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Sep 13 11

Unemployed – Your first need is NOT money.

by Anthony Plack

So you find yourself unemployed, either through something you did or through no fault of your own… you are on your own. Now what?

Well, you have two options. You can do nothing and ride the train of public entitlements until you have nothing left. Or, you can take action.

But to take action you once again have two options, you can work on your resume and start selling yourself or, you can start your own business. Even if that business is consulting, you cease to sell yourself and move to selling products.

Taking public entitlements may be a way to get by, but it shouldn’t be a way of life. These “freebees” will cost you more than just your finances.  They will usually take your soul.  We should work to get you back to work and I am hoping to solve this issue before the end of the year, by having something tangible for those who are unemployed.

Either path you decide to take, you will need help. The reality of life is you cannot do it alone. You need others to believe in you and you need to win. So the goal here is to get you to understand what it takes to win.

First thing you need is someone to believe in you. You may have lost your job because the company failed, but face it, you were part of that company which failed. In addition, companies which can succeed in some areas, do not succeed by keeping departments or staff which are less likely to help them meet the bottom line. There may have been nothing you did, which caused you to be let go, but then again, there is nothing you did to avoid being let go. Because of this fact, you are viewed by companies as someone who doesn’t contribute to the bottom line.

You will not see star programmers, insightful accountants, crack sales people, popular marketing people or wise managers on the unemployment roles… well most of the time. The point here is not a slam on you, but point to a failure in your personal marketing. If you are in the above list, you should find yourself REemployed within the next 3 months (if you apply yourself). If you aren’t employed within 3 months, you are not on the above list… yet.

So for the rest of us who find ourselves out of work, we need companies to believe we are productive. Here is where you have a problem. You are asking a company in a bad economy to take a risk on you, pay you and you will show them you can succeed. If you find such a gig, go for it, but you may have found another company which cannot succeed.  For most, we have a chicken and egg issue.  You expect a promise of income in advance of work, but the company want to see the product of your work before they can promise to continue paying you.

You really need to understand there is a separation which must occur between doing work and compensation. You should be willing to work regardless of when the compensation occurs, or at this time, if it occurs. Compensation is our end game, but it cannot be our primary game or our initial strategy. Companies want to know you will provide value. They want to know your skills add to the bottom line. Being on a payroll is not a right, it is a privilege, and one that must be earned.

My suggestion is to consider work without monetary compensation promises.

What do you have to loose? If you don’t have work, you don’t get paid. If you do have work, you might get paid. If you don’t work, you don’t get income, you get a handout. So the only way to succeed here is to work regardless of your pay. But what if your pay wasn’t in money. What if it was in trust. In fact, I venture that trust is more valuable than pay at this time.

See the people who get a job within three months of unemployment, have trust. Trust is the currency they spend to get an income. They have the owner of the company calling their friend in another business, and telling them “You can trust this person to make a difference.” They then move into this new relationship, based on trust, and gain income again. Therefore, you need trust.

The other thing you need is pay. You need the money to get things accomplished. Let’s face it, getting your own pay is better than public handouts. I don’t condone working for free for the rest of your life, just a short period of time. This allows you to gain the “trust fuel” which starts your income engine and gets your career moving down the road again.

Paying someone who has not completed a project is an exercise in trust. You are trusting that when the project is completed, the company will be more profitable because of it. In some respects, this trust is backwards.

Imagine if Apple, 2 years prior to the release of the iPad stated to their customers, “If you give us $700, in 2 years, we will give you aniPad.” Do you think Apple, as successful as they are would have sold enough iPad’s to subsidize the creation of the project? No. Apple had to invest time and money prior to success, to produce a product. Then, and only then, they were able to sell the iPad.  Now Apple paid this in monetary compensation to people who had helped develop successful projects without them.  They were successful in the company before they got paid.  They had trust.  You need trust.

All I am saying is you should be open to creative payment options. After all, if you do work for the return of trust, understanding there is a risk of not getting money, you don’t loose anything. You gain trust, and if you (and others) do good work, you should be paid. Not because you deserve pay, but because you earned it.  You spend your trust on a new project which gains you money.

 

Sep 8 11

Unemployed? “Retern” to work!

by Anthony Plack

365 Day 27We all know what an intern is. They are usually a student, who comes in to gain experience. Usually the cost to hire an intern is low, but the term of an intern is also limited.

We also know someone who is unemployeed. Typically companies are looking at someone unemployed as less than desirable for a role. The thought process in companies is these people were either released because they were not contributing or were part of a department or even a company that was not contributingthin either case, an unemployed person is less desirable than an employed person because the company is taking a bigger risk. In these hyper government business times, risk is not a good strategic move.

What unemployed people need is a recent referral from a company where they did indeed contribute to the bottom line.  They need a bonafide statement of contribution.

A recent converstation I had reminded me that all employment is a function of service for payment. For most, the payment is in dollars. There are some out there who barter services for a boat, car or even motorcycle. I know computer work which was done for a new deck on a house. In every case, the work was performed in exchange for something else needed.  In none of the cases was “minimum wage” an issue.  It is contractual.

Yes, unemployed people need money, but more than money, they need someone to say, “Good job.”  They need to get more than money, they need income.  Income doesn’t come just because you call it, it comes because someone trusts you to perform a function on an ongoing basis.

So I recomend a new program. I like to call it Retern.

Retern is an intern with experience who will trade three to four weeks on a project, in exchange for a live reference and referral. The hiring company creates a contract similar to barter where the payment is in referrals. It could be 90 days of referrals, or even unlimited referrals for a year. That is the thing of value.

The hiring company should gain an experienced worker to impact some nagging problem in the company. It could be accounting, marketing or even computer work. These are the short projects which can tighten an existing corporation into a better condition for another round of government mandates.

Now I know my consulting friends will not be happy with this, because many of them are out of work themselves, and would love to trade 3-4 weeks for some actual cash in their business. That is the beauty of it. It will force these friends of mine to improve their game. If we hope to get this economy going, we need to think bigger and better, not smaller and adequate.

Less downsize or right sizing, just better products which customers cannot live without.  A product which converts want into a need.

Sep 2 11

The last phone you will ever need

by Anthony Plack

No Phone Home“Aren’t you listening to me?” The question seems like an affront, but to the speaker, it is the desperate plea of another human being to be heard. We all desire to be heard. Just ask Chris Brogan about his twitter unfollow experiment of 2011. When you unfollow in Twitter, you stop listening to them. Chris is working on a theory to try and reduce spam of bad posts in Twitter, but people hate the fact he isn’t listening.

Our desire to be heard is not that we have something brilliant to say, although we might. It is not that we like the sound of our voice, but we do. It is not a check on our sanity, but it can drive us crazy. It is not about our own self worth, although it is an acknowledgement of value. When we are heard, we feel alive.

And so it is that our mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses and children demand to be heard. Not just hearing the vibration of their vocal cords, creating alternating compressed and decompressed waves of air, which, if our ears are functioning, become converted into brainwaves. It is the deep desire to connect to another human being. It is not good for us to be alone, and if we are not heard, we are alone in our heads.  Dude, don’t leave me alone with this guy in my head.

The cry is so primal to be heard, that an infant, only moments old, knows to cry out for attention. Knows to cue and gurgle to gain the face of their mother. But we also learn young, that communication is more than just sound. In fact, the largest part of communication is not sound at all, but visual. Far beyond our ability to process sound, we are visual creatures. Baby’s love to learn faces once they can see. If you don’t have children, borrow some moments from someone who does have a baby of about 3-4 months of age. Make some faces and see their reaction. They are learning the language of unspoken word before their first words because this language is the most important language for them.

It is here, at the visual language that we travel back in time. We travel to a time before electricity and all the sound enabling devices this has brought. The key item we are going to remove is the telephone for now. In our new world, the telephone was a bust, not because of technology missing, but because someone realized our mistake and as a society, we banned the technology.

In an quote from Western Union in 1876, “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”. In this quote, we hear the complaints about how this new technology will negatively impact communication. Looking now where everyone has a “telephone” in their pocket, we wonder at how we could ever have gotten along without them, but back then, they were wondering why you would want such a device. So, I am going to ask you to imagine, you don’t have a phone. None at all. Your need to communicate to other people is still there. The written language is still alive and well like blogs and email, but spoken communication via electronic means has been rejected.

In this world, before the telephone, and as it exists in our imaginary story, we are going to see how true communication works. We are going to enter a laboratory understanding the very nature of the evil which telephones bring.

No, not the evil of telemarketers, bill collectors, our boss and our in-laws, but the evil which telephones and many other devices have wrought upon humanity. It is in these “convenience” devices, where we find we loose humanity. We loose the need/requirement for civility. We actually put a strain on relationships.

The telephone has eliminated the visual communication which existed so many years ago. In our imaginary world, with no telephone, people still needed to go “visit” another human being in order to feel connected as a human being. We needed to sit down, face to face to understand their concerns. No just seeing your face, like in FaceTime is not the same. Visual communication is more that just the face.

When you sit face to face with another person, you have the ability to visually see if your story is too long and boring them. You can see if they have something to add to the conversation, and therefore, you need to shut your yap. You could see if you delighted them, hurt them, angered them or even wooed them with your words. You could SEE, the communication taking effect or if you are being ignored, the communication NOT taking effect.

Because of these visual cues, it was considered impolite to interrupt someone. They could see your hand raised or the look on your face indicating you needed to participate in the conversation. The children, who would be learning these visual cues, would be required to listen to the adults speak and themselves keep quiet. The phrase, “Children should be seen and not heard” was the morae in place since time began. Not that children didn’t have valuable insights into the conversation, but to train the child on how to look for the visual cues in conversation, be polite and respect the other person by being present in the conversation. We taught children with no telephones how to really communication to another human being.

By removing the visual, the telephone has created the need to interrupt someone to get your point across. If you look at yourself in the mirror during these conversations, you will see your face giving you the cue to jump in and talk. However, the other person cannot see this, so your face will then turn to stress and frustration before you just start talking over the other person. Is it rude? Yes, but how else can you relieve yourself of the dialog in your head. Without being rude to the other person speaking, they have no cue you need to speak to them. Either to affirm, confirm or reject their thought process.

By removing the visual, you have no clue if something was said in jest or for hurt. You have no understanding if you are being attacked, chided or teased. You have little understanding if the person liked what you said. This is more true for strangers and lovers than for acquaintances. One of the things we first seek to understand about a new person is their general demeanor to life. This demeanor is NOT understood on a telephone. Because lovers are more open, we allow more raw feelings to be communicated, and are less guarded, therefore the confusion there.

What has made it worst is the telephone gives you license to do other tasks when speaking to another person. You could be driving a car, eating, taking a shower or even working. In this mode, you are not paying attention to the other persons words. The other person comes away feeling less important. Regardless of the words you use to console the other party, these feeling persist. Your preoccupation with something else cannot be interpreted (a language word). Therefore, the base desire to be understood is not satisfied.

And the biggest insult of all, the telephone interrupts you. In spoken conversation, you could see the other person coming. You had time to adjust your task to pay attention to the other human being coming to greet you and communicate with you. The telephone gives you 3-4 annoying tones and then moves the person to a very impersonal recording. The recording doesn’t give you the proper feedback, and therefore, the message delivered is usually, “Call me.” This gives no information and leaves the communication open for pessimists to assume the worse.

You ARE interrupted, and this interruption can cause you to be more hostile. Not because of the other person, or any feelings you have about them, but because they should SEE you are busy and cannot. You can take this as an affront in communication, therefore, you are less receptive to the caller because they are not being generous, but demanding your attention.

When your phone rings, you don’t have enough time to adjust from one task to another, and it even makes you create artificial value propositions in your head.

“Oh, it’s my wife but …
       this person I am speaking to face-to-face is a valuable client.
How can I place a value on my wife compared to a sale?
But she will understand, won’t she.
Oh, it went to voicemail.
Good.
Or is it?
I wonder if the kids are okay?
Did she get in a car accident?
What if she has been kidnapped and the kidnaper is calling from her phone?
Will he kill her because he had to come up with a message for my voicemail? ….”

You know the drill. All the while, you lost the sale anyways because you didn’t hear what the client really needs, and they see you distracted. They assume it is their competition calling you to ask their trade secrets. Whatever the call, it took you away from them, so they don’t feel important.

And on the cycle goes of the vicious damage phones have placed in our lives.

Should you eliminate the phone from your life? No, but maybe you will use the phone as it should be. To verify or communicate short facts of an already existing dialog. Maybe we get in the habit of turning the phone ringer OFF (not buzz). Or maybe we lobby for phones which let us set that priority beforehand. We set the phone to the person in front of us, and the phone will rank all calls prior to interrupting us. Something to be able to place value in the person connecting to you.

Stop using the phone for conferences because you may run into a dark tunnel and loose connectivity.  Not a physical tunnel but the tunnel of loss of visual communication.  Really connecting to these people involved in your life.

But then what would you do with your time in the car? How else could you distract yourself to keep your “like drunk” driving as you dial your phone? What other tool would you use to distract you from paying attention to the people you are around in your car?

My recommendation, learn how to listen. Insist on face to face conversations when ever and if ever possible. Be present in communication, and not distracted by the internet as you talk to someone and make them feel important in your life.  If you follow these hints, it doesn’t matter the features of your phone, it will turn any phone into the last one you ever need.

Aug 30 11

How to succeed like Google or Facebook

by Anthony Plack

One of the more recent discussions on the net these days is Google+ versus Facebook comparisons. In fact, today, Facebook announced some sharing changes to their product to better compete with Google+. These changes are suspected to be made because Google+ offers a feature called Circles, which allows you to place your friends into groups.

Within these Circles, I can then post messages and include only certain groups of friends in the post. This way, your ability to hold a conversation on the web, which is not viewed by another group can occur with less fear of discovery. A great example of this is a political post where you may not wish your boss to be included.

To digress, Facebook has announced Sharing changes where you can now direct a post from one group to another. The question, beyond just raw competition with Google is why?

In Google’s case, the question is why they feel the need to compete with Facebook when Facebook clearly has the market edge? Sure the features Google+ have are currently better, but the features Google is after is not about competition with Facebook.  Management teams which are successful like Google don’t just say, “Hey, here’s a market we can compete, lets put this feature in because it is better.”  Google is after something bigger than Facebook.

Some have taken to thinking that Google, which is the search engine giant, is just after more searchable discussions. The raw data of the conversations is not available to Google and if Google can see the trends, they will optimize their search engine.  This has some merit as an argument.  Sure, Google might benefit, but once again, the why question comes into play.

Others take a look at Facebook and think Facebook’s value is for the marketing research which is available. This wealth of data is sure to tickle Google’s fancy. However, the real reason is much more basic than both of these very real and tangible results basis.

The issue is brand. Google didn’t start out in the social media arena, but it is moving into it. Why? Because as a brand, Google recognizes who their customer is. Google, like any successful company recognized that the Brand of Google is used by people who by and large use Facebook or other social media sites.  The Brand of Google sees it missing from the gap of information people use to make decisions.

Googles brand isn’t search engines, data or marketing data. For that matter, neither is Facebook. Yet day by day these two companies, which by any measure have been successful, have been merging toward each other. Facebook added email and search abilities. Google added social media. Both have gone after pictures and video.

Google’s brand is information parsing and delivery. Facebook’s brand is social communication. They are different but subtly so.

Everything that Google does is to improve the brand. If they are successful, they have identified the brand as you going to Google for your information needs and no other place.  Google is successful, not because they are the largest search engine, they are successful because they ruthlessly pursuit their brand.  They have no apologies for gathering data and sharing it to those who ask.  It is what they do, and they do it well.

Facebook is getting to understand the brand. At first, they were just a replacement for MySpace, and have been struggling with who they are (as can be viewed from the constant changing of the user policies). However, they are about connecting people together. The information of people’s conversations is their core.

Where they differ is you don’t see Facebook doing a Google Docs replacement. Google Doc’s is about information. However, I could see a Facebook “Voice” as an alternative to Google Voice, but Voice wasn’t about Google getting into connecting people. It was about the voicemail and fine tuning their Voice Search ability. This ability allows people to use services like Google 411 to search for other information on the Web. Once again, they are driving to the brand of information parsing and delivery.

So, coming back to topic, how does knowing all this help you succeed?

If you are going to succeed like Google or Facebook, you too need to understand your brand. Understanding what you do better than anyone else is the key to success. I am not saying you will be as big or have the revenues of these of these giants, but you will be just as successful.

Facebook didn’t add Sharing because of Google+, Facebook added Sharing because of Facebook’s brand. It improves their ability to manage communication between people.

So do you know your brand? Do you know what you do better than anyone else?

If you know this, you have a huge advantage over your competition. If each and every move you make is related to your brand, you are climbing up the ladder of success towards joining them.

Mar 28 11

Doing projects right, against the world – Others

by Anthony Plack

The OtherSo you stood up and took the blame.  Now you own the solution because you promised to fix the issue.  Good.

However, things are not going well.  You seem to be struggling because your understanding of the issues is not the real issue.  Your credentials are on the line; your capital is at stake.  How do you get out of it?

One word: Others.

If you understand the strengths required for a project, and your crew’s strengths are consistent with solving the problem, you should not have a problem completing the task.  Even if there is just a slight mismatch, you can still do the right thing and bring in an outside expert and rent the strength needed to get things completed.

Sometimes, projects are masked.  This usually occurs because the project is a ruse for some other agenda item.  Sometimes, the nature of the problem wasn’t understood.  It is easy to see a problem, but understanding a problem can be a very different event.

So your first objective in any new project should be to test if you understand the project.  Discussion with the stakeholders and customers of the project is a good start, but speaking with a skilled project expert in this area, who has covered this ground before is essential.  You may have this person on your crew, but then you may not.  Obvisously speaking with your crew about the project is a key element, but understanding how you can get an expert who has “walked the walk” is key to your success.

When you speak to the expert, you are looking for the end game.  You are looking for them to describe what the solution will look like, when implemented.  They should give you a good understanding of how the projected solution will look in your environment.  If the solution is not correct, and the person is an expert, there is a chance you don’t understand the project.

At this point, you need to get others involved.  You need outside help before you begin the implementation.  Why do a project, just to have the wrong solution?  There is no reason, but many projects and crews do just this.  They waste time and resources because “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  You need to bring others into the equation who have strength in understanding the make-up of general problems.

It may be the expert can help you flex the project to meet the solution.  If there is minimal flexing, you should trust the expert.  However, if the expert is trying to hammer a solution which requires significant changes, you may have the wrong “expert.”  A “good” expert should be willing to tell you if something is outside their prevue.

There are some obvious fit issues.  If you are hiring a supply chain expert for an accounting issue, you need to find a new line of work, because the issue of being the hero in your industry is never going to occur.  However, if you have an accounting issue, but the real issue is not an accounting mechanism, but a process issue, you may need a business analyst or even a software engineer to understand the solution.

Let me just say this though, even in today’s age, not everything is a software solution.  Most computer “experts” only have hammers, but some come with a full toolbox.

Knowing when to include others is key to being successful in doing projects against the world.

Mar 24 11

Doing projects right, against the world. – Volume

by Anthony Plack

My so called Heaven; at workSo yesterday, we spoke about boundaries when doing a project.  Today, we will talk about a boundary issue which is more difficult to gauge.

You are sitting in a meeting (which you have tried to kill), and a problem arises which is a great match for your strengths.  Every aspect of the issue screams at you to take the blame for this problem, giving you the opportunity to propel your team, be generous and advance the standing of your organization.  However, you are managing five projects already.  After all, the reward for being a hero is more issues.

Do you step up to take the project?

The reality is for those who are successful, the project is just around the corner.  Not knowing your capacity for a new project could be extremely harmful to your team and organization.

The boundary here is one of volume.  Do you know your maximum volume?  Do you know the level you can be pressed?

One way to accidentally find this is to take the straw which breaks the camels back.  The other is to assess where you are at in terms of strength.

You might be coming off a project which transitioned over to a support group in a very controlled and orderly transition.  In this case, you know you have capacity, it is just a question of timing.  Try to get a couple of weeks “breather” to make sure your first project doesn’t come back.

On the other hand, you may be working fifty plus hours per week on current projects.  You might be able to handle this if you understand how to grow your team for added capacity, or you may just be at the brink.

Knowing these boundaries of volume ahead of time is very critical to knowing if you will succeed against the world.  It is so important, I would suggest you understand this boundary as a weekly update task you do.  Knowing week by week where you are at from a capacity could mean success or failure as you take the blame for some problem and thereby work to add this project to your list of successes.

Also, defining projects as anything larger than 90 days is merely a guess.  When you guess, you loose the ability to track your workload.  You misrepresent your strengths.  Any project which cannot generate a deliverable in a short period of time is a sure sign of a project which has poor boundaries itself.  You should always look to break the large into smaller deliverables.  Short quick wins on a consistent basis is good not just for the organization but for change apprehension in general.

But what should you do if a project which is really, in every aspect of your boundaries and strengths, correct for you to accomplish?  I believe, you only have two choices.

The first is to get clarity on the problem’s urgency and the urgency of your existing projects.  If you can move a project to another group with better strengths than yours, you do the organization a service.  You show yourself generous.  However, giving a project to a group which is weaker or doesn’t have bandwidth is a poor answer.  Also, be careful to NOT just table an existing problem, because you risk having a collection of things never accomplished.

The second is to table the new project.  Don’t take blame directly, but identify your availability to take the blame once your project load is reduced.  Be wary of the boss who just assigns it to you anyway.  Understand the need to say “NO” to your boss, and explain how this will impact your bosses perception if you are overloaded.  The last thing your boss should want is to appear like a Glory Hog.  Even if your boss is your customer.

Thinking about your volume capacity is key to being successful and keeping your team engaged.

Mar 23 11

Doing projects right, against the world. – Boundaries

by Anthony Plack

Boundary Line“They’re out to get me,” is a classic quote of conspiracy sources.  The idea that someone, somewhere doesn’t like you and is causing you to fail is a common issue for those who feel persecuted.

In fact, most of us have issues with this idea.  The fallacy has been summarized as the “self serving bias.”  The “self serving bias” comes because we tend to internalize our success and externalize our failures.  However, we tend to externalize others success and internalize their failures.  As an example, “I won because of my strength and failed because of something else but they won because of something else and failed because of them.”

The reality of life starts with good boundaries.  We start our list of good boundaries by defining ourselves and not allowing others to define us.  This doesn’t mean you don’t listen to others, but it means the responsibility for our self evaluation begins and ends with us.  We are responsible for how we define ourselves, not others.  If I believe what someone else has to say about me, it is my decision to believe it.

This means that all decisions which I make, are mine.  I hold no one else responsible, but this means I must trust the people I allow to define my life.

Once I come to grips about who defines me and that I am responsible, if I define myself as wise and not foolish, I make sure I understand both my strengths and limitations.  Understanding who I am, coming to grips with it, and making my decisions based on this definition is key to having good boundaries.

So when a person takes a project, and things go wrong, the questions must start with our boundaries.  Did they take a project which is outside their strength?  Where they working in an organization which is outside its strength?  If you don’t have the strengths for a project, you shouldn’t be standing up to claim the project.

This doesn’t mean the project should cease to exist, but if the organization doesn’t have a person with the proper strengths for a project, should the organization be undertaking the project?

Another good boundary is to define a target, and stick to the target.  Typically, we call this scope creep in the project management world.  However, this is just a nice way to say, “We can’t say no.”  Making sure you define the project, and stick to the definition is a key boundary to have.  The ability to say no will not only strengthen the project, but increase the chances to succeed, but saying no takes a good sense of boundaries about yourself, the organization and the project.  It could be the definition of the project was incomplete or it could be just a challenge to the boundaries of the project.

There are many other boundaries we should consider, but the last I will mention is the boundary of how we will include others.  Not just those we need to accomplish the project, but also those who could hinder the project.  Defining a good boundary at this level is key when you might face opposition in the completion of a goal.  Failing to understand how you will interface in the project will lead to certain failure and it is not because they are just against you.  Making sure you have a place at the table with the proponents of a project is just as key as having good communication with the opponents of a project.

Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Mar 22 11

The key difference between Hero and Hog

by Anthony Plack

Picture 232 Hero Games Photo Credit Cathryn Posey  ACVB best It seems my recent bouts with the flu keep coming around, so it has been a few days since my last post.

Last week we started in on people I call Glory Hogs.

This post will deal with the key difference between a Glory Hog and a hero in your company.

As we stated before, Glory Hogs love to take all the credit for issues.  They love to tout their achievements and let everyone know of their worth.  Sometimes this is a silent show of trophies in their office if they are introverted.  The extroverted ones are easier to spot.

However, regardless of their personality type, a Glory Hog can be identified by one key trait missing from their playbook.  The key trait is generosity.

If a person is generous, they believe the pie is always growing.  They are okay with others taking the credit for victories.  They love to share the wealth.  People love to be around them because they meet needs.

A hero does this.  A hero will give credit to the cast of characters.  They support the team.  They love to see others enjoy the limelight, because they know there is more to come.

A Glory Hog resents others getting involved.  They resent people succeeding if they are not a part of the victory.  They resent others ideas, because they challenge their own.  They love to delegate, but then hang over the expert to claim the victory when they did little but get in the way.  A hero encourages others to get involved.  They love other people succeeding because they will insist everyone is part of the victory.  The love new and fresh ideas, and encourage others to challenge their perceptions.  Heros not only delegate where others are stronger, but where they are stronger to enhance each others strengths.

The Glory Hog sees life as a net sum game.  They believe if someone else gets the glory, they will be left out.

A Glory Hog sees a team as a group of people who helps them succeed.  A hero sees a team as a group of people who they help succeed.  A hero does not get pleasure from being acknowledged, but by acknowledging others.

A Glory Hog is critical of other team members when they make mistakes.  A hero helps teammates overcome their weakness by amplifying their strength.  How one treats their teammates is a key indicator.

However, even with all of this, the one key aspect of generosity is missing with the Glory Hog.  See, generosity is only generous when it is both directions.  If I am truly a generous person, I not only give, but am willing to allow other to give to me.

Everyone loves to help someone in need if they are able.  Sure, we have some fears of giving, which is more our boundary issues, but the core of generosity is to help and be helped by other people.

If you want to identify a Glory Hog in your team, just offer to help them.  Because a Glory Hog will never let you truly give.  They will try and take your help as an exchange.

If I give you something and because of this, you give me something this is called an exchange.  It is not generosity.  If I give you help, and you give me money, this is called contractual service.  If I give you more than you pay, this is generosity.  It is not just from me, but from you.  You allow me to meet a need in your life, and this act can be a generous act.  If I give and you keep taking, without ever giving to another person, this is not generous, it is greedy.

So, be the hero.  Be generous.  Be will to allow others to help.  Otherwise, you are just a Glory Hog.

Mar 17 11

Glory Hogs

by Anthony Plack

The Golden Pig of Capitalism.You know the guy.  He lurks in your office and meetings looking for the low hanging fruit projects.  Those things which could be accomplished easily and have little impact.  Then after he does the bare essentials, he struts around as if he solved world hunger.

If you run into him at a company, he will be the guy who tells you about all the wins he has had in the past.  Every opportunity he has, he has a story about what HE did.  Typically the other people in the story are pawns and had bit parts in his solutions.

The thing about these people is they start out doing the right thing.  They start out by taking ownership of a project or process.  They take the blame for some minor issue which needs a champion.  They want to be viewed as the hero.

The problem is when they miscalculate.  The miscalculation causes them to not ship.  They find some reason the project cannot go forward.  They started by requesting to take the blame for the project, but then end up blaming everyone else because they cannot sink the heat.

It is not when a project goes right where you find your strongest players.  It is when the world is darkest.

As I write this today, the Japanese people are in crisis.  They are dealing with the impact of natural disasters which to-date has not been recorded.  Both earthquakes and tidal waves have decimated much of their island.  Because of these events, a nuclear power plant is struggling to maintain integrity.

In this struggle, we see two kinds of people emerging.  The real heros are the people who are in the fight to keep things cool.  The people who step up and put themselves at risk to solve the problems of corporations and societies.

Then there are the glory hogs.  They are the “experts” up on the news shows pontificating about what they would do in this situation.  There is little risk to them.  Even if they were wrong, they can claim luck was on the side of those who prevailed.  The glory hog is marked by doom and gloom predictions unless they are heard.

But if you listen to a glory hog, your company will fail in the endeavor.  Heros exist not because they defy the odds, but because they persist despite people making odds.  A hero fails, a glory hog never fails.  A hero could list event after event they failed, but a glory hog will need to be poked hard to admit a single token event.

A hero isn’t a hero because they fail, but because they don’t allow failures to define what they can do.  A glory hog is entirely defined by what they did.  It is their pedigree.  A true hero can be vulnerable because they know their strengths.

A true hero gives the credit to his team members, to the survivors, and most of the time to a higher power.  Glory hogs like to whine about the world being against them.  They see the world as a zero sum game where if they are not winning, they are losing.

So, who is on your team?  Which are you?

Mar 15 11

Teams versus Teams

by Anthony Plack

Children Tug-of-War StatueIn Wisconsin, we are facing a dilemma.  We have been facing a public union scare for 20 years.  Everytime the voters try to tell the union what will happen, the union seeks to bully the state into submission by tactics and antics.  For those in the country just hearing about our battle, we are battling for the very ownership of the state.

We are overtaxed.  It is not a theory but a fact.  As company after company leaves our state for better tax pastures, the union works harder and harder to saddle the rest of our state with higher and higher taxes as the public sector workers earn more and more.  Now there are threats by the police and fire workers.  If you voice support for Governor Walker, the police and fire unions are telling us you may find yourself alone in a crisis.

What does this have to do with team building… well everything.

What is happening in WI is a case of one “team” going against another “team.”  These things occur in business.  Even if the business is the public welfare.

Unions formed for the reason every other team forms, to fight a common problem.  Trade unions exist because of the need to qualify people as knowing their trade.  Workers unions exist because of some egregious action by the company.

The problem we currently have is the unions have too much power.  The union currently has more say in the tax rates of the citizens than the elected officials.

When one team alters the playing field for another team, problems occur.  When more than one team exists, there will always be tensions between the perceived needs of the one group versus the other.  These tensions always require a mediator.

In the case of the public sector union, the “team” they are opposing is the voters of the state.  The problem exists is who can come between these groups who can solve the tension between the two.  If a sutible mediator doesn’t exist, or cannot be partial, then the survival and health of one team will suffer at the hands of the other.

Sometimes this is not a physical or monetary suffering, but a stress and emotional suffering.

If you have a team, the question is no if but when they will be challenged by another team.  Having steps in place prior to an event is highly essential to the formation of teams.  Having a known arbitrator in corporations is essential to the health of the organization.

Failure to have this role, the organization will become chaotic and toxic.  Failing to have a person who is working with both sides actively will cause tension to rise.  Having a person or people who can and DO stand in the gap will save huge problems, save money and improve engagement of your staff.

In Wisconsin, we have three possible outcomes.

  1. The voters succeed and the public sector employees take some consessions.
  2. The public sector employees succeed and the voters become subjects of the whim and will of the government workers (ie socialism).
  3. There is an impasse and anarchy ensues because the public sector workers refuse to serve the voters.

I hope your organization is better prepared than we.