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Educationally Speaking

March 15th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/waldec/4507270630/

No matter your circumstances, married/involved/single, there are probably kids somewhere in your world.

I read a lot of articles about education, but three about kids really stood out for me and I believe will be of value to you.

The first looks at the unpleasant fact that our so-called modern education is producing workers more fit for 19th and early 20th Century jobs than those that will be available when they enter the workforce. In other words, acing standardized tests does not prepare you for anything more than functioning in rote.

In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines?

Speaking of behind-the-times teaching.

The only thing that can be said for the traditional approach to math, which, along with critical thinking, is one of the most critical skills needed in the future, is that it stinks.

Whether you look at the results by age (including adults), race or gender math skills are sadly lacking in the US and many other countries.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

John Mighton, a Canadian playwright, author, and math tutor who struggled with math himself, has designed a teaching program that has some of the worst-performing math students performing well and actually enjoying math. There’s mounting evidence that the method works for all kids of all abilities.

Finally, or maybe foremost, is culture.

Just as in companies, the culture in a school is the determining factor on whether kids learn — or not.

The prevailing culture of many schools, especially the vaunted charter schools, has been one “no excuses.” A culture focused on regimentation and inflicted mostly on poor children of color.

But as any idiot knows, regimentation is not going to produce the next Marc Benioff or Larry Elison, So what does?

Ascend Public Charter Schools network began to retrain teachers to focus on social and emotional development. This provided the framework for creative problem solving to help prevent conflicts between students, or between teachers and students, from escalating.

Does it work? Is it making a measurable difference? Short answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

Around the same time that Ascend was transforming its culture, it put in place a new curriculum, more closely aligned with progressive schools, that focuses on intellectual inquiry rather than received knowledge. At Ascend’s lower and middle schools in Brownsville, passing grades on the annual state English test increased to 39 percent in 2016, from 22 percent in 2014, while the rate on the math test increased to 37 percent, from 29 percent. It’s hard to isolate the cause for the improvement, but it is likely to be a combination of both the academic and cultural changes, which makes Ascend a bold testing ground for the theory that children from low-income homes can be educated the same way as children from affluent families.

Finally, what about adult education, specifically the much ballyhooed MBA? Does it provide the education that provides the skills to climb the corporate ladder?

Not really, according to Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professorship of Management Studies at McGill University, who looked at CEOs from what is considered the most elite university on the planet: Harvard.

Joseph Lampel and I studied the post-1990 records of all 19. How did they do? In a word, badly. A majority, 10, seemed clearly to have failed, meaning that their company went bankrupt, they were forced out of the CEO chair, a major merger backfired, and so on. The performance of another 4 we found to be questionable.

I sent the article to another Harvard-educated CEO I know. His reaction?

Excellent  article. Very true. It took me years to unlearn what I’d been taught at business school…

The article is well worth your time, especially if you, or someone you know, are considering spending the money/going into debt for your MBA.

One more irreverent note, compliments of CB Insights, that is oh, so, true.

Hack: How to hire MBAs
My co-founder Jon stumbled upon this hack to get lots of MBA resumes which I’m going to let you in on.
Whatever the job title, throw the word “strategic” in front of it.

Image credit: .waldec

Ducks in a Row: The Ultimate In Employee Trashing

March 14th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/drb62/3689632021/

“We value/care about our employees” is one of the most hypocritical statements companies make these days.

(“Our customers are very important to us” is the other.)

Want proof?

The Republican-controlled Congress is pushing through a bill to give corporations the ability to intrude deeper and more personally into your life than ever before.

A little-noticed bill moving through Congress would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information. (…) The new bill gets around that landmark law by stating explicitly that GINA and other protections do not apply when genetic tests are part of a ‘workplace wellness’ program.

This mean that, in the name of “wellness,” your boss will know if you were treated for an STD or that you are predisposed for alcoholism, Parkinson’s, cancer, or whatever.

Not only your boss, but the unregulated company that runs your company’s wellness program, but is not constrained by HIPPA rules.

Employers, especially large ones, generally hire outside companies to run them [wellness programs]. These companies are largely unregulated, and they are allowed to see genetic test results with employee names. (…) They sometimes sell the health information they collect from employees.

Can your company actually force you to comply?

No, but the penalty for refusing is costly in the form of higher insurance premiums and co-pays.

No health insurance at your company? You could still take a major financial hit.

If an employer has a wellness program but does sponsor health insurance, rather than increasing insurance premiums, the employer could dock the paychecks of workers who don’t participate.

In general, Corporate America’s attitude towards its employees reflects its attitude towards customers.

For the most part, that ranges from “general nuisance” to “necessary evil.”

And while the number of exceptions to that attitude, at least when it comes to customers, is growing, it doesn’t always apply to employees.

As the provisions of this long-desired bill prove.

That said, it will be a great recruiting tool for those companies that don’t do it.

Image credit: Daniel R. Blume

Golden Oldies: If the Shoe Fits: Finding the Cause of Turnover

March 13th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

Bosses are usually unrelenting when something goes wrong with a product/service. They, the team and often the entire company work to not only find the cause, so it won’t happen again, but also to placate their customers.

However, when the problem is an internal human one, they are more hesitant to root it out, since that often means first looking in the mirror and then actually changing (not just paying lip-service until the turmoil dies down).

Read other Golden Oldies here.

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mIn the right frame of MAPping Company Success it says, “Have a quick question or just want to chat?” along with both email and phone number.

A few weeks ago a “John,” a founder, called me to see if I had any idea why his turnover was so high.  

In response to my questions he described his company’s culture, management style, product, etc.

I told him that assuming what he said was what was actually happening then something else was going on.

Since we are several thousand miles apart, we came up with the idea of using a stationary camcorder to tape the interactions; a “set it and forget it” approach to capture the norm and not performances.

A few days later he sent me a link to see the results.

I choked at the length, but it didn’t take that long to find what the likely problem was.

To see if my instinct was correct, I watched the entire nine hours on fast forward.

What I saw was that, almost without exception, during every interaction John had, whether with programmers or senior staff, he interrupted them to take calls or respond to texts.

We discussed the ramifications and effects of the constant interruptions and I asked him how he would feel if they had acted the same way.

He said it had happened to him and he usually felt annoyed, offended or both.

So I asked why they would feel any different.

John said that also explained why one senior developer said he preferred to work where he was shown some respect.

John had chalked it up to the developer’s age and that he couldn’t handle the casual atmosphere, but thinking back the guy had had a good relationship and no problems with the team.

I suggested that instead of saying anything he just change, i.e., pay attention and not interrupt, since actions speak louder than words.

I also sent him this image as a constant reminder.

respect

John went further than changing; he called the most recent three who had left, apologized and said he would like them to come back.

One had already accepted a job, but the other two decided to give it another shot.

They both said that his candidness, honesty in recognizing the problem and sincere apology made it likely he would follow through.

Image credits: HikingArtist and via Imgfave

If The Shoe Fits: Channel Nintendo

March 10th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mLast week we looked at what companies are doing about product security — which is little-to-nothing in most cases.

Unlike Nintendo.

Nintendo’s new Switch console — think Zelda — is making news, but its unique security effort should be in the limelight, too.

Unlike Tide, Nintendo realized the console’s tiny, SD-sized game cartridges would be irresistible to kids — so its designers came up with the perfect solution.

They didn’t wait for a curious kid (and the resulting lawsuit) to choke or even die from swallowing one, before addressing it.

They thought it through and spent the needed time and money to assure that kids wouldn’t eat the cartridges in the first place.

And they succeeded.

The cartridges are coated with something that makes them taste terrible.

Terrible as in spitting them out.

To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children,” a Nintendo spokesperson told Kotaku. “A bittering agent (denatonium benzoate) has also been applied to the game card.” (The agent is non-toxic.)

Adults, too. Hilariously, it was an adult game reviewer who decided to lick the cartridge.

I put that Switch cart in my mouth and I’m not sure what those things are made of but I can still taste it. Do not try this at home.

— Jeff Gerstmann (@jeffgerstmann) February 25, 2017

No question, it’s a brilliant solution — the only kind that really works, since it requires absolutely no effort from consumers.

Three cheers for Nintendo.

Wouldn’t it be nice if founders and full-blown enterprises followed Nintendo’s lead before something happened?

Image credit: HikingArtist

March Leadership Development Carnival

March 9th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

Ryan should be back next week, but in the meantime you will find plenty of good stuff in this month’s Carnival. Enjoy!

Anne Perschel of Germane Coaching and Consulting provided Wise CEOs in New Roles Follow Two Important Rules. Anne asks, “What two rules do wise CEOS follow when they’re in new roles, and what are the benefits?” Find Anne on Twitter at @bizshrink.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided Three Ways to Have a Less Stressful Day. Beth recaps, “Beth Beutler gives us three practical tools for reducing stress in our days.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting provided Reality Bites for New Leaders. Bill recaps, “Your influence can help make a positive and lasting impact on people’s careers and lives. All it takes is making the most out of your leadership kick in the ass!” Find Bill on Twitter at @btreasurer.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: Why Leaders Do What They Do. In this post, Chris explains three powerful influences over a leader’s behavior. Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Chery Gegelman of Giana Consulting contributed The Inspiring STANDS of a REAL Leader. In this post, Chery asks, “As a titled leader do have the courage to take stands for the business?  …Your people?  …Your family?  What would you give to work with someone that takes stands like these?” Follow Chery on Twitter at @gianaconsulting.

Christopher Avery of Christopher Avery and the Leadership Gift contributed How I Practice Responsibility. Christopher shares, “The Responsibility Process works only when self-applied. (If you have heard this before, and I hope you have, it is always worth revisiting.) What this means is that knowledge about The Responsibility Process doesn’t change me. Only applying The Responsibility Process to my life will produce results that matter.” Follow Chris on Twitter at @christopheraver.

Cory Rieken of the Development Dimensions International (DDI) contributed What Happens When Leaders Fail to Use Key Principles?. Cory shares, “A leader’s lack of empathy and ongoing performance conversations can lead to confusion and uncertainty among employees about where they stand. Learn about the key principles leaders can use to meet others’ personal needs to be respected and involved.” Follow Cory on Twitter at @ddiworld.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided Six Ways to Make Your Presentation a Hit. Dan recaps, “Scientists say our attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish, so it’s more important than ever for leaders to make our presentations as engaging and compelling as possible. How can we do that?  One way is by taking cues from the place that can still captivate us for hours at a time: the movies. See Ted Frank’s guest post to find out how.” Find Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dan Oestreich of Oestreich Associates provided On Not Waiting for Superman. Dan recaps, “Mythologist Michael Meade’s three layer model of human interaction provides a way to think about and act on our leadership in a time of change, conflict and controversy.  I use Meade’s model in my leadership consulting work because it ably defines the quest, common to human communities, to reach a shared sense of humanity and shared values such as love, justice and peaceful co-existence.” Find Dan on Twitter at @DanOestreich.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed The Upside of Office Politics. Dana writes, ” Unpleasant as it is, office politics gives us a special gift, which is to learn to stand up for our values and grapple with forces out of our control. After all “The Universe” .” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted 4 Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Team to Stay Focused on the Most Important Thing. David summarizes, “I’ve never met a manager who has enough time to do everything they want to do. The stress that comes with being ‘too busy’ is inescapable – or is it? David shares a mindset shift and questions you can use to keep your team focused, and busy-stress at bay.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared How To Create Line of Sight For Your Employees. David writes, “Statistics and sources show that employees overall don’t understand company strategy. Said another way, they don’t get how they fit in. And that’s a missed opportunity.” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership submitted Dialogue Bridges the Divide. Jesse recaps, “Since the US election, many people have experienced tension with a close friend or family member whose views are different than theirs. My own family is no exception, and I was having particular difficulty with a close family member.  My post explains why and how I reached across the divide and provides 4 guidelines that helped make it successful. Bottomline: It’s important and possible to begin reaching across the divide.” Follow Jesse on Twitter at @jesselynstoner.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed Widen Your Perspective-Take Puppy Breaks. Jill shares, “Taking a short break away from work every hour or so will increase your mood and your productivity.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Gandhi and Mandela Would be Proud: What’s Next after the Women’s March?. Jim shares, “In this post, I use Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi as prime examples of how to motivate and focus people towards a common vision using peaceful means. The context is the January 21st Women’s March which spanned some 500 U.S. cities and dozens of countries. The participation wasn’t just the amazing thing but that the marches were done peacefully. Vision and how people collectively contribute to it is critical to this movement’s future.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted Strategies to Increase Your Influence at Work. Joel recaps: “Increasing others’ perception of you and your visibility at work are vital to your career success. The next step is to increase your influence at work. Follow these 3 strategies and watch your influence increase.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Methods?. John summarizes, “Sometimes better methods will be adopted but often they won’t. People can be very attached to the way things have always been done. Or they can just be uncomfortable with the prospect of trying something new.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed 7 Essential Guiding Principles. Jon asks, “Who is an Upstander? A person who chooses to take positive action in the face of injustice in society or in situations where individuals need assistance. Being an Upstander is a leadership model we must embrace and these 7 principles can help.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Jon VerBeck of JonVerbeck.com submitted Business Owner Mistakes: Not Understanding Their Revenue Model and Current Sales Plan. As part of his series on mistakes business owners make, Jon shares about the importance of understanding your revenue model and sales plan. Discover Jon on Twitter at @jonverbeck1.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided Lessons in Stumbling and Set-Backs… from the Big Top. Julie recaps, “Since work frequently feels like a three-ring circus anyway, there are lessons to be learned from acrobats who know how to stumble and yet resiliently go on with the show.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed How Do I Get My Team to Trust Me?. In the post, Karin shares a personal story of trust with her team, and how it wasn’t so good at first. Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context  shared Leader Competence: Will it Be a Multiplier or a Divider? Linda recaps: “Leader competence is either going to be a multiplier or a divider. When you have it, you multiply performance and trust, with exponential results.” Find Linda on Twitter at @leadingincontxt.

Lisa Kohn of Chatsworth Consulting submitted Why Self-respect is a Key Leadership Skill. Lisa summarizes, “While we need to be open to feedback, we also need a confident foundation in our strengths and contributions so that we can learn from the feedback, rather than be pierced by it.” Discover Lisa on Twitter at @thoughtfulldrs.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided What If We Embodied Positive Change?. Marcella recaps, “What did you do today that’s worth repeating? We must first change ourselves to create positive change in a situation. We tend to copy what we have seen, and that’s why cultures stay the same. Every act of positive leadership and kindness counts… What have you done today that you’d like others to do, too?” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed The Conundrum of Incentive Pay. She recaps, “Incentive compensation is tough.  It’s why many companies avoid it all together. Leaders often find themselves coming up with incentive plans they hope will work, only to come out with frustrating results and the intent didn’t drive the desired outcome. In this post, Mary Ila shares some things that stand in order to do incentive pay well.” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services shared The Benefits of Having a Team of Equals. Mary Jo summarizes, “When you treat the members of your team as equally smart and capable as you are, you’ll realize what it’s like to make better decisions, have great trusting relationships and some bottom line results.” Follow Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Michael Lee Stallard of Connection Culture provided A Surprising Way to Reduce Mistakes and Accidents. Michael recaps, “In industries like healthcare where the cost of mistakes and accidents is high, it’s important to provide the support employees need to do their best work. Michael Lee Stallard explains how the “connection culture” elements of value and voice play an important role in improving performance.” Find Michael on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed The Necessity of Fools. Miki writes, “There are many kinds of fools and while being a fool is something people work hard to avoid there is one kind of fool that should be your greatest aspiration.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Leading an Empowered Creative Organization. Neal recaps, “Leaders who empower employees to use their own creative thinking skills and talent help move the organization forward. In doing so, leaders trust employees to make decisions in solving problems, challenges and difficulties regarding the work they do. Working collaboratively yields greater results.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared 3 Truths About Trust. Randy writes, “Virtually everyone agrees that trust is a vital ingredient for healthy and successful relationships and organizations, yet many don’t think about trust until the worse time – when it’s been broken. In this post, three fundamental truths about trust that every leader should consider.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted Reap the Rewards of a Checklist: Two Easy Steps. Discussing the value of a checklist, Shelley writes, ” If doctors and pilots use them regularly, it may be a good idea for other business leaders too.” Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Simon Teague of New Level Results contributed A Business is a Reflection Of …. Simon recaps, “This post discusses productivity, combined with empowerment and engagement being at an all-time high in those organisations that are using more modern and innovative methods to recognise, reward and develop their people AND build their culture at all levels.” Find Simon on Twitter at @simonteague.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided Why You Should Speak Less and Listen More. Susan explains, “When it comes to leadership, there are times when it is more effective to choose silence over speaking up with your words. Only when you are able to listen well enough and long enough for people to feel heard will underlying tension will be released, and a conversation about what’s wrong turn into a conversation about how to make things better.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

The Source Of Tech Misogyny

March 8th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/allaboutchase/3210937988/

Anyone looking at the data can’t avoid seeing that tech culture has a strong misogynistic streak.

It wasn’t always that way.

What happened?

Marketing happened.

Specifically, the marketing of computer games in the 1980s.

A lot of early computers were used for game playing,” Elizabeth Ames says. “Those games tended to be more aimed more at boys and men, so it was easy for boys to get a leg up in that area through gaming.

Consider the stats.

… in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1984, 37% of computer science graduates were women, but those numbers began to drop dramatically in the middle of the decade. By 2016, that number had been whittled down to 18%.

Computers and games were not only marketed to males, they denigrated females (as did other toys, remember the Barbie “Math is tough” fiasco).

In the beginning Apple couldn’t crack the business market, so it went after the education market. When those kids grew up they were completely hooked on Apple and took that attitude into the workplace.

Jobs’ Apple was a master of brainwash marketing, so those kids also brought Apple attitudes with them, too.

The Apple personal computer that was released at the time was marketed specifically to boys (included teasing girls’ computer skills), as were a whole range of other consoles. This gave rise to male computing culture.

Those boys and young men grew up to start and run companies now.

And it’s those insidious attitudes instilled by all that male-centric marketing that became the cornerstones of today’s bro culture.

Knowing this, the current misogynistic streak isn’t all that hard to understand.

But that still doesn’t make it acceptable.

Image credit: Chase N.

Ducks in a Row: Behavioral Addiction Means Profit

March 7th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/4549543273/

Do you believe that Twitter was founded with effects like Arab Spring in mind? Or that Mark Zukerberg started Facebook for altruistic reasons? Or that Instagram, Snapchat and other similar sites actually have your wellbeing in mind?

If so, you probably also believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

The primary purpose of every one of these sites is simple: to make as much money as possible.

How?

By using personalization to achieve behavioral addiction.

Infinite personalization comprises the artificial intelligence-driven, big-data based tools that allow algorithms to build a personalized Internet echo chamber customized just for you, designed to make you feel great. Infinite personalization feeds you the real, the fake, and everything in between, with the simple goal of holding your attention and getting you to come back for more. It is the process by which companies can measure, match, and predict consumers’ individual preferences with amazing accuracy and then tailor offerings to maximize revenue.

It’s done with full knowledge and, in my opinion, malice afore thought.

It’s why tech titans, starting with Steve Jobs in 2010, limit their kids, as I said a couple of years ago in The Hypocrites of Tech.

They want their kids to grow to positions of leadership and power and know they can’t if their world shrinks to a self-enhancing echo chamber that only regurgitates information that fits their preconceived ideas.

Personalization is active in the real world, too, and has been for several years, with young adults inventing ways to shrink their world by curating their college roommates and demanding “safe places.”  

All I can say it ‘good luck’ when their carefully curated echo chamber has to function in the work-world.

However, it’s a sad and scary commentary that in the frenzy to make more and more money tech is providing a detailed roadmap, along with the supporting technology, for demagogs to become dictators.

For a more detailed look at behavioral addiction check out Adam Alter’s Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

Image credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Golden Oldies: Pity for a Generation

March 6th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

In the three years since I wrote this the situation hasn’t improved — in fact it’s gotten much worse. Worse because it encompasses what seems like the majority of people from every country around the globe and all ages.

Something else happened during those three years — mental health practitioners recognized the addictive qualities of social media and formalized several conditions, such as FOMO (fear of missing out).

As with any addiction there are two sides, addicts and suppliers. Join me tomorrow for a look at the supply side.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicubunuphotos/5925119201/

I feel sorry for the current generation and all those who’ve bought into their ethos.

Everywhere I go I see them; eyes locked on a tiny screen desperately seeking the latest indication that they fit in; that they are accepted; that they are liked.

But what they find on that screen is an illusion; one that leads them away from the real connections all humans crave.

Studies show that American college students spend, on average, three hours texting and an hour and 40 minutes on Facebook every day. One of the more recent studies centers on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale: Norwegian researchers have observed that excessive Facebook use leads to higher rates of anxiety and social insecurity.

The proof is in what happens when they’re in public and you take that screen away.

“I gathered my things and bolted out the door,” one student wrote about her reaction once she finished her meal. “I was glad that I could feel like I belong somewhere again. . . . What I hated most was being alone and feeling like I was being judged for it.” Another student echoed this experience. “By not having my phone or laptop to hide behind, it was amazing how self-conscious I felt.”

How sad is that?

In short, no screen equals no confidence

“I realized something disturbing after doing this. If I don’t feel connected with others, I automatically feel alone, unpopular, less confident.”

The feedback of online connections may provide instant gratification, but that’s cold comfort when what you’re longing for is warmth, intimacy and a hug.

Flickr image credit: nicubunu.photo

Protect Yourself — ‘They’ Don’t Care/Won’t Bother

March 3rd, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/centralasian/8261449212

Do you invite strangers into your home and let them to listen to your most personal conversations or view your most intimate moments?

Would you leave them alone with your kids to say what they pleased using unquotable language?

Would you stand by while they rummaged through your files copying what they pleased, leaving chaos behind and demanding payment so you could clean up the mess?

No?

Chances are you already do.

You invite them in with every connected device you buy.

Even vaunted Apple isn’t immune.

Security hasn’t been a high priority for companies around the globe, especially those running startups.

Consider the saga of a doll called Cayla from Genesis Toys; banned in Germany and under investigation in the US.

Cayla and a similar toy, i-Que, made by the same company are Internet-connected and talk and interact with children by recording their conversations.

CloudPets are stuffed animals made by Spiral Toys, which didn’t even bother to secure their database.

In addition to storing the customer databases in a publicly accessible location, Spiral Toys also used an Amazon-hosted service with no authorization required to store the recordings, customer profile pictures, children’s names, and their relationships to parents, relatives, and friends.

Samsung’s smart refrigerator was hacked yielding up G-mail logins, which, in turn, can yield up your whole on-line life.

Besides the fridge, the hackers also found 25 vulnerabilities in 14 allegedly smart devices, including scales, coffee makers, wireless cameras, locks, home automation hubs, and fingerprint readers.  

Pretty lame, considering that in January 2014 security was ranked as the top spending priority for CIOs and 75% said it would increase in 2015.

Makes you wonder what it was spent on.

European countries, such as Germany and Denmark, have strong privacy laws and simply ban these products, but I doubt our government will do more than hold hearings and wring their hands.

So it’s up to you.

Your major protection is very simple.

  1. Don‘t buy connected devices unless you really can’t live without them.

For those you do buy don’t expect anything from the manufacturer.

  1. Learn how to reset the passwords and choose strong ones.
  2. Don’t use all-purpose logins, such as those from Facebook or Google — no matter how convenient they are.

It’s called “personal responsibility.”

If you’re not familiar with the idea ask your parents — or, more likely, your grandparents.

Image credit: cea +

Ryan’s Journal: Has The Nation Lost Its Mind?

March 2nd, 2017 by Ryan Pew

As a nation, and perhaps as a species, we reward success above all else.

I am in sales and a mantra I have heard many times is, “exceeding quota covers a multitude of sins”. Did you show up hungover to a team meeting? Did you grope someone at an after-hours event? Did you mouth off to your boss?

These are things I have all personally witnessed at work and the one question always asked was, “are they hitting their quota?”

Why do I bring this all up you ask?

As you may have read Uber is having a tough few months and an even worse week. I won’t jump on the bandwagon to bemoan their culture, but I will say it’s probably not limited to them alone.

Because we have put value in success above all else it is easy to forgive when those companies or people err.

In my professional life I have had an opportunity to work in both large and small organizations. These are all made up of people with strengths and weaknesses, but one common thing I see is those that produce revenue and growth get away with a bit more.

Now this is only anecdotal, but headlines can support this claim to a degree. Uber, Google, Wal-Mart have all had scandals or missteps.

While this may not be indicative of social decay, it points to an opportunity for improvement.

One thing I truly believe is culture begins with self.

The choices we make as individuals are what shape the greater group.

When I see these stories of harassment, abuse or other issues it is not a company that is doing it, it’s an individual. Personal responsibility must be an expected outcome if we want a change.

How can we start?

There is always the Golden Rule or Karma to consider.

If you want to consider science alone we can look to Newton’s third law as reference.

All of these have a common theme — your actions will have equal reactions in measure.

Perhaps that can be a basis for culture moving forward?

Image credit: Dani Mettler

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