Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Small Bedroom Ideas

Small Bedroom Ideas

As someone limited on the amount of space I can afford small bedrooms will probably be the norm for the next decade of my life. The latest post at Home Design Find has a couple ideas that make the idea seem liveable, if not awesome.


I want this room

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I found this while looking at, and simply have to say I want this room.  I can’t be sure the clock, which is what I was looking at, is actually in the room instead of being placed there with some photo editing; regardless I like this modern approach to what appears to be an audiophiles heaven.

Lists and More Lists

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Lists and More Lists

I enjoy reading the lists, or any other business, self-help, or magazine website publishes because more often than not they summarize what my family, friends, business professors, or common sense have been telling me for years.  They are like verification of the little tidbits you pick up along the road of life – anyways, I liked this list because lately I have mini-crises of motivation around the house.  It also puts some thoughts on work, and how to go about it, it better words than I could possibly.


Microsoft Exec Leaves Over Tweets

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Wednesday I posted about how social media can give away information about companies when all of the employees posts, tweets, and updates are viewed together in my post about Sharing too Much.   I think it is also important to note that posting a little too freely can have negative impacts on a personal level, like was the case with Joe Marini.  Marini was the principal program manager at Microsoft for the Windows Phone web platform, and from what I’ve read about his case on tom’s GUIDE it appears different to me then many other social media mistakes that have cost people their jobs.

“I just got a chance to try out one of the slickest looking #Nokia phones I have ever seen. Soon, you will too! #wp7,” he tweeted on September 7. Not stopping there, he decided to actually rate the device with a firm ‘8’, saying that it had a solid feel, a good camera, a responsive UI and nice little touches on the body construction. So far, the phone sounds like a slick device.

But rating your unreleased product probably isn’t a good idea. Explaining why your product didn’t score a 9 or 10 probably isn’t the best promotional tool either, and likely a good reason to receive a swift kick out the door. “The camera was good, but I didn’t have optimal lighting,” he responded when asked why the device only scored an 8. “I’d like a larger screen too.”

While we have all heard stories about people posting pictures from the game on the day they called in sick, bad mouthing the company in tweets, or just releasing some things that are just too revealing, I think Marini was just being too honest a little too early.  Perhaps he knew he shouldn’t have released the information, or even worse given the new phone less than a 10; regardless, it shows that sometimes it is worthwhile to stay quiet about something.

Creating Rituals

September 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Ritualize practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them–build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

A post Tony Schwartz at circled around the idea of determination and creating excellence within yourself.  Schwartz asserted that excelling at a skill isn’t something that we are simply born with, but instead put the weight of research behind the adage “practice makes perfect.”

His list entitled the “Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything” are:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualized practice

Schwartz provides some explanation and support for each of the points in his post that are worth reading, and while some or all of it may appear as common sense its helpful to find it written out like this.

Out of all the points listed the last one is the one I thought about the most.  I know that once you get in the habit of something it becomes easier to do, in the sense that it becomes easier to motivate yourself to do it.  For me that is getting in the habit of regular visits to the gym, daily visits in fact.  Once I start going everyday it becomes a habit, and I don’t even think about it.  I just go.  Personally this becomes a cycle, one I have fallen out of a few times.

Schwartz writes in another post on the HBR Blog Network, called The Skill That Matters Most, about building our self control as a skill.  Developing that skill is one way that we can increase our determination, giving us the willpower to do or stop doing the things we know we should or shouldn’t.  Once we build a ritual, or a routine, around something it makes it easier for us to will ourselves to do it by making it easier to maintain our determination.

Ironically part of how we build this skill is by creating a healthy lifestyle, like visiting the gym, because getting to that stage requires energy.  It is easier to will ourselves to do something when we are at peak levels because all of this determination and self control depletes our energy reserves.  Maintaining our energy reserves obviously has an impact on our ability to contribute, but it also impacts our ability to will ourselves to do things.

What We Eat

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

From Visual Economics

This info-graphic from Visual Economics caught my interest, and caused me to compare it to my own diet.  After some thought I could easily tell some things are out of proportion with my personal intake, strikingly so if you spend 3 months in India.  I often think of how much my diet has changed from being back home and how much, and why that is.  There is definitely less meat, as most days are purely veg, along with less dairy, fruits, and soda in my diet.  Some things I expected, like less meat, but less fruit surprised me when I got here.  That isn’t to say it is available, but it isn’t part of my normal meals.

The most interesting application of something like this is thinking about how things add up over the course of a year, much like how summarizes my spending habits over time.  In my case both exercises have told me I most likely spend to much time at local diners back in Milwaukee.

Drive to Innovate

September 8, 2011 1 comment

I agree with the notion that to make your mark you need to not only do your job or run your business well, you need to innovate.  I happened to read an article at yesterday that reinforced the idea called, “Thomas Friedman To United States: Innovate Or Else.”  One of the quotes that stuck out to me was:

Nor is innovation confined to the private sector. “The army’s on to all of this,” says Friedman, “their lives depend on it.” In an eye-opening interview, America’s top armed forces official, the future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, tells Friedman that the need to innovate is eroding the hallmark of the military: hierarchy. In the past, “we would have said we want men who are physically fit, educated, and disciplined. Now, what we way is that we want someone who wants to belong to a values-based group, who can communicate, who is inquisitive, and who has an instinct to collaborate.”

I may have to pick up a copy of this when I get back to the states, but in the meantime I actually checked out a copy of Successful Innovation, by Michel Syrett and Jean Lammiman, from the library at my office park.  So far it seems to be making the case that companies need to innovate to stay competitive.  Specifically to quote the back cover:

Successful Innovation is crucial to a business’s competitive edge, even its survival, but study after study reveals that many organizations are failing to tap the potential of their staff.

The quick one sentence summary on the cover seems to agree with Freidman’s point above, but the book was written 10 years ago.  I don’t think that these writers viewpoints have gone unheard, I believe almost everyone understands the need for innovative ideas and people; however, I think people fall into the trap that Nilofer Merchant writes about in her post on the HBR Blog Network.  She writes that people are often afraid to speak up and put forth the ideas that need to be said, the ones that are sometimes obvious and right in front of us but never get shared.  The difficulty is the same many teachers face in the classroom, how to get those students/members of your group to speak up and contribute.  To get over the fear of being wrong.  So I will end this post with the words she wrote to motivate us.

The silence needs to be broken. And perhaps risking being the fool is necessary to move forward. Underlying all that is courage — Courage to speak, courage to risk, courage to step forward rather than sit quietly. Courage to break the silence and when you do, the blind will see, the different viewpoints will be heard, and we can reduce suck-ness where we work.

Could it be….you’re ready to speak up?

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