Tag Archives: Personal Development

March Madness and Project Management

 

Every March around the country the attention of the sports world turns to basketball. March Madness has provided some of the most memorable moments in the world of sports including NC State coach Jim Valvano celebrating on the court with his team after upsetting the favored University of Houston to win a national championship. On Thursday the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament continues with the Sweet Sixteen vying for a spot in the Elite Eight and finally the opportunity to compete in Minneapolis for an opportunity to play in the Final Four and cut down the nets as National Champions.

 

The stars of the tournament stand out through last minute buzzer beaters and crazy blocked shots. While the results and performance on the court will stand out and be remembered, decisions which shaped the teams in the tournament are varied and years in the making. A complex series of decisions must be by the staff. Coaches must make their recruiting class strong to complete their roster for game day decisions. Once players are with the staff must decide how to use players in the most effective ways with their different skill sets.

 

 

Beyond the impressive baskets which live on in highlight reels are a series of complex decisions that shape the core of the team involving which players are on the court during important times. The major actions which set up great stat lines include conditioning and focusing on making the simple actions stand out.

 

Before any major on the court play can occur the structures and support need to be in place to ensure players can play at the highest level. Great coaches can create situations where good players become great players and average players become good overperforming what many would expect of them.

 

Sports provides valuable insights and life lessons which is much greater than the outcome of a game including how to manage a team, how to play beyond your resources, and a great opportunity for young people to gain leadership skills. Many skills from the sports world mirror difficult situations in business including dealing with adversity, working together on projects managed by a holistic team, and accomplishing tasks above and beyond expectations. Coaches and players need to work together to accomplish little goals in order to strengthen their team and to stand out and win. These ideas can be transformed from the court and into the business world with practice and understanding, by focusing on the small goals a much better final product can be produced.

 

While the big games pop up on your tv screen this weekend keep in mind how many little decisions made the teams who they are. If sports can teach you one thing it is to focus on the simple things and acknowledge what you do right in order to improve your overall work. Everyone can learn and improve by focusing on the simple things and staying on target and staying focused.  Mapping out a series of steps to accomplish your goals, reward yourself and your team for accomplishing steps, and constantly seeking feedback is the way to construct a successful basketball team as well as improving projects within your own professional and personal life.

 

Reflections on Linchpin by Seth Godin

 

I recently read Linchpin by Seth Godin and have some reflections and thoughts from the book which I want to share. Godin an author, blogger, and speaker provides the tagline Are You Indispensable?

 

 

This book is a perfect read for anyone who is interested in answering this question: In the ever-evolving world how can you stand out from the crowd?

 

I will highlight one section of this book which impacted me the most and suggest anyone who is interested seek out additional information

 

The section which I want to focus on discusses the concept of the American dream and how it changes as the business world changes. On pages 32-33 of Linchpin Seth Godin proposes the concept of The New American Dream which shows how the concept of the American Dream changes as the business world adapts. The most common aspects of the American Dream include having a well-paying job, living in a good house, and living a comfortable life. This idea is a byproduct of the post-World War II industrial American culture where corporate America promised workers a good paying job and a sense of security.

 

The Old American Dream:

 

  • Keep your head down
  • Follow instructions
  • Show up on time
  • Work hard
  • Suck it up

 

This shows how work during this era was built on showing up to the office or plant, following the rules, and not making any fuss. In this world, the role of management controls the decisions within the business world and access to a better life. A successful worker specialized in a certain task or a set of tasks where they could help the organization eventually provide a finished service or product. With most of the power held by managers the employees worked and had an understanding that they would be rewarded for following orders and not striving to become innovative.

 

The Old American Dream was around during a time when the workforce was defined by company towns and low employee turnover. An agreement was usually agreed on that when workers joined a company, they would not become burdensome to the firm by raising questions and would instead follow orders and receive payment and a means for a better life. As technology and society changed and evolved the world of work and the role the employee had in the organization changed. American companies faced additional competition from foreign competitors and technology changed the roles that employees did. Now merely showing up at work was not enough and employees needed to set themselves apart. Since the workforce has changed Godin outlined a new set of skills needed to achieve the American Dream.

 

The New American Dream

 

  • Be remarkable
  • Be generous
  • Create art
  • Make judgement calls
  • Connect people and ideas

 

These skills are increasingly soft skills and can not be written in a job description. These are the skills which the Linchpins possess. The term linchpin is the new class of workers Godin proposes between management and labor who create, bring people together, and help get the idea makers from their company into the same room. To become a Linchpin an employee needs to show their employer that they can create innovative projects and work well in teams. The changes in work shows how to become a successful employee it is necessary to have strong soft skills, be a good communicator, and work well in teams.

 

Are you a linchpin?

Do you lead others even if it is not in your title?

Take some time to think about how you can become a linchpin for your organization through creating and leading those around you.

Building Personal Growth and Development

The New Year is well underway and here in Charlotte the past week actually feels like winter. The warm Spring-like weather that started the year is a fleeting memory. The beginning of the year is a good time to think warm thoughts of a beach somewhere or the fact that spring is coming. It is also a good time to think about some goals and steps to make 2019 a more productive year.

I am sure many of you have seen your fair share of articles on life hacks and ways to increase productivity to make 2019 the best year of your life on social media, another blog, or an online publication. I think the best way to move through these articles is to focus on some smaller changes that can be made to improve your outlook on life, productivity, and health. I might suggest you check out “Your Future Self”, Fast Company’s series on improvements that can be made, some simple and others more time intensive to improve your life.

These articles are worth exploring since they include topics that are relevant to growth across professional and personal skills. For the entrepreneurial spirit, might I suggest reading “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” by Lindsay Tigar. Tigar uses this article to highlight some specific monthly calls to action over the next 12 months from building your side hustle. For example, January begins the year long journey with a period of Self-Assessment. The beginning of the year should serve as a time to outline and consider what exactly having a side hustle means for you and how it will affect your loved ones, taxes, and full-time job. Having a side hustle is hard work but by following some self-evaluation during the first three months of the year this will help build the foundation for a new side hustle or improve your existing strategy before heading into April and Q2 with an improved idea and the right attitude to succeed.

The final article, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders outlines what steps to take to get more out of your time during 2019. While this sounds like a lofty concept, the steps to follow are quite simple. Saunders breaks down how to gain time into these categories quitting something, limiting something, pausing something, delegating something, adding something. I have chosen to limit my time on social media while filling that time with the addition of re-reading some of my favorite books to get a new perspective on them. I urge you to take a step back and see if there is an aspect of your life where you could add, delegate, limit, or pause tasks to make your overall week more rewarding and fulfilling.

As 2019 is already two weeks old which is hard to believe. In this New Year, taking a few minutes each day to focus on personal or professional development can reap many benefits. Instead of trying to stick to rigid resolutions see if making a few small changes will help improve your mindfulness and productivity going forward.

Reading List:

Tigar, Lindsay, “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/90279105/your-12-month-guide-to-building-your-side-hustle-this-year.  

Sounders, Elizabeth Grace, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 fromhttps://www.fastcompany.com/90280742/how-to-redesign-your-days-to-give-you-back-a-few-extra-hours-every-week.

“Your Future Self” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/section/your-future-self.

-Craig Oliver

WIMS, Inc.

2019 Perspectives

I might be a little late to the game, but I want to start off and wish everyone a Happy New Year! By now most of you will be back to work after what I am sure was some much-needed time with family and friends. Instead of the typical Resolutions or Trends for 2019 I want to share something different with you. A look at some perspectives of what will happen over the next 12-months with a focus on events ranging from local developments with an impact on the Charlotte area to national factors.

Instead of making predictions I want to outline a few important issues which I think will generate news throughout the year and define the year for countless households. These topics are by no means definitive and I think it will be interesting for me to look back at the end of the year to see how this post holds up after a year. Some of these includes events that will create economic impact in Charlotte including the hosting of the NBA All-Star Game. Financial topics are sure to be discussed often and I see student loans as a topic which will continue to impact the purchasing power and economic decisions of millions of Americans.

This is first year that I can remember when I will not be in a traditional classroom. After years of having classes through the winter months and spring I am now entrenched in the working world where January begins an exciting new year. In this aspect it is like how September begins a new and exciting chapter for students and teacher alike. My friends from college have graduated and are either continuing their education and working in research labs or beginning their careers. Not everyone has successfully found a career that uses their degrees and college skills.

The news shares many stories of how as the economy has grown many have been forced to work multiple part time jobs to make ends meet. A great deal of time, discussions, and stress is placed on how to payoff student loans among friends. Education is well worth the investment, but I do see some people left behind suffering from the student loans burden and stuck in situations where they face an uphill battle. I will leave the issue of student loans with the following question: Will this be the year when students loans take more of the headlines like the housing bubble did in 2008?

I want to continue with some trends that I think will be greatly talked about from the media to boardroom from a national perspective. One trend which I have increasingly seen is that people are taking a break from social media to start the year off with a different perspective and away from the clutter and mess of social media. I myself have decided to use social media less this year and allocate some of the time I would spend online away from screens and instead read. This brings up privacy and data security, issues which are increasingly important as 2018 progressed and I can only imagine will stay important into 2019. I will be interested in seeing how tech companies’ stocks will perform into 2019 and what this will mean for the stock market. No market predictions on my end but I imagine investors are in store for another roller coaster ride of a wild year. Some other terms that I think will continue to be in the lexicon include sports betting, increasing marketing for Generation Z, and digital detoxes.

I want to highlight a few local topics from the Charlotte area. Basketball is big in North Carolina and the NBA All-Star game is coming next month with expectations of economic impact that could cross $100 Million. While North Carolina lost out on Amazon to suburbs of Washington, D.C. and New York other important economic news made headlines to end 2018 including IBM’s purchase of Raleigh based Red Hat. November also saw news in Charlotte when Honeywell announced moving its world headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte which will eventually create 750 jobs. Charlotte is a great city to build and grow a company landing on Inc’s 50 Best Places to Start a Company at 22 with an emphasis on fintech growth.

I believe that companies will continue to invest in the Charlotte area as building projects through Uptown Charlotte and across the region continue to show the robust economy from new building to the continued need to build affordable housing for all the new employees moving into the area. Charlotte has a chance to show its new design to the world during the All-Star game and this year will see continued development and investment centered in Uptown Charlotte. Like across the country growth is focusing on major metro areas with access to universities and transportation which I believe will shape future investment in 2019 and beyond.

Growth and volatility are not often said in the same sentence but those are two words which I think are two words which will shape the next 12-months. Issues that have been under the surface for years will continue to impact the purchasing power of Americans including student loans and greater need for affordable housing. At the same time growth at companies and investment in education will continue across Charlotte and the nation. As privacy concerns continue Americans will decide to take control of their data which is one of the most marketable and valuable pieces of information they hold. The place social media has in our culture will likely be shaped by how it is used throughout the year.

Go F Yourself!

Let me start off by apologizing for the super click-bait-y title, I just couldn’t help myself. Also, FOR those of you who were expecting an epic verbal-lashing style rant I’m sorry to disappoint you too, you’re more than welcome to keep it moving if so (but if you do then you can take the title literally…just kidding). Rather, this is yet another post about personal and professional development/self-improvement.

As The WIMS Guide’s scope suggests, these posts are meant to be about documenting the journey. Thus, I wanted to share some insights with you all as I’ve been experiencing a great period of growth and progress over the past few months after shifting my FOCUS towards a now sacred set of priorities. And you guessed it, they all start with the letter “F.”

These aren’t all going to be FOR everyone, so FEEL FREE to pick and choose the ones that are most applicable to you. Also, if I’ve left any out, whether they begin with “F” or not, please make sure to share them.

FAITH – It truly starts with this above all else FOR me. Praying, reading devotionals, and hearing the word of God regularly has helped me significantly, especially lately. The confidence and reassurance I get allows me to continue to take calculated risks without doubting myself. If you’re one of my atheist FRIENDS, I’m not trying to preach here, the term is relative and you can shift the meaning towards having FAITH in yourself if you prefer. Nonetheless it really sets the tone FOR everything else.

FAMILY & FRIENDS – #2 on my list because this is generally the purpose and reason why you and I hustle and grind our asses off. I don’t mind working 16-hour days (I’m a sicko and actually enjoy it) as much when I at least get to spend a couple hours having dinner and relaxing with my wife before returning to my desk FOR the late shift. Spending quality time with F&F is crucial, even if it’s just on the phone or Skype/FACETIME.

FINANCES – This is what keeps the merry-go-round (aka your business) spinning, so having a handle of your FINANCES is imperative to being a good professional, entrepreneur, and person in general. You don’t need to be rich or well-off FOR this to matter, in FACT it’s even more important to properly plan and budget if money is tight. FROM the business side, it’s all about FACTS, FIGURES, and FORECASTING, because “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” – Peter Drucker.

FITNESS & FOOD – Wow, what a tremendous difference incorporating FITNESS and a healthy diet into my daily routine has made on my life. I’m not talking about one-off gym sessions, but truly making a commitment to it at least 5 days a week. My energy, passion, and positive attitude lately has shot through the roof and has become borderline annoying to people that aren’t on the same level. I’m not going to dwell on this topic as you know already know the benefits, but I suggest not waiting until the new year, get on it today and get a head start.

FOLLOW UP & FOLLOW THROUGH – FOR those of you in sales (and let’s be honest every single person on earth is selling something whether they know it or not) this is by FAR the most important thing from a professional/business perspective. Now I’ve made incredible progress, but I still struggle with this and strive to improve every single FREAKING day. I get so caught up on the next thing I can tend to slip on closing out the last thing. And that’s even with a great CRM program to help me (btw – if you need to implement one hit me up).

FUN – You just have to take some time to recover and let loose occasionally as burning the candle from both ends will only end in burn out. Some of my personal FAVORITES to keep the theme going: FANTASY FOOTBALL, FILMS, FICTION, etc.

Now believe me, I’m FAR FROM perfect and still struggle with every one of these regularly, so its ok to slip up. The key is not to beat yourself up and let that disappointment or shame linger. Just keep getting back on the wagon and keep F-ing yourself until you get it right. When you see how FAR you’ve come, you’ll be happy you did.

(FULL disclosure: some of the puns and innuendo may have been intentional FOR the sake of FUN)…