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!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving today in the United States, I would ask that our readers not only think about what they are thankful for with their families and personal life but also show appreciation and thanks to the teams they lead and people that they interact with. Take the time to write a couple of handwritten notes to key team members and be thankful for everything they do too. I hope all my readers will have a great day and enjoy the company of friends and family today!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Thanksgiving Turkey Fail

As we prepare for Thanksgiving in the United States, I know that many people have decided to deep fry the turkey for that day of thanks. While this method of turkey prep is very tasty, it can also be very dangerous. If the oil boils over the top of the pot, you might have a less thankful time:

Please, everyone, be careful and have a great holiday!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Leadership Quote - Bernard Baruch

Created by Erin Morey
People don't often realize the difference between hearing and listening, especially when all most people tend to do is listen just enough to formulate a response rather than determine the intent behind the communication. Communication is extremely difficult most of the time, even before a leader starts trying to determine a response between his/her own ears (which by the way there are two of for a reason...).

Most (but not all) successful people know that they are (probably) not the only smart person in the room. Other people see things from another's perspective, and can often provide solutions or responses that a leader hadn't considered. While working on some of the more complex projects in my career, I've realized that I cannot be an expert in everything, and as such need the expertise of my team to complete most stages of the project correctly. Even with that realization, I often struggle with this, as I like to think of myself as smart and able to determine a lot of answers. This means that I often jump into a conversation with a proposed solution rather than hearing everyone's thoughts. This also means that I influence the conversation and may even have shut-down thoughtful responses in the past due to my passion and position. I've started trying to cultivate the habit of speaking last rather than first so that I can hear the opinions/comments of my team and then learn from them. It's a habit that is hard to maintain when so much training, instinct, and years of perhaps the wrong approach are in conflict, but I strive to be better. What are you doing to improve your listening skills? How can you be more effective with your communication? I would be very interested to know, so please share below.

Bernard Baruch was an American financier, philanthropist, and political consultant. He was a key advisor to Presidents Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sacrificing the Long Term for the Short

In the last couple of years, I've started seeing more and more books and articles about the fallacy of shareholder value as the primary responsibility of a business exacerbating the drive to meet the monthly and quarterly numbers at the sacrifice of long-term goals and plans. Organizations are so concerned with hitting the short-term metrics that they are literally leveraging the businesses future to reap today's bonuses; even when it hurts the long-term health of the company and foreseeable impacts the ability to hit the future numbers. Unfortunately, this is an issue I've seen up close and personal several times.

I've worked across multiple ERP implementations, for Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics AX solutions. As is the case with most of my projects, I am typically not on the ground when the projects start but instead work to fix the projects after errors, missing change management, and difficulty with expectation management have driven the projects off the rails. In this particular case, as I conducted Lessons Learned, I realized the company made the exact same mistakes twice (once during a Finance implementation, and then again during a Sales Order implementation), and the cause of the mistakes was a focus on hitting the current monthly/quarterly numbers rather than planning the resources and strategy to ensure a smooth deployment of the new ERP system, which would impact the business for years to come.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - 100 People

A little more than a year ago a video started making the rounds, showing the statistical breakdown of the world, based on if the world was 100 people:

Some interesting numbers from the video:

  • 60 out of 100 people would live in Asia
  • The world would be 50/50 split between women and men
  • 12 would speak Mandarin, 6 Spanish and 5 English
    • The rest would be spread out over 6,500 other languages
  • 71 People make less than $10 a day
  • 1 Person controls 50% of the money
  • 44 have Internet, but 75 have a mobile phone!
Interesting numbers, don't you think?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Leadership Quote - Douglas MacArthur

As we wrap up Veteran's Day weekend, I wanted to share this quote from Douglas MacArthur. Integrity is a key asset of a leader, and yet so easy to lose, very similar to Trust, a leader's most fragile asset. When Integrity goes Trust follows. So, as we recognized our veterans this weekend, I bring you a quote from a great American General, and ask are you maintaining your integrity? Are you doing what you say you would? Can your team count on you to make tough decisions and trust you to listen to their needs? Leadership isn't easy, but it is critical to success. Can you keep your integrity? Can your team trust you to?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Last Project Steps... Under Pressure

I'm a big fan of Queen, and one of the songs I love is a partnership with David Bowie called Under Pressure from 1981. Maybe it's because I often feel that leaders are under pressure to get things done, or maybe that I'm usually under pressure because I tend to be brought in on projects that are falling behind. 

Unfortunately, leaders aren't the only ones under pressure. The members of the project team are often under pressure too. Let me share with you one example:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - The Universe Shouldn't Exist!

Apparently the Big Bang should have ended with another bang as Matter and Anti-Matter collided causing complete annihilation of everything we know (almost feels like a Star Trek episode). This was confirmed by an even more precise measurement of anti-protons by physicists at the CERN Baryon-Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment (BASE) near Geneva, Switzerland.

Not to get too precise about it (you can find the start of the real sciency stuff here), but basically science has no way to explain why the anti-matter and matter didn't collide and decimate all of existence before it even began. This asymmetry is the reason we all live today, but as far as science can explain, we shouldn't have gotten anywhere near this far.

The reason I share this is because it reminds me that there are things that we simply cannot explain. No matter how much you know, no matter how precise you think the measurements are, there is always more to learn. I share this as a reminder that discovery continues to happen, not just for myself, but for the human race as a whole, and I think that's AMAZING!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Leadership Quote - Robert F. Kennedy

Created by Erin Morey
So often we seek the safe path, and yet the safest path is also the path of mediocrity, or average. Do you want to play it safe, or dare to fail greatly in order to achieve greatly? Fortune favors the bold, no pain no gain, the bigger the risk the bigger the reward. These are all sayings about taking the risk to reap the reward.

The question you should be asking yourself isn't whether or not to take the risk. The real question should be how do you mitigate the risk and maximize the opportunity for greatness? To that, I would say start with the Risk Management posts from this blog (1, 2, 3, and 4).

In case you were wondering, Robert F Kennedy is related to John F Kennedy (brothers), he was a politician, and he too was assassinated. A shame and I wonder what the world would have been like if the two assassinations didn't happen...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Bad CGI

Last week I shared a list of effects you wouldn't believe aren't CGI. Now, we have 10 effects you can't ignore are CGI (warning mild language):

These moments take you right out of the movie and are in some cases just a horrible, horrible joke.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Leadership Quote - Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

Created by Erin Morey
A spin on the quote from Alexander the Great, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand was the chief diplomat for Napoleon, whose main job was to secure French gains through peace after the battles. In the end, some would argue that he was a traitor as he gave up a lot of the French conquests at the Congress of Vienna, although the settlement was favorable for France.

Most often when I see this quote it is associated with a full-maned male lion who is roaring out his defiance, but prides are matriarchal, typically led by a female, while the male is almost there solely for breeding and protection. The lioness hunts, protects the cubs, and in general looks after the well-being of the pride, while the lion will fight other lions and laze about, occasionally roaring to let everyone know he is still dominant and around. So which leader would you rather be? As much as it may hurt my male ego, I would rather behave like a lioness

I am often amazed what a weak team can do with a strong leader, and dismayed at what a strong team cannot do when they don't have a leader. Many times a change in leadership often brings different results. Most of my life I've been the second or third leader on a team, taking over units/teams that were not meeting their goals. I've found superstars in those teams, but they were held back by the lack of leadership.

Now it is hard to make a sheep into a lion, but often you can find lions in the ranks and grow them. As John Maxwell often says, the true job of a leader is to make more leaders, not followers. Take a moment for a not so small thing (last week's quote). Are you lion or sheep? And if you are a lion, are you making sure to find and grow other lions?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Special Effects that AREN'T CGI

Beleive it or not some effects are still done without CGI, especially before the turn of the century, but includes Lord of the Rings or the Dark Night, or Inception among other movies. Here's a pretty interesting video about some of the practical effects from big movies:

Monday, October 23, 2017

Leadership Quote - Richard Branson

Created by Erin Morey
Sir Richard Branson makes another appearance on the C4Leader blog. Time for a little bit of my funny side to make an appearance. We've been doing a lot with the family the last couple of weekends, which is great, and honestly often gets put to the side because of work, an emergency, etc. Well:

If you don't have time for the small things, you won't have time for the big things - Richard Branson

What are you making time for? So often we get caught up in the Urgent and Important and even the Urgent but Not Important, but instead we miss out on the Not Urgent but Important things, like making time for family, exercising, polishing shoes, stepping back to plan, or taking the time to read a book or enjoy a moment of silliness (like the picture above). If you want to learn more about the Urgent and Important, Urgent but Not Important, and the Not Urgent but Important, I would recommend my post on the Eisenhower Decision Matrix:

So where are you spending your time and are you making time for the small things?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - RedBull Flugtag

This year the Flugtag was in Nashville, and the family made a day of it. It was nearly 90 degrees, but the entertainment value was great. Here's a video (warning, LONG video) of the Flugtag:

And here are a couple of moments before ouch captured by my wife Erin. Enjoy!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Leadership Quote - ?

Created by Erin Morey
An adage that is attributed to many places, the Bible, Chinese Proverb, or perhaps a lady named Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, but the truth will continue to be accurate for as long as people are human. This particular quote is holding a little bit of literal truth as well as figurative, as the family prepares for a few camping trips in the coming weeks and my oldest son has found a joy in fishing (pictured).

In previous posts, I've written about the need to train your people, as you cannot only rely on the superstars but also need to build up others (Morey's Law 16: If You Complete More Than Your Fair Share of Work...). When you do the work for your people, the job may get done, but the person doesn't learn anything. When you train them, it may take longer initially, but they will learn more and take more work off your plate in the long run.

In parenting, it is the same thing. Are you teaching your child or doing the work for them? One of our favorite activities every year with the kids is the Pinewood Derby. Each year we give the kids more to do with the cars, with our hands on the piece of wood for the more difficult actions, but under supervision, only for the things we know they can handle. We are teaching them self-confidence and some minor woodworking, as well as problem-solving. In fact, this quote folds well for one shared a couple of weeks ago from Richard Branson (with my other son):

So are you giving fish, or teaching to fish for your team?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

They May Need It, But They Won't Read It! - Email with Management

I seem to be on a Communication kick lately. This post is a direct result of a conversation with a fellow Project Manger earlier this week, where we were discussing how to model communication for managers and executives, to get them to actually read it. Along they way, I muttered the line "They may need it, but they won't read it!" and I realized that the topic was perfect for my readers.

Earlier in the week I identified that we all have the same number of seconds in a day, and asked what you were doing with your time. Well, managers and executives are even more pressed than most people, and are often flooded with "important" emails and meetings that eat away their ability to concentrate, make decisions, or manage their time. Very often they feel like this: 1891725

Project Managers and team leaders often find themselves needing input or decisions from others, and feel they need to provide a lot of background to ensure that the recipient is well informed. The problem is that very often our recipient can feel like they've been thrown-up on with data, and unable to identify what exactly we are asking for. With that in mind, I would recommend a couple of courses of action to improve the chances that your targeted recipient will actually read the email you are sending:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Life-Hacks

So Bored Panda has an ever growing list of life-hacks, and some of them you might even use. Here are a couple from the list:

Monday, October 9, 2017

Leadership Quote - Mark Twain

Created by Erin Morey
The world will continue to spin no matter what you do about it, and everyone has the same 86,400 seconds. What are you doing with them? One of the largest issues I have is that I often will have great ideas and then put them on the back burner because of a contract, project, or sometimes just not sure what the next steps are or from (honestly) fear that it might not be as good as I think it is. We can stay safe in harbor, or we can sail away for adventure and perhaps even a little glory. Ships are made for sailing not staying safe, and neither are we made to stay safe. Fortune favors the bold, which means casting off the ties and exploring what comes your way. Who knows, perhaps I might even join you out on the seas.

Mark Twain was the nom de plume (pen name) of Samuel Clemens, a famous American author credited with writing The Great American Novel about the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Generative Design

Yesterday's quote from Charles Kettering was about keeping an open mind and finding opportunities in any industry. Well, are you ready for something truly fascinating? I was amazed about this:
We tend to think that computers would design things in a clunky, logical fashion; but instead they take after nature, looking to provide the best support with the mininmal material. Each of these pieces are designed for the same structural load and forces, but the last one is using a latest form of algorythm in a practice called Generative Design.

And it can be applied to more than structural supports. How about car frames:

or engine blocks?


I find the concept fascinating. Who knows where it will appear next. Perhaps it will be how the cast is made for the next broken bone you see:


For an interesting article on the topic, click here

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Leadership Quote - Charles Kettering (Belated)

Created by Erin Morey

Sorry for the delay in posting. This weekend was a Cub Scout Camping Trip, and we came home to a power outage. But we are back up and running, so here is this week's quote!

Charles Kettering was a prolific man. Inventor, engineer, businessman, and holder of 186 patents, I wonder what he would think of the world today. I'm sure his quote would resonate even stronger with the rapid pace of technology and the availability of rapid fabrication procedures and 3D printers.

With that in mind, I would complement this quote by stating that the opportunities are limitless in every industry because you never know what new discovery or technology can do to an industry. Just last month, as I presented to the PMI Nashville Symposium, I stated: "Your position is no longer secure. It is no longer enough to take a project from start to complete. You must be able to see how the project fits in the business strategy. If you can't do that, you won't be a Project Manager for very long."

So what are you doing to explore the opportunities? If you aren't making the opportunities, what are you doing to stay abreast of them? Industries will change without notice, and if you aren't trying to stay on top of it you'll wake to find that your cheese was moved. Keep that open mind and prepare for change. It is one of the few constants a person can count on.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

How Critical is Clear, Concise Communication?

The Communication Cycle -
Recently, my child reminded me of an important leadership/project management fact: The importance of CLEAR, CONCISE Communication. Previously in this blog, I've shared the Communication Cycle and the 8 Diffusers of Communication (1-7 here, 8 here). What my youngest inadvertently taught me was that the verify step is incredibly important and that even if you think you are being clear, the intent of a task or requirement can still be easily misunderstood.

During a parent-teacher conference with our son's 2nd-grade teacher,  Mrs. W pulled out an assignment she wanted to share. Her thoughts were that our child is easily distracted (he apparently tried to sneak books to read under his desk when bored) and doesn't always pay enough attention to follow directions. The assignment was Write About Your First Week of School. Here is my son's paper:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Everyday Objects or Pop Culture Icons?

Bored Panda shared a group of photos that showed everyday objects. I was amused by a lot of these pics:
This Truck Carrying Rolls Of Plastic Looks Like Cookie Monster

And a couple were disturbing:

Meth. Not Even Once. Rip Thomas The Tank Engine

See the full collection HERE.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Leadership Quote - Richard Branson

Created by Erin Morey
Richard Branson's name carries the same mystic as only a few others: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs.

The best way of learning about anything is by doing. - Richard Branson

Human beings are typically creatures of comfort, meaning we rarely step outside our comfort zone. As we get older, we gravitate toward activities that we are good at, often forgetting that everything we are good at we once were terrible. I am guilty of this too. I have projects that sit for days, weeks, months, etc. because I don't want them to be terrible. But no matter how many books you read, lessons you listen to, or videos you watch, you will not fully gain the skill until you try. 

Woodworking definitely falls into that category. I've read a lot of woodworking books, watched videos, attended classes, and yet my hands rarely make the tools do what I know they should, at least the first time. As I gain more practice, I am better able to use the knowledge from books and videos, and my hands become more sure and my skill grows. Now I try to pass some of that to my children. The picture is my youngest sanding his pinewood derby car for Cub Scouts. 

In the same vein, leadership skills grow not just from reading books or blogs, but the use of the techniques identified, and self-assessment to determine how to be better. As I speak at conferences, I often encourage the members of my audience to pick one thing that was learned (and only one) to implement immediately, and to not let the "self-help" of the conference become "shelf-help" as notebooks rest on bookshelves and the day to day life of the attendees resumes. 

To wrap this up, what are you putting off, because you are afraid of how it might turn-out? Do you have a project you want to do, but feel you need to learn more before you start? Well, perhaps you have learned enough and the best way you will grow from here is to do!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Texas (American) Hero - JJ Watt

A post shared by espn (@espn) on

Hurricane Harvey has been a fairly constant posting topic for this blog the last couple of weeks. A while ago, for a Wacky Wednesday, I posted a link to JJ Watt's crowdfund to support victims of Hurricane Harvey.  As of the closing of the program more than $37 million has been raised! Not bad for something that started with a goal of $200k.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Snipers, Door Kickers, and Girl Scouts

My sons are selling popcorn to support the Boy Scouts, and are doing a fantastic job. While I was poking around the internet, however, I came across an interesting photo:

Image may contain: one or more people and text

This caused a laugh because I often call the Girl Scouts outside the various stores in our areas Snipers because they are there to snipe our dietary plans. Usually, the moms laugh as I reach for my wallet and buy some Samoas.

I have to admit that these tactics might be a little too aggressive, but definitely amusing...

If you want to support Boy Scouts by purchasing popcorn from my boys, please use this link and the following codes:

Oldest Son:
Youngest Son:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Leadership Quote - Robert Louis Stevenson

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant - Robert Louise Stevenson

We return to Robert Louis Stevenson this week for our quote. How are you judging your day? By the rewards you received or the effort you put in? Today especially people want the instant gratification of seeing rewards without necessarily doing the work.  Simon Sinek mentions in a video about "Millenials in the workplace" that people are often at the starting point of their career, relationship, or goal and they see the summit of where they want to go but don't see the mountain:

The full interview can be found here

With that in mind, what are you planting for tomorrow? You and your teams should be working towards tomorrow's harvest. Be aware of the mountain, and climb a little bit of it every day. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Leadership Quote - William James

Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. - William James

The quote this week is from William James, an American philosopher, and psychologist. With all the focus over previous weeks related to reacting to life and how the best-laid plans can be ruined by Nature or Fate, I felt it was worth noting that you decide how you react, and if you decide that life is worth living, then it will be for you. 

From the leadership perspective, you must do what you can for your team to decide the "life is worth living" as well. Work with them to remove obstacles and see the value in what they do. Team members are happier when they understand the impact of what they are working toward and that their role has value. Communicate that to the team and help them remove obstacles, and their lives will be immeasurably happier. 

As an FYI, this is my oldest son running into the waves, enjoying a previous summer break, and truly enjoying life in that moment. How often do you have moments of pure joy like that? Perhaps it's time to find more?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Leadership Quote - Charles Swindoll

Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it. - Charles Swindoll

This week's quote is from Charles Swindoll, an evangelical Christian pastor, and author, and relates well to the theme from the past weeks. Last week I shared a quote related to and the story of the missed total eclipse, with a quote about how Nature can impact plans. This week we discuss that life is mostly how you react to things rather than the careful planning you created in your life.

Way too often we've had plans for how our life will move forward, and yet rarely does life give you what you expect or plan for. Most often you have to adjust to what life gives you and then find ways to move forward, good or bad.

As a leader, your reaction is contagious. When you react with anger, your team reacts with anger or fear. If you react with confidence (even if you don't feel it) your team will be more comfortable and confident that they can handle the situation. During the eclipse, when the cloud arrived, my friends and I still had a good time enjoying the sight of Jupiter, the bats, and what felt/looked like sunset at 1:27 in the afternoon. So, how are you going to react?

Friday, September 1, 2017 - Top Leadership Blogger

Earlier this week, I was thrilled and a little humbled to learn that I was included in a list of the top leadership bloggers from The link to the article can be found here (my efforts are the 25th in the list of 57).

This is the second year in a row where I've been recognized as a top leadership blogger. When I first started this blog, it was meant to be a way to explore the various lessons and experiences I've had over my lifetime, to help solidify my thoughts on leadership. Apparently, I must be doing something right, as the lessons are helping others too.

Thank you for this recognition, I am humbled to be included with some of the other names on this list, like Tony Robbins, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey/Franklin Covey, Allison Green, and Michael Rogers. I only hope that I can continue to provide insight and clarity for years to come as we continue to explore this calling of leadership!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey - FEMA Director Brock Long

From NASA twitter account

Hurricane Harvey is a disaster on a massive scale. I cannot express how significant this particular event has been. 800-year storm, with destruction and flooding across areas in Texas, the size of several smaller states, and billions of dollars in damage (potentially $40 billion+).

People line up to volunteer

In the wake of the Hurricane, many local heroes have appeared. First responders and local civilians banding together to help their community. Lines around the block to be a volunteer and help. People coming from across the country to help evacuees. The amount of effort amazes me.

Image result for Brock Long FEMA

One other thing that did surprise me. FEMA Administrator Brock Long. I've watched Administrator Long spend a significant amount of time in front of cameras answering difficult questions and providing real leadership for the government's operations/activities.

A couple of things that he did that deserve kudos:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Hurricane Harvey

From NASA twitter account

Normally I try to share something light-hearted on Wednesdays, as a break for the week and a way to enjoy hump-day. This week I'm going to focus on a more recent and pressing concern. Hurricane Harvey has created a lake out of a place I called home for nearly 10 years: Houston, TX and the surrounding areas. Thankfully, the area of town I lived in is an island in that lake, but many of my friends were not so lucky, and even more so, with the media's focus on Houston, the damage in Rockport, Corpus Christi, and other areas of Southeast Texas is largely overlooked.  It is a sad state of events, but thankfully people are banding together to help each other out. Many of my friends who are capable are using their large trucks or boats to rescue those that are stranded, and the stores like HEB and Buc-ee's are opening their doors to first responders and evacuees alike in order to hopefully provide much-needed supplies, and Mattress Mac is once again showing how big his heart is by opening his furniture stores to evacuees and sending out his employees and trucks to help with rescue efforts.

Today I'm sharing a link to some of the pictures from Hurricane Harvey. If you are not in the area but want to help, I would suggest donating to either the Red Cross or to the Hurricane Relief fund set-up by Houston Texans superstar (and fantastic guy) JJ. Watt, which started with a $200,000 goal and is quickly rising to $6 million:

Red Cross

JJ Watt Houston Flood Relief Fund:

In case you were wondering, the total amount of rainfall from Hurricane Harvey is more than 9 TRILLION Gallons, and still continuing (from the Washington Post):

Monday, August 28, 2017

Leadership Quote - Arthur C. Clarke

All plans are subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Univers - Arthur C. Clarke

This week's quote is one of many from British author Arthur C. Clarke. Human beings do so love their plans. We become so wed to them that we often don't think about the "What ifs" that could occur and thwart those very same plans. How could anyone be so malicious as to cause a failure in our efforts? Sadly, it isn't always a someone who throws the monkey wrench. Often it can be something well beyond our control, as I re-learned last week.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Set-up to Fail

For the last 10 years, my career has largely focused on fixing projects that are on fire and where chaos reigns. I often call myself a "Parachute Project Manager" who jumps into chaos and controls the fire because of this. I even provide a program based on the lessons learned from those experiences for PMI chapters and other organizations.

In point of fact, there are typically three things that cause the failure of a project: Poor Scope Definition, Poor Change Management, and non-existant Stakeholder Management.  Why are these problems so prevalent? Typically because the previous "Project Managers" were set-up to fail from the beginning!

First, I'm not saying that the projects were poorly specced (although most projects are). Second, the "Project Managers" that are given these roles often tend to be highly intelligent and technically capable people. The reason I say that these "Project Managers" were set-up to fail is that they typically don't have any training in leadership, team building, or even Project Management before being given the project!

A typical scenario is that a company will promote or hire the most technically capable person they can find into the role of "Project Manager." The logic is that if the person is capable of doing the project by himself/herself, then they must be capable of leading a team to do it. This logic is flawed, because the skill-sets are dramatically different between designing a software solution, an oil rig, a skyscraper or whatever, and leading a team of 5-100 people who are trying to accomplish the same goal. That is why I put the term "Project Manager" in quotations up to this point. In many cases, the person who was promoted, without the skill-set, falls back into what they are comfortable with: the technicals. Instead of becoming a Project Manager, the person becomes a Lead Engineer, Drafter, Designer, etc.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wacky Wednesday - Screen Junkies

House Bolton does what it wants! And the Screen Junkies are at it again. Very amusing with some fantastic singers. Stick around to the end to hear Micheal Bolton's theme for Game of Thrones!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Leadership Quote of the Week - Bobby Unser

Today is the day for a solar eclipse, and since we moved to Nashville, we were able to enjoy a partial experience of totality (partial because a cloud decided to be mean and hide the sun just as totality happened and cleared out just after). It was still interesting to see the darkness drop, see a couple of stars, and even watch a few bats slice across the sky acting like it was dusk rather than 1:30 in the afternoon. 

This week's quote is related to the eclipse because:

Picture by Erin Morey, of a previous Eclipse, viewed from Texas

Success Is Where Opportunity and Preparation Meet - Bobby Unser (American Automobile Racer)

Some people ordered glasses early, found a place to see the total eclipse, booked the travel, and were prepared. Others sadly were not as prepared. My Facebook feed probably wasn't the only one filled with people asking for extra eclipse glasses or looking for places to crash. 

The end result was that many of us were prepared for the opportunity and met with success, others missed it, and yet others (like myself) were impacted by variables beyond our control and achieved partial success. 

The questions are: Are you prepared for the opportunity? Or are you hoping random chance will intervene? What goals do you have and how can you prepare? As a leader, how can you prepare your team for the organization's goals? Are you preparing your team to be future leaders?

I hope many of you enjoyed the eclipse and have a great week!