The Key to Life? Know How to Catch Up

marathon yellow

Life is busy.  Twitter, email, online media, television, online social networking and face-to-face social networking.  I don’t know about you, but I have four email addresses and two Twitter accounts.  I have two phone numbers with voice mail and text.  I have accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.  I have dozens of actual friends and sometimes I spend actual time with them.

I do what I can to consolidate the streams, but it’s still a lot of information, flowing in each day.  Over time, I’ve learned a critical lesson:  “keeping up” is overrated.  We all step out if the information stream from time to time.  We go on vacation, we get on airplanes, we have the flu.  Sometimes we even just stop paying attention because we’re tired.  What successful people do better than the rest of us is to catch up more efficiently.

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Broken Windows and Corporate Decency

Broken Windows

Over the weekend, I became aware of trouble at GitHub, a collaborative center for software developers. Prominent developer Julie Ann Horvath (@nrrrdcore) detailed a campaign of discrimination and harassment at TechCrunch.

She described being harassed by the boys’ club of fellow developers, which she initially just ignored. Then, it appears that – as she gained prominence in the community – she was targeted by one of the founders and strangely, his wife, who was not an employee but frequently on the premises. And her code was wrecked by another developer whose social advances she had rejected. Bravely, she spoke up over the weekend, to describe her experience and explain why she was leaving the organization. Continue reading

Stop Communicating…

dialogue 2 large_2945003307

Communication is the biggest problem in human life.  Not because it’s a bad idea, but because we do it all wrong.  So let’s drop our typical vision of business “communication” to start something much more effective: “dialogue.”

I’ve been reading an interesting discussion of project managers on LinkedIn.  The discussion started with a question about the most important element of successful projects.  A large percentage of the comments center around project communication with a recurring theme that said roughly this: “you can be the world’s best communicator, but some people just won’t get with the program.”

Bunk.

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A Look at Women and Influence

Graphic - Women and Influence

Today is International Women’s Day, so it’s fitting that I capture a few thoughts on women and influence.  Last year, Warren Buffett said, “America has forged (their) success while utilizing, in large part, only half of the country’s talent.  For most of our history, women — whatever their abilities — have been relegated to the sidelines.  Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem.”

Women are often relegated to the sidelines.  Despite Sheryl Sandberg’s advice that we “lean in”, there are forces at work that have nothing to do with an ability to get the job done.  Many of those forces are benign, a simple artifact of decades (centuries) of male-dominated societies.  Women do things differently, and those differences are somewhat hard-to-understand for the pantheon of men-at-the-top.

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Project Management Made Simple

clouds and goal

What does it really take to run a project successfully?  I hear that question on a regular basis.  It sometimes surprises me, because the answer is really very simple.

Don’t get me wrong… Most project managers work very hard.   This job is the closest thing most of us will ever come to juggling angry kittens.   Even small projects have lots of “what ifs” and “yes, buts”.  While some large projects can take years, small projects might be finished in a matter of days.  No matter the size, here’s the action framework to keep in mind.

First, make progress toward goal(s).  

Nothing else matters if you’re not proceeding toward one or more of your goals.  Job one for all project managers should be to understand ALL the goals of the project, from all stakeholders.  Job two is to understand – and clearly communicate – the priority for those goals.  There will be conflicts, which you are there to resolve.  Understand your goals and priorities BEFORE you start the project and you will have an all-purpose roadmap for resolving issues along the way.

Another Loose Thread for Cord Cutters

Unraveled Wires

The current incarnation of Aereo isn’t the “future of television” I’ve been hoping for, but it is sawing through one more thread in the process of cutting the cord on cable television.

About four years ago in a fit of pique over bad reception and high prices, we ditched cable. We did what more and more people have been doing over the last several years, becoming cord cutters. We subscribed to Netflix and Hulu Plus, and bought a couple of pancake antennas for local channels. The quality of what we watch went up immediately. Last week, I finally bought the little jewel known as Chromecast and am surprised to find that it gives me even more choices that I’m actually interested in, right on the family room screen.

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The Slow, But Steady Demise of Cable

Frayed Cable

Almost four years ago in a fit of pique over bad reception and high prices, we ditched cable television. It was very satisfying to take our cable boxes and remotes down to the cable company and say, “Here, we’re done with these.” The woman in the service center wasn’t really our antagonist, so we just politely told her why we were ditching our service, and as we were leaving she good-naturedly said, “Good luck, but feel free to come back if you miss us.”

We haven’t gone back yet.

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Leadership Lessons from the Herd

Ever wonder how a flock of birds knows when to change direction?  What about a herd of deer which seem to zigzag through a field?  By taking a look at the behavior of other species, we can learn some lessons about leadership, and apply them to become better managers.  I’ve identified four keys which influence animal behavior, with implications for how you can better influence your team.

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Leadership Lessons from Backgammon

Backgammon Board 06-15-2014

Do you play backgammon?  After years of not playing, I pulled our board out of the closet recently.  Since then, I’ve been thinking about the game, and even playing a little on my iPad.  Like with so many other games, I like to think about the life lessons one can learn; maybe it’s because I’m a geek, or maybe it’s a justification for playing a game on my iPad.

Here are the leadership lessons I see in backgammon:

Think it through.   For those of you who don’t know the game, I’ll give the simplest possible explanation:  The point of the game is to roll two dice and move your pieces around the board.  When you roll, of course you could just pick up any of your game pieces and move them to an open slot, without any consideration of what might happen next.  However, backgammon, like leadership, is a game of strategy.   Continue reading

Social Media at Work: How Much is Too Much?

Social Media at Work Dec 2013It amazes me how often this question arises among millennials:  How much time is too much for social media at work?

Social media is like having real friends.  If you spent your entire work day socializing in the break room or chatting on your phone… well, you would get fired.

So seriously, how much time is enough?  How much is too much? Continue reading