Years back a required skill for secretaries (politically correct = administrative assistants) was shorthand. There are a number of shorthand systems including Gregg Shorthand, Pitman Shorthand, and Handywrite Shorthand. With the advent of technology, texting, and 140-character tweets the Mad Men-era shorthand has been replaced by a world of abbreviations and phonetic acronyms which describe the most popular thoughts, feelings, and reactions that we use in our daily speech. Most acronyms are easily decipherable, some take a bit of noodling to understand, while still others require a quick web search to translate.
Some time back my son and I participated in a service project to help a young family clean out a back yard. At one time the yard was a wonderful oasis with a swimming pool, lush garden, and beautiful walkways. The once beautiful oasis was neglected over time and became an overgrown jungle of northwest foliage with its prime resident being thorny blackberry bushes. The blackberry bushes were six feet tall and covered most of the yard. What a prickly mess!
Man what an interesting thought. Big Data is about analyzing lots and lots of structured and unstructured data to help an organization do something better and be more prescriptive in responding to events. Phys.org published a super intriguing article about how big data could be used in professional and amateur sports to give athletes a winning edge. Think about the possibilities of extracting data from video which helps coaches and players prepare for upcoming games. Big Data and sports; whoda thunk!
As a small business owner I’ve had many many discussions with colleagues about my products and services. Throughout these discussions I have gleaned some outstanding pieces of advice about things I should be focusing on and ideas that I should be pursuing. I also have been on the receiving end of some pretty random ideas which may have had some merit in the eyes of the beholder but just didn't seem to fit well with the direction that I want to take the business. One colleague of mine got pretty peeved with me because I wasn't executing upon his advice. The truth is, his advice just didn't align with the other advice I was getting and didn't fit well with the direction that I want to go. I stuck with my spider-senses and didn't execute upon his advice.
I’ve noticed an interesting trend in working with my clients. There is an increased focus on companies assembling project teams comprised of cross-organizational team members to solve problems. This is increasingly being done in favor of single organizations trying to produce results on their own. More and more project teams are taking on "virtual" characteristics where teams are temporarily assembled and could be located anywhere in the country or the world.
So everything isn't always peachy keen when it comes to working together. At times co-workers are going to get in each others' face and have some conflict. As a bystander, there's some things you can do and not do to help put out the co-worker fire:
In the movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey contemplates suicide after his uncle misplaces a deposit which threatens the closure of his bank. Just as George is about to jump off a bridge, his guardian angel Clarence jumps in the water prompting George to jump into the water to rescue him. After the rescue, Clarence takes George on a journey to show him what life would have been like had George never been born. George got to see first-hand how person after person was worse off because each of them didn't have the opportunity to be touched by George in some way. Even George's wife Mary met the politically incorrect fate of being an old maid working in the city library. After George's alternate reality journey, he emerged with a wonderful appreciation for all of the good he did in his life and how he impacted so many people with his kindness, generosity, and empathy.
I used this story to open up my sister Lori's eulogy.
When I was a kid in Connecticut I went with my Father to take my sister and her infant son to the train station. My sister had a lot of bags so my Father helped her carry her things on to the train. I was standing on the platform waiting for my Father to get off the train so we could go home. Then all of a sudden the train started moving with my Father still on the train! Here I am, an 8-year-old boy standing on the train platform all by myself while my Father is on the train heading to Washington DC. I remember seeing the train start to pull away, and my Father waving at me through the window to go to the ticketing office so I can tell them what happened. This was in the days where there were no cell phones, so my Father couldn't communicate with me to let me know what was happening. I went into the ticketing office and through sobs told the ticket agent that my Father got stuck on the train and I got left on the platform all by myself. The ticket agent was very reassuring and told me that everything was going to be OK. Fortunately the next stop was only about 30 minutes away so I was reunited with my Father in an couple of hours. It was one of the scariest times of my entire childhood, being left on the train platform all by myself.
Several years back I managed a group of very high-energy, spirited, vocal managers. One of the managers was particularly vocal on just about every issue. This manager, who I'll call "Vox", frequently complained to me about other managers, about how Vox's organization wasn't being rewarded appropriately, and how Vox's organization needed more people than Vox's peers. I did a lot of discussing with Vox about the issues that Vox faced but found that I would frequently give in to Vox's demands. Vox's peers became very frustrated not only with Vox but also with me because I was showing preferential treatment to Vox. We would be in meetings and Vox would start complaining about something which would lead into how Vox's team was more important than peer teams, and how Vox's team should be given more in compensation because they were more talented than the rest of the team. Vox was the squeaky wheel, and I would grease it just to stop it from squeaking. I not only allowed Vox to be the squeaky wheel, but unwittingly encouraged it because I gave Vox what Vox wanted. Everyone was frustrated with me. Bad on me
Some time back I had a situation where two employees of mine were looking for me to cut them some slack on a commitment that they made but didn’t deliver upon. They threw every lame excuse in the book at me; it was one excuse of “my dog ate my homework” after another. After their lobbying me I decided to not cut them any slack; they didn’t meet a commitment because they didn’t perform. In both situations, I am pretty sure that both of these employees wanted to chuck me out of the highest window they could find. Well, I guess I'll just need to stay away from tall buildings, because I did the right thing.
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