I think one of the best jobs I ever had was my first: Paper Delivery Boy -- it taught me marketing, sales, delivery, and of course collections (and sometimes lack there of). It taught me fiscal responsibility and a thing or two about "showing up" -- rain or snow, I delivered newspapers everyday because that was my job.
It taught me to plan ahead to not only have enough money to cover my costs, but also to save money for the future: my very first computer, a refurbished Apple ][+ was purchased for the princely sum of $830 my then life savings after delivering newspapers for nearly seven years.
That computer was an investment for me -- I sold my first piece of software, a custom registration system for the local municipal summer program a year later.
One of my all-time favorite books is George S. Clason's "The Richest Man in Babylon" -- a should-be-required reading for all pre-teens in my humble opinion. One of the characters suggests that "work was his best friend" -- in my case it was the love of learning and the pursuit of the highest and best education I could obtain in order to be the most effective person I could in whatever work came my way.
I've found that, time and time again, in all the positions I've had the privilege to serve, that the ones I loved the most did not feel like work. In fact for the very best positions I've joked with my management that "I'd almost pay you to let me do this job"
I think the thing I learn from every experience is actually more about human nature; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I have been continuously employed since I was in fourth grade. The longest position I held was the one I created for myself. You don't have to be an entrepreneur to find satisfaction in your work, you can create new positions for yourself where you are.
Today's Big Idea: "Write the job description for the one you want, not the job you have."
When you think about all the job experiences you've had, which one bubbles up as your favorite and why?
In a discussion, opposing views are presented and defended and the team searches for the best view to help make a team decision. In a discussion, people want their own views to be accepted by the group. The emphasis is on winning rather than on learning.
In dialogue, people freely and creatively explore issues, listen deeply to each other and suspend their own views in search of the truth. People in dialogue have access to a larger pool of knowledge than any one person enjoys. The primary purpose is to enlarge ideas, not to diminish them.
"It’s not about winning acceptance of a viewpoint, but exploring every option and agreeing to do what is right."
Why are the first job titles in the management chain usually called "team leaders", but then quickly change into "managers" and then "directors"?
If we think in terms of stewards, shepherds, tour guides -- pick a metaphor that works for you -- you have an active, engaged person who is charting or scouting ahead in order to bring their team forward.
Managers by comparison walk perimeters, to check on fencing and boundaries. They often describe their job as "herding cats".
Directors normally don't walk anywhere -- they are far removed from the teams they are charged with leading, often focused on their own fiefdoms and concerned with the activities of rival princes.
In typical, silo (or stovepipe, again, pick the metaphor you like the best) -- the information flows upward, filtered at every level -- distilled if you will, by someone who is presenting (or word-smithing) the information in a way that they think (or hope) the next level up wants to hear.
In the beginning, there was the Plan. And then came the Assumptions. And the Assumptions were without form, And the Plan was without substance. And darkness was upon the face of the Workers. And they spoke among themselves, saying, "It is a crock of shit and it stinketh."
And the Workers went into their Supervisors and said, "It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof." And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying, "It is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."
And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, "It is a vessel of fertilizer and none may abide it's strength." And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying one to another, "It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong."
And the Directors went unto the Vice President, saying, "It promotes growth and it is very powerful." And the Vice Presidents went unto the President, saying, "This new Plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the company with powerful effects."
And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good. And the Plan became Policy. This is how Shit Happens.
Sound like a project or two or ten that you've worked on recently? They all have secret code names, usually named after wild-life
How is it that projects that are doomed to fail, and everyone knows it, continue to get funded and proceed in a death march towards oblivion? The kind of projects that sap financial resources from companies, stealing shareholder value, and wasting time which translates to lost opportunity.
I would argue it comes down to the fact that the "management chain" isn't about leading at all. A leader would stand up and pull the chain and stop the factory -- it's that whole "you can't inspect quality into a product" mantra.
Today's Big Idea: People follow the leaders. Stop managing and start leading.
Change happens. When it does, someone, somewhere has to figure out what the implications of that change are. Little, seemingly innocuous changes can have long-lasting and far-reaching ripple effects.
Take my friend Ivan, a Security Systems Engineer for a manufacturing and service company. He works in an environment where change to the current products and services he's charged with protecting is only half of his problem. The other half is the fact that about every 9-13 months he has a new boss he has to re-educate thanks to the constant mini-reorg's that ripple through large companies. It's hit or miss for Ivan, and lately his latest string of bosses don't have a clue as to what he does nor the value of the role he fills. His latest manager has hamstrung and marginalized his contribution and seems to think that what Ivan does should be some other groups responsibility. That's the bad news. The good news is that he's probably due for a new manager in a couple of months.
Here's a short quiz to get the conversation started:
1. When you board an airplane, are you more secure in the knowledge that:
A. the fact that there are now locks on the cockpit doors, or
B. you bought trip insurance
2. When you visit your doctor or clinic, are you comforted by the idea that:
A. your personal data is encrypted on their computers and thumb-drives or
B. the fact that the clinic has you sign a HIPAA disclosure form?
3. When you log in to your bank, brokerage, or retirement account, do you pay more attention to the fact that
A. you have to select a personal image, a phrase, possibly validate the computer you're on, answer a few questions the first time if you haven't used this computer before -- or
B. are you just glad that the website shows that your deposits are FDIC insured?
If you answered "A" above, you can thank a Security Systems Engineer like Ivan!
Security, as embodied in the "holy trinity" of C-I-A : Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, has to be "baked in, not bolted on." It's about understanding the first principles of Systems Engineering and that change has consequences.
From the six-sigma/lean world:
"You can't inspect quality into a product"
The same is true of security in terms of Information Risk Management. You have to consider the people, the places, and things that touch and interact with the system under consideration. It's about understanding situated context.
Today's Big Idea: Systems are complex and any change requires thoughtful analysis to understand the butterfly effects.
It's not about compliance. You can't buy an insurance policy big enough to cover your loss of goodwill.
Hey NPR, you're just another mime annoying the passerby.
In a manner of speaking. Or not speaking.
In creating a new business, consider what model you will be adapting: Most project some sort of you pay us and we'll provide a service or item. Hopefully the model includes getting paid more than it costs to run the business. We're looking at you GM.
But what if...? You didn't charge at all. Just gave away your stuff and hoped that it was so fantastic that people would just plain donate enough money back to run to stay in business? Crazy. Its like a permanent Sampling? Like it? Get some.
But the guys busking in Key West are making it work - If you like their show, donate whatever you want to. If you don't no worries. And now authors, bands and other creatives are giving it all away. And making money doing so.
Big Idea: Consider being a mime. Or adopting a non-standard business model to make money.