Tim Walker, from the Business Insight Zone blog, tagged me with this meme: seven things about business and my own career that you (probably) don't know. Tim's blog is one that I read regularly for both his clarity of thought and his stimulating questions, so although there are other things I could be doing today (planning for 2009, vacuuming up cat fur, procrastinating, etc.), I figure that I owe him at least this much for a year's worth of brain food.
1. I'm a Stanford MBA, have been laid off twice, and fired twice. Why is this important? Because I've seen plenty of organizations get by without my services. No matter how important I thought I was, no matter how inconceivable the prospect that these firms could survive without my brilliant contribution, they did. And this experience has changed my perspective towards email/phone responsiveness within a company. The truth is, no one is so important that they need to answer every email, every phone call, every knock on the cubicle wall immediately. Life -- and the company -- will most likely get by without your input. At least for an hour.
2. Internet entrepreneurs are, in general, the worst bunch of whiners and time wasters when it comes to productivity issues. I'm astonished at the number of electrons spilled on the difficulty of getting your work done (especially by those of you who work alone). I don't care whether you're a member of the Church of David Allen, the Cult of Tim Ferriss, or some other bastard offspring of the Assembly of Lifehacks. Just turn off your damn email, close your browser window, and get to work. It's. Not. That. Hard.
3. Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." This also applies to the smaller world of your company. How do you want your company to act? How do you want people in your company to treat you?
4. My work focuses on the application of lean principles to individual work behavior. I'm surprised that it took me until I was 41 to find this work, because all my life I've tried to eliminate waste (one of the core lean concepts). From the way I fold laundry (stacked in order of my closet drawers), to which subway car I stand in (the one nearest the station exit), to how I save soap (mush the small leftover piece onto a fresh bar), that way of thinking has always been part of my life.
5. Blogging makes me feel like I'm back in college (and not in a good way, either). I try to post once a week on Mondays, so on Sunday I get that same sick feeling I used to get when I had an English paper due that week. I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing. I haven't yet figured out what to do about it.
6. Working with people in their offices is one of the most intensely personal things I've ever done. It's a surprisingly intimate experience when people open their drawers for me. (The pun is somehow quite appropriate in this case.) I never cease to feel honored and a bit humbled by the trust my clients put in me when they make themselves so vulnerable to judgment and criticism.
7. If I could do anything professionally and be a success, I'd be a stand-up comedian. I'm not sure there's a thrill in the world as amazing as making people laugh. Unfortunately, I'm not funny enough, nor do I want to spend 340 nights in crappy motels. So I became an efficiency expert instead. That, alas, could be the funniest thing of all.