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Archive for the tag “culture”

Vivid reminders of 9/11

Vivid reminders of 9/11 IMAG0959

Photo credit: Ralf Weiser

If you have the opportunity to travel the Big Apple anytime soon, please make a point of stopping by the 9/11 memorial park and while you are at it take time to visit the new Freedom Tower – the new World Trade Center 1. Also, check out the museum connected to the park. About two years ago I made my first trip to the area where the two majestic North and South Tower used to stand before 9/11. I am glad I waited to return to this site. Where were you when the attacks happened in 2001? We all recall this quite well I am sure. One of my responses used to be rebuilding the site right away and taller than ever before. I am really glad to say that I was wrong about this. Over 3000 people lost their lives that day. There is no easy way dealing with the emotions of losing loved ones and having no closure as very few victims were ever found and identified. It is clearly a site that will provide vivid flashbacks to any of the folks who were old enough to remember this fateful day. I am glad now that some time went by before planning the rebuilding and development of the site.

The two fountains that have been built right there at the site where the Twin Towers used to stand are just magnificent. What a serene and peaceful scene, very tastefully done and topped off with all the oak trees and the museum part of the park. It will open sometime in the near future. They can take their time with that. I can still not stand the sight of looking at artifacts that relate to that dark day.

When you look up you now have two new high risers to look at. WTC1 is a worthy successor to the buildings that used to stand there. I was totally elated about the symbolic value of both scenes: America stands for resilience, tolerance, love and inclusion. It is soothing to the mind to see that we have come full circle. We are dealing with the grief and we will make sure that we will never forget to honor the fallen heroes. The new site is fulfilling its purpose to help bring hope to people and to inspire people again.

NYC has really grown on me over the last decade and a half. While you are immersing yourself with the pulse of the city you will get a notion of what it means to be amongst people that may go down, but are never out of the game.

Quick tip on the side: If you go North bound on I95 make a point to park at the Staten Island Ferry building on Staten Island. The ride to Manhattan is free and you get to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It is a treat all the way around without the usual parking hassles. Safe travels.


The truth makes for short sentences

The truth makes for short sentences

Sharing this vital nugget with someone I consider a key mentor caused for him to mention how profound this is. To me it is a reality that I have aspired living to at work as well as in any social setting. Just look at any toxic work place and you will see that openness, transparency, and integrity are not easy to come by. Hidden agendas, jockeying for positions, everything is always portrayed to be a success, and so many other alarm signals should tell you to get out and away from an organization like it. Have you ever noticed that correspondence telling you why stuff went wrong is typically long and verbose?

Now look at examples in work and social settings are based on honest feedback and everyone has the courage to speak their truth no matter how inconvenient it may be. Makes for short conversations, right? Compare that to the #dieselgate nonsense that Volkswagen is going through right now. Explanations as to how this could have happened are long and complex. Remember the movie “A few good men” from which the above movie clip is from? Bottom line is that life is too short to get tangled up in stuff like this. It is stressful and no one comes out a true winner. Stick to the honest truth letting you meet every person at eye level. Enjoy the experience of creativity to just start flowing out of everyone.


“Think outside the box” and yet we go to work and school in one

“Think outside the box” and yet we go to work and school in one 

The term “thinking outside the box” stands for doing and thinking in unconventional ways. Step out of bounds and away from the beaten path. Away from routine and what is expected of you. Words like normally, usually, typically, or similar ones like it should not be used – “try something new and radical”.

And yet our routine looks so much different. Our schools and workplaces are placed in rectangular shoe boxes, with little to no natural lighting and even less high quality air. Slapped together to maximize the builder’s and architect’s profitability. Enabled by having harnessed energy to a point where we believe we control nature by being able to climate control our working and schooling habitats.

Rule of thumb here is a simple one: Nice 90 degree corners are good and so is routine and standardization. Where does that leave creativity and quality of life though? Over 70% of working folks would love nothing more than a new job or career because their working conditions and overall career management are below par.

At school this is even worse. Some school settings are outright industrial in where they are located and how the buildings are constructed. They seem to be designed to merely serve the purpose of providing future workers for companies that will then provide a very similar working environment as the newbies were used to from school: the box type building.

What is the antidote? Well, even though it may sound clichéd, but it sounds like our business and school leaderships need to be the first ones who need to think outside the box. Creating a lively and inspiring work and school environment does not take much as long as everyone involved starts from establishing a suitable vision and mission around this goal. Then the tough work starts. Thinking concepts like this through will take time. With great preparation the final product will take a lot less hard work.

One such building (watch the background story here and here is the green building explained) is the one at Aerzen USA. The intense grass roots efforts of a few folks turned into a movement that keeps catching on.

Now think about our children and how they deserve a similar inspiring environment. If we want them to be able to think and act outside the box, let’s help getting them out of the truly boxy type schools of today. Here are two examples (Avon Grove and Kimberton) how some schools have already begun making changes for the better.

Ultimately the choice is always yours and this is neither my time nor place convincing you of anything. But think about if you and your contributions are only a mere SAT score, or some other number. If so, a shoebox building will do. If not, then please help for us all to start acting outside the box – and yes this pun is intended.


6 ways to fight career-limiting moves

6 ways to fight career-limiting moves pablo

Tired of all the folks around you who gripe a lot and can point out issues even on a good day? The vast majority of employees can isolate issues and talk about them all day long. Only a few can actually kick this up a notch and provide possible solutions and even implement them. A brighter future belongs to these folks.

Problem is that this can turn out to be a really bad career buster. Leader-managers look for people who can take work off of their busy schedules. Funny thing with problems is that they are typically no secret and only the densest of us cannot see them. Mentioning and listing them over and over again does not solve anything.
Worse yet, it kills morale – first your own and then other’s. The complainer turns out to be the problem. Great, more work for the leader-manager. Not.

Interested in turning this dynamic around? Here a few easy steps that help you fix issues and help kick your career up a notch.

  1. When you see a problem that is really annoying you resist the urge to vent. Griping to the wrong person may land you in the HR office. Your co-workers and team members will start avoiding you; you can easily turn into a time and energy sink. Take a quick walk through the company. It helps mind and body. Start working on finding a solutions ASAP.
  2. Refrain from excessively combatting bad ideas or concepts. No worries, bad ideas are never long term sustainable. Do not waste your nerves on this process. Keep focused on bringing forth good ideas.
  3. Focus your attention on 1 problem at a time. The problem needs to relate to the root cause – not symptoms. If you address symptoms you will experience scope creep and that is a lot more work that way and highly ineffective.
  4. Think of 2 to 3 possible solutions. Make number one the one that you really would like to do. The second one that you could still live with, and number three if you had to. Go to your leader-manager and propose it.
  5. Experiment with your solutions. Success breeds success. It also builds your skill set. Invaluable and it will not go unnoticed. If for nothing else, it makes you more valuable to the organization. That is a really good thing when the economy is not doing well.
  6. Make sure that you keep repeating what works of the above strategies.

Rather ask for forgiveness than ask for permission when you look and experiment with your solutions. Any mature leader-manager will leave you alone and appreciate the self-sufficient work that you did. It is a win-win situation all the way around. The problem is getting solved, you build a sustainable career, morale stays high, and the company will do better because customers get more value. Griping builds a speedpass lane to the exit – that would be your exit. It’s your choice.

Sometimes you are working in toxic work environments. Your suggestions and solutions may not be heard. Perhaps your manager does not like being outperformed by an employee and may make your life more difficult. If that is the case and you are miserable it may be time looking for a place that will value what you have become. Again, that is your choice as well. Either way it is a win-win-win case when you actively choose to develop your full potential. Choosing to do nothing is usually the worst decision – no decision is a decision.



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