Posted in Relationships, Wellness

Actions With Words = Meaning 

Good morning world!

I just felt like sharing a few thoughts of reflection as I enjoy my coffee on this 2014 Thanksgiving.

Within the past week all four of the family vehicles used at our house have had to go in the shop.  One of them was pronounced dead on arrival–that was the car the kids were using to drive back and forth to college.  That same day my wife had an accident in our family van–all the kids were on board.  Luckily there were no injuries.  So, the hand-me-down process is alive and well.  I’ll be getting a new car; my old one will go to the kids.

I’m finishing up the last few weeks until my Master’s program in Public Administration is completed at Bellevue University.  It’s been a long journey–I have learned so much!  The greatest revelation about this part of my academic journey is how much I enjoy research and thinking…and sharing this with others.  Perhaps when the kids have left home I’ll pursue a PhD (topic/field yet to be determined).  I have learned that I have an insatiable passion for social growth/change & unrest, education, sustainable practices, and understanding the intricacies of human relationships.  All of these topics are at the heart of everything that is wrong and everything that is right in this world.  Governments make choices and the people weather the consequences.  It is ironic to me that without people there is no government, and yet globally, “we” are often victims of our own choices (or lack of choice-making).

I hear a lot of people who say they want to make a difference, actually change some aspect of the world–leave a legacy.  Sometimes I wonder how committed we are to the words that escape our mouths.  It seems more accurate to assess that unless there is an immediate crisis or challenge facing us, we’re content to sit back and criticize other’s attempts to create meaningful change.  I don’t know about you, but seeing this dynamic saddens my heart.  However, I hang on optimistically to my growing belief in cycles and rhythms that seem to be more deliberate than any human intent.  A perspective I’ve gained (maybe it is because I’m getting older) is that life is a marathon, not a sprint!  This dynamic applies to EVERYTHING where any human is involved.  If you take that perspective to moderate your expectations, it is easier to exercise patience, tolerance, and participation.

The greatest challenge to our humanity in modern day life …. communication.  The quality of our listening, our non-verbals, how easily we’re distracted shows we’re a society that has a tragically short attention span….

  • If you don’t make (and keep) eye contact in conversations, if you don’t offer feedback in response to hearing someone speak that confirms to the speaker that you heard what they’re saying;
  • if you don’t stop what you’re doing long enough to visually acknowledge and PAY ATTENTION to the individual … what is the message?

Introspection is one of the best things you can do with some of your spare time.  Think about your own words and actions–do they align?  When someone talks to you, are you paying attention?  The greatest gift we can give each other is our time.  I’m thankful that soon, my plate won’t be quite as full and I can give more of my time back to my family.

I truly wish each of you a wonderful day (Thanksgiving for Americans) and weekend.  I appreciate your time taken to read this message.


Posted in Business

10 Questions for Every Job Seeker

You MatterHere are some questions you should ask during the interview process in addition to the usual salary, compensation package, insurance, time off, and other benefits information normally discussed when looking for a new job or career path.

By asking the questions below (or a variation thereof), you will be better informed about the culture and practices of the organization you may be committing to for the next 3-5 years or longer.

  1. What are some examples of employees suggestions ideas/changes that were actually implemented as a result of an innovative thinker on your staff?
  2. Is work culture compatible with your personality/style… work methods… are there options? Productivity is important to both employer and employee, but so is having fun and feeling appreciated, a sense of belonging. Would it be okay for you to talk to some of their employees?
  3. Is there an opportunity for a move within the corporation if initial assignment isn’t the greatest fit. What are the job rotation/transition opportunities within the organization–do you have examples?
  4. What type of incentives and rewards are given for outstanding performance? Do employees have input into incentive and recognition programs?
  5. What is the method of collaboration within the organization (face-to-face, media facilitated, portal technologies, instant messaging) outside of the organization (social media, telephone, visits)?
  6. How many meetings per week is my participation expected; how long do they last?
  7. How are tasks/project assignments communicated? (Email, Supervisor to subordinate, group venues–staff meetings, scrum/sprint sessions) Are employees invited into decision-making related to how best to accomplish a task?
  8. How is work prioritized? (adhoc by the hair on fire emergency of the day or by a numbers/fact-based analysis)
  9. What does the company’s on-boarding process consist of?       (Training [instructor-led, CBT, or virtual webinars], Orientation, Mission-Vision-Values, Introductions)
  10. What types of team-building activities does the company sponsor?  Do employees get involved in the planning of these activities?

For some people, a job search without adequate preparation can be quite intimidating. In addition to the standard resume and job history (no matter how short or lengthy) you have needs, boundaries and know how you work best. Don’t override your comfort zones in exchange for monetary reward just so you can say you have a “J.O.B.”

The answers to these questions are often issues/situations that add or detract from our quality of life while “on the clock!”  Seriously consider asking these questions when you go for your next interview–interview them back when they ask–“Do you have any questions for me (us)?”

Life is too short…no matter what, value who you are in the negotiating process. Take the time, ask the questions, do your research and make sure the company you commit yourself and talents to will appreciate and value your contributions.  You matter!

Note:  Republished from my LinkedIn account

Posted in Shorts

What a Wonderful World

Today is the 19th of October.  I have spent HOURS at Starbucks today.  I decided to write my 100th post on this blog to begin a new era of sharing.

My Twitter profile states that my motto is Promoting others.  So I’m going to begin using this blog for quick posts in a category called “Shorts” for writing observations/experiences worth sharing.

Starbucks is a wonderful place for meeting people you know and learning about and meeting those you don’t.  Just sitting in the comfy cushiony chairs at the Starbucks in Papillion, I just met two new people.  Brandon and Lizzy…both college students working on papers.  They saw me as a target of opinion opportunity and asked my thoughts on procrastination.  I said “you know, they say if you wait til the last minute, it only takes a minute.” (don’t know where that was first stated but its not mine).  They were engaging and spontaneously conversational–love coffee shops!

Anyway, I had a great visit with a good friend Nick (met first through social media) during a study break to catch up on how things are going.  He knits (twitter handle @programmerman) and I crochet–we’re talking about creating a meeting group in the local Omaha area for men who enjoy these types of crafts.  Eventually, our group would be creating hats and scarves for homeless people.  What makes our group unique is that the donated items would all be hand-crafted by men.  I got the idea from reading the “Athena Doctrine” … the second story shared in the book talks about Grannies Inc. which does similar work but by grandmas.

So, that’s the latest update brewing in my head.  I have about 10 weeks left in my Master’s program and then I can spare more time to working with Nick and other men in the Omaha area to develop this group.  Anyone have any thoughts about how to make this idea catch on and draw other crafters out of the woodwork?  We’re looking for ways to find and encourage other guys who also enjoy crafting to join our group.  Follow this new group on Twitter @menspin  I hope you’ve had a great weekend.


Posted in Uncategorized

What’s a Business Card for Anyway?

Get Your Poop In A Group

Lauritzen Gardens Conservatory Lauritzen Gardens Conservatory (Under Construction)

I’m writing this post to help those out there spending money on marketing and self-branding materials get a little more bang for their buck!  I was inspired to write it because of reading this blog post today –> “A Simple Trick to be Better at Networking for Business”  While there are some valuable tips provided, I take the portion discussing business cards one step further!

You only have one chance to make a good first impression.  Make sure that your leave-behind (business card/networking card) is simple, memorable, helps the individual remember who you are, what you do, and where you met.  The tips below will help you get more for your personal/professional branding efforts.  Remember, you are as much a part of the brand your company is trying to establish in a very competitive marketplace.

Less Is MORE!

The blog post above states…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Five Ways to Get More Out of Your Meetings

Get Your Poop In A Group

As a 29-year veteran of the information, collaboration and knowledge management profession I have attended thousands of meetings. Below are five simple steps to ensure success for the meetings you host:

1 – Start With A Plan!

Franklin Covey says to “use your resourcefulness and initiative.” This encouragement suggests that none of us has enough resources alone, but together, we may have enough between us to succeed if we cooperate and clearly communicate. The reason for most meetings is to “get something from” or “give something to” someone else in the presence of others. In most cases, the result of meetings is an information exchange resulting in a decision or agreement between those present. If you are having meeting for any other reason, you might reconsider and instead send an email, make a quick phone call or video conference with one or two people rather than call a meeting.


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Posted in Uncategorized

Know Your ? …. Knowledge Management Rumblings

Get Your Poop In A Group

The following collection of thoughts come from the last two years of working in the field of Knowledge Management.  Each organization is different… so of course, there is never a one size fits all philosophy.  However, the thoughts that follow come from working with great collaborative people…in person, and virtually!

There is no more entertaining an exercise in a professional environment than watching reactions of workers who have had their cheese moved without someone giving them prior notice.  Word to the wise–in all organizational change efforts (people, process, or tools) inform and involve all stakeholders!  Below are some helpful hints!

Knowledge Management Activity:  Observation, analysis and recommendations across the organization to optimize alignment of resources (people, processes, and technology) to support the individuals serving the purposes of the organization.

Start With Why:  Unless everyone who will participate, contribute or consume are on the same page with the reason you are providing a…

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Posted in Branding, Customer Engagement

Customer Engagement in Clouds of Chaos & Perfume

20131019_140047Branding is not something you add to a list of things to do!  Branding is also NOT the same thing as a theme!  When you are a large national chain, the “brand–logo, store layout, color schemes” are ONLY THEMES!  The local presence of each store carries its own “brand” based upon the customer engagement and store environment.  Branding is a by-product of customer engagement, esthetics and all aspects of the environment in your place of business (sight, sounds & smells).  From the moment a customer sets foot into your establishment the branding experience begins, whether it is a market place or a service oriented environment; in theater and film, it goes something like this “Lights, camera, action!”  Don’t forget, the customer enters the scene and YOU ARE ON!!!!  Just take a look at Twitter and store  specific

  • Poor Service Environment Example

I recently attended a class for software training which began on a Monday and was supposed to last a week.  However, due to a lack of testing prior student arrival, the class was rife with issues.  There were storms over the weekend and our COX network connection was constantly up and down.  The virtual images for the computing environment on classroom computers was also flaky and finally after the first lab, the computing environment failed.  We were sent to lunch, with the promise that the instructor would look at the image while we were at lunch.  We returned only to find that indeed–only the instructor (not the entire organizational staff) attempted to fix the situation without success.  So, hoping we could limp along using only the text book and the instructor’s show & tell method, we sat through 7 modules of mental equivalent of all bran muffins (not wild about those if you can’t tell).  Eventually, our lead requested that the class be rescheduled for the following week so the classroom environment could be corrected.

Even after returning the following week, the instructor had several “glitches” with the demos and labs.  The overall experience could have been shortened by providing a well equipped lab, access to the book (instructions) and a technical SharePoint subject matter expert on site to assist if students had issues.  The break area was not always stocked with items and the instructor read from book.  The most consistent positive thing about the experience was that the men’s restroom was always clean and the paper towels never ran out!  I know this critique is kind of harsh…but really folks.  Its the small things that add up to a perceived overall opinion (branding image) within the customers mind about whether or not yours is a place they want to give repeat business.

  • Poor Product (Retail) Environment Example

I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time, and couldn’t figure out a way to vent my frustration.  I would voice my “comment” directly on the hardware store’s website but I don’t want to dish on the entire store chain.  I have a legitimate gripe which I should not have to voice but apparently not everyone is bothered by my issue.  When you walk into a hardware store… what thoughts and smells come to mind?   Maybe the scent of fresh lumber, the sound of a whirring saw blade or a paint shaking machine, maybe even bright lights from the lighting area?  No…. not this place I visit.

I love this hardware store’s products, cleanliness, and most of the customer service reps…. except one!  This individual shaves off her eyebrows and paints them back on displaying a constant surprised expression…and sometime before arriving to work she visits a vat somewhere to marinate in the most heady perfume for an hour or so.  If she’s at work, I can smell her when I walk in the door–even though she’s on the other side of the store!   My kids give me a hard time about my constant commenting when she is in the store.  My throat seizes up, my nostrils’ natural sensing capabilities are on perfume override.  I certainly NEVER linger or browse when she’s in the store and I pray she’s not my cashier when I check out.

Every individual on your staff is a brand representative!  Does every brand representative at your company carry the same brand identity (possessing and demonstrating your organizational vision, values and work ethic?)  As a computer software training organization, do you want your best qualities/offerings to be the cleanliness of your bathrooms?  As a hardware store, do you want to be remembered as the place you go to get a perfume headache?  Branding involves a variety of sensory experiences leaving your customer (or potential customer) with a positive or negative impression of you and your organization.

I’m inspired to write a branding white paper (of academic quality) to support these observations.  If you’re interested in receiving a copy, leave a comment on this post and I’ll follow up with you when it is completed.