Category Archives: Psychology

the need to reflect on yourself

Mirror

I am a workaholic (I never feel I work hard enough), there used to be a few things that make me pause and force me to reflect such as illness, love, friends, mentors, etc. Sometimes these “interruptions” are random and infrequent and may not occur for several years.

Life has taught me to occasionally pause and consider who and where I am.

Every year now I review my life, I considering all aspects and what I need to change or not. At work they would call this a performance review.

You in the end, are the only person you have to live with throughout your life, you need to stay in touch and avoid too much drift. A little drift is good because it can allow you to reflect and consider new paths.

I use the following categories to help me breakdown what is important.

These are my personal ones that have change throughout my life, you may have different ones, over time you will find that they will evolve.

1. Love

Is there enough love my life in terms of relationships, friends and family? Are there people in my life that cost more then they give/gave? Am I giving enough to them? Do I Love myself? Does your “friend” spend more time talking about themselves then asking you how you are? Who helps you out when your are sick? Who calls you out on your stupidity? Of course these questions are reversible? e.g. are you a good friend to them?

2. Purpose

Am I working or playing towards something? Am I just floating? Am I happy with my level of progress?

3. Community

Am I giving back? Am I mentoring, teaching or helping others grow. Am I paying attention to politics and the communities needs?

4. Evolution

Am I still the same person or have I evolved? Am I growing and learning? Am I pushing the boundaries of my personality, my knowledge, and my skills. Is there enough challenge in my life?

5. Inspiration

Do I have muses? Do I have people? Books? Music? Arts? Games? Food? Is there something refreshing my soul? Do I have moments to explore or simply rest?

6. Health

Am I healthy? Do have the body that I want? Can it do the things I want? Do I eat as I should? Do I sleep as I should? Are you snappy with friends? Do you need time off?

7. Work

Do I enjoy it? Do I have a leader who inspires me? Does the organization value me? Am I able to use my core capabilities? Is the cost of working for them matched by the value I receive? Yes I give my work a performance review – are they what I need?

8. Finance

Do I have enough? Do I have plans for when things go wrong? Do I have saving goals/purposes.

9. My Drivers

Over time you will start to see patterns in your behaviours, things or people you prefer to be around.  It has helped me understand that I have certain drivers (some good and some not) for example I am incredibly curious, I want to know why, but do I spend too much time exploring/discovering and not acting?  There are things that I sometimes find difficult to manage e.g. being a workaholic do I make sure that I have enough rest and/or vacation, is my health good?; we are all better people to others when we are refreshed.

Making it real

Often I will draw a mind map for each (1-8) and then give it an overall score between 1 and 10. If it is lower then 5 I start to consider how to improve it, by adding things that could improve the score on my mind map on the edges.  I build an action plan for the next year e.g. If I do not have enough Love, should I meet new people, do I deepen the my relationships that are good for me, or do I remove people from my life.  After completing  all the mind maps I consider the bigger picture and the inter relationships between each mind map, e.g. could I kill two birds with one stone? Or is one so high and at the cost of others e.g. Work is at 9 but Love is at 2.

Then I will consider my drivers. Some of these drivers will clash with others, how are you managing that balance? I draw an illustration for each of my drivers and consider both the good and bad of each.

Then I again I will look at the connections between all (1-9).

This is the way I consider my life on an annual basis, you may have different things that matter, different drivers that push you. I urge you to discover who and where you are and how to make sure you are in control of your life, not too much control, but enough to be heading in the direction that you wish.

Leading your professional you

The reality for most people is you will have many jobs and careers.

My journey so far would appear to be all over the map. I started as apprentice potter, a newspaper delivery boy, a general dogsbody in a kitchen, a cook, a chef, a computer scientist, a student politician, a trainer, a charity campaigner, a political campaigner, a english teacher, a dive instructor, a politician, a cabinet member, a marketing VP, consultant, startup founder, a college professor, a tech support, and a developer.

Every job and career can teach you many things (if you are paying attention), changing either, will give you a faster track to understand the similarities and difference in different sectors and jobs. In the end by having different of jobs/careers you will see connections, innovations that others who are stuck in one role and career will rarely see..  For me I connect so many disparate things, see opportunities where others are blind and I am constantly  readdressing what others see as the “truth”, common sense or the obvious. All because they are coming from one angle or a limited few angles and I am not.

Hint when you have lost your keys stand on a chair it will allow you to see the room from a different angle that you are unfamiliar with and you will pay more attention because it is new.. I am suggesting the same thing about your career..

A job and career should fit to your needs and desires at the time.. sometimes that will be simply to pay the rent, other times it should be explore another part of you.  Choose a pathway of jobs and careers that will make you happy and that will teach you the things you need and desire, to help you with the next step.. consider it a pathway or a tree with many opportunities..

Plan your professional life.

Tree of growth

So if you change your job career regularly what about loyalty to orgainsations and businesses, fair question:

  • Public companies are often more loyal to their shareholders and the organisations survival then you, yes even if you are the founder or CEO.
  • Private companies loyalties are determined by the power structure or family relationships or funders.
  • Governments are loyal to the last electorate vote, who often vote on the last bad thing the government did, whole programs and departments are wiped out as governments change.
  • Non-Profits immediate future are determined on the economic cycle

Ok a touch cynical I appreciate, but the reality is organisations are always changing even if a bit slowly. And so should you!

Here is a couple things that helped me and things I continue grow:

1. Importance of self awareness

The more context and angles you see yourself in, the more constructive feedback you get, the more you will truly understand yourself. As you experience different organisation cultures you will build an understanding in what you like and dislike.  You will need to book sometime for yourself to reflect, process and understand.

Most people are not truly aware of what their dream job is, they even think they do, just do not know until you have tried it.  Maybe you have be driven to this point because it was what was expected of you by your family or friends or teachers. Chill, I personally do not think you have to have a job or career for life, you are not a penguin you are a human you have choices.  Sometimes having choice is part of the problem..

In my experience, there is something more powerful then the right job, its working with an awesome team.  When this happens the role seems less important as long as you are contributing to the team. Being good in your role and being proactive in learning becomes natural.

Trying out a few personalities tests will also give you some slivers off your personality, remember most of this are very superficial and a snapshot in a time and a place.

2. Fear should become your friend

We all need become unafraid of changing both careers and jobs or at least manage the fear so it becomes your adrenaline, your extra boost, a source of strength, not weakness.

You can reduce fear by planning for the change, e.g. taking evening courses, internship, work seven days a week (5 in one job, 2 in the new role), get a mentor in the role you want to be in. Take a vacation and go to a conference that concentrates on that role, check out if these people are the ones you want to be surrounded by.

It is not easy to learn new skills for which you are being paid for.  You will often feel “stupid” and fustrated at yourself. Understand the basics of anger management, because your mistakes will make you angry at yourself more! Ask your partner(s), friend(s) or family(s) to keep an eye on you and help you adjust, reflect and process.

3. Choose your boss carefully

It does not matter how good you are, if your boss does not like you, the rest is irrelevent.  You must choose a boss who can be both your coach and mentor.  You are recruiting for you. You are looking for the best match for you.  Let them worry about if you are good match for them. Your interviews should be 50/50 in terms of questions, yes you asking 50%.

Questions to ask:

  1. How many of your staff have you coached and mentored?
  2. Describe to me your coaching style?
  3. Can you give me examples of your staff that have outgrown their roles?
  4. Have any of your staff ended up in senior positions to you?
  5. If I fail project how will you react to your colleagues and me?

4. Understand how to build a new network

You will not be here for ever, find out who the good people are. You have a strong advantage over those who stay in one job or company, your network will grow faster, this gives you more opportunities for new roles. Again match people on your personality, not power/influence. Look for the people you want to work with again. Also look for the people who are really good at, what you are not.

5. Understand how to learn and grow your skills fast

This is very important. Get to really know how you learn best and expand your learn capabilities. You should not, use one learning model to understand this, you use many models (they all see different things). It may require an investment on your part, in the end understanding this will determine in part your success in each job and career. Accept that your will occasionally make a mistake or even fail.

Here are some learning style models:

  • Honey & Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire (Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist)
  • David Kolb’s model (Accommodating, Converging, Diverging and Assimilating)
  • Neil Fleming’s VAK/VARK model (visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic learners)
  • Grasha-Reichmann Learning Style Scale  (avoidant, competitive, collaborative, dependent, independent and participative)

6. Grow both your leadership and followship abilities

Whilst we have media mythology that states that leaders are more important.

Leaders only exist if they have followers.

If an organisation expects you to serve as a slave for five years before you can have some leadership responsibilities move on, go work for a smaller growing organization, who offers opportunities.That said it is also important to occasionally work for larger organisations to understand how to work in one e.g. how bureaucratic systems work, how the culture of having several tiers of management, effects innovation and the impact policy decisions from on-high effect the person on the ground floor or customer facing.

In my career I have chosen to work in leadership and then not. It has accelerated my abilities in both. But it is not easy. It has taught me humility, patience, the ability to coach upwards and let others fail if need be. Sometimes you need to reinforce your roots, other times explore a branch. Growing upwards is not always the best choice.

7. Do not burn bridges

A lesson I learned from politics. You will fail, what people really respect is how you do it with humility and style and then come back and show people why you are good. You also never know who will be your allies in the future, occasionally you will have to forgive others and move on. Sometimes you will work out in hindsight it was you creating the problems.

8. You own your future

Plan your professional life. Work out where you think may want to be. Look at the skills, knowledge and experience you will need to acquire, to achieve each step. This plan should and will change as opportunities pop up. Reflect on each job, what did you like about it and what did you not. Reflect on your bosses, what was good and not, how will this improve both your leadership and followship abilities. How specifically are you going to grow, what books, courses, conferences will you attend? Which personality tests will you pay for.

Make a plan, but stay on your toes and change as you learn.

Last Thoughts

Do not let your manager or HR “talent manage” you. They care about their needs or the organizations needs not yours.  Of course listen to their advice, but check in with their motivation. Yes ask them!

Most talent management and skills databases systems are simply shit. They are limited by traditional concepts of the education you have received and the job titles you have had.  They are predicting your future by looking at your past. Idiots. Just imagine if we limited the human races future on the past, so why do we do it for every individual. Your past could be a reflection of your parents, the financial place you have come from, if you were teased at school, things that as an adult you can choose to move on from.

Even currently online resumes miss the point, how limited in expression and in understanding the professional needs of a human, even from an organisation perspective they are limited in use.

This simply waste of human potential, angers me so much, it is in part why I founded Professional You and why in time I will blow this shit into the past.

This has become my flame, the thing I will build all the skills I need towards, the types of people I will hunt for to help me with this mission. And if I fail it would be for a cause I believe in.

My path is clear, I understand the full grown tree that I need to grow, in myself. This clarity took many roles, many careers, many failures and success.

I hope this post helps you find some of your tree, or helps you on your journey. Please share your learnings, so I can learn from you :-)

Becoming a leader of an organization

So recently someone I respect has being promoted to become a leader of an organization.  I want them to be successful, so I thought long and hard if I had some good advice that I could share. Was there a good book I could recommend? Or a video?

I own about 60 books on leadership excluding the MBA stuff.  There was one that I kept coming back to me, it was a book I first read when I had just being elected to office and became the cabinet member for Cornwall County Council (UK) as Community & Culture “Minister”. This role was a real step up for me in terms of budget (71 million) and staff (over 440 spread out over many locations), where there was often upto 4 leaders between me and the frontline staff.

Eric Brooke newly elected to the cabinet of Cornwall County Council 2005

Eric Brooke newly elected to the cabinet of Cornwall County Council 2005

The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell by Oren Harari

This book not only had a lot of wisdom in it, that we often take for granted and thus forget.  I think the best kind of leadership book is one you walk away from and think/feel I want to be led by this person.  And to make it even better I know now how I can ‘upgrade’ myself to replicate this over time.

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them”

In the end the leaders behaviour will create a culture, so the book and video I recommended were as much about context (i.e. of this new leaders organisation, and its culture).

Another choice was the video by Simon Sinek, Start with the Why

This video ties into the need to inspire and effective leadership is about inspiration not overt control.

The book The Power of Why by Amanda Lang, had a number of factors I needed, it is written by a women who is also Canadian and the stories come from other industry sectors. Context is everything.

“Permission to dream is also permission to fail”

A book I found useful early in my career was The New Leaders by Daniel Goleman (he also wrote Emotional Intelligence).  It was this book that showed me on reflection, the different leadership styles you will apply e.g. command and control has its place, depending on the context.  It was also the book that helped to delegate with trust when moving into middle management.

Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion an inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through emotions..

The last book is produced by CEO of the company with probably the best customer service on the planet.Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh journeys through time and a mans’ growth in understanding importance of leadership behaviours and their impact on the staff and thus the organisations’ culture.

Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded

My last couple thoughts come from experience:

  • That leadership is as much about vulnerability, as it is about confidence
  • That followers choose who inspires and leads them rather then manages and controls them
  • That women leaders are often better coaches then males, but the often to do not “give” territory for their coachees to succeed in.
  • That “rebels” can often be bright people who are bored, give them something to do, they could become your greatest innovators

Finally leadership is a skill that you will never master, so expect to fail, maybe even plan for it, that said we often “love” rather just just respect the leaders more who have failed and have come back to succeed.

Your recruitment system maybe losing you paying customers and damaging your brand

Your brand is the COMPLETE experience, every interaction, anything that can change motivation and/or attitudes, with your company.  This can  include the consuming of your product and service, repair, suppliers and yes your recruitment process. The good modern brands are human and often concrete, you can trust them.

SYMPTOMS

You are only worth an automated response..

If a person spend hour’s, maybe days writing a letter of introduction, adapting their resume/CV, maybe even pulling a slideshow or video together for you. And than they receive a notification that you will not even bother contacting them, because you have so many applicants.  You know this type of letter:

“Hello Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in XXXX Company and for sending us your resume link and supporting information. We’re always looking for the best and brightest new candidates who are interested in joining our fast-growing team.

Please note, due to the vast number of enthusiastic applicants, we are only able to contact those we select for interviews.  We will however take the time to review your resume, cover letter and all related materials you’ve sent through, and will contact you if you are selected as a shortlisted candidate.

We frequently add new positions to the Careers Page so keep an eye out for more opportunities to work at XXXX company.

Sincerely,

Automated response”

I wonder who in an organisation is so naïve that they feel that this experience will encourage the ‘recruit’ into buying any of your products let alone a service. Many organizations don’t mash together their HR and marketing talent.  When the applicant started the process the applicant was a keen advocate, which you have turned into something else.

No closure for the applicant

The typical scenario is where the applicant is not even told when you have been thrown out of the process, or when the process is complete and they have not got an interview. The applicant then does not even get a chance for closure. The first they may hear is through a press release on your website or indeed nothing. That’s just plain mean and very common.

As an applicant we only care if you have the capability

Most employers will not look at a candidates’ application if they have not even taken the time to write a relevant cover letter that covers off the person spec.  So they expect you to spend time on them but they are not always willing to do the same. Aren’t good relationships formed on equality?

You are just a transaction..

It seems most Applicant Tracking Systems have being built from the aspect that you are just another process to deal with.  They do not see you as a human that or you should be treated with dignity or respect. In fact the more they ‘take over’ the process the less human you are treated. People are not simple nor are the ways you should interact with them.

We are often more protective of our friends than ourselves

The applicant may not be alone during this journey through your recruitment system, as they may share it with their friends e.g. can you check the letter please, especially if they are woman.  Friends don’t take it kindly if you reject, ignore or attack their friends. You haven’t just pissed off one person; congratulations you just gained two pissed off people for the price of one – who now thanks to online social media have the ability to share globally. They may not indeed talk about the job application process, they just may look at all your marketing as another ‘poke in the eye and respond negatively.

Motivation..

Your worse case scenario is that you have just given them the motivation (see this TED video) for the job applicant and their friends to dislike your products and services and look to your competitors.

Bottom line – the buying power of every rejected applicant is?

In the end this will affect you financially. The chances are that you will reject more applicants than you will take on board.  You will, probably still want them as a consumer? Who will pay a company that has just rejected them? or even taken the time to communicate, er, anything after the initial application.

Not just B2C

In the B2B sector relationships are even more important and in the end B2B purchases come down to a very human emotion e.g. Trust.

Evidence

StartWire, recently completed a survey of 2,000+ job seekers, asking how a company’s application process affected their view of the brand. This is what we heard:

  • 77% said they think less of companies that don’t respond to job applicants,
  • 72% would be deterred from recommending or speaking positively online of your company
  • 58% said they’d even think twice about buying your products or services if they don’t ever hear from you after they submit their application.

CAUSE

Outsourcing to save money

I wonder who missed the lessons from out sourcing call-centres to another country where the understanding of both culture and language was insufficient to handle the customer care in an appropriate manner. Now its automated on a computer (and they are really known for their customer care!), you are not even worth a human response.

Good ‘customer service’

If your customer service system treats your customers as just a transaction you deserve to go out of business.  Humans want to be treated with respect and dignity.  Even politicians know this hence why some of the most sophisticated marketing happening on the planet is happening in election campaigns.  But some of the best sustained examples I have seen in customer service are from Zappos (http://www.zappos.com/) or Freshbooks (http://www.freshbooks.com/)  They essentially treat you with respect and appreciate your time is as valuable as theirs.

Who is accountable for this?

Maybe the CEO for not paying attention or CFO for cost cutting, or the HR leader being squeezed or even the CMO for not considering the brand impact.  In the end HR needs people to ensure a good experience.

The days of unaccountable recruitment and HR process are coming to an end if you are consumer-facing provider.

ON-COMING TRENDS

On-line accountability

On-line systems are rating well everything. For example http://www.ratemyemployer.ca/ it’s only a matter of time when people start rating recruitment systems and HR.  We already have individual rating systems for people such as http://blog.ratemyprofessors.com/

It will not get easier to find talent, just more competitive

The economist wrote two pieces about how hard it is in get the right talent:

The Search for Talent – http://www.economist.com/node/8000879

The battle for brainpower – http://www.economist.com/node/7961894

Another article of interest – Canadian tech CEOs see shortage in talent. – http://www.pwc.com/ca/en/emerging-company/connecting-vision-to-reality/ceo-report-emerging-companies.jhtml

In these circumstances, is it wise to give job applicants a good experience? They may return and have grown since they last applied, if you gave feedback last time, they may have responded to it and exceed your expectations on the next attempt.

Gen Y

Now add Generation Y behaviour to this and you have an interesting power cake just around the corner.

WINDING UP

Is your recruitment system losing you customers and damaging your brand? How many job applicants did you reject last year?  How much social influence did they each have?

Corporate/Organisation culture

It seems to me that corporate culture is on a journey from repression to expression from viewing human beings as number, resources, sales figures to, surprise, human beings. It can be seen in the HR titles e.g. VP Personnel -> VP Human resource -> VP People.  I think the organisations that have the lead HR person reporting into finance or corporate or operations are worse off.  There is one person, that a lead HR person should report into i.e. CEO.  In terms of political power HR are generally one of the weakest on a board (if they are even on it), I think in part because so many of their process orientated capabilities are being outsourced, maybe because people are too complex or too emotional compared to finances/sales/operations. Or maybe its because in some organizations leaders are taking on the role of HR for their teams (about time).

Reward, if possible give feedback and say thank you

The job applicant, was a person who wanted to help your organization grow, for a moment in time were probably your most passionate advocate.  Yet they are often treated like robots, resources or costs.  How would you like to be treated?  If someone has invested more time in your company than the average, why not say thank you.  Tell them what they are missing in terms of capability or fit and prove you mean it. I think the best companies employ on ‘fit’ before capability.  Who is to say that this person maybe a future employee? Consider it another form of relationship marketing.

Leadership accountability – Don’t pass the buck!

If a candidate gets through a number of stages, it should not be HR having to give the bad news, the leader should do what they are paid for and give the bad or good news. I believe leadership is taking on the responsibility of your decisions both the easy and tough ones.

Suggestions

  1. Tell the applicant when they have been removed from the process.
  2. Give some useful feedback; the chances are that you have spent some time human processing anyways; at least give the biggest single reason why they were knocked out.  You may find that there are a lot of standard reasons e.g. you do not have enough relevant experience or the average interview applicant will have 5 years more experience.
  3. Say thank you in some meaningful way.
  4. For those who you think culturally match, consider other posts or put on a watch list.  But be careful no one believes “we will file it and if something comes up we will contact you.”
  5. The deeper the experience (number of interviews) the more likely rejection will be felt.  But also they are more likely to be match for your organization and thus the more likely they may be a future employee.
  6. For all candidates that have being interviewed by the manager, should be given the news by the manager.

FINAL THOUGHT

You are nothing without your people.  The ones you have now and the ones you have yet to work with.

Why do I teach?

Its not the money, no I don’t get free courses or any discount on other courses.  Here are 15 reasons why I teach:

It turns skill into knowledge

I have always found the act of refining and teaching what you think you know, turns it into something more refined, more useful even.  It can make you think very deeply on a topic and for me; it makes me question the foundations of what I think I know.  It encourages me to seek alternative answers, sometimes before I have formed a question.  It allows me to reflect on some of the decisions I made in the ‘field’ and explore other options of a possible future from that decision point.  Whilst you can copy someone’s skill you cannot copy his or her knowledge, as I believe knowledge comes from a journey, which you have to travel and reflect upon.

 “Knowledge is the inoculation of information” Anon

I learn & and grow as much as my students

Helping others learn, if you listen to the students questions, can challenge your own thoughts and feelings on a matter.  The ‘tired’ teacher just forces the student to learn what the ‘agenda’ tells them, whilst an ‘awake’ teacher will explore with the student the path of understanding and together they can grow. Occasionally I will meet a student who does not receive my materials or teaching in the way that works for us, this keeps my thinking and rethinking of different styles, materials, activities I need to use to involve and engage the students mind.

Staying ahead and preparing for the future

To teach keeps me up-to-date with my domain expertise and it pushes me to understand the likely trends for that domain. I than have to translate that into my lessons and it explain to my students and prepare them for it. Of course at the same time I am preparing myself for the future.

Hubris does not take over

Some teachers think they know it all, not only is this naive in terms of knowledge but also in terms of communication/engagement. They are idiots. I need to remind myself that I am not an idiot! ;-)

I test my assumptions

Working with people from different generations and history is really useful as your assumptions are constantly challenged not every Gen Y acts like a Gen Y or every baby boomer like baby boomer.  We often get surround by ‘shortcut labels’ or brands and start to believe that every women thinks’ shopping is fun or every teenage boy only thinks about sex. As you teach you get to see the next upcoming generation, how they think/feel, learn and make sense of the world.  On the counter side you get to see the older generations re-training themselves.

Prevention is better than cure

Effective education can prevent many problems in our lives, communities and society. Unfortunately we as a human race spend more time fixing problems after they have occurred, rather than preventing them with education.  If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

It helps me understand humans to a greater level

I am thirsty for works on memory, learning, processing, communication, interaction and risk.  All of this curiosity helps me explore, test and understand. Hopefully over time it improves my lessons and the students retention and ability to use the knowledge.

I believe in meritocracy

I am strong believer that our society has too much cronyism and nepotism and this needs to be balanced with meritocracy. Note I said balanced not replaced.  There are days when I would suggest that meritocracy should be then dominant force, but not completely replace.

I like partnership

For me I have a contract with each of my students.  They do their part and I will do mine.  Sometimes life intervenes and does not allow the student to put the work in.  I don’t have that choice.

I like accountability

In the end you get to see how successful you are as a teacher by the students work.  When did you teach well and when you communicated a concept that was unrefined or too fluffy. For me this holds me accountable.

The global need to share

Like most human beings I have the need for acknowledgement, to belong and be part of something.  Teaching satisfies part of that need.

It reminds me to be patient, understanding and compassionate

The most effective teacher will take their time and not hurry a student.  They will allow ideas and thoughts to grow in the student and I greenhouse them until they are ready to be challenged.  I don’t believe the Socratic method is always helpful, especially in early stages of knowledge development; it can force people down a path of believing in what they can defend.  It can be very aggressive which not all humans appreciate. Nature often reminds us that to allow something to grow, you have to wait. Don’t get me wrong, there comes a time for testing where the Socratic method is very helpful.

It improves my ability to explain and communicate

For every lesson I have to think of a number of ways to explain the same concept, so that students with different learning styles can understand the concept well and grow beyond it. Very helpful in business.

It improves my leadership & mentoring

My simply philosophy for my employed teams, is to help them out grow you and the organisation, so they move on.  I don’t expect anything to be forever.  If you want to keep people in your life you have to work at it and try not to take each other for granted.  Even so I think those people who work or play together for long periods have found a way to evolve and grow together. I have and do coach/ mentor a number of business leaders and politicians, I will cover this in another blog.

Teaching is not just in the classroom.

Mentor, Coach, friend, lover, colleague, leader, follower, we are all teachers.

“Those that cannot do, teach” Anon

Whilst I don’t agree with this statement, for many of reasons above.  For me teaching is part of my life not the whole of it, hence why I prefer to do it part-time.

Thoughts on the cultural evolution

Here are some of my thoughts on the future of culture and identity.

Language will evolve 

I believe the the barrier of language will disappear and it will become more of a your style of communicating, the way you think and your values, that will differs us.  Technology will start easily translating the basics, whilst at the same time the tidal wave will push people to learn english for business and travel.. India got there sometime ago and China is already make leaps in getting their population to have english as their second language. English schools (teaching as a second language )is one of the fastest if not the fastest growing industry.

A global culture

I will think we will see a greater merger of national cultures online; currently it is very English speaking American.  We already see it happening with entertainment.  Bit by bit I see more trends coming out of smaller countries in terms of word usage, behaviours, etc. Perhaps merger is the wrong word, as I feel that it will be something different more complex than any one national culture.

Evolving communities

A lot of product and services are still built in a western methodology in terms of process and systems. Of course Japan has already influenced this in certain sectors e.g. cars and consulting. I think we will start to learn more alternate ways of encouraging community and collaboration from the rest of the Asian countries.

Cultural experience

For us lucky few who were here and now, who could benefit from cheaper flights, which allowed some of us to travel around our country or even the world.  Exposure to other cultures I think deepens understanding for those willing to learn and may also give us a greater appreciation of our culture.  Of course it is all about the experience, who you meet, the events that occur whilst you are in that country. Serendipity really.

Expressions of culture

Through software and the advert better quality camera, whilst still becoming cheaper – Film has dropped  in terms of cost, other countries are able to enter the film industry again and reveal their thoughts, fears and dreams to us.  At the same time our ‘tolerance’ for low quality production has risen. Allowing a rise of new media producers use smart phones and free software to create something.

Distribution of culture

Starting with the Internet we have greater access to each other, it helped globalise culture distribution.  Successful open global platforms have increased our ability to share such as YouTube. Even global closed systems such as Xbox live or iTunes are allowing us to explore new avenues of communication and access media once hard find such as music.

Transparency

We are demand more transparency from everything, governments, corporations, food etc.  I don’t see this declining in fact I see it having a massive impact on the future of business.

Immigration

If you live in the first world immigration is occurring, in fact there is alreadly competition to get the entrepreneurs of the future, best skilled or the hardest workers.  Countries where there are more older than younger people are seeing their budgets slowly shift tax dollars to health and social care. Combine this with a reduction (in the richer nations) of child birth means they will run out of money to support their older population.  Some countries are thus trying to make it easier for young people to move to their country.  I think within ten years countries will start paying immigrates to move there.  I think this trend will mean people will start to move countries more often and be exposured to multiple countries in depth.

In conclusion

I think these trends will take decades, probably a lot of pain. It may be sped up by global tragedy or an alien invasion.  If we don’t get wiped out by us or others.  The end result I see is one human race with a greater understanding of itself and each other.  Personally I believe in Infinite diversity infinite possibility as it will give us a greater opportunity to survive as a race.

What do you think or feel?

One platform to rule them all..

I often hear no one can beat facebook as a social network or linkedin for professional networking or twitter for short messages. I hear it from individuals who are either risk adverse, cannot look to the future, prefer one standardized model or have agenda. Or even worse have forgot recent history.

So for the quickstarts..

Human nature

Ok you want more context = IBM or Blackberry or Microsoft or AOL (for US readers)

There we are done, seriously… ok for those still in need of caffeine or a sleep pill.. here is the longer version.

“Monopolies last as long as consumers buys from them”

I wonder if there was a time in Rome where they thought that they were invincible?

Wasn’t there also a time when most IT managers were trying to force the uniform system setup throughout their whole organisations you know Microsoft Windows and Dell or HP. Maybe you got a pass if you were part of the creative people tribe e.g. artist, designers and maybe even occasionally marketing.

For a time Microsoft was a monopoly, recognised by the whole planet, except the America Government (those tax dollars were just too important).  Even Blackberries (er crack berries or the best whip a slave driver could develop) owned the market.

So how did it work out for Microsoft and Blackberry?

“Ease of use wins and device shifting is a great opportunity for all”

But it was users, not economists, or Angels or VCs who defined the next step; because amazing people from Apple and Google came up with something easier to use. And maybe people were ready for a change.

Apple and Google took the initiative as we moved from one platform to the next. It was users who revolted with their iphones? And now their ipads? And now Andriod based er everything..

So quick side trip – future device shifts yet to take hold include:

  1. augmented reality,
  2. using your X Box Kinect to do office work maybe with a 3D TV screen,
  3. the use of contact lenses or sunglasses to be our computer screens,
  4. Virtual Reality and there will be a few shifts in between.

“Distribute your consumer power”

In a past life as a political campaigner I would often hear people who voted for one political party at a national level would vote differently at a local level.  When I asked why, the number one reason was “I don’t want either political party to have too much power.”

Do we consume the same as we vote?  Are consumers savvy enough to ensure that they have a competitive market by buying from different companies to ensure one does not take over the world and we end up living in the Robo Cop, Aliens, Cyber punk or maybe even Shadowrun world.  For you non sci fi lovers I am referring to a world where corporations have more power than government (hmm is that not now), most first world countries are run by VERY conservative (ok to be fair fascist) governments (ummm) and the corporations are armed with private military forces (phew this has not happened yet).

So for some humans we care from where we consume, for the majority I guess not, until its too late.

“Rebellion is part of us all”

There are always enough people who do not want their freedom to be taken away from them. Thinking you have a choice may be enough for some humans.  I think also some humans will always take the anti-ethnomethodolgy approach e.g. they will take the current behaviours/methods and choose to do the opposite or severely different approach. Because we don’t all think or feel alike. Need proof become a parent and raise a teenager.

We don’t want to all conform. We don’t want all to live in the same infrastructure.  Past infrastructures were harder to change than they are now. More places will be built so we can talk to whom we want to talk and in the manner that we prefer.

“We don’t all talk the same language”

The big wheel keeps turning and we are raised with different cultural inputs or TV, Music and Films.  For each of us, our understanding of the planet is different.  The way we express our needs and wants changes with each generation. And that is before you even bring national culture and languages.

“Alignment of values, it’s more than ethics or the environment”

We often hire for aptitude but fire attitude.  I wonder if this can applied to companies we choose to work with..  While saving me time and making things easy, may drive me onto your platform but will I stay if there is another company with a closer value alignment e.g. facebook and privacy vs. Diaspora.  Would you prefer to work for a boss who helps you grow or one keeps you in ‘your place’.

“Specificity or Narrowcast vs. Broadcast is it inevitable?”

A bit like what has happened in TV and its movement from few channels too many and very specific. Or once upon a time there was just soap, than there was soap with rose petals, now there is soap for different parts of your body!

“Change will happen whether it’s through evolution or revolution”

I think all communities whether a nation, a business or a sports team change.

In healthy democracies we see change the cycle maybe 18 years or 9/10, but it happens.  The luckiest leaders are the ones where their party just missed it in the last election and than you see a landslide the next time round. They have the ability to change more.

I believe that communities don’t die per se but they continually evolve, and if they don’t a revolution will occur. Online ones are no different.

The end, well nearly..

So not all of these apply to all humans but I think enough apply to most humans.

So big platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin will continue to exist until someone finds an easier or better way to do the same thing or maybe the market will be re-segmented time and time again and we will have many smaller communities

Come on you have seen what happens when one ring controls all the others.. its not good.. just ask Frodo

Eric’s strength finder results

Whilst the book (Strength Finder 2.0) was a little fluffy I found the test (psychometric instrument) interesting and in my perception accurate.  I wonder if they will publish Weakness Finder er 0.8?  I think this is more likely to come from a British publisher than an American one though, we Brits are a little more cynical..

My top five themes are:

  1. Activator
  2. Individualization
  3. Futuristic
  4. Arranger
  5. Strategic

1. Activator

People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.

It’s very likely that you may help people know you better as a person when you openly share what you think, feel, have done, are doing, or hope to accomplish. To some extent, you are eager to tell your story. Why? When others know more about you, perhaps the relationship helps you more easily convince them to get busy working on a particular project, assignment, or chore. By nature, you usually are the team member who listens to what others say. You normally repeat back to individuals key thoughts they shared. This is just one way you demonstrate the worth of their ideas. Your attentiveness probably puts people in good moods. Chances are good that you likely are the human spark plug of your team. That is, you inspire and energize people to dedicate themselves to a task. Once a course of action is chosen, perhaps you are the person who says, “We’ve talked long enough. Let’s get started right now. Why wait? Let’s just do it!” Instinctively, you commonly influence people to produce results, sign up to work on projects, or rally around causes. When you take time to know them as individuals, many people are willing to move into action at your prompting. They are apt to realize you appreciate their special qualities, talents, interests, or experiences. Driven by your talents, you sometimes gravitate to situations where you can be your true self. You might feel life is wonderful when people listen as you share stories about your successes, failures, talents, limitations, hope, or fears.

2. Individualization

People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.

By nature, you not only buy books or check them out from the library; you also read them. Your investigative mind is restless until you have collected lots of information about factors that produce various outcomes. You are motivated to read more about topics of personal and professional interest. These can range from history to science, from politics to mathematics, from entertainment to sports, or from art to law. Chances are good that you gain a certain degree of satisfaction when you can be of some service to others. Driven by your talents, you might enjoy helping your teammates. Perhaps playing, studying, or working by yourself is not as satisfying for you as being part of a group. Instinctively, you regularly help members of your group discover ways to cooperate with each other that they never before considered. You can identify the talents, skills, knowledge, motivations, and/or of individuals. You can also pinpoint each person’s unique styles of thinking, working, and learning. Because of your strengths, you may enjoy befriending newcomers. This might explain why you regularly step forward to introduce yourself to new classmates, coworkers, teammates, or friends of your family. Perhaps you ask questions that are guaranteed to stimulate discussions with people you are meeting for the first time.

3. Futuristic

People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

By nature, you take advantage of every opportunity to describe to others all the amazing things you see happening in the coming months, years, or decades. Your vision opens people’s minds to new and wondrous possibilities. You challenge them to consider ideas they might not have thought of on their own. Instinctively, you have a capacity for envisioning what the coming months, years, or decades could, should, or will be like. Frequently you are prompted to transform your ideas into things you can touch, taste, see, smell, or hear. Because of your strengths, you are a visionary thinker. Your vivid mental images of the coming months, years, or decades often impel you to move into action. Chances are good that you channel your mental and physical energies toward what you can accomplish in the months, years, or decades ahead. The question you must answer is this: “How far into the future can I think before my ideas start becoming vague or uninspiring?” It’s very likely that you forge ahead to build the life you envision. You reach your goals by finding as many opportunities as possible to use your unique abilities and natural gifts.

4. Arranger

People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.

Instinctively, you may feel more optimistic about life when you surround yourself with truthful and upright people. Perhaps you keep your distance from deceitful and unethical individuals. By nature, you typically infuse energy into members of your team. You are apt to enjoy life more than many people do. Why? You choose to concentrate on what is good rather than on what is bad. Chances are good that you likely are quite adept — that is, talented, skilled, and knowledgeable — with language. You can express your ideas and feelings with ease. You typically rely on words or phrases your teammates readily understand. Because of your strengths, you are apt to be the team member who delights in coordinating new projects, scheduling activities, and/or gathering materials for others. You often play a key role in your team’s success. Driven by your talents, you have a strong sense of commitment. It motivates you to make sure that things are carried through to completion even when difficulties arise.

5. Strategic

People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Chances are good that you demonstrate an ease with language. You effortlessly verbalize your thoughts. You relish the opportunity to share your insights. You derive pleasure from actively participating in conversations when group members propose ideas, seek solutions, or debate issues. It’s very likely that you long to know more so you remain on the cutting edge of your field or areas of interest. Your inventive mind usually generates more possibilities than you can handle or fund. Nonetheless, you are committed to acquiring knowledge and/or skills. You study everything involved in a situation and conceive entirely new ways of seeing or doing things. What you already know prompts you to ask questions and delve even deeper into a subject or problem. Instinctively, you generate innovative ideas. You offer unique perspectives on events, people, and proposals. You probably inspire people to start projects and launch initiatives. You tend to identify a goal, devise numerous ways of reaching it, then choose the best alternative. This explains why you see opportunities, trends, and solutions before your teammates, classmates, or peers see them. Because of your strengths, you generate ideas quickly. You draw clever linkages between facts, events, people, problems, or solutions. You present others with numerous options at a pace some find dizzying. Your innovative thinking tends to foster ongoing dialogue between and among the group’s participants. Driven by your talents, you can reconfigure factual information or data in ways that reveal trends, raise issues, identify opportunities, or offer solutions. You bring an added dimension to discussions. You make sense out of seemingly unrelated information. You are likely to generate multiple action plans before you choose the best one.

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