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Tag: Fear

Photo Credit: "guess who farted in the elevator?" (CC BY 2.0) by istolethetv
Refusing to Ride in Silence

Refusing to Ride in Silence

It is a morning ritual that a significant number of people experience every Monday through Friday.  No, not the daily Starbucks run, but the time we spend riding up to our offices in an elevator.  It seems like a good time to say good morning to people and exchange some basic pleasantries.  However, most of my fellow riders are engrossed in other things and avoid making any eye contact.  I honestly believe the smartphones that have captured all of their attention is a tactic to avoid the scariest thing imaginable, genuine real-life human contact.

Do not miss an opportunity to engage briefly with people while riding the elevator.  Most people do not expect it, and that is half the fun.  Be the one to break the silence and start the conversation.  The dialogue will begin to naturally flow from that point forward.

Every day, I make a point to say “good morning” to my fellow elevator occupants.  When I disembark, I politely wish everyone a pleasant day.  I smile and try to start my day off in a positive and upbeat fashion.  I do not want to be the cranky person that darkens the moods of my fellow office building citizens.

So far, most people are willing to engage in small talk, as long as they do not have to start the conversation. This morning I rode with a person whom I have spoken with six or seven times over the last two months.  I started the conversation, and we exchange pleasantries until we arrived at my floor where I disembarked.  I do not know if the feeling is mutual, but I think we had a pleasant conversation and a good start for the day.

It is possible that I am completely misguided. Maybe all these individuals whom I ride the elevator with think that I am just some nut job sufferings from an overabundance of morning enthusiasm.  I am quite convinced that my children believe this is the case.  I will keep chatting my way through the elevators to improve my small talk skills and to meet interesting people inside the building.

If you ever in Southern California and a strange guy is chatting in the elevator, it might just be me.  Take a moment and say “hi.”

Photo Credit: LaFLamme
Some Thoughts on Encryption

Some Thoughts on Encryption

The controversy regarding Apple’s resistance to decrypt an iPhone that was utilized by terrorists has created a national conversation about the role of encryption in modern society. This is a tricky topic that has been a long time in the making. Watching the cable news last week has seen political leaders, pundits, talking bobble heads and technical evangelists weighing in on the debate. Now, we have a court issuing its first decision that may influence the outcome of the disagreement between Apple and the FBI.

I deplore what the terrorists did in San Bernardino. There is no justification for their actions or any other person who engages or supports the attacking of civilians. I wish the government to use all legal means to bring any co-conspirators to justice and use their available tools to penetrate these evil networks.

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Photo Credit: von Felkerzam
Two Leadership Styles in Action

Two Leadership Styles in Action

Recently, I read a couple of examples of excellent leadership styles, and I took some time to think about the benefits of the style and how they overcame resistance to change. I believe that leaders are responsible for the success or failure of change initiatives within their organization. As such, they have multiple leadership styles to utilize in support of a change initiative. For example, leaders at any level may act as the change initiator and orchestrator; communicators and motivators; or the resources to support change.

Sanofi and Jon Fairest

According to Jon Fairest (2014), he took over as CEO of Sanofi when they were beginning a significant change initiative. The company was going to relocate their corporate headquarters and change the floor plan to an open workspace concept. Major organizational concern about the change was rampant throughout the leadership and employees. Communication was going to play a significant role in successfully changing the corporate culture.

[pulledquote]People are resistant to change primarily out of a fear of the unknown and loss aversion.[/pulledquote]Leadership as an interpersonal communicator and motivator helps to bring about change through the ability to build teams, motivate and engage employees, and communicate within the organization. Jon Fairest knew this would be a significant challenge to embark on as a new CEO. Employees needed to become comfortable with the new facility and approach to its floor plan. Mr. Fairest began a 12-month long campaign communicating the importance of this change and how it will improve the company’s culture, collaboration, and spur innovation while lowering employee turnover (Fairest, 2014).

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Photo Credit: Styf
Reduce Off-Hours Communication to Improve Work-Life Balance

Reduce Off-Hours Communication to Improve Work-Life Balance

Technology has brought about many changes in our world.  All-new industries were given birth or faded into history because of the information technology revolution.  However, the information technology revolution was not a panacea and did not resolve all the world’s problems.  It allowed businesses to become more efficient, improve operations and increase their competitive advantages (Porter & Millar, 1985).  However, the rise of mobile communications, email, text messaging, and web platforms has increased the intrusion of business-related matters into personal and family time (McShane & Glinow, 2014, p. 8).  It is becoming more commonplace for workers never to log off from work as the evening hours have become a new de-facto night shift (Butts, Becker, & Boswell, 2015, p. 763).  Furthermore, this new always-on work environment has altered the relationship between management and employees.

Employees may feel obligated to respond to peers and management regardless of the hour.  Management knowingly or unknowingly may be sending messages that establish these expectations with employees.  Additionally, management may mistakenly believe that employees will leave off-hour communications in their inbox until the following workday.

Management teams should discourage off-hours communications.  When this is impossible because of time zone differences or travel requirement, the utilization of a delayed send function is encouraged. At a minimum, all off-hour messages should clearly indicate whether the message needs a response before the next workday.  Again, the preference is not to send messages off-hours or use a delay send function since many employees will still check messages off-hours.

By taking these small steps, employers can help their teams improve work-life balance and lower employee stress levels without sacrificing productivity.  They might even find that employees are more efficient when they experience lower levels of stress.


Butts, M. M., Becker, W. J., & Boswell, W. R. (2015, June). Hot buttons and time sinks: The effects of electronic communication during nonwork time on emotions and work-nonwork conflict. Academy of Management Journal, 58(3), 763-788. doi:10.5465/amj.2014.0170

McShane, S. L., & Glinow, M. V. (2014). Organizational behavior (Third ed.) [Kindle].

Porter, M. E., & Millar, V. E. (1985, July 01). How information gives you competitive advantage. Retrieved from

Photo Credit: Kartha
A New Beginning

A New Beginning

This last week, we took our eldest daughter off to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. This marks a significant milestone for both her and us as parents. She has total control of her choices with little required input from her parents. She will need to make the right choices at the right times. We will have more complex finances to manage among a myriad of family dynamic realities of a physically separated household. She may no longer be living under our roof, but our hearts, support, and thoughts will always be with her.

Going out to college with her, we saw so many eager young faces that were followed by parents who had a mix of joy and concern across their faces. It was amazing to see and experience. The whole process of getting her set up and meeting her dorm mates was entertaining and exciting. She is lucky to have such good people in her dorm room. I know this will be a tremendous experience for her.

ERAU is so well-organized, and they made all aspects smooth and trouble-free. ERAU welcomed our family and helped in numerous ways. Leaving the campus, my wife and I commented about how great it would have been for us to attend this school when we were her age. I guess we have become the parents who get to live a little vicariously through their children…well at least in this aspect.

We have to let go a little and watch as she continues to grow into the wonderful person that she is and will become over the next few years. We will never be far away when needed, but struggle allows growth. It pertains to the both of us. As parents, we have to struggle to let go, and she has to struggle to develop her independence, will and character.

Life is interesting; life is challenging; life is beautiful.

Photo Credit: Morcate
Exercising Caution on the Phone

Exercising Caution on the Phone

We received a call at the house last night that was strange and a little disturbing.  The caller said they were with our bank and needed to confirm our identity before speaking to us about an important matter.  They reported to be with our bank, and they had that information correct.  However, they wanted to confirm our identity by using our Social Security NumberI laughed and said no.  The person told me this was important financial information, and that it was critical that we speak about it.  They said that they could not discuss it with me, unless I confirm my identity.

Again, I told them that I would not give them that information to some random person that called me on the phone.  I asked why I should trust them.  Would they give that information out to someone who called them?  No answer other than they have important information to discuss with me, but they need to confirm my identity first.

This was getting very odd.  I asked why a bank would expect their customers to share such information when “the bank” made the call in the age of identity theft?  It was not as if I called the bank and had knowledge of whom I was speaking to.  They said it was the bank’s standard practice.

Wow – I told them that I was not going to do this.  They said they were done arguing with me. Okay…great!  I asked if they would send me a certified letter with what matter was soo important since we had reached an impasse.  I got a noncommittal okay and a hang-up.

Is this a new vishing scam to try to get personal identification?  It has to be one of the oddest phone calls I have had in a very long time.  With all the identity theft going on these days, I am very cautious as to what information that I give out on the phone or anywhere else for that matter.

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The Internet Never Forgets

The Internet Never Forgets

An elephant never forgets? Forget that. Try getting something pulled off-line when you really need it to go away. As you will quickly find out, it is nearly impossible to remove information completely off of the Internet once it has been posted. The Internet is such a distributed network with caching and proxy servers all over the world that once information is posted online it is part of that information collective and extremely difficult to sanitize (make it disappear permanently.) And when I say posted, I mean anything that is written to an Internet-based server is fair game, and you should be ready for that information to never go away.

I am not a conspiracy theorist that believes the black helicopters are scanning my brain waves or that the government is using my flat screen television to subconsciously program me. I do believe that the vast majority companies that provide us Internet-based services are honest and ran with integrity and concern for their customers’ privacy. However, I am not naïve enough to accept the fact that information does not get exposed accidentally or there are unforeseen circumstances where information may be breached intentionally or unintentionally.

So what is the big deal? Well, think about all the information that you store online; this goes both professionally and personally. Think about it really. If you are like most Internet savvy people, you have a tremendous amount of personal and professional information stored online. This can come from cloud storage such as Dropbox or to services such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Many of us do our taxes; host confidential and proprietary meetings; engage in personal and professional email communications that are sensitive; and even conduct medical activities online. How much of this would you like to see in Google’s or Yahoo’s search results? Would it matter that the information was accidentally exposed?

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