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Archive for the category “people planet profits”

Fun and business do go together


Fun and business do go together Ralf a

Whether at the height of a recession or even regular days at the office can be a stressful drab and drain the energy right out of you. Some people keep droning on and on about goals, strategy, profits and issues and problems all day and every day – yikes! I remember eons ago someone mentioning to me that where there is laughter, there is no work taking place. Are you kidding me? It is no wonder that the majority of today’s work force is not happy with their careers.

No doubt, corporate culture has the biggest impact on happiness at work, but a close second is the fun you have while you are on the job. Laughter relieves tension and stress. If you are a leader-manager you cannot do anything better than tapping into the power of humor in the work place. If you and your fellow employees do not have leadership that is thinking about or not providing it, take matters into your own hands and initiate it. Last but not least, get out of there if is there is nothing at all to laugh about at work. Happier employees make for a better morale not to forget happier customers as well.

When you really think about, the work place comes richly prepared with some solid fodder for fun. You need not be the real version of the TV show “The Office” and look far for fun. Customers, co-workers, meetings, memos, e-mails, and so much more bring forth barrels of laughs sometimes. Then you may have some gregarious team members on board who initiate fun situations. I can only invite you thinking about becoming the one inducing a bit of tension relief – especially if you are part of leadership.

What are some ways to have fun? Below a few real life examples that I am hoping will pique your curiosity and perhaps you can kick off boosting morale yourself soon. Make sure that you are around when you initiate this, otherwise fun can turn into stress too when people no longer think what you have done is funny. The whole point is to include people and having fun together. You are to laugh with, but not at people.

When my colleague goes on vacation we have often “improved” his office for him while he was out. One time we mirror imaged the whole room including his furniture (we stopped at rearranging the pictures on the wall though). Another time we blocked the door with card board boxes stacked up to the ceiling. Then one time we filled part of the room with shipping peanuts. Quite a long time ago he did not want to see anyone drop anything off into his in-bin, and so we took twine and bound up a nifty package of all the paperwork and suspended it from the ceiling. Thus there was truly nothing IN the in-bin.

With the next one you need to be careful not to damage any equipment. One time my co-workers glued my head set to the base. I forget what kind of glue it was, but it was strong enough to pick up the whole phone with the receiver and yet I was eventually able to separate the two again. I was totally surprised when a call came in and the whole phone was stuck in my hand.

Next thing I did was to take one phone out of their area and I substituted it with a string and a coffee can. The one who laughs last, laughs best….

Calling in and pretending to be a customer is sometimes the most hilarious thing to do. I called our service scheduler once pretending to be a customer who needed a technician in an absolute ridiculous time frame and with even more ridiculous scope of work. I told her that I would call her back in a while to see what could be done about this. Oh, my! I could hear the comments dealing with confusion about what job and customer this could be about. Key here is to letting people off the hook quickly and so I walked over and asked about the mystery customer’s name. We had a good laugh when they figured out it had been me putting them on.

A classic is turning the desktop screen upside down. I have done this a few times when co-workers are away from their desk and then I go to the desktop view and right click on Graphics options, Screen rotation and then pick 90 or 180 degrees. Wait and watch what happens. Make sure you are close so you can help out if need be. You do not want IT having to come around fixing this.

In a fairly recent team work event one group was supposed to report out their results and one team member missed it. When he came back, the rest of the team told him that the event had been postponed and he had been chosen to provide the report out in a public speaking event in a close city to us. The event coordinator had been clued into this and the team member then started to mentally prepare himself for this – in utter disbelieve. I have never seen anyone turn pale like this in a while.

I guess you get the gist of this exercise. Fun lurks at every corner of your business. It is so wonderful when I hear folks laugh at work. It relaxes the work place and personal tension. Business mutually benefits from it too. For one employee morale has been proven to increase. Then think about how relaxed minds turn creative so much easier. A lot of creative thoughts linger around events like this that turned into neat business ideas and concepts. One Mexican food chain called Chipotle even makes the presence of smiles in interviews a hiring criterion, because they feel that a smiling fun loving employee makes for happier customers.

A word of caution though, laughter can turn around and turn into stress really easy if you let it get out of hand and people feel offended, teased, or picked on. Fun is interpreted quite differently depending on many factors. On the other side you also want to make sure business is still kept to a professional level and no financial harm comes of it. Other than that, load up the barrel and fire away at some creative fun. Share your creative funny stories in the comment section.

Ralf

 

10 top leadership books worthwhile reading


10 top leadership books worthwhile reading 

Video credit: Ralf Weiser, fireworks over Ocean City NJ Ralf a

I have written about how leader are readers and readers are leaders a few times before. If one of your New Year resolutions is to read more here I have 10 great must reads if you are in a leader-manager position, or if you are intending to get into managerial role. Watch out, because some of them are off the beaten path, sort of speak. They are definitely worth every minute of reading them.

Here is Jim Collins’ “Great by Choice”. It is an excellent follow up to his “Good to Great” and “Built to Last”.

Tasha Eurich wrote a fantastic book (“Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom-Line Results, and the Power to Deliver Both”) about how leaders can generate a happier business environment and at the same time realize great results at the same time. It is a wonderful book about transparent, honest, and genuine leadership.

You may have watched Simon Sinek’s TED Talk about knowing your “Why”. Here is his book “Know Your Why”. Know your why and the What and How will all but automatically follow. It’s what he calls the Golden Circle.

Dev Patnaik wrote a beautiful book about how empathic leadership can make you and your organization insanely successful. “Wired to Care – How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy”. This is one of my favorite books about sustainable leadership and creating a truly worthy working environment.

A more challenging read is “Theory U – Leading from the future as it emerges” by C. Otto Schermer. In it he provides a great insight how one must explore his or her blind spots.  It is about self-awareness and how one needs to almost stand behind yourself whilst also watching a rear view mirror enabling you to see what is coming and to not forget the past either. Take your time to read this one, or better yet, read it with your peer leader-managers.

There is probably no way around John C. Maxwell in this list. He has made a great impact on me with “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. If you are just starting out with a new role in leading folks in business and social settings you should read this book.

Mitchel Kusy wrote about “Toxic Workplace!: Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power”.  It is a great read about toxic people and how to best manage them and the situations that arise when they leave your organization. You are not done…

Eckart Tolle’s “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose“. Awesome read especially when the time comes for you to ponder your life’s purpose. And remember that everything in your life revolves around purpose. That is why it may be a good start to ponder this and start here, before you think about career moves.

Howard Stoeckel and Bob Andelman went to write a book about the local convenience store phenomenom WAWA (“The Wawa Way: How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience”). I went to WAWA the first time in 1989 and have been a fan ever since. The book now helped me understand why I got hooked on them. If you are interested how your core values carry through your organization then this is your book to read. Way to go WAWA.

Lincoln on Leadership” written by Donald T. Phillips is another worthy read. Fascinating book filled with great facts of Lincoln and the challenges that made him who he was and how that had shaped his leadership.  It was amazing to read that his predecessor had all but abandoned Washington DC and the Union since he thought it could not be saved.  He is my favorite president and an amazing person with exceptional leadership traits.  Especially noteworthy was his leadership by meeting folks at the front line and also just about anywhere else such that he would stay abreast with the war situation but more so to encourage the people.

I am hoping you will find a book that you will find interesting enough to read this year. You do not have the time? Think again; you are not MAKING the time for it. The best of luck to you and have a great Happy New Year!

Ralf

Becoming a Mercedes Benz enthusiast – the unconventional way


Becoming a Mercedes Benz enthusiast – the unconventional way Ralf with blue 230

Photo: Yes, that would be me with dad’s baby blue Benz

How does one turn into a Mercedes Benz enthusiast? Normally, one would think that the car’s design, endurance, race performance, beauty, features, heritage, etc would be enough to do that. If that was not enough, having been born and raised in Germany may make you think gave me a little predisposition toward Mercedes Benz. In fact, that was not quite how I became a lifelong fan of the brand at all – all I had to do was observing my dad putting his Benz’s to the test frequently. His outright abuse and neglect of these fine automobiles were legendary.

Growing up in Germany I watched my dad how he bought pre-owned Mercedes Benz cars and then using them in his line of work. He was a sales rep and the mileage he put on them was incredible. I am not sure if it was because he was cheap, or because he did not know any better, but he could have made a really great factory endurance tester.

The first two Benz automobiles he bought were W115 (aka “dash 8”) cars. Number 1 was a crème white 250 6 cylinder sedan. I only recall one major event with that one towards the end of us owning it. Dad blew the engine. I will never forget the puzzled – perhaps I should say disgusted – look the local car shop owner gave my dad when he told him “you have got to change the oil more than once during the time you own your car”. Thankfully, the man had been friends with my dad and after locating a suitable used engine my dad was back on the road. I learned right there that for one that the engine must have been really tough. Second, changing oil is cheaper than changing engines.

Undeterred from this experience my dad pushed on with his endurance testing of the next “object”. He bought a used W115 and this time a light baby blue 230.6 that was very popular in the 70’s. Oh my, did this car suffer. I remember one instance when dad topped off oil right before a longer trip. This car was an amazing driving machine, especially on the Autobahn. Cruising at 100mph was a piece of cake with it. We made a quick pit stop after 2 hours and when we return to the car from a restaurant we noticed engine oil dripping down out of underneath the engine compartment. We opened the hood and found the oil fill cap on top of the air cleaner – right where he had left it from topping off oil in the morning. There was black oil all over the place and amazingly the engine still was ok.

The next stunt involved 4 adults and 2 children going to the heart of the Austrian mountains leaving from Northern Germany in the middle of the night. You read this correctly – the 230.6 was only a five-seater and my sister had to sit in the lap the whole way. The trunk gulped down the copious amounts of luggage of both my aunts and our family. Loaded like a mule my dad pressed on with only two short breaks along the way and this was a 15 hour trip. The car performed flawlessly all the way to Austria and back. Shortly before getting home the car became just a little sluggish and dad got it checked out at the favorite local car shop again. Two cylinders had a lot less compression. With the head removed the reason for this turned out to be two severely burned exhaust valves: “Werner, you have got to get the valves adjusted at least once in a while”. Once the valves were replaced and the engine put back together the car performed flawlessly again.

Though there are many more endurance stories to share, I will only make mention of one more with the next car. That was with a W123 200 sedan. It was a brilliant white one with blue MB Tex interior. I had fallen in love with the previous cars, but this car I really liked. That is why it really broke my heart watching my dad once again abuse it badly.

One time he decided cleaning the engine compartment with a high pressure washer. While I am a fan of keeping my car look great inside and out, he took it one bridge too far. Sure enough he “cleaned” the radiator and blew out the cooling fins at a 2” height toward the bottom part of the cooler. The cooler did not leak, but its performance was reduced significantly. Amazingly, the car ran well even though this issue should have caused all sorts of issues.

Even though it took a while to finally own my own Benz, I never forgot how much abuse these cars can take and how they keep performing even with minimum (or no) maintenance. Not that I endorse or promote neglect, but that is how I became a lifelong fan of the brand and its cars. Getting really neat designs and a ton of top notch state of the art technology when you buy new and even pre-owned cars is the cream on top of it.

Ralf Weiser

How to speed read – read through a book very fast


How to speed read – read through a book very fast  Ralf a

I used to read a book a year – nowadays I cannot believe that this used to be me. What has changed? I really love reading about other leader’s experiences and how they managed finding their way through leadership and business challenges. There is a common theme that runs through their stories and the more I read, the more complete the picture gets that I can derive from it. Nowadays I can plow through an average business book in fewer than 2 hours and still fully retain the points.

It is not some miracle that is needed to do this. Here is a quick run-down of how easy it is and you can do this too. Up to the last bullet point these tips help you skim read through the book. It helps you deciding if you want or need to read everything in the book. Once you are there make good use of the last bullet item:

  • Read the front and back book cover jacket. These two half page size text pieces are loaded with information about the book’s content and the author.
  • Read the foreword or intro pages. Here there are also compressed nuggets worth of powerful information about the main theme and topic of the book.
  • Read the endorsements pages. This can hold important quotes about well-known people who may have blessed the book’s author with a review of the book. This can hold an important clues depending on who those folks may be and how well known they are and what they are known for representing.
  • Read the first chapters of the book or give precedence to them. Here is where typically the most relevant and important data sets reside.
  • Read the first one or two paragraphs and the last paragraph of each chapter. That’s where the key points reside. The middle section of this text section is typically only covering personal stories and / or more ways of applying what the author may have learned and wants to pass this information along. It adds time to reading their points, but this may not be necessary reading it all.
  • Train your brain. The best thing to do is investing in a speed read course like the one offered through Eye Q Advantage.

Leaders are readers and readers are leaders. When are you going to get off the couch and be reading your next book?

Ralf

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