Saturday, June 30, 2007

Metro Ride Home

It's the end of another LeadAmerica day. Somewhere between Union Station and Cleveland Park, I fell into a moment of sentiment. (girly yeah). I was reading over some notes I had taken that evening after chatting with my English accented compatriate. I wrote the day at the top of my paper before jotting down some ideas. Tomorrow marks the first of July, and that means I have just a little over a month left before I truly transition into my next chapter of life: graduate school, DC, and one step closer towards long term goals...and making millions of course' while pursuing happiness.

While I won't miss pretending that I liked making phone calls for pizza at 7:30pm at night or being able to format an excel schedule in my sleep, they watched me grow up. I was with LeadAmerica since I was just twenty years old. It's evenings like this, when my company is being kept by Dr. Morris that the why I'll miss this place become apparent. There's something inspiring here, and a purpose that's embedded in who I am, so being passionate about what I did was easy -

That's a lesson we can all take away -

I guess what I'm really getting at is that I'm at the crossroads right now. While facing the future, I'm excited but also know that I want to talk and remember right now all the good and the bad, and what they gave me and even a little of what I gave back. Recognition for what I there a place or even time for that? Just to sit down over a cup of coffee with someone that's walked this place with me, to digest and really start to wrap my head around all the take aways.

Of course it's only natural that I'm preparing the debrief I'll do on myself. But I want someone else to do it. How ironic. *They should have exit interviews (some places do).

For now, I'll revel and give it what I've got. And inside I'll keep jotting ideas and notes down, and taking snapshots with my mind. There's a joy and a sadness at the same time. And being able to experience both of these at once, well I suppose that's beauty.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Film Review: Paris je t'aime

My first official weekend in my new city abode and I scouted out the local independent film theater. Delicious` Paris je t'aime could easily be one of the best films of the year in my mind.

Before I review watch the trailer below:

No before you give the excuses:
1) I'm not into love stories
2) French. The french, I'm not a fan.
3) Subtitles suck.

Note this: It was done by 18 international directors. Hosts a star studded cast including Natalie Portman, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Elijah Wood, Maggie Glyenhaal, etc.etc.

There are a total of 18 mini stories, one just as compelling as the next. They'd show one story, and I'd ask myself how it could possibly can any better, funnier, or morebeautiful...and it would. The beauty of this film is how it portrays love in so many different ways. Love for your children, romantic love, friendship love, sacrificing love, finding love, and humorous love!

Hint: There's a vingnette about two mimes that cracks me up. Or the one where a deaf guy falls in love and it races through his memories and it's all about how he listened to her music, and her screams (for different reasons) and her rehearse her lines.
Once you see it I can go into more details, but until then find a theater near you that's showing Paris je t'aime.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Graph Guy

This guy is funny. Check out some of his graphs. This one is about productivity since Twitter has been introduced.

The Brilliant Failure

Harvard Business Review has some of the best real life applications and ideas come out of its' articles. In lieu in my recent post about, Failing Fast, they've posted a follow-up article called "In Praise of Brilliant Failure".

They point out the crucial oxymoron that we confront in the work place; we are told that we will make mistakes, that it's okay, and that we should learn from these - but then fingers are pointed, time is "wasted", and we have done nothing to increase our value.

Paul Iske points out, "There is no innovation without failure, and no failure without innovation,” says Iske. “And there is a huge difference between people failing through stupidity and failing because they had a brilliant idea whose timing or circumstances were wrong.” Instead, our failures can help highlight problems in processess, expand thinking, and become more creative.

Criteria for Brilliant Failure:
• There must be an intention to create value (in an organization or society)
• The failure must not be due to a stupid mistake
• There must be some learning
• There must be an inspiring story

Iske went on to set up an institute for Brilliant Failure because he repeatedly saw entreprenuers coming to him, and being turned away for no fault of their own. In order to help them become more successful, he proposed that failure be viewed differently.

**I love this article, and have always felt that every challenge or failure we encounter can in turn help lead us to our greatest successes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why I Can't Stop Starting Over

Wow! Great article and probably an even better book!

This entpreneur offers some real life insight in his Confessions of a Serial Entreprenuer. In Businessweek's short interview with Skorman, he comments on the real life and human experience that an entreprenuer needs to recognize. Key points include:

- Get beyond emotion. You have to make decisions from a logical standpoint, not just an emotional one. (He admits he went into the business wanting to help others, but found he had to let go of the emotion to really help others). If he was successful, he was better able at helping.

- He found out he was better at helping others start business rather then starting one on his own.

- Taps into naive vs. arrogant. There's a reason so many super start CEO's are young - and it's because they can take risks, and not from an arrogant place, but rather a naive place. Naive is better then arrogant.

- Mentors! Some of his richest resources were the people in his life who supported him and shared their wisdom. Have mentors!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Black and White Apples

Why does Apple charge $150 more for black laptops than for equally-configured white ones?

Apple’s pricing decision was no doubt influenced by its experience after
introducing a black version of its popular iPod in the fall of 2005.
Although it was priced the same as the company’s traditional white iPod and technically identical to it, demand for black units quickly depleted the company’s inventories, even as white ones remained in stock. Because the black version was new, it stood out, causing many more buyers to order it … By the time it introduced its new MacBook models in the spring of 2006…it charged more for the black machines simply because it could.

From Freak Economics Blog

I Can Hear Them All

Foolish, evil, and stupid. Those weren't just words thrown out after a few glasses of wine, but rather choice words used to describe the very atrocity of the concept that there is no absolute right or wrong in this day in age. Is this what society is evolving into?

My chicken scratch on the church bulletin from Sunday reminds me of what those three words really stand for - moral relativism. It represents the idea that there is no universal standard for which to assess an ethical proposition's truth. That instead each society's morality is relative to it's own cultural and historical influences.

The preacher was the one who helped string all of these different thoughts together. It made more sense when I heard the phrase core values. That today instead of asking, what's the right thing to do, people are asking - is there a right thing to do.

We've turned to politics to help answer this question, which is the wrong place to look. Instead we have to go back and look more closely at and examine our beliefs. We can't just let everything fly anymore, we have to know who we are and stand up for it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fab. in DC

Back in DC post the NYC craze. Why it's good to be back:

- sleeping in own bed
- running
- catching the senators in the afternoon voting (including Obama, Clinton, and my rep. friends).

and oh, being able to drive to Knoxville for the weekend. I'd say I'm doing swimmingly well.

Besides my foot having a blister at the end of the day, and yes I still ran, I think the march up the hill was worth it.

- ETM in the City

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Leaders Do the Math

John Maxwell recently published an article in BusinessWeek on the mathematical principles of leadership and how leaders can be adders, subtractors, dividers, or multipliers. I recommend checking it out. I reflected on the management and leadership styles I've experienced in varied work environments and was able to pinpoint some of the subtractors and multipliers I've run across in my day. It's amazing to see how one can be classified into one of the 4 categories and the real impact it has on the big picture, vision, and atmosphere of an organization.

The contrast between the adder and multiplier is most interesting. Sure, the adder is a valued form of leadership, and adds to the lives of those they coach, but the multiplier is the higher form of leadership that really enables and motivates those around them to do and be better. Adders lift people up, multipliers add to those whose lives they touch.

Any time you want to measure the contribution of a leader—living or dead—use leader's math to do it. More important, if you are a leader, use it to measure your own contribution. Here's the good news: Anyone who wants to can become an adder. It takes only a desire to lift people up, basic leadership skills, and the intentionality to follow through.
But I encourage you to take your leadership to a higher level—to become a multiplier. To do that, one must be strategic, skilled, and highly intentional. It doesn't happen accidentally. But if you do add value to others, you won't have to worry about how others will characterize your life when it's over.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Online Ecosystems

The internet has not only created a new way for people to interact, learn, and work from, but also provided a new ecosystem for business to be born.

In today's Drudge Report, Google Agrees Changes on Privacy, Google is attacked for keeping users personal information on file for longer then 2 years. The European Union data collection agency filed a report and cited Google for breaking the law. Of course Google spoke out against this, and made radical moves to shift their current policy regarding privacy, and the systematic way they hold onto searchers personal information.

Shortly after I read this article, I flipped to the Wall Street Journal to find an instant rebuddal to this very attack. What has sprung out of privacy, google, and personal information has been a highway for reputation management companies. Cited in Bad Online Reputations, companies by the name of ReputationDefender and DefendMyName have made a killing helping to protect their clients from looking like monsters when their names are searched. Depending on where their name shows up, and how many hits they get, a negative display of information may show up first thing when the individual is searched on Google. These companies have learned to generate an income based off of other online companies very purpose.

What's most interesting is how one cause leads to another effect, and another business is born. Reputation management companies have found yet another place in this new online ecosystem.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Failing Forward

The Harvard Business journal online has recently posted an interesting article about how failing can actually significantly lead to further success. Specifically, if you are making the same mistake, it means you aren't learning things, but if you are making mistakes, it means that you are trying and doing new things.

Interestingly enough, they definitely recommend the debrief technique to help failing push you forward. By taking the time to approach the problem from a non emotional standpoint and to review, it provides adequate time to recognize where change needs to happen and what can be done better.
Check it out at:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

DVD vs. VCR People

Today's management principles identify key elements that help us to better understand how different generations approach the professional environment and what they seek.

- Digital Thinking VCR vs. DVD people

  • VCR people see a logical order to approach things. There is only one way to go from A to Z

  • DVD people can skip around - this represents today's generation.

- Self Expression

  • Today's generation needs to feel like they can bring creativity to the table. They don't like to be put in a box or to be told what to do or how to think.

- Star Emergence Power (Impacting the Game)

  • The young workforce needs to feel like they are impacting the outcome and play a significant role in creating success.

- Free Agent Mentality

  • Statistics show that today people will have roughly 7 - 9 different jobs in their lifetime, unlike the previous generation that usually had 1 - 3.

Engagement and self investment will not occur from today's workforce if the task is perceived as mundance or boring, and if the staff perceives no possibility of affecting the outcome.

Key Principles II

Research demonstrates the the single greatest factor of service that staff provide is determined by the manner in which they are treated by their manager.

Things consider to make a good manager to today's generation:

  • Be Likeable - passion, integrity, and honesty

  • Actively build in fun - connect and communicate

  • Reverse coaching - catch them doing something right

I'm not sure if I neccessarily agree with the mindset that today's generation has towards the professional environment or career path, but these are good things to keep in mind as the summer progresses.

Creating a Culture

95 % of all our concerns and challenges can be prevented by generating and creating a culture.

1. Problems are self-created - problems are not reality. Problems are things that we define as such.

2. Challenges are self-fulfilling - we can overcome these, and decide exactly how we want to do so.

3. Set the agenda, win the debate - if we establish the environment, we can control 90% of what's happening and the 10% that we cannot we are prepared for. If we set the agenda, we set ourselves up for success.

4. You cannot sell what you don't already own - in order to teach or get buy in from others around us we need to take ownership over what we are preaching. Ownership means we believe in it.

5. 212 degrees water boils, at 211 degrees it does not - one degree makes a huge difference between steam and water.

6. People wear nametags, nametags do not wear people - do not forget the reason why. We are serving the person, not the nametag.

The Path Becoming Clear

An email from one of my professional collegues:

"An unrelated but important FYI - I met a colleague, via my network, who has a training business and is looking for soft skill trainers. The catch is that he doesn't pay my daily rates - more like xxxxx day depending on the contract. I mentioned your background in leadership training, and your potential availability in the fall when you start graduate school. If you're interested, I'd like to connect the two of you later this summer. It could give you some paid experience, and give him a very good source for use in his training programs. He's trying to expand his leadership training business but lacks the trainers to expand...We can talk this summer - I'll have some things going in the fall as well but they don't materialize until later in the summer."

This is the beginning.


DC Update:

DC is a fantastic city to live in. Public transporation friendly, intellectually vibrant community, and geometrically challenging (note, i've gotten lost only twice). Oh, and 5 dollar tickets to hot summer evening baseball games - Washington Nationals style.

It is rather fun to ride the metro to and from work, and the people watching could not get any better. But my favorite part was running home in the rain and watching as passerbys under umbrellas smiled. But in close second comes the Pier 1 associate who let me borrow the dolly from the store to wheel my newly purchased bedframe up the street. This is city living, and it makes me come alive in new ways all over again.

I am so blessed to have found such a sense of contentment in my new home.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

FL to TN to DC

I loaded up the car Thursday night, went to work on Friday and made it to Knoxville, TN by Saturday morning. 3 suitcases, a packed car, and 2 diet cokes later...
I made it! After a 14 hour trip, a relaxing vacation by a pool, quality time with the boy, and a few freckles later, I made it to my destination: DC. Today I will officially begin my residence in Washington.