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Ryan’s Journal: What Do You Do When You’re In A Funk?

Thursday, August 10th, 2017


Have you ever had one of those days where you just can’t seem to get it together?

You drink your coffee, go on your run, or perhaps your moment of zen. Yet that doesn’t get you out of your rut. What do you do about it?

I am in a stage of life where I am building. 

I am building my sales practice, building my family (up to five now), and building my wealth. I have found that those all keep me busy and I have little time for me. When I compare myself to my friends, though, they are in similar circumstances.

The ebb and flow of emotions is normal. Low points happen and should not be feared. However, if we allow ourselves to dwell too long, it can become more than a rut, it can be a lifestyle.

I have a new little girl at home and she is amazing. She also is a night owl and I have found that sleep deprivation and feeling down are directly correlated. My wife and I are walking around in a fog and I am not at my best.

I have started to become aware of this in the past week and have actively worked out ways to overcome it.

Currently my little one likes to wake around 5:30 in the morning. I have found if I just get up to go for a run I get the added bonus of watching the sun rise. That’s an amazing feeling.

I have also found that she likes to cry a bit so we stay up rocking her. This has led to my wife and I having genuine conversations because our phones aren’t attached to our faces. This has also been amazing as I actually like my wife. (To be clear I love her as well).

I say all of this because it’s on my mind. I know I am a bit low and I know others are too on occasion.

Ultimately it is our choice on how we proceed.

How will you proceed?

Image credit: Larry Jacobsen

Ducks in a Row: How Good Is Your Face-To-Face?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017


Why is it that the most difficult part of management, i.e., people management, constantly moves backwards?

Managers from the Greatest Generation tried to manage by memo.

That lasted until the 1970s when Boomer and Gen X managers took a giant step backwards and started trying to manage by email.

Millennials have taken an even larger step in that direction by trying to manage by text and have swept many of the previous contingents along with them.

Granted, people at all levels often look for and find ways, frequently turning to available technology, to avoid, or at least minimize, the most frustrating and difficult parts of their jobs.

However, that doesn’t work when the frustrating part is 90% of the job.

Every time this comes up I find myself quoting something Terry Dial said to me decades ago.

“People are 90% of our costs as well as the key to customer service and satisfaction. The only thing that should take priority over hiring a new employee is keeping a current one.”

Wally Bock puts it this way (and offers excellent advice on how to do it.)

In the Marines, I learned that when you’re responsible for a group, you have two jobs. One of them is to accomplish the mission. The other is to take care of the people.

I personally guarantee that you won’t accomplish the former if you ignore the latter.

You cannot “care for your people” by email or text — it requires face time.

It requires one-on-one conversations — wherever they take place — and not just about performance.

Conversations need to be human, that means family, hobbies, food, sports, etc.

Face-to-face humanizing contact is critical for teams, too, whether they are in a different office around the block or around the globe.

As Valerie Berset-Price, founder of Professional Passport says,

“Building trust is a multisensory experience,” she says. “Only when people are physically present together can they use all of their senses” to establish that needed trust. Without a bond, conflict or disengagement can more easily arise and is more difficult to resolve.

So whether you consider yourself a manager, a leader, a boss, or just a plain working stiff honing your in-person communication skills will not only improve your career opportunities, but also all parts of your life.

PS I just saw this article on IBM’s move to have teams in-person face-to-face.

Image credit: gorfor

Miki’s Rules to Live by: A Quick Reminder

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

You may find this surprising, but the phones you texted to arrange getting together for dinner are not sentient.

In reality, they are the property of sentient beings whose face2face company you enjoy (or did at one time).

Since you planned a meal with them, I’ll assume you still do and suggest you follow the advice below.

no wifi 46716

Buon appetito or, if you prefer, bon apetite.

Image credit: Anonymous email

The Most Valuable Gifts: Time and Books

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015


During the holiday media gift frenzy it is the truly wise who remember that the best gifts aren’t electronic or screen-dependent.

The very best aren’t paid for with money, either, but with a much more precious currency — time.

Time to love.

Time for friendship.

Time to play.

Time to talk and laugh together — F2F

Food cooked and shared together at (someone’s) home.

Not just during the season, but scattered throughout the year like diamonds on a velvet cloth or stars in a clear night sky.

Along with time, the most wonderful gift you can give a child is a love of books — real books.

Real because reading a printed page affects the brain in different and better ways than words on a  screen.

Whether your child reads or you read to them start with the books from Lost My Name, which creates personalized books using your child’s name.

Lost My Name — founded in 2012 by Asi Sharabi and Tal Oron — creates customised books based around a child’s name. The books are created and ordered online, then sent out to printing partners around the world. (…)  “As a technology company, we’re very proud to be innovating on one of the oldest media formats in the world – the physical book,” said Oron. “We think technology equals possibility. And possibility is the dominant currency in wonderful, nostalgic storytelling, where the book’s job is to inspire children to believe in adventure; that anything can happen if they imagine it. As screens become more and more seductive to children, there is an increasing need to inject more magic into books – to find new ways to spark their imagination.”

Even better are the books by Randall Munroe, former NASA roboticist, who specializes in science humor and whose 2014 book, “What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions,” became an unexpected mainstream hit.

Munroe believes that anything can be explained simply using normal language and proves it in his new book (which is a good choice for anyone on your gift list).

“Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words.” The oversized, illustrated book consists of annotated blueprints with deceptively spare language, explaining the mechanics behind concepts like data centers, smartphones, tectonic plates, nuclear reactors and the electromagnetic spectrum. In his explanations, Mr. Munroe avoided technical jargon and limited himself to the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. This barred him from using words like helium and uranium, a challenge when describing how a rocket ship or reactor works.

For book links and great comics (sample above; chosen for enabling holiday restraint) visit Munroe’s site.

Books are good for adults, too. Check out this month’s Leadership Development Carnival for critiques of books that run the business gamut from being a better boss to upping your game wherever you are in your career.

Another great thing about real books is what you can do when you are done reading them.

  • Some you’ll want to keep for your own library;
  • some you’ll share with friends, colleagues and those you mentor; and
  • the rest can be donated to your local library.

Happy reading! Happy discovery!!

Image credit: Randall Munroe

Shrinking Interactions

Monday, June 17th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeno77/2446183097I had just finished unloading my cart at Home Depot the other day when a woman pulled up with her two young sons; when I offered her my cart she shook her head and kept walking.

There was a time when she might have offered to take the cart, but those times seem a part of the past.

Instead, she kept walking, talked to her sons and answered her cell phone.

Is the world really shrinking or is it just a narrowing of interactions and less interest in what’s around us in real-time?

The more distracted we become, and the more emphasis we place on speed at the expense of depth, the less likely and able we are to care.

Everyone wants his parent’s, or friend’s, or partner’s undivided attention — even if many of us, especially children, are getting used to far less. Simone Weil wrote, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

Each step “forward” has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.

As usual, I am out of step.

I take back the carts, function beautifully sans cell/smartphone, pay attention to the humans in my orbit and love real-world interactions.

Digging in the dirt, conversation and reading (mostly cozy mystery fiction) are my favorite “time wasters;” no Facebook, Twitter or Candy Crush (my sister’s addiction).

I prefer to be connected to a few in the real world than connected to dozens (hundreds?) in the cyber world.

In short, I want to continue to pay attention and be present for whatever time I have left on this planet, whether decades or days.

Flickr image credit: Zeno_

Quotable Quotes: Conversation Starters with Kids

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

(Obviously, I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties!)

Continuing last weeks social assistance to ease those awkward silences that may happen during (gasp) face2face holiday get-togethers.

Interacting with kids you see only occasionally, or even those you see more often, can be fraught with pitfalls.

Here’s a safe, interesting tidbit to get a conversation going, especially at a tense family dinner when young children are present. Just mention that Walt Disney was afraid of mice, and watch the conversational ball start moving.

Girls are often more chatty than boys and easier to engage. Here are two questions that should generate some interesting commentary, including from any adults present,

  • It is possible to lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs. Why?
  • A  duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no  one knows why. What do you think?

Gross work better with boys, but you need to watch it since there are usually other generations present that don’t appreciate gorss. That said, here’s one that will bring out the snickers, turtles can breathe through their butts. However, if your audience tries the same trick you will be in big trouble.

Here’s one more to use as you see fit, either as a starter or to shut up a bore, donkeys  kill more people annually than  plane crashes or shark attacks—good reason to watch your ass or stop acting like one.

Be sure to join me next week for great gambits that will light up all your gardening relatives.

Flickr image credit: meeshypants

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