Getting credit without TAKING credit

September 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 1 Comment

Recently I was helping someone at work with a dilemma.  He had done something really innovative and wanted to share the information with a wider audience, mostly executives above him on the org chart, who genuinely want to know about this kind of thing.  But, I wanted it to come from him instead of me sending it on his behalf.  He wrote a nice email, but still thought that he was too self-serving.  I re-wrote the intro paragraph for him and will paste it below (with names changed), then I will make a few observations.

Got some great community feedback that may be of interest to you and your teams as we continue to find low-cost ways to connect with our audience.  I’ve been working with John Smith and Mary Jones on a lot of community stuff, and we’ll continue to share all of this info to make sure we’re executing best of breed practices across the domains.  Together, I feel like we are making huge progress.  In the note below, you’ll see the results of doing something called syndicated blogging, where we basically stream other people’s blogs.  Turning out to be more successful than we or the bloggers thought it would be.  See some guy’s comments below as an example.  Will run this by the other PMM’s, and Joel, we’ll start looping in your group too.  Feel free to pass this along to whomever you think would be interested in learning more and send them my way.

Here are a few closing points…

  1. Even though he didn’t work with anyone else on this particular thing, you are immediately given the impression that it is a team effort just by mentioning other colleagues’ names.  And, it’s not a lie at all.  He really does work with them on a regular basis and they share all kinds of info.
  2. It makes the point that this is an innovative thing that’s worth taking a look, but reiterates the fact that it will be immediately shared to make the whole team better.
  3. The last sentence answers the “why am I getting this?” email and avoids any possibility that it is just a self-serving attempt at taking credit for something.

Thinking about small things like this can make a very big difference in a career over the long haul.

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sorry, the gate is locked

September 23, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 1 Comment
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Where I live in Texas, fences are mandatory.  Not just little fences either.  I’m talking about those big six-and-a-half foot planks. I guess somewhere along the line that became standard, so they’re everywhere.  (I hate them, but that’s another story.)

We have a company that treats our yard every month or so.   One day I forgot to unlock the gate.  I’m sitting there working in my home office and hear the guy outside working.   Later I check the bill that he had hung on the door and it says “Sorry we couldn’t do your back yard, the gate was locked.”  OK, so the gate was locked.  Just how much effort would it have taken for the guy to knock on the door to see if anyone was home?  And they charge you if they have to come back.

Now let’s look at another story.  Because the lawnmower gods hate me, I have broken yet another mower this year.  There’s a great family down the street with some high school boys.  Good kids, so I’ve been paying them to cut the grass.  I got an email today from the mom saying, “I hope you’re not mad, but the boys couldn’t get the gate unlocked so they decided to lift themselves and the mower over the gate.”  Mad?!?!  I was freakin’ ecstatic!

We’re going to encounter lots of locked gates in business and life.  Slack-jawed indifference walks way.  Ingenuity and work ethic finds a way.

why I like facebook

September 15, 2009 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Technology Trends, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Two years ago I couldn’t get my cousin (who was in college) to answer my emails. I sent her a txt msg and she responded in about 48 seconds. When we finally hooked up over that antiquated device called a “phone”, she explained that she only used email for school and she started urging me to try facebook.

First experience: “This is stupid.” Tenth experience: “This is still stupid.” Then, eventually, I got hooked. I gave a lot of thought to why, and beyond technical reasons, there’s one fundamental thing that came to mind. I miss my hometown.

I grew up in a small steel town. We saw folks — the same folks — a lot. School, stores, games, bowling alley, wherever. And you’d always get the scoop on little things that you just really didn’t think you’d ever care about. When I moved away, I missed that. I found over time that facebook was filling that social void that was left when I moved away.  Now it’s like I’m standing in line at the grocery store catching a 30-second conversation with a friend on how his kid did in his baseball game.  Haven’t decided if this is good or bad.  But was just interesting thinking through why it “clicked” with me.

second-mover negotiation

September 13, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Professional Development | Leave a comment

Got a resume from a friend’s husband the other day.  He’s been in sales for over 20 years, but in only one industry (not technology).  Right on the cover letter of his resume he had published some numbers around salary expectations.  Something to the effect of “I’ve worked for as little as $X in the past, and have made as much as $Y in good years” but “X” and “Y” were actual salary amounts.  I thought this was really odd and not a particularly good idea.   When I asked him about it, he said he put it there because many had asked him for that information in the past.  Wow.

What really surprised me is that this is a seasoned sales professional.  It reminded me that negotiations are so uncomfortable for the vast majority of the people out there.  Yet, it’s something we do nearly every day of our lives in some form or fashion.  I was left with two takeaways from helping him with his resume.  (1) Ask.  Many people will grant your request even if you think they won’t.  (2) Negotiation skills are invaluable.

Blogging is tough

September 13, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 2 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, a coworker of mine asked me why I quit blogging.  Honestly, I hadn’t thought a lot about it until he asked.  It’s weird with me… for a guy who loves the spotlight as much as I do, there are certain things about which I remain very self-conscious.  One of them is coming across as a know-it-all and I got to thinking, “who the heck really cares what I think about this stuff?”  Not wanting to come across as some guru on the mountain with the scratchy white beard, I just quit blogging.

Literally one day after the conversation with my coworker I received an email from an industry leading CEO whom I really respect.  It was just a couple sentence note asking what happened to the blog entries.  Weird timing.

I thought about it and realized that unless you’re in a VERY small minority of people in the world, it’s very little about the Thinker and more about the Thought.  Meaning, I don’t think anyone really cares about something I say because I say it.  But they may care very much about what I say because the topic and perspective is of interest to them for one reason or another.  Onward we go.

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