Tuesday, May 31, 2011

...Flying Commercial

For someone that hates flying, I travel too much. I have more airline apps than angry birds on my phone!  It’s not that I hate planes, I just hate falling unnecessarily, and that’s why I hate roller coasters too.
So to keep my mind distracted from the bumpier winds, besides praying, I decided to study airlines and what they could teach us at work.

The Ten Things I Learned...Flying Commercial

1. Don’t blame it on the rain.
Take accountability and responsibility over your business, including those uncontrollable factors (like rain). People aren’t interested on where it’s raining; they just want to know how you’re getting them home. In the office, don’t lose sight of the solutions by spending too much time on the excuses.

2. Be uplifting when you speak.  
Find different ways to say the same thing over and over; preferably more uplifting and engaging ways. The attendants that have fun making announcements are the ones who draw in everyone’s attention, lightening the mood of what’s known to be the world’s most dissatisfied consumer. For us, it means managing difficult meetings in a jovial way to turn them into an engaging and inspiring discussion.  

3. Behave responsibly
I confess I’m more on the annoying side, but when you’re told to turn off electronics before takeoff, please turn them off…and put your seat and tray in the upright position. I’m sure nobody understands why, but in general, behaving responsibly makes things work so much more smoothly.   

4. Don’t be cheap
People have become accustomed to delighting perks. Warm chocolate chip cookies are better than peanuts. And peanuts are better than nothing. In the airline industry, I’m guessing snack costs are, well, literally, peanuts, and some are taking them away! At work, offer those small rewards, like cookies on a plane, that make everyone happier and more loyal. Done right, people might change destinations to get on your flight.

5. Give everyone space
People are more productive when they have their personal space, whether it’s more leg room on a plane, their fair-share of the arm rest, or computer privacy screens protecting against neighbor intrusion. In a working environment, it might be an appropriate physical space, but it’s also empowering employee freedom to excel.

6. Make things easier for people.
It’s solving problems for others without creating a problem for yourself. It might be giving direction or advice, sharing a template that’s worked for you, or simply lending an ear. In the airline industry, it’s an app that lets me skip check-in lines with a boarding pass on my phone.

7. Don’t leave people on hold.
Generally, people who call you or write to you, want to hear back from you, with some exceptions. Take a minute to reply. There are people who need to get on with their lives and you’ve got them on hold. “Twenty-eight minutes to the next available representative” is more time than it takes to book my flight elsewhere.  

8. Don’t fall behind on amenities
It’s the little things that might mean a lot; the challenge is knowing what they are for each individual - affordable daycare, more holidays, education options, or more. If a chicken-sandwich chain can have free internet, why wouldn’t airlines when I’ve paid about 100 times the combo price?

9. Have a back up plan
Ironically, planning for the unexpected takes practice. You’ve learned by now return flights get cancelled, but do you ever pack a second pair of anything? Often times, things don’t go the way you planned in the business world, so outsmart the odds and prepare for it.

10. Keep them coming back - even when they don’t want to.
Preferably be great on everything you do because it’s the honest & right thing. But if you have an ok product, at least reward me for the pain. I’m referring to mileage plans. There’s an American airline that I, unfortunately, fly because I’m so close to a free trip. However, once I take that trip, I’ll seriously re-consider them.

On a personal note, I learned not long ago that pilots have one of the most stressful jobs in the world. I just want to take a minute to thank them for bringing me home safely every time.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

...from Memorable Bosses

Have ever looked back at how many bosses you’ve had? More importantly, how many of those were truly memorable.

In the corporate world, you’re structured to learn from your boss, whether you want to or not. Some will be easy to forget, others will shape your managerial behaviors for the rest of your career and life. This is what I’ve learned from those people so far.

The 10 Things I learned...from my most memorable bosses (so far)

1. Go the extra mile

- When it comes to being a boss, like kids are to parents; your people are your first priority. My most memorable bosses have been the ones who took coaching seriously and taught me something valuable. They are the ones who worked (and continue to work) upstream to promote me, up and across, beyond just the next job. 

2. Make people feel special
- It’s that feeling you get when an old friend calls you on your birthday. Make your people feel that every time you can. From jump starting my car, to throwing me a surprise going-away party, to sending me a thank you card for presenting to their team, those leaders are never forgotten.    

3. Have fun & celebrate the wins
- Find time to take a break from a stressful world with fun events. Take a minute or two to dress up for Halloween, and I promise that mental picture will last longer than the digital one. Like a former boss, put the economic and political conditions aside for a moment and take time to celebrate reaching your monthly goals.

4. Adjust your style to each individual
- This one I’m taking from a training I took on “being a boss.” It’s about understanding the developmental stage of each person and adjusting your style to work with them differently. A good boss should be the one changing to where you are in your learning curve and career stage.

5. Give attention to details
- The theory that a little goes a long way. Make sure –certain- things are perfect. When presenting to the CEO have an impeccable presentation (and I mean your appearance too!) When meeting with a buyer, impress them with an insightful show. Make the most important things look good, real good. Always set a new standard.

6. Make yourself available
- The higher you get, the more accessible you should be to people who want to become more like you. Make time for complex strategic discussions down to the simplest career conversation. Everyone needs to have lunch, make it an enjoyable one with someone who’s interested in who you are and what you have to say.

7. Never, ever, use a red pen!
- This one’s from that boss I hated, which also makes her memorable. Simply put, don’t treat people like failing students; treat them honorably and with respect, show a genuine interest in teaching them by getting to know their needs and be professional about it. This former boss gets an F!    

8. Know how to work the system - unsuspectingly

- Fade into your surrounding environment. Know what you want to achieve but more importantly how to achieve it through obvious, and sometimes hidden, agendas. It’s the sweet balance of networking with influencing others.

9. Learn to say “next” - let go and move on
- When you reach a certain level, you need to let go of the tactics and move on to bigger things. You should oversee things, not see things over. This boss did it gracefully cutting our presentations short by saying “next” - It was a statement of understanding, but more importantly, a statement of trusting you and empowering you.  

10. Turn a message into a memorable speech

- Delivering a great speech is beyond engaging the listener; it’s that closing statement in a court case that changes the outcome of the verdict. It’s that political statement that gets a standing ovation to win an election. If you’re the best speaker, you’ll sign up the best people. I’ve moved cross country to work for inspiring speakers, and I have a list of the ones I’m following next: the memorable ones!  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

...on Learning

Since this is my first blog (ever) I need to start small, in part to practice the new tool, but mainly because I still have a lot to learn.

So I've decided to start with lessons on learning in general...

The Ten Things I Learned...on Learning

1. Look around at everyone.
- This is the main idea behind my theory: that you can learn from anyone around you. From my Egyptian Tour guide to Michael Jackson's music. From my favorite boss to a NJ perfume chemist. From my friends and family to a reality TV show. You'll understand once you get into more of my blogs. My inspiration began in my honeymoon in Egypt. I was impressed on how our tour guide controlled a group of 20 so professionally and respectfully, and I thought to myself "that would make a good manager"

2. Listen to your mom; she might be the smartest person you ever meet.
- It might be hard at times, but moms know best. Not only are they experienced in life, they're also the only ones who truly knew you from your beginnings, the ones who genuinely care.

3. Surround yourself with smart friends.  
- Find friends that upgrade you. It’s beyond book smarts, it’s street smarts, and family smarts. Find good students with good values, strong will, and a great sense of humor.

4. Go to school - longer than you think you can.
- Obviously, get a good education. But just when you think you’ve had enough, extend it. Complete another course, another major, and MBA and/or masters.   

5. Your brain's like a computer - You need to shut down, you need to delete
- Take a break from learning when you need one, go into sleep mode, preferably shut down!
- There's only so much a brain can hold, like a hard drive you have to go back and delete useless information.

6. Believe in something extraordinary
- Whatever you believe, or whichever religion you follow...there's something out there interested in teaching you lessons! Sometimes the hard way! Things happen for a reason - learn from it!

7. Read books
- Books are notes that smart people take. Whether it’s a novel teaching you proper English, or a self-help book helping you lose some pounds, books were made to teach.

8. Carry an encyclopedia in your pocket
- With today's technology there's no excuse for not learning. When you’re curious on something, and in your idle time, pull up Wikipedia on your iPhone. You can learn anything; from Disney’s dream while driving through Orlando to Benjamin Franklin’s inventions while sitting in a Philadelphia airport.

9. Study your passionate subjects
- Don’t be an expert at everything. Find the topics that drive your passion and learn them well. From Scuba Diving to Photography. From Public Speaking to Muscle Building. From Coaching to Motherhood. Find what moves you and be the best at it.

10. Find somebody to love you
- Your wife, husband, or significant other will teach you the hardest lessons: who you are. They are genuinely interested in making you better. Listen to them, but more importantly, love them too!