Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Jack O'Lantern

In honor of Halloween last week, and because we did Star Wars last week, I give you:

From a fan @ George Takei's Facebook page. #AlderaanPlaces
I promise new material is coming. I still owe you a story about falling down, after all!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Meyers Briggs

Lately I've been reading a lot of articles about the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile test. Mostly the reports ask what the value of the test is, if not calling into question the validity of Myers-Briggs in the first place.

Now I agree that it is difficult to determine personality type through limited interaction, and with 4 sets of letter combinations to choose from, it can get complicated keeping everybody straight. Because of that I tend to lean more towards the four quadrant approach (Analytical, Amiable, Expressive, Driver), and there is a pretty good book out there about interacting with those people. I mentioned in a previous blog post.

But this is Wacky Wednesday. As such, here is the WACKY:
created by

If you don't know your type, there are a lot of online tests (one can be found here)

There are all kinds of charts for Myers-Briggs (Animal Kingdom, Harry Potter, and of course, Star Trek are just a few of my favorites)

I am an ENTJ, you can find my type above. Now, does anyone know where I can get some cinnamon roll stereo headsets?

A special thanks to Jenny at for putting this together. Very well done and looks great!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why Do We Fall?

One of my favorite movies has a perfect quote captured here:

In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne just fell down a boarded up well. His father retrieves him and gives him some good advice:

Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. - Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins

Monday, October 7, 2013

After Action Review

Last week I wrote a story about a training exercise when I was a cadet at the Syracuse University ROTC Program (A Walk Down to the River). At the end of the story I talk about an After Action Review (AAR). The AAR is a standard practice item for the United States Army, designed to ensure that the lessons learned are discovered, discussed and disseminated, as well as making sure that all the personnel involved know the extent of the operation and can prosper from it. Here is how the process works:

AAR from ROTC Program
Attendees for the event will be the entire operation team, a note taker, and an outside impartial person. The impartial person acts as a moderator, ensuring that the conversations are beneficial, shuts-down any lines that are attacks rather than critiques, and moves the conversations forward if the topic becomes repetitive.

Generally, at the end of an operation or exercise, the Officer in Charge (OIC)  will run all the participants through the activities of the operation. In most cases, there is a layout of the location where the operation takes place, where everyone can look down on the field, almost from an aerial view. A map is good, but a "sandbox" is better. A "sandbox" is a physical layout of the location, in miniature. All terrain features should be represented, and models used to show the movements of the key players involved (believe it or not, toys like little green army men work great for this). Other options are PowerPoint slides with images that show movements and activities, videos, or even page by page hand-outs. in the end the visual aides need to be usable by everyone.

Starting from the beginning the OIC talks through each stage of the process, from form-up of the unit until the completion of the operation(s) and the movement of the personnel to the AAR site. The orientation is broken into phases for future discussion, when possible. During the run through people are able to speak up to correct the facts of the event, but will not offer critiques until the course of events are complete.

After the initial orientation and order of events, then each phase is reviewed in detail, the actions discussed. At the planning portion of the phase, some common questions are: What decisions were made? Were they appropriate? What would have been good to know when making the decisions? Were there any indicators that in hind-sight should have impacted the decision making process? Was anybody / anything ignored?   What additional resources would have been helpful?

During the execution / monitoring portion of the phase, some common questions are: What information became available during execution? Did it change the plan? Should it have changed the plan? What things in hind-sight were missed? Did the execution phase have the proper decisions points? What about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Were the KPIs accurate? Were they correct? Should other KPIs been used?

During the end of the phase, some common questions are: Where the proper resources available throughout the life of the phase? Was the objectives of the phase accomplished? Was the communication strong enough throughout the event?

Overall, this is a fantastic tool, and I would encourage leaders to use this at the end of each phase of an event or project. The closer to the activities that occur, the cleaner the memories will be.

Second, this needs to be an open and safe environment. All personnel should be able to discuss the events, all opinions are valid and should be explored. Do not discount something said by someone who may be immature and /or lacking in experience. The lowest person of the team may have an insight that can prove valuable.

Once the AAR is complete, the findings should be published to everyone in the company, unit, team, group, whatever. These lessons need to be shared in order to prevent repeat mistakes and to allow others to learn. A good idea would be to have a quarterly newsletter of lessons learned for the group.

If there are updates to procedures required, then the OIC either is responsible for the updates, or for assigning someone else to complete the assignment.  These procedural updates need to be updated quickly, so that others will have the benefit of the changes

Finally, the contribution of everyone needs to be acknowledged. This is another role of the moderator. This person, at the close of the AAR, acknowledges the contribution of all the players, identifies a couple of key assumptions, verifies follow-up assignments and deadlines, then releases the team. In the end, the moderator and the OIC will circle back around and ensure that the assignments are complete.

Overtime, I've found that this is a very valuable (if not most valuable tool), and it generated the emphasis on why COMPLETE made it into my 4 Cs. Too often, leaders and teams will move on to the next topic, next event, or next project before analyzing what happened and growing from the experience of the last one. Without the lessons learned, you and your team are more likely to fall into the same mistakes, the same traps. If the lessons aren't published, then others cannot learn from the
events, and could trip over the same hurdles. Share the knowledge and grow. Without this process, the event isn't really COMPLETE.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wacky Wednesday

You should get this one pretty quick...

From George Takei's Facebook, submitted by Lynda Tietjen

And as  leader, I hope you know how to deal with it, because it seems to keep happening!

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Walk Down To The River

From Syracuse University Army ROTC Program
As my unit moved through the woods of northern New York state, we received new orders to scout the bank of a river for a possible crossing point. With 20 soldiers under my command, and the knowledge that there was enemy in the area, we moved forward. When we got to the identified rally point about 1/4 mile from the river, I ordered the dropping of rucks and establishment of a base of operations. With solid woodcraft knowledge, I grabbed 3 other soldiers that knew how to move quietly to round out the scouting mission to the river bank. I left a senior soldier in charge of the remaining 16 personnel, with orders to secure the rally point. If gunfire or explosions were heard, form up the platoon and move down toward the river to engage the hostiles; leave behind a 4 man team to watch the rucks when that happened.

I took a small unit because as a scouting mission, stealth was the name of the game. It would be better to slip in and out unobserved rather than move en mass and get caught in a fire fight. We moved down the hillsides toward the river, taking our time moving from brush to brush, testing our footing. We didn't crawl because there was a time constraint on the mission and we weren't sure if there was enemy in the area.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Thanks to my wife at Erin's Creative Energy

That's right folks. We've hit the 200 Mark! With the 200 Mark I would like to announce the creation of the C4 - Explosive Leadership Tactics Community Facebook Page! The intent of this page is to share not just my posts, but articles and other source material that I think would be helpful to you. I invite you to subscribe as new material will be posted on a regular basis.

In addition to the Facebook Page, I invite you to check out the C4ELT YouTube Channel. I will be uploading bits and pieces of my presentations, as well as full speeches. In the future, I may even start creating leadership lesson videos to share.

Overall, it is an exciting time at C4,  and I thought that this expansion would be a great way to celebrate 200 Posts. Thank you for joining me on this, and I hope you will join me for many more!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Leader Takes the Blame

As a Project Manager in the Oil and Gas industry, I deal mostly with physical objects. LARGE, physical objects. These objects typically need to be tested prior to acceptance by the customer. In one case the test is called a lift test.

Picture from NOT the supplier for this story
The object in this case was long (50+ feet) and cylindrical, weighing over 30 tons. The cylinder was fabricated at one location, but that location didn't have the capacity to perform the lift test. The cylinder was rigged with the customer provided Kevlar slings, shackles, and other equipment; then loaded onto a barge and transported to a location with the crane capacity to perform the lift.

At the lift facility, the customer sent representatives to witness the lift. In fact, the customer's customer sent representatives to watch the lift. In addition there was a lift supervisor, two (2) quality personnel, two (2) safety personnel (including the safety manager), two (2) facility managers (one from the location of construction, one from the lift facility), four (4) third party inspectors, one (1) lift supervisor, and one (1) project manager (myself). We all had a chance to walk around the cylinder and inspect the rigging. We all participated in the Critical Lift Plan Briefing, and the Job Safety Analysis Briefing. Everything seemed to be in place, and the lift appeared to go well. The cylinder was removed from the barge, raised to a vertical position and then lifted off the ground to show that it hung perpendicular to the ground using the installation rigging. The cylinder was then lowered to the horizontal position and then back onto the barge. The lift rigging was removed for inspection... and this is where we hit our first problem.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Grass is Greener

Last week I talked about what happens when you get stuck in a rut. My wife read the posts and shared this e-card:

 I wish I could say it was wrong, but experience is a great teacher

Monday, September 9, 2013

West Point... A Great Big Muddy (FUN) Mess

The United States Military Academy (West Point) hosts an annual invitational Camporee for Scouting Troops (Boy, Girl, Explorer, Venture Crew, etc.)  located within the United States. The Camporee is a grueling three day event run by the Cadets, starting with a hike over Bull Hill (3+ miles, mostly uphill) with all your gear, then the scouts establish campsites and spend the next two days competing in various skill based competitions, including first aid, fire building, rope tying, proper use of campsite tools, orienteering, etc.. Each event (including campsite set-up) is evaluated and scored, with additional points available for speed of completion and enthusiasm. During the last day, everyone breaks down their campsites, packs up, dresses in their best uniforms and attends a formation and parade. During the formation the highest scoring troops are announced. The troop with the highest score receives a military saber, an automatic invitation back to the event next year, and is in the review stands as the other troops pass by and pay tribute to the winner. It is a HUGE event.

In 1996, Troop One, Hope Valley Rhode Island received one of the invitations. At the time I was one of the senior leaders at 16. Overall, we were a young troop with an influx of new boys (ages 11-13), and most of our senior boys were involved in other activities (i.e. sports, sports, and oh yeah, girls). We had participated in the Camporee before (1994) and didn't even place, even with a much older, stronger crew; so we decided it was more important to have fun than to win.

Friday, September 6, 2013 yes

On Monday I posted a lesson about being stuck in your career. In that post I shared a picture from which came from an Article entitled: Going Nowhere Fast? How to Get Ahead at Work.

I found this article to be very interesting, the reason being that it indicated several other ways a person could get stuck at work, and not just because you're "too good at your job." Some of these reasons are:

1. The job is no longer challenging, you get bored, so you stop working as hard, thus underperforming.
2. You are associated with a failed project.
3. A previous action has created a perception of you. This can be:
    a.  emotional outbursts (the example used is a person being too fragile because of emotional distress during a divorce).
    b. you are seen as a gossip
    c. you were caught trying to advance yourself while hurting someone else.
4. You become fed-up with the game, the bureaucracy, whatever, and stop trying.
5. Change in manager changes your job description into something away from your strengths

I am sure there are more. The difficult thing in all these cases is realizing that your current situation is simply spinning your wheels. Bosses will not spend political or physical capital for people in these situations, and fighting the perception(s) can become an uphill if not losing battle. In the long run, you will be better off following lesson 2 from the post on Monday. Move on! You will escape the perceptions (even if you have to take a step down from your current position), reinvigorate your personality because you will be doing something different, and improve your career trajectory in the process. Don't let the fear of change stop you. Embrace it!

Monday, September 2, 2013

"In Six Months..."

"In six months you'll either be an XO or an S-6, if you work hard for me. Does that sound good to you?"

"Yes sir" I replied to my new commanding officer, a Signal Corps Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) in the Army.

I had just transitioned from an Armor (Tanks) unit to a Signal Corp (IT Department) unit, as my 2 year assignment in Armor was complete.

Collected from and

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Little Black Line... With Big Impacts

How can a little black line that is 4 inches long by a 1/4 inch wide cause 3 hours of extra work? I learned it the hard way... 
Thanks to my wife at Erin's Creative Energy

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - A Man Walks Into A Bar...

From one of the movies I grew-up with:

A Man Walks Into a Bar...

From George Takei's Facebook Page

Monday, August 19, 2013

High-Powered Stakeholders and Communication

Several months ago I presented two sessions on Change Management for the Project Management Institute of Houston. The title of the presentation is: Without Change Management, It Can All Come Crumbling Down.
Image courtesy of sheelamohan at

One of the key components of Change Management is Effective Communication. As with many leadership examples, without Effective Communication in a project, the chances of failure increase exponentially. After all, you can have the most fantastic plan in the world, however, if you don't let the team know about it, then the whole project will fail.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Bubble Wrap

Bubble Wrap can be so relaxing. I can't be the only one who takes pleasure in the soft pop each bubble makes when squeezed. But this guy may have found a cure for Road Rage:

George Takei's Facebook Page

Monday, August 12, 2013

Who Else Needs To Know - 2

Sometimes we need to relearn the lessons of the past. In recent weeks, I've been coordinating efforts across several organizations to get witnesses to a specific event for signatures. About a week out I received an email from one of the representatives asking if I had contacted Richard...
Image courtesy of cooldesign at

Oops. Richard is a representative of a one of the organizations whose signature MAY be required. Now, I had discussed the event with him, provided a tentative window, and even shared the plans for the event; however, he did not receive a formal invitation to the event.

Fortunately, I got lucky. He did not need to witness the event, and in fact considered it outside of his scope; however I cannot always count on luck.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

Shanghai, Part 2

Last week I discussed an experience in Shanghai were I learned to Get Out Of The Way. However, that wasn't the only lesson I learned on the trip to Shanghai. I also learned about the importance of frame of reference and the difficulty of language barriers.

When I travel for work, I tend to carry an inspection kit. The kit contains: safety glasses, ear plugs, protractor, tape measure, small calculator, pencil, paper, flashlight, string,  and a plumb bob. All these items fit into a small square plastic case, which is easy to transport. I typically throw the kit into my checked bags for long trips, or carry-on for shorter trips. It's seen a lot of use in the last 10 years.

I'd already escorted the customer representative to the airport the day before, and was packed and ready to go myself. The kit was in my checked bags, which I dropped off at the ticket counter as I checked in for the flight to Korea, then LAX. I moved through the security checkpoint without issue, and boarded the plane without incident. Then things got interesting.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lead, Follow, Or...

Although it may be rare, there are times when a leader needs to get out of the way...

A few years ago, I was working as the overall project manager where a significant portion of the project was being manufactured in Shanghai, China.

Image courtesy of thepathtraveler at
We had an onsite project manager (who went by Peter) with an engineering background who was very knowledgeable and helpful over the phone and by email. Eventually, my customer wanted to visit Shanghai and check on the status of the project. We scheduled a visit for a week and a half, with the intent that I would show the customer around.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Angry Birds

If only I ran across this in a store... I think I would be willing to be banned, and I know my kids would.

George Takei's Facebook Page

Monday, July 22, 2013


No, the title isn't a misspelling.

In this case I am not talking about a geological formation:


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wacky Wednesday -

Well, sometimes it's something thin that separates a meal and danger... or maybe it's just keeping you from your meal...

From George Takei's Facebook page

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vacation - and Lessons Learned

Well, as I posted the day before Independence Day, I was in a location with spotty internet. I was on vacation and traveled to see my in-laws; in Denver, Colorado.  I didn't want to post online, for security reasons. There was internet access, but I ran into internet firewall issues, and then no connection at all. We spent the first couple of days at the sister-in-law's house, then camping in the mountains, to return back to the house and then home to Houston. If you want to see some cool pictures, go to my wife's blog: Erin's Creative Energy. But here is a quick family photo:

wife and kids
It was the kids first camping trip, and they had a blast.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spotty Internet

Well, I hate to admit this, but I am currently having to deal with very intermittent Internet access, hence the lack of posting. Here are some quick lessons learned from this experience:

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

1. I typically write posts on the Sunday before the week. I now realize that I should build some posts in advance and schedule the release in order to ensure that there is new content on my site. I will shoot for a 4 week library, in order to ensure that you don't run out of at least some content again.

2. Internet is not uniform where ever you go. I was working off a new service provider, and ran into two issues: a firewall issue when connecting to a VPN, and an issue with the reliability of the network. End result was that in order to do some of my regular work, I needed to find a local provider different from the common provider of the area, because the firewall appears to be universal for that provider. After hitting a variety of fast-food restaurants, I sat outside a Starbucks and finished my critical work (although there is always more to do).

So, I will explain what happened in my next blog post. Otherwise, have a great 4th of July, enjoy the weather if you can, and I'll talk with you again next week!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - What Is It?

I've watched how quickly my children pick up technology and I wonder how far off this really is:

Thank you George Takei on Facebook

Perhaps we are there already and just don't know it yet...

Monday, June 24, 2013

It's Not About You (INAY) and What's In It For Me (WIIFM)

Leadership is a position that many seek, however not always for the right reasons. Some people are looking for the recognition or the prestige. They picture the kudos, and often will not think about the benefits for the team that he/she is responsible for and/or the job he/she is supposed to do. But what can you do to avoid this?

A couple of years ago, I spent time as an Area Governor for Toastmasters International. The intent of an Area Governor (AG) is to be a leader for 3-6 clubs, and report to the Division Governor (who has 3-7 Area Governors). The goal of an AG is to become at least Distinguished, if not Select or President's Distinguished in your Area. In order to do that the clubs you work with need to (among other things) achieve a level in the Distinguished Club Program (DCP). The goals of the DCP for the club are:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Family

In some cases, it's easy to see the relationship between parent and child:

Yup, I think they're mine...
Photo: Matthew, your turn for a mohawk! 

Happy Belated Father's Day!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Breaking Track

Typically in the Army, an officer and enlisted personnel try not to mix too much. In previous posts I noted how I went to Dallas to see people in a battle of the bands, and how I attended a wedding for another member of my platoon; however, I always tried to maintain a space between my platoon and myself.
As an example, when the company moved inside a building at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Scunnion (yes, that was the name), my entire platoon had a large room to live in. I set-up my cot in the hallway, or when it wasn't too hot, on a patio outside the building. Why?

The reason is that I felt my soldiers needed time away from "daddy" (or maybe it was "mommy").  They needed space to have the conversations that they shouldn't/couldn't have around an officer, and it prevented us from getting too comfortable together. I was the leader, and the job may have required orders that would be very difficult with a friend.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Law of Unintended Consequences

A long time ago, I was watching TV at home alone. My wife was out with the kids. I heard the washer stop and thought I would be helpful. I pulled the clothes out of the wash and into the dryer. I thought I was helping my wife (and thought I would get grief if I didn't do it..., looking back I should have known better since she didn't tell me to do it).
Little did I know that there was several items in the washer which DID NOT belong in a dryer. It was an expensive lesson, and one where my wife was frustrated with me, to the point where she asked me if I ever did laundry before in my life.

If you're wondering, the answer is yes; but I'm a guy, so all my stuff goes from wash to dry, and for the longest time I didn't understand the importance of sorting colors. I think I still have some "white" shirts with a green hue to them.

And now I don't touch the laundry unless it is to fold it.

I bring this up because this weekend my wife had a similar experience.

Friday, June 7, 2013

PMI Conference - Houston

This was a very busy week. I spent the first 3 days at the PMI Conference in Houston. You may remember my video (with my fellow Toastmasters):

It was a great event. There was more than 500 participants! The event was well organized, with a lot of solid (if not great) sessions for Project Managers to learn from (including two of my own). Discussions topics ranged from leadership and communication, to high performance teams; memory tricks and tips, to LinkedIn. A lot of ground was covered.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - PIZZA

For the Engineers that read my blog... I have to cater to them occassionally. I just hope they are hungry!

George Takei, Facebook

Monday, June 3, 2013

Your Team Will Talk... About YOU!

I was in a store yesterday, purchasing print-outs and office supplies for the PMI Houston Conference this week, where I am presenting 2 breakout sessions. I asked the cashier for something, which needed the manager to go to the back of the store, and while she was away the cashier said:

"I can't stand the manager, all she ever does is talk on the radio. She's got two strikes against her, one more and she's out... you know what I mean?"

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at

I was absolutely shocked! I've never met the cashier before (although I frequent the store a couple times a month), and although I had asked some questions, I don't think that I opened the door for that kind of comment.

I wanted to say "You probably shouldn't be saying those types of things to a customer, how do you think they will react? Will the customer come back if they know there is an issue?" Unfortunately, the manager came back just as he was finishing his statement, and I decided discretion was the better part of valor, for this day at least.

What this instance did for me was remind me of a simple truth: YOUR TEAM WILL TALK ABOUT YOU!

Now, whether the talk is positive or negative is completely up to how you treat your team. Do they feel respected, engaged, and that they are part of a team? Or do they feel dis-respected, under-utilized (or only perform busy work) and are just waiting for the clock to run out? Take a look at your team and really analyze which question better fits your circumstances. If it's the latter, then you have a lot of work ahead of you.

I hope that many of you will join me for the PMI Houston Conference at the Hyatt Regency. If not, I will continue to update the blog as the week goes on, so look for some highlights from the Conference. Talk with you soon!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - I before E

Once you get a true appreciation of the English Language, you will probably see that it isn't the exception that makes the rule, but instead the exception IS the rule.

From George Takei's Facebook page

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pain Now or Pain Forever

First and Foremost, I hope everyone had a happy Memorial Day Weekend. I hope that my readers took a little time to think about the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy our freedoms. It is a pain a little to close to home...

However, that isn't the point of this blog entry. Last week I had a discussion with a fellow project manager, who I've gotten to know over the last 5 years and think very highly of. She mentioned a pain point that I hear all too often...

"I have an assistant that is a hard worker, but doesn't understand how to organize tasks. I have to spend a portion of my week sitting with him in order to define the order in which he needs to hit the To Do List..."

Now, the pain point may not be obvious, but here it is:


Look at it this way. She has time every week to go over the assistant's to do list and prioritize it for him, but she doesn't have the time to train him to do it himself, with perhaps a review by her. Her pain is ongoing because she spends time every week making this correction. If she would take a bite out of her schedule to train the assistant, she may be able to trade some extended pain now but afterwards forgo the pain forever. I honestly think it's a fair trade. 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Which brings me to the real point of the story. Do you have personnel on your team who are under-performing, or more specifically, under-trained? As a leader, it is your responsibility to take COMMAND, in order to not only identify the situation, but remedy it. If the budget is too tight to pay for training, then look at your organization and determine if someone else has the skills and can teach them. Not enough time is not enough of a valid excuse. Experience some pain now, because it is growing pains; rather than experiencing pain forever because you "don't have the time."

Monday, May 27, 2013

C4-Explosive Leadership Tactics on YouTube!

My faithful readers, I spent part of my Memorial Day Weekend creating a new YouTube Channel for this website. It is the C4-Explosive Leadership Tactics Channel and can be found here.

There are two videos currently loaded on the page (with more to come in the next couple of weeks).

The first video is a promotional video for the upcoming 2013 PMI Conference here in Houston. A few of my fellow presenters and I got together to make the video last week:

I will be making to presentations at the conference. The first will be on Tuesday, regarding Murphy's Laws of Project Management. The second on Wednesday, regarding Multitasking: A True Path To Career Effectiveness. If you are interested in learning more details (or attending), please click here.

The Second Video is my entry into the 2013 International Speech Contest in District 56 of Toastmasters International. If you look at the notes section of the video, you will find some of the lessons I learned going through the process. That speech is below:

I will probably come back to this speech to share some more of the lessons learned.

In the near future, I plan on loading segments of some of my longer presentations, as well as any future presentations I make which are under 10 minutes (probably in full). I really think that this channel can be a great tool, and I am excited to see where it goes. I look forward to your thoughts!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

People Styles at Work

Earlier in the week I mentioned that I reached Distinguished Toastmaster (an accomplishment that required five years to achieve). No sooner was I done than I was looking for "What's Next." My wife regularly accuses me of not taking the time to enjoy my victories, my accomplishments; and I wish I could say she was wrong.

I am a Driver (with Expressive tendencies). This basically means that I am a goal oriented leader who likes to talk (no surprise to any of my friends). I move fast, make quick decisions, and don't look back unless it is to remember or learn something from my past experiences. I savor the struggle more than the accomplishment, which means I am always looking for the next objective. Thank God I found someone who will put up with me...

Now, according to Robert and Dorothy Bolton, there are four general types of people: Analyticals, Drivers, Expressives, and Amiables. The classification tends to be People vs Task oriented, and then Introverted (Ask Directed) vs. Extroverted (Tell Directed). There are tests all over the web to determine which type you are. At the very least it can be an entertaining experience.
But why bring this up? Because I just loaned another book out of my personal library to a co-worker. the book is: People Styles at Work and Beyond by Robert and Dorothy Bolton. This is a book I would actually recommend purchasing in paper format rather than electronic (although I love my Kindle). The reason for this is that the book contains sections that are broken up by the four personality types. You are NOT suppossed to read the sections for the other personality types (as it can cause confusion). Instead you read the section attributed to your type, and learn how to COMMUNICATE with people of different personality types.

Now, at some level, most of us probably do this, but it is interesting to start classing the people around you and seeing how different approaches impact your relationship with them. I found the book very helpful in refining my approach to the individual members of my teams, and would encourage you to read it as well. The book is available below, from Amazon:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Bear Minimum

It's coming up on Memorial Day Weekend. While I wish I could say the below is true... I know better. 

Someday I may learn to get away with only doing the Bear Minimum... but I doubt it will be soon.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Where Leaders Are Made

This weekend, District 56 of Toastmasters International held their District Contest. I've participated at many conferences before, however, during this conference I was recognized for an achievement that few accomplish: Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), pictures to come. 

If you are unfamiliar with Toastmasters International, it is an organization with a focus on improving their member's communication and leadership skills. The first focus is commonly known by nearly everyone who is at least aware of Toastmasters. The second, not so much. In order to address this (among other things), Toastmasters International in recent years re-branded the organization, making the new motto the same as the title of this article.

So What?

Well, there are a long list of requirements to reach Distinguished Toastmaster. The road is separated into two different Tracks, the Communication Track and the Leadership Track (the requirements for both tracks can be found using the links). You have to complete both tracks in order to reach DTM.

In the end, the DTM  certification requires nearly 50 speeches, holding a position in Club and District Leadership, as well as completing something called the High Performance Leadership Project (details in the Leadership Track link), which is basically fulfilling the role of project manager for an event while working with an Event Committee and a Guidance Committee.

In this case, Toastmasters International actually follows well the C4 Principal (most likely without being aware of it). The organization has CONCEIVED a clear path for people to follow in order to improve their skills and reach goals. Not only is the concept COMMUNICATED well, but the whole organization is designed to improve your COMMUNICATION skills; as well as your COMMAND skills by introducing so many different leadership experiences, either as a club member, club officer, or district officer. Finally, Toastmasters International COMPLETES the process by offering evaluations nearly every time the member speaks, as well as in the way that the leadership positions are generally handled. When handled well, I doubt it could be any cleaner.

Thank you Toastmasters for providing me with the opportunity to polish my C4 skills, for providing a path for others to grow in these necessary attributes, and for providing an opportunity for me to meet and work with like minded people.  I am proud to have the designation Distinguished Toastmaster, and I would encourage anyone who reads this to join a club. The time spent is worth it, and the benefits, greater than you can know.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Leadership is...

Digging through the archives again, I came across another old bookmark that I wanted to share:

Can you guess what that leadership quality is?


I find it hard to argue with this statement. An idea without pursuit isn't attained. Intelligence without a goal to pursue is merely smarts. If you do not Pursue, then you will not ATTAIN.

It is a critical quality. However, there is another that goes hand in hand with Pursuit:


Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at

Without ENDURANCE, pursuit is short lived, and can leave a person short of the goal. You must ENDURE the good and the bad in order to ATTAIN.

A lot of things worth having take PURSUIT and ENDURANCE, nothing in life worth having is easy.

I have many examples in my life: Eagle Scout, Distinguished Toastmasters, even getting a bachelor's degree required Pursuit and Endurance. In fact every project I work on as the PM requires these two qualities.

So what are you working on that requires Pursuit and Endurance? What marathon are you running, and what is the expected reward? I would love to hear from you...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - Lazy People

There are two kinds of lazy people: Innovative Lazy, and Lazy Lazy. The second kind are the type of people who everybody thinks of when the term lazy is used. They go home and sit on the couch. They do just enough work to get by in life, maybe.

But the other type is a rarer breed that create truly original ideas:

If you know the source, please let me know, as this came through email
These are the type of people who will spend hours trying to find a way to automate a 5 minute process. They will work on their own time so that they can solve a mild annoyance that repeats, even if it is only quarterly. In fact, that is the inception for the Purchase Order Calculator.

I will take them on my team any day of the week, because they will help everyone in the long run.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thank You Cards - Why I Carry Them

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how impressed I was with a hotel manager who sent a handwritten thank you card after a stay at her establishment. Shortly after posting this message, I was talking with a friend who is starting to interview and she mentioned that she types and emails thank you(s) to the interviewer. I asked why she didn’t send a card, and she couldn’t provide a good answer. The email/typing was faster, so that was why she did it.

I have stacks of thank you cards at my desk, in my bag, and even in my car. If I think somebody did something worthwhile, I will take the time to write the card and deliver it to them (even in my illegible handwriting), either personally or through the mail. I went to my desk and returned with a couple of cards, handing them to her.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

When she asked why, I asked: “How many emails do you have in your inbox?”

“A couple hundred.”

“Have you read them all”


“Do you remember them all?”


“What makes you think your interviewer will remember your email?”

That question got a pause. I then pointed out that I had a handwritten thank you note from a person I helped still sitting on my desk several months after the fact (not from the hotel manager). I see it every day and most times have a small thought about the help I gave and the person who wrote the card. An email would have quickly been filed and forgotten. She got the point, and wrote several thank you notes that day.

The world continues to get smaller and the pace faster. If you want to make a connection, you need to do something unique, just like the hotel manager, and now my job seeking friend. Differentiating yourself in a positive and thoughtful way will always bring benefits, even if it doesn’t land the job. At the least it will ensure that people remember who you are. 

Now from a leader perspective, when was the last time you did something for your team? When an event or project was over, did you do anything to make them feel special? How do you COMPLETE the event so that your team wants to work with you again? Perhaps a small but unique gesture will drive the message home. What do you think?