Monday, November 23, 2015

10 Management Practices to Drive Results

In this excerpt from my book, Tell Me I Can't...and I Will, I offer 10 management practices that I have learned along my own journey that have driven results, results that I have witnessed firsthand. From managing student organizations to launching and turning around nonprofit organizations to investing in communities across the country, these lessons represent parts of my management philosophy that I challenge you to reflect on and test drive in your own management practices.

No. 1: People are not widgets. People matter... period. They have fears, aspirations, insecurities, and commitments outside of work. People want to be respected, engaged and valued. They want you to sincerely acknowledge their presence, contributions and commitment. Genuinely care about people. Challenge yourself to continually step into other people's shoes and look at the world through their perspective. Consider how your words (or lack thereof) will be translated in their minds. Treat people with compassion by employing empathy. Create a space where people can bring their whole self to the team. Remember and celebrate milestones like birthdays, employment anniversaries, weddings and births.

No. 2: Step away from your desk. Roll up your sleeves and work alongside people. Experience what they experience. Challenge your assumptions. Gather context on what it takes for each person to meet performance goals by witnessing them in action. Andrew Carnegie once stated, "The older I get the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do." Gather insight from people's actions on the front line.

No. 3: Question more and talk less. Engage in the role of coach, advisor, or thought partner. Use questions to call out and challenge people's assumptions. Inquire about what is and is not working. Ask why. Clarify understanding and direction. Listen to what is not being said. Identify trends across team members. Clarify the big picture. When you are micro-managing, turn questions around and empower people to make decisions.

No. 4: Transparency builds trust. Deliver the truth. Provide context. Admit what you don't know. Don't speculate or create rumors. Don't say something about someone else unless you have already told them directly. Stating you know something but cannot share it fosters power plays, breeds frustration and weakens collaboration.

No. 5: Get direct feedback. Ask your team directly how you are managing. Embrace their feedback openly and often. Don't get defensive or make excuses. Just listen. Retain what is working. Reflect on what is not working and try a different approach. Pulse check your performance at the water cooler, over coffee or through desk-side chats.

No. 6: Remove obstacles. Identify barriers to your team's performance. Brainstorm solutions together. Take the lead on removing hurdles. Verify that the obstacle has been removed. Differentiate between what is in your control versus what you can influence.

No. 7: Be authentic. Commit to being the best "you." Humanize yourself by sharing and relating your personal and professional stories. Don't change your character depending on the scene and audience. Be consistent. Be present or don't show up.

No. 8: Push hard. Play hard. Challenge people to achieve their potential. Stretch their performance. Put more faith in people than they have in themselves. Make good better and stretch better to become the best. Set challenging yet obtainable goals. Listen to advertising guru David Ogilvy's advice, "Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine." Celebrate victory at each milestone. Laugh. Have fun together.

No. 9: Focus and prioritize. Provide clarity on goals and direction on action. Drive efficiency and promote effective practices. Constantly prioritize to remain relevant and within a balanced workload. Set clear expectations. Maintain a scorecard. Put it all in writing as a desktop guide and reference it often.

No. 10: Feed people's hunger. Consider John Quincy Adams' wisdom, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." Keep work fresh, engaging and challenging for your team. Acknowledge when greener pastures would elevate people and guide them there.

Overall, I believe that management is about getting grounded in why and focusing on how. Managers must understand the big picture (the why) to effectively guide their teams. They must also know how to operationalize a vision and strategy (the how) to efficiently get things done. When people on teams do not see the connection between their work and the bigger picture or purpose, they will often lose motivation and feel disconnected from the team and organization overall.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Markets hack away at Cyber Security ETF

File photograph of a magnifying glass held in front of a computer screen that reads passwordBy Trevor Hunnicutt NEW YORK (Reuters) - One year after a set of high-profile cyber attacks and a hot market for trendy exchange traded funds propelled the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF to one of the most successful ETF launches in history, it is facing a major test of its investment strategy.

Google Photos to help users save space

Google Photos to help users save spaceGoogle Photos is rolling out a series of changes, including one that will help users free up space. Announced on Google+, the first two changes are rolling out on Android starting on Tuesday and include a "Free Up Space" button on the Settings screen that will prompt the user to bulk-delete copies of photos already backed up from their device.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Art of Noise and the Power of Communication


Matt Harvey

This is a picture of Matt Harvey, a poet in Devon, outside his shed where he sometimes gets inspiration. He does really brilliant shows and is passionate about getting his message across, and mostly he is a lot of fun and really entertaining. Since his residency, with RegenSW, he is the closest thing the South West of England has to an official climate poet.

Climate Poets

We definitely need more climate poet because, to be frank, for most people, in simple talk, the science is not exactly straightforward, doesn't paint a particularly rosy picture and leaves you thinking, "Well, what on earth I am supposed to do?"

It is also grist to the mill for those campaigning for things as they are: the marketing and communication mind of the scientist, I am afraid to say, is no match for the nimbler 'hands-on' street fighting competitor. The communication of this infinitely interesting and actually rather inspiring topic of conversation has been, rather sadly, a bit of a balls up.

Rules of the Game

The rules of the game don't apply equally well. There is no match referee to call offside and manage fair play. It's not a fair fight; it's plain to see that the 'cause for common good' is handicapped by its earnest sense of doing the right thing. This is especially true when all the bad climate news is labored, up until a point where people are doom laden and in the mood to switch off and indulge in some comfort shopping.

So there needs to be a change in the style of communication. In terms of bringing a message home, the more potentially disruptive it is, the more people will tend to use their defenses to ignore it, discredit or put it in the just too difficult box.

For a message to work it has to have some key ingredients: it needs to be relevant, it needs to be actionable, it needs to be positive and it needs to provide some sense of comfort. It also really helps when your friends, colleagues, peers and leaders are also thinking and feeling along the same lines.

Change the Game

The art of noise is about how to confuse the picture so nothing changes; it is in part an appeal to our lazier habits. It tends to favor 'old school' and monopolistic institutions and is not good for free markets, competition, innovation, personal freedom or the common good.

One way to change the game is to appeal to the instincts of competition, growth and innovation rather than play the moral 'my science is better than yours' blame game. There are millions of people who work creatively with climate risk and sustainability across all areas of work life and make good money from purposeful risk.

Mapping this shows real change and it is a much more helpful starting point. It meets the criteria of communicating a relevant, actionable, positive and comforting message, where many people are in the same boat.

Another way is to have some fun; here is one of Matt's poems which has been turned into song for a new crowd funded Transition-inspired musical (

Pie in the Sky

"Put a saddle on a sunbeam
Hang a bridle on a breeze
Ride the tide into the future
Land of Possibilities

They tell me: If you want that kilowatt
You've gotta frack 'n' drill a lot
And then of course you spill a lot
And when I ask them WHY?
They say: Don't let 'em tell you otherwise
Those Greenies tell a pack of lies
When will you people realise
It's all just pie in the sky!

Well slap my thigh,
Pie in the sky!
Hi de hi and Ho de ho
It's the high-wide sky-pie rodeo

And I say: If the sky can provide
Gee, that's kinda nice of it
If there's pie in the sky
Then cut me a slice of it

Serve me up a plateful
I'll be glad and I'll be grateful
Earth, water, wind 'n' fire are my dream team
Let's tap the to-ing and the fro-ing
Bag the beaming and the blowing
Milk the movement of the ever-flowing stream

So frack me no fracture
And drill me no well
And nuke me no reactor
'Cos I'm goin' for to dwell

In the Land of Possibility
The Land of Ingenuity
Exploiting every property
Of earth, sea, wind and sun
It puts the fill in my philosophy
A sigh in my psychology
Adds meat to meteorology
An' I guess it's kind of fun (Yee-ha!)

In the land where the sky can provide
Yee ha!
In the land where the sky's made of pie
Yee ha!

Because the reckoning is beckoning
The planetary auditors
Are reeling every second in
There's flooding and there's shortages

Put a saddle on a sunbeam
Hang a bridle on a breeze
Ride the tide into the future
Land of Possibilities"

By Matt Harvey, The Element in the Room

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Sarah Palin ‘willing’ to run for office again

Sarah Palin 'willing' to run for office again

Watch out, world: Sarah Palin said she's open to running for political office again. The former Alaska governor touched on a possible return to politics during a wide-ranging interview on CBS's "Sunday Morning." "This will always be home," she said of Wasilla, Ala. "I would know that I could always come back here." "You're willing […]

Sunday, November 15, 2015

YouTube Music is a great music-video app _ if you pay up

This photo shows the YouTube Music app on a mobile phone on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, in Los Angeles. If you were going to reinvent MTV for a mobile generation, you’d probably come up with something like YouTube Music. It’s a video-first music service that also plays in the background like you'd expect a music app to do. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)LOS ANGELES (AP) — If you were going to reinvent MTV for a mobile generation, you'd probably come up with something like YouTube Music. It's a video-first music service that also plays in the background like you'd expect a music app to do. That sets it apart from other music apps out there, many of which give you a choice of videos or songs, but not interchangeably.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Netanyahu starts to smooth things over with Democrats, but tensions remain

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Washington this week was framed as a goodwill tour to patch up frayed relations over the Iran nuclear deal and a fiery speech last year to Congress. But tensions, especially with Democrats, remain. Netanyahu met with a bipartisan group of senators Tuesday afternoon to discuss steps forward following a […]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

France wants Renault-Nissan 'operational integration': minister

France wants an "operational integration" between Renault and Nissan, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron saysFrance wants an "operational integration" between Renault and Nissan, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday, but reaffirmed that a merger is "not on the agenda". Tensions over the role of the French state in the Renault-Nissan alliance have grown, after the government raised its stake in Renault to 19.7 percent, giving it double voting rights. Nissan, which has no voting rights in Renault, voiced its concerns at the French move, as did alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Snapchat vanishing video viewing hits 6 billion daily

The logo of mobile app "Snapchat" is displayed on a tablet on January 2, 2014 in PariSnapchat on Monday confirmed that six billion vanishing videos are viewed daily at the service, in a three-fold surge from early this year. "It is a huge number for them," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said of the Snapchat video viewing number. Facebook revealed during a quarterly earnings call last week that more than eight billion videos are viewed daily at the leading social network, jumping to a level twice as high as it was early this year.

Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer teams up with big tech for smartwatch

Displays of the Tag Heuer "smartwatch" is seen during a news conference in New YorkBy Silke Koltrowitz and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi NEW YORK (Reuters) - LVMH's Tag Heuer became on Monday the first Swiss watchmaker to offer a "smartwatch" to customers that combines Swiss design with U.S. technology, seeking to tap a growing market for wearable devices amid flagging sales of traditional watches. Co-developed with Google and Intel, the "Tag Heuer Connected" will cost $1,500.

Ireland still sees EU tax decision on Apple by year-end

An iPhone 6 Plus is pictured as the Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus go on sale at an Apple Store in Los Angeles, CaliforniaIreland continues to expect European Union regulators to issue a decision on the country's tax deal with Apple before the end of the year, the country's finance minister said on Monday, a move which could force the iPhone maker to pay substantial back taxes. The European Commission has already ordered Dutch authorities to recover up to 30 million euros ($32.23 million)from U.S. coffee chain Starbucks and Luxembourg to do the same with Fiat Chrysler for their tax deals. Rulings on Apple and Amazon's tax arrangement with Luxembourg authorities are still pending.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Encouraging Poverty News That Official Data Isn't Telling Us

Poverty in the U.S. is not as bad as official stats make it out to be, according to a recent report that has optimistic conclusions about prevention programs. 

Economists Bruce Meyer of the University of Chicago and Nikolas Mittag of CEIRGE-EI in Prague released a working paper last month for the National Bureau of Economic Research that examines how people underreporting their government benefits in Census surveys skews data.

Meyer, the lead author on the paper, compiled records of payouts to recipients of four types of government assistance -- housing benefits, food stamps and two cash benefit programs (welfare) -- in New York between 2007 and 2012. Then he compared what the records said individuals received with what they said on their Census surveys.

The records are confidential, so Meyer spent a decade poring over the data in a windowless room that requires fingerprinting and passing three security checkpoints to enter. Those years resulted in findings that reveal a flawed picture of poverty and substantial errors in the way we measure it.

More than one-third of people receiving welfare didn’t report it to the Census, and underreporting rates were higher for SNAP and housing benefit recipients. 

“[U]nderreporting in the [Census Community Population Survey] causes us to severely underestimate resources available to the poor and thereby makes poverty look more severe and inequality worse,” Meyer and Mettig conclude in their paper.

Misreporting is a natural part of surveying that researchers try to account for, and Meyer was expecting to see it. It was the frequency, and the degree that it affected the data that surprised him.

According to the Census survey, people in severe poverty receive about $1,400 in benefits, but that amount doubles under Meyer’s analysis. And those dollars have real impact: Correcting for misreporting nearly doubles the poverty-reducing effect of government benefits and puts 2.5 percent more people above the poverty line.

The numbers are most striking for single mothers. Their poverty rate is reduced by 11 percent when reporting errors are corrected.

Though poverty is an ongoing problem in the U.S., Meyer worries that the standard figures don't reflect progress that has been made or the role government assistance has had in addressing it.

“The growth in the economy over the last 35 years and the success of government programs really have meant that people at the bottom are much better off,” Meyer said. “But that’s not what the official statistics say.”

There are troubling implications for how we think about poverty and fund and legislate the programs that fight it. For example, Meyer and Mettig note that people in deep poverty report food stamp benefits accurately at a much higher rate than they do welfare or housing vouchers, so in official data, food stamps appear to be a much more valuable program. Instead, housing assistance was actually the most-used program among the four they looked at.

Meyer said that if this research was duplicated in other states, the results would reflect differences in demographics and use of benefits -- housing assistance is particularly prevalent in New York -- but would have a similar trend.

While there is a push to measure poverty differently, there's no easy way to solve underreporting or to get researchers, let alone the public, to look at the poverty rate figures with a more nuanced view -- especially as the expansive Census data is essential.

“Until we make a bigger effort to do the kind of thing that Mittag and I did in this paper on a more routine basis, I think people just aren’t going to have good data to work with,” Meyer said. “So people will probably use the bad data that we have."

 Kate Abbey-Lambertz covers sustainable cities, as well as land use, housing and inequality. Tips? Email:

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Warren Buffet, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk Know About Success (and You Should Too!)


Since the baseball playoffs just ended, picture this scene. Johnny steps up to the plate. Three pitches thrown, three swings, three strikes -- Johnny's out.

What does Johnny's failed at bat have to do with success?

Everything, depending on what Johnny does with his failure.

How we fail, how we perceive our failures and perhaps, most importantly, how we respond to them (the actions we take following our failures) will determine how successful we are in business and life.

Intimate Link between Success & Failure

The most successful people in history have failed. They've failed epically, miserably and repeatedly.

Yet we tend to see successful people and erroneously think they have the Midas touch, that is, everything they touch turns to gold. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Warren Buffet, Sir Richard Branson & Elon Musk all know failure is a mandatory prerequisite for success. If you were to ask these men to name what was most critical to their success, they would resoundingly tell you had they not experienced their failures, they would have not achieved their future successes. Their success was rooted in failures.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway

Following Warren Buffett's initial purchase of Berkshire Hathaway, the company proceeded to consistently lose millions of dollars for years. Fast forward and we all know Berkshire Hathaway is considered to be one of the most successful companies -- ever!

It's hard to imagine Berkshire Hathaway being considered a monumental failure, but that was, indeed, the case! Click here to read more about the initial failures of Berkshire Hathaway.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Cola

Remember Virgin Cola? Virgin Vodka? Virgin Vie? Virgin Bride? Virgin Clothing? Probably not. All these were failed companies created by Branson. When Branson speaks about these failed companies he speaks about every one of them being a terrific learning experience.

Branson states: "Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again."

Today, Virgin Group Ltd. is a British multinational branded venture capital conglomerate founded by Branson worth billions of dollars.

Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 Failure

This past summer Elon Musk's company SpaceX watched its Falcon 9 rocket break apart shortly after launch. This launch was an epic failure.

Following the failed launch, Musk stated that due to the company's past successes, a culture of complacency had set in. Musk stated that having experienced such an epic failure, his company will become better and stronger due to increased vigilance and new parameters that would be established to avoid future disasters.

Click here to read more about the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket explosion after launch.

Musk remains intensely committed to space exploration.

"Failure is success if we learn from it."
Malcolm Forbes

4 Reasons Why Failure is a Prerequisite for Success

1. Failure is a prerequisite for success because it builds character. When you experience failure, you have one of two options. You can throw in the towel, quit (and perhaps blame others) for your failure. Or you can choose to learn from the experience. Choosing to learn from your failures will increase your resiliency, help you gain confidence and ultimately build character.

It's easy to act graciously when you win; its much more difficult to act graciously when you lose. Doing so, however, reflects character.

2. Failure is a prerequisite for success because it forces you out of your comfort zone to face new challenges that stretch your mind and capabilities. Failing compels us to think outside "our" box and seek solutions from angles and perspectives we might not have normally pursued. Failure forces us to look at ourselves through a harsh realistic lens and ask ourselves difficult questions: "What went wrong?" "what do I need to do differently?" "how can I improve on this situation next time?"

3. Failure is a prerequisite for success because it increases self-esteem, without which one cannot succeed. Of course it is difficult to pick yourself up after being knocked down. However, each time you do so your self-esteem increases because you've proven to yourself that you can overcome adversity. This is why today's parents not allowing their children to fail, in fact, sets them up for a lifetime of failure as adults (but that is a blog topic for another day).

4. Failure is a prerequisite for success because it is our most powerful teaching tool. Once a failure has been examined and explored, it provides us with a golden opportunity to develop and learn new skills that one didn't have prior to the failure.

We learn far more from our failures than we will ever learn from our successes. Success makes us feel good and reinforces our strengths. Failure highlights our weaknesses and provides us with the invaluable opportunity to minimize them -- and most importantly, learn from them.

Remember, absolutely no one has ever achieved success in life without failing.

Consider your failures to be the pathway for your future successes.

Can you think of a time when your failure brought you future success?

To learn more about Dr. Patty Ann, CEO & Founder of Relationship Toolbox LLC, go here

Amazon best selling author of: Not Tonight Dear, I've Got a Business to Run!

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