March 3rd, 2014

Scoutmasters Minute - Someone Else, Sometime Later & Not me

I re-wrote an existing Scoutmasters minute about a troop loosing a member names Someone Else. 

Here is my expanded version. 

I am sorry to say we have lost three very active and valuable members of Troop 33. Senior Scouts / Fraternal Twins Someone Else,  Sometime Later and their younger brother Not Me have left the troop, and we will all have to work hard to fill in for them.

Someone Else,  Sometime Later & Not Me have been with us for many years; they have taken on everything and anything asked of them.. When there was a job to do, an email to read and reply to, a menu to plan, their name was on everybody’s lips: “How about Not me or Let Someone Else do it or maybe Sometime Later” Whenever we all were to busy to be bother from our every day life to pay attention to even our own responsibilities we counted on Someone Else to make sure we achieved what we needed to achieve. 

Not Me was young but was the first person the older scouts turned to when Someone Else & Sometime Later were to busy. Ultimately, all the responsibility we placed on three brothers in terms of not doing our own work made Someone Else and his brother valuable and experienced leaders who are and will be an asset to any Troop or organization they join. 

We however have not learned the valuable lessons which for Someone Else, Sometime Later and even young Not Me are easy and second nature. From here on out we will be unable to call on Someone Else or his brothers. 

Now we must remember that our only choice for getting things done is ourselves, each and everyone of ourselves and should we ever wish to be as talented and valuable as Someone Else then we must own our own responsibility and tasks. 

Next time you are tempted to call Not Me or count on Sometime Later or hope that Someone Else will cover for you remember they are gone. You are on your own and with a little effort you can achieve anything so you need only look to yourself to achieve great things.

May 23rd, 2013

A Scoutmasters mumbles on today’s historic change in Scouting

Below is a email I sent to the boys and parents of Troop 33 of Beverly Hills which I am the Scoutmaster of and Pack 100 of Beverly Hills which I am the Charter Organization of.

I am pleased to say today that the National Board of Boy Scouts of
America lifted the ban on gay youth in scouting.

This is a big step forward for scouting and I and others have long
been pushing for change on this issue.

While Troop 33 has a long and significant history of not
discriminating on any basis (with both notable gay scouts and scout
leaders) the national policy has always been a disappointment and
something that has hurt scouting significantly.

The troop was for decades proudly chartered by the Rotary Club of
Beverly Hills and we lost that support over the former policy.

I hope this change will prove to those who had doubts that an
organization as large as the Boy Scout of America could change and
become more enlightened even if it did take a long time.

There is still a restriction for gay adult leaders however I am
confident in time this will change as well.

Change in any large organization comes slowly as there are many
factions and opinions on any issue.

Much will be said and debated in the days, weeks and months to come on
this issue. Those who had strong opinions against this decision will
struggle to adapt to the change. Some troops may loose their support
of their faith based charter organizations just as we lost our charter
support when the policy was to discriminate. Some who’s beliefs do not
allow them to be accepting of gays will struggle to justify their
continued participation in scouting.

I urge everyone to stay focused on  and help focus other on the
valuable mission of scouting which in truth has nothing to do with
these issues.

Scouting must be available for any and all who want to participate.

We must stayed focus on the good of scouting and work to not let this
positive change force those on the loosing side to withdraw as that
only hurts the boys involved and the organization as a whole.

There is yet more change needed to be an organization that is
completely non-biased but forward motion will lead to more change in
the future.

Most of us adults are to young (and certainly you scouts are way to
young) to have been part of the great and historic changes for
equality that swept through this country in the past. Today we are
proud of the equality that exist for all people in this country yet it
was not so long ago that this equality we take for granted did not
exist.

Change came though the efforts of many who did not abandon the
institution but worked for change from within.

This is a historic step for Scouting and a significant step forward
for equality and we all are part of that change. Be proud of this step
forward and never forget that you as leaders must always be willing to
lead for change and not turn your back when the going gets tough or
the vote goes the other way.

Scouting is a great organization for all that it has always been and
for being able to make a change that makes scouting available to all
youth regardless of their sexual preferences.

July 7th, 2012

Communication Odyssey

Have you noticed?

Communication has changed.

It is still about the giving and getting of information and certainly the standard barriers to communication still exist.

But otherwise things are very fluid.

Once upon the time your options were limited to face to face, written letters, phone calls and possibly a telegram.

Today there are forms of instant written communication like texts, direct tweets, IM’s and even emails. There are visual options like video chat, teleconferences and face time.

Not to mention the wealth of communication platforms including Linkedin, Facebook, Twtter, Cell Phones and Tablets.

One must consider speed, receivers preferred medium, senders/receivers present environment, requirement for response and desired timing of said response when initiating communication.

Both parties expectations both inferred or implicit only deepen the complexity and opportunity for miscommunication or unintentional friction caused solely by the medium and not the message.

Text messages have suddenly become more personal than phone calls implying that one can get a message through no matter what the circumstances. A phone call be shunted to voicemail but a text is received.

Expectations are raised and assumptions are made based upon timing of reply as well as medium of the initial communication.

If your boss texts you verses emailing or calling does that mean something in and of itself. If you fail to respond in a timely manner will that communicate something other than what you intend.

Services like Facebook and Linkedin extend access to an extended network of people. Now more people can access you and while on the whole this is a good thing (yes naturally I do not agree with the make yourself hard to reach theory) it can create expectation in people you barely know.

So how do you communicate your preferences?

What should you do if you are a type A person who prefers the immediacy of voice communication while your desired recipient is more likely to be reached quickly via a text?

Can having someone as a follower on Twitter or a friend on Facebook not only open more communication options but possibly give you more direct and immediate access to some people?

June 6th, 2012

Printed Wisdom

A book that was and is fundamental to my life, The Boy Scout Handbook, while not available on an e-reader is available for the iPhone.

Some of my other favorite books:

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill: Yale graduate, prosperous ad exec: Gill has it all. Then he turns 60 and finds himself precipitously bounced from his job and saddled with the triple threats of a ruined marriage, an unexpected newborn, and a brain tumor. A book of transition and re-discovering ones place in life.

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni: In his sixth fable, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni takes on a topic that almost everyone can relate to: the causes of a miserable job. A must read for everyone.

Winnie-the-Pooh on Management by Roger E Allen: Basic management principles, including such fundamental communication concepts as, “The information should be meaningful to the individual who is receiving it.” Basic and sage wisdom dished up with the aid of a favorite stuffed animal.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson: If things are going wrong or the rules have changed then maybe someone moved your cheese. A must read book for anyone who has ever suddenly noticed things are not as they once were and wants to know what to do about it.

Self-Made Man Norah Vincent: In this interesting and very unique view of male and female roles former Los Angeles Times op-ed columnist Norah Vincent trick dozens of people into believing she is a man and during an 18 month experiment in which she joined a men’s bowling league, visited strip bars, and dated women. Along the way, she found that the freedom and privileges enjoyed by men were counterbalanced by a constant testing and severe limits on emotions. She also found women to be distrustful, ever ready to criticize men for being emotionally distant yet clearly preferring men who met stereotypical images of strength and virility.

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett: “THEY SAY that the prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates a man’s mind wonderfully” This fictional book is fun and is filled with indirect sage wisdom for anyone trying to get the impossible done.

It’s Your Ship by D. Michael Abrashoff: As commander of the highly acclaimed USS Benfold, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff irrefutably demonstrated how progressive management can succeed at sea; in It’s Your Ship, he translates his methods into an approach that can also be applied by land-bound captains of commerce and industry.

Copy This! by Paul Orfalea and Ann Marsh: The now-retired founder of Kinko’s mixes autobiographical anecdote with large doses of business advice in this candid, conversational account of his entrepreneurial rise.

December 31st, 2011

Network More in 2012!

I hope this note finds you on the verge of a great 2012!

Another year has passed and I want to encourage you to increase your networking in 2012.

Bill Barnett in this recent Harvard Business Review article on job hunting spoke of the importance of massive, structured networking.

Bill wrote, “The way to succeed at networking is to reach out broadly to people who can help. The way to fail is to limit your contacts to the few people you know well. Massive outreach is the only reliable path to victory.”

I want to encourage you to follow this wisdom in 2012!

Many of you join networking groups like my own group ExecTec looking to increase your networking but never really took the next step of interacting with the group.

Networking is the one thing you do for yourself in your career.

As I am fond of saying a problem is something for which there is a solution and an excuse is that which there is no solution for.

So the question to ask yourself as we enter a new year is do you have a networking problem or a networking excuse?

Networking is not just about finding your next job although for many of you that is or will be the issue that drives you to network most. However, networking is the thing that empowers and makes what ever you do easier to accomplish.

Most of us loose so much time looking for the right resources or putting up with a problem or lack of a good resource or key information when having a robust and massive network would solve this issue connecting us with the right person and or resource more quickly.

Set aside your networking excuses in 2012 and commit yourself to a level of networking. Whether that is getting to an event every week, month, or quarter the key is to just do it.

Obviously I would love for you to drop in on an ExecTec Dinner or if you are out of the area comment on our topics or interact with us on the group Facebook page.

I hope everyone has a fantastic and prosperous 2012 and I hope to see and interact with many of you in 2012!
June 19th, 2011
Fathers Day in style.

Fathers Day in style.

So I have been taking Ukulele lessons for some time now and this is one of my efforts which I recorded using AmpliTube on my iPad with a iRig input. I am playing on a Risa Uke Stick like the one below:

Risa Uke Stick

Pivots


    

TOPIC CROSS POST

When a companies business model falters many business perform what is now called a business pivot.

While the pivot is most often associated with the dot com startups the likes of twitter, insta-gram, Flickr and Paypal, even companies like Sony, which started making home goods as a rice cooker and heating blankets, have pivoted.

“Pivoting” according to Steve Blank in this post Business plan not working? Time to pivot
is when you change a fundamental part of the business model. It can be as simple as recognizing that your product was priced incorrectly. It can be more complex if you find the your target customer or users need to change or the feature set is wrong or you need to “repackage” a monolithic product into a family of products or you chose the wrong sales channel or your customer acquisition programs were ineffective.

Ken Kaufman Founder & CEO, CFOwise in this post outlines the 10 most common cash-flow pivots  in hopes of helping find the most scalable and repeatable way to offer your products and services to help maximize the life-blood, or cash flow of a business.

While Ken’s focus is clearly financial companies would not be looking to pivot if their monetization model was working.

Need something less financial to inspire you to a pivot? Check out Business Insiders 10 trends that could change your business for 2011.

Pivots are all about taking a new direction while still keeping one metaphorical foot in the original business. In 2003, Cheggpost.com offered free classified listings for college students. By 2006 one of Chegg’s co-founders, began rethinking the company’s business model. He noticed that  most of their activity was at the start of each semester and revolved around buying and selling textbooks. Ultimately the pivot became about renting books to students rather then helping them buy and sell to each other. Chegg now rents more than one million books a year and has 150 employees.

Is your company due for a pivot?

Are you offering the right solution to your target market? Is your profit model as effective as it should be? Are you to focused on your product and not your customers needs?

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May 30th, 2011
Taken with Instagram at It’s a Small World

Taken with Instagram at It’s a Small World

May 27th, 2011

What you don’t engage will hurt you!

There are many who will claim that social media and all this Internet 2.0 stuff is bad. Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains fears that all this online activity is making our brain operate like the Internet itself—with faster, ever-more distracted multitasking.

Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor, went further. He talked about how multitasking—walking and talking, eating and reading, texting while watching TV—is making us inefficient, distracted, and hurting our memory.

Of course there is no end to the list of things that were destined to destroy society and business but did not.

Professor Robin Dunbar at Oxford asserts you can only really have 150 friends defined as people with whom you have a personalised relationship, one that is reciprocal and based around general obligations of trust and reciprocity. If you asked them to do a favour, they would be more likely to say yes than those outside the 150 (what we at ExecTec call the Bronwyn Ride to Airport Test or BRAT for short).

To all this I say balderdash! Further, I propose that listening to any of this drivel is sure to do you harm. They said the four minute mile could not be broken and they said we could not break the sound barrier, these are sell imposed constraints and we will believe them to our detriment.

Consider in a report released today by public relations firm Edelman which asserts of all entertainment sectors, only social networking sites have retained their value in the eyes of consumers over the past year. The report shows that the perceived value consumers are getting from the entertainment industry has fallen by 68 percent in all areas, and only 17 percent of all respondents feel that entertainment sources today provide “very good” or “excellent” value.

The answer to some degree is in Professor Dunbar’s research which explores why gossip is good for us.  His view is that language allows us to integrate a large number of social relationships and one important means of doing this is through the exchange of information about individuals who are not present.

Ultimately the draw of real interactions out weighs the value of static entertainment to some degree. Time spent on interacting with a broader if necessarily less likely to reach BART status is still more fulfilling.

So what does this mean to the individual executive or business as far as participation in the current social media expansion?

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January 22nd, 2011

Is 2011 the year that will tip the scales and media will make the paradigm shift to new media?

Is 2011 the year that will tip the scales and media will make the paradigm shift to new media?

300,000 people canceled their cable subscription in 2010 and it is estimated that 30% of Netflix subscribers aged 18-24 are using Netflix in lieu of cable.

Hulu is airing first run original content like last year’s reality series If I Can Dream and has more recently launched the Morning After hosted by Brian Kimmet and Ginger Gonzaga which is the first show where Hulu originated the initial idea.

iPads, Kindles and Nooks provide access to an endless list of magazine like Readers Digest, People, Wired, Time, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and The New Yorker just to name a few, one wonders if print journalism will ever be the same. Virgin recently launch an iPad only magazine that it promotes as “a revolutionary multimedia magazine built specially for the iPad.

Share your thoughts on Quora

Is 2011 the year that will tip the scales and media will make the paradigm shift to new media?

January 16th, 2011
Out for a socal winter walk (Taken with instagram)

Out for a socal winter walk (Taken with instagram)

January 15th, 2011
June 26th, 2010

What to say!

So this week I wrote for my next ExeTec networking dinner the following topic: 

The world is listening and Google never forgets. These are important things to keep in mind no matter if you are an army general stuck in an airport with a Rolling Stones reporter during a volcanic eruption or a lawyer pondering if you can blog about a subject in which you represent a client.

One of my former media colleagues George Merlis wrote some good wisdom on his blog today: “In media training we teach the following: Always treat a microphone as if it is a gun. You treat a gun as if it is always loaded. Similarly, treat a microphone as if it is always on. Never say anything in proximity to a microphone that you don’t want the whole world to hear. And treat a reporter as if he is a microphone. Reporters are always working, always mentally recording, always looking for a story.”

Now I recently heard Arvind Puri VP, Data Platform at MySpace speak at an event and he asserted that one should be posting to ones blog or twitter feed once a day. As much as I agree with this wisdom for the sake of presence if nothing else, I must say I find doing so a bit of a challenge.

It is not for a lack of ideas, clever quip, or even interesting articles I could re-tweet however often professional discretion, a myriad of non-disclosure agreements and or just good common sense keep me from sharing to much.

Now for those who are intentionally promoting or marketing products, saying something is not the issue but saying to much or not finding a good balance between valuable content and promotional content can be the issue. Marketing people should beware that the best crafted marketing message can and will back fire.

Now for those of you feeling safe and secure in your disconnected executive existences don’t think message control does not apply to you as well. As a fellow executive said to me the other day, if you say it, write it or share it in anyway you loose control of your message and it might end up with distinctly the wrong person.

So how can we be the master of our messages without putting at risk communication misdirection or even collateral communication damage so much that we do not regret our messages or ongoing online presence?

Join me as we explore communicating in a flat and connected world where anything we say or do can and will be seen by anyone and everyone.

This AM I wanted to find some material for Tuesdays dinner (which anyone is welcome to join in at either this week or on any other Tuesday) and perhaps something I could use for a 140 character promotional tweet so I Googled "what to say what not to say" and found some interesting things I thought I would share.

Top listed was certainly off point and a bit to colorful but still illustrative:

101 Things Not To Say During Sex

I think I will let that one speak for itself but note there is also 10 Things Not To Say To A Co-Worker Crush and this chart of what to say during sex safely illustrates the point in a more positive light.

The next item titled Say not Say opened with an illustrative quote from Marshall McClune which was fascinatingly written in 1964, “We live today in the Age of Information and of Communication because electric media instantly and constantly create a total field of interacting events in which all men participate.”

The article was a bit complex for my taste but I liked the opening question very much:

"Communication has come to be regarded as a symbol of the age in which we live. Talk is frequently of "communication explosion", of "communication technology" revolution, even of "communication society". But what is communication and how can we make sense of it?"

Now if I could get that into 140 characters it would make a very evocative promotional tweet

In my search I can across several examples of what not to say during a job interview. I think this is something that plagues the minds of many. Not only because we do not often get interviewed for jobs but also because we so rarely understand how we did unless we get the job.

CareerBulider What not to say in a job interview

Hub Pages 10 things you should NEVER say during a job interview

Of course the contrary point to that would be this oh so very 6 months ago (and lets hope it stays that way) Business Week article, Ten Things Not to Say When Firing an Employee.

Newsweek steps in with a very timely and to my original topic with What Not to Say When Your Company Is Ruining the World.

There were links I discovered of a more personal sense that they addressed what not to say to people dealing with pregnant women, new mothers, people with eating disorders and Someone With Depression. There also was this personal account of what not to say when someone has died by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.

It seems we are very much aware of our faults and ability to mis-communicate.

Obviously communication must always overcome the ever present barriers to communication:

  1. Cultural or Gender differences
  2. Emotional Payload or issues
  3. Fear
  4. Closed Receiver
  5. Defensiveness
  6. Failure to adapt message to target audience
  7. Preconceived notions
  8. Unclear purpose or message
  9. Inappropriate medium for message
  10. Lack of confirmation the message was received and understood as intended

The question is given that the microphone is always on and the messages are always loaded (even when not intended) how can we shift our focus from not saying the wrong thing and more towards saying things that are positive and effective?

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May 20th, 2010

15 slots of Networking

I have for sometime been sharing my new theory of networking for transitioning executives. Since I know that driving oneself to network is a challenge for everyone, I thought this week I would outline my theory of the 15 slots.

Simply put in any given week there are 15 slots or opportunities to connect with others, 5 breakfast/AM coffee, 5 lunches or mid-day drop-byes and 5 dinners or drinks.

Now I am sure your boss, significant other, lending institution and or off-spring planning on spending their inheritance keep you well motivated to get done a plethora of tasks and projects, however no one (baring a retained executive coach) truly keeps you accountable to yourself.

Now I know lots of fantastic executives and many of them are very good at networking however everyone struggles with being consistent about their networking endeavors. While transitioning executives clearly must amp up their networking the truth is that if we all maintained a consistent level of networking then being in transition would not be as much of an issue. Clearly few of us are digging our wells before we are thirsty and many who have a well forgot where they left it.

I clearly remember one member of my networking group who went into transition for the second time in the 5 year history of the group and showed up saying, “yep I know, I know I blew it, I got a job, stopped networking and now I have to start up my networking efforts again.” Are you doing the same?

Now naturally you could not fill all 15 slots with one on one networking opportunities even if you had nothing else to do. Even if we allow 1 out of 4 slots to be filled with networking “events” like ExecTec or association meetings there is a limit.

The slots are meant to give you a away to measure your performance.

Those looking for work should be targeting 3-8 slots a week with 1 to 2 being group networking functions (which will be critical to finding new people to fill the other slots). Working executives should be filling 1 to 3 slots with one group networking function (anyone should be able to fill 1 slot out of 15 per week).

You are looking to connect with anyone and everyone. Get outside your circle, vocation, industry and meet with people you might not otherwise meet. You never know, that unlikely executive that seemingly has no direct value might be the person to connect you with the person who will fund your dream or open the door to that great job.

During these interactions don’t go straight for your elevator pitch or corner your contact and demand the name of three more potential victims. The goal is to establish a relationship and connection. What you must do is ask what you can do for them. Specifically transitioning executives have a fantastic opportunity to invest their time in being of aid to others. Trust me nothing will make more of an impression then your doing for someone else. They will remember and they will look for ways to assist you now or later. Even working executives can and should ask how they could be of aid to the other person. This approach will almost assure that no one will ever turn down an opportunity to meet with you another time.

With a relationship established you are clear to make plain your goals and when the time is right to seek direct aid for those goals.

Lastly establish a presence that keeps you in the peripheral vision of those that you have connected with. This means finding ways of interacting with your contact on the social networking sites where they exist. This helps keep you in their minds between in person interactions. When was the last time you RSVPed for ExecTec? Doing serves to create a presence that reminds those you have met at dinners that you are out there. Anyone who has been a part of the group for any length of time knows that the one of the most notable member of the group is someone who has never joined us but religiously RSVP’s to every event.

The goal is to connect and establish solid ties with other executives, whether you measure sucess by how many of the 15 slots you can fill or make every Tuesday night a night where you gather in Westwood with other great executives the key is to set aside the excuses as to why you don’t and start networking. After all you can loose the job, have your company bought out, change careers or move cross country but you can not loose a strong network and armed with that anything is possible.

If you would like to discuss networking and humor me in my theory of 15 slots (hey it fills one slot). Feel free to join me Tuesday night in Westwood at my ExecTec Networking dinner, I promise if nothing else the conversation will be interesting and the people you met will be some of the best networkers you could ever want to meet.