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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pursue the Passion

The argument of whether or not passion for your job should be the deciding factor in job satisfaction is not one that is completely settled with me. Perhaps I'm a little crispy after I came to the realization that being happy with my job doesn't make the rest of my life joyful. Maybe that's just me.

Pursue the Passion is an attempt to understand why only 50% of America likes their job and 20% applies passion in their job.
"Pursue the Passion addresses this issue by interviewing people who are propelled by a love for their work. From these interviews, our mission is to assist aspiring individuals to find work they can be passionate about by producing resources that help direct and guide their pursuit."
If you're passionate about your job, or know someone who is, share your story and schedule an interview and become part of the project.

It's a neat concept, though not entirely unique.

The question, which came up in a discussion panel I was part of yesterday is this: Should you follow passion or money when finding a job? I would spin this a little and give it a broader focus by suggesting you should follow your passion in life first. If that's your job then so be it, but if it is family, recreation or something else like travel, then use your job as a tool to fulfill your passion in that area.

*** I would have put a nice picture of something up at the top, but have you ever Google image searched the word "passion" before? Hence the reason for no picture. ***

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Applying Business to Golf

Like always on vacation, I took with me 3 books that I intended to read. Like always, I read less than one chapter in only one of the three books. The book, Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, by Dr. Bob Rotella explains the mental edge that professional golfers have that many nonprofessional duffers don’t have.

In the 9th chapter (I already read the first 8 before vacation) he tells of his work with a young professional golfer who just finished shooting a 73.

“I told him that I didn’t look at length off the tee when I assessed potential. I want to know how strong a player’s mind is and how well he plays the scoring game with his wedges and his putter.”
He went on to explain to this golfer that after reviewing his round of 73 he determined that all of his strokes except 9 fell into one of 3 categories: drives, wedges and puts. Throw out the 14 drives and he played 50 strokes with his wedge or putter. After reading this, my first reaction to this was next time I go to the range, I’m leaving my driver in the bag and hitting only my wedges. My next thought was "but I love hitting my driver and it really needs some work.”

This is the reason that I, like so many others remain average at golf and never become better. We spend a majority of our time on something that doesn’t help improve our game. In this professional’s circumstance 68% of his shots were used with clubs the average person doesn’t like to practice hitting.

Now, 68% isn’t quite 80%, but I think the number is close enough to resemble an 80:20 ratio we’ve all heard of before where we spend 20% of our time working on things that become 80% of our productivity and 80% of our time on 20% productivity.

This well known principle has been quoted, cited and rehearsed at about every business conference ever conducted. It is for this reason that I feel leaving work a little early Monday to play golf with business leaders in the community at this course is perfectly acceptable. It’s not golf. It’s the application of a widely accepted business principle amongst a focus group of executives.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm a Leavin on a Jet Plane

Folks, I'm headed out of town for a few days for some much needed family vacation time. I'm heading to beautiful, humid, hot and mosquito infested Missouri where my parents have just finished building their retirement home on the Lake of the Ozarks.

We're looking forward to seeing them and the new house and hearing all the stories about building a house.

I'll try to blog a few times while I'm gone, but literally the house is so new that Internet isn't being hooked up until Saturday, so no guarantees.

In the meantime, here are some recent things I've come across that might interest you.

Ben Casnocha posted about this article on a Navy SEAL's account of being the only survivor of his team. An inspiring story, but I had to question what the underlying message to it was. Any ideas on that?

My kids want a Nintendo Wii. I was poking around researching them and came across this. My only thought was, I need a lot more time in my day to do stuff like this and then even more time to make a video about it.

Now that everyone has a blog, the Colorado Springs Business Journal Golf League even has one. Check out who's tied for 11th place! :)

I've been teaching myself to play guitar and in the process broke my nut. (A nut is the plastic part at the end of the guitar that the strings lay over before running down the neck) I went to have it replaced and almost fainted to find they wanted $75 to replace. Being a huge fan of Norm Abram (my hero), I figured I'd make my own and found this site to inspire me. I'm going to use ebony because I love wood, but if anyone is willing to donate some bone to me, I'd be happy to use it. I'm thinking you probably don't need all your ribs anyway, so if you want to have one removed and mail it to me, let me know.

For those suffering from glossophobia or if you just want to get better at your skills, Guy Kawasaki had these great tips he shared.

I hope that keeps you entertained until I return or get a chance to post again.
Thanks for reading I appreciate you all!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My New Friend Dizzler

I've been a fan of music on the Internet since Napster in the mid 90's. Of course the plight to find music online in segments longer than 30 second samples has been one of ups and downs. When I saw them arresting some grandma who's grandson downloaded music to her computer off of Kazaa, I decided it would be best to find alternative sources. While those "issues" have been resolved, now it's not free.

I started using Launch for quite some time and still go back there. I like it because it easily sorts music by genre on it's stations and allows for some good customization of your personal music choices. Even though Yahoo now owns it and muddied it up a bit, I still use it.

Later I jumped to Pandora and liked it because it was easier to set up and manage than Launch was. and gave me a better random exposure to new music that I might like.

Then there are the actual radio stations that broadcast live via Internet. These are good, but the traffic reports from New Jersey aren't real relevant to me.

Finally, just yesterday I came across a new one. This one has some real teeth and goes beyond just music. It covers video, games and live radio as well as music. Dizzler is a free web based application that searches for online streaming media that you can use through it's player.

It allows you to create a play list of your favorites and will cycle through them all for you. While it's maybe not the best way to listen to music like you would a radio station it is great to listen to songs you have stuck in your head, but don't want to buy from iTunes.

It also offers a business application. I'm not exactly sure how it works yet, but I've got ideas on how to integrate pod casting into a player on a website using Dizzler.

So check it out and give me your thoughts on where you get your music.

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Google Street View is Watching

We all think we're good people. We know we have little things about us that we'd like to change, but they are secret and no one really knows about them anyway, so what's the big deal right?

Well, Google Maps has a new feature where in some locations you can get an actual street view of what it looks like. Called Google Street View, I think this is a great idea, but it gets me thinking of Big Brother a little bit. Here's how it works.

Sure these are just random pictures taken by a car driving down the street, but are you sure that every moment of every second of your life you were behaving in a way that you would want the whole world to see and then blog about?

Here are a few links to GSV that I think might drive my point home a little.
970 OFarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA - just exactly what are those two guys looking at?

172 bush street san jose ca - The movie wasn't that great.

Telegraph Ave & Dwight WayBerkeley, CA 94704 - No one will ever know I'm taking 2 breaks this afternoon.

Google Headquarters1600 Amphitheatre PkwyMountain View, CA 94043 - This is not from America's Most Wanted.

While somewhat amusing, GSV has raised some legitamate questions in my mind. Like is this legal or an invasion of privacy? Read more about that here.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Momentary Tension in the Workplace

Working on a university campus has its advantages. My office environment is very laid back, staff meetings are rarely, if ever formal and everyone is in the business of helping everyone else, so there are lots of friendly people around all the time. I even like eating in the cafeteria from time to time.

However, yesterday had its immediate drawback to working on campus when I got this email.

Subject: [staff-l] SUSPECT

We have received a call 15 minutes ago that there is a man on the campus possibly with a gun. The description of this person is : Hispanic male 5’8” w tank top shirt blue jean shorts black hair and brown eyes. If you have seen/or see someone fitting this description please call UCCS police with the location.
Thanks UCCS police

With immediate memories of the Virginia Tech incident just over a month ago my mind began racing with what to do next. Fight or flight was the choice.

About 10 minutes later, which seemed like a day and a half later, I got this email.

Subject: [staff-l] earlier e-mail

The suspect is in custody, UCCS police with CSPD have the person in custody.
UCCS police

As it turns out, it was only a pellet gun, but the guy got arrested anyway. Regardless, I am glad that our campus police carry guns, unlike those at Virginia Tech, and am glad they were able to act and react so quickly and effectively.

Local news covered the story here.

I have to say, the moment was somewhat surreal and while I wasn't ever afraid, it did leave me thinking about what possible outcomes might have happened.

Maybe I'll move my offices to the post office. They haven't had a shooting in several years.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Customer No-Service Vent

Normally I don't get too fired up about anything, but this one got me going so I have to share.
A few months ago, we got an invitation to come and look at Direct Buy, a membership based store that sells home improvement items to the consumer at wholesale prices. Think Sam's meets Home Depot. Partly curious and partly skeptical my wife and I decided we should go check it out.

After several weeks passed we finally scheduled a time to go, and began talking about a time line to do some remodeling to our basement and our living room we wanted to do. Direct Buy was a little off the beaten path so we got a little lost trying to find their store. That combined with all the construction between our house and their store put us a few minutes behind.

When we walked in the front door and were greeted by the receptionist. We said we were here for our open house tour. She looked at her watch and said, "Oh, let's see that started at 1:15 and it's now 1:20, so you're 5 minutes late. We have another time available at 3:00 or how about next Saturday?"

"Couldn't we just catch up to the group which is right inside that door?" I thought to myself.

She must have been able to read the look on my face because she said, "The tour starts promptly at 1:15 and since you're 5 minutes late you will have to reschedule for a later time."

To which we said, "Uhhh... NO!" and started to leave. On the way out the door, she stopped us and wanted our name so she could make sure they took us off their list.

When we got home I was amazed to find a voice mail from some sales rep at Direct Buy letting us know that we must have forgotten our appointment and she'd be happy to reschedule us for next week. Again my response was, "Uhhh... NO!"

What I know about customer service is that a good portion of quality customer service is accommodation. What I don't understand about Direct Buy is how they can exist, and not understand what I do about customer service. I honestly can't imagine trying to sell memberships at a fairly significant price per year to people who will then make large purchases of home improvement products like flooring, cabinets and furniture and then being unwilling to accommodate them.

Imagine someone walking into your place of business or even your church and saying "Hi, I'm here for the 8:30 service." and you look at your watch and say "Gosh, I'm sorry, but It's 8:35 and you're not welcome right now, you'll have to come back at our 11:00 service so we can tell you why you should give us your money and become part of our group."

Well, to the people at Direct Buy, I'm sorry, but I will not be recommending your company to my two friends that have major home renovation projects going on this summer and would have probably made great members at Direct Buy. In fact I'll be letting them know why they shouldn't join.

For more information on the customer no-service phenomenon, check out customer service guru Clark Howard.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Nervous No More

After having butterflies for most of the evening and pacing the living room until 6:00pm on Friday night, I loaded the kids up in the van and headed to the local school where I practiced pitching softballs into a tupperware crate until 7:00. Then I drove to the field for the game.

I followed Pamela Thomas-Graham's advice and huddled the team together before the game and let them know that I was a little nervous about pitching, and I was counting on them to help me out in the field. They supported me all the way.

After the first inning, we were up 3 to 0 and I only walked one person.

After the second inning we were up 7 to 0 and I didn't walk anyone. In fact I think I only walked 2 people all night in 5 innings of play. I actually had two strike outs. Sure it was this dainty girl who wasn't much bigger than the bat she was swinging, but a "K" is a "K" on the stat sheet.
The final score was 25 to 15. WE WON!!!

Obviously our defense needs a little work, but not as much as Team Sexy Time's did (an obvious reference to their favorite movie). Of course they said half of their team was in California partying that night and with a name like that I believe them.

Next game, this Friday at 6:00. Less nerves - more confidence

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Nervous Leader

Tonight is a big night for me. I've been nervous about tonight for several weeks and I can honestly feel the butterflies right now. Normally I'm calm, cool and collected, even in the face of the storm, but I just can't quite get this under control.

At 8:00PM I'm going to make my debut as a coach and pitcher for our softball team and I'm not sure I'm up for it.

Believing that my past has created who I am today, I've been carefully analyzing my history of softball and have come up with 2 distinct possibilities as to why I'm a nervous wreck.

1. The very first time I played, I subbed in on a friend's team in college. Standing in right field, the first ball of the game sailed over my head for a triple because I didn't judge the depth right. The next inning I played catcher and then was benched for good.

2. The first time I played a whole season, I was back in Tulsa and our pitcher walked 3 out of every 4 batters. As a result, our average loss (which was every game in the season) would be something like 4 to 25. It was a horrible and frustrating experience for everyone. Shannon and Adam were on that team and can tell you how bad it was.

So, whatever the reason, I've got to overcome the jitters and WIN WIN WIN tonight... or at least not walk more than one batter an inning. I'm setting a reasonable goal for myself.

Wondering how my leadership ability as a coach might be jeopardized by my nervousness, I read this article by Pamela Thomas-Graham, CEO of CNBC and was reassured that it's okay to sweat a little in front of my team.

She said "You have to break a sweat so they understand at an emotional level what's really at stake."

I'm hoping she's right.

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