Archive | You You You

12 June 2010 ~ 0 Comments

human being

human being

People sometimes forget that they are human beings.

In amongst all the non-fiction books of the moment that are discussing the physical makeup of the brain and all it can do and perhaps why it does it, often referred to in a business context of why we all fail to conquer the world today, there feels like a greater point missing.

We are all human beings.

We like things and sometimes we don’t. We are dashingly unpredictable.
We fall in love with new people and stay in love with people who have been around us forever. We take care of them and they take care of us.

We can and do cry, go crazy and ramp up emotionally without the insincerity that business calls for. We can genuinely want to kiss someone with the spark of fluffy kittens or hurt that same person with the fire of watching them punch those kittens.

We do things to be near people who are like ourselves. We mourn loss and conversely can live for weeks on the adrenaline of excitement for something we want to do or people we want to see.

Politics, whether in government or an office, injects a paralyzing dose of inhumanity into our brain.

The professor-like part of our brain loves politics. The other part, the wild horse, hasn’t a clue what is going on and nor should it.

Through heavy applied processes, unimaginative business mechanisms and even religious fears; for far too many the wild horses have been deemed injured and are summarily shot. The glue factories are doing a roaring trade these days while the professors’ dully and duly procrastinate ahead with no notion of love, regret, compassion or feeling.

It’s okay to be in love (with people or things you do). It’s also perfectly fine to swear out loud, cry, drive a day to see a waterfall, surprise someone who means a lot to you, smile at a passing stranger (especially a cute one) and step into craziness every now and again.

The human part of being a human.

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16 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

you be you

you be you

In an office environment there are good people, great people and bad people. They surround you and you cannot help but be influenced by them. Hopefully you are more drawn to the characteristics of the better ones, naturally, however never underestimate how rapidly a negative personality burns through a team too.

The classic copycat characteristic is to behave like your boss. Or their boss if a double jump up the ladder is desired. Often there are people who are incredibly charismatic, seemingly powerful or apparently successful. Staff navigate toward these beacons of the workplace and they are often emulated and adored. There is always a smaller minority who sits and criticizes these most prevalent characters.

All adoration does not matter in the context of getting things done. Not one tiny bit. Replace ‘office environment’ for ‘high school’ and the same social dynamic applies with more or less the same emotive effects.

But what is so special about the beacon that draws people to him or her? Have they read the right books? Attended the right business schools and were taught the right way to behave? Unlikely. They are more likely simply being themselves.

Forced behavior is obvious. People, everyone, can see through this layer of facade exceptionally easily. We are all naturally skilled at spotting this.

In the age of the factory to be like someone else was important. It was a desirable quality when management considered switching out a cog in their machine for a better, more appealing cog.

In the age of the knowledge worker people should be naturally self-directed and working to make their surrounding world better, rather than collecting a regular wage for attendance or adhering to ’smaller, faster, cheaper’ principles.

In seeking the beacon to follow, people aren’t looking for the best, shiniest, most charismatic cog in the machine. Nor should you be.

Be yourself. Don’t emulate someone else, especially someone in your immediate surroundings. If you believe something should be done a certain way, do it that way even if those around you would likely not have.

You are paid to be you. You need to be you because people around you need you to be you. Be the beacon for everyone around you.

(If you are in a company that only values having cogs in a machine, what are you going to do about it?)

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07 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

street sweeper

street sweeper

There’s one wise saying that has stuck with me since childhood: “it’s better to be the world’s best street sweeper than an average boss”. My dad said it and I cannot for the life of me remember the context or exactly when he told it to me (though I’m certain he said it more than once).

Decades have passed by since I first heard it and only now does it truly make sense to me.

The “Peter Principle” famously states “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.”. It’s not difficult to find examples of this. Lots of them. Incompetence is only one factor that renders poor Peter useless. Fear, anxiety, lack of experience, absence of mentors, ego, jealousy. Poor Peter.

Any person’s natural instinct is to jump on that ladder and climb. The bigger the jump in steps, the better. A hierarchy in a company is it’s own game show. Must win. Must be the first. Want to control EVERYTHING.

Inside every person is a core value. Not a ‘be nice to everyone’ or ‘save the planet’ value, but rather one thing that makes you want to stay awake at night to finish something and has you jumping out of bed in the morning to carry on with it. It’s in your blood and you’re incredible when you do it. For me it’s Product Management – starting from zero to fully launching a new product to a receptive audience, with everyone around you happily along for the ride. What’s yours?

Does this mean pausing at a point in a company where you’re doing what you love should be confused for lack of ambition, laziness or corporate insanity? Definitely not.

Be the street sweeper. Be the best one in the world. Do it with heart and pride and people will notice, the world will be a better place because you’re doing something you care about and the legacy you leave will inspire others.

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04 April 2010 ~ 0 Comments

journey

journey

This was meant to be a routine business trip to Toronto. Car, airport routine, hotel, office and back.
But things went wrong. Nothing catastrophic, but certainly far away from the travel routine I’m so well practiced in.
I arrived at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson airport as I always do. Pulling two suitcases behind me I rode up the escalator that takes me to the check-in area.
In front of me was a man. An old man. He turned and started talking to me. Being so deep in routine I had no idea that it was me he was talking to, it was pure noise to me. He was excited. His sister was arriving from Detroit and staying with him for two weeks. He hadn’t seen her in over a year. He wasn’t just telling me he was excited, he visibly was. His expression was lit and, despite is elderly years, he edged forward like he was starting a race. His sister was nearly here!

Someone was excited to be at the airport. I’d forgotten that that was even possible.

Instead of flying directly to Toronto, I took the cheaper route this time. The eight hundred dollar cheaper route via Buffalo, New York. After picking up the rental car I headed north to the Canadian border.
Despite other people’s claims that crossing by car is far easier, I faced a hard time. Heading over at a quiet time clearly caught the border agent mid-boredom, so he picked on me (or, at least, it felt like that). Nearly an hour later I was on my way into Canada.
Almost. A few hundred yards ahead of the border crossing is a toll booth. If you didn’t already know, I work in the credit card industry. I wear the career well and no trait says I’m deeper in the industry than barely ever carrying cash.
As luck would have it, there’s a well placed ATM inside an currency exchange in between the toll booth and the border. In the same way as the rest of my day was going, the ATM wasn’t accepting my cards.
The final resort was to head over to the duty free store right on the border. The lady in the store started guiding me back across the border to local ATMs that may work (she had no idea the border crossing hell I’d just been through), when one of her co-workers asked me how much the toll was. He looked like he was just finishing up his shift. He headed through to the back of the store and came back with $3.75 and gave it to me.
He had no idea who I was, where I’d come from or where I was going (except it was via the tollbooth I had no cash for, of course). He didn’t want to know either. I asked how I can pay him back and he told me to “make sure you help someone else, pass it on”.

Someone helped a total stranger with no expectation of something in return. I didn’t know that still happened in the world.

With the toll crossed, the bulk of the week continued as expected. Met some fascinating business people (who are also exceptionally successful) I’d never met before, hung out with the gang in the Toronto office and connected with customers. Then it was time to head back home.
Despite fearing the 407 toll being applied to my National car rental (with $10 convenience fee – their convenience, not mine), I managed to avoid toll roads and made it across the border and back to Buffalo with no excitement.
There’s so few ways to describe the feeling of heading home. Triumph, relief and comfort all wrapped up together. As I stood at the Delta gate listening to announcements of a flight delay that was promoted to a full cancellation, I knew the promise I’d made to my kids that I would see them that night was about to be broken.
Cancellation turned into a Delta-sponsored stay at a nearby hotel of their choice. With the airline industry having lost its way financially, this manifested itself as a sleepover in the local Days Inn. It was roughly the same time as this happened that I also confirmed a long thought suspicion that I’m a closet snob.
In what felt like an episode of Lost, a collection of people I didn’t know when i woke up that morning who were all traveling on the same flight, and therefore were all stranded, all started to talk.
There was the 17 year old with a guitar who was traveling on his own for the first time. A businessman from Montreal with a very heavy French accent who had been on his way to tee off at 8am on a course in Palm Springs. An Interior Designer who works for IKEA who was heading to Oklahoma City to see and surprise her mom who’d fell ill just days before.
Everyone had a story and a purpose. Everyone wanted to be somewhere else, but instead was involuntarily stuck in Buffalo New York for the night. Had the plane left on time and not been cancelled, all of these people would have simply passed by on the periphery of my mission to reach home.

Every day is a school day. Instead of bitching and complaining about not getting home and having to stay in a Days Inn, which is what I’d usually do, I met some pretty cool people and learned a little more about the world.

So what? For every circumstance you face each day you have the choice of keeping your head down and ignoring it or looking up and making the most of it. Look up.

Bon voyage.

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02 April 2010 ~ 0 Comments

rocktoon – R.I.P.

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19 March 2010 ~ 3 Comments

i do not buy art

i do not buy art

It’s really not me. It is not who I am, what I stand for, anything I enjoy or what I represent. Other people; much older, richer, attention-seeking people buy art.

However, earlier this week, I bought this…

gapingvoid - Linchpin series - Life is too short

Is it well crafted and pretty? Yeh, I suppose. Does it look good on my office wall? It’ll certainly liven up the beige overload that occupies it today.

So why buy it? Here’s why…

  • I read a book a few months ago and it made sense to me. Turns out the author is an artist. This is one of his more recent works.
  • On Monday I attended the “Millionaire or Artist? Why not both?” panel at SXSW Interactive. Here’s an extract from the session…

    In this part of the panel discussion Hugh appears to be the only one who sees the art world going the same way as the Internet sent tv, newspapers and the music industry. And, in my books, he’s absolutely right.

    While he may be a little rough around the edges, the handful of ‘balls to the world’ appealed to my escaping rebel.

  • Moments before the trade show part of SXSW ended I was able to meet him in real life at his small booth showcasing some of his artwork. The difference between a mental image and then meeting that person can be immense. Hugh MacLeod in the flesh is neither polished, refined or a well rehearsed public acrobat. Nor is he a smooth sales guy or business developer. He is himself and makes no attempt at imitating any other persona. Thank fuck for that. It was an enormous relief.
  • Hugh is good friends with Seth Godin (I meant to ask Hugh about how this connection came about but completely forgot when I met him). I am Seth’s second biggest fan. Seth sent me two free copies of Linchpin – his strongest work to date.

    Hugh created the “linchpin” series of drawings to commemorate the book.

To extend my visible appreciation of Linchpin, to celebrate my first SXSW event, to mark meeting the author and artist Hugh MacLeod in real life and to celebrate that successful people don’t have look like Hollywood stars and convey Steve Jobs’ business acumen
that’s why I bought this art.

Whatever you create only carries the relevance and value of the person who’s going to live with the work after you’ve given it to them. With this particular purchase I didn’t so much buy a print of a drawing from an artist as mark a milestone in my life.

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09 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

the fear

the fear

The one thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful: fear. Not necessarily simply having fear, everybody does, but knowing you can handle whatever has caused the fear to take hold.

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08 February 2010 ~ 0 Comments

problem fixer

problem fixer

Frustrated and confused? Why don’t these people know what the hell they’re doing???
If you’re looking for the problem fixer, he or she may be a lot closer than you think.

No one cares about you and your situation as much as you do and the only person standing in your way to sort the mess out is you. Now get out your way and go and do something about the problem.

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20 January 2010 ~ 0 Comments

tuff up

tuff up

Feeling uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable. It’s not fun and nor should it be. In a situation that leads you to feel uncomfortable, what you are feeling is fear.

It could be comprised of uncertainty, confusion, doubt, hesitation or any number of emotions that’ll make you not do something.

Shut the little monster inside you up. Shut it up. Whatever the little monster is saying to stop you, shut it the hell up.

Being uncomfortable is an incredible thing. It means something is happening. Even something hellishly negative that you are in the middle of translates into action. Something to do something about.

Hesitation is the worst affliction of uncomfortable. Don’t do it. Shut the monster up, decide on what to do and do it.

Progress is how you learn and grow. You won’t know progress until you push yourself into uncomfortable situations often. Every day if you can.

The difference between people who go to work each day to do a job and those who make a difference at work or in the world, is that the latter have learned to deal with their fear, shut the inner monster up and push through discomfort.

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12 January 2010 ~ 0 Comments

review: Crush It! audiobook

review: Crush It! audiobook

THIS is how audiobooks should be. Gary frequently breaks away from reading to dive into side topics (which do actually add more value to buying this format) and conveys even more of how to realize your own passion and personal brand.

The book itself is a concise and effective volume that you will refer to for inspiration and to trigger action for years to come.

The audiobook has the Gary fairydust sprinkled all over it. While perhaps not technically the best reader in the world, his enthusiasm and passion for what he is reading vocally shines throughout.

If you do not own the book and have no idea who Gary V is, this is a great place to start.

If you do own the book and/or watch Wine TV, I honestly think there’s enough extra in this audiobook to warrant the additional purchase.

The deviation from simply reading the book appealed the most to me. I hope other audiobook authors follow this example.

Side note: if you want to order any audiobook from audible.com, start first with Amazon and find the audio there. They own audible, however starting from Amazon always costs less.

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