Thursday, December 20, 2012

A belated thank you to Dallas

A wonderful woman helped me have a better lay over in Dallas on my way back from New Mexico.

I have tried to find out who she was but no one else seems to have her card or know her name.

So - to the lovely woman who shared her membership with me and helped my long journey home feel shorter - thank you.

May all of you in the coming new year have a moment where unexpected help makes your burden a little lighter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

What holds up the sky?

That's what my cab driver asked me as he drove me to the airport.

He pointed to the skyscrapers and said "They have pillars, supports and trusses." He gestured towards the raised highway, "That has pillars too." He pointed upward, "But the sky?" What holds up the sky?"

I waited. I was sure he had an answer and it wouldn't be just about faith.

"Nothing," he continued. "The sky just is. The sky holds us up."

Everyone is coping with the news of the massacre of teachers and children in different ways. None of us are untouched.

I'm very glad to hear the sky is holding up the world. I just wish it had held it a little closer that day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Networking - a quick oveview

If you search "networking" on this blog, you'll find a lot of information. (Search on Google and there's an avalanche) Recently, I met with a great group of college students who asked for the very beginning. We broke it down to the following:
  • Networking is about building new, or deepening existing, relationships.
  • Networking is opening the door to a longer conversation.
  • Networking is finding connections that matter to you and to whom you matter. (whether it be to take them home for dinner or share a professional coffee)
Job hunting is not networking.
Asking for donations or sponsorship is not networking.

Most importantly, networking is not about jumping into a 'transaction'.  If a stranger walked up to you and asked for $500 - even if the cause was worthy - you'd only participate in the transaction if you had an existing relationship with the asker or the cause.
We network constantly. Through networking we build our friends, our community and our professional circles.

The minute someone calls it "networking", we default to saying "hello" with our name and job title, plus asking for a favour.

Everyone agreed that if they could find a better way to kick off the conversation, then all the above made sense. They tried the 6 words exercise and, in under 10 minutes, everyone in the room had successfully opened a conversation and felt more at ease starting it.

Networking is like exercise - start simple; build in one good habit a week; try to enjoy it just a little.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Building Trust

I just read the blog post "Eight Actions Determine If You Can Be Trusted" on the blog Leaders to Leader.
The author Timothy F. Bednarz points out that:
  • Promises & Commitments
  • Mistakes
  • Loyalty
  • Information
  • Involvment
  • Recognition
  • Communication
  • Confidentiality
are all concepts that create trust.  He inspired me to actually think what an action might be that we could do immediately might look like. Individually, these are aspirational qualities that can take years to evolve. Perfection doesn't have to be the goal - so what might the first steps look like? What might we do today?
Promises & Commitments
  • Offer someone an introduction, an article or an hour of your time and follow up within 30 minutes of getting back to your desk/home.
  • Thank someone who recently met a commitment (personal or professional) for you.
  • Call someone you have been avoiding due to a missed or impending deadline and confess your tardiness/reluctance and renegotiate.
  • Acknowledge if you've been less than supportive of a present program (see Mistakes) and talk about the pieces that do excite you at an upcoming team meeting.
  • Call out a staff member for a behaviour that demonstrate best-in-class for something you, yourself, are striving towards.
  • Forward a relevant email from your manager or peer, with a one-two line summary of how you hope folks will read the attached.
  • Before responding to a problem, first ask questions - and listen to the answers.
  • Identify a deadline with someone to whom you've delegated something. Ask them to give you the dates when they'll expect you to review actions/information with them. Then resist the urge to check in with them the day before the dates they already committed to following up with you ;-)
  • Thank someone who assisted you recently and cc their manager.
  • Book a coffee with a colleague - and make it clear the latte is on you!
  • At your next team meeting, start off by asking folks what one thing was effective/not effective at work last week. Build a list of actionable items and take some of them on yourself.
  • Have you manager come speak with your team about his/her 'view from the top'. It doesn't have to be about any 'news' so much as what the week behind and the week ahead is bringing to the senior tables.
Respect Confidentiality
* While this one seems obvious for the big picture, it's also important in the day-to-day.
  • Use BCC as little as possible - it becomes part of your reputation. When you do use it, let the BCC list know as not everyone looks where their name is on an email and can "reply all" very easily.
  •  Ask folks how they like to be recognized (public? quiet? etc.)  as well as their preferred style of communication (email? face-to-face? phone? etc.)  Supporting someone in their choices can build trust and show respect.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No silver bullet but success is always possible

You own your career.
You own your choices.
You are responsible for any and all progress in your life.

People will offer to help and some will be great at helping.
But there is no silver bullet. No magic checklist. No shortcut.

There is a dash of luck which is only useful with self-awareness, and enough preparation to recognize the opportunity and take a chance with it.

Follow your passions, your interests, your drivers.
Embrace change in all its forms.
Define success for yourself and how you will know you're achieving it this week... next month... next year...
Allow yourself to be flexible.
Acknowledge your weaknesses (but don't dwell).
Promote your strengths.
Share your successes.
Open your networks and possibilities will open to you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

When you know that you are right

I try not to open my mouth unless I'm reasonably sure I'm right. That doesn't guarantee new information won't prove me wrong but I start from the point of my own convictions and research.

As usually happens when an idea or thesis is presented, someone believes differently based on their research and experience.

Awesome! and the dialogue can begin. But how do you handle it when you've got to convince someone to see matters your way?

The surest way to persuade someone to listen to your point of view is to first show them you care about theirs.

Most folks are not as hung up about being "right" as they need to feel heard. That goes beyond listening, nodding and then jumping in with your perspective on where their logic fails. Many folks will concede a point if you first show you've understood it before you replace it.

Go beyond listening - passively standing there waiting for your turn to speak - to hearing what the other person is saying. Ask for clarification. Repeat a salient point. Summarize. Get their agreement that what you are echoing back to them is, in fact, what they are trying to say. Thank them for thoughtful research, brave ideas, candidness, etc.

Then ask if you can offer a different perspective.

This sounds easy but is actually hard. The more rushed we are, the less time we spend listening.

Actually, it is the most effective way I have found to connect with my family - especially my brothers! I've known they're often wrong since the day they first invaded my playroom. We have better conversations about contentious issues when I hear what they're saying before I tell them how off the mark they might be.

You might know you are right; others believe that they are. Persuading someone to see a different view is about collaborating before pronouncing the final verdict.