Monday, January 12, 2009

Leaders Need Followers

Just a few hours ago, one man got to stand in for president-elect Obama as the dress-rehearsal for the inauguration took place. In life, we usually don't get to stand in for others, nor do others stand-in for us. Instead, we need to stand UP for ourselves, our beliefs, our mission in life and be counted.

In 2009, what are you going to stand up for? Are you a follower? There is nothing wrong with follow great leaders. Leaders needs followers to make their mission visible and achievable. Are you a leader? Who do you want to follow you and where are you going?

I hope, no matter who you voted for, you take time on January 20, 2009 to watch a piece of history being made. His success is the success of every individual who ever had a dream and worked hard to achieve. May 2009 be your greatest year of achievement yet.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Are you ready for what the year brings?

What are YOU bringing to the year itself?

Watch this little video and give it some thought.

The choice is yours. Make it magical.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

School to Eliminate Grade-Levels, Ability Equals Promotion

Here, here! A school district has decided due to low enrollment and low test scores it will no longer assign students to grade levels, but instead, promote based upon ability to master standards. This is a model used in the work world for years. What a wonderful idea -- if students are allowed to move at their own pace -- and not when convenient for administrators, teachers and other personnel. Likewise, an employee who is permitted to move at his or her own accomplishment level may reach the boardroom in record time, given the opportunity and erasure of artificial time constraints.

The question is, "What would you accomplish if you knew you could move through the learning system based upon how quickly you proved you knew the skills?"
Here's an excerpt of the original article from the Denver Post:

A school district in Westminster struggling with declining enrollment and falling test scores will try something revolutionary next year that many say never has been accomplished in the Lower 48.

Adams 50 will eliminate grade levels and instead group students based on what they know, allowing them to advance to the next level after they have proved proficiency.

"If they can pull this off, it will be a lighthouse for America's challenged school districts," said Richard DeLorenzo, the consultant who implemented a standards-based model in Alaska and is working with Adams 50. "It will change the face of American education."

To read the full story, please visit the Denver Post here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Learn to Fall

Today I received a newsletter in my in-box for writers. In that was an article by Jodi Thomas a the New York Times and US Today bestselling author of over 25 novels, including her latest, Tall, Dark, and Texan (Jove, 2008). The one tip she had for writers was "learn to fall."

Why YOU Need to Learn to Fall
It doesn't matter if you're still in the classroom or in corporate America. The world will not always give you exactly what you want. Some days, you just might get a whole bucket full of rejection, setbacks and conflict. If you can get up, keep going, focus on the goal, not the setbacks, you'll get the results you want.

Edison's Take on Falling: Falling is NOT Failing
"During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple." --On his years of research in developing the electric light bulb, as quoted in "Talks with Edison" by George Parsons Lathrop in Harpers magazine, Vol. 80 (February 1890), p. 425
No where does he say he was a failure. He just said he didn't make a discovery. How you frame your work decides your final success or other outcome.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reply to All

A colleague of mine called me on Wednesday night and said, "Next time you write about business, please address 'reply to all.'" Then, I said, "And spam. Nothing is worse than spam, especially if it is promoting a point of view that doesn't belong in business." She agreed that sappy poems about dead relatives, religious dogma and off-color jokes don't belong in business communications.

So what is "Reply to All"?
When you receive a message from the boss and every other employee gets the same message, that does not mean everyone on the team wants to know your input or even needs to. If they are your peers, they're probably not the decision maker in the situation, but like you, needs to be aware of information that the supervisor is sending out.
  • If you have a question, reply only to the sender.
  • Do not reply at all if you're not required to and if you understand the message that was sent initially. Your supervisor is paid too much money to read an in-box full of, "Thank you" and "I agree" messages.
What is Spam?
Spam originally got its name from a Monty Python song whose lyrics consist of the same word over and over again: Spam. The repetition, lack of necessary content, and annoyance at receiving these junk e-mails can be frustrating at best.

Before you select "send" ask yourself:
  • Is this business related or related to the professional development of anyone on this team? If so, you should send it only to those who are directly connected the message.
  • Is it promoting a personal view (including political, religious, or any area that can be considered an "-ism" such as sexism or racism)? If so, STOP and do not send.
  • Is it in celebration of a holiday, cause or event that the company is sponsoring? If so, send it along to those who will need to make work adjustments to be on board.
  • Is it in celebration of a holiday, cause or event that is not connected to work, professional development of any staff, or just sounds like fun? Unless there is a precedent set by the management to send out such information, don't do it. You never know who you may offend and it might land you in a chair in the human resources office if supervisors feel you're not using work time to do your job first, and play on your own time.
  • Is it religious in nature? Unless you work for a religion-based company, don't send it. The world is full of enough discrimination without someone having to hear, yet again, how your point of view is good, right and best. Be respectful and responsible and never assume that "everyone" at the office celebrates the same religious holidays or customs. It is simply narrow-minded in this global age to believe that everyone is the same.
In short, e-mail is a tool for business when you're at work. If what you're sending does not support the business or the message of the company, you should save those messages for your circle of friends or social media sites that you access off the clock.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Entering and Exiting with Grace

Imagine you're in a meeting that has already begun. Five minutes into the session, someone barges in announcing, "I'm sorry I'm late. Can you go back to the beginning?"
He is told by the meeting chair, "No, we're moving forward. If you have questions after the session, please speak with me."
The latecomer announces, "But I couldn't find a parking place! You're not fair."
Then, three more people walk in late demanding to know what is going on and the situation snowballs into a meeting filled with tension.

What's unacceptable about this situation?
  • Is the the meeting chair's response that the meeting is moving forward?
  • What about the first tardy attended who interrupted?
  • Did he set a precedent for the other three tardies?
From this scenario it is difficult to know for certain for the full circumstances. However, if the chairperson has said the meeting will continue, he or she has the final say. Period.
If the latecomers are indeed late, they ought to have the class and understanding not to interrupt when they enter, but to come in quietly and get their bearings before asking questions.

From a business point of view, questioning a supervisor, anyone running and meeting or in authority in front of others in the same manner the first man did may result in disciplinary action and exclusion from further meetings, even if he had a legitimate excuse solely because he was rude, inappropriate and obnoxious.

When you enter or exit a meeting already in progress, do so silently and with grace.
As my mother said to me countless times, "You can make people smile when you enter a room or when you leave a room. The choice is based upon how you act around others." I say, in the business world, how you act also determines your opportunities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cell Phones and Professionalism

Unless you work for a cellular service provider, it is almost never acceptable to take calls during a meeting, training, class or discussion with another. This includes allowing your phone to buzz away endlessly as a persistent caller tries to reach you during such a professional event. Most schools, colleges and universities included, ban cell phone use in the classroom to prevent cheating and to make sure students are paying attention in class.

Penalties for Mobile Phone Use in Education and Business
  • If you're in public k-12 education, the phone can be confiscated. One district I used to work for required offenders' parents to come in and collect the phone and repeated offenders could be given in-school suspension.
  • If you're in college, you can be barred from the rest of the class, and sent home for disruption.
  • In any academic setting, if you're texting or taking calls during and exam, you can be charged with cheating and expelled.
  • One networking group I belong to charges members fees if their phones go off during a presentation ($1 if it rings or buzzes, and $5 if you take the call).

The crux of the matter is this: cell phones are not appropriate in all situations. Know that unless you have express permission to use them in business or academic settings, you will face consequences, even if the only repurcussion to be thought of as an absolutely rude person.

Remember: The perceptions others have of your seriousness and professionalism can hurt your career beyond repair.