Archive for December, 2007

‘Tis that time of the year: All I Want For Christmas – The Corporate Edition


Parties, Kris Kringles, etc. This is what we all get to deal with at this time of the year. We can’t hide the fact that a lot of us spend so much time, effort and resources to celebrate this season of giving. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to since we just moved in to a new office a couple of days ago and we still have a lot of fixing to do. But that doesn’t stop there. Our project director happened to send us an email about our Christmas wishlist for gift giving. While I may not be around when they have their Christmas party (I’ll be going back home to the Philippines for Christmas), here’s an email I sent out as my take on our Christmas wishlist.

Dear boss,

While I may not be around by the time you have our office Christmas party, here’s my take on the Christmas wishlist. While everyone has their share of MP3 players, bluetooth headset, and all those fancy gadgets, here’s mine. Its more of an insight than a request.

A recent study by CityNews of Ontario, Canada revealed that that most employees throw away their co-workers’ “Secret Santa” gifts. I don’t know about you but in my experience, I’ve probably given away 8 out of 10 presents I’ve got from the past Christmas celebrations at work (I don’t like the idea of throwing away something that might be useful to someone else). To put numbers on those statistics, according to an unscientific Time Inc. Giftscriptions survey, 31 percent of people are throwing away their co-workers’ presents. Still, 41 percent of respondents still bought additional presents for co-workers, and more than half report disliking the gifts they received. I guess those numbers have just stressed out what we have all been thru every Christmas season. Another more striking question could be, “Do you remember what you got for Christmas last year?” I bet a few, if not none, of us remember anything at all. With all of these facts, instead of exchanging gifts between co-workers, why don’t we try something new? Why don’t we donate a certain amount to noble causes or charitable institutions? I believe that we set a certain amount for those gifts that we give. Imagine, if we have like around 87 staff including management, a mere $20 each can raise $1740. Just imagine how far that amount could go – it could send like 5 kids to school for a year in Cambodia, provide clean drinking water to a community in South Africa, provide a decent meal for the malnourished kids in Ethiopia, buy over a thousand pairs of shoes for the less privileged in the Philippines, etc. The possibilities are infinite as Fujitsu slogan says. Not only did we make our gift giving worthwhile by cutting down on the statistics of throwing away unwanted presents, we can also make this a Christmas present we’ll never forget.

As we celebrate this season of giving, may we remember its true meaning amidst the shopping spree and stressful celebration. Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Stories Connect

I was reading a sample chapter of the book In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson when something quite obvious for somebody like me who does a lot of presentations struck me – we all love to hear stories. And every time I do presentations, that’s what I strive to do, whether its a story about a DBA like me who’s sick and tired to do repetitive tasks and tries to find new and exciting ways to do my work or someone else’s story about his involvement in a community work. In my presentation at the PASS Community Summit 2007, I told about Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, and his drive to help the homeless in Detroit. Stories help us to prove a point, touch a heart, send a message or even just connect with people. It may be about others or about ourselves. But the stories worth telling are those that we ourselves experienced, be it our own or someone else’s whom we’ve managed to feel. Sure, we can all do our research and search for stories about people and we can tell those. But nothing beats experience. It’s to no surprise why TV hosts lead their guests to tell their own stories in their shows. Or people who write books go thru a lot of effort visiting the people they want to feature in their writings. Immersion to the experience are those types of stories worth telling – and those that create an impact. That’s why I am making it a part of my personal growth to collect as many stories as I can. Imagine, a book became a best seller because it is filled with stories – yours and mine.

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The Power of the Extra Mile – An Investment in the Making

You will normally hear this in sales and business. Those who extend an extra mile to their clients will definitely keep them on a longer basis. Doing more what is expected, extending the service, etc.These are what describes the extra mile. In these days where cost of living is too expensive and one can barely make both ends meet, an extra mile simply means “expensive.”

You might end up asking, “Hey, now, what does this have to do withl iving a powerful life? Are we talking about business here?” Not at all. But let me tell you a secret. It’s not actually a secret as a lot of people know this as a fact but do not capitalize on their knowledge of it. Simple, yet powerful. Most of the time, the more expensive an item is, the higher the quality. This is because those who made it have invested more on quality. Which explains why those Bally shoes and Tag Heuer watches are only available for those who can afford them. Which also explains why those people who are willing to spend that extra mile enhancing their skills are far better off than those who don’t. Those who exert an effort to learn more know more. Those who exercise more are healthier. Those who save more have more. And the list goes on. In John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he talks about The Law of Process where leaders are willing to go thru a process to become betterl eaders. Implicitly, I think he is also saying that only those who are wiling to go the extra mile will go thru the process. And those who do will eventually experience the true meaning of powerful living. It’s not easy and definitely costly. But the rewards are far greater than the amount we invest.

Are we willing to pay the price? Or do we see the price rather than the reward? The choice is up to us.

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Positive Reinforcement: Leadership Lessons from the Animal Kingdom

December 10, 2007 3 comments

I was in the zoo with family and friends during the weekend for some time off. I don’t go to the zoo quite often but every time I do, I look for those animal trainers who show off tricks they teach their pets. My first stop was the dog show. Same old stunts – jumping thru a set of hoops, climbing up ladders, etc. Quite fascinating indeed. Next was the marine animals show with the sea lions and the penguins. What you’ll find common among animal trainers is their strategic use of positive reinforcement. You know, those times they feed the animals either before or after doing the stunts. The animals respond positively after those rewards are given and they perform as expected, even better. What’s amazing is that animal trainers know more about leadership than most of our managers in the field. Ken Blanchard and Don Shula in their book The Little Book of Coaching, they higlight the fact that you need to be effective in your response to your staff’s performance. Ken presents the four responses that people receive after they perform or do nothing – no response, negative, redirection and positive. We are very much familiar with the first two. When we do something significant in the organization, we get a “no response.” Most managers think that it’s supposed to be that way since we get paid to perform. But when we screw up, they come and whip us up real good and leave. Blanchard calls them the “seagull managers” who are descibed as those who are not around until something goes wrong, fly in, make a lot of noise, dump in on people and then fly out. Sounds familiar? I know it does as I’ve seen managers who treat people like this. I guess it’s very common with Asians. But what we don’t realize is that people respond to positive (and negative, as well) feedback. When something positive follows a good performance, they will want to repeat that in the future. Do you recall how many times you repeated some stunts you performed for your parents as a toddler when they told you how much they liked it? We thrive on positive feedback. And this is what managers should realize – to capitalize on positive reinforcement to bring out the best in people. After all, most, if not all, managers want a winning team.

Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler in the 80’s, once said, “Management is nothing more than motivating other people.” This is absolutely true

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Authenticity touches the heart

Reality TV has been a favourite anywhere around the world. From American Idol to The Apprentice, people have been attracted to those who show their true colors. As I was watching Oprah’s TV program, I learned about another reality TV show in the US which has been running for like 4 seasons now. Run’s House, which is now on it’s fourth season, is about former member of the popular multi-platinum 80’s rap group Run-D.M.C. Rumor has it that fame and fortune kept him seeking for more which prompted him to turn into religion. Known as Rev Run after being ordained by Zoe Ministries, his family is the feature of MTVs’ first family in the reality TV show Run’s House. What is fascinating about the TV series is that it is plainly authentic – no scripts, no mu-cha-cha of what the audience will or will not like which normally drives the script, etc. It’s all about the daily life of the Simmons family and how he balances being a father, husband, reverend, while teaching their kids about success and enduring pain. It touches the heart knowing that he promotes spirituality in a world dominated by all kinds of negativity. But what really captures the audience is the fact that this is reality TV in its true sense – authentic, real, honest-to-goodness. It is, after all, what we like about people.

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