Transitioning To Virtual Ease And Triviality

Mail Order.jpeg

I took this photo a few weeks ago on the streets in Washington, D.C.

This was a huge box from eBay coming to someone.

In my building, they recently built an extra storeroom for all the deliveries that are coming everyday–there is no where to put all of them.

Jeff Bezos was recently names the 4th richest person in America, as the stock price of Amazon is up 45% in the last year alone. 

While today in the Wall Street Journal, even the revered retailer of Herald Square, Macy’s, had their stock price shed half it’s value in the last year, and other big box retailers are hurting just as bad. 

eCommerce is threatening the very survival of brick and mortal retailers, as they are seriously eating their lunch–and breakfast and dinner too!

But this is part of a much larger transition occurring from our physical to virtual worlds…

As we abandon department stores and the Mall for online shopping, 

movie theaters and playhouses for home theaters and video streaming, 

physical activities for gaming and virtual reality, 

and even factories and office work for telework and robots

soon we will have no real place to go and nothing to physically do. 

From the bed and couch to the computer and gym, like hamsters on the wheel of triviality, we might as well package ourselves up in the big eBay box and send ourselves to outer space–but only as long as we can get Internet access there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

The Geometric Desk

desk
Thought this desk was really nice. 



Professional, clean, hardwood, and very polished!



Not overly large, but I  liked the geometry of this thing, which made up for it.



The square draws on one side and the inverted cone on the other–very cool.



Great design, and seemingly good quality for home or office. 



Made in America? That would be especially nice (let’s bring the manufacturing home!)  😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

You Can Be Nice and Powerful

You Can Be Nice and Powerful

According to the Wall Street Journal, workers “value kindness in their boss” and compassion–this is natural, as we are all human with tests, frailties, and yes, everyone even makes some mistakes (and hopefully they learn from it).

So while there may seem to be a contradiction between being nice and being an effective leader, there really is not.

For example, we can have empathy for people, while still holding them accountable to do a good job through programs like flexible schedules, telework, and other workplace accommodations.

Power in the organization can be wielded by a boss in so many ways, and they don’t even have to eat their spinach to do it.

From what assignments you get, whether you have to work odd hours, to whether you get a good evaluation or even that promotion, for that matter.

Many may be too quick to put on the punching gloves, however.

Sometimes, the boss will laud publicly over some employees, while degrading or shunning others…that sends a message doesn’t it.

Worse is boss that yells, tells someone their ideas are stupid, or glares at someone like they are a moron…that takes someone straight to employment hell.

The email chain is the classic message!

So while power can be wielded, it can also be shielded by appreciating each person for what they can do and their contribution, if sincere and merited.

While employees value a nice boss, this doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be challenged, we do–challenge adds some meaning to our jobs and our day–that’s why 75% would rather work for a high-achieving, but demanding boss than a nice, but ineffective one.

But combine nice and high-achieving into a boss, and I think we will all want to work for such a leader and follow them wherever they go! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Making The Transition

Making The Transition

Came out of the hospital yesterday.

Able to walk with a walker–thankful for this miracle already.

Thanks to good ‘ol technology, I was able to send my surgeon a photo from my smartphone this morning, so he could see for himself what was going on and advise me.

Later today, having nursing and physical therapy to the house and am glad to have yet another set of eyes on me, while I heal up.

Emotionally, it’s trying.

I am a very active and structured person, and for now I am just physically limited–no getting around it.

As I push myself to walk, I can see my body pushing back to give it more time.

Overall, I am determined to get back to myself with G-d’s merciful help.

I’ve already logged onto work–telework–and been in touch with my team trying to keep things moving forward.

I’m also here, on the blogosphere, sharing my experience.

While in the hospital orthopedic unit, I got to meet many others with similar or even worse situations.

One guy had a knee replacement in January and was already back and had his hip done.

Another, I was told had one hip done, followed about 2 weeks later, by the other one.

All sorts of amazing stories of people fighting to recover and get back on their feet, literally.

One more time, I just want to say how my wife has been amazing through all of this, and I can’t thank her enough.

And truly, as my parents told me, “If you have your health, you have everything!”

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Teamwork or Telework?

Teamwork or Telework?

Clive Thompson makes an interesting point in Wired (15 May 2013) on productivity versus creativity.

He says that people seem more creative when interacting with other people in a group, and more productive when left alone to get their work done.

Hence, he advocates for telework to improve individual productivity, but basically only after the team first gets together to figure out what creative things they should be doing.

While I agree that group interchange can be good for bouncing ideas around and sparking innovation, and that with some quiet time, people can plow through a lot of work on their own–this is only a very narrow perspective.

Really, very often, the exact opposite is true….think about it.

When alone, and with some quiet time to think, you may come up with some of your best and most creative ideas. That is because the pressure is off to strut your stuff with the others, the groupthink is gone, and you can concentrate and free associate. Inventors, writers, painters, and other creative types come up with some of the best innovations, when they are left alone to do their thing.

Similarly, when people are in a group, they can often be much more productive than when working alone. Whether in mass producing good as a team in a factory, as team mates in sports passing and scoring, as warfighters waging battle side by side, and even as the construction crew in the picture above putting up a brand new high-rise building–people, when working together, can do amazingly great and productive things.

So yes, while at times groups can spark creativity among each other and quiet time can be good for getting (some paper) work done, often the exact opposite is true–and the group can produce in quantity and quality and the individual can think, experiment, and truly innovate.

Group and individual work is not correlated one for one with creativity and productivity–it all depends on what you are trying to get done.

But either way, you need both telework and teamwork to think and produce. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Is It "A Message To Garcia" – Or To Us?

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There is an inspirational essay by Elbert Hubbard written in 1899 called “A Message to Garcia” that is about taking initiative and getting the job done.

Here is an abstract:

When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountains of Cuba—no one knew where…the President must secure his co-operation, and quickly…Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia…[he] strapped it over his heart…landed by night off the coast of Cuba…disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out the other side of the Island having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia.”

Garcia is held up by Hubbard as an iconic worker who can “act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing.

And the right way for a worker to perform, according to Hubbard (in my words) included:

Attention and care to the job

Independent action/autonomy

Cheerfulness (or a good attitude)

Integrity to carry out their work with or without supervision

Elbert Hubbard emphasizes a strong work ethic that can be best summarized when he states:

“My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the ‘boss’ is way, as well as when he is at home [interesting that this was written before modern telework!]. And the man who when given a letter for Garcia, quietly takes the missive, without asking any questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it.”

Hubbard’s essay sold over 40 million copies and was translated into 37 languages. It was also made into two movies. The message of Garcia as a model employee obviously resonates far and wide.

Reading the essay, which is written in “Old English,” it was surprising to me that the management challenges we face today are the same ones that were apparently confronted already 100 years ago.

It seems that the search for great employees – meaning those who can generate results, are accountable for delivering value, and are customer-centric – is timeless!

“A Message for Garcia” is truly a call to action for all. No matter what level on the career ladder we occupy, and no matter what organization we serve, what we do for our jobs does matter. Let us “own it” and own it well, just as if we were delivering the President’s message to Garcia.

>Podcast and Slideshare by Andy Blumenthal on Mobility Solutions

>Assorted smartphones

Click here for the audio of my speech at the Adobe Government Assembly on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Subscribe to all my podcasts on iTunes here.)