Entries in "personal"
June 27, 2007
an alternative to the SMART goal framework
I wrote up a post at my new blog, Work-Life Chronicles, about the alternative to the SMART goal framework that I have developed and used in the last year of teaching MGMT 250 and 251. I call it START NOW, which stands for:
To read more about each of the labels in the START NOW framework, and some funny stories about my adventures learning to ride my Vespa, click through to read "a different take on setting and achieving goals".
Please let me know what you think of the new blog, too! I'd welcome you to add it to your blogroll, or subscribe to the RSS feed, if you find the first few posts interesting.
June 23, 2007
perhaps the iPhone is not underpriced!
On Thursday, this Wall Street Journal article by Walter Mossberg was the second-most-emailed item in the paper. Mossberg reviewed the Blackberry Curve 8300 and the Nokia N95, two alternatives to the iPhone, and raved about the N95 with its very high-end camera.
Perhaps I was not that far off base in considering the iPhone as a rival for the Blackberry in my previous post about the iPhone vs. the Blackberry and the Treo. There was another article in the WSJ highlighting how much pressure business IT managers are getting from their employees. Many current Blackberry users want to ensure that they can buy a new iPhone on their own, and still access their Blackberry-based work email when they want. Whether Apple and Research in Motion will work out a patch that satisfies security concerns is an open question... I'm fortunate that the outcome of that negotiation will not affect my ability to use an iPhone for email.
I do still want to know what the monthly charge will be from AT&T for data charges, though. That would make me think... but not for very long. I hope there are still some iPhones available in Cupertino on Sunday, July 1!
June 16, 2007
iPhone takes on the Blackberry and the Treo
I am by no means a marketing expert, but it doesn't take much education on the topic to figure out that products anyone can acquire are less desirable to trendsetters. Perhaps most users of the Blackberry and the Treo are not trendsetters -- perhaps they like to just follow the crowd. They may even be required to do so. (I have certainly been told that more than one employer requires the use of Blackberry, a dubious policy for organizations to adopt if they are to recruit and retain outstanding employees in today's world of work.)
The question is, how many people want to be trendsetters? My guess is, more than the number who will be able to acquire an iPhone between now and Christmas. Probably by a factor of three or four.
I'm definitely a trendsetter-wanna-be. The demo of visual voicemail was appealing -- I hate having to wade through seven voicemails without knowing if any of them were left by anyone I'm really waiting to hear from, or if they're just lower-priority communications that should have been sent through email. Appealing, but not compelling.
It was the demo of websurfing on the iPhone that was compelling. Clearly, I'm in the target market, because the webpage being surfed is not myspace -- it's the New York Times. The demo shows that Apple has applied the same attention to human-computer interface when designing the iPhone that they have become known for with their operating systems, laptops, and iPods. This commercial is really all the instruction in using the iPhone any typical user will need.
So, I have signed up for a Cingular/AT&T cellular account, and for email alerts with both the cellular provider and with Apple directly. I'm not going to be camping outside a cellphone store on the night of June 28, but I'd love to be able to figure out how to acquire an iPhone before I attend the Academy of Management annual international meeting in Philadelphia at the beginning of August. Perhaps I would not even need to take my laptop with me! It could be a new frontier in flexible work.
How much of the Blackberry and Treo market will Apple be able to take a bite of between now and Christmas? This report from last December doesn't even show Apple as a player in the "converged mobile device" market -- and in fact, the manufacturers of the Blackberry did not hold the top market share spot. That honor went to Nokia, with 38.7 million units shipped. Nokia also holds top honors in the smartphone market segment. The unknown is how Apple's exclusive partnership with Cingular/AT&T will affect trendsetters' willingness to go with the iPhone.
The logical followup question is, how much will the converged mobile device market grow between June 29 and the end of December? The 42 percent growth rate over 2005 sounds quite impressive. My bet is that the rate will be at least sustained, if not increased, through the end of 2006. In some ways, accelerating the growth of this market segment would be just as much of a victory for Apple as stealing market share away from the Blackberry or the Treo would be.
Once again, Steve Jobs' team will be creating an entirely new stream of Apple customers, who will almost inevitably be drawn to purchasing songs on iTunes and laptops at the Apple Store. Here's hoping that the product launch on the 29th doesn't cause any riots!
June 13, 2007
21 days and counting
As Valdis commented at BFD a few months back, people don't move to California because of the weather. I've always thought of myself as an optimistic person, and I grew up in Connecticut and Switzerland, so snow, grey skies, and cold don't faze me much. There are a lot of people who move away from this area because they believe Cleveland is dying a slow death. In contrast, I remain optimistic about Cleveland's future. Click through to read why...
March 21, 2007
is the world testing you?
I've been struck recently, in my observations of students and of others at work, by how powerful the drive to please others by meeting high standards can be. Sometimes, even when the standards are outrageously ridiculous, we just keep trying to leap over the bar, slamming our heads on the upper limits of reality, recollecting ourselves, and then leaping again. Especially for students, the semester can become a series of hurdles to run up to, leap over (or crash through), and repeat, without time to catch their breath.
It's so rare to see someone mature enough to approach a challenge or a set of really high expectations with calm consistency in their attitude and in their performance. What we often forget is that striving too much can actually reduce our effectiveness. Even hurdlers take a breather at the end of a race, before approaching the starting line for another 100 meters. Sometimes, they even drop out of a race, if they have crashed into the third and fourth hurdles, and fallen at the fifth.
What makes a difference between those who chase high expectations frantically and those who can approach them with calm consistency? Well, to an extent, maturity comes with age... and part of the reason is that the typical 40-year-old is less wrapped up in a desire to please others than the typical 20-year-old. There are some undergraduates who really don't care what I think of them, or what grade I give them, but most have almost a blind desire for approval and positive reinforcement. In some cases, there are signs of almost an addiction to the positive reinforcement of grades. I can only imagine what the voices in their conscience tell them when they fall short of their expectations for themselves, which sometimes are even higher than my expectations for them.
Even John Mayer now has a song about the pursuit of success and distinction, and the price we pay for giving in to the pressure that others (and our own internal voices of conscience and of compulsion) put on us to chase perfection in our work... it's an invitation to reflect on how to keep our own "vultures" at bay.
Here are the lyrics from the song "Vultures", off his latest album, Continuum, and a link to the album on iTunes.
March 17, 2007
NEO homeowners have no idea how wonderful our area is
My family and I just returned from a combination vacation and neighborhood hunting trip to the South Bay/San Jose area, which is the nation's most expensive housing market. We're trying to figure out if we can live with the notion of 1/2 or 1/3 of our current square footage, and a mortgage three or four times as large.
It's not easy to think about giving up the tree-lined streets of Cleveland Heights. I've loved our house since the very first day I walked into it, the first day it was on the market. (The picture below was taken in May of 2005.)
And yet, there's still snow on the ground here, and it was so warm in California during our trip that we had to stop at Sears -- we hadn't packed enough t-shirts or shorts!
February 28, 2007
telecommuting and the neverending workday
One of the themes in my course on workplace flexibility is the need to push back against corporate demands for a 24/7/365 workload. Doctors carry pagers, managers carry laptops and cellphones. How do they fight back when their coworkers or bosses seem to expect them to be available constantly?
There's a good blog entry at Web Worker Daily on 5 ways to get work under control. They are the basic tips, of course, and yet not practiced by many.
During my recent medical leave, I was off the computer entirely for about 10 days, and then checking email only intermittently for another few weeks. I was amazed by how much new time opened up in my day! In particular, about 40 percent of my email could be deleted unread if it was more than 48 hours old. So now that I have returned to health, I have resolved not to chase after the ephemeral, the seemingly-urgent, or the request-of-the-moment. I now check email only once I day (or at most, twice) -- and never after dinner.
While it is wonderful to have the flexibility that carrying my new laptop anywhere allows, it is important to use that flexibility to my benefit as well as my employer's.
Anyone who needs me more urgently knows my cellphone number. (And I do turn that one off, sometimes, too!)
So, how do others manage against the neverending workday?
September 05, 2006
are you looking for a better you?
In MGMT 250, we have begun the segment of the course which focuses on self-assessment and self-development. My students are thinking about how to make a good first impression on others, what their strengths are, and where they want to be in 5 or 10 years.
There are lots of supplementary resources out there to help people who aren't taking the course explore some of the same questions. One excellent guide which I just came across to some of those resources is the blog Lifestylism. If you're not sure what that means, just read the first entry in the blog, written back in July, 2004.
Another new resource is a spinoff from the increasingly popular site 43 things, which allows users to keep track of their goals and dreams and their progress toward achieving them, and helps them connect with others who have similar goals or dreams for support and mutual encouragement. (I have written about 43things before and about the sister site of 43things, 43 places, as well.) To celebrate the second anniversary of the founding of the Robot COOP, which houses the creators of 43 things, some of the key people in the COOP have launched a new blog called the Mutual Improvement Blog. It looks really fascinating.
Enjoy! And please be sure to let me know what your next steps toward a better you will be, and whether any of the links I recommended were useful.
July 27, 2006
speaking of social change... how about mandating vacations?
We have just returned from 2.5 weeks in Europe. I spent all that time without a watch, without a cellphone, and with almost no plans for anything more than the day ahead. I kept no calendar of appointments. I read what interested me, I spent some time knitting, and I walked with my daughter to the playground, taking time to admire the neighbors' flowerboxes, pet the village dogs, and greet the neighborhood cats (those who were not too skittish, anyway). I enjoyed leisurely meals with my sister and brother-in-law and their daughter, and with my parents. I woke without an alarm, napped when I wanted, and went on a hike or two, enjoying views of the mountains.
I am amazed at how refreshed I feel. It is as if my body and mind have rediscovered the beauty of an adagio movement in a symphony.
In the Swiss newspaper, a small item addressed national differences in vacation practices (the headline asked something like "are the Swiss too plodding?" in an idiomatic French phrase that I can't remember.) The article stated that the Swiss take slightly less vacation than the French or Germans, but much more than Americans. Having experienced the benefits of vacation in terms of clearing the mind and revitalising the body, I understand why the worst fear of a typical Swiss person might be to become too American -- too workaholic.
Part of the issue is that we don't have a federal law guaranteeing workers a minimum number of vacation days per year. Here's a 2001 Vault.com article on vacation statistics by country -- which also notes that many European countries mandate a high number of paid vacation days per year for full-time employees. (France requires employers to provide 4 weeks of paid vacation per year, for example.)
The other challenge is that we don't always feel safe taking the vacation to which we are entitled. A federal law can't solve this problem, of course -- managers have to create the kinds of work environments that allow employees to feel that their coworkers can manage without them for a week or two (or maybe even three) at a time.
How do you, as a manager, arrange work systems for flexibility, so employees feel comfortable taking the vacations to which they are entitled? How do you encourage employees to support one another in their search for work-life harmony? What changes do we need so that the American culture will allow us to make time for personal renewal?
May 03, 2006
the metaphors of motivating change
"buy in", "get on board", "commit"
"selling", "signing up", "winning over"
Such interesting metaphors we use to describe what we want employees to do in response to a proposed organizational change, and what we as change agents need to do to get them to cooperate.
Yet one metaphor is even more pernicious than all the others, and potentially, much more damaging. "Overcoming resistance".
I'm going to leave you with that teaser, and come back to these ideas in about 10 days, when my grading is finished, my summer research projects are out for review in the human subjects committee or the grant approval committees, and I have had some time to recharge by visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. The quiet phase should end around May 15.
In the meantime, please explore my other blog entries, and leave me a comment or two if you'd like? I will look forward to hearing from you.
Here are some old, but valuable, thoughts on organizational change and transformative cooperation:
- My Research Focus
- Voluntary Collaborations on the Web
- Speaking of Glacial Change
- What is it about College that Helps Students Learn?
- Is McDonalds socially responsible, or is it marketing greenwash?
April 07, 2006
more musings on role models, in fiction and in history
The twelfth Carnival of the Feminists is up at Ragnells (ah, I mean, Star Sapphire's) blog, called Written World. It includes a link to my earlier post on Kim Possible and Wonder Woman (and ElastiGirl), along with several other posts on the same theme...
April 01, 2006
female role models, then and now
When I think back to the influences that made me into a feminist, one of my first memories is of watching Wonder Woman with my younger sister. (We never read the comic strip series but watched the tv series which starred Lynda Carter. In case you want to estimate my age, let me out myself -- I was ten when this show finished production.) I still remember running around the backyard pretending that I had bullet-deflecting armbands and could protect the world from bad guys. All too quickly, though, I learned that not even quick wits and a sharp tongue could always protect us from the painful criticisms that teenagers can inflict on one another.
Now, my daughter watches Kim Possible, and I've noticed that the message being sent about what it takes to be a "super woman" has not changed that much over the years.
January 05, 2006
Academic job searches
One of the great ironies of the past 7 years I have spent advising doctoral students is that they turn to me for job search advice. There seems to be an assumption that since I graduated from the University of Michigan Business School, and got a job at Case, I must know what I'm doing. The full professor who hired me likes to say that I was a tough negotiator, which amuses me, since I accepted the job offer within 10 days of receiving it, and the only negotiation of substance that I remember was about my desire to receive a laptop instead of a standard-issue desktop computer. Perhaps, like many professors, I used to have wisdom on this subject and have merely forgotten it.
The fact of the matter is that I don't have much experience. I interviewed for 13 different job openings at the Academy of Management conference in August, 1997, and had received signals from 2 schools by mid-November that they might invite me to give a job talk. Case pre-empted the market by inviting me to give a job talk in November instead of January or February (which is the typical interview time in my field) and made me a job offer almost immediately. I decided to take it, and never went on those other 2 potential job talk trips.
Of course, I probably have more experience than most of my colleagues, since many of them haven't been on the job market (to my knowledge) since the late 1980s. MBA enrollments were booming then and it was easy to get a job teaching in a business school, even without a completed dissertation (or so I've been told). The hard part was getting a job at a "good school" -- which is, of course, defined differently depending on who is looking for the job.
Perhaps I make up for the experience that I lack by reading essays like this one by "Barney Rogers" (a pseudonym) in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Perhaps it is healthy that I consider testing the market to see what is out there for someone like me, with a strong research focus and publication record 7 years after earning my Ph.D. Perhaps it is not only good for me, but also for my current school, that I generate interest in my research by giving talks at some good schools... even if it means that the school must take on the risk that I might actually be enticed away from Case and Cleveland.
Still, it has always seemed a bit odd that Deans rely on job offers made to their professors by faculty at other schools to gauge a professor's market value. Why would we trust a relatively unknown group of people at a "prestigious school" more than we trust senior colleagues in the professor's home department? I guess I may be learning more about this process over the next year or two. Maybe when I'm finished with my own mid-career job search, I can write a column for the Chronicle under my own pseudonym.
December 18, 2005
reflection on a Sunday morning
I'm feeling the need for allies. I'm stressed at work because of my disempowered status as one without tenure, in this strange academic world where it is somehow possible to do "too much" service, and where a big chip of "selfishness" is considered healthy, needed, and a prerequisite for tenure. I'm stressed in the world because I cannot allow myself to look away from the poverty and inequality in my region, the injustices carried out by my country, or the ironic gap between how much I care about such issues and how little action I am able to take in my daily work to express my caring.
It's projects like this that motivate me to consider joining a Unitarian society or a Buddhist temple. I want to find allies who share my values, and who are taking political action in ways that have real impact. I want to join a chorus of voices singing Dona Nobis Pacem in some way that is more powerful than sending a Moveon.org email. I want to feel less alone in my aspiration for a community that lives more lightly on the Earth and with more depth of caring for one another.
Perhaps it is ironic that I, as a social scientist and an atheist, whatever that means, consider joining a church or temple. It might be said that I am a weak atheist, because even though I reject the notion of a single God, I tend to waver between agnosticism and a mystical faith in the existence of a soul. I'm not sure if I have a soul, and my sense is that the question cannot be answered definitively before I die... but I do sometimes sense the presence of some spark connecting individuals which seems greater than any one of us, and which might outlast my brief lifetime on the planet. This collective soul, so to speak, might be some type of collective consciousness out of which individual souls sometimes emerge. Perhaps my notion is closer to Hindu thinking about Brahman than to a Buddhist teaching, though it's also possible that there are Buddhist sects and variants I haven't discovered yet which hold similar beliefs, because of the connections between Hindu and Buddhist philosophies as they developed over the last millenium.
Perhaps my longing for allies creates the illusion of such a collective consciousness -- my suffering leads me to delusional perceptions of the possibility of something beyond the natural world. Perhaps my seeking allies is merely a sign of hubris -- an unwillingness to accept that suffering is ubiquitous and there is no higher power who can prevent it. Perhaps I'm deluding myself in thinking that if I take action to relieve the suffering of others, I may suffer less myself, or at least, feel more joy, through the raindrops of suffering that fall on us all. Perhaps, as my husband says, my desire to do good things for others in the world is just the residue of an upbringing tinged with Catholic guilt.
Nevertheless, if anyone has any suggestions for where to find allies in my desire to take effective collective action in favor of equality, justice, and the long-run best-interests of humanity and the planet, I'm open for suggestions.
March 25, 2005
a philosophical meme
You scored as Existentialism. Your life is guided by the concept of Existentialism: You choose the meaning and purpose of your life.
â€œIt is up to you to give [life] a meaning.â€?
â€œIt is man's natural sickness to believe that he possesses the Truth.â€?
More info at Arocoun's Wikipedia User Page...