An early rise.
Breakfast with a mentee, doing that mentor thing.
A large cuppa joe.
Early AM work on the tablet PC.
Back on Northwest flying from Providence to Minneapolis. It’s my third such trip in the last five weeks – in fact, it was a month ago today that I flew up to Minneapolis for the start of this six week long period of commuting. Seems to be going well so far, the travel hasn’t grated on me too much yet.
After this week, it’s back home for five days, then off to LA for five days, and then home to prepare the house for sale and take some well-needed vacation time. Sorta of looking forward to that work.. but just being home will be nice.
Listening to some BB King:
I bought you a ten dollar dinner, you said thanks for the slap
I let you live in my pimphouse, you said it was just a shack.
I gave you seven children, and now you want to give them back….
Those were the days anyway… John Lee Hooker is next…
It’s going to be tax week for me – with Turbotax loaded on my laptop and plenty of work yet to do along those lines. Certainly not looking to doing that work, but the refund should be nice after all
Lex has started posting again, and that makes me happy. Welcome back!
I’m about flesh out of things to write about – and that’s been one of the reasons for the quiet here. Been busy with real life and work projects and that’s never a good mix if you’re looking for time to blog.. I’ll see if I can do better in the coming weeks…
Off to Jam to John Lee Hooker… One bourbon, one scotch, one beer…. well, my baby, she gone. She been gone tonight. I ain’t seen my baby one night of her life.. one bourbon, one scotch, one beer…. and I sit there, getting high, getting mellow, knocked out, feeling good, and I look down the bar, at the bartender.. I say hey Mr. bartender.. he say, whatddy want Johnny.. I say come down here, and he got down here, and he ask me… whaddy want… one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer…
Can’t top that..
I’ve often said that all things come full circle – and indeed they do.
It was six years ago when I sat in this hotel lobby in Cambridge along with a peer to screen and select our first managers for our team here in Boston:
And last night, I stayed at this same hotel after the going-away party last night at a nearby restaurant. How things change.. how they remain the same.
On the way home, I realized it was likely one of the last time I’d drive through Boston’s BIG DIG – so here’s a picture of that portion of my ride home from work, for the last time in this position.
Over at English Cut, a blog by an English Bespoke Tailor, you can read a fascinating look into the world of a bespoke tailor:
I was Mr. Hallberry’s striker (undercutter), and my future partner, Edwin was striker for Mr Harvey. Although this was comparatively only a few years ago, the company was still very much old school. Ed & I had to address the cutters as ‘Sir’ or ‘Mr.’ ….. The use of first names was far too informal.
It may look as if I’m painting a very austere atmosphere of the company, but although it was quite Dickensian at times, it was a great environment to be part of. Mr. Hallberry was every bit your Swedish expat cutter, silver hair & steel blue eyes. His attitude to the profession was as sharp as his shears, he didn’t suffer fools gladly; neither staff or customer.
On a red hot August day in early 1990, I sneaked out of the side door of Anderson’s to a cafe, no more than 50 yards away, for a sandwich to go. Unknown to me I had been spotted by Mr. Hallberry.
To go out at lunchtime was not a crime, however I had committed a cardinal sin. Not only was I without a jacket, but I was wearing braces (suspenders). For this I was summoned and duly berated for my sloppiness. As Mr. Hallberry said, cutters of A&S do not go out in there shirt sleeves, let alone their underwear.
When I write of my time with A&S it feels as if I worked there in the 50s , not the 90s. But you got used to such a formal atmosphere- no idle conversation, no whistling, no music or anything that could distract.
You remember how unique it was to just hear the clipping of shears into endless privileged clients’ clothes (Royalty, movie stars, that kind of thing) and the soft drone of the overhead fans. We had no air conditioning, and the fans were kept slow or they’d blow the patterns off the boards, if they were turned up to any worthwhile level. Comical really, but who’s complaining, we would’t have dared.
U.S.-based Target Corp. may be nearing a deal to buy part or all of Canadian retailing giant Hudson’s Bay in a deal that could be worth nearly $860 million, according to a published report.
The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Friday that the two companies are in advanced discussions, citing unidentified sources who said a deal could be announced within the next two weeks — although talks could also still break off.
The newspaper also said that Target, which is based in Minneapolis, was expected to offer as much a $857 million if it bids for the entire firm.
I’ll point out, as always, that I do not speak for my employer – and I post this only as a reference to this news article.
But interesting news nonetheless.
I am fortunate, I think, to work for a company that takes accountability very seriously. As a mid-level manager, accountability is a large part of my job. And yet, it is something that took me many years to truly understand – and an issue that I see many of my peers struggle with as they try to achieve the results expected of them in their job.
My own sense of accountability in the workplace came from my first real job out of high school, with the Fountain County Sheriff’s Department. During my tenure there, a deputy was suspended for five days without pay for not following proper procedures that had been laid down by the Sheriff. It was a tough punishment, but one that the Sheriff clearly felt was required given the infraction.
When I first became a manager in 1995 in Columbus, Indiana – accountability wasn’t my strong point. It’s easy in most cases to sit down and talk with someone about an ethical issue – theft, fraud, sexual harassment, etc. The issues are clear cut – and almost everyone realizes that this behavior is wrong. It’s far more difficult to sit down with someone, look them in the eye, and talk with them directly about their shortcomings as an employee – or as a manager. And took me years to both fully understand – and to develop the self-confidence and courage needed to do it effectively.
And there’s still room to grow.
I’ve been promoted a few times since then – and I’ve learned that the stakes are higher the farther you move up the chain. In my current role, if I sit down with a direct report and talk with them about their performance – I’m no longer dealing with an entry level hourly employee – I’m talking to a mother or a father – someone with years invested in this corporation – and who is likely the breadwinner for their family. Most of my team owns a home. Almost all of them are married – and half of them have children. Dealing with someone’s lack of performance now could result in a serious issue for many people.
The counterbalance though, of course, is that it must be done. The great leaders on a team want the team to be held accountable – because they’re only as good as the weakest link on the team. They want to be held to a high standard – but more important – they want to win. And to do that, they want only the best as a part of their peer group.. their team.
And it’s my job to help create that environment for them.
And unfortunately, that means sometimes I have to fire people. It’s not fun… in fact, I hate it. But I do it.
But like Lex, I take it as a personal failure. Particularly if I brought them into this company. It means I made a bad hire, I did a bad job with their training, a bad job coaching and mentoring them along, a bad job developing them, a bad job supporting them, or just a bad job leading them.. or some combination of these…
I originally had something in mind on how to end this entry, but in the midst of everything else I had going on tonight, I can’t remember what that was.. so we’ll end things here.. Accountability is a key part of being a leader – but it requires appropriate self-confidence and some courage to be willing to do the right thing.
The bag itself is a Brenthaven Mobility Backpack, purchased at The Apple Store in Peabody, MA. It’s a great backpack that safely carries my Apple Powerbook G4 and work related materials without a hitch. I used to use something more like a messenger bag, but when I purchased the Powerbook I wanted something more protective. And it’s far easier to carry than my old work bags were.
So, the gadgets:
- Apple Powerbook G4 – this is the 1.0ghz G4 with 100GB Hard Drive. I’ve upgraded it with 1GB of RAM. Used mostly for e-mail, web development, office applications and other work related goodies. Also have Citrix installed to access work applications like Outlook, etc. Unfortunately my employer is a 99% Microsoft shop, so many applications are a kludge to get to work properly.
- Apple iPod – I have the original 20GB Model – currently holding around 18.5GB of Music (3300+ Songs). All legal mind you. The iPod hangs in the car with me and goes in the back on trips.
- Compaq iPAQ 3850 – this is my PDA. It’s nearly three years old now and will likely be upgraded soon. I use Pocket Explorer to view information stored on my employer’s servers in Microsoft Exchange – such as tasks, contacts, calendar, notes, e-mail, and other goodies. My boss just snagged a new iPAQ with bluetooth and wi-fi and I will likely pick that one up soon
- FranklinCovey Planner – Doesn’t everyone use these? I just use some of the tabs and the snazzy planner binder. My calendar and organization all resides in Outlook and thus on my PDA. But I do carry around key information like financials, visit notes, succession planning charts, and so on.
- Sanyo SprintPCS 8100 – This has been my cell phone for the last year or so. My employer has a great contract with Sprint and this phone has been the best I’ve ever owned. I am a serious cell phone user, racking up around 2800 – 3200 minutes a month depending on what’s going on. The camera has come in handy in crisis situations in order to show folks elsewhere exactly what we’re dealing with. This phone now has a broken antenna and other problems. We now also have the option of using Nextel, and once the technological hurdles are fixed with e-mail, I’ll be getting Nextel Blackberry 7510.
- Qualcomm GSP-1600 Tri-Mode Satellite Phone – this is the newest addition to the bag, and only for a short while. It’s a Globalstar Satellite Phone – a little bulky, but could be invaluable in a major crisis situation.
- Crane’s Jotter Pad – mine is black, unlike the brown one featured in this picture. I use this on visits or other occasions when carrying around a big notepad is annoying. Awesome little tool.