Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Executives Dirty Little Secret

"...Skip the idea that all around you are in their underwear..."

I suppose in a way the title I chose for this article is a bit of a misnomer, as the "Dirty Little Secret" applies to all of us, from those just entering the workforce to senior executives (Even Carol Neal - Chief Auditor of the Bank of Montreal confessed to this secret).

But, taking time to admit this dirty little secret is a key step to having confidence in your present role, and assist in moving up the ranks, if this is a part of your career ambition.

We have all attended meetings, either a formal boardroom setting, or a more casual exchange of information with senior staff.. and we have all had that feeling in the pit of our stomach that we are not completely prepared for the discussion, or that we do not know near as much as what is expected of us to know. There is the anxiety of being "discovered" as being less than suited for our present function. We worry that a topic will come up that we need to discuss that we are less than an expert on.

We sit in these meetings, with that grade six feeling of the teacher asking us a question that we do not know the answer to and being embarrassed and chastised by the teacher. We look around the other attendees of the meeting and clearly they are all qualified for their roles, they are a wealth of information and have a complete understanding of the meeting topics.

I have spoken to many peers about this dirty secret, and almost like removing albatrosses from around their necks, each and every one, experiences these same insecurities. In meetings, alone in their office or workplace, at home pondering work or standing in front of a mirror. Men, women, young, old, senior managers to retail cashiers - we all suffer insecurities about the ability to do our jobs to the expectation of the rest of the organization.

This realization is a powerful step in fact of becoming much better at your role, and building confidence in your abilities. Simply put, we all must embrace the fact that if you were truly incompetent, and unprepared to do our jobs we would not be in that job. And a close second for significant realization, is that as you look around that meeting or that boardroom - each and every participant is hiding this dirty secret.

So how does one overcome this insecurity and self doubt - you cant, and you wont.. so don't try. The confidence comes with the acceptance that you are in your role for a reason, it is what you DO know; what you don't know is irrelevant. Of course, excelling at work is being motivated to be constantly learning, to fill those gaps in your ability, but it is human nature to continue to focus on new gaps in our knowledge, and drain our confidence based on those.

We see in our business interactions, leaders, peers that exude confidence and make the most difficult decisions without pause. These people are comfortable in their shortcoming, are motivated to learn what is required to make these decisions, and very often are very forthcoming in vocalizing areas that they are weak in. It is only us, internally, that confessing shortcomings appears as a weakness, When we hear it from others, we don't (or should not) judge them on this.. we just see it as an area that they will "go and find out and return with answers.

In grade school, I expect we all were told when forced with the daunting task of public speaking, to imagine the audience all sitting wearing only their underwear. A truer lesson could not be expressed. Skip the idea that all around you are in their underwear, focus on at that moment they all are listening to your words worried that they themselves do not have the knowledge you have, and lack confidence in their ability to participate. You ARE an expert in the area you speak, or you would not be speaking.

To excel? Embrace your insecurities as human, be confident in what you do know, strive to learn what you don't and never expect you will be an expert of all aspects of your role.. otherwise you will blend into the crowd, and never be looked at for advancement. It is a strong message to speak out loud to your peers or superiors "I don't know, but I will find out:"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Top 20 Stupid Questions

There was a recent study done by somebody somewhere that the most viewed items on the internet (I am assuming other than porn) is "Top Ten Lists". Maybe we can thank David Letterman for that, but regardless, if the study was done, and stated on the internet - than it MUST be true - therefore, as traffic to my site means, ads being clicked, means I make money  - then here is a list I created a couple of years ago that anyone who has ever performed music will relate to, and for those that have watched and interacted with a performer, you too may see some items that you thought were original when speaking with the performer.


Q: Where does the name ``My Other Brother Darryl” (what I call my band) come from?
A: If you have to ask that you are not going to recognize three quarters of my set list.

Q: There is no Jagermeister left, you seem to have had it all, what else would you like to have instead?
A: That’s easy, I will have some Jagermeister

Q: Will you play “Bobby McGee”
A: No

Q: Do you know that you can’t sleep here?
A: Just have the cleaning staff clean around me, thank you

Q: Why do you have so much sound equipment, with just you playing?
A: It make me feel important, and it is nice to know that if the mood strikes I can break every window in a three block radius.

Q: Have you won any awards?
A: I won a “Most Sportsmanlike” trophy for bowling when I was in grade 3

Q: Are you almost done tuning your guitar?
A: Jezuz, I am three songs into my setlist

Q: Can I have $40 for Gas?
A: Go away Lincoln (my son), I am gigging here

Q: Have you seen my freshly opened beer I set on the stage here?
A: Nope

Q: When I asked you for a request an hour ago, you said that you need to remember it and you would play it later
A: I have no idea how to play it, I was just hoping you would have left by now.

Q: What motivates you to get up alone and play all night
A: NB Liquor Commission

Q: You know you missed a chord in that last song
A: Sorry, what song was that... I was daydreaming

Q: May I have your autograph
A: May I have your wallet

Q: How much do you charge?
A: How much you got?

Q: Will you play at a party where there are children present
A: Only if you agree to pay for their therapy later in life

Q: Will you play something by Justin Beiber?

Q: What happens when you forget the words to a song?
A: I read the lips of the crowd

Q: That song did not sound like Pink Floyd you know?
A: Pink Floyd does not sound like me

Q: Can I get up and sing a few songs
A: As long as you don’t mind if I sit down and drink and get paid for it

Q. Do you keep playing when a fight breaks out?
A. Wanna find out?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Magic Money

As we are just wrapping up Tax Season, now might be a good time to take out your T4 and take a peek. You will see two very stomach churning boxes, with painfully large dollar amounts within. Federal Tax and Provincial Tax - and if you can stomach it - add these two numbers together. This total is what (for the sake of this diatribe) is what I will call - MAGIC MONEY.

It is also timely to look at this Magic Money, as it is spring time here in New Brunswick Canada, after a ferocious winter, and spring and winter is a time that Canadians rely heavily of the government for many of the services that we have learned to rely on to help us survive our climate. Such as snow removal from roads and side-walks, door to door mail delivery, road conditions (or poor road conditions) etc. Not for a moment to I suggest that we are accustomed to relying on our "mother government" for so many of the socialist benefits all year round, but seems the freezing and thawing time of year - these issues seem to be more present in the press.

A hot topic as of today is potholes in our roads and highways - everything from on-line competitions, to phone in programs, front page news.. and now drivers calling for the government to pay for vehicle damage as a result of the overstressed roadways.

Now, on the flip side  - our Government also has Magic Money. An endless supply of funds to quell all of the citizens complaints, and those complaints that are vocal enough are quieted with a dispersement to the very few whose voices are the loudest. Minuscule percentages of the populous that have the knack to get recognition of their issues. And for this case, bent tire rims, misaligned steering and other vehicle damage. These few unskilled drivers now demand that the government give them some of their Magic Money to repair their vehicles. What a great system. A outspoken negligent driver, gets his/her car repaired for free - vocal groups call out in celebration for this as of course it is the governments fault that the frost has cause holes in the road. It is Magic Money the government has anyway, so free alignments for all!!

The unions are incredible in accessing this magic money as well.. This winter, they were kind enough to offer a 1-800 number for citizens to call and make complaints about roads that are uncleared or not to the satisfaction of those that live off the beaten trail.. or as freezing rain is still falling this 1-800 lights up with complaints about slippery roads. It is unfortunate that many the gullible believe that this 1-800 paid for and answered by the Union is a selfless act of service that they offer us poor citizens. But as these unions approach the government for more and more, and more of the Magic Money - they have lots of anecdotes and horror stories to back up their demands for a unreasonable share of this Magic Money.

Again, a minority of our citizens become enablers for our provincial government to almost annually flip flop on language immersion programs - each change in policy costing millions - but millions of dollars of Magic Money - so what does it really matter.

City folks ranting about the loss of home mail delivery... a cost that has ballooned beyond the ability to make any fiscal sense whatsoever (again, Unions are the experts in hauling endless buckets of money from the governments bottomless pit of Magic Money)

Well of course - this Government stockpiles of Magic Money is the one and the same Magic Money on your T4 Slip. 

So, as we hear of the bent rim repair because of a pothole, or a car in the ditch because the driver was not capable of driving at safe speeds on a not yet salted road (If we had a sand/plow truck for each and every car on the road, the union and the tiny percentile of complainers would be pleased) and so one.. Just be reminded that it is your money paying for these repairs. You drive attentively, you watch your money, you appreciate how luck we are to have government service. But you, we, work every day to pay directly for these few.

Consider, as you are tempted to complain about anything beyond your own property - that you are paying for your neighbours protests for access to a bilingual ambulance attendant so their life can be saved in their official language.