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Category Archives: Business

Just a Suggestion…

If the job posting specifically asks for 3 samples of your writing,  a two-sentence email response and an attached resume’ probably won’t get your name on the shortlist…

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New Year, New Possibilities

Welcome to 2013!  It’s a fresh new year.  What are you going to do with it?

Think about that for a second. It’s not an idle question. The whole year lies before us, ripe with possibility. It’s a time for just a little nostalgia about the year just past and a lot of hope for the year ahead.

Remember, January is named for the Roman god Janus, a two-faced deity able to look to both the past and the future at the same time. That’s what this first week of the new year is really all about. It’s a time to learn from our mistakes of the last year. It’s a time to make new mistakes, and learn from them too. And of course, it’s time for new triumphs as well.

What do you want to change in 2013? Do you want to lose weight, gain weight (not a problem for your humble Walrus, alas), learn to speak Spanish, run a marathon? Go for it! All you have to do is take the first step and your journey will begin.

If you’re content with your life as it is, that’s fine too. Be happy. If you’re not, well, what better time is there to change than right now?

Most of us have no idea how much power we have at any given time. If you want to change your life, you have the power to do that. If you want to change the world, you have the power.

To paraphrase John Lennon, you say you want a resolution. Well, you know, we’d all love to see the plan. Lots of folks are making resolutions, vowing to change some aspect of their lives, great or small.  Many of those resolutions will be forgotten by the end of the month, if not by the end of the week.

Forget resolutions. Don’t waste your time on them. If you want to change something, make a COMMITMENT. Commit to being the best you that you can be. Commit to positive changes in your life. Commit to making the world a better place.

Obviously, some things will be easier than others. It’s a lot easier to drink less coffee, for example, than it is to change the world. But if you truly commit, you can indeed change the world too.

Think about where you were at this point last January. What’s changed in your life since then? Sift through those changes, learn what you can, leave what you must and commit to embracing all the possibilities 2013 has to offer.

Meetingzzz…

In the business world, meetings are a necessary evil. Sure, they’re needed as a way to share information, set goals and objectives and recognize achievement, but is there an employee or employer anywhere who truly looks forward to them? How many people have actually said “I’m excited about the meetings we’re going to have”?

While I’ve never been a big fan of meetings, I didn’t come to dread them until I had a job as a manager a few years ago. The powers that be in the human resources department decided the employee handbook needed updating. What followed was weeks of excruciatingly dull department head meetings in which we could easily spend an hour debating whether a sentence should start with “A” or “The.” There was literally no detail too small to be argued. It was exhausting.  It kept managers out of our departments for hours. Meetings were beyond boring to the point of catatonia. But eventually the handbook was revised successfully — with very few changes from the original wording.

Fortunately, my current employer is considerably more enlightened, and requires few routine meetings. But we’re embarking on a new project that demands weekly meetings to keep all team members informed and up to date. We should be able to have some good — brief — discussions of the project. But if we get around to discussing the “A” or “The” question, wake me when it’s over.

Imitation is NOT “Insanely Great”

Posted on

Imitation is the sincerest demonstration of a lack of creativity

Much has been written in the past few month about the genius of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Since his death last year, Jobs has been hailed as a business guru, an Edison for the 21st century. And rightly so.

It’s no secret that virtually every company on the planet would love to be as successful as Apple. The company that was nearly out of business just 15 years ago has revolutionized the way we communicate, amassing a huge pile of cash and changing entire global industries in the process.

Steve Jobs was unquestionably key to Apple’s achievements. There’s no doubt he saw products and concepts in a way that few can. In short, he was a visionary. So it’s understandable that other business leaders (and would-be leaders) want to follow in his footsteps.

The Wall Street Journal reports (see link) that many managers are now combing through Walter Isaacson’s recently published biography of Jobs to glean leadership ideas. Some are going so far as to imitate Jobs’ actions, and one CEO has even adopted Jobs’ trademark black turtleneck office attire.

The Walrus is not unsympathetic to managers. In a past life, I used to be a middle manager myself, albeit a bad one. And yes, there are always books and tips for managers about how to do a difficult job better. When I attended Walrus State U., the buzzwords of the management world included management by objectives, (MBO), management by walking around (MBWA) and various other forms of  management theory by alphabet soup.

There was the One Minute Manager. Then someone moved the cheese. Someone else tossed a fish. And so on and on and on. So it makes sense that today’s managers want to achieve success by emulating one of the greatest business innovators of the past 50 years.

But here’s the thing — Adopting Steve Jobs’ management style, sartorial flourishes and all, won’t work. It won’t work for one simple reason — you’re not Steve Jobs. If you were, you would already be as successful as he was. To use a once-popular motivational cliché, eagles don’t flock. Jobs was a singular success because he was able to dream beyond the ordinary.

Besides, there’s significant evidence that for all his business success, Jobs the man could be difficult to work for and to live with. As with many geniuses in many fields, he could be famously grouchy and intolerant of lesser mortals (see, Edison, Thomas; Ford, Henry; or Feynman, Richard). Although it worked at Apple, a company he co-founded, his blunt style won’t work everywhere.

Instead of trying to copy Jobs, why not try being yourself? There’s a novel concept. Talk to your team members, work with them, find out what motivates them. Let your own signature management style develop, and you will reach success by being your own first-class man or woman. Not by trying to be a cut-rate someone else.

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