Wednesday, December 31, 2008
take 10 months to sell it."
Let's create a checklist of bad client attributes and behaviors, and see how this one stacks up:
- Consistently contradicts their own requests
- Changes priorities
- Gives conflicting requests from multiple people
- Bonus: conflicting requests from the same person
- Treats the "help" as second-class citizen
- Has a mountain of rules and regulations
- Does not follow any of the rules or regulations
- Loves the "bring me a rock" exercise - this is where they ask you to produce some deliverable, with ill defined requirements. You produce it, they say bring them something similar, but different, and still can't define what they want. This repeats ad naseum
- They aren't worried about doing the right thing, only what their bosses and others (like the market) will think
- Meetings, lots of meetings. Meetings to discuss meetings.
- Bonus: Won't just have three people chat about something, has to call it a meeting. Double bonus if they insist in sending a meeting invitation
So farewell client. I've learned, something, I guess. If anything, I learned:
- You can only make an inrrational client a tiny bit more rational
- You have to put in a lot more effort to frame decisions for them. I basically had to box them into a corner to do the right thing
- Don't play the game, you won't win. Don't try and outfox them, don't do any "double secret probation" type stuff where you have non-disclosed meetings with stakeholders to try and get something done behind people's backs.
- However, you can get things done despite others. Frame what you are doing in a way that they see it as benefiting them.
- Make the process your friend, use it to shield you from tasks they ask you to do that will make you look bad, or could break a truly important rule (or heaven forbid, law)
- Momentum is key - Once you get a little bit of progress, once you get them working slightly more rationally, you can build on it. To quote the insane Herm Edwards of the NFL "WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!" (shouted after a loss).
First, you have to realize you have two roles within every company: you are both an employee, and a worker. What's the difference? And employee entails all the overhead stuff, the paperwork, compliance issues, EEOC training, getting paid, 401(k), and if you live in a magical fantasy world you even have a pension. For this role there is either someone in HR who nags, I mean helps, you with this (it could also be your supervisor). The worker role is your real work, your day-to-day responsibilities of getting stuff done. You deal with your supervisor, co-workers, and maybe even people you manage.
Job number one when you leave a company is to take care of the all your HR stuff. Make sure you have the names and numbers for your benefits people. Know all your account numbers and log ins for your 401(k), know who you contact if you want to roll any of this over.
Make sure your papers and emails are in order. You are reasonably allowed copies of your work papers, but be cognizant of your Intellectual Property restrictions. Don't take anything that is proprietary. But you are allowed to have access to various HR records, and you should always have had a copy of your performance appraisals. These will be key later on, especially if you have to tweak your resume, remember any awards you won, etc. If you receive pay statements via email, forward those puppies on to your personal email. You may wish to create a totally new email address for this, but I created a specific label within Gmail for this.
Now as a worker, it's a totally different set of responsibilities. If you manage any people, they have to be your number one priority. You'll need to have a transition plan for migrating your duties to whomever is taking over. In an ideal world, you will know who this is, have a positive working relationship and do this personally. Often times, you will not know who is taking over and there will be no chance to even talk to them about the team.
I went to great lengths to try and not bias the two people who took over for me. I was really handling two roles, and my boss wisely decided to split them apart and have two people take them on. I was upfront and always said, "Here is fact, here is my opinion". We called it a "Bus File", others call it a "Titanic file" or other permutations, but this was a document that summarized my roles and responsibilities, the basics of what I did, when certain deliverables were due, and gave some history on the most major pieces of work. I used this whenever I took a vacation of more than 3 days for whoever watched over my team as well.
Close out as many tasks as you can, be cognizant of whoever is taking over for you when new duties are assigned and try to push out the due dates so the new person can meet the deadlines. Make sure you let your replacement know what balls are still in the air.
And above all, never burn a bridge. You might want to take some cheap shots at people as you are leaving, really letting them know what you think of them. Don't. Just grin and bear it. However, one caveat is that you should be brutally honest should you have an exit interview. Mine was a joke, near useless. But I still was honest and told them what I liked about the company, why I was leaving, and what they should fix. The lady doing this pressed me on why I was leaving, which in part was salary. I wouldn't tell her the dollar amount I left for, but gave her a percentage range of increase and she laughed and told me I made the right decision.
I took a cue from my wife and handwrote thank you letters to people who really helped me out. I thanked those who gave me a chance to interview for promotions, especially one's I didn't get. The opportunities were great, and they didn't have to include me. I thanked all my supervisors for their wise council and mentorship. And I thanked one guy in particular for his frank and honest opinions on my work. He was a pain in the butt a lot of the time, a jerk to people who couldn't handle him well, but he was the most honest boss I've ever had. When I gave him work that didn't meet his expectations, he told me. But he also helped me fix it, which was key. I learned a lot from him.
The golden rule in this instance is twofold: treat people the way you'd like to be treated, and keep the future in mind.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Airbrushed, botox'd, makeup (not the kind you wore as a legit rocker).
Friday, December 26, 2008
- Why wouldn't we want to have a presentation or document up to explain what we have done for our prior/current customers?
- Or put in Company Buzz so people can see what others are saying about us?
- Or share files between our company's employees via LinkedIn?
- Or create a workspace?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The financial services people who remain calm, continue to provide a valued service, who don't push their clients, but instead wisely counsel them, they will find their customers to be more loyal and will recommend them to others.
The analogy is clear to being an employer: times are tough, so employers start treating their employees like crap. Cut all the perks programs, we have to save save save. Fire people, cut the bottom line as much as possible! After all, there is a short-term over supply of labor, you can afford to treat people poorly.
But what will your A+ performers do once the market adjusts? They'll leave you, because they already know you don't care about them.
But if you wisely counsel your employees on the market, in an open and honest way; if you help them to find jobs if you have to lay them off, but only after having helped try to transfer them to other offices that need staff, then they will remember you fondly (and maybe use your services at the new employer).
If you're providing a service, remember, it's never about YOU, it's about the CUSTOMER. You'll make your numbers when you treat me well.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
If you get whitelisted (which means approved in human speak) to use Google Friend Connect, you can rush off to sign up and install it. However, you'll reach a cryptic step that says you have to upload two files to your server.
Uh-oh, you have no server, you are using Google's very own Blogger (blogspot.com) tool. Did they not think this through? Why ask someone you know ahead of time to install files on a server they know you don't have?
Ah, but they half did, yet did not tell you this clearly. The two files they asked you to upload, are actually uploaded for you as a Blogger member. So skip that that upload step, and move on.
Make sure you check the width of the widget when you create the code within Google Friend Connect. I had to play with a number of widths to get it to fully fit.
First, my wife taught me that you can simply nit "ctrl - Tab" and you will move from left to right between tabs. Very nice.
My first tip to her was you hit "ctrl" and "pg up" or "pg dn" and will move left to right or right to left, respectively.
My second tip to her was use of "ctrl" and the numbers. "Ctrl - 1" takes you to the first tab, "Ctrl - 9" always takes you to the last tab, or the 9th if there is one. All other numbers will take you to the numbered tab you hit.
Boom, there you go, faster Firefox tab navigations.
According to the data:
So I guess that would be considered "low" (which I'm sure my wife will be pleased to learn when she reads this post in a week or so).
So there it is, proof that I am as awesome and amazing as I thought. Double bonus points for empirical evidence I can now use to prove to my wife that I'm as great a husband as I say I am.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I want to believe, I do.
Here's how it helps:
- I don't forget to do the things I capture (that which I don't capture, most likely doesn't get done)
- It helps my "mental memory" stay clearer, allowing me to focus (ala Getting Things Done)
- I feel more comfortable that I haven't forgotten something (like the milk I bought yesterday)
- Daily print out of the day's and week's tasks
- I can access it via my phone (see the iPhone layout to the left)
- I can email it with tasks
- It sends me a daily agenda (see the notifications set up below)
- Integrates with Google Calendar to show my my daily tasks quickly
- Integrates with Gmail, you can throw your tasks to the right side of the inbox screen, this is AWESOME
- Double integration with Gmail, you can enable the "Star" feature in Gmail to auto create ToDos for you.
Here's how it doesn't:
- Gut wrenching feeling when I have to postpone something
- Overwhelmed feeling when I look at the list of things that I doubt I'll get to today
Notice anything about that "doesn't" list? Those are NOT valid reasons to quit using RTM, or some other system like it. They are escapism, they are avoidance. They have nothing to do with RTM and everything to do with wanting to be lazy, or to have a "break", or whatever.
Thanks to ahhyeah & Andréia for use of their Flickr images. Check out their other images!
How does that work?
At my last employer, I was on a project where I ultimately had day-to-day oversight of 20+ people and indirect oversight of 80+. However, I was a cog in the wheel of that company (the project and company really not no true linkage, crazy eh?).
I left the old company for great opportunities with my present employer, and I've gotten them for sure. I'm in on company strategy meetings, I am helping plot out our IT expenditures (we hight recommend Central Desktop as an online document repository and project management tool, its very flexible) and have worked on several business development projects (including a very large one we hope to finalize in the next 2-4 weeks).
But my day-to-day work is rather different. I went from having no say or buy-in with my employer to having a lot. But also went from lots of responsibility on a daily project basis, to none. On my current project I am now just a cog (which is where I started out on my last project).
And the #1 challenge when you have been a boss, and no longer are: not acting like you are still the boss. In a good way, it is humbling. You might have let your previous management roll get to your head. But now I'm basically the low man on the totem pole.
And you MUST avoid the urge to say "When I was in charge" or "When I was managing 25 people...". People in general hate it, it upstages your current boss, and it makes you look like a jerk.
Highlight some text and it automatically quotes it for you, properly references the original material, and you get a post.
This should work much like the "Share with Comment" in Google Reader.
In fact, maybe this should be something for Google Reader. Why not make it easier for me to blog about what I'm reading within GReader? It's like "Share with Comment" on steroids, it'd blog it and share it.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
In my previous post about replacing our guest bathroom (GBA) hardware I mentioned an issue I was having with the old shower handles. I mentioned the real issue was in the back, where the distance piping was screwed (I hope) into the wall. Well here is as good of a shot as my blackberry will provide:
Any ideas? I'm hoping "Dave" can come over, and that his blowtorch will loosen things up a bit (and not burn down the house; nor result in a major piece of plumbing).
Question of the month: Can this plumbing job be finished before the in-laws officially come to town?????
After having successfully replaced the hardware in our master bathroom (with the gracious help of my father-in-law), we have decided to tackle the guest bathroom (GBA). We should have done it in the other order...
The master bathroom was past of an addition to the house about 20 years ago. So things are at least newer than in the original part of the house. Problem number one in the GBA was the normally simple task of removing the tub faucet. It would not budge, and after my expert guidance in the MBA told me it can take some torque, I did. I torque so much, and the old original copper piping was so "rusted", I torqued the spout piping about 2 inches from the elbow in the back. Thank GOODNESS our GBA has an access panel to the shower plumbing. Otherwise, there'd be a big ol' hole there (and a giant wet spot in the kitchen ceiling).Upon learning what all my brawn had accomplished, I jerry-rigged a solution that kept any drips funneling into the tub (worked good enough for my Dad's visit I might add).
What is any home repair job without a pile of indistinguishable parts? These come, without instructions, from whatever plumbing parts wholesaler my wife used. Great price, just what we wanted. But be careful if you've never done this before. A great idea is to go to the library ahead of time and get a plumbing book. I've found all the Home Depot series books to be great.
Here are the original handle spots (original copper finish handles removed). See all that grout around the tubing? I thought that was the source of my next issue.
But it wasn't. The real culprit is what is in the back of the grout, which after removed made life no more simple. The tubing you see is steadfastly attached in the back (see future post/pic).
I was though, able to remove and install the shower head. Notice how I had to remove the original plumber's taping, which was too far up towards the wall.
As to fixing problem number 1 - we are in great hope that our amazing neighbor "Dave" will be able to come to the rescue. Yes, he can sweat pipes.
Well Google, since Google Analytics is so tightly coupled with Blogger, why not just ad a nifty little button that lets us readily blog about our own stats?
It creates more content (ad revenue), it promotes Google Analytics (increasing adoption), and allows people to use your products in conjuntion.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Google Analytics says:
So is it 101 with Google Analytics or 536 from Lijit (108 + 72 + 57 + 76 + 63 + 54 + 50 + 56)?
Despite saying "NO!" to the install, it still did.
Thank you Firefox for making the uninstall so easy!
Foxit Reader, you're on my list!