Category: News

Post from Transformation Tom- Get Involved at Work, at School, or at Life and Find Out How Contagious It Is: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - June 10, 2019 - News
0

get involved

I have to admit that I participated in the obligatory walk-a-thons, bowl-a-
thons, and everything-else-a-thons because I was asked—or told in
some cases—to attend. I worked for a company that encouraged involvement in the community and helping others, almost to a fault. I felt forced, at times, to participate. Many times, I just went through the motions. I donated money to causes and donated my time based on whichever path
the company took me. My heart was not in it early in my career because,
selfishly, I did not see what was in it for me. I saw many smiling faces from
appreciative people and saw large amounts of money raised to help special
causes. However, I could not see, yet, what I got out of those events.

After I got married, I watched my incredible wife selflessly give up
her time and effort to help out children, neighbors, communities, and
schools. All were done unconditionally and with an admirable eagerness.
I, again selfishly, did not appreciate her efforts all the time and found
myself getting upset when she would invest significant amounts of her
time to a cause I did not truly understand. I had yet to identify with the
contagious nature of voluntarily getting involved. I mean getting involved
not because I was told I should, but because others needed the helping
hand and it was the right thing to do.

We have a company dedicated to helping developmentally challenged
individuals right across the street from my house. I slowly started
to understand the meaning of some of the smiles on my neighbors’ faces
when my wife spent a lot of her time helping to raise money for their
facilities. They, in turn, went through a daily ritual to feed my dog biscuits.
It was comical and hit a chord with me. My message here is to not
necessarily find the one cause and dedicate all of your time (although this
is a great option). The message is to find a place in your heart where the
unconditional aspects of your involvement come flooding out.

My first real taste of pure enjoyment in volunteering came when I was
asked to participate in a small town group of people interested in bringing
the sport of lacrosse to our community. I had played in high school
in Pennsylvania at a time when there were approximately twenty teams
playing in the entire state. My high school coach learned the game from
clinics and from a book he carried in his back pocket. He dedicated his
time to teaching us something we all grew to love. We weren’t very good,
but we became a team of great friends, learned about sportsmanship, and
were able to give a virtually unknown local sport a little attention.
The new volunteer group created a nonprofit organization, received
donated equipment, and held clinics for young kids. I had a blast for the
year of my involvement. When I taught the younger kids how to play, I
saw a look on their faces that showed me how excited they were to begin
something special. Less than five years later, the effort grew to a club team
at the high school level, prior to becoming a varsity program for boys and
girls. As my kids grew older, I started to assist with the youth soccer programs. The pure enjoyment of watching kids learn and play an organized event is unbelievably contagious.

On the work front, I previously noted that I joined Toastmasters
International to boost my own résumé. Part of my reasoning was the pull
to get more involved in newly developed groups at work. Toastmasters
was one of a few new clubs that came as an offshoot of a small group of
grassroots leaders from the company who felt we had to do more on site.
The goal of this grassroots group was to advance diversity and get more
people involved in things they believed in. I knew that I could lead the
new Toastmasters group after it had stalled for almost a year since originally being chartered.

The company encouraged Toastmaster’s participation, so I knew
it would be a positive step for me professionally. I was almost instantly
obsessed with the start-up Toastmasters operation. I was amazed at how
quickly people started to get caught up in the benefits of Toastmasters.
There were multiple people who were hesitant to even show up as guests,
let alone stand up in front of a group of people. Yet, when they did, their
mistakes turned into learning, which turned into greater confidence in
ability. I saw people who said over thirty “um’s” and “ah’s” in their first
four-minute speech, provide a perfectly organized and formulated seven-minute speech with proper grammar (and no filler words) less than three
months later.

Toastmasters challenged my abilities to effectively balance work,
family, and other obligations. I found, with smart planning, that I could
do them all effectively. My wife unconditionally supported every move
I made with the club. I started to emerge as a respected leader on the
work campus, and I found that my communication skills improved and
were getting noticed. I was getting something out of it, but that was no
longer my sole motivation to be there. I saw the value of teaching others
and watching them gain self-confidence. Because of Toastmasters, I even
wrote a speech about my first visit to the Maine State Special Olympics
that turned into befriending the company’s Special Olympic team and
becoming a committed volunteer.

Our Toastmasters club had an active military person who had presented
his manager with a prestigious national award. He was embarrassed
for himself and knew he could improve his presentation skills. He
joined our group and went after his personal goal to achieve his communication
certification with fervor and impatience. He had a lust to learn
and improve. He was called to active duty and brought his Toastmasters
manuals with him and still pursued his goals to get certified. He was the
third person in the club to achieve this certification. He achieved his own
personal goals, and I burst with pride watching the drive to accomplish
something that meant so much to him and his family.

I saw people in our club get involved in order to build up their leadership
and communication skills, and then became successful club officers.
The club grew from the original two people to a fairly consistent level of
twenty five members in less than eighteen months. Our club partnered
with other internal work groups to assist them with their communication
and leadership skills, and soon we found ourselves expanding beyond
our original vision. I joined for myself, and found myself staying for others.
It was contagious.

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- Take Time for Yourself—You Deserve It: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - June 3, 2019 - News
0

take time for yourself

We say we need to work hard, work smart, do more with less, and burn the midnight oil. It is physically and mentally not feasible to keep doing it over and over without some type of break. Remember when the idea was for all the new technology—such as mobile devices and the Internet—to make our jobs easier and allow us to spend more time with friends and family? It turns out that the new technology adds to our ability to constantly connect with work. Besides the fact that cell phones have somehow created a new breed of louder talkers in airports, it has also allowed work to creep into our personal lives and blur the line between personal and professional time.

We all want to do well, possibly advance, and get confirmation from our boss that we are doing well. Some people like to send emails with a late night timestamp to create the question, “What were you doing working at midnight?” However, burning the midnight oil will cause burn out.

Our jobs are important. So are family and friends. Don’t forget that. We all deserve a break from work. In the short term, do something for yourself, like walking away from the desk. Grab lunch, clear your head, and get a little breather. In the long term, take the vacation you have earned and enjoy it without checking in to the office. You should spend time with your friends and family to unwind. When I talk about unwinding,

I mean turning off all connections to the office. Believe it or not, the business will run without you. Although there is no such thing as eight to five anymore, you have to recharge. It is good for you and it is good for the business. If you have established the right relationship with your boss and set the right expectations for your team, you might even gain more respect as your team shows off what you have taught them.

You don’t want to say later in life, “I wish I didn’t miss that event with my kids.” I feel like I did early in my career. I have gone back and thought about the things I missed. I have had difficulty trying to remember why I wasn’t there. Was it a “critical” meeting? Most times, I can’t remember. When I do the opposite and remember the kid’s events I have attended, I can’t remember what I missed at work. It tells you something. The business will run without me, whether I truly believe it or not. In fact, if I do my job well, it should run smoothly without me. I have built up enough trust in the people doing the job in my absence. I will cover for them when they are out, and we both get the ability to recharge our batteries.

For those people who think they are the only ones who can do their job, most times they are wrong. Hoarding responsibility only creates stress for those depending on you and creates stress for you as the sole owner. When you leave for what you may call a vacation, it probably isn’t as relaxing as you want it to be. If you leave the impression that you not being in the office will leave huge holes if you can’t be contacted, you are creating a potentially harmful dependency. Creating this type of dependency is not good for anyone. You have to make a concerted effort to create independence for your sanity.

Give in to the fact that you work hard (and smart), and you will take the time to enjoy it. None of your family and friends needs to watch you continuously on your cell phone while you should be with them, and you are most likely not engaged in whatever is happening anyway. The point of time away from work is to enjoy yourself, the people around you, and to relax—you deserve it.

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- Share Best Practices: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 27, 2019 - News
0

share best practices

I once managed a team of about fifteen people who were situated next
to another team about the same size. We were starting up a new business
on site. It was exciting times and we recruited and hired the best and the
brightest people. My peer on the other team and I made the unspoken
decision to not share our ideas or best practices with each other. We were
both stubborn and competitive, and we were most likely hoarding our
knowledge and team ideas to help ourselves look better in the eyes of our
manager in the hopes of advancing ourselves. I guess this was an effort to
step on each other on the way up the corporate ladder.
We sat in the same staff meetings and were often eager to share our
team successes with our manager, but we never sat down together, just
the two of us, to share ideas that made our new department successful.
We knew one another’s team statistics and rankings as much as our own
team’s results. However, we never did anything together to build cohesion
among the overall group, including mutual meetings or team events
unless specifically directed by our manager.
When the focus group feedback came in, it was miserable for both
of us. We were perceived as non-team players and our rationale was
shrouded in mystery as to why we made such an effort to separate the
teams. The focus group desperately wanted team events, even as simple
as food days. They couldn’t figure out why we seemed to get along with
each other but held back on creating an environment in which everyone
wanted to work together. What was interesting was that we enjoyed each
other’s company, but allowed the passive-aggressive competitiveness to
get the best of us when we were working together.
The employees were confused, the teams suffered, and the new business
suffered from our poor leadership. Neither one of us found the fast
track up that corporate ladder we so desperately fought each other over.
Competition is a great motivator when used correctly, and can be used
to sustain performance. Two managers lacking the ability to build cohesion
who negatively impact motivation do not create the most conducive
environment to share best practices, or inspire people to perform.
The focus group feedback threw the cold water on our faces we both
deserved. The next steps were easy. We invested time together on a routine
basis, and made it obvious to everyone that we were on the same
team. We shared our focus group feedback details and the actions we
were planning to do to fix the issues. The manager was impressed. The
teams came together. We had more ideas generated from the combined
effort. The competition didn’t go away, but it was more targeted and more
fun. We began to set the bar even higher when we competed against other
regions doing the same job function, and set the tone and performance
bar for the company. We both learned a valuable lesson that two (or
more) heads are much better than one. We continued to work together
and saw the value of our efforts once we realized that there was plenty of
room for both of us to advance. If that wasn’t the case, then it would be
because the best person earned it. We knew that each of us were now considered
a great team player and others would see our value soon enough.
Years later, we both continued with our successful careers, both still
learning all the way. We crossed paths often, and when we didn’t, we
called each other periodically to ask questions and share information.
In fact, we met recently and discussed ideas about a new role that he was
interested in. He ended up getting an executive position, and I was very
proud of him. Best practices strengthen the core of the team, ensure the
competency of everyone around you, and assist in building the capabilities
of an ever-changing business model.
This book is my concerted effort to share many best practices I have
picked up over the years. Most are not original or even earth-shattering
creative ideas. I have learned that I do not have to be the creator of the
idea; I just need to be the one to move it forward and pass it on. Even
when giving proper credit to the creator, I am often thanked for taking
the time to share with others. Be a team player and don’t let individual
goals or the wrong motivation drive the wrong behavior. You may find
short-term gains by withholding information, but it will eventually hurt
you individually, and it is not good for the overall business. This doesn’t
mean “nice guys finish last”. It does means that you can get there together.

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- Do Stuff You Love: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 20, 2019 - News
0

do-what-you-love1

There are two thought processes when it comes to career movement
and development within a corporation. First, you should become an
expert in your field and hone your trade so you are the go-to person.
Businesses are in need of in-depth expertise—specialists. If a business is
in constant flux with transitioning people from place to place, there will
be instability and constant learning curves that may be steep. The second
opinion is one in which you are in a constant learning mode and moving
from one place or another. If your company is large enough, you have the
opportunity to move throughout the organization to broaden your depth
of knowledge—generalists. This thought process is about bringing your
expertise with you from the past areas to come up with creative and fresh
ideas for your new area. I averaged about eighteen months per position
prior to eventually moving on. There have been very few times when I
said I had learned everything I ever needed to know where I was, and
there are fewer times when I could say that there was nothing to learn or
share in the new position.
Businesses need both types of leaders—specialists and generalists—
in their organization. Companies need people who know the business
intimately and people who have a broad base across multiple aspects of
the business to give it perspective. The decision within a corporate culture
about moving or staying is up to company expectations, and as importantly,
it is up to what the individual wants. Personally, I seem to thrive
as a generalist, but that has been a choice. I have rarely been bored in
any of my roles, but I find I also get an itch to continue to learn different
pieces of the business. Even when I went back to previous departments,
I was typically in a new role and the business had changed significantly. I
moved with my family multiple times as a child to many states because of
my dad’s job. I guess moving around so many times growing up made it
seem natural to be in a constant state of change with new positions. I was
flexible and eager for all new challenges.
What is important is that you love what you do and do stuff you love.
Whether you are doing many different things or the same thing each day,
you should love it. There will be bad days, frustrating days, and days you
may think will never end. However, regardless of what your motivation
is to go to work every day, can you find something about your job you
like? Whether you like the challenge of finding solutions to problems or
enjoy the people you work with, there needs to be some piece of what
you do that you love. I love the different learning experiences. I love the
challenge of fixing problems. I enjoy the people I work with (most of the
time). I love that I was never pigeon-holed into one spot.
I wouldn’t want anyone to regret never trying something different
career-wise after doing the same thing and going to the same desk for
twenty-plus years. I have talked to too many people who want to try new
and different things—they need variety. As someone who studied people
retention, and just being an observer of those around me, there are some
employees who are miserable where they are and need a change. With
the understanding that some people are just hanging onto their jobs for
a paycheck, and the economy may dictate openings in a field, if you have
the chance to choose, take advantage of it. Let me make it clear that people
always have a choice to leave. There may be some timing constraints,
or other mitigating factors that hold you back, but there shouldn’t be
twenty years when you didn’t have some type of opportunity to grow or
make a decision to move on. You have choices to make the job something
you love or to move into something else that you will love.
As an employee you should be proactive in finding out about the
overall business and understand what gets your interests and juices flowing.
If you look around and find that what you are doing is still great,
guess what—you found something you love. If you find other places
where you feel you can make a difference or want to learn about that
aspect of the business, approach someone. Let people know what your
interests are. I never went to school to be a banker. In fact, I did what I
could to avoid numbers. I’ve had positions where I was a business analyst,
where I managed reporting and incentives, oversaw certain aspects
of the budget, and used all of my skills. I am a banker now and have no
plans to leave banking. I am fascinated every day about how much there
is to banking, whether it is credit cards, ATM and debit cards, mortgage,
financing, savings, checking, and investments. I love what I do. When I
didn’t love what I was doing at any given time, after I gave it ample time to
fully grasp my satisfaction level, I pursued other things. I often joke with
my managers that I can’t keep a job. I’m not sure if people are kicking me
out or if I am a wanted person. In either case, I have typically landed on
my feet in a place where I made a difference; in a place, I loved to work.

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

Give People Second Chances

Posted by tomdowd - May 13, 2019 - Leadership, News
1

second chance

I always seemed to wind up working for people who looked out for me
and were willing to give me second chances. Even as I griped about my
managers and blamed them for many of my downfalls, I was still asked to
go with them as they changed jobs within my company. In a corporation employing thousands of people, I had many years in which I seemed to work for people willing to give me second chances at a time in my career when I thought I was making too many mistakes. I thought, at times, that they were protecting me. What I found was that these special managers were not protecting me—they were willing to give me a second chance because they knew my strengths better than I did. Over the years, as I gained confidence and learned more about the business on my own, they saw my maturity even before I did. The people who gave me a second chance knew I would give everything I had for the business, and knew I was learning from my mistakes. Additionally, I was learning to own up to my mistakes and was making it an active practice to teach others by sharing what I had learned from my lessons.

In one of my first positions managing managers, I was new and naïve
to the role. I was previously a micromanager and I had stayed steadfast to
personnel policies. When I should have been a level higher than where
I was in order to manage managers, I was really a glorified version of a
manager because I knew the technicalities of the business but did not
understand how to manage it.

My manager invested his time with me, as I was new to the role. He
had a certain tone he used when I made mistakes, but sought to make
them teaching opportunities. I still couldn’t break out of the glorified
manager mentality, even though I was supposed to be a level higher. Mistakes
were made, and we both felt I was not coming up the learning curve
quickly enough. However, he made the effort to make me better and gave
me opportunities even though I was convinced I had not reached his
expectations. When he left the department, I appreciated his time and
dedication, and told him I would continue to make the effort to improve.
I was a little surprised when I got a call to join him in his new department.
I had previously worked in that department and could bring my
job knowledge. But why would he want me when he knew exactly what I
was—and was not— capable of? I’m now convinced that that was why he
made the call to me. He knew exactly what I could and could not do, and
he still saw the potential.

I thought then that I was still too naïve to truly lead the department,
since I needed to develop my own confidence level. I began to think that
I was being harder on myself about being perfect than I needed to be, but
I still lacked confidence. I was surrounded by tenured peers who I let take
control of meetings and drive the conversations. My confidence was not
growing, but my frustration was.

We used to have an annual event that was supposed to be fun, I did not engage in the event as much
as I should have. My avoidance of the event, which was supposed to
include tasteful practical jokes, only caused more unwanted attention
directed my way. As a result, I became an unwilling target. I felt an obligation
to defend myself and my team and went on the offensive halfway
through the month, after giving in to the pressure to participate. My
team and I devised some creative practical jokes that walked a fine line
of professionalism and ultimately landed me in hot water with Human
Resources. I pushed the limits out of frustration rather than simply playing
along from the beginning.

Whatever frustrations I had with the event remained bottled up
until my manager had to sit me down and explain his concerns about my
actions. I let it all out, including my disdain for the event, my growing
disrespect for my peers, and the fact that I felt forced into doing things
I was not comfortable with. I came to the realization that I was the only
one accountable to make the decision to do what I had done. I didn’t
think through the unintended consequences and the impact I would have
on my team and my peers. I vented and he listened, then we had a phenomenal
conversation. The conversation was straightforward and should
have occurred prior to allowing the frustration to build up.

As much as I was embarrassed that we had to have the HR discussion,
I needed it. I maintained my job with a solid slap on the wrist, and
learned some lessons. However, I was not convinced that I would ever
work for this person again, since it was a pretty big mistake in my eyes
relating to people management.As is the nature of our business, he moved on to another department.

I received another call six months later. He wanted me to work for him
again in a department that was full of newer managers. I jumped at the
chance because I wanted to prove myself to him, and I saw an opportunity
to teach all of my new peers to avoid my past mistakes relating to
people management. I saw my chance to give back and be the leader I
wanted to be. For three months, I was able to accomplish this and a lot
more. I felt like I had made a name for myself in this new department and
that I was there making a difference. I was asking questions and driving
the business. My questions landed me in a three-month task force that
lasted for over two years. Guess who joined me after I left his department,
two days later? You guessed it—he moved to my new department as my
manager, again. He apparently had had some inkling as to his next move
and wanted me to be there with him. He knew exactly what he was getting,
and he seemed pretty happy to know who had his back.

Through my career, I’ve sometimes perceived that I’ve been in the
wrong place at the wrong time, and sometimes I’ve felt that I’ve been in
the right place at the right time. I was learning to go with the flow and
learn from my mistakes. I also learned to give second chances. As a perfectionist,
I know that no one, including myself, is perfect. We can all
strive to do our best. I have always been appreciative of people willing
to give me tough feedback, even when I didn’t think I wanted to hear
it. I became a manager known for openly sharing my mistakes to help
others. In fact, a few times when I thought my people were holding back
out of fear of making mistakes, I started a regular event in our weekly
staff meetings to share our “MOW: Mistake of the Week.” We shared what
we had learned through the week and found that we all made mistakes.
We were willing to take calculated risks, work together as a team, and be
more creative. I now actively recruit people I know have made mistakes,
who are willing to own them and learn from them. I have found that giving
people second chances only strengthens the team and the individual’s
efforts.

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- Balance Being a Leader and a Doer— You Can’t Do Both at the Same Time: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - May 5, 2019 - Leadership, News
0

leader doerOn my mentor and networking monthly rotation, there was a question I asked of two leaders who had some familiarity of my background and reputation. I asked, “What would it take to get to the next level?” since I felt all of my recent moves were lateral. I was surprised to hear similar answers from these two respected leaders. I was told that I had a reputation of being the “clean up guy.” I was the one willing to get in the trenches and find the issues that needed to be fixed. I was independent in my thinking and did not need a whole lot of direction. I could execute whatever task needed to be done. I took these comments as a compliment.

The comments were really intended to inform me that I was good at what I was doing as a “doer,” but the question remained: What was I doing to prove that I was a leader? There is nothing wrong with being a doer; there is always significant need in every business for someone to come in and diagnose and improve. However, there is a distinction between a “doer” and a “leader” and I wanted to explore how to be the latter.

There were a couple of points being made. First, I continued to accept
new positions at a lateral level, so the consensus was that I enjoyed project
management and that I could execute on the deliverables. Second, I
had not adequately built up the reputation that I could lead when given
more complex job responsibilities. The job always got done when I was
there, but that was because I had a tendency to step in and start doing it
myself. I was not leading a team or project; I continued to be in the way
as the doer, or in team situations the micro-manager and meddler. It is all
right to want control of every detail, but this can cause frustration within
a team. In addition, it had the potential of sending a message that I did
not trust my people. It always crushed the creative juices of the collective
group if I simply pushed my own agenda onto them or moved them out
of the way. Both mentors told me to set clear expectations, and then get
out of the way of the team. I had the skills and potential to be a leader,
but first I had to stop being the doer, especially when I was the supposed
leader.

I was involved in a leadership program that diagnosed and identified
my certain tendencies as a leader. To no one’s surprise, I found that I liked
to roll up my sleeves and get dirty. We were asked to lead an initiative and
play toward our weaknesses. I had identified a project that needed to be
implemented. I assembled an extremely strong team, identified a competent
project manager, and watched from the sidelines. I made myself
available for periodic updates and attempted to eliminate road blocks.

With clenched fists and a constantly bitten lip, I watched everything
unfold in front of me. I allowed the process to run its due course. The
leader did a phenomenal job. The project was completed on time and had
greater business impacts than originally projected. I was able to allow
the team to present their findings and recommendations to the senior
leaders. All the while, I was there for support, suggestions, and debate.
Although I had the most experience and job knowledge, I remained silent
for the most part and allowed the team to shine. My name was listed as
the project leader, and that’s who I wanted and needed to be. I successfully
lead the project team members and was finally not a doer.

The first thing that was said to me after the presentation was how
smoothly this had run and how much we accomplished as a team. The
senior leaders praised me for being such an active leader in driving the
process. It had always seemed counterintuitive to let others do the work
because it may not turn out exactly as I had envisioned, but it made more
sense now that I’d experienced it in action. I could be detailed-oriented,
I could be intelligent about my business, and I could be there to lead the
business. I did not have to be a micro-manager and watch every detail
if I built the right team and set the right expectations. I needed to take
accountability for the final project, but if I did my job right, the success
for the project would take care of itself with a more satisfied team and a
better end result. I learned that I can’t be the leader and the doer at the
same time.

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

Posted by tomdowd - April 22, 2019 - Leadership, News
0

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
0

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
0

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