Showing posts with label Enthusiasm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Enthusiasm. Show all posts

September 18, 2017

Brighten Your Mondays

So a colleague asked me why I wear bright, happy ties on Mondays. 

Well, I explain, I guess it's a combination of two reasons: 

1) I'm starting the week all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed coming off the weekend energized and ready for a brand new and exciting week.

2) I'm trying to counter what many consider the "Mondays Blues" and make them brighter and more cheerful for everyone. 

- Smile and the whole world smiles with you!

So the other person responds, as if all the craziness of the office and organizational psychos during the week will somehow wear down my good cheer:

"So by the time you get to Fridays, what are you wearing black ties???"

I guess everyone knows the workweek is the workweek.

And they don't call it work for nothing. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 20, 2017

Winning Attitude

I met this lady at the shopping outlets a few weeks ago. 

One of the awesome brand stores was running a sale with 70% off!

Check, check--not a gimmick--we race over with the crowd already forming lined up outside the doors. 

This salesperson was there to guide just a few people in at a time--I guess, so the mob wouldn't rip the joint to sale shreds!

This lady (pictured) had something awesome about her.

Working part time in retail, I'd imagine that it's not the job's salary and benefits that is perking her up or "getting her out of bed in the morning." 

Yet, she had the most unbelievably great attitude. 

She stopped to talk with us and tell us about her background studying and living in Israel during the year, and that she had a twin sister working in the same store for the Summer. 

Her energy and enthusiasm was inspirational and I would imagine could even be contagious to many who let themselves revel in it rather than resist it. 

As people waited on the line, this women offered them her umbrella to stay dry and cool. 

Waiting on line is not the most fun thing, even when it's for a 70% off sale, but this lady kept everyone smiling and sort of stress free with frequent updates and walking and talking up/down the line.

Listen, we all know people who do the same or similar jobs: one is grouchy, sullen, and is for all intensive purposes miserable all or most of the time; the other is generally smiling and happy to be there learning and contributing, and have the job.

What a difference between these 2 types of people!

And what a enormous contrast between the positive and negative impacts they have on others and on the organization. 

It's not just what you say and do, but how you go about doing it. 

Yes, we all have various challenges and problems in our lives, but how do you deal with it.

This doesn't mean you should be a phony baloney head--you need to be genuine and real to be credible and a high-functioning human being--and of course, everyone has bad days. 

But an overall winning attitude goes a long way in life and towards success--for yourself and how you can influence others. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 29, 2016

STEM Lost And Found

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things...from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 



Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the "STEM crisis is a myth," still "we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts."

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), "Oh, don't depend on my math skills for that!"

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets--and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it's being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization's free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 5, 2015

Oh, Change!

What an astute comic this is about change. 

"Who wants change?"  Everyone raises their hands enthusiastically.

"Who wants to change?" Everyone has their hands and eyes down. 

I suppose that is the difference between a nice lofty but esoteric concept, and something that actually impacts us and requires our attention, resources, and hard work. 

So what sounds good for the masses in a speech or article may sound entirely different when applied to the individual. 

Who me change?  No, that's someone else's problem!

- Global warming and environmental destruction--that's coming from China now.

- Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic States--it's a European issue.

- The Arab Spring with governments being overthrown and countries destabilizing into sectarian violence--that's for The Gulf States to worry about. 

- Higher taxes to pay for social entitlements--let the very rich pay for that.

- More security and surveillance for counter-terrorism initiatives--let's just surgically target the bad guys with those. 

Let's face it--we all have a lot on our plates already and we are suckers for a good talking to about some broadly-based, fantastical future that is better, happier, healthier, and more peaceful and prosperous.

But what do you have to give up or sacrifice for this future utopia or making progress towards it...ah, that's not a message we really want to get into now, is it?

Change...it's good for the next guy and gal; let me have my cake and eat it too. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to starecat.com)
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August 30, 2013

A Giant On The Terrace

Passing a building and looking up at the terraces, how could you not notice this giant dude?

Larger than life and looking like he is holding up the terrace above.

This is no simple scarecrow.

But a formidable member of the Redskins.

For me, I'd like the GI Joe version for my property. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 25, 2013

Even The Buildings Smile

Soon we will end the weekend and move into the next workweek.

As a kid, I remember people calling it "Blue Monday"--presumably because of the feelings people had going back to work.

I know some people that don't even like to go out on Sunday evening at all, because of the anxiety they feel about the upcoming week.

But I thought this was a great photo that my daughter took to express the weekend joy and good feelings and the importance of carrying these forward throughout the whole week. 

Someone actually drew this smiley face on the side of the building!

When my other daughter, Minna, asked my mom in the nursing home today for some words of wisdom, she reminded us all that "the years go by all too quickly!"

In her words, I understood that the main thing is to find meaning and purpose, give more than you take, and remember to count your blessings every day. ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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August 19, 2013

What YOU Need To Land That Next Job

Mashable (17 August 2013) has some good advice for job seekers--show you mean business and here's how to do it:

1) Integrity--This is the #1 fundamental. If you are not trustworthy, reliable, honest...you are more trouble than you're worth. Integrity underscores your character as a person and professional. If you cheat, lie, steal, and are self-serving, why would anyone want to associate with you, let alone have you work for them?

2) Adaptability--Change is constant and happening faster and faster. If you are status quo, "old school", and can't innovate your way off a typewriter, how in G-d's name are you going to help a business grow and adapt to changing market conditions?  Go-getters, trend-setters, and change-agents, desired and welcome. 

3) Problem-solvers-Anyone can complain and see problems, but it takes special folks to solve those large and complex ones. You need to be able to come up with a strategy, articulate it, and execute on it. If you see the bad in everything, but can't solve anything--you are part of the problem and not part of the solution.  If you have technical skills and can apply them, you are valuable to the organization. 

4) Self-Starters--No time to babysit snoozers, slackers, or the constantly tardy--organizations are looking for professionals. You need to hit the ground running. If you don't know what to do, how to do it, or can't pick up on it pretty quickly, this is going to be a painful experience. Those with initiative, enthusiasm, team players, and hard workers make it relatively easy,

5) Loyalty--Backstabbers, users, and serial job-hoppers, you're wasting precious time. If you're loyal to the organization and leadership, you deserve the same in return. Your value increases as you learn the organization, mission, and people and can apply your unique training and experiences over time. The organization wants you to grow with them. 

You're a fork, a spoon, and a knife and you are just what the organization is looking for. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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August 12, 2013

Engaging and Listening

It was unexpected that the day after I blogged about a number of change organizations attracting attention in our society, particularly from our young people, that I saw it for myself on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Yet another change organization--different from the two that I wrote about yesterday--this one called "Be The Change" with three national campaigns currently:

- Service Nation--encourages a year of national service "to tackle pressing social issues."

- Opportunity Nation--advocates for expanded economic mobility for all young people and to "close the opportunity gap in America."

- Got Your 6--seeks to create opportunities for veterans. 

Has "change" just become cliche or are people genuinely looking for something that is missing in today's culture, values, and norms. 

These smiling people certainly seem to be excited about change.

It just makes you wonder--what is it that people are desperately missing in their lives and want en masse to change? How do we help people find that missing link and achieve real enthusiasm for what we are doing and where we are going? 

As leaders, it is our duty to understand and meet the genuine needs of the people...somehow doing this on the street corner by volunteers (as hardworking and noble as it is) seems to missing the larger point of government by the people for the people. 

We need more politicians engaging and more people feeling they are being listened to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 17, 2012

What Happened To My Shoes?

So yesterday, I was on one of the hikes of my life.


After a certain period of time, I said that we had had better head back, leaving ourselves enough energy to make the return trek.

But after a number of times at this mountain, my daughter was determined to make it to the major overlook and do "the full circuit."

I was so impressed with her determination and enthusiasm that I too caught "the bug" to just do it!

So we went and went--marker after marker--laughing, sort of, about how far we were really going--and would have to return.

But the weather was good--it had cooled off--and we felt that we could get there, and back, with some pushing. 

At one point, we hit the summit, and put our rock on the tall pile with the others left by those before us, and we went on to make it to the overlook.

We took some pictures and sat down on the rocks to take it all in--it was magnificent.

Then I casually look down at my hiking shoes, and notice something--the rubber soles had actually come loose from the rest of the shoe--on both feet.

My first thought--great products, not! from this company--darn it. :-(

My second thought--%^(*#$ how am I going to get back in broken shoes?

Making a long story short, the shoes were wobbling over the rocks, tree trunks, and terrain--and I prayed that I did fall or end up getting stuck barefoot in the hills. 

G-d was good to me and we made it back and I headed straight to the hiking store to get my money back for the shoes--I literally took them off at the counter and handed them in tatters to the customer service rep.

Now without shoes in the store, I walked around in socks to the shoe section and picked out a new pair--yay!

Some lessons:

- Enthusiasm is catchy and can spark you to do things you wouldn't normally think you could achieve.

- Never say never--who would think your hiking shoes would literally fall apart in the middle of a hike, but they can and did!

- Always be prepared--mentally and physically--for all sorts of eventualities; life doesn't just go the way we expect or want.

- Thank G-d for a happy ending--because it could easily go the other way.

- And finally don't buy brand X for your hiking shoes--they really stink! ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

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May 22, 2011

Peace and Security

With all the questions about peace in the Middle East, there is a lot of enthusiasm for a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, living side-by-side in peace.
This is a practical vision that would resolve a lot of suffering and enable us to move constructively forward.
It may be hard to understand why Israel needs very specific conditions to protect itself, but this video sent to me by a friend explains it very well.
In a historical perspective, I think it is important to be aware of the context of the Jewish security concerns as well:
1) Six million Jews (ONE out of every THREE men, women, and children) were murdered in the Holocaust just last century.

2) Tens of thousands more were lost in numerous wars to overtake Israel (in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006, 2008 and in the Intifada's).

3) Mid-East neighbors (that support terrorist organizations--like Hamas, Hezbollah and more) do not even recognize Israel's right to exist, and are chartered to their ultimate destruction.
As a Jewish American, I too share, pray, and hope for peace in the Middle East...let it be so as a genuine and lasting one.
While Middle East peace often seems impossible, G-d can do what we think is impossible.
(All opinions are my own)

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July 28, 2010

Newer Isn’t Always Better

I love new technology as much or more than the next guy, but...

Last month, I came across an article in USA Today called “Army Ditches Velcro For Buttons,” which chronicles how after deploying high-tech, “space-age Velcro” in uniforms in 2004, the Army found that the good old button worked better on keeping pants packets closed. The Army is now substituting three buttons for Velcro on the cargo pockets of its pants to keep them from opening up and spilling out.

To me, the point is not whether we use new, newer, or even the newest technology out there (like space-age Velcro), but whether we are right-fitting the technology to our organization (in this case, the button met the needs of the soldier better).

I’m sure you may have noticed, as have I that certain technology enthusiasts like, want and literally crave the “latest and greatest” technology gizmos and gadgets, whether they fully work yet or not.

These enthusiasts are often the first to download a new (still buggy) app and the ones that line up (often bringing their own lounge chairs) the night before a new iPhone or other “hot” consumer technology product goes to market.

Similar, and perhaps well-intentioned, enthusiasm for new technology can end up in pushing new technologies before the organization is ready for them (in terms of maturity, adoption, change, priorities, etc.). In other cases, newer technologies may be launched even before the “ink is dried” on IT purchases already made (i.e. the technologies bought are not yet implemented and there has been no return on investment achieved!).

At the extreme, organizations may find themselves with proverbial IT storage closets full of still shrink-wrapped boxes of software and crates of unopened IT hardware and still not be deterred from making another purchase and another and another…

I remember in graduate school learning about shopaholics and those so addicted to consumerism that their behavior bordered on the abnormal according to the Bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM).

This behavior is in sharp contrast with organizations that are disciplined with technology and strong stewards with their organization’s investment dollars—they tend to follow a well-thought-out plan and a structured governance process to ensure that money is well-spent on IT—i.e. it is requirements-driven, strategically aligned, ROI-based, and technologically compliant with the architecture.

In such organizations, responsibility and accountability for IT investments go hand-in-hand, so that success is not measured by whether new technologies get identified and investments “go through,” but rather by how beneficial a technology is for the end-user in doing their jobs and how quickly it actually gets successfully implemented.

This latter organization model is the more mature one and the one that we need to emulate in terms of their architecture and governance. Like the Army, these organizations will chose the old fashioned button over the newer Velcro when it suits the soldier better and will even come out saving 96 cents per uniform.

New technology is great--the key is to be flexible and strategic about when it is needed and when it is not.


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October 3, 2009

Effective Presentation Skills

Watch this helpful video on effective presentations by Paul Maloney and Associates (a product of Gartner).

Understand and rectify the top 10 presenter mistakes:
  1. "Little audience contact
  2. Distracting habits and mannerisms
  3. Inadequate preparation
  4. Unclear purpose and objectives
  5. Failure to maintain presence
  6. Lack of organization
  7. Too few examples and illustrations
  8. Little vocal animation or variety
  9. Too much information
  10. Too many slides"
What effective presenters do:
  1. "Establish and maintain eye contact
  2. Take a steady stance
  3. channel nervous energy
  4. Speak with animation and enthusiasm
  5. Reinforce the message
  6. Handle questions well"

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October 26, 2007

With Age Comes Wisdom and Enterprise Architecture

The Wall Street Journal, 11 October 2007 reports that “in boardrooms these days, it is rare—perhaps too rare—for old-timers voices to be heard.” A main reason for this is that board members are frequently required to retire at age 70 or 72.

Are we to value or decry our seniors?

  • Experience—some people are starting to questions forced retirement, since it is the older people that have more experience and expertise.Perhaps, we are wasting a most valuable resource by not tapping these older directors for longer.The same could be said for leaders, in general.Why put good leaders out to pasture, simply because of age?If leaders are healthy, have all their faculties and want to continue working, why not let their “wisdom, common sense, and institutional memory” continue to lead the way?
  • Drawbacks—of course, we don’t want the elderly napping in the boardroom. Nor do we want “founder and their heirs” to main absolute control over companies and stifle healthy change and innovation.
  • A balanced approach—probably, the best approach is to judge each individual case on its own merits, so that healthy, competent seniors can continue to be a source of wisdom to their organizations.

From a User-centric EA approach, it is important to recognize the valuable contribution that senior people in the organization can bring to the strategic issues that we face daily.

  • Preventing mistakes—those who have served for 20, 30 or more years have a wealth of experience and institutional knowledge to keep the organization from making unnecessary mistakes.
  • Sustaining creativity—seniority should not stifle healthy change, creativity, and innovation; also, just because something failed in the past, doesn’t mean it is a doomed approach forever.
With age comes wisdom, no question. But the organization needs to balance the valuable contribution of its seniors with the creativity, enthusiasm, and new ideas of new generations.
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