Project Management


You can learn a lot by observing and asking questions. But to shake things up, you have to get real ticked off about the important things that need fixing. The dangerous alternative is complacency.

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Five Critical Ways to Become Indispensable in Business

Who Says You Have to be Young to Create Life-Changing Inventions?

Seven Questions Managers Are Not Allowed to Ask During Interviews, Part 2

Seven Questions Managers Are Not Allowed to Ask During Interviews, Part 1

Technology Will Continue to Eliminate Jobs

Five Critical Ways to Become Indispensable in Business

With competition fiercer than ever, and a growing emphasis on data, analytics, and performance, Rick Wong contends that what ultimately matters the most to people is the human touch. 

Wong is the author of “Winning Lifelong Customers with The Five Abilities.”

“Companies don’t make decisions—people do,” Wong said, “and people make the most crucial business decisions for personal reasons.” Hence, personal factors are more important than ever, Wong said.

With more than 35 years of experience growing revenue at Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and other Fortune 100 companies, Wong created a guide for salespeople and executives that defines what he calls the most important “outside the contract” factors that decision-makers care about most when making important purchase decisions.

You'll never be left asking yourself," What do I do now?" because you'll have a framework to answer that question quickly and correctly. Wong lists the following five abilities that can help decision makers make smart decisions: 

1.  Optimize visibility.  Be consciously and consistently seen in the right way, at the right time, by the right people, Wong said.  “And perfect your messaging so you know you can get people curious in less than 30 seconds, delivering heightened value-add that surprises them and exceeds their expectations,” he said. “Design every communication so that every time people see, listen to or watch something by or about you, they will quickly pay more attention, and naturally step in, bring you closer, and focus on learning more about what you can do for them.”

2.    Demonstrate credibility.  Or “show your creds,” as Wong calls it. Demonstrate superior knowledge and use your experience in ways that prove you know how to help people. Deliver what you’ve promised,” Wong said.  Better yet, deliver more than what you promised. “Impress every prospect, customer, decision-maker and influencer and make it a total commitment to offer and give helpful advice and assistance that goes beyond your stated product or service,” he said. Be consistent and you will get referrals and achieve loyalty that opens the doors to new opportunities.

 3.  Assess viability.  Let prospects and customers articulate their needs, hopes and desires fully, Wong advises. Use your knowledge, expertise and experience to evaluate, coach and correct their expectations.  Ask yourself if you are properly qualified and capable of delivering what they need. Can you be successful? Do they have realistic expectations? Success speaks loudly, but failure speaks much louder. Be averse to failure and choose your customers wisely so that you end up having only happy customers. If not, know when to say no, and move on.

 4.  Apply special capability. Go beyond just completing the minimum specifications of a job or piece of work. Satisfy customers by identifying and addressing the personal motivations of your customer, said Wong. Find out how they like to communicate, how they like to appear to others, and who they need to impress in order for them to be successful. Then design, propose and get concurrence on the specific ways you will deliver “their personal win and fulfill the hidden and unique motivations that are often not found on contracts, income statements and balance sheets,” he added.

 5.  Demonstrate reliability.  Be accountable when the unexpected happens, Wong advises. Be open, and communicate actively, engaging the right technical, sales and management people when things go sideways. Anticipate challenges and be honest about problems. Never blindside a customer and be a good listener when a customer is angry or unhappy.  And be open and responsive to the need for change and new solutions.  

Posted on: April 28, 2017 01:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Who Says You Have to be Young to Create Life-Changing Inventions?

The Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Dells (Dell Computer) and Mark Zuckerbergs (Facebook) don’t have a lock and key on innovative thinking.

It’s sheer myth that only young minds are inventing the products and technologies that are changing the world.

According to a survey of inventors, people granted international patents in information technology, materials science and the life sciences by age, people aged 46 to 60 received the majority of those patents.

A recent New York Times story said that there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that late blooming is no accident.

A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study said that inventors peak in their late 40s, but tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers.

In fact, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Hitotsubashi University in Japan, who analyzed data about patent holders, found that in the United States, the average inventor sends in his or her application to the patent office at age 47, and that the highest-value patents often come from the oldest inventors — those over the age of 55.

And a study of Nobel physics laureates found that, since the 1980s, they have made their discoveries, on average, at age 50. The study also said that the peak of creativity for Nobel winners is getting higher every year.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, medical evidence has proven that older people have an uncanny ability to reinvent themselves, learn new skills and adapt to new situations. In a New York Times Op-Ed (Dec. 31, 2010), research scientist, neurologist and author of “Awakenings,” the late Oliver Sacks wrote: “While some areas of the brain are hard-wired from birth or early childhood, other areas —especially in the cerebral cortex, which is central to higher cognitive powers like language and thought, as well as sensory and motor functions —can be, to a remarkable extent, rewired as we grow older. In fact, the brain has an astonishing ability to rebound from damage — even from something as devastating as the loss of sight or hearing. As a physician who treats patients with neurological conditions, I see this happen all the time.”

Posted on: April 26, 2017 02:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Seven Questions Managers Are Not Allowed to Ask During Interviews, Part 2

Picking up where I left off in my last blog, here are the remaining five questions hiring managers are not permitted to ask job candidates:

Picking up where I left off in my last blog, here are the remaining five questions hiring managers are not permitted to ask job candidates:

  1. You have an interesting accent. What are you from?
    Not matter how diplomatically positioned,  interviewers must refrain from asking questions that pry into where candidates were born, said TINYpulse, because it’s illegal to discriminate based on national origin. It doesn’t take serious detective work to find out where candidates grew up and went to school.  Candidate profiles and resumes can usually be found on popular social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
  2. Are you married?
    This seemingly innocuous question is often asked out of curiosity. Nevertheless, TINYpulse reminds managers that asking applicants whether or not they are married can open up the door for lawsuits because it’s illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. It’s also illegal to discriminate against pregnant women. Management can find out about an applicants’ marital status after they’ve started working with them (assuming they’re comfortable revealing the information).
  3. How to do you spend your free time?
    Here’s another question that seems innocent enough, yet it can trigger answers that relate to politics, religion or some other protected status, according to TINYpulse. The way to avoid opening up a potential can of worms is to ask only questions that are job related.
  4. How much alcohol do you drink?
    This is another no-no question job interviewers should stay clear of. The question is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act because it may solicit information relating to a recovering addict’s alcoholism.
  5. Have you ever been arrested?
    It’s illegal to ask job candidates if they’ve been arrested, cautioned TINYpulse. People get arrested for all sorts of reasons — often when they are not guilty of any wrongdoing. However, interviewers can ask candidates if they’ve been convicted of a crime.



Posted on: April 25, 2017 05:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Seven Questions Managers Are Not Allowed to Ask During Interviews, Part 1

Even though workers are protected against discriminatory practices, employers are still asking illegal questions that could trigger lawsuits, according to workplace solutions website
            The site listed the following seven questions managers should never ask during interviews because they violate Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) guidelines:

  1. How old are you?
    It’s perfectly normal for managers to wonder about a prospective hire’s age, but they’re not permitted to ask their age. Still many employers have found tactless ways to learn about candidates’ age. Simple detective work, for example, such as checking candidates’ social media pages will often reveal graduation dates from high school and college, which are a fast way to approximate age. There is also no shortage of managers who throw caution to the wind, and put their proverbial foot in their mouth by asking candidates their age.  Big mistake, said TINYpulse.

Anyone who’s 40 or older that doesn’t get hired after an interview may decide to take you to court if they feel they’ve been slighted because of their age. For most jobs, you only need to know whether an applicant is an adult. You should be able to figure that out by looking at a candidate’s résumé.

  1. Whom did you vote for?
    Regardless of who’s running for office, this is a dangerous question employers should never ask.  It was an especially loaded question during the recent heated and controversial presidential election where Hillary Clinton lost to billionaire businessmen Donald Trump.  It was a particularly sensitive question, according to TINYpulse because the United States was never more polarized. As a general rule, the workplace website advises not ostracizing half of the talent pool by bringing politics into the interview process. In California and New York, for example, discriminating based on political preferences is illegal. 

Look for the remaining five questions job interviewers are not permitted to ask in the second and last part of this blog.


Posted on: April 25, 2017 05:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Technology Will Continue to Eliminate Jobs

For decades pundits have been predicting that artificial intelligence (AI) technology will eliminate thousands of jobs performed by human beings. We are on the cusp of a new era, led by artificial intelligence and deep learning, said  Ed Hess, coauthor along with Katherine Ludwig of “Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age.”

The so-called Smart Machine Age will lead to technology and robots outperforming humans in many tasks.  It’s estimated that 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. will be automated over the next 15 years, according to research from the University of Oxford.  Economists estimate that the United States could lose more than 80 million jobs during that time frame.

In the face of  inevitable automation Hess and Ludwig said the key to staying employable in what they call the “Smart Machine Age”  is to “further excel at what makes us unique as human beings — our real, not artificial, emotional and social intelligence.”

In the Smart Machine Age, our emotional intelligence will be the critical factor that makes us unique and employable.

Hess and Ludwig contend that our emotions fuel our imaginations and enable personal connections to others in ways that machines cannot replicate. When our emotions collaborate with each other, there are no limits to our thinking, creativity, and performance, they said.

"As smart machines take over more jobs, the most successful people will be those who can leverage their emotions and the best of their humanness to think better and be more creative, innovative, and collaborative," the authors said. They went on to say that there are three steps to mastering human emotions in order to be successful in the Smart Machine Age. They are 1. Increase positivity; 2. Actively manage negative emotions; and 3. Embrace the power of "Otherness."

Here’s a brief explanation of the three steps:

  1. Increase positivity. Positive emotions help us think and relate at our highest levels, the authors said.  They go on to cite research that says that positive emotions enable and enhance cognitive processing, innovation, and creativity. They even lead to better judgment and decision making. And research has also found that negative emotions, such as fear and anxiety, have the opposite effect.  For example, they can manifest themselves in different ways, such as a fear of looking bad, making mistakes, losing our jobs, or not being liked.
  2.  Actively manage negative emotions. Negative emotions, such as anger, fear, anxiety, dread, and cruelty can last only 90 seconds unless we let them overtake us, the authors said.  “You can let negative emotions float through your mind without engaging them,” they said.   How can this be achieved?  Meditation is one way, according to Hess and Ludwig.  We are not our ideas, and we are not our emotions.  Said Hess, "I was never taught that I had choices about my emotions. I had to learn that emotions don't necessarily have to lead to behaviors. It is not automatic — we make the choice about whether that happens."
  3. Embrace the power of otherness. Hess and Ludwig define otherness as “the ability to rise above our self-absorbed, ego-driven emotional defensiveness in order to connect to and emotionally relate with others.” We need others in order to flourish, they added, because we can't reach our potential by ourselves. Other people “can help us see past our cognitive biases and open our minds to new perspectives in order to think more critically, creatively, and innovatively.”
Posted on: March 27, 2017 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT's relativity."

- Albert Einstein