How can I improve my skills in listening and how can I practice my speaking?

Practice makes perfect.

Practice speaking and listening – and use technology to analyze your skills and measure the progress.

Sounds sophisticated? Not at all.

All you need is a simple speech recorder or just your smartphone. Make it a habit to record all substantial conversations that you have during the day, then allocate ample time to listen to the recordings and do a conscious “flight debriefing.”

You will be amazed.

That happens pretty much to everybody because you have never heard yourself “from the outside.” You will notice some obvious mistakes or mannerisms that sound so … well, disgusting, that you will not need much effort to get rid of them (like talking too much, interrupting, using pleonasms, periphrasis, discourse markers, grandiloquence, or being excessively magniloquent – just like I am now).

Additional benefit: you will retain much more from the conversations. That’s a good thing, especially when the discussion is important, and you have no chance to make notes. Next time you’ll impress your counterparts with your attention to detail.

One caveat though. You have to be discrete, i.e. your recording device must be hidden. Obviously, when you start openly recording the conversations all the participants do not talk naturally (yourself including) or do not talk at all. Another thing to bear in mind: this may be illegal in some states…

(Originally answered on Quora)

How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a life?

(Originally answered on Quora)

Most probably you want to share your surprise that Elon Musk, who reportedly stayed overnight at Tesla site on many occasions, still looks and behaves like a normal sociable person, gives interviews and is altogether in good health and good spirits, right?

This is because he is fortunate enough to have a solution to the ageless dilemma of “work-life” balance.

For most people, this problem exists, and exactly in this form – work vs. life – implying that the negative portion of your existence, called ‘work’, is balanced out by the positive ‘life’. When the balance is in place, then the negative impact that work leaves on your personality and health is cured by the positive emotions you get from what happens after work. Or that is how the unfortunate majority sees it.

 There’s not much of an overlap between the Life and Work, and as this overlap is not considered healthy, we are advised by holistic gurus that we must disconnect, shut off etc. and not mix the two. Hence, there’s not enough room to have both, we either displace one at the expense of the other, or meticulously separate them, having not enough of either as a result. The rest is a multitude of ‘chores’, neutral in their nature; we just take them for granted, neither good nor bad. Continue reading “How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a life?”

What are the best tips and tricks for increasing productivity and time management?

Here are a few off the top of my head. I am glad you’ve asked because it’s good to go through the list every once in a while.

1. Always have a plan. Thinking before doing requires some time and internal discipline but gives you an edge over the “doers” who act without thinking. Continue reading “What are the best tips and tricks for increasing productivity and time management?”

Reflections 2017 Global Conference

Reflections

To learn more about the critical role Leadership Development professionals play in society, come to the Rebalancing Society Event, hosted by Henry Mintzberg, Philip Kotler, Mitch Joel and many others.

““Leadership, like swimming cannot be learned by reading about it.” Henry Mintzberg.

Register to see Henry and other thought leaders at Reflections 2017 Global Conference!

What are the identifiers of a bad project?

bad project

To answer this question (asked on Quora), we need to define the meaning of “bad” in “bad project.”  As an old project management bit of wisdom goes, there are three main reasons why projects fail (and thus may be identified as “bad projects”):

  1. Requirements
  2. Requirements
  3. Requirements

Continue reading “What are the identifiers of a bad project?”

Dan Ponterfract: “FLAT ARMY”

Required Reading

Over the weekend, I have read Dan Pontefract’s book “Flat Army.” I was looking forward to reading an inspirational text about change management, corporate culture improvement and employee engagement, but the book appears to take the reader further. Continue reading “Dan Ponterfract: “FLAT ARMY””

Why Most Lean Six Sigma Projects Fail?

why lean projects fail

 

Stats indicate that the success rate for Lean initiatives is hardly over 5%. That means that up to 95% of continuous improvement programs fail to rescue the operation and have no sustainable effect.

The data and my analysis do not claim to be exhaustive but I believe the TRUE ANSWER to the question is provided indirectly by the Lean Six Sigma group on LinkedIn.

Here’s what I discovered today. Continue reading “Why Most Lean Six Sigma Projects Fail?”

How do we hire the best professional Project Manager?

Law 7

Look at it this way: you are hiring a temporary General Manager who will run your business for some predefined period of time and deliver certain results.

Regardless of the nature of your business, you will expect your General Manager, above all, to be proficient in making things happen. If what bothers you the most is the candidate’s technical competence, then you must be looking for a technical lead, team coordinator, or some kind of a technician – but not for a real project manager. Continue reading “How do we hire the best professional Project Manager?”

Was Starbucks’ venture into Lean useless?

Lean Six Sigma vs Starbucks

I received a few messages with this question in reply to my original article.

My answer: Not at all. Continue reading “Was Starbucks’ venture into Lean useless?”

Here’s how to make your worklife better:

Help

Offer more help than you ask for.

When parents help their children grow up, they do not ask for anything in return. Nor do they expect to have a good return on this investment in the future. If they do, the ROI is often negative in the long run.

Good teachers are excited and overjoyed with their students’ success. They see themselves behind the scenes watching their students receive a standing ovation from the academia. If laughing all the way to the bank in front of their student is all they can see, never will there be a standing ovation in their lives.

Lovers want to comfort each other. Continue reading “Here’s how to make your worklife better:”