Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Two cups

I tried to post this on Facebook but it failed, so now it's a blog post. Lucky you.

A conversation that happens at work pretty regularly.

Them: Hey, two mugs, huh?
Me (carrying two mugs): Yep, one's breakfast, the other is oatmeal.

They frown for a second or two as they try to work that out (answer: the coffee is breakfast) and then they laugh nervously and then they stop asking silly questions.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Influence (10 of 10)

<<< Back to day 9

Here's my final day of notes for "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan. Here's a link in case you'd like to buy a copy of the book from

Chapter 10: A Person of Influence Reproduces Other Influencers

Teaching others is like handing off the baton in a relay race. It will take preparation, planning, training.


  • Reproducing leaders raises your influence to a new level
  • Reproducing leaders raises the new leaders’ personal potential
  • Reproducing leaders multiples resources
  • Reproducing leaders ensures a positive future for your organization

Awaken the reproducer in you:

  • Lead yourself well (integrity, right priorities, self-discipline, problem-solving skills, positive attitude, etc.) - establish a specific game plan, don’t just think it’ll happen organically
  • Look continually for potential leaders: “You’ve got to have good athletes to win, I don’t care who the coach is.” - Lou Holtz, Notre Dame
  • Put the team first
  • Commit yourself to developing leaders, not followers
Moving from Maintenance to Multiplication

"Many people live in maintenance mode.” - that is so true. I feel that way myself way too often.

  1. Scramble - always trying to find people to lose the ones who left
  2. Survival - the staff stays, but they’re unhappy. It’s all day-to-day without hope or promise. (50% of leaders)
  3. Siphon - leaders develop other leaders, but neglect relationships so newly trained leaders go elsewhere (10% of leaders)
  4. Synergy - high morale and job satisfaction (19% of leaders)
  5. Significance - the leaders produce other leaders (1% of leaders)

Don’t forget to:

  • model integrity
  • nurture people
  • show faith
  • listen
  • understand
  • enlarge
  • navigate them through life’s difficulties
  • connect with them
  • empower them


  • Develop your own leadership potential
  • Find people with leadership potential
  • Teach the person to be a leader, not just perform tasks
  • Multiply (help them find someone to mentor)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 56 (Final)

Sunday, 5 pm (final) -- I got derailed a bit this week. I think I'm still rebuilding. I've gone from overly strict planning for the entire week to extremely loose and I haven't found a good solution yet. The problem is that there's always more to do than time to do it. I do think I need to do a little more intentional planning but certainly not doing any of the agile style velocity tracking. In the end, didn't get 200 items completed this week (that's been roughly my goal). I could find a few more items (I made it to 194) but I need to end the week and start the next. If I were really looking at Agile, I would have to cap it at my velocity and there would be more time for the lookback/retrospective and then there'd be more time to plan. But Agile is just impractical.

Influence (9 of 10)

<< Back to day 8

This is day 9 of my 10 day look at the 10 chapters of "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan. Tomorrow I'll include a link where you can purchase the book for yourself.

Chapter 9: A Person of Influence Empowers People
"Techniques don't produce quality products or pick up the garbage on time; people do, people who care, people who are treated as creatively contributing adults." - Tom Peters
Empowering people allows them to excel to their potential. When you trust them with a decision and back them up, you will achieve more than when you simply make all the decisions yourself. This only works when you have

  • position (if you lead, you can give permission. if you're not leading, it's simply encouragement)
  • relationship (you need to have a bond with them so that they can act knowing your trust in them is genuine)
  • respect (when you believe in people, care about them and trust them, they know it)
  • commitment (it's not always easy, but you must be committed and consistent in order for others to venture out)
  • attitude (you must be ready to give something up)

1. Evaluate them - what level of empowerment is appropriate? Are they ready for big moves, or should you start with smaller moves?

2. Model for them - show them the work ethic and attitude you want to see in them. Include them in your decision making. Help them to understand how you approach situations. This will allow you to step back and see them carry on.

3. Give them permission to succeed - not everyone believes they can succeed. They need to know you expect it, that you're rooting for them, that you're celebrating when they do, and that you're publicly giving them credit. (Conversely, they should know that they have permission to fail and that they’ll be supported and not hung out to dry.)

4. Transfer authority to them - not just delegating tasks, but providing them the tools and opportunity to influence and make decisions. If you've modeled the process well and given them the appropriate level, they will succeed as you expect.

5. Publicly Show Your Confidence in Them - You're not just telling them you expect them to succeed, you're telling others that you expect this person to succeed and be taken to have the same authority (in this context) as they would afford you.

6. Supply them with Feedback - they may not immediately succeed. They need to know when they fail and they need to know specifically why so they can adjust for the next run at it. Just continue to make sure you still believe in them and expect them to succeed.

7. Release Them to Continue on Their Own - They should feel comfortable, empowered and equipped to work independently. They should know that you will support them and be there to offer guidance/counsel should you seek it, but they should not feel it necessary to run every little detail past them. They should understand the challenge/charge and it should be neither too easy nor too difficult.

The Results
“It’s no longer good enough for a manager to make sure that everybody has something to do and is producing. Today, all employees must ‘buy in’ and take ownership of everything they’re doing.” - Farzin Madjidi, Program Liaison, City of Los Angeles
Give others more than just something to do. (see specific checklist in book)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Influence (8 of 10)

<< Back to day 7

And here's day 8 of 10 in my quick look through "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan.

Chapter 8: A Person of Influence Connects with People

To make connection happen, you need communication skills, a desire to help people grow and change, and very important -- a personal mission. You need to know where you're going before you can take others along. Working through these series of steps will greatly enhance your ability to do that. Skip these steps and you're pulling people along. I'm struck with two analogies - first, of a locomotive and train cars - make sure they've hitched on before you start up. The other is of the dramatic difference of trying to take two different kinds of pets on a walk. Your dog loves you and can't get enough of you, brings you the leash and may even run off ahead of you if they're confident of the trail, bounding with excitement. Your cat, on the other hand, has nothing but disdain and contempt and as you walk, you're straining on the leash while they passively resist (laying down) or actively (nails out embedded into the carpet.) While you'll never change your pet's predisposition to walks, there's a lot you can and should do if you want to engage, lead or influence someone.

The book lays out nine steps which I've mentioned in brief:

1. Don't Take People for Granted

Focus too much on the vision and not enough on the people and they'll know it. Focus on the people and they'll want to be involved.

2. Possess a "Make-a-Difference" Mind-Set

Believe that you make a difference, believe that they make a difference, believe that together you make a far greater difference than you would alone.

3. Initiate Movement Towards Them

Leaders too often think that their subordinates should reach out to them to make contact when it should be the other way around. This is probably just good advice in general. Don't wait for people to come to you. Go to them. That's when you'll get a better picture, versus when they come to you - then something's already wrong or they need you to help them solve something specific.

4. Look for Common Ground

Get good at this and you can talk to anyone. If might be actual things, but it might also be experiences (even one where you've been there before where they are now). It can't just be all business all the time, people have more dimensions than that. This helps people lower their guard when the leader is coming to them.

5. Recognize and Respect Differences in Personality

A no-brainer, different people engage in different ways and have different needs. The more you understand the different ways and are able to understand them, the better you were do at engaging with everyone.

6. Find the Key to Others' Lives

This is a complicated one involving really getting to know someone. Suggesting looking at where they've been (mind) and where they want to go (heart) and when they've engaged (given permission), use that to help them (not you).

7. Communicate from the Heart

You can't rely on knowledge or quick wit - you've got to feel it, believe it, want it. That's your "where you want to go" - only once you firmly have that, then you can communicate it sincerely and honestly. Then, someone who is engaged with you can understand your passion and if they believe you have their best interests in mind, join you on the journey.

8. Share Common Experiences

If number 4 above is about finding common ground, this one is about *creating* common ground - whether that's sharing a meal or working on a project togther (as long as you're in it together, not where they have something you want).

9. Once Connected, Move Forward

Don't try to lead until people are ready to follow. Trying to drag people will lead to resistance and resentment. But once they have confidence in who you are and what you stand for, then they'll be ready to invest in you and where you want to go.


  1. Measure Your Current Connection
  2. Connect at a Deeper Level
  3. Communicate Your Vision

Friday, April 25, 2014

Influence (7 of 10)

<< Back to day 6

This is day 7 of my look at "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan.

Chapter 7: A Person of Influence Navigates for Other People

It isn't just about coaxing someone across a single rickety bridge or telling someone how to cross an ocean, it's crossing the ocean with them, and perhaps even steering some of the time. You've been here before. You know what to look out for, you know what to anticipate. You show them it's possible. Not just because you're standing on the other shore, but because you're out there in the thick of it with them. They are the trainee and this is on-the-job training. But you have to know the destination and help them to see it. But it's also more than that. It's beyond just showing them a vision, or even getting them to embrace a vision, this is movement towards that vision. This will not happen in a day. It will take time, it will take patience, it will take an investment. It will mean not doing something else. Continuous encouragement is also critical.

That only works when you understand what impacts them:

  • What touches their hearts? Where is their compassion? (What do they cry about?)
  • What gets their heart-rate up? Where is their passion? (What do they sing about?)
  • Where does their heart want to go? Where is their desire? (What do they dream about?)

This will be the difficult part - trying to find that out about people. I suppose this is where lots of time spent with people listening, teasing that out. Not in a checklist, but just listening for it when it's offered, maybe gently guiding the conversation.
"Happiness, wealth and success are by-products of goal-setting; they cannot be the goal themselves." -- John Condry
This can't be a single big leap, it needs to be small steps. The big leap is overwhelming. But the taste of success, a step at a time, builds courage and momentum.

Things everyone needs to understand:

  1. Everybody faces problems -- You will not reach a point where you have no problems and that cannot be the goal. But, you cannot mentor someone well in an area where you still have those same problems.
  2. Successful People Face More Problems than Unsuccessful People -- And the more successful, the more challenging. (Like a video game.)
  3. Money Doesn't Solve Problems -- Financial issues are usually a symptom of some other problem.
  4. Problems Provide an Opportunity for growth
What can you do in the face of a problem?
  1. Retreat into the past
  2. Daydream about the future
  3. Retreat within and wait for rescue
  4. Face the crisis and transform it into something useful
Course corrections are inevitable. People need to anticipate them, plan for them, know how to react to them. Course corrections are not an indication of any sort of failure, but making them (quickly, gracefully, often, intelligently) is the sign of someone who's on the right track.

Problem solving:
  1. Thinking about the problem (make it specific)
  2. Form theories
  3. Forecast the consequences of implementing the theories
  4. Choose the one that best fits the big picture
Simple is better than clever. Wrong-but-quick is better than possibly-correct-but-slow-to-deliver.

  1. Identify the destination of the three people you've decided to enlarge.
  2. Look ahead - what are the difficulties they are likely to face in the near future?
  3. Plan ahead - how can I help them navigate these potential problems?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Make it stop #newtwitter

You know when you taste something so bad you claw at your tongue to try to get rid of the taste? I feel like clawing at my eyeballs. The new Twitter design is so bad that Gap has decided they're going to try to redesign their logo again because apparently the era of good design is over and this time around maybe people won't notice.

B to the arf, yo. Garish design. Well, looks like this weekend I'll be trying to apply lipstick to this pig just so I don't have to close my Twitter account in embarrassment. Yuck.

hashtag gag.

Influence (6 of 10)

<< Back to day 5

Welcome to day 6 of my look at "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan. This isn't intended to replace the book, but to give you a glimpse into what the book is about and to help me capture my thoughts.

Chapter 6: A Person of Influence Enlarges People

Giving people motivation to grow and the means to do it.

I can do and to some degree am doing this for my team (probably not with enough intentionality) - is anyone doing this for me? (Temporarily with the intercession ordered by my boss in 2011, but beyond that...?)

Ha. It just struck me. We are in a mentoring business. We don't just throw money at a problem or roll in and tell a people who it's going to be. We identify areas that are hurting and we offer to help. We meet with the local leaders and interested parties and look at the best ways to tackle the particular problems facing them. The money makes it possible to implement, but it's the leadership and experience that we make available that makes all the difference between a hand-out and a hand-up.

Many want to get ahead and succeed, but they are reluctant to change.

It's suggested that someone will not follow someone with leadership skills weaker than their own, but they also won't follow or respect someone who isn't growing. Reminds me of the "Be the change you wish to see in the world." quote from Gandhi. You need to model what you expect in others. I think I occasionally see this. I remember a boss once telling me in an annual review that my powers of communication are great and that I needed to be careful with them. I could be very compelling and convincing, but I could also be quite negative, and when I was negative, my staff was negative. If that wasn't a trait I wanted to create within my group, it needed to start (stop) with me.

Be a model of integrity to all people, motivate all those around you, mentor a select few. Identify those with the greatest potential - you can't pour yourself into everyone - but you can have the biggest impact with those who are the most receptive.

Cast a vision for their future - what's my vision?

How is there anything beyond your wildest dreams if you have no wild dreams?

Four Areas of the Development Process:

(1) Attitude

(2) Relationships

(3) Leadership

(4) Personal and Professional Skills

(1) Who might I enlarge? List 3.
(2) Agenda (grid):
Name, Potential, Passion, Character Issue(s), Greatest Strength, Next Step in Development, Resource for Current Need, Next Enlarging Experience

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Influence (5 of 10)

<< Back to day 4

Day five of my look through "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan.

Chapter 5: A Person of Influence... Understands People

Harry Truman: When we understand the other fellow's viewpoint -- understand what he is trying to do -- nine times out of ten, he is trying to do right. (Assume Positive Intent.)

Good point. Sometimes it's hard to remember we're all on the same page when things get really contentious. Of course, when that's because what I'm charged with upholding is in contrast to what they want to do, that seems unfair. It's not that I don't understand in these situations, it's just that I can't help because they're not asking for something I can do. In some situations, these seems exacerbated by all I feel is due of me. If I were able to slow down and just think more about what they wanted, maybe there is a way out or a solution. But I feel constantly pressed for more and more and more to the point that that kind of time is very difficult to come by and often at the worst possible time. Email is probably also a bad medium, but that's how most contact with me is initiated.

It's funny, that whole "seek first to understand, then be understood" is something that doesn't seem to be pervasive here. And so then I guess it has to be one of those cases where I have to "be the better man" or "be the change I want to see in the world." That's fair. Difficult, but fair.

This chapter mentions fear - that the unknown is something to be feared. That until you can fully dissect it, you fear what you don't know. Will it be requirements that can't be completed in the timeframe? Will it be a bad or contradictory idea? Are there better ways to the answer, or will they refuse to give up the problem, continuing to hold to the idea that their solution is enough information for us to get started?

Another reason for problems in understanding is self-centeredness. I'm not sure that's as much an issue here. There's a lot riding on scorecards and a desire to do good and be good stewards, but I'm not sure that people are self-centered. Now, we may be mired in our own viewpoint. James never gives me what I want. So-and-so always submits their requests late and incomplete. Seeking to understand means really trying to see their point-of-view. I think I do sneak in a little bit by trying to learn about initiatives and upcoming work before it's requested, but that's not really understanding the people, that's just anticipating what they're going to want before they ask for it.

Failing to appreciate differences is the next step. This talks about the choleric/sanguine/melancholy/phelgmatic traits and this is where I got sidetracked the first time, researching my own. I am Melancholic except that I am ambitious and prideful and I do not fear speaking to large groups. My hands shake but I feel confident. It's quite odd.

Understanding motivation is key. We seek to understand "what" a person is really asking for when they ask for something, but we don't do enough to understand "why."

Five Things Everybody Needs to Understand About People

  1. Everybody wants to be somebody
  2. Nobody cares how much you know until they knows how much you care
  3. Everybody needs somebody
  4. Everybody can be somebody when somebody understands and believes in them
  5. Everybody who helps somebody influences a lot of bodies

Understanding people is a choice. Some people do it almost naturally, but others (like me), it requires a lot of work. Things to work at knowing:

  • The other person's perspective
  • Personal empathy
  • A positive attitude about people - Harper Lee: "People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for." - so true. Again, project what you want. People will delight and surprise you, and in some cases, aspire to or work harder to meet the perception of themselves that they think you have.

"If you treat every person you meet as if he or she were the most important person in the world, you'll communicate that he or she is somebody -- to you."

Influence Checklist:
Understanding - somewhere between good and fair. People's behaviors and responses to me are typically predictable. I don't necessarily always understand, but I can anticipate with little surprise. Seeking to understand motivation would help me in this regard.

Action Plan:
- Where did they come from?
- Where do they want to go?
- What is their need now?
- How can I help?

"A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror."

I liked this chapter, too. I feel like I'm continuing to get validation that a lot of this stuff is right below the surface. I just need a prod, a reminder, a small illumination to get started, and then a willing desire to make it so. And that willing desire isn't easy. It's going to take work. The hardest part will be taking the time. Constantly feeling pressured is dangerous but it may also be somewhat self-manifesting. This morning, I came in, quickly reviewed my email, and then sat down to read this chapter. I did have a meeting in the middle of it, as well as a big interruption in the next set of offices I had to go and briefly join in on, but otherwise, I chose to deliberately focus on this book for the time. I am facing the prospect that I have until 5 pm today to finish everything I need to get done and one one-hour meeting later today. Then vacation for a week. But the part here is that I'll need to deliberate about trying to learn more from others without giving in to their impatience or hindering them. My melancholic nature will want to think about what they're asking for, but like I learned in this conference this week, overthinking is waste. And overthinking is definitely possible and frustrating to people.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Influence (4 of 10)

<< Back to day 3

Here's day 4 of my notes on "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan.

Chapter 4 - A Person of Influence... Listens to People

3M: "The number one resource for new ideas is customer complaints."

Listening is one of those no-brainers, once someone points it out. Credit is due to the authors for refraining from the "two ears, one mouth" thing that everyone says all the time. Even active listening is only mentioned somewhat in passing, but that's because there's probably more to it. Also a brief nod to Mars/Venus with the reminder of the typical male/female conversation objectives.

As much as I know the truth in listening and being attentive, there's more to that. The idea that most people speak at 180 words per minute and we can process up to 300-500 words per minute was a surprise to me. It does make sense, though - both from the idea of why people get distracted or why they seek out distraction while talking. This is one thing that I've noticed of my boss' boss' boss - as busy as he is, if you can get (and stay) on his calendar, if you get an hour of his time, he gives you an hour of his time. It will be rare for his assistant to interrupt, his phone will not ring, he won't look at his iPhone or his computer, he won't look at notes - you have his full and undivided attention.

There's a lot of practical advice in this chapter, so much so that it becomes difficult to summarize without just recreating the entire chapter here, but I'll try.

First, the idea that there's a lot of value in good listening - you communicate respect, you strengthen bonds, you increase your own knowledge, new ideas sprout, you build loyalty, and while it isn't specifically stated, you really really fulfill a need in someone else - everyone wants to be heard. When you give them your full attention, you are building them up.

On the flip side, there are some barriers: your own desire to talk, your inability to stay focused, experiencing mental fatigue (it takes a lot of work to really, really listen - if 20% of your body's energy goes to powering your brain, really good listening is exercise!) and stereotyping -- prejudging what someone is telling you, or anticipating certain things and so giving them more weight if they do validate what you expected. Also dangerous is your own emotional baggage or being too occupied with yourself - waiting anxiously for the pause in conversation so you can get your opinion in or your witty remark or what-have-you.

The tactics are mostly straightforward for listening - and there are probably plenty of opportunities to really practice these techniques:

  • looking at the speaker (giving them your attention, not doing other stuff at the same time - so you can pick up on their body language and they can also pick up on yours)
  • not interrupting (wait for them to engage you and solicit a response, or at the very least, allow pauses in the conversation for reflection), try to determine the need - the Mars/Venus thing - are they looking for an answer, or are they venting, or are they just talking through a problem.
  • check your emotions - you are the receiver in this exchange, this isn't about you.
  • suspend your judgment - like they say in stocks, you can't predict the future by looking at history. You can make some assumptions, but you know what they say about assumptions.
  • sum up occasionally - the active listening point - this helps them to know you're listening. Rephrasing may also help them to see their own message in a new light, either opening up an opportunity for them to ask you about your interpretation or help them see that what they're saying might not be the same as what they're saying. (Back to COMA123 at PLU - 1+1=3. What you said, what I heard, the part of the interchange that is common to both of us.)
  • ask questions for clarity - this is the one I probably struggle with a lot - asking good questions. It's a good way to keep the conversation going, it's a way to help shape the conversation, and it's even a way to help them know whether or not they're getting their point across, or if their point makes sense.
  • lastly, make listening a priority - we have a lot going on, but when you stop and truly listen, a lot happens.

This was a good chapter. Ironically, you might be quick to say "Yeah, yeah, listening, right, got it. I know this one." and want to move on, but when you give into the finer points, it does make you think. This listening stuff can be hard. Again, a point of being intentional about it. I know that when I would seek out opportunities to talk to people, instead of just waiting for them to come to me, I would learn all kinds of new things I hadn't known, and people would confide in me all kinds of stuff that I wouldn't otherwise be privy to. In some ways, I think this chapter again validates stuff I've already discovered while simultaneously reminding me that I don't make enough of an effort to go and seek our opportunities to listen.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Influence (3 of 10)

<< Back to day 2

Welcome to day three of my look through "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan

Chapter 3 - A Person of Influence... Has Faith in People (15p)

Everyone wears an invisible sign that says "Make me feel important.". In today's culture, people are less connected and much busier. Most of what we consider communication at work is action-oriented, requests about what we need. This is definitely something I am guilty of. Having faith in people is a concept I've just kind of generally figured out with my staff, but applied inconsistently. And except in a few cases where I've had the opportunity to mentor someone myself, it's not something I've done with others. This is definitely something I can stand to more intentionally put into more consistent practice.

Having faith in people is believing the best about people, acknowledging it, and helping them to see it themselves. Celebrating success, pointing out what you appreciate and (caution*) projecting the best that you see in people, even if they can't see it themselves. (* This must be genuine, not manipulative. This also must be fair and reasonable or it will be very clear very quickly that it's fraudulent.)

When someone affirms you, it feels good. You want more, so you begin to model the behavior that generated the praise, or which could generate future praise. Ultimately, it helps you to focus on your potential and to "dream big.". To be sure, the only way to avoid failure altogether is to do nothing - it's not about not failing, it's about believing you can succeed.

There are some practical ways to do this: show someone you believe in them before they've succeeded, point out their strengths to them, list their past successes, give them confidence in the midst of failures, experience some successes with them, show them the vision of their future success, let them know you're counting on them for big things.

Next steps for faith:
- find a strength - intentionally let someone know that you recognize a strength of theirs. And not in the context of a need you have for them.
- build on past successes - in a case where you need someone's help - either to support you on an initiative or where you're making a difficult assignment, give them the context of your belief in them and their strengths and successes. Similar to the past one, but just making sure it's not only when you need them that you're affirming them.
- help others overcome defeat - failures happen. How we recover and help others recover is what matters. Give them the time to work through it / talk through it. Help when asked or when appropriate, but don't jump in too quickly to solve for them. Make sure they still feel valued and affirmed and that mistakes are part of growth.
- start off right - suggests for future additions to team, affirm up front, they will seek to live up to it.

For me personally - do more of this, do it intentionally, do it at times when I don't need something. Also, slow down. Too often I do not give adequate time to the clarity/importance of assignments and I rush people. This doesn't give them a chance to really add their own input. And if I'm serious that this is supposed to be a collaborative environment where everyone is encouraged/expected to innovate and participate and make the process better, I'm not allowing that to occur when I dump and run.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 55 (Final)

Sunday 9:50 pm -- This was a good week. I feel like I got it back in gear. Except for lots of days not watching my calories. Last night's sleep was horrible and I didn't know if we were going to make it to church. We did, quite late, but Ben did well, the message was good, and then we had family and friends over for Easter dinner. Then we all went outside and worked in the yard. Well, Rachel sat on a blanket and ate dinner and Ben ran around and ate some dirt, but it was nice all being outside together. Ben had a lot of expressive language and showed some great comprehension today. I was impressed.
Ended the week with 248 done. I may be counting some stuff a little differently this time around, but at least I'm not slacking. Now, I need to try to figure out how to make the most important stuff the most important, instead of only doing the smallest, easiest - because that doesn't mean getting ahead.

Influence (2 of 10)

<< Back to day 1

Day two of my summary of what I learned from "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan

Chapter 2 - A Person of Influence... Nurtures Other People (21p)

Nurturing needs to happen regularly and consistently, not a one-time deal. I'm struck by how entertainment news always refers to people by their latest effort, even if a movie 10 years ago was a classic that will be watched for all times. While they can't rest on past glory, I guess it speaks a lot to this. How am I doing now?

Someone who is nurturing loves, offers respect, provides a sense of security, recognizes and encourages. This is work. This is intentional. When you do that, the recipient receives a sense of positive self-worth, a sense of belonging, perspective, a feeling of significance and hope. Hope is a big deal. I was recently talking to my pastor because it's my assertion that the modern church has failed its mission to offer true hope and that's what really resonates with people as we saw in the last Presidential election.

Like I was saying, this is work. We need to commit to them, believe in them (we have to believe it and they have to know we believe it) and be accessible to them (physical proximity and a open schedule is important as well as intentional touch-bases). We must give with no strings attached, give them opportunities to grow and lift them to a higher level. Show them you see them as they can and will be, not as they currently are and not as they see themselves. This also goes back to the idea of hope and self-esteem. Show them the vision and stir in them a passion and ambition to "go to there."

Chapter 2 checklist:
- Make a nurturing environment at home, at work, at church. Eliminate negative criticism from your speech.
- Give special encouragement. Pick a few people to encourage.
- Rebuild bridges with someone who you've been negative with in the past.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Influence (1 of 10)

At work, it was suggested to me that I read "Becoming a Person of Influence: How to Positively Impact the Lives of Others" by John Maxwell and Jim Dornan. With the busyness of work, it actually took me several years to get through the entire book, but all told, I've probably read it two or three times. I thought I would share my notes here because I found it to be a helpful book. This doesn't exactly replace the book, nor is it just one really long ad. Hopefully you'll find my notes helpful and if you are interested in reading it for yourself, I've given you some insight into what you'll learn. I'll post my notes over the next 10 days or so. The quality and style of my notes also changes since this was done over such a long period of time.

Introduction (14p)

We all influence others, but not equally. It may be positively, it may be negatively. It may be a little, it may be a lot. In most situations where your previous influence has been negative or small, you can turn things around and be a positive influencer in a larger way. Leadership is an application of influence -- without the ability to effectively influence, you will not be successful. Endorsement - temporary, borrowed influence. Modeling is the first and most passive step. You can do it from a distance and not even be aware that you are influencing someone. Many celebrities do this. Motivating is the next step and really only works at a personal level, encouraging them emotionally. This builds up their confidence and self-worth. Next: Mentoring "pouring your life into other people" - helping them to succeed in ways that allows you to see their life change before your eyes. Finally, multiplying - your mentoring has helped them to achieve a level of influence where they are now mentoring others.

Chapter 1 - A Person of Influence... Has Integrity with People (17p)

Integrity is the foundation of influence. Integrity is choosing to do the right thing, consistently. Whether it's a small matter or a large one, knowing what you stand for, so that when the crisis hits, you already know how you're going to respond. Because if someone finds you inconsistent, finds that they can't always trust you, then they will never trust you. Therefore, you must not commit to things you cannot deliver upon, and you must be ready to acknowledge your flaws. The flaws will come out, but if it's in the context of who you are, or if your integrity is an example of how to deal with those flaws, then that speaks to your character. Integrity is not based on circumstances or credentials and should not be confused with reputation.

Chapter 1 checklist:
1. Commit yourself to developing a strong character.
2. Do the little things.
3. Do what you should do before you do what you want to do.

Friday, April 18, 2014

So... That Happened




I was surprised that I actually managed to make it happen.  

Then for a little while I forgot it was there.

And then I started worrying it would somehow disappear.

I managed to go on and get a few more large squares before completely messing it up.

Now, like Homer Simpson, I see this as the perfect time to announcement retirement from 2048.

Feed Sift (04/18/2014)

Here's a few things I've come across recently that I thought was worth sharing...


LIFEHACKER -- Eight Myths About Jury Duty Debunked


XKCD -- Before the Internet


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Treat. Yo. Self.

People claim I'm difficult to shop for. I claim they're just shopping in the wrong price category. For instance, Testla Model S - practical, stylish, best rating Consumer Reports has ever given.

But I have recently received some gifts I really enjoyed, from the category "Treat. Yo. Self." - stuff I probably wouldn't have gotten for myself, but made for a small luxury.

Small Indulgence - a Christmas gift from my wife, this soap came in a small cardboard box and was a nice perk each morning. The black spots are coffee grounds. The soap smelled of coffee and oranges and the grounds gave it a rough/abrasive feeling, in a good way.

Comfort - My sister-in-law made a batch of biscotti, paired it with a bag of ground coffee from a small local brewer and homemade "vanilla sugar." I normally use a substitute to avoid the calories, but I love vanilla. She took a small glass jar with a sealable lid and put a whole vanilla bean in it and then added sugar missed with (ground? shaved?) vanilla. Very tasty.

Practical "Luxury" - I've been trying to get each each car to the car wash every other month because it's difficult to find time to do it by hand (and it's not that convenient with this house). For my birthday my parents got me a gift card to the car wash nearest my house. It's pretty handy because for the next few months, I'll just have to put in the card and get a "free" car wash.

Add a Little Flava - For Christmas Lori got me a few bottles of the calorie free coffee Torelli Coffee Syrups. Besides classic faves like Vanilla and Caramel, she also found one I didn't even know existed that was a fantastic treat - Kalua. Yum.

Considering how these made me feel, I think I need to figure out how to get little things that brighten other people's days.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fire, fire

Sign says: "CAUTION: DO NOT use paper products in this microwave. They burn up!!"

Two thoughts immediately come to mind...

(2) What, like those paper plates stacked on top?
(2) Challenge... accepted.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Missed Opportunity @LibertyMutual

While I can appreciate the clean aesthetic devoid of all distractions, as a customer, I would accept (if not expect) to see cross-promotional marketing here for other products that might be relevant to me.

I was recently shopping for car insurance and their website wanted all kinds of information.  Several other sources had just creepily pulled this from somewhere but Liberty Mutual wanted me to type it all in by hand.

So I went and figured out my sign-in information, figuring that maybe they'd have more of it filled in if I signed in. I was surprised to find out that there was no way, once I was signed-in to even explore car insurance.

You'd think that you'd want to know who was thinking about buying additional products from you.

Big missed opportunity.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weeks 53 & 54 (Final)

Sunday 2:15 pm - I didn't hit 400 for the combined two week period. But I think I started to get back to being more disciplined. Partially. But I'm ready to close out the week and dive into next week. I came to realize this week that I let control slip away. I haven't been as aware of my calendar and my email's been a bit of a mess and mail is threatening to get out of control. (Laundry and Feedly have been ok, though. And I've been reading more.) So time to get centered. It's a great, quiet afternoon which I'm going to try to use to shore up my calendar and dive into this next week.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Book Review: Starters

Starters by Lissa Price

You can't throw a bookmark in our house without finding a dystopian teen science fiction post-apocalyptic young adult book in our house, it seems an inexhaustible source of materials and Lori keeps bringing them home, but that's fine with me. Starters breaks the unwritten role and explains exactly what happened and that sure is a breath of fresh air. The United States found itself at war with Pacific Rim countries who eventually used biological warfare. The children and elderly had been vaccinated, but the adults were expected to be hearty enough to have survive any attack. Well, yeah, that didn't work. So we find ourselves in a world populated by children and teens (Starters) and the elderly (Enders). Oh, and possibly a few celebrities and politicians who got vaccinated.

If you were lucky enough to have grandparents still living who were able to claim you, your life didn't change too much (except losing your parents). If you weren't so lucky, the fate was much more dire - institutionalized, conscripted into manual labor or attempting to get by on your own, living in abandoned buildings, constantly in fear of the law-enforcement marshalls and other gangs of teenagers.

Our heroine, Cassie finds herself in a difficult situation - her brother is sick, they've got no money and things are bleak. And then get bleaker and bleaker. The opening was rough because it needed to push her to her breaking point, to the only possible way out of her mess - a company called Prime Destinations. With technology that's part Matrix and part Dollhouse, an Ender can rent time in a Starter's body. That is, an old person takes control of the young person's body. It's billed as a way for them to feel young again. There are all kinds of rules about what you're not supposed to do while you're inhabiting a rental body and a chip surgically implanted keeps track of you. While your body is being rented, it's as if you're asleep, as if no time has passed.

In a My Own Worst Enemy-twist, Cassie begins waking up in unfamiliar places and realizes that she's become able to reassert control of her body over the renter, but it means she has to quickly figure out where she is, what she's doing, who she's with and what she should say and do next.

It's an interesting concept and a good read, with only two complaints. One, it has an abrupt ending. If you go into it remembering that it's at least part of a duology (followed by Enders) that won't be so jarring. But two, it slogs a bit. I wonder if it would make more sense in the context of book 2, or if it could have benefited from some tightening. (Much like my blog posts.) She never has it too difficult -- I mean, you know it's going to end up OK, right? -- so the stakes never feel as high as they could be.

There was a lot about this that felt original. I know I compared it to several other works, but they only served to help ground some concepts - to either make them feel more plausible or at least more understandable. Looking forward to book 2.

Starters (

Friday, April 04, 2014

Feed Sift (04/04/2014)

A few things from around the web that I wanted to share...


LIFEHACKER -- Why Time Feels Like It Passes Quicker as You Get Older - there you go - have more random, memorable things happen. I think music also plays a big role. As things are new and novel, the music is part of it. So when you hear old music, you get nostalgic because you're partially temporarily transported back, but not entirely, so it feels a little bit hollow and like you're reaching for something you can't quite grasp.


BOB CRINGELY -- Google Evil? You Have No Idea - he calls it an exhaustive list. I disagree. There's plenty more.


SETH GODIN -- Confidence is a choice, not a symptom


THE GUARDIAN -- 8 pronunciation errors that made the English language what it is today - yikes


NY TIMES -- Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney - a lengthy book excerpt that is both interesting to read and discouraging all at the same time.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Movie Review: Pizza Angel

I know it's been awhile since I posted, but I just saw this and wanted to review it. I saw this recently and I have to say I was quite disappointed. Apparently this group is pretty popular, doing children's music videos. So apparently this guy orders a pizza, waits forever and the pizza guy never shows. But he doesn't call the pizza place back. He just sings about being hungry. Eventually the pizza guy shows up but says he couldn't find the place and so he ate the pizza. "You don't have to tip me," he says. So, does that mean that the guy paid for the pizza when he ordered it and he's not being given a refund? So let me get this straight... He goes to a place, can't find #16. So, what does he do, walk down the hall? 13, 14, 15, 19, 17, 18, 19. Golly. I can't find 16. I'll wander around for awhile and then eat the pizza.

2 stars. Available now on VHS from Blockbuster, Hollywood Video and online at