Retooling…

Hi folks,

In case you’re wondering I’m behind in my updates because of Thanksgiving and because I’m still trying to do some winter retooling on my goals. Expect updates to resume next week.

In the mean time, if you haven’t voted in the Six-Pack Challenge I’ve put together a web-site (so you don’t need to be on Facebook) to make it really easy. Just go to this site to vote:

http://www.abclarke.com/6pack.html

Remember, please vote just once, and if I win we help raise another $1,400 for Team Continuum!

- Art

The Jewish Candidacy

Note: Please read at least to the second photo; this article isn’t quite what it appears at first.

I Don’t Trust Jews

I can’t vote for Joe Lieberman for President, but I admit it’s hard to pinpoint why.

Maybe it’s because he’s changed his position over the years? No, that’s not it. Truth be told, I’ve changed my position on many issues as I’ve matured, and so has any person who grows. Plus his changes in position, for example over abortion, have been attempts to reflect the views of the constituency he is trying to build, and that seems like something I want my politicians to do (especially given the horrible example of G.W. Bush to ignore his constituencies).

Maybe it’s because his economic policies smack of Republicanism; lower taxes and focus on growing the economy but not as much focus on those who are underrepresented and forgotten by our economic machine? No, that’s not it either. I personally believe a focus on growing the economy is the best way to help the underrepresented.

Maybe it’s his views on foreign policy? I’ll admit his hawkish views on terrorism and Iraq do seem a stretch too far, but truth be told that’s not what’s holding me back.

I guess, now that I think about it, it’s his religion. Joe Lieberman is Jewish.

Now, I’m not prejudiced against any faith, but something creeps me out about Judaism. Sure, millions of good people adhere to it. Sure, there is a focus on family and moral values – two things I admire greatly. And I do have some friends who are Jews or converting to Judaism.

But, you know what I mean, right? There is a shroud of mystery around the faith, and an insular nature to it that makes me suspicious.

Judaism may share a heritage with Catholicism (a faith I’m very familiar with), but they also adhere to a series of scriptures and doctrine that is, at best, odd. Their rules require them to do all sorts of weird things in support of their faith (for example, look at what they are not allowed to eat and drink). Plus there was that issue with polygamy – remember Abraham – although the Faith is now firmly against polygamy.

In reality, I don’t think America is ready for a Jewish president, so I will not vote Joe. End of story.

What the …?

Some of you are probably offended by what I wrote above (and confused, because Joe is not running for President). I know I would be (and was) offended if I heard it.

And plenty of people did say things like that in 2004 when Joe did run, but those people were not in my circle of friends, acquaintances and contacts. I could console myself that the anti-Jewish viewpoint was restricted to the uneducated members of Middle America (and a small number of well-educated bigots). I believe Joe’s Judaism was not what prevented him from getting the Democratic nomination.

Yet in 2008 I hear similar things being said all the time, only this time it is being said by people in my social class, my contacts, my acquaintances, and yes my friends!

To see what I mean, just substitute “Mitt Romney” for “Joe Lieberman”, and “Mormon” for “Judaism” in the rant above.

I’ve heard many people say “I can’t vote for a Mormon”, each time with a shy smile saying, “you know what I mean, right…”

Really?

I don’t.

Why is it OK to not vote for someone because they are Mormon but not OK to not vote for someone if they are Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, or Presbyterian (and I’m not even touching on the thoughts of a Muslim presidential candidate)? Isn’t this a country where we are supposed to separate faith from state?

I haven’t decided who I’ll vote for in 2008, and I tend to lean Democratic these days. My decision will be based on policies, past record, and my thoughts on their ability to work effectively with other branches of government.

But it greatly disturbs me to hear Mitt Romney’s electability being dismissed because of his Faith.

We should be better than that.

- Art

Growing Individuals: Be the Sandman

(4c of 5 in The Rules of Naked Management)

Two weeks ago I talked about the first rule of growing people on your team: get over yourself! Assuming you’ve done that, the next step is to Be the Sandman…

Cathedrals of the Mind

So your employee holds the key to growing their own career. If so, why the hell do we need managers involved?

Well, let’s revisit the process involved in getting something done:

  1. Daydream: Form a vision of what you want do.
  2. Be Lazy: Come up with one small step that moves you closer.
  3. Look at the Negative: Look at the opportunity cost of that step, and if it’s too large, go back to step 2.

Then, TAKE THE STEP!

In career growth therefore, the first thing you need to do is form a vision, a dream if you would, of where you eventually want to get to. It can be grandiose (“I will be the CEO of a fortune 500 company”). It can be noble (“I will create and run a charity that serves the needs of the homeless in Seattle”). It can be very specific (“I will be the Director of Strategic Projects within 2 years”). It can even by very vague (“I want to build something that is larger than just myself”), but it’ll need to get more specific over time. The most important thing though is to have that dream and to believe you’re going to achieve it. Every great achievement of mankind started as a dream, and so everyone who wants to be great needs a dream:

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942

If your employee doesn’t have a dream of where they want to get to, then all the training, all the mentoring, and all the experience in the world is for naught; it’s just passing time.

Enter the Sandman

Now, why are managers needed? Because left to their own devices most people will never follow the process above. Sure, they know they need to follow it. But they also know they need to rebalance their portfolios, get that annual physical, and have their teeth cleaned.

Most people are incredibly frightened by the concept of looking internally, finding a dream, and then communicating it to the world. So they procrastinate.

But as a manager you have one power that applies here; you can force someone to do something, and fire them if they fail to do it (harsh I know, but ultimately that’s the only hard-power managers have). And in growing careers, that’s what you need to do.

Your job is to force your employees to think hard and articulate where they want to take their careers; in other words, you must be the Sandman and force them to dream.

Becoming Morpheus

The concrete step here is simple: make sure every one of your employees has clearly articulated to you their dream for where they want their career to be in five to ten years. Write it down if that helps you, but the key is that the employee (not you) articulated it, and he or she can recall it at a moment without referring to some bullshit document (so don’t just follow the HR plan).

This will be easy with some employees – they will have firm dreams already ensconced in their minds that you just need to extract from them. For others though, you’re going to have to force them to do a lot of work. The good news is pretty much everyone has a dream; you just have to get it out of them.

People have lots of different ways of doing it, but here are some of the techniques that have worked for me.

  1. Listen, don’t direct. This goes back to “get over yourself”, but when you have conversations with your employees about where they want to grow their careers, make sure you spend most of the time listening. Don’t be afraid of silences – make them break the silence.
  2. Ask open-ended questions. Don’t ask “do you want to be a CEO?” But also don’t ask “what job do you want to have in ten years?”: I have no idea what my job will be ten years from now; how can I expect my employees to know? Instead ask “what are the qualities you want to have in your job ten years from now” (I do know the qualities I want in my job 10 years from now)? Or “what types of things do you want to do in your job ten years from now? (I know the answer to that too; I’ll bet you know your answers as well).”
  3. Encourage made-up titles. I’ve found this one to be very useful. Once I’ve asked a bunch of open ended questions about the qualities they want in a job, I ask the employee to make up a title for that job. Sometimes they pick “CEO” or “CTO”, but more often than not they pick something way more personal to them. I once had someone pick “Director of Special Projects”, and another person pick “Judge.” I’ve found that when someone picks a name for their set of job qualities, it makes it more real for them and more memorable!
  4. Ask them what are the differences between themselves today, and the person who holds the title they made up. This is useful to find the gaps and also to give some ideas of the types of steps they should take to get to their goal. For the person who told me “Judge”, he rightly pointed out he didn’t have a law degree (any guesses what his next step was)? For the person who told me “Director of Special Projects” he told me he hadn’t really worked on a special project to date, so the goal became getting him assigned to a more important project with trickier technology.
  5. Be persistent. Every time you meet with an employee who is uncertain of their dream, ask them how it is coming. When they have made no progress, be harsh. Give them deliverables if that works with them. But never give up on this – without a dream, they will not take their career anywhere!

Stop Dreaming

Once you have a dream that is articulated, with some gaps identified between the employee today and the employee of the future, it’s time to move onto the next two steps: being lazy, and looking at the negative.

Being lazy is usually quite easy once you have a dream: you ask the employee to come up with some ideas of steps they could take within your organization that moves them closer to their dream. This is a time where you can seed them with ideas, but try to make them come up with ideas first – you’ll be surprised by the results.

But “looking at the negative”, well that deserves its own topic which I’ll cover soon.

- Art

The Six Pack Charity Challenge

Put Up or Shut Up

So, the week of November 5th has come and gone, and it’s time to pony up for the Six Pack Charity Challenge.

To refresh your memory, a bunch of folks I know have bet $200 each of our own money. To win the bet, we need to be voted as having the “best abs” as photographed last week. Whoever is declared the winner (and voting goes to December 1st) gets to donate his bet, along with EVERYONE ELSE’S bet to the charity of his choice (and strangely it’s only guys who are egomaniacal enough to try this…).

I’m playing for Team Continuum. My basic training plan was (a) train for marathon and (b) try not to gain weight. How did I do? Well, you can review the data in the “Nude Numbers” posts, but again a picture is worth a thousand words.

How to Vote…

I need your help. I think I have a chance to win – although there is stiff competition. Click on my photo below and it will take you to all the contestant photos. Once there, view the photos, select your winner, and then click on the vote link.

My face is obscured by the camera (hard to do a self photo without doing that) but rest assured it’s me. Please vote for whomever you think won, but I certainly wouldn’t begrudge you if you thought I did.

As a comparison point (apologies, but I don’t’ have many photos of me) this was me about two years ago. Feel free to let “effort expended” factor into your vote:

I’m not sure if I mentioned it but please VOTE FOR ME!!!!!

Thanks in advance,

- Art

Nude Numbers (#22)

For reference, here’s last week’s data. Curious what this post is about? Click here to find out.

Summary

This is the week I have to come clean on my Six-Pack Challenge progress. I’ll post separately following this.

But I spent the last week in Mexico and did well on training in the start of the week, but got very sick at the end. Read on for more.

Subjective Data

Workouts earlier in the week went well, but starting Thursday the flu I’d been fighting off got the better of me (which was a shame since it got both me and J, and we were in Mexico). It was nice to eat-to-gain again though J. I also took my photo for the challenge… more on that in another post.

Objective Data

Click here for a PDF version of my dashboard.

Note: There is no Body-Fat data for most of the week because I didn’t have a way to do it in Mexico (and forgot on Sunday).

Assessment

Apart from getting the flu, the new plan started out well (“apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”). I swam a bunch in the large pool at the resort we stayed at, alternating drilling and swimming, and I found things getting easier over time.

I decided to take the next phase of training with a new philosophy; listen to my body more. So, once the flu set in on Thursday, I’ve backed off training. I’m still a little under the weather as I write this, but am heading the right way. Hopefully this way I’ll manage injuries better.

Plan

I’ll be re-jigging how I present this next week, but my plan for this week is (subject to recovering from my illness):

  1. 20-40 25-yard swimming laps
  2. 90-150 minutes of Spinning
  3. 2-4 hours of weight training
  4. Set and maintain a diet of about 3,000 calories a day (trying to gain between .5 to 1.0 pounds per week)

Presentation Notes

No changes to data presentation this week. As with last week, data is presented in SOAP Note format.

- Art

Help me raise money for people suffering from cancer

Nude Numbers (#21)

For reference, here’s last week’s data. Curious what this post is about? Click here to find out.

Summary

I’m posting the last two weeks in my old format to be consistent, but I have now starting on my new winter training schedule. A different format of data will show up the week of November 18th.

This is a post of data from before the marathon (which I didn’t do). I ramped down from workouts at the end of the week (which was planned), but otherwise stuck to plan.

Subjective Data

The main trick this week was diet; I kept to a strict diet, cutting at the end of the week and limiting sodium intake. Not doing the marathon sucked, but many of my friends successfully completed it and kudos to them. Next year!

Objective Data

Click here for a PDF version of my dashboard.

Assessment

Stuck exactly to plan. I worked out at the beginning of the week, then cut calories towards the end (who says I can’t try to look my best for the six-pack challenge). Also, since I was off to Mexico the next week and I’d eat a lot, it was fine to cut going into the week.

Plan

Go to Mexico; eat a lot; read a lot; do nothing; return.

The goals starting 11/5 are as follows:

  1. Be able to swim 1km without stopping by 3/1/08. This is really about form and balance for me.
  2. Gain 5-10 pounds from my 11/5/07 weight while keeping a 32 inch max waist by 3/1/08 (Starting weight: 157 lbs).
  3. For weight lifting, increase my 1RM by 5% on average across the board by 3/1/08 from my 10/30 1RMs (1RM = 1-Rep-Maximum).

Presentation Notes

No changes to data presentation this week. As with last week, data is presented in SOAP Note format.

- Art

Help me raise money for people suffering from cancer