10 things to do when stuck in a situation

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.  – Alan Cohen (A prominent businessman from Florida)

Once you find yourself at a fork in the road, or clueless about which path to choose from – you wonder …..where should I begin this journey?  I have been there many time.  Sometime stuck or sometimes clueless.  I ask others and choose what fits in. You will be amazed how many resources are available for help and how different perspectives let you find the right solution. Choice is always yours, some times things work out as expected, other times you find out what does not work.  There is no template or documented way as we all have unique abilities and unique challenges. 

You have the solution, all you are doing is uncovering with the help of others. Because it is meant to be like that.

But when should you begin asking? After doing your home work. If you do not do your home work, you will be overwhelmed by choices and might be victim of analysis paralysis. Here are some thoughts to prepare you to ask help from others, in many cases you do many of these things in parallel:

  1. Use mind mapping technique to put thoughts, situation and desired result on paper.
  2. Talk to couple of your trusted friend and seek advice who has been in the similar situation.
  3. Check with a life coach, a professional mentor or an expert is situation requires professional input.
  4. Contemplate and jot down best-case and worst-case scenarios.
  5. Do on-line search, check out blogs, forums, libraries or book stores.
  6. Join a group, attend networking event, take a class where like-minded people will gather; or take a vacation, sleep well and go for a walk or jog with all the advice, a solution may pop-up automatically.
  7. Do not do all thinking in the head alone, jot down your thoughts and give them shape by arranging them as they make sense.
  8. Put a milestone chart for action steps. Start with question mark and end with desired outcome. Then fill with monthly and yearly milestone.
  9. Now describe what needs to be done to achieve those monthly and yearly milestones.
  10. Stay up-beat and keep focused.  Don’t be bothered about nay sayers. Per Nike’s tag line – just do it!

Any decision you take, remember Steven Covey’s 2nd principle – begin with the end in mind.  We all do most of the things but my experience working with others is that folks do not write or do not jot down any of the plan. You got to do it.

Further reading/references:

  1. Seven steps to problem solving – http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.html
  2. What is mind-mapping – http://litemind.com/what-is-mind-mapping/
  3. Scenario planning – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scenario_planning

The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given..

  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.

How to Become a Trusted Advisor?

How to build trust with the Boss or Customer? What do you think of your boss or customer? 

I guess more important question for your success is – what does your boss (or customer) think of you? Does your boss (or customer) trust you? Trust is invisible currency of faith. Once you have earned it,  you become trusted advisor. It takes time to develop trust, but can be lost in a flash.  Trust makes work life more enjoyable, gives satisfaction and makes one more productive.   I believe that if someone genuinely applies below given 7 pointers, sure will gain trust. 

He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted. – Lao Tzu

Lets imagine customer is also a boss.  Getting a good boss is mostly in our hands.  I say mostly, because there might be some bosses with whom you can not connect at all because their wavelength is quite different from yours.  In spite of it, I think one must take initiative to build trust and get connected with boss instead of waiting for boss to realize how invaluable and resourceful one is for the team and organization. 

So how to become trusted advisor?  Answer is – by cultivating trust.  My understanding is “Giving trust leads to earning trust“. You got to understand the uniqueness of every individual in terms of how one thinks and operates.

Here are 7 key pointers to build trust over time with your boss and work on addressing the questions –

  1. Be reliable and competent: can your boss count on you? can you get things done you are supposed to do?
  2. Be accountable: are you ready to own your mistakes? are you concerned about success of your organization?
  3. Learn to anticipate: do you know what questions will be asked on the subject? are you strategic thinker?
  4. Be solution oriented: are you just posing questions or problems? do you strive to help resolve issues?
  5. Seek feedback and be candid: are you engaging your boss? are you holding back something from your boss? 
  6. Be professional: are you delivering value to your boss/organization? are you respectful to your boss on his/her back?
  7. Be a good communicator: do you understand how your boss wants to know things? do you connect with your boss?

And what you do if you and your boss are on totally different wavelengths? Keep doing good job and move on when opportunity arises, simple is that.  Its nothing wrong with anyone, we all are unique and bring different perspectives to life and its ok to be on different wavelengths.

Hope you like the post, if you think there is any other valuable point to add, share it.  Thanks for reading and feedback.

Fountain of Wisdom

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

7 Step to Effective Networking At Any Event – For Starters

I have been a shy networker before.  I attended the meetings/conferences with many business cards in my pocket but I rarely exchanged business cards and developed any new contact. I had good questions in my mind to ask but hoped that someone else would ask.  It wasn’t working out for me.

After reading many books, studying other successful people and learning from some of my friends – I found out where I was failing.  I was mainly staying in the group of people I knew.  I had objective to gain from the event but not to contribute something in some way.  I hoped someone else will show interest in me and will strike conversation and only phrase I used to initiate conversation was, “How are you today?”.  I got rid of shyness, gain confidence and equipped with knowledge by knowing that we all have unique styles of interaction and capabilities.  Asking question or solution proposed to clarify any issue will not only help me but many others.   We all benefit from each other thru interaction.  Now, one of my friend says, if I am not working then I am networking.  I guess, its good compliment!

It’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference. – Anonymous

Networking is the must-have capability for any professional these days.  We all need good networking skills and should take advantage of connections we develop at any professional symposium or meeting.  Networking is absolutely the primary technique that is used to find new job opportunities, career transition or career advancement.  While we all attend various meeting, active on LinkedIn (and social media) and attend seminars with networking as one of the objectives; but many times it is not accomplished that well.    

Here are 7 points to keep in mind for effective networking at any event –

  1. Setup your agenda for the event & find what unique perspective you bring.
  2. Choose your sessions in advance if its multi session event and jot down your questions on the topic.
  3. Arrive early to meet people; also participate in the sessions by asking questions or sharing your perspective.
  4. Sit with strangers and introduce yourself – don’t wait for others to make move.
  5. Initiate conversations – go beyond “Hi, how are you?”.  Show interest in others and listen.
  6. Share expertise and help people solve issues discussed, make note of what you offered to the new contact.
  7. Follow-up with your new contacts after you get home.

Other Useful Link –

http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_12_Tips_for_Shy_People

Community Leadership – Lessons Learned

How do you play shows some of your character, how do you win or lose shows all of it. – Anonymous

For last couple of months, I have been quite busy with community leadership related work.  I had an opportunity to mentor and advise leadership team on the issue that was dividing the community. I  also had to stand up against the group of people whom I found was neither acting fairly nor was impartial. Per my research, it was abuse of power and leadership role.

It is now over and resolved satisfactorily, but it was a learning experience for me and I would like to share my lessons that I have gathered from both sides, without referencing to any incident.  One side was new and young group of individuals who was selected to lead the community and other group had been in control for over 16 years was not giving up the power and resisting the change.

When I reflect on my decision to support the new and young group get their right, I feel great that I could serve the community. 

Here are some of the common sense lessons I learned from both sides of the issue –

  1. As with each problem, understand the issue; background of politics & people involved and their agendas;
  2. Always be fair, remain truthful and act impartial towards all – if you want to be really helpful;
  3. Read any relevant document being referred; do not just believe what is being told;
  4. Don’t sit on the fence and enjoy conflict, become active if you are passionate about the issue and can contribute;
  5. Talk to leaders and offer your help to mediate; negotiate with win-win mental model;
  6. Not every effort to resolve issue will be welcomed, negotiations will fail miserably, stay hopeful – any conflict has its own life cycle as well;
  7. Expect rumors, allegations and indirect threats – do not waste all of your energy on addressing these;
  8. Talk to community members, educate about the issue, tell the truth and share the facts;
  9. Keep all doors open for compromise; find out what price are you willing to pay to keep community together;
  10. Find influencers in the community, get them on your side and ask for help, validate your interpretation of the issue;
  11. Do not quit or bend against pressure if you know you are standing for the truth and justice, you will face lots of pressure and many curve balls;
  12. Whatever you negotiate, offer or communicate, make in writing;
  13. Do not go negative; don’t get involved with personal attacks on opposite group;
  14. Deliver response to any negative propaganda with facts and positive tone – remember truth is like the Sun and false propaganda as clouds, the Sun will eventually shine, the truth will always prevail;
  15. Do not get into reactive mode, expect urge to say negative – but control it;
  16. Remember truth has to go through tough test before it wins;
  17. Keep your head high, keep thinking positive and stay visible in community or group;
  18. Always remember that difference of opinion is natural human behavior, other people might be thinking you are wrong;
  19. Seek lawyer’s help if needed, you need to get involved in fund-raising, planning course of action is key to success;
  20. Do not twist the facts, do not talk out of context, do not exhibit attitude towards people who aren’t agreeing with your opinion;
  21. Always seek advice of people who can tell the truth and fact of the matter, not your supporters only who speak your mind and tell you one-sided story;
  22. If what you hear is truth and is contrary to your belief, consult and reflect that you are not manipulating the situation;
  23. Establish a core group who offers views of issues without any prejudice;
  24. Listen to truth and act upon it, keep your mind open to everything but attached to nothing;
  25. Do your best in every circumstance even if no one is watching you, do not do things to impress others;
  26. Expect victory if you are truthful, impartial, positive, open and just towards all;
  27. Do not give advice to score point or take credit, keep it simple and make it team effort;
  28. Expect confusion in your group, keep all informed and motivated;
  29. Once you get what you want, do not demean other group but let it go;
  30. It will take some time to heal the divide, but keep focused on delivering value to community;
  31. Do not cling to power but work on empowering others to lead;
  32. Power is to serve community not to rule, you may have to make tough decisions;
  33. When you are serving as a leader, it’s not walking on red carpet – you are there to take on challenges; and
  34. Any choice or decision should be based on good for all not only for you.

When I talked about the issue in my community with friends in other communities, all told me one or other kind of similar story in their community or organization.  I hope my lessons will help or guide someone someday.

Thanks for your visit and comments on the post.

5 Quotes for Leaders

 

  

  1. Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.  – Tom Landry
  2. People ask the difference between a leader and a boss . . . The leader leads, and the boss drives. -Theodore Roosevelt
  3. Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. – Karl Popper
  4. Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy. – H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  5. The man whose authority is recent is always stern. – Aeschylus

  

 

 

11 Principles of Leadership

 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.

7 Blunders of the world

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was a great leader, lived his life for others and his words of wisdom have given direction to many.  Doesn’t matter what we do or where we stand in life, these 7 mistakes, if committed will result in ruined life or career.  These 7 mistakes are called 7 blunders of the world.

  1. Wealth without work
  2. Pleasure without conscience
  3. Knowledge without character
  4. Commerce without morality
  5. Science without humanity
  6. Worship without sacrifice
  7. Politics without principle

For more info on Mahatma Gandhi, please visit http://www.mkgandhi.org/

Thank you and have a wonderful day!

Anais Nin on Change

  1. There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
  2. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
  3. We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Change : Three Fish Story

Change is inevitable.  In every person’s life, opportunities for change come and go.  If person avoids change, nature creates circumstances in one way or the other, and change becomes unavoidable.  As per human nature, some will embrace the change and act positively, some will accept reluctantly and some will  completely deny the fact.  I hope you remember the classic fable on change by Dr. Spencer Johnson ‘Who Moved My Cheese?‘. 

Here is one similar story* by Rumi, draw the conclusion yourself.

In a lake somewhere, there lived three big fish.  One of them was intelligent, another half-intelligent, and the third, stupid.

One day, some fishermen came to the lake with their nets and the three fish noticed them.  The intelligent fish decided at once to leave, to make the long, difficult trip to the ocean.  He thought, “I won’t consult with these two on this.  They will only weaken my resolve, because they love this place so.  They call it home.  Their ignorance will keep them here.”

The wise fish saw the men and their nets and said, “I am leaving.”  So the intelligent fish left and suffered greatly on its way, but finally made it to the edgeless safety of the sea.

Now about the half-intelligent fish thought, “My guide has gone, I ought to have gone with him, but I didn’t, and now I’ve lost my chance to escape.  I wish I’d gone with him.”

Second fish mourns the absence of his guide for a while,  and then thinks, “What can I do to save myself from these men and their nets?  Perhaps if I pretend to be already dead!”  I’ll belly up o n the surface and float like weeds float, just giving myself totally to the water.  So he did that.  He bobbed up and down, helpless, within arm’s reach of the fishermen.

“Look at this! The best and biggest fish is dead.”  One of the men lifted him by the tail, spat on him, and threw him up on the group.  He rolled over and over and slid secretly near the water and then, back in.

Meanwhile, the third fish, the dumb one, was agitatedly jumping about, trying to escape with his agility and cleverness.  The net, of course, finally closed around him, and as he lay in the terrible frying-pan bed, he thought, “If I get out of this, I’ll never live again in the limits of a lake.  Next time, the ocean!  I’ll make the infinite my home.”

Thank you for reading.  Everyone handles the situation in a unique way and that makes our world interesting. *paraphrased

Source: The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, 2004

Leadership Sans Ego & Insecurity

Photo courtesy : cultivategreatness.com

Everywhere we turn our focus to, we hear something negative and how leadership should come forward.  Leadership at every level is already faced with some difficult choices.  It is of paramount importance that when leaders make decisions to change the course, decisions should not have been plagued by personal ego and due to insecurity.

As John C Maxwell says that Ego and Insecurity are the two greatest landmines of leadership; think about any world leader and if he stepped on these landmines or not.  Do you want to?  After a long time when we reflect on the decisions we make today should be matter of proud.

As a leader, we get a chance to serve our people, I mean serve genuinely.  In these times how we act will shape our organizations and societies.  Lets take the right actions while we overcome the short-term issues, we keep long term objectives in our minds.

Thanks for visiting, and have a great day!

Life is bigger than that!

2008 is nearing the completion of business work days and it was one of the eventful year.  We have seen all from US election to Canadian elections, Wall-street meltdown to Automotive bailout, Saturday Night Live comedy to economic worries.  All the stuff, never thought of. 

But when it comes to our professional life, one needs to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.  I have mentored and provided guidance to few people over the year and have also asked for advice from my peers.  Some people either make small issues into big problems or do not even have clue what is wrong.  Here are some of the points to consider-

  1. Get feedback from your boss; have 1 on 1 regularly (weekly or monthly) to align objectives.
  2. Grow your professional network by volunteering at work, in community or join any organization.
  3. Understand that everyone is different; workplaces are diverse.
  4. Totally messed up? If you are honest, you’ll get another chance.   Life is bigger than that!
  5. Do not just focus on getting credit of everything you do or say.  Give credit where deserved.
  6. Be careful about sarcastic sense of humor.  It may be wise to stay quiet.
  7. If you do extraordinary job you get promotion as a result. Its not the other way.
  8. Help others grow and learn.  Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
  9. Take vacation or take time out.  Its must to revitalize your energies and focus.
  10. Try to listen.  Pay attention to your superiors and peers.
  11. Dress according to your job profile, at least.
  12. Do not make ‘difference of opinions’ at work your personal issue.

I firmly believe if we are serious to improve ourselves, we can start afresh anytime.  Its never too late and Life is bigger than that! 

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

Communication Skills for Managers – Learning From Barak Obama

I was looking into posts on Mr. Barak Obama’s communication style and how it contributed towards Obama’s victory.  Did Obama address people in all 4 categories of DiSC Model?  These categories are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness

Each person in his/her category wants to hear in a specific manner.  Some people need direct answer while others need some encouragement and hope and so on.  Please see the table at the end of the post and read more about DiSC Model

While doing so, I found very interesting Wall Street Journal video on the topic titled  “Learning From Obama’s Effective Communication Skills“.
 

To summarize, what project manager can do –

  1. giving good positive message
  2. clear and compelling tone
  3. giving substance along with style
  4. speaking with confidence and authority
  5. not in hurry to speak- patience
  6. pause between sentences: at least 3-4 seconds
  7. stress the right words
  8. relate to people and places
  9. make it simple to comprehend
  10. identify what is not right with other approach

Here is the table what people mainly like to hear/communicate around- 

Major Category

Like to hear words and actions around

Dominance

challenge, power, direct answer, authority, assertive, active

Influence

empathetic, people focused, receptiveness, accepting

Steadiness

stability, methodical, calm response, careful approach, thoughtful

Conscientiousness

logic focused, skeptical, clarity and quality, questioning

What are your findings?  What did you learn? Lets share.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

Power Quotes – 3

We got to refuel our thought engine each day.  When things we read, hear, feel or experience seem tough (relative term); refule with positive quotes.

  1. Pray to God but continue to row to the shore. – Russian Proverb
  2. Opportunities just approach those who seek them. – Charles Nikol
  3. If winter comes, can spring be far behind? – Percy Bysshe Shelley
  4. Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.  – Madame de Stael
  5. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

Have a good day!

… life is how you react to it!

Today I heard first time of Charles Swindoll.  He is an author of over 70 books, educator and a preacher.  I have not read or listened to him but his quotes (found over the Internet) are very valuable. 

I am believer of the fact that where ever we get life lessons, learn from them and implement in life.  I save the motivating quotes so that I can refer again and again to align myself.  Here are 5 quotes to start the work week.

  1. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
  2. The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.
  3. Alleged impossibilities are opportunities for our capacities to be stretched.
  4. We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
  5. We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.

Thank you for reading and wish you a wonderful week.

Fast, Cheap AND Good

Good, Fast or Cheap

Can’t pick any two? You also need all three – fast, cheap and good? 

It has been very commonly used set of options in I.T. when offering an alternative or usually when dealing with issues from outsourced service.  Someone will come and say – “Pick any two!” 

Sometime ago I was involved in a project where we had to pick any two options and it was very hard to leave out the third one.  Many times we had to leave ‘cheap’ and other times ‘fast’,  for us ‘good’ was essential and paid the price accordingly.  We had to compensate for third left out option through continuous improvement.  I kind of thought that this is the  dilemma every one will be facing.  But it is not the case as I am finding out.  Things are getting better.

Continue reading “Fast, Cheap AND Good”

Power Quotes – 2

Learning from the words of the wise and getting more out of our life should be our goal.  As someone said, knowing and not doing is as good as not knowing. 

  1. Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. – William James
  3. You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not. – Isabel Allende
  4. The world will shape you if you let it.  To have a sense of yourself as you live, you must make conscious choices. – John Donahoe
  5. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice.  It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. – William Jennings Bryan

Thanks for your visit and reading the post.  Have an excellent day!

Practical Wisdom – three types of people

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar @ Detroit
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar @ Detroit

I attended “Practical Wisdom For Getting the Most Out of Life” seminar by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Detroit on July 9th.  It was good to see and listen him in person.

His way of talking is like giving sutras (formula) for something.  I know condensing some information and giving it in the short form is not easy.  Some people enjoy detailed discourses and some enjoy condensed info i.e. sutras.  Remember, different strokes for different folks.  His daily sutras (link) are available in many languages.

On the lighter side, when someone asked the secret of happy married life – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar summed up for men – “nurture the emotion of woman” and hint to women – “pump the ego of man”.  We did some breathing exercise, learned about Surdarshan Kriya (a form of yoga) as well.

Here is a short paragraph from one of the books that I picked up “Celebrating Love“; –

“There are three types of people – the wise, the crooked and the immature.  The wise man continues doing good work whether he is scolded or praised.  Crooked people need to be praised to get them to do good work.  And from time to time immature people need to be both praised and scolded for them to do something good.”

(isn’t it a good management tip from a spiritual guru?).   Here are some links if you want to explore more –

Official website – http://www.srisri.org/
More info          – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Sri_Ravi_Shankar
His initiative     – http://www.artofliving.org/

Thanks for reading and have a good day!

The 7 Habits For Managers

Stephen R Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is classic and most of us have read and learned from it. 

 This week, I listened to his another audio book The 7 Habits for Managers: Managing Yourself, Leading Others, Unleashing Potential. Its based on ‘classic 7 habits’ and with focus on management. 

I would recommend to listen to this audio book to refresh 7 habits and learn how managers can apply these habits.  If this is new to you,  here are classic 7 habits and start with reading ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’

Habit 1 – Be proactive
Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind
Habit 3 – Put first things first
Habit 4 – Think win-win
Habit 5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Habit 6 – Synergize
Habit 7 – Sharpen the saw

These habits are to be used as pointers for our actions.  We got to make sure that our employees understand the value of these habits and learn from these. 

Thanks.

DiSC model – Management Styles

I completed DiSC (stands for Dominance, influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) training last week and fount it interesting.   DiSC confirms one thing, different strokes for different folks.

DiSC is a system to help you find out similar and unique characteristics among people.  It also shows person’s behavioural preferences and helps to identify different management styles that can lead to obtain better results through interaction. 

According to the DiSC model, there are four management styles – by Dominance, by influence, by Steadiness, and by Conscientiousness.

Series of questions lead to a specific DiSC profile, that tells you what is your score and what is you dominant style of management and what are your supportive styles. 

D – Dominant : these people are active and questioning; these are direct and competitive in nature.  These people want to ‘get it done’.

i – Influence : these people are active and accepting; motivated, enthusiastic, sociable and lively. 

S – Steadiness : these people are thoughtful and accepting; patient and even tempered, accommodating. 

C– Conscientiousness : these people are thoughtful and questioning; kind of private with analytical abilities and task oriented.  Main objective is to ‘get it right’.

As we know everyone is unique and all have different ways of interacting.  Imagine, I interact with a person who has dominant  style of ‘Conscientiousness‘ (private and task oriented).  I pretend to be of ‘influence‘ (sociable and enthusiastic) dominant style; my interaction with that person can not be productive as I may not be providing the specific instructions that other person needs. 

Why is that?  Because people with dominant ‘infulence’ style mix personal talk with business discussions, becoming informal and emotionally expressive leaving the ‘Conscientiousness’ style person unclear or confuse as Max requires specific task oriented info and does not express himself emotionally.

How it will help me?  It lists what are key strengths, what things are overused, what could be the limitations and what changes should be made in management style that make one more effective.

Have you ever taken DiSC and Meyers-Briggs assessment?  What are your thoughts? Did you benefit from it?  Please share your thoughts.  Thank you for reading. 

More info –

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment 
  2. One of the best books on the application of DiSC is by Keith Ayers titled “Engagement is Not Enough.

Five Powerful Leadership Quotes

Five very powerful quotes, read and ponder. 

  1. “A leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of credit.” – Arnold Glasow
  2. “There are no bad soldiers, only bad officers.” – Napolean
  3. “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say.  It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved.  Our best ideas come from clerks and stockboys.” – Sam Walton
  4. “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra
  5. “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” – Wayne Gretzky.

Know what to emphasize

PM Tips – 1

What points we emphasize make a big difference in our communications. 

How do we do that? We got to know the expectation of the audience and what we want to convey.  Over emphasizing something or emphasizing meager issues may dilute the effect of conversation. We develop this skill with experience, paying attention to the audience and listening how others do it.

Certainly there are key things that you want to emphasize.  Make sure what you want to emphasize is really relevant and audience has some clue about what you are talking.

Notice how you emphasize? Do you find yourself keep repeating what you want to communicate in different phrases or you cleverly divert every topic discussed and then associate to what you have in mind? 

Observe if you are getting your point across.  Use some relevant example to explain your point.  Do not give frustrated look. You may have to do more work to refine your point.

Thank you for reading. Any suggestions or feedback?

Lao-tzu on Leader

I attended Wayne Dyer’s presentation in Toronto on 28th April 2008.  He spoke about his book  Living the Wisdom of  the Tao

I am quoting from this book.  Lets see what a philosopher, Lao-tzu, said in the 17th verse of Tao Te Ching  some 2500 year ago about the Leaders.

With the greatest leader above then, people barely know one exists.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.

When a leader trusts no one, no one trusts him.

The great leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self-interest and leaves no trace.
When all is finished, the people say, “We did it ourselves.”

In the case of this post, we got to keep in mind that verse talks about ‘greatest leader’. I think- there are still people who exhibit such qualities and making people’s life better.  What you think?  What did your interpretation of this verse?

Thank you and have a wonderful day!

Cheese Moved? Doesn’t Matter.

We, as a professional, are hired by organizations to deliver results and perform. As time passes, our daily job becomes our universe.  We spend our energies resolving problems, improving processes, saving money and many other good things.  Sometimes we are ignorant and sometimes we are so busy handling all the situations at the job, we do not realize that whole world has changed and we are still there.  We find that new technologies, processes, ideologies, concepts and trends have taken over what we used to do.  And when we realize, then blame our employer for not guiding us, showing us the right path, etc.  Remember, we are professionals and professionals know all about their field of expertise.

 When I see clueless people in the situations when their cheese (i.e. work) is moved (or gone), I tell them to stop complaining but learn the lesson from it and take action. 

Here are 11 points I tell (and remind) people to avoid becoming obsolete

  1. Subscribe to professional/trade  magazines and journals and read ( or go to library, but stay up-to-date on what is happening).
  2. Bookmark and frequently checkout websites dealing with news & views related to your field of expertise.
  3. Read some good books on the subject.  Check Amazon.com’s ratings and views before buying. 
  4. Become member & get involved in professional organizations in your chosen field.
  5. Volunteer your time & services in your chosen field or for any good cause.
  6. Mentor and guide other people, help people grow, offer help selflessly.
  7. Attend seminars or conferences; it does not matter if you got to spend few hundreds from your own pocket and on yourself.
  8. Read some good self-help books on personal development and personal finance.
  9. Grow your network, if good people can not find you; you go out and find for your networking.  Interaction is the key.
  10. Always keep learning new things in your chosen field, and
  11. Change with time.

You will find out many successful people are already doing these above mentioned things to grow their professional network and knowledge base. 

I am certainly interested in what you got to say on this subject.  Everyone has unique experience and lets share our thoughts and learn from each other.

 Thank you for visiting and reading the post.  I appreciate it.  Have a good time.

Illiterate of the 21st century…

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

I found this quote very much true.  It is becoming more and more important in today’s work environment for employees and organizations to change their traditional mind-set and evolve. 

Have you seen people who are worried about their jobs as the technology they know is now obsolete? People had been working very hard and did not focus on upgrading their skills as market was going through change.  

I want to stress that you are in charge of your learning opportunities.  It may be soft skills, new language, new technology, new way of doing things or any combination of things that will keep us marketable in this century.  We got to be flexible in terms of learning new things, unlearning of old concepts and some times relearning of (back to basics) concepts.

Thanks and have a great day!

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There


I read many books in 2007 and one of the best that I want to mention here is What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.This book is all about how successful people become even more successful.  There are tons of books on leadership and management out there but this is something.  In my case, book had very good title that got my attention plus it had Ford CEO Alan Mullaly‘s recommendation on the dust jacket, I decided to give it a try. The book was a wonderful read, I read it very slowly enjoying each page filled with new insights and examples – just like I am sipping tea in early spring morning.

Sometimes people get to almost at top by dedication, integrity and excellent work, and then do not get there (to the real topand achieve greatness and may be fame as well). There are many factors contributing to get there but author has identified 20 habits that hold person from getting there. These are very common bad habits that cost a lot in long run such as – not listening, beginning conversation with ‘but‘, speaking when angry, playing favorites, etc.

Visit author’s website www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com  for more info and free resources. 

Here is link to the list of 20 bad habits identified in the book.

The beauty is the way author has explained these common habits and their impacts on others in organization is just like a sage speaking to you.  I have heard from many of my peers and seniors who read the book on my recommendations,  came to me and thanked me. I hope I get a chance to meet him personally and I would pass all those thanks to Marshall for writing such a nice book. If we are getting such an advice compiled in a book, its the best deal for your career.

I am glad that I read it and would recommend to all leaders, aspiring leaders and managers to read it with open mind and make our organizations more successful and in return we also grow with others.  Let me know what you find out.

Thank you and have a great day!

How to Have Project Kick-off Meeting


Kick-off meeting is the first meeting of the project where you give all the team members good news that project is ‘go ahead’ from the sponsors and also set the tone of your project – is it going to be a success or a failure.  Many hours and days have gone into preparation before you have kick-off meeting. You have worked very hard and now have project charter and project plan is in your hands.Primarily kick-off meeting has following goals-

  1. energize the project team
  2. communicate project goals and expectations
  3. introduce team members and stake-holders
  4. highlight opportunities plus challenges and reiterate importance of project for organization
  5. provide information of processes, methodology, project plan, key milestones, etc.
  6. handout team’s contact phone numbers and email addresses
  7. present communication plan
  8. give time to attendees to ask questions and express views

I would do following extra things to make sure kick-off meeting sets positive tone –

  1. print the hand-out material a day before, also check for meeting room projector etc.
  2. have some project related posters and famous positive quotes posted on the wall
  3. invite one or two senior managment  people to talk about project’s importance
  4. have kick-off meeting around 9 AM (start of the day is better)
  5. block enough time for this meeting (time for refreshments, presentations, questions and answers)
  6. set date of kick-off  meeting and notify all members at-least a week ago
  7. offer light refreshments at the beginning of the kick-off meeting
  8. do not sit and just talk, look and feel energetic
  9. have your project plan and other documents (that you plan to hand out) reviewed well in advance by subject matter experts for accuracy
  10. make sure meeting conveys the message and people walk out with motivation

Are there other key things? I will be interested to hear.  Hope this helps and good luck with your kick-off meeting. 

Stroke Warning Signs

My mother suffered minor stroke(s) last week and she is in hospital recovering as right side is affected by it.  Reason for my this post is to make readers aware of the signs of stroke so that if someone else has these symptoms, quick help can be arranged. 

In my case, I was not aware of any symptoms and thought she is expeiencing numbness due to high blood pressure.  We went to see one doctor in walk-in clinic and he suggested that she needs some more rest and continue with blood pressure medicine. Later that day we took her to emergency in hospital when she had problem walking as well.  After talking to Triage nurse, I realized that she might be having stroke.  Here are symptoms of stroke, If you notice one or more of these signs, do not wait. Stroke is a medical emergency.

Classic Stroke Symptoms (as per MayoClinic.com May’07 report):

  • Sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of your face, arm or leg — usually on one side of your body
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech (aphasia)
  • Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
  • A sudden, severe “bolt out of the blue” headache or an unusual headache, which may be accompanied by a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between your eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness
  • Confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception

 Reference – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stroke-symptoms/BN00055

Update (05-Jan) – My mother has been discharged from hospital, and recovering at home.  Thanks all for good wishes.