Time to get moving

King-Julian-king-julian-3791723-252-329 Recently my team and I have taken the Strengths Finder test and are getting more familiar with our strengths and how to best leverage them.  Well one of my unique strengths is something called “Activator” which is essentially about inspiring others to get going.

A strong desire to see progress is hard wired into me and it is exactly for this reason I’m so passionate about goal setting.  It is very important to me to be working on things that matter.

Goals help me make sure I’m making progress on the right things vs. just making random progress on what comes into my path.

I was recently reminded by some smart people that there are other good reasons to start moving.

Penelope Trunk makes an excellent case about how making progress on something helps you actually make progress on a lot of things.  The success of accomplishment is something that helps you get down the path of success, and as most of us know good things come from good things.

Jason Seiden also made a great case for not being a quitter.  I especially like his final comment that:

A life of abundance begins with abundant action. Action is the antithesis of quitting. Action is the Energizer bunny.

Want to win? Take action.

So if you are wondering what to do, I suggest you find a passion, set a goal and get moving.  You’ll be happy you did.

Quit burying the lead

64736179_bc2e815946_mHere we go, another rant.  Those who are not interested I recommend you bail out now.

I’m just beyond tired of sitting in meetings and presentations for 45 minutes before you get to your point.  I know that is terrible to admit, but there you have it.  If you are presenting something you have a point, please make it right away.

I’m not suggesting I don’t want to hear you talk for an hour, I do.  I just want to use that hour productively to get on board with your idea/suggestion/topic and waiting until I’ve quit paying attention, puts me at risk of missing it.

Conventional wisdom

Most people think that they should give you a lot of background on a topic and then give you their opinion.  I get a sense that people see that as more respectful to the audience.  I’m pretty sure the thinking is that they want to take you on the journey with them and get your buy in before putting themselves out there with an opinion. 

Here’s the problem

You’ve probably already put your opinion in writing as the last slide or two — you can’t take that back even if your audience is going to disagree.  All you are doing is putting additional risk in place that your intended audience might get to a different conclusion than you.  Now you’ve bored them and they still have an option to voice their disagreement and make you both look stupid mid-meeting — ouch!


Instead take the leap and jump right in with the first slide or two expressing an opinion.  Then use the next part of the meeting to support your conclusion and get the group on board with the thinking. 

Yes, this strategy feels more risky but I believe it doesn’t actually have more risk.  It does, however, have upsides

  • It shows you as having done the hard work of coming to a conclusion and giving a suggestion (+1 for you — you are decisive and helpful)
  • It makes it clear you are confident in your views
  • It makes sure your point is heard (this is two fold — if people have to leave early they can’t miss the main point and for those who start to get distracted after 20 minutes, you have still gotten through)

One senior leader here at ORCL avoids this problem by making people send him their slides before the meeting.  I’m starting to think that person is even smarter than I thought [which is saying a lot].

hat tip to Amy who gave me the feedback to include an Executive Summary on enough presentations that I got the hint.

Power in words

482348262_b97ed473c1_mDid you know?

That people research the exact words that they should use to explain the US Healthcare debate to sway your opinion?

Is it a public option or a government option that is being proposed?  Turns out, that while the definition of the option is the same the word you hear used to explain it will be different, depending upon the bias of the person talking.  Polling data suggests that you feel differently when you hear the word public, than you do when you hear the word government.

Did you know?

That words from you can impact the entire day of others?  For example, saying something nice to someone can make them feel better about themselves, can make them feel appreciated and can even impact their behavior.

If you knew that saying something nice would have a positive impact on someone would that change what you say?

Would it cause you to say something nice?

What about if you knew that it would impact something positive for you?  If you knew that saying something nice to someone else would make your day better would you do it?

Words matter.  Use them wisely.

And for the person who said something especially nice to me today — thank you — it made all the difference.

Singing about unsung heros

5248_118082841822_665376822_2940468_5556490_nYou hear me bragging a lot about the great people I work with.  I’ve done it in blog posts, I’ve done it as Twitter and OraTweet statuses and I say it regularly in email and in person.

You probably already know that the people I work with are a  big part of my job satisfaction.  I love working with smart people.

They encourage me, they inspire me and they challenge me.

Today I am expressing supreme gratitude for having an outstanding strategic partner in the Quality Assurance group.

Those of you who have experience in creating software know, that completing a quality product is a complex task.

Those of you who have worked in Quality departments know, that it never quite works as advertised when you first get software delivered from development.  This can make for a stressful working relationship on the best of days.

I’ve worked with lots of great QA partners over the years, but somehow I hit the jackpot on this project.  My current QA partner is not only a smart person, she is a strategic problem solver.  So it’s never about blame, it’s always about finding a path to success.

I cannot tell you what a difference it can make when you pair up with a strategic talent in the quality function.  And the great news is,  not only does this make my job satisfaction better, it directly translates to a better end result for our customers.

If you have a chance to find a strategic person to help you with a complex project, I recommend it every time.  You will find it  less frustrating and the results will be much greater when you avoid problems before they happen.

Photo Credit: Angela Doyle

Meg the Centurion

1499739688_b2b35e65f6_mNo, I’m not a professional officer in the Roman army but I do happen to now have authored 100 blog posts and the ring idea was already spoken for.

I know, I can’t really believe it either.  I only got on this whole blogging idea as a result of a conversation with Mark where I concluded that he was bringing up a lot of great discussion topics that should be shared by more people than just the two of us.   We quickly recruited Amy to our plan, and, inspired by David’s why development should blog series, we started to look into what blogging was all about.

I still remember vividly, the horror I felt when Jake told us that, to do a serious blog, we needed to commit to having four posts a week of content.  That was just not going to work out with only three new bloggers, who also had day jobs.  Not to be defeated, we went into overdrive to recruit people to help take the pressure off. 

I also made a personal commitment to try to post a blog entry each week.

My first blog attempts, were often restating Mark’s ideas, as I understood them, but soon I started to get my own topics, voice and rhythm.

I have found blogging is something I really enjoy.  I have learned a lot, met a bunch of great people and had a focus for my thinking that I didn’t have before. 

My blog personality is just like me, opinionated, outspoken, open and contemplative (thanks Laura!) but with slightly less profanity and slightly more verve.

So thanks to everyone who has participated in this adventure with me.  From those reluctant bloggers who felt forced to join, to those related to me who felt obligated to read [and vote for] them, to those who contributed to the conversation.

I would even like to thank those who wrote less than flattering comments about me, who helped me, not only thicken my skin, but learn to be brave enough to not censor you (editors note – we have been consistent at TalentedApps in only censoring those who are clearly selling something or have been ruled objectively offensive.  The clueless and the mean are let through).

Like most bloggers who are not writers, I am surprised at how quickly I have learned to love to blog.  If you are not a blogger today, I  encourage you to consider giving it a try.  If you are not sure, drop me an email and I’ll give you more reasons why you should and some practical pointers on how to get started.

Smiling more

2895535441_705de327da_mI am coming up on the one year anniversary of a personal goal to smile more.  This specific goal came from some coaching I received that suggested I should.

Well, to be more clear, I got this feedback years ago from my husband, but of course, I ignored it, as often happens, with personal feedback from family members. 

To be fair, his suggestion was don’t frown so much, which somehow sounded critical where the coach said, you have a great smile, you should smile more which somehow sounded enlightening.  Note to self — coaching works better with positive spin.

In general, I’m a pretty happy person, so it was a bit of a shock to hear that I do so much frowning.  The truth is, I’m in my head a lot and when I do that my facial expression is a bit dour.  The other bi-product of being in my head, is that I walk around a lot not noticing people around me.   

For the last year, I have focused on two primary things — looking people in the eye and smiling at them. 

Today, I noticed that people regularly smile at me unprompted.  It really was a great feeling to know that people naturally expected I would smile at them and occasionally beat me to it.  

I decided to congratulate myself on this publicly, to give others a chance to consider if they might be perceived better by trying to smile more.

One interesting benefit, is that when you make a conscious decision to smile, you often tip the scales from a normal day to a happy one, and since happiness is contagious there is a follow on effect that benefits everyone.  So you see I really wasn’t taking this goal on for me, I was doing it for you

Now how is that for positive spin?