the ones we love never pan out as we might propose in our time of profound reflection. We hurt the people we love. We neglect our energy to do the extra things, say things we do not mean, and make selfish choices. But, when the final curtain comes down I doubt we will remember our selfish moments. I would like to think that we will ascend into light surrounded by those we love. And proclaim our amazement with it all, as Steve Jobs did. Until then, it's a good idea to maximize every second for everything that it is worth. Better to realize that now than to wait for the final curtain.

Celebrate your imperfection. Be good to one another. Treasure Everything!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Smile Priority

The year of 2011 will be concluded sooner than we know it. This means it's time to reflect: To be thankful for the people who care for us, to celebrate our achievements, and to assess potential areas of improvement. Perhaps the most valuable year end evaluation is the recognition of what we desire...and if its worth our energy?

We are motivated by that which we feel we need but do we really need it. Each year my wife and I rush to malls to fill the wish list of our extended families. We stand in line to grab to kids the hot new toy. We use SPIN selling techniques to uncover our unmet gifting needs.
Far more important than these grandiose, over-promoted, milestone family events are the moments in-between. If you think about the best times in your life, I would bet your memory may turn to a Tuesday afternoon in the park (not the events that took a year to plan). While we will never cancel Christmas it is important to reflect on what is truly important. Ask yourself the following and dedicate your energy accordingly:
What do I really need to be happy?
Why do I care about the things that suck the energy from me?
Is my goal setting in line with my pursuit of happiness?

Happiness
I have really enjoyed being part of the Delivering Happiness Movement. This group gathers, reflects, and sets priorities based on one thing: Happiness. People thought Tony Hsieh was nuts for founding a company that used happiness as it's core purpose.....Tony's critics were wrong. What the critics didn't know is that Tony had studied the psychology of motivation. He affirmed that people just want to be happy. He also knew from his time at Harvard, Oracle and as an entrepreneur that people mask their true intent.

We put on professional attire, speak with strategic business language, and align ourselves with those climbing the ladder. We neglect to display our true feelings. This is because the release of professional trappings generally leads to vigilante behavior. Tony Hsieh set out to dispel professional bravado and inspire......not by giving employees a forum to complain but by allowing employees to be happy.

Energy
Most great organizations have that one person who is a spark plug. He/she is always upbeat, driven, looking for solutions to problems no one else wants to touch. That person creates a ripple effect and the organization embraces his/her energy. You don't think that person has moments when they want to give up? The trick is to be uncompromising in your ability to achieve. If you allow detail to derail you, you will never be happy.

You too, can be that person of unlimited energy. All you have to do is to let possibility drive instead of being hung up on what sucks! YOU control two things: your perception and your attitude. You have to be light on your feet to consistently transcend the hurdles before you!

The Marriage of Effort & Happiness
Are you motivated by a task list or a grand purpose? If every day you strive to complete everything on your 'to do' list, success is impossible. You need to stop worrying about the 'what' and get down to the 'why'.

If you know what is genuinely important to you and you act accordingly, success is inevitable. All you have to do is assess every task to your grander purpose and prioritize accordingly. You might be amazed when you find out that others value the same things you do....and could care less about the mundane detail that stresses you out!

Life is a merry-go-round. Every day we have our moment of glee and our fits of frustration. If nothing else, allow the glee to take more of your attention than the frustration.

"More than anything...I want to see you take a glorious bite out of the whole world"
- Snow Patrol

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

5 Questions for Brian Garvey

Let's face it, most mentoring programs suck! We pair an upstart performer with a more Senior team member or an Executive. Two scenarios usually take shape:
1. The upstart preps for the meeting and the Executive asks to reschedule.
2. The upstart spends the mentoring sessions opposing the Executive's viewpoint and she puts him on the "people to fire" list.

There is an exception to every rule! 8 years ago my Boss asked me to spend a few minutes each week with one of our new hires. The intent was to answer questions and provide situational guidance....what happened was something completely different. Our sessions were highly productive for 2 reasons:
1. We spoke it terms of business solutions (not products and services).
2. We actually enjoyed talking to one another.

The Mentor was I and the Mentee was today's guest. Since our first mandated call nearly a decade ago, both of us have found different careers, but we have seldom missed our Friday evening call. This week's discussion involved the questions below.....which Mr. Garvey was kind enough to contribute to DFTR.


1. You are a project management professional – tell us what that means.
Technically, I am not a project management professional. That title is a professional designation known as a PMP by the Project Management Institute. I am, however, a Business Development Manager in the project management industry. Businesses rely on projects to sustain, change and improve their business performance. There is much to gain from choosing the right projects and completing them successfully. But that's easier said than done; most companies struggle with some aspect of their project portfolios. I work with a select group of companies to improve the way they manage their project portfolios, programs and individual projects.

2. You have an MBA in finance and could be a CFO by now, but you continue to endure the sales game….why?
Business exists to create customers, and I believe there are specific ways to create customers (through an organized effort on behalf of all members of a business for positive reasons that customers and employees love). I pursued my MBA because I wanted to learn more about business. I saw it as an investment in my personal learning and it has benefited me in many situations. But it's only one piece of many lessons I've learned about business. Why am I not a CFO by now...finance is interesting; accounting is not. I choose to endure the sales game because it's where customers are created. Sales is also the discipline where most organizational leaders come from.

3. People may not know that you are a culinary expert. How has your career as a chef complimented your experience in corporate America?
I do love to cook and contemplated a lifelong career as a chef. A restaurant is a business, and I've learned many lessons there as well; as many if not more than I learned in the MBA program.
Lesson 1- when everyone pulls in the same direction, a group of people can create amazing customers.
Lesson 2- don't let one bad review define your talents.
Lesson 3- I'll probably never like rice pilaf.

4. You are a guy who got married young, had kids, and have managed to stay married. What does that family foundation mean to your professional career?
Good question! I've heard thousands of managers over the years say employees need to keep personal lives away from work. I never understood that because my personal life is a huge reflection of what defines me. It's also impossible for me to keep my work life away from my personal life. My wife and I have many dinner conversations about work! One area affects the other. Admittedly, I believe the point is to keep the downside in check. If I'm having a terrible day at work then I don't go home and "kick the dog." The opposite is also true. So what does family foundation mean to my professional career? It's a very simple law of nature-- loyalty. I will do almost anything for those who have my best interests at heart.

5. There was a time when IBM was the training ground for a lot of other companies. These days, I think its Iron Mountain. What has being an Iron Mountain alumni meant to your career development?
Iron Mountain. The goose with the golden egg. I wonder if there's any other company 5 times larger than it's nearest competitor. The people I met at Iron Mountain have meant the most to my career development. They still impact my professional development today, even though it's been nearly 5 years since my resignation. It may seem unlikely, but I learn and grow every week because of the people I met at Iron Mountain.

Brian Garvey is a man who continues to win as a professional by the virtue of his tireless work ethic, solution oriented approach and his continual quest to try new things. 
 
Get to know Brian better @  http://www.linkedin.com/in/bgarv
 
Don't Forget to Remember!
 
- Dave Kovacovich

Friday, October 28, 2011

Life's Unfair Balance

There is a lot of doom and gloom these days....struggling economy, protests, political muck raking, less than entertaining sporting events, over priced nights on the town. It seems the work day requires us to do more with less and when we try to break free our bank accounts are emptied. Not exactly a fair way of living: bust your butt, earn a few bucks and spend them all releasing stress....a steep price to pay for a headache.

If we are able to admit we may have to work harder than ever to earn less (and be OK with that) we might be on to something revolutionary! Life isn't fair, times are tough, and our only certainties are death and taxes. The landscape may not change any time soon. So you can sit at the bottom of the hill and cry or you can strap your boots on and start climbing the mountain.

With every task there is another, there are thousands waiting to fill your job, and you feel tied to the whipping post. The choice is pretty simple: get busy living, or get busy dying. Your Perception and your Attitude navigate your destiny.

In this time of uncertainty the following things remain indiscernibly true:
Hard Work Pays Off!
The 5 Best Words in the Human Language
Take a Breath

An Inarguable Truth
We are all looking for that idea, stock option, or widget that will catapult our wealth. There is only one sure answer: Hard Work! No matter what you do, if you grind it out for long hard hours, you will succeed! You can always work harder, you can always do more, your true potential is almost impossible to realize. It may take a month or a year or five years....but if you stick to it with unflappable determination: You Will Win!

Things that are out of your control may derail your progress. Someone may play dirty to take that promotion you wanted. There will be times when you trust the wrong person. Sometimes you take a chance and fail. Allow nothing to discourage you! If you keep working hard, success is eminent!

5 Words We All Want to Hear
I once worked for a person who saw my truest potential and pushed me every day to discover it. She liked me immensely but she would never let me know it. She felt responsible for my success and she would not allow me to under perform for even one day. When I finished at the top of the revenue report she met me at the bar at our awards banquet, put her hand on my shoulder and said....

I Am Proud Of You!

...I nearly cried. Those 5 words made 365 days of total effort completely worth it. Some employees want more money, others want gifts or travel vouchers, and there are those who like trophies. But, everyone wants to be told they have honored their post with the fullest of integrity!

Who Cares
I am a hyper-focused professional. I take advantage of every opportunity to improve and I take my work personally. Those who do less than I, and pass judgement, make me insane!

I once asked a really good friend (professional musician) to hear me out on an interpersonal struggle I was having at work. I explained the situation to her and she replied:
Who Cares.........!!!!!

Usually that reply would drive me nuts but in this case it made perfect sense. I was so focused on the mundane detail of a completely irrelevant point that I lost my focus of what was important. It was a shocking revelation. We often fret over things that are completely meaningless. In fact, most of the things that cause stress do nothing more than distract us from our actual goal. Sometimes you have to take a breath, blow it off and move on!

Week in and week out we learn that we often neglect what is important. We lose time with our children because we are pre-occupied trying to please someone at work. We are distracted at dinner with a loved one because our head is in our BlackBerry. We forget to tell Mom we love her...and then she is gone!

Time is fleeting, use it wisely! Nothing is too important!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Mountain Top

I gave a speech at the wedding of a misunderstood friend. Some had questioned why this renegade was settling down. I explained that freedom is defined not by what you are running from but by what you are running to. As we grow up, the things we once feared become the very things that drive us: love, responsibility and an extended tribe. I heard Jesse Ventura say that he embraced being Governor with the ethos, "If not me then who". My friend grew up to be a great husband and father and the aforementioned professional wrestler ran the state of Minnesota in honorable fashion. Motivation is the process of what you do with your energy....eventually we all discover that it takes the same degree of energy to run from that it does to run to. In the time you waste avoiding your life's goals you could have achieved them.

Entitlement and Accountability are rival terms that strike us with the same degree of uncertainty. People don't like to be accountable to results...the connotation is motivation by fear. The aforementioned group may also be deemed entitled by seeking recognition for their every effort. We navigate a the tightrope of giving unto ourselves what we feel we deserve (entitlement). We also take a breath when the checklist is complete (accountability). In reality, neither of the previously mentioned forms of motivation are genuine. Short term effort for quick fix results do not serve to improve your personal process. Getting something done just to check it off a list is a means for senseless channeling of effort.

The real challenge should be to find that which you genuinely believe in, to ensure your every effort benefits what is truly important. Purpose, Constitution, and an ever-ascending Mountain Top - these things give a more grandiose reason to wake up in the morning.

Purpose
In his book "Delivering Happiness", Tony Hsieh explores his path to success: Purpose, Passion and Profits. Tony advises that we find the thing we believe in and to pursue it with unflappable intent. If you genuinely care about a cause, the money comes naturally. Conversely, if money is all that drives you, you will never be satisfied.

Purpose is the foundation of decision making. With every idea you have, every partnership you pursue, every person you invite into your life; the question of matching intent should be explored. Are you presenting to your team because you believe in a new directive or do you just want to prove your worth? Are you courting that large company because they are a good partner for your organization or do you just want to prove you can close a large deal? Is that new friend really someone you enjoy being around or do you want something they have?

Constitution
Last week we laughed at the idea of terms like Integrity and Accountability being company core values.
These terms seemed a little too high and mighty to be business terms. Constitution might be a more appropriate term in describing your personal motivation.

What is at the core of you and are you able to make it part of your professional life?

Do you enjoy serving the people you work for? Do you believe in your products and services? Are you empowered to mention if you feel otherwise? Are there parts of your Saturday in your Monday?

The Ever-Ascending Mountain Top
Entitlement comes from our intrinsic human need to have our effort rewarded. After the hunt we want food to bring back to camp. You work out to earn a burger. You hustle through the morning shift to earn a smoke break. This transactional motivation does nothing but fulfill short term checks and balances. It's a push/pull existence with only 2 certainties: a pay check & death!

What if with every achievement you sought not a pat on the back but more responsibility? What if the end result was not a conclusion but a new beginning? What if you quit smoking and gave up greasy food because the diminishing returns left you feeling purposeless.

I left you with a lot to ponder. I sit beside you in digesting these thoughts. It is very difficult not to get caught up in the rat race....to perform, receive praise and assume you have the appropriate direction. We all ponder the valued time we have on this earth and if any of it means anything. Next time you ponder your existence, do something about it.

You owe it to yourself to maximize every opportunity before you with your fullest effort and genuine intent. You should be empowered to ignore the insignificant. Your every action should be set in motion by your place in the sun surrounded by those who matter to you. Once you start climbing the mountain you will be surprised how much stamina you possess!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Culture Shift


















A few years back, I adopted the practice of waking up ridiculously early. I found I was unable to manage my busy life so I decided to do something about it. Where many start their day in traffic jams, I speed through empty streets. I spend the first 2 hours of my day alone in a coffee shop. By the time the others are arriving, I am gone, on to start my day ahead of everyone else. I put the headphones on, fire up the lap top and hyper-focus. One day, someone interrupted me....

If you understand the "calm before the storm" logic behind my morning mission, you can guess I cherish the time alone and wish not to be engaged in disruptions. But, one morning the Manager of the coffee shop asked me to remove my headphones. He told me he wanted to buy me a cup of coffee for my loyalty to his shop. I accepted. He then told me it would cost me one conversation a week - "I want to bounce a few ideas off you, I'll buy you a cup of coffee every time I do". He didn't know the nature of my degree or my profession, he just needed someone to listen (when no other customers were around). I accepted.

A week became a month and a month a year. We became friends. We connected really well. Like a good bartender, he knew how to ignite my trust. Like a good patron, I knew how to listen. He was hell bent on succeeding, so was I. We was full of ideas, so was I. Neither of us had any apprehension about sharing our thoughts with one another. There was no judgement or formality between us...it was 2 people drinking coffee while everyone else was asleep.

Over time, I came to discover that this guy was having conversations with a lot of his customers. He was also engaging his employees. He didn't seem to care about posting promotional materials, he didn't worry about his new hires industry experience, he wasn't hung up on quick fix rebates. He was creating a culture. I could have chosen 10 different coffee shops, his felt like home.

When he quit so did the staff of extraordinary people he had hired. The promotional material went up and the regulars kept to themselves - the culture was dead.

We talk a lot about culture in today's work world. It can be cultivated by one person. Some times one person makes a difference. That person who inspires others to work hard with positive intent, that person that is inviting of your input of how to make things better, that person that is willing to step away from their work to understand what it means to his/her customers.

We get so caught up in systematic efficiency, marketing strategy, and the right way to manage our employees; that we forget that we are people among people. Some times you have to use your I-phone to actually call someone. Some times you have to stop pretending you know everything and ask for input from others. Some times you have to buy someone a cup of coffee, step away from the lap top and share your experience.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Crime of Emotion

Much has been made of the post game spat between two football coaches this last weekend. Jim Schwartz felt disrespected because Jim Harbaugh shook his hand with too much force after the game. I am from Michigan and I hate the 49ers, so it would be my natural inclination to side with Coach Schwartz - not in this case.

The term sportsmanship is like the omni-present company Core Value of Integrity. Both are high and mighty terms that govern behavior to the most gradiose court. As if to say it is esstential to consider the tradition of the sport/business when any decision is made or action takes place. Give Me a Break!

Jim Schwartz was not upset because the integrity of the coaching hierarchy was corrupted - he was upset because he lost. It may not have been in good taste for Coach Harbaugh to jump up and down like a school girl when he won - but can you blame him for his inability to hide his excitement? Both guys are in leadership positions on team's that used to suck and are now good. These teams are good because their leaders have asked more of their teams and have proven they were willing to put the work in with them. Proving the old addage that hard work pays off!

It's pretty simple: You Should Be Humble in Victory and Accountable in Defeat

Today talk radio shows will have jammed phones occupied by people who never played football eager to weigh in with their opinion of the coaches confrontation. Beyond the actions of these individuals in this particular post-game fracas, there are lessons in
personal integrity to ponder:
1. Celebration Is Not An Act of Disrespect!
2. Losing is an Unfotunate Part of Life!
3. Own Your Actions!

Get Some
I coach a soccer team of 6 year olds - we are very good! When I see these young people take what is being taught and apply it, my purpose on this earth is further validated. Am I a jerk for celebrating the achievement of these wonderful little people? Is it bad that I can't help throwing my hands up in encouragement for my place in this world and the legacy I have been lucky enough to be part of? Other coaches will occasionally look over at me with disappointment - they are disappointed that they are losing.

It is not arrogant to celebrate....it is an acknowledgement of our human existence. When the emotion turns off, your life is put on pause. Don't be afraid to celebrate because the other guy doesn't have what you earned!

Losing Sucks
No person has ever won every competition they ever entered. Even The Great Cael Sanderson must have come up short in a spelling bee somewhere along the line. It is bitterly unfortunate, but losing is part of life. I love nothing more than winning, but I have learned a great deal more from my losses. In order to elevate yourself as a person and a professional, you have to try things that may be beyond your perceived skill set. When you bump yourself up a level you stand to lose. Better to get on the elevator than to stay on the first floor.

If you are willing to try everything you stand to learn a lot. If you wish to try nothing at the risk of failure you may never lose....or learn anything.

Accountability
...another ominous core value...this one slightly more applicable.

The aforementioned coaches eventually owned their actions stating that they got caught up in the competitive moment. I am always disappointed when a public figure cannot be honest in light of their actions. If Tiger Woods held a press conference admitting that he lived his life in a bubble and lost control of his discipline when his father died, do you think he would have been more easily forgiven? The hardest thing to do is own your actions. There is hope to benefit from in unfortunate results if you can simply admit you are not perfect. It's also the right thing to do!

When the game is over you might see the other coach at the grocery store, on the playground or at church. Will you be looked upon favorably when no one else is watching? If you lose a deal and are graceful in defeat, that prospect will leave their door open for you. If someone betrays your trust, and you give them another chance, you allow them an opportunity to benefit from a loss.

Let's save accountability and integrity for tax season and the jury at the pearly gates. Until then, just try to do the right thing!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Monday, October 10, 2011

Get Grounded

I had a great little getaway to the coast with the family this weekend. I told a friend about it this morning and he said - "wow, I want to see pictures". I didn't have any. I almost felt defensive that my description of the Central California Coast did not quench his intrigue. His defacto response may have been a way to avoid conversation...if I had emailed him a photo album he could breeze through it and interpret for himself if he would ever visit. This is a sign of the times....send me something, I'll look it over, and we can discuss later if I see anything worth talking about.

He to whom I told of my vacation aside, the traveler himself can get caught up in a need for documentation. People tweet their activities from poolside in Hawaii, they compile unlimited photos to prove they had fun on the family vacation, they load the facebook page with visual proof that they are enjoying life....and you are not! Yes, it may be said that our need for documentation is not in memorial of a joyous time but justification of the money spent to put smiles on our faces.

Think about the greatest times in your life. Do you have pictures of them or are the memories permanently ingrained in your mind?

The immediacy of technology has destroyed our ability to enjoy ourselves! We take time away from our loved ones to put our head in our phone. We miss irreplaceable moments with our children because we are busy texting about them.

I would challenge that we need to get grounded!

We need to put away the handheld and participate in our life's memories. We need to get away from the lap top and truly enjoy a little time off. We need to stop taking vacations for the sake of visual content.

Three Bigger Questions:
Are you engaging in meaningful conversation?
Do you know how to craft a story?
Have you taken time to say I Love You?

It's Great to Hear Your Voice
How often do messages get misinterpreted via email or in social media forums. Words can be taken out of context, we say things hiding behind a computer that we wouldn't say to someone's face, our emotions get the best of us. Unfortunately, the Internet is written in ink. We can never take back what is documented.

We have gotten to the point that it is more convenient to email a customer and wait until tomorrow to address the real issue...that doesn't make it go away. When a co-worker has had a long day, it is very difficult to feel their troubles through a computer screen.

Good old conversation is the only way to ensure we are making communicative progress. It's never easy to confront the elephant in the room but elephant's eat the notes that you try to leave at their feet!

Story Telling
Peter Guber has received great accolades for his book Tell To Win. The general premise is that people have a better grasp for products and services when told to them in dramatic terms. I will always remember your presentation if you deliver it in the context of a personal experience that makes sense to me.

Drama aside, a lot of us simply have lost our ability to talk to people. After a day at the computer, we spew words at people without considering the setting in which our story takes place. Every day, I hear people talking to one another in insulting terms (even though they have good intentions).

Stop being defensive, stop pretending you know everything, and step out of your digital sanctuary.

I & Love & You
The Avett Brothers once proclaimed in song that the three words that are hardest to say are: I & Love & You! Ain't that the truth! Nowadays if we really need to tell someone we love them we can send them an email or write a cheesy facebook tribute. This way we get the emotion out of the way without truly having to engage in it.

As hard as it may be you need to hug your Mom, grab her by the cheeks, and tell her you love her! It might get weird for a minute but these are the things that genuinely matter!

The question that looms like a cheap chandelier:
Has Convenience Replaced All That Is Sacred?

Can we not visit the beach without taking a picture of the sunset. Can we not watch our children play without sharing the image with the world. Have we forgotten how to Love because it always requires editing?

Social Media rules! God bless Steve Jobs for giving us the I-phone! Thank goodness computers have helped us achieve more in less time!

More important than all of it, are the people we walk past every day....neglecting to say hi because we are texting them from across the room.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

50/50

After I completed my freshman year of high school I was asked to move from Beautiful Southern California to Michigan. My Dad had been promoted (again) and this caused me to depart my friends, the girl I loved, and a skateboard sponsor...to move to Michigan. The aforementioned factors flashed through my mind when my Dad called us in the kitchen to make the announcement. Selfishly, I told my Dad to say "no" to the promotion. For the first (and only) time in my life, I saw my Dad cry. I instantly grabbed his hand and said I would pack my bags. My sister stayed at USC and my Mom, Dad and I headed to the Mid-West.

One might assume this a tough transition but on the first day I arrived I met a few kids who appreciated my grace on a skateboard. They were humble, full of compliments and supportive. In short time, I found another girl to love and some of the best people I've ever met. The transition was, in all honesty, simple!

As we settled into our new home, my new friends became part of the family. I sent my sister pictures of the snow and my Dad's mid-western roots gained the respect of his new co-workers. All seemed to be well....until my Mom got the cancer.

My Dad was never home, my Sister was half a country away, I was navigating a new high school in a new land....but I took it in stride. Looking back, I didn't stress out about it in the slightest, maybe because I knew everything would be OK.

This is the apt (but not appropriate) way to describe it: Cancer is a Motherfucker! With my new driver's license, I earned the privilege of driving my Mom to Ann Arbor for Chemotherapy. The drives to the hospital were filled with the diversion of laughter. The drives home were different.

Observing the movie 50/50 was not easy. Things resurface: The smell of hospital rooms, the taste of hospital food, and the discontent of seeing one's heroes fallibility. This film is an extraordinary recounting of time spent with someone going through treatment. The key word being: treatment. We have come a long way! More so, the film revealed the value of true friendship, a parent's plight, and the recognition of one's mortality. It is a heart wrenching reflection of what is genuinely important.

As time goes by, the finish line gets closer. If you have good friends, a family who cares and the right care; the sprint becomes a marathon. Having spent time with someone facing the finish line, I know that time is fleeting and every moment is important:
Tell people you love them
Appreciate your friends
Try not to be annoyed by your family

My Mom turned 72 a few months back. Not everyone is so lucky!

The Great Matt Skiko is fighting the disease that took our friend and CEO Charlie Fina last year:
http://pages.lightthenight.org/nc/Raleigh11/teamskiko

Help if you can. Tell your friends and family that you love them.

Dear Readers, I tell you with great certainty that these days are desperately precious! Live them with every ounce of love you can muster!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave