Careers At A Crossroads

March 2, 2015

 

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Yogi Berra has an expression, “When you get to a fork in the road, take it.”

The passing of one of the all-time great jazz trumpet and flugelhorn players, Clark Terry, has me thinking this week of what might have been had I stayed in the music business.

When I finished my undergraduate degree, I immediately pursued earning an MBA. That decision meant I’d have to give up playing trumpet professionally. I knew I could always return to music if and when it made sense.

I was concerned that if I did not stay in school, I’d get distracted and end up paying a huge price later. Working full-time in high-tech and the evening MBA program left me no room for playing my horn.

Clark Terry had a gift for inspiring others to attempt the jazz life. “The technical demands of this art form are so high, and the financial rewards often so slight, that only the most gifted and intrepid souls need try” writes Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune this past week. Musicians know this all too well.

Clark offered me inspiration to “attempt the jazz life” as Reich offered. Yet, I resisted, believing that the financial rewards might be lacking and intermittent and, recognizing that, while I was talented, there were other trumpet players both known and unknown to me who could replace me.

Being a professional musician is a very competitive and, often, a cut-throat business. I encourage you to see the movie Whiplash which offers some perspective. Towards the end of the movie, we hear (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you do really well tonight, it can launch your career and if you don’t, you’ll be looking for a new line of work.”

Did I make the right choice? Yes. No question.

I knew what happened to musicians who lived on the road and, frankly, it wasn’t pretty. I knew what the musicians playing in the studios lived like and their lives were very stressful. I didn’t want to do something I loved so much for a living. And, I didn’t want to always be looking over my shoulder wondering if the trumpet player across the room would be replacing me on the next gig.

How does playing trumpet impact my consulting today?

  • I still have to play to the crowd–my clients
  • I have to lead with a strong, clear intention if I am to succeed and my clients are to succeed
  • Improvisation teaches that there’s more than one way to get to an end result while still achieving the objectives within a framework
  • I can’t rush or drag in terms of tempo–each client is different in terms of the tempo at which they can absorb change
  • I have to have fun along the way

Photo Credit: www.christinegeorge.com of Dave Gardner playing Taps for a Wounded Warrior event on September, 11, 2011

Thought for the week:

“If a user is having a problem, it’s our problem.” – Steve Jobs
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Clark Terry Jazz Musician Extraordinaire

February 23, 2015

Clark Terry, jazz musician extraordinare, passed at the age of 94 in recent days.  He was an inspiration to me and millions of jazz musicians throughout the world.

Like Clark, I played trumpet and flugelhorn in bands ranging fom jazz quartets to big band jazz groups. My jazz mentors included people who had played professionally with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Maynard Furgeson and other big bands.

Clark and I shook hands in an elevator at a hotel I stayed at during a Northridge jazz festival in Southern California back in the 1970’s. Clark had heard me play that day and congratulated me for my solo with a big band jazz group. I was stunned beyond belief to see him and to hear his kind words. Yet, that’s who Clark was: a kind, generous and enormously talented man.

We’ve lost some great musicians in my lifetime. The loss of Clark Terry is huge. What a great life he lived.

Here’s a video of him doing a couple of solos with the Tonight Show band. Enjoy!

 


Progress Depends On Being Unreasonable

February 23, 2015

 

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I recently watched a video from Robin Sharma that is, as usual, quite inspirational. Here are some notes I took as I listened:

  • Become unreasonable in every aspect of life: what I expect, what I want, etc.
  • Be unreasonable about levels of mastery and avoiding mediocrity.
  • Be unreasonable about levels of health and fitness I’ll develop these next 12 months–you can’t become legendary if you have no energy.
  • Be unreasonable about the goals I will pursue and the dreams I will realize.
  • Be unreasonable about my integrity and the values I will live by.
  • Be unreasonable about the people I will influence and the lives I will uplift.
  • Be unreasonable about the courage you will model and the passion you will share.
  • Be unreasonable in the results I will deliver and the projects I will complete.
  • Be unreasonable in the happiness I will experience.

Who is one of the most unreasonable leaders I know of? Steve Jobs. Look at the results he created.

The ideas above will help you thrive.

Photo Credit: Michael Seely, Flickr

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Vishal Sikka Leading Change

Thought for the week:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man” – George Bernard Shaw
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Lessons From Undercover Boss

February 16, 2015

Undercover Boss

For those of you who may not have seen the show Undercover Boss, the owner works in his/her business in a full disguise attempting to learn more about the how the business works to experience first-hand the challenges the employees face at work and in life. It is always eye-opening. There are lessons for all business owners:

  • Too many owners are concerned about growing the business with little regard for the foundation the business is built on: people, process, systems, customer experience, etc. The most recent profit and loss statement doesn’t portend future challenges.
  • Businesses take on the personas of the people who work in them. If the business owner doesn’t set and enforce strong expectations, the owner should not be surprised when employees write their own script. People need to be trained and held accountable for meeting standards. Hope is not a strategy.
  • It is rather amazing that so many business owners have little or no idea what work and life challenges their employees face. They don’t need to go undercover–they just need to show up to learn what their employees and customers experience. The Japanese use the word “gemba” which means “to go where the work is.” You can’t possibly know what is going on if you don’t see it with your own eyes.
  • Too many owners don’t understand the hardship they are creating with their employees with uncertain work shifts, low wages, lack of medical benefits. These employees are the lifeblood of their business and own the relationships with their customers yet they are treated as being disposable.
  • The pay gap between the owners–who live very opulent lifestyles–and unskilled workers is huge. The average CEO (according to a Harvard Business Review article) makes 350+ times what the average unskilled worker makes. The CEOs want for little while their employees are barely getting by in life.

At the end of the show, the business owner comes out of disguise and usually offers promotions, cash rewards, business opportunities, offers to pay medical bills, rent, all expense-paid vacations, etc. While the employees who are part of the show are rewarded, you wonder what happens to the other employees, many of whom face the same job and life issues.

What needs to happen? I hope each CEO does some serious soul-searching about what it means to be the CEO and to lead the enterprise, examines the role people, systems and processes play in their business’s success, and take appropriate actions to ensure the ongoing viability of their businesses.

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Thought for the week:

“I drink to make other people more interesting.” – Ernest Hemingway
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Adoption Of Change Is Valuable

February 9, 2015

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Whenever a company is faced with implementing change, my mindset is that only if the change is widely adopted by the users or stakeholders is there value to be derived from that change.

For example, if you implement an enterprise application and adoption (usage) is quite low or non-existent, how have you benefited? You haven’t.

  • The change must tie into how work gets done.
  • The change needs to be appropriate and provide value for the people who implement the change to get their work done for themselves and others who rely on them.
  • If the change isn’t appropriate for the work that needs to be done, adoption is guaranteed to be low and frustration will be high.

Success is measured by adoption of end users, not by the opinions of sponsors of the initiative. It’s important to make the complex simple for the end users if you want a high level of adoption.

Photo Courtesy of Tanel Teemusk on Flickr

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Thought for the week:

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of this life is this: Decide what you want.” – Ben Stein heard through @AmyShowalter
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Being Time Efficient Is Valuable

February 2, 2015

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A few years ago, I was doing a configuration management and product lifecycle management (PLM) system project for a division of major international corporation. I needed to have a contact in each of the key organizations across the enterprise—a cross-functional team.

As the executives struggled to assign the team members, there was quite a bit of debate over who would have the bandwidth to work with me.

As they threw different names out and kept mentioning all the work each person was currently involved with, I asked if it would be worthwhile knowing how much time I might need on a weekly basis from each of people. The executives thought that was a great question.

My response: most likely 30 minutes; 60 minutes tops. They were stunned. My client assured them “he works really efficiently.” The relief on the executive’s faces was palpable. They all agreed to go with their first nominee.

What’s the point? A client wants a consultant to work as efficiently as possible, not create a burden on their teams or business. After all, they have a business to run in parallel with the process improvement project.

Being efficient with the client is a key attribute of my consulting work which is helping to make the complex simple.

Photo Courtesy of Supreme-B on Flickr

Thought for the week:

 “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  – Anais Nin
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


What Is Your Dawn Wall Project?

January 26, 2015

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Earlier this month, many in the world watched in stunned amazement as two climbers free climbed the Dawn Wall at Yosemite’s El Capitan. They used only their finger tips and shoes grasping tiny cracks in the granite face to climb over 3,000 vertical feet over 19 days. Tommy Caldwall and Kevin Jorgeson accomplished a truly remarkable feat they had been planning since 2007.

From the story Climber who completed first free ascent of Dawn Wall encourages others to find their own Dawn Wall comes this:

“…But it wasn’t enough for Jorgeson that people could relate to his struggle. He wanted their accomplishment to do more than wow people.

Why were you inspired by this story?” he said. “Some people connect with the struggle, some connect with the teamwork, and some connect to the dream. You can’t possibly predict how people are going to connect with the story. It forces you to think about what is it that people relate to. What is it in my life that I really want to come true? If nothing else, if we can provide that introspection and that inspiration for people to find their own Dawn Wall, that’s a cool lasting impact to have for being part of last Wednesday’s crazy news cycle.”

I now have my own “Dawn Wall” project. I’d love to hear about yours.

Photo Courtesy of Moni Sertel on Flickr

Thought for the week:

“By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer we often find the answer to our own.” ― Dieter F. Uchtdorf
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


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