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Comment Disaster (Score 2) 385

Folks automatically assume that if Blockbuster bought Netflix that Blockbuster would be sitting on top of the streaming video world. More likely Blockbuster would have either killed the business either intentionally or through incompetence. When you have an entrenched management team that only understands one way of doing business and whose careers are based on a traditional distribution model, you will find that they don't adapt well to a new distribution model. My bet is that a new competitor would have eaten Blockbuster/Netflix' lunch.

Odds are Blockbuster was better off not making the purchase.

Comment A couple of observations (Score 4, Insightful) 361

My first manager always told me that I needed better communication skills. Mostly this was because she was incompetent and couldn't keep track of her own work much less those reporting to her. In hindsight, I do not blame her, but rather the organization that promoted someone beyond what their skill set could handle.

At the same time, I did work on my communication and organizational skills. Since then I've earned five or six promotions and get consistently high marks in both of these areas. In my twenty years of a professional career, six in management, I've learned quite a bit and learned it can be distilled into just a couple of points

1) Know your audience.

This is the most important aspect of communication. My direct reports have learned (and I have told them) that I trust them and only expect a minimum of communication on a daily basis. I like status reports on a daily or near daily basis that let me know if you are on track. I also want to see reports when you see things going off track. Then we can sit down, go into more detail and I can do my job of providing additional resources or a manager's voice to get cooperation. If it is urgent, see me immediately. if not, it can wait for our 1:1. I want my employees to be able to work without getting sucked into a lot of meeting, be allowed to take ownership of their projects but then leverage my position when they need it.

But that is just me. Some managers want to be in the middle of every technical decision. While I don't agree with this management style, if that is your manager, adapt to his style. If he likes face-to-face daily, then give him the meetings. If he prefers a daily email, go that route. If he is a drop-by-meeting manager (I hate them) then keep talking points by your desk so you are ready.

How do you learn your manager's style? If he is good, he will explicitly tell you. Most managers are not good, however and don't receive any type of training. If this is the case, I'm sure you know who his favorites in the office are. Emulate parts of their style, or explicitly ask them how they deal with the boss. Also, occasionally, ask the boss how you are doing with communication. It will help reinforce that you are trying and he will generally view that favorably. Perception is at least half of the battle on communication...

For non-boss coworkers, communication is easier if you are already communicating well with the boss. Daily statuses on projects via email is likely the route to go. Whatever you are sending to the boss, send a similar update to your team. Develop a standard template so busy readers can scan for what they are looking for.

2) Be Consistent

For each of my direct reports, I created a template for our weekly 1:1's. There are 5-7 items on each that I go through. Sometimes most of the items will be "nothing to report". Others, there are lots. But by being consistent, I make sure everything is covered. I do the same for those I report to, either directly or as part of a project team. If you go the route of daily email updates, make sure they are done every time and have a consistent format. This will help you to be efficient with your time. Then make sure you follow through each day or however often you decide to. This creates a healthy habit in yourself, keeps people in the loop and reinforces the perception that you are an organized team player.

3) Get to the Point in EMail

Folks are busy, so spend a few minutes and think through a problem before emailing on it. When I see a long email on a subject, I immediately assume the person hasn't thought it through themselves and is looking for me to solve the problem. Don't spend three pages writing an essay. Don't go past three back and forths on an email chain. If you really need someone else to help solve something and you can't express it in two or three paragraphs, have a conversation.

Finally, a few minor points
* When getting an assignment, repeat it back to the person who assigned it so they can confirm. In most cases, follow up with an email your understanding
* A business communication course is a good idea if you really want to work on your skills
* No matter how good of a communicator you are, you will still deal with less-than-perfect communicators and often have to report to those people. Always cover your butt with email communication.

Comment Re: A risky gamble (Score 1) 231

I have learned that most people are utter shit at estimating risk

I will see and raise you. I would go as far as to say that everyone sucks at risk management. The fact is that even the most rational of us are driven by base instincts and our habits more than rational thought. And when you get a group of us humans together, the risk management gets even worse. Decisions get made out of fear more than rational thought.

Comment Court Order (Score 1) 105

How does one protect oneself from a court order? I guarantee that if Snapchat gets an order to log information that they will do so. The best you can hope for is that another party couldn't get information that predates the order, but if you never know if and when an order is in place, you can never be sure who has seen your data.

Comment Re:Just a moment! (Score 3, Interesting) 478

I am glad this got modded "insightful", but the more likely outcome is that the most marketable folks already have their job opportunities lined up and only those without marketable skills (aka dead weight) are the ones who will stay with the company. Even if IT is outsourced, they will keep some folks, and the least competent ones are the ones that will fill those spots. And if they don't outsource, they've lost their top players.

Comment Re:Mind over Matter (Score 4, Interesting) 212

It isn't quite as easy as you might indicate.

I'm 40 and eat a better balanced diet than when I was 20. I exercise, but weight has gradually increased over time. I was at the bottom end of normal for what BMI charts say I should have been @ age 20. I am now about 15 lbs into the "overweight". My doc says I am fine because I have more muscle, but he wants me to hold the line.

I made some changes to exercise, working out 5 times a week in the morning and cutting out all soft drinks and after dinner snacking. I dropped 5 lbs in two weeks. i was hydrating a lot so it wasn't water that caused the drop.

After two weeks, same diet same exercise I dropped 5 more pounds in two weeks. I was feeling great. I was hoping for another 10. But guess what? Two months later, same diet same exercise I didn't drop a single pound. I am not sure how to explain it. It is like my body reached a certain point and compensated for the caloric drop by going into a lower metabolism rate.

When I was 20 I couldn't gain weight no matter what. Now, I know that 160# is a place that my body just doesn't want to drop below. I understand that I could increase exercise more or cut out even more food... but is it worth it?

I am convinced that BMI might be a guideline, but it isn't gospel. I can still run a mile at a good clip and keep up with the kids. What am I gaining by dropping into a somewhat arbitrary scale if I am healthy already?

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