The Princess And The Process


Creative Commons License photo credit: Roebot

I am a self-confessed process junkie.  Love the stuff.  Anything that takes longer than 30 seconds I am convinced there must be a process for to make it go faster.

Process is what Happy Endings are made of.  Creating process, taking vision for the future and carving a way, makes the pauper in to a princess.  And if you’re really good, process can make you a linchpin.

Not convinced?  Check out this excerpt from the Harvard Business Review post “The Right CEO Personality for Process Improvement”

“As I think about companies that compete on consistent, low cost, reliable operations, most have or had leaders who were process innovators, such as Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines, Sam Walton at Wal-Mart, Ray Kroc at McDonalds, Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com, and Fred Smith at FedEx. Before he was co-CEO at Citigroup, John Reed came out of IT and operations. In companies where process excellence is a competitive advantage, he’s the kind of candidate CEO that more boards should be looking for. Boards need to ensure that an operations orientation is a key criterion for succession planning in organizations where process improvement is a strategic imperative.”  – Brad Power

Process can seem like it could be constricting, controlling, imagination-less.  In actual fact it frees you from the hamster wheel of doing twice as much due to a lack of process.  Once you streamline your product, your service offering, your internal strategy, you in return gain the freedom (and time) to be truly creative.

The Wedding Countdown Part 2

The Happiness Within
Creative Commons License photo credit: Arghya a.k.a Orgho

23 days.

Things are looking up considerably from the last time I counted.

We have good friends who are getting married a week or so before we are, and talking to them makes me realise how very normal the pre-wedding crazies truly are.  It’s the balancing act of trying to stay completely calm to things out of our control (they also are getting married out of the country) and involved enough that the detail isn’t missed.  Less “balancing act” and more “bloody miracle”.

I wish I had the golden key to give but unfortunately I don’t.  I would however recommend not underestimating just how much time and emotional energy a wedding actually takes, and definitely marrying a man (or woman) who is exceptionally patient.  Remarkably so in my case.

We still don’t have the detail sorted.  The food is quasi-sorted.  As in we know we’re having some.  The flowers are almost there, as in “yes there will be flowers”.  The wine we are doing a mission for when we get there.  Not a moment too soon, but we’re getting there.

I love it when a plan comes together :)

Haste

Golden Gate

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  ~Lao Tzu

If it’s the right career decision, you won’t need to make it this minute no matter how urgent the offer (well, more often than not).

I excel at gettings things done.  My last boss called me the ‘relentless implementer’ or something along those lines.  It’s a good skill.  Yet I can get so accustomed to making fast, decisive calls and moving on them that it is easy to forget that there’s always time.

Now I’m not suggesting you mull over every decision however big or small for days on end, but if it’s your career, your company, your equity, your reputation there’s always time. If  your head is spinning and you feel pressured (from within or out) to make a decision just breathe, get a cup of coffee and count back from 10.  The greatest of my wrong decisions have always been in haste.

Creative Commons License photo credit: h.koppdelaney

Migrating South

Turns out that migrating your site from one host to another is not very straightforward.  Apologies for the site being down yesterday! My migration went south.

It also turns out that not all themes available in WordPress blogger are still available in WordPress once no longer in blogger.  Apologies for the mass identity-crisis as I tried a number of themes  in an attempt to find something similar, warm and personal to me.  Not so easy.

What not to do?  Don’t try this at home would be my suggestion if you’re new to the world of hosting, unless like me you work in a digital agency full of people who this is easy for (thanks Di).  If you’re serious, spend the money having someone design the blog as well for you (I’m obviously working very hard towards being serious ;) to avoid the schizophrenic theme-changing.

But, I’m having fun.  And I’m learning.  And hopefully saving someone somewhere a massive headache.

The Proof Is In The Pudding

I would like to start this post with a disclaimer – not all posts on my mistakes in love have anything to do with the gorgeous man I’m engaged to.  This post does not.

This is a lesson I learned the hard way to such an extent that I’m still working on taking people at their word again.

That little niggling feeling when the gorgeous honey-slicked words don’t line up with the actions?  That’s not cynicism that’s wisdom.

There’s a big difference between a goofy well-intentioned partner who can’t quite pull it together on the much-anticipated date night and the one who doesn’t turn up until late that night, long after the promised pick-up time, with flowers, gifts and a story that could rival Gone With The Wind.

It’s easy to dismiss great big six-foot frantically waving red flags as ‘being over-emotional’.  On the flip-side, maybe you are.   Learning to trust my gut – and also learning to not act immediately on every gut notion – have been two of my greatest lessons in both love and business.  Learning to trust with eyes wide-open maybe.

If you’re just not sure give it time… the proof is always in the pudding.

The Writing’s On The Wall (Unless you get it in writing)

“‘The writing on the wall’- an idiom, is a portent of doom or misfortune. It originates in the Biblical book of Daniel—where supernatural writing foretells the demise of the Babylonian Empire” – Wikipedia

I’ve never known any business venture (in my admittedly rather young career but nonetheless) to at some point not struggle when the ground rules are not put in writing.

People change.  People leave.  People forget.

However painful it may seem to put contracts and written agreements in place in your 2-man operation, you’ll be grateful later when one wants out and suddenly a whole host of problems arise.  Who owns what?  Who works for whom?  Who worked harder, longer, more often and is there such thing as ‘sweat equity’ in our agreement?

It may seem laborious now, but when the writing is on the wall for you and your business partner, your business, your boss, your suppliers, your landlord, and all the copious other relationships that can go awry, you’ll be thankful you got it in writing.

The People-Pleasing Disease

Maybe it starts at school, or maybe it comes from getting ice cream when you do good things.

Who knows, but many of us are plagued most of our adult lives with the people-pleasing disease.

It’s easy to catch and hard to cure.

When I was gigging (in my youth : ) I discovered that the key to not constantly being deflated is to not focus on the one person scowling whilst the other 99 clap and enjoy themselves.  Funny how something in us can’t let go of the one person who just doesn’t like us.

In online/digital promotion there is a rule of thumb; 10% will love you, 10% will hate you, and 80% will be positive in sentiment.  The key is to not drain your resources and energy on the 10% that will never be happy.  Acknowledge them, thank them for their feedback and move on.

I’m convinced that if we take the same rule of thumb and apply it to our lives things would be much more straight forward.  If we factor in 10%  of the people in our worlds to never be our greatest fans, then maybe we can embrace their place as just that – the 10% – and focus on the other 10% who ARE our greatest fans, and the 80% who “Like me  – Yes they really like me  (Sally Field).

Or possibly it’s something deeper in learning to set my own expectations of myself, to decide for myself what is my best, and hold myself accountable to my own standards, not someone elses’.  The only real obstacle between me and greatness isn’t my critic but myself.

Or, possibly, it’s a deep-down desire simply to please people in hopes of getting more ice cream.  If in fact that is the case, I’d suggest you just buy your own.

The Monkey And The Peanut

Ever heard how to catch a monkey?

Apparently it’s easy.  Hollow out one end of a coconut and put peanuts inside. Attach a string to the other end of the coconut.

The monkey puts his hand in the coconut and when he makes a fist to grab the peanuts, he’s trapped.

Sound familiar?

Monkeys are bright animals.  You and I are fairly bright.  So why do we cling so tightly to things that could potentially destroy us?

The sales opportunity that you know you are sacrificing your soul for.  The employee who is destroying all sense of team in your organisation but ‘man do they deliver’.  The season of your life that you know full well is over but can’t quite let go of.

Why do we cling so tightly to what we have?  Fear I guess.  That our glory days are behind us, that more won’t come, that” if I give you this there won’t be enough for me”.

Ironically it’s letting go that moves us forward, giving that reaps reward, and generosity that opens doors and builds businesses.

Take a risk – let go of the peanut.

The Wedding Countdown

50 days.

3 weeks ago people were asking me “how many days” and I had no idea.  I must admit I felt a little guilty I’d not been counting.  Then, I realised why people count.

50 days to organise the day – the wedding planner is still missing and the hotel is still refusing to take our calls.

50 days to ensure everyone has hotel bookings, travel arrangements, suits, shirts, ties, dresses.

50 days to get my dress back, have it altered, and not lose weight whatsoever to ensure it doesn’t slide down my front forever ruining the best day of my life. Actually 20 days as it doesn’t arrive for another month.

30 days to gym incessantly to finally get in one month the body I have wanted all of my life, all in time for the arrival of the dress.

50 days to get the rings back that were due to be finished 3 months ago.

50 days to plan a honeymoon – though currently the option of ‘winging it’ is currently getting the highest vote.  Leo concurs.

45 days to our arrival in Costa Rica – leaving 5 days to somehow guide 40 tourists 5 hours to the coast, get them all situated in the casitas we’ve booked – the address of which on the website is ‘1.5 kilometers South of Ventanas Beach and 500 meters North of the entrance of Tortuga Beach’ (so.. we’ll just drive around till we find it with a bus of 40 tourists) to view the venue for the first time, find a suitable restaurant for the night before the wedding dinner (not a rehearsal dinner as we’re not rehearsing; heck we can totally pull this off) and have at least 1 major breakdown as all my sound minded businesswomen friends are telling me will be totally ok if it happens.  Apparently it happens to all of us.

Maybe I’ll leave out the counting.

"No" Is still an answer

Communication – the source of all frustration… or thereabouts.

Someone said to me the other day that for most workplace conflicts the ‘missus’ is to blame: miscommunication, misunderstanding, misinterpreting.

So much could be avoided if we would just outline expectations from the beginning.  The beginning of a job role, the beginning of a project, the beginning of a marriage.

And then there’s my favourite – ‘no’ is still an answer.  ‘No’ says ‘not this time, but I value you enough to let you know’.  Ignoring the no still sends a message – just a much bigger message.  And it places the problem above the person.

The hard conversations are where real successes lie.  When a team member knows  I’ll say if there’s problem, they also know if I’m not saying- there’s not a problem.  And honest transparent cultures give people the ability to dream, to create, to innovate and to grow.

I know what I prefer – you?