Now it’s almost become routine. Work visitors from all over the world coming through the Alterian Vietnam office in Ho Chi Minh City, leaving with warm memories and a real affinity for the team.
This past week we had 10 visitors in the office. One group was there to launch projects for a wonderful new client, who has really created a partnership model with us as his company’s social media vendor. The team worked hard and endeared themselves to him with real insights, dedication and warm hospitality.
Our Vietnam team members have an authentic culture of enthusiasm and collectivism that just draws visitors in. They love doing things together. They think about activities from a group perspective, rather than from an individual perspective. They are instinctively inclusive. They don’t act entitled, but thankful for each day together.
I think our client knows he will get great work and effort from the team. He also now knows he has a group of people who really are interested in him as a person and cares about his success.
A second visiting group was there for our quarterly leadership meeting. We started scheduling these meetings in Vietnam because of the cost savings of hosting them there. However, now it could cause a mini-revolt if I tried to move the meetings to other cities. They say the positive energy and gracious hospitality of the Vietnam staff creates the best environment for these off-site meetings. Not to mention most of them are addicted to the Vietnamese coffee.
To date, every visiting person has been complimentary about their experience with the Vietnam office. That’s real credit to the team and its leadership.
Read Full Post »
Today, with the leadership team in our Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City) office, we discussed providing support without removing responsibility.
This is one of the five key principles of communication as outlined by Development Dimensions International, a management training program that I highly recommend.
I think it is somewhat obvious that leaders, managers, parents should be providing support. Part of being a leader is to be a reliable resource. However, not as obvious is the importance of not removing responsibility. Yes, it might be “faster to do it yourself”, but it can be very counter-productive to do so.
Ultimately, leaders should be building great teams that are enabled to do great things. Even great leaders cannot be truly well-balanced, but all great teams should be well-balanced. As a leader, that means enabling team members by providing support without removing responsibility.
Many times, a leader who has a habit of coming and ”rescuing a situation” is admired. People may consider that leader highly effective, and possibly even selfless. After all, that leader worked twice the workload by taking over a subordinate’s tasks.
I, however, believe the opposite. Such a leader is very selfish, not empowering his/her team. This leader prefers taking the easier route of doing the work, rather than the more difficult but more sustainable route of providing support without removing responsibility. Many times these types of leaders would rather get the credit of being the problem solver (hero) than watch their teams learn to solve problems on their own (inspirational coach).
Absolutely provide support, but do so without removing responsibility.
Read Full Post »
So, it’s a “belated” tax day this year. Hope everyone was able to get their tax finished and submitted. Our government needs everyone’s money!
This is a good opportunity to discuss the US government’s deficit and all the issues surrounding it. Throughout this blog, I advocate optimism and living a positive life. However, such an outlook on life needs to be in the context of reality as well. There’s a clear line between productive optimism and delusional thinking.
All that to say that our nation’s current deficit problem cannot be fixed under the current political system. As long as we have a two-party system where extreme special interest groups from each side can hold the majority hostage, our politicians will not be able to adequately address the fiscal issues.
Our current politicians cannot make compromises and create a “win-win” situation as they are beholden to the extremists in both parties. They are constantly having to position themselves for re-election that keeps them from doing the difficult, pragmatic things to fix our nation’s debt problems. One compromise can doom a politician from re-election because of the potential attacks from special interest groups within his/her party.
The solution is somewhere between (or a combination) of the Republican and Democrat budget proposals. But politicians are so worried about the impact of the extremists of their constituents on their re-election that common sense never wins out.
It’s not so much the politicians’ fault as it is a broken system. If we had all politician serve a six-year single terms, then I believe the politicians would be bolder and make better decisions that would leave a more favorable legacy of their work in office… but that won’t ever happen.
Read Full Post »
Energetic London streets
Over time, I’ve learned to trust my “gut feel” more and more. Especially with people, I give a lot of weight to my initial perception around a person’s energy.
This is one of the reasons that I’m such an urban person. My appetite for feeding off of other people’s energy is pretty insatiable. During this last trip to London, the energy of the city definitely pumped up my own energy level. While others may not enjoy their personal space being invaded, I welcome it (with the proper intent & environment).
This enthusiasm for other people’s energy, I think, is also sensed by those around me. People seem to be feeding off of my energy as well. I want to give at least as much as I take. I want others to feel my curiosity and thirst for living because it can be contagious.
There are those who can reach their inner spiritual understanding with tranquility and isolated self-reflection. For others like me, clarity many times comes from the energy of other people. Our goal is reaching a high level of collective chemistry, feeling like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves individually. That happens when a lot of other people are around, even if they are in our personal spaces.
Read Full Post »
In our London office, we have a team meeting every Friday, usually with some wine and beer. It’s a great time to go over the developments from the week and talk about office topics in a social setting.
For some time, I’ve noticed that the team members read from a decorative box, labeled “Ideas / Thank you’s” at the meetings. It is a great way to make suggestions and give compliments to co-workers. In this particular meeting there was a “thank you” to a certain project team for their outstanding work. There was another “thank you” for all the compliments for a new-born baby by the father.
From the ideas side, I’ve heard suggestions for a team outing. All the “ideas / thank you’s” are then posted on a section of the wall for some time for all to view. What a great way to promote positive energy into the office. Simple and effective.
Impressed, I explained the “idea /thank you’s” box to our Seattle office, which will now soon implement as a part of that team’s Friday meetings.
Read Full Post »
In business, not all dollars are necessarily equal.
If you generate $1 in an industry with a much higher “multiples” than another (i.e. web-based companies versus textile), that dollar is obviously worth more. In another example, if a company has a lot of government contracts, then each dollar it generates from the private sector is usually worth more because it creates diversity in the company’s portfolio.
So, conventional wisdom would suggest that companies should always chase the higher-valued dollar. Not necessarily. Companies need to make sure that it is clear about which business it is in. Executives shouldn’t just chase higher-valued dollars at the risk of compromising its core competitive advantage. For example, Wal-Mart is now the largest company in the United States with 2010 sales of $405 billion. It’s slogan remains, “Save money, live better”. The company is clearly focused on getting its “core-value” dollar. It would be a big risk for a large government defence contractor to start chasing the consumer market, where it doesn’t have much expertise.
Nevertheless, if all things are equal, it is important for executive teams to assess the value of the dollar of its business when planning ahead. This definitely should be a consideration for smaller, aggressive growth companies. But don’t be blindly seduced by higher “multiples” dollar. It always has to make GOOD BUSINESS sense.
In short, consider the value of the dollar you are chasing as one part of the overall criteria — and invest wisely.
Read Full Post »
Self-fulfilling prophecies are definitely real. It is real in very facet of life. So, I wonder why some people think so negatively?
Any person who has ridden motorcycles knows that if you stare at an obstacle, that’s where the bike will be headed — probably at high speeds.
When presenting business plans to executives or potential investors, you don’t start with the section about “potential risks”. That’s for the lawyers to review as a way of proving their value. This is not to say that one should have “blind” faith without diligent research. Optimism does not excuse anyone from careful consideration and hard work. I’m not talking about delusional fantasies. But given good information and consideration, too many people — and groups of people — focus on barriers rather than the ways to succeed.
I frequently present in public. I care about my reputation and am passionate about my convictions so I prepare well. I am also always clear to myself about my goals for the presentation and believe in its eventual success. And if things don’t turn out exactly the way that I would have envisioned, I try to understand the rationale so that I can be excited about what I’m learning. Eventually then, I will still succeed in the long run, therefore fulfilling my initial optimistic prophecy.
I used to ride a lot and those tight turns are extremely thrilling as long as you keep your eyes locked on where you are going rather than the possible dangerous obstacles around you. That can be the difference between life and death… or success and failure.
If you believe in the concept of “self-fulfilling prophecies”, proactively affect your prophecies in all areas of your life with diligent work, authentic passion and positive thinking.
Read Full Post »