Men and Their Sons

Men and Their Sons

In my senior year of high school, one of my teachers told me that when I was much older, I would be able to look back and remember three or four days that had been the most important—days that would ultimately shape my life. These were the days that changed me—forever. The one that immediately comes to mind is the morning I received the phone call from . . .

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Fifteen Techniques to Maximize Your Personal Effectiveness During Meetings

Fifteen Techniques to Maximize Your Personal Effectiveness During Meetings

Like them or not, meetings are the life-blood of the corporation. Often prompted by little more than a desire to “get everyone together,” spontaneous meetings have become an accepted part of the work day. Whether it’s implementing a new organizational process or procedure, a strategy session, dissecting a team report, goal setting, policy changes, introducing new employees, or disseminating information, a meeting is still the preferred method to accomplish the task.

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Re-thinking Your Age in a Youth-Oriented Culture

Re-thinking Your Age in a Youth-Oriented Culture

Sixty may be the new forty, but conventional assumptions and cultural bias about aging can still undermine your career, your professional relationships, and even the way strangers interact with you. The best way to protect your personal power and maintain your professional influence as you get older? Be proactive in maintaining your life skills, health, and mental acuity to insure others perceive your age as an asset instead of a liability. First, let’s face the facts.

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Nothing Personal . . . It’s Just Business

Nothing Personal . . . It’s Just Business

Ever heard that? Ever said it? Unfortunately, having separate identities—one for business and another for a personal life— is fairly common in the winner-take-all world of industry and commerce. Many of us have experienced it so often we’ve come to expect at least some sleight-of-hand at the negotiating table, and as a result, approach every new business relationship with caution—if not outright suspicion. At the risk of being called naive, I have to ask . . . How did it get this way?

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Improve Your Elevator Pitch by Eliminating Techno-speak!

Improve Your Elevator Pitch by Eliminating Techno-speak!

The opportunity to meet someone new is often constrained by time limits (and thus was born the “elevator pitch”). In these spontaneous situations, you typically have less than a minute to make a positive impression and leave your new acquaintance with a clear indication of who you are and what you do—especially when your intention is to make a new business contact.

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When Someone at Work Stabs You in the Back, Play by the Rules

When Someone at Work Stabs You in the Back, Play by the Rules

You’ve been attacked! Maybe you were used as a scapegoat, wrongly blamed for the team’s failure to meet quota, or bring a project in under budget—and neither metric falls under your responsibility. Or worse, you’re the target of rumor and innuendo; Someone has accused you of not acting in a professional capacity, or suggested you’re distracted with outside interests and it’s affecting your productivity. You may not know why it happened, but the damage is real. And as the initial shock begins to wear off, you know you can’t just sit there and take it—you have to do something.

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Have You Chosen the Wrong Life-Goal?

Have You Chosen the Wrong Life-Goal?

This one sounds like a no-brainer—you’d think our internal compass would set off alarm bells and red flags from the moment we begin to consider it. But a surprising number of people are addicted to a fantasy, believing in a future that is hopelessly unattainable. These are the folks who are sure they’re going to invent the next Pet Rock or Beanie Baby, and are just waiting for inspiration to strike. Maybe they’ve been planning to write the next run-away best seller, but haven’t completed a single chapter in years. Or they imagine themselves the CEO of a Fortune 500 Hundred company but haven’t risen above the entry level position they were hired at twenty years ago. And so they wait—for conditions to be just right, or circumstances to change, or for fate to magically transport them to the life they were “supposed” to live. Ask the typical “Dreamer” why they . . .

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Are You Paying Too High a Price to Accomplish Your Goals?

Are You Paying Too High a Price to Accomplish Your Goals?

Management newsletters and business blogs are buzzing with tips and techniques on how to choose objectives that are realistic, challenging, measurable, and most important, time-bound. These articles often deliver their advice accompanied by the well-worn metaphor of comparing the unfortunate goal-shunning majority to a ship without a rudder, its certain destiny to become nothing more than a rusting hulk on an unforgiving ocean. All good things . . . right? Usually. But there are exceptions.

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How Many Times Does It Take To Get It Right?

How Many Times Does It Take To Get It Right?

My second grade teacher was annoyed with my lack of immediate comprehension of subtraction, especially the part about “borrowing ten from the number on the left and adding it to the number on the right,” to keep the process going. “How many times do we have to repeat this until you get it right?” My seven-year-old brain didn’t know how to answer. Later on, I would realize her question was rhetorical. She already knew the answer—as many times as necessary. So why was she so frustrated? Because she knew . . .

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What’s Your College Degree Worth . . . Today?

What’s Your College Degree Worth . . . Today?

A few months ago, I decided it was time to update my LinkedIn profile. Everything was going smoothly until I looked at my education, a section of the personal profile usually populated by a list of colleges and earned degrees conferring certain—but subjectively vague—status. I get that. For some, it’s a place to start. A formal education. The foundation of a professional, well-rounded career. As I began to review and update my own educational accomplishments, I didn’t get very far before I began to question how untimely that seemed. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the education I’d received some forty years ago had anything to do with who I am today. Which made me wonder—what’s my formal education it worth today, after forty years?

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Navigating the Dangers of an Office Romance

Navigating the Dangers of an Office Romance

For decades, companies have used behavioral guidelines, environmental influences, and formal policy to keep their employees from engaging in flirtation, romance, and sex. Human resource departments continue to circulate memos reminding employees to keep excessively personal conversations, gestures of affection, and sexual overtures outside the office. Has it worked? Depends on how you measure it. As most will tell you, it’s still there, bubbling just under the surface.

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Yes, Money Matters

Yes, Money Matters

When I ask folks what they regret most in their lives, I get the usual, expected responses: “I wish I’d spent more time with my family. I gave up too soon on something that was important to me and now I wonder . . .” Or, “I wish I’d taken better care of my health.” And then . . . they talk about money. I want to make it clear these are not death-bed confessions, but responses from those in the fourth-quarter of life—active seniors who are still very much concerned with the responsibilities and obligations of life. Many wish they’d been more frugal in their youth, or started investing at an earlier age, or been less gullible when they were talked into buying a ten thousand dollar collection of Beanie Babies, because “the value was sure to double in a year.”

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What Do You Do With a Negative Soul?

What Do You Do With a Negative Soul?

Negative people. We all have them in our life. You may even have one in your own family— someone who’s outlook on life is overly pessimistic, complains about everything, or worse, they spend every moment telling you what’s wrong with your life. The result is an energy draining, frustrating experience no one wants to repeat. Big question: Should you try to change them? Depends. How important is this person in your life? If it’s your spouse, they obviously deserve more priority than the cranky neighbor who refuses to return your wave.

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Zen For Skeptics (and Engineers)

Zen For Skeptics (and Engineers)

I went to college to become an engineer . . . to learn math, physics, and principles of electrical design. Black and white stuff. No gray in engineering.
I remember my first introduction to digital computers. I learned to program the Digital PDP-8 and PDP-11 by moving banks of switches into either the on or off position. Ones or zeros. No other choices, no other possibilities. You were either right or wrong. As a college senior, I belonged to a plucky bunch. Very sure of ourselves, we were confident we would change the world with our highly disciplined, university-trained minds. Maybe you saw us on the way to class. We were easy to recognize . . . a few of us still carried slide rules on our belts. The more affluent . . .

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Bring Your New Year’s Resolutions Back From the Dead

Bring Your New Year’s Resolutions Back From the Dead

With a third of the year behind us, the end of April signifies an important milestone—a four month benchmark for the goal-setting exercise that’s been a traditional part of each new year. Four months ago, many of us were writing down our resolutions and setting goals to stop smoking, get a better job, find a spouse, lose weight, and hundreds of other wanted changes in our lives. How’s everyone doing? According to national statistics, not very well. Ninety-five percent of us have not only given up, we’ve forgotten about our resolutions completely. That leaves only five percent who are still taking action and will actually accomplish any kind of lasting change.

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A Note to my Nephew

A Note to my Nephew

I have a nephew who reminds me of myself—the me from thirty years ago . . . aggressive, wanting to excel, battling the other “bright boys” also competing on the fast track, hoping to score a cushy corner office on the tenth floor of the corporate office. I have no idea if he’ll read this. And if he does, if he’ll recognize the similarities—where I’ve come from and where he’s likely headed. I hope he’ll see the commonalities, and understand how quickly they can become consequences. For the last several years, he’s been following the path laid out for him. The same path that has lured generations . . .

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It’s Not Luck . . . It’s Still Who You Know (Or Meet!)

It’s Not Luck . . . It’s Still Who You Know (Or Meet!)

While pure luck can play a part in everyone’s life, there are definite actions anyone can take to improve the chances of success. There’s no hocus-pocus involved, just a few straightforward steps that can increase the number of “chance encounters” with those who may influence your thinking, help with a project, or simply refer you to a critical resource or individual. Welcome strangers. We have a tendency to avoid those we don’t know, but strangers can be the very best source of new opportunities. Try breaking the ice with someone when standing in line, while in an elevator, seated at a concert, or wherever you encounter a stranger and innocent chit-chat is not objectionable . . .

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I’ve behaved badly, but I’m trying to change

I’ve behaved badly, but I’m trying to change

I was talking with a friend in the gym last week. We were discussing our “personal demons,” the things we know are bad for us, but still require a mile of mental barbed-wire to keep them away from corrupting the parts of our lives we value the most. “Mine’s sugar,” he said. “That piece of Danish in the morning is just too hard to give up.” I nodded, but didn’t say anything. Not because I don’t have an equivalent weakness for something sweet, because I do. My once-a-week Snickers is definitely something I should do without. But in this case, a candy bar wasn’t what came to mind. I’d focused on a much different culprit, one far more serious than eating a couple hundred calories of sugar and fat.

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