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Photo Credit: "second thoughts" (CC BY-NC 2.0) by laurabillings
Fear, Insecurity and the Scarcity Mindset

Fear, Insecurity and the Scarcity Mindset

I feel as if there is a significant volume of works adoring, in a sense, and vilifying the scarcity mentality in our culture. I was fist exposed to these concepts by Brené Brown, and I was challenged by her first TED talk. Personally, I was inspired and motivated for the longest time by the “greed is good” mantra. I felt the constant longing for more was a staircase that drove us to higher levels of personal and professional development. Life is not simple. I learned that it could just as easily be a death spiral that we were riding.  Having taken this train ride up and down over my career, I have learned one key element. The lack of satisfaction with what we have or achieved thus far in life is not the panacea of upward growth I once thought when it is anchored in the bias of scarcity. We are consumed with desires for more time, effort, energy, goodwill of others, and building our professional kingdoms (power) while burning ourselves and others out.  It will never be enough; there is always another mountain to climb.

Further thought provocation arrived when I was pressured to define scarcity and its possible causes. The conversation began to focus on root causes in our culture and my sub-culture. In Southern California, we, for the most part, do not suffer from any real form of scarcity.  So, the best causal idea was to attribute scarcity mindset to a misguided belief of insecurity.  Scarcity mindset and fear are interwoven, and I believe they are mutually reinforcing.  It might be a fear of loss, of limited attainment, sustainability, achievement itself, or not knowing what is coming next that develops the fear and sense of scarcity.  These fears are the life blood of insecurity and lead people to extreme levels of consumption.  It is the “more for you is less for me” taken to an aggressive stance. The void we try to fill by over consuming everything can never be filled because of a nagging scarcity fear.  It is a zombie-like craving that controls and takes away bits of our humanity and the enjoyment of everyday experiences.

At some point in your career, you arrive at a moment when you start questioning everything.  You wonder what will be the next challenge or goal that should be undertaken. I thought a lot about what I had received, and what I am giving back.  This was the first step for me.  I stopped and began to question my motives, desires, and long-term goals. I bounced ideas off people, sought out feedback, worked with a coach, and took more time to be with my family and friends.  I made no significant changes or jumping to a different track of life.  I made a few tweaks here and there and had a realization that my thinking had to change. Like everyone else, I am a work in progress, and each day I hope to make a positive contribution to my endeavors.  I am more content with what I have achieved, adjust goals and pacing, and finally appreciate how much I enjoy helping others to achieve their aims.

I intentionally did not edit or refine from my first draft…I just felt like writing tonight, and this was what was on my mind.

Photo Credit: "Emoji Stickers | Wicker Blog" (CC BY 2.0) by Wicker Paradise
Getting Your Point Across in a Text Message

Getting Your Point Across in a Text Message

It is well documented that nonverbal communication transmits a significant amount of contextual information during personal communications. When using a written form of communication those clues are absent. The result is an increase in the chance of a misunderstanding because of the missing information. Emails have a reputation for being misconstrued and read in a negative context even when it is not intended. Email is no longer the preferable digital communication method for many people. Texting and instant messaging have supplanted the favored communication channel for many younger people. So we had a hard time understanding context when an email is used, now the problem is made more complicated as the message lengths become shorter.

Ashley Carmen wrote an interesting piece on The Verge talking about how people do not interpret emoji icons in the same way. I had taken for granted that the emoji image was standardized across devices. This is not the case as different platforms display the same emoji symbol differently. Adding these little images to text messages is a frequent occurrence. Reading her article made me wonder if the inconsistent emoji images had clouded the meaning of some of my messages. The short answer is clearly a yes. I asked a couple of people who I spoke with today about whether emoji icons had made them question the meaning of a received message. Both people confirmed they had experiences where they questioned the underlying message because of an emoji icon. Okay, a n=3 here, but I agree with the researchers’ position.

This serves as a good reminder to make sure that we are very clear in the writing of our text and email messages.

Treating text messaging as a quick communication method that does not need the scrutiny of a more formal communication such as an email is counterproductive. All communications regardless of their platform must be understandable by the receiver. There is nothing wrong with utilizing emoji images given its context is proper, but we should be aware that it may hinder the effectiveness of the message. Taking a moment to check the clarity of the message before sending it is always prudent advice. Ask yourself if this image or icon is adding clarity, authentic emotion, or introducing some vagueness that is not needed. The last thing any of us needs is to spend time explaining what our message meant when someone becomes offended due to a different representation of an emoji happy face.

Time…We Never Seem to Have Enough

Time…We Never Seem to Have Enough

I have a little more time at night now and have started to write once more.  I forgot how much I enjoy writing even though I think I am a bit of a hack. I am envious of all the good authors I read all the time. I know the only way to improve it to write, so I will write here and torture the people who stop by and visit. 🙂

Thank you all.


Photo Credit: De Wachter
Modern and Postmodern Management Theory

Modern and Postmodern Management Theory

In working on another project, I completed some research on Management Theory.  I found the reading insightful and wrote some thoughts on the topic…

Modern management theories arose out of the industrial revolution through the First and Second World War.  Modern management theories adoption was occurred slowly because of the belief that organizations were too diverse and the practice would only work over a short time (Witzel & Warner, 2015).  As discussed by Len Nixon, modern management theories focused on maximizing productivity and frequently treated employees as a cog in the machine.  Scientific approaches were employed to standardize processes, select appropriate workers and reduce employee movements.  Along the same lines, division of labor, defined rules and regulations, and the more formalized relationship with a defined chain of command was established between employees and management.  Modern management theories were embraced widely and have applicability in today’s workplace (Nixon, 2003).

The postmodernist movement humanize employees and encourage management to increase worker productivity by considering the needs of the employees, developing incentive systems, training, and have career pathing (Nixon, 2003).  Additionally, the division of labor took on a team-based focus, management became more concerned with motivation and communication, and the hierarchy and rule system became less comprehensive (Nixon, 2003).

The modernist management practices are utilized today in manufacturing and many industrial settings (Nixon, 2003).  Additionally, these management practices are frequently used with inexperienced workers and entry-level positions.  As the jobs become more complex and the workers more skilled, postmodern management theories become commonplace.  Basic job functions benefit by initial scoping through the modernist theories.  However, employees are the key element in most businesses and thrive under postmodern theories.  By combining these two sets of theories, modern managers are better able to understand employee motivations and improve productivity.  Employees need to be needed, want to be appreciated, rewarded for their efforts, and work on tasks that are engaging.  The postmodern theories of management allow managers to understand these feelings and design tasks that will deliver for the business and the employees at the same time.

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Setting the Agenda and Leading the Conversation

Setting the Agenda and Leading the Conversation

Corporations and their management teams can lead and their respective market segments, but they can also lead in other areas such as industry trade groups and engaging in conversation with their customers and peers. For a long time, I have believed that the leadership team of an organization should engage in social media and Actively Participate in industry conferences in order to help set the agenda, lead the conversation regarding their industries, and help set best practices.

Companies and their leadership teams must go beyond social media and join the speaking/roundtable circuit. They will help define the very markets, shape regulation and best practice, build the company’s reputation, and highlight their strategic thinking. It is not easy to go down the path of active engagement in social media and/or speaking due to the time commitment involved. Certainly, this is compounded when most corporate social media is focused on the purposes of marketing the company’s products or services to a particular audience with the intention to move consumers along the purchase continuum. While a corporate approach (the corporation itself and not the products/services) to social media marketing is targeted to an audience, it is not typically the same audience that purchases the company’s products and services.

By engaging in conversation around industry norms and best practices, management can demonstrate high levels of leadership that enhance the company’s reputation while building individual members of the management teams personal brands. Not only does a company benefit in building its reputation and brand through peer and industry recognition, the individuals involved in the process benefit through the increased industry exposure.

It takes time and effort to engage in this level of social media and personal speaking activity. It builds the corporate brand and demonstrates industry leadership within a given market. It can act as a recruitment vehicle, tell the corporate story through the eyes of an individual, and humanize the entity. The benefits far outweigh the cost and time it takes to create, develop, and maintain a social media presence and engage in industry trade activity.

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A few comments about education

A few comments about education

I wrote this the other day for a different purpose.  I made a few more tweaks and thought I would post it…

One of the first questions we have to ask is what we want out of our education and lives.  If the purpose of higher education and advanced self-education is simply to acquire the skills necessary to achieve a specific career goal such as a technical skill, then learning about the “arts” are not required.  However, if the goal of our education is to produce an individual who has a well-rounded knowledge about the world and exposed to diverse cultures and backgrounds than classes about the arts, literature, and history becomes an essential component.

I look for educational opportunities that are interesting to me and expand my knowledge of history and of other people and cultures that differ from my own. My experience taught me that as we achieve higher levels in our career, our daily interactions with our peers and teams become critical.  After all, great “managers” and leaders are compensated at a higher level than the people with the technical skills they lead.  There are many elements to a great manager but having a well-rounded education that allows them to effectively interact with people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds is one of the more important points.  If a leader cannot understand how to relate and interact with people on their terms, then they will never be able to build a successful team.  This is one of the purposes of a well-rounded college or self-directed education.

For example: One of the common elements that you can talk to almost anyone about is music.  Everyone loves music, and it can be a foundational element to begin a new relationship with someone.  Having some level of understanding and appreciation of all forms of music can be used to achieve that initial connection to other people that starts building a sense of mutual understanding in professional and personal relationships. If you have no education in the history and multiple types of music, then you will not have that knowledge to have even the most casual conversation with someone new that can be that first spark of connection.

Photo Credit: Michael Cruse
Read this before you publish Blog Posts in Word 2013!

Read this before you publish Blog Posts in Word 2013!

My last post briefly outlined the steps to publish a blog post with Word 2013. Microsoft Word makes a very good tool for creating and publishing blog posts, but once you publish the post you are not done. Some good old-fashioned post-cleanup must be completed. Because of this, I think the “Publish” button should never be used in Microsoft Word 2013. Publish the post as a draft and then publish it from within WordPress or your preferred blogging platform once the necessary post-cleanup is complete.

After doing a few posts with Microsoft Word 2013, I was surprised when I looked at the code version of the posting. I was expecting an extensive amount of Microsoft inspired HTML embedded in the post. This has been my experience when someone uses Word to edit a web page, but shockingly, the blog post was perfectly cleaned and well-organized. This was a very pleasant surprise and has reaffirmed my opinion that word makes an excellent blog authoring tool. So what are the cleanup steps needed?

To start off, we need to add tags to the post. Word allows you to add categories to the post but not post tags. Your blogging platform may call these by different names but essentially a category is an organizational hierarchy, and tags should be considered more as keywords. Based on your theme and/or platform, you may need to edit another post to remove some categories from them. This is common if you have a featured category that highlights a particular post on the top of your blog and does not necessarily take the most-recent post. When you publish from within Word, you have to remember to go back in and make possible category adjustments. If you are in you are already in your blogging platform to do the publication of the post, it is easier to remember to do some of these category cleanup steps because you are right there.

You need to preview the post to make sure that all formatting is correct. Some text formatting is usually required. For example, I often use justified text in my blog posts, but Word 2013 does not support justified text for blog posts. I also ran into several issues where I had it to go in and add a line break to the code of a blog post to get some specific text spacing I was looking for. Albeit, these are minor little issues that anyone would run into and would have to be done anyway no matter what authoring tool was used.

I found that all the images were uploaded at the properly scaled size. When I inserted an image into my blog post, I scaled it to 45%. I was expecting a similar force scaling on-line, but I found that word had scaled the image properly when it posted it to the Web server. This was extremely convenient, and a delightful find. You should also take a few minutes to clean up the image names and descriptions in the media library. Otherwise, you will be left with the random names that Word decided to call the images. Furthermore, you will need to set the Featured Image if you use that function in WordPress.

If you use post plug-ins, such as SEO, you will need to add the information to the post. It is common for most bloggers to use these types of plug-ins and you often have to fill out additional information such as custom post titles, keywords, and description.

One other tip, do not make iterative Publish as Draft from within Word if you have added images to the post. I found that each time I published a draft, images were uploaded to my WordPress site. When I looked at my media library, I found the images had been uploaded five times for a single post. This corresponded to the number of times I saved via my work via ‘Publish as Draft’. If you do wish to save your work-in-progress multiple times, then Publish as Draft but complete the needed cleanup in your media library.

Have other usage tips?  Please leave a comment and share!