Upgrade Yourself – Change Your Habits (Instead of Setting Goals)!

Don’t Set Goals – Take Action!

It’s the time of year when people ask about your new years resolutions, and the parking lot at the gym is crowded for a few weeks. We laugh at how almost every claimed resolution fails, but what if that didn’t have to be your result? It is possible – rather than making yourself promises and setting goals like everyone else, instead think about habits you can change which would lead to that goal or end result. Want to lose weight? How about starting a habit of walking during your breaks rather than eating a snack? Want to learn a language – listen to podcasts and training in that language while commuting. Want to travel to the Caribbean for a dive vacation, set up an automated saving from your paycheck into another account to pay for it, and book the time off!

You get the idea – we have amazing ability to change ourselves, but it all starts with changing our minds. Rather than setting goals for someday, make decisions which move you towards that goal today. Even tiny steps will get you there if you just keep taking them. The only time we are given is the present moment. Use it wisely! Continue reading

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Set Effective Goals

One of the best ways to direct yourself and your team is through clear goal setting and measuring performance against those goals. Likely when it comes time to set goals your Human Resources department provides training on SMART goals and how to use them. This is clearly an intelligent way to think about goals – but there are a couple more things to consider.

  1. Goals must be your own
  2. Goals should be difficult to achieve

First, it is important that goals set are goals you want to complete. Continue reading

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Innovation Debt

If you work with software engineers you likely hear the phrase “technical debt” regularly.* This is a painful reality for active projects, but just as painful is something you won’t hear discussed: Innovation Debt. We incur this debt from failing to innovate and renovate ourselves and our products. While the pain from this kind of debt isn’t felt as quickly, when the bill comes due it may be more expensive than a firm can bear.

In most companies only the executives think or talk about the need for innovation, while those with Continue reading

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Problems With A Perfect GPA

When consider hiring a recent graduate I am not looking for a perfect GPA.

Yes, getting a perfect GPA is difficult, and shows a lot of dedication and intelligence, but each time I see a candidate with one, it prompts a new set of questions. I want to know about times they have failed, challenges which required help, how they have solved problems no-one has ever solved before… anything that shows they don’t freeze up when they encounter difficulty. Schools provides a very structured format where requirements are clear; the real world isn’t like that. It’s messy, and there is no answer key. Sometimes you will fail, and have to have what it takes to brush yourself off, learn from the experience, and move forward.

I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. Michael Jordan

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McDonald’s Doesn’t Make The Best Hamburger…

But they do make a LOT of them. More than 75 per second. No one I know would claim they make the best, but they are everywhere, and what you get is usually pretty consistent no matter which franchise you get it from. In comparison, there are many craft shops where you can pay several times the cost and get a much better burger, but you won’t be able to buy it anywhere near as many places on the planet, nor with as much efficiency and speed.

This isn’t by accident. McDonald’s made a decision, and has pursued it for a long time, supporting that decision with good sales and marketing, training and processes. The result is, McDonald’s are everywhere. In comparison the craft shop likely makes more profit per person and has no intention of being the burger making machine which is a fast food restaurant.

How does this apply to you? We must make strategic decisions. Determine who your customers are, what they need that you can provide and your competitors can’t, or don’t do as well as you. That’s where you can succeed. Usually there is room in the market for both the high volume and the high quality producers, but attempting to be both almost always fails.

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I lie, cheat and steal. Hire me!

There are many reasons not to hire someone, but if the candidate admits to lying and stealing in the interview, they shouldn’t be surprised not to get the job.

When digging in to the technical skills of a recent candidate, they were proud to tell me about their awesome home setup for which they stole a high-speed internet connection. When talking about teamwork, he told me how he refused to tell teammates how he did things, lied about what he did, and that he enjoyed hacking into his coworkers’ machines.

Double fail. Both that he was stealing services, lying to his coworkers and generally being difficult to work with, and because he was dumb enough to let that be known in an interview.


Filed under interviewing, staffing

Would you hire a gamer?

Would you ever consider hiring based on their playing of video games? I did, and here’s why. What a person does with their leisure time speaks powerfully to their motivation. Motivation matters, perhaps more than anything else.

Usual interviewing evaluates three areas:

  1. Can they do the job?
  2. Will they do the job?
  3. Can we put up with them while they do the job?

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Giving Effective Negative Feedback

Dilbert: published Nov. 30, 1996

As previously discussed, giving feedback is important, and often makes the difference between mediocre teams and individuals, and those which excel. However, you don’t want to do it like Asok in the comic above. With a small amount of practice, it isn’t difficult to greatly improve your stills in this area. Continue reading

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Run Effective Meetings

Originally published on Dec. 13, 1993


We’ve all been in meetings which were effective and productive, but I bet the ones you remember best are the ones which were a waste of time. This is truly a shame, as by following a few simple rules, meetings can be useful indeed. It all comes down to how you start the meeting, and exercising some rigor throughout. Continue reading

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Filed under Efficiency, Management, Project Management

How Do You Get Things Done?

Everyone has their own idea of the best way to manage your time, email, calendar free time and all other aspects of your life, and is happy to sell it to you. Whether it is the getting things done, win, zen of outlook or any other current fad, the good ones all have a few basic principles.

  • Discipline. We are all lacking it at times. Having and working a system can help enforce discipline when we need it.
  • Simplicity. If you can’t remember it, it won’t work.
  • Focus on importance. Distractions abound. Avoid them.
  • Uses the right tool for the job.
  • Personalized to you. If it doesn’t fit you and your working style, it won’t work. Continue reading

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Filed under Career, Efficiency, Planning, Self-improvement