Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I'm Moving Out (Andrew's Song)

Moving Van, Brookline Moving Company and Movers, 1:00 P.M.
Originally uploaded by MIT-Libraries

ATTENTION: Leave It To Weaver has moved to a new site! You can visit it here. It's been a nice run on Blogspot, but in the end I needed to move to better site and self-hosted seemed to be the best way to go. Hope you enjoy the new site. Once there, I invite you to subscribe so you can keep up to date with the posts and any future changes.

If you previously linked to this site in your blogroll or other locations, I invite you to change the domain name to - http://drewmaniac.com . After some time has passed and everyone is used to the new site location, I will be deleting this blog site. Thank you!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Paint By Numbers Life

Banksy - New Orleans - I will not copy things I see on the Simpsons
Originally uploaded by dingler1109

Growing up we're taught to color inside the lines, to paint by the numbers. Anything else is typically unacceptable. So most of our life we try to paint by the numbers we're provided. After all, it's scary to pick a different color than what the number says.

Painting by the numbers usually results in...
  • ... that corporate job you feel holds you back.
  • ... a tendency to avoid risk and embrace what is comfortable.
  • ... never really getting paid to do what you love. In other words, a job.
Of course not everyone should or can ignore the numbers of the painting. Sometimes the timing isn't right or you really must to function personally within the lines and by the numbers. I understand that.

However, if you're one who wonders what it would be like to color outside the lines or ignore the numbers maybe it's time to change your game. Choose a different color. Color outside the lines. It could be exactly what you've been needing to do for a long time.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Foto Finish Friday

The Golden Gate, originally uploaded by Lopiccolo.

*Each Friday an interesting photo is selected to end the week on.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Say You Want a Revolution

Originally uploaded by ingrid0411

So you say you want change. You say you want to make a difference in the workplace.

Do you really?

Here's the truth of the matter: If you want to really make a difference in the office or any other endeavor in life - start with you. Make positive changes in you - then lead others.

It may take time. It may take some soul searching. It may take an attitude adjustment. It may take you gaining a new perspective. It may take some serious changes in your life overall. It may take a lot, but it will be worth it for you personally - even if the change you thought you were going to make in others never takes hold.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reactionary Management

Originally uploaded by J.D.B. photographs

When your management style is reactionary, there are some specific ways we will be able to recognize you.

  • Your core beliefs on how to lead will be shaky.
  • Your vision for your team will be murky at best.
  • Your goals will either be non-existent or unattainable.
  • Your operations will be in a constant state of emergency.
  • Your ideas to improve the team will rarely improve the team long term.
  • Your standard operating procedure for a crisis will be to apply the SMTP method.

It's not surprising. It’s not rocket science. It’s not revolutionary. It’s just what happens when you’re managing by the seat of your pants.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Rat Race & Memories

Arthur's Seat, Holyrood Park
Originally uploaded by tstadler

We arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland late in the afternoon. Tired from jet lag, but still wide-eyed because we were visiting a different country, we unpacked at the dorm rooms we were staying in at the First at the University of Edinburgh. In the distance my two friends and I could see King Arthur's Seat. We decided we'd make an attempt at climbing it before it sunset.

Once at the top we could see the old city on one side and the bay on the other. The sun was slowly fading behind the city as the three of us sat down and just silently looked on. I cannot explain in words the visual scene of that first evening in Scotland, but it's firmly embedded in my memory.

That event occurred nearly 11 years ago. We spent 9 days traveling all over Scotland and England. We saw and experienced many things. Yet, when I think of that trip the memory bank always goes back to that first, quiet evening there.

Often your best memories in life are not the most hyped up or drama filled moments. They probably won't involve that all important project you're striving to finish before deadline. It's those moments where you just sit down and silently watch the sunset or sunrise. It's those moments where nothing else really matters that we take away some of our best memories. It's those moments where you are unplugged and breathing. That is all.

If you're so caught up with the rat race you can't seem to find time to breathe, then maybe it's time to take a moment and do something you'll actually remember 11, 15, or 20 years from now.

"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat." ~ Lily Tomlin

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Break Your Stalemate - Go Read A Different Blog

Staci and Zhenia
Originally uploaded by nlupus

I know you're shocked. I am too.

The lovely, Sarah Robinson asked me to take part in her 30 Days to Changing Your Game blog series a while back and I said "YES!" without having a clue what I was going to write about. Well, I finally got over that hump and today it's my turn to interact with her very active tribe.

The post is called Break Your Stalemate. I hope you will go read it, join in the conversation if you like, and if you aren't already following Sarah on Twitter or subscribed to her blog - change your game and do it.

Thanks so much Sarah for asking me to participate!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Foto Finish Friday

, originally uploaded by razorbern.

*Each Friday an interesting photo is selected to end the week on.

Looking Ahead While Looking Back at 31 Posts

Giant Claw Game, originally uploaded by Lopiccolo.

In the beginning...

What a long, strange trip it has been. I started Leave It To Weaver over a year and a half ago. Time has flown by and it has most certainly been fun. When I set out to start a blog, I wasn't sure what path I was going to take. I just started. It was raw, random, and usually not worth reading. In fact, very few people were reading it thankfully.

Thanks to each and every one of you.
Over time I fine tuned the message and the blog itself has evolved. It has always been my goal to produce solid content and as I grew along with the blog, I believe I have done that. I've tried to provide you with inspiration and usefulness while being as direct as I can. I hope you have benefited. One thing that began to happen is you began to read, comment, and even share my posts with others. Your participation and feedback makes the blog. Thank you for sharing your time with me here.

The photography slant. I have always loved great photography and have slowly started to dabble in professional photography myself. From the beginning of Leave It To Weaver, I wanted to be able to share great photos with my posts (mine and others). Foto Finish Friday was started very early on and is still one of my personal favorites to post each week. The search for a great photo to feature makes it fun. I hope you have enjoyed all of the photos that have been featured on all the posts. I try to select only the most interesting photos. I want the blog to be a sort of visual candy.

It's time for a makeover.
I'm no Danny Brown. I don't give my site a makeover every other month, but it's high time I made some improvements. In the coming weeks I will be bringing some exciting changes to Leave It To Weaver. I hope you will find the changes to be a big improvement. I look forward to sharing them with you very soon.

One final thing.
As I was working behind the scenes on rolling out some of these changes, it occurred to me that I have never provided a resource post with links featuring some of the top posts (other than the rarely updated list to the right). So, that's exactly what the following list is - some of the top posts over the past year and a half. I hope you find them inspiring and useful in some way.

31 Flavors of Posts

  1. Comfort of Average - There's a certain comfort that comes from being average. Try to resist the temptation to simply be comfortable.
  2. Your Employees Are Your First Customers - When you value your employees, especially your best, you are in essence creating a ripple effect that will extend to your customers. What are you doing to ensure your most loyal employees are taken care of?
  3. Maybe - It's short. It's to the point. Maybe you should take a moment and read.
  4. Are You Depressing Excellence? - Are you inviting mediocrity into your life or business by depressing excellence?
  5. No Time Crowd - Always too busy? Odds are you're a part of the no time crowd. It's probably time to change things up.
  6. Promoting Mediocrity - Are you watering down the reward for excellence within the workplace? If so, you're promoting mediocrity instead.
  7. Visionary Leaders vs. Functional Leaders - Which style are you and what fits best within your organization?
  8. Panic! - Don't be a reactionary leader who waits until the siren is sounding to lead your people through the panic.
  9. Be The Exception To The Rule - When everyone else is content to be mediocre, be the exception to the rule.
  10. Bailout For Newspapers? Why? - My thoughts on the possibility of of a newspaper bailout and why the newspaper industry is suffering in the first place. The comments here are great.
  11. 12 Reasons You Didn't Get That Promotion - Passed up for that promotion? Maybe one of these reasons is why.
  12. Already A Leader - The thing about true leaders is they will lead whether their in a position of authority or not.
  13. Talking Change - Anyone can talk change and nearly anyone does. What action are you taking to actually bring about change?
  14. Yesterday's Home Runs - Are you reveling in the successes of yesterday? Don't let your home runs from yesterday keep you from hitting more today.
  15. Building Your Friend Base - Those who are best at networking don’t network. They make friends.
  16. What Game Are You Playing? - Does your team know what game you're playing? Or is everyone playing their own game by their own rules?
  17. Remaining Silent - Realize that sometimes you're better off remaining silent and simply listening.
  18. What If You Had The Best Employee Service? - Focus on your first customers, your employees and practice the best employee service.
  19. 4 Things Social Media Won't (GASP!) Do For You - They're tools, not miracle workers.
  20. Who Will Promote You? - Stop waiting for something to happen and start making things happen. If you don't promote yourself, who will?
  21. The Best Leaders - Some characteristics that the very best leaders will have.
  22. When Leadership Erodes - Some tips on what to do when you find yourself in an environment where leadership has eroded.
  23. 3 Reasons You Should Be Reading - If you aren't reading on a regular basis, here's 3 reasons you should be. Get started now.
  24. That's Not My Job - The "That's not my job" (TNMJ) attitude, is one of the most dangerous diseases that can infect the work place. It discourages teamwork and is the source of useless animosity.
  25. Do, Re, Mi - "We all do 'do, re, mi,' but you have got to find the other notes yourself." ~ Louis Armstrong
  26. 7 Things To Do If You're NOT Laid Off - In short, prepare. Don't take your job for granted, but as Charlie Hoehn points out, you need to force yourself to swim.
  27. Graveyard Of Good Ideas - Often good ideas go to the graveyard of good ideas in large corporations. Make sure your good ideas aren't getting buried.
  28. You're Still Just Cutting The Grass - Social media may be changing how we do business and interact with one another, but in the end you're still just performing good old fashioned business.
  29. They Say - The point is sometimes they are wrong. Just like you or I can be wrong. Just because they say you can't or shouldn't, doesn't mean it is so.
  30. Waiting To Die - You know who they are. They are those people you can look around the workplace and see are simply going through the motions.
  31. The SMTP Method - Shuffle this. Move that. Talk change. Proclaim success. Have you really accomplished anything when you use this method?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That Little Voice Likes Myths

Originally uploaded by razorbern

That little voice inside your head likes myths when it comes to your career.

It tries to convince you that you can't even before you've tried. It wants you to know you're crazy for taking the risk. It is going to try and instill enough fear in you to keep you comfortable with average. It will tell you you're weird for considering a different, or unorthodox path. It tries to convince you that in order to succeed you must color within the lines at all times.

I understand that sometimes that little voice may be right, but I'd rather prove it wrong. How about you?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Don't Be Like Patrick

Pump 66
Originally uploaded by Pete Zarria

" There is a difference between conceit and confidence. Conceit is bragging about yourself. Confidence means you believe you can get the job done." ~ Johnny Unitas

When I was just a kid, there was a boy my brothers and I knew named Patrick and he was known throughout our very small land for one thing: being a braggart.

Patrick had better and shinier toys than we. Patrick had better parents than we. Patrick knew more than we did. Patrick was stronger than we were. Patrick was faster than we were. Patrick had more promise than we did. Patrick was better looking than we were. How did we know this? Well, he told us of course. I used to get very annoyed when Patrick would come around because of this personality flaw.

I think all of us probably knew someone like Patrick. I'm hoping as we've grown older we know fewer people like Patrick. For that matter, I'm hoping Patrick has grown out of his need for boasting.

Sometimes we come across Patrick and he hasn't grown out of it, don't we? The self professed expert who just wants your money. The self professed guru who will show you how to get thousands of followers in no time on Twitter. The self professed successful businessman who, well, is more than happy to let you know he is more successful than you will ever be.

Here's the point: Don't be like Patrick. Ever.

A few tips on making sure you never turn into Patrick.

  • Help others.
  • Compliment others (genuinely of course) when you see the opportunity.
  • Learn to be genuinely happy for the success of others.
  • Lay aside your pride.
  • Learn to share and share often.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others in an effort to look good.
  • Realize you can do wrong. You do make mistakes.
  • Abstain from an exaggerated self-esteem.
  • When in conversation with someone else, keep the conversation about them as much as possible. Ask questions and genuinely listen to the answers. It will be hard to focus on yourself when you're doing this.
  • Give as often as you can. In other words, be selfless, not selfish.
If you're truly as great as you think you are, others will do the talking for you. There will be no need to tell everyone.

"When boasting ends, there dignity begins." ~ Owen D. Young

Friday, January 15, 2010

Foto Finish Friday

that london, originally uploaded by dusty sevens.

*Each Friday an interesting photo is selected to end the week on.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The At Least It Pays The Bills Cop Out

Originally uploaded by richjm

It's true. You could have no job at all. You could have no way to pay the bills. I get it, but are you using those two sentences as a cop out? Are you just shrugging your shoulders?

If you've found yourself in a dead end job, a dip not worth pushing through, or you're just showing up for the paycheck alone shouldn't you be working to find something else? Life is too short to spend most of your life doing something you cannot even enjoy. I realize most of the workforce out there does spend most of their lives in jobs they do not enjoy. In essence many are waiting to die. But, should you?

It's true. You could have no job at all. You could have no way to pay the bills. Just don't let that mentality stop you from creating new opportunities or figuring out a way to finally do what you love. You don't need cop outs.

The SMTP Method Feels Good

Originally uploaded by aknacer

Shuffle this. Move that. Talk change. Proclaim success.

The thing that makes the SMTP method so attractive is it feels good.

SMTP feels good because...

  • ... it feels like you are moving.
  • ... it feels like the leadership who deploy the method are changing things.
  • ... it feels like something is getting done.
When you are using the SMTP method it's all about perception over substance, so feelings become the most important factor. It's more about the emotion of feeling like something is happening. What that something is rarely matters when it comes to SMTP.

Some questions to consider:
  • It feels like you are moving, but where are you going?
  • It feels like things are changing, but is all change good?
  • It feels like something is getting done, but what is that something?
If you're honest with yourself when you answer these, you will see that you never want to find yourself using SMTP. Real, measurable results must be the only option.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The SMTP Method

Silly Bee
Originally uploaded by Marinshe

"We have a strategic plan. It's called doing things." ~ Herb Kelleher former CEO of Southwest Airlines

So you're faced with an emergency or something that needs fixed now. What can you do?

Shuffle this.
Move that.
Talk change.
Proclaim success.

Wash, rinse, and repeat.

I just made that acronym up. I know you're proud. I think it fits exactly what we're going to talk about though. It doesn't spell anything significant, nor does it really inspire you to get much done. Perfect!

Government is a great example of this. When an emergency (real or not) arises, government almost always employs the SMTP method. They shuffle this. They move that. They talk about change and how the emergency will never happen again. Then they proclaim success. The end results rarely matter. After all, it is more often about perception and saying the right things than about action and measurable results.

When businesses begin to employ the SMTP method they're usually using words like strategic plan, benchmark, and other favorite magical words that make it sound like you're going to do something.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against strategically planning for the future. In fact I would encourage it. What I'm against is all the effort put into the perfect plan and then very little effort put forth on actual results. It's like having meetings to have meetings. Sure, meetings have their place, but if you're meeting to listen to one another talk nothing will ever get done.

Far too many businesses are employing the SMTP method. A change is needed. An emergency has come up. So what's the reaction by far too many businesses? Shuffle this. Move that. Talk change. Proclaim success. It becomes all about maintaining a perception.

The real problem with the SMTP method is nothing ever really gets done. No matter how much you proclaim success. It's like taking a box of perfectly good crayons and shaking them up. You didn't revolutionize anything or make any real changes. You just shuffled the crayons up in the box.

When you react to an emergency with the SMTP method you don't fix the problem. Instead of fixing anything, SMTP typically compounds the problem or pushes it off until later. It's perception over results.

The Take Away
The best leaders will never employ the SMTP method. They won't be prone to the panic that is necessary for reactionary management.
The best leaders will identify a problem, find a solution, and then follow through on that solution until there is no problem. There will be no need to employ the SMTP method when you have a leader that is focused on fixing the problem, instead of maintaining a perception.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Foto Finish Friday

*Each Friday an interesting photo is selected to end the week on.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Are You An 18 Second Manager?

Originally uploaded by Spruced Images

I have always believed the best leaders lead best when they are listening. I know it's something I am always trying to improve. Sometimes it's best to remain silent and listen.

Tom Peters
explains in this short clip how it is very important you and I constantly work on listening. I'm going to bet you don't want to be an 18 second manager. If you are an 18 second manager, maybe it's time you improved your listening skills.

Hard Work

bear market
Originally uploaded by razorbern

Networking. Transparency. Connecting. Communication. Community. Crush it! Break down the silos. Synergy. Commitment. Team building. Think outside the box. Step up to the plate. Shake things up. Rebranding.

No matter your buzz word, favorite phrase, or rallying cry, two words must be in the details of the plan. Hard work. Without hard work nothing else will matter. Period. End of story.

The most successful professionals don't get there by simply going through the motions and talking a good game.

You can say all the right things, but without hard work the goals you're talking about will never be achieved. You have to be willing to ask and handle the answer to the tough questions. You must come up with solid solutions and then follow through with the plans for those solutions.

If the details of your plan don't include hard work, it won't matter much what you are saying.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

4th and 20

Originally uploaded by Laura Ward

In football when the offense finds itself facing a 4th and 20, most of the time they're going to punt. It doesn't mean they've lost the game. It doesn't even mean they've given up. It just means that this time it's best to take a step back and punt. It's time to let the defense take over, regroup, and attack again later. The offense will almost always get the ball back.

Sometimes you find yourself at a crossroads professionally. You've been pushed back. Despite your best efforts, the goals you had didn't work out. You tried, but it failed. You thought it was a perfect plan of attack, but it wasn't. You were halted. You received a setback.

Do you just give up? In many cases, no.

When you find yourself in that situation, sometimes the best move is to take a step back and punt. It doesn't mean you've lost the game. It doesn't even mean you've given up. It just means you're going back to the drawing board. You're going to adjust. You're going to do better next time.

You will get the ball back.

Note: Sports analogies aren't perfect and I don't care for them normally, but I think this can be applicable in most situations professionally.

Monday, January 4, 2010

7 Reasons to Take a Vacation

Dressed Up For The Beach
Originally uploaded by drewmaniac

"A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking." ~ Earl Wilson

The word vacation means many different things to different people. My wife and I took a vacation in June to Boston and New York City. We loved it. My father in law thought we were crazy. He wants to take a vacation skiing down the side of a mountain in Colorado. I'm not so keen on the idea. Mostly because visions of Sonny Bono keep dancing in my head. Or is it John Denver's terrible video that keeps dancing in my head? I'm not sure which.

7 Reasons to Take a Vacation

  1. Change things up. When you go on vacation, routines are usually left behind. That's one of the best reasons I can think of to take a vacation. Change up your mundane daily life. Break the routine and take a vacation.
  2. It's fun, of course. I don't think there's much explanation needed here. You know how to take a vacation and have a little fun, right?
  3. You can learn new things. Not always, but if you take a vacation to a place you've never been the odds are pretty good you'll learn a few new things. My wife and I just came back from a vacation that had a stop over in St. Augustine, FL. The history there was mind boggling and the town itself was a delight.
  4. Self reflection. The break in pace can allow you to take a step back and do some reflection. Take moments throughout your vacation to consider the things that matter, come up with new ideas, or just regain focus. Regroup, recoup, and reflect when you're on vacation.
  5. Relax, of course. If you're not stopping to relax, you're not on vacation in my opinion. If you have work calling or e-mailing you ever so often you're also not on vacation and you're not relaxing. Relax and cut the ties from work for a while. You'll be better off for it.
  6. You can build on your relationships. Most people take vacations with someone else. Whether it's a friend or loved one take the opportunity to build on your relationship. A vacation is a great way to get closer.
  7. Refresh your mind. A vacation is a great way to clear your mind and help you regain focus. Especially if you work in a high stress environment. Your mind can become muddled and it's easy to lose focus. Refresh your mind when on vacation.
So take a vacation soon or plan one for later in 2010. You probably need it. Go to a far away place. Stay close to home and relax. Go somewhere nearby for a day. No matter what a vacation is to you, the effect can often be the same for each of us.

*This post was penned in my handy little Moleskine on the beaches of Destin, FL last week. Yes, I was on vacation. Reflecting, relaxing, and refocusing.