Do you feel the energy?

What a nice weekend it was. Singing birds, blue sky and ofcourse sun all over the place.

nature-morning-sun-on-the-field-nature-landscape-hd-wallpaper-nature-landscape-photo-morning-hd-wallpaper

I like the sun. It gives me energy and makes me happy. After the dark winter it’s always fun when spring arrives. It’s like the world awakes. I think that the sun is the most powerfull thing in our universe. Not only does it affect us physically, it also influences us mentally. Look outside and you know what I mean. People are laughing and enjoying the sun. Everyone looks happy and wants to do something. You see people running, cycling, working in the garden or just relaxing with a nice drink and some friends. We have waited for this since the last real sunshine before winter came in.

It’s like you were running on bad fuel the last months and now you get a refill with the best fuel there is. So I’m happy and if I’ve got the choice, every day that comes can be like this weekend. I don’t need the tropical temperatures. A soft ’Spring-sun’ will do. Enjoy!

You should build your own platform.

Are you a blogger, writer or something else? In fact it doesn’t matter what you are. The only thing that counts is WHO you are.

I’ve listened to every episode of Michael Hyatt’s podcast about Intentional Leadership. In his podcast he tells about his experience being a leader and how you can live with passion. His podcast is filled with examples and questions from people around the world. According to me, it is more than a podcast. It is his way to help people to learn from his experiences and leverage them in their reality.
I think he’s a great example of someone who builded his own platform just by being himself and creating content from the things he loves. He created ’Platform University’, a way to help his audience to get noticed in this busy world. He mentions this Platform from time to time in his podcast ’This is your life’. But it was the invitation to watch three short videos about building your own platform that convinced me to take a closer look at what he’s offering. I have to say that it looks really promising but I’m doubting whether I should enter the program or not. If I pay for it, I want to fully engage with it. At the moment I’m struggling with questions like: ”Will I have the time for it?”, ”Is it something for me?”, ”Do I want to build my own platform?”.
So if someone can help me solve those questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Platform University

 
Here is the book: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

”Each month, we will explore the concepts outlined in my best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World at a much deeper level through specialized classes, tutorials, and actionable lessons. Our goal is to help you get your message heard and have greater impact.”
– Platform University

Managers, ask your people.

Do you have a manager who’s been asking for more information to anyone above you instead coming to you? Yes?! Well, it shouldn’t be like that.

Managers are strange people. They are very good in their job and work hard to land in the position they are. But from time to time, they lose touch with day to day business. It seems that they forget what lives with their people. They launch new ideas that are very innovative but lack commitment by their people. It is like they live in another atmosphere. Their ideas are good, but don’t match real life. You can ask yourself how it is possible that such smart people make this mistake. Do they think they are better than the rest? Do they really think they are the only ones with great ideas? Probably not. I think they simply do not have the time to ask for advice from their people. They are booked with meetings about budgets and politics. Who get’s the money to spend on a new project? What is our vision for the next year? A lot of managers means a lot of visions and and a lot of meetings to discuss these visions.

But that’s not all. Sometimes they are forced to take action before they are ready for it. Manager A hears something is wrong and asks Manager B to take action on it. Manager B asks one of his directors to dig into this issue and the ball is rolling. Most of the time, those people know nothing about what is really going on. They just heared something and use their power to force action. Action needed or not, that doesn’t matter. You don’t want to be blamed for it at the next management meeting. My problem with all of this is not that managers take action. They should take action, but a lot of them do the wrong thing. They do not realize that they start a train. A massive locomotive that is difficult to stop. Worst of all, the train goes into the wrong direction. Going straight for your people who have no chance of running away. Why? Because they do not ask their people what’s going wrong. They ask the wrong people for information. Other directors don’t know either what’s going wrong.

The only ones that know what’s wrong are the people that are working on a solution for the problem. They need the help of their manager. They need their manager to come stand next to them and support them. What do you need to fix this? Do you need someone else to help? Do you need extra equipment or simply a coffee to keep you awake?

I have a question for all the managers around, a call for action: Please stand up and ask your people what you can do for them. How can you support them to fix the problem?

’The In-Between’, a must read.

Looking for a book to fill your evenings? You should read ’The In-Between: Embracing the tension between now and the next big thing’ by Jeff Goins.

To be honest, I heard about the book a couple of times in a podcast but wasn’t very interested in the beginning. Only when it was mentioned on Twitter a couple of times, I got interested and bought it. And I do not regret it. It was a great read and every page made me long for the next. It is not science fiction with lots of action and adventure in it. No, it is about the waiting in our life. A lot of people live from day to day, from action to action, from event to event. We go to work and try to be the best. We have hobby’s and enjoy the life as we like it. But what do we do in the in-between? We wait. We wait for someone. We wait for something to happen or we just wait till the light is green. But what we do not realize is that this waiting determines how we live. How do you fill in the waiting? What do you think while waiting? Maybe you are not thinking while you wait.

All of this can be found in the story that Jeff Goins is telling in his book. So if you want to know more about the in-between or you just want to read a good story, go grab your copy of the book!

“Instead of living life wishing you could jump ahead to the next adventure,
these pages will inspire you to slow down and savor the in-between.
—Crystal Paine, founder of MoneySavingMom.com” (http://goinswriter.com/inbetween/)

Your most important value.

What is the most important value of your company? Resources, customers, money… All possible answers but not what I want to hear.

When you ask this question to the people around you, a lot of them will tell you that the customer is your most important asset. And ofcourse, that is a valid answer. Without customers, your company cannot survive or has no reason of existence. So whatever your product may be, you should spend a lot of your time making your customer happy.

But what if you would ask this question to the company itself? What would their answer be? I always remember the New Years’ reception where the CEO thanks his people for their work and all they do for the company. In addition, he says that his employees are very important to him. Without them, he wouldn’t have made it. Nice words, but does he mean it? I do think so. Yes, I really believe that the CEO means every word he says. It sounds crazy but most of the time he started at the same level as us and worked his way up. So he knows what it is to work hard while his CEO is giving interviews on TV.

But my question is why the CEO waits for New Year to thank his employees? During the year, there are plenty occasions to thank the people who work hard every day to serve the customer. What I see is that management thanks management during the year. Interviews, kick-offs, press-meetings are stuffed with names from directors, managers and projectleaders. Those people earn enough and get their attention also when you don’t mention them. You should not misunderstand me, I have a great respect for those people and for what they do. At least, most of the time. But please, don’t thank them all the time. Instead, thank the people who aren’t in the spotlight. Those people that take care of the things everyone forget. Those people that get up at night to check everything is running and help the customer if he’s in trouble.

To be honest, I am a bit frustrated about this topic. Too many times this year, I’ve been in a ’Thank you Management show’. Manager A thanks manager B for the succesful cooperation and manager B thanks projectleaders X, Y and Z for their effort. And to make it even worse, they put pictures of those people on the slides?! Sometimes I think it is a game where managers keep rankings about who’s name is mentioned the most… When I am in such a presentation, I’m always wondering whether I am the only one who wants his name mentioned instead of my director’s name. And if my name is on the slide, would I still be complaining? I am convinced I will. And if not so, I ask you to notify me. To wake me up, because the most important value of a company are the people that work there.

So please mangement, thank your people and value them every day.

Having a stand-up at work?

At work, we started implementing Agile Development two years ago. Until a couple of months ago we used a Scrum implementation, but now we are changing this to Kanban. In this period a lot has changed but our stand-up always had his place. But is the stand-up a useful ceremony? Some say it is a waste of time but others think it is a gift. My idea is that a good stand-up can really make you better as a team. It is a quick and easy way to get an overview of who is working on what topic. Are you stuck? Just ask for help in this short meeting so that the project can move on.
It is true that you should ask for help whenever you need it. But this ‘forum’ is a great way to avoid asking help to the same people over and over. It is an opportunity for the team to manage themselves.

So as you can see, there are several reasons for having a regular stand-up. Why are there still people that don’t see the advantages of this ceremony? Probably because stand-ups can get out of hand pretty quick. Someone who keeps talking, discussions, people are not interested or arrive late. Those are all things that can be avoided with some simple rules. The article 10 Tips for a Great Daily Scrum Meeting provides a nice set of rules that you can apply. First of all everyone should use the same format when they tell wat they are doing:

” Yesterday, I completed…
Today, I will…
The things blocking my progress are…”

But the most important rule to me is “Start and end the meeting on time”. If you wait for someone, you will notice that focus will be lost. People will be watching the clock, because they have meetings or should get back to their work. People that are late should be punished for being so. Waiting for them will only cause more delays in the coming weeks since people think that is no problem. So when you are late, apologize and don’t ask to repeat what was said.

Having trouble to keep your Daily Scrum short and focussed? Try this tip: Let’s Save that Discussion for the Sixteenth Minute. We still use this from time to time.

Only do what only you can do.

Last week, someone was telling that he did a lot of work in his house by himself. Painting, installing electrics, breaking walls… You can save a lot of money by doing so. That is true, at least for some of us.

Not everyone is as handy as he would like, but still a lot of people are renovating their houses themselves. Why? To save money? That might be a valid reason but did you ever made your own bill? You still need the materials and you have to spend your own time painting or whatever else. Time is money you know. But I agree, if you can do it yourself it will be cheaper. But I don’t like to paint. So why should I be forced to do this? There are plenty of people that make their living from it. If you choose to hire someone to paint your house while you are sleeping, you could better try painting yourself. But what if you could do something else? Something you like and you can get paid for? Maybe you are good in webdesign or translations.

A couple of years ago, someone told me that you should only do what only you can do. I think that is a great thing to strive for. It is not an easy thing since you will always be tempted to do things you should not do. The same thing counts at work. Everyone has his own strenghts and you should focus on those.

So my advice is to do what you love to do and delegate what you don’t like.

Some reading tips about this topic:
What Tasks Should You Delegate First? – Michael Hyatt (blogpost)
How to Avoid Doing Everyone Else’s Job. – Craig Jarrow (blogpost)

I’ve read the ‘Email Field Guide’ by MacSparky

MacSparky’s ‘Email Field Guide’ is out for a couple of months and was on my list since then. Two weeks ago I finally found some time to read it and I bought it from the iBookstore. A week later I turned the last page. All reviews were correct. The book talks about a common problem for most people: email. It is in our lives for a long time so that we don’t think about it anymore. At least, not enough. In fact, it is good that you do not need to think about your email. But you should think about your email system and make it work. For yourself so that you can use your mind for creativity. But also for the people that reach for you via your mailbox. If you share your email adres with other people, you should act on it too.
Do you want to improve your email skills, go to the MacSparky.com and buy the book.

MacSparky wrote this about his book:
“This book tackles your over-stuffed inbox. The Email Field Guide covers both why email has become such a problem for everyone and how to manage it more effectively. The book was built entirely in iBooks Author and features a gorgeous craftsman-inspired design with illustrations by Mike Rohde. There are 36 screencasts, 8 audio interviews, over 46,000 words, and other rich-media assets to help you become the boss of your email. The material is accessible to beginners and power users alike with a thoughtful, fun, and systematic approach to managing your email.”

Want to read more? Go to Email Field Guide page on David’s website. Thanks David!

Windows computer or Mac? A choice between low price or usability.

A lot is written about this topic, but in fact it is easy. If you want to use your computer without effort, choose for a Mac.

I have a Mac for almost three years now. If I knew what I know now, I would have gotten one a lot earlier. Before I got my Mac, I was told that it was too expensive and only for people who make money with their computer. Well the more I use my Mac and see how others use their Windows computer, the more I am convinced that this is not true. Macs are built for daily usage and everything works out of the box. Easy intitial setup, automatic backups and everything synced with your iCloud account. All of this is not available on your Windows computer. At least not with the same ’ready-to-use’.

Last week, I helped someone with configuring Windows 8 on his new computer. It opened my eyes. Windows 8 works fine but is so complex that normal users don’t like it. Settings are everywhere, your computer is divided in two systems, Windows 7 and the new interface. It is just not logic. Even their initial settings are strange. Why would you like to split mails bigger than 800kb?

So if you ask my advice for your new computer, I definitely go for a Mac. It will cost you more but you will gain this back in no time. My parents bought their Mac a couple of months ago and besides some explanations, they did not need any help from me. And they’ve always used Windows.

Get rid of your Windows computer and go get your Mac!