Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012

I have a few friends who dislike 'best of' lists. That's ridiculous. I have been an avid music fan my entire life so each year I search for the best new music. With the help of Bob Boilen, Magnet, Under the Radar and a few informed friends; I have a gateway to musical awesomeness.

Long before Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity" was interpreted by John Cusack I was making mixed tapes. The process of sharing a year's events through music has always been a necessary outlet for me. We'll get back to the corporate world next week, this weekend I recommend spending a little time with your favorite records. Here are my Top 5 records of 2012 in ascending order:

5. Gossamer by Passion Pit
Every year a collection of harmless pop songs emerge to help us enjoy life in the midst of our tragic existence. Much like Mates of States' "Re-Arrange Us", this record makes me smile every time I put it on. 12 songs, all under 5 minutes. Party music for the sun, moon and stars. If you missed playing this record poolside this summer, I recommend you pump it on New Year's eve and find someone to make out with.

4. The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers
If you have seen thoughtful words scrolled on a bar room table, they are probably Avett Brothers lyrics. A little bit of banjo and words of cosmic introspection go a long way. Here, you have a collection of barn burners co-mingled with summer ending anthems. My guess is that young men who have headed off to college away from their sweethearts are still writing excepts from "Life" in love letters.

"You and I know all too well about the hell and paradise right here on earth"

3. The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
I went to High School in the early 90's, we pumped NWA on unpaved roads pretending to be ghetto. If 'The Heist' emerged at that time, I would image I might have had to listen to it in my car in the manner I did my tapes by The Cure. This is Hip Hop with a conscious: amazingly introspective regarding the topics of human rights, recovery, the industry, and God. Same Love is undeniably the song of the year. A massively aware effort!

"If you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed, the holy water that you soak in has been poisoned"

2. No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man on Earth
Kristian Matsson's stature is not representative of his moniker but his voice and guitar sound justify the name. In a day and age when electronics and computer production are layering songs like sonic nachos, all Matsson needs is his guitar. His voice is towering, his guitar playing is orchestral, and his words speak gracefully. A reminder that 3 chords and the truth stretch further than anything a machine can create.

1. A Shut-In's Prayer by Advance Base
I first saw Owen Ashworth (formally known as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone) at the Stork Club in Oakland before the millennium turned. He was slightly portly, had thick rimmed glasses (before they were cool), and a case of constant hay-fever. He took the stage with several toy keyboards and plugged them in at various points in a song's loop. His words spoken through his nose over toy band beats. The lyrics he spoke were as innocent as his zip up sweat shirt. Over the years, Owen's production has evolved from four track to soundboard and his piano playing has advanced, but the story telling and electronic accompaniment remain perfectly humble.

Another great year behind us. Our professional lives always evolving. Fortunately, there is a song for every mood. Our great escape is always in the palm of our hand. Take a walk, listen to a tune or two, and reflect on the year in the rear view.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

After The Storm

I woke this morning and to my astonishment the world had not given way to the Mayan predicted catastrophic what?

I guess we will go on living...

It is my hope, however, that our pondering of the end of the world may have given us some pause. If nothing else, hopefully we can live with greater purpose by means of acknowledging what is important and disregarding what is not!

Things We Should Do Less
Be less egotistic. Stop believing in things you do not believe in. Stop hurting people. Don't be afraid to stick up for yourself. Stop smoking. Stop discouraging children. Stop listening to people who do not listen to you. Ignore negativity. Stop wasting time. Turn off your cell phone. Stop watching TV. Stop being a loud mouth. "unfriend" unfriendly people. Stop working at the job you hate. Stop ignoring your dreams. Despite your passion, Religion and Politics are polarizing - don't force people to dislike you!  

Things We Should Do More
Identify what you genuinely believe in...and let that lead. Set goals at the beginning of each week. Recap your goals at the end of each week. Ask the girl in accounting to go out with you (even if she has a boyfriend). Exercise. Eat better. Spend more time with your children. Call an old friend. Tell a teacher thank you. Thank a cop for their service. Put your hands on the cheeks of your wife, look into her eyes, and tell her you love her. Help young people to avoid making the mistakes you have made. Donate your time. Teach someone something. Wake up early. Read. Start a conversation with a stranger. Dance. Ask your Dad about his glory days. Find a trail to hike. Listen to more records. Love more!

We dedicate far too much time to people we do not respect; try not to allow that anymore. Don't be distracted by things out of your control. Be acutely aware that you can always do more, work harder, and be a kinder person....

Hug someone! Seek to understand instead of dismissing that with which you do not agree.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, December 14, 2012

At The End of the World

Dear Loyal Readers -
As you are all aware 12.21.12 will mark the end of the world as we know it. I must say it has been a joyous ride! I have enjoyed every minute in this beautiful place. With one week left in our existence it is only fitting to thank the readers of DFTR for many years of companionship.

It goes without saying that I Love my Family....I will save our thank you for our final trot into the sunset.

I want to thank the extraordinary Laurie Ruettimann for inspiring me to write with candor, intelligence, and a sense of humor. I want to thank Steve Browne for being the most generous person in social media.

There are people who read this blog religiously, I thank you for taking time away from your life to escape into my mind: Kevin Costello, Brian Garvey, Steve Trompeter, Brett Butz, Peter Shaffer, Tara Collins, Steve Fanelli, Ned Fitzpatrick, Luke Benfield, Duke Fightmaster, Reid Retherford, Mary Sanderson, Dan Whitely, and the additional 750,000 people who have read my posts over the years.

What Have We Learned?
I hope I may have inspired a few people to work with greater purpose while taking life's lessons with a grain of salt. I hope I may have inspired a few people to beat themselves up a little less and to take their energy in a more beneficial direction. I hope you may have derived great self-confidence from this blog and have learned that you are your own judge and jury. I hope you never allow anyone to put a finger in your face. I hope you have hugged those you love (and a few people you don't)....and maybe you told a few people to Fuck Off along the way. You might want to apologize to them before the world ends. The line at the pearly gates will be long, best to hedge your bets.

Over The Next Week...
7 days...a few fleeting moments to say and do everything you ever wanted. Tell those you love that you love them. Call an old friend. Try a new food. Enjoy a drink. Stick up for yourself. Mend a fence. Tell the girl in HR that you have been in love with her since 2004. Let your boss know that she is appreciated; and that she doesn't have to try so hard to please everyone. Stop to say hello to a stranger. Thank the kid at the coffee shop. Tip your bartender an extra buck. Forgive your neighbor for letting his dog crap on your lawn. Call your favorite teacher and thank him/her. Write a manifesto for the end of the world to express how you might have lived life differently......and in the rare event the world doesn't actually end.....follow that manifesto. This life is yours to live! There is nothing keeping you from being exactly who you want to be! Be disruptive with loving intentions to make the world a better place. The miracle of your existence is far too precious to spend on anything less than making the impossible a distinct reality.

Thank you for 39 years of awesomeness! I hope we will all meet again in a place equally wonderful!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, December 7, 2012

The Intent of Our Complaints

In work, as in life, there are 2 types of people:
1. Those who know they can
2. Those who pretend they can't

...these groups are one-in-the-same. The two groups are separated however by a few simple human characteristics. We tend to be dramatically complex about our professional existence: we want grandiose applause when we succeed and will go to great depths to explain what is wrong with everyone else when we fail.

There is so much made about the four generations in the workplace at present. We are over-hauling organizational development to accommodate the new kids and strategically measuring the knowledge share of the old guard. There are, however, great similarities in all generations:
- We all complain (with good intentions)
- We all care...a lot
- We are all in this together

Don't Make a Good Thing...Bad
I don't know anyone who is good at failing. No one likes to lose. When things change in the workplace we tend to freak out and that may provoke us to verbalize our uncertainty. When we verbalize our uncertainty it sounds a heck of a lot like complaining.

Stop Complaining!

I have found that those who complain actually care a lot about their job. They may have been a top performer at some point (and they will remind you of that). They probably put in long hours and they are most certainly misunderstood.

Our every accomplishment will not be recognized. There will be days when nothing goes right. Your hard work and supreme intelligence may go unnoticed. Your single-handed victory of a 10 million dollar acquisition may be promoted as a "team effort".

As unfair as the aforementioned occurrences may be to your tender ego, they produce one great certainty:

Complaining only makes it worse!
I remember being the hardest worker in a 20,000 employee organization. I was in the office early, left late, was the first to adopt new initiatives, always took on extra work, and consistently produced what's the problem?

Beneath it all, my effort was directed by my personal career path. I acted like I cared for the greater good of the organization, but I really only cared about myself. My need for recognition of my effort revealed my real intentions and people saw through me.

...Not Good...

Over the years, I have accepted that if you do quality work, people will notice.

Collective Unconsciousness
My daughter was born on my Dad's 70th Birthday. They are separated by 4 generations and I love them both! When you were born is not important to me. Your effort and intentions are what matter.

You may think you are speaking for the group when you complain to the boss, but they are laughing at you behind your back.

You may think you have great ideas to share, but sign your employee handbook before you take over the organization.

We all have the ability to be a pain in the ass. It takes great effort! That effort is fueled by good intentions. Yes, your complaints are really based in your desire to make things better....this is an act of kindness.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, December 3, 2012

The Greatest

Kanye West proclaimed that he wanted to be the greatest artist of all time. When hearing the quote, I thought it ridiculous. That seems to be a general reaction. When a person says they want to do something extraordinary, we tend to roll our eyes and denounce their motivation. It may be certain that Kanye will not be the greatest artist of all time (I'm not even sure what he meant by the statement ~ and he may not be either). But we cannot denounce the man for having lofty goals!

2013 is upon us. It's time to plan for the future. So, here is a challenge.....

Set Ridiculous Goals
On January 1, our company continues a journey to nearly double our annual revenue! We will get there, because we can! If you are bold in your planning and you believe in your ability; greatness is inevitable!

As you map out 2013, don't plan to hit your quota, plan to double it. Don't plan to hire 20 new people, plan to hire 100. Don't plan to improve project efficiency by 10%, plan to crush it by 50%. Because You Can!

Be Inventive
Don't email me the same content once a week (for an entire year). If I don't need what you are selling repeating the same process will not convince me otherwise. Mix in a phone call, write a compelling blog entry, send me links to things that matter to me via social media, mail me a letter. There are a thousand ways to engage your audience these days. If you can't catch me on one street, try another....and be creative for goodness sake! If you are working hard doing uninformative work, you are wasting your time.

Never Give Up!
I was discussing the holiday lull with a friend of mine. We talked about certain decision makers being unavailable during certain stretches of the year. We then concluded that we were kidding ourselves. We can always make excuses for our lack of productivity.

You are in charge of your professional destiny! If you cannot achieve something the way it has worked in the past, try 10 different ways to get it done. If you don't have enough time in the day, wake up and hour earlier...stay up an hour later. If you don't have the tools to succeed, invent them. If someone does not want to talk to you, create a value proposition that they cannot ignore. Stop making excuses and make it work!

So, write down your goals for 2013...and then double them. If you only achieve 75% of your goal, that is a 25% increase in what you thought was possible.

Be  bold, set seemingly unattainable goals, redefine the standard.....become the greatest of all time! Because You Can!

Don't Forget to Remember!