Archive for October, 2011

Secrets to my success

Throughout my career, I have worked hard, gotten lucky, and been blessed on many occasions. I have worked for large and small companies, had both wonderful and horrible bosses, and managed some pretty incredible people. No matter the circumstances, industry, work environment, or financial position, there are three guiding principles I have developed that have served me well. Call them secrets to my success, undeniable truths of the working world, or common sense; either way, I live by these principles every day, and you can benefit from them, too.

  1. Document everything. You have absolutely no idea how many times I’ve save my own keister by making sure I have everything in writing. So many of our colleagues rely on in-person conversations and phone calls to get the job done. I do the same thing, but I always follow up “offline” conversations with “online” documentation of the conversations. The best way to capture the information is by sending an email with the conversation highlights. Not only is it “on the record,” but it’s also time stamped. As we’ve discussed before, adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it, so sometimes when the pressure is on some people like to throw others under the bus. If you happen to be the unlucky recipient of that behavior, you can get in a lot of trouble if you can’t back up what you know is correct. Document, document, document.
  2. Assume nothing. Never assume your colleagues instinctually¬†understand what you’re saying. Also never assume they have the same level of knowledge on a subject as you do. Don’t be afraid to “take it from the top” and give your coworkers full context on a subject, project, or initiative. Most people love the recap, even if they’ve been involved from the beginning, and it helps to level-set the expectation of those who may be coming late into the conversation. You can give a full recap in just a few minutes, and it helps to make you look like the thought leader. The downstream benefits are infinitely higher than the minor effort required on the front end.
  3. Think like a lawyer. This goes hand-in-hand with the “document everything” axiom. I’ve worked for several companies that are either highly regulated and/or have undergone intense government scrutiny. These experiences have given me a very unique perspective on how to act, react, respond, and communicate. The casual email or IM you send to your pal in accounting may very well turn up in your HR file in the future, through no fault of your own. The phone call you fielded from a reporter, where you provided some informal comments you assumed were off the record (remember to assume nothing) can end up on the home page of Fox News the very next day. Talking trash about your boss to a trusted colleague could be accidentally overheard by someone else and cost you your job. WWLD: What Would Legal Do?

These sound simple enough, but you’ll find they are actually quite difficult to incorporate into your everyday working life. Take the time and effort, and you will not be sorry. You can trust me on this. (This is the only time I will encourage you to ignore the “assume nothing” axiom.)

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October 4, 2011 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

Why I am dropping Bank of America

We spoke last week about Netflix’s disastrous decision to raise service fees so they could put the needs of their stockholders over the needs of their customers. History will prove this was a dramatic turning point for an industry-leading, well-regarded company with brand loyalty that rivaled Apple.

Bank of America has decided to take a similar swan dive with their customers by charging a $5 monthly fee when B of A customers use their debit card. Seriously? ¬†The same company that gladly accepted $45 billion in taxpayer bailout money in 2009 has decided to reward millions of those people by making them pay to access their own money. Like Netflix, there is an assumption that people will still continue to use the service at the same rate, only now the company will be able to collect fees from the activity. Spoiler Alert: not only will millions of B of A customers no longer use their ATMs, but millions more will also decide to take their hard-earned money elsewhere. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that’s exactly what is going to happen.

I have been a Bank of America customer for almost 20 years, but that will soon come to an end. Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it. When the chips are down and a company decides to punish the very customers who gave them success, they no longer deserve my loyalty or my money.

Close your eyes and listen carefully… do you hear that? That’s the giant sucking sound of millions of customers walking away.

October 3, 2011 at 8:13 am Leave a comment


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