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Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

…everything ends

May 20, 2014 1 comment

As I have written here before, being a parent affords me the opportunity to see behaviors and reactions of my children at various stages of development. One of the most interesting, and yet saddest behaviors I see is the dichotomy of a new experience and its, sometimes too rapid demise.

Recently, we took a trip to a fair – kids love fairs…love them. For me it is always a great mix of people watching, eating and watching poorly constructed rides shake and rattle with every new group of brave riders. In case you were wondering, hell no – would never ride one of those rides.

So the entire day before we go, the extensive car ride over and while standing in line for the tickets – I hear the same thing over and over. This merry go round has apparently been beckoning my kids since they visited it last year. I cannot understand what, specifically attracts them but they named the horses and remembered them! For the record, I do not count merry go rounds in the above references to potential death-trap rides. Worse case, we can jump, tuck and roll…all good.

We get on the ride and I watch as they take take care to find their horses and jump on and get ready. Camera in hand, I started snapping away at the joy on their faces as we began the even tempered revolutions. Three turns is all it took…all it took for them to look for me, at me and through me to the exit rotate past them. I had witnessed the actual moment that great joy turned into melancholy…it was swift. The moment was over.

I am not preaching nihilism (at least not in this case) – but reflecting on the fact that the awesomeness of the events leading up to the ride was the ride. The punchline for this story? Simply put, enjoy the journey. Whether we are visiting far off lands, building teams, delivering products/services to customers, spending time with family and loved ones…savor the journey.

Once you finish, you are done…until you start again!IMG_5356

…make wise choices

-sk

 

…importance of autonomy part deux

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

So here we sit in the remnants of one of the most ferocious storms in recent times…Sandy. Many things transpired since last I spoke on this topic. Last year water was our nemesis (at least where I live), this year it was the mighty wind! I prepared the basement over the past year with foundational repairs, primary, backup sump pump installations and we refinished the basement to its former glory!

So what happend this time and what did i learn?

For starters, I lost many trees and thankfully no damage to the house came to pass. The big issue to tackle this year was no city power since 10/29…and counting! In preparation, I had stocked up on gas, sustenance essentials, purchased a generator and had a transfer switch installed inside so that all I needed was to fire her up, plug into the house and i had the critical (vs. whole house) stuff running. Good plan? Well almost…one minor issue that turned out to be the sticking point of the lesson from this storm.

Turns out my grinder pump (all the wastewater from the house gets macerated and pushed into the public sewer system due to the house being below the sewer line) has too high of a wattage surge. This meant that we could not use the water in the house! Lesson of the day is don’t rely on electricians to do your calculations for ya! Good news was that a porto-potty and pilgrim methods of water use saved the day until another generator was delivered by family from Ohio!

Some items outside my control that all folks were dealing with…and how adapted;

  1. Crap communications from utility companies and local government (used neighboring Mayor’s updates and extrapolated my situation)
  2. Cell towers were down for 4 days so zero comms due to cable/phone outage (going back to a copper land line and purchased a multi-network burn phone)
  3. Gas rationing and massive lines (20 minutes from PA, no lines and nighttime runs to refill 5 (5 gal) containers at a time.
  4. Physical security of the home (let’s just say that this former Marine has that covered..close quarters and distance)
  5. Closed schools (good ol Xbox and Wii…not to mention lots of screaming)

So…all in all, not terrible compared to many. I actually (well mostly) learned from my mistakes the last time! Always stuff to learn, I suppose so we’ll see what happens next disaster!

…make wise choices,

-sk

 

 

…which side are you on?

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I was reading an article the other day interviewing Tom Morello, one of my favorite artists – and a funny few lines came up. A certain political candidate (I think they all suck by the way) was commenting on some of bands that he enjoyed – those that partially shaped him.

One of the bands, this person was influenced by Rage Against the Machine (another favorite of mine), in which, Tom played for a bit. The amusing portion of this interview was where Tom recognized and quite intelligently (actually one of the most well articulated responses I’ve heard to date) retorted with a litany of reasons as to why this political candidate clearly had no clue about the music as people like him were the target!

Now, in true sk fashion, I’ll not even bother discussing the leftist views expressed by the bands and the hypocrisy of their messaging – now being multi-millionaires. And I want to make it perfectly clear that a certain death row inmate (that had his death sentance commuted to life w/o parole) actually deserved to die….but I suppose we all die in the end….that’s why they call it the end.

It’s all about the music – and I am not a political candidate. Message here is that if you are going to reference something in a context where it may have an impact on your (stated) belief system – make damn sure you are not supporting the opposition!

I am sure they have enough ammo on you…

…make wise choices,

-sk

…strategic failure

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

I was discussing work life balance and professional/personal workload management the other day, and an interesting question was raised. What happens when your proverbial plate is literally running over – and no one cares?

I have not experienced this situation – yet. Perhaps I had, and just did not realize that it was happening? Interesting question none the less. I believe that different individuals handle varying degrees of situational stress based on a number of factors (nature, nurture..etc).

This is part of who we are and also where we are in – in terms of being on target with our life goals. What – you have no goals?

This conversation brought up another chat that I had a few months ago on the notion of chess strategies. I am not very good at this game, but that does not stop me from playing. Plainly put, you have pawns that you sacrifice, at times to gain the upper hand in the game by moving into a better strategic position on the chess board. Simple stuff. You have lots of them (pawns), in relation to other pieces, which inherently makes them expendable.

So what if you were to treat your workload as a series of chess pieces? I’m sure that most individuals prioritize their work and I am not making reference to prioritization. I am talking about straight up failing on efforts that have little real impact in order to illustrate a point made above, when all else fails.

It should be noted that I do not subscribe to this ideology, but its notion as a method of sustainability in the professional workplace is nothing short of fascinating!

So the advice to someone that is in the situation referenced above, depending on personal risk factors and overall degree of confidence is simple. Sacrifice your pawns

Victim of circumstantial whims or an agent of change…albeit at a risk. Interesting choice.

…make wise choices,

-sk

…impress me

August 1, 2012 1 comment

I have had conversations a number of times with individuals inside and outside of the workplace about advancement. People often ask for advice on promotions, lateral career moves as well as ideas on growth. Not pretending to be some career Grand Poobah, however, I recognize that people like to bounce ideas off of those around them and/or who they perceive as being successful. I’m not picky about receiving compliments and will take whatever I can get!

Aside from key themes in my previous posts about execution, commitment, communication and teamwork there are three items that bubble to the top of the list. Consistency, accuracy and intensity are those traits that come to mind. Among others (in my opinion), these are the hallmarks of people that i admire and are successful (at least in my opinion).

What about all of the other classic traits? In my opinion, information is easier to access, thereby experience and knowledge is less relevant (in some cases at least). The focus should be on capacities to learn, adapt and be resilient – connect with others in order to deliver on commitments.

Consistency, accuracy and intensity are the vehicles by which one can elevate themselves above all others and stand out!

What vehicle are you driving?

…make wise choices,

-sk

…lost in translation

June 17, 2012 Leave a comment

A key theme in the past few posts has been communication. As one of the basic foundations of interaction, this is an important thing to master (I was just promoted to Captain Obvious I think). Having witnessed no less than four occurrences of an interesting pattern in the past week, I figured I would discuss the notion of bad analogies.

Analogies are a great way for pulling people into your story – often allowing them to relate to the topic at hand. That being said, it sure helps that your analogies can actually resonate with you audience. Sometimes, lack of awareness to social queues and/or not understanding the audience actually polarizes your listeners. This, often has the opposite intended effect and in some cases can force premature disengagement.

For instance, before you compare someone’s positive effect on you as a black hole – make sure they dig astrophysics. One side of the conversation is thinking of a compelling attraction from which the pull is very strong – analogous to being compared to gravity causing light not being able to escape.  Meanwhile, the other side of the conversation is thinking “why is he calling me a hole?”

…make wise choices

-sk

 

…does this make me look fat?

June 9, 2012 Leave a comment

It is important that we all understand the benefits of receiving feedback from those around us – those who we trust. Whether that is explicit verbal feedback, nuances in body language and/or other means of non-verbal communication.

We should seek to understand how we are perceived in the eyes of others, in as many scenarios as practical. Not so much so we can change who we are (that, of course is a choice), but so that we can understand the impact that we have in personal and professional lives.

When you seek to understand how you look from the outside, you gain tremendous insight that can serve to create new opportunities. It is all about perspective, as invariably there will be those that offer feedback, which may be predicated on thoughts/feelings not relevant to the situation on which it is based upon (re-read the last sentence). Of course, you should be ready to receive feedback that you do not like, and in some cases do not agree with and/or are offended by…that’s ok.

This is not an argument or a conflict inducing exercise. This is a catalyst for introspection.

…make wise choices

-sk

…every day is Monday

June 2, 2012 1 comment

The other day, I attended the Google Atmosphere Tour in NY. It went as expected, with typical a Google-centric view on how their products and services are awesome…..no shocker there. The keynote speaker was Don Tapscott, who discussed our changing times, how we have become an hyper-interconnected world. This, in turn, has created a business and cultural transformation with shifting paradigms for everything we do – a massively complex topic to fit in a 30 mins speech. Many of the folks there (packed crowd) were tweeting, updating facebook accounts and/or looking at their free goodies….I was listening (fine fine, I sent 1 tweet).

The message from the speaker was fairly compelling; we do not predict the future, we create it.

So this got me thinking about what motivates us, propels us to accomplish great things (for those who dare). As I walked back to my car, I overheard a few folks having a conversation that ended with “thank god it is almost Friday.”

This got me thinking – why is Friday so great? Is it because the weekend us around the corner and folks need to recharge, spend time with family and/or catch up on sleep? Is it due to people’s lives being so seemingly terrible that they need to escape to the safety of the weekend? Is it a mental milestone, that when accomplished, seems to rigger a rush of dopamine? I’ll not circle the proverbial bowl discussing the fascinating concepts of neuroplasticity and how our behaviors are shaped…another time perhaps.

I often think about the impact of technology and globalization on culture, communication and collaboration – in work and personal life. How different cultures perceive time is an awesome topic that deserves a long conversation (just not now). How are our lives shaped by the time we spend with each other, the time we spend alone – and the time we spend in transitionary phases?

Is there really such a thing as a weekend off or is it about maximizing the time we have, regardless of what day? I am a firm believer in the latter, as Friday is no different, better or worse than Sunday. As our personal and professional lives continue to overlap, it is up to us to determine what drives us and how we find balance.

For me it is a simple concept.

When people walk by me and feel compelled to proclaim – it’s Friday, my retort is often the same four words…

…make wise choices.

-sk

…nemesis

May 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Motivation to overcome challenges comes from many places. I often look to examples where I can convey this in a fashion that I would be comfortable teaching my children. I realize that conveying the importance of a Bug Out Bag, for instance to a 5-year-old is probably not the best example so I have a much simpler one.

I was having coffee this morning on my deck, as I often do on Saturdays as I watched my 1-year old play with his ball through a window. Now, he and this ball have been having an ongoing battle of wits – a power struggle of control over the playroom. I watched him progress from sidestepping away from the ball whenever it came within a comfortable proximity, graduate to him yelling at it, finally to assault. This red ball was his Moriarty, his Voldemort…his Nemesis.

I can draw parallels to my own experiences and say that many of the challenges that I have faced and crushed, were done so because I compartmentalized the situation into an quantifiable entity. Sometimes, these were based on real people, others instances were of fictional derivations.  If you can humanize a challenge, then you can almost certainly always defeat it!

So tell me, what is your challenge, and more importantly…who is your nemesis?

Image

…make wise choices

-sk

…not-a-finger

May 11, 2012 Leave a comment

A large part of my job entails traveling to various domestic and international locations. Doing so affords me the opportunity to  meet people that I would never otherwise meet. This week, while returning from a trip to Orlando, I came upon having a random conversation with a stranger. This person turned out to be a family friend of one of my favorite raconteurs – Jean Shepherd. I will not bore you with all the details of his work, but those that are familiar with the US holiday classic A Christmas Story are familiar with his writing – a small part of what this individual contributed to radio, TV & books.

I spoke at length with this individual for darn near 2 hours, while he recounted stories from his childhood with Shep and the many pieces of history that I never knew. After our discussion, I had a renewed sense of compulsion to re-discover the many recordings of his work – not to mention a few books that I had never read. None of this would have happened if I did not take the chance to engage and converse with Murph.

What’s the point here?

The point is that meeting and conversing with individuals is a great way to find out things about them (yes I am being overtly obvious here). How this parallels in our personal and professional lives is that even though many of us spend more time with our co-workers/friends than our own families (in some cases) – we rarely know each other. Taking the time to learn from one another and then using that knowledge to form better interpersonal relationships can only serve to improve overall interactions.

There is something to be said about remembering that someone hates a certain food, cherishes certain days/events and/or avoids a certain subject due to some traumatic event. Whether you use that knowledge for good or evil…that’s up to you…

..make wise choices

-sk