August 9, 2009

Extreme Sportsmanship

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , at 11:57 pm by lindaslongview

This past week, I was involved in a youth sports competition that fielded both domestic and international teams:  soccer, swimming, tennis, table tennis, dance, and much more.  Although my family lives in an outlying area to the main venue, we were eligible to host five (5) teenage boys for the week long games.
SANY1703
I drove our SUV 840 miles and averaged 100 miles/gallon/person (50 gallons of gas with 6 of us in the car) for my two soccer players and three tennis players.  Altogether, we collected one injury (already healing), one gold medal, and many, many smiles!  It was a total blast!

It was an amazing and inspiring experience because the long view tenets: build reciprocity assets (goodwill) and create consistent positivity were incorporated everywhere.  The games emphasized sportsmanship, camaraderie, and kindness – everyone was encouraged to do more than what was expected.

There were so many examples….

  • Every day driving the SUV in the “big city” was an adventure – wrong turns, missed turns, and intersection errors.  The boys cut me a great deal of slack and were always kind. (We were never late or in danger.  ☺)
  • Daily breakfasts were greatly appreciated, as were cookies and milk each evening.  One of the things that struck me was that there was not a single complaint.  No whining, no negativity, just expressed gratefulness for all that I was doing.  There was a constant refrain of “thank you.”
  • The injured boy played only five (5) minutes of his first soccer match against Mexico and did not net any goals during the tournament due to his injury, yet his teammates rallied around him.  They carried his things, waited for him as he made his way on crutches with his knee immobilized, and ensured that he stayed integrated at the parties/festivities.  Reciprocally, even though he could not play he stayed involved and cheered heartily for his team.

Can it get any better than that?  Amazingly, yes!

  • At the gold medal match in tennis, my guest’s opponent arrived unprepared – he had not eaten lunch.  After the match had started, at one of the breaks, the opponent shared that he was hungry.  My guest immediately asked his own coach if any of their team’s turkey sandwiches were left.  Finding none available, he dug around his tennis bag for a nutrition bar that the opponent accepted.  The linesman went to the clubhouse for some fruit and everyone waited for the boy to ingest some calories before the game restarted.  In my book, that was extreme sportsmanship.  My other guest tennis players informed me that although they knew their friend wanted to win, he wanted more to play a good match.

SANY1759

Can you encourage extreme positivity in your environment?

July 29, 2009

On Triiibes

Posted in Business, Life, Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:01 am by lindaslongview

triiibes_blog_ring

A few years ago, I found Purple Cow by Seth Godin when I was browsing the local bookstore.  Purple Cow started me on a journey of reading other Seth books and then becoming a daily reader of Seth’s blog, I was immediately addicted to Seth’s daily pithy, yet succinct observations, advice, insights, and admonitions.  His blog posts start my day.

In July of 2008, Seth invited his blog readers (me) to buy Tribes (a terrific leadership book by Seth) and to join an online tribe called Triiibes.  I joined!  Today is the anniversary of Triiibes and we are celebrating it with an interconnected blog ring.

The community of similar-minded professionals that emerged in Triiibes, with whom I converse, learn, and occasionally teach, is amazing.  What I love most is that Triiibes is interactive and asynchronous – I can participate day or night and spend as little or as much time as I have available.  Simply perfect!  I have made many enriching friendships.

Most importantly, over this past year as I participated in Triiibes, I achieved a new perspective, gained confidence, and realized that I was in a cul-de-sac.  Although I had achieved significant professional success over many years, I finally realized that I had already achieved my personal goals where I was and that my efforts were no longer leading to important gains – it was time to do something different and/or set out on a new adventure.  So…

I initiated a rebuild of my personal long view:

  1. I resigned from my full-time professional position and am now achieving proficiency (mastery?) in the non-technical art of nurture.
  2. I am nurturing myself, my family, and my community through care-taking, volunteering, and just helping where I can.  By doing this, I have met many interesting and amazing people that I would not have had time for previously.
  3. I created this blog to share – here I coalesce my long view insights and publish them.
  4. I am defining my next adventure.   I have steadfast confidence that an opportunity to nurture technical innovation will emerge from this investment in nurturing.  ☺

Happy Anniversary Triiibes!  Thanks for everything, I look forward to many more insightful years!

Next on the Anniversary Blog Ring:  Being Tribal

July 23, 2009

Tracking!

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:10 am by lindaslongview

I love cheering on my friends who are participating in sports because it is a great way to stay connected, to provide meaningful positive reinforcement for the participant, and have fun by participating vicariously.  Until now, vicarious participation has been limited by time and proximity or by TV coverage (Olympics, ballgames, etc.).  So, unless I have been near enough (and had enough time) to go watch at the friend’s venue or my friend has been an elite athlete that makes TV coverage, I have been relegated to listening to tales and seeing photos later.  All that is being changed by customized tracking…

Chi2MackinacRace2This weekend, a college buddy of mine was crewing on a sailboat that was racing from Chicago to Mackinac (Michigan).  During the race, all the boats carried a GPS chip that constantly transmitted data to the iBoat website which then showed the positions and identifying information of all the boats in the race.  It was so much fun watching all of the boats race toward Mackinac over the three-day race.  As I went about my own weekend, I kept pulling out my iPhone to check-in on the position of my buddy’s boat (the little green dot on the map).  What a riot!  I would show anyone who would look how my friend was doing in his race – real-time.

Also this weekend, my sister-in-law (SIL) and I ran in a local ½-marathon.  Timing was done using RFID technology – a disposable RFID tag was attached to the shoe of every runner.  As we crossed the start line, our start time was captured and as we crossed the finish line, our completion time was captured.  Because it was a long race, my husband (also SIL’s brother) planned to be back at the finish line to cheer us on (and take our picture).  Although we gave him a pretty good estimate (less than 2 hours) of our expected completion time, he tracked our progress via iPhone GPS technology since SIL and I carried phones with remote tracking enabled (my teenagers!).  Even though the iPhone tracking worked, it was klugy and not universally available.  Imagine what the experience could have been for many others if real-time text-messages (tweets or emails) were being sent via RFID timing portals at milestones along the trail?!  I know that I would have paid extra to sign up a for race day texts (or emails or Tweets) as my “bib” number reached various milestones.  What an opportunity to create connection and positive reinforcement!

Over the long view, enriching the experiences of others by creating connection and positive reinforcement always pays positive dividends. If you can think of a way to create connection, meaningful positive reinforcement, or camaraderie, as part of your service and/or product, do it because it will build loyalty, returns, and possibly additional revenue!  Real-time tracking has added value to many businesses – package delivJimOnRailery, sailboat racing, … I’m hoping that the technology will trickle down to running, cycling, swimming, etc.

I can’t wait to participate vicariously with MORE of my friends through tracking – it will help me stay connected.

Can you create an opportunity to enrich, create connection, and reinforce positively in what you do?

June 19, 2009

Asking Discomfort

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 pm by lindaslongview

I was raised to be very self-sufficient and to (mostly) avoid debt, so it is difficult for me to ask.

Recently, I joined my son in “picking a fight against cancer.” We are both participating in the 2009 LiveStrong Challenge.  We will each fundraise and run a 5k.  LiveSTRONG2009My son is the LiveStrong veteran.  He raised >$1000 as part of his 7th grade charity project.  No matter the confidence that I have with the cause, fundraising feels to me like asking for a favor.

To overcome my discomfort with fundraising, I started slowly.  I selected ten (10) friends to solicit.  I prepared a “base email” and customized salutations appropriate to each friend.  I sent these requests out over several days, burying the requests for support amongst a brief personal update, shameless promotion of my blog, and photos of my son.  Was it the right balance?….

I did not get many quick responses.  My confidence waned!  After several days, I received a response indicating that my email had been caught in a spam folder (apparently, having several links causes susceptibility to spam filters).  After follow-up emails to the remaining nine (9), I discovered that six (6) of the messages had been caught in spam filters.  Whew!  My confidence was restored.

The asking tension is in give vs. take of reciprocal behaviors.  We give to preserve/nurture relationships (long view).  We take (make requests of others) to meet goals.  Although this is true both professionally and personally, the medium of exchange makes these transactions quite different.  Professional exchanges have market norms; PAY fulfills the transaction.  Personal/civic exchanges have social norms; RECIPROCITY fulfills the transaction. Boundaries and expectations are well defined for professional exchanges and I have tons of experience, so it is much easier to conduct those transactions. My instincts tell me that for personal/civic exchange, creating personal boundaries consistent with my principles and behaviors is the right direction.  For me, this means nurturing personal connection with each solicitation for LiveStrong.

To date, I have raised $70 out of $200 goal for LiveStrong.  Leave me a comment if you want to donate to my effort and I’ll send you the link.  ☺

In the meantime, I will continue to gain experience through practice, practice, practice (does that mean that I’ll “get to the Carnegie Hall” of fundraising?!)

Do you have advice for me to strengthen my ability to ask?

June 12, 2009

Relativistic Comparisons

Posted in Business, Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:44 pm by lindaslongview

FortuneCookieI had Chinese food with a good friend last evening.  My friend received the following fortune:  “Linger over dinner discussions this week for needed advice.FortuneCookieFortune

Specifically, we discussed the challenges of coping with isolated HR (Human Resources) actions that benefit a single individual/group, yet create long-term unintended consequences for other staff.   One example was a scenario where HR advocated offering a higher starting salary to recruit a new employee without adjusting other staff salaries for like positions.   The problem is that even if current staff salaries are economically fair (from an entirely objective perspective), the salary differential will be perceived as unfair when (not if) the details become known.  This is because humans are tightly bound to relativistic thinking.  Watch this great YouTube video by Dan Ariely from his work, Predictably Irrational, Ch.1, to demonstrate the point.

How people feel about their situation is highly dependent on comparison to others.  Thus, in order to achieve good staff morale, it is important to consider how to minimize negative comparisons now *and* in the future.

The question that my friend and I discussed is the WHY would anyone advocate for such a scenario?  I think that the biggest issue is that organizational policy-makers may not believe that negatives resulting from relativistic thinking are real.  Concerns are dismissed by otherwise thoughtful and well-educated policy-makers because they want to believe that we should not behave that way *and* because they don’t “feel” it themselves.  They are more likely to be insulated from accumulating these negatives, because their own (more senior) staff better model ideal behavior.  Thus, their mental models, based upon their current experience, allow them to apply idealized logic to the expected behavior of more junior staff when assessing positives/negatives.

Intentions are good, vis-à-vis accruing an immediate (short view) positive for the single/group (improve employment competitiveness by recruiting new employee at higher salary).  However, as noted by Jeffery Pfeffer in his book What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom about Management, pg.117, “…executives [can be] hopelessly out of touch and unable to empathize with or even understand the situation faced by front-line staff…,” underscoring the reality that long view negatives can be dismissed.  The situation is more acute if policy-makers believe that that actions/policies will inculcate ideal behavior – it won’t!  Humans are wired relativistically.

It is much better to avoid the conflicts than to have to deal with the unintended negative consequences. Thus, what is needed is for policy-makers to understand the effects that they are not currently considering.  My advice:

  • Teach Concepts: show the video clip to demonstrate the global concepts – Ariely has done excellent work to unequivocally demonstrate that relative thinking is universal and unavoidable,
  • Explain Specifics: describe the specific logical effects of the proposal under scrutiny, and
  • Gain Acceptance: get agreement that relativistic thinking causes significant negatives before you begin to discuss a direction for solution.

Are you taking time to teach concepts, explain specifics, and gain acceptance to those who do not “feel” them directly?

May 31, 2009

Rocking Customer Service

Posted in Business, Life, Technology tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:48 pm by lindaslongview

iSH3_Interval_H20AudioI had a rocking customer service experience yesterday with H20 Audio that reinforces why I am a raving fan for them…

Even though swimming is a second-string pursuit (I’d rather be rock climbing, running, biking, etc.), I swim regularly because it “rehabs” everything I injure in my other athletic pursuits. The downside of swimming is the boredom.  So, about six (6) years ago, I started a down and up affair with music while I swim…

I started with waterproof earphones coupled to a waterproof “bag” that held a 1st generation iPod.  I stuffed the bag in my swimsuit and swam happily to tunes for a few weeks.  Unfortunately, the “bag” sprung a leak and that iPod is now a doorstop (husband was very unhappy).

A year or so later, I found and purchased a SwiMP3.  The sound quality of the bone conduction speakers was awesome, but it was terminally painful to update my music because it was iTunes incompatible.  As I became more and more iTunes exclusive, it became more and more obsolete.

When I found the iSH2 from H2O Audio, which holds an iPod Shuffle, I was delighted.   Unfortunately, those early waterproof earphones had inconsistent performance and I still pined for the sound quality of my SwiMP3, but with the ease of iTunes.  I began sending notes (to both companies) asking for sound quality AND iTunes compatibility.  I was elated when H20 Audio told me that they were about to come out with the iSH3 (aka Interval) incorporating their Surge headphones to the iPod Shuffle casing.  I was so delighted that I ordered two as soon as they were available in Feburary 2009 (one for me and one for my friend’s birthday in May).  I was so early in my purchase that I had to work with customer service to register – the warranty website had yet to list the iSH3!  That’s how I met Richard at customer service.

I have been rocking my splashes very happily ever since.  I love my iSH3 and whenever anyone at the pool asks me about it, I encourage him or her to purchase an iPod Shuffle ($50) and the iSH3 ($80) – great deal!  I provide the H2O Audio website info and tell them that they will not regret it.

Imagine how distressed I was when I found out that my friend’s gift had a broken latch!  Considering that I had purchased it in February and I desired to make it right when I saw her next weekend, I was glad to have a relationship with Richard.  I typed up an email to Richard, explained situation and he made it right!  I have a new iSH3 on the way so that I can swap with my friend when I see her next weekend and then I’ll send the broken one back. With this gesture, H2O Audio amplified my raving fandom. ☺  Their customer service exemplifies my three favorite (long view) customer service mantras:

  • Build relationships with your users. Get to know each other – exchange full names and try to know something about the other person that allows you to connect. For a customer, nothing is more frustrating than either not knowing whom to call or not having comfort to call when a problem arises.  Creating connection encourages honest, timely communication.
  • If your customer calls you to complain or seek advice, THANK them, encourage narratives, and listen for information in the details.  No matter how hard it is to say “Thank you” to someone who is complaining, be sincere.  The provided information is a gift that will help you to make products better – you will learn how the product is actually being used.
  • Fix what isn’t right without excuse and be grateful for the opportunity.

This advice applies equally to technology development (internal customers) as to consumer products (external customers).

Are you building relationships with your users?  Thanking them? Fixing what isn’t right?  Staying grateful for the opportunity?

Are you rocking your splashes with an iSH3?

May 27, 2009

Off-the-Scale Futurist

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:16 pm by lindaslongview

DaliPersistenceOfMemoryI just finished reading, “The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that Will Change Your Life” by Zimardo and Boyd.  It hasn’t changed my life, but it definitely gave me insight.  Irrespective, it is a worthy read.

Before I began reading, I took the online Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI) and discovered that I am an off-the-scale futurist scoring a whopping 4.92 in the future perspective. On all other time perspectives, I am at or below average.

The description of the “Future-Oriented Person” closely describes me (dominant in concern about long-term consequences, able to sustain the unpleasant for future benefit, health conscious, goal-oriented…) – how scary is that?!  Perhaps that explains WHY I have a blog titled the LONG VIEW!

The basic point of the book is to get Futurists to be more Present and Past/Presents to be more Futurist – we all need balance.   Indeed!

The good news for me is that Futurists tend to be very successful in business because they are well equipped to deal with the complexities of the modern world. The bad news is that Futurists tend to have less joy because we undervalue pleasure – work first, then play (if there is time).

The best news is that I didn’t need the book to get me going to achieve balance! Over the past many years, I have been actively working to Be Present much more – to enjoy the process, the road, the flowers along the road, and my traveling companions. The authors reinforce that great leaders are engrossed in the Present.

Some of the most interesting threads in the book revolve around the clash of time perspectives and how differences give rise to conflict. For example, Presents tend to be “in the moment” proceeding with what is interesting to them, viewing punctuality, specificity, and conformance as limitations. Futures on the other hand, value punctuality, specificity, and conformance. Understanding these differences and cultivating balance can lead to less conflict. ☺

Are you working to achieve balance?  Is joy on your priority list?

May 26, 2009

Relationship Experiment

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:37 pm by lindaslongview

ExperimentArtI participate in a Ning Social Networking (NSN) site, called Triiibes. The site is composed of Seth Godin blog and book followers. I find it rewarding to converse with others inspired by Seth, because interesting dialogues develop and they push my thinking. Some of the dialogues revolve around requests for advice or opinion on a specific idea. Sometimes the threads can become tangential, but for the most part they stay topical.

One of the things that I really like about NSN and blogging is that both are asynchronous. I can participate when I have time and contribute much or little. No one is ever late or overstays. Everyone comes and goes at their pace.

Because I am only somewhat active at Triiibes, I have not collected many “friends.” My “friends” are those folks whom I have shared dialogue, experience, or camaraderie – folks with whom I have developed an online relationship.

Last week, a member of Triiibes posted about a specific business idea that led to many responses. Most applauded her idea and encouraged her to proceed. One participant requested clarification on why someone should do business with her. When I read her response, I was dissatisfied because half of her responses were either slightly negative or negative. If she reframed her responses (and thinking) to be much more positive, she would benefit from the Law of Attraction, which follows the long view advice of Create Positivity (Headwinds and Wobble).

I knew as I prepared a well-intentioned response post that, even if I was thoughtful and kind, I was unlikely to receive an acknowledgement because I was offering unsolicited constructive advice to someone with whom I did not have an established relationship. As such, my response post was an experiment. Does one have to first establish a relationship before one can lead (offer advice) in the NSN medium as is required in the face-to-face (F2F) medium?

Predictably, my post went unacknowledged. The author responded to many other posts around my own, but mine was unmistakably invisible (although other participants commented on my suggestions). This reaffirms the long view principle that my horse taught me (Remembering Wyo): Build a relationship before you ask to lead (including the giving of constructive advice).

Although I hope that I personally would welcome all constructive advice (because it is part of long view thinking), I realize my own humanity (and vanity) and am not sure if the situation were reversed that I would have thanked the unsolicited advisor myself. I will continue to strive to achieve what Scott suggests – be open-minded enough that people do not have to “be careful what they say.”

In the meantime, I am glad that I got the “expected outcome” (no acknowledgement) because the unexpected result would have challenged my assumptions and caused me to do additional testing and/or wonder why NSN was different!

May 21, 2009

Durable Connections

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , , , at 11:25 pm by lindaslongview

PeterbuiltTruck_FisheyeRecently, I received a tip about a professional opportunity from someone that I skied with more than 25 years ago!

As Robert Putnam points out in Bowling Alone: “Strong ties with intimate friends may ensure chicken soup when you’re sick, but weak ties with distant acquaintances are more likely to produce leads for a new job.” Thus, it is not surprising that I might receive a job tip from an informal connection, what is surprising is the durability of the informal connection. Clearly, there is long view importance in cultivating positive relationships with acquaintances because they are durable. You never know when, where, or how reciprocal positives will emerge.

Sometimes benefits of unexpected connections will accrue quickly and sometimes they will emerge over a long time scale. When I reflected back to that weight-lifting class in high school that I wrote about in my last blog post (Inspiration from Rachel Alexandra), I realized that I gained much more from that informal connection to Todd than just an “A” in weight lifting.

Todd’s dad owned a trucking company, so Todd was a skilled truck driver at the tender age of 16. Although we had very little in common (except that fateful weight lifting class), I think my intensity and motivation changed him. As we worked together regularly, he decided that he would teach me to drive an 18-wheel rig.

Being game for an adventure, I took him up on the offer to learn. When I started my “lessons,” I could competently drive a manual transmission (I successfully received a driver’s license at age 14 with a final road test in my brother’s 3-speed 1955 Willy’s Jeep). When I finished my “lessons,” I could drive a 15-speed conventional Kenworth and a 16-speed (dual gearbox) cabover Peterbuilt on the grounds without stalling. I had no fantasies of commercial level skill, but I loved the power of commanding a huge diesel engine. That unique experience allowed me to be especially comfortable around BIG equipment, which has been valuable to my professional career.

Although I haven’t seen Todd since high school, should I run into him again, I would absolutely extend whatever kindness I could on his behalf. Who would have guessed so much could come of a high school weight lifting partnership? It is good practice to be open to diversity and to extend kindness to all those that you meet.

Who will you help today?

May 18, 2009

Inspiration from Rachel Alexandra

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:38 pm by lindaslongview

photo by Steve Helber/Assoc. Press

Steve Helber/Assoc. Press

Rachel Alexandra, a girl horse, won the Preakness Stakes, the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown of Horse Racing this past Saturday!  It hasn’t happened in 85 years.

Part of long-view thinking requires identifying, being present, and breathing-in moments of inspiration to launch and sustain transformation.  The achievement of Rachel Alexandra is one of those rare inspiring events.

Rachel Alexandra’s accomplishment reminds me of similar inspiration…

I was paying attention (and cheering) when Title IX was passed into law (1972) and when Billie Jean King trounced Bobby Riggs in the tennis “Battle of the Sexes” (1973).  At that time, I imagined the transformation of our world to largely what we have now – women participating, competing, and being taken seriously in many, many sports, just like the men.

In 1977, I was the first girl in my high school to be allowed to take weight lifting for P.E. credit instead of the expected volleyball.  I recall that the coach agreed to give me an “A” if my cumulative total for the three defined lifts: squat, dead lift, and bench-press, was three times (3x) my body weight at the end of the program.  The boys needed a cumulative total that was five times (5x) their weight for an “A.”  Although it was probably a fair accommodation considering that boys are stronger than girls, I wanted to be taken seriously.  I set my goal at 5x in three lifts.

In class, I was partnered with Todd, the skinny kid who also weighed only about 100 lbs. and who didn’t really care about weight lifting.  Although we had different outlooks and viewed each other suspiciously at first, we found common ground.  I was grateful for his collaboration to help me achieve 5x. Together we learned excellence in technique and worked hard.  At the end of the term, we both achieved 5x and the rest of the class took us seriously.  ☺

I am grateful to have been inspired by the birth of equal opportunity athletics and to have participated in nurturing and sustaining the transformation.

Woohoo, Rachel Alexandra, you go girl! 

How are you inspired?!

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