gurustu's muse the daily thoughts of an every day guru
Daily Guru Thoughts
Sunday, October 31, 2004 Fun fun fun Never miss an opportunity to have fun...
I didn't actually have any set plans for Halloween, but when the opportunity came to meet up with a few friends came up, I took it. Being last minute and all, I didn't have a wide variety of costume choices.
It was a good thing for me...
The only thing available was an oversized Blackbeard, the Pirate costume from PartyCity. I added on some Dragon Wings, accessorized aith a sword... and added a little Wolverine hair and voila!
Friday, October 29, 2004 Foundations first... When you're building a home, you can't start with the second floor...
OK, second week down and despite some great achievements I feel more behind than ever before. That's because no one is sticking to the rules they're trying to set. In one breath, it's "we can only produce one module a week" then it's followed up with "ok, let's add that module to the other two we're doing next week." "But I don't want you to work overtime" is followed by "we have to deliver it on Monday."
There's too much pressure to deliver and too many promises being made. So instad of taking the time to get proper tools and templates and standards which will all save time in the long run, we're running around like chickens.
It's really like trying to move the furniture into a house that hasn't been built yet. I know they know how important a foundation is; yet they're letting their desperation get the best of them.
So the second question for the second week is, "do I have any second thoughts?"
Nope. I knew this coming in... and it's everything I expected. I still believe I've made the right decision.
I'm in this to win.
Speaking of winning, the new team went all out decorating for Halloween. We all went as TV Land, and each cubicle was a different show from the 70's. I took a bunch of cardboard boxes out of storage and build a giant remote, a giant TV Guide, a radio and the SS Minnow out of a bookcase. I then dressed up as Gomez from the Addams Family, with my Thing and Uncle Fester candy dishes... then I made Cousin It out of paper, spiderwebs and a hat. Everyone else went all out and it really paid off.
We won third place for cubicle design, second place for department group design and first place for the company's group award. Win Place and Show... very nice, indeed.
Also, my old team came by to have lunch today as well. It was so good to see them all together again... and they told me how much everyone liked the last video we made. It was everything I expected... they loved it and saw what I could do after I left. BigBigBoss (B3) liked it so much she sent an eCard to one of the remaining teammates. What's the big deal about this? This teammate built the site and I was reprimanded by B3 for making it. All for a video that was all but impossible to make because B2 wouldn't approve the equipment.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004 Get Motivated! People are motivated by different things, from Love and Security to Greed and Addiction... if you get others to take the next step their way, it's motivation; in your way, it's manipulation. Make sure you stay out of it.
I went to the Get Motivated! seminar at the Staple Center yesterday. I didn't really need the motivation nor the day away from the office, but I wanted to see HOW these motivation speakers operated. There were an awful lot of people there, and I could easily tell that this was a big business. I was curious as to how these few people could move so many people to come listen to them for the whole day.
It's all in the details... You'd think the speakers at "Get Motivated!" were all seasoned professionals, and that each one would be better than the next... but in reality, there were some people there simply because they were famous in a different profession and had crowd appeal; others seemed to have hidden agendas.
Here's some of those moments captured from Section 101, Seat 113...
Dr. Earl Mindell, health expert "Twinkees are bad." He had good nutitional facts, though delivered in a rather dry tone. He could have been reading an issue of Men's Health and it'd sound the same. I'm into healthy living so I agreed with what he said. I just smiled at the rest of my group as they ate their Krispy Hremes.
Bryan Flanagan, Intructor for Zig Zigler "Make a victory list" There are four levels of understanding, going from not knowing that you don't know, all the way up to you know it so well, you just do it (Zig Zigler's principle). There are four types of people B (Bold), E (Expressive), S (Steady) and T (Technical). To make a good team, get at least one of each.
Bryan had good humor and was full of energy. He made a good motivational speaker all by himself. The way he worded things though made him seem like Zig's warm-up guy, which seemed unfair to his own light.
Tom Hopkins, persuasive salesman "Unbelievable!" Whenever someone asks how you're doing, say "unbelievable!" That pretty much covers it all. Tom had some very funny stories, which I enjoyed; though I was a bit too focused on his hair, which also seemed "funny." He taught the audeience how to manipulate people, which made his intentions also a little too "funny" for my tastes.
Peter Lowe, Producer of Get Movitated! "Double your money and don't spend too early." People give up before reaching their goals way too early. They buy stuff they really don't need, and ruin their chances of reaching their financial goals. Pretty sounds advice; he should've stopped there. Unfortunately he turned his session into a Christian Revivalist meeting and literally had an invocation to "accept Jesus in your life." This caused a number of people to get up and walk out.
To him I say, "congratulations for finding your faith; shame on you for treating people who believe differently as if they don't matter."
I also get the impression that his life is full of secrets, which damages his integrity within his family and himself. That made it hard to accept all he had to say.
General Tommy Franks, 4-Star General "Forget politics, you've got a job to do!" He was in charge of the whole region of unrest before during and after 9/11, so he was fascinating to listen to. He was a seasoned speaker, having talked to troops and the media for years. I totally understand where he's coming from and he made me feel patriotic. The lesson of "let's go over and kill somebody" wasn't exactly the kind of motivation I needed though.
Zig Zigler, motivator "Motivation may be temporary, but so is eating." He pretty much defined the world of Motivational Speaking. He had a lot of good advice and great sound bites; I took the most notes from his speech. I was a little taken aback when he all of a sudden turned it into a Creationism vs Evolution discussion and directed people to websites that proved definitely that evolution was wrong and that man did in fact come from Adam and Eve. I expected different from him.
Phil Town, Investor "Buy on the way up, sell on the way down" He was very energetic and fun to watch. He showed some investment tools that would have really come in handy during the late 90's internet boom. He reminded me a lot of those Get-Rich-Quick salesman I saw during those times, especially when people ran from their seats, credit cards waving, to the back of the auditorium to get their sales packages.
Jessica Lynch, Pvt in Iraqi war "Yeah, I was, um, like, scared" Not a motivational speaker; never really asked for this level of attention. This seminar seemed like her 16th minute to me. I applaud the Iraqi doctors who tried to save her and the soldiers who came to get her out; they're the real heroes. I wish for Jessica good health and a happy civilian life. Next!
Jerry Lewis, Comedian "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." Fifty years ago, the jokes were fresher and didn't seem so painfully racist. Thanks for all your caring and hard work on Muscular Dystrophy; and remember, you'll always have Paris.
Rudy Giuliani, Former Mayor of NYC "Persevere" Earned "Time's Person of the Year" in 2001. Had it been an electtion year, he'd be president by a write-in vote. His style has always been one of ease and true motivation. I respected him for cleaning up Time Square and revered him for getting us all through Sept 11th. He kept his personal (well publicized) politics to a minimum and focused on the issue of motivating people through the tough times. He was the highlight of the event.
I left after that, even though there was one more "surprise" guest. He was some real estate guy, whose name I didn't catch. He also had a religious tinge to his speech. I half-expected him to say "praise the landlord!" but went to dinner with some co-workers instead.
The best part of the evening? My conversations over dinner...
Monday, October 25, 2004 Instant Gratification... Don't wait for the perfect plan, find the solution to the moment's needs. The future will take care of the rest.
There's so may choices ahead. I've been picking, choosing, throwing away, looking again... picking again. There's a lot of imperfect fits out there...
But I want it now.
It's a delicate balance, because as you know, the things that stick sometimes don't let go for years to come. I'd hate to just throw something together, only to have to untangle it a year from now.
I want it right.
I also don't want the kind of world I left behind... where we talk and talk and talk and do nothing because 'something better is coming.' Well, Something better is always coming... and when it gets here, it might not be much better than what we already had.
I want it better.
So this is it. It's time to pick out one or two immediate needs and go with something.
It's my sandcastle... and it's home until I can build something more solid.
Sunday, October 24, 2004 Just be there... Sometimes others go through bad times and you can't do anything to make it better. Just be there for them. That's more than you know.
My sister-in-law took a turn for the worse with her health. Although having beaten down three years of Multiple Myeloma, her immune system still can't handle any sort of infection. An infection from Thursday night has left her in critical, but stable condition; in a drug-induced coma with tubes and respirators everywhere that will fit. She's getting the best care that money can buy, so all she needs now is a miracle.
My brother is as stoic and matter-of-fact as always. He won't let on his pain. That's OK. He'd rather talk about stocks and my new job for an hour. If he needs it, I'll talk about stocks and my new job.
I also snuck in "if you need anything let me know" and "I love you" so at least words that matter got through.
Keep sending your light and love; they need it now more than ever.
Friday, October 22, 2004 Step... step... Whether it's five or 500 steps to go, you still have to take 'em one at a time.
You know that dream, where the more you try to get somewhere, the farther away it gets? Yeah, that one. That's the summary for this week.
There's just so much to do BEFORE the stuff you need to do... and everything isn't four steps, it's five... and everyone wants to do them in two.
So let's say, it's been a hectic week.
I've had two to three meetings a day so far. They said in the interview "oh we don't have many meetings" ... so what does "a lot" of meetings look like?
In my last position I managed to nearly eliminate meetings like these. I'll have to apply those secrets here; and hope they stick (and make a fortune selling the book).
I'm not complaining mind you. Every time I say I need something, they reply "just go ahead and order it." I keep slapping myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. Of course, their reply to that would be "oh don't worry, we can get you someone to slap you all day." (Aren't they sweet?)
So, yeah, there's probably much more than 500 steps... it's a long road... but right now, all I see are green lights.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004 Emerge... Emergencies should be excepted, not accepted...
I'm coming into this new job in the middle of a mad rush. Everyone is under pressure just to "get it done." I understand that, and have been buckling down and helping in every capacity I can, just to see that it comes out well. I've been a designer, a copy writer, even an errand boy. For now, there's no need for pomp and positioning. This is the time to just roll up them sleeves and get some work done.
The problem is that this is the atmosphere these people work under. This chaos, where everything's a rush, seems to be a part of the culture. Pressured decisions are putting haphazard habits into place.
I'm only going to allow this ONCE.
As quickly as I can, SOME procedures are going to be put into place this week; to at least get a hold of the next project. It's not going to be perfect, because they've already committed to several projects before I got here. The best I can expect is to ride it through, gaining more and more control with each consecutive one. If not, it's never going to get any better.
The good news is that most of this is new to everyone., Habits haven't been formed and territories have not been staked out. I can see the political struggles to gain control; but I'm not going to play that.
Focus on Delivery.
That's my new motto... now let's see if I can emerge from this on the right side of successful.
Monday, October 18, 2004 Get it together... When surrounded by chaos, you have two choices... join in the chaos or get your act together... both of which expends a lot of time and energy. Choose wisely.
Okay, so I started the new job today. No time to even get my feet to the ground before I have to run. Everything is past due and it shows. It shows on the faces of each and every person as yet-another-rush-project is brought to their desks.
I'm not going to get myself trapped into that. Even though I "don't have the time" already to even get the organizational tools that will help, I'm going to have to put SOMETHING into place to keep track of it all.
I call them 'sandcastles' ... better-than-nothing things that serve the immediate need; and can be discarded as soon as they're not needed. I may build something in MS Project or Access or Lotus or Excel or just some calendar program. It doesn't matter. What matters is controlling this wild stallion.
Friday, October 15, 2004 The power to choose If you get the choice between laughter and crying, choose to laugh.
Each moment today seem to betray the inevitable. People kept coming up to me to either give me a hug or a "raspberry" for being a "stinker" for leaving (like, whatever lady!). A few close friends came bearing gifts.
The goodbye lunch came. BigBoss (B2) and BigBigBoss (B3) were no-shows, Being that they had nothing to say to me after my announcement, this came as no surprise. The team then brought out "the gift" ... a Director's Chair with my name on it and "Executive Producer" on the back. Talk about a great gift! (And you wonder why I grew to love these people?)
I still had work to do though. Three projects undone, but only one of any real importance. B2 now had a new set of standard documents to fill out, and the promotion requests that I slaved over for the last two years were no longer valid. This "simple form" as just one more hoop that B2 uses as an excuse for everyone else holding up the process. So I jumped. For my team, whose always jumped through hoops with me these past four years... this one jump was worth it.
The real kicker came at 3 o'clock. NewBoss (NB) comes up with "the news." Now NB knows full well why I'm leaving... because B2 told me to order equipment, then rejected it with a few more hoops added. He still chose to say this anyway:
"They've magically found the money, B2 has approved the equipment!"
He also added "hey, I'm just the messenger" so I guess he knew by the stunned look on everyone's face that this was not necessarily the good news B2 thinks it is. NB quickly ran away.
When the jaws finally came back up off the floor, several people clenched them. I just had to smile. After all, this was on Psge 14 of the script. I told everyone weeks ago that B2 would do this. I just said:
After all, I knew the money they just found was only for editing equipment. I was intending to use my own equipment until next year's budget would cover the rest. With me taking my equipment with me, B2 would still have nothing.
"Go on. Get it while the gettin's good!"
Being the ones who are left to deal with it, the rest of the team failed to see the irony.
I tried to show them the benefits of having the equipment... the opportunities they'd have to learn and grow, and make their own quality videos. They just couldn't get past the cost of losing me (again, aren't they so sweet?).
As my team walked me to my car, we recalled all the good times, the bad times, the B2 times. I told them:
"I wish I had a better ending to this story"
but they understood... only too well, they understood.
I got in my car and started to drive away one last time. On the way out of the parking lot though I saw another coworker and friend. I've called him Positive Attitude (PA) in a previous post. He was the one who requested a designer five years ago, which lead to me being hired in the first place. I pulled over to chat for a while.
Being that he was the one who saw me come in, it just seemed so appropriate that he was the one to see me go out. We said our "see you laters" and I rode off into a new world.
I did get a better ending to this movie after all.
Thursday, October 14, 2004 Hopes and Dreams Hopes and Dreams are the investments you make long before anything is possible.
Several years ago I bought a jar that said "Hopes and Dreams" on the side. I put it alongside my monitor at work. At first I would put in little pieces of paper with things like "a trip to London" and "a new car" but as the atmosphere around me darkened, the notes became more desperate... "sane clients" ... "people who communicate" ... and finally "something better than this."
There was something magical about this jar though. In good times and dark times, I would hear a "ping" ... a quick,quiet little noise... like something was being dropped into the jar. I thought at first that my mouse cord or the monitor was somehow banging against the side; so I moved it. Still, I'd be feeling down and there would be that "ping!"
But I forgot about that "ping." Last year, this year... it just seemed to sit quietly; almost mocking me.
While packing up my stuff I opened it up and looked at the papers again. I've hardly accomplish any of them; and that made me a little sad... but when I thought about the new job, and how it's the road to fulfilling most of them,I smiled. Hopes and Dreams, indeed.
And so I packed away the papers in my box. The jar however had another course to take. I took out a cardboard box, some wrapping paper and a post-it note... and on that note I wrote to a co-worker and friend:
"I give this to you because I have found my Hopes and Dreams where I am going. Now it's your turn. Follow yours!"
I taped "something better than this" to Monday's page in my datebook, and went about getting all those last minute chores done... Sitting beside me, I heard a faint and friendly sound from inside the box...
Tuesday, October 12, 2004 Still Life... Your life is yours to express, in your own way; leave other people's expectations behind.
A number of people are expecting me to react to my upcoming change. Some think I should go out with a bang, letting everyone know "what I really think" or something really dramatic, since I'm the consummate actor. Others are looking toward this blog to see what major insights I might have in retrospect. Now those might be coming, if the mood strikes...but if not, this change will be very much like a New Years celebration... some quick flash, then you look around to see nothing's really changed.
There's a part of me that wants to look back and reminisce and another part that just wants to move on. Part of me wants a big show; part wants to slip out the back door. Part of me wants to say "it's over"; the other saying "it's not." "I'll never forget you" and "I can't forget you soon enough."
The best part will still say "I love you" even if all the other parts just say "goodbye."
Sunday, October 10, 2004 Take it easy... You can fill 'em up with stuff, or let them drift away... the day's gonna go by either way. So choose what to do with them... or not.
It's not burnout; it's not even exhaustion. This has really nothing to do with the hectic past few weeks; or maybe it does just a little. Anyway, I wasn't in the mood to do much of anything... so I took it easy.
Well, I don't know how laundry, cleaning my home, groceries, going to the gym and writing a new article ended up getting done... if I really just took it easy. Oh wait, I didn't house sit, go to a friend's house warming party, see a movie or work on some other friend's web sites. What a slacker, eh?
Okay, so maybe I overdo it just a bit on a "typical" weekend; maybe I bought into modern day ideal of gotta-get-it-all-done-before-Monday... but not this time. This time I listened to my own article about Taking Care of Yourself. After all, the articles are my biggest lessons to take.
Superman flies again... Just heard the news of Christopher Reeve, who left this world after falling into a coma yesterday. I was so looking forward to seeing him speak at the Get Motivated Seminar in two weeks. Seeing what a fighter he was after his personal tragedy proved him to be more of a Superman offscreen than on.
Christopher, fly free and well. You were truly a super hero to me.
Today, as I sat around these people who have stuck together through thick and thin, I couldn't help but see all these years in their eyes. I couldn't imagine getting through it all without them. I couldn't believe that this was the end of that road.
It's not the end for us; I know that... but it is the end for the way we were (cue song). We sat around talking about this transition plan and that unsubstantiated rumor. I tried to make it like all our other meetings, but when I asked "so what projects do you have coming up?" one of them joked,
"What do you care?"
Well, the truth is I DO care... but the truth beyond that is, it doesn't make a difference whether I know or I don't. It's just coffee talk now.
So next week will be filled with more "lasts" ... in some ways sad; in some ways a big relief. In all ways necessary to grieve the past; and pave the way for our new tomorrows.
Now that it's over, and I can relax, I can see a bunch of things that "could've been better." That's what the "Lessons Learned" meeting will be about. That'll be what the next bunch of producers can do to make it happen.
The best thing to come out of this came from an overheard conversation between two senior managers:
SM1: "This is the only time we really have to share our information."
SM2: "I underestimated the importance of this thing last time. I'm starting to see the value."
Too bad they didn't appreciate in time to support me... but I guess they can add that to their list of lessons learned.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 Sorry Murph... Sorry Murphy, whatever can go wrong is unacceptable...
Another title for this would be "plan on chaos, it's coming anyway."
There's been plenty signs o'trouble since yesterday... delayed flight by over four hours, forgotten equipment, people showing up expecting things that were neither promised or even mentioned. I've had people come up to me and say, "Oh I'm presenting at the event now, so get me stuff" to "we didn't bring anything, you need to get it" to "..." (nothing since they didn't show up to the meeting).
So far so good.
You see, I planned for this. The project plan was:
1) talk about it for two months
2) realize we need to do something in less than a month
3) start to think about what to do
4) finally read the emails
5) total confusion
6) mass hysteria; then
7) the actual event with little to no problems, and finally,
8) self-congratulations and
9) blame as necessary.
Everything is right on schedule.
All it takes are three things:
1) Flexible thinking on your feet
2) Sheer determination
3) Just enough stupidity to think you can actually pull this off
Sunday, October 03, 2004 Awry Away... Sometimes the best laid plans go awry... just "go with it."
This weekend was about changed plans. Two attempts to meet up with friends just didn't work out... the first set of friends were sick; the other friends and I just kept crossing paths never got our act together. Disappointing, but then other plans quickly took over and those went well.
So you justhave to do the best you can, don't beat yourself up over past mistakes and enjoy whatever comes your way. All good lessons in a couple of screwy days.