Tuesday, August 31, 2010

News You Can Use - The power of a simple ‘thank you’

"Think about this: When was the last time you wrote or received a handwritten note of thanks or even a thank-you e-mail?" read more...

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” Ralph Marston

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Five Simple Rules by Mircea Mihaescu

One of the "advantages" of working for a number of years is that you develop a small set of rules you apply to many (if not most...) of the situations you encounter. The way you have those guidelines applied varies from project to project, however you need a way to make them known to the people you work with in a simple way. I try to make mine "memorable" as well... here are five of them, that many of my colleagues have heard me repeating often:

1. If things seem under control, you are not driving fast enough (from Mario Andretti, race car driver)

This is my all-time favorite, as it describes a philosophy of pushing to your (or your team's) limits. If you don't try, you'll never know what you are capable of...

2. If it's too steep, you are too old (from a T-shirt in Banff, a ski town in Western Canada)
A corollary of the previous one, it is emphasizing the need to stay young at heart, to search for new ideas and and new ground, to "boldly go..." (you know the rest).

3. How many years does it take to get 15 years of experience? (from me)

My point is that in many professional domains it just takes time and effort to achieve the required level of proficiency. The answer is, of course, "approximately 15 years", and it should not be considered a "put down" message, rather as encouraging people to set goals and work hard to achieve them. No one wants to be operated on by a surgeon working for a clinic that advertises hiring with "no experience required"... Recently, Malcolm Gladwell has written extensively about this in his book "Outliers".

4. I've never heard such a stupid idea in my whole life! (one of my former managers)

The point here is to think and try to understand new ideas thoroughly, be constructive and tactful with your feedback. The manager in the story made that comment when hearing a suggestion from the company's CEO ( I was there as a techie). He was fired that evening. And the idea did fail spectacularly...

5. You need to repeat something seven times for an adult to remember (from personal experience)

One of my friends is a kindergarten teacher. She told me she doesn't stop from being amazed how quickly kids pick things up and remember them days after the initial discussion. It looks like after so many years of school, we adults have developed a certain level of resistance to other people speaking. So now I do not get frustrated, I just say it again, and again, and again...

Read more of Mircea at Thoughts on entrepreneurship, innovation and software development.

"The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." ~ Alvin Toffler

Sunday, August 22, 2010

News You Can Use - Foreign professionals need 'soft skills' to find success

Foreign professionals need 'soft skills' to find success
Engineering a brighter future; Association trying to help immigrants

By Shaun Polczer, Calgary Herald

"Engineers like to think of mathematics as a universal language.

So the biggest challenge for skilled engineers immigrating to Canada isn't the ability to run calculations, it's often the 'soft skills' that go with finding a job on top of adjusting to a new culture and a new way of life."

Read more here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Tenth Quality: They are Generous

They are committed to the IEP community.
They've succeeded because of others, that’s why they want to help others succeed.
They understand that all success is a function of reciprocation.
They give to get.

Now, please take your time and go through these next five steps. Be clear and specific.

  1. What’s your philanthropic focus?
    • To help, encourage and inspire others to succeed in any undertaking, showing my appreciation for the help and support the community have given me. What about you?
  2. How can you develop a reputation for helping others?
    • I am involved with the Association of Romanian Engineers in Canada (www.arec.ca) as well as with different groups on LinkedIn, where I learn and share experiences, striving to build long-term relationships. What about you?
  3. What percentage of your time and resources have you committed to helping others?
    • At least 10%. What about you?
  4. How can you turn generosity into opportunity?

    "If you always give, you will always have." ~ Chinese proverb

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    News You Can Use - What You Need to Know About Harassment in Ontario

    What You Need to Know About Harassment in Ontario
    By: Renée Cormier

    June 15, 2010 marked the official start date for employers to have complied with Bill 168 amendments to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.

    The changes to the legislation require employers to have policies in place to protect employees from workplace violence and harassment.

    While most companies have little trouble with workplace violence among staff, harassment between employees remains mostly unnoticed.

    Canada Safety Council refers to workplace harassment as psychological violence and has received reports of workplace bullying leading victims to commit suicide.

    Ontario’s new legislation defines workplace harassment as, “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.” It also defines forms of harassment such as “bullying, intimidating or offensive jokes or innuendos, displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials, or offensive or intimidat-ing phone calls”.

    According to British website www.bullyonline.org, 68% of managers are bullies. Can-ada Safety Council reports that 72% of bullies are bosses and are equally male or female. American studies report that 1 in 5 employees are bullied at work. In light of these statistics, we can assume that bullying or psychological violence is preva-lent and even tolerated in Canadian workplaces. Ontario employers should know that while Bill 168 does not directly address manager/employee relations with respect to workplace harassment, it does leave the door open for judges to award compensation to em-ployees who have been bullied by managers and co workers.

    Canadian judges have been taking a dim view of employers that turn a blind eye to bullying in the workplace and organizations of all sizes have had to pay compensation to employees who com-plained of being bullied at work. Organizations such as the Toronto Transit Commission, Honda Canada, RCMP, Subway and Sobeys have all had to pay compensation to former employees due to complaints of bullying at work. These are just a few employers who have been penalized and the message judges are sending should not be ignored. Bullies are a liability to your business and any company that does not take steps to prevent workplace harassment of all kinds is asking for trouble.

    Renée Cormier is a specialist in the area of Employee and Customer Engagement. She has been a training and development professional since 1997 and has driven results for many companies throughout her career. Most recently she has published a book called, Engaged for Growth which is currently being distributed throughout Canada, the United States, and UK. Through her company, Powerhouse Conferences, Renée offers an array of corporate education services including Leadership development, Customer Service, AntiHarassment training, Communication skills and ESL classes.

    Her passion for business and bringing out the best in people allows her to achieve favorable results for her clients. Renée’s learning sessions are lively, engaging and guaranteed to produce results!

    PowerHouse Conferences
    Phone: 905-593-2778
    E-mail: renee@powerconferences.ca

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    The Ninth Quality: They are Natural Networkers

    They constantly reach out to others.
    They identify the influencers and they contact them  - over and over again.
    They love people and it shows.
    They attend the meetings and they make the calls.
    They know what to say and they say what they know.

    Now, please take your time and go through these next five steps. Be clear and specific.
    1. Do you know who you need to contact?
      • Who are your Power Sources, Role Models, Challengers, Mentors?
        • Networking really works when you become a problem solver. If you have a large enough network, you can have access to just about anything you need by leveraging ideas, contacts, everything.
    2. Do you know how to communicate with them?
      • It's all about them - not YOU!
        • "They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel ~ Carl W. Buechner
    3. How can you trade benefits with them?
      • How do you prepare yourself for a meeting? As you prep for the meeting, answer the questions below - in writing:
        • What do I want from the other person to know?
        • What do I want them to believe?
        • What do I want them to feel?
        • What do I want them to do?
      • How well do you communicate your value as a sales/eng/ professional?
        • Start by thinking in terms of other people, not yourself.
          • What is important to the people with whom you're trying to establish relationships?
          • What do their problems, hopes, and successes look like?
          • You can't start a relationship without some give and take. Even if you believe you can solve a person's problems with your eyes closed, hold back. Resist the urge to let your enthusiasm run wild at the expense of opening up the conversation. If you listen closely, you're already providing value.
    4. Are you allocating the time to attend the right meetings?
      • What %?
    5. Do you know how to network online?
      • Are you getting the best out of LinkedIn? 
        • Know what you want to get out of LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn as the tool that it is. 
        • How can you use this tool to execute your career management strategy? Do you have one? 
        • How are you going to enhance your personal brand?

      "Knowledgeable people know facts. Successful people and prosperous people know people" ~ John Demartini   
      "Your network is your net worth... Add to your personal bottom line with better networking and bigger  relationships" ~ Tim Sanders

      Monday, August 16, 2010

      News You Can Use - A path to acceptance for immigrant professionals

      “Obviously I want to find something more permanent that uses my skills,” he says, such as a job as project co-ordinator or sales or technology manager. But to do that he’s realized he has to reinvent himself for the realities of the Canadian workplace. - THE GLOBE AND MAIL

      Read the article here.

      Sunday, August 15, 2010

      The Eighth Quality: They are Excellent Communicators

      They get their message across – even though they may not always speak perfect English. 
      They are fully involved in the conversation. 
      They listen. 
      They demonstrate their commitment. 
      They show their enthusiasm. 
      They engage the people around them.
      Now, please take your time and go through these next five steps. Be clear and specific.
      1. How are you improving your communication skills – speaking, writing, listening?
        • Identify what you need to do to become a great communicator. 
      2. What’s your communication style... and how can you improve?
        • Decide what it is your style.
        • Do you know the four phases of the communication process?
          • 1. Verbal or Non-verbal
          • 2. Meaning or Perception
          • 3. Clarifying
          • 4. Shared Meaning & Understanding
        • Are you practicing it?
      3. Are you demonstrating your enthusiasm and commitment effectively?
        • Remember... "It's not what you say or do, but HOW you say it." 
      4. How can you motivate people to want to speak with you?
        • Are you a good listener? What steps do you need to take to improve your listening skills?
          • “Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view." ~ Dale Carnegie
            • Think of LADDER to be a good listener
              • Look at the other person. 
              • Ask questions. 
              • Don't interrupt. 
              • Don't change the subject. 
              • Express emotion with control. 
              • Respond appropriately.
        • What are your keys to success?
          • Hear & UnderstandFocus on what is being said!
          • Expect the Best When Communicating - Be Optimistic!
          • Act with Integrity in All Your Interactions - Be Honest & Fair!
          • Respect Diversity and Recognize Differences - Build Rapport!
      5. Are you web-smart?
        • Are you on LinkedIn? Connect to get the opportunity! Help others!!
      "Communication is defined as consisting of 7-10% words, 35% tone and 55% non verbal." ~ Albert Mehrabian
      "Debunking the 55%, 38%, 7% Rule" ~ Judith E. Pearson

      Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      The Seventh Quality: They are Courageous

      They believe in themselves. 
      They take on big challenges. 
      They operate with confidence. 
      They are not intimidated by others. 
      They may feel the fear, but they don’t let it stop them.

      Now, please take your time and go through these next five steps. Be clear and specific.
      1. Are you taking on ambitious challenges?
      2. How are you building and expressing your confidence?
      3. What obstacles or people do you need to confront and overcome?
      4. How are you using your fear?
      5. What relationships are you building to help master your fear?
      "I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying." ~ Tom Hopkins' The Champion Creed

      "The opposite of courage is conformity and there is little compensation in conformity." ~ Earl Nightingale

      Tuesday, August 3, 2010

      Benjamin Zander on music and passion

      I had to share with you this great life lesson, which actually touches on many of our topics we're discussing on our blog... on success, on leadership, on how to present your passion, on new experiences, on new challenges, on music, on attitude and belief in others, on teaching and learning, on inspiration, etc., and I hope you'll have shining eyes like me, too. Enjoy!

      Are you passionate or familiar with any topic discussed here? Please collaborate and share your thoughts with us. 

      "The difficult in life is the choice." ~ George Moore