Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Calibrating that work life balance

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

As a business owner and a parent, I love and devote my waking hours to my ‘babies’. On weekdays, my focus is on building my business and taking care of my clients’ needs. On evenings and weekends, I put on a different hat, and spending much needed quality time with my kids. I share this arrangement with my clients upfront and a majority of them understand my needs, as most of them are parents themselves. However, I recently encountered an angry client who demanded that I work on a weekend, on a project which wasn’t even an urgent life-or-death matter.

This incident serves as a good reminder of the endless tug-of-war between work and family time. With the advent of mobile data and smart phones, the lines separating working hours and personal time are blurring; there’s a constant expectation to remain contactable, and with that, an unconscious belief that we are expected to be available and at the ready whenever the client needs us.

It seems like an uphill struggle to tackle that mentality, despite all the research showing that there is an inverse relationship between longer working hours and output. Perhaps it is a result of the explosive development industries have seen in the last several decades. After the war, when there was a focus on manufacturing, lesser hours meant lower production. That mentality could have carried over to today, even in industries where output is not measured in absolute units.

The perfect example of this conundrum at work can be found in Japan. There, the population clocks the longest working hours in the world, a fact that is well-documented publicly. But data from the OECD Compendium of Productivity Indicatorsranks Japan as having the lowest productivity among G-7 nations.

We need time off to recharge, and it’s easier to do good work when you feel well-rested and happy. The human brain just isn’t wired to sustain productive work for more than a few hours, and taking a breather creates a better environment for your brain to thrive.

Of course, as business owners, it’s not possible to block off every single weekend or avoid any overtime work. There are bound to be urgent projects that require our attention, and we’ll have to responsibly put in extra time to complete these by the given deadlines.

At times like this, our loved ones’ support and understanding is key. If you know they have your back and can cover for our absence at home, you’ll be able to throw more into your work, pushing through to meeting that tough deadline. And once that’s done, you can make up for it by taking a few days off to reward yourself for a job well done, and show appreciation to your loved ones for their patience by taking them for a nice meal or a movie date together.

Besides managing the work you take on, managing clients’ expectations is one important aspect so that those who enter an agreement with you know the boundaries of the job. Here are some points to note when managing expectations with your clients in future:

  1. Set a clear timeline

Lay everything out at the start—from the deadline by which you will need certain answers or resources from the clients—to when they can expect project milestones from you. Be clear on the fact that you will need the stipulated amount of time to complete a task, and any delays on their end will push the overall timeline back. If you don’t implement a clear-cut timeline, you can bet the client would be expecting things to happen faster than it is realistically possible.

  1. Avoid giving overly optimistic estimates

Don’t say you need only five working days, when the time needed falls between four to six working days. Giving your client the end product earlier than estimated makes for a pleasant surprise, while anything that is after the given date creates annoyance. In fact, account for possible delays on the clients’ end, so that the timeline you’ve painstakingly agreed upon will not have to shift too drastically.

  1. Be clear about your working hours

Let your client know what your unavailable days and timings are, and don’t let them get used to seeing a reply from you during these touch-me-not timings. Let them know upfront that there may be a delay in response on weekends and after office hours, and leave this information in visible places on your website or in your email signature.

  1. Set a limit on the number of revisions

We’ve all experienced that one client who always has just one small edit that they want to tweak, no matter how many revisions they have been given. Set this expectation from the start so that they will compile more substantial and detailed feedback, which helps you to implement the necessary changes more efficiently.

  1. Learn to say no

Sometimes, no matter how many tools you implement, you’ll meet a client who wants everything done by yesterday. If you’re not ready to rush the job for them, or even if it simply is not in line with the priorities you’ve set for yourself, then it might be wise to turn down the job. But make sure you don’t burn any bridges; even if you’re not the right solution for them right now, things might change in the future.

Don’t Be a LinkedIn Open Networker

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Before I had 10 000+ connections and gladly accepted any new incoming request. Now after some spring cleaning I have 263 high quality and relevant connections which I will work with and get to know even better and hopefully create something useful from all the hours spent on LinkedIn. My goal is to get interactions on my posts and activity on LinkedIn from my network, and to be able to get that it is impossible to be an open networker cause then your network is full of people who don’t know you and couldn’t care less about what you do.

On LinkedIn, the value of your network is defined by the strength of each individual node in that network. In other words, the better you know each person in your network, and the better that you understand his or her unique talents, strengths and experiences, the better able you will be to leverage that network to advance your career.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have a working, face-to-face relationship with each person in your LinkedIn network. But you should at least recognize them from email “cc: lists” at your office, or from online forums and sites where you hang out, or even from past experiences in your own life. Maybe someone asking to join your network recognizes you as an alumnus/alumna of the same university, and is just looking for some career advice as a young professional. The important point is that there should be something that connects you to everyone else in your network.

But here’s the problem: too many people become LinkedIn open networkers. Instead of forming tight, closed networks, they form very wide, open networks. Each node of your network may or may not be relevant to you if you accept every invite, every request. Over time, that can act to diminish the value of your network, putting you at a disadvantage.

This is not to say that your LinkedIn network should be constrained to a certain size – but it does imply that you should give attention to every single person who joins your network. Instead of blindly accepting invitations to connect, think about sending a brief, courteous message back, along the lines of, “Thanks for contacting me. However, I only accept invitations from people that I know. Can you remind me how I am connected to you?”

Most people who are merely trying to build up as many connections on LinkedIn as possible won’t even bother replying, because they weren’t serious in the first place. They are LinkedIn open networkers, who are simply trying to build their connections beyond the magical “500 connections” level.

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to have 50 trusted connections in your LinkedIn network than hundreds of connections that you have absolutely no idea of who they are. Think about it: imagine you are trying to find a new job or you are trying to find new partnership or business development opportunities for your company. Are you really going to invest a lot of time and energy into reaching out to people that you don’t even recognize? And do you actually expect anything of value in return?

In today’s social media-fuelled world, the temptation is to build social networks to an unsustainable size. The more people in your network, the thinking goes, the greater is your influence, reach and power. But is that really the case? If you are a LinkedIn open networker, you might be wildly overestimating the size of your network, thereby diluting the strong connections that really do exist within your network. So don’t be a LinkedIn open networker. If you take the time to really get to know every single person you are adding on LinkedIn, you will be establishing the basis for a powerful social network that you can tap into at any time to help advance your career.

San Diego Gulls

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Even though the San Diego Gulls of the AHL are a relatively new team, they’ve had a very successful entry into the AHL. In 2015, the Anaheim Ducks bought their then-AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, and moved them to San Diego so that they could be closer to the big club. In their first two seasons, they finished second in their division, and made it to the second round of the playoffs, while putting up 82 wins over their first 136 games, good for a 0.603 winning percentage, while also boasting a +51 goal differential across both seasons.

Their team is nearly filled with prospects from their parent team, the Anaheim Ducks, save for four players signed to AHL deals. The team has had current NHLers grace its roster such as Shea Theodore, John Gibson, Anton Khudobin, and Brandon Montour. What’s exciting for Ducks fans is the names that are currently on the roster, developing their game for the NHL level. Players like Kalle Kossila, Jacob Larsson, Jacob Megna, Julius Nattinen, and others are playing for the Gulls, learning the system set out by the Ducks in order to succeed in the NHL in the future.

While their team has prospects on it, and while the team’s intent is to develop those prospects, the Gulls also have some experienced veterans who lace up for them on a nightly basis. The Gulls are the 10th oldest team in the AHL, and only by 0.2 years. While the team is lead in scoring by Kossila, they have six players over the age of 30, and had 16 over the age of 25 play for them this season. The AHL is a delicate balance of developing prospects by giving them playing time, and having veterans to model the game for those same prospects. It’s one of the reasons that the Gulls took Eric Fehr on loan for 34 games; they wanted a seasoned professional of over 500 games to mentor their younger players. In fact, the team has over 1600 games of NHL experience, and both of their goalies have over 25 games of experience at the IIHF World Hockey Championships. What may be their most impressive number, however, is the nearly 4000 games of AHL experience on the roster. While the team may be new to the league, it’s players certainly aren’t.

And who gets to run this team? At the top, you have Bob Murray as the President of Hockey Operations, who is also the GM of the Anaheim Ducks. Bob Ferguson works with Murray as the GM of the Gulls, to bring it the right players, and manage the rest of the staff. Head Coach Dallas Eakins has both AHL and NHL head coaching, and assistant coaching experience with the Toronto Marlies/Maple Leafs, and the Edmonton Oilers. He’s a sound hockey mind with a knack for developing young talent, which is likely part of the reason that the Ducks have such a solid young core of players.

This season has been much of a reflection of the past success by hte Gulls. They currently sit in second place in the Pacific division, though their cross state rivals, the Ontario Reign are right behind them, with 64 points, because the AHL ranks teams by their point percentage.  If the playoffs started today, they would square off with the Texas Stars, who actually have two more wins than the Gulls. San Diego faces a tough test for the rest of the season, as they need 27 more points to clinch a playoff birth, based on how their division stacks up, and they currently have 14 games left to do so. That will change as the season plays itself out, and other teams begin to slide down to the bottom of the division, but the Pacific division is strong. If history shows us anything, it’s that the Gulls will finish in a respectable position, make the playoffs, and have a strong showing from their team balanced between young NHL prospects, and AHL veterans.