Published November 25, 2013 by

Injured, Inconsiderate, The One Percent

I have torn the meniscus of my left knee.  I have a super cool walking stick.  The pain is getting somewhat better but I probably need to have surgery.  I am hobbling bravely, but anyone who sees me can tell that I am not having fun.

Last week, as I was struggling to get into a taxi in New York, I noticed a very large congregation leaving a nearby church.  It is a Thursday morning so this is clearly a funeral or a memorial service of some kind.  The crowd is primarily Wall Street banker types.  I wondered who died and considered how many of these very well dressed white males mindfully mourned the dead.  How many of them spent the time in the church sending texts, reading email, and working on “deals?”   How many of them were already working to get the deceased’s clients?  I have an expansive imagination!

I hobbled into a cab with my cane, barely able to maneuver.  I was just about to close the door when three of those Wall Street types grabbed the doors and insisted that I get out of the cab.  Apparently, they had seen the available cab from a block away but didn’t notice that I had been struggling to fit my bad leg into the small back seat.   The driver hadn’t turned off the “”available” light since we hadn’t started to move.

My banker friends were not really interested in any of the details of my securing “their” cab.  They had little concern for my pain and suffering.  They had to get to where bankers go to “do deals.”

This “type” is just so so so …….  I can’t think of a kind word.  It makes me want to join the ranks of those who find all “bankers” despicable.   Of course I do not agree with such generalizations but the longer I am away from this industry, the greater understanding I have for the perspective of the many people who are not in that “1%.”

I remind myself daily and am grateful for the generous benefits I received from my many years in that industry.  I also ponder whether my colleagues and I ever acted with at a total lack of compassion for others.   I have known some individuals who lacked all basic common courtesy and compassion for people, but the majority of the people I knew where pretty damn good.

There are so many messages in this  experience. If I wrote all my thoughts, this blog post would become Book #2.   So my simple message is don’t get self absorbed, be mindfully compassionate toward others, and please don’t text during funerals.

Son of a Postman

Available now on Amazon in Paper and Kindle formats!

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Published November 21, 2013 by

Vulnerability, Shame, Resilience

I have always believed that my insecurities give me a constant push to succeed.  I remember arguing with a colleague/friend about this idea.  I try to help him see that his deep rooted insecurities played a role in his amazing success.   He didn’t agree with me at all.

I am reading a book that takes my long held belief that insecurity drives success.  The book is  “Daring Greatly” by  Brene Brown.  The underlying framework of this book centers on understanding that it is good to feel vulnerability and shame as long as we can put these feelings into the larger context of our whole life.  It is important to  acknowledge the benefits of such feelings to ourselves and to others. Important also to  learn from the experience and have the resilience to move on.

There is so much to learn from Brown’s philosophies.   You can gain a deeper understanding of your own actions and improve the way you help those you teach, coach, or lead.

Brown writes about “the story of Clynton, the managing director of a large German corporation who realized that his directive leadership style was preventing senior managers from taking initiative.  The researchers explain “He could have worked in private to change his behavior–but instead he stood up at an annual meeting of his sixty top managers, acknowledged his failings and outlined both his personal and professional roles.  He admitted that he didn’t have all the answers and asked his team for help leading the company.”  Having studied the transformation that followed this event, the researchers report that Clynton’s effectiveness surged, his team flourished, there were increases in initiative and innovation, and his organization went on to outperform much larger organizations.”

If you are thinking that you are too busy to read all these great book I keep suggesting then you can surely listen to two great TED Talks by Brown. 

“The Power of Vulnerability”  and   “Listening To Shame”

Be vulnerable.  Feel shame.  Learn from it.  Snap back and move on.

Son of a Postman

Available now on Amazon in Paper and Kindle formats!

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Published November 18, 2013 by

My Types, Another Type, A Reader Weighs In

I am happy to report that a few people are reading my book.  If you are among them, you know that a section of the book discusses my six “Types” of people along with guidance on how to parent, coach, and manage such types.   The six types are

  • The Outperformer
  • The Underperformer
  • The Entitled
  • The Fluffer
  • The Bully
  • The Lone Ranger

It is interesting that readers are super curious to identify themselves in these types.  Many have asked me but I will never confirm or deny anyone’s self assessment.  Some readers are even suggesting types I may have neglected!

“A slightly different “Type” to think about … Lets call them the ‘copy and pasters’. Exceptionally gifted at copying and pasting the work of others and passing it off as their own work. Not so gifted in the category of giving credit to real producers (where it’s due).  So annoying.”

I say we give this type the label of RUDE!  Such rude and insensitive people exist in a few of my six Types and therefore really don’t warrant a type of their own.

“Copy and Pasters” are probably “Fluffers, Bullies, and Underperformers.”   They could also feel “Entitled” to steal others work.  I doubt they are “Lone Rangers”  because this Type usually thinks that only they can do good work.  They are typically cowering in their silos assessing their own brilliance.

If a “Cut and Paster” is an “Outperformer,” surely/hopefully they will be exposed,  They will then be sent off to “Underperformers” prison eventually to be “Weeded Out!”

It’s all there in my book!  You just need to interpolate.  Aren’t we all relieved that we cleared that up!   Please send more feedback!

Son of a Postman

Available now on Amazon in Paper and Kindle formats!

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Published November 15, 2013 by

A Protege’s Observation, My Surprise, I Can Do It!

My face talks more than I do.  If you know me then you know that my face does lots and lots of talking.  I can remember a secretary telling me that my eyes were “shifty” and that she always knew exactly what I thought of a person or a situation just by watching my face.  (The woman was a secretary back in the early 80s so we could call them that!)

We all know that it is generally a good idea to have a “game face” so as to keep your true thoughts to yourself until you are asked to share them.  I have often figured that I never had such a “face” and this fact is what kept me from some opportunities for advancement.  Honesty is not always the best policy!

I remember people regularly telling me that I looked bored or disengaged in all sorts of endless boring meetings. Often this was true, but not always.  Usually I was just tired of people who spoke just to hear themselves talk.  These”types” typically wanted air time just to impress.  (See chapter in my book on “Fluffers.”)

Last week I learned that I have had a rather convincing game face at times! I had lunch with a former colleague and we were discussing a particular boss we shared.  My lunch partner reluctantly shared his opinion of this guy thinking that I held this former boss in high regard. Well, nothing could be further from the truth yet I had all those around me thinking I had great respect and admiration for this manager.  I am proud that I didn’t show my cards.  I was surprised to learn I had pulled it off so expertly.

I then got to thinking how I may have been better at this than I thought.  I was reminded of a situation where I knew I exercised restraint and maintained my game face.  There was this senior woman colleague who was very condescending.  One day I was reviewing some management, business, and personnel changes that I had made.   Her response made me want to fall off my chair or perhaps choke in this woman’s face.  Her reaction to the work that I had done was “now you are learning how to manage.”

Humbly I tell you that I believe I had managed more people in more businesses in more places that she might ever do in her whole career.  Her sense of superiority was such that she felt the need to speak down at me and almost pat me on the head as if I were her good boy.  I smiled, said nothing maintaining my game face.   I was mindful of breathing and thinking only good thoughts about this individual.

Suffer others gladly.  Keep your game face.

Son of a Postman

Available now on Amazon and coming on Kindle very soon! 

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Published November 14, 2013 by

My Last Word, The Words Of Others, Bullying Is Theft

The topic of bullying has taken off this week.  I wrote two posts on the topic and received many notes from readers.   I wake up today and find yet another insightful observation from Seth Godin.  This one is titled “Bullying is theft.”  It’s worth a quick read.  Here is an excerpt.

“The bully frightens away some of your best employees, because they can most easily find another place to work. He also silences the eager and the earnest, the people with great ideas who are now too intimidated to bother sharing them. His behavior has robbed your organization of the insight that could open so many doors in the future.

I define bullying as intentionally using power to cause physical or emotional distress with the purpose of dominating the other person. The bully works to marginalize people. In an organizational setting, the bully chooses not to engage in conversation or discussion, or to use legitimate authority or suasion, and depends instead on pressure in the moment to demean and disrespect someone else—by undermining not just their ideas, but their very presence and legitimacy.

The end to bullying starts with a question: does senior management see the cost? Do they understand that tolerating and excusing bullying behavior is precisely what permits it to flourish?

If so, the next steps are painful and difficult, but quite direct. Bullies can’t work here.”

If only teachers, coaches, and managers would listen.  I don’t believe that many do see bullying as being as disruptive as they should.  This is especially true when it involves a star athlete who is getting the team to a championship this season, or the bully manager who is delivering stellar short term results.

I will now move on to other topics of interest like vulnerability, shame, and resilience.

Son of a Postman

Available now on Amazon and coming on Kindle very soon! 

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Published November 13, 2013 by

My Suggestions, My Development, Enough Already

As I was looking through my archives of articles that people send me, I noticed that the majority of what I get is about bullies.  We all know that people are just tired of it all and the topic does get lots of media attention, so it is not a surprise that my friends and readers are happy to send me what they see.

It is no surprise that there are also loads of book written about all kinds of bullying including intellectual bullying and cyber bullying.  One of the kids I tutor told me about how he was bullied on Facebook by a local kid.  He then went to meet him for a real fight but they then talked out their differences and avoided the carnage.  I am always so grateful for what I am learning from these kids.

My best advice about how to manage Bullies is to:
•    Be aware that bullying shows up in your professional life and in the workplace.
•    Stay close to your people and learn to recognize it is happening.
•    Pause, when you feel bullied, to check the reality of the situation.
•    Don’t just retreat, because you cannot remedy things that way.
•    Be in command of your reactions.
•    Learn to distinguish between competitive people and Bullies.
•    Act quickly to stop it.

It is a complex subject with varied opinions about how to address it.  I was happy when I realized that I who had been bullied, had often turned into a bully myself.  I was also pleased to better understand that I had developed a reflex reaction to situations where I thought I was being bullied, but in fact people were just disagreeing with me.  Such revelations helped me to better interact with my colleagues, friends, and family.

Son of a Postman

Available now on Amazon and coming on Kindle very soon! 

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Published November 12, 2013 by

In The Press, In My Book, In Our Lives 

Bullies are all over the US press this week.  For my non-US readers I need to explain.  You all may have heard about the Toronto Bully Mayor Rob Ford.  There is also a controversy going on concerning a player in the National Football League who allegedly bullied another player so much that the person being bullied was moved off the team.  The NFL bully is named Richie Incognito.  For some reason, the governor of New Jersey has been grouped in with these two as people cite his excessive bullying.  His name is Chris Christe and is expected to run for US President.

There is also a chapter in my book on Bullies!  I was bullied regularly as a kid growing up in Philadelphia. My peers in school and in the neighborhood bullied me and I had to plan which streets I could walk down, thinking about where there would be kids waiting to beat me up or chase me or call me names. Worse, I was bullied by teachers at my school and by other adults in my life, as a child and a teenager

I also became a bully of sorts throughout my life.   When I was a kid “playing business” at home, I used to make my sister sit for hours at that little plastic table outside my door as my secretary? That was an instance of bullying, as she is quick to point out. People who have worked for me are not surprised by my childhood behavior!

Bullies are after power in one way or another in order to get advantages for themselves and that generally means putting someone else down. The Bully is the one who shouts to get her way. He may have grown big before his classmates and uses his size to get others to do what he wants. If she doesn’t have physical size, she may develop a way of taking up a lot of space with her movements along with her loud voice. He may use taunts to make someone else feel bad. She may make fun of girls who are not part of her circle.

Bullying happens everywhere and not just with children and not just in school. There is bullying in the adult world too. It happens at home and at work and in many social contexts. It happens to spouses, partners, colleagues and employees.

Today, the writer and blogger, Seth Godin has reflected on the recent attention to this topic.  It is definitely worth reading “Sure, but he’s our bully.”  Below, I share a few of Godin’s observations.

“We often (for a while) view bullies as powerful or brave or important–as long as they are our bullies. Richie Incognito, Chris Christie, Rob Ford—each has a long list of supporters, people who have defended a particular bully as a passionate man of the people, as doing their job, as the visceral anti-elite, winning a battle that’s worth fighting for.”

“But in the connection economy, the world of our future, it’s pretty clear that we’re not playing a zero sum game, and the hawkish win-at-all-costs behavior of the bully is actually a significant cost, not an asset.”

“In your organization, there are no doubt bullies who can win their point, increase their power and defeat their enemies. But are they creating real value for the organization as a whole? In an economy based on trust and connection, how does the inevitable fraying that the bully causes lead to a positive outcome for the long haul?”

It is important to be able to recognize when bullying is happening, “incognito” and otherwise,  and to understand the impact it can have on the success of our organizations and the health of our relationships.

The challenge for parents, teachers, coaches, managers and leaders of all kinds is to spot it and stop it. There’s no lack of opportunity, as there is pretty much always a Bully Type around in every organization.

Son of a Postman

Available now on Amazon and coming on Kindle very soon! 

 

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Published November 9, 2013 by
Deliverables, Thought Showers, Never Use The Word “Deck” 

Lets start out this post with a reminder to all that I don’t believe in coincidences. Just before I left for this trip to London, I was reading the Financial Times looking for anything written by Lucy Kellaway.  She amuses me and she did not disappoint.  Kellaway wrote a review of a book called “Who Touched Base in My Thought Shower? A Treasure of Unbearable Office Jargon” by Steven Poole.

This book was being released the day of my arrival in London.  Coincidence?  I happen to have a real issue with office jargon and there is a discussion of it in my recently released book.  Both Kellaway’s review and Poole’s book are very entertaining.   The book is also orange which is my favorite color!  Coincidence?

My thoughts on the topic – from my book of course! 

The way you speak says as much about you as do the concepts you express. To get others to pay attention to your ideas, you need to communicate with them in a way that they can understand and that is believable. You can talk until you are blue in the face but if people have to struggle to understand the words you say or the expressions you keep using, you should not be surprised that they do not get your point. The point here is: speak clearly.

I insist that my team “just speak plain English or plain whatever-language-you-speak.” This means to use simple words, speak in terms other people can grasp easily and avoid special lingo and acronyms. It applies to how you
talk with those you teach, manage, lead, report to and with whom you conduct business. This is especially important if you work in a global organization or at a place where people speak more than one language.

I have a specific example that I give all the time: “Never use the word deck.” In my mind, a “deck” is something that is built onto a house or is an open platform on a boat. I don’t think of a deck as a stack of papers or series of slides that have been put together for a presentation. “Never use the word deck” means: don’t use jargon.

People who use “deck” in meetings typically also want to tell you about their “deliverables,” their “end-to-end analysis,” the “intellectual capital” and “reductions in force.” It seems clearer to me to say, “The presentation I brought today is a thorough review of our business done by our smartest people and they are recommending that we lay off some employees.”

I often tell people that they need to communicate as if they were speaking on the evening news. You want to get your message across, so it is wise to use words that
people understand readily. If you think using code words, acronyms or technical terms makes you look more credible, you are mistaken. Rather than relying on such terms, make the effort to “translate” your thoughts into simple language.

Son of a Postman


Available now on Amazon and coming on Kindle very soon!  

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Published November 8, 2013 by

Keeps You Grounded, Prevents Meltdowns, Go For It

 

“It’s important that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  I have reflexively and expertly delivered this advice for many years.  To date, is has primarily been used to respond to family and friends asking me for advice on their financial investments.  Now this line has become my mantra for advising myself and others in a different way.

I now deliver this compelling advice for urging people to remember the importance of getting balance in their lives. Of those who seek career and life advice from me, I always remind people of the many non-career positive parts of their lives.  Putting the decisions, issues, and dramas of the job in a larger life context is effective in helping people make thoughtful calm decisions.  I also urge people to take a few deep breaths.

Full disclosure, I was real bad at this for most of my life but I finally feel like I got it going now.   For most of my life,  I was singularly focused on achievement in school and work at the expense of building stronger personal relations  and “outside” interests or hobbies.  Ten years ago, I found yoga and meditation which after many years of practice helped to expand my thinking and consideration of so many other things things that helped to balance my life.  There is so much in life worth exploring.  Giving some focus to a few “baskets” of interests will make all of life of more enjoyable.

Lately, I have been somewhat surprised by the many people who ask me not only how I did this but also how they fear making any changes in their own lives.   This is especially true for people who have already had long successful careers. These people are reluctant to even consider slowing down or changing the treadmill that they have been on for so many years.

It is never too early and definitely never too late.  Perhaps just start by taking periodic deep breaths and consider possibilities outside of your comfort zone.  This is also great advice for you to give those you parent, teach, coach or manage.

Feel the Fear!  Lean In!  Just Do It. 

Son of a Postman
Available now on Amazon and coming on Kindle very soon! 

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Published November 7, 2013 by

The Elusive Book, Available Now, Kindle Coming

 

Son Of A Postman: Delivering Straight Talk on Managing Fluffers, Bullies and the Rest of the Team

Kevin R Alger , Nancy P Macagno

You can buy that book now on the CreateSpace EstoreAmazon USAmazon UK,  and the various Amazon European sites.    The book will be available in Kindle format late next week – so they tell me!

Look!  Its a book.  It was almost 2 years in the making but over 50 years in the preparing!   And you know that I am super “Mindful” of the significance of this day.   Lots of long deep breaths and overwhelming gratitude for all those who contributed to what has become me, my experiences, and my lust for life.  I thank all of you.

Just Sayin!

Son of a Postman

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