I Met The Swamp And It Is Us

Swamp.jpeg

So with the election came promises (and hope to some) to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. and beyond. 


That means redefining the size, scope, and purpose of federal government.


It also means reducing regulations that stifle American business and competitive advantage, placing restrictions on lobbying, and imposing term limits on Congress.


Presumably, it also means addressing mounds of fraud, waste and abuse in the system (many examples of each are out there).  


So here is a funny true story from when I was traveling recently…


A gentleman is riding with me in the elevator and he turns to me to make chit-chat. 


He says, “Good morning. Where you from?”


I smile and respond, “Washington, D.C.,” and add proudly, “the nation’s capital!”


He then asks, “What do you do there?”


Feeling a little perky that morning and with the elevator ride about to come to a stop at the lobby, I quickly blurt out, “Oh, cleaning up the swamp.”


To which, the man responds with the sarcasm galore and probably a good dose of disdain, “Yeah right!” 


There was something so comical about this scene in which I sort of baited this guy and at the same time found the reaction that is all too likely throughout America.


Do people believe and are they committed that we really do the following:


– Change the status quo of big stumbling government


– Right the wrongs done by those who take advantage of the system, its power and big money


– Restrain the ginormous national debt that threatens to consume all of us


– Fairly and compassionately address the nation’s priorities including those for national security, prosperity, and well-being


– Drain the swamp from the horrendous creatures that dwell and thrive therein


And the capital is not built on a preexisting swamp, but it did come and grow, man-made, dark and deep, as a result of the greed and fear that drives too many, far too far. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Charisma, MORE Than Skin Deep

Art Girl
Charisma is something that can make or break a career or life.



If you have it, people often flock to you–that means connections, networking, relationships, and support. 



If you don’t have it, then kiss your effectiveness and associates goodbye. 



According to Elizabeth Holmes in the Wall Street Journal, charisma is about how you look, talk, prep, smile, and get feedback. 



At work, for example, Holmes focuses quite a bit on superficial outwardly things like “Look polished, wrinkle-free,” “Make eye contact,” “Master grace under fire,” and more.



And while these are important, they are really also the more superficial of what you can do in term of primarily how you look and comport yourself on the surface. 



Holmes does point more substantive things you can do, like ask for honest feedback, so presumably you can improve yourself. 



But improvements in the skin deep is nice, but not the essence of charisma.



Yes, no one appreciates someone who comes into the room disheveled, smelly, and like a proverbial turd. 



But more important than how one looks, talks and carry’s themselves outwardly is how they actually behave. 



Looks are superficial, and word are cheap, but what a person actually does shows what they are really all about as a human being. 



Yes, do you need to build confidence by being put together, of course you do.



But to really build respect, trust, influence, inspire, and lead, you need to be a mensch–a decent human being, grounded in virtuous beliefs, who shows they will do the right thing and act at all times with a core integrity.



Charisma means we genuinely care and help others–not that we focus on promoting ourselves by walking around as the high and mighty



In the end, your charisma, charm, gravitas, presence and effectiveness as a leader is much more about what you do then what you simply look like or spout out. 



Be genuinely kind, caring, and giving, and that is a presence that can be sincerely felt and not just ogled over. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Google Fiber 4 The Nation’s Capital

Google Fiber 4 The Nation's Capital

How About Google Fiber for Washington, D.C.?

– Lead, by example, the rest of the nation forward.

– Speed up the functioning of the government.

– Helpful for Emergency Management

– The Patriotic thing to do! 😉

All Opinions my own.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cameron Yee, & no idea why it’s in Spanish, but I like it!)

Robots, Coming to An Agency Near You Soon

There is an article today in the Wall Street Journal (10-11 March 2012) about how an Anybot Robot attended a wedding party in Paris dressed up as the man’s 82-year old mother who logged on from her home in Las Vegas and by proxy of the robot moved and even danced around the party floor and conversed with guests–she was the hit of the party.

While sort of humorous, this is also amazingly incredible–through robotics, IT and telecommunications, we are able to close the gap in time and space and “be there,” even from a half a world away.

The QB Anybot robot is life size, rolls around on 2 wheels like a Segway, and has glowing blue eyes and a telescreen for a forehead on a long skinny cylindrical body that can be controlled remotely and costs only $9,700.

While this is the story of a robot “becoming the life of the party,” I believe that we are at the cusp of when robots will be reporting for duty at our agencies and organizations.

The function of robots in workplace has been tested with them performing everything from menial office tasks (like bringing the coffee and donuts) to actually representing people at meetings and around the office floor–not only keeping an electric eye on things so to say, but actually skyping back and forth with the boss, for example.

As robots become more dexterous, autonomous, and with better artificial intelligence, and abilities to communicate with natural language processing, we are going to see an explosion of these in the workplace–whether or not they end up looking like a Swiffer mop or something a little more iRobot-like.

So while we are caught up in deficit-busting times and the calls for everything from “Cloud First” to “Share First” in order to consolidate, save, and shrink, maybe what we also need is a more balanced approach that takes into account not only efficiencies, but effectiveness through innovation in our workplaces–welcome to the party, Robots!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Helping Employees Find The Right Job Fit

I have a new article in Public CIO Magazine (August 2011) on the topic of how to handle poorly performing employees.

Finding the right candidate for a job is much like finding a spouse — it requires the right chemistry. There’s a critical difference between having great qualifications and being the right person for a particular job, which is a concept that organizational behavior specialist refer to as ‘person-job fit.'”

When you see employees struggling, try to bring them up to speed in every possible way. If that doesn’t work, help them find a better position to continue their path of professional and personal development.”

Read the rest of the article at Government Technology.
(Source Photo: here)

SIMON Says Open

Discovery Channel has a series called Future Weapons.
This is part 1 from Israel and Richard (Mack) Mackowicz, a former Navy SEAL show us “The SIMON.”
SIMON is a high-tech, advanced rifle grenade for breaching virtually any door in hostile environments.  
It is made by Rafael, one of the largest and most innovative Israeli arms manufacturers.  
SIMON is in use by both U.S. and Israel armed forces. 
Essentially, a bullet-trap slides over the muzzle of a conventional assault rifle like an M-16. 
A regular bullet propels a grenade up to 30 yards into a door, and the blast wave from the detonation breaches the door and any locking mechanisms–with minimum collateral damage and keeping troops out of harms way. 
Breaching doors in urban warfare is one of the most dangerous tasks in any mission as troops may be walking into anything from the spray of gunfire to booby traps.
Well as Mack says: “SIMON says open door;” It is an “instantaneous key to any door.”
What I like about SIMON is the combination of its simplicity and effectiveness. 
On one hand, it works with conventional rifles and bullets and is light and compact to carry. It’s as simple as slide, aim, and shoot–and the door is breached for troops to enter and either rescue hostages or get the bad guy. 
With whatever technology we are building–whether computers or weapons–they need to be user-centric and mission focused. 
Israel has a history of innovation–everything from defense to medicine and making the desert bloom–and I think this has to do with that their survival is constantly imperiled. 
The lesson is that we ought to recognize the dangers out there and respond to them with immediacy and vigor, as if our lives depended on it–because in many cases, they really do.