A. B. Clarke

Month: December, 2007

Nude Numbers 27

by abclarke

For some reason, the objective data was missing for a few hours. It’s back now.

Summary

Happy New Year everyone! Week 5 of the winter plan was a week off for Christmas. The holidays definitely made me gain weight faster than expected.

Subjective Data

This was a rest week as I was in Oregon for the holidays. I got two runs in, and I felt a slightly familiar sensation of discomfort in my right foot, meaning I need to be slower on my ramp up. Otherwise I enjoyed the rest.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Note: I had no scale in Oregon, so I’m missing weight measurements for those days.

Assessment

Last week was a rest week, and due to some scheduling errors (the error being my inability to read a schedule and see when classes were scheduled) I wasn’t able to get Yoga, spinning or swimming in. Still, I feel I was close enough to plan. I got two fast but short runs in, and the fact that I could feel my foot means I should ramp up running even slower. I’ll adjust targets next week accordingly.

Eating was outta-control for the holidays, but I don’t care 🙂 In the event Eve, Zohn, Eric or Lee read this, the cookies were worth every ounce of weight!!!! Thanks again Eve.

Plan

I’m sticking to the training plan next week, although I’m going to watch the running closely and probably cut one day out of swim-bike-run workouts (because the gym is closed on Tuesday). I expect I’ll slow my running mileage ramp for the rest of the plan.

As I mentioned last week starting January 1st I’m going back on my measured calorie plan: 2,250 to 2,750 calories a week to maintain weight for two to three weeks (i.e. get back in range).

Reminders

My aunt will not be able to run the Dublin marathon in October, so I’m still undecided between New York (November) and Dublin Ireland. If you’re interested in running either with me, let me know. I’m not going to decide until around April. Also, if anyone is interested in doing the Philly Triathlon (June) with me, you’re welcome to join the team!

Presentation Notes

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format.

Thanks for reading.

– Art

Nude Numbers 26

by abclarke

Summary

Week 4 of the winter plan. I’m gaining weight faster than desired, and will need to cut in the New Year, but for now I’m enjoying the holidays (yes, even fruitcake). Workouts are on track, and swimming in particular is improving slowly but surely.

Subjective Data

I didn’t slack off this week, probably because JK gave me shit for slacking off last week. But wow… was I tired come Saturday evening (when I wrote this). My eating was not good this week – way too much chocolate and cookies for the holidays. But I’ve decided to just go with it and worry about changing eating when the holidays are over (and the temptations much lower).

I returned to running this week with two 2-mile runs. No pain which was good.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

My exercise regimen is working well. My swimming is getting better, my kick is propelling me forward, and my stroke always starts out smooth. However I tire very quickly which leads to form breaking down once I exceed 100 yards in a row, so now I’ve got to work on increasing yardage. My brick workout (swim-spin-run) on Saturday was brutal; it was essentially the same workout as Tuesday, but at the end of the week I’m just beat. Hopefully that improves as I get closer to March.

My eating is not in control, and in the New Year I’m going to spend a week or two explicitly counting again to make sure I stay in range. Still, my body measurements aren’t too far out of shape, so nothing drastic required (like the all oat-bran and yogurt diet… yuck).

Plan

I’m staying to plan for the next week, which if you look at the gray areas you’ll see is almost a rest week. Woo hoo! That’s because I’ll be in Oregon visiting J’s family for most of the week. I’d like to get one to two runs in, and get a few isometric workouts in without a gym (i.e. pushup/pullup combos), but I’m not going to be bent out of shape if none of that happens. The reality is I’m fatigued enough that a week off now will be welcomed.

I did modify my plan slightly based on revisiting my holiday schedule (I hadn’t realized I’d be away from a gym for so long), but not in a way that I think impacts my chances of hitting targets. If you look closely you’ll notice a slight difference in the weight-training, running and spinning plans for the next 2 weeks from prior week’s plans.

Reminders

My aunt will not be able to run the Dublin marathon in October, so I’m still undecided between New York (November) and Dublin Ireland. If you’re interested in running either with me, let me know. I’m not going to decide until around April. Also, if anyone is interested in doing the Philly Triathlon (June) with me… especially if you’re a medical school student about to graduate, are having a light fourth year and want to be in great shape for your wedding (you know who you are…)… you’re welcome to join the team!

Presentation Notes

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format.

Thanks for reading.

– Art

Growing Individuals: Crack the Whip

by abclarke

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

A Coach or a Friend?

I started taking swimming lessons a few weeks ago. I’d started training for my first triathlon and I didn’t know how to swim.

My coach, Gus, is also a friend and I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with him and his family. We’ve been to soccer games together (“Football” for the more worldly readers). I’ve babysat his kids. I’ve ridden hundreds of miles with him at my side. He’s a very good friend.

This morning I had a typical coaching experience with Gus. I had just finished a 50-yard dash in the pool, my breathing was heavy, and my legs were burning. I wanted nothing more than to rest and catch my breath. I looked up at my friend Gus and said “give me a second”.

But my friend wasn’t there. Instead my coach was, and he just said, “No. Do it again.” And I was off. Dear God, sometimes I hate my coach.

Now here’s the interesting thing: I am a much stronger swimmer today than I was four weeks ago.

Of Carrots… and Sticks

The last two parts of this essay talked about what you need to do to get an employee growing their career:

That’s good, and in reality most of the work that must be done is borne by the employee. So far, as a manager, you haven’t had to sweat, and as I’ve always said, laziness is good.

But all that was carrot. For many people carrots aren’t enough – it’s always easy to “start tomorrow” or “wait until next week”. Sometimes you need a stick to get folks moving.

Coaching

Earlier I cautioned managers to get over themselves and realize there isn’t that much they can do to force someone to grow their career.

Now I’ll modify that slightly: assuming you’ve done the stuff mentioned above, there is one thing you can do: you can be the source of honest feedback on whether progress is being made, and you can reward and punish if progress is made or not made.

To do that, you need to remember you’re not a friend, you’re a coach. And sometimes Coaches need to ‘crack the whip’, or ‘be harsh’ or ‘be demanding’ in order to get the most of their charges(1).

That’s what Gus was doing this morning, and that’s what you need to do too.

The Whip

Now I’m not recommending you keep a whip by your desk (although I’ve known someone who did that). Instead, be serious about managing your employee to complete their small steps, rewarding them when they do, and punishing them when they don’t. Small steps are measurable and are black-and-white: Your employee either scheduled the mentoring lunch or they didn’t. They either signed up for the PMI course or they didn’t. Don’t worry about the larger goal – the employee will track that. Instead, just remember what small thing they said they would do, and hold them to it.

As usual, everyone has a different style with this, but here’s what I like to do. I track the one small step each employee told me they would complete, and when they would complete it by. And then every time I meet them, I ask them for status. EVERY DAMN TIME (Several folks who’ve worked for me will tell you how annoying I am about that(2)).

I make it their #1 goal on their goal list for the quarter. When they miss the step, I tell them I’m disappointed but make them set and tell me another one. And if they consistently miss their small step goals, then I start trying to move them into some other position (or “manage them out”). I reward in reviews those who made their steps; I don’t reward those who missed them – even if the rest of their work was stellar.

In reality, I’ve had a few employees miss their first and second steps, but never more than that. My experience is that your employees get really serious about following through on their career growth goals (or they leave) when you start tracking their small steps closely.

Self-Flagellation

Sometimes you’ll have an employee tell you they think their next small step is to “have my manager talk to Bob in Operations about a transfer to his department.” Yikes! This goes against my principle of laziness: your employee is trying to get you to do something, and if you don’t do it they can claim that you caused them to miss a goal, and if you do it, you could lose them! They’re trying to get you to crack the whip on yourself.

OK, don’t panic!

First, do you think that’s the right next step for them to take? If it isn’t, you’re their manager, and can tell them to pick another step. If this person isn’t a star on your team, you have a duty not to pass him or her on to Bob (and they should NOT be surprised to find this out). You should make your employee aware of where the gaps are and encourage him or her to start fixing them.

But what if you person is a star… well, that’s fine too, because if you’ve been tracking closely, you’re now about to fire your stars…

(which I’ll discuss next week, unless I’m too stuffed from Holiday feasting).

– Art

(1) I do believe coaching is about 50% teaching, 40% motivating and only 10% cracking the whip, but all the earlier stuff I’ve talked about covers the first 90%.

(2) No comment on other things I’m annoying about.

Nude Numbers 25

by abclarke

Summary

Week three of the winter plan, and I’m still tracking well. No injuries so far. I worked in extra rest due to fatigue and holiday parties, and I’m gaining weight slightly faster than plan, but all in, things look good.

Subjective Data

I slacked off slightly this week due to social commitments (damn you Ryan J) but it was worth every second of it. I’m definitely feeling very tired by the end of each week, and had to take an extra rest day (Monday) this week to recover. I also skipped Yoga this week, but that was because I’d been up until 3:30am on Friday night.

My eating was good all week until the weekend when I met holiday parties and holiday cookies.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

I’m still broadly tracking to plan. As mentioned above, my fatigue level was very high on Monday but as part of the new me, I decided to rest as a result, which means I only spent 2, not 3 days in the weight room. I also skipped Yoga due to fatigue. But all in, I’m quite happy with the training work.

My weight is gaining faster than I’d like, but not worryingly so; it just means I’ll probably have to cut in late January or February to get back on track. I’m discovering that staying on track with eating in the weeks leading up to Christmas is nearly impossible.

I did look for a deep water pool this week, but there is nothing in New York that I can get into without getting a club membership which is more than I want to spend.

Plan

Staying to plan. Changes include adding running and shifting my lifting targets to 75% of max, 6 reps, 4 sets and 3 exercises per muscle group.

Presentation Notes

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format.

Thanks for reading.

– Art

Growing Individuals: Remember Michael Jordan

by abclarke

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

Who?

In the mid-Nineties, the Chicago Bulls’ star player, Michael Jordan, decided to retire even though he had plenty of playable years left in him. Even more surprising, he decided he’d go play professional baseball.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Jordan didn’t achieve the same level of success between the bases as he did between the baselines. Within two years, he admitted that baseball was not for him.

But when he attempted to return to basketball, no one would have him. Team after team passed on him. They wouldn’t even consider him for a coaching position. Eventually Michael ended up having to take a low paying job in retail to support his family.

At best, Michael Jordan is but a sad footnote in the history of basketball, and a sad but common parable of the human race: a man following a dream, only to have his life destroyed in the end.

Bare with me… I’ll get back to that (obviously false) story in a bit.

Why Assume It’s True?

A few weeks ago (I’m behind…) I wrote about the importance of encouraging your employees to dream. Without a dream to move towards, they won’t push themselves. Once they have a dream, it’s usually fairly easy for them to envision a few small steps they can take that will move them closer (for example: go ask a potential mentor to lunch).

And yet, often there is a hesitation to take even the small step; a worry that if they fail in achieving their dream, their professional lives will be over. Often this hesitation is strongest in your stars as they think they have the most to lose. And as a result, too often, your employee never takes the first step.

That’s where the concept of “Looking at the Negative” comes in.

The Power of Negative Thinking

Let’s revisit the process again for 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!

We’ve covered the dreaming and being lazy in the last article, but “Looking at the Negative” is the key to dealing with hesitation. As a manager, your job is to force your hesitating employee to look at the negative. Yes, I mean force: Make them uncomfortable; Make them list all the things that could go wrong and the consequences; Make them squirm as they try to justify why such trivial things are stopping them.

Do this, and all sorts of obstacles will vanish under the scrutiny of examination. For example, your employee may worry if they ask a mentor to lunch that they’ll be rejected, but when they think about it out loud they’ll see the only real worry is schedule availability, not personal rejection. They may worry that they’ll be laughed at if they do an architecture talk in front of the entire Engineering division, but will quickly realize that the worst result is someone offering free help in presentation skills afterwards (really…).

In addition, if an employee verbalizes the negative before he takes his step, and decides to take the step anyway (for example, realizing that some assholes will laugh at you if you give a sucky presentation, but trying anyway), it makes it much easier to get through the bad when it happens.

In general you’ll be amazed how successful a technique it is to get your employees to verbalize their fears out loud.

But occasionally one “negative” or “opportunity” cost may not be easily dismissible: Your employee, particularly your stars, may worry that they’ll lose their job and destroy their careers if they fail in their next career endeavor.

That’s where Michael Jordan comes in.

The Consequences of Failure

Here’s the truth about career development: if you are a star today, but fail in something different tomorrow, you will always be welcomed back in your old role (although not always at the same company).

If you were an excellent engineer, and then fail in marketing, someone will always take you back as an engineer.

If you were an amazing designer, and then fail as an account manager, someone will always take you back as a designer.

And, as if you believed the bullshit I wrote at the top of this article, if you were a great basketball player, and then fail in Major League Baseball, basketball will welcome you back as you decimate all opponents again and win another three championships.

I’m not suggesting that people plan for failure – quite the opposite, you should expect and envision success.

But realize that if you don’t succeed, it’s not that big a deal. That’s what Michael Jordan teaches us. Even if (in the unlikely event) your employee fails in a new position, they can always fall back.

Oh, there will be some short term embarrassment (Jordan definitely got shit in the media), they may need to find a new company because their old job is filled, but once they go back to being a star again in their old role, naysayers shut up really really quickly.

As a manager, when you see someone hesitate because of fear of failure, coach them to think through what the real consequences are, and most will see the light: in career development, risks are rarely as dangerous as they appear.

Cracking the Whip

Now, if you’ve done the steps I’ve been writing about, and with a bit of luck, you’ve now gotten your employee to actually take one small step towards a brighter career future.

How do you (again remembering how little you matter in this process) get them to take the second step?

Simple… be a manager and crack the whip… which I’ll talk about next.

– Art

Nude Numbers (#24)

by abclarke

Summary

This is the second week of my winter plan, and I’m still tracking well. No injuries, but I’m very fatigued by week’s end. Next week it gets a bit more intense.

Subjective Data

I felt very fatigued at the end of the week. My Friday spin ride (I normally do Thursdays) was really hard as my legs felt very weak.

My swimming is progressing well, but my kick remains very weak. My coach suggested a drill to do (also suggested in the Total Immersion program): standing upright in a pool, keep my head above water without using my arms. The problem is my pool is 4 feet deep.

My eating has been schizophrenic; some days I’m really good (yogurt, chicken, and complex carbs) and other days I’m eating whatever I can find (pizza, cookies, etc.). It depends heavily on whether or not I have to travel for work.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

I’m still tracking to plan, and as expected it’s hard. Come Sundays (my usual rest day) I’m really looking forward to doing nothing.

I’m working with a swimming coach once a week now, and my kick is getting better. But I need to find a better pool to do some drills in.

Also, I’m happy with my rate of weight gain, but not how I’m going it. I’m going to try to be more balanced in eating extra calories this week, and lay off the cookies (these things are my bane these days).

Plan

I’d like to see if I can get the use of a deeper pool for a few weeks to try some deep water kicking drills, but other than that, no changes to plan for this week. Next week my weight limits shift up a little (I’ve been at 45% of max, 13 reps, 3 sets, and 60 seconds rest for the past two weeks) to 50% of max, 12 reps, 4 sets and 90 seconds rest which will really test things.

Presentation Notes

I made one slight edit based on a friend’s suggestion – My yoga target no longer implies yoga is optional. I’m still only shooting for one yoga session per week due to time constraints, but I do think it’s important to improve my flexibility.

These notes are always presented in SOAP Note format.

Thanks for reading.

– Art

Nude Numbers (#23)

by abclarke

Summary

It’s been a while, but I have now adjusted my tracking stuff for my new 2008 goals. I’ve just posted them, or you can look at the Objective Data portion for more information. Also big changes in presentation this week – please let me know if you have trouble viewing or understanding the data.

Subjective Data

Last week was really the first week on my new plan. I had planned to start the week of 11/11, but I got dog-sick that week and then hurt my calf returning to lifting the week after and decided to completely rest until all pain was gone. This week was a hard start. I’m switching to lifting three days a week for 60-90 minutes, as opposed to my prior 5-6 days at 30 minutes. And you know what, it’s exhausting!

Also, I’m finding swimming to be exhausting. My kick is nonexistent.

Objective Data

Blue lines == actuals; Gray areas == my target range for that week.

Assessment

This was a good start. I skimped on spinning but that was due to schedule more than anything else. I need to watch how quickly I gain weight – I’m eating OK but not great (a few too many cookies now that I’m trying to gain weight).

My swimming is pretty bad, and my kick actually moves me in the wrong direction, so I need to adjust that.

Plan

The major change for next week is I’m going to find and work with a swimming instructor for a few weeks to get my kick going. Otherwise, keep to plan.

Presentation Notes

I did a major rework of my dashboard for my winter goals, and hopefully to make it easier to see at a glance where I am. For example, if you look above you can quickly see I was “out of target” for spinning last week.

Lastly, these notes are always presented in SOAP Note format.

– Art

Help me raise money for people suffering from cancer

2008 Fitness Goals

by abclarke

In the spirit of Running Naked, it’s time to declare my 2008 Fitness goals, and to lay out my winter training plan. Here goes.

Looking Back

Looking back on my former 2007 fitness goals, my performance was mixed. I did not succeed in running the New York Marathon. But I did successfully complete the following:

  1. Finished the Jack Brown charity bike ride.
  2. Got my body fat below 10% (9% at lowest).
  3. Without a doubt, I am now in the best shape I’ve ever been in (and yes Myfanwy, it is nice to know I can kick my 20-year-old ass J ).
  4. While doing this, we raised over $15,000 for Team Continuum (against a BHAG of $10,000) (thanks again everyone!).

So all in, I’d give myself a C+ or B- on the goals (big hit for missing the marathon), which I’m really really happy with!

Looking Forward

For 2008 I’m shooting for three large goals.

  • I have agreed to race the Philadelphia Triathlon with some friends on June 22th. I’ve never done a Triathlon before, so this will be a biggie. Let me know if you’re interested in joining me.
  • I am going to run a marathon. I’ll either do the New York (November) or the Dublin (October 27th) marathon, and I’ll decide which closer to the time. I have a guaranteed spot in both. If you’re interested in running either of those, let me know, and it’ll influence my selection (although if my aunt runs Dublin, I’m in too).
  • I’m going to try to increase my weight to around 175-180 lbs by end of 2008, but keep my waist around 32-inches (i.e. muscle, not fat).

Lessons Learned (Hopefully)

Those are pretty aggressive goals for next year, and if I ask myself what the major risks are they are:

  1. I need to more slowly ramp up than last year and not train through injuries.
  2. I need to learn how to swim.
  3. I need to add a lot of muscle to my frame.

Winter Fitness Goals

With those risks in mind, I have the following goals for the winter (while I freeze in New York):

  • Weight: Go from 158 lbs to 168 lbs +/- 2 lbs by 3/31
  • Abdomen/Body Fat: Maintain abdomen at 32 +/- 2 inches through 3/31, and ensure abdomen is at 32 +/- 0.5 inches on week of 3/31
  • Swim: Be able to swim 1,000 yards without stopping by 3/31
  • Strength: Increase my 1-Rep Resting Maximum (1RM) by 5% over my November test by 3/31.

Basically the prescription is lots of swimming, weight lifting and eating. I’ll do some spinning/biking to maintain cardio fitness, and gradually start returning to running as well to test out the foot. I decided on March 31st over March 1st as the end date to give my body more time, and I think the goals, while aggressive, are achievable on that schedule.

As usual, I’ll track progress against these for all to see in my Nude Numbers posts.

Thanks for reading,

– Art

 

    

A Return to Normal

by abclarke

Hi folks,

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me and my blogging fell behind. Let’s see:

  1. Got the first functionally-complete pre-pre-pre alpha of Vlideshow’s first product working (and no, I’m not showing it yet) and proved that the technology I need exists and works! Remains to be seen if the market exists, but one thing at a time, yes?
  2. I won the Six Pack Charity Challenge; Thanks to all who voted for me and congratulations to all entrants. All said we ended up raising $3,800 for Team Continuum with this stunt.
  3. Got really sick with my usual fall flu. That sucked. And after the flu, I managed to injure my calves pretty badly as I returned to lifting with them. Stupid me…
  4. I officially switched from Marathon training to my new fitness goals.
  5. Interviewed and got volunteer gigs at two great New York City organizations.

But that’s just lame excuses. So, today I’m returning to my prior posting schedule.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned.,

– Art