Business and work Mindsets

Having standards and doing great work

I love Seth Godin’s post titled ‘“Nothing wrong with having standards”‘ and his conclusion in particular.

The thing is, if you begin with standards and stick with them, you don’t have to become a jackal to make ends meet. Not only is there nothing wrong with having standards, it turns out to be a shortcut to doing great work and making an impact.

This has come up for me so many times in both of my careers that it quickly seems to be the “way things are done”. Sure, the people who cut corners do seem to get ahead often but at what cost and how long before it comes back to bite them (often in the form of a bigger jackal)?

Standing by your standards can be a tougher road to walk but doing so is often a pretty good representation of the kind of person you are.

Read the full post: Seth’s Blog: “Nothing wrong with having standards”

Image credit: Pixabay

Business and work

Better management

I had opportunities to manage people in my various roles and becoming a manager was definitely a work-in-progress. Because I have been both a manager and an employee at different stages of my life, I’m pretty interested in what successful managers do that creates their successes.

I’m really enjoying this episode 76 of Debug about management. Some insights that appeal to me include –

  • Managers need to constantly watch for burnout and adopt tactics to avoid it or, failing that, alleviate it through varied projects, changing the pace and constantly talking to your team members.
  • Take an active interest in your team. Get to know them well enough to be able to pick up on negative trends (perhaps due to overwork or stress) before they become problems so you can address them constructively.
  • Being a manager doesn’t make you the king/queen. It doesn’t mean ruling by edict.

If I were to flip through a book on management best practices, I am sure I would find myself ticking off a number of the worst practices poor managers have adopted. The positive side of that is that it has given me a helpful perspective on how to do the job better (if I ever, hypothetically, found myself in a management role again). I have also learned a fair amount just being an employee.

One theme which fascinates me is finding a constructive balance between planning and metrics on the one hand, and allowing for a degree of flexibility and autonomy that is both empowering and helps employees achieve their targets. The challenge with too much planning and structure is that it can basically squeeze the creativity right out of your employees. On the other hand, your work must ultimately make a positive contribution to the company’s bottom line so a degree of planning and measurement is essential.

Most interesting, for me at least, is how even creative work like mine has to have some form of structure and must be measurable. After all, content marketing is supposed to help boost sales and there are often clearly defined success metrics you need to achieve even though the work itself may be relatively unstructured.

Image credit: The conductor by me, licensed CC BY NC SA 2.0

Business and work Web/Tech

When relying too heavily on cloud services is too risky

When you rely on one site alone for income, any policy change can instantly destroy you.

This line from an article titled “YouTube Unleashes Strange Storm Of Copyright Claims On Video Game Content Producers” stood out.


Challenging Not-for-Profit Perceptions

I’ve been involved in a couple not-for-profit (aka non-profit) organisations in my career in some form or another. What I have noticed is that many of this not-for-profit organisations (let’s just refer to them as “NPOs”) suffer from a debilitating perception held by their various stakeholders. This perception is that a NPO should not make much money and everyone involved in it should either be volunteers or work for very little money. Only for-profit businesses are entitled to generate substantial revenue and pay their staff decent to high salaries.

This perception cripples NPOs because it undermines their fundraising activities and their staff and contributors have this notion that their NPOs should be operated as whatever the opposite of how a commercial enterprise is run. That is, as a business.

Fortunately there are NPOs which are operated as true social businesses . They employ skilled professionals and pay them pretty decent salaries. They operate as businesses with effective management and controls and the primary difference between their work and a commercial counterpart’s is that the NPO works to benefit a cause and doesn’t distribute profits to its members and directors.

Unfortunately, this business-like approach does not seem to be the norm and many NPOs with important objectives are run inefficiently and ineffectively which, in tough economic times when contributions to NPOs take a dive, can be disastrous. Fortunately there is some innovative work being done to change this perception. I particularly like Dan Pallotta’s recent TED Talk on this topic which is very much worth watching:

Funding and operating smart marketing campaigns to support and attract funding for NPOs is essential. Both supporters and contributors simply have to shift their expectations and perceptions of NPOs and start running them like a commercial enterprise, except with the purpose of having an impact on important social and environmental challenges. It is the only way to make sustainable progress where it is needed most.

Useful stuff

The LEGO story in an inspiring animated film

This short animated video is a fun story and a great bit of history if you were ever a LEGO fanatic. I used to play with it for hours as a child.

Business and work Social Web Web/Tech

Send me your skilled – connecting people

I enjoy connecting people who may be able to do even more exciting/lucrative stuff together or because they connected, shared ideas and went off and cultivated them. One of the things I tend to wind up doing most of the time when I speak to people is refer them to other skilled people they need to do stuff.  It isn’t what I do for a living or even something I charge for.

I think I have a decent network of really great and skilled people who I have met and enjoy dealing with and I’d like to expand that network because the day will come when I will meet someone who needs someone I know and I want to be able to connect them.

So … getting to the point, I would like to connect with more interesting and skilled people.  If you know me and you want to be on my list of people I could refer other people to, connect to me on and I’ll help where I can.

This only really works if you have a complete profile and even then it works really well if you are connected to someone I know and trust.  It is all about word of mouth and all that so while it is great to meet new people this way, if we haven’t connected before or if we don’t share trusted contacts, you may want to drop me a line and say hi, tell me about yourself.

On the other hand, if this all sounds very nutty to you, that’s ok.  I am curious to see if this works out myself.  If it does then that is great because you could be the next person I connect with someone else I know (no promises to connect you with anyone or send you any work, just saying I’ll keep you in mind when I need someone with your skills).

Updated on 2016-03-06 to change the contact method to my contact form