Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Brian Kesinger, Please Take My Money!

Brian Kesinger (Etsy | Instagram | Twitter)  is a Disney artist who mashed up two of the things I grew up with: Star Wars and Calvin and Hobbes. I swear this needs to be a coffee table book, and when it is he can take my money right now!



There are so many more... found here!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Leadership Quote - Ernest Hemingway

Created by Erin Morey
Perhaps one of the lessons I could learn to adhere to more consistently:

When people talk, listen completely. 
- Ernest Hemingway

I have a bad habit of jumping to the end of a conversation/argument/discussion when conversing with another person. I use to interrupt people constantly to state their own point in an effort to show I understand (and to be honest, probably try to impress them with how "smart" I am). Over the years I've learned that people find this annoying and rude, to the point where they are unimpressed with me and often complain about my interactions. The other folly to this approach is that I often shut down conversations before all the information is conveyed, giving me only a partial picture. 

Instead, I've worked (still sometimes unsuccessfully), towards trying to speak last and listen completely. There are added benefits to this approach, especially as a leader:

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Project Manager's Contingency?

During a conversation with a fellow Project Manager (PM) I came across an interesting thought about contingency. As a PM, typically we like to have contingency because we know things will not go as we expect and nothing ever goes according to plan. The conversation was similar to this.

Photo by Loic Djim on Unsplash
KS (her initials): The problem is that when you ask a group to estimate project tasks they will add their own buffer to the tasks, but won't tell you that. Something that takes 3 days becomes 5 before it even gets to the Project Manager.

Me: Right, and if the PM isn't familiar with the task or knows to ask the questions, along with getting honest answers, then he or she will likely further pad the tasks, creating the potential for a lot of buffer, and even potentially killing the project.

KS: I agree. It's really about asking the questions about whether or not it will really take that long, or if they are already addressing the "What ifs" like "What if that person get's sick?" or "Yes that's great if the person can dedicate a whole day to the task, but what if they can't?" 

Me: Exactly and then, of course, we always run into the fact that no matter how much the person tells us that they already built a buffer into the task, they always take the full amount of time, or even plus some, to complete the work!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Twas the Lights Before Christmas

Twas the Lights Before Christmas
by Matthew Morey
(Admittedly, probably too much work into this for a Wacky Wednesday)

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house,
Every creature was skurrying, including the mouse.
The strobe lights were hung in the trees with care,
In the hopes that a video crew soon would be there.

The dad was nestled all snug in his chair,
While visions of infamy danced near his hair.
And mamma in her jacket and neighbors bundled to go
Had just settled on the lawn for a long winters show.

When out on the lawn there arose such a light,
the show was starting and it just might
Be so mesmerizing, gorgeous and bright
That it would give astronauts quite a big fright!

For the house was decorated and sparkling with a song
That all the neighborhood could see it from their lawn
And people would drive from miles around
To watch the twinkling lights dance abound.

They'd roll up in cars, and vans, and trucks
And turn their radio to a station for luck
That the lights would be synced with the sound
Of music from the station the radio has found

Every year the lights grow more complex
And I'm sure some neighbors would wish for a hex
As the competition for best light show grows
And the cost of electric bills sharply rose

For the marvel of Christmas near every year
is no longer Saint Nick and his Reindeer
but the bane of many a neighbor and spouse:
The Griswold Family Christmas House!

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Monday, December 18, 2017

Leadership Quote - William Arthur Ward

Created by Erin Morey

Feeling Gratitude And Not Expressing It Is Like Wrapping A  Present And Not Giving It

Tis the season, and as we rush around for our last minute Christmas shopping, I would ask that you take a step back and look at the gratitude you can share beyond your family. As a leader, now is a great time to provide tokens of gratitude for the work your team has done throughout the year and show that you care about them this season. A gift card, an easy bake cookie mix, a pen, even just a handwritten "Thank You" note can carry a lot of weight for your team and show that you are thinking of them. They will go into the Christmas/New Year break knowing that their leader cares about them and will be excited to return and work all the harder because of it. 

Too often, however, the leadership (or lack thereof) goes the other way. We assume that the team knows how much we value them (if we think of them at all), and do not take the extra effort to reach out and say thank you. By ignoring this opportunity to show gratitude, or assuming your team (or for that matter loved ones) know how you feel about them, you create an opportunity for misunderstanding or misgivings that can lead to problems in the next year. 

So, are you leaving a wrapped present under the tree for your team that they will never receive? Or are you finding ways to express your gratitude? I would love to hear how you plan on showing your gratitude this season. Please share it below!

William Arthur Ward is one of the most quoted authors in American history. With 100+ articles, poems, and meditations written for magazines like Reader's Digest, his words are well known in American lexicon, even if his name is not. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - People Are Awesome

People are capable of incredible feets. Sometimes I wonder where the boundary really is:


Monday, December 11, 2017

Leadership Quote - Ovidius Naso

Created for by Erin Morey
A ruler should be slow to punish and quick to reward
- Ovidius Naso

Rulers don't really exist today, but leaders do! And in today's business culture team members are smashed for every mistake. In fact, most companies are so afraid of risk that they only make incremental improvements rather than taking the bigger risk and trying something new. Why do you think so many start-ups supplant established businesses. Well, this is a fairly significant contributing factor!

How are you treating your team? Do you allow them the freedom to experiment, make mistakes, and learn or are you expecting perfection and punishing severely? Work with your team to grow, plan around the possibility of mistakes (risk management) and let the team grow. Don't drop the hammer the moment an error happens, but instead seek to learn from it. And if you must punish, do so in private, behind closed doors, rather than in public.

On the other side of this quote, reward quick, reward often, and reward in public. If a team member does a great job, acknowledge it. Goes above and beyond, provide a benefit. Saves the company millions or has a brilliant idea that makes millions? Reward them!

Too often we find the situation reversed. The hammer drops too quick and no matter the end result there is no reward. Fight the standard and help your team. By being slow to punish and quick to reward they will love you for it and work all the harder for you!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - SCIENCE!

My youngest son is getting more and more interested in science, and we are thinking about how to encourage that around the house. In the interest of research for my son, today I share 16 easy science experiments you can do:

Which one are you going to do? I think some of the battery ones look pretty cool.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Leadership Quote - Napoleon Hill

Created by Erin Morey

A classic from Napoleon Hill, author of the classic and still applicable Think and Grow Rich (affiliate link). If you haven't read it, I highly recommend picking up a copy. As the book was written in 1937 one might think the lessons are out of date, but some things never go out of style.

Like this week's gem:

Whatever the Mind Can Conceive and Beleive, It Can Achieve.

This is even more true today than in the 1930's. Computer systems, Artificial Intelligence, the wealth of knowledge on the Internet, 3D printers, all of these things were foreign concepts when this quote was first put to paper (let along a computer screen capable of being shared instantaneously around the world). As leaders often our job is to Conceive (one of the Cs in the C4 Formula) an idea, a dream. To give it enough depth, life, that others will believe in the dream and work towards accomplishing it.

Which is what makes the picture even more appropriate to the quote. In case you don't recognize it, these are the thrusters for the Saturn V rocket, the vehicle that brought the American Astronauts from the Earth to the Moon. This dream was inspired by an American President: John F. Kennedy, who said these immortal words that inspired a nation:

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to this earth. 

John F. Kennedy Conceived a dream that inspired a nation and Communicated (yet another C in the C4 Formula) it clearly and often. Sadly he was assassinated prior to his dream becoming a reality, but a reality it did become. Before the end of the 60s, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon and he returned home safely.

So what can you Conceive for your team, or for that matter, yourself? What dream inspires you and them? Can you see the end state? Can you Communicate it with your team? Then you CAN achieve it!