Showing posts with label Contribution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Contribution. Show all posts

October 11, 2018

Blood Libels Unabated

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called "The Jews Control It."

Unfortunately, the anti-Semites continue their refrain of "The Jews control the world" from Wall Street to Main Street to K Street.

But what they are completely missing are the true secrets of Jewish creativity and thought.

I hope you will read the article to learn about Jewish values and our faith. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 13, 2018

Succeed OR Fail

So I liked this saying from a colleague of mine at work:
We succeed or fail as a team.

It's not me. 

It's not you. 

It's not him.

It's not her. 
It's us!

No one can do it alone. 

- If we fail, we fail as a team. 

- If we succeed, we succeed as a team. 

So let's come together and be a team and give it our best shot! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 6, 2018

All Aboard!

So when the train is pulling out it's a loud call by the conductor of:
"All Aboard that's going abroard."

With project management, it can be the same too. 

Once an organization has decided to move out on a project and make the investment of time, resources, and reputation:

- Either you get on the train and help feed the engine of progress

OR

- You get left behind.

- You get thrown off the train.

- You get run over by the train.

There really are no other alternatives. 

My advice is get with the program. 

The train is moving out.

The organization is going to deliver on its promise. 

Get the h*ll on!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 14, 2018

Taking Pride In Your Work

I thought this was a nice necklace. 

The lady in the hair salon had a necklace in the shape of a scissors.

I asked her about it because it seemed sort of unusual and neat. 

She said, "It's a scissors!"

And then she proceeded to squeeze the miniature two handles, and said, "You see, it actually opens and closes too!"

I could see and hear how proud she was of what she does for a living. 

Yes, maybe it doesn't earn as much as some other professions, but it was her job and she loved it. 

I think we should all try to take such pride in our work and in doing a great job!

Everyone has something important to contribute and every contribution truly counts. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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August 3, 2018

Nitpicking To Death

It's funny some people go straight for the kill when they don't like something. 

Others may nitpick you to death. 

Always! looking for something to henpeck at.

It comes out as you're stupid, lazy, incompetent, and even worthless.

Why can't you do anything right (read: the way I would do it)?

If only you would change this, that, or the other thing then it would all be better!

But even when you do manage to change this, that or the other thing--guess what? That just sparks the next round of destructive criticism and never being satisfied.

Hey, since when are you so (f*ckin) perfect?  

Or as the old saying goes, "Who died and made you G-d?"

It should not be about grabbing some sadistic pleasure out of torturing other people with narcissism, judgmentalism, endless criticism and naysaying.

Instead of tearing down, let's focus on the big picture and what success looks like.

How can everyone contribute to that vision and effort?

Customer service doesn't mean personal servitude. 

There is such a thing as being a team player, identifying when good is good enough, and driving forward rather than seeking to derail or even go backward. 

Competency is not just for service providers, but for the customers. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 15, 2018

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization's office. 

I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 
"What people are saying:
You are making a difference."

Later in the sign, it says:
"The work you do is important."
Isn't this really what is critical to people--that what they do is important. 

Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 

And sure, we'd like something left over to save for a rainy day. 

But our lives are more than materialism. 

We are spiritual beings inside. 

At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!

- That we are touching people's lives. 

- That we will be remembered for the good we did. 

- That our good deeds and words will live on. 

- That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 

- That we've contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 

- That we've shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 

When we make a difference, it's about so much more than what money can buy. 

It's about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 19, 2018

Not So Indispensable

So I heard a story from a friend and colleague that I thought was important. 

It was about someone in their organization that was being fired. 

The person who was going to be let go went up the chain to complain and said "if I am fired then everything in my subject area is going to fall apart and it will be disastrous to the organization.

The person in charge responded and said, "Listen, even if I were fired, things wouldn't fall apart; within 2 weeks no one would even remember that I worked here!"

Wow, that is a powerful lesson said that way. 

No one is so indispensable.

Everyone is replaceable.

Even the very top people!

The other important thing they said was:

"Don't think all people are in it to advance the organization; many are in it to help themselves first! Everyone is talking about their salary!  Their stock options!  Their bonuses!"

I guess it's not completely surprising right.  People do have to look after themselves and their families. But I suppose when you hear it so matter of factly, it sort of really makes you think about the functioning of our companies, agencies, and society.

How much are we getting from people for our organizations and missions vs. how much are people trying to "milk" the system for their benefit?

In the end, (almost) no one is irreplaceable on the job--except maybe a Steve Jobs-type--someone who is truly a one in a million leader. 

And if we see people aren't contributing their fair share and are taking more than they are giving or they are real jerks and hurting others--then why the heck are they still in place? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 5, 2018

My Contribution To Love

So I saw a casual work friend the other day doting around what looked like his girlfriend. 

They looked really cute together.

And this guy is in his 60's and lost his wife a number of years ago to cancer, so I was really happy to see him happy, and playful in love again. 

After a while, I took the opportunity to play cupid best I could. 

I told her how nice this guy was and how well he takes care of his customers. 

I ended by saying how we really love having him around and how it wouldn't be the same without him. 

I could see him behind her smiling ear-to-ear--this lady really meant something to him.

When I saw him again today, I asked innocently, "so was that your girlfriend?" and like a young teenager in love, he smirked and nodded. 

It was obvious how much it meant to him that I spoke well of him to her. 

What can I say, I am really happy to make a little contribution to love--and I am really happy for them. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 7, 2017

The CEO and The Janitor

Wow, I heard a powerful story from a colleague that I wanted to share.

The colleague's father was a industrial psychologist and he would go into some relatively big organizations to improve the functioning and culture. 

One of the things that he would do is get the CEO and the janitor in the same room together. 

And he would say:
"Both of you have vital jobs in the organization and you need to appreciate each other!"

At this point, the CEO and the janitor would be looking around the room super quizzically.

And the psychologist would to the janitor and say:
"The CEO's job is critical, because without the CEO, we wouldn't have the leadership and vision for the organization to be successful, and you wouldn't have a job and salary.

Then he'd turn to the CEO and  explain:
The Janitor's job is critical, because without the janitor, we wouldn't have a clean and functioning building and facilities for everyone to do their jobs and be successful, and you wouldn't be able to come to work ever day."

It's really amazing that despite all the fancy titles, corners offices, and rich compensation packages for some, really everyone in the organization is vital in their own way!

We need to remember that when we deal with others that they are human beings--in the image of G-d--and we need to treat all with the utmost dignity and respect for both who they are and what they contribute. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 4, 2017

Our Lives Matter

I thought this saying by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was very profound. 

"The day you were born is the day G-d decided that the world could not exist without you."

We all need to know that our lives have a purpose and meaning.

...that it's not all in vain that we live and toil.

There are many such notions tied to this:

- Jewish blood is not cheap.

- Black lives matter and Blue lives matter.

But the question is why do our lives matter? 

Kurt Vonnegut has an interesting piece on this:

"In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness. And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely. "Everything must have a purpose?" asked God. "Certainly," said man. "Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God. And He went away.”  
So the answer is that we bring purpose to life. 

In what we learn, and do, and how we grow...this is our purpose. 

For each of us, it's different.

G-d created us in "His cosmic loneliness" to think on this and make meaning from the lives that he so graciously granted to us. 

Now we must go and do something positive with it.

Because G-d decided the day you were born that "the world could not exist without you." ;-)

(Source Photo: Forwarded to me by Michelle Blumenthal)
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March 8, 2016

Meeting the Boss, John Kerry

What an awesome day today getting to meet Secretary of State, John Kerry. 

It is truly very cool to work for the Federal government and to be part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Meaning, purpose, contribution, service, and constant learning--that is a lot of goodness and opportunity to receive in one's career. 

Thank you G-d for the amazing moments as well as the daily grind to work through it all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Colleague)

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November 21, 2015

Life Is All About Stones

Today, Rabbi Haim Ovadia gave an interesting speech at Magen David Synagogue about the life of Jacob and his relationships to stones. 

Here's what I took away from this: 

- Jacob took a stone to rest his head on (i.e. a pillow) and went to sleep. 

- After Jacob dreamed about the Angels ascending and descending the ladder to the heavens, he anointed the stone with oil and consecrated it to G-d. 

- When Jacob sees Rachel coming to water her father, Laban's sheep, Jacob rolls the stone from off the well to quench their thirst. 

- As Jacob blessed his 12 sons, he is called the "stone of Israel."

So what's the significance of all this stone in Jacob's and in our lives?

MILESTONES: We celebrate major stages (milestones) in our lives like births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, and jobs/promotions,  and we also give diamond (stone) rings to our beloved upon engagement. 

CORNERSTONES: We build the foundations (cornerstones) for progress and advancement with our contributions to the world (giving to others, leaving the world a better place than when we got here). 

HEADSTONES: We mark and honor a person's life and place a headstone at their grave to signify our love, respect, and gratitude for everything they have done. 

I'd add that hopefully, along the way in our lives, we don't have too many problems and too much stress and get KIDNEY STONES. 

Interestingly "Some people have a heart of stone, and some stones have a heart."

Like the Western Wall ("The Kotel") of the Temple in Jerusalem where the Jews pray to G-d--the stones in the wall have history, they have seen the joys and challenges of the people, and they have heard the stories and prayers of the worshippers that go to pray there.

Stones themselves are neutral--they can be used to celebrate, consecrate, build, and memorialize, with, and stones can also be used to hurl and smash and kill with.

For Jacob and his children, even simple stones are a way to worship G-d Almighty.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 6, 2015

The Pen From A Puddle

You know how ideas just sort of come to you...

Well, major innovations that have changed the course of history haven't really happened that way. 

All innovation and development start from somewhere--usually where G-d or someone else has left off--and then we take things a cycle forward. 

In the Wall Street Journal, James Ward describes how the simple yet profound ballpoint pen was invented. 

Not until 1899 was it founded giving everyone the ability to write away with a ball at the point (a ballpoint) that rolls and dispenses the ink with ease. 

The ballpoint pen was invented by Liszlo Biro of Budapest. 

Observing that in printing presses the machine cylinder could only roll ink back and forth, however for everyday writing people needed an all-directional mechanism. 

So what happens...

Sitting at a cafe and thinking, he sees children playing with marbles.

And one child's marble rolls through a puddle of water. 

The marble leaves "a line of water in its wake."

Boom...the idea for the ballpoint bearing comes in being with "minute grooves" in the pen head to draw the ink to the tip and unto the paper. 

With further experimentation, the famous Bic (Cristal) pen named after Frenchman, Marcel Bich, was born in 1959.  It has a "hexagonal body (inspired by the shape of aa traditional wooden pencil) and instantly recognizable lid"--since it's launch, more than 100 billion of these pens have been manufactured and sold!

By the way, remember the hilarious commercial for the Bic Banana Ink Crayon Pens (watch here to laugh a little).

So in both instances of the invention of the pen, the developers found other things in their environment from which they learned and then they applied it to something new (in one instance the child with the marble and water, and in the other the shape of the good 'ol pencil). 

Lesson learned here: 

Watch, learn, experiment, learn, apply -- change the world! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to photosteve101)
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April 2, 2015

The Lights Never Really Go Off

It was interesting at work recently, when a colleague was contemplating what to do about some key person being out of the office and unavailable...

And they go: "Next man or women up--last one flips off the light."

In other words as they say, the show must go on!

So hurry up and let's get the person's deputy, "second," or the next one on the ladder read in and working on this. 

When it comes to work, we can't stop because someone is "out of pocket"--the job presuposes any particular person or persons.

While many peope think (or wish) they are irreplaceable, the truth is that with the exception of your closest family and friends, we are all just shy of, "Okay, whose up next?"

I remember a friend who told me many years ago that he believed that the whole world revolved around him (yes really), and that everyone else was "just a figment of my imagination."

Ha, I'm pretty sure that a lot of people have had a similar thought or sentiment about themselves. 

But the truth is that while everyone is unique and invaluable--there are over 7 billion of us out there and growing--so there is always someone else waiting in the wings to jump on an opportunity to fill someone else's shoes (no matter how big). 

It is a harsh world and reality--but we are here as long as we are here, and then there are others who come after. 

In a sense, this is a good thing, because as mere mortals, we don't want everything to depend on us--we are frail, we get sick, we die--but by having others who can step in and carry the flag forward, our efforts do not end with us. :-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Niklas Morberg)
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March 10, 2015

Teats or Not

So I heard a new phrase from one of my colleagues recently...

He goes on about somebody (or something) being like "2 teats on a bull!"

I've always wanted to spend some serious time on a farm...but never really have had the opportunity to learn about that whole rural world, and I'm like what????

But I got it, and didn't really like it. 

Sort of a harsh way to call someone out as a useless piece of [you know what]!

I've heard kids joke about "man boobs" and I sure you can guess what those unflattering things are on a male.

Too often, we write people off without giving them a real chance!

While perhaps, there can be useless appendages through genetics or illness, there are no fundamentally useless people (although maybe some can be troubled, dejected, in a bad fit, etc.).

More often, there are unflattering comments from others who don't appreciate differences or see clearly what each person can "bring to the table."

Let's just say, if G-d created someone, there is reason and purpose to their lives, and we need to understand and appreciate them for their value. 

It may take (some) exploration, but everyone has strengths (as well as weaknesses--we're all human) and we can find what each person is good at, cultivate it, and leverage it for the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Carol Von Canon)
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February 16, 2015

How To Give Employee Feedback

Finally some realism about how to conduct employee evaluations...

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the past employees could expect that "we would bring them in and beat them down a bit."

But now, managers are expected to "scrap the negative feedback" and "extol staffers strengths" (accentuate the positives).

Companies are realizing that negative feedback does "more harm than good."

- You tick off the employee and ruin any positive relationship and trust. 
- The employee feels unappreciated, hurt, and in jeopardy. 
- Employees project their hurt feelings and accuse you of being the problem. 
- The deteriorating state makes them fear that you are working against them and they become unmotivated to try to do better.
- Instead, they spend their time working against you (and the company), and looking for another job. 

There is an old saying that you don't sh*t where you eat, and so it is with employee performance evaluations.

In over 25 years, I have never seen negative employees reviews produce positive results!

However, I have seen that sincerely praising everyones' best efforts, leveraging their strengths, and being thankful for what each person contributes makes a high performing team where people are loyal, want to work, and contribute their best. 

Everyone has weaknesses and problems, and frankly most people when they are being honest with themselves, know what their issues are. Pointing their face in it, doesn't help. (Have you ever told a fat person that they need to lose a few pounds?)

One idea that I did like from the Journal is called "feedforward," where you ask "employees to suggest ideas for their own improvement for the future."

This way each person can be introspective and growth as they mature and are ready, but not under threat, rather with support and encouragement. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 25, 2014

The Power Of One, Many, And G-d

I took this photo at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. 

I like how they took the pictures of the professors, administrators, and students and wallpapered it outside on the facade of the building. 

It says, "I am the voice of innovative education and civic engagement for the 21st century."

It's a cool idea showing the individuals and the power they have to make a difference as well as the aggregate of the photos, as a group, displaying that we are somehow all in it together. 

We can't just rely on others, and we can't take it all on ourselves...progress is a shared responsibility. 

We do our part and contribute to the greater group--it takes a variety of talents to get things done, so we leverage everyones strengths for the good of the team. 

- Education is one part.  

- Experience is another.  

- Engagement is a third

And all these ingredients only come together with divine providence and the good fortune from the Almighty.

This last one is the secret sauce as they say. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 7, 2014

Everyone Participates

So very infrequently do suggestion boxes actually work. 

In the office, I remember when the suggestion box was put out and the biggest suggestion put into the box was to bring paper towels back to the bathrooms after these had been replaced months before with hand dryers, so the toilets wouldn't get clogged up!

Most of the time suggestions boxes like meetings don't get the participation and input needed. 

Today, in the New York Times, Phil Gilbert says that in the meeting room, "You've got the extrovert, the introvert, the know-it-all and the ambitious steamroller. No matter what the mix, there's always someone who dominates the discussion, and others who defer to that person out of frustration--or worse, complacency."

Truthfully, I think Gilbert misses the point--most people don't speak up not out of frustration or complacency--but rather from fear...fear of sounding stupid, fear of people disagreeing with them, and fear of management retribution for saying the"wrong" thing.

In any case, his reflection on how some at IBM deal with this is helpful (although frankly I've heard this approach before and it was from a strategic planning class I believe, and not from IBM):

- Everyone writes their input on sticky notes.

- You go around the room where everyone contributes an idea and posts their note to the wall or board (and you keep doing this until ideas are exhausted). 

- The facilitator groups like ideas/sticky notes to start to form common theme and direction. 

- The group may go out and come back again for another round of ideas and input.

The point is everyone contributes to the discussion...no idea is a bad idea...and not one in the room is left to sit idly in the corner playing with their smartphone, daydreaming, or picking their noses. 

Through vetting and discussion, the best idea(s) become evident. 

I like how Gilbert ends his article emphasizing the importance of getting everyone's ideas out there..."Once you know something, you can't unknow it--you have to act."

Knowing what everyone really thinks is half the battle. 

The other half is executing on the really great ideas that people come up with (Gilbert doesn't address this). 

And again for that you need EVERYONE to contribute their talents...big mouths, naysayers, and do nothings begone! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 21, 2014

Waiting For You To Succeed

I love this on the sidewalk this week. 

"The World is Waiting for you to SUCCEED!"

Encouraging, inspiring, motivational, hopeful, purposeful, future-oriented, and more. 

Too often we can focus on the negatives--how hard things are and can be; how many obstacles and challenges there are to getting somewhere; the many failures along the way; the bullies, naysayers, competition, and power-mongers who don't want us to succeed.

But think about it...

When we overcome all these (with G-d 's help), the world is waiting for our success--our contributions, our building blocks, our ideas, inputs, innovations, and creations.

When we succeed in advancing things (and not just doing for self), the world benefits!

We can have a purpose and meaning to our lives--we are part of something bigger and greater than ourselves and our mortality. 

Everyone has to do their part for the world to succeed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 19, 2014

Jewish History At A Glance

I really like this poster graphic outlining Jewish history and key figures from Genesis until modern times. 

While there is already a lot of information on here such major events in Jewish history, world events, Jewish historical figures, Jewish literature and Jewish population, I would suggest adding major Jewish contributions to the world from Einstein to Freud, from Columbis to Salk. 

Also, I found that 23% of all Noble Prizes (or 193 people) between 1901 and 2013 were awarded to people of Jewish descent--and the awards were across the fields of chemistry, economics, literature, peace, physics, and medicine. 

We are not a very large people--just .2%--in terms of population, but we have a very rich history--a mixture of persecution and contribution. 

Thank you Minna Blumenthal for sending me the link to this!

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Odyeda)
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