Dec 28, 2007

2007 Reconciliations

I know we all get paranoid when the year end gets closer and closer... you don't have to!
We'll discuss here in brief few points about how to reconcile your positions and get ready for fresh recharge.

1-Note down your Achievements List: If you weren't taking notes of your progress, that's too bad, but not too late to realize it. You'll have to just recall your achievements although you might miss some.
Sit back and contemplate your list... "did I accomplish anything?", "I was driving my goals? or was I simply the victim of my daily emails and the norms of my environment?" Answering these questions will let realize your status and wake-up a bit. Now, if you don't want to wake-up, it's another story, then you're a sleeper... eventually you're socially dead! however smart and important you think you are!
Now, what?
Make sure you don't do that again in 2008! We'll make as our first Objective.

2-Recognize: Reward yourself for your achievements.

3-Note down your Network Update: Who you know, old and new.

4-Mistakes you committed: Big or small, declared or hidden, don't kid yourself... reconcile!

5-Close-Down: Don't keep any of your files open. It's always better to start fresh with new resolutions. If you had to, reshape and remodel your objective; give it a face-lift!

6-Our 2008 Mission List:
     -Write them down, be it personal, private, or business related. 
     -Rank them, you can prioritize them later.
Now, we can go deeper on how you handle them, but basically you'll have to put minimum 5 actions per objective. Those actions are the ones you'll be committing along the coming year.

Are you stiff?
The main thing to concentrate on, is flexibility! You have to stress on change continuously, no matter how great you think you are! If you miss this point, you're missing the train!
Change your style to better handle issues around you.
Change your reception and perception.
Motivate yourself.
See the big picture.
Plan, plan, plan,... write them down over and over again by coming back to this list.

Good luck, if luck has anything to do with it?

Dec 22, 2007

Think Week

We always need new insights to move forward in life, and Think Week is a great way to get them.

This experience reminds me of Bill Gates’s Think Week. Think Week is the week taken by Bill Gates to go for a retreat and spend time to ponder the future of Microsoft and the industry. He does it twice a year and has done it for over 12 years. The insights from the Think Weeks give strategic direction to Microsoft to embrace the future.

While mine isn’t exactly the same as the Bill Gates’s Think Week (for one thing, Bill Gates spends the whole week just to think while I didn’t), I do feel the benefit of getting fresh insights and perspectives by taking time away from normal routine. It makes me think that I may need to have more dedicated Think Weeks in the future. If even a “partial” Think Week could give me some good insights, I wonder what a dedicated Think Week might do.

How does Bill Gates do his Think Week? There is an excellent article from The Wall Street Journal which describes it. Here are how he does it:

  1. Two months before the Think Week, his technical assistant collects papers from every corner of Microsoft and prioritizes them.
  2. He takes a helicopter or seaplane to a cottage on a quiet waterfront.
  3. He bars all outside visitors — including family and Microsoft staff — during the week except for a caretaker who slips him two simple meals a day.
  4. He reads 100 or more papers during the week, some of which could be 100-pagers.
  5. He writes detailed comments on the papers he reads. The printout of his comments could be 6-inch thick!
  6. Some days he works 18 hours straight.
  7. By week’s end, he sends e-mails to hundreds of people and writes a Think Week summary for executives.
  8. In the weeks since returning to his regular schedule, he holds follow-up meetings.

We can learn a lot from the way Bill Gates does his Think Week. Here are some lessons for an effective Think Week:

1. Allocate enough time

Without allocating enough time, we won’t be able to look at the whole picture and get valuable insights. While seven days might be too long for most of us (Bill Gates does the thinking for a huge company by the way), we should be sure that we allocate enough time to look at the whole picture.

2. Prepare what we are going to think about

Bill Gates’s technical assistant collects papers and prioritizes them long before the Think Week begins. Similarly, we should prepare the topics we are going to think about and collect the necessary resources in advance.

3. Stay away from our normal routine

While not all of us can afford to go to “a cottage on a quiet waterfront”, we should stay away from our normal routine as much as possible. Doing so allows us to take a holistic view at things without getting lost in details.

4. Make serious effort on thinking

If we are not serious enough, the Think Week could easily become Vacation Week in which we have a lot of fun but do very little thinking. Bill Gates works long hours during the Think Week (which could be 18 hours straight) and it shows how serious the effort he puts on thinking.

5. Take detailed notes of every idea we get

If we think hard, there should be a lot of details that emerge. We should record all of them. A 6-inch thick printout indicates that Bill Gates’s comments are very detailed.

6. Follow up the ideas

Without following up the ideas, the Think Week would lose its value. The Think Week is useful if it could change the way we live and work, and that is possible only if we follow up the ideas.

Dec 19, 2007

Practicing Simplified GTD

Make three lists. Revise them daily and weekly.

Those eight words are what I got out of three years of reading and writing about Getting Things Done. In addition to my usual email inbox and calendar, which I used pre-GTD, I added three lists to my work life, that I look at, edit and re-edit every day and every week.

The Three Lists

These are my three lists:

  1. To-do list. The equivalent of David Allen's "Next Actions" list, my to-do list is about 20 small, highly doable things I'm committed to doing in the near future (like the next month.) My to-do list is how I assign things to myself, so I'm really careful about what I put on it and how. Here's more on the art of writing a doable to-do list.
  2. Projects list. Allen defines projects as undertakings that have several sub-actions associated with them. (Like, "Clean out the hall closet" is a project because it involves many sub-actions: "Sort books into library drive boxes." "Empty unlabeled boxes." Etc.) While Allen says most people have about 100 projects (!), I've got less than 10 going on at one time. Perhaps I lack ambition. Maybe I'm commitment-phobic. But for me, a short projects list keeps me feeling light and nimble. A long project list, on the other hand, becomes a heavy laundry list of crap I need to do before I die, and when I look at it, I want to crawl in a hole and suck my thumb instead of live because I think things like "I'll never get this done." And that's not the point.
  3. Someday/Maybe list. The name of this list is pretty self-explanatory. This is the stuff I haven't committed to doing yet, and may never. Things like "Learn Italian" and "Build BSG fan web site" and "Run a marathon" go here. Here's where I let my imagination go wild, and add every and any kind of possible goal and task I might want to complete someday. Someday/maybe is for dreaming big without committing.

Note: WHERE you keep these lists is up to you. I love text files and my favorite text editors, so I just keep these in three .txt files. You might use Remember the Milk or Outlook or Tada-Lists. It's up to you: just make sure the tool you use isn't too distracting and that you enjoy using it.

Once you've got your lists, they only serve you if you actually look at them.

Dec 18, 2007

Neurolinguistic Programming And Social Anxiety

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), also called the scrambling technique, has been a proven treatment for social anxiety disorder. Neurolinguistic Programming is a psychological therapy that involves finding your personal power and getting to the root of your issues, by using positive affirmations and letting go of fears and blockages. NLP is basically a process of reprogramming your brain.

Neurolinguistic Programming was developed in the early 1970’s at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The study began as an attempt to discover exactly what made people become effective and successful, and why different people with the same level of education and identical backgrounds experience different levels of success. During the study, it was discovered that the patterns of a persons thinking plays a huge role in determining the amount of success that person will experience, and that the brain can learn the healthy patterns and behaviors that bring about positive physical and emotional results. Neurolinguistic programming was born.

Neurolinguistic Programming is about viewing experiences from a different angle, either voluntarily or by force. This helps to reprogram thought patterns. For instance, a woman starts having panic attacks anytime she gets behind the wheel of a car and eventually gave up driving. While visiting a foreign country with her children, the only way to get around was to drive.

The woman was forced to drive, using a clutch and driving on the left hand side of the road, instead of the right. Once we learn to drive, it becomes automatic to us - like breathing. But this woman was forced to drive in ways that were absolutely new to her. As a result, she was cured of her panic attacks while driving, and when she returned home, she was able to resume driving without having panic attacks. Her thoughts on driving were totally reprogrammed.-(motivationworks)

Dec 2, 2007

Pedometers and Physical Activity

JAMA recently had an article (referenced below) that showed "The results suggest that the use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure." Overall, the pedometer users increased their physical activity by 26.9% over baseline. The person who gets the most out of the use of a pedometer is the who has a step goal (ie 10,000 steps per day).

The JAMA article also found "Pedometer users also significantly decreased their systolic blood pressure by almost 4 mm Hg from baseline. Reducing systolic blood pressure by 2mmHg is associated with a 10% reduction in stroke mortality and a 7% reduction in mortality from vascular causes in middle-aged populations; thus, it is critical that the effects of pedometer use on blood pressure be examined closely in future studies."

Perhaps you might think about getting a pedometer for someone for Christmas or even one for yourself. It does not need to be an expensive one. I use the Sportline 340 (having lost a few, they cost less to replace). I never bothered to program in my step length. I simply use it to count the steps and aim for that 10,000 mark. Most days I go past it, but there are days I have to "work" at it. Simple adjustments will add up--park the car farther away from the store, take the stairs down two flights or up one rather than using the elevator, walk one extra block, etc.

Some suggestions on getting started with your new pedometer...
  • Start out by wearing the pedometer each day for two weeks and don't do anything to change your normal routine. Keep an exercise log of the daily step count. At the end of the second week, take a look at how many steps you are taking each day in the course of living your life.
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, take the highest number of steps you have walked on any given day during that 2 week period. Use that number of steps (ie 2500 steps) as your first daily step goal. To avoid injury, do not select a higher number. Continue to keep your step log.
  • At the end of that two week period, review all the steps you took each day. If you are ready, add another 500 steps to your daily goal. Your new step goal is now 3000 steps a day for the next two week period.
  • Continue in that manner, working up until you finally reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day.
  • The goal is to keep you active for the rest of your life. So don't go overboard and injury yourself. Take it slow. Take it easy.
  • It takes about six months to "lock in" a new behavior. Aim to do what is necessary to change your exercise behavior permanently. Be prepared to dedicate yourself to your daily goal each day for a minimum of six months. If you do that, you are much more likely to maintain this goal permanently.
  • If you skip a few days due to illness, work or other obligations, the sooner you get back into the exercise groove, the more likely you will be able to get back into your routine.
  • Reaching that walking activity goal of 10,000 steps does not mean that you can increase your food intake. Continue to try to eat a healthy and reasonable portion diet.
  • So the weather's yucky, walk laps at the mall, go to a museum, or walk laps inside your home. Get up and move!

Dec 1, 2007

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Develop Persistence

There is no such thing as cheap success. If we want to succeed, we have to pay the price. And the road to success is long with a lot of obstacles. No wonder most people stop at one point or another after running into the obstacles. Only a few people have the persistence to keep moving forward, and these are the few people who succeed.

Persistence is essential. In fact, persistence is one of the most important characteristics successful people share in common. There is no other way to succeed but by developing persistence in our life, and here I’d like to share seven ways to develop it. Here they are:

1. Learn the life of successful people

Understanding that successful people do need persistence to achieve success will inspire you to be persistent yourself. So find and read the life stories of successful people throughout the history. While most people recognize them only through their achievements, by reading their stories we will understand the persistence they need on the way to success.

2. Expect a hard way, not an easy one

One of the main reasons people giving up early is having wrong expectation. They expected the way to be easy, and they are surprised when they find the reality to be the opposite. Their enthusiasm quickly melts and they lose heart.

So start your journey with the right expectation. As I wrote above, there is no such thing as cheap success. Expect a hard way, not an easy one, and you will be mentally prepared when you encounter the reality.

3. Don’t underestimate the amount of time required

Just like you should not underestimate the difficulty of the journey you are about to take, you should not underestimate its length either. Of course, everyone wants to achieve instant success. But this, unfortunately, is not realistic. The journey to success is a marathon, not a sprint, so prepare yourself accordingly.

4. Have a big why

To keep your persistence, you need a strong source of motivation. How else can someone keep trying again and again without strong motivation? And such strong motivation comes from your purpose. You should know why you want your goal in the first place. And your why must be bigger than the obstacles. The bigger your why the better.

5. Know how to handle failure

Since failure is a certainty on the path to success, knowing how to handle it is critical. By knowing how to handle failure you will be able to keep your persistence. On the other hand, not being able to handle it will soon drain your mental energy. So arm yourself with the right tactics to overcome failure.

6. Find partners

Things will be much easier is you have partners with whom you can encourage each other. They can motivate you when you are in the low points of life, and you can do the same to them. Besides, your partners could give you valuable lessons from their experiences so that you don’t need to find them yourself the hard way.

7. Minimize your stress

To be able to keep your persistence for long time, you should minimize leaks on your mental energy. Stress is one such leak you should learn to manage. If you fail to do this, you won’t be able to stay on the track for long. Even if you do, you won’t be able to do your best since you’ve lost a lot of energy. So arm yourself with the tactics to minimize stress and preserve your energy.


Nov 14, 2007

The Craft of Power

The sultan (of Persia) had sentenced two men to death. One of them, knowing how much the sultan loved his stallion, offered to teach the horse to fly within a year in return for his life. The sultan, fancying himself as the rider of the only flying horse in the world, agreed.

The other prisoner looked at his friend in disbelief. "You know horses don't fly. What made you come up with a crazy idea like that?

"You're only postponing the inevitable."
"Not so," said the first prisoner. "I have actually given myself four chances for freedom.
First, the sultan might die during the year.

Second, I might die.

Third, the horse might die.

And fourth… I might teach the horse to fly!"

The craft of Power,
R.G.H. Siu,

What is a Leader? What is a Manager?

What Is a Manager?

The classic definition of a manager is one who gets done through other people. You may be planning, directing, controlling, hiring, delegating, assigning, organizing, motivating, disciplining, or doing any number of other things managers do on a daily basis. No matter what you do, though, you are working toward a goal by helping others do their work.

You are a manager if:

1. You direct the work, rather than perform it. Are you frequently tempted to pitch in on a regular basis or to do thework yourself, rather than delegate? If so, you’re not spending your time wisely or well. Occasionally, you may have to roll up your sleeves and work with the team on a rush project. Remember, though, you were hired to manage the staff’s work—not to be part of the staff.

2. You have responsibilities for hiring, firing, training, and disciplining employees. Staff development is an important part of your job. Such development often determines whether staff members stay with an organization or leave for better opportunities. In addition to regular performance appraisals, you should work with each person you manage to determine a career path.

3. You exercise authority over the quality of work and the

conditions under which it is performed. As a manager, your first obligation is to your people. In part, this obligation means you work to ensure a safe environment for them and to uncover potential threats to that environment. (Does your team know what to do, for example, if all the lights suddenly went out or if a bomb threat were received?) The

obligation also means you owe your customers—internal or external—the highest-quality outputs.

4. You serve as a liaison between employees and upper management. Managers wear many hats. Among them: traffic cop, psychologist, coach, minister, diplomat, and envoy. In this role, you serve as the link between those doing the work and those who need or benefit from the work being done. The liaison serves as a buffer, a praiser, a translator, and a seeker-of-resources to ensure the work is done more efficiently and the employees are recognized when they’ve completed it.

5. You motivate employees and contribute to a culture of

accomplishment. You’ve no doubt heard that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is “that little extra.” If you’re totally committed to your job as manager, then you’re aware of the need to motivate, to instill pride, to create a climate in which innovation can flourish.

What Is a Leader?

While the manager works to carry out the aims of the organization, the leader serves to create new aims, tweak old ones, or initiate new courses of action. Leadership is what Sam Walton was promoting when he

encouraged people to “eliminate the dumb.” The leader challenges

the status quo, in the most positive and diplomatic of ways, in order to continuously improve. It is the leader we turn to when we feel that “good enough” is not.

You are a leader if:

1. You believe that, working in concert with others, you can

make a difference. It’s fairly easy to make money. But leaders strive to make a difference. They are willing to make sacrifices and to inspire others to do the same. When John F. Kennedy inspired Americans to give up their life style and join the Peace Corps, he admitted he was asking them to accept the “toughest job you’ll ever love.”

2. You create something of value that did not exist before.

When you hear of someone being a leader in a particular field or when you hear of something being the leading edge, you know that person or that thing stands out by virtue of being first or being different. If you can point to one improvement you have implemented in the last six months,

you can rightfully call yourself a leader.

3. You exhibit positive energy. We gravitate toward individuals

who exude confidence. Their magnetism attracts us and we become willing followers. Call it charisma, call it enthusiasm, but know that such individuals easily lead others by virtue of their passion for accomplishment. If you fit this description, then you are known for the way you “attack” various tasks. Your fervor is unbridled. You see hurdles as things to overcome. In short, your energy energizes others.

4. You actualize. The true leader goes beyond vision to create

a new reality. He* actualizes the dream he has inspired in others. In the process of self-actualizing, the leader is becoming all that he can be and making others believe they can do the same. The leader is committed. He believes the collective actions of the whole team will lead to mission accomplishment.

5. You welcome change. Through his commitment to action, the leader treads virgin territory. He spots vacuums and works to fill them. He sees

what is invisible and inspires others to make the ideal real. Leaders know that change is progress. And to lessen the fear that progress instills, the leader is out front. He knows that he must take an “I’ll go first” approach to convince others that change is not only necessary, but that it can be good.

Engineering and Management

A man in a hot air balloon realized that he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted. "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The woman below replied. "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 50 and 51 degrees north latitude and between 114 and 115 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information. The fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip." The woman below responded, "You must be in management."
"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, you've managed to make it my fault."

Nov 11, 2007

Email Killer Organizer rev. 1

Talk about email distractions, interruptions, unfinished drafts, unread emails, read emails edited to unread status just for review? Well that is no smart way of following your ToDo emails, or tasks!

You insist on those kept Unread? you're simply missing a lot on your objectives and you think you know better! that's the catastrophe!

Let's start by deciding on the purpose of emails in order to categorize them:
-Cc, only to be kept informed
-Cc, but to follow-up as interested
-Cc, project related
-Cc, task related
-To, take action
-To, reply
-To, delegate
-To, ToDo
-To, reflect, read
-To, decide now
-To, decide later
-To, read later when free

Two major components are to start with:
The Rules Wizard and Custom Search Folder Bookmark

Use the Rules Wizard to redirect any incoming messages directly to a specified folder. Right click on that folder and set option to show unread messages only.
Use Custom Search Folder creation with required important criteria (last 3 days incoming messages, Unread ALL messages, To Do tagged category messages, flagged messages, Today Emails, Today Sent Emails, etc...)
Right-click on custom folders to show Number of messages ONLY (not unread ones)

So now you have a like Dashboard that you can start your day with, showing only important Searched criteria folders, and in case you like to see those folders with misc emails, ads, subscriptions, or important messages, you can see them without wasting time going through the threads!

When your Rules are numerous and efficient, you would reach a state where if you see emails in Inbox folder alone, this would suggest that this is either a new contact, new junk, unknown sender that you can either ignore for now, or review later for quick deletion.

Want to go that step further in extreme organization and time efficient optimization?
Use IMS systems integrated in your Outlook that allow you to Dismiss, Delegate, Unsubscribe, Auto-File, defer, and Alert tasks and messages. The system is smart, it will suggest your next moves and reminds you of pending or scheduled tasks generated from messages.

Xobni is a service that shows a thread ribbon on the right side of Outlook, showing the Contact, related messages, statistics of best email times, email usage, related file Attachments, frequent conversation sharers, etc...

Having all the above is not enough... Using it is the real deal:

1. First thing in the morning:
  • Review your Calender
  • Review your daily task list
  • Review your alerts
Use the Dashboard to size up the day

2. Twice Daily:
  • Act immediately? Reply, Delegate, or Review and File
  • Act later? Defer, Create a Task or Appointment
  • No action required? Unsubscribe or Delete
Get Tasks out of Inbox and onto the Dashboard

3. Throughout the Day:
  • Work on your Tasks by project
  • Review high priority messages only
  • Review all related information on To Do's
Get your Work Done!

Nov 10, 2007

What Your Leader Expects of You

The relationship between boss and subordinate figures largely in any team's success. Communication is key to maintaining the harmony of the boss/employee relationship.

Relationships between bosses and their subordinates figure strongly in any team’s success. When those bonds are working as they should, they drive performance and growth over the long haul. Yet while the leadership literature specifies actions bosses should take, it says little about the actions leaders should expect from their followers.

How to promote effective leader-follower relationships in your team? Former AlliedSignal CEO Bossidy advises forging a boss-subordinate compact that defines a mutual set of crystal-clear expectations.

For example, as a direct report, you’re expected to offer your creative ideas. Your boss wants to hear them, because even seemingly crazy ideas can spark spectacular successes. As the boss, you’re expected to tell your people where the business is going, why, and how they’ll benefit if they accomplish key goals. This clarity helps people see how their jobs contribute to the enterprise overall.

When each side fulfills its part of the boss-subordinate compact, your team and company benefit.

The boss-subordinate compact spells out additional expectations for both parties:

As a Subordinate…

  • Get involved. If you’re a manager, step in the moment someone falls behind with his commitments, when an interpersonal conflict crops up, and when a crisis erupts. And deliver bad news to your boss yourself.
  • Collaborate. Overcome differences between you and others so you work together effectively—even if you don’t like each other.
  • Lead initiatives. Don’t be reluctant to associate yourself with unproven ideas, especially those that cross functional or unit boundaries. Raise your hand, and you’ll climb the ladder faster than those who don’t.
  • Develop your own people. Take as active an interest in your employees’ development as you do in your own—if not more. Go out of your way to criticize and praise your people when they need it. And get directly involved in performance reviews, supplying people with specific, candid, and useful feedback.
  • Stay current. Regularly read and watch the news. What happens in the world affects what happens with your team, your marketplace, and your competition. Also know what’s going on with your customers—how they’re changing, how their competition is changing, and how technology and world events are affecting their strategies. Your customer relationships are key assets: bring them to the table.
  • Drive your own growth. Seek perpetual education and development—not necessarily by going to school but by finding exposure to new people and ideas. Seek feedback from your boss, and accept demanding assignments.
  • Be a player for all seasons. Demonstrate positive behaviors even during hard times. You’ll sustain your ability to motivate and inspire your own people no matter what’s going on around you.

As a Leader…

  • Define specific goals for your people. Specify the achievements you expect from your employees as a team and as individuals, as well as what they are going to be measured on over a given period. You’ll help them decide where to invest their energy and time.
  • Be available. If you expect your people to stay up to date and keep you informed about what’s going on, be accessible when they need to see you. And don’t come down on them if they bring you bad news.
  • Compensate employees fairly. Ensure that people understand how the compensation system works, and that they’re rewarded for specific contributions to goals you’ve laid out.-(hbr)

Becoming the Boss

Ask new managers about their early days as bosses, and you'll hear tales of disorientation, even despair.

Ask new managers about their early days as bosses, and you'll hear tales of disorientation, even despair. As Hill points out, most novice bosses don't realize how sharply management differs from individual work. Hampered by misconceptions, they fail the trials involved in this rite of passage. And when they stumble, they jeopardize their careers and inflict staggering costs on their organizations.

How to avoid this scenario? Beware of common misconceptions about management: For example, subordinates don't necessarily obey your orders, despite your formal authority over them. You won't have more freedom to make things happen—instead, you'll feel constrained by organizational interdependencies. And you're responsible not only for maintaining your own operations—but also for initiating positive changes both inside and outside of your areas of responsibility.

Armed with realistic expectations, you'll more likely survive the transition to management—and generate valuable results for your organization.

Ask new managers about their early days as bosses, and you’ll hear tales of disorientation, even despair. As Hill points out, most novice bosses don’t realize how sharply management differs from individual work. Hampered by misconceptions, they fail the trials involved in this rite of passage. And when they stumble, they jeopardize their careers and inflict staggering costs on their organizations.

How to avoid this scenario? Beware of common misconceptions about management: For example, subordinates don’t necessarily obey your orders, despite your formal authority over them. You won’t have more freedom to make things happen—instead, you’ll feel constrained by organizational interdependencies. And you’re responsible not only for maintaining your own operations—but also for initiating positive changes both inside and outside of your areas of responsibility.

Armed with realistic expectations, you’ll more likely survive the transition to management—and generate valuable results for your organization.

To succeed as a new manager, Hill suggests this approach:

Myth Reality To Manage Effectively Example
Managers wield significant authority and freedom to make things happen. You are enmeshed in a web of relationships with people who make relentless and conflicting demands on you. Build relationships with people outside your group that your team depends on to do its work. A U.S. media-company manager charged with setting up a new venture in Asia initiated regular meetings on regional strategy between executives from both businesses.
Managers’ power derives from their formal position in the company. Your power comes from your ability to establish credibility with employees, peers, and superiors. Demonstrate character (intending to do the right thing), managerial competence (listening more than talking), and influence (getting others to do the right thing). An investment bank manager won employees’ respect by shifting from showing off his technical competence to asking them about their knowledge and ideas.
Managers must control their direct reports. Control doesn’t equal commitment. And employees don’t necessarily always follow orders. Build commitment by empowering employees to achieve the team’s goals—not ordering them. Instead of demanding that people do things her way, a media manager insisted on clarity about team goals and accountability for agreed-upon objectives.
Managers lead their team by building relationships with individual members of the team. Actions directed at one subordinate often negatively affect your other employees’ morale or performance. Pay attention to your team’s overall performance. Use group-based forums for problem solving and diagnosis. Treat subordinates in an equitable manner. After granting a special parking spot to a veteran salesman—a move that ruffled other salespeople’s feathers—a new sales manager began leading his entire team rather than trying to get along well with each individual.

Don’t Go It Alone

  • Recognize that your boss is likely more tolerant of your questions and mistakes than you might expect
  • Help your boss develop you. Instead of asking your boss to solve your problems, present ideas for how you would handle a thorny situation, and solicit his thoughts on your ideas
  • Find politically safe sources of coaching and mentoring from peers outside your function or in another organization


How Successful Leaders Think

The secret to becoming a great leader? Don't act like one. Instead, think like one.

Brilliant leaders excel at integrative thinking. They can hold two opposing ideas in their minds at once. Then, rather than settling for choice A or B, they forge an innovative "third way" that contains elements of both but improves on each.

Consider Bob Young, cofounder of Red Hat, the dominant distributor of Linux open-source software. The business model Young created for Red Hat transcended the two prevailing software industry models—winning Red Hat entrĂ©e into the lucrative corporate market.

How to become an integrative thinker? Resist the simplicity and certainty that comes with conventional "either-or" thinking. Embrace the messiness and complexity of conflicting options. And emulate great leaders' decision-making approach—looking beyond obvious considerations.

Your reward? Instead of making unattractive trade-offs, you generate a wealth of profitable solutions for your business.

The Idea in Practice
What does integrative thinking look like in action? Contrast conventional and integrative thinkers' approaches to the four steps of decision making:

Step 1: Identifying Key Factors
Conventional thinkers consider only obviously relevant factors while weighing options. Integrative thinkers seek less obvious but potentially more relevant considerations.

Bob Young disliked the two prevailing software business models: selling operating software but not source code needed to develop software applications (profitable but anathema to open-source advocates) or selling CD-ROMs containing software and source code (aligned with open-source values but not profitable). Seeking a third choice, he considered CIOs' reluctance to buy new technology that would be complicated to maintain. Viewing their reluctance as relevant eventually helped Young see that selling software service would be a superior alternative to the existing product-based business models.

Step 2: Analyzing Causality
Conventional thinkers consider one-way, linear relationships between factors: more of A produces more of B. Integrative thinkers consider multidirectional relationships.

Young analyzed the complex relationships among pricing, profitability, and distribution channels. He recognized that a product based on freely available components would soon become a commodity. Any electronics retailer could assemble its own Linux product and push it through its well-developed distribution channel—leaving Red Hat stranded. Analysis of these causal relationships yielded a nuanced picture of the industry's future.

Step 3: Envisioning the Decision's Overall Structure
Conventional thinkers break a problem into pieces and work on them separately. Integrative thinkers see a problem as a whole—examining how its various aspects affect one another.

Young held several issues in his head simultaneously, including CIOs' concerns, dynamics of individual and corporate markets for system software, and the evolving economics of the free-software business. Each "piece" could have pushed him toward a separate decision. But by considering the issues as an interrelated whole, Young began to realize only one player would ultimately dominate the corporate market.

Step 4: Achieving Resolution
Conventional thinkers make either-or choices. Integrative thinkers refuse to accept conventional options.

To pursue market leadership, Young devised an unconventional business model. The model synthesized two seemingly irreconcilable models by combining low product price with profitable service offerings. Red Hat began helping companies manage the software upgrades available almost daily through Linux's open-source platform. It also gave the software away as a free Internet download. Thus, Red Hat acquired the scale and market leadership to attract cautious corporate customers to what became its central offering: service, not software.

The Battle for China's Good-Enough Market

Claim your share of China's ballooning cohort of midlevel consumers by managing the risks and opportunities inherent in this pivotal middle market. Do this, and you'll strengthen your competitive position elsewhere around the globe.

Between now and 2030, China will account for one-third of the world's GDP growth. Yet many multinationals are losing share in this critical market. That's because local businesses are targeting China's ballooning cohort of midlevel consumers with reliable, low-cost products that are displacing multinationals' premium offerings. And the regional upstarts making these "good enough" products plan to use the same strategy to challenge incumbents in other emerging markets.

To defend your China position and prevent local competitors from becoming global threats, say Gadiesh, Leung, and Vestring, consider entering China's good-enough space. For instance, attack the competition from above by lowering your costs and distributing simplified, reasonable-quality offerings. If you can't reduce your costs quickly, use acquisitions to gain a toehold in this space.

By managing the risks and opportunities inherent in China's middle market, you'll claim your share of this pivotal market. And you'll strengthen your competitive position elsewhere around the globe.

The Idea in Practice
Gadiesh, Leung, and Vestring offer these guidelines for entering China's good-enough space:

Attack from Above
Moving to the good-enough segment in China is risky if you're already thriving in the premium space. For instance, your new offerings could cannibalize your high-end products. To mitigate the risks:

* Analyze the differences between China's premium and good-enough segments. You may discover strong geographic distinctions you can capitalize on.

GE Healthcare expanded sales of its MRI equipment in China by creating a line of simplified machines targeted at hospitals in China's remote and financially constrained second- and third-tier cities.

* Determine which capabilities and resources you'll need to seize opportunities in the good-enough space.

GE Healthcare assigned a special team to observe target hospitals' operations. Members also talked with administrators and physicians to determine the kinds of medical equipment they wanted, features they needed, possible price points, and required distribution and services. GE then reconfigured its existing networks of sales, distribution, and services to serve this new market.

* Stake claims in the good-enough space to box out emerging local players and global competitors that might be eyeing the same target market. By entering this space ahead of the pack, GE Healthcare defended its position against local upstarts, capturing 52% of the $238 million market in 2004.

Use Acquisitions
If you can't alter your cost structure or business processes quickly enough to compete with local players, consider mergers and acquisitions.

Anheuser-Busch owned 27% of Tsingtao Brewery, one of China's largest brewers. It outbid competitor SABMiller to acquire Harbin, the fourth-largest brewer in China. The acquisition enabled Anheuser-Busch to reach the masses while preventing Harbin from swimming upstream.

Note, though, that non-Chinese acquirers are facing tougher M&A approval processes. To increase your chances of gaining regulatory and political approval:

* Draft a compelling business case for the acquisition, citing benefits for local companies and authorities.
* Be willing to adjust the structure, terms, and conditions of the deal.
* Engage in heavy-duty relationship building, to woo critical players.

Also, to ensure that each acquisition delivers the maximum possible value:

* Select a target company that offers cost and distribution synergies with your firm and whose products won't cannibalize your premium brands.
* Overinvest in the due diligence process.
* Take a systematic approach to postmerger integration.

Building a Leadership Brand

How to grow the best leaders? Make sure they live and breathe your company's brand.

Thousands of companies spend millions on leadership development-only to get lukewarm results. Why? They rely on leadership competency models that identify generic traits (vision, direction, energy). Then they try to find and build next-generation leaders who fit the model. Result? Vanilla managers and executives who aren't equipped to manage their firm's unique challenges.

There's a better way, say Ulrich and Smallwood. Build a leadership brand: a shared identity among your organization's leaders that differentiates what they can do from what your rivals' leaders can do.

To build your leadership brand, first articulate what you want your firm to be known for by your best customers. Then link those qualities to specific managerial traits and activities. For example, Wal-Mart wants to be known for its everyday low prices. So it strives to hire and develop managers who are frugal and unassuming and who can drive a hard bargain.

Brand your firm's leadership and you deliver unique value for investors, customers, and employees-elevating market value and sharpening your competitive edge.

The Idea in Practice
Ulrich and Smallwood recommend these practices for building your leadership brand:

Nail Leadership Fundamentals
Though generic leadership competencies won't differentiate your firm from others, they're still important baseline skills for all leaders. Train your firm's leaders to master these five fundamentals:

* Strategy: developing a point of view about the future and positioning the firm for continued success
* Execution: building organizational systems that deliver results and make change happen
* Talent management: motivating, engaging, and communicating with employees
* Talent development: grooming employees for future leadership
* Personal proficiency: acting with integrity, exercising social and emotional intelligence, making bold decisions, and engendering trust

Connect Executives' Abilities to Your Desired Reputation
Decide what you want your firm to be known for, then link those brand attributes with specific leadership skills and behavior. For example, pharmaceutical company Teva's brand qualities included integrity, which managers embodied by ensuring employees delivered products on time.

Assess Leaders Against Your Leadership Brand
To ensure leaders are living up to your leadership brand, regularly assess their actions and accomplishments from an external point of view. Invite key customers, investors, and community leaders to periodically evaluate your leaders through surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

Let Customers and Investors Teach
Incorporate external expectations into your leadership-development efforts by:

* Giving customers a voice in training-program design
* Making sure customer expectations inform every aspect of leadership courses
* Using customers and investors to observe training sessions and to offer feedback about the content's relevancy or act as expert faculty for certain training programs
* Giving managers assignments that demand a customer "lens"

Procter & Gamble helps its leaders gain a consumer and P& L perspective early. Instead of assigning new hires to positions in individual departments such as finance, marketing, or HR, it places them with cross-unit "brand teams" who are responsible for meeting customer expectations.

Track the Long-Term Success of Your Leadership Brand
A strong leadership brand translates into superior financial performance. Evaluate the success of your leadership brand by considering how much confidence investors have in your future earnings (as expressed by your company's price/earnings ratio) and how much customers value your brand (as expressed by market share).

Nov 8, 2007

Does E-Mail Distract? Not if You Take Charge

Q. Reading and answering e-mail is taking up more and more of your time at work. How could this affect your work?

A. There is no doubt that e-mail, with its unparalleled ability to interrupt thoughts and offer other distractions, can sap productivity and undermine our ability to concentrate at work.

Some workers maintain that they can work simultaneously on e-mail and other tasks. But in fact, "our brains aren't able to do two things at one time," said Kathleen Nadeau, a business coach and clinical psychologist who specializes in attention deficit disorder and time management.

"We are constantly interrupting one task to attend to another task," she said, "and that leads to very rapid cognitive fatigue."

Q. Is there any way that e-mail can have a positive effect?

A. Some psychologists say e-mail interruptions can enhance creativity and productivity — up to a point.

Adam Cox, a clinical psychologist whose work focuses on the effects of multitasking and interruptions, said that when we receive work-related e-mail messages, they often stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain, our creative center, and make us better at problem solving.

But there is a limit, Dr. Cox cautioned. "We don't know how many e-mails puts a person over the edge," he said, "but clearly at some point, it no longer leads to greater productivity."

Q. Should you try to limit the number of times you check e-mail during the day?

A. Ideally, yes, though your ability to do that will depend on your job and your industry. Most organizational experts suggest setting aside two or three times a day to check e-mail.

Christi Youd, president of Organize Enterprise, a consulting firm in Salt Lake City and author of "Organize Your Office for Success," recommends checking twice daily — "ideally at about 10 a.m., when you've got an hour or two of work behind you, and then again after lunch, at 1 or 2 p.m.," she said.

On the other hand, Debra Condren, a psychologist, author and career consultant in New York and San Francisco, said that creating specific times for checking e-mail could sometimes create more stress, especially if you miss an important message from your boss or a client.

She also said that because people have a tendency to remember an uncompleted task more vividly than a completed one, unanswered messages may stay on our minds and annoy us.

Kerul Kassel, president of New Leaf Systems, a productivity consulting firm in New Harmony, Fla., said that if it is impossible to ignore incoming e-mail for big chunks of time, putting limits on your viewing time can help. "Limit yourself, for instance, to 10 minutes each time you check," said Ms. Kassel, who also wrote a book called "Stop Procrastinating Now."

Q. What should you do when the in-box is overflowing?

A. Before opening any new messages, you may want to scan for those you are most likely able to answer in two minutes or less, and tackle those immediately.

"You don't want to have to open it again later and re-analyze the same message," said Mike Song, chief executive of Cohesive Knowledge Solutions, an e-mail efficiency and business etiquette training firm in Guilford, Conn., and co-author of "The Hamster Revolution: How to Manage Your E-Mail Before It Manages You."

You can also use a preview function, which lets you read the first line or two of a message and immediately delete what you don't need, said Eric Abrahamson, a professor at Columbia Business School who teaches organizational management and is the author of "A Perfect Mess." That may include chain letters, jokes, CCs and messages from colleagues who send departmental communications to a long distribution list, he said.

Q. What about e-mail that you can't delete and can't answer immediately, but that still needs an eventual response?

A. Create filing folders and name them with nouns. Don't use adjectives, which are more likely to vary according to your mood, Ms. Youd said.

Another way is to prioritize messages by using flags, an option available in Microsoft Outlook and many other e-mail management systems. You can use color-coded flags — red for high priority — to remind you that certain messages have not been answered. Then sort the flags by color, Mr. Song said.

Q. What should you do with messages you want to save?

A. Create a long-term storage folder, with topical subfolders if necessary. "This is for meaningful items like research papers and articles that enhance your professional knowledge," Mr. Song said.

You can also just archive old e-mail and use a search tool to find information when you need it, said Mr. Abrahamson, who archives his old messages every three months. "I particularly like the Yahoo Desktop Search; it's a beta program right now, it's very powerful and it's free," he said.

Q. How can you cut down on the amount of e-mail you receive?

A. Don't hit "reply" too often. It can be all too easy to become ensnared in a long line of unnecessary e-mail courtesies and illusory urgencies.

Remember: the fewer messages you send, the fewer you are likely to receive, Mr. Song said.-(NYTimes)


Nov 5, 2007

How to Solve Problems by Focusing on the Solutions

The power of NLP comes from its fast and effective way of dealing with problems and difficulties. If we could summarize NLP in one equation, it would be: present state + resources = desired state.

The present state is where the person is, with his challenge, difficulty or problem he wants to solve. The desired state is a future state where the person has found the solution. The resources are qualities, values, beliefs, ideas, understandings or notions the client needs to develop to be able to jump from the present state to the desired state, which is the solution.

Now, to deal effectively with a situation, we have to define clearly what the present and the desired states are and what the differences are, very specifically.

Here are 6 steps to define very specifically where the client wants to go.

First, construct a clear and precise definition of the objective. What do you really want to obtain? Is the objective desirable? Are you attracted by the objective? When do you want to reach the goal? Where? With who?

Second, what is the result after reaching the objective? What is the outcome of the outcome? Does this further outcome attract you? Is it desirable?

Third, what are the proofs that the objective will be reached? How do you know the goal will be obtained? What will you see, hear and feel then? How and when will you be satisfied?

Fourth, determine the constraints. What could prevent you from achieving the goal? What are your chances of attaining the goal? What are the risks? What are the consequences on others, the system?

Fifth, find the resources. Can you accomplish this goal? Is it under your control? Do you think you can do it? What other resources would you want to achieve the goal in terms of money, time, people or qualities?

Sixth, Take action and decide. What will be the first step you're going to take to accomplish the goal? When are you going to start?

These are a lot of questions. Questions are essential to define a clear desired state and to handle change more effectively. Go over these 6 steps, over and over again, whenever you need to solve a problem or set a goal.-(motivation works)

Oct 21, 2007

Are You Fighting Yourself?

Are you fighting yourself?

After talking to him for a few minutes, I knew that he’d be difficult to coach. While he didn’t realize it consciously, at some level he didn’t really want to change. Maybe he felt it would be too much work, maybe he was afraid of the unknown…maybe he was afraid of actually succeeding.

How did I know?

After having successes and failures with helping people make shifts in their lives, I began to see the patterns between people who changed more readily versus those who didn’t.

Those who change more easily have inner congruence; they have their inner selves aligned in ways that help them make the shift. Those that don’t have inner congruence find it difficult; no matter how much they think they want to change, a part of them doesn’t. They sabotage themselves by taking one step forward and two steps back.

What Are The Signs of Self-Sabotage?

How do you know when someone’s spending too much energy fighting themselves?

1) When they love their problems too much.

When you hear someone talk endlessly about their problems, especially in dramatic and sometimes even boastful ways; watch out! They may say they want to change, but they’re still enjoying the secondary gain they get from having this problem; it could be anything from having an excuse to get off the hook to getting attention.

2) When they argue exactly why suggestions to change won’t work.

Instead of wanting to listen and test new solutions out, they shoot down any suggestions with reasons why they might work for others but not for them. They only say they want to change when they’re obviously fighting it, that’s because they really want things to remain the same.

3) When they focus too much on negative causes and effects than positive intentions and outcomes.

Instead of having their eyes forward to create what they want in the future, they want to go further and further back into the past and dig out root causes of all their problems. The more obsessed this person is with finding out exactly why they’re messed up, the less energy they have to discover just how much better they can be.

How To Turn Self-Sabotage Into Self-Empowerment

If you’ve been self-sabotaging yourself or know someone who is, here is how you can turn self-sabotage into self-encouragement.

1) Fall in love with your strengths.

Everyone has strengths, whether you see it or not. You could stare at a 50kg dumb-bell all day long moaning about how you couldn’t possibly carry it, even explore with a sympathetic person the past origins of why you couldn’t. Or you could start exercising your present strength with a 5kg dumb-bell, knowing that if you keep focusing on working out, one day you’ll be pushing 50 and beyond.

2) Be willing to test out new solutions..

If you want to change, be willing to do new things you’ve never done before…that’s what change means, doesn’t it?

3) Focus on what you want to happen in the future.

We live in the present and can only go into the future. Milton Erickson once said, ‘insight into the past may be somewhat educational. But insight into the past isn’t going to change the past’. Decide to focus more on solutions versus problems. Look forward and answer the question, ‘if you could have the future anyway you wanted it, how would you want it to be?’

Here’s The Guiding Key To Shifting Self-Sabotage

After reading this article, you might recognize someone you know, or times in the past you’ve had moments of self-sabotage. Realize that even those times are now over, and you are bigger than thoughts and reactions you might once have had.

To key is, in the words of Robert Dilts, to shift people from learned hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness to have hope for the future, a sense of capability and responsibility, and a sense of self-worth and belonging.

Oct 11, 2007

Distraction Management

When it comes to time-management and boosting productivity, the greatest challenge is “distraction management.” People continuously interrupt me, asking for signatures, asking for advice, asking for feedback. Then there are the phone calls. Plus the pop-up reminder on the taskbar informing me that “I’ve got mail!”

People don’t realize that interruptions, no matter how small and minute, are a major time waster. When I am focused on a particular task, be it a letter I am composing, a presentation I am crafting, or a document I am reviewing, I get into a certain rhythm. Everything clicks. It’s like a natural high. At this point, any intrusion breaks that rhythm. Even a small knock on the cubicle divider, a simple “Excuse me,” causes me the concentration to lapse and it will take some time to get back into the groove of things. I look back at the document, wonder where I left off, wonder what was my train of thought, and then I need to get back into the thick of things. Sometimes it takes up to a minute. It is like a car trying to get back into speed from a dead stop.

So one trick in boosting your productivity is to minimize distractions. If you are blessed with an office, then all you have to do is close to the door to prevent people from barging in. If you are even more fortunate to have an administrative assistant, he or she can screen any visitors. But not all of us have that advantage.

So here are three tips that anyone can use to manage distractions:

1. Make a to-do list and prioritize

A to-do list is an essential tool. It does not have to be anything fancy. You do not need any sophisticated software. A simple notepad will do. Before the end of every day, I make a to-do list. I review this list first thing in the morning, adding things that I may have forgotten. I do this before I even begin to open any email or any envelope on my Inbox.

Then, with the to-do list in hand, review and decide which will be the first tasks to tackle. I decide which tasks are considered Immediate and those which are considered Important. Get the Immediate items out of the way pronto, otherwise they can appear while you are working on the Important items, further distracting you.

2. Do Not Disturb.

One trick I learned to manage distractions is to signal to everyone that I do not want to be disturbed. One way is to hang an obvious “Do Not Disturb” sign. Another is to point people to your “In” and “Out” box. I tacked a simple note to advise visitors to leave in the Inbox all documents that needed my signature and that any document that was placed before lunch would be signed before the end of the day.

3. Learn to use your voice mail

Phone calls are another source of distraction. To manage your incoming calls, you need to make full use of your voice mail. Record a greeting that advises all callers that you are busy and that you will get back to the caller as soon as possible. Avoid any message that gives the caller any impression that you are out of office; if he or she drops by, it could result in a loss of credibility on your part. If you absolutely need complete focus, then forward all your calls to your voice mail so that the shrill ring will not break your concentration.

4. You’ve got mail

I schedule about two sessions of “email time” during the day—one at 9:30 am and another at 3:00 pm. These are scheduled in my Outlook calendar so that any person who wants to book a time with me will not eat up on my email time. This email time is the time I use to clean out everything in my inbox. I turn off all pop-up alerts that inform me that I have incoming mail, otherwise you will see a mail that looks interesting and your concentration will break.

5. Invasion management

From time to time, a couple of people will drop by my office and not heed the instructions visibly tacked on the wall. Most of the time they need my signature. Often they come for advice. They loiter around my area like hungry vultures. Unless he or she is your boss or a senior executive, I have learned to totally ignore the invader. I don’t even cast a glance at them. If I do that, then they will take that opportunity to speak. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a harmless document to sign. Some times the request has to be evaluated, maybe even rejected. You may need to ask questions and it will take some brain bandwidth to process the request. Here’s what I have learned: if it’s important, the person will wait; if it is damn critical, he will call his boss, who will then talk to your boss.

Sep 27, 2007

K' Personality

Kratos is a destructive, amoral and self-centered character, driven constantly by his rage and pride. In God of War, he blames the original God of War, Ares, for tricking him into killing his wife and child while ensnared by blind fury. Likewise, in God of War II, he swears revenge on Zeus for deceiving and killing him, destroying his home-city of Sparta, exterminating the army that Kratos had led to Rhodes, and destroying The Spartans.

Kratos does display feelings of guilt or sorrow occasionally, (mostly for his family) but these emotions are often converted to extreme rage (such as when Kratos accidentally stabbed Athena, mortally wounding her). Kratos also showed respect for the Spartan warriors he leads, and compassion for his home-city of Sparta along with her residents. Unable to cope with the memory of his own misdeeds, Kratos has attempted suicide on two separate occasions (and faked a third suicide attempt to trick Zeus into letting his guard down).

Kratos is stubborn and prideful. He believes that his fate, and his life belongs to him and him alone. He has shown this multiple times by doing things beyond his place, such as slaying Ares and the Sisters of Fate thus controlling his fate (something even Zeus had not been able to do). After becoming a god Kratos holds great anger for the gods, for forcing him into a position he did not want to be in, and not accepting him as a God of Olympus. During the course of the 2nd game Kratos repeatedly announces that he serves no one and nothing, be it a mortal, immortal, or destiny.

Kratos Biography

Kratos, born in Sparta, became the captain of a rapidly growing Spartan army. However he and his Spartan army were no match for the barbarian tribes. Being outnumbered and overpowered, his army was losing the battle. Kratos, about to be killed by the barbarians' leader, pledged himself to Ares, the God of War, in exchange for victory. The god accepted and wiped out the barbarians, giving Kratos the Blades of Chaos as a sign of his servitude and used his weapons to slay the barbarian leader.

Kratos served Ares loyally for some time. However, Ares later tricked him into killing his wife and child and as a result was cursed to wear their ashes for all time, labeled the "Ghost of Sparta" soon after. Grief-stricken, Kratos was afterwards haunted by terrible nightmares of the deaths of his family. However, the Gods offered Kratos forgiveness and immortality for his deeds in return for servitude to them, carrying out their commands for ten years.

After killing the sea monster known as The Hydra, Kratos got his chance to seek his revenge on the God of War and finally be free of the terrible nightmares that haunted him when Athena told Kratos that the gods will forgive his past if he prevents Ares from destroying Athens, ordered by Athena to seek out Pandora's box in order to help him destroy Ares. Following an Athenian Oracle's instructions, Kratos traversed the Desert of Lost Souls and found Pandora's Temple atop the back of the Titan Cronos. He made his way through the temple and retrieved Pandora's Box. Ares, sensing Kratos' success, hurled a huge pillar towards Pandora's Temple. The pillar impales and kills Kratos sending him to Hades. During the fall to the river Styx, Kratos is able to lay hold on some bones and then escapes the clutches of Hades. Kratos escaped from Hades and returned to Athens, killing Ares with the power of Pandora's Box. Although his past was forgiven, the gods could not relieve Kratos of his nightmares. Kratos attempted suicide, only to be stopped by Athena as she gave him Ares' place on Olympus as the new God of War.

As the God of War, Kratos continued his conquests, resulting in Sparta's campaign over Greece. Zeus, weary of Krato's impertinence, tricked him into relinquishing his godly powers by sending down the Blade Of Olympus and telling him to drain his powers into the sword so he would then be powerful enough to kill the colossus of Rhodes. Kratos entered the Colossus and destroyed it from the inside. As it collapsed he escaped and boasted of his victory to the gods but the hand of the colossus crashed down on him injuring him greatly. Kratos realized that draining his power into the blade had made him mortal once more. He attempted to retrieve the blade and with it his godly power,it was then Zeus came down claimed the blade and demanded that he swore his loyalty to him. Kratos refused and thus Zeus killed him and his Spartan army. As he lay dying Kratos swore vengeance on Zeus for his betrayal.

Kratos escaped from Hades with the help of the Titan Gaia, who told him to seek out the Sisters of Fate so that he may have his revenge on Zeus. After a brief visit to Typhon's lair, Kratos safely arrived on the island. After encountering numerous adversaries and allies, Kratos met in to the Sisters of Fate, desposing of them one by one when they refused to aid him. He used their mirrors to return to the moment of his death. Before Kratos could kill Zeus, Athena intervened and took the blow instead. Dying, she revealed the truth of Zeus' intentions, explained that Zeus is Kratos' father, and told Kratos that Zeus must live for the sake of Olympus. However, Kratos did not heed her wishes, saying that the time of the Gods has come to an end.

Kratos traveled back in time to the Great Titan War and took the Titans back to the present. As the game closed, he led them on an assault on Mount Olympus.

Sep 22, 2007

Make Your Haters Your Motivators

Diversity is important in all areas of life. A great financial portfolio has a diverse set of assets so it can profit in any financial environments. A great carpenter carries a diverse set of tools so every construction need can be met. A great business employs a diverse group of people who can understand, no ? feel, the diverse needs of every corner of its customer base. Similarly, people who have great success require a diverse set of skills.

The greatest among us live on a mission, committed to getting better every day despite or, better yet, because of all the challenges they will face. Sure, we would all rather play all of our games ‘at home? on a familiar field surrounded by stands packed the fans that show us the most love. However, we often must play the game of life before hostile crowds. Just like the carpenter needs the screwdriver and the hammer equally, your success plan needs to thrive equally on love and hate. You need to be able to make your haters your motivators.

A hater is someone who gets joy from witnessing your failure. Said differently, a hater does not enjoy seeing you have success. Because haters get their joy from seeing you fail, playing on their terms is a no-win situation for you. Your haters will only be happy if you are failing, pleasing them is obviously self-destructive. This is not nearly as self-destructive, however, as keeping haters on your ‘home team? and succeeding despite them. In this case, your haters will be forced to step up their hate game until they end your season for good. A hater is a threat to any and every positive move you make toward success because your success threatens his or her joy.

Further, it is not always easy to spot ‘hater-ation,? as Mary J. Blige would say, because sometimes it comes at you by surprise. Hate sometimes appears in your life as a monkey wrench in your engine thrown by ‘friends? and even family members. Naively, many people feel that they can simply avoid or ignore those who mean them harm. In their time of indecision, these people find their plan for haters is no plan at all, which often leaves them wide open to their haters? attacks. Haters, if you let them, will make themselves at home in your mind, keeping you stuck in self-doubt and far from success. And yet, you must make your haters a part of your success plan. What? A carpenter would not go to the job without a hammer because their may be nails there that need pounding. In the same fashion, given that haters are an inevitable part of life, you may need to lay the hammer yourself, making your haters a part of your success rather than your demise.

In order to reach your highest potential, you have to get and stay motivated every day. Some days, the work of greatness will come easily to you. You will be so enamored with the worth of your mission that you will be able to push forward with ease. Some days, however, your motivation will wane, your step will drag, and your courage will weaken. These are the days in which you may need to use every trick in your book to stay motivated. These are the days in which haters are the most useful to you. Your haters are waiting for you to quit, waiting for you to admit that they were right all along about you. Will you let them have the satisfaction? Your haters are on standby waiting to stand over you after you’ve fallen from the mountain up which they were too frightened or too lazy to climb. Will you sit still for the diss? Your haters are trying to take food off your table and give you a backhanded slap on the way out. Will you stand for it?

On the days when the thought of your righteous mission is not enough to amp you up, think about your haters. They’re not right about you! They have no business standing over you dissing your game! And if they try to take what yours, you’ll take it back, ’cause it’s like that! Use your haters to get back on your game. Steal your haters? joy by staying on a winning path.

No one wants to think about haters. We would all rather ignore them and go about our business. However, if you love your greatness, you will make sure that nothing ever stands in your path. Don’t get caught being the carpenter without a hammer in his box. Though you should never, ever have haters as a playbook-carrying member of your squad, but be sure to use them to keep your mind right for success. Put all that hate to good use!-(

Sep 18, 2007

Thirteen Tricks to Motivate Yourself

For those of you who never procrastinate, distract yourself or drag your feet when you should be doing something important, this article isn’t for you. But for the rest of us humans, it’s good to have a library of motivational boosters to move us along.

How to Avoid Motivation

The best way to motivate yourself is to organize your life so you don’t have to. If work is a constant battle for you, perhaps it is time to start thinking about a new job. The idea is that explicit motivational techniques should be a backup, not your regular routine.

Here are some other things to consider making work flow more naturally:

* Passion. Do things you have a passion for. We all have to do things we don’t want to. But if life has become a chronic source of dull chores, you’ve got a big problem that needs fixing.
* Habits. You can’t put everything on autopilot. But I’ve found putting a few core habits in place creates a structure for the day. Waking up at the same time, working at the same times and having a similar productive routine makes it easier to do the next day.
* Flow. Flow is the state where your mind is completely focused on the task at hand. While there are many factors that go into producing this state, having the right challenge level is a big part. Find ways to tweak your tasks so they hover in that sweet spot between boredom and maddening frustration.

Motivation Tips

Despite your best efforts, passion, habits and a flow-producing environment can fail. In that case, it’s time to find whatever emotional pump-up you can use to get started. Here are a few:

1. Go Back to “Why” - Focusing on a dull task doesn’t make it any more attractive. Zooming out and asking yourself why you are bothering in the first place will make it more appealing. If you can’t figure out why, then there’s a good chance you shouldn’t bother with it in the first place.

2. Go for Five - Start working for five minutes. Often that little push will be enough to get you going.

3. Move Around - Get your body moving as you would if you were extremely motivated to do something. This ‘faking it’ approach to motivation may seem silly or crude, but it works.

4. Find the Next Step - It’s impossible to work on a project. All you can do is focus on the next immediate step. Fighting an amorphous blob of work will only cause procrastination. Chunk it up so that it becomes manageable.

5. Find Your Itch - What is keeping you from working. Don’t let the itch continue without isolating it and removing the problem. Are you unmotivated because your tired, afraid, bored, restless or angry. Maybe it is because you aren’t sure you have time or delegated tasks haven’t been finished yet.

6. Deconstruct Your Fears - I’m sure you don’t have a phobia about getting stuff done. But at the same time, hidden fears or anxieties can keep you from getting real work completed. Isolate the unknowns and make yourself confident you can handle the worst case scenario.

7. Get a Partner - Find someone who will motivate you when you’re feeling lazy. I have a friend I go to the gym with. Besides spotting weight, having a friend can help motivate you to work hard when you’d normally quit.

8. Kickstart Your Day - Plan out tomorrow. Get up early and place all the important things early in the morning. Building momentum early in the day can usually carry you forward far later.

9. Read Books - Not just self-help or motivational books, but any book that has new ideas. New ideas get your mental gears turning and can build motivation. Learning new ideas puts your brain in motion, so it requires less time to speed up to your tasks.

10. Get the Right Tools - Your environment can have a profound effect on your enthusiasm. Computers that are too slow, inefficient applications or a vehicle that breaks down constantly can kill your motivation. Building motivation is almost as important as avoiding the traps that can stop it.

11. There are No Small Problems - The worst killer of motivation is facing a seemingly small problem that creates endless frustration. Reframe little problems that must be fixed as bigger ones, or they will kill any drive you have.

12. Develop a Mantra - Find a few statements that focus your mind and motivate you. It doesn’t matter whether they are pulled from a tacky motivational poster, or just a few words to tell you what to do. If you aren’t sure where to start, a good personal mantra is, “Do it now!”

13. Build on Success - Success creates success. When you’ve just won, it is easy to feel motivated about almost anything. Emotions tend not to be situation specific, so a small win, whether it is a compliment from a colleague or finishing two thirds of your tasks before noon can turn you into a juggernaut. There are many ways you can place small successes earlier on to spur motivation later. Structuring your to-do lists, placing straightforward tasks such as exercising early in the day or giving yourself an affirmation can do the trick.-(l.hack)

Sep 7, 2007

Do Anything: Three Steps for Success

1. Be Happy
A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. — Hugh Downs

I don’t mean listen to that irritatingly catchy song. If you start a task happy then you are coming from a position of strength. You’ll feel more energetic, more calm and be able to handle anything that life throws your way. People want to be around relaxed, happy people. You’ll have better relationships with friends and co-workers. You will be more aware of the chances and opportunities around you.

I’m not going to give you platitudes about how to find your happiness. There isn’t any one answer that suits all situations. Recognize that no one in your life can make you happy except for yourself, and if you don’t start from a position of happiness then everything else becomes so much harder. Irritation and constant complaining are the little yellow canaries in the mineshaft that you’re losing hold of your happiness. Keep hold of your happiness, it is the best asset you have.

2. Know What is Important
I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life — Leo Tolstoy

Any advice on time/life management can be broken down to this essential idea: focus on what is important to achieving your goal and ignore all else. Stuff in your house you don’t use? Get rid of it. Features in your app that aren’t going to land the customer? They’re only adding complexity and tying up your developers. Cut unnecessary time sinks and distractions out of your life mercilessly and suddenly everything else becomes much more manageable.

Doing less as a way of achieving more is quite simple, the really hard part is figuring out what you want to accomplish, and then identifying what is truly important to get there. Don’t confuse urgency with importance. In any task only 20% of the activities around it are truly important, the other 80% are trivialities that can be ignored. One of the most important skills you can have in life is figuring out which is which.

3. Be Disciplined

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. — Jim Rohn

When you know what your goal is, and you have identified the 20% of tasks that are important, then it is only a matter of execution. Discipline, like patience, is more a muscle than a skill. You gain discipline by exercising that muscle, instead of letting it atrophy by following distractions and procrastination. The greatest productivity comes from achieving flow. Exercising your discipline is the road to being able to enter flow at will.

Like Chuck Jazdzewski says, programming is fun but shipping is your job. It doesn’t matter how much work, time and effort you put into something if your don’t achieve your goal. Discipline helps you always be closing on your goals.

Time and resources can play a big factor in success, but they are external factors. If you start from a position of strength (happiness), identify what gets you the most bang for your buck (know what is important), and execute (be disciplined) then you will always achieve the results you are looking for.-(lifehack)

Sep 1, 2007

3 Keys to Have Authentic Happiness

In today’s time it may seem like authentic happiness is not possible. However, if the truth be told, authentic happiness is much easier to have then most people may think. The key to having authentic happiness is knowing how and where to look for it. Here are 3 keys to have authentic happiness.

1. It must be internal.

Authentic happiness is only possible if it is something that is internal. If you are trying to find happiness in external things you will find that this kind of happiness is short lived. The reason why is external things are always changing. You might be happy today but things may change tomorrow and then you won’t be happy. True happiness must come from the inside.

2. Know what makes you happy.

Have you ever sat down and really thought about what makes you happy and why? If you haven’t it will be almost impossible to have authentic happiness. Think about it. If you don’t know what makes you happy you will never be able to work towards it. You will just be chasing a feeling that will end up making you empty handed. Once you identify what makes you happy you will finally stop chasing smoke and focus on what is real.

3. Change your rules for happiness.

What rules do you have to make you happy? You might say that to be happy you will have to a millionaire or be in love. The thing about this is that you have made it difficult to be happy. If you change the rules so that it’s easy to be happy you will find authentic happiness much faster. For instance, you could make it a rule that you feel happy because you are alive. That makes it pretty easy to feel happy.

Aug 31, 2007

Team of Rivals

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Abraham Lincoln made his enemies part of his cabinet.

Title: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Key passages:
“He has called around him in counsel,” the [Charleston, South Carolina] Mercury marveled, “the ablest and most earnest men of his country. Where he has lacked individual ability, experience or statesmanship, he has sought it, and found it.… Force, energy, brains, earnestness, he has collected around him in every department.”

Lincoln’s “first decision was one of great courage and self-reliance.” Each of his rivals was “sure to feel that the wrong man had been nominated.” A less confident man might have surrounded himself with personal supporters who would never question his authority.

“His crowning gift of political diagnosis was due to his sympathy … which gave him the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.”

In Team of Rivals, Goodwin tells the story of Abraham Lincoln and the three rivals he beat out for the Republican presidential nomination in 1860: William Seward, Salmon Chase, and Edward Bates. Each rival was shocked when Lincoln, a little-known former one-term congressman from Illinois, won as a compromise candidate. Lincoln appointed all three men to his cabinet, soothed their outsize egos, drew upon their substantial talents, and used their political skills and experience to further his own agenda. Broadening the cast of characters and weaving the narratives of multiple figures into Lincoln’s story, Goodwin taps a rich record of personal correspondence and memories to illustrate Lincoln’s leadership style.

Team of Rivals recounts how Lincoln, a great motivator, got the best out of the three titans, as well as the others who served him. The narrative is epic in scope, spanning decades, touching on the events that led up to the Civil War, outlining the war’s big battles, and ending with the assassination of Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre. All four main characters played pivotal roles in epochal events at different times, and Goodwin uses their stories to personalize history. After introducing readers to their respective backgrounds, she traces their political ascent, in alternating narratives, as they rise from young attorneys to prominent politicians. Bates was a respected elder statesman from Missouri, and he first entered politics in 1820 during the debate over Missouri’s statehood, which was complicated by the issue of slavery. Seward served as a senator and the governor of New York. Chase, also a senator, was governor of Ohio. Seward and Chase both played prominent roles in the national debate over slavery in the days leading up to the Civil War, and through them, Goodwin revisits some of the great battles that took place in the Senate in the 1850s. By the Republican convention of 1860, the three contenders had reason to hope for the nomination, and Goodwin follows each one as he catches presidential fever, grapples with the devastating loss to Lincoln, then weighs the offer for a cabinet position. Throughout, she weaves in Lincoln’s narrative as he deals with personal setbacks, rises from obscurity, and eventually unites his cabinet and a deeply divided nation to defeat the Confederacy and save the union.

Through it all, a strong sense of Lincoln’s leadership emerges. Readers see his superhuman empathy, superlative sense of political timing, and patience. But what really set him apart was his ability to strike compromise and control his own emotions—whether he was under attack by subordinates or besieged by public opinion after Union troops sustained enormous casualties. He waited for a Union victory to unveil the Emancipation Proclamation, even though it meant enduring months of scathing attacks by abolitionists. And he overlooked slights that would have enraged a lesser man. For example, as treasury secretary, Salmon Chase repeatedly attempted to stir up the radical wing of the Republican Party in order to further his own presidential aspirations in the 1864 elections. But Lincoln hid his irritation, appealed to Chase’s concerns, and never said a harsh word. Lincoln did finally accept Chase’s resignation in 1864—then Lincoln appointed him chief justice of the United States, a decision Lincoln later said was “right for the country,” but that he “would rather have swallowed his buckhorn chair than to have nominated Chase.” Lincoln’s unwillingness to retaliate for slights, indulge in malice, or show the world his wounded pride won him universal respect as a leader and praise even from his enemies.-(portfolio)
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