You choose the title of this post

July 1, 2015

Reading a magazine’s very last page and very last item sounded very familiar to me in a different context.  It quoted Emma-Jayne Winson, the first female jockey to win the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s oldest thoroghbred race, in 2007.  Here it is from May 2015 issue of Canadian Business.
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Ask a jockey: Is it hard to build a relationship with a horse you’ve just met?

“When I took lessons, I remember complaining that I wanted to ride this horse every week, and I never got the same horse.  I always got a differet one. But being on horses that maybe I didn’t get along with taught me to be a better rider and to communicate better with animals that weren’t necessarily on the same page.  It’s amazing how you can assimilate something so simple into everyday life.”

Now relate this story to the times when you wanted certain key people in your team, but couldn’t; or had to operate with constraints that you felt were slowing you down. I believe every challenge shapes us to be bit more flexible, innovative, disciplined, collaborative and resilient.

One mantra helps instead of complaining or whining, it is change the mindset.  Accept that it is not an ideal situation (rarely idean conditions exist in any environment, be it business or social), but how can you make the best use of it and what way you are going to learn from it.  Usually, all such circumstances become good stepping stones.

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The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given..

September 6, 2011
  1. Don’t ask for what you don’t want.
  2. You carry five balls in the air; all but one is made of glass. Glass is health, family, friends, spirituality. Rubber is career. Juggle well.
  3. Be passionate but not emotional.
  4. Master hard skills early in your career. Master soft skills to get ahead later in your career.
  5. Know when to ask questions – sometimes in a group, sometimes one-on-one.  There is big difference in perception and outcome in these two situations.
  6. Always do what you say you will do.
  7. Take lunch – you are not that important.
  8. Read the cover of sports page every day (no joke!).

I was reading Canadian Business magazine‘s The Next Power Elite cover story and found these gems at the bottom of the page.  I could not resist sharing with my readers. Credit for the content goes to August-September issue of Canadian Business.


SWOT Analysis – A Tool Anyone Can Use

May 9, 2011

Do not begin any major task without this analysis tool!  This tool will generate the list of valuable ideas and strategic direction to achieve your goals. We can say SWOT Analysis is a tool that helps our project, business objective, venture or organization in 4 ways:

  1. Evaluate the Strengths so that you can capitalize on them,
  2. Identify the Weaknesses so that you can address them,
  3. Discover Opportunities so that you can invest accordingly, and
  4. Analyze Threats so that you can plan to mitigate them.

SWOT comes from Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat.  It is 2×2 matix which we use to gather the data on 4 areas by asking questions.  You can do it through brainstorming session and use required data from customer feedback, surveys, industry research, market trands, etc.

I stumbled upon this great 5 min video by Erica Olson and thought of sharing it with you along with other resources.

Strengths and Weaknesses are internal while Opportunities and Threats are external to the business objective or the task for which SWOT analysis is being done. It is as simple as asking good questions!

 This video will explain a lot and referresources for mastery –

Excellent Resources:

  1. Basics  – http://erc.msh.org/quality/ittools/itswot.cfm
  2. Process – http://www.andyeklund.com/creativestreak/2009/05/swot-analysis.html
  3. Small Business Startup SWOT Questions –http://www.selfemployedcafe.com/swot-analysis-template/
  4. Template and Practical Example – http://farm-risk-plans.usda.gov/pdf/swot_brochure_web.pdf
  5. http://www.rob-berman.com/questions-to-ask-during-swot-analysis/

Fountain of Wisdom

February 18, 2011

Rose & Robert Skillman Library in Detroit has engraving “The Fountain of Wisdom Flows Through the Books“. To drink from this fountain, I continue to read books and here are some that I have completed recently and would like to share with my subscribers and visitors.  I have more detail posted here.

These 3 books are totally unique but fit in for a balanced approach towards any leadership or managerial role that you play in your life.

  1. Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Press, 2010
  2. Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t Jeffrey Pfeffer, HarperBusiness, 2010
  3. It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships Tommy Spaulding, Crown Business, 2010

Why Should You Read These 3 Books?

Buy-In:  A leader or manager has to sell the idea, proposal or get an agreement.  Getting people buy-into is the critical task.  You will learn two things – first, how to protect your good ideas from being shot down and second, how to win the support of stakeholders when it really matters.  Naysayers will use 4 strategies of fear mongering, delay tactics, confusion and/or ridicule to derail the idea.

As we all know that good idea alone will not survive. This book offers 24 major attacks or objections (that people use time and time again) and how to handle them properly. Link provides 24 responses to these attacks.

Skillman Library in Detroit

Skillman Library in Detroit Courtesy: Wikimedia

Power:  For a leader or manager, being power less is not an option. If you can influence any decision, you got some power. Projects and initiatives of people who are associated with people of authority gets their way in any organization.  Some might have the different opinion of the use of power (i.e. Machiavellian style), but lets use the perspective that if you have power, you can do more good to your cause, organization and society. I will add quote from Baltasar Gracian:

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.  The Art of Worldly Wisdom, 1647

This book contains excellent advice and analysis about gaining power in corporations and politics.  You may not agree with all that is said like perception is reality (but for how long?), but its a good read and use what you feel appropriate with good intentions.

It’s Not Just Who You Know: Leaders and managers accomplish a lot by building rapport at all the levels, they are resourceful and get the work done for greater good.  This book fits right where both other left.  If you believe that great relationship in life make all the difference, you will enjoy it. Author does not give out any specific formula but shares his own experiences and then elaborates on how one should apply them in life. I used this book to learn from someone’s life how genuine interaction helps build great relationships.

This book is not you scratch my back and I scratch you back type but follows Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends…

Author shares many inspiring stories and all underscore that relationship building begins with your genuine and sincere attention on the others and it’s not about you. Do not push for the things that you want, figure out what they need.  Also, author stresses that exploiting relationships for quick personal gains or favors will eventually ruin the foundation and it soon becomes transactional business relationship.

As a leader, you do not want to accomplish a lot in business but also would like to have strong relationships similar to great balance sheet or super annual report.  If you miss out building genuine and sincere relationships at all sectors of life, work and business included, you will be alone at top.

References:

  1. http://www.kotterinternational.com/KotterPrinciples/BuyIn/AttacksAndResponses.aspx

Press Release : Kulveer Elected to Lead Michigan’s Largest Project Management Chapter

January 3, 2011

Have you ever created a press release before?  As I began my role in the chapter as President Elect on Jan 01, 2011, I thought of creating a press release and see how it looks.  First attempt, let me know what you think. (Note – my personal opinion and does not reflect of any organization or enterprise).


Detroit, MI. (2 January 2011) — Board of Directors of Great Lakes Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI – GLC), the largest project management member association in Michigan, elected Kulveer S. Virk as its new president for 2012.

The Board chose Kulveer Virk for his keen strategic insights regarding building member and organization value, formulating and leading operational vision, strategy and direction. “Kulveer is a very hardworking, committed and inspiring volunteer leader. He brought great ideas to the chapter in the communication area including social media strategy, made improvements that resulted in cost savings” said Arun Das, PMP, Past-President for the chapter. “He also shaped other initiatives that originated from the ideation of strategic items identified during the last couple of years.”

Kulveer said he will build on the Board’s overall strategic direction and provide executive leadership to advance PMI-GLC as one of the largest and most influential project management chapter in the region.

Kulveer has been vice president of communications for PMI-GLC since 2008. Kulveer has nearly 15 years of experience in project management, strategic planning, and business process reengineering, operations and software development. During his tenure, Kulveer has been instrumental in implementing solutions to cut cost, redesign services, and embracing social media.

Apart from serving the PMI-GLC board, Kulveer manages a global project at Ford Motor Company in Michigan. His previous experience includes consulting, medical, engineering, city government sectors.

“I am extremely pleased that PMI-GLC’s Board has expressed the confidence in me to take PMI-GLC to next levels of volunteer and stakeholder engagement, increase in member value, positioning to meet the challenges of next decade.” said Kulveer. “I look forward to enhancing our strategic relationships with organization and businesses leaders to highlight the importance and benefits of Project Management and role PMI-GLC plays in the region.”

About Project Management Institute (PMI) & Great Lakes Chapter (PMI-GLC)

PMI (www.pmi.org) is the world’s largest project management member association, representing more than half a million practitioners in over 185 countries. As a global thought leader and knowledge resource, PMI advances the profession through its global standards and credentials, collaborative chapters and communities of practice and academic research.

PMI-GLC (www.pmiglc.org) is Metro Detroit chapter of PMI established in 1979 and serving around 2000 members across Michigan and Ontario, Canada. PMI-GLC offers annual symposium, dinner meetings and forums on project and program management topics apart from various other events for networking and membership orientation.


Power of Social Media and Customer Service

November 11, 2009

You might have heard that someone got very bad customer service one day and no one would resolve the complaint at this company.  This person gets upset by the treatment received and decides to write a complaint letter to the president of the company.  In few weeks he receives a note and the issue is resolved by president’s interference.  Everyone gets back to business and few people in the town heard of the story and thats it.

Now go to Web 2.0, someone got bad customer service and received no reasonable response  to the complaint.  This consumer feels mis-treated as his complaint is not treated fairly.  This person sings a complaint song, and shares it on YouTube.   Word about this customer service story circulates the internet through the song shared on YouTube, people in millions watch it and it hurts the organization’s bottom line (over $100 millions) and the brand.  And then this individual gets an apology from the company and complain finally gets  resolved.

This is the power of social media if used correctly. It works both ways.

Here is the complete story  about singer Dave Carroll incident and whose guitar was broken by United Airlines (Link to Huffington Post story) . Watch the  song. 

Here are some key points (and some Customer Service/Help Desk experts can add more) –

  1. Consumer expects good service all the time, although doesn’t give reward or recognize it publically, but indirectly rewards by doing business again and again.
  2. Consumer is generally prepared to handle good and bad customer service; in case of bad service, do not expect more business.
  3. Consumer is wowed by exceptional service only and you can find 5-star reviews online and strong brand following is built/maintained. Facebook Fan page and twitter following of brand can tell something.
  4. Consumer is offended by horrible customer service.  You can find 1-star reviews online and some dedicated websites to complain about product, brand or service can be found.  Some may get creative like David Carroll and make a dent on your brand.
  5. If not sure how to handle the complaint or issue, do not just say No.  Let your boss help you.
  6. If you face customers, genuine attitude determines consumer behaviour to a bigger extent.

I have noticed that consumer tolerance to bad service is inversely proportional to size of brand or organization.  Bigger the brand or name of the organization, higher the expectation of consumer in terms of service.

 Here is another blogger with the same story- http://adgablog.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/how-to-ruin-a-reputation-in-4-days-on-youtube/

What are your thoughts, please share.  Have a great day.


11 Principles of Leadership

August 20, 2009

 I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles.  I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience. 

  1. Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
  2. Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
  3. Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well.  Be a brand that people want to associate with.
  4. Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow;  guide them if they fit somewhere else.
  5. Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
  6. Look after the welfare of your employees – the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need.  Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
  7. Keep everyone well informed  – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume –  aks and tell.
  8. Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how;  goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
  10. Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
  11. Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.

“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Thanks for reading and welcome your input.  Have a great day.


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