Monday, March 30, 2015


As the old saying goes, you need to know where you‘re going before you can know how to get there. Likewise,

…before you can plan out your strategy…

…before you even start to think about your media products or event…

…you need to nail down your objectives.


In the very place you need to lay out what you‘re trying to achieve with a communications plan. For example:

  • Do you want to educate your customers?

  • Do you want to build support or create demand?

  • Do you want to get people to do something differently?

  • Do you want to defuse a situation?

  • Do you want to improve the search results for your company/product/executives?

  • Do you want to improve your organization‘s reputation?

  • Do you want to generate more online or offline news coverage?

Whatever you want to do, this is where you define it.


To fall back on an old mantra from business school, your objectives need to be:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Time-focused

Make sure your objectives are measurable and time-focused. The specific, achievable and realistic characteristics will emerge from there. Vague objectives are a common pitfall. Ensure you can measure them and you will be forced to be ―specific. As for ―achievable and ―realistic, if your objectives don‘t meet those two criteria you don‘t deserve to be writing plans for anything.

One of the hardest parts of this to get your head around is the difference between business objectives and communications objectives. It’s important not to confuse the two. Remember — you can‘t take responsibility for the entire success or failure of the program. It helps to include the business objectives for the initiative in communications plan in addition to the communications objectives. Doing this helps to make sure your plan supports the overall business goals rather than working on its own.

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Scrum Appendix: Terminology

  • Burn Down: The trend of work remaining across time in a Sprint, a Release, or a Product. The source of the raw data is the Sprint Backlog and the Product Backlog, with work remaining tracked on the vertical axis and the time periods (days of a Sprint, or Sprints) tracked on the horizontal axis.

  • Chicken: Someone who is interested in the project but does not have formal Scrum responsibilities and accountability (Team, Product Owner, ScrumMaster).

  • Daily Scrum: A short meeting held daily by each Team during which the Team members inspect their work, synchronize their work and progress and report and impediments to the ScrumMaster for removal. Follow-on meetings to adapt upcoming work to optimize the Sprint may occur after the Daily Scrum meetings.

  • Done: Complete as mutually agreed to by all parties and that conforms to an organization’s standards, conventions, and guidelines. When something is reported as “done” at the Sprint Review meeting, it must conform to this agreed definition.

  • Estimated Work Remaining (Sprint Backlog items): The number of hours that a Team member estimates remain to be worked on any task. This estimate is updated at the end of every day when the Sprint Backlog task is worked on. The estimate is the total estimated hours remaining, regardless of the number of people that perform the work.

  • Increment: Product functionality that is developed by the Team during each Sprint that is potentially shippable or of use to the Product Owner’s stakeholders.

  • Increment of Potentially Shippable Product Functionality: A complete slice of the overall product or system that could be used by the Product Owner or stakeholders if they chose to implement it.

  • Sprint: An iteration, or one repeating cycle of similar work, that produces increment of product or system. No longer than one month and usually more than one week. The duration is fixed throughout the overall work and all teams working on the same system or product use the same length cycle.

  • Pig: Someone exercising one of the three Scrum roles (Team, Product Owner, ScrumMaster) who has made a commitment and has the authority to fulfill it.

  • Product Backlog: A prioritized list of requirements with estimated times to turn them into completed product functionality. Estimates are more precise the higher an item is in the Product Backlog priority.. The list emerges, changing as business conditions or technology changes.

  • Product Backlog Item: Functional requirements, non-functional requirements, and issues, prioritized in order of importance to the business and dependencies and estimated. The precision of the estimate depends on the priority and granularity of the Product Backlog item, with the highest priority items that may be selected in the next Sprint being very granular and precise.

  • Product Owner: The person responsible for managing the Product Backlog so as to maximize the value of the project. The Product Owner is responsible for representing the interests of everyone with a stake in the project and its resulting product.

  • Scrum: Not an acronym, but mechanisms in the game of rugby for getting an out-of-play ball back into play

  • ScrumMaster: The person responsible for the Scrum process, its correct implementation, and the maximization of its benefits.

  • Sprint Backlog: A list of tasks that defines a Team’s work for a Sprint. The list emerges during the Sprint. Each task identifies those responsible for doing the work and the estimated amount of work remaining on the task on any given day during the Sprint.

  • Sprint Backlog Task: One of the tasks that the Team or a Team member defines as required to turn committed Product Backlog items into system functionality.

  • Sprint Planning meeting: A one-day meeting time boxed to eight hours (for a four week Sprint) that initiates every Sprint. The meeting is divided into two four-hour segments, each also time boxed.. During the first four hours the Product Owner presents the highest priority Product Backlog to the team. The Team and Product Owner collaborate to help the Team determine how much Product Backlog it can turn into functionality during the upcoming Sprint. The Team commits to this at the end of the first four hours. During the second four hours of the meeting, the Team plans how it will meet this commitment by designing and then detailing its work as a plan in the Sprint Backlog.

  • Sprint Retrospective meeting: A time boxed three-hour meeting facilitated by the ScrumMaster at which the complete Team discusses the just-concluded Sprint and determines what could be changed that might make the next Sprint more enjoyable or productive.

  • Sprint Review meeting: A time-boxed four hour meeting at the end of every Sprint where the Team collaborates with the Product Owner and stakeholders on what just happened in the Sprint. This usually starts with a demonstration of completed Product Backlog items, a discussion of opportunities, constraints and findings, and a discussion of what might be the best things to do next (potentially resulting in Product Backlog changes). Only completed product functionality can be demonstrated.

  • Stakeholder: Someone with an interest in the outcome of a project, either because they have funded it, will use it, or will be affected by it.

  • Team: A cross-functional group of people that is responsible for managing themselves to develop an increment of product every Sprint.

  • Time box: A period of time that cannot be exceeded and within which an event or meeting occurs. For example, a Daily Scrum meeting is time boxed at fifteen minutes and terminates at the end of fifteen minutes, regardless. For meetings, it might last shorter. For Sprints, it lasts exactly that length

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Set Meaningful Goals with These Five Principles

Sometimes the only thing you need to get motivated is a clear goal with challenging aspects. Mind Tools explains how to set these types of goals with five basic principles.

These five principles, developed from Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham’s theory of task motivation and incentives, make your goals feel drawing and worthwhile:

  1. Clarity: Your goals need to be explicitly clear so you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, and know how to measure your progress.

  2. Challenge: Make sure your goal is challenging enough to keep you interested, but not so challenging you lose confidence.

  3. Commitment: Your goal should feel achievable so you know you won’t give up, and find ways to remind yourself why you should work hard to keep moving forward.

  4. Feedback: Find ways to receive feedback on what you’ve done, and analyze your progress and accomplishments so you can adjust the difficulty, if need be.

  5. Task Complexity: If your goal is stressing you out because it’s too complex, break your big goal down into smaller sub-goals.

With these simple principles you’ll keep yourself in check while you move forward. It’s easier to overwhelm yourself than you think, but you also need to strike a balance and make sure your goals are challenging enough to keep you hooked.

from WordPress


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Yes, Email Is Exciting. Get Excited!

Email Is Still the Best Thing on the Internet.

“E-mail is dead, or at least that’s what Silicon Valley is banking on,” wrote Businessweek tech reporter Ashlee Vance.

There’s the co-founder of Asana, the work software startup. Email has “become a counter-productivity tool,” Justin Rosenstein likes to say.

Slack, the superhot work chat tool, likes to brag that they’ve “saved the world from over 70,000,000 emails” (if you assume that every five Slack messages prevent one email from getting its wings).

And it’s not just entrepreneurs with cloud software to sell. There are the young people, too, especially whatever we call the younger-than-Millennials.

Getting an email address was once a nerdy right of passage for Gen-Xers arriving on college campuses. Now, the kids are waging a war of indifference on poor old email, culling the weak and infirm old-people technology. One American professor maintained that, to his students, “e-mail was as antiquated as the spellings ‘chuse’ and ‘musick’ in the works by Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards.” The vice-chancellor of Exeter University claimed, “There is no point in emailing students any more.” The youth appear to think there are better, faster, more exciting ways to communicate than stupid email.

Yet, despite all the prognosticators predicting it will—choose the violence level of your metaphor—go out of style, be put out to pasture, or taken out back and shot,email grinds on.

You can’t kill email! It’s the cockroach of the Internet, and I mean that as a compliment. This resilience is a good thing.

“There isn’t much to sending or receiving email and that’s sort of the point,”observed Aaron Straup Cope, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s Senior Engineer in Digital and Emerging Media. “The next time someone tells you email is ‘dead,’ try to imagine the cost of investing in their solution or the cost of giving up all the flexibility that email affords.”

Email is actually a tremendous, decentralized, open platform on which new, innovative things can and have been built. In that way, email represents a different model from the closed ecosystems we see proliferating across our computers and devices.

Email is a refugee from the open, interoperable, less-controlled “web we lost.” It’s an exciting landscape of freedom amidst the walled gardens of social networking and messaging services.

from WordPress


Saturday, March 28, 2015

How Often Should Your Project Team Meet?

Unfortunately, project team meetings are a must-do, and leaders who skip the staff meetings will quickly lose control of the project. Meetings, however, don’t have to be long and drawn out and should have specific agendas to keep the meeting on track.

In the project monitoring phase, there can be many types of meetings including progress meetings, facilitator meetings, risk management or problem and issue meetings, and even stakeholder meetings that involve not just the internal crew, but external stakeholders as well.

How often meetings are necessary or when to meet often depends on the type of meeting and the material to be covered.

Stakeholder Meetings – Stakeholder meetings that involve everyone from the external to the internal should be held in the project planning phase and if problems or risks are discovered that affect the entire project. A stakeholder meeting may also be necessary at product or process pre-launch and when presenting a project closing statement.

Progress Meetings – When looking at how often meetings for project status should be, they should be weekly, especially if you are managing projects globally or teams are in many locations. To cut down on meeting time, have team leaders meet and convey meeting results to teams. If questions need to be clarified from the teams, the team leaders should find answers to their questions and meet again. Often project facilitators can be the go-between of the project leader and designated team leaders.

Risk Management – Of course at project initiation, you most likely prepared a risk management plan. Often, risks that weren’t identified or ones that weren’t simply can’t be handled without input from the project manager and other required stakeholders. Hold these as risks are identified that affect the project and have no immediate solution in the risk management plan.

Problems and Issues – These types of meetings can range from team or individual conflicts to problems with external vendors, timelines or scheduling problems. These types of issues should be dealt with as quickly as possible and project managers should make haste in gathering the team.

Collaboration Meetings – Sometimes, in order for a project to proceed from one phase to another, collaborative team meetings are necessary to convey team progress to the awaiting team; the same applies when a milestone is met and it’s time to turn the project over to the next team. These should be held as milestones or goals occur.

Team Gatherings – For projects that are long and involve many aspects, hold a team-gathering meeting that is more of a fun day whether it be a sport outing or an afternoon of bowling—anything away from the office that can relieve stress. If your project is six months or longer, consider a team-gathering meeting mid-way through the project.

Final Production Meeting – Every stakeholder should attend final production meetings to explore project success and prepare for post-production meetings.

Post-Production Meetings – Once the project closing statement has been delivered, post-production meetings often help to determine future monitoring of the project, projections or any issues that may occur in the future.

Tips on Meetings

  • How often meetings should be held certainly does depend on the meeting type.

  • All these types of meetings have varying purposes and are required meetings.

  • If you try and combine all meetings into one, you’ll end up with a free-for-all where nothing gets done and project teams and stakeholders are left behind or lost.

  • Depending on your projects at hand, your meeting times may vary, so keep that in mind, keep the meeting length short and, if follow-up meetings are necessary, be sure to schedule them promptly.

  • Finally, most meeting schedules (unless they are emergencies or problematic) can be set forth in your project communication plan.

from WordPress


Friday, March 27, 2015

Be the Change You Want to See

What does it take to be an inspirational, motivational, effective, charismatic, powerful leader?

Strong leaders are essential for business success, never more so than in the current challenging climate. As a leader, you need to command respect, have presence and gravitas, combine strategy with emotional intelligence, make people naturally want to follow you, inspire your team to excellence.

Gandhi famously advised us “to be the change you want to see in the world.” I believe that leaders need to model, exemplify….essentially be what they are asking for in their teams and companies, and that this takes advanced personal development.

Self-understanding is fundamental. You need to understand yourself, your personality and what you need to be to deliver your best, and to understand and maximize how you come across to others.

Essentially, excellent leaders need to be authentic and to convey this congruence and alignment between thoughts, words, and actions in everything they do. Otherwise you get a jarring dissonance and disconnect that undermines your ability to lead effectively. You can’t be authentic if you don’t know who you are.

Integrity and authenticity are about wholeness, really, a state where your actions are aligned with both your individual values and the shared values of the company.

Here are some aspects to develop into leadership potential:

  • Understanding your personality and how you can deliver your own unique brand of leadership

  • Understanding the impact you have on others and how to maximize this

  • Raising your energy so that work and life become mutually energizing rather than draining

  • Identifying your needs and getting them met to raise your energy and effectiveness

  • Identifying and leveraging your strengths to create brilliant results

  • Understanding your values and leading with them to inspire others

  • Creating clarity and alignment internally and externally to reach optimum performance

  • Being exceptional not just in your business strategy, but in how you motivate and inspire your team to stretch into their potential and work together to deliver their best

  • Personal development, approached with a systematic and structured framework, is, I believe, a precondition for brilliant, powerful leaders who need to embody the change they want to create, and the results they want to see.

from WordPress


Thursday, March 26, 2015

If You Want to Be More Productive, Stop Managing Time!

We all know what time management is or at least we think we do. We hear the expression and it’s clear – yep, I need to develop more skill around that. And usually we continue with our lives knowing that we potentially could manage our time better and benefit from it greatly but we… have no time to work on that. So some of the books written by people like Brian Tracy or Stephen Covey who dedicated their lives to teaching techniques for increased effectiveness and productivity, collect dust on the shelves of bookcases.

How do you make progress?

A few words are enough – “Nothing changes if nothing changes”. What can lead to progress is a shift of thinking, approach, opinion or maybe expectations. We have to establish what it is that will enable change in our lives. From there we can move forward knowing that we are no longer attached to obstacles but hopeful for a future. If you want a different outcome, you need to adapt a different approach. It is really that simple.

Decision made! I want to manage my time better.

So what is time management?

We all have our own idea. It can be used to describe a set of skills and techniques that we can develop to better manage our workload, prioritise, set goals and focus attention. This is the traditional approach.

But… can we really manage time? I have 24 hours each day available to me and I am sure it’s no different for you. Can I move the clock forwards or backwards? Nobody can. No matter what we do, time ticks away. It doesn’t need to and it can’t be managed.

Notice, that what we really want when it comes to time management is the effectiveness part. We want to have a sense of satisfaction at the end of a very productive day. This means that we don’t need to manage time. So if you want to be more productive, stop trying to manage it.

You want to focus your attention on ENERGY!

Yes, the key to success in increasing your personal effectiveness and productivity is through managing personal energy.The actions you want to take are around renewing your levels of energy and powering up. You can think and discover as many ways of managing your energy as you want. Honestly, the list could be endless.

There are 4 types of energy to manage: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. Some of the best examples of energy renewing rituals could be:

  • Drinking water throughout the day

  • Take short but regular breaks (15 min of walking, breathing, meditation, chatting to someone about a topic that is not work related, listening to the music)

  • Increasing exposure to sunlight or breathing fresh air

  • Reading for inspiration

  • Saying “No” to others and “Yes” to yourself

  • Laughing and not taking things too seriously

  • Brainstorming and getting other people involved

  • Helping others

  • Acts of kindness

  • Celebration and rewards (yes, for adults too! Think hard. When was the last time you rewarded yourself?).

However before you proceed to do that, take the next few days to observe yourself. See patterns of thinking and action. Become familiar with your daily and weekly habits and routines. Make sure that you have clarity on how much time you invest in completing tasks. Find answers to questions about your most productive time of day and the environment in which you perform best. Start from the reality check and let it inform the changes that you will make in your life. Small, but significant.

from WordPress


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Let Your Voices Be Heard! Use Empathy

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to e-Commerce than the technical aspect. Enabling your consumers to navigate efficiently into your webpage is one factor that could make or break your chances to succeed in this business. Nonetheless, this is not the only factor that could help you stand out in the World Wide Web. Since there are so many Internet sites out there that sell a wide range of products, it is vital that you never stop looking for areas that could and should be improved. Through this, you can guarantee that your traffic will turn into leads.

E-Commerce: Why Empathy Is NOT Enough

Empathy is simply understanding or feeling the emotions and mind-set of another person or group. Sense the perspective of your target market by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes.

While a lot of entrepreneurs practice empathy, this may not be enough to help you fully understand your consumers. Remember that even when you are empathizing, you are also making yourself more vulnerable to placing more importance on your subjective opinions.

Simply put, instead of putting yourself on the shoes of your customers, it is best that you let them wear their own shoes by personally asking them their opinions regarding your online shop. Go interactive and never be afraid (or embarrassed) to ask them to post the strengths and weaknesses of your site. Learn to listen to how they feel instead of merely anticipating the possibilities. Through this, you can efficiently communicate with your consumers and help them voice out their opinions.

Connect with your Customers

Now, before you run tests on your site, analyze your business and your customers first. What do they want? What should you keep and what aspects of your page should you forego? It makes no sense to run tests on your site if you haven’t organized a concept yet. Once you have fully identified the areas you need to develop, initiate a dry run. There are many ways that will enable you to understand you clients, and if you still don’t have a clue, below are some tips that will help you get to know your consumers more.

  • Conduct a Survey: A lot of entrepreneurs think that surveys are already a thing of the past, but they’re not. There are a lot of survey tools that could help you monitor the efficiency of your site, as well as the reasons consumers purchase a certain product. Do not forget to keep your survey sheets concise, especially since a lot of consumers don’t like spending too much time answering survey sheets.

  • Direct Chat Interactions: To know your consumers, you need to talk to them and ask them common problems that they are encountering in your site whenever they are buying a certain product. This will help you pinpoint weak aspects of your page. Likewise, chat interactions will make your consumers feel safe and secure since they know that they can always run to you in times that they come across problems during their transactions.

  • Ask for Feedback Comments: A lot of website owners are afraid to ask for feedback because of the possibility that their customers might post negative or derogatory comments on their site. But this is a risk that each website should take in order to have a feel of what their visitors are thinking and feeling when they enter your website.

Never neglect the importance of reaching out to your customers. This will help you dramatically improve your site in every aspect, helping you build a ladder to successful entrepreneurship.

from WordPress


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nothing Works Better Changing A Mindset Than A Great Quote

Trying to do things differently or to do different things within an organization is hard. Being an innovator is not an easy job. Especially when you’re innovating within a large organization it is a long road. At the start of innovation, you need to inspire and to convince a lot of people that it’s an attractive move for the company and has a high chance of success.

Nothing works better changing a mindset than a great quote. When you’re starting a new project you might use one of these marvelous 15 quotes to spark creativity, start a culture for innovation or to prioritize innovation in 2015.

  1. If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. [Albert Einstein]

  2. Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. [Will Rogers]

  3. When the rate of change outside is more than what is inside, be sure that the end is near. [Azim Premji]

  4. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. [George Bernard Shaw]

  5. Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open. [T. Dewar]

  6. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. [Steve Jobs]

  7. You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. [Andre Gide]

  8. Innovation is anything, but business as usual. [Anonymous]

  9. If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it. [A. Einstein]

  10. Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. [Dale Carnegie]

  11. Managers say yes to innovation when doing nothing is a bigger risk. [Gijs van Wulfen].

  12. Ideas are useless unless used. [T. Levitt]

  13. It is not how many ideas you have. It’s how many you make happen. [Advertisement of Accenture]

  14. Innovation is the ability to convert ideas into invoices. [L. Duncan]

  15. Everything is possible. The impossible just takes longer. [Dan Brown]

from WordPress


Fostering Job Satisfaction Doesn’t Have To Cost The Earth

Startups spoke to a panel of entrepreneurs to find out their top tips for motivating staff.

  • Treat everyone as an individual: Respect that different team members have different needs. “Every incentive doesn’t necessarily motivate every individual,” For example, if a member of the team is in a long distance relationship, I may want to let him leave early on Friday afternoons. As a result, he’ll be more inclined to put extra hours in during the week to keep on top of his workload.

  • Praise good work and offer feedback: When someone does a good job, we congratulate them in front of everyone. Regular feedback and encouragement makes everyone feel positive. It is important to be genuine, so I try find something that has impressed us, even if it is as simplest and let them know that they are doing it well.

  • Lead by example: A productive team needs a productive leader. As the top dog you need to embody the company’s brand yourself and be true to its ethics. However equally important is that employees see you putting in as much energy as them – if not more. A good leader needs to lead by example, by role-modeling the behaviors that are expected of staff. Be excited by new challenges, show real enthusiasm for projects and demonstrate your love of the job. Positivity breeds positivity.

  • Encourage people to take a break: Whilst an employee who doesn’t optimize their annual leave might seem like a good deal for your business, everyone needs to take a break in order to operate at their full potential. Approach people who haven’t used their holiday entitlement and encourage them to get away. This will also show employees that you care about their wellbeing.

  • Offer benefits that boost morale (but don’t break the bank): While large organizations may be able to offer corporate holidays in sunny climes, a gesture as simple as having fruit delivered to the office each week can show employees that you care. Tailor benefits to your workforce. Events don’t have to be expensive, just well-planned and thought out.

  • Where possible, invite staff to bring their partners as well: Having a good relationship with people’s partners really helps. All those times when people stay late, instead of getting home to an earful, they get a much more sympathetic response.”

  • Give ownership to your team: While new employees need clear instructions and guidance, once they are on the right track, let go of the reins. Leave them to be led by their own initiative and congratulate them for doing so. “Allow them to work well and without much input. It’s the little things that give ownership to teams and allow them to feel trusted and motivated. As well as inspiring self-confidence, this hands-off approach may allow employees to navigate your firm from a new perspective, potentially exposing inefficiencies, untapped opportunities and prospective innovations.

  • Run a ‘no blame’ culture: When something goes wrong don’t blame the person; analyze the reasons and change whatever actually caused the issue in the first place – learn and improve. If you are always pointing the finger, employees will feel tense, which can restrict initiative and innovation.

  • Communication is key: By keeping open lines of communication with employees and listening to their ideas, they will feel more connected to the progression of the business and thus more motivated to contribute to its future. I recommend twice weekly meetings “when the whole company comes together and shares the successes of the week and what is going on in the company as a whole” as well as an “open door policy” to the top manager’s office. Simply showing employees that they are being listened to can be enough to boost morale.

  • Be flexible: Respect that your employees have personal lives to balance with their work commitments, for example, they have to pick up their children, take care of a sick relative. To avoid completely forfeiting their labour, assist employees with flexible working by helping them to receive their work e-mails on their smartphone or home computer.

  • Get the little things right: Sometimes getting the little things right is more influential than an occasional grand gesture. It is easy to underestimate the importance of basic essentials for a positive working environment. Conveniences that don’t cost the earth, like well-maintained toilets, basic kitchen facilities and filtered tap water.

from WordPress


Sunday, March 22, 2015

What Is True Happiness- It’s All A Matter Of Perspective!

For some, it is the fulfillment of a dream. For others, it is staying content with what you do in life and in the workplace. These quotes are meant to inspire you to find the balance between big dreams and daily contentment.

  1. “A belief in something greater than ourselves sustains us when we are in pain, scared or in dire need. That same power enhances positive experiences and gives us more joy, compassion and energy. Recognizing the power of beliefs can guide your work policies to honor others’ beliefs and facilitate their practice of them. When people feel respected for who they are and what they believe, they are happier and more productive individuals.” Marilyn Tam

  2. “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.”Daniel Sgroi

  3. “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” Simon Sinek

  4. “This is the only country in the world where today’s employee is tomorrow’s employer.” Marco Rubio

  5. “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles Schwab

  6. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou

  7. “Unfortunately, to succeed in business, organizations need to make difficult choices all the time–what to do and, more important, what not to do. The truth of the matter is that whenever we make a difficult choice, some people will win and some will lose. The winners will be happy and the losers unhappy. It’s impossible to make everybody happy all the time. If everybody in your organization is happy, that may be because you’re failing to lead them.” Costas Markides

  8. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”Stephen King

  9. “Appreciation is the deliberate, proactive valuing of your employee and what he or she has to offer. Appreciation is letting your employees know, in every way you can think of, the following: You matter. You count. You are important.” Dr. Noelle Nelson

  10. “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

  11. “Hiring well is also part of the equation. Look for people who are positive in nature, hard-working, and will add to your team. When problem employees cause trouble, deal with it quickly or you’ll end up punishing other employees by making them tolerate unpleasant or unfair working conditions. Life’s too short to work with jerks.”Jill Geilser

  12. “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the company’s product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” Mary Kay Ash

  13. “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”Sam Walton

  14. “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” Thomas J. Peters

  15. “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” Oscar Wilde

  16. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

  17. “The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.” Dalai Lama

  18. “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller

  19. “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Martha Washington

  20. “To be successful you have to enjoy doing your best while at the same time contributing to something beyond yourself.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

  21. “People rarely succeed unless they are having fun in what they are doing.” Dale Carnegie

  22. “How often do we pause to be genuinely present with someone? How often do we really hear what the other person is saying and feeling versus filtering it heavily through our own immediate concerns and time pressures? Authentic listening is not easy. We hear the words, but rarely do we really slow down to listen and squint with our ears to hear the emotions, fears, and underlying concerns. Try practicing authentic listening. Be with people and have the goal to fully understand the thoughts and feelings they are trying to express. Use your questions and comments to draw them out, to open them up, and to clarify what is said rather than expressing your view, closing them down, and saying only what you want. Not only will this help you to understand the value and contribution the other person brings, it will create a new openness in the relationship that will allow you to express yourself and be heard more authentically as well.” Kevin Cashman

  23. “The best motivation for anyone–including employees–is to hear or see our name as often and in as many places as possible. Our name is the most potent sound we can hear and see. If you want to motivate someone, put their name up in lights and/or sing it from the rooftops!” Vicki Donlan

  24. “Build your people up. Make them feel important. If your people think you have a high opinion of them, it’s amazing what they will do to maintain that opinion. And the more they respect you, the harder they will work to hang on to your regard.” Barry Maher

  25. “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” Richard De Haan

  26. “You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”Ruth Smeltzer

  27. “Thirty years ago, about 80% of a company’s assets resided in its plant and equipment, with 20% in the knowledge of its people. Today, the reverse is true. The knowledge of our staff is our principal asset.” Susan Rice

  28. “Do not check your soul at the door when you cross the threshold of your workplace. Whether you are a custodian or a CEO, practice work as sacred art. Respect comes not from the work you do, but the way you do your work.” Mary Manin Morrissey

  29. “Far too many people have no idea of what they can do because all they have been told is what they can’t do. They don’t know what they want because they don’t know what’s available for them.” Zig Ziglar

  30. “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the ‘me’ for the ‘we.’ ” Phil Jackson

  31. “Studies show that a trusting workplace increases employees’ level of happiness, work effort, productivity, and engagement. It also provides an environment that encourages open communication and promotes people to share their ideas.” A. Miller

  32. “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” Albert Schweitzer

  33. “I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.”Leo Rosten

  34. “If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead, make your work more pleasurable.” Donald Trump

  35. “What does being happy mean to you? What about work satisfaction? Is it flourishing? Is it belonging and feeling valued? Is it achieving? Is it seeing a task to completion? Seeing a customer or client smile, is that a priority? Everyone has a different definition of the word happiness. Start with these questions as a baseline. Is there any way you can bring them into your current role? Even if the boss and management couldn’t care, do you care enough to take full accountability for your happiness?” Dawn Barclay

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Success Is Nothing More Than A Few Simple Disciplines, Practiced Everyday

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” ~ Galileo

Every management guru and every book will tell you how important communication is, and many times they offer key things to specifically focus on getting from the communication. But one thing that I think many miss, and one of the most important things, is to actually practice communicating. If you want to get better at anything, you need to practice right? I think that since we’ve all been communicating since birth we take it for granted (yes our screams were communicating our dissatisfaction with something). You need to get out of your comfort zone and stretch your abilities as much as you can. If you aren’t working on a skill, just like a muscle, it begins to degrade. A couple of thoughts to guide us:

Questions help you understand – Questions are your best means of gathering feedback. First ask the question…..then listen to the answer. We always have plenty of answers, but we usually don’t ask the best questions. Focus on questions and you gain more knowledge and get more practice listening, which is the quid pro quo of a conversation.

Conversation helps make you accessible – You don’t always have to talk about work. The give and take of conversation can open doors to greater understanding, both of your staff towards you and you towards your staff. This understanding and comfort level opens up whole new avenues of communication

Conversation in general, and questions specifically are the two areas to practice first if we are to put a priority on communication. So in an effort to set a focus and to stretch and make you stranger in this area, try these three things:

Ask one more question – Stretch your capabilities by asking one more question than you usually would. Try to delve one step deeper, or ask about some background on the topic, but practice FINDING questions.

Answer with questions – First of all, let the other person know what you’re doing, or they’re likely to consider you crazy, obtuse, or evasive. Practicing asking questions and not providing answers is one of the keys to listening better and getting more information (and the right information) out of the other person.

Binge talking – If you have a large staff, spend an hour walking around and just talking for an hour. If you have a small staff, talk to everyone for at least 3-5 minutes p/day. This gets you out of your office and makes you physically accessible, but also establishes the rapport that will make you more accessible when more difficult topics come up.

Undoubtedly there are hundreds of other exercises, but these are three that I know will be very practical in the workplace. As I said above, if you want to get better at something you will need to practice, and communication is no different. Make it a priority to practice, set reminders in Outlook, get a peer to hold you accountable, do whatever it takes to get better in this area, it will be an enormous boost to your management abilities.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Things I’ve Learned from Working At Startups As A PM

It’s better to say when you don’t know.

Let’s face it: bullshit works. It’s often beneficial to give a confident, slightly vague response to a question than to waffle or look unsure. But as a PM, answers lead to decisions and work that might be a huge waste of time if wrong. So you quickly realize that it’s critical to let people know when you don’t know the answer to something, to prevent them from going down a rabbit with bad intel.

Know your goals and tenets.

Whatever project or product you’re working on, it’s crucial that everyone agrees on what the goals are in order to allow people to make good decisions under uncertain circumstances. Having clear goals is like having a map and a good compass while exploring.

Know your tenets. Tenets are different from goals in that they are how you do something, rather than what you’re trying to do. And there might be times where a lack of clarity of how you’re going to operate can lead to a difficulty in moving forward.

Always do the unblocking work first.

It’s often the case that other people can’t do their part until you do yours. Which means you better get that part done as soon as possible. Now, I’m constantly looking at the task list and thinking about which needs to come first.

Create the right sized task and group them well.

Products are nebulous. You have a basic sense for how they might function, but there are so many discreet elements, many of which have to work together. I’m lucky to have developers on my team who have worked on the tool for far longer than I have, and generally know how to pick off tasks that are right for their abilities and intelligently grouped together. Still, this is something I want to improve on – making the right kind of task.

Make the tools work for you

As a PM I use Bredmine as our bug tracking / feature development / general task management tool. I also am using Basecamp to have the communication seamless with clients, leads and stakeholders. It’s not so wise to introduce too much process but without ongoing conversations and some structure, it becomes really hard to measure progress.

Progress is paramount.

It’s incredibly important to track progress. The corollary to this is that backtracking or redoing work is the worst. For an instance I asked for some design work to be done and after I got it back, I realized I hadn’t been clear enough about what was needed. We ended up having to redo the work and I felt really bad for making the designer have to redo something because I wasn’t clear enough on my request. Every little thing like that causes the project to slow down and I have to be vigilant to not let that happen.

Watch for scope creep

Traditionally, the product I work on has been released in larger overhauls in a bit of a waterfall process. This sort of made sense in the past but because we had longer time spans between deploys, there was a tendency to want to add new features to the release, with the reasonable and accurate rationale being that it would be a while until the next release so let’s get it in there. This of course lengthened the time frame again in a vicious cycle.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with process

As a way to counteract the issues try something a little different: start 2 week sprints instead of 3 weeks, cut scope and ship *something*. The faster cadence is going to keep our morale higher, force us to be more disciplined, and help us to do ultimately do more.

Don’t forget about documentation

Functionality often trumps usability to some degree with the product I work on for complicated reasons, so remembering to build in time in the schedule for documentation, training and other issues is important. So I create and keep a fair amount of documentation that goes into the product. How it works, what’s changed, etc. Everybody wants their product to be as self-explanatory as possible.

Try to document in-the-moment decisions

I have been working with small cross functional teams and our work doesn’t always start with a massive brief. We usually have a list of stated goals, screens, and a general outcome we want. We have to figure out a lot along the way. I found myself making real-time decisions that I thought “I really need to capture this decision (and the rationale) for later on and I have found myself doing that with different ways.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Secret To Productivity Is: Focus Is Singular


Make your focus ruthless. Focus on just one thing. You don’t get three or four or five. You only get one.

The most important benefit of this approach is that it impels the organization to solve the challenges with the highest impact. Without this discipline, there is a consistent tendency of employees to address the easier to conquer, albeit less valuable, imperatives. As a specific example, if you have 3 priorities and the most difficult one lacks a clear solution, most people will gravitate towards the 2d order task with a clearer path to an answer. As a result, the organization collectively performs at a B+ or A- level, but misses many of the opportunities for a step-function in value creation.

With distractions cleared away, seriously pursuing only priority “with extreme dispatch and vigor” grants employees a singular focus encourages a clarity of thought and mission that can drive people to perform at A+ levels. Because mostly Multitaskers Fail, Those with Focus Succeed. It turns out that for personal productivity, multitasking is one of the worst things that you can do.

Multitaskers are terrible at every aspect of multitasking. They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another. On the other hand, researchers have shown having the ability to direct your focus to disregard impulses and distraction — maintaining “cognitive control” in psychological terms — has been shown to be a more powerful long-term predictor of future financial success than IQ and wealth.

Focusing on a single, high-impact priority can be the critical advantage for getting things done — whether it’s for yourself or with your team.There are a lot of smart people out there, and a lot of people who have money to spend to make things happen. Your ability to focus and manage yourself amidst the rising tides of tasks, distractions, and ideas is what will set you apart.

If you allow yourself to have more than one focus, you’ve already accepted the probability of mediocrity. By its very definition, focus doesn’t function when you’re diffracting your attention.

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