Showing posts with label Work Ethic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Work Ethic. Show all posts

April 9, 2019

Solving Computer Problems

Funny T-Shirt on solving computer problems:

Does it work?

Did you screw with it?

Does anyone know?

Can you blame anyone else?

This little flowchart seems to capture so many issues in the office like:

- Accountability

- Problem-solving

- Doing the right thing

Oh, maybe that's a different flowchart. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 1, 2017

2017 Year Of The Customer

So here's a resolution for all of us for 2017...

How about this year be the year of the customer!

- Where we care more about doing a good job for someone than we do about what time we get off from work.

- Where we talk to and treat customers with respect, dignity, and ultimately to solve their needs, rather than it escalating to a yelling match and oh, did I accidentally hang up the phone on you?

- Where we make the customer feel good about dealing with us and our organization, rather than wanting to beg for a supervisor or cyanide please!

- Where the customer isn't lied to, manipulated, and taken advantage of just so someone can make another quick buck!

- Where the quality and value is #1 and it's not just a shinny veneer on a car that accelerates on it's own and with fake emissions test results or smartphone batteries that light up on fire and explode

- Where we don't cross-sell and up-sell customers, like phony bank accounts or other things they don't want, need, and never asked for just to make our sales quotas, and accrue the fine bonuses and stock options that go with them. 

- Where we don't oversell the capability of a product, like fraudulent blood testing devices and medical results, and instead deliver what's really doable and as promised. 

- Where there's no error in the charge to the customer or it's in the customer's favor, rather than always an overcharge in the seller's favor, and the price from the beginning is fair and reasonable and not hiked up 400% like on critical medicine that people's lives depend on. 

- Where items arrive on time and work the first time, rather than having delays, making excuses, and causing endless customer returns of defective items or those that didn't fit, look, or work as advertised. 

- Where the customer is happy to come back to and where they feel trust in the people, products, and services offered--not another Home Shopping Network or QVC shoddy experience of "It slices, it dices...the only tears you'll shed are tears of joy!"

- Where we solve genuine customer needs or problems and not just "build it and they will come."

- Where rather than a pure what's in it for me (WIIFM) mentality, we suspend our self-interest and greed for the moment and we do for others, because it's not just a job and we actually have a work ethic and care about what we do. 

- Where we delight! and wow!, rather than disengage and disappoint, and we put the customer first, and like first responders, we run to help and not run away. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 1, 2016

Work For It

This was an astute fortune cookie this weekend:

"The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work."

It reminded me of what my dad used to tell me that:

"Nothing, in life, is easy."

Or as my mother-in-law says:

"The world owes you nothing!"

Basically, the messages are similar that we have to work hard for what we want in life.

You have to believe in your goals and your mission. 

And follow through with rock solid determination and perserverance.

It seems in life that almost as soon as one challenge is over the next is ready to begin.

Got to have faith, pray for G-d's guidance, and be strong. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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January 18, 2016

The Science Of The Interview

Job interviews seem to have evolved into elaborate psychosocial and behavioral tests.

Almost as if there is an exact science behind trying to pick "the winners" from "the losers." {hate those harsh terms about people]

Many questions look at how quickly the interviewee thinks on their feet, how prepared they are for the interview, and how well they present themselves for the job.

However, my question is whether these things are truly determinant of the fit between the person and the job, the culture, and the supervisor and team, as well as indicative of integrity of the person, their work ethic, or how well they would actually perform in said job. 

The interviewer proudly blurts out from his or her script:

TELL ME ABOUT...

- A time that you came from from work and said "I completely nailed it--a home run out of the park!"

Or

-  A time that you came from work and said "Oh shit, I completely screwed everything up."

Ah, like work--or life for that matter--is generally that black and white.

Are we forgetting about the 99% of the time that people go in the office, put in a solid day's work for a solid day's pay--and did a good job, made a decent contribution, and got along with the team. 

Also, let's face it, the vast majority of people are not the Einsteins or Steve Jobs of this world. 

They don't come to the interview having invented the driverless car or negotiated the end to World War II.

How about this question...

"Why do you want to work here?"

I heard someone actually asked this question about a job working in mining regulation--yeah right, your and everyone else's dream job. 

What an incredibly narcissistic question, where the interviewer is looking to hear about how great their organization is or their department is, how superb a leader he/she is known to be, and why the person just will fit in perfectly to a place that alas they probably really know very little about from an insider's perspective.

Okay, let's try another one...

"Where do you see yourself in 5-years?"

Let's see I want to be kissing your ass in 5-years and actually until the day I die or maybe better what your really afraid of hearing is that I'm gunning for your and would like to take your job and show this company what a real XYZ can do to improve things around here. 

Here's another one a colleague told me about recently...

Pretend your David Ogilvy and sell me on one of your ideas. You have 15-minutes to prepare. 

Ok let's put the pressure on, because the candidate coming in today for the job interview with a mortgage and two kids at home to feed isn't enough.  Do these conditions really demonstrate what the person could do with amble time and preparation and for something they really believe in?

Let's not forget to give an IQ and personality test to the person, so we can peg their intelligence and Myers Briggs or perhaps we should give them some puzzles and let them really sweat with the pieces. 

Let's face it we've all had some people wow on the interview and on paper and turn out to be duds on the specific jobs, and others that you weren't so sure about that turned out superbly.  

Assessing people is hard and many people are great at the poker game of landing the offer. 

It's the interviewers job to look beyond the playbook and the acting, and try to see the real person sitting in front of them.

Yes, presentation is important, but even more so can we get down to the work ethic and the integrity of the person?  What they are good at and where do they have weaknesses? Are they able and willing to learn and grow?  What do they like to work on and what do they recoil from?  How do they relate to others and can they get along?  When they face problems, challenges, and conflicts, can they and are they willing to work through it? 

I don't know any supervisor that hasn't hit the jackpot on some hires and made mistakes on others...those that claim they've made an actual science out of bringing on the absolute talent--I wonder how well they do in their next interview. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 3, 2016

Forcing Kids Backfires Big Time

Fascinating article in the Sunday New York Times today on how the stress we are putting on our kids is making them sick. 

With testing of High school students showing incredibly alarming rates of mental illness:


- 54% with moderate to severe depression.


- 80%+ with moderate to severe anxiety.


And 94% of college counseling directors "seeing rising numbers of students with severe psychological problems."


Even pediatricians are reporting 5-, 6-, and 7-year olds coming in for migraines and ulcers!


Another teacher said with all this, "We're sitting on a ticking time bomb."


Under the pressure to get into great schools and get a foot in the door in excellent careers and attain high-paying jobs, we are making our kids work longer school days, do more homework, take more Advanced Placement (AP) exams, participate in numerous extracurricular activities, and achieve, achieve, achieve. 


We've taken away normal play time--the fun out of life growing up--and the imagination, exploration, and discovery away from kids just being kids. 


The paradox is that "the pressure cooker is hurting, not helping, our kid's prospect for success."


Especially for parents who themselves grew up poor or lacking, maybe they are trying to do the "right thing"and give their kids more than they had and a "better life."


But maybe even the best intentions to mold children to be what we want them to be, or think they should or could be, is misplaced.


If only we could all take a little (or BIG) chill pill...you can't force success--with forcing you get the opposite results.

Back off people--instead of pushing and endless disciplining--how about we listen to the children, guide them, show unconditional love, and be excellent examples--show them integrity, a strong work ethic, along with an appreciation for work-life balance, then perhaps we will get not only the success of the next generation that we all need, but also happier, better adjusted, and healthier children. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 28, 2012

Dress For Success?

This picture is from the train home from work this week. 

This lady took the opportunity to literally sprawl herself out on the train.

She had a rolling briefcase with the arm fully extended.

To which she casually hung her jacket with the collar sloppily up.

She slumped up in the seat, and then took off her shoe and put her foot up on the briefcase.

Then she began curling her toes--back and forth--while she listened to her iPod or iPhone (not sure which it was).

Later she threw her handbag under her seat behind her shoe.

Must've been a tough day for her or is this just her way?

I remember learning from my early days in MBA school that you should always dress at least one level up (or more)--i.e. make yourself look the the part of the job you really want.

If you see yourself in that position and can make others see you in that role too then eventually you'll be the guy or gal!

I've seen people dress up and down in the office--of course, the ones that spend the money and take the time and effort to dress for success, look pretty impressive.

At the same time, the clothing and accessories, while they may help the person look put together--sometimes are nothing more than "lipstick on a pig"--the clothes disguise the true person--and they are not very impressive on the inside.

I've heard some successful people in town preach that how you dress is absolutely critical and they chide others for not straightening their belt and shining their shoes.

This past week, I heard the opposite from someone who said he looks at people in the hot summer weather, and if they are dressed in a "coat and tie," then he writes them off, since they don't have even the basic common sense to dress for the season.  This guy, while himself a boss, was literally in a t-shirt in the office!

I personally always sort of liked the Silicon Valley--high-tech dress code--like Steve Jobs--a black tee (or turtle--too hot for me) with jeans and maybe a relaxed sports coat--comfortable and freeing yet sort of casually-classy.

While some people say that the dress makes the person, I think that what is inside is what really counts--although talking off your shoes on train is not going to win you any promotions or brownie points, for sure. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 22, 2011

The Little Techno Bus That Could




In an accomplishment sense, I am very proud of what Pope County, Arkansas is doing in terms of advancing education with technology on school buses for K-12 through the Aspirnaut program (photos from their site), founded and supported by Vanderbilt University.


Government Technology Magazine reports in February 2011 that Aspirnaut is transforming school buses into mobile classrooms, so that ”idle time is transformed into extended learning time with laptop computers and Internet access.”


The Hector School District buses are now equipped with computer screens, earphone jacks with headphones, wireless Internet, and scanning devices to record bus activity.


“The five 19-inch customized computer screens stream math and science content from PBS, NASA, the Discovery Channel, CBS News, and the Smithsonian Institution for students to watch on their hour-long rides to/from school. The screens also include video-conferencing capability.”


Students are seated on the bus in groups by age and grade to listen to their specific curriculum by plugging their headphones into jacks beneath their seats. The content of each bus-seating zone is then correlated to what the students are learning in the classroom.


Dr. Julie Hudson, co-founder of the program in 2007, is looking to improve student’s achievements, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). These are learning areas where we have fallen dangerously behind in national rankings, and this is seen as harming our innovativeness and competitive capacity for the future.


On one hand, I think that this type of extended learning program is very valuable to our students and provides them the opportunity to get additional constructive learning time in. Also, it’s great to distract them from getting into potential trouble on the ride home. :-)


Yet, on the other hand, I am also concerned that we continue to put more and more pressure on our children to seemingly always be productive, learning, and competing. Some examples of this are not just extended learning days (on buses or off), but also extended school years, even summer school, AP classes, SAT courses, some wonderful volunteer programs, internships, oodles of extra-curricular activities, side jobs, and more. Certainly seems like it’s not easy to be a kid these days!


Now, even a simple bus ride to/from school/home is no longer a time to unwind, sleep, socialize, listen to music, play video games, or just be kids. Even the choice of video content on the buses is purely educational and there is nothing social, fun, or relaxing for the children anymore. How about an episode of The Brady Bunch?


While, I certainly understand the need for us to advance our education, skills, and competitive positioning, and the learning bus is a great concept to move us towards that. However, I cannot help but remember a more innocent and carefree time in my own childhood, where there was “a time and place for everything.”


Then (not that long ago!), we took learning seriously and worked hard—always with a focus on the future (What will I be…Where do I want to end up…How can I live up to my potential?), but we also made sure to have time for friends and fun—downtime and think time. Today however, with the high-tech, always on, 24/7 society that we are creating for our children and ourselves, are we losing a sense of balance, perspective, even our innocence (so to say)?


In relation to this, I wonder sometimes about the Kingdom of Bhutan’s concept of measuring Gross National Happiness instead of what we measure Gross National Product, and I ask myself, where is our school bus heading?


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February 5, 2011

Is It "A Message To Garcia" - Or To Us?

There is an inspirational essay by Elbert Hubbard written in 1899 called “A Message to Garcia” that is about taking initiative and getting the job done.

Here is an abstract:

When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountains of Cuba—no one knew where…the President must secure his co-operation, and quickly…Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia…[he] strapped it over his heart…landed by night off the coast of Cuba…disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out the other side of the Island having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia.”

Garcia is held up by Hubbard as an iconic worker who can “act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing.

And the right way for a worker to perform, according to Hubbard (in my words) included:

- Attention and care to the job

- Independent action/autonomy

- Cheerfulness (or a good attitude)

- Integrity to carry out their work with or without supervision

Elbert Hubbard emphasizes a strong work ethic that can be best summarized when he states:

“My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the ‘boss’ is way, as well as when he is at home [interesting that this was written before modern telework!]. And the man who when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it.”

Hubbard’s essay sold over 40 million copies and was translated into 37 languages. It was also made into two movies. The message of Garcia as a model employee obviously resonates far and wide.

Reading the essay, which is written in “Old English,” it was surprising to me that the management challenges we face today are the same ones that were apparently confronted already 100 years ago.

It seems that the search for great employees – meaning those who can generate results, are accountable for delivering value, and are customer-centric - is timeless!

“A Message for Garcia” is truly a call to action for all. No matter what level on the career ladder we occupy, and no matter what organization we serve, what we do for our jobs does matter. Let us “own it” and own it well, just as if we were delivering the President’s message to Garcia.


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