Friday, July 20, 2007

The One and Only

You put me through it, I'll still be doing it the way I do it. And yet, you try to make me forget,
Who I really am, don't tell me, I know best: I'm not the same as all the rest.”

Each leader has their own style—while the principles of success are broad and varied, but fairly standard and uniform—and they express that style in the things that they do. They are not the same as all the rest.

I am the one and only, nobody I'd rather be. I am the one and only, you can't take that away from me.

Be you; be the only you. Be the only you that is indispensable to the mission of your organization, whichever organization that is. And, just as Eleanor Roosevelt is famous for saying “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

I've been a player in the crowd scene, a flicker on the big screen: My soul embraces one more in a million faces. High hopes and aspirations, and years above my station, maybe, but all this time I've tried to walk with dignity and pride.

Leaders come from all walks of life. Leadership knows not social strata, income level, geography, or demographic. What it does know, however, is psychographic: The psychology of a person, the way he or she thinks. No matter how high your hopes, dreams, visions, and aspirations the leader always tries to stand tall, look good, be dignified, and have a healthy amount of pride in what they do.

I can't wear this uniform without some compromises, because you'll find out that we come,
In different shapes and sizes. No one can be myself like I can, For this job I'm the best man.

Sacrifice comes with any role that you take on, given that you decide to do it well. If you’re performing in your role well, make yourself the best person for that role and succeed in your mission.

Quote: Loyalty

"When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I'll like it or not. Disagreement, at this state, stimulates me. But once a decision is made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own."
—General Colin Powell

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Advantages of Technology ala Entertainment

Regardless of how much of a workaholic or not the business leader is, everyone shares a common denominator. A good friend of mine once let me in on an insight of his: People do everything they do for the satisfaction of being entertained. Whether they seek that entertainment in books, work, or watching your favorite weekly drama or comedy, this common denominator is true of everyone.

Technology can not only help to make our work lives more productive, but it can help to make our leisure time more leisurely.

1. Digital Video Recorders. The DVR, or Digital Video Recorder, are becoming more and more prevalent in American households. Allowing you to pause, fast forward, and rewind live television (actually, delayed by a few seconds), this is widely considered to be the greatest invention since the remote control. I agree. Not only can it record television programs or movies for you at any time of day, it can also help you watch television more efficiently. Ever think that was possible? Being able to fast forward through commercials and the duller moments of the programs which you watch, the digital video recorder, also going by the brand name “Tivo,” is a great, great thing. Whoever had this idea…I want to shake their hand.

2. GPS. Once upon a time, the military decided that they needed to determine exact locations on the face of the planet, at least down to an accuracy of a couple meters. This technology, the Global Positioning System, has permeated the private sector and civilian life. Companies make these devices for walkers and bikers through the most die-hard of travelers. Being able to tell you where you are, where to go to get where you want to go, and even how to effectively make your way through traffic jams are all within the capabilities of these great pieces of electronics.

3. MP3 player. The general rule of thumb in the computer industry—in fact, the principle which the entire company of Intel is founded—is that things will get smaller and faster over time. In the 1990s when engineers were able to shrink a hard drive enough to put into a computer that you could put onto your lap, they shot for greater feats such as increased amounts of data in these hard disk drives and make a version of the hard drive that is without disk—a solid-state device which revolves around “flash” technology: The same technology that the memory cards in most digital cameras use. This revolution in technology has manifested itself in a plethora of consumer devices…such as the MP3 player. They come in all sizes, shapes, and for every use.

The greatest of these devices is the iPod. Coming in versions with flash technology that are lighter or those with hard disk drives that are more robust, the iPod is the epitome of style and, with Apple’s iTunes software, it becomes a great device to listen to music, podcasts, and—on certain models—watch video.

If video is more up your alley, though, and you want to be able to use your MP3 player in a more connected capacity, you might want to look into a device such as the Archos digital media players. Aside from a relatively large video screen, it also possesses wireless internet capability which allows it to surf the web with an included web browser.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blog Maintenance: Tomorrow!

Sorry about the mix-up with the blog posts!

Tomorrow expect to see the continuation of the Technology Series!

The Marriage Premium

Some people grow up with the notion that taxes penalize married couples, while some have the notion that married people can earn more money. Who has it right?

The short answer: Married couples, of course.

Richard Morin, of the Washington Post wrote in June 2004:

The notion that marriage gives a financial boost to men goes back three decades. It became so well-established that economists and social scientists even gave it a name: "the marriage premium." Married men, the researchers hypothesized, could spend more time working, preparing for work or simply resting up for the job and therefore earned more money than their single counterparts. Why? Because many of them could concentrate on their jobs while their dutiful wives took primary responsibility for the home front. This specialization was good for both spouses, according to this theory. Husbands went further in their careers and earned more, and their wives shared the benefits.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was able to quantify this phenomenon:

On average, marriage increases income by about $1,800 for every year of marriage…[and] because married couples have an obligation to others, they tend to be more financially responsible are more likely to save money. They also have the opportunity to combine their strengths. For example, a husband who is skilled at fixing things can save a family a great deal of money, as can a wife who is skilled at managing money. When marriage partners pool their resources, both people benefit.

There you go: Linear and non-linear payoffs of marriage. There are also a slew of other financial benefits. A few are:

· The ability to file joint tax returns

· The ability to set up a family partnership whereas all profits are shared amongst family members

· Estate taxation benefits

· Receiving government benefits on behalf of your spouse

· Receiving family rates for insurance

There are a few downsides, however. According to research reported by Mr. Morin, in regards to women, any “extra income was often offset by a drop in their wives' earnings…The paychecks of many married women declined—or stopped altogether—after they became brides or mothers.” At any rate, a 21-year study concluded that while “’single men have the same total family income [per family member], regardless of whether they are single, cohabiting or married,’ she wrote, adding that ‘marriage and cohabitation confer sizable -- and identical -- financial benefits on women while men break even upon entering either type of union.’"

An up-and-coming social trend, also, is the civil union trend. Whereas it remains a staunch political fight whether homosexuals can formally wed, some legislators in state governments across the United States have introduced the concept of the “civil union” such that partners, such as those of the same sex, can enjoy the benefits of married life without the necessary religious vows. While the politics of this matter, and several others, are outside the scope of this blog, I will leave the matter be as to say this: Expect the civil union debate to continue for some time and affect everyone for whom marriage is—or is not—an option.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Technology Factor

Technology is a wonderful thing. “One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men,” American writer, publisher, and artist Elbert Hubbard once said. The use of technology can certainly, as history has shown, be used to add more value to our daily business, squeeze more productivity out of our resources, and get more done with what we have than we might have once through possible. In the hands of the adequately skilled leader, the limits of technology are only limited to the boundlessness of creativity.

From the most basic perspective, the time savings, efficiency and commoditization of routine tasks and services allowed by computers and other pieces of technology has been able to free many the business leader to focus on the more pressing, creative, problem-solving, and desirable aspects of our trades or businesses. Computers, however, being the blessing that they are can also cause headaches or lack of productivity if they are not correctly tailored and utilized in the capacity that meets the missions of the business concern. When looking at computers, for instance:

1. Get a computer that meets your needs: Word processing? Spreadsheets? Financial management? Presentations? Personal information management? Sales management? At the very least, make sure you use a suite of programs designed to protect your computer against “malware:” The general type of malicious computer software which includes viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, and the like. While there are many programs that you pay for on the market, my experience shows that you can also achieve the same level of protection from the right mix of free programs. For instance, at home I use AVG Anti-Virus Free, Windows Defender, and Spybot Search & Destroy. This has been able to hedge against any malware problem I have on my computer at home, and what I’ve seen with others using these.

2. Organize your computer. Investing some time now on organizing your computer will very much add to your efficiency and productivity later. Be descriptive enough with your titles in order to convey your message to yourself or others. Be certain to use a system that is logical and makes sense to you.

3. Keep email short and direct when you send it. When you receive it, scan messages by subject header. Only give your email address out to people as necessary to avoid unsolicited junk or “spam” email. Designate a discrete number of times in the day, usually 1-3, to review and respond to emails. Studies have shown this to be the most productive approach.

Three ways that your computer can do for you to make your life easier:

1. Internet faxing services can remove your need to have fax machine in your office; instead, with the use of email (and possibly a scanner), you can have people fax you and you can also fax other people! These services include, but are not limited to: eFax, MyFax, RapidFax, Metro Hi Speed, FaxAge, FaxMicro, Send2Fax, and SRFax. Not sure if you want to pay? Try advertising-supported FaxZero!

2. VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, allows you to escape the confines of traditional phone plans and call anywhere using your broadband Internet connection in conjunction with your existing phone system, or simply a headset attached to your computer. The latter would find you using a program & service called Skype. The former, using your own phone system, will find you either using a local Internet provider or services such as Vonage, 1TouchTone, Verizon VoiceWing, or Lingo, for example. Want to know who ranks the best? Visit here.

3. The podcast is an excellent and efficient way to stay connected with news, opinion, and entertainment on the run. Essentially podcasts are just “radio on demand” programs from anyone with a few pieces of software to record, edit, and upload what they have to say to the Internet.

Next, how other parts of technology can play an effective part in the business leader’s everyday life.

Monkey Mondays: Lion-eating Chimp-Gorilla!

More new monkeys found!

Deep in the Congolese jungle is a band of apes that, according to local legend, kill lions, catch fish and even howl at the moon. Local hunters speak of massive creatures that seem to be some sort of hybrid between a chimp and a gorilla.

Who needs a guard & attack dog when a monkey (ape) can do it for you!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

“The Hardest Job Kids Face Today is Learning Good Manners Without Seeing Any.”

Fred Astaire, musical comedian, said the above. Although some may see etiquette as an antiquated notion in our modern times, it has also been said that “A man's manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait, (German Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). Whichever way you look at it, manners and etiquette are very important things in the repertoire of the business leader.

Take, for instance, something we do on a daily basis: Eating. There are a few rules of etiquette to follow. Mind you, these are just a handful:

1. Do not sit too far back in a reclined manner or put your elbows on the table, or otherwise lounge.

2. If possible, never cough or sneeze at the table; don’t make any noises while eating. Do not talk while your mouth is full.

3. Be cheerful in conduct and conversation.

4. Do not play with table utensils.

5. Never leave the table before the rest of the family or guests, without asking the host or hostess to excuse you.

A bonus one, for this has always been a favorite of mine:

· Wishing to be served with more tea or coffee, place your spoon in your saucer.

In addition, those rules of etiquette aimed at girls in the Victorian Era that each of us might find a place for in our everyday lives:

1. Rise to one's feet as respect for an older person or dignitary. This also applies to a gentleman, for a lady.

2. Speaking of gentlemen: A true gentleman tips their hat to greet a lady, opens doors, and always walks on the outside.

3. An interesting one: A young lady should be expected to shine in the art of conversation. Etiquette books of the era concentrate on the voice, rather than the content of speech, encouraging her to cultivate that distinct but subdued tone. In the current era, content is just as remarkable as tone and inflection.

While manners are largely an unenforced construct of standards in social behavior in which the person possessing them are portrayed to be polite and cultured, the art of the manner has degraded throughout the years. Although unenforced, they fall within the same scope as laws in that good manners may go rewarded and poor manners may be punished. Saying “please,” “thank you,” “pardon me” (or “excuse me”) are the most basic manners that we should follow.

Manners and etiquette exist such to show respect for those around you, and to show respect for yourself.

Manners are very important in life. Good ones that is. You can get attention if you use proper etiquette. Politeness is what most guests look for. If your parents raise you correctly, you will probably have fair manners.
—Judith Martin, a.k.a. “Miss Manners

Personal Responsibility and When Kids have Kids

Kids should not have kids.

Nevada Couple Blame Internet for Neglect.

From the article:

"Michael Straw, 25, and Iana Straw, 23, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts each of child neglect. Each faces a maximum 12-year prison sentence.

Viloria said the Reno couple were too distracted by online video games, mainly the fantasy role-playing "Dungeons & Dragons" series, to give their children proper care.

"They had food; they just chose not to give it to their kids because they were too busy playing video games," Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal."