Work Hard or Work Smart?

July 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Work…

Why are people so averse to it?

I hear that quite often. “Work smart, not hard!” as though just saying that makes one “smarter”. This is not a zero-sum game. It’s not one or the other.  I want BOTH. I do BOTH and I teach my kids to work hard AND smart.

What I have noticed is that the so-called smart workers are using that as a veiled reason to be lazy. That’s right, lazy! Why can someone not work hard and smart? In fact, the hard workers usually become smart workers. When I consult for a company, I make a habit of interviewing as many key employees as possible. Management generally thing they know more than they really do. The workers generally know more and it is their input that makes the difference. For whatever reason, employees tell me what they think more than they would to management. Probably, management have not listened, took credit or have been dismissive – essentially a trust issue.

Regardless…my point is that the so called “smart worker” don’t always work hard and the hard workers eventually work smart. Which would you rather have or be. What is funny is, the one that give the advice/suggestions are usually right. I just don’t agree with their following statement…”Dude, work smart, not hard”.

I want my kids, my clients and myself included to work both smart and hard. Is that easy? No. Smart workers are generally lazier, if I may use that term. They try to find a faster and/or easier solution to the current problem. But that doesn’t mean you should rest. I say find the next problem to solve and get on it.

Sometimes you need someone you are accountable to in order to do that. We all do. We can all benefit from having someone we respect and look up to for some sort of motivation, support, and accountability.

As an employee, if you can do a 40 hour job in 30 hours, don’t sit around and collect a paycheck, do more, ask for a raise – EVERYONE WINS!

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Categories: Uncategorized

Work Hard or Work Smart?

July 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Work…

Why are people so averse to it?

I hear that quite often. “Work smart, not hard!” as though just saying that makes one “smarter”. This is not a zero-sum game. It’s not one or the other.  I want BOTH. I do BOTH and I teach my kids to work hard AND smart.

What I have noticed is that the so-called smart workers are using that as a veiled reason to be lazy. That’s right, lazy! Why can someone not work hard and smart? In fact, the hard workers usually become smart workers. When I consult for a company, I make a habit of interviewing as many key employees as possible. Management generally thing they know more than they really do. The workers generally know more and it is their input that makes the difference. For whatever reason, employees tell me what they think more than they would to management. Probably, management have not listened, took credit or have been dismissive – essentially a trust issue.

Regardless…my point is that the so called “smart worker” don’t always work hard and the hard workers eventually work smart. Which would you rather have or be. What is funny is, the one that give the advice/suggestions are usually right. I just don’t agree with their following statement…”Dude, work smart, not hard”.

I want my kids, my clients and myself included to work both smart and hard. Is that easy? No. Smart workers are generally lazier, if I may use that term. They try to find a faster and/or easier solution to the current problem. But that doesn’t mean you should rest. I say find the next problem to solve and get on it.

Sometimes you need someone you are accountable to in order to do that. We all do. We can all benefit from having someone we respect and look up to for some sort of motivation, support, and accountability.

As an employee, if you can do a 40 hour job in 30 hours, don’t sit around and collect a paycheck, do more, ask for a raise – EVERYONE WINS!

Categories: Uncategorized

You have an idea, now what?

April 22, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s not surprising for me to just sit with friends, family or even strangers and in a very short period of time, come up with solutions to abstract problems or ideas for a new business.

So what next? What does it take to turn that idea into reality?

This is what I notice of those that have the ability to execute. I want to list just a few of the attributes:

Drive  – They have this internal drive to take action – to “Activate”. Some call that “impatience”…
Leadership – They don’t shy away from leading, and taking the reins.
Making key decisions – They are not afraid to make bold decisions…to take risks. They move up the ladder of inference quickly. They don’t get bogged down by details or regulations. They are willing to aim and shoot and then re-aim and re-shoot.
Achieving results – They are very results oriented.
Overcoming obstacles – Obstacles don’t discourage but rather energize. They may even see that as opportunities.
Keeping things moving – They have a knack for maintaining and taking advantage of momentum.
Promoting innovation – They embrace new things, ideas, technology. They try almost everything once. They also encourage others to do the same.
Working towards challenging goals – They enjoy getting people on board to solve problems together.
Convincing others – One of the most important attributes is the ability to sell, convince, negotiate and persuade others to their point of view.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have these traits, chances are you are probably making things happen, otherwise, try to surround yourself with those that do.

Good luck…

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Knowledge is not power – it’s a weakness, Part II

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Action is the foundational key to all success.
Pablo Picasso

I received a strong reaction from my previous post on Facebook and accused of being on an anti-intellectual binge or something like that…

So I re-read the blog and I still didn’t see how that reader got that impression.  My point is that, accumulating knowledge or information in order to impress people or become a walking dictionary is not impressive…at least to me. At one time, that trait might have been valuable. The ability to recall information, data or references when books were scarce or where there are no internet access might at one time been useful. Okay…if you a trivia game fanboy, then yes.

I am sure you have been in the presence of the Monday night Quarterback (I am not a football fan but I thought that description/label was spot on for many). They are so knowledgeable. They can recall stats, plays, and give you a run down how the team should be managed, how a play should have gone down, who should/should not have been drafted, and why. They question is how many of those have built and coached a successful team?

I was recently in a retreat where the attendants were divided into 4 groups – the Activist, the Reflectors, the Theorists, and the Pragmatists. Your truly was in the Activist group (they enjoy new experiences/problems/opportunities, like to generate new ideas, love to take action, solve diverse and difficult problems and take risks). Well they other groups took turns introducing their traits but took the opportunity to take pot shots at the activists for their impatient trait…the trait that drives them to generate results.

Well, that is okay because I am balanced with other traits, the ability to Ideate, Strategize and communicate (according to Gallup’s Strengths 2.0). I guess that is why quote like the following catches my attention:

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan
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Knowledge is not power – it's a weakness!

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

How many of us have heard that again and again? That knowledge is power. There is nothing wrong with knowledge…accumulating knowledge, surrounding yourself with knowledge, being around knowledgeable people or accumulating degrees etc…

Personally, I believe real value/power comes when that knowledge is put to work. These days, there is not much I cannot find on google, on a online book store or from other experts. Literally, knowledge is at my finger-tips! This is unlike when I was growing up in Africa. The biggest library I had access to was in my high-school with maybe ten book case of books, if that much. These days, there are an over-abundance of knowledge and knowledgeable people.

Knowledge should lead to execution!

So why do I consider knowledge as a weakness? Because those that accumulate knowledge for knowledge sakes in in the wrong century…trying to be a repository of info or a walking dictionary/encyclopedia is such a waste of time and storage space. More often than not, people go to seminars, workshops, and accumulate more knowledge instead of focusing on doing and executing what they already know.

How many people do you know need to lose weight? Ask them whether they know what they need to do, how to do it and compare that number to those that are in the same predicament and actually “do” it.

Maybe that is why I like the Nike slogan…”Just do it!”

Why I prefer to be a "clock builder" and not a "time teller"

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Consultants have this rap about them…that when asked what time it is, they simply ask you back for your watch and tell you the time. Well, in an overly simplified world, yes, that is done everyday and sometimes, it’s the only way.

Why you ask? Well, after working with well over 100 companies by now and experiencing what managers, business owners, founders do…they have an idea what they want and they want to make sure they are not making a mistake. It could be that there is simply an overload of information so no decisions are made. The consultant comes in and assist with a few things. One, find out what they want to achieve, what the problems/pain really is and what they have tried and what works and what doesn’t and to offer options. The key most times is not what they know or not know…the secret is what they are WILLING to do.

If they are not willing, it doesn’t matter how cool the idea is or how practical it is, it will not be embraced. However, once they commit to moving positively, a consultant can help identify bottlenecks, implement a “system”, tweak it, and help them avoid the potential problems may be around the corner. This is where experience helps a lot and cannot be found in a book. I believe 30% of what I do as a consultant is canned – and right out of a book, the other 30% is what the client knows and want to do, the rest of the 40% is my experience and knowledge.

Depending on the type of consulting, I prefer not to tell clients what to do. Why? Because to be honest, they can find that in a book and it is much better for me to just point them to it. Most time, I find more satisfaction and the client will get more achieved if I walk with them to the destination, instead of pointing the way…

So if a client wants me to tell them the time and that is “all” they want, I will. Most time, they need more and I prefer to be the clock builder. I want to get my hands dirty and also see things moving and working like they should. Although it doesn’t always go 100% the way I would like to see it, getting close enough is good enough for me.

Perhaps this desire to be the clock builder and not simple a time-teller is because I have more energy than I know what to do with.

Egyptian Crisis could have been averted with some basic negotiation knowledge.

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

About a week or so ago, I was asked by Lynda Foster of Synergy Sessions to give a workshop on negotiations. The title of the workshop was called “Profitable Communications”. That could easily have been a month long workshop but I had only 2 hours and I had to make sure the participants had some solid take-away, something they could put to use right away.

The following are a couple of points I focused on. These are basic in business and leadership communications and I believe they are applicable even in running a country:

1. Have a valid mission and purpose statement – It is critical to go into a negotiation with a mission and purpose statement. This should be in alignment with the corporate mission and purpose. If Mubarak was in touch with his people, or in this case, if he had a valid mission and purpose statement, the situation would not have descended into this state of crisis. The leaders are simply disconnected with the people…they have an invalid mission and purpose, at least not one that addresses the other party’s needs/wants. The mission and purpose of the leaders are NOT in alignment with the people’s. I would love to address the way the people went about protesting and attempting to remove Mubarak from power but it would take too long. They also have an invalid M&P and have no strategic plan – resulting in chaos! Simply removing Mubarak does not solve the real problem for them…
2. Ask for, invite and be ready to hear “No”. It is a fundamental human right. It is a matter of respect. The “No” invites the next step of dialog (contrary to what most belief, it is not the end of a negotiation, simply the beginning) which is…”Why?”There is no better way to start a fight than to remove or seemingly remove the other party’s right to say no. This includes being dismissive, shutting the other party down, being dominant etc. This is what the Egyptian government is trying to do – isolate, command and control (remove cell phone and internet services…). Whenever possible, I encourage leaders to invite and listen for “no” from their followers. It fosters dialog, displays respect and results in collaboration and coordination.

I covered many other techniques used in effective negotiations but I wanted participants to have something they could work on. Within days of that workshop, I got an email from a participant that said she was able to get what she wanted in a negotiation by employing just the few principles I taught. That was quite rewarding.

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