Category Archives: behavior

BREAKING: Two Conference Handouts that won’t end up in the Trash Can.

If you’ve been to a trade show lately, you’ve seen the ‘material’ that fills most booths. The white papers and collateral hope to gain attention, while giveaways, such as Frisbees and hacky sacks, aim to attract even the most skeptical conference goer.

But what’s a vendor to do when he’s up against hundreds of vendors and attendees who’ve seen everything before?

Create something different.

cardboard1

Create something that will get people talking.

Our company @VersionOne hosted an agile learning event recently called #AgilePalooza; it featured some of the sharpest agile minds in the business. Two of our partners spoke at the show and set out a free ‘giveaway’ or informational handout at the registration table that stirred conversation.

David Hussman (@davidhussman) of DevJam brought CardBoard to the marketplace recently as a strong, yet simple entrant into the world of sometimes overly complex agile and productivity tools. And is there a better way to get attention to the CardBoard product than handing out pieces of cardboard saying, “If Google Docs and Post It Notes had a kid, it would look like CardBoard.” Who wouldn’t want to see that product?

Dave Sharrock (@davesharrock) from Agile42 was also in the spotlight at this particular event with some keen promotion. His Agile booklet, complete with ring for easy transport, was full of metrics, stories and arguments to sway even the most jaded software development executive. Seeing this in the bottom of your conference bag causes you to take a 2nd look, not throw it in the trash like most conference giveaways, handouts, collateral.

I am a firm proponent of the power of live events. You must, however, think and execute at a high level to get noticed. Don’t settle for predictable, lifeless collateral and giveaways. Keep eyes open and minds alert to see what the best are doing to stand out from the competition. You just might be able to develop something similar to CardBoard or Agile42.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

When your team grows, check your attitude – Part 2

In Part 1, we shadowed Bill as he struggled with the expansion of his marketing team. Two new hires joined the team and added value right from Day One. Bill’s behavior, however, was selfish and harmful to him and his team.

Are you Bill? Or are you a teammate who welcomes new mates with a smile and helping hand?

With the economy improving, your company might be expanding. If so, here are a few tips to help new teammates get up to speed faster.

See new teammates as a welcomed opportunity to shine and grow.

See new teammates as a welcomed opportunity to shine and grow.

  1. See the addition of teammates as an opportunity:

New people aren’t out to steal your job. They were hired to help the company grow. Ask how you can help them. Remember how nervous and unsure you felt during your 1st few weeks at a new job. The new teammates will appreciate that you’ll help them through the new job transition.

2.   Leverage the fresh eyes and perspectives:

If you’ve been with a company for a few years, you may know ‘too much’. This isn’t a bad thing to have deep domain expertise and a solid understanding of the company’s processes and paths to success, but you lose the ability to see things with fresh eyes and open minds.

When new employees join the team, ask them for their views on your market segment, messaging, promotional strategies – whatever initiatives where you feel stuck. Most likely, they’ll have some unique perspectives that will unlock higher levels of efficiency for the entire team.

Don’t be a ‘Bill’ who is short-sighted, selfish about new team members. Stretch for a ‘Bill’ who is eager for the new perspectives and experiences brought by new colleagues.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

When your team grows, check your attitude.

‘Bill’, a marketer, is a good team player for his organization. He seeks training when it’s available and always extends a helping hand when needed. He’s sought out for his leadership, guidance, and mentoring by many of the younger, more inexperienced members of the team.

The company that employs Bill is doing well, so the management team charges into expansion mode, hiring for a number of new positions on the marketing team. When this news reaches Bill, he changes.

He begins to feel and act paranoid.

Two thoughts echo through his head:

  • Why do we need new people? We have enough people that aren’t pulling their weight.
  • Great. The last thing I need is a new boss.

Bill starts hoarding information and his normal ‘encouraging’ attitude starts to dissipate. ‘Sue and ‘Ralph’ are interviewed for two new positions on the marketing team, but Bill declines to participate, citing that he has too much work to do. His boss wonders what’s wrong; Bill would never do such a thing.

When your team expands, are you thinking, "1, 2, 3, let's go?"

When your team expands, are you thinking, “1, 2, 3, let’s go?”

Sue and Ralph interview very well with the marketing team and are hired without reservation. Many on the team love the fact that Sue and Ralph are now teammates. They are lauded for their fresh, innovative ideas; most of the team believes the team becomes stronger with these new hires, except for Bill. Bill is bitter, sour, and confused about what these changes mean for him.

Bill sees Sue and Ralph as a threat to his knowledge, experience, and value to the team. He sees Sue and Ralph as near adversaries, not trusted allies in the company’s growth. Bill begins to purposely exclude Sue and Ralph from key meetings, and he publicly criticizes the two new team members on a daily basis.

So what’s wrong with this picture? How could this story turn for the better for Bill? How would you react in this situation?

Join us next time for the dramatic conclusion to this tale.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

How I stumble every day

To admit blindspots is the first step towards improvement, right? OK; let’s dive in.

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It’s a good first step to acknowledge what we do to move away from the day’s best intentions.

Let busyness get the best of me: Instead of focusing on the most important items of the day, I sometimes bounce crazily from e-mail to LinkedIN to Facebook to Twitter. The chase is exciting, but it wears me down by noon.

Let the inbox dictate my day: Instead of working through the priorities specified in my iteration, I wait for the next, new e-mail. Something about receiving a new e-mail makes me feel important, but I shouldn’t tie my self-worth to the number of e-mails I receive.

No planning for tomorrow: Instead of taking 5 minutes to set the stage for a productive tomorrow, my days often end like this:

“Oh no, is it really 6pm. Where has the day gone? I really have to finish up this e-mail. Let me just crank this out and then shut down for the day. Man, where has the day gone?” Unfortunately, the day has probably flitted away in busyness. (see error #1)

Voice mail apathy: Wouldn’t it make a huge difference to respond to voice mails in a timely manner? I expect people to check their voice mails immediately and respond to my calls within 30 minutes, so why don’t I place the same importance on an incoming message? Think of how much you’d stand out from your peers if you truly respected the person that was just trying to connect with you.

Take time to read: What? Reading? Who has time for reading? And I am not talking reading Facebook posts. I am talking about taking 15 minutes during the day to read something ‘outside’ your industry. Maybe it’s an historical novel, a fantasy story, the Bible, some poetry. When I read a book or magazine, I find it refreshing to actually move away from a screen and feel actual pages between my fingers.

We all can get better. Admitting your weaknesses is the first step towards improvement. Start today.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world.

On a typical day, you’ll encounter a wide variety of people, performing many different roles.

  • Susan, the perky red-haired Starbucks barista prepares your mocha latte just the way you like it.
  • Joe, a distracted Jiffy Lube ‘mechanic’ changes your oil in the amount of time it takes to check your e-mail.
  • Grassy Greens, your lawn care company, trims your lawn to a point where it just might be the envy of the neighborhood.

These services are too often ignored or taken for granted.

I need to reflect more and be gracious to the people who serve me on a daily basis. We could consider that these services are not ‘our right’, but more of a privilege worthy of sincere appreciation.

Some of these jobs may not be glamorous, yet this does not diminish their importance.

During a recent busy travel stretch, where airports blended together like one big revolving door, I overheard an older gentleman direct the following impulsive comment to an airport shuttle bus worker:

Everyone's role has value. What can you do to show appreciation?

Everyone’s role has value. What can you do to show appreciation?

“I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world.”

If you were on the receiving end of this comment, how would this make you feel? Diminished? Disenfranchised? Irrelevant? Is all of the above a choice?

Perhaps this gentleman wanted to share a genuine comment about this person’s selfless job. Nothing embodies servant leadership more than lifting and pulling bags off and on a shuttle bus while cranked, harried travelers wonder: “Why is this taking so long?” and “I am going to miss my flight if this guy doesn’t hurry.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t come across this way. When the shuttle bus driver digested this insensitive comment, he froze, unable to muster a response. No doubt his day felt a little less meaningful after this episode. How much better would both of you feel if you added a genuine, friendly comment?

Words mean things. Let’s be careful about how we communicate with strangers. Not knowing people doesn’t give us the right to step all over them with malicious words.

Yours in civility….

Until next time,

Dan Naden