Archive for the ‘A Better Way?’ Category

22 Ways To Make Email Not Suck

22 July 2014

--If what Alexander Graham Bell invented in 1876 was email – and if the technology invented 95 years later was the telephone – the immediacy of a telephone call would have been seen as an improvement over the delayed back-and-forth communication of email.

Most of us either misuse email ourselves, or we get buried in emails sent by others – often our boss! – who misuse email.

Here’s a collection of 22 tips others have taught. I contend that, if each of us followed all 22 tips, we’d have better communication – and we’d spend a lot less time on email each day.

Today, there are companies who claim the productivity tool they invented will allow you to eliminate email — Asana’s claim of, “Teamwork Without Email” comes to mind. Don’t believe it. Email’s here to stay. So.. (more…)

Question: When is someone who works less hours the better employee?

9 October 2010

Answer:  When they focus on efficiency, not time.

I advise young founding CEOs, either in my role as interim COO or as a “CEO Coach.”  A common issue they raise is their frustration with an employee who does not work incredibly long hours.  I struggled with this until I recalled that, when I was their age, I felt the same way!  I’ve been managing since I was 23 and, for about a decade, I too was impressed with an employee who worked the longest hours.

But then I hired Chris Pooley and he taught me that (more…)

I am thankful for Tom Poole, My First Boss. One Man, Four Lessons, An Immeasurable Impact.

22 November 2009

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my first boss, Tom Poole, who died a year ago.  A quiet, unassuming Down Maine’r, as a young man Tom left the Pine Tree State first to fight for our country and then to make his mark on the business world.  In his retirement, he returned each summer to his cottage in northern Maine.

Tom taught me four lessons — about hiring, making unpopular decisions, buying a cottage (in Maine!), and taking vacations — that have had an immeasurable impact on my life and, by association, the lives of many around me.  Each lesson has its own story which, (more…)

What Makes a Good CEO? You May Be Surprised.

27 May 2009

DullDavid Brooks’ NY Times Op-Ed piece, “In Praise of Dullness” provides data from numerous studies as to what does – and does not – make a good CEO.  He reports that traits that are NOT associated with being an effective CEO include many things that seem counterintuitive, including: strong people skills, being a good listener, a good team builder, an enthusiastic colleague, a great communicator.   He contends that warm, flexible, team-oriented and empathetic people are less likely to thrive as CEOs. 

Rather Brooks reports that organized, dogged, anal-retentive, and slightly boring people are more likely to thrive as CEOs!  Studies show that traits which correlate well with CEO success include emotional stability and conscientiousness; being dependable, making plans, and following through on those plans.  He concludes with, “The CEOs that are most likely to succeed are (more…)

“Tell me again, Des, why we’re cleaning the office before the client visits tomorrow?”

11 May 2009

Mr. CleanWe have an important potential client visiting tomorrow so I’ve lassoed the troops and we just cleaned the office.  One of the younger guys asked, “Des, this company will be buying our technology, not our office space.  So tell me again why we’re cleaning the office before they arrive.”  To which one of the other guys said, “Tell them your story Des.”  Here goes. 

My first job out of school was working for a large computer company. A few years into the gig, I had an assignment on the New England District staff, one of five guys working for the District manager who managed two dozen Branches.

One of our tasks was for the District Manager and his staff to go to each branch once a year and do an all-day review of everything:  sales forecasts, accounts receivable, quality of service, installations, inventory etc.  The first time I did one of these reviews, when we arrived at the office, I headed straight for the conference room for the presentations to begin.

But the boss said, “No, Des, we start in the back room at the loading dock, (more…)

Bostonians: Six Reasons To Consider Pittsburgh For Your Next Weekend Getaway

23 March 2009

jan_2007_pittsburghskyline_com_292This past weekend was our third trip to Pittsburgh. We fall in love with the city every time.  Fellow Bostonians, here are six reasons to consider Pittsburgh for your next weekend getaway.

  1. Cheap, easy flights. Plan ahead and the 1 hour 10 minute flight can be had for $55.
  2. Cheap, luxurious hotels. The historic Renaissance Hotel in the center of town is offering weekend rooms at $100 a night.  Walk across the river and catch a Pirates game at beautiful PNC Park where standing room tickets are only $8 and the food is great though, as The Onion reports, the baseball could be better.  Or visit one of the four Carnegie museums, including the  seven story Andy Warhol Museum.
  3. Cheap, easy driving. A rental car for the weekend can be had for $90 all-in, and parking in city center is only $5 a day. And the last mile of the 20 mile drive from the airport is stunning, causing the NY Times to say (more…)

Why my first used car is not a Honda or Toyota but a full-size Buick

4 June 2008

I don’t think I’m a ‘new car snob’ – I’ve driven plenty of old cars, but each I acquired new.  So why – 35 years after my first car, a showroom-fresh Toyota Crown – is this used, full size Buick LeSabre sitting in our drive?  Two reasons.  First is our family’s April Fools ‘perfect storm’; the first week of April four things happening that decreed our small Volvo S40 – augmented with an antique 1964 Rambler Ambassador – would no longer suffice: My work location moved from just blocks from our Lexington home to downtown Boston; My wife’s new venture took her out of public transit and into a car; Our middle son got his license; And our oldest son returned home from college.  (Not to mention that a month earlier we adopted two large greyhounds.)  Clearly we needed another car! But why not a used Honda or Toyota, the ‘kids car’ of choice for most Lexingtonians?  The second reason for picking a Buick is the warning we received at Skid School, which both sons have now attended. In addition to teaching young drivers how to ‘handle the unexpected’ at highway speeds, Skid School teaches – lectures, really – parents that young drivers should only drive cars equipped with both ABS and side-impact airbags.  Although few used Hondas or Toyotas available for under five grand have both safety features, American Caddys and Buicks have been so equipped for years.  So, no, we don’t have distant, ancient relatives visiting us for the summer; that old bomber in the drive is our ‘new’ car!

UPDATE January 2016:  The Buick finally bit the dust; it couldn’t pass inspection due to a structural problem caused by a 95 year old plowing into the back.  All three sons learned to drive on this creature, putting on over 65,000 miles.  It was an amazing investment.

Columbus Day Weekend; Another Three-Day Holiday Weekend Wasted By So Many Americans

8 October 2007

columbus-day.jpgIn an earlier post I related how the Irish enjoy three-day holiday weekends so much better than we Americans. In America, if you’re involved in retail – either as a retailer or as a customer – these weekends are not a holiday.

When I described the Irish way to a friend, he suggested I try to change America one family at a time. So we started with our family – a retail-free weekend spent with family and friends. Very enjoyable. Give it a try come Veterans Day this November.

End of School Year Mania: The Downside of Making The Unimportant Important

4 June 2007

irish-celebration.gifMaking the rounds of high school graduation parties this month, I’m repeatedly asked about the differences between life in Ireland vs. life in the States. My wife Jules’s post, End Of The Year Mania, covers a key area of difference, how we in the States are making important events (like high school graduations) unimportant by over-celebrating the trivial (like preschool graduations.) Jules references a brilliant piece in the The Boston Globe’s op-ed section on the downside of American over-celebrating. Jules nicely contrasts this with the upside of the Irish way of making the really important things truly matter more. Check it out.

Six Things Irish Schools Do Well; Should America Adopt Them?

31 May 2007

school-bus.jpegToday school children in Ireland start their three-month long summer vacation. They enjoy a longer break than their American counterparts due to a more efficient school calendar, one of six things Irish schools do well that American schools should consider adopting.

When we moved to Ireland in 2001 from the top-notch public schools of Lexington MA (Lexington’s schools had just been selected as the best in the northeast) we were pleased to learn that the Irish schools were equally as good. The quality of public education – a key focus of the Irish government for thirty years – is one of the three factors behind the Celtic Tiger boom; in less than a decade the Irish economy became the healthiest in the EU, with the Irish now enjoying the highest per capita income in Europe. (The other two drivers of the Irish economy – a dramatic increase in the number of women… (more…)


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