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“That guy”, still…

Posted May 3 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

I was chatting about my recent little ditty with a friend of mine who never knew “that guy” (see http://thequoteguys.com/2018/04/that-guy-again/ ).

The real me would rather be a hermit.  With today’s headlines I doubt I’m alone in that yearning.  But life is meant to be lived among others; so here I am – living and working with the villagers.  It’s not easy.

Dr. Travis Bradberry wrote this about people like me.  Maybe you can relate:

Nine Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Sensitive people get a bad rap. Highly sensitive people’s strong emotions are easier to identify (and potentially use to their benefit) than the average person. This also helps them to communicate effectively because they don’t just hear the words coming out of other people’s mouths, but they also catch on to subtleties in gesture and tone.

The Highly Sensitive Person:

  1. You think deeply. When life throws you a curveball, you retreat deep into your shell, thinking through every aspect of what transpired before taking any action. Small things (in your own life and other people’s lives) can have a big impact on you.
  2. You’re detail-oriented. You’re as sensitive to details as you are to feelings. You see details that others miss, and you aren’t content until you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s. This is a strength that is highly valuable in the right profession.
  3. You take longer to reach decisions. Since you’re prone to dig deep beneath the surface, you tend to drag out decisions. You can’t help but try to run every possible outcome through your head, and this is often at the expense of the ticking clock.
  4. You’re crushed by bad decisions. When you finally make a decision, and it turns out to be a poor choice, you take it much harder than most. This can create a vicious cycle that slows down your decision-making process even more, as fear of making a bad decision is part of what slows you down in the first place.
  5. You’re emotionally reactive. When left to your own devices, you have a knee-jerk reaction to your feelings. You also have strong reactions to what other people are going through. When your emotions come on strong, it’s easy to let them hijack your behavior.
  6. You take criticism harshly. Your strong feelings and intense emotional reactions can make criticism hard to take. Though you may overreact to criticism initially, you also have the tendency to think hard about things and explore them deeply. This exploration of criticism can play out well for you in the long run, as your inability to “shrug it off” helps you make the appropriate changes.
  7. You work well in teams. Your unique ability to take other people’s feelings into account, weigh different aspects of multifaceted decisions, and pay attention to the smaller details makes you extremely valuable in a team environment.
  8. You have great manners. Your heightened awareness of the emotions of other people makes you highly conscientious. You pay close attention to how your behavior affects other people and have the good manners to show for it. You also get particularly irked when other people are rude.
  9. Open offices drive you crazy. Your sensitivity to other people, loud noises, and other stimuli makes it practically impossible for you to work effectively in an open-office environment. You’re better off in a cube or working from home.

It’s that fifth one that I constantly work to overcome.  You?

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

“That Guy”, again…

I have written about this side of me before (see http://thequoteguys.com/2014/04/that-man/).  Not the proudest time in my personal or professional life.  In a competitive world when there is seemingly a lot at stake; sometimes we feel it is OK if we “have to do what we have to do”:

David didn’t beat Goliath with a whiteboard. 

Brad Feld

Here’s the good news:  If we have demonstrated behaviors we are ashamed of in the business world (or any other part of the world for that matter), those behaviors, embarrassments or failures don’t have to define us forever.

Life is change…

Growth is optional…

Choose wisely.

Karen Kaiser Clark

Still, those tendencies may lurk underneath; I know mine do and recently did – again, not my proudest moment.

I am on a cross-functional team working to support a strategic initiative at my company (which I have also written about  http://thequoteguys.com/2018/03/strategic-direction/ ).  One member on the team, from another department, has several different views than I on both the initiative and how we should work together.  OK, we have our differences; happens every day in your world too.

Normally, our disagreements are tempered by the fact that we live in different cities and communicate via phone and email.  When “that guy” begins to surface during a disagreement, I can put my phone on mute and vent; or I can write my scathing email reply and then push “delete” instead of “send”.

But recently, he was in my office and came over to my desk for a visit.  I appreciated the gesture and told him so.  The conversation started with customary pleasantries… the weather, his flight, sports.  Then the topic turned to our strategic initiative.  He wanted an argument.  Argument?  Count me in!

Pratter’s Prayer

Lord, make my words as sweet as honey, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.

Unknown Sage

I don’t know, maybe this is a result of our generational gap; he a millennial (e.g. a bright young man with little real-world experience) me a baby boomer (e.g. a grumpy old man with plenty of real-world experience).  Maybe I could blame it on the horses as in the opening to Chapter Two of my book:

Dedicated to those business professionals who know the difference between the smell of horse manure in the barn vs. the “sound” of horse manure in the office.  Not everyone can do this for a living.

Maybe I just like a good argument once in a while.  Regardless, when my boss called and asked about the encounter I knew “that guy” was sited – again.  No honey in sight.

Coincidentally, my colleague’s manager works on my floor.  In fact, she walks past me many mornings on the way to her office.  I don’t really know her – just an occasional exchange of “good mornings”.  She wanted to see for herself if I was the ogre her direct report said I was. We had a very pleasant conversation – “that guy” was gone.

Today, the cross-functional team is back on track.  My young colleague and I are communicating on a professional even pleasant level.  And I’ll be more careful with any future, in-person encounters:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. 

The second-best time is today. 

Chinese Proverb

Oh, I still bite.  But when it comes to horse manure at the office, I have enough real-world experience to “choose wisely” and seek growth.  After all, there’s not much time left in my professional career to grow that tree.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

Nineteen years ago today, my hometown experienced the terror that two teenagers, feeling a sense of hopelessness, can bring to their high school, their community and our nation.  It was considered a rare event back then – unfortunately, it has become all too common today.

Life is hard and can often seem hopeless for too many young people.   If you have a son or daughter; grandchildren; nieces or nephews; or neighborhood kids; hug them today.

Tell them today that you love them and will support them as they make their way in the world to adulthood and self-sufficiency.  And if they are struggling to make ends meet – give them a few bucks.  Help them find a job.  Today, help them feel they belong.

Let’s reverse our society’s violence.  Let’s use our power of self confidence to increase the sunlight for those heading towards darkness:

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us. 

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton, Colorado – We are all Columbine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Seqhcq23M 

May you feel peace – and share the power of peace with others – today – and every day!

GAP

Self-Centered?

Well… I am definitely self-focused.  And I confess self-promotion is a close cousin that also contributes to my make-up.  However, I hope others don’t consider me self-centered.  I believe self-focus, self-awareness, and even a little self-promotion can actually be a good thing.

Ever since I can remember it has been important for me to do things well.  I’ve wanted to be an accomplished athlete; a successful salesman; a caring husband; a loving father; an excellent driver.

More than just striving to do well; I live in almost constant fear of failure.  I am not alone:

Only the Paranoid Survive ©

Andy Grove

I remember my first sales job in the technology industry.  They didn’t want to hire me.  I kept calling; kept interviewing; kept saying I could get the job done.  When they ultimately did hire me I remember thinking, “How the h@&! am I’m going to get this job done?”  I didn’t know anything about B2B selling.

Back in the day, I didn’t wear the right clothes; drive the right car; I wasn’t witty.  Everything about my sales role would have to be learned; scripted; rehearsed.  Trial and error was my constant companion.   I was in a perfect setting to fail.  Fear of failure was on my mind every single day back then.  Still is.

What made things worse – I was socially awkward.  One of my clients (Chip) told me a while back that he can relate.  Don’t ask me how we got on the subject; adult beverages were probably involved – liquid courage.  He described it as being a “Situational Extrovert”.

I remember the day my wife and I brought our first son Eric home from the hospital after he was born.  I looked at her and said, “Now what?”

Fear is not always good; it’s not always a driving force behind success:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

But for me; I’m afraid I won’t be good enough today; I’ll fail; I’ll let others down; I’ll drive poorly.  And that’s driven me to become self-focused; to pay attention; to realize how hard it is to succeed.  I’m still trying.

There are so many things in life outside of my control; the best thing I can do is to stay focused on me; on my performance; on doing my best.  I try to let the rest of the world take care of itself.  I mean, life is challenging enough for us all, yes?

Law of Life’s Highway:  If everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane. 

Unknown Sage

Truth be told, I think our world could use more self-focus even if it is at the expense of getting more of its cousin; self-promotion.  If people worried more about our individual effort and contributions; then things at our job level; our relationship level; our friends and family level might just improve.

Self-focus can be a good thing when applied appropriately:

Marcus Aurelius had a servant follow him around and every time Aurelius received a compliment the servant had to whisper in his ear, “You’re just a man… just a man,” to keep him humble.

Unknown Sage

Agreed – we must beware of those other “self’s”; self-absorbed; self-centered; selfishness.  Those aren’t beneficial; just the opposite.  And we all know more than a few people with those characteristics.

So, even though I’m an excellent driver, when self-driving cars finally arrive on seen I won’t resist.  I will finally be able to stop fearing my driving skills aren’t good enough.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

Breaking the rules…

This little ditty breaks several of my rules.  First, it contains some profanity – please stop if that will offend you.  Second, it continues beyond my “standard 600 words”.  For those of you who are new – welcome to my world LoL!  (see http://thequoteguys.com/2015/07/a-peek-inside/)

Staying with me?  Thank you!

I attended my company’s women in business lunch ‘n learn recently.  The topic was, “Gender equality in the workplace is good for everyone – including men.”  The presenter was a male millennial from our sales department.  He assigned us to small groups and facilitated an excellent and provocative discussion on our respective career views from our gender perspectives.

There are lots of “rules” in the workplace these days about roles men and women play.  Lots of terms like “glass ceiling”; “gender equality”; “women in the workplace”.  A general theme is today’s rules seem to have been written by men for the advantage of men and the disadvantage of women.

When our meeting facilitator played a TED Talk video clip featuring a prominent professor of social studies from an east coast institution (I apologize, I don’t remember his name), the professor offered this position for us to contemplate:

Privilege is invisible to those who possess it.

That caused me pause; I’m privileged.  Perhaps not always and in everything.  Like so many others, I’ve experienced my share of failure and even tragedy.  But perhaps because I’m a man; with a college degree; and a successful sales career; I would now be considered by others as “privileged”.  And if that is their view, I could not argue.

I never thought comparatively about my privilege from the perspective of women who do not feel they share equally.  This was the topic of our small group discussion.  The women in my group each said they do not feel they carry the same amount of respect as their male counterparts in the eyes of their managers or their clients – just because they are women.

Truth be told, I don’t give gender privilege in the workplace much thought.  Maybe because privilege is invisible to me.  Maybe, because my life has been largely influenced by women.  My wife and my mother are the two most prominent people who have helped make me the man I am.

In my first role as a technology sales “hunter”, my (pre-sales) Systems Consultant, Donna Provost, was my guide.  When I worked at Integral Systems and hit my first “Million Dollar Seller” recognition, Barb Sadtler was the sales rep in my office I looked up to.  Debbie Fritchman and Kathy Garvin were my pre-sales teammates every step of the way.

In my first sales manager role, Sheila McDonald, Lisa Kwicien, and Joy Cox were my top reps.  In my first divisional role, Patty Manvelichvili was the first person I recruited for my team of subject matter experts.  When I started my own company Teah Bennett was my mentor.  Today, an experienced, successful, and female executive leads my department.

I don’t believe my criteria for success in the workplace is gender-based.  I respect excellence; performance; results; and anyone that helps me win – male or female.

Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

Bill Gates

I hope the women in my life know how much I appreciate their help in not losing.

We are approaching my 600-word rule.  But today, I thought I’d continue with the wisdom from one of my favorite comedians (or is it comedienne?) – profane; provocative; professionally successful…

Feel free to stop here if you’re not a fan of Joan Rivers.  OK, that’s my 600.

Here’s what Joan Rivers told Penn’s graduating seniors in 1989

When they asked me to speak at graduation, I thought they meant GRADUATION. I’d been looking forward to quaffing champagne and wearing a black cap and gown – to match my roots. And I thought I’d be receiving a degree! They said I wasn’t going to get the degree, then they said I was going to get the degree, then they said I wasn’t going to get the degree. It became a situation I’m sure some of these seniors can easily relate to!

It seems like yesterday my late husband and I were talking to our daughter Melissa about choosing a college. The choice was made more difficult by our California standards. There, higher education is anything above crayons; the only culture you find out there is in yogurt. The idea of a really deep, philosophical, existentialist question is, “How tan am I?” We went to Bennington, where I was shocked at tuition – you could support South Korea for one year on it. And we went to Williams, where the most popular course was “How To Speak To Your Servants Without Using Your Facial Muscles.” We went to Brown and we sat in on a philosophy class where they discussed, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, who gives a shit?”

[At the first Penn football game I went to], Melissa had bet on Penn, and I bet on the number of cheerleaders who didn’t have nose jobs.

I’d like to tell you one thing, which is the truth as I see it. Please, everyone, look to your right, and look to your left, and look all around you – because right now, this is as good as it’s gonna get for a long, long time.

I hope all of you learn to fail, and plan to fail, and fail early on. Failure is the best thing that can ever happen to anybody. Not only did each failure in my life teach me something, it made me stronger. And moved me one step closer to success.

Don’t be proud. If you think the world is waiting for you now that you’ve graduated, you’re wrong. You think you’re hot. You think you graduated from Penn and Wharton: big deal. Nobody’s waiting for you. Try any path you can, go through any door that opens. Don’t wait for the right moment, because right moments come out of wrong moments.

Barbra Streisand is probably one of the biggest stars in the world, right? But if you think of her as unknown – she was no beauty: ug-o nose, stupid-looking crossed eyes, great voice, but nobody cared. She would go from audition to audition to audition. Nobody wanted her. Finally, in desperation, she sneaked into [an] audition for The Sound of Music. The call was for a 16-year-old, blonde, blue-eyed, young, very pretty Aryan. They’re looking for a Nazi. Perfect for Barbra! And she has the nerve to sing for them. [Someone told her], try nightclubs, which she did, and [eventually], she was discovered. She became a major, major star. And from that day on, I haven’t heard from the bitch.

If you don’t think [love and money] are related, spend a week in Hollywood. John Paul Getty once said – and I agree – “If you know how much money you have, you haven’t got enough.” Get out there, work hard, and thank God we’re living in a country where the sky is still the limit. And the stores are open late. And you can even shop from your bed, thanks to television!

I was one who, for about a minute and a half, went around saying, “Money doesn’t make you happy.” Yes, you can be happy without it. But it opens a lot of doors…From money, I turned to love, which is money’s first cousin. Look for love, and when you find it, grab it with both hands. And if it isn’t there at the moment, don’t be discouraged, because believe it or not, love comes to everybody. Even ug-os.

When love arrives, you have to make a choice: should I buy a real sofa or a sectional? A sectional is good because then you can split it up if it doesn’t work out, but I’m saying to you all, please get the sofa. Go for the gold. Don’t live together. Get married. It sounds dull, but marriage is just like living together – except you get presents.

Success doesn’t mean everyone’s gonna love you. Forget that. Success is short-lived, and you never want to trust success. Enjoy it for the moment, then, for God’s sake, go back to work. Never forget that work is the reason you became successful.

You think your childhood is over, but as long as you’ve a parent left, all you graduates will always be a child to somebody. Always remember, no matter how old you are, a light will always be in the window at your parents’ home for you. You can always come home. You can come for two days, for two weeks, for two years – even though that’s kind of pushing it a little bit.

I was asked to speak her today because I’m funny and I’m caustic and I’m cheap. That’s not the reason I accepted. I came because I wanted to pay tribute publicly to my daughter and to her friends and to the institution which has supported them and nurtured them and, please God, educated them. And what I mean by “educated”: I think that means that Penn has taught all of you to see, to hear, to smell, taste and touch.

You’re college graduates now. Use your education. Remember, it’s not who you know…It’s WHOM.

From Under The Button ©

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

Knowledge or Wisdom?

I have made my living in the IT business for the past 40 years.  I think we might all agree that in the IT business we have seen great minds with deep knowledge create once unimaginable technologies that have altered the course of humanity.

Yes, smart people indeed.  But altering the course of humanity comes with a price.  One price is I get to poke fun at my industry and those smart, IT people:

Conventional IT Wisdom:

Faster hardware doesn’t solve business problems – unless the business problem is slow hardware.

More bandwidth / memory / storage / processing power than you’ll ever need, will last you six months.  A year tops.

IT project advance or die.  Sometimes both.  But if it isn’t advancing it’s dying.

Functionality isn’t the same as usefulness.

The systems that last are the ones you were counting on to be obsolete.

Exactly what you want, always costs more than you can afford.

Data isn’t information.  Information isn’t knowledge.  Knowledge isn’t manageable.

Frank Hayes

There’s that word, “knowledge”.  Our favorite Unknown Sage offers this wisdom:

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

I guess that means when we’re assigning dishes for people to bring to the upcoming office pot luck, we should have IT bring the dessert and not the salad.

Even though I’ve “been in IT” for two score, I haven’t actually interacted much with IT.  I suppose their views about sales people are predictable – and perhaps even understandable and well deserved!  It’s probably because we simply think differently about things.  Back to our Unknown Sage:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle when an electrical malfunction disabled all its navigation and communications equipment.  With all the clouds and haze, the pilot couldn’t determine his position or how to get to the airport.  But he saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it up.  The sign read, WHERE AM I?

People in the building quickly responded with their own sign, “”YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.

The pilot smiled, waved, looked at hoes map, plotted the course to the airport and landed safely.  On the ground, the co-pilot asked him how their sign helped determine the helicopter’s position.

I knew that had to be the Microsoft building, the pilot said because they gave me a technically correct, but completely useless answer.

And yes, those Microsoft engineers are laughing all the way to the bank.  Wisdom aside, they definitely know how the money works!

Rule 8 – Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer.  This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 11 – Be nice to nerds.  Chances are you’ll end up working for one. 

Bill Gates

Still, there remain some IT professionals that know the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Back to Frank Hayes:

Conventional IT Wisdom:

Free anything… isn’t…

If nobody else is trying something, there’s usually a reason.  Maybe not a good reason, but a reason…

“We’ve never done it that way before” is a more powerful argument than any cost/benefit analysis…

It always takes longer and costs more to do it later.

A good idea is no match for a bad habit.

The hardest problems get solved last. 

I’d call that wisdom!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

The boss…

I have written about bosses and their/our quirks periodically.  Today, I often run into people who say their career aspiration is to, “move into management.”  My response?   “Be careful what you ask for!”

Recently I listened to radio commercials sponsored by the Denver Women’s Chamber of Commerce celebrating the “25 Most Powerful Women in Denver” (see http://www.cwcc.org/media-release/colorado-womens-chamber-commerce-announces-colorados-2018-top-25-powerful-women/ ).  Is that what being the boss is all about; power?

When I perused their list I saw big companies, big titles, and statements about overcoming big, bad, male-dominance.  Is that what being the boss is all about?

When I interact with “the boss”, that’s not what I’m usually thinking about.  However, truth be told I may have had those traits back in the day when I was the boss.  Only my direct reports would know.  (Maybe they’ll share their opinion?)

Permit me to share a few excerpts from my list on the topic of “being the boss”.

First, am I grounded?  Do I emulate Gandhi; or Attila the Hun?  I mean, if the boss is a whacko, how effective can he or she be managing/leading people?

There is both peace and power in knowing and understanding who you are, where you’re from and where you’re going. 

Doug Burgum

Second on my list:  How fun as the boss am I to work for?  Many people have jobs today with a degree of tedium.  Many people struggle getting everything done that every day demands both personally and professionally.  If we cringe when caller ID shows it’s the boss, how likely are we truly doing our best and contributing at our highest level?

Hey boss, how about this one:  Describe how you empower your people…  Do you readily and continuously share information with your team?  Or do you believe information is power, and withhold all/many/some of the key details?  Getting the job done through your people is your responsibility, isn’t it?  Here’s what Peter F. Drucker said:

Finally – and perhaps the most important lesson – the professional manager is a servant.  Rank does not confer privilege.  It does not give power.  It imposes responsibility.

Next up – as the boss, how well do you adapt to your people?  Or, are you of the mindset that your people must adapt to you?  Which approach do your people think works the best?  I learned this management principle the hard way.

The first day of my first time being “the boss”, was the beginning of our fiscal year.  Our annual ritual was to inform each sales rep of their new quota (which was higher); their new territory (which was smaller); and their new compensation plan (take a guess).

My team was comprised of three women; and one man.  The man complained; the women cried!  I wasn’t prepared for the latter – I hadn’t yet learned that as the boss.  My people helped me adapt – if I was going to be their boss, I better have a box of tissue in my office LoL!  And believe me, this event wasn’t about male-dominance; it was about behavior.  My job was to adapt my behavior to that of my people if I expected them to excel vs. exit.

So I repeat; if you’re committed to becoming “the boss”, beware!

Listening is the most potent talent of a leader, especially to what may be unsaid. 

Cal Turner, Jr.

Did I already list listening as a key attribute on my list?  Go ahead; double check; you probably weren’t listening.  No worries – I’m not the boss.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

Day by day…

If I do the math 45 years is the equivalent of 16,425 days.  This coming Monday marks 45 years; 16,425 days.  A significant amount of time to be with one’s significant other, true?

In reality it’s been significantly more than 16,425 days when I think about our engagement, plus the many days we dated in high school. And every day for over 16,425 days – more than 45 years – I have enjoyed being married to my high school sweetheart.  Happy Anniversary Debbie!

Many of you are in a long-lasting relationship; many have been married longer than we.  A Mile High Salute!  Maybe my relationship thrived because I was a “road warrior” for several years?  As one of my colleagues once said:

The secret to a long marriage is a husband that travels. 

Lisa Kwiecien

As you know, I write about my wife frequently; not necessarily daily; but frequently.  Like any couple, we have our good days and our not-so-good days.  Like many couples, we’ve also had some of those relationship-testing; foundation-rattling; we’re-not-going-to-make-it; kind of days.   When those days have occurred we followed James P. Owen’s advice:

When you’re riding through hell… keep riding.

Any meaningful journey is like that, don’t you think?  Even one of America’s most famous sweethearts offered all of us her guidance on life’s journey:

Pain nourishes courage.  You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you. 

Mary Tyler Moore

Over our 16,000+ days, we have had more than our share of wonderful things happen; all driven by love.  In fact, 45 years ago this month the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Love Train” by the O’Jays.  According to Wikipedia:

The word ‘train’ comes from the Old French trahiner, from the Latin trahere meaning pull, or draw.

I have been a passenger on that love train as my wife has pulled us along for 45 years!  Of course, I’ve tried to pay attention to the little things that make a difference day by day; lighten her load a bit; smooth the tracks.  Rob Gilbert made a list:

How to have a Winning Day:

You have to listen more than you talk…

You have to smile more than you frown…

You have to be fascinated more than you’re frustrated…

You have to believe in yourself more than you doubt yourself.

You have to work more than you whine.

You have to do more than you don’t.

I have also paid attention to my role, responsibilities and boundaries:

Men ordering custom colors must first bring in a note from their wife.  

Guiry Paint Store

It’s OK; she writes the notes; I run the errands; we make a great team.  And on those occasional occasions where disagreement looms, we heed Harlan Miller’s advice:

Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving three or four things a day unsaid.

16,425 days and our love train is still rolling strong.  No matter our future course; no matter the challenges we will face; the trials that will test us; not even the weather we may encounter; our love train will continue – pulled along by my significant other – regardless of whether the wind is boosting us from behind our back or resisting us as it blows hard in our face.  Etheridge Knight’s words will continue to guide us:

Love is a rock against the wind.

Happy 45th Anniversary Dear!  You’re my rock and I love you.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

Strategic direction…

Last year, my company made a strategic change to our go-to-market approach and corresponding sales, implementation and support processes.  We made significant changes to almost all of our software programs too.

This is not a foreign phenomenon – companies implement strategic directional changes all the time, true?  And you know it’s strategic when they create a logo, a slogan, and have T-shirts made up.

As with any “strategic direction” there was a corresponding amount of “push-back” from the field.  This is also not a foreign phenomenon – pushback from the field is always a normal reaction to changes in strategic direction, especially from sales people – true again?

It always amazes me how change-adverse sales people are even though our profession is all about selling change.  But I digress.

I was one of the messengers tasked with going out to face sales teams and sell the advantages of said strategic direction.  Carrying the message from leadership to the field – fun!  I was not a member of the Corporate Staff, thankfully.  Just someone on one of the internal teams assigned to this project:

Corporate Staff:

Known in some quarters as Sea Gulls for reasons relating to their propensity to fly round the country leaving their mark wherever they have alighted. 

Norman R. Augustine

As I mentioned, there has been a degree of pushback from our constituents.  Pushback often gravitates towards the shadows of strategic initiatives; the areas not fully baked; vague issues yet to be worked out.  And vagueness in the technology field presents problems:

Golub’s Laws of Computerdom

Fuzzy project objectives are used to avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.

A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; if carefully planned, it will take only twice as long.

Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.

We’ve all been there – leadership decides on a strategic direction and a project team is assembled to covey the tactical meaning and daily impacts to the field.  In 2017, I was one of those project team someones.  Hooray!

In 2018 we are continuing our strategic direction.  Our team has done a pretty good job with pretty good support in the deployment of these strategic changes.  But it seems that in every meeting, someone from the field stumps us with a question about the process and the changes that puts in that uncomfortable, “I have no clue what they were thinking” position.

When we are put on the defensive we can’t always defend or even explain our Corporate Staff beyond Woltman’s view:

Woltman’s Law

Never program and drink beer at the same time.

I think it will be OK though.  Strategic changes are often complicated; take a while to work out the vagaries; hard to convince everyone.  And given the complexity of this roll-out I feel we have faced the field as well as possible.

That is until we’re facing said field and someone raises an issue we weren’t prepared for.  Then, if we’re not careful; even with our pretty good efforts; we run the risk of making things worse:

Anderson’s Law

Any system or problem, however complicated, if looked at in exactly the right way, will become even more complicated.

So, if your company is making a substantial change and you’re involved with articulating the message behind the new, strategic direction to the field, don’t panic.  Just hide the keg in the programming department and plan your travel so you don’t follow behind the Corporate Staff.

GAP

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Good fortune…

Posted Mar 1 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

February is my birth month. That means I will pause for a moment and reflect on the past twelve months. I will speculate on what the next twelve will bring, to be sure. But I need to do more than mere speculating. I must set a course for success. Good fortune does not appear by happenstance, true?

So far, I have finished my Annual Achievement Plan – yea! I have also submitted our documentation to the CPA who will finalize our income tax returns – yuck! I suppose if our financial situation is involved enough to merit a CPA’s expertise, that’s a good thing. Until I receive his invoice that is.

Speaking of good fortune… I’m looking forward to the upcoming year. It’s another year offering me the opportunity to get better. Lord knows I certainly have plenty to get better on. This year’s birthday can be the juncture between backwards and forwards:

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Soren Kierkegaard

Looking backwards it is important to recognize my failures; understand what went wrong. On the other hand, I want to celebrate my accomplishments too. Like many people, regretfully I still gravitate to focusing more on my shortcomings than my successes. Gurus would say, “Live life with no regrets” – but I think that only works for gurus.

So if part of life’s fulfillment is facing and recovering from failures, then I am leading a very fulfilling life indeed LoL! Today, as I seek to understand my past year in preparing for this next year, I’ll try to heed John Charles Salak:

Failures are divided into two classes – those who thought and never did, and those who did and ever thought.

What do you think? Which class of failure is worse? I’m guilty of both. But that’s OK; this next year affords me the opportunity to learn from the past; to improve; to be better; to accomplish more; and hopefully, to fail less. How about you?

When we pause to think about it, one of the keys to good fortune has to do with our daily routine. A “big splash” or two might occur during the year. But for most of us it’s all of those little things; all of the details; all that we do (or choose not to do) day in and day out; that builds towards our annual outcome:

Some wins and some losses are big and unavoidable, but most of life is won or lost at the margin.

Harry S. Campbell

Setting up my daily routine to win “in the margins”, that’s an important lesson to apply to my upcoming year. And if God blesses me with peace of mind and a few “big wins”, I will be grateful. But I’m not counting on Divine Intervention to make my way. As has been said, we will reap what we sow. While remembering past failures, I am sowing this year’s successes.

Thankfully, I’m still ready, able, and willing to work for my harvest:

Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.

Emily Dickinson

So here’s to good fortune this next year on earth – for you; for me; for our families; and our friends. And as we stumble into failures seen and unseen, let those not deter us from fulfilling our full potential.

Then come the following year, we can repeat the process; building a lifetime worthy of remembering – of celebrating – of having won in the margins.

Good fortune everyone – let’s go to work!

GAP

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