Brighten Your Mondays

Bright.jpeg

So a colleague asked me why I wear bright, happy ties on Mondays. 


Well, I explain, I guess it’s a combination of two reasons: 


1) I’m starting the week all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed coming off the weekend energized and ready for a brand new and exciting week.


2) I’m trying to take what many consider “blue Mondays” and make them brighter and more cheerful for everyone. 


– Smile and the whole world smiles with you!


So the other person responds, as if all the craziness of the office and organizational psychos during the week will somehow wear down my good cheer:


“So by the time you get to Fridays, what are you wearing black ties???”


I guess everyone knows the workweek is the workweek.


And they don’t call it work for nothing. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

STEM Lost And Found

Discovery

ASPIRATIONS.JPEG

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things…from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 

America Desperately Needs More STEM Students” (Forbes 2012)

Americas Lack of STEM Students is Bad News For National Security” (US News and World Report June 2015)

Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the “STEM crisis is a myth,” still “we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts.”

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), “Oh, don’t depend on my math skills for that!”

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets–and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it’s being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization’s free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Oh, Change!

Change Management
What an astute comic this is about change. 



“Who wants change?”  Everyone raises their hands enthusiastically.



“Who wants to change?” Everyone has their hands and eyes down. 



I suppose that is the difference between a nice lofty but esoteric concept, and something that actually impacts us and requires our attention, resources, and hard work. 



So what sounds good for the masses in a speech or article may sound entirely different when applied to the individual. 



Who me change?  No, that’s someone else’s problem!



– Global warming and environmental destruction–that’s coming from China now.



– Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic States–it’s a European issue.



– The Arab Spring with governments being overthrown and countries destabilizing into sectarian violence–that’s for The Gulf States to worry about. 



– Higher taxes to pay for social entitlements–let the very rich pay for that.



– More security and surveillance for counter-terrorism initiatives–let’s just surgically target the bad guys with those. 



Let’s face it–we all have a lot on our plates already and we are suckers for a good talking to about some broadly-based, fantastical future that is better, happier, healthier, and more peaceful and prosperous.



But what do you have to give up or sacrifice for this future utopia or making progress towards it…ah, that’s not a message we really want to get into now, is it?



Change…it’s good for the next guy and gal; let me have my cake and eat it too. 😉



(Source Photo: here with attribution to starecat.com)

A Giant On The Terrace

A Giant On The Terrace

Passing a building and looking up at the terraces, how could you not notice this giant dude?

Larger than life and looking like he is holding up the terrace above.

This is no simple scarecrow.

But a formidable member of the Redskins.

For me, I’d like the GI Joe version for my property. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Even The Buildings Smile

Even The Buildings Smile

Soon we will end the weekend and move into the next workweek.

As a kid, I remember people calling it “Blue Monday”–presumably because of the feelings people had going back to work.

I know some people that don’t even like to go out on Sunday evening at all, because of the anxiety they feel about the upcoming week.

But I thought this was a great photo that my daughter took to express the weekend joy and good feelings and the importance of carrying these forward throughout the whole week.

Someone actually drew this smiley face on the side of the building!

When my other daughter, Minna, asked my mom in the nursing home today for some words of wisdom, she reminded us all that “the years go by all too quickly!”

In her words, I understood that the main thing is to find meaning and purpose, give more than you take, and remember to count your blessings every day. 😉

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

What YOU Need To Land That Next Job

What YOU Need To Land That Job

Mashable (17 August 2013) has some good advice for job seekers–show you mean business and here’s how to do it:

1) Integrity–This is the #1 fundamental. If you are not trustworthy, reliable, honest…you are more trouble than you’re worth. Integrity underscores your character as a person and professional. If you cheat, lie, steal, and are self-serving, why would anyone want to associate with you, let alone have you work for them?

2) Adaptability–Change is constant and happening faster and faster. If you are status quo, “old school”, and can’t innovate your way off a typewriter, how in G-d’s name are you going to help a business grow and adapt to changing market conditions? Go-getters, trend-setters, and change-agents, desired and welcome.

3) Problem-solvers-Anyone can complain and see problems, but it takes special folks to solve those large and complex ones. You need to be able to come up with a strategy, articulate it, and execute on it. If you see the bad in everything, but can’t solve anything–you are part of the problem and not part of the solution. If you have technical skills and can apply them, you are valuable to the organization.

4) Self-Starters–No time to babysit snoozers, slackers, or the constantly tardy–organizations are looking for professionals. You need to hit the ground running. If you don’t know what to do, how to do it, or can’t pick up on it pretty quickly, this is going to be a painful experience. Those with initiative, enthusiasm, team players, and hard workers make it relatively easy,

5) Loyalty–Backstabbers, users, and serial job-hoppers, you’re wasting precious time. If you’re loyal to the organization and leadership, you deserve the same in return. Your value increases as you learn the organization, mission, and people and can apply your unique training and experiences over time. The organization wants you to grow with them.

You’re a fork, a spoon, and a knife and you are just what the organization is looking for. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Engaging and Listening

Engaging and Listening

It was unexpected that the day after I blogged about a number of change organizations attracting attention in our society, particularly from our young people, that I saw it for myself on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Yet another change organization–different from the two that I wrote about yesterday–this one called “Be The Change” with three national campaigns currently:

– Service Nation–encourages a year of national service “to tackle pressing social issues.”

– Opportunity Nation–advocates for expanded economic mobility for all young people and to “close the opportunity gap in America.”

– Got Your 6–seeks to create opportunities for veterans.

Has “change” just become cliche or are people genuinely looking for something that is missing in today’s culture, values, and norms.

These smiling people certainly seem to be excited about change.

It just makes you wonder–what is it that people are desperately missing in their lives and want en masse to change? How do we help people find that missing link and achieve real enthusiasm for what we are doing and where we are going?

As leaders, it is our duty to understand and meet the genuine needs of the people…somehow doing this on the street corner by volunteers (as hardworking and noble as it is) seems to missing the larger point of government by the people for the people.

We need more politicians engaging and more people feeling they are being listened to. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)