Category Archives: Management

How many “List of Successful things people do are there”….

In my twitter, facebook, email and other feeds I get a least one “Top X things Successful people do” Articles, and like a sucker I read each one.

  • http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-things-successful-people.html
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-friday-afternoon-2016-10
  • and over 3 million other links.

I don’t know why I read each one, hoping there is some magic pill that makes me turn from who I am to uber successful.  Then I woke up.   I finally realized, these articles are no better than the “fitness” in a bottle, or even lose weight on a DVD.   It does not take a genius to realize that you cannot lose weight by taking a pill, that no workout is going to rescue you from eating a crappy diet.   There is no study ever proving any of it, no matter what Dr. Oz or other idiot on the TV says.  Losing weight is purely about 1 thing, finding a calorie deficit, aka. burning more calories than you take in.  (If you read my fit.lrau.com blog you will see there are some questions about what is a calorie and a lot of interesting side thoughts but I digress)

So if you cannot lose weight in a $19.95 purchase, what made me think, I can suddenly become successful by reading an article and suddenly giving myself 10 new traits/practices etc.  And yeah it took years of reading these articles to wake up.  I woke up to the reality that anyone can find dozens are so successful people, find a few things they have in common and say “Hey guess what, do these or act like this” and you will be successful.   I chose to see what I hide in common with Bruce Lee to prove a point.  Lets assume we are both “successful” here is what i found we have in common.

  • We both took fencing
  • We both believe our children are our greatest accomplishment
  • We believe the relationship with our spouse is one of a team
  • We both had a miniature schnauzer for a pet
  • We both read a to on non-fiction to learn
  • We both multi-tasked often (reading / listening to music)
  • We both were constantly fidgety

Now of course I went for stuff that really seems insignificant, and that was done intentionally.  Success does not happen due to having some list of traits.  In fact I wish the articles would find people that had the same 10 traits and were not successful.  To me it would be like athletes are musicians.  I know 100s of musicians that I think are really good at playing or singing.  But very few “made” it.  Same with Athletes, 100s that are talented, work hard and look like they should be playing at the next level.   But only few of each ever make that ‘next’ level, and fewer stay there.

So what are you supposed to do.  Later in life my daughter had a hockey coach who carried around a saying in his wallet.  “My name is Josh Esformes, and I make a living being myself”  To me it is something that sank in, to be successful, you need to be yourself.  Taking the athlete example again, look at Borg, McEnroe and Connors as tennis players (Google them if you don’t know who they are)  They were as different personality as they could be, Borg was quiet, and just went to work, McEnroe somehow had to get enrage and angry to play well, and Connors needed energy from the fans and pumped his fist often.  Yet they were all successful.  You don’t have to be someone else to be successful, you need to be yourself, who that is, you must find out.  It is your inner journey, and Bruce Lee would be proud of that, as he always believed reaching up and learning (guess that is another thing we have in common)   I now carry that same saying in my wallet (changing the name of course)  and will let others determine how successful I am.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  I do moderate all comments, and try to remove anything that is not in the spirit of the site.  Thanks for reading.

Does your dog bite…

One of the funniest scenes ever was from the Pink Panther where Peter Sellers asks an innkeeper if his dog bites.   If you have not seen it, please watch and then come back, it will only take a minute.

Now that you laughed, you should have learned an important lesson.   When problem solving, are you asking the right questions? And are you solving the right problem?  Often I find developers never ask the right questions (good reason to have business analysts) they ask questions like “What do you want to see?” or “What do you do?” or “How do you do it?”   It is amazing how many times I am asked “why” and even I forgot to ask the user.   In fact there is a saying called “5 whys” which was developed  by Sakichi Toyoda for the Toyota Motor Corp.  It is also used by Six Sigma.

Asking why someone does something often gets to the root cause.  I am reminded of this a lot when taking my kids to the doctors when they have a cough.  They are usually given two medicines, one for the cough (the what) and often an antibiotic for the infection (the why.)   If you only solve the what, the root cause will persist, and the problem may never go away. In developing software, not solving the why gives the user not much better experience than he/she already has.

Why is not the only question to ask  But observe with your own eyes.  Sometimes you see what other have missed, and other times people are so “involved” with the symptoms they are missing the root cause.   Or in Peter Sellers case, he was making an assumption that the dog was the innkeepers, which apparently was wrong.  Don’t be afraid to ask anything you don’t know, and some things you do know to make sure.  Plenty of problems are solved simply by asking a question that may sound like every should know, but just haven’t asked.  Peter Sellers should have asked does this dog bite?   Anyway it gives me a great laugh to watch, and a reminder to make sure I ask the right questions, ask why over and over, and make sure I am solving the right problems.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

LrAu

 

 

How you phrase a question….

Do you think by simply changing the way your phrase a question can change the answer you get?    The answer is yes.   One of my favorite TV shows, Brain Games.  had a great example.  I apologize for not remembering the episode, but they are on the national georgraphic channel web site.  The setup, was simple.  Show a car accident, and then have a policeman ask questions of witnesses, and see if they can help figure out who was at fault.   The policeman asked 2 different groups the same question, but in two different ways.  In fact it was one word in each sentence was changed.

The officer asked the witnesses, how fast do you think the car was going when it tapped the other car, or how fast do you think the car was going when it smashed into the other car.  The witnesses had 2 different answers.  And it should be obvious.  Those who believed that the car was speeding, and those who thought the car was barely moving.   So changing one word in the question actually changes what someone saw.  The car was going the same speed for everyone.

Just seeing that, I now think about more about what I say, and how I phrase questions.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

Having two stamps, Yes and Hobby.

I was reminded a bit ago of a story from my college years. I wanted to be a musician, not just a musician it a professional. A star, famous, everything that came with it.   Of course I was not the most talented person, nor did I always have the best work ethic, as I wanted to do 100 other things also.  But I was out there trying.  To make it in the music business it is partly due to “persistence” more than anything.  You keep writing, making demos, and knocking on doors.   When I was a kid there was no real way to publish yourself on YouTube, soundcloud or ITunes.

Often I was hit with a lot of No’s.  It was often disappointing, and in fact sometimes it was downright depressing.  I needed to pick myself up and try again.  But someone did motivate me, but in a very different way than you would think.   Some people are motivated a lot by no’s and push through to finally succeed or crash.  Some people get a few no’s and that is the end of their desire.  Many of those quit playing altogether.  They were not going to become musicians, so they would now focus their energy on something else.  This was a travesty.  But sometimes there is something better than a no.

Upon one of my many attempts to succeed I ran across a record executive who had a different approach than most.   He didn’t reject anyone.  He had two stamps.  One that said “Contract” which meant he was going to sign you, and you were on your way to coming a star.   But he had a second stamp, that was a bit unusual compared to many of his competitors.   This stamp was “Hobby.”   In a quick conversation with him, he never wanted anyone to quit playing.  He thought everyone should be playing an instrument.  Not as a professional, but for fun.   So he came up with another stamp other than no.  The Hobby stamp was used a lot, and he let people know that only a few people can get contracts.

This was the first time I saw something like this, and I don’t think I ever saw anything like it in any other endeavor whether it be sports, arts or business.  People often hate rejecting, in fact many times they hide behind keyboard and texting on phones.  If the lesson to be learned is if you need to reject, figure out the right way to do it so that it directs the person forward not backwards.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

The power of saying no….

Simply put, when you have less on your plate, you have more time to dedicate to the items that are there, and to do them with 100% attention.  If you say yes to everything, you are continuously having to split your attention to multiple things, and there is no way you can get it all done at your best.  Delegate, get things off your plate.

No can also be not now, like I can’t do this until the other things are done.  I have a hard time teaching this to people, about blocking out time on their calendar to get something done.  If you have multiple tasks, you need to block out more time, and get one done at a time.  Turn off Outlook alters, put the phone on silent, remove distractions.  If you want to succeed and giving something 100%, your need to give it your 100% attention.  Of course while I am writing this I have the Stanley Cup playoff game on.  The issue, I cannot tell you what’s happening in the game, it is background noise.   But as soon as this is done, going to rewind and catch up on the game.

So I can’t find a graph that I used for years, but it is a graph showing how productive software developers against the number of tasks (systems) they are coding.  When a developer has a single application he or she is working on, they are 100% efficient.  Now you think giving them a second application, they would be 50% efficient in each, but it actually drops down to about 33%, give them a 3rd and they are 10% efficient, and after that they are so inefficient.  The proof is when we hire a new developer.  To bring them on slowly we give them one application to work on.  Once we see how competent they are, we give them more.  After the third application we start wondering if we hired the right person, they were so productive a while ago.  This plays out everywhere I worked until I figured it out.  Now I keep my team somewhat productive, by teaching them to say no to doing more, and if they have to, but blocking out time.

The goal is how do you say no, how do you tell someone that you can’t do something for them.  Or as my teenage daughter does, is say yes to one activity, then a 2nd one that comes along and is better.  What to do?  Its really simple, be open and honest.  I have xyz to do, you would be the nth Priority on my list.   Most managers understand, some will say “this is the highest priority” which you say, then you are giving me the OK to go to the others and say they will be delayed.   To me this is basic as a rope with three ends tug of war.  On one end is quality, the other is time, and the last is number of tasks.   If you increase any one, it will affect the others.  If you want to keep in balance, you must be assured you have enough time, or be willing to sacrifice quality.  Often the best way to keep the balance, say no.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.

Being a parent…. on simple lesson to be a better one.

Definition of Adolescence. “The 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day battle to not be embarrassed” – and “Any kid would rather be perceived as bad, then dumb”

Why does that mean anything?   As a parent you do millions of things that have an effect on your children.  But often you don’t see the motivation behind some of the behavior.   And this one is key.  Sometimes the acting out etc, is not because they are bad, it’s because of a perception.  If they perceived to be dumb, they are thrown into a “group” which it is hard to get out of.  Being “Bad” is a group that is good to be in for an adolescence.    So when you have kids, this is something to keep an eye out for, but it does also happen as adults.  If you see the behavior in your child, make sure you don’t have the halo effect and think they are smart.  Look at what they can or can’t do, and the best think you can do is get them the help so they learn what they need to learn.   The stupid label on them, is tough to shake, but catching it as acting bad, and then getting them help will stop the bad behavior and fix the root cause.

What does that have to do with being a better person?   It is often we need to dig deeper into the cause of the behavior not just the behavior.  If people around you are acting in a way that seems off, you can either say “they are just bad”  But they may be ignorant and hiding it, thus causing a problem that shouldn’t be.   You being the better person, has to rise above the pettiness and not get into the shouting match, the argument and the name calling.  You must take a step back, and find an alternative to figuring it all out.

My world famous disclaimer…  so, this blog has nothing to do about my current employer.  I provide the information without warranty blah blah blah. I make no money from this blog, there is no advertising, or charges to anyone.  I do this as a brain dump, to leave something behind.  If you want to support me, instead of doing that support one of the charities i care about, the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Hockey in Newark.  Thanks for reading.