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Three magic words…”I don’t know”

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The three words most of us are afraid to say is “I don’t know.” We all know that nobody knows everything yet we are afraid to admit we don’t know something. This is in part because on a daily basis we hear from so called experts that seem to know everything. No matter if it is where the stock market is going, where societal trends are going, and where political landscape is going. However, we quickly see that these so called experts contradict each other. The popular Freakonomics-series authors Stephen Dubner and and Steven Levitt talk about the power of “I don’t know” and how uttering these words can lead to positive things.

Acting like you know something you don’t empowers ignorance. While they say ignorance is bliss they also say knowledge is power and I choose knowledge. Ask yourself the following questions before spouting off that you know something:

  1. Do I know something? Seems obvious but first question is do you know something. Do you have any specific background knowledge whether it is experience, research, or reading on the topic at hand or is it simply a gut instinct or pride indicating that you know something.
  2. Why do I know something? We know things for a variety of reasons – it could be someone that we trust told us it is the case, it could be because we read it in a book or journal from a reputable author, it could we did research and we determined it was the case. Being able to identify why you know something and the veracity of that knowledge is an important step.
  3. Is it supported by data? Having data to support our position is very valuable. Often times we read about the study and the headline is very convincing but when you actually read about the study it appears to be correlation driven and not causation driven.
  4. How do I get to know something? If you don’t know something and it is worth knowing it then identifying how you would go about it is the next step. This may be reading a couple books on the subject or talking with an expert in the field that you know.

Admitting that you don’t know something leads to the next step – getting to know something. Sometimes this can be done with a little research on the Internet or sometimes it means you need to do a multi-year, longitudinal research study. Of course it may not be worth getting to know something. If so, you can always make a conscious choice and be empowered by not knowing.

If you do know something be proud of it and speak up but if you are in a meeting with your manager, in an interview, or coming up with a new idea. The words “I don’t know” should not be feared but cherished. “I don’t know” leads to what you do know or what you will eventually know.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

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Is the grass really greener?

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Often times the grass just looks greener but our vision is obscured by current situations and recent memories. Green grass is beautiful so it is easy to go towards it blindly whether it is a new job opportunity or a relationship. Instead of making an emotional or rash decision make a strategic decision by applying these steps to really determine if the grass is greener:

  1. Do Your Homework: The better decision you will make the more information you know. So do your homework and get information. If looking at another job gets you inside information then use your network to find someone that has either worked in the same or similar position and has worked for this manager. If the job is with a different company then make sure to get perspective on company culture and whether it fits with what motivates you.
  2. Do Not Act in Haste: Often times decisions are made in reaction to emotions so take a step back when making these important decisions and slow things down. The more you can slow things down within reason the better your decisions will be. Any job where you must decide quickly is probably not the right job. Remember there are a lot of opportunities out there and waiting for the right one is difficult but being patient will pay off in the long run.
  3. Make Pro and Con List: This sounds simple but making a pro/con list really helps you think about things strategically. Ways to be even more effective in a pro/con list is to weight the categories of the different items comparing before answering each item. Then when answering each item do not have weighting in front of you. Further, showing your pro/con list to a trusted person is a must to get perspective. You very well may be lying to yourself in your assessment and having a trusted person that can call you out is important.
  4. Think Long Term: Understanding your objectives and how to get to these and aligning your current situation to those goals is always important. I will consciously do this at least once a year and often times more. This does not mean that I do not enjoy where I am at but it is a way to make sure that I am staying strategic and keeping an eye on long term objectives. Sometimes you may decide to take a new opportunity that is less pay so you can get extra skills or move into a new field. Making such a choice is wise, strategic and long term focused.

In short, doing your homework, not acting in haste, making a pro/con list, and thinking long term will help you make better decisions and avoid the grass is greener trap.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

 

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How to do more with less

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Life is busy. This is especially true with work and has only gotten worse with the invention of the smartphone. There are a lot of books, courses, websites, and podcasts out there on how to be more productive. One recent book that came out that speaks on this subject is Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden. This really comes down to four things when looking at a task no matter if you are a stay-at-home dad, corporate overachiever, or entrepreneur: 1) eliminate, 2) automate, 3) delegate, and 4) procrastinate.

  1. Eliminate: Things are done often times for a variety of reasons. However, when you take a step back and ask yourself what will happen if I stop doing this task? If the answer is not much then the likely answer is this task should be eliminated. For example, you have weekly metrics that a former executive asked to receive years ago and three executives later you are still providing this status update. However, when you ask about it nobody seems to be reading it and it takes you four hours a week to prepare. Maybe it is better to eliminate this update and spend time on something that is going to bring more value.
  1. Automate: People are very good at putting processes together and getting people to execute on the process. We are not as good at taking a step back and looking at the process occasionally to determine if it can be made more efficient. Technology and needs change and often times people can automate things fairly simply that once required a team of people to perform. Sometimes this does not occur because people are concerned about what they will do if this is automated. Rewarding employees for bringing ideas to the table that can automate processes is essential to reward efforts here. I have always believed and stress to my employees that being the person that identifies the opportunity to automate something will lead to another opportunity and waiting for someone else to do so may not.
  1. Delegate: Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and others strengths and weaknesses is important to delegating well. However, new managers or high performing individuals often have trouble delegating because they believe they can do an item better than person they are delegating. Maybe that is the case, although often it is not, you are only one person and delegating tasks is a key skill of managerial or individual leadership. A team is not one person’s efforts but rather the efforts of all. Have the confidence in others and delegate — they will often amaze you.
  1. Procrastinate: Not everything needs to be done now. Some things better fit down the road and understanding that and letting it go for a later date is important. This determination may be based on revenue generation, risk mitigation, or a variety of other metrics depending on your situation. Key here is having a methodology to understand what should be delayed for another date and having a method to capture this so it is not lost.

Accordingly, your goal should be first to eliminate a task if not needed, automate a task if feasible, delegate a task if sensible, and procrastinate a task if warranted. Follow these four steps and you will do more with less and will be able to focus on the right things now.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

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Working in today’s global workplace

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Today’s workplace is a global environment where many of us will be working with people around the world. Often popular for information workers that means someone from India, China, Philippines, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and many others. Personally I have worked with all these countries along with many more.

Being able to work with offshore workers is a great opportunity and will be a challenging but rewarding and educational experience for you. But, it is important to start things off right and remember that people are people wherever they are. We each come with our own unique talents, challenges, and personalities. A few tips to supercharge your success while working in today’s global workplace include:

  • Get Culturally Literate: People are people but each culture has its own uniqueness and getting to understand societal and cultural norms of the people you will be working with is essential. Learn about the culture’s holidays, native sports and history — this will further your education but will also help you relate and endear yourself with your foreign country colleagues.
  • Meet Half Way: Just because you may be the person hiring someone or supervising them you need to know it is important to meet people half way. This can mean being flexible with meeting times understanding the drastic time difference. Or, it can mean slowing down your speech so they can better hear you.
  • Over Communicate: Communicate, communicate, and then communicate again. We all think that we said this or inferred that but often times our communication is not as effective as we think. This becomes especially more difficult when working with people with a different native language.
  • Treat as Equals: This should go without saying but treating colleagues no matter where they are as equals is essential. People are people and we all have lives, dreams, families and friends. At work we try to do a good job and bring value to our job and our lives. Being respectful of each other whether you are cube neighbors or international team mates is a must.

In a global environment successful information workers will not only competently work with colleagues across the world but they will thrive on doing so. Diverse workforces bring forth many opportunities and help ensure teams are able to satisfy a global customer base. Be part of the global workforce and buckle up it is going to be a fun ride. Enjoy learning about new people and cultures and start and keep a positive attitude when working with offshore workers.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

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