You Are The Culture

How do you think your staff and colleagues feel when your number pops up on their caller ID?

A few years ago one of my managers told me I was too nice. He said, “People need to fear you more.” This never resonated with me and still doesn’t today. When I get tough on people I tend to go too far and it backfires on me. As I mature and better understand who I am and what skills to exercise in a given situation I am discovering that I need to remain true to my personal nature. Yes, people need to know when they are not meeting expectations but managing with fear doesn’t work for me and for most individuals fear doesn’t motivate them either. I have to be tough yet respectful and empathetic. I’m in a leader position to support, inspire, coach and guide the team to perform at the most optimal level.

I think people with big egos and no self-esteem need to “show people who is the boss.” Ok, maybe I need to have a little more compassion. There are many people who come from crappy childhood backgrounds where they were never given the necessary grounding to build self-confidence or develop a good emotional intellect. These people fear they will be fired, or not accepted and as a result, they fret over the wrong things and drive people from the wrong emotional position. Often these people are very, very intelligent and manage up extremely well but don’t manage across their peer networks or down through their teams very well at all. For years they will pull the wool over their senior managers’ eyes and get promoted, eventually getting to a position where they can no longer hide their lack of emotional intelligence. Then people in their teams start leaving or performing at sub-optimal levels as they don’t want to rock the boat, be called out negatively in front others, or risk dealing with the negative behaviours. Continue reading

Are You Humble Enough for MAF?

As a runner I have a big ego. I love comparing myself to others on Strava and I love getting kudos and giving kudos. I enjoy seeing the paces my peers produce on their runs and comparing their paces and heart rates to mine. It’s a lot of fun and I’m so pleased I can do this with like-minded people who care about fitness and tracking data and performance. Strava is awesome for this. Also, being a data geek from the analytics software world I love tracking numbers and watching the metrics evolve over time.

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Notice I got 8 kudos on this run

Over the last year I transformed my body from sugar burning to fat burning as a source of fuel for endurance running. I lost nearly twenty pounds or close to 10kg in the process and have body fat somewhere between 7-9%. This was mostly achieved by reducing sugars from my diet. You can read more about my transition to reducing sugars in this post.

In the last few months I’ve gone through another transition based on Dr. Phil Maffetone’s MAF technique. His program is based on his 180-formula where you subtract your age from 180 and use that as your target heart rate zone for training. You can add or subtract 5 beats per minute depending on years of athletic experience, injury, or medical condition. Being in my mid forties and a long time runner/athlete my MAF rate is 140. I also used the MAF beta iPhone application to answer MAF’s surveys that recommended a target heart rate of 140bpm.

Continue reading

Defend the Vision

Without a vision, any direction is valid…

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.08.24 PMFor years I managed product direction, strategy, and delivery. I developed two simple rules to product management. Rule #2 for any product manager is to defend the vision. Rule #1 is to build the best product for the market opportunity (vision). Often rule #2 is more difficult to adhere to than rule #1.

Every day customers, partners, sellers, managers, and competitors add additional requirements to your product direction. This causes stress, anxiety, and churn… but only if you have no vision to evaluate each new request. For example, one customer will commit to a $500K deal this quarter if you add two arbitrary features. However, no other customer needs these features. If you agree you have an instant $500K in the bank, but to accept these two features you need to drop another feature that once released in the market will net you $20M. What do you do? When you are true to your vision, and your vision can be executed and brought to market in time (meaning not arriving late to the party to discover all the beer and snacks are gone), the answer is pretty simple: “No, we are not going to do these two features.” Continue reading

Why Do You Go To Work?

About five years ago I was on a solo date with my eldest daughter who was four at the time. We were at our favourite fusion Mexican restaurant sitting on the upstairs patio. It was a warm spring evening, the sky was blue, and the sun’s rays casted a beautiful warm light. I cherished the moment alone with my daughter.

I said to her. “I really enjoy spending time with you.”
She responded. “Then why do you go to work?”

I can’t recall how I answered, but I know it wasn’t deep or profoundly insightful. I recall smiling and being stunned at her wisdom. She has always had an old soul.

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The old soul

I wished I’d answered. “Because I love my job, I work with great people, am constantly learning, and we are building and selling enduring products that deliver real value for our customers.” I’m not sure a four year old would have understood this answer. The point is that I haven’t always loved what I do and I wonder how this impacts my family.

I can understand why she would pose this question. I could see her brain working. “You love me. I love you. We have fun together. Why would you want to leave me?” Continue reading

Undivided Generosity

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 5.57.27 PMSimone Weil, a French philosopher, once said “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” 

How often do you have your smartphone in your hand, checking a text or an email and you say to the person you are with, “Keep speaking, I’m listening”?

Our modern world constantly distracts us with instant messaging, Facebook messaging, Twitter, email, texting, Instagram, and so many other forms of distraction. We’ve become addicted to multi-tasking. Work, family, and personal time is no longer divided instead it is integrated, constantly connected, setting expectations that you are always “on” and ready to engage with whomever and whenever. Even the new connected watches allow you to read your messages while on a run, checking time, or waking in the middle of the night to quickly check your messages. Continue reading

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