Monday, August 31, 2009

Postmodern Leadership - How To Be The Best Leader

Let’s face it; we all sacrifice ourselves to learn skills that will land us a good job and have a go in the daily race that is the pursuit of happiness. But who wants to be stuck doing routine tasks? Apart from a few conformists I’ve known in my time, most workers want to move up, want to get ahead, and want to be promoted — have a prosperous career.

And of course reap the monetary rewards. The way to earn more money is by becoming a supervisor, foreman, manager, or an executive—a leader or a boss.

To begin my discussion let me just mention that ‘leadership’ is a fancy abstract noun difficult to grasp. It’s more useful to discuss the subject with more humble terms. For example, what makes a person a good leader? Is she a good boss? Why?

So, let’s begin by answering this question: What is a leader or a boss? A leader is someone who has people or subordinates to manage. But how do you manage? Leadership isn’t something that one can learn from a textbook. Although management textbooks contain exhaustive pages upon pages, chapters, and volumes, they’re for the most platitudes and commonplaces of little practical use.

Management textbook formula:
Lead by example - Be an equal opportunity boss - Be kind and be a good listener - Be consistent and decisive - Have integrity – Have vision – Get respect – Be tough -

My Formula:

1. Know everyone under your command and fit them into three groups: (1) those who earn and deserve your time (2) those who use up your time, and (3) those who waste your time. To those in group 1, treat them with respect and cultivate them; to those in group 2, treat them with benign tolerance; and those in group 3, treat with benign neglect.

2. Accept that you don’t own all the best human qualities, virtues, skills, and abilities, but nothing should prevent your subordinates from thinking that you do. Image and appearance both count. In a good boss, subordinates prefer to see the high rather than the low—they choose splendor over opaqueness.

3. Think of yourself as being a force. Newton’s First Law of Motion states that if no force acts on a body and the body is at rest, it will remain at rest. In human nature we find this is also true; therefore a good leader must set people in motion and keep them moving.

4. Think of yourself as being the sun. The astronomer Kepler discovered that planets do not move at a constant velocity, but that they move faster when they are close to the sun. The good boss will judge –much like in the bible—who are the quick and who are the deadwood.

5. Know that weeds become deadwood. Former GE’s big boss, Jack Welch once said: “My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.”
Leadership Myths
Niccolo Machiavelli in his little book, The Prince, gave practical and cynical advice to princes –heads of state. Over the years many textbooks have incorporated Machiavelli’s counsel as sound principles of leadership. Two Machiavellian principles are often cited: (1) the end result is what counts regardless of the means taken, and (2) a leader should make himself feared but not hated.
In business, these two Machiavellian principles, if practiced, achieve ill results. Achieving goals without regard to morals is disgusting, and managing by fear is not only immoral but also counterproductive.
During my long years in business, one sound thought always guided me: Being a leader or a boss means that you have power, and that power is nothing else but force—force to hurt others. Therefore, like electricity, you must always control it, show respect for it, measure it, and use it wisely.

Success is for All of Us!

Inferiority Complex?

3 Qualities for Success

The Best Leader?

How I Manage my Time

Adam Smith and Wealth

Boethius and Fortune

Employee of the Moth Everyday

If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either or Barnes and Noble. See the link on the right sidebar.

Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

Senada Selmani, model

To write great blogs, e-mails, term papers, essays, or fiction - Get Mary Duffy's

Sentence Openers

Itching to Become a Writer?

Visit Mary Duffy's Storefront

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How I Manage My Time - 3-Point Formula That Gets Results

If you search for time-management articles and books you’ll find an abundance of volumes in print and also in the Web. All of them are interesting and useful—of limited use that is.

Some of you might say, that is very bold remark and will ask, “Why are they limited?”

These self-help formulas, though well intentioned and interesting, are for the most abstractions. In the end they turn out to be of little use to the common worker, manager, executive, or even spouse or student struggling to get things done. In my forty years in business I’ve followed these abstractions hoping to get results, only to get disappointments.

Textbook Formula:
Take the most common abstractions and you’ll see what I mean:

1. Get organized
2. Prioritize – Make a ‘to do’ list
3. Be disciplined
4. Be motivated

I could make a laundry list of many more abstractions, but the above suffice to illustrate the problem.

My Formula:
My solution for getting things done is nothing new, is nothing grandiose, but it really works:

1. Choose your task
2. Determine its complexity
3. Divide and conquer

Point 1 is so obvious that it needs no commentary.

Determine the complexity
All I mean by determining the task’s complexity is to get a gut reaction as to how long it might take to get it done. Next I sketch out a few episodes, parts, or components of my task; some people call this planning. To me planning means to look ahead as to how I will get from point A to point B. Since ‘planning’ is a fancy word much laden with theory, I avoid it. I usually say to myself, “Just let me get from point A to point B.”

When you look at a whole’s parts or components you’re really making an analysis. But since ‘analysis’ is a fancy term much used by academicians and scholars, I avoid it. I usually say to myself, “Just let me look at the pieces.” As I identify the pieces I write them down inside little clouds—little clouds being what I call ‘episodes.’

What I like about my formula is that I don’t need PERT or Gantt charts. It usually takes me less than 1 or 2 minutes to have my episodes roughed out in a piece of paper; usually in my calendar. Then I act.

For example, I had to grade 40 exams for my macro-economics class—this is my task. This isn’t a very complex task, but his has some components. Since the exam consists of several sections –true and false, multiple choice, diagrams—I grade one section at a time. My quick estimate tells me that it would take one minute or per exam. “This is a one hour task,” I concluded.

Divide and conquer
From history we learn that the old adage “divide and conquer” really works. The Persians (Iran, today) were but a small nation of not more than 10,000 people, yet they conquered the entire Middle East, and came close to conquering the Greek Empire. Or, look at the British—they were all over the planet from the 16th to the 20th century, claiming that the sun never set in the British empire.

Since grading exams is a monotonous chore, I divided the chore into 2 segments of 30 minutes each. And in two sittings I had conquered my task.

I have written several books, more than 600 articles, translated many books, and graded countless papers and exams, all by following the above 3-point formula. That is not even counting the myriad tasks I accomplished when I was active in business.

Two books have been influential in developing my approach. The first one is Anthony Trollope’s Autobiography, from which I learned that, "A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules." And the second one is Robinson Crusoe from which I learned that you never fall a tree to build a canoe, unless you know how to get it to the water—that is how to go from point A to point B.

Success is for All of Us!

Inferiority Complex?

3 Qualities for Success

The Best Leader?

How I Manage my Time

Adam Smith and Wealth

Boethius and Fortune

Employee of the Moth Everyday

If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States --both materially and spiritually-- you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and college professor.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either or Barnes and Noble. See the link on the right sidebar.

Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

Senada Selmani, model

To write great blogs, e-mails, term papers, essays, or fiction - Get Mary Duffy's

Sentence Openers

Itching to Become a Writer?

Visit Mary Duffy's Storefront

Friday, August 14, 2009

Amy Rodriguez - Olympic Medal Winner Now With The Boston Breakers

Professional soccer teammates Amy Rodriguez, left, and Angela Hucles, right, model the new Boston Breakers uniform in New York, early 2009.

Amy helped Southern California to a surprising NCAA title in November 2007, scoring twice to defeat rival UCLA; she was named the MVP of the Final Four.

One of the fastest players on the U.S. national team, Rodriguez is now with the Boston Breakers. It appear the head coach is giving her little play time because she had a couple of bad games. But being a natural born striker, she is expected to come back to her top form as when she scored in a 1-0 win over Brazil at the Peace Queen Cup on June 17 at South Korea.

An electrifying forward like Amy Rodriguez should not be benched. People pay good money to see her--not the coach, Tony DiCicco.

The lamest excuse that DiCicco has provided the press --ESPN Soccer-- is that Amy is a little burnt out. Such excuse leads me to question his knowledge of the game. Who has ever heard of a 21-year old player getting burned out from soccer? No soccer player ever should be accused of that. Soccer is a passion and the longer a player plays the more his or her passion for the game. Burn-out? Only in the mind of a mindless coach.

Did Maradona burn out? Did DiCicco himself burn out? Of course not. Players become managers to stay close to their passion.

It's time to give Amy more play time! Or let's hold the executives --rather than DiCicco-- directly responsible for the mismanagement of the Boston Breakers.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

Sentence Openers

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Manners, Cell Phones, and Tattoos

If my mother was alive she would add to her age-old adages: “Never put anything in your ear that is smaller than an eggplant—no iPods, no cell phones, and no tattoos.” Say what? Let me explain.

While technology develops at light speed and humans manners at no speed, I find a great black hole between the two. Take Cell phones. These artifacts –-in all kinds of advanced development-— totally dominate our lives today.

Not only are they ubiquitous in day and night, but they have also become a nightmare.
Last week, being in between classes, I decided to enjoy a moment of leisure in our faculty lounge. Here you can find colleagues, who in no time engage you in quiet urbane conversations (sometimes serious discussions), and all in a peaceful, well-mannered setting.

Then along came the cell phone and the urbanity melted away.

With the gadget (cell phone) in their ear, the well-mannered professors show their dark sides: some shout, others growl, many gesticulate and curse, and worst of all, the faculty lounge turns into mayhem, pandemonium, and chaos all at once. An adjunct professor of business who teaches Marketing courses is the worst offender; being a real estate broker in his main occupation he actually sets up his appointments and sales calls from the lounge. One day I had to ask to refrain since he was disturbing the peace and the quiet enjoyment of life. Wow! Besides giving me the knives of a look he cursed under his breath.

So I headed toward the staff-faculty cafeteria where one find kindred souls with whom to chat, swap stories, or maybe engage in low-level-non-vicious gossip. Right in the middle of ordering my lunch, the waitress’s cell phone rings. Of course, she takes a moment to answer. Never mind that I had to listen to her problems about getting rid of her free-loading sister-in-law. I felt sorry for the woman because I learned --by way of her cell phone conversation-- that she was the bread-winner, since her husband had been unemployed for six months and his sister for a year.

As I returned home on the Q32 bus, and once on the 59th Street Bridge, the bus started to move at snail pace: ten minutes per each square foot. As if in a chorus the passengers pulled their phones and started notifying their alleged-loved ones that they would be late due to heavy traffic. After this initial choreographed wave, a second one ensued. Incoming calls started.

One conversation caught my attention; a young man is begging his father to pay the last installment of his tuition bill:
“It’s only seven hundred dollars, dad.”

“I know you gave me the $700 bucks. But I used it for the tattoo you see on my ear-lobe.”

“I agree I should tattoo things on my brain rather than on my ear-lobe, but this tattoo is my soul and it will stay with me forever as long as I have ears.”

“You know I’ll pay you back when I graduate. No sweat, dad--I will.”

“A check is fine. Okay, dad. I promise--no more tattoos. Thanks, man. Love you dad.”

As I debarked from the bus, I turned around to thank the driver, but I changed my mind since the man had the darn gadget plugged in to his left ear.
That same night, Mary Patricia (my wife) and I attended a concert at Carnegie Hall. A nice young man came on the stage and asked the audience to turn off their cell phones. A tsunami of gadgets twittered off—at least until the concert break.

Oh boy--was I wrong!

Ten minutes into the concert my own cell phone went off, lifting me a foot off my seat with embarrassment. I’ve since removed the ring tones on my phone, and I’ve learned to text.

The writing techniques I employ in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How To Hit Critical Mass Traffic By Submitting Articles

You get targeted traffic in 2 ways. First, from the search engines that crawl the Internet and index the postings in your site. Second, from backlinks to your site from high traffic article publishing websites such as Ezinearticles and Ideamarketers.

Of all the techniques that bloggers and marketers use to herd traffic to their sites, article marketing is perhaps the best because of the results it achieves. Therefore, getting as many articles as possible published will increase the traffic exponentially.

Do not expect to see immediate results; by that I mean in a few days of even a week or two. Traffic will be build up slowly, but it will eventually peak due to the sheer critical mass of the published articles. Most publishers will take from one week to two or even three to approve your articles.

It can be frustrating. At times it felt like I was watching grass to grow on an artificial turf. If you aren't patient and resilient, then this isn't the strategy that you should use. Wait--there's more! Often your articles may be rejected, declined, or even just ignored.

Indeed, article marketing can test your endurance. If you are familiar with Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot, you know what I mean. In that play characters wait for hope to come and it never does. As they wait, they chat idly, and when they have nothing to say they trade their hats. But worst of this play is that the characters suffer from memory lapses! They can't remember what they did and talked about the previous day.

Waiting for some sites to approve your articles is like Waiting For Godot. Some sites will not bother to let you know they didn't like your article. Therefore, you must take initiative and visit the site and follow up.

Here's a quick plan of attack:

1. Write well and for a general audience. Avoid fancy words; people don't like pedantic articles that call attention to the prose.

2. Make your article useful. Readers should be rewarded with information that they couldn't find elsewhere.

3. Break up your article with bold headlines.

4. Enumerate and use bullet points.

5. Do not use taboo words such as "homosexual" or "sex" or "drugs" or even "pharmacy."

6. Submit at least 1 or 2 articles per week; short of that you will not achieve critical mass for a long time (maybe even a year). Naturally, the more articles you submit the quicker the results. A quick measure of traffic building is: for each one hundred articles you submit, expect 100 daily visits to your site. So, if you manage to send 400 articles -- wow! you're in the money! You'll see 1,000 or more visitors daily.

Before you despair and say, "How can I do that--and work and breathe at the same time?!"

The answer is simple: use the best available software in the market. You need a package that creates fresh article by re-writing your (and others') previous articles, and a submitter. People call this software, "spinners."

You can do your own research, but I've found that up to today, the best package is

See Dominic Tay's Spinner

It will take some time to get the package set up, but once this is done, it works nicely. I broke up the chore in two parts. I did half of the set up on Saturday and the other half on Sunday. Of course, I cut corners and I messed up --my fault I acknowledge-- and I had to reset some steps the following day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Soccer Princess Heather Mitts: Olympic Gold Medalist

Heather is now a defensive left back with the Boston Breakers and a shining star in the WSL — Women’s Soccer League.

Not only is Heather a tough and shrewd defender, but also a fierce attacker who joins the strikers, creating havoc inside the penalty area. Her arrow-like incursions into the heart of the opponents are reminiscent of the Brazilian star Carlos Alberto. For a soccer player to do these dashes, the player must be in superb physical condition, for it takes another mad dash to return to the defensive line.

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
College: University of Florida

U.S. National Team: Before 2004, she had played five times for the full National Team, one match each in 1999, 2001, 2002 and two in 2003. In 2008: Returned from major knee injury just in time to be considered for a spot on the Olympic Team, starting all three of the USA’s domestic games over late April and early May …Since returning from her injury, she started all 11 games the U.S. played heading into the Olympic.

Professional / Club: Selected in the second round of the inaugural WUSA Draft by the Philadelphia Charge. She started in all 51 games in which she played for the Charge over three seasons, helping the club to the WUSA playoffs in the first two years; and was a WUSA All-Star in 2003. College / High School: Played at University of Florida from 1996-1999 and ranks as the all-time leader in games played (95), starts (94) and minutes played (7,547) … Only game she didn’t start was the very first game of her freshman year. Heather helped the Gators to its first and only NCAA title in women’s soccer in 1998. She was named Most Inspirational Player as a freshman at UF and was team MVP as a senior.

Personal: Heather Blaine Mitts graduated with a degree in Advertising and has worked for ESPN as a sideline reporter on college football during the 2005 seasons, serving also as a studio analyst for ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 during the 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cups and was the sideline reporter for several MLS broadcasts in 2005 and 2006.
And a little known but daring feat: “Ran with the Bulls” in Pamplona, Spain in 1999

The writing techniques I use are explained in Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers e-book.

Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

An East of Tiffany's Story: Riche$, Euthanasia, and Vanilla Ice Cream

Last year, October to be precise, our companion of 14 years, Pepino, suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right hind leg.

This is a very brief love story: a story of love for others, and how that love translates into riches. We can be rich in many ways, but the kind I mean is money.

Despite his paralysis, Pepino, the old tough boy, refused, to be picked up and cuddled, dragging himself to his bowl and to his regular spot by the front door. Pepino was your regular size Shih Tzu, stubborn to no end, and with an independent streak that was more human than canine. "C'mhere" to Pepino meant "Go the other way." At times I'd think he was pigheaded rather than stubborn.

Hard as I often tried, I could never teach him a manly thing. After I retired from business, where I was a successful investment banker, I became a college adjunct professor of Economics. I've been teaching unruly college kids the rudiments of macro and micro-economics, and I feel confident that I have a terrific talent for teaching.

For years I've felt that Pepino had a high IQ, or above average to say the least. At times I've felt that perhaps he could outthink some of my own students. Yet, though I managed to teach him many tricks, the noble beast refused to learn to raise his leg and pee like a he-dog.

Oh, well, at least I convinced him not to growl, bark, sniff at our guests' crotches, and other common tricks.

Being apartment dwellers, in the mornings we let Pepino pee in his washable pads, but in the evenings I'd take him for a long walk. We are fortunate to live in a gorgeous penthouse on Park Avenue (a lovely avenue in New York City) where one can find trees in the median. For many a day--or late afternoon or evening may be more accurate--I tried to teach Pepino to pee like a he-dog.

Repeatedly I'd lift my leg and placed it against a tree at the stop light intersection, north of our building, hoping that Pepino would eventually catch on and imitate me.

To be an investment banker you must have thick skin, and I am proud to say, I don't embarrass that easily. So, I would turn a deaf ear to the taunts, jeers, indignities, and insults from cab drivers and other motorists held by the stop light, as they saw me in that ridiculous position, trying to teach the pooch how to act like a man.

Pepino never got it and eventually I gave up. "No sense in changing Pepino's basic instinct--a contrarian he is!" I thought. Yet, I knew he had absorbed and internalized what I was trying to teach him, not because I'm smart but because Pepino wasn't a good poker player--everytime he learned something he'd stick his tongue out and hold it out for about 5 seconds.

Dr. Grossman--Pepino's regular Vet--examined my beloved pooch carefully, and as he shined a light into the old boy's pupils, he said, "Pepino is in pain and suffering. It's best for him to be put to sleep."

Stunned by what Dr. Grossman was saying, I could hardly contain myself, fighting an inner wave of violence building within me. I remember thinking, "You insensitive, incompetent nitwit, for fourteen years we've fattened your wallet and all you got to say is ‘put him to sleep'?"

But instead, I only mumbled, "Isn't there something you can do-surgery? I'll pay for it!"

Grossman only shook his head meaning "No." Then he said, "I'll leave you both," --that is me and my wife Mary Patricia-- "to talk for a moment, and grieve. It's time for Pepino to go to dog heaven."

As soon as Grossman was out the door, Mary Patricia hugged me and burst into tears. I held her close to sooth her pain, my heart thumping, and my throat voiceless.

Only twice in my life have I ever shed a tear: the first time was during the TET offensive in Vietnam in 1968, when I held one of my men --who had been mortally wounded-- in my arms as he asked me to call his mom in Missouri and tell her he loved her. Oblivious to the small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and madness around me, and with my man's body still warm in my arms, I well remember the acrid smell of gun powder and the bitter tears draining into my mouth.

The second time was when the market crashed in 1987 and --following a contrarian gut impulse that I had learned from Pepino-- I shorted (selling short is betting on the losing horse) Cisco and other stocks and made a a substantial amount of money--a maneuver that allowed me to buy this penthouse on Park Avenue. When I took my profits out, I couldn't fight back the sweet tears that coursed down my cheeks.

Mary Patricia and Pepino are the love of my life, and for many years I had chased the elusive buck just like any ambitious person, but one thing changed my fortune.

Wanting to make money happens quickly when you think of those about you--not yourself. Before I realized this fact, my success was more spiritual than monetary.

But let me go on. Dr. Grossman returned with an assistant and both of them got busy to set the cold aluminum-steel table where Pepino was to be euthanized.

Fearful that I was going to break down and cry a primal cry that I felt traveling up my spine, I asked Grossman to wait five minutes while I ran to the corner market and buy a pint of vanilla ice cream. Without waiting for a reaction I took off.

Moments later, looking into my eyes, Pepino let me know that he enjoyed more than ever in his life his last taste of ice cream. The pooch left this bitter world with a sweet taste in his mouth.

The assistant laid Pepino on his side, and Grossman found a vein. And just as he was injecting the hemlock or whatever killing agent they use, Pepino lifted his left hind leg way up --just as I had shown him many times-- and he peed like a he-dog. And I swear, he also stuck his pink tongue out.

Speechless, all I could do was cry--for the third time in my life. Truthfully I don't remember how Mary patricia got me home.

The writing techniques I employ in this article I learned from Mary Duffy's writing manual:


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