Archive: April, 2019

Post from Transformation Tom- Surround Yourself With Pictures: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 22, 2019 - Leadership, News
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picture collage

I once went to a work seminar on organization. One of the suggestions
the instructor made was to not have any pictures around you. The premise
was that the pictures can cause distractions. Since this class took place
during my first few months of being a manager, I took it seriously. I even
mentioned the concept to people who had pictures on their desks and
suggested they remove them. I didn’t win a whole lot of points with these
suggestions, but I did practice what I preached. I spent years with a desk
devoid of pictures because I didn’t want to be distracted. For the most
part, I didn’t feel distracted, so I reasoned that it must be working. What
I failed to realize at the time was that I was not married, did not have any
pets, or children, so I was not actively looking to put too many pictures
on my desk anyway. I was fully dedicated to the company.

About five years later, I got married. I had the first picture dilemma.
Did I put a picture of my wife up on my desk? She was beautiful and
special, and I couldn’t resist. I was going to take the chance and see if I
truly was distracted. We got a black Lab to add to the family. One of my
favorite pictures of all time came a couple years later. It was a picture of
my first born daughter in a tide pool with our dog looking over her. My
family grew over the next few years with two more beautiful daughters
entering my life. I never stopped putting pictures up of my family and
dogs, pictures of celebrated work events, and friends.

I had motivation. I had people to work hard for and support. I could
look at their pictures and see a smile when I was having a bad day. When
I needed advice, I could look toward my wife’s picture and know exactly
what she would think and suggest (I did not, however, get to the point
of talking to my pictures). I never felt distracted once. I felt moved and
driven to push harder to make sure they all had what they needed from
me. The harder and smarter I worked, the more I could provide for them.
As the years have gone on, I see my babies growing up into young ladies.
These young ladies will grow up to become adults someday and be successful
in whatever their hearts desire. I know I can’t stop now. The pictures
show me how quickly they grow and change and keep me motivated
every day.

Although it took years for me to figure it out, pictures add a new
dimension to my workspace. They bring the comfort of home and lend
familiarity and stability when you might need it most. Surround yourself
with pictures of good times with family and friends. I was given a
digital frame and immediately loaded it with over one thousand photos.
I periodically turn around and chuckle when I see a picture flash up that
brings back great memories. The pictures don’t distract me. The pictures
motivate me because they are of the people who mean the most to me.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Be the Bigger Person: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 14, 2019 - Leadership, News
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bigger person

I started working for someone whom I felt talked behind my back and was making a major effort to push me out of his department. Prior to him joining our department, I had been put into a temporary position managing managers and felt I was on my way to a promising future. My bad feelings were confirmed after his arrival a little over a year later when I was removed from my position and asked to take a step back. My backward movement was to some degree a self-fulfilling prophecy because I was not motivated to work for him. However, I also could not seem to break through to find what it would take for him to change his mind.

Although I was not motivated to give him my best, I did try to hide my outward frustration by burying my head in my work. My goal was to work as hard as I could until something changed. I knew he was under a lot of pressure to perform, but I had the opinion that he spent too much time trying to impress the upper management for his next promotion versus running his own business well. I had some small wins, but I knew we would never find the mutual respect needed to succeed as a team.

We crossed paths a few times over the years and I still boiled over with frustration that he never seemed to respect my work. Years later, I ended up working for him a second time. We had both matured. I saw the relationship dynamic changing because he was not working for the same people he had always been trying to impress. A situation presented itself in which he needed my experience and job knowledge in his new department. He gave me more responsibilities and space to succeed. He allowed me the chance to lead a task force of over one hundred people in a completely different area, with a lot of reign in directing our road map to success.

Our professional respect seemed to be growing. However, the entire tenure of the second round always seemed to have an eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room. It was the frustration from our first go-around together. We should have had a sit-down conversation and put it all out on the table. We didn’t do that. We worked better together in this new partnership, but there was still so much more we could have accomplished if we had just hammered out our differences, or at least gotten over the past.

Soon after the merger, he left the company. I was actually the last person to see him in the hall on his last day. He asked if I would help him take a box from his office to his car. I had a quick thought of, “I can’t believe he still wants to put me to work.” However, I knew that wasn’t his true intention and he just needed a little assistance. Believe it or not, he did have an underlying motivation—even with the impromptu run-in with me. As we were walking out, he said, “I’m sorry.” He went on to talk about all of the pressures he had been under during our first time together and how he had wanted to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible, even if it meant stepping on people. He was confessing his own learning to me and confirming that my original opinions weren’t too far off.

I realized that if I had taken the first step by stating my opinion years ago, I could have avoided a lot of the uncomfortable feelings we’d had. He took the first steps and told me all the great things he appreciated about me and the respect he had gained from my ability to work through the difficulty he had put me through. I felt guilty for not making the first move but was proud of my ability to force my way through the hard times. I also gained a lot of respect for him for taking advantage of the current events to make a difference in our relationship.

I know it has a lot of similarities to a death bed conversation we would have wanted to hear earlier in our lives from that person. However, I had the luxury of still living in a small New England town with this individual. Our interactions in town are cordial and personable. He ended up getting a new job in one of our old buildings right up the road. I was driving home and passed his building on a Friday afternoon. We stopped and talked. He needed leadership help in his new business and asked if I would join. I did not take him up on it but carried the valuable lesson of what can become of being the bigger person.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Become a Good Listener: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 8, 2019 - News
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Better Listener

Everywhere we look, people have headsets in their ears listening to music while the world goes on around them. I’ve seen people blindly walk into street poles as they are texting. We multitask more than we want and our attention span gets spread to the limit. We have side conversations with people in the room while a conference call is going on, check messages, or make a call in the middle of a conversation with someone. One of the more difficult things I’ve tried to learn is effective listening. I have to make a concerted effort to try to give my undivided attention to one person at a time. I have to emphasize that the operative word is try. This lesson is a constant work in progress. There are too many opportunities to pull my attention and focus somewhere else.

Effective listening is at risk of being a lost skill. I have found, however, that most successful decision makers and leaders have this rare ability to listen effectively. The ability to focus on one person at a time and truly hear what they have to say allows the whole story to be heard, and builds the relationship for more productive conversations in the future. Listening also builds trust and respect. Think of the person who is always interrupting you and speaking over you. I often found (all right, present tense: “find”—this is still a work in progress) myself doing this. I never had any intention to be rude, but had ideas swimming in my head that needed to be blurted out before they were forgotten or became irrelevant. Maybe I was attempting to be the smartest person in the room, trying to gain attention from my managers, or just wanted to be heard. When this happened,

I was causing frustration and disruption to any real conversation, since the discussions were more one-sided then they needed to be. I had to force myself to listen and not speak. I thought I solved it by taking notes while someone else was speaking. However, I found that the notes started to dominate my own thoughts. I was still selfish in my approach to the conversation. I was silently interrupting someone’s thoughts because, in reality, I wasn’t truly hearing what they were saying.

Many instances of speaking over people are caused by our need to share our next thought with the person we are talking to, regardless of what they are saying. That is really not a productive conversation. I knew I was making progress when I entered the 2009 Fall Toastmasters International Speech Evaluation Contest. The goal of the contest is for all contestants to listen to the same “test” speech. The contestants can take notes during the speech and for five minutes immediately following, must organize and formulate their thoughts. The contestants then give a two to three minute overview “speech” of the key points they want emphasized for the “test” speaker and audience. I ended up finishing in second place in District 45, which includes over 100 clubs. I was using a critical ear, and more importantly, it was making a difference in my professional career.

I found significant improvement in my ability to have productive conversations and build more effective relationships when I put down my pen and simply listened to what someone said. I found there was a more open and fluid dialogue, and this generated more ideas and satisfaction on the part of the other person. Others involved in the conversations started to contribute or at least felt the openness to contributing when they had something important to say. I found greater success personally and more productive teamwork simply by truly listening and not worrying about formulating my next thought.

True listening was a career-altering discovery for me. I still feel the pull, at times, to multitask or gather my next thought. However, the pull gets easier as I continue to practice this skill. The practice has taught me to be a more effective communicator all around because I am now more engaged in the conversation since I am invited to ask open questions and clarify and confirm points. It is amazing the great things others have to say when I just started paying attention.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Get to Know the People You Work With: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 4, 2019 - Leadership, News
0

get to know people

There are far more people I have managed whose names I can’t
remember than people whose names I can. Besides having a poor memory
with names (I’m working on it), the key driver is the fact that I did a
poor job early in my career of getting to know the people I worked with
as real people. I knew them as employees. I knew their statistics, the way
a baseball manager might know his players. I knew their tendencies. I
knew their strengths, and their potential to improve.

As I changed teams or people came and went, I would pick up on the
statistics and begin the exercise to get to know the new numbers. I had
failed to truly get to know the people I worked with. I once had a senior
leader say, “Us being friends is merely a convenience.” He meant that our
personal relationship was not important. Since I had heard this prior to
being a manager, I took it seriously and was self-driven to find my way to
get to the next level. Once I became a manager, I steamrolled through the
people I worked with to drive them to maximize their statistics the way I
had when I was in their shoes just a few months before.

I did not get to know the people who worked for me at a personal
level. As their manager, I was missing part of each of my employees’ stories.
If I had learned the value of knowing the personal side of people
early in my manager experience, I would have known what makes a person
tick. I could have adapted my feedback to better meet their style, gain
more buy-in, and probably gain their respect. We would have had more
to talk about and I could have built up our relationship. Instead, we simply
talked statistics and I would ask, “How was your weekend?”, although
I really didn’t want a real answer to the question. I was missing a chance
to become a more effective leader and, more importantly, I was missing
a chance to get to know the people to build a lasting relationship that
would assist in everyone’s growth—mine included.

I have matured enough to learn to get to know the people I work
with better. We have personal conversations. I ask pointed questions
about their pets, kids, or spouse. I remember things better because I have
been more engaged in the conversation. I like the people better, because
I actually know them. I had gone too long being professionally driven. I
was given the unfortunate advice, “We do not have to be friends to succeed.”
I didn’t go to work to make best friends. However, we all need relationships
in our lives. If you nurture these relationships, everyone wins.
If you happen to get a good friend out of the deal, then you will be better
off. If you happen to only strengthen a working relationship, then the
organization and both individuals are still better off.

Leaders flexible enough to tailor their styles to each individual’s drivers
and motivators are an asset to any company. I am now in a much
better position to motivate the people who work with me because I
understand what inspires them to come to work each day. In fact, many
times, I simply ask the question, “Why do you come to work every day?”
There is nothing like getting straight to the point. Now, I know whether
the person is working because of family, pride, money, promotions, or
simply a pat on the back.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Send Your Message to One Person and Watch it Grow: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - April 1, 2019 - News
0

Watch Message Grow

I can remember the many times I was sending a message to a group of

people and wondered why the entire group didn’t get it. Trying to swing

the tide for a group of people is difficult at times. Although more of an

investment needs to be made up front, I have found consistent success in

my ability to make a difference by working with one person at a time, or

with smaller groups of people. People learn in different ways, and at different

speeds. Although larger group lessons—especially business-specific

training—may save time, more difficult or complex messages may be

better suited for one-on-one situations or smaller groups.

Additionally, in meeting situations, there are a variety of personalities,

opinions, and experience levels. Not everyone in a room or a meeting

is going to agree with what is being said, interpret what is being said

the same way, or even engage in the same way. If you are trying to gain

mutual buy-in for a new proposal, for example, you can gain an advantage

in getting your points across more effectively if you have support

already in the room. You can prepare by having conversations ahead

of time with specific individuals. Even a quick conversation hitting key

points reduces the surprise factor and will engage that person more in the

conversation about the message you are trying to convey. If you feel there

is going to be contention, it is much easier with support already on your

side. Popular opinions grow when there is more support behind them.

Your invested time prior to the meeting will not be wasted time; in fact,

the invested time should make the meeting more efficient and effective by

minimizing the arguments and contrary dialogue. I am realistic enough

to know that the pre-meetings are not required for every meeting, but a

targeted approach for key circumstances will be beneficial when there is

a crucial message you want to convey.

I want to share a story about a message blossoming. I saw a résumé

on a central printer in our workspace that was not organized well and

contained multiple typographical errors. I decided to proactively contact

the person and provide them feedback. I had experience in this field and

wanted to make the story of her career stronger. I didn’t know the person,

but I wrote some notes and gave them to her manager to pass along. She

came to see me and we went over the suggestions. The final product was

excellent and one that made her burst with pride. She told some teammates

about our interaction. I soon had a few more résumé conversations

that turned into career direction conversations. I felt like a counselor, but

I was enjoying the interaction and felt like each conversation was a learning

experience for everyone. I was making a difference one person at a

time. I became driven to help the people I was working with succeed.

More often than not, they needed the little extra push to find their right

path. I was learning that a positive message gets used and passed on.

In another example, I was invited to a small gathering to help spark

interest in getting managers involved in developing themselves, developing

their people, and getting more involved in the community. I shared

many of my professional experiences, relating how my communication,

confidence, and overall growth improved when I began to take steps to

improve myself. I often mentioned Toastmasters as an opportunity for

others to improve their communication and leadership skills. A few

expressed interest in joining the group.

I was surprised when a senior leader whispered an invite to me to

teach her managers how to more effectively manage up. I took the invitation

and prepared an hour-long discussion. The small group interaction

went well. A manager in another department had heard about it from one

of the attendees and asked if I could teach his newer managers how to

communicate more effectively. The session was expanded to include how

to become more organized, how to network better, how to write résumés,

and how to navigate through their careers. We turned the interactions

into a monthly series, and the targeted audience was expanded to include

more tenured managers and people from outside that particular line of

business. Not one of these people reported to me, and not one of them

was obligated to listen. I was learning to adapt my messages based on the

audience, and was improving my ability to provide a message that people

could walk away with and spread to others.

The next time you are finding little success in having your message

absorbed, change your tack. You have important messages to send. Be

proactive, patient, and creative. Pull someone to the side and watch the

message spread.

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):

  • Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
  • Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
  • Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
  • The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
  • From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
  • The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood

See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby