Sunday, April 20, 2014

Taking time to read

While I have been woefully negligent in writing, I am can say with great enthusiasm, it's because I have been reading.

Reading some really good stuff.

One of my favorite topics right now is mediation. Not meditation, mediation.  A fabulous book on the subject if The Mediation Process by Christopher Moore.  All 600 pages of it.

Speaking of mediation, if you are in the Grand Rapids area, the Dispute Resolution Center of West Michigan is holding its General Civil Mediation training. To say that it's life changing doesn't do the training or the trainers justice; if you are interested, sign up.  It's fantastic.

I have also discovered Net Galley.  I have a number of fabulous books in the pipeline as well.  Currently, I am reviewing a book for first time job hunters.  Best thing?  All the books are free!

Happy reading.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

the tyranny of the urgent and not so urgent

In the past several weeks, life has been rather hectic.  We have been enthralled in the most polar-vortexed, snowmaggedon, bitter-cold-whipping-winds-pelting-snow winter in my memory. We are beyond tired of winter; it's March and yet again this week, regular temps will fall below zero. This kind of weather takes a toll even on those of us who love winter.

And I had the cone debacle that as of yesterday seems to be a groundhog day experience of last year.  Like some kind of cruel joke.

Work is busy.  So busy that I started wondering about efficiencies.  As someone who enjoys the LEAN process, there are so many areas that I can work to clean up my work.  But email is a tough one.  As I worked on thoughts for streamlining email, it occurred to me that where it will be the most challenging is in helping redefine the protocols for email.  In my job, we have this notion of "15 minutes or less"  (thanks Geico) - as in if I don't hear from you in 15 minutes or less, I will follow up.  By phone. In person.  And now (gasp!) by text.

I am guilty of this too.

I spent some time researching email overload.  There are some great articles from HBR, Lifehacker, and a host to tech sites.

One of the funniest recommendations (from my spouse) who just decided on day to delete everything and start over.  If it's important, people will follow up.  Totally cleaned out his email box.  Brilliant.  

One of the most astute perspectives came in the Amy Gallo's article in HBR.  She writes about the larger issues around communication;  quoting David Allen,  she wrote, "email overload is only a symptom of a larger issue: a lack of clear and effective protocols. If your organization has ambiguous decision-making processes and people don’t get what they need from their colleagues, they’ll flood the system with email and meeting requests."

I need to pay attention to this.  Often it's the question behind the question. Looking for more than just the words.

Several writers commented limiting email checking during the day.  Many of my colleagues do this; they check their email at specific times during the day.  My schedule can be so fluid that I don't know if this is the answer for me but it's one several of my colleagues could consider.  If we can shift the expectations of 15 minutes or less.   That will take some time.

I need to transition from using email as a task list to reading, responding, deleting or archiving.  I love a zero inbox and this will be a big step for me.

The largest hurdle I perceive is culture change.  When I send (or receive) an email, I have no sense of just how much work the recipient has at the current moment.  It's easy for me to mentally prioritize the importance of my request but really, I have no business prioritizing my colleague's work.  I need to trust that she can prioritize her workload far better than can I.   I need to let her.

If it's urgent, I need to communicate it.  And it has to be more than I just sat on this and now my poor planning is your crisis.   That won't fly.

So here is to March and perhaps someday, some sun, as well as a more efficient communication strategy!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


My hands-down, absolutely, positively favorite talk about work.  Ever.  Especially the part about the unicorn.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

your resume

I had a colleague call me and ask about resumes.  So here is what I told her in a nutshell.

I am not going to remove you from consideration if:

- you use a funny font.
- you right align, center align, use a line in - your text. 
- you bold the first letter of each bullet.
- you use periods. you don't use periods.
- you use an objective, you don't use an objective, you use a summary of qualifications, you don't use a summary of qualifications.
- you list an address or you don't list an address. 

I don't care about the little things.  We don't have ISO standards for resumes - at least not that all professionals agree on. 

What I DO care about is this:

- I can understand your experience. 
- I can easily see your accomplishments. 
- I can see your progressive career;  if you have taken time off, it's clear.
- your skills match my needs. 
- you spell words correctly and use punctuation when needed.

And I care deeply about cover letters.   Write a good one. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

gender and the workplace

Two worlds are converging.  Work and TED.  The words sounds funny to write, even funnier to say out loud.  Work is busy, chaotic, scheduled.  Beyond scheduled.  Add to this busy, chaotic, and over scheduled work life, I am speaking in classes.

Lots of awesome classes.  Talking about jobs, looking for, finding, what you need for, how to interview for, how to follow up on, and great resources for - the job.

We have GREAT students at Calvin College.  I would never skip talking to students.

At the same time, I am on a huge TED kick.  I fire up my Kindle HD, plug in some ear buds, and watch some amazing videos.  Videos on leadership.  Talks on happiness at work.  Presentations on the end of the world.

What I love most are the TED talks on women and leadership.

Sheryl Sandberg.  Amy Cuddy.  Susan Cain.

If you have not listened to these three TED talks, quit reading right now and go watch and listen.  They are fantastic.

So back to work.  I present in classes.  I talk to students.  At the end of every SINGLE PRESENTATION, I offer two things.  One, I offer to connect with ANY student on LinkedIn.  I tell them that if they see anyone in my connection list, I will provide an introduction.  I will do anything possible to help each and every student connect and find meaningful work.

Many students take me up on this offer.

I make a second offer.  I offer to MEET with any student who wants to come talk to me.  For one hour.  And do anything possible to help with the job hunt.

I do not have time to do this.  But I feel so strongly about our students that I will give away my time.  I don't give my time to too many people.  But I will give it away to our students.

Very few students take me up on this.   Like five students.  (It's probably a good thing).  The students who do?  All women.  Not one single male student has taken me up on this offer.

Curious.  And wonderful.  And interesting. I love that these young women I see are comfortable enough to ask for time, help, and resources.   They follow up.  They send me thank you notes.  They ask good questions  like - who else should I talk to?  what other resources are available?  are there questions that I should be asking?

Crazy smart.  I am thrilled.  And encouraged.  This generation will hopefully be leading our businesses, corporations, and schools.  We are fifty percent of the population.  Let the leadership reflect this too.

As you go to work tomorrow, is there a woman you can help progress? Small steps, big changes.  Bring it.