Thursday, December 31, 2009

What We Learned in 2009

Dear Readers -
Thank you all for supporting this blog in 2009.

There has been so much to fret over in the last 365 days:
* Economy in the worst state of decline since the great depression
* Jobless rate @ 10%+
* H1N1 paranoia
* War
* Misallocation of tax payer funding
* Scandal; everywhere there is scandal

At the inception of 2009, we knew the worst was to come: We worked harder, got more creative, spent less and became more educated in our decision making. So, how can we use the disaster in the rear view mirror to learn and grow?

Be Informed
For far too long we used pre-supposed discovery methods to formulate organizational strategies.
a. The CEO solely decides the direction of the company
b. Let's present a survey to our employees.

These methods, while strategic in their predictability are broken. A man or women in an ivory tower can predict the financial well being of the company and keep pay checks coming but strategy is ever evolving and no single person can track development in the trenches on a day-to-day basis. Surveys are often administered to say 'we asked and only 10% responded, they all said the same thing' - this is called Lip Service and it is the primary failing element of entitlement as a means of people management.

Engage your workforce by empowering line managers. Take the regulatory checklist out of the job description and allow your leaders to lead. No politics, no policy - Trust and Empowerment!

Be Creative
"In 2009, I worked twice as hard with half the results" - the salespersons creed of the last year.

Dear Readers, you can walk into a wall or fun into it.....remember what Einstein said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".

Those who succeed saw a tiny door in dead ends and escaped through it by:
* Forming informal partnerships
* Developing new approaches
* Leading with Methodology; not products
* Inviting a Mentorship from an objective third party
* Finding additional skill enhancement through social media

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy
If you are uncomfortable with the canned phrasing, call it something else. But know this, if you do not understand the larger intent of your business practices you are a replaceable paper pusher. Every action within your job description needs to be a spoke in a strategic wheel. What does filling out that form mean to arming you with additional skills for evolving you as a professional and elevating the organizational cause? Search your mind, white board it....if you come up with no answers, you have two choices:
* Stop doing it!
* Make something up!

My advice to you is simple. Every day in 2010, take one minute at day's end to assess how your incremental tasks are pertinent to the Organizational Mission. At the conclusion of this daily assessment further your strategy by doing the following:
* STOP DOING NEEDLESS TASKS...and be willing to explain why.
* DEVELOP A STRATEGY...that brings greater relevance to every task you perform.

We are alive & it cannot get any worse! Knowing this, why not step away from what is comfortable, get some balls and try new things!

" bold and mighty forces will come to your aid..."
- Frances McDormand from the decade's best motion picture Almost Famous

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Decade of Music

Friends -
The first 10 years of the Century sure did bring us some amazing music. For those naysayers who still believe 'they don't make them like they used to'.....make them a mix tape including a song from the following:

1. We Are All Beautiful People by For Stars
2. A Grand Don’t Come for Free by The Streets
3. Songs for Silverman by Ben Folds
4. Reunion Tour by The Weakerthans
5. Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne
6. Putting the Days to Bed by The Long Winters
7. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco
8. Tallassee by The Mountain Goats
9. The Con by Tegan and Sara
10. I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning by Bright Eyes
11. The Beginning Stages of The Polyphonic Spree
12. Boys and Girls is America by The Hold Steady
13. Old Ramon by Red House Painters
14. Return to Cookie Mountain by TV on the Radio
15. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
16. Come On Feel The Illinoise By Sufjan Stevens
17. Give Up by The Postal Service
18. Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron & Wine
19. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips
20. () by Sigur Ros

Thank You for Listening!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009 - The Year in Music

Friends -

We often hearken back to old favorites when we want to hear great music. But, did you know that there is a slew of awesomeness being created across the musical landscape as we speak. Yes, 2009 was a great year for the creation of music.

My friend Laurie hates lists. But like the crew at All Songs Considered, I cannot help but display my favorite records of 2009:

(Drum roll....)

1. Vs. Children by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
2. Aim and Ignite by fun.
3. Sainthood by Tegan and Sara
4. I & Love & You by The Avett Brothers
5. Summer of Fear by Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
6. Hospice by The Antlers
7. The First Days of Spring by Noah and the Whale
8. Keep in Mind Frankenstein by Grand Archives
9. Ben Folds presents University A Cappella
10. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix
11. To Willie by Phosphorescent
12. Ocean Eyes by Owl City
13. Eskimo Snow by Why?
14. Yours Truly, The Commuter by Jason Lytle
15. Dear John by Loney, Dear
16. The Life of the World to Come by The Mountain Goats
17. Far by Regina Spektor
18. One Fast Move or I’m Gone Benjamin Gibbard & Jay Farrar
19. Grrr… by Bishop Allen
20. Middle Cyclone by Neko Case

Thank you for Listening!



Monday, December 21, 2009

Best of 2009

Well Friends -
2009 has been a rough year. In times of struggle the arts and related outlets become of paramount importance. For years, I have been posting my Top 5 Albums of the Year....In response to a dear friend's request to write something 'people actually care about' here's a low down on everything cool and not-so-cool from 2009.

1. Vs. Children by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
2. Aim and Ignite by fun.
3. Sainthood by Tegan & Sara
4. I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers
5. Ben Folds Presents: University A Capella

Best Film:
(500) Days of Summer

Best TV Series:

Best Book:
Who's Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi -

Best Publication:
Inc Magazine -

Best Value Product:
Tabasco Sauce

HR Person of the Year:
Laurie Ruettimann -

Mom of the Year:
Valerie Ann Cabrera-Kovacovich -

Funniest People:
Sarah Silverman -
Zach Galifianakis -

Best Trend of 2009:

Sportsperson of the Year:
Melaine Oudin -

Best Political Movement:
Appreciating the President -

Best Blog:
This One

Person of the Year:
Blake MyCoskie -

Best Militant Protest Group:

WORST OF 2009:

Worst Trend:
Advice on Parenting

Worst Parenting Trend:

Worst Person:
Richard Heene

'Thank You' for a successful year. I hope this Blog may have provided an escape for you!

Here's To 2010!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave

References: listed herein

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the Elevator

In these trying times, companies are making adjustments to maximize output. As such, some people are losing their jobs while others are afforded greater opportunities.

For those of you who have found yourself a promotion (for better or for worse) in the 'more with less' era, here are a few tips:
* Lead By Example
* Don't try to be a Sheriff without earning the Badge
* Listen, Empathize and Redirect
* Let them know it will be OK
* Be Confident

I have too commonly seen people who excel as individual contributors miscast as Leaders. Traditionally, they fall back on force fed (proven..?) management structure to implement systems of efficiency and micro-mange to a process. Most commonly, the once teammate turned corporate 'yes (wo)man' loses the respect of his or her team and thus is unable to make an impact. It is better to get creative, try something new that is not transparent in the intent to be 'new for the sake of new', and to be able to differentiate the intent.

You do not need to prove yourself! Your team worked at your same level yesterday, was passed up for the promotion and now begrudgingly report to you. If you assume a 'new sheriff in town' style of management; your transparency will back you into a corner....and the 'told you so' ropes will be your only escape.

While you cannot please everyone on your team, pleasing members of management will be even more difficult. You are stepping into a world of advice....many of those advising have been in the position for many years (and that's not a good thing). Accept advice, take a few points from each uncommissioned advisor and appeal to nobler motives.

Go Outside: Now more than ever, you can learn how to be a manager in one day through the Internet. Fresh Ideas with Applicable Intent are the easily accessible toolbox for success to any new leader. Social networking tools, case studies and a plethora of books are at your disposal. Understand the format of ideas in every philosophy, apply them to your organizational cause and empower your team to perform through trusted fueled education.

Introducing the Middle 80. In every organization there will be 10% of people who love every concept you (or anyone else) throw their way. In contrast, there will be 10% of the people who never had the opportunity you do, now hate their job and work against all new organizational directives (in this case: you). The group of influence is the 80% in between that can go either way based on your approach, your ability to convey it and the empowerment to follow it.

The Middle 80 Hierarchy of Needs:
1. Stay Employed
2. Perform without Someone looking over your shoulder
3. Achieve Results
4. Develop a Path
5. Live a Bigger Organizational Intent

People mostly want some levity in their process, a cause they can believe in and some light at the end of the tunnel. Lead Accordingly.

All eyes will be on you. There is a reason why there are 10 people on the diamond and 60,000 in the stands. It is much easier to sit back with arms crossed and judge than to step forward and lead. You are in your position because you are of a high skill set, are level headed in your approach and strategic in your business management style. Lead Accordingly.

Take advice, be firm when data does not support emotion, but more than anything: Create Your Leadership Persona based on a genuinely motivated intent......if you don't have to fake it you don't have to remember who to be.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Danger of Framed Language

In stand up comedy there is a technique called a segway - a phrase to transition from one topic to another. Segways are a huge part of personal and professional interaction as well. Segways in professional conversation are an art form and those who execute them well have the ability to provoke immediate trust through capability display. This is certainly a difficult skill set to master but my challenge to the readers of this blog is to eliminate framed language.

New Year's Resolution: Eliminate the following phrases from your Personal and Professional conversation:
* ...It is what it is
* At the end of the day...
*...throw him/her under the bus
* But...

When you throw pre-supposed, under thought, catch phrases into your conversation your audience immediately glazes over. The aforementioned phrases prevent the maximum impact of your message. Be authentic, be relevant, use language that is pertinent to each phrase in which you are living.

It is commonplace for us to frame an insult with a back handed compliment:
"That is was a really great point, but...."
- You just crushed all positive intent in your statement

Try: "That is a great point and it might further benefit you to...."

I struggle every day with these principles of conversation. I pause for 15 seconds at time trying not to mutter phrases that have been embedded in my psyche for years. We know when people are pre-programmed in their language and as smooth as their message may flow too many framed segway determine one certainty: this person is full of shit!

Try to eliminate catch phrases from your conversation with your friends and significant others....use a pause if necessary. Sooner or later you will find that the pre-supposed segways you lean on do not compliment the flow of your conversation but rather distract it.

Push yourself to be more authentic in your conversation and it will serve to benefit your life approach. If we try harder in our communication, the human barriers will break down and we will open ourselves to others with Genuine Intent.

Unzip Your Soul!

- Dave


Friday, December 4, 2009

The Unseen Divide

It's 5:00 - punch out and run to the bar, gym or to your daughter's recital. Take off your tie, untie your boots and put the day behind you. Work for the weekend, TGIF, work to live.

The paradigm between ones personality and the work he or she does has often been more like a great divide. The phrase "work hard, play hard" is often used to explain a way to make money through vigorous effort and then to use a similar motivation to blow it all on the fruits of the night. Essentially, when you have hit the peak of your motivation go out and knock yourself down several pegs so you can spend Monday and Tuesday rebuilding your confidence. We wouldn't want you to get too focused and apply your energy directly.

These days we spend less time in an office, yet our hours of work are extended...9 to 5 is certainly a thing of the past while a mid day motivational recharge has become essential.

My Continued Proposal: Use the Energy Behind that which you Love to Motivate you at Work!

No more dividing your hobbies and interests from professional task management and careers; they do not have to be separate.

People love you at the Happy Hour because you are honest in your direction, supportive of others aspirations and expressive in your motivational intent. Why are you less honest, supportive or verbose when the loud mouth soup is no longer in your hand.

You dedicate yourself to your favorite sport of rowing. Out on the water every Saturday morning displaying leadership, courage and teamwork. Yet on Monday, your hand sits at your side when project volunteers are requested.

The Violin is the key to your soul; your outlet.....why can't symphony be part of your professional development....why must you escape to it?

We do not have to live this way!!! Love what you do and you will thrive every day!!!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Never Stop Working

Generations X & Y have been characterized and often criticized for redefining the scope of the Global Business World. In the dawn of the 90's, suits turned to jeans and casual sweaters, punching the clock turned to lap top logging and cutting out of the office for a lunch time martini turned to cutting out for a mid-day work out.....oh, and smoking in the office is pretty much foe paw everywhere.

The one thing more mature generations cling to is a tireless work ethic and motivation without benefits. "In my day....", is a term that was heard by every Thanksgiving fire from Granddad's and Gramma's alike. There was a time when people walked to the office uphill both ways in the snow, punched a clock without breaks, wore uniforms and were not permitted to leave said office until their checklist was complete.

At some point, working hard was replaced with working smart. But in these seemingly unending times of economic challenge the new buzz phrase is "more with less". Strangely enough, a new generation of workers seems to be accepting the challenges of the modern economy not by reverting to presupposed professionalism but by simply working hard. No longer does looking busy seem to be popular so much as holing up in one's apartment over a lap top until the project is complete.

Technology has created three distinctions:
* Endless virtual office hours
* Comfort of work environment
* A free landscape for mind expanding idea generation

This Holiday Season, when your grandfather mutters under his breath as you walk in with full Bon Iver beard, pose three questions to him:
1. Did you ever work a 20 hour day?
2. Was that suit comfortable?
3. How many of your 10,950 days at Widgets Inc did you actually enjoy?

After which he will tell you to pound and send you off for another pint of Old Grandad.

Sure, the Holidays would be no fun without stories of the old glory days. But let's agree on a few points:
* True motivation has nothing to do with ones wardrobe
* Long hours seem shorter when you are genuinely engaged in your organizational cause
* Grandpa and Gramma Rule!

Happy Holidays!

- Dave