Zen is you – Be.

Collaborate to Elevate

Posted in ideas by dave225 on October 29, 2008

Not making traction on an idea? Feeling in a rut? Or are you kicking ass and taking names and still want to elevate your game?

Nah, I’m not going to tell you why collaborating can produce a better result. You know that. But think about how it can produce a better you. A better me. A better us. Hugs all around. Seriously though – think of collaboration as co-mentoring and team building. By collaborating to synergize ideas, we also change the way we think about the goals we’re trying to reach and, in effect, we not only tap into our colleagues’ experience on the current project, but hopefully we take some of that experience with us.

Collaboration comes in all shapes and sizes, and again I will not bother to describe the various people and methods you can tap into. But I will take this opportunity to plug a local resource and an upcoming event:

  • Columbus Tech Life is gathering steam as the network for Columbus self-starters to meet and discuss ways to make great things happen in central Ohio. I’ve started a page on the Columbus Tech Life wiki to ask some questions about collaborative problem solving. Because it’s great to talk about this stuff in a blog, but when do we make it real?

  • In that spirit, I’m organizing an unconference to see how the local professional community can help us all advance our goals by problem solving via networking and collaboration. In this unconference, we will look at real problems that we’re trying to solve or goals we’re trying to reach, and we’ll work as a group (or as small groups) to complete something real.

Please visit the wiki and talk about yourself! And if the unconference sounds interesting to you, express your interest here. .. Or give your thoughts on how you’d like to see it organized… Collaborate!

Quit

Posted in ideas by dave225 on October 6, 2008

I told my friend Lisa last week that working where I do is sort of a curse – it’s a great job with a great company of smart and cooperative people. I love it (most of the time.) And because my job is something I enjoy and a place where I can still develop professionally, I have no incentive to look for anything else. Which means that I’m not likely to find anything else. Which may eventually make me complacent. So I keep my eye on my profession and my marketability. But I don’t keep my eye on my other options – outside of my profession, my comfort zone, my universe. Maybe I could be a professional dog sitter, a tour guide someplace exotic, an artist, a window washer, a card shark or a drifter! I don’t know which of those things I’d truly like to be, if any. I don’t have any intention of finding out right now – because I really like what I do.

Maybe you’re in a different place. If you don’t like what you do, take a chance! Think about what you stand to lose versus what you’re losing every day. Can you adjust down your standard of living in exchange for … well, living!

To invert a quote from m’man (man?) Yoda who said, “There is only do and not do. There is no ‘try’.” I say, “There is no succeed or fail. There is only ‘experience’.”

My friends Pat & Dianne are in the process of selling their house, quitting their jobs and travelling the country. I don’t have the guts. I’m envious, but I like a bit more security than that. But what’s secure these days? Maybe there’s more security in not having to rely on your job being there or your house and possessions being there, but in just having the wits and the skills to live happily without being chained to the preservation of those objects. You know that passage about it being more difficult for a rich man to get into heaven than getting a camel through the eye of a needle? Well that’s what it’s about.

So for now I can balance putting in the hours doing something intellectually stimulating in exchange for the comfortable trap of “stuff” ownership – and I think there’s nothing wrong with that, especially in the land of uber-capitalism.

Time is linear, baby. You can’t go back and you shouldn’t wish ahead. So are you enjoying now?

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The Customer is Always Right

Posted in stress relief by dave225 on October 1, 2008

Last week I had a great vacation in Corsica and the South of France.

The trip didn’t start out so relaxing though – The plane we took from Newark to Milan had an emergency landing in Bangor, Maine due to engine problems. Inconvenienced as we were, the passengers were all thankful to the skilled crew that successfully landed the plane with one engine. And the passengers were patient and jovial as 256 of us were herded into a tiny lounge in the Bangor International Airport. We were in fairly good spirits because the captain announced after we landed that a replacement jet would be flying up from Newark to pick us up and resume the flight to Milan. So we would get in 2 or 3 hours late – a small change of plans and, after all, things do happen and at least we made a safe landing.

Two hours passed. The latest news was that a plane was on its way from Houston. It would be awhile longer, but the fine folks at Continental will take the meals off the plane and feed us. Three hours. Four hours. 1:00am. Two planes are on the way to take us back to Newark. Continental agents will be on the flight to assist us in rebooking our flights. Well, that’s the rumor that’s going around. No one really knew for sure. One plane arrives to take the first class passengers back to Newark. The other plane is on its way. (right?) We finally make it back to Newark at 4:30am. No Continental agents flew up to Bangor to assist us – but maybe that’s understandable; they would have taken up seats on the plane and since international flights always leave in the evening, we weren’t going anywhere for awhile anyway. (That bit of fact was easily dismissed by the now irate passengers.)

When we got back to Newark and got off the plane, we .. um .. didn’t really know where to go? Passengers meandered around, looking for a Continental representative to assist in rebooking our travel plans. Or maybe at least someone to direct us? Somewhere? Most of us went our own ways, asking random Continental employees for help. Some of them, I must say, were very helpful people. I think some people are just that way. I don’t think that they learned it from Continental’s training program because a very similar thing occurred as we flew with Continental from Costa Rica two years ago.

Which brings me to the focus of this post – As passengers became more and more frustrated with Continental’s system – or I should say: lack of a system – (Really, all anyone was looking for was some consistent answers, and then for those answers to be accurate – I.e. A PLAN) – anyway .. as all of the passengers were milling about, demanding help from a bewildered (and small) staff that walked into an ambush at work that day, there was one woman who swaggered into the area, barking, “I don’t want to hear about it!” She was the supervisor. As the first of many passengers gave her the third degree (which I’ll not defend either as being a good approach), she replied sternly with, “Don’t yell at me! I’ve been up since 1:00am babysitting this flight! It’s not my fault!” I turned to her slowly and said calmly, “It’s more your fault than it is theirs.” and turned back around. Two things. #1 – Up since 1:00 am and there’s still no organization? #2 – Take some ownership of the screw up. The customer is ALWAYS right – even if the customer is not morally right, when they walk away from your business (or you send them away), they are no longer your customer.

The “zen” in this lesson regards how that woman must have felt the rest of the day. She may have spent the rest of her day in a sour mood, clinging to the certainty that the passengers were all stupid and if they only knew how what she had to go through. Well, the customers don’t care. And when customers are angry, the last thing they want to hear about is how the employees have had a hard day. When your business involves serving people, a successful day is helping the people who patronize your business. And you should walk away at the end of the day knowing that you did that part of your job well. That’s not just for the health of your business, but for your own peace of mind.

Incidentally, I did make it a point to thank the employees who were helpful and empathize with their situation, as did some of the other passengers. And I hope they left at the end of the day knowing that people appreciated their work.