Don’t Manage, Lead

Photo by purplemattfish, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs license.

Management and leadership. These two words are often used interchangeably, yet they mean entirely different things.

A manager is defined as a director, as someone who controls resources and expenditures while a leader is defined as a person who rules, guides or inspires others.

Managers are a reality in (pretty much) all of our worlds, these are the people who give us orders and direct our activities. You don’t always know why a manager is asking you to do things (and you may not even agree with what you’ve been asked to do) but you do know that based on your organizations hierarchy your supposed to follow their orders and do what they say.

Leaders are different. We all know leaders, however they may not be in a position of management. Leaders are the people who inspire us. They are the people that you do things for because you believe in them and their vision. Unlike with managers, you do things for leaders because you genuinely want to.

Some managers are leaders, but not all leaders are managers. You can find leaders in all sorts of different roles in your company. Leadership doesn’t generally come with the same perks as management, such as a fancy office or a quarterly bonus, but leaders are guaranteed something that managers aren’t - Respect.

Would you rather be known to your peers as a leader or as a manager?

What Happened To Recess?

It was the best part of your day.

The bell would ring and you would fly out of your seat to run straight to the playground with the rest of your classmates. In school, recess was a blast. It was a time when it was OK (and expected) for you to go outside to play and use your imagination. You could be the next great basketball star, an Olympic gymnast on the monkey bars or the next great detective during a game of hide and seek.

Yes - recess was fun. But, it was also important. Sure, it was time spent away from classroom learning but it was time spent learning how to be creative while building relationships with your classmates. Most importantly, it was a time to do anything you wanted to do with the only limit being the collective limit of the imagination of you and your friends.

What happened to recess as we grew up? If you substitute coworkers for classmates in the paragraphs above don’t the principals of recess still apply? You may not have tetherball in your office, but there are plenty of places to get away, take a break and let your imaginations run wild. Recess at work is time spent away from your required duties and time spent dreaming up the next big thing.

What do you think? Is there a place for recess in the business world? What do you do to take a break and encourage creativity in the office?

Anonymous said: How do you set up the stuff in the second column? I'm trying to use this theme, but other than the ABOUT section, I can't figure tout how to post under that. Thanks!

My only frustration with Tumblr so far is that they don’t make adding custom widgets as easy as Wordpress. However, if you have a bit of HTML knowledge it isn’t hard to do.

To make a customization to your theme (like I did with the “Find Me Elsewhere” section) you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Go into the customize appearance section of your blog from your dashboard
  2. Scroll to where you want your “custom” widget to appear
  3. Enter your HTML Code
  4. Here’s what mine looks like (and also where I put my custom code) -

Hope this helps!

Gravitate Towards the Impossible

 The two most exciting words in the English language? How about…

“That’s Impossible”

Of course there are a few variations on these words, such as “That’s never going to work” and of course “The technology we have doesn’t allow for this” – But no matter how you say it seems to have the same effect on most people.

I think that the most common reaction that people have to these words is to give up and move on to something else. After all, you can’t conquer the impossible so isn’t your time better spent on things you can solve?

There’s a different reaction to this question, however, that is far more interesting. This response is when people don’t believe that something is impossible to solve (or better yet, don’t care) and instead show a burning desire to solve the impossible. This reaction is rarer than the previously mentioned one, but the people who default to it are much more likely to do something absolutely amazing in their lives.

I’m not implying that everything needs to be solved. For example, if your friend can’t make it out for drinks this weekend because it would be “impossible” to cancel date night, that could be one example of something that’s better left alone. But how about the big ideas? Do you think the first engineers at NASA didn’t hear from someone that it was impossible to safely send a man into space and return him to earth safely? Do you think Steve Jobs was never been told that creating certain (and now successful) Apple products would be impossible due to technological limitations? What would have happened if these people listened and stopped trying? For those that choose to gravitate towards the impossible with the intent of making things possible, several awesome opportunities present themselves.

  1. You could be the first to solve a problem. I don’t think most people who act on ideas and build something awesome before anyone else were necessarily first to have the idea. Instead, they were the first to challenge the impossible.
  2. Succeed or fail, you’re bound to innovate. Trying to solve the impossible is often blocked by technological limitations. Working towards your goal of solving the impossible probably means you’re going to have to innovate and build cool (and re-usable) stuff along the way.
  3. Success. If you think of some of the most successful people in technology today, did they get there by giving up at “that’s impossible”? There are certainly some exceptions, but overall the trend is that the people who make it big and find the highest levels of success in this world are the people who have had the courage to solve something that’s never been solved before.

What are your thoughts on this? What’s your reaction to the words “it’s impossible”?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Do You Do Your Best Work At Work?

Do you do your best work at work?  

For many, the answer to this question is no. Instead of doing our best work at work, many people are doing their best work in the evenings and on weekends. This is the time that truly belongs to us. We can do anything we want with this time and many of us make incredible use of it.

For some, it’s taking stunning photographs, painting or making music. For others, it’s building and creating. If you think about some of the awesome projects that come out of people spare time, it’s really quite impressive.

One of the best examples of this is the world’s most popular server operating system, Linux. This operating system is built (mostly) by people who love working on it and choose to do so as part of a community that works outside of their normal jobs and works for absolutely no pay. For most people working on Linux, I’d venture a guess that they would say that working on Linux is their best work.

But what motivates this? What motivates people to create and build the worlds most stable and secure software in their spare time and without any desire for income related to the task?

There are probably many factors that play into this but one likely answer is simply passion. Think of how much more interesting (and perhaps enjoyable) the world could be if every company encouraged all of their employees to work on their dreams and passions in addition to the companies next big project.

What if a company told its employees to pick the one thing each month they were most passionate about and to work on only that and furthermore to only apply that months work to the companies goals if applicable.

Is such a world possible? Would productivity tank or soar? Would these passions no longer be passions if we were instructed to do them? Let me know your thoughts on this. I’d love to hear from you on this topic!

How Microsoft Blew it With Bing 411

I miss Google 411, I really do. It was super easy to use, it got me connected with the business I was inquiring about in just a few seconds and didn’t burden me with unnecessary options. As luck would have it, the same day I was out running errands and wanted to call my favorite Chinese place in town for take out is the same day Google shut down their service.

Having heard of Microsoft’s free 411 service (1-800-Bing-411) I decided to give it a shot. The service itself worked fine, but was so much more complicated than it needed to be. This really got me thinking about software development and user experience. Getting the user what they are after in as few actions as possible is something that every application should strive for, yet I see time and again that so many simple workflows are blogged down with an overly complicated workflow.

Lets take a look at the differences in the user experience using these two free 411 services for the simple use case of wanting to look up and call a business

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