Month: December 2020

Earned Freedom… within walls…

I have a management philosophy that has served me well. It really is the joining of some things I have been taught.

First is assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your report. This is not often hard to do, but you need to figure out shortly. Reach out to other member on the team, users, clients, others. But assess yourself. I cannot be more clear, sometimes people make an impression of a skill, and if it is bad, that assessment remains. In many cases also perception is reality, so make sure you observe (don’t take the easy way out.) Once you have your observations you can start to assemble what you need to do.

Second I chose the area where the person has freedom. In my field I strongly believe that developers, development leads etc. like to have freedom to create and do. There of course is the “walls” of your firm/division group. In technology the walls can be programming language, infrastructure, libraries, user interface destination etc. But knowing the walls, and allowing freedom to be creative within the walls is the key. This freedom is only in places they have earned, or shown competence that they can do. If someone is not good at something, don’t give them the freedom you will need to teach them.

The third is teaching. Often there are people who report to you, and they have a deficiency in one or more areas. As a manager your role is to get them to improve and make it into a strength. There are a few ways to do this, telling them and saying “go ahead” and make a plan. This can be useful, but what if one of the weaknesses is not a self starter, what if it is a skill that is not easy to find how to do. You also need to put the person in a situation where you or another person demonstrates that skill so they can watch you (or another in action) the meet and discuss how that skill worked. Next put that person in a situation where they need to demonstrate the skill while you (or someone else observes.). If needed intervene (if its going awry) or let it go, but then have a conversation of how it went. This micromanaging of on skill is useful to get that skill better.

As the employees skill improve they earn more freedom (hence the term earned freedom.) The goal is really for them to have full freedom to do their job. My opinion is that you cannot scale if you try to micromanage everyone and if you give everyone too many freedoms it will be more of a wild west scene. Success is when your employees understand their freedom and can be hand held thru their weaknesses. Funny in a discussion just the other day I even asked my boss for a coach in a specific area where I am seen as good at, but I think I can be better. But getting better is what is life and this blog is about.

Earned Freedom within the walls, this is how I manage. It has served me well for a long time, and I am sure I will change or alter it as I learn more.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them. 

Abandoning groups to see facts…

As we approach the holidays I always wonder about the stories and myths we tell our kids. Being Jewish we create a holiday as kids would not feel bad about not having Christmas so we light candles for 8 days and give presents call it (Hanukkah – how ever you want to spell it. We tell the story about the miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days and that is why we celebrate for 8 nights and light 8 candles. My favorite story involves religion and Abe Lincoln ( Where Abe is woken up by an innkeeper saying the world is going to end. The innkeeper believes this as based on his religion he heard the stories that the end of the world starts with stars falling from the sky. Abe looks outside, sees the constellations he knows are there, knows its the 33 year Leonids meteor shower and goes back to bed. The world ending, the oil burning for 8 days we eventually learn the truth.

Are these flat out lies? What is the reason behind them? Why do we perpetuate them? And do these stories of fiction make us believe everything else we these group tell us. But this is not about religion but groups as it is not just religion that tell stories. Because groups do the same thing. Whether it is political, race, countries, schools, teams, cultural. There is this notion that we need to see ourselves not only as part of a group, but part of the group that is “better” than the other group. By being part of the better group we feel special.

Fans of teams repeat we are the best, and the other teams stink. This repetition goes on and on all season long. (Well unless you are a Jet fan, then other than one random year you could not say this.) Yet technically only one team can win a championship each year, the other 30 or so teams can’t be the best. Repeating we are the best over and over, the same way cults have people repeat things, the same way we see hypnosis is portrayed does not make it true. People will hate this comparison, but the Nazi’s did it that way, and other groups stated to claim superiority over another. And who wants to belong to the inferior group. Does anyone ever say to themselves, let us join the group that is not that good. No we want to be with the group that wins or perceived as being better. That notion of feeling special. Furthermore losing is one of the hardest things to accept, it is never because the other team was better that day, its is often do to some “other” reason. In sports the refs, luck etc. In the 2016 election Trump was “not their president” and we should abolish the electoral college in the 2020 election were “it was stolen” from the Trumpers. People have a difficult time accepting a loss.

I didn’t know it, but something a good friend told me in High School has stayed with me. I didn’t really have a “group.” I was not really associated with a set of people who I fit in with. Not due to lack of trying, I once bought some tennis teammates munchkins after they kidnapped me in their car, and probably did other things that were just plain stupid to belong. But nothing I did would stick, as that wasn’t the true me. The true me would always show up, and that was not to be part of a group but to myself.

Which is why now I struggle sometimes to feel special, or to be a part of something. I have friends, but I don’t have a group. I have great friends, and would not trade it for the world. But I don’t belong to a religious group (I have a personal belief that religion is the greatest thing man ever created) – Political group (the current 2 system doesn’t really fit any of my beliefs) – I really don’t see anything were I fall in line with the thinking of the group. By the way I voted third party since Ross Perot. Not being in a group gives me lots of time to think, as I don’t have to blindly believe the group think. I can question any statement from any group as being false, I don’t need to blindly believe anything.

But this gets my back to my original thought, groups lie. The driver is to make people feel special, and better than the person next to them. People like to feel special, like to feel this belonging, and these stories that are created if they strike a chord get people into the group. Not to say everything a group says is false, as much of what they do stay is true. Maybe this does not relate to fans of sport teams, as again there is only one best. How do we separate ourselves from these untruths? How do we suddenly learn about Santa, Hanukkah, or any. other story? When do we actually learn the lesson thru the story and tell the story as a fable. Tell it with the same verve and heart, but not to put another group down.

But I know that is not going to happen. The older I get the more I realize the human psychology is not what I thought about being herd (having to be with other people) but more that has to be with being better than someone, the notion of feeling special. And this feeling of being special is hard to do by yourself, it is in relation to someone else. I wish people could feel special just being themselves and not in relation to others, but it is not going to happen. We will continue to find groups that tell us if we join we are special, me I will hope I can not get sucked in (which isn’t easy to do) to feel special. If we are in a group, that we don’t fall in line with everything they say and question things. Whether political, religious, cultural etc. we need to find the truth, and learn from the stories, not believe the stories and ignore the truth.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife) or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site, to keep it add free and use wordpress, and try to spend any time on the usability on the site (I apologize for that)

Why I stopped subscribing to Men’s Health Magazine…

Somewhere in my attic I have boxes and boxes of Men’s Fitness Magazine. I was an avid reader, I cannot remember how many of the workouts I have tried. Those not familiar with that particular magazine, it about what it says the fitness of Men, had some diet information, always a workout, an interview with some athlete and or actor and their diet and workout and other Men related information. After getting this magazine for year and years, one day I did not renew.

Now the renewal had nothing to do with the internet, nothing to do with the #metoo movement, nothing to do with the BLM movement other. In fact I stopped subscribing to it over 15 years ago. Those are recent things, and nothing to do with why I dropped it.

So, let get some background. I am not the tallest person in the world (5’7) and always had a self conscious about myself. As confident as I may seem now, but years being a short teen etc. does do wonders on the brain. As I got older and in college i found working out and needed a workout. Well I discovered Mens Health Magazine, I swear it came out just when I was looking for it (I think 1988) And started with the first workouts thinking I could look like the dewd on the cover. Sorry I don’t remember who he was, or the workout. But the idea of looking like the man on the cover was a 19 year olds dream.

Well I eventually subscribed and read it religiously. Followed many of the diets, and did the workouts of the month. It let me to take a Exercise and Fitness class in college. But alas years of exercising never got my chiseled like the guys on the cover. And to make it worse, the added a section of normal people who got theirselves in shape in a new section. This of course made the rest of us think there was something wrong with us who couldn’t do it.

I continued to get it and read it thru my 20s, getting married and having my twins. But somehow I ignored it was not working. But something clicked. How can 10+ years (12 issues a year) give you the “new workout” or “new diet” and each be the best. I always made fun of the new improved tide for giving me a bad one the previous year, why was I not doing the same thing. Why isn’t there “one perfect workout”.

Well about the same time workout DVDs came out, and in droves. Workouts had been on VHS, but some reason DVDs kicked it into gear. I got a hold of P90x and dang may world was changed. It was the most amazing workout/diet program and got me into fantastic shape. I was never going to be ripped, but I was definitely almost the best shape of my life. The internet was starting to also get a ton of information, and without a doubt it was loaded with it. But all this didn’t sour me.

What did sour me was my brain. It said to me what benefit are you getting from reading this. You aren’t going to look like the guy on the cover, the material in it for the last 10+ years was interesting and helped me gain insight to my health. But what it didn’t do was educate me enough. What i realized and each cover is the same (pattern)it has some fit guy, some catchy phrases like “get fit by summer” or “shred the winter pounds” etc. But all along I kinda had the answer. I knew it was simplifying my diet, not eating crap, and doing a workout I enjoy. One that would keep my going to my basement gym.

I had to abandon p90x as I didn’t have 1 hour plus a day when i took a job in the city, found other workouts that I like, I have gained weight/lost it for one reason or another. But what I realized was the little boy in me couldn’t seem to see the facts in front of my. My blind belief I could look like a fitness cover model killed overshadowed the facts. I wanted to be like them, wanted to be in the club, and the belief anyone could be there really wasn’t true. What is true is that we have to be the best self we can be, find the diet we can stick to, and a workout routine we look forward to doing. If its the crazy soup diet, the 8 min abs, Keto, Paleo, Peleton…. It honestly does not matter, if it works for you, and makes you feel good you will keep doing it. The results will be there.

Today I have a 1000sq foot gym in my basement after 15 years of building it. I use it almost daily, my kids also us it. I have a serious of workouts i like, I will never be ripped and I am fine with that. But I found my style, the workouts that keep me going downstairs to the gym, the workouts the keep me relatively healthy, and the workouts that don’t need me to look at a magazine cover and wonder why I don’t look like that. I enjoy food prepping and know when I need to drop weight i know what diet to follow. I create weekly workout memes to entertain myself. It is my routine, my plan.. I stopped subscribing to the magazine to follow someone else’s. And my advice to many people who ask me is often try different diets, different workouts, and find what works for you. As you are the key.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife) or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site, to keep it add free and use wordpress, and try to spend any time on the usability on the site (I apologize for that)

This blog is my outlet, and I realized I need it more than the readers

Over the years I have watched Art and Music programs leave the school. I have donated to some of the programs that are trying to bring it back, but I know people have discussed why do kids need art and music (and sometimes sports.). I didn’t really have an answer, often I got just random answers on it. The usual arts helps with math, reading, cognitive ability etc. But I wondered if there isn’t something more.

During covid I turned to playing the guitar more, playing the keyboard some (have not in a long time) and doing some creative writing (people have seen my memes.). All of these things have helped me cope with covid, and then I realized its not just covid its helping me cope with but life in general. That my creativity is something I have used over and over to deal with things that have happened to me, including the death of my wife.

So I started googling around about having a creative outlet, and the benefits. And get this, they seem to be the same benefits for kids in school. Better at math, reading, cognitive ability and adds few new ones. Stress relief, become happier and more engaged, you find new ways to do things, find a way to get into the zone and possibly more (credit here – and a few others)

So what counts as a hobby or a creative outlet. First it needs to be fun for you. It is something that you want to do, that bring joy. Something when you start it that you prefer it not to be over or bound by time. You stop, well when you want to (in most cases.). Yes i know most people have lives, responsibilities, jobs, kids etc. Believe me I am a single father of twin teen girls, one who was an athlete. My commute was 1.5 hrs each way, and had to travel for sports. If I could make time to write, play guitar etc. you can make some time also.

Second technically you shouldn’t get paid for it. Look, I like millions of others have been told that you should do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. But often that is not possible. I did write previously about failing about what you don’t love ( also, but I do know most people are not in the situation where they are in the perfect job. Also if you are already say a painter or a musician for a living, there is pressure on you to produce. I have written about an artist friend of mine and the work you don’t see (find that one yourself.) Well you will need a different creative outlet so there is no pressure. When there is no pressure, no stress you can be free to express yourself very differently.

Although there are many definitions of genius (IQ etc.) the one thing I truly believe that being able to relate two completely unrelated items to solve a problem is the one a gravitate to. And having a creative outlet allows you to solve problems in a different space and opens your eyes to solving problems in your real job. Einstein kept his workspace a mess, as he believed he had no idea where inspiration would come from. He wanted to see as much as possible to find a relation to what he is thinking. This ability to relate is what I hope my hobbies will help me with.

So we do need art/music and enjoying things in school, not just for the kids to be better students, but as adults they can find a creative outlet and be better at what they choose to do as a profession. It makes better people. The argument against it is that kids need to finish work to be better prepared, well art helps them be prepared to do their job better. And we as adults need to find creative outlets, could be anything just keep it fun, and have no benefit. Yes I do post my creative writing on here, but I don’t have deadlines, I do not charge for it and the only benefit I get is the ability to express myself.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife) or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site, to keep it add free and use wordpress, and try to spend any time on the usability on the site (I apologize for that)

Why doesn’t a doctor ask what you eat….

For those of you who know me know that I have a dog. Love my Belle – Yuki – Bubbles (and dozen of other names we call her) and I seem to treat her health better than my own. In the 3 years we had her we have taken her to Vet for her yearly checkup. I don’t really remember doing yearly checkups 3 years in a row for myself. And one question the Vet asked was what am I feeding my dog, funny I don’t remember when my doctor ever asked me that question.

I started thinking, I take my dog to the Vet regularly have conversations on what I feed her, but why don’t I do that to myself. Why doesn’t every one put their health first. Now I do spend money on my health, I have a basement gym that I have been building for years that I do spent time in. I eat healthy when i want to lose weight, and eat sorta healthy the rest of the time. But I don’t focus on my health as much as people who know me think I do. I cheat a bit, love my buffalo wings etc. (Chegg etc.). and I do meal prep for the week so 80% of my meals are good. When I want to lose weight, or feel unhealthy I do crank it up and eat healthier.

I have spoken about my grandmother and her eating dessert first. My Grandfather was different, he had diabetes. But I never saw him prick his finger for a test, never saw him take an insulin shot. The reason, he never did it. He controlled his diabetes with his diet. He was the most strict person I saw on controlling what he ate. Being so anal about it, he did not need to take anything. When i was younger my parents told me, but i really did not process it until later. And thinking about it now, why don’t we think of diet to prevent disease vs. having to deal with it after it is crazy. I didn’t coin the term but I will repeat it here, we don’t have health care, we have sick care. People see doctors only when they are sick.

Every time i think about it I realize the answer is, well its hard. My grandfather needed extreme dedication and determination to do what he did. I know when I diet I have to focus, I have to plan, I have to really work at it if I want to lose weight. People I know tell me I make it look easy when I diet. I often talk to them in a way that makes it sound that way. But it isn’t, it takes work, focus, strength, and desire.

I can understand when there is a fad, sale for a quick weight loss, or some new magic 10 min workout people jump on it. We also only go to doctors when we are sick (a majority of us, yes there are some people who do) – So our health care system, and our values of health are based on when there is something wrong. I wonder how many people would have less health issue if we focused on being healthy instead of being selfish.

One thing I learned was that when we are born our taste buds are geared towards calories, hence we like sweets. Our brains and our bodies need calories so we want to get as much as we can. The problem is we don’t lose that sweet tooth too easily. I could blame fast food, stores etc. But the problem is with us, we have to make the right choices. More importantly, I have to make the right choices. I can argue that eating healthy is expensive, hard to do, etc. All which is true…

But that does not change the fact that I don’t see my doctor regularly, don’t tell him what I eat, don’t focus on my diet myself and set an example for not just my kids but others. And treat our health system like a health care not sick care. All of this based on seeing my grandfather fight a tough disease all by working on his diet. So I guess I need to pick a day and go to the Dr, get my blood work understand my current health situation and start working on my health using health care. And hopefully only see my Dr to check on my status vs. when I get sick.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife) or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site, to keep it add free and use wordpress, and try to spend any time on the usability on the site (I apologize for that)

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