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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When Sending PDF Files, Avoid a Presentation Disaster

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The 5 Most Common Negotiating Mistakes




Negotiating can be uncomfortable: standing up for yourself, asking for what you want, and trying to get a better price, terms, and condition often feels confrontational--and most of us avoid confrontation.

"You have to go out and learn to negotiate--it's not a natural skill," says Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of Think Like a Negotiator. "It's like playing baseball; you have to do it to get good at it."

Lewis-Fernandez has a lot of experience; she negotiated contracts for the government for 23 years. While she honed her skills on the job, she says anyone can become a good negotiator, at work or in life. The way to get comfortable with the process is to have the right mindset.

"There's usually fear in beginning," she says. "There's no way to eliminate the fear, no switch to flip that makes you an immediate expert. You have to take the time and work through it. The power is in the work."

The best place to practice negotiating skills is at a yard sale where the stakes are low, says Lewis-Fernandez. "It's a great place for training," she says. "Nobody expects to get what they ask for things; they expect negotiation. Drill your skills by turning a purchase into a game."


For example, if someone is asking $6 for a teapot and $6 for a tray, ask if you can have both items for $10. Multiple purchases will often increase your negotiating leverage. Or have the other person start the price-lowering process by asking if the price marked is the lowest they'll go. Sometimes they'll suggest a price that's less than what you would have offered.

Once you become comfortable with asking, take your skills to larger arenas--anything from calling your phone carrier and asking for a lower rate to settling a multi-million-dollar contract. The most effective deals are a win-win proposition for all parties rather than a winner-loser result, says Lewis-Fernandez.

In the beginning, Lewis-Fernandez says inexperienced negotiators will have missteps. She shares the five most common mistakes that are made during negotiations and how you can avoid them:

1. Lacking confidence.

Some people think it takes a bold or brazen personality to negotiate a deal, and others think experience is required. Instead, Lewis-Fernandez says negotiations takes tenacity and preparation.

"Before you start the process, make sure you've identified mutually desirable terms, anticipated possible objections, and determined what motivators or 'hot buttons' will resonate with your opponent," she says. "Projecting confidence also means having a heart, which is often endearing and gives the opposition a less defensive stance."

2. Assuming that something is non-negotiable.

When you think like a negotiator, everything is negotiable, says Lewis-Fernandez, who says one of her best negotiations was getting her sister to get out of a contract to purchase a car.

"When you decide that the terms for anything can be changed in your favor, a world of opportunity presents," she says. "Rules can be modified if you simply propose an ethical, viable, and mutually beneficial alternative solution. Powerful negotiators are rule breakers."

3. Not building relationships first.

One of the biggest mistakes individuals make in negotiations is not getting to know their opponent. Slow down and make connections with people and you'll glean useful information that can be used to identify what they value in life, what motivates them, and what annoys them.

"You might be surprised how well you can leverage what you learn through a genuine conversation with someone," says Lewis-Fernandez.

4. Not asking.

It sounds simple, but the key to successful negotiations is asking for what you want. Fear of rejection or the fear of looking greedy can get in the way. But know that rejection will happen.

"Rejection is never personal," says Lewis-Fernandez. "It's merely a reflection that you did not present a viable argument substantiating why you should get what you want. Your offer was rejected, not you."

When you get a no, it means the other person needs more information. "Take heart in knowing that people say no an average of three times before they say yes," says Lewis-Fernandez. "The only way to master the art of rejection is to get rejected and keep asking."

5. Talking too much.

Talking too much is a sure-fire way to kill a deal. In fact, Lewis-Fernandez says it's not unusual for a salesperson to talk so much about a product or service that they talk you right out of the purchase.

"Never underestimate the power of silence," she says. "There's an old adage: 'He or she who speaks next loses.' When discussing a deal, if you simply stop talking and get comfortable with the awkwardness of silence, your ability to win your argument, sell the product, or a get concession in the negotiation increases significantly."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Steve Donahue ~ Keynote Preview ~ National Speakers Bureau

*If you received this via email, click on the link at "Posted by ECGMA to EC Beez Blog" to view the blogpost"*

ECGMA says: I love his story telling approach...follow your compass!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Xiaomi's Mi4 brings a touch of Apple to the open world of Android

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LoBs bypass IT despite CIO's efforts: CIO research

LoBs bypass IT despite CIO's efforts: CIO research

Shubhra Rishi | July 24, 2014

According to CIO research, more CXOs and LoBs are directly sourcing IT from vendors, despite the fact that IT leaders are trying to work more closely with them.

According to a new study of IT leaders by research from CIO India, the incidence of lines of business bypassing IT departments is going up--despite the fact that IT departments are trying to work more closely with them.

More than ever, Indian CIOs realize that the relationship between IT departments and lines of business needs to be intimate, if they are to drive business forward. Increasingly, CIOs are collaborating with CMOs and CHROs to execute IT projects.

According to CIO India's Mid Year Review 2014 survey, a significant number of Indian IT leaders--62 percent--say interacting with their company's CXOs and business executives was one of the five activities they spent the most time on in 2013.

During the course of 2014, that number should go up, with 88 percent of Indian CIOs saying they plan to spend time with their CXO peers.

This trend of CIOs spending more time with their CXO peers is more acute among CIOs from the BFSI sector. Ninety-four percent of BFSI CIOs say interacting with their company's CXOs is one of the five activities they will spend the most time on in 2014. In comparison, 86 percent of CIOs in the IT/ITeS sector say the same.

But, here's the kicker. Despite all that increased interaction, LoBs are still bypassing the IT department. There's a growing trend of more CXOs and LoBs directly sourcing IT from vendors.

According to CIO research, one in every six Indian CIOs report that LoBs are directly funding new IT projects.  

That phenomena is heightened in companies with revenues above Rs 10,000 crore, with 14 percent of CIOs from those companies reporting that lines of business and departments directly sourcing IT.

Companies in the IT/ITeS are seeing this trend catch up with them faster than others; 16 percent of CIOs in the IT/ITeS say that lines of business and departments are directly sourcing IT.

All of this is making CIOs jittery. Eight percent of Indian CIOs say CXOs and LOBs directly sourcing IT from vendors or the public cloud is a trend that will have most profound effect on the CIO role this year. And 15 percent of CIOs say CXOs & LOBs directly funding new IT projects will have the most profound effect on the CIO role this year.

Those in IT/ITeS companies feel this more strongly. Thirty-two percent of CIOs from the IT/ITeS sector say CXOs & LOBs are expected to directly fund new IT projects; while 21 percent say their lines of businesses will directly source IT from vendors or from the public cloud.

CIOs in the BFSI sector are less worried, with only 15 percent of CIOs say they expect lines of business to fund IT projects, and 11 percent say they expect lines of business to turn to IT vendors and the public cloud.

Part of reason LoBs have traditionally bypassed IT departments is because they view IT departments as slow and unresponsive. According to the study, more CIOs are cognizant of that fact and are taking measures to ameliorate the situation.

According to the survey, about 59 percent of CIOs feel the need to improve IT's on-time and on-budget performance with more process discipline in areas like requirements gathering and project management. They also realize that they must invest in systems that will help them engage with customers or business partners and market the IT department in such a way that the business has a better understanding of IT's capabilities and processes.

In this way, the IT department can become flexible in undertaking the challenges that business throws at them, otherwise CIOs are a risk of traveling back in time yet again to manage mundane daily IT operations that are deemed less importance by business.

How to complete an IT project in 90 days

How to complete an IT project in 90 days

Shubhra Rishi | July 24, 2014

The IT department has always suffered the reputation of being too slow. For years, users complained that IT just wasn't fast enough. It's why, they said with shrilly self-righteousness, they were forced to go around it, giving birth to the phenomenon we know as shadow IT. 

But none of this is new.

Here's what is: An even greater need for speed and agility from the business. If CIOs thought their departments were already being pushed too hard to roll out IT projects quickly, they're not going to like what the future has in store.

An economy stuck in the fetal position is making businesses more desperate than ever to action almost any new opportunity that could prop up their drooping top lines. That means they're having more meetings, outside of their regular planning cycles, that are churning out more ideas on how to make money--most of which need IT support.

The numbers back up that observation. According to CIO research, the number of Indian CIOs who say that "deploying too many technologies or applications is a major challenge to their department" rose from 71 percent in 2011 to 79 percent in 2012. Our research also points out that since the slowdown, the number of IT projects that medium to large companies are undertaking in a year has tripled.

This trend, coupled with a lingering reluctance among consumers to spend, is effectively shrinking the pie companies are fighting over. Although consumer confidence is on the rise, Nielsen's Consumer Confidence survey (November 2012) points out that 54 percent of Indian consumers still say they'd rather put spare cash into savings than spend it. As a result businesses are decreeing that new products, services, and solutions need to be pushed out faster to ensure they get the largest piece of a smaller pie. Add then to this mix swiftly changing customer demands.

Put together, these trends have increased the number of new, quick ramp-up projects within enterprises, heightening the need to hustle and be more agile. "It's speed that gets a company to realize the benefits from a technology initiative," says Ashish Agarwal, SVP-IT at Apollo Munich Health Insurance. "Tech projects can be accelerated and it would certainly expedite business benefits."

CIOs who aren't taking this need for speed seriously should remember that there's plenty, including their reputations, at stake. A recent Forrester study asked business leaders how long they thought it would take IT to build and deploy an innovative new idea that required software development as a key component. Only 8 percent believed IT could deliver within three months. It gets worse: More than four in 10 business leaders thought it would take a year or more.

You get the idea: IT was considered slow before the financial crisis and it risks being considered even slower today.

The question is: How fast is fast? A year? Six months? How long does IT now have before it's considered a 'dawdler' by the business? Key to answering that question perhaps lies in looking at the horizon Indian businesses operate within. In the last 18 months that's shrunk. According to CIO research, a growing number of Indian companies say their business' horizons have contracted to less than six months. That means more business leaders are now making plans for the next six months--as opposed to the traditional year-long cycle. It also means that an idea only has six months to go from concept to completion--and start paying for itself. Based on that, CIOs we spoke to now say that one quarter or less is about how much time IT has to deliver business projects.

The experts agree. "Companies shouldn't take one year to deliver a project only to find out that that's not what their customers wanted. Instead, they should break a large IT project into smaller prototypes and deliver it at shorter intervals, preferably, in a calendar quarter or less," says Andy Kaufman, a project management professional and the president of the Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development based in Chicago. Kaufman helps companies improve their ability to deliver projects and lead teams.

That's easier said than done. How do you take a large project that affects multiple stakeholders and legacy systems and turn it around in 90 days or less? And then do it on a regular basis? CIOs who want to achieve that type of continuous delivery need to attack the challenges that have traditionally got in their way. You know them well: A lack of business-IT collaboration, slow software development practices, and an inability to prove ROI, which impacts IT's credibility.

Ready to get on the fast track? Here's how to get started.

IMPERATIVE: Hold Business Close

For CIOs who want to introduce a culture of speed to their organizations, there are a couple of things they must do. These include breaking down large projects into smaller, but more in-demand, products and services that can be churned out more frequently.

They also need to find ways to cut the number of concurrent projects IT handles--thereby sharpening its focus. And finally, they should ensure that the products they create satisfy both customers and the business. All of this will allow business and IT to push out prototypes faster and more frequently, thereby creating more opportunities to meet customer demands, and transforming themselves into a more agile unit.

None of that can be accomplished effectively without the co-operation, nay, the full involvement of the business.

Without this collaboration, it's almost impossible for CIOs to convince their management to make the necessary changes for a new way of working to take off. Nor will CIOs be able to successfully defang middle management, where most of the resistance against a new approach will come from.

Building deeper business and IT collaboration means understanding what each other's priorities are, standing by the other during testing times, driving one another, and jointly asking management to change some of its practices. This is probably what CIOs will spend most of their time doing because no one else can do it for them.

Step one in that direction is realizing that traditional methods of business-IT collaboration don't make sense any more. "The model in which business says 'here's what we need' and the IT team develops and implements it, is not effective. The right model is having a combined team led by the business that includes IT folks. We should stop calling anything an IT project. Business projects with a heavy dose of IT in it will drive the agenda," says Nadim Matta, senior partner, Schaffer Consulting; and president of the Rapid Results Institute.

The way Matta sees it, business and IT leaders should collaborate to bring together a team of business and IT execs, set them a challenge, and then get out of the way. The team then has 100 days to find a solution. It's an approach he has used successfully with Fortune 500 companies, whose very size builds silos.

This can be tough for CXOs because it runs against the grain of most leaders who are taught to be 'in charge' or lead from the front. And that's why, Matta says, it's important for CIOs who want to try a new, faster approach to get "air cover from at least one business leader," who sees the benefits of letting teams take over.

"If you have that," he says, "you reduce your risk. It also increases the odds that the investments a company is making in IT are going to deliver higher returns."

Vivek Khanna, VP of finance and information systems at Havells, tries to ensure that every project is driven by a business-led IT team. "CIOs must treat every project like a business project," he says.

That belief is what, he says, enabled his team to pull off two ERP projects back-to-back in a six month period--in Thailand and China. The ERPs, says Khanna, were meant for a company that the Rs 7,500-crore Havells acquired. While the ERPs used some templates, the implementation required a number of customizations, which as any CIO knows bogs down projects.

There were other hurdles as well. "Communication was a challenge. During training workshops, when the Indian team visited China, training sessions needed an interpreter and sometimes written communication. The entire change management process started from understanding their existing business processes, performing knowledge transfers via physical training sessions, conference calls and video  conferencing," he remembers.

Despite these obstacles, each ERP was functional within 90 days, a far cry from when large projects like these took over a year. "Our thought process is: If a project's duration exceeds a certain period, you start losing focus," says Khanna.

Key to his success is a team of 18 he put in place. "My internal team has core business skills. They helped me roll out projects very quickly. They understand business well and have over 10 years of experience," he says.

That understanding of business is critical to project success, says i-Lead's Kaufman, who also believes in business-IT teams. "Project management comes down to managing business expectations." But to manage them well CIOs need to regularly interact with the business. "All the involved stakeholders must feel a sense of ownership in the project. It helps accelerate delivery," he says.

At Anand Rathi Financial Services, IT and business work hand-in-hand, says Mukesh Mehta, VP and head-IT. It has been five years since the in-house IT team built Web-based CRMs for each of the firm's eight business units, including insurance, retail, HNI broking, mutual funds, and commodities. In early 2012, Anand Rathi's business team decided to take the next step: Give the managers of different units the ability to better monitor potential leads.

To do that, Mehta's team would need to complete three smaller projects. First, they needed to create a mechanism that enabled potential clients visiting Anand Rathi's website to leave behind key information. That data was then re-directed to an appropriate business' CRM. Each CRM then had to automatically produce daily reports with the number of potential clients and those that had been followed up on. Finally, each CRM was linked to each unit's HR portal. With three projects running across eight business units, Mehta was juggling 24 projects.

"It took us only two-and-a-half months to complete the customizations on all the CRMs, but we couldn't have done it without regular meetings with respective business teams," says Mehta.

IMPERATIVE: Minimize Scope

When Ola Cabs launched in 2010, it wanted to ensure, like most other businesses, that it could offer all the facilities a modern customer expected of a cab service. To CEO and CIO Bhavish Aggarwal that included a website, a contact center, and a mobile app, all of which should have been ready on day one.

Aggarwal is not alone. In a world that rewards one-stop shops, companies that offer end-to-end services, and greater customer choice, not having multiple offerings is seen a sign of weakness, or worse, of amateurishness. It's why customers, for instance, prefer the supermarket to the local kirana.

It's also why businesses tend to create software that can do everything at once.

Jez Humble, author of Continuous Delivery and principal consultant at Thoughtworks, a software company that focuses on software design and delivery, believes there is an inherent flaw in this type of thinking. He says businesses are trying to predict what customers or users want--instead of asking them. "When IT thinks of all their wonderful IT projects, they think of all the ways in which they can make each of them as perfect as possible. The reality is no one cares. It's sad but true. People want to solve their own problems. It's not about the fabulous products you can build, it's about how you can solve a customer's problems," he says.

He has a point: Customer predictions are extremely hard and can often be counter-intuitive. Neither are detailed requirement documents the answer, because if they were, IT projects wouldn't suffer from scope creep.

Desisting from guessing what gets people is a lesson President Obama's campaigners learnt. When the team was tasked to send out e-mails asking for donations, the big question was: What do we put in the subject line? They experimented with hundreds of subject lines  but, to their surprise, the one that really worked was: 'Hey'. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Amelia Showalter, director of digital analytics, said: "We were so bad at predicting what would win that it only reinforced the need to keep testing."

"That's totally counter-intuitive," says Humble talking about the campaign. "While sending out these e-mails, the team would never have been able to guess what people would respond to. The truth is, guesswork in IT is lethal. Imagining what the business needs or the customer wants is a collective waste of time and effort--especially in waterfall models where you deliver the product to the customer or business only at the end of project completion."

The smarter thing to do is to put a prototype out there quickly for customers and let them tell you where to go--what Showalter called testing. To do that, companies need to break down large projects into bite-sized pieces and prioritize them. It's what Humble did when he built a commercial release management system for a Fortune 500 company.

"We built it in such a way that the very first feature was a simple status page showing that the application was live," he says. "The whole idea of continuous delivery, which is a subset of the agile methodology, is to say that software is production ready from day one."

But how do you define what the smallest unit is? For instance, could Mehta from Anand Rathi have attempted just one of the three projects, instead of all three? The answer, says Humble, is to focus on the customer. "If you know the smallest amount of work that you need to do to solve a customer's problem, then, you can solve a customer's problems in less than 90 days."

That's exactly what Agarwal did at Apollo Munich Health Insurance. In October 2011, Apollo Munich's operations team conducted a study to figure out how it could cut the amount of time it took to issue an insurance policy. The team, says Agarwal, looked at the six legs of the policy issuance process and asked the IT team to find a way to speed up multiple areas.

Agarwal knew that the business wanted the changes to be ready for the January-March cycle, when the insurance industry sees a surge in business, and Apollo Munich gets 45 percent of its business. He also knew that they were better off focusing their energies on compressing one key leg of the issuance process:  Technical underwriting. Throwing all their energies into that one area, in his estimate, would allow the company to better scale up and meet the needs of the market.

The business heard him and Agarwal delivered. In just 75 days, Agarwal says, "we scaled up our capacity to handle much higher volumes. I recommend agile practices because you can quickly and dynamically align to changes in market conditions. With large projects, which run over years, you risk a lot of factors changing like business processes and customer expectations. Agile processes help you align to market forces."

 In Ola Cabs' case, it could have waited until it had gotten its Web presence, call center and mobile app going before it launched. But it didn't. The company, which operates in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, started operations without its mobile app. Five months after its website and contact center were up, Ola Cabs put out its mobile app. In the meanwhile it had figured out what customers really wanted and then created a unique app, one that none of its competitors can still match.

 Aggarwal, however, ensured that the app didn't try to do everything and hence it could be put out in just under a month. "Users are okay with an innovative product which delivers one thing very well in the beginning and then gradually becomes much more feature-complete," he says.

That's an approach, Agarwal from Apollo Munich agrees to. "Target workable solutions instead of perfect solutions or risk losing your window of opportunity. Think agile and think what can be built in a 90-day timeframe," he says.

Another benefit of breaking up projects into smaller pieces and working on them one at a time, is that CIOs can build more agility. How? By putting out prototypes and asking for feedback, both business and IT get a better sense of what customers or users really want. This could result in deleting some requirements from blueprints--saving business-IT teams time. It could also lead to new realizations of what customers really want--which can then be fast-tracked.

That's what happened at Ola Cabs. By the time the company had put out its mobile app, it had already started work on a second feature for the app. Initially, the app was only meant to schedule immediate pick-ups. In the second version, Aggarwal planned for a feature that allowed users to book pick-ups in advance.

In the meanwhile, Ola Cabs had sought feedback and learnt that what customers really wanted was a way to pay via mobile. Although that wasn't a feature that was on Aggarwal's immediate plans, he ensured that he included it in the app's second release--which took 75 days.

For CIOs who want some of that agility and speed, Humble says there are some factors to watch out for. Organizational mindsets, he says can come in the way of speed. Companies, for example, still plan budgets once a year, which isn't conducive to the fast changes they want to introduce at frequent intervals. "Organizations are setup in the wrong way," says Humble. "We have budgets once a year and create big projects at the time. When you plan for a year-long project, from that point on, you have framed the problem in a one year timeframe."


Like with anything new, asking people to adopt this quick and agile approach will meet with resistance. One way to win them over is showing them proof that it works, in terms they understand: ROI

Too often though, says Humble, ROI isn't a key criteria when starting off on a project. "Most companies have a small number of projects that they are expected to build, but they don't necessarily produce good ROI," he says, adding that if a project's ROI is lower than 4 percent, CIOs are better off putting their money into a trust.

Whether or not that was part of this plan, the technical underwriting project Agarwal ran at Apollo Munich, got plenty of business bang. The decision to focus on one key aspect of the policy issuance process ensured that Apollo Munich was able to make the most of its busiest season. The project, says Agarwal, ensured that 97 percent of policies can now be issued in three days--compared to 83 percent in three days before the project.

Not every project will give you easy-to-demonstrate metrics. But CIOs can look for other measures that their businesses track. Since its launch, customers have booked over 4,000 Ola cabs a day, on average--across three channels (its contact center, website, and mobile app). "But the mobile app is the fastest growing channel, increasing at the rate of 30-40 percent a month," says Aggarwal. "Customers simply love the application and its repeat use is higher than any other channel."

In the meanwhile at Anand Rathi, Mehta says that automating certain CRM processes ensured that each business unit no longer needs to manually create daily sales reports. The system now is programmed to generate automatic sales reports at the end of each day. "This has slashed the turnaround time for report generation from 24 hours to approximately two hours," says Mehta. "This translates into a direct business benefit because every vertical can now ensure whether daily sales targets are being met or not."

Who ever said slow and steady beat fast and furious?

Shut up, LISTEN and then Learn

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Three Words YOU should avoid!

Philip Blackett

MBA Candidate at Harvard Business School l Senior Communications Specialist l Interview Coach l Social Entrepreneur

The Three Words that can Ruin YOUR Career

Around this time three years ago, I was in the worst time of my life. I honestly didn't think it could get any lower than this.
My home had been foreclosed, and I had no other choice but to move back with my parents in my hometown. I had run out of unemployment insurance after being laid off during the Great Recession.
My ego was badly bruised after I fell on my face starting my first business in real estate. I also lost my best friend to pancreatic cancer earlier that year. At this point, I was trying to keep my self esteem above water, even after getting phone calls of concern from family, friends, and former girlfriends. I was borderline depressed.
Three years later, to be in the position I am right now, is nothing short of a miracle.
Anyone who has gone through such a period of ups-and-downs to now being one month away from attending your dream school and embarking on a new adventure would be tempted to say three words.
Three words that I caution you NOT to say, for it could potentially ruin your career...

I Made It.

If you are part of a team effort that has accomplished a particular goal, you may say...

We Made It.

These words may sound harmless. I even like the songs that such artists as Drake and Jay-Z have recorded with these words. You may think that you owe it to yourself to celebrate, raise your arms up in victory and yell these three words at the top of your lungs.
I beg you not to do that. I won't say these three words either.


The moment when you say "I Made It", whether after receiving a promotion on the job, getting accepted into your dream school, or celebrating a win in the boardroom, is the moment that likely will lead you into complacency. What was once originally an hour of celebration and pats-on-the-back later can become months (or years) of resting on your laurels as if you've reached retirement, laying in your beach chair, hands behind your head, shades over your eyes, in cruise control for the rest of your life.
While you're still celebrating the varsity football championship you won in 1979, others have moved on to the next challenge (and victory). It's time to put that letter jacket in the closet (or frame it) and move on.
You should absolutely be proud of your achievements. However, unless you're content with that being the capstone of your life, there's a time to celebrate and a time to get busy again.

Here are three ways to get past "I Made It" mode when you succeed:

  1. Don't say those three words. Instead, be grateful. Understand that you, more than likely, did not succeed on your own. I know I didn't. There were many people that were divinely positioned in my life during my toughest moments to help me get back on my feet and make small steps to turn my life around. Celebrate with the people who helped you along the way and share your genuine appreciation for their time, support and sacrifices.

  2. Understand you have a target on your back now. Don't get big-headed. Once the news is out about your great achievement, you are no longer "underground". People know about you and what you're doing, even though you don't know them. Don't let all the new (and extra) attention get to your head, for it may one day catch you offguard and cause you to lose what you worked so hard for. If you don't believe me, ask the Miami Heat after winning the championship last year. Who won the NBA championship THIS year?

  3. Humble yourself to know you have MORE work to do. Begin again. Oftentimes, once we set a goal, we become focused on reaching it. After achieving that big promotion, set yourself another challenging goal to keep you grounded and driven to do even better than before. If you need a best practice, follow Matthew McConaughey's example during his 2014 Oscars acceptance speech:
And to my hero, that's who I chase. Now, when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say, "Who's your hero?" And I said, "I don't know, I've got to think about that. Give me a couple of weeks." I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says, "Who's your hero?" I said, "I thought about it. It's me in 10 years." So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, "So, are you a hero?" And I was like, "Not even close! No, no no!" She said, "Why?" I said, "Because my hero's me at 35."
So you see every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero's always ten years away. I'm never going to be my hero. I'm not going to attain that. I know I'm not. And that's just fine with me, because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing. -- Matthew McConaughey
Who is your hero? Hopefully, it's YOU 10 years from now. After my best friend passed three years ago, my hero is who I will be 10 years from now. Now, I have to work to become that, which will keep me busy for the next 10 years. No time for complacency here.
That's what I want for you as well. Hopefully, this post inspires YOU to always be grateful for where you came from (and what you had overcome), refrain from being complacent, and keep chasing after the BEST future version of yourself, however long it takes to "reach" it.
As my friend Casey Gerald would say, as he did in his HBS Class Day speech earlier this year, let us begin (again).

Now it's YOUR turn...

I want to hear from YOU. When have you felt tempted to say "I Made It" or "We Made It"? What did you do afterwards? Comment below and let me know.
Are you on Twitter? If so, let's connect & continue the conversation there too: @PhilipBlackett
If this post is of value to you, please share it with your connections so they can benefit too.
P.S. Want to learn the new adventure I'm embarking on to keep me pushing to become my own hero in 10 years, check this out.
Image: Pixabay
This post is simply here to help you in your professional development. Take what works for you specifically and leave out the rest. While your results may vary, I want to at least share some best practices that have worked for me. One more thing, the views expressed in this post are my views alone. My views are not affiliated, endorsed or sponsored by any company, school or organization that I may be a part of.

Douglas Stone: The Importance Of Feedback In Business Communications

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Feedback is Critical to Improving Performance

Performance Management

Feedback is Critical to Improving Performance

"You're cold! Now you're getting warmer! You're HOT!" Even children playing the popular "Hot or Cold" game know that to perform well (find the hidden object) people need to be told how they're doing. Without feedback, you're walking blind. At best, you'll accidentally reach your goal. At worst, you'll wander aimlessly through the dark, never reaching your destination.

Effective and timely feedback is a critical component of a successful performance management program and should be used in conjunction with setting performance goals. If effective feedback is given to employees on their progress towards their goals, employee performance will improve. People need to know in a timely manner how they're doing, what's working, and what's not.

Feedback can come from many different sources: managers and supervisors, measurement systems, peers, and customers just to name a few. However feedback occurs, certain elements are needed to ensure its effectiveness.


Feedback works best when it relates to a specific goal. Establishing employee performance expectations and goals before work begins is the key to providing tangible, objective, and powerful feedback. Telling employees that they are doing well because they exceeded their goal by 10% is more effective than simply saying "you're doing a good job."


Employees should receive information about how they're doing as timely as possible. If improvement needs to be made in their performance, the sooner they find out about it the sooner they can correct the problem. If employees have reached or exceeded a goal, the sooner they receive positive feedback, the more rewarding it is to them.


Feedback should be given in a manner that will best help improve performance. Since people respond better to information presented in a positive way, feedback should be expressed in a positive manner. This is not to say that information should be sugar-coated. It must be accurate, factual, and complete. When presented, however, feedback is more effective when it reinforces what the employee did right and then identifies what needs to be done in the future. Constant criticism eventually will fall upon deaf ears.

Some kinds of feedback occur naturally while other kinds must be carefully planned and well-managed. Naturally-occurring feedback can be classified into two categories. The first type is self-evident feedback-information that employees can see for themselves as they do their work. For instance, a team of materials handlers who are given the assignment of moving ten stacks of supplies from one side of the warehouse to the other by the end of the day will know that if only one of ten stacks is moved by noon, the assignment will not be completed on time. This information is self-evident and is obtained by the employees making their own comparisons against a specific goal.

Also falling into the first category of automatic feedback is feedback gained by having a broader scope of work. The broader the scope of work that an employee has, the better the employee can determine the quality of the finished product. For example, a writer/editor assigned to write a portion of an article may have been satisfied with the section he wrote. But if he'd been responsible for the entire article, he would have seen that his section had no relation to the rest of the article and had to be rewritten.

The second category of feedback is carefully planned feedback that is designed to be given often and automatically through a measurement system. Feedback can be designed into a work process or a measurement system so that it is received automatically by the employee. For example, many work processes have been designed to provide performance measures daily, such as a production or printing process, i.e. so many copies printed per day as determined by machine count. Also, total quality and reengineering programs use extensive work process measurement methods. Employees can measure for themselves how they and their team are doing.

If effective feedback is designed into a performance management program, individual and team performance will improve, which will make your organization more effective. With effective feedback processes, employees won't be working blind and, hopefully, will reach their destinations successfully.


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The Importance of Feedback | Why Is Feedback Important?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Redesign for barebones Raspberry Pi computer

Redesign for barebones Raspberry Pi computer

14 July 2014

A new version of the Raspberry Pi barebones computer has been released.

Called the B+, the updated versionuses less power than its predecessors and will cost about $35 (£20).

The B+ can also power more peripherals without the need for a dedicated power source and has more connectors to help link it to other devices.

The new model is released as the Pi faces increasing competition from other tiny computers.

Power train

The B+ is based on the same Broadcom chip as earlier versions and has the same 512 megabytes of memory but a variety of other changes have been made to the device.

The analogue and composite video connector has been ditched in favour of a single four-pole connector and the SD card slot has been replaced with a micro-SD card unit. This has a latch on it to ensure the smaller card does not fall out.

Better power management on the B+ will mean it can keep four USB peripherals going without requiring mains power or an external hub.

"People expect to see four USB ports these days," said Mike Powell, a spokesman for electronics components firm Element 14, which sells the Pi. "With the Model B as soon as you had connected a keyboard and mouse that was it."

More USB ports and better power management allowed owners to run a 2.5in (6.4cm) hard drive off the device without the need for a powered hub, said Mr Powell.

The General Purpose I/O (GPIO) section of the device has also been expanded to 40 pins - 14 more than on the original machine.

This, said Mr Powell would give people many more options to add work with extras such as sensors and relays.

"When the Pi was first launched they really underestimated what people were going to do with it," he said.

In a review of the B+ in Linux VoiceBen Everard said one of the most significant improvements was the gadget's power management. An improved voltage regulator meant the device was much more stable when handling USB-connected peripherals.

"To be able to handle lots more input and output means this is a significantly more useful computer," wrote Mr Everard, "and will be especially important for new users who may not have a great power supply or a powered USB hub."

The B+ will be available via online electronics stores such as Element 14. About three million Raspberry Pi computers have been sold around the world.

The Pi now faces much more competition from devices such as the Beaglebone Black, the Hummingboard, the APC 8750, the Android MK802 mini PC, Banana Pi and the Matrix TBS2910.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Brilliant Management Advice From LinkedIn’s Billionaire Founder

Brilliant Management Advice From LinkedIn's Billionaire Founder

reid hoffman
Max Morse/Getty
Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn.
The days of lifetime employment at a single company are long gone, and the trust between employers and employees is broken.
Companies welcome new hires into their "family," with the caveat that they can be fired at any time for any reason.
Employees profess loyalty but leave the minute a competitor offers a better job offer.
This dishonest relationship, argues LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, is causing companies to lose their most valuable people at dangerous rates.
In the new book "The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age," Hoffman and entrepreneurs Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh explain how employers can attract and retain the best employees through the formation of alliances where everyone wins.
The authors created a presentation outlining their book's main principles, which Hoffman and LinkedIn leaders have used to grow the company into a Silicon Valley powerhouse with a market cap of $20 billion.

Now, see Hoffman's best advice for employees:


Excellent Career Advice From LinkedIn's Billionaire Founder Reid Hoffman