Communication and Teamwork

Listening to the Crows at 4 a.m. this morning (hard not to when they are outside your bedroom window!), I marveled at their ability to summon the ‘troops’ to their defense when faced with a threat.

The threat in this case was a lone Eagle who had taken up sentry duty on the tallest fir tree behind the neighbourhood church.  The Crows had nests throughout this area and called it home.

The call to arms began with a lone Crow on the neighbour’s roof.  Shortly thereafter it was joined by another who also took up the call.  After about half an hour, the entire murder of Crows was on the scene harassing the foreigner with loud disapproval.  The response from the Eagle almost sounded like amusement, but eventually it departed with the Crows in pursuit.

This was not my first experience witnessing the ability of this bird to communicate and work with each other. When I was a teenager, there was a large old cedar tree that straddled the property line between our house and our neighbour.  A picket fence came from the back of the lot and ended a couple of feet short of the cedar.  On the tree facing the fence was a bird feeder.

The Crows would come once a day and line up on the picket fence.  The Crow nearest the feeder would fly up and feed.  The rest of the Crows would move up one and were quiet for about 30 seconds then would begin to chatter.  The Crow in the feeder would fly to the back of the line and the process would start all over again.

I think that there is a higher communication level to the voice and the actions of these birds.  Unlike the Seagulls that will almost fight to the death over a scrap of food, the Crows either leave each other alone with their bounty, or they share without complaint.  A more social bird to be sure!

A good lesson for all of us.  Communicate well and there is strength in coming together as a team to solve a problem.

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Empowering people, Leadership, Listening, Relationships, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Office’

Sipping an Americano, or as I prefer to call it, a Canadiano, and waiting for a business associate, I’m people watching the bustling morning coffee crowd at The Buzz.

Some are business on their break, not relaxing at all as they gulp down their coffee and sneak a treat as well.  Others, like myself, are consultants trying to conduct business over the noisy morning atmosphere.  Hopefully the client or associate can glean the necessary information over the din.

Lovers sit in a corner speaking unspoken words, oblivious to the busy scene in front of them.  Several groups of women chat with their children taking in their busy surroundings.  Every now and then a wide-eyed youngster escapes from the watchful eye of their mother and wanders, peering up at the tables with a look of curiosity.

It is easy to spot the regulars as they greet each other with nods and chit-chat.  Outside it is the normal dance of vehicles as the lot overflows with patrons at this time of the day.  Many are just dropping in for a coffee to go, while others are looking for a seat inside.  On sunny days many take advantage of the patio but today is cool and drizzly.

For business and the public, this is a healthier way to conduct business and suits the younger generation of entrepreneurs.  I grew up in the corporate culture of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s where business was conducted over rich food and a couple od drinks.  We are fortunate that most of that lifestyle is behind us!

The coffee ‘culture’ certainly has taken hold and everyone has their favourite roaster or ‘brew house’.  One thing that is very noticeable in the patrons is that it is popular with all generations.

Enjoy you morning java and have an awesome day!

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Posted in Business Coaching, Business Planning, Clients, Coaching, Communication, Customers, Entrepreneurs, Life coaching, Lifestyle, Listening, Managing stress, Marketing, Networking, Sales, self-employment, Young Professionals | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medical Emergency

In many ways, I feel our medical system in British Columbia is on life support.  We have unprecedented wait times for surgery.  This is after waiting for scans and 4 – 5 months waiting times to see a specialist.  Once you get there, you are well taken care of.

But, this is not preventative medicine.  An active person who cannot be active for months, will likely have other medical issues as a result of this delay.  In addition, if they are a senior, they may never return to that level of activity again, which can place more stress on the health care system.

I do not blame the doctors or other health care workers.  I blame the bureaucracy for the failing general health system.  With the exception of the emergency room physicians, GP’s refer patients out to specialists much more than in the past.  This creates huge delays in treatment because of the wait times, and likely results in overuse of prescription and non-prescription drugs.

The treatment of those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries is second to none but for those who are compromised but do not fit the urgent category, it can be life-changing with severe consequences to quality of life.  This affects other supports such as employment insurance, social assistance, and family members.  Also, not to forget, if they were working, loss of production, loss of taxation for the government and communities.

In British Columbia 43% of our provincial budget goes towards health care.  We need to work towards a preventative health model, not a reactive one.  Dentistry did this years ago with great results.  Growing up most people had false teeth by the time they were 40.  Now the majority go to the grave with their own teeth.  It can be done.

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Posted in Economy, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Empowering people, Lifestyle, Older Worker | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What was I Thinking – or was I?

According to Statistics Canada, 64% of Canadians are on social media.  Facebook has the highest percentage of users at 71% with 87% of them between the ages of 18 – 29.  The average user spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook.

Social media can be a great tool for connecting with friends, especially those at a distance.  I connect with relatives in other countries and have discovered new relatives as a result of the process.  It has demonstrated its ability to locate children for whom there has been an amber alert and caught thieves through posting video clips.

Social media also has its demons.  Just ask Kathy Griffin, or follow the actions of a president on Twitter.  It is a bizarre platform where you cannot post a picture of a mother breastfeeding a baby but you can post racist remarks and vilify public figures. When you hit enter the world can view it, forever!

I am amused by the seemingly intelligent people who post, “So excited, we leave tomorrow for Maui for two weeks”!  It is so helpful to the thieves making out their work list.  Of course, we all like to see what everyone is eating.  The one that really gets me is when someone posts about a missing dog in Medicine Hat when I am on Vancouver Island.  Did they think it went on vacation?

The most vulnerable users are the teenagers who perhaps do not understand the ramifications of what they post.  It is easy for them to open themselves up to predators who hide behind the technology.  They can harm a vulnerable peer through bullying and harassment, sometimes with horrifying consequences.

What teenagers may not understand is that social media is part of your resume in the world of work.  When an individual applies for a job, many employers will search the internet and social media to ‘look’ at the applicant.  What will they find when they Google you?

We live in interesting times and it is ever evolving.  Where will it be in five years?  For now, be careful out there!

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Posted in Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employment, FaceBook, Life coaching, LinkedIn, Networking, Social Media, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murphy was an Optimist

Ever have technology fail, just as you start a meeting?  The conference phone starts to act up dropping callers or interrupting with statically outbursts.  Or the laptop battery runs out part way through a meeting, and you didn’t bring your charger.  There are no bars on your phone and you desperately need to get in touch with someone.

When LCD projectors first came out they were not that reliable, or at least the bulbs weren’t.  Most presenters used to carry one of the old overhead projectors in the trunk of their car along with overheads of their presentation, just in case.

I remember co-facilitating a 6-hour workshop and the projector would not work.  It was panic stations initially for the two of us, well, mostly me!  When we realized there was no reviving the equipment, like any real troupers we charged on without visuals.  For the first 20 minutes or so we felt naked without the projector, sort of like participants watching a radio, but after a couple of hours we realized we really knew the content.  It remains to this day one of the best workshops we have ever done because of what we learned about ourselves.

The other day I was setting up to do a workshop and thought I might be reliving this episode with the projector.  This time however, technology had once again changed and it was an HDMI connection to a flat-screen TV.  I turned on the TV and it indicated HDMI, went blank and turned off.  Murphy was in the room!  I tried several more times to no avail then looked for solutions in my settings.  After about 10 minutes I remembered what a wise tech once told me, “If all else fails with electronics pull the plug, wait 60 seconds, then plug it back in.”  Like magic the screen came to life!  I later found out that there had been a brief power outage the night before which had confused the poor thing.

Murphy does not discriminate.  He watches each and every one of us for opportunities to humble us and make us feel vulnerable.  Stay calm, step back, take a deep breath, and approach the issue with logic.  Show him you are a victor, not a victim!

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Clients, Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Facilitator, Life coaching, Managing stress, Training | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whadaya Mean I’m too Old!

There is a perception, mostly with the millennials, that after a certain age you are not functioning at a level that is suitable for business.  It is felt that you will be absent more and in general be a drain on the organization.

Age is just a number and I know lots of highly functioning individuals in their ‘80’s who continue to work and earn a living.  For many it is not about the money.  They have accumulated amazing experience in their lifetime and want to use it and feel useful.  They’re also not interested in taking your job, they just want to work.

A wise move for companies is to employ a broad range of ages as mentorship goes all ways.  Not only the Baby Boomers mentoring the Millennials but vice-versa.  Whoever said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, was mistaken.  They just didn’t know how to teach.

Some feel that older workers just can’t keep up to the pace but experience has usually taught them to be more efficient with their time.  Another myth is that they take more sick days but they actually take less and have less accidents.

As for tech savvy, they are the fastest growing demographic on social media.  Most want to learn new skills and the trend has been for companies to decrease the money spent on training for the older worker, then they wonder why they are not up to speed.

There are a lot of companies who are either concerned that they can’t find skilled workers or worried that they will have a problem in the future.  Why not encourage your older workers to stay on?  They may not want full time so consider reduced hours to keep the expertise inhouse so that they can pass on their knowledge to those coming up in the organization?

It does not mean they shouldn’t look for new younger employees but would give a balance and sharing of skills and expertise in the organization.  In the 1990’s companies flattened their organizations and got rid of middle management.  These were the mentors of the future and the companies lost a generation of knowledge in their operations.  For many, this was a short-term solution that created a long-term problem.

We’re not old, we are experienced!  Time to change the thinking!

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Career development, Career professional, Coaching, Communication, Diversity, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people, Leadership, Learning styles, Life coaching, Lifestyle, Older Worker, Relationships, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today’s Reality

Flipping through the pages of the latest issue of BC Business I realize how crucial it is for businesses, all businesses, to keep current on what is happening and what may affect their place in the market.

In 1973 I bought a Facit LCD pocket calculator.  It had add, subtract, multiply, and divide, plus a constant key.  It was state of the art, weighed about 450 grams,  and cost $160.  The last one I bought, which has many more features was $5.  I took a GPS training course in 1991 at the University of Montana.  The unit I had to carry around in the bush needed a backpack and, because the signal was controlled by the US military, we could only narrow the target down to within 450 metres.  I now use my phone and it is accurate.  How times have changed!

According to the article in BC Business, BC Stats more people are employed in the technology sector in British Columbia than in mining, forestry, oil and gas combined!  Even 10 years ago who had heard of designing with holograms, electric commuter cars, digital pathology, aquaponics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, or passive housing?  These are but a few of the new technologies that are being developed by BC companies and will change the way we look at and do things in the future.

If you are in business what will affect your business?  Will it make what you do obsolete or at least create competition?  Will it allow you to be more competitive?  How can you utilize the new technologies to your advantage?

For those who love technology you need to be careful that you do not invest in technology that is more than you need.  It all costs money and requires time and training to be effective.  You need to always do a cost/benefit analysis to determine the practicality.

We will see more change in the next five years than we saw in the last twenty.  Be prepared for the ride.  What will it have in store for you?

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