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Archive for October, 2010

mY generation: Et Tu, Monsters

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

See all mY generation posts here.


Quotable Quotes: Halloween

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

pumpkinDisappointing. I thought there would be much better commentary on the second largest party day of the year, but I gleaned what I thought you would find interesting.

Paul Wiehl said, “I like the concept of Halloween, but I don’t like the cost.” Boy is that true; Americans spend $2 billion on candy alone and then start shopping for the rest.

Craig McDonald believes that Halloween has grown because of a basic human craving, “I think a lot more people are getting into Halloween because it’s the one time of year where adults can be kids.”

Jim Timon has a different theory, “People just love to be immersed in a frightening Halloween experience. They love giving up that control.”

Costumes are a necessity and Vickie Capes is one of the smarter people when it comes to Halloween-appropriate attire; you would do well to use her system, “Halloween costumes and Christmas clothing fly off the shelf on eBay. I paid $35 for a Thomas the Tank Engine costume one year and sold it back for $35 the next year.”

Jim Gordon, who draws mY generation (don’t miss tomorrow’s action), told me that his generation see Halloween as the only time they can dress as trashy and obnoxiously as they choose and while popular wisdom backs this attitude up it also proves that it’s nothing new, “Pimps and hookers are always popular Halloween costumes for adults.” What is new is posting the pictures on Facebook, instead of putting them safely in a drawer.

In a more thoughtful vein, someone looked around and realized that there were circumstances that probably spoiled the holiday, “I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.”

Finally, a bit of little known wisdom to help keep you safe this Halloween, since the continued mobility allows for instant revenge.

“Women are angels and when someone breaks our wings we simply continue to fly—on a broomstick.”

Have a wonderful Halloween, eat lots of candy, enjoy yourself and stay safe.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28122162@N04/4062661930/

Expand Your Mind: More Fascinating People

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

expand-your-mindAnother post about fascinating people—an eclectic selection for your reading pleasure the day before Halloween. They include two women and three men; one middle-aged—two seniors, and two deceased—we’ll start at the bottom and move to the infinite.

The youngest entry at 54 is pianist Robert Taub, who had an epiphany while listening to his daughter practice her violin that morphed him from pianist to software entrepreneur.

“I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if she could take a photograph of her page of music and hear it instantaneously,” he recalled. “She’d know what the right notes are, and what the right rhythms are, and she could imitate what she heard.”

Next is 96 year old Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey, a shining example of what a civil servant should be.

And though her story is nearly forgotten, she was once America’s most admired civil servant — celebrated for her dual role in saving thousands of newborns from the perils of the drug thalidomide and in serving as midwife to modern pharmaceutical regulation.

Judge Wesley E. Brown is a youthful 103 and still presides over his courtroom daily with competence and flair.

His diminished frame is nearly lost behind the bench. A tube under his nose feeds him oxygen during hearings. And he warns lawyers preparing for lengthy court battles that he may not live to see the cases to completion, adding the old saying, “At this age, I’m not even buying green bananas.”

Next is a brilliant outsider Benoît B. Mandelbrot, who died at 85.

…a maverick mathematician who developed the field of fractal geometry and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields… He coined the term “fractal” to refer to a new class of mathematical shapes whose uneven contours could mimic the irregularities found in nature.

My favorite is an amazing woman who truly lived life on her own terms. At night she was Gloria Wasserman, wife and mom, but by day she was South Street Annie, also known as Shopping Cart Annie.

For several decades, Annie was the profane mother of the old Fulton Fish Market, that pungent Lower Manhattan place fast becoming a mirage of memory. Making her rounds, running errands, holding her own in the blue banter… Some ridiculed and abused her; others honored and protected her.

Finally, since it’s the end of the month, here is a link to October’s LeaderTalk Roundup.

That’s it for this week. Tomorrow is Halloween, have fun, be careful of spooks and stay safe.

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedroelcarvalho/2812091311/

Miki’s Rules to Live By: Reason to Change

Friday, October 29th, 2010

stupid-reasonI am a ‘why’ person and why is my first reaction to anything that comes my way, no matter the source. It’s not to challenge, just the way my mind works.

When I have no one to ask I tend to creatively come up with the why behind the thought, word or deed. Sometimes I’m right, other times not so much, but it is how I make sense of the world.

‘Why’ is a great way to move forward or challenge prevailing patterns; a way to focus on the underlying dogma in the event it needs to change.

But it is also good to remember that although there is a reason behind everything that happens, reasons do not validate the happening—they do not make [whatever] acceptable.

And that led me to create this Rule.

There is a reason for everything,


some reasons are stupid.

Reasons that are, or border on, stupid are reasons to change.

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andryone/120278573/

Leadership’s Future: This and That

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Writing is weird; sometimes ideas bubble up faster than they can be used, while at others the well is totally dry—as it has been today.

Rather than not post, I thought I’d share links to several studies about kids that I found interesting. I hope you do, too.

kidsAnyone with a kid, let alone a teenager, knows that they avoid doing almost anything that is ‘good for them’ or that authority figures push and that they are, if not a bit lazy, often oblivious.

That said, why should it be surprising that the efforts to force improvement of their food choices often fall flat? But some schools are beating the trend merely by repositioning the food in the cafeteria.

… tripled the number of salads students bought simply by moving the salad bar away from the wall and placing it in front of the cash registers.

Not more money or lectures, just playing to a “market” with well documented attitudes and behaviors. (Might be worth talking to your own kids’ schools.)

I often wonder when parents, especially upper and middle-class parents, are going to step up and take responsibility for raising their kids, instead of expecting the schools to do it. I realize that hovering is easier and you get to feel virtuous yelling because it’s for your kid, but having kids requires shouldering the not-so-fun stuff that turns them into valued citizens, rather than parent-dependent, adult children. Many of these kids don’t have a clue how to dress or act in the business world. The silver lining to this lack of basic living skills is the increase in business for etiquette schools.

Patricia L. Bower, clinical associate professor of management communication at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “They think, ‘If everyone has access to the same information, then we’re all equal, so I know as much as you do even though I’m 20 and you’re 55.’ “

I’ve been following a lot of discussion on what long-term impact the Great Recession will have on Gen Y and the experts are all over the map. For a good overview, take a look at the different, even conflicting, opinions of this group or Wharton professors.

They are one of the biggest generations in American history, and they are certainly the best educated. But for Generation Y — a group of young people some 70 million strong between the ages of 15 and 30 — the future seems anything but bright.

Have you seen anything interesting lately?

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjoselibrary/3579355577/

Wordless Wednesday: The Boss from Hell (for Halloween)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010


Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dm-set/3722168266/

Ducks in a Row: Leadership or LeadershIt?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

ducks_in_a_rowIf you truly want a culture of innovation, then you also need to create a culture of leadership.

Last week I commented that if the ‘i’ in leadership is capitalized it changes leadership to leadershIt.

Whereas leadership can be a great motivator, leadershIt is a guaranteed demotivator.

Visions and other leadership functions done with an eye to self-aggrandizement aren’t likely to resonate whether done by positional leaders, leaders in the instance or those who aspire.

Last year I wrote

Because initiative and leadership are synonymous, leadership needs to be pushed out of the corner office and spread throughout the organization; doing so will encourage growth, creativity and innovation.

If leadership is the fertilizer then culture is the water, without which nothing will grow, and people are the seeds from which ideas come.

By spreading leadership evenly through out your company garden and watering regularly, leaving no unfertilized or dry patches in which a seed will be stunted or die, you assure yourself a bountiful harvest that will be the envy of your competitors. (Two follow-up posts have more on this topic here and here.)

This isn’t a new idea, just a new way of phrasing it; Lao Tzu said it best 4000 years ago, “To lead the people walk behind them.”

The one thing that remains constant in all these discussions is that you always have a choice—this time it’s between leadership and leadershIt.

Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zedbee/103147140/

Reviews: Good Boss, Bad Boss and The Orange Revolution

Monday, October 25th, 2010

I’m backed up on my reading and reviews, so I thought I’d cover two today, one with my own brief review and the other linked to a review by Jim Stroup.

good-boss-bad-bossFirst off is a new offering from Stanford’s Bob Sutton whose first book, The No Asshole Rule, loudly and publicly said what we all know—the workplace is no place for assholes (AKA jerks). Sutton’s new book, Good Boss, Bad Boss loudly proclaims another truth—boss quality matters or, as Sutton says, “people do not quit organizations, they quit bad bosses.” Jim already said everything in my mind, so read his excellent review and then read the book, you won’t be disappointed.

Second is The Orange Revolution by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. I reviewed their previous books, The Carrot Principle and The Levity Effect and The Daily Carrot Principle (which makes a great gift).

The Orange Revolution is about the power of teams, but instead of typically anecdotal the-orange-revolutionevidence, it’s based on a 350,000-person study done by the Best Places to Work folks and other global studies, as well as their own experience over 20 years.

They found six traits that all successful teams share, sharing a dream or a vision, believing in your ability to realize that dream, willingness to take prudent risks, appropriate metrics, perseverance, and a narrative or story-line that captures people’s imaginations and drives extraordinary efforts.

You may have heard this before, but solid research and good presentation makes a big difference. The book isn’t geared just to managers and positional leaders, if you work with a group, even a dysfunctional one, reading the book will benefit you.

I think both these books belong in your personal library and they would make great presents to friends—or anonymously to bosses who need them.

Image credit: Simon & Schuster and Work Matters

mY generation: A Grad’s First Year of Work

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

See all mY generation posts here.


Quotable Quotes: Opportunity

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

118429_the_opportunityThere is no end of quotes about opportunity, but I chose these because they motivate me to look beyond the obvious.

It is often asked, if there are so many opportunities in life, why don’t more people take advantage of theirs? Although many have explained this, both before and since, I like the way Thomas Edison put it best, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Opportunity is much like my idea of leadership, that is, it is in the instance. Or as Orison Swett Marden said, “Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.”

No matter your background you have choices as to the kind of life you lead; perhaps not in terms of career and finances, but you are what you make of yourself as a human being. Being born to certain circumstances is not guarantee that you will live and die in them. As Douglas MacArthur said, “There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.”

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a bit of irreverence. Remember The Peter Principle? For those who don’t the principle is as follows,

“In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence … in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties … Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

The source of both book and principle is Dr. Laurence J. Peter who also said, “Equal opportunity means everyone will have a fair chance at being incompetent.”

Those who constantly seek out new opportunities and work to achieve them are the least likely to fall victim to the Peter Principle.

Stock.xchng image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/118429

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