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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Motivational Message - Perspective and the Realization that It's Not All About You

"Sometimes you have to go really high to see how small you are."  

 - Felix Baumgartner 

Like many of you, I was glued to the live feed and riveted by the record-breaking jump made by Felix Baumgartner on Sunday afternoon, 24 miles above New Mexico. I'm sure this is just one of hundreds of blog posts that will be written in the coming weeks about the event, but here's my take on it. 

There's not a whole lot that I can add about this feat that hasn't been said already. Some of the descriptors that immediately come to mind - unreal, amazing, crazy, groundbreaking, harrowing and just downright awesome. The one word that I heard several times from Felix though, both leading up to the event and after he landed safely, was team. If you listen closely to his comments, you'll find that he's very quick to thank his team and to acknowledge that he wouldn't have been able to do all that he's done without the team surrounding him. Pretty cool for a daredevil, BASE-jumping, thrill-seeking, adrenaline junkie.

His quote above reminded me of a scene from Grand Canyon, a movie packed with some big name actors such as Danny Glover, Kevin Kline and Steve Martin. I couldn't find a clip of this particular scene, but at one point in the movie, Simon is talking to Mack about the Grand Canyon, its vastness and how it made him feel, sitting on the edge taking it all in. Check this out...
Simon (played by Danny Glover): "You ever been to the Grand Canyon? Its pretty, but that's not the thing of it. You can sit on the edge of that big ol' thing and those rocks... the cliffs and rocks are so old... it took so long for that thing to get like that... and it ain't done either! It happens right there while your watching it. Its happening right now as we are sitting here in this ugly town. When you sit on the edge of that thing, you realize what a joke we people really are... what big heads we have thinking that what we do is gonna matter all that much... thinking that our time here means diddly to those rocks. Just a split second we have been here, the whole lot of us. That's a piece of time so small to even get a name. Those rocks are laughing at me right now, me and my worries... Yeah, its real humorous, that Grand Canyon. Its laughing at me right now. You know what I felt like? I felt like a gnat that lands on the ass of a cow chewing his cud on the side of the road that you drive by doing 70 mph."

How's that for a visual aid? Puts things in perspective, right? I have to believe the Felix Baumgartner can relate to that right about now.

I met a friend and former colleague last week for coffee. She's in transition right now as well, so we were talking about our respective job searches and how we're spending some of the extra time that we have right now. I was humbled and inspired when she told me about some of the volunteer work that she's been getting involved in. She's spending time volunteering at homeless shelters and being trained to take hotline calls for domestic abuse victims. She's an experienced and talented marketing executive who's using the extra time she now has to make a difference in other people's lives.  

She clearly understands that "it's not all about you".

Sometimes we just need a little perspective to help us realize that it's really not all about us. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the trivial, day-to-day tasks that take up our days and compile our careers. However, if we would just slow down and pull up every now and then to consider the bigger picture, it might be possible to find more meaning and purpose in our lives.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Living in Oz: A Lesson in Engagement


Okay, I'll admit it...I'm a sucker for 80's music. I grew up in the 80's and during my formative years I got to experience things like the world premier of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", Kiss taking off their make up, Live Aid and the birth of MTV. I know this sounds crazy, but MTV actually used to play videos. Like 24/7.
So it was no surprise that when I saw this Mashable post pop up in my Twitter stream today, I had to check it out. I mean it's Rick Springfield, for crying out loud! When I was a kid, I didn't know any guy who didn't want to be him or any girl who didn't want to marry him. He was a BFD back in the day. I mean, I still have this LP (look it up, kids) in my album collection. Is that wrong?

But I digress...

So this morning, Rick Springfield decided to take to the streets of New York City (actually under the streets...the subway) to generate some buzz and help promote his new album. No elaborate sound stage. No sectioned off corner of the subway platform. No pomp and circumstance. It literally looks like he just threw on some clothes, grabbed his guitar and made his way down to the play for the masses. 

This, my friends, is an excellent lesson in engagement. I didn't watch all of the clips (I like Rick and all, but I still have real work to be done), but I love the fact that he's just having a blast, playing his music, singing his songs and being one with the people. He doesn't appear to be concerned about hitting the right notes or having fans get too close. It looks like he's genuinely embracing the moment and having some fun. 

Our leaders today can learn a lot from this clip. When is the last time you (if you're a leader in your organization) or your senior leaders took some time to just go hang out and spend some time with the folks who make things work in your organization? I'm not talking about scheduled time, a quarterly business review or a town hall meeting. I'm talking about MBWA (Management By Walking Around) time. Unstructured. Untethered. Unprotected. 


Keep rockin', Rick!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Motivational Message - Kill or Be Killed

So I got your attention with the title of this blog post, eh? A bit dramatic, I know, but really what I'm trying to say is summed up by this great quote below... 

"If you don't like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.

- General Eric Shinseki

I heard this quote last week and it stuck with me all week long. As I went about my week, meeting new people, networking, and staying on top of the latest business news, this quote kept surfacing over and over again subconsciously. You'd be hard pressed not to find organizations, and people, that have fallen victim to this in the last several years. Our world is changing fast and we all have a decision to make - get on board and change with it or resist change and get left behind.

From a Corporate Perspective

Let's take a moment to think about some of the once successful companies who have lost a step or all together collapsed over the last few years because they were unwilling and/or unable to change and adapt to the new world around them - organizations like Blockbuster, Eastman Kodak, Yahoo and Sears. These companies had the tiger by the tail at some point or another. What happened? The world changed and they didn't change with it. They either didn't see it coming, didn't want to see it coming, saw it coming and told themselves they didn't need to make a change, couldn't adjust to the change or just flat out didn't care. Blockbuster, as we knew it, is gone and has now been absorbed by Dish Network. It should be no surprise that both Sears and Dish Network recently earned a spot on the list of America's Worst Companies to Work For. Ouch!

From a Personal Perspective

Now let's take some time to think about ourselves. How well have we adapted to the changes around us? How willing are we to think about things in a new and different way? How comfortable are we with using new technology? How often do we think about the "good old days" and wish that things would just go back to the way it used to be? Life is moving faster than it's ever moved before and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

Gut Check: What are you doing to make sure that you're not irrelevant?

Two years ago, I was still trying to understand the difference between a "@" and a "#" (with regards to Twitter). I had a Twitter account, but I was reluctant to really use it for two reasons. First, it really wasn't comfortable for me. It didn't feel natural and I wasn't sure that I could communicate effectively with only 140 characters at my disposal. Second, I didn't see the value proposition. I couldn't understand how Twitter was going to help me. I had a hard time figuring out the WIIFM (What's In It For Me).

I can't tell you when, why or exactly how it happened, but at some point in time, the Twitter light came on for me. I made a conscious decision that I was going to use Twitter for good, not evil. I'm joking of course, but I decided to use Twitter for professional purposes, rather than personal purposes. If you follow me, you'll notice that I'm not tweeting about my pets ( I don't have any right now), entertainment gossip, what song I'm listening to right now and how it's making me feel, or what I ate for breakfast this morning. I do my best to tweet about talent, leadership, business news, management, and general HR-related stuff. I'll throw in the occasional tweet about my beloved Texas Longhorns or a Foursquare update, but that's about as "off topic" as I'll get. Today I'm closing in on 1000 followers and 0% of them are fake (check this out!). Because of Twitter I've made some incredible connections and significantly multiplied my professional network. I couldn't imagine my world of work without it now. 

Not really related, but close enough to put a bow on this blog post

I'm really dating myself here, but I remember the movie, Kill or Be Killed being released when I was a kid. I actually remember going to the drive-in (another example of how watching movies has changed. Are there any left today?) with one of my friends and his parents to go see this movie. Truth be told, I don't remember anything about the movie other than it was filled with martial arts and it had the coolest title ever. Needless to say, it wasn't nominated for any Academy Awards or Golden Globes, but did I mention that it has the coolest title ever? 

Nothing like a little martial arts action to get your week started off right. Enjoy!