Archive for August, 2011



5 Communication Styles You Need to Know

I enjoy people. I’m the guy who looks forward to a party to meet someone new as oppose to dreading have to walk in a room full of strangers. Most of the time that I find myself in a new situation, I look forward to making new friends. As gregarious as I am, I have learned that not everyone communicates the same way I do–as a matter of fact there are several different “communication languages” my clients and friends use for their primary mode of communication. Much like the popular “love language” concept where some prefer words of affirmation and others touch or some gifts, these communication styles or languages are key to unlocking the potential in a sales and management relationship. If you’re in sales (I believe we are all in sales of one form or another), consulting or ministry , the sooner you figure out the best way…

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A Relationship Reward Worth The Risk

Nothing great happens without risk. That’s true about our relationships as well. I’m not sure it’s a byproduct of maturity, personality, the fact I’m from another culture, or a combination of all of it, but I have found myself taking more risks in my relationships lately. The response has been worth the risk. It’s easier and safer to walk alongside my male friends while keeping the relationship on a shallow, trivial level. We men are great at that. We can talk about sports, work, training, and our troubles with women all day long. As a matter of fact, we can spend time with someone for years and never really know them. The American male relational protocol perpetuates this mindset: keep it interesting, keep it light, and keep surface. Introspection, after all, is the stuff of the other gender; the one we do not understand. I believe we all need to…

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Management Lesson from My Teeth

My teeth have recently taught me a management lesson I  have known for years but had neglected. I have a love/hate relationship with my teeth. While most people start having tooth issues late in life, mine started early in my teenage years. I’ve had braces, root canals, crowns, oral surgeries and not because I refused to brush and floss, but because my parents passed down some pretty bad genes. However, the point here is not sympathy for my plight, which I hope to garner some, but the management lesson I was recently reminded of. Here it is: when you neglect the team in order to focus on an under-performing member, the entire organization suffers. A couple of years ago I started having problems with number 11 (in case you don’t know, number 11 is your right left canine tooth). My dentist told me to “baby it” and gave me a…

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How to Buy Pants

How much, what brand, and even what style of pants does not matter as much as how well they fit you. Pants have more of an impact on how a guy looks than any other clothing item. Ill-fitting slacks will make you look bad no matter how nice and expensive your shirt or jacket are. When buying pants, make sure you try them on and that you can see what’s happening behind you. I have seen some horrific sights that I’m sure the offender never saw happening at the back. Here’s a guide on how to find the right size of of pants. Most men’s pants are sized with two numbers: waist and inseam measurement, in that order. Measure your waist by wrapping a tape measure around your torso wherever you want your pants to fall. Keep a finger or two between the tape measure and you, so that you…

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My New Stranger Strategy

What would it happen if I made a habit of walking up to a complete strangers and introducing myself? In the past few months I have tried to be intentional about doing just that.  I have done it in airports, at the gym, and restaurants. I had no idea of what to expect. Would people be annoyed? Would they look at me with the you-are-creeping-me-out stare? Would they dismiss or ignore me? Not really. People’s reactions have surprised me.  The great majority of people seem genuinely glad to have a brief personal dialogue with a perfect stranger. I believe human beings are created to be part of a shared existence, part of community. It’s easy to be in the middle of a room filled with people and to be alone, go to work everyday and not connect with anyone, walk around a large gym, see the same people for months…

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Becoming a Change Agent

I often intuitively know what a person or organization needs to do to get where they want to be. Most of the times, I realize they cannot get there on one step, sometimes they cannot get there at all. Early in my career, I was frustrated by the inability of those around me to change. It took me a long time, however  to learn that my expectations were unreasonable and that change is a much slower and costlier process than I gave it credit.   One of the toughest lessons in life for me was learning the pace in which people are able and willing to change. I’m not sure that I have a full grasp on it, but I have made strides since my early 20s when I entered the workforce. Back then the world was much simpler. Things were a lot more black and white than they are…

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Wrestling with Discontent

“If I am not moving forward, I know I am sliding backwards.” That’s a cliche for many, but it’s a foundational truth for me. Some label it discontent, or ungratefulness, others personal growth. I have come to the realization it can be both a lack of gratitude or a great opportunity to grow and reaching new personal heights. The difference has everything to do with our motivation. No one would ever accomplish greatness without challenging the status quo. The inner drive to take us beyond where we have been, beyond our own perceived limitations comes from within, and I believe is from God. But even this part of our divined-inspired nature can be corrupted. In this case, replacing our God-given drive to become better at who we and what we do, to grow, and even accomplish the impossible with the search for happiness and significance is the difference between personal…

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Should I Match Socks to Shoes or Pants?

Fashion Friday returns with the age-old question: “should I match my socks to my pants or shoes?” I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve answered this. People at the gym ask me that at least once a week. As a rule, you should match your socks to your pants and not your shoes. Why? you might ask. Mainly because it just looks better. If you match your socks to your trousers, then you have a streamlined look from your waist all the way down to your shoes. If you match them to your shoes, however, you can get the booty look where your pants have the illusion of ending around your ankles and your shoe/sock/booty combination begins. It makes your legs look shorter and your call attention to your ankles, or cankles (the combination of calf+ankle in one unsightly, unnatural organ). There are a few exceptions. (Yep,…

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Don’t Spiritualize Your Management Problems, Fix Them

A lot of bad decisions get blamed on God. In my years of consulting, I have run into poorly managed organizations with broken systems, ineffective workers, and bad strategies. All of them can be fixed. Well almost. There’s the spiritual trump card that stops any effort cold: “I feel God wants me to do it this way,” or “God has not released me to do that.” While I understand that sometimes God calls us to do the impossible, to pursue goals and dreams that most people will never understand, I believe that God gets blamed for people’s fears, insecurities, and downright incompetence. Really. Borrowing more money than you should, hiring the wrong person for the job, mismanaging people, failing to do due diligence on a deal, are not spiritual issues. They are management and leadership problems. We don’t need to pray about firing an employee who has stolen from the…

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Life Fleeting

Life is precious. We are not guaranteed tomorrow on this earth. Those two thoughts came rushing into my mind as I read an email today about the passing of Gary “Shoe Shine Guy” Armstrong. He was found dead in his apartment over the weekend. Gary was 51. I saw him this past Friday afternoon at his usual spot at the bottom of the main staircase at the Maryland Farms YMCA. I had a pair of shoes for him to shine this morning, but he was not there. Since 2003 Gary had worked at the same spot, and over the years I gave him a lot of business. It will be strange going down the stairs and not hearing Gary’s soundtrack of 60, 70 and 80 tunes in his old-school stereo he setup every day. Interestingly, Gary had a blog with only four entries from April of 2007. I only discovered…

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