Showing posts from 2019

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

What people want to do is a question we start asking people very early. We ask kids from an early age what they want to be when they grow up. My first grader already answers very confidently that she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. I believe it comes from her admiration she has always had for her teachers.
As kids get older we start asking what their plans are after high school, are they going to college, what do they plan on studying. When we talk with someone in college or a parent of a college student we ask what their major is.
Sometimes in those conversations kids and young adults don't know. My dad joke response is usually, "That's okay, I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up." I'm in my 40's and I think I am finally pretty clear about what I want to do in my life. Maybe it means I'm finally all grown up.
I recently heard a stat the average millennial has had 7 different jobs in their life. The irony is the aver…

Do You Know Your Role? Does The Team Agree?

Are you clear about what your role is? I'm not talking about your job or position, because that should be pretty clear. But your role can change project-to-project or game-to-game. I'll use a sports analogy because it is pretty clear, if you are a wide receiver, that is your job. But your role can change depending on the game, the opponent, the score and the play called. If it is a running play your role as a wide receiver is to block down field. If you run a route on a running play trying to get open to catch a pass it doesn't help your team at all.

Everywhere else is it is the same. My job is a project manager, but at times I have to be a business analyst, systems architect, tester, trainer, etc. It changes by project and by what is needed in the moment.

The clarity that is needed is by being on the same page with the other people on the team. At the start of the project if roles are defined you don't just decide to change unless the whole team is clear with the chan…

Challenging Societies Stereotypes

Stereotypes bug me. As a society we tend to be lazy when it comes to understanding people as individuals. We put labels on people based on age, generation, race, sex, class, or political stance. Sure it is easier to think in generalizations, but do we even know where these generalizations come from?

Simple, they are taught to us. They are handed down, spoken from person-to-person. Often as whispers, but too often they are shouts in propaganda from media disguised as news or from anonymous social media posts. Stereotypes are not naturally occurring, they are a man-made problem we need to teach our children about.

We need to come up with new stereotypes. Rather than the way society causes us to often group people, lets come up with our own new stereotypes. Lets start labeling people as hard working, creative, problem solvers or free thinkers. I guarantee that you can find people that are hard workers regardless of their age, race, or gender. You can find examples of every combination. I…

Having The Hard Conversations

Too often I see managers, or people in a leadership position, avoid having a hard conversation. I get it, it is hard to be the person to tell someone they aren't performing or behaving in way they should be. When you finally do address the problem, did you do it in a way that was clear to the person? Do they really understand what they need to be doing differently?

If you feel like you've had the conversation with someone multiple times and it seems like they still aren't getting it, the problem isn't with them, it is with you. You might think you've had the conversation, but you aren't clearly communicating it.

The longer you let things go the more difficult the conversation becomes. If there is a problem, deal with it. If you have a water leak in your house, the earlier you address it the less damage you actually have to deal with. You can mop up the excess water, run a de-humidifier and maybe not have to spend a dime. But ignore it, hope it goes away or hope…

What I've Learned Working Remotely

For years I've known about the concept of working remotely and had even managed people who worked remote in the early 2000's. I thought it was a great option, but not anything I would enjoy. I felt like I knew myself, I liked being in an office environment and the social aspect that comes with it. Turns out I was wrong. Five months ago, exactly, I accepted a new position working remote. It hasn't been near the obstacle to overcome as I thought it would be. Sure there are things I miss about being in the office, but there are some benefits as well.

What I've learned five months in:

I was prepared for it because I have spent the better part of my career working with people not in the same building as me. Even when I worked in an office I spent as much time on the phone or in chats as I do now. Just because you are not in the office doesn't mean you can't feel like any other member of the team.Technology today is amazing. The tools allow you to interact with someon…

Robots And Artificial Intelligence - They Can't Replace Everything

A story you are starting to hear more about is the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence or AI. This isn't about Skynet or the Matrix, but some people see it as catastrophic of a change. The narrative in the media makes it feel like this is the end of civilization as we know it. There is a fear it is going to destroy a lot of jobs out there. It is true, it will destroy a lot of jobs. But you don't often hear about all of the facts that are a part of it.

It will end up creating more jobs than it will eliminate. All of the technology and manufacturing that is needed will end up creating more jobs than it eliminates.Our country and society has a history of destroying and creating jobs. Look at farming, around 1800 farmers comprised 85% of the workforce. Today that number is 2.6%. All of those jobs were destroyed and replaced by something else. Every month jobs are destroyed but new jobs, between 10-20% more than those that are destroyed are created.Not everything can be rep…

Learning Curves, New Jobs, And Knowing When It Will Make Sense

One concept I have discovered in my career are plateaus of effectiveness when you start a new job. I have started enough new roles in my career as well as hiring and working with new people enough that I've seen these natural leaps people make in taking on something new. At 30 days, 90 days and 1 year any person will have a deeper understanding of what the job entails and take what feels like a monumental leap forward. When you analyze it there is an amazing feeling that happens where you legitimately feel things start to click in a way they hadn't before.

I've been thinking about this because I'm a little over 4 months into my new role. When I think about how much more I can get done right now in comparison to where I was just a couple of months ago it is pretty crazy.

I think just knowing there are these plateaus and breakthroughs that occur is helpful. It is okay the first couple of weeks it feels like you are drinking from a fire hose, you know it only lasts a mont…

You Are Who You Associate With

Who you are as a person is primarily a product of the people you choose to associate with. If you spend most of your time with high character people, they are going to have a positive affect on you. Just like in the reverse when you choose people of questionable character it can lead you down the wrong path. We've all known people who have made bad choices and we say, "They just fell in with the wrong crowd."

I'm sure there is some parenting guide somewhere that says we are supposed to let our kids make their own mistakes, and we can't tell them who they should be friends with. I obviously have never read it because I have no problem sharing my opinion with them. I've never had to tell them they have to stop being friends with someone, but we talk and I openly share with them who I think are good friends and who I'm okay with them not spending time with because I don't think they are a very nice person.

Can we do that with ourselves or with our friend…

Wasting Time Solving Problems We Don't Understand

We are all very capable of wasting time. Everyone has their peak effective time. Some can crank out work really well in the morning. Some do their best work at night when it is quiet and there are no distractions. For some of us it is very easy to get sucked into a conversation that isn't actually relevant to your job. Social media and binge watching Netflix are other obvious time wasters.

When it comes to being at work, one of the biggest time wasters I've found is when you are trying to solve a problem but you don't really understand what the problem is. I love to solve problems, finding solutions is the most rewarding part of my job. But when the problem isn't understood, trying different solutions is just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.

One of the simplest ways to get to the root cause of a problem is using the 5 whys. The idea is to keep asking why until you get to the true root cause. They say 5 because at a minimum it forces you to dig deepe…

What A Little Kindness Can Do

You can never go wrong in life by being kind and generous. You may have seen this story as it has gone viral, about a girl who gave two hockey pucks to a couple of boys next to her during warm-ups, one of which desperately wanted to get a puck. At the end of the video you could see the admiration the young boy had as he told her thank you.

A simple act of kindness, a story which could have ended there. However, with the power of the Internet, it was not the end of the story. The Minnesota Wild organization was able to track down 11-year-old Emily and they repaid her kindness by inviting her back to the next game, allowing her to meet some of the team and they presented her with a signed jersey and signed pucks from every member of the team.

We don't act kind to others because we expect or even hope to get something in return. Emily didn't do it because she expected to become a viral sensation and be presented with some amazing gifts from her favorite team. She did it because i…

The One Person It Is Worthwhile To Judge Their Behaviors

I've been working through The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday this year, it is filled with nuggets of wisdom. Last week there was a passage that has been the highlight for me where it basically talked about how we need to not judge other people's behavior and only judge our own.

If we are honest with ourselves, we get this backwards all of the time. Spend any time on social media and you will have endless rantings about something someone said, or did or thought about. When something goes wrong our focus goes immediately to what others need to do better.

If we have to look at ourselves, our instinct is to defend our motivations. Explain why we were justified in our behavior.

You will never be able to change someone else's behavior, only they can decide to change it themselves. If we all focused on worrying about ourselves what an amazing and different world we would live in.

The Way Of The Warrior Is Inside Each Of Us

I am just finishing up reading The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi, as he is commonly known, is considered one of, if not thee greatest swordsman and samurai in Japanese history. In this book he wrote about his philosophy and fighting style. Musashi lived from 1584 to 1645, so times are certainly different now. Most of us aren't going to be going out and dueling other samurai to the death. Yet in his writing you can see concepts still valid today and I can see why many authors and business people have referenced his teachings.

There is a passage where he speaks of using different weapons, some teachers believe that an extra long sword is more important, because they can have distance from their enemy. Or others that claim a short sword is more important for when you are in close combat. Musashi believed his way was the best strategy. He practiced it endlessly and studied his opponents methods to learn how to overcome them. He didn't need the biggest or most exp…

Going Fast Sometimes Doesn't Get You There Quicker

The feeling of accomplishment at the end of a project is something that never gets old. It is awesome to get a project over the finish line and look at something you were able to accomplish. At times the finish line can become very exciting and you get in a rush to get there. You see it in runners, towards the end of a race, determining when the right moment is to go into their final burst to the finish line. Start too soon and you could tire out before you actually get over the finish line. Start too late and you won't be able to make up the distance you need.

When you get close to the end, it is easy to let you adrenaline kick in and urgently push for the finish line. But there are times when going faster in a project actually slows you down. I've done it before and it is something I have to remind myself on the projects I work on. Taking the time to make sure you aren't skipping steps and you have all of the facts and details straight is as important at the end of a pro…

It Is Incredibly Easy For Our Greatest Strengths To Become Our Greatest Weakness

Identifying your strengths is one of the most important things you can do in your life. I believe everyone has certain skills or abilities they are truly great at. There is a level of humility we have to maintain with our strengths though, or they can very quickly become a weakness for us.
Someone that is bigger and stronger than everyone else can easily become a bully.
Someone that is very knowledgeable about a given subject can easily talk condescendingly to others.
Someone that is very helpful to others can easily be taken advantage of and asked to "help" with things others can do for themselves.
Someone that is good at driving to get things done can easily become a bull in a china shop.
Someone that is generous with their money can put themselves into troubling financial situations.
We have to be honest about our strengths and what limits should be put on them. You can be one of the strongest people but if you try to lift too much weight you can injure yourself. Limits a…

The Difference Between I And We

Nobody does anything on there own. If you work for a company, are a member of a sports team, a production group, or any other organization you are on a team. Even if you are a sole proprietor or independent freelancer, your team includes your customers and your suppliers/vendors. Your family is a team. Unless you are off the grid, living off the land and have no interaction with another human being you are a member of a team.

Since you are on a team, is it about you or is it about the team?

One of the simplest yet most profound tests you can use to determine how much it is about the team is to measure your use of I/me/my and we/us/our. Listen to yourself and others. Read through emails or messages and see how often you talk about yourself versus the team.

We all want to feel appreciated and to be recognized for our accomplishments. Nothing will erode others views of you faster though than putting yourself above the team.

Do We Recognize The Propaganda We Are Bombarded With?

My latest read is a book called Propaganda by Edward Bernays. I came across it from some online discussions around how we as a society are manipulated by the information and messages we choose to take in. It is a short book, very academic and not an easy read, but it is a fascinating look at how businesses and the government influence the public. The author examines how public opinion is shaped and controlled in politics, business, art, education and science. Listen to the opening line and think about the information we are exposed to:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. Think about the manipulation of the news by the media to attract clicks and viewers. Think of the messages put out by politicians that aim to separate us and leave no room for compromise. Think about ho…

Rising Above The Ceiling Society Places On People

I know it seems at times like you have it hard. It seems like the deck is stacked against you. I was reminded this week, a person is capable than more than we often think they are. There are countless examples in this world where people overcame the odds that were stacked against them. The thing about the odds are there is always a chance. (For those of you that have the Dumb and Dumber line running through your head, the same thing happened to me when I wrote it.)

I came upon two stories this week that remind us that just because something is a long shot doesn't mean that it is impossible.

The first is a story about a player on the Penn State volleyball team that was born with a hearing deficit. Not only is she playing at a collegiate level, she is playing at an extremely high level. I love the story about an entire crowd that was silent through the first 9 points of a match to raise awareness and show their support.
Jonni Parker was born with a hearing deficit that was discovere…

How Do You Feel About Your New Team?

You've just been assigned a new project, made a team or have been reassigned to a different department. You quickly asses who else is on the team with you and you aren't happy. Some of the other members of the team are not exactly what you would call A players. A few you are shocked actually made the same team as you because they are more suited for JV or the easy projects.

You complain to others who think the same way as you so you can feel vindicated in your assessment. Of course they agree with you, why wouldn't they?

You feel insulted. You may even contemplate quitting because if they think you are on the same level then they must obviously not value your skills and abilities so you might as well take them elsewhere.

It is easy to feel this way, we've all felt it because we've all been a part of a team. Choose to be better. There are a number of things you should keep in mind before you make those judgments.

If it isn't your job to pick the teams or assign p…

Difficulties Are Opportunities To Make Us Stronger

It would be nice to have an easy day at the office, everything goes smoothly, there is no stress and you take home a nice paycheck you feel like you are stealing. Not many people are lucky enough to be in such a state, for the rest of us stress is going to come with any job. Almost everyone I talk to has a job where they have more work to do than there is time to get it done. We need to look at those moments as tremendous opportunities.

Every time we feel overwhelmed, there is an opportunity right in front of you to find a solution. You can complain about it, work a bunch of overtime, or come up with a solution to make yourself more efficient. Finding tools to help you automate, delegating, and developing processes to make us more effective are all things we have the ability to control.

Every day we should look at finding a way to save yourself a minute a day or even a minute a week. Saving yourself a minute a week may not seem like a big deal but that is almost an hour a year. Every …

Injuries And Life's Trials

Recently a friend of my daughter sustained a knee injury ending her soccer season and putting her dance season at risk as well. The most crushing part in this, it is her third injury in the last 4 years. It just breaks my heart to see someone go through those kind of hardships at such a young age. She is such a good, kind and positive person. The last person who deserves to go through something like this.

Unfortunately she is not alone in going through hardships. I've lost jobs and have endured my children dealing with medical issues. Countless people face battles and challenges that make others respond, "I don't know how you do it."

I wish I had some great pearls of wisdom to share with her, but I don't. To encourage her that this is the hardest thing she will have to deal with in her life, but there are no guarantees. The only thing I do know is there is an opportunity to learn something in every situation, good or bad. Sometimes we don't know the lesson un…

Being Honest With Ourselves About Our Strengths And Weaknesses

I write a lot about the need to learn on this site. I believe it is important to push ourselves, learn new things and get out of our comfort zones. I know this because people have always proven they are capable of far more than we give them credit for. A team that doesn't perform very well suddenly finds a way to play their best game and knock off the undefeated team. We all like a good underdog story and I believe there is an underdog in all of us.

On the flip side though, I also believe that each person is made with their own set of unique talents and gifts. We also have our own set of weaknesses and fears. Working together in the right mix is what creates success. The teams you see who are successful generally have a common trait that they are first and foremost a great team. The recognize that having one all-star isn't going to make them successful. They need a team they can surround themselves with that compliment their strengths and cover up for their weaknesses. Michael…

Even An Expert Can Learn Something

I am a big data nerd. I don't do a lot of programming any more but I still use SQL frequently. My favorite application is Excel, it isn't a close competition. I've learned a lot of interesting tips and tricks in using Excel but I know there are still areas I haven't even scratched the surface on. In the last few days I figured out how to create my own custom formulas. That is going to be a game changer for me.

No matter how much I have learned using Excel I know there are new things to keep learning. This is true no matter what the skill is. There is always room for improvement. Even if it is a strength you can still find ways to push yourself beyond your current skill level.

If you are a person that uses Excel a lot in your job, send me a note and maybe we can help each other learn something new. I'm always happy to learn more.

I Think I Thought Way Too Much About This Post

It is easy to get caught up in our thoughts, over-analyze situations, and think too much about what choice is the right one. Over-thinking is something that plagues too many people, I'm guilty of it far too often. 
One of the skills that can benefit everyone is learning how to gather the right amount of information to make a decision. Needing to gather every fact before deciding is a tremendous waste of your time and energy. However you don't want to take things to the other extreme and attempt to make a decision on hardly any information, just picking the first option that comes along. It is a spectrum, the higher the risk and the higher the costs - the more analysis you need. If you are buying a house you want to take the time to get a home inspection, make sure the foundation is good. If you are trying to decide where to eat and can't decide between two places, flip a coin and eat the first one now and the other the next time you go out.
You get better at making decisio…

Microsoft The Musical And The Hidden Talent All Around

It isn't hard to figure out that I'm a fan of Broadway musicals. Especially given the fact I have written about it in the past, (here and here). It gets even better when worlds collide like they did when I learned about a musical video created by a group of interns at Microsoft. That's right, Microsoft the Musical is a real thing.

My first observation, it was nice to be reminded I'm not alone in what many find to be an odd mix of interests. Computers, logic and business can co-exist with a love of theater and being a dance dad. Second, it was very entertaining, especially the way they aren't afraid to poke fun at themselves with the line about how unsuccessful the Windows phone was.

The coolest thing about this though was watching all the way through the credits. The number of people listed as part of making this video is fascinating. All of the talent in creating this video came from what I would affectionately refer to as a bunch of geeks. This isn't just hav…

Someday You Too Will Say "Back In My Day"

My kids are getting old enough we can now play a game called "Back In My Day" for hours of entertainment. Listening to their laughter is great fun as you explain things from your childhood and the struggles you had they will never understand. How you had to wait to call someone long distance after 7PM. Having to explain to them what a long distance call is. Waiting by the radio hoping they play your favorite song so you can put it on a tape to listen to later. Making a mixed tape, the playlists of our generation. Needing to go to the library to research any information you are trying to learn. Having to get up and walking to the TV to change the channel, to one of only 3 choices.

I am in awe of how much things have changed in the last 20 years and am very curious to see how things change in the next 20. My daughter is about to turn 16 so I have to take her for her drivers test. A friend made the comment to me wondering what age of kids will grow up not understanding having …

Shopping Online With All The Endless Choices

I am in the hunt for a new desk. Ever since I started working from home I've realized how much I miss my sit/stand desk that I have used for the last five years. I just work better when I can move around a bit, not to mention it is better for you. If you weren't aware just Google, "dangers of sitting all day" and you will have your eyes opened quickly.

During my shopping process I was reminded of a book I read a number of years ago, The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. It is a book that has stuck with me over the years and the concepts keep coming up, especially in times when I'm hunting for a new desk and there are hundreds of choices. There are so many choices that I don't want to buy any of them. In his book Schwartz talked about how when people are presented with more options they are actually less likely to buy. I can attest to that reality. The problem is there are so many choices, and their are tons of reviews, some good, some bad. One person says …

Mistakes, Second Chances And Our Society

I have to start this by saying I'm not a Nick Saban fan. I think the Minnesota fan in me hates anyone who has continued long term success winning multiple championships because I just can't comprehend what it would be like. But this video made me really like the guy. Take two minutes and watch it.

Nick Saban on Second Chances— Jaycob Ammerman (@Jammer2233) August 6, 2019

The interesting thing is this video is from 5 years ago, but the world we live in is still this way today, probably worse. As a society we like to skewer people when they make a mistake. We expect people that are in any sort of spotlight to perform flawlessly and never make a bad choice or say the wrong thing. Why? Every single one of us has made a mistake. Every one of us has put our foot in our mouth. Every one of us has hurt someone we care about. None of us are perfect but yet we love to expose people when they make a mistake. The more visible, the more famous, the more we love it…

It's A Small, Small Business World

The last couple of months has been an interesting set of events reminding me just how small the business world is, and the world in general is. The first time was when I was hired by my current employer because they knew about me from over seven years ago. Back then I was in charge of building a new Web site and was part of selecting them as our provider. I wouldn't be at the job I am without that relationship.

The second one came about that a man I last worked with over 10 years ago saw that I got a new job on social media. It just so happens he was searching for a new partner to help his company build a new Web site and recognized a fit. We wouldn't be working on this project if it wasn't for that relationship.

They always say you never want to burn bridges, which I can see. You never know where life and your career might take you 5, 10, or more years down the road. It also is a good reminder how important it is to invest in relationships as the return you get out of it …

Once The Decision Is Made, Get Behind It

Success can come in many different forms, which makes success hard to achieve. There isn't a magic set of steps if you follow them you will succeed. It is why people will often try to replicate the acts of those who are successful but find it a harder road than expected.

Because there are so many paths to success teams can easily find themselves debating about what is the right path they should be on. Each person has different experiences, strengths and knowledge that make different methods more or less appealing. The larger the team the more opinions. The more opinions the more room for debate about which one is right.

I believe success has far less to do with finding the right method and far more to do with everyone on the team buying into the selected method. If you can't support the decision then you are actually hurting your organizations chance of success. You are allowed to disagree and debate with others, but if a decision is made that you don't agree with you stil…

Stuck On The Tarmac, Who Should I Complain To?

Had to make a business trip recently and it didn't exactly go well. I was flying from Minneapolis to Chicago, which is one of the shortest flights ever so how could it be bad? By the time you've reached cruising altitude they have to start the decent. The problem was there was some weather in Chicago the morning of my trip that caused everything to back up. Plane was delayed arriving into Minneapolis, so it was late taking off, then it got worse. We landed in Chicago and things were so backed up that we sat on the tarmac for an hour and forty minutes waiting for a gate to become available.

I can't really complain though, I've heard far worse stories of people being stuck on a plane in the past. Even on my flight there were people trying to get to a connecting flight but there were none for at least 2 days, I can't imagine what that would be like.

It is so easy when in a that situation to complain, talk to anyone who will listen about how screwed up the airport is, …

The Physics Behind Reframing Our Thinking

One thing that brings me great satisfaction in life is anything causing me to look at something differently. To shift my beliefs with new knowledge and evidence. This is why two of my favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin, they are both good at reframing a long held belief I thought I understood.

It is why videos like the one below bring me such joy. It is a simple visual reminder of how what we think will be true isn't always true. Plus the nerd in me likes the physics of inertia, force and gravity too.

In our life we will limit our abilities by the beliefs and thinking we hold for ourselves. We think that our truth is the correct truth. We need to continuously look at things differently and explore other ideas. Test, experiment, fail, learn, grow - things that are perfectly okay to do because guess what, life is going to give them all to you.

What is one thing you need to shift your thinking on?

A straight line may be the shortest route but it doesn't mean it…

How To Finish The Goals That We Chase

I just finished reading the book Finish by Jon Acuff. I've shared some posts and quotes from him before but this is the first book of his I've read. I think I may have had too high of expectations going in, I thought I was going to be crying laughing the whole time reading it, I didn't. When I got past my initial disappointment that my stomach didn't ache from laughing so hard I realized how impressive the insights in it were.

The premise is simple, we all have goals we want to accomplish, but we create whatever excuses we need to keep us from achieving them. It is why most New Year's resolutions fail before January is over. We find when we miss a day going to the gym or slipping on our diet plan that we just through the whole thing out the window, missed a day so you might as well take the week off.

If you want to actually achieve the goals you set for yourself, this book is full of practical advice and strategies on how to look at your goals. One of the best was …

When You Are Faced With A Very Hard Problem To Solve...

Where is the shortcut? What is the path of least resistance? Can you show me the steps you did so I can copy them and not figure them out on my own? Can you just give me the answer?
Life at times gives us hard problems. Be it work, school, relationships, or teams - each at times throws us something that can be frustrating. The answers aren't right in front of us. Google doesn't lead you to the page with the step-by-step instructions on how to solve it. What do you do now?
Those hard problems are exactly what they need you to figure out. We need more people capable of taking a hard problem and finding a solution. It may mean banging your head against the wall until you find a break through, but it is a hard problem, it is okay that your head hurts a little coming out of it. If you want an easy answer that is easy to look up and repeat the same steps you are in for a world of hurt because the world is changing. Robotics and artificial intelligence is changing jobs rapidly. If th…

What The Colombian Civil War Taught Me About Resolving Conflict

Another day, another set of events happening in our country causing people to pick sides, pontificating their view and deriding any opposing opinion. We have become a society struggling with communication and debate.

I recently listened to an episode of the #Solvable podcast with Juan Manuel Santos, former president of Colombia and Nobel Peace Laureate. He spoke of the mindset he used in helping to bring an end to his countries more than 50 year civil war. The key points I took away:

You have to listen to what the other side is asking for. This is always where we fail, we stop listening because we try to prove why what they are asking for is wrong. You have to be willing to compromise. If you expect the other side to just concede everything you will never end the battle.You have to find some common ground. It is there, you have to sometimes dig for it. In the Colombian civil war both sides wanted their children to have a chance at growing up in a world without fighting.  Pick any topic…

The Mayo Brothers, Healthcare 100 Years Ago, And Lessons For Today

I recently watched the Ken Burns documentary about The Mayo Clinic (also available on Netflix at the time of writing). Ken Burns does a great job telling the story of the Mayo brothers following in their fathers footsteps and growing The Mayo Clinic into the medical enterprise it is today. There were some interesting principles that apply to any area for people to learn from. While they were both world renowned surgeons they were focused on providing the best care for the patients that came to them. They sought out the best doctors in other specialties to join them and grow their practice. They believed in a team based approach, where it isn't about having one doctor have all of the answers, but about having a team that can come together to help a patient.

After watching it I couldn't help but think about how broken our health care system is in our country. I'm not a health care expert, I'm barely a novice. I've just scratched the surface in my reading and comprehe…

On The Road To Greatness

One of my all time favorite business books is Good To Great by Jim Collins. I have read all of his books and recently finished a short addendum to this called Turning The Flywheel. This was apparently what they call a monograph, a term I was unfamiliar with until reading this short 37 page gem. It was a reminder of how we often set definitions around things, like books and how they have to conform to a certain structure. The lesson is to deliver your product in the form that fits, not what culture tells you to be right.

The real takeaway I got from this book is from the last paragraph.
Good to Great is never done. The moment you think of yourself as great, your slide to mediocrity will have already begun.  A simple but powerful message. Seek greatness, but be humble enough to know you are never great. Think of it as a journey and not a destination. Companies, people, coaches, players and artists are great when others describe them as such, but rarely are great when they describe thems…

Do You Know What The Word Empowerment Really Means?

Do you ever have those moments where you hear a word, one you've heard many times before, and suddenly you realize you didn't really understand it till now? That word for me is empowerment. You hear it a lot, especially in business. People want their employees to feel empowered, they want them to feel like the have authority and control over things so they take action.

Yet, we've all seen too often what it looks like in reality. When someone doesn't follow the exact process or they make a mistake, how do those same bosses react in those situations. Previous words now sound empty.

When you get a sense of what true empowerment looks like, you quickly realize how wrong your view was. True empowerment looks like your manager telling you that you will make a mistake, and that is okay because everyone has done it, so we learn from it and move forward. True empowerment is your mentor telling you that the way you performed a task isn't how they would do it but it got the j…

How Can We Make Something Better?

There is a simple strategy on how to get better at your job, your hobby, a relationship, school, etc. Ask, then go do it. Simple, but yet often hard for us to do in reality. You see when you ask what you can do better, people might actually tell you things that you need to work on. Some of those things might even be items you thought you were pretty good at. There is a good chance that it will be a hit to your ego. But take heart, because I guarantee you your ego can handle it, and now you actually have some feedback you can do something about.

If you are doing something wrong, the first step in being able to fix it is realizing there is a problem. The second step is wanting to fix it. We get feedback and when we don't like it we start explaining why their feedback is wrong. You've missed a golden opportunity when you do that and now have probably ensured you will never get another opportunity again. When someone gives you feedback the best way to end it is to simply say, &quo…

Stop Being Influenced And Start Doing Your Own Influencing

I have to admit, this whole world of Social Media Influencers baffles me. Did we seriously let this become a thing? There are people out there whose job it is to create a large enough audience so people pay them to advertise their goods and services to their tribe. What's worse is we have parents that are working hard to exploit their children to turn them into the next great influencer on YouTube or Instagram. There are kids that are millionaires before they turn 10. The easy argument is that if someone is willing to pay a kid the money, the child and parents have the right to accept that payment. I am actually completely okay with that.

What I am more concerned with is the fact that we the audience become so enamored with these influencers that we start blindly following them, liking what they want us to like and buying what they tell us to buy. As a society we continue to be hounded by people and companies vying for our limited attention. It is a slippery slope between looking …

You Are Special But You Are Not Entitled To Anything

One of the hardest things I find to try and teach my kids is the balance between them knowing that they are special but they aren't so special that they are entitled to anything.

When I read about the rising levels of depression and suicidal thoughts in our world it scares me. The levels of bullying are very real and as any person who had a typical time growing up can tell you, kids can often be cruel. But in spite of all of that, every person is unique and special in so many ways. You are a unique individual that has your own set of gifts and talents for the world, something only you can bring.

On the flip side, I see so many more people feeling entitled, that feel like they are special above other people for one reason or another. I recently read a story where someone was telling of a co-worker that she overheard getting corrective feedback. The person didn't agree with the feedback and ultimately called their mom to complain about their boss and ask if she would call her bo…

The Truth Will Set You Free

I'm not a fan of the news. I like to keep up on what is happening in the world but I hate the news because it is hard to tell when you are getting the actual story. In our attention driven culture we only notice the juicy headlines and stories that are often embellished to the point where the truth is lost. I get tired of listening to people give statements professing their version of the story as true only to have them reappear a few days later attempting to clarify their story after new damning evidence is released.
The truth can be hard. We all make mistakes in life because we are all human. We are all fallible creatures that try to hide our faults and mistakes. We tell ourselves reasons for it and sooner or later those stories we tell ourselves we start telling others. When the lies start they can be hard to stop. But eventually the truth comes out. The people we really care about, and care about us, can always see the truth. It is always better to hear the truth directly from…

Keeping Traditions - Building A Culture That Endures

I know nothing about rugby, that needs to be stated out of the gate so if I have any rugby enthusiasts reading this I hopefully won't offend them. But I need to talk about rugby and probably the most famous rugby team, the New Zealand national team called the All Blacks. I recently finished Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Lifeby James Kerr, which talked about the culture and changes the team made over the years to maintain their elite status and rebuild when they weren't meeting their own expectations. You don't have to know anything about rugby to recognize their dominance. They hold a 77% winning record against their international competition. Since the inceptions of the World Rugby Rankings they have held the number one ranking longer than all other teams combined.

Part of what is intriguing about the All Blacks is their deep sense of culture and tradition. To wear the All Blacks jersey isn't something to be taken lightly. As a player y…

Objective: Be A Part Of A High Performing Team

I've realized that one of my goals in life is to experience being part of a high performing team. I've always been a part of a team, and almost every team has been made up of great people working together. But when I say high performing team it is another level. In high school I played basketball and baseball. I played on teams and we won some games, I would never say we were a high performing team at any time. A high performing team is one that wins or competes for championships. You watch them and there is something special about them. Everyone else gets pumped up when they have to play them because they know they are going against the best. High performing teams are identified from those outside, others recognize their greatness, it is never self proclaimed.

When I look back on my 20+ year career I don't believe I could say I've ever been on a high performing team. The closest I've come was a 3-4 window where we had all of the right parts but just didn't qui…