Saturday, July 14, 2007

Weekend Bonus: The Salaries of a Good Education

Once upon a time, when I was standing at a point where I was researching and mapping out my educational landscape and my future, I figured that my salary potential could essentially double with each subsequent degree: Whereas an Associate’s degree could earn me a potential of $25,000 USD per year, a Bachelors degree could earn me $50,000 USD. Going up the “degree ladder” offers initial diminishing returns, but higher potential in the long-term: Whereas the non-Ivy League MBA, for example, can earn you 35 percent more and an Ivy League MBA can earn you up to an immediate six figure salary with the potential for a five figure sign on bonus. The amounts earned by Ph.D.s vary based on discipline and sector.

A recent study shows that earnings have been increasing for college graduates: The results suggest that the increased hiring is translating directly into higher average starting salary offers.

Leave it to free market economics to increase the salaries of job seekers with the right qualifications in a booming economy. While salary trends multiple disciplines increased, business degrees warranted some of the best earnings increases: New economics graduates earned $47.239, new accounting graduates earned $46,718, new management graduates earned $43,701 annually, while the highest increase was to new marketing graduates who earned $40,161. The second highest increase that was able to be measured was a 4.2 percent increase in management information systems, with a salary of $47,648.

Engineering majors posted an average salary of $54,698 across all sub-disciplines: Mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, and computer engineering.




Percent Increase




Political Science












Friday, July 13, 2007

Quote: Success

"The person who gets the farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore."
Dale Carnegie

The Secret of My Success…

Think of it, I hold the world in the palm of my hand: Run a comb through my hair, head on out for some new foreign land; and all this could seem like a dream out the door, with everyday people, face down on the floor

Ordinary people think and behave in ordinary ways. Extraordinary people think and behave in extraordinary ways. To the leader, there are always new lands to be conquered, new rewards to be had. This leader conquers new opportunity like an army conquers new lands, while those wrongly in their path find themselves on the floor, not knowing what hit them.

I always said I could make it and be who I am; there's a new look in sight, what a change for the new modern man. With all this it seems, like I'm dying for more; the streets are on fire, never seen it before. It's like the sound of electric guitars.

You need not to be “just one of the people” to “leader” means shifting your paradigm: The fundamental worldview which you have needs to coincide with the principles of success. Not just “You,” but (in the colloquialism of the latest shift in the Internet) “You 2.0. The energy of success fuels more success; sometimes it can be intense: Like the sound of electric guitars.

Worlds collide and hearts will be broken, over and over it's the same every day—How can I say what has never concerned me: The secret of my success is I'm living 25 hours a day.

Every challenge worth undertaking, each fight worth fighting, has casualties. Worlds will change—you can either be an agent of change in the changing world or you can allow the changing world to control you. If you want to win—if you want to succeed—be ready to put the time and effort into it.

It's amazing to me, what a fool will believe to get by: With a change of your mind, I can live, I can fly.

This line of the song is filled with some amazing quotes: It’s amazing to me, what a fool will believe to get by. In my experience, so many people will rationalize the comfort of their existence: Instead of stepping outside their comfort zone, pushing their limits a bit in order to get to that next great place. If you change your mind, change your life, change the construct of how you view the world and your place in it you can not only live and survive, but you can thrive, succeed, and fly!

The harder they come, the harder they fall; I never say maybe and I go for it all—Just like the sound of electric guitars.

Momentum. Inertia. An object in motion will tend to stay in motion: The bigger they come...the harder they fall. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing completely. As intense as it might be, just like electric guitars.

With nothing to show, just sweat from my soul; my heart's on the line and I'm dying to go. Look at us now, [going to] make it somehow; hold on to me baby, can't hold me down.

Success is the product of sacrifice and other things. A leader often puts pieces of himself or herself into the formula of getting to the goal—and you often build up momentum on your way to the goal. Success begets success because the successful person has indoctrinated themselves how to think the right way—the way to win.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quote: Skepticism

"Doubt everything or believe everything: These are two equally convenient strategies. With either we dispense with the need for reflection."
Henri Poincare

The Self Concept of a Leader

The 17TH century mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, in his Principia Philosophiae was the original skeptic. A logical and rational Frenchman responsible for the Cartesian coordinate system and analytic geometry, among several other things, posed the question in 1644 that doubt was the principle tool of a disciplined inquiry into anything. This led him to the line of reasoning that doubting was simply an extension of thinking; from this, he determined that he did, in fact, exist: Existence was a function of perception (a position that could later be posed via quantum physics some two centuries later). The mental process of perception would later develop, helped along by the great minds of psychology such as Sigmund Freud, Prescott Lecky, V.C. Raimy, Carl Rogers, William Purkey, and J. Schmidt into a fairly concrete theory of self concept depicting each and every person’s self-identity in a physical, psychological, and social sense and influenced by one’s habits, attitudes, beliefs, and ideas.

Self concept is a learned component of our self. In our earliest months we develop the foundations for self concept; over time and repeated experience and perceptions it is shaped and molded (often the most with significant others, as research suggests). Because self concept is shaped through continued social interaction, and not instinctive, it has boundless potential for development. However, the perception component of self concept presents an interesting corollary in that perception goes both ways such that you may see yourself differently than others see you. Also, since perception varies from person to person and within each person from moment to moment, our self concept evolves over time and with reinforcing experiences. Over time we may learn that there are inconsistencies between experience and our self concept: As we will typically perceive those things as threats, our self concept will organize itself more rigidly in order to maintain and protect ourselves. Furthermore, emotional problems may arise from these continued perceived inconsistencies. Aside from experiences, our self can help generate negative self concepts through faulty patterns of thought: Categorizing everything into extremes or over-generalizing, for instance.

Instead of having multiple perceptions about your personal existence, self concept maintains an orderly and organized manner so that all of these perceptions about one self are orchestrated and tied into one another. Because it is orchestrated, organized, and stable in such a manner, self consistency arises; the stability aspect, however, tends to be the reason many people resist change as they do: Change requires energy and effort to go into perception, and perception to change about the world and, therefore, about ourselves; the more closely-held the belief or fundamental the belief is about one self, the more resistant to change self concept will be. This can lead to inconsistency—one of the enemies of self concept and stable personality. Self concept, however, is not completely resistant to change: Since the organization is personality-based, this aspect of self will have its core in “I” phrases instead of “me” phrases—perceiving yourself as something to act, not simply as an object; allowing reflection to happen on information taken from the past and present and to adapt the self concept to handle and shape future experiences. If you fail in an area which you hold in high regard, your evaluation of all other areas will tend to be lowered; similarly, a success in a highly regarded area will raise your evaluations in other areas. In other words: Failures affect self concept negatively, thus affecting the rest of your world and your experiences whereas successes have the opposite, positive, affect on everything else in your world.

Self concept, as has been being built towards, is a dynamic thing: It is a guidance system that shapes the ways a person views—and therefore interacts—with themselves, their surroundings, others, and the entire world. In a sense, it is your compass always pointing to your “personal north” by allowing you to take a consistent stance in life. Instead of being the cause of behavior, however, it is the cause of personality—and thus the direction for behavior. In this sense all information that you sense about the world is viewed through the filter of your self concept and is a constant and continuous process always assimilating and expelling new ideas throughout your life. Because it is so closely tied to our fundamental belief structure, each person will have a tendency to behave in such a fashion that remains consistent with their self concept no matter how much that helps or hurts themselves or others; it will even usually take precedence over physical comfort in order to achieve emotional comfort, constantly guarding itself against losses in self-esteem and prohibiting feelings of anxiety. However, if self concept must continually defend itself against being assaulted, opportunities for growth will be limited.

While this entire field warrants much more discussion, suffice for a real world application immediately: Dr. John J. Sosik, in a paper written for The Leadership Quarterly, examined relationships among dispositional attitudes: Self-consciousness, self-monitoring, and purpose-in-life; and charismatic leadership. Dozens of managers rated themselves on the aforementioned self concept-based attributes while about three times as many subordinates rated their manager’s leadership style. Understandingly enough, there was a high correlation found between private self-consciousness, self-monitoring, and purpose-in-life.

And to think, all this from a man who was skeptic about the world around him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads onto way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, 1916

The Leadership Paradigm

Dr. Stephen Covey, in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he describes a scene where he encountered a man with two children on a subway. While the children ran about and were beginning to physically annoy the other commuters their father simply sat there, his head in his hands. After some time of this, Dr. Covey engages the man and inquires as to his situation. The man, with a sigh, shakes his head and replies that the children’s mother, his wife, had just passed away not more than a few hours previous. He was reacting the only way that he knew how, and the children were reacting the only way that they knew how. This situation illustrates the classic characteristics of a paradigm shift: The paradigm of the passengers in the subway was typical: Father who did not know how to control his children. The paradigm of the father was considerably different.

Paradigm: A set of rules or worldview that each individual or group comprises that does two things: 1) it establishes or defines boundaries; and 2) it dictates behavior inside the boundaries in order to fulfill needs and desires.

Paradigm differs from attitude in that attitude is essentially defined as a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways. In a sense, your attitude extends from your paradigm; that is, your mental state that manifests from the mix of your feelings, values, and dispositions extends from how you view the world. In computing people will often ask more about how an operating system works, such as Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. The best analogy that I have been able to come up with is that the operating system acts like the floor of the house: Defining the “lay of the land” throughout it; if there are two floors or more, the floor will need to have stairs in it; if the ceiling for one room is too low, the floor will need to descend. The floor of the house offers a construct in which all the people that live there operate within the constraints therein. In the same fashion, our worldview creates the construct and constraints within which we operate.

If you ask ten different people what they feel leadership is, you are likely to get at least ten different answers. From a position of a figure of authority to a special competence in a technical skill to the broader meanings of an influential individual who guides, directs, and mentors or the capacity to do such things. In this sense leadership is not something to be achieved; rather it is a paradigm for which to live your life. Leaders are not necessarily managers or people that hold supervisory or authoritative positions: Leaders are, instead, people who see the world around them and live their lives in such a way as to transform it into a better place. Leadership is a worldview, a construct in which to live our lives.

The study, science, and art of leadership are things that are as broad as the Grand Canyon and much, much deeper. The entirety of leadership, however, rests in vision.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Quote: Tenacity and Decisions

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.

Amelia Earhart

The War of Business

When most people think about war, they think of it in the classic black-and-white movie paradigm: The waging of armed conflict against an enemy. The classic symmetric conflict whereas one force meets with another on a field of battle and fights one another to submission. Whereas the stakes in this sort of combat are high, so are the stakes in business. In this enterprise, however, the definition of warfare becomes less violent in nature: An active struggle between competing entities.

In war the will is directed at an animate object that reacts.
Karl von Clauswitz, Prussian General

Why not look upon one’s business interests as if they were a war? The scope of war is one such that there are the binary conditions of success or defeat. While there isn’t loss of life, there is a competitive spirit amongst entities on the battlefield and gains and losses to be realized in accordance with the various dynamics on the battlefield.

For some reason, I’ve always had some military sense about me. Although my father works for a telephone cooperative by day and a farmer-rancher at all other times; my brother a coal-mining plant operator several hours a week and a farmer-rancher at all other times; my mother also works in the fold, having worked a variety of other jobs throughout her life. Few others served in the military in my family since my great-great grandfather Mathias Hetland, having served as an enlisted man in the Spanish American War. Regardless of this lack of military involvement, I would always (in the back of my mind) assign military ranks to those in jobs around me, commensurate with their role in that job: My father, The General or Adimiral; my mother, the same. My brother, raising to the rank of a die-hard sergeant able to “just make things work.” I looked at myself as a junior enlisted troop, working his way up through the hierarchy and into the commissioned officer ranks.

Several years later I would find myself working with Cingular Wireless (now part of the new AT&T) as a receivables management agent in a call center environment. I was quick to place the label of “infantry—“the lightly-armed foot soldiers who make up the largest portion of an army onto my other colleagues “on the floor” as standard-issue call center representatives who were taking collections calls. This occupation was dreadful. I quickly learned that, while many people that call into collections of a wireless phone call center may be like you and I, there are enough that fit a pattern of behavior that most grandmothers would find deplorable. I determined that I would rise beyond the thankless existence on the phones and do something more.

I promptly learned of a separate team in the call center that performed duties over and above the remainder of the call center. The “Resolutions Support Desk,” affectionately known as “Rez” by the inhabitants there, was more than just the stock infantry of the call center: They were the elite “special forces” of the call center: Special Forces or special operations forces, is a term used to describe relatively small military units raised and trained for reconnaissance, unconventional warfare and special operations. These exclusive units rely on stealth, speed, self reliance and close teamwork, and highly specialized equipment. Resolutions was a the size of a single team which supported itself and the remaining 250-300 call center agents and, at times, agents at other call centers. Although they could take standard calls that the rank-and-file representative would take, they stood out as subject matter experts and, therefore, about half their time was spent offering advice on policies, procedures, systems, and other technical issues to representatives. The rest of their time on the phones was spent as supervisors de-escalating calls from customers who were otherwise dissatisfied with the service that they were getting. In order to do so, they were trained and experienced in how to read people and, as a result, how to de-escalate them. Resolutions Support Consultants could work in teams of any skill level, size, or purpose, as well as by themselves. The tools that they used were those that the other call center agents used, along with specialized access and other specific programs—all of which they needed to be subject matter experts.

I would become the quickest customer service/receivables management agent to be promoted from “the floor” into the Resolutions Department. What happened for after I got there is a different story for a different time.

Just as different job roles can be associated with different roles in a military environment, a chief executive standing in a board room employs resources just as a general on a battlefield would; instructing his or her commanders on their vision and overseeing the operation from the perspective of the top officer of the organization from beginning to end.

In the end, it is not too difficult to fathom the war that business can be.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monkey Mondays: The Monkey Slideshow

Several monkeys, for your perusal.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Corporate Soldier

“Live to win, dare to fail.”
Metallica, “Carpe Diem, Baby

Business: The glorious manifestation of a group of people organized together to conduct commerce. Within any such organization lies hierarchies of line personnel, support staff, and the managers at all levels which add value to the venture at every step along the way. A well-functioning and efficient organization possesses well-trained individuals throughout the strata of a company. Organizations—non-profits, governmental organizations, and business concerns from the smallest “Ma and Pop” sorts through the largest sprawling multi-national corporate conglomerates—are clustered within this definition of “corporate.”

Wikipedia defines soldier as the following:

A soldier is a person who has enlisted with, or has been conscripted into, the armed forces of a sovereign country and has undergone training and received equipment to defend that country or its interests. In most countries, the term soldier is limited to such people who serve in the land branch of the armed services (usually known as the army). Armies are strictly hierarchical societies, and within them, groups of soldiers are usually divided into military units of some kind.

The key points here are that soldiers are professionally trained, equipped, and that they work in groups of all sizes towards the end of an organization’s interests. While the hierarchical structures of organizations have evolved, certain universal truths are true of successful individuals within their respective successful organizations.

Organization doesn't really accomplish anything. Plans don't accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don't much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.
—General Colin Powell, U.S. Army (Retired)

All of the posts in this forum have been to the end of developing the premise and paradigm for this Corporate Soldier: A man or woman capable of leading, in whichever capacity or level they serve in the organization, properly trained and equipped to do serve the interests of the organization by organizing resources and doing commerce.

Veni, Vidi, Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered).
Julius Caesar, said in an address to the Roman Senate regarding his victory at the Battle of Zela in 47 B.C.

The Corporate Soldier is not limited to non-managerial personnel, either. In the military, especially in units with a reasonable combat probability, it is firmly implanted into the minds of each troop that it is necessary to know and be able to serve in the position that is two rungs higher on the hierarchical ladder than one’s own. Nothing changes more constantly, unpredictably, and forcibly as a combat environment: Because of this, soldiers know that they must reasonably be able to serve in multiple capacities within their area of influence. Just as a rank-and-file worker must be ready to take on the job duties of their supervisor or one of their colleagues, the supervisor or manager must be able to take on the roles of his or her colleagues or subordinates.

Furthermore, everyone—Everyone—is a leader in an organization. The typical leadership paradigm within many organizations is those in supervisory, managerial, executive, or select staff positions. The modern organization, the new paradigm in the information age, is to democratize leadership: Accountability and responsibility at all levels, in all roles, within the organization. Decentralization further increases effectiveness, efficiency, and creates a more direct link between the needs of the situation with the capabilities of the portion of the organization handling it.

So, I invite you to read on and learn how to be one of today’s, one of tomorrow’s, corporate soldiers—leaders that are around to enhance, shape, and add value to the world around them.