With the extra time off for Christmas and Boxing Day (day after Christmas for those not familiar with the term), I’ve been able to catch up on quite a few personal to-do items these past few days. Starting with some much needed sleep, balancing it with getting out to either the gym or basketball court consistently for about 4 days straight, finally sorting that growing pile of bank and utility bill statements, and lastly reading through a book I’ve been meaning to revisit for several years now, Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
After finding moments here and there, I’m about half-way through Stephen Covey’s best-known book, but I’m taking a pause on reading further, as one of the chapters caught my eye that I wanted to apply before 2017 kicks off in a few days. The section on leadership and management, and more specifically around the usefulness of mission statements is especially applicable to my current work-day activities. Similar to others who may be in an office environment and in a role classified as “management”, the balance between the urgent requests of the day with the longer-term needs of the team and organization in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and etc. can be especially challenging.
I first encountered mission statements in a management training program about 10 years ago when I was taking my initial career steps in managing teams. At the time, it was an exercise that I thought was useful, but quickly moved on to other personal improvement opportunities, such as public speaking, or ability to create macros in Excel that I believed would deliver more immediate workplace benefits. But now with my daily challenges in balancing the all-too-frequent urgent activities along with long-term team and organizational goals staring back at me on a regular basis, investing a little bit of time on a mission statement for the team I lead makes a whole lot of sense.
Besides the sections covering mission statement in Covey’s book, I’ve found a a couple of additional sources around the net that will help me get the ball started with my team in setting our mission statement together before the workload picks up again after the holiday season. Before starting, ensure the company mission statement is identified and any team mission statement is aligned to the company mission statement. The team mission statement is more granular and specific to the nuances of that particular team, and at the same time aligned to the larger organisation’s mission statement.
(top image courtesy of studylecturenotes.com)
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As I digested my daily dose of economic, sports, and technology news earlier this month, one specific article caught my eye and immediately brought me back to my first days living in London circa 2004. I remember distinctively those early days in London, every morning as I was leaving my apartment, the first thing my nose would notice is the strong and overpowering scent of diesel exhaust. Having relocated from Denver, Colorado, which is one of the greenest mid-tier cities in the world, the diesel exhaust in the London morning air was overpowering.
I still recall chatting with my new British co-workers and inquiring why there were so many cars and commercial delivery vans (usually in a bland white color) running on diesel in London, whereas in the U.S., I was mostly limited to encountering diesel vehicles that were either semi-trailers or large buses. I was informed / educated that because diesel cars get better gas mileage than gas (petrol for the Brits) cars, they were preferred in many cases for both commercial and personal-use vehicles. It took me a while to come around to the so-called advantages of diesel, but that didn’t stop me from covering my nose those first few months of waking up in London.
And with most things, after a few months, my nose acclimated to the smell, and for the remainder of my 5-year stint in London, I hardly even noticed the diesel fumes except on the few occasions when an out-of-tune bus, van, or car rolled by spewing large amounts of diesel exhaust. That is until I stumbled onto this recent BBC article reporting that mayors of 4 major cities (Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens) committed to banning diesel vehicles from their cities. This immediately caught my eye, and as I read more, it was all too clear that diesel exhaust actually has a significant negative impact to the air we breathe.
The further I read, the more validated I felt in peppering my London co-workers way back when on why so many vehicles were diesel and feeling that of course gas cars are superior when comparing just those two options. Of course, with pure electric cars today, and the vast numbers of city-bike programs, there are even more ways to cut down the amount of exhaust fumes further and save that next expatriate moving to London from having to acclimate to diesel exhaust, and rather focus their attention on more important things, like coordinating colleagues to meet after work … at the pub … on a Tuesday … at 4:30pm.
(top image courtesy of treehugger.com)
- BBC has even more coverage on diesel and London…
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I don’t even remember how I stumbled on the YearUp program, but I saw it about two weeks ago when reading some articles about the economy and was really impressed with the companies that are involved and nationwide presence it covers. While looking through the details, I was curious about how many other similar programs covered the Boston metropolitan area. I’m going to use the below space to identify and list these great community programs that put an emphasis on creating more impactful and engaged youths in the Boston area (and beyond).
- YearUp (http://www.yearup.org)
- Target age of 18-24
- No college necessary
- Combination of paid training along with internship with an employer that has a goal of turning interns into full-time employees
- Nationwide program along with a Boston area presence
- Youth Build Boston (http://youthbuildboston.org)
- Program with a focus on vocational training for high school students to help them graduate high school and have relevant skills in the construction industry
- MassTech Intern Program (http://www.masstech.org/intern)
- Not necessarily focused on urban youths, but has a goal of placing Boston area college students together with companies, large and small
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When I first moved to London in 2004, that initial shock of everyone speaking English (the Queen’s!), and not the one you’re used to from back in the states, took me a little off guard. I did have to ask the occasional Scot to slow down and speak again, or for someone to rephrase the terms used so that I could figure out who the heck Joe Bloggs is (hint: it’s John Doe in American English). It took about two or three months, but in no time I was humming along and adjusting to both business and social environments without much of a fuss.
Upon rapidly closing in on a year from my newly adopted Hong Kong home, the transition on the language front has been a bit more challenging. Being part of a UK firm, just about every BT person (whether based in China, Japan, or HK) across the region has good business English competency, as is the case for most global firms. The challenge comes from ensuring on a daily basis that what you communicate to your very diverse set of peers, direct reports, and even senior managers is the same understanding that they took away from you. In the US or UK, if a person was not sure what I just said, they would almost always ask me to clarify, just like I would to them when I’m not sure of what they’re saying. In Asia, I quickly picked up that not everyone asks for clarification, which can cause a lot of pain when it includes either 1.) a resolution of an issue or 2.) a directive issued, and instead you find out that either nothing was actioned or the exact opposite of my assumed/anticipated result has occurred.
My initial poor assumption that no clarification during verbal exchanges meant agreement, reared its head two or three times before I forced myself to a quiet corner and figured out what was going wrong. The key here is once you do recognize and accept the issue is completely within your (or rather my) control, the resolution path is fairly straightforward. As in all communication gaps, the key in my case was to once again focus on ensuring that my specific message is understood before leaving a face-2-face (least difficult), video conference (med difficult) or phone call (most difficult). A bit more care and attention and much of the communication gaps from earlier in the year are mostly avoided. That’s not to say I’ve absolved all my comms errors, or even close to all, but at least I am no longer kicking myself for the silly ones.
Image courtesy of Dolighan Cartoons
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It’s easy to forget that China has a wealth of ethnic groups within its borders. Click through the example pic below to a great set of pictures of the different ethnic groups. I will need to revisit once I get some free time to read into some of the groups a bit more. Enjoy!
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I just saw this on the Engadget feed, and although I’ve seen plenty of prototype articles, this is the first production cellphone with a solar back that I’ve been made aware of. Although the actual phone is not something I would buy, this no doubt will lead to much wider adoption going forward. Yes, there is the outstanding question of how much charge that itty bitty panel will be able to provide, but regardless, this is a step in the right direction for gadget geeks (like myself) worldwide…
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One of the many benefits of working at a firm with as wide and diverse a base of products and services as BT, is the ability to easily branch out and get involved with other areas that interest and facinate me. One recent example was an off-hours work project, that involved an ad-hoc team taking a closer look at how our ‘webby’ teams could help improve BT’s IPTV product, called BT Vision. While working on this initiative, I got to thinking just how I, as a formerly major consumer of TV, movies, and other video content, have changed my viewing habits in the past 5 years and what I turn to now when I’m on my own free time.
Like many others, I used to come home from work on a weekday, and plop my bum on my sofa and begin to surf the huge numbers of cable channels for programs to will away the hours. This was 5 years ago, and I would guess I was spending on average 3-4 hours/day in front of the TV on work-days, and around 5-6 on a weekend day (sad, yes, I know). How times have changed, I now watch exactly 0 hours of cable/aerial (the regular channels if you only had an antenna) TV. But instead my time now is spent on the web with similar hours quoted above except now in front of my laptop rather than my TV.
Below, I’ve broken down my viewing habits (20-30 hours/week):
My Web Experience:
- Work Related (Given my current focus on open source software and online communities, I spend a large amount of time researching, discovering, and sharing ideas via the web)
- RSS feeds of my favorite topics
- Personal Emails (Gmail/Yahoo)
- TV Shows on Demand (BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and many other smaller video sites)
- Live Sporting Events (NFL.com, BBC, and some other sources that have questionable legalities)
- Social Sites (Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Random discovering (Google, Wikipedia)
The biggest reflection from me is I’ve changed from not only a consumer of content, but also a contributer (this blog and others, Facebook, and car forums), which I suppose is the basis of the ‘Web 2.0’ buzz for the past two years. Makes me wonder how I’ll be using my free time in another 5 years time. I’ll leave that speculation for the futurologists out there and go back to enjoying my RSS feeds and BBC programs :).
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Tags: Web TV Content Video