17 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments

two for change

two for change

There are two layers to change: the people and the environment. Change only one and, well, no change.

People

This isn’t necessarily the physical person. Sure, there are people who don’t work out in the role that they are in. Many people are in a place where they really cannot succeed. Nobody is stupid, however everybody is good with at least one thing and this may not be that thing for this person.

People’s attitudes can and often change too. Add a few new faces to the environment and people will tend toward the people that are most like themselves or what they perceive themselves to be. Failing that, the person with the most promising story or aesthetically pleasing qualities. Yes, human beings are fickle that way (for example; the draw of the busty blonde sales girl in the technology sector remains, sexism aside, an incredibly effective mechanism to make sales).

If the environment stays the same, people and their attitudes default back to how things were. Even a new person will naturally gravitate to the behaviors and flow of the environment surrounding them, which is most often the same behavior as the person they succeeded.

Environment

The seating arrangements, the processes, the interactions between people, the way to gather people together, the communication channels, the nature and attitude of the communications, the lighting, the software packages, the color of the walls and flooring, the brand of coffee and what people wear all have a strong psychological effect on those immersed in the environment.

Cube farms are especially strong, unmovable constants in any environment. It’s almost a nest-like paradigm at play to those forced to be in them for eight hours every working day.

Change the environment and you begin to agitate the people in it. This causes discomfort, which is not a bad thing. It is change you are after, after all, and it is not going to come about without some element of anxiety.

However, changing the environment but not adapting or modifying people’s roles and purpose in that environment encourages the pull back to how things used to be.



Inspire the people you have to want to do something different, something infinitely better. Spend time with every person individually and find out what their one great skill or talent is then change their world to make the most of this for your business. Adapt the world around them to let them be the best they can at this.

As an example: if a person is in technical support, complaining about how the company is not helping the customers as best they should be… don’t beat them up for complaining. Don’t listen and ignore.

Change their responsibilities and put them in charge of customer support (and fire or move the person who is in charge of that today, as they may not be doing the best job they can be). Physically move their seat and desk and place them in a different setting. Tell everyone that this person is now in charge of how customer’s are dealt with. If this person wins, lots of other people win.

Shift the attitude of people and surroundings ninety degrees out of kilter from where it was and watch the change take hold and spread.

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20 April 2010 ~ 0 Comments

whose?

whose?

Other people are great at creating or being a problem. In fact, they’re the best. You see it every day.

What if, hypothetically, you took one of those problems (pick any one) and looked at it as you causing this problem?

Now it’s your fault. What would you do to fix it?

Do that with every problem. In the future you can look back at how much you have fixed.

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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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30 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

positive anger

positive anger

It’s perfectly okay to be angry. It’s what you do with the anger that makes a difference.

Instead of beating up on people, screaming at walls or going all high school on the situation – channel the anger into something worthwhile.

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22 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

rocktoon – can do

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02 January 2010 ~ 0 Comments

jump

jump

I love America. Any country that has the balls to use the name of the entire continent as its own has to command some attention.

The attitude of the people around me every day is infectious. Even people who are unhappy have their own vision of how things should be and how to get there. Sometimes you have to extract it before it’s seen – but it’s there. There’s not much hopelessness. Sometimes you have to leave the country and return for this to become clear again.

The entrepreneur spirit that is ever present in the USA is contagious. Any idea has legs, and some ideas grow arms and other bits too. I have a few ideas like this.

The challenge is not about being the owner of a good idea. Even a great idea. When you’re in a day job and, in your spare time, have an idea that would make the world a better place for a lot of people (and still be business worthy) – at what point does the idea become a living, breathing reality?

Most importantly: at what point do you quit the day job and throw your heart and soul into making your idea happen? Maybe not as extreme as this – when do you turn a hobby or interest into a full time business?

There is no simple answer. However, always keep in the back of your mind that there are people around you who may depend on you to have a certain quality of life. Don’t let them down. If you’ve no dependents, you are accustomed to certain standards. Do little to risk what you have, but don’t let that stop you making your idea happen.

It is entirely possible to do both, even for a long while (use some sense on whether or not you’re stepping on your current company’s business with your new idea. If yes – get a lawyer to CYA). In the online book Getting Real, there is a wealth of essays, practices and plain common sense to make sure that you do not over exert yourself on any part of making your new idea come to life.

Any risk taken has a benefit and a consequence and the balance depends on how much you apply yourself to minimizing the negative elements.

Do not rush. Don’t grow some and walk out too early from the status quo you enjoy. Push to the limit what can be done without changing the life you have today. You’d be amazed at how much momentum you can gain before having to make cross the dip. And it will be crystal clear when the right time to jump is.

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