Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Wives and Brains

This post is not what you think it is, i.e., nothing whatsoever about the brains of wives.

I just wanted to point you at a couple of posts I wrote recently for Women of HR and Compensation Cafe.

The first post For the Working Mom Who has Everything takes a hard hitting look at how having a wife is a HUGE competitive advantage in the workplace. 

The second post Brains in a Jar looks at a very unusual form of workplace recognition...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Say Yes

Laurie Reuttimann wrote a great post recently about how she always says Yes to her boss.  That came out a bit wrong but you know what I mean.

The point is that the boss is... the boss.  And chances are 'yes' is one of his or her favorite words. 

Saying yes to your boss may be one of the best pieces of career advice ever, although a recent post by Judith Lindenberger about the importance of networking is also one of my top 5. 

But what about how empowerment and autonomy are key to engagement and motivation?  And don't we know by now that micromanagement kills creativity?

Yeah, yeah, go work for yourself.  Just kidding.  The point is that saying yes to your boss does not mean you aren't empowered at work.  In fact, assuming your boss is basically a decent person, the opposite is usually true.

I once had a manager who liked to have final approval of everything.  And I mean everything.  He was nice enough but he wanted to know what was going on and be in charge.  At first this rubbed me the wrong way because I tend to run off with a task and not show up again until it's done or I need help.  But he was my boss so I sucked it up.

I started meeting with him for about 15 minutes every morning to let him know what I was working on, where things stood and what I planned to do next.  Occasionally he would ask me to do something differently but not very often.  For the most part, sharing the information with him and giving him a chance to provide guidance seemed to meet his needs.  And over time his trust increased and I was able to work more independently.

(Ironically, I found myself missing those 15 minute meetings.)

I'm not a perfect soldier.  I'm outspoken.  I don't always agree and will say so.  On  rare occasions I can be sarcastic.  But like Laurie, when my boss asks I say yes.

*Unless there's a really, really, really good reason to say no.  And I mean, good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Project Social: I Storyvite You Again!

I wrote a post back in July I Storyvite You about my initial experience using Storyvite, an online personal branding tool.  The basic selling point of Storyvite is that it lets you present your 'profersonal' story in a more inviting way than a traditional CV or LinkedIn profile.  It also helps you manage your online identity by pulling information about you from multiple sources (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)

The thing that sets Storyvite apart from other online personal branding tools is the social way in which the founder, Satish Sallakonda, has reached out to the business community to design a tool that meets their needs.  For example, when he saw the link to my post he contacted me with an offer to help me create a stronger story for myself.  (He was too polite to say my original story kinda sucked.)

He reached out to other people as well, including my Project Social buddies Dave Ryan and Lyn Hoyt and you can read about their Storyvite experiences over at HR Official and The HR Bacon Hut.  You can also check out my updated Storyvite profile below - the black background was my idea so if you hate it don't blame Satish.

Play Story
To give fair warning, the Storyvite product is still under construction.  Although the plan is to automatically pull in more information from LinkedIn and other sites, as well as provide easy to use templates for different layouts, the user experience remains largely manual.

On the plus side, looking at some of the prototypes for what's coming, I can easily imagine using this tool or one like it to generate a very slick resume or bio:

How cool is that?  Unfortunately, this capability isn't there yet but you can use what's there today to give your own 'profersonal' story a face lift using the invitation code 'social' to get started.  And if you run into any snags, just reach out to Satish directly, he'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Is How We Roll In Bavaria

In honor of Oktoberfest season here in Munich - and because I've been too busy to write anything new - I've decided to re-publish an excerpt from an article I wrote back in 2008 about what to expect at Oktoberfest.  The Oktoberfest Planning Commission has made this required reading for all first-time Oktoberfest attendees so please read the following very carefully.

(OK, I made that up.)

The Four Phases of Oktoberfest*
Phase I: Why are people staring at me?
You’ve had your first refreshing sip of ice-cold beer and are prepared to enjoy yourself but several complete strangers are looking at you as if they’ve known you forever and really like you and it’s just a little embarrassing. So you watch the band and look at the ceiling and gulp beer whenever anyone catches your eye, including your boss who's at the next table three sheets to the wind.

Phase II: I love you guys
You’ve finished your first beer and started on a second when it hits you that we are all connected. You start waving excitedly and blowing kisses to people at other tables and most of them wave and blow kisses back, except that guy two tables over who just threw up into his beer. This is the best phase to be in when you have to go to the bathroom because the deep, genuine love you feel for everyone around you allows you to glide past people and obstacles without getting yelled at or arrested. All you have to do is go to the front of the line, put your arms around the person you displaced - as long as they don't work with you - and tell them you love them... right before you dart into the bathroom and lock the door. When you come out they probably won’t be there anymore and even if they are, chances are that they will back away from you nervously so you're home free.

Phase III: I understand everything now
Finally, the unified field theory has been solved by you and the fundamental nature of the universe is no longer a mystery. The nature of the universe is hilariously funny so you laugh out loud. You share your new knowledge with the person sitting next to you and they totally get it. Now that you’ve solved the mysteries of the universe together you know that you’ll be friends forever. Unfortunately, neither of you will remember any of this tomorrow.

Phase IV: It's all good
In this phase, you have moved beyond understanding everything to a quiet, content acceptance of everything exactly as it is. Suddenly you realize that this is a perfect time for a Fischsemmel, which is pickled mackerel on a Kaiser roll with a slice of onion.** As you take that first tangy and slightly chewy bite your happiness is complete.

*There are actually 5 phases but Phase 5 happens the next day and isn’t nearly so nice as the other phases. I won’t say much about Phase V, except that it is a lot less full of universal love, omniscience and Fischsemmel than the previous phases. 

**It's better than it sounds.

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