Tuesday, 22 June 2010

"And the Home of the Brave!"...

This year for Memorial Day, I purchased an American Flag and mounting bracket from a CVS store for about $20.  I am so glad that I did.  I really think too many people in my parents and in my generation have fallen away from displaying the flag on the most notable flag days of Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. 

Having said that, I remember as a little girl, my Grandmother putting the flag out for “Flag Days”. I had no idea why those days were “Flag Days”—they just were for some reason.

While I was reviewing the instructions for the assembly, mounting, and displaying of the flag—I also noticed the calendar of “Flag Days”.  I have included those dates in a list below, along with recommendations for flag displaying etiquette.  My challenge to all Americans who read this is the following:

1.) Ensure that you have permission to display your flag.  There are some housing developments and subdivisions that do not permit flags or other ornamentation to be mounted on the house or yard without permission from the housing development or subdivision.  I would challenge you to have the language of those local covenants amended to permit the displaying of a flag.  I imagine if hard pressed you could garner the support of your local news channel to cover the story of not being able to display an American flag.

2.) Purchase and display the flag. I found an inexpensive one at CVS, but I imagine other stores such as Lowes, Menards, or Wal-Mart are likely to sell them too.

3.) Put reminders in your calendar to remind you to fly your flag on the nationally recognized flag days.

Last Thoughts...
I can tell you, that whenever I see a flag being displayed on a home, it gives the home character and is really heartwarming.  If you are trying to sell your home, this also might be a way to make your home more distinctive and appealing to a buyer.

I hope you all enjoy your flag, and find the “Flag Days” to be more meaningful.  We are lucky to have the freedoms and privileges that America offers, and those came at a significant price.  America is the "Home of the Brave!"

Calendar of Flag Days

New Years Day-January 1st

Martin Luther King Day-3rd Monday in January

Inauguration Day-January 20th (Every 4 years)

Lincoln's Birthday-February 12th

President's Day-3rd Monday in February

Washington's Birthday-February 22nd

Easter Sunday-(Date varies)

Army Day-April 6th

V-E Day-May 8th

Mother's Day-2nd Sunday in May

Armed Forces Day-3rd Sunday in May

Memorial Day-Last Monday in May (Half staff until noon)

Flag Day-June 14th

Father's Day-3rd Sunday in June

Independence Day-July 4th

Labor Day-First Monday in September

Patriot Day-September 11th

Constitution Day-September 17th

Columbus Day-2nd Monday in October

Navy Day-October 27th

Election Day-1st Tuesday in November

Veteran's Day-November 11th

Thanksgiving Day-4th Thursday in November

Pearl Harbor Day-December 7th

Christmas Day-December 25th

American Flag Etiquette

-Display 24 hours if properly illuminated during dark hours.

-It may be displayed with other Flags, but it should have the highest position of honor in relation to the other flags.

-The flag should always be positioned all the way to the top of the flag pole, unless flying at half staff.

-The proper way to move the flag to half staff is to first raise it to the top of the pole, then lower it to half staff. *Memorial Day should be half staff until noon, and the raised to the top for the remainder of the day.

Avoid Disrespectful and Distressing Conditions for the Flag
-Do not display the flag upside down!! (This is widely understood to be a signal of distress--a notification of a dangerous or life threaten situation. Example: a hostage situation/cry for help.**)

**I once called the Chicago police for a flag flying upside down at a post office. It turned out to be a problem with the suspension ropes. The police investigated the situation, and called in the Post Office Leadership to have the flag corrected immediately. This all occurred on a Sunday afternoon, and the post office was not open.  I imagine the Post Office Leadership was not pleased with this situation.

-Do not allow the flag to touch anything beneath it such as the flow, soil, water or other object.  It should be free to fly from obstruction or entanglement.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Hotel Samples and Homeless People...

In light of recent hotel stays, I thought I would write a quick note about hotel samples and homeless people.

The Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, the Salvation Army in London, the Boston Rescue Mission, and the Veteran’s Retirement Home in Kankakee, all collect hotel samples of toiletries for their clients and residents. The small portable size makes them ideal for folks who have to carry all of their belongings or who do not have a great deal of living space.

Every time I stay in a hotel, I collect the toiletry samples each morning from my hotel bathroom, and place them in a Ziploc bag. I always keep a few Ziploc bags in my luggage. Shamelessly, I collect them every single morning, so that the house keeping associates will place more toiletries in my bathroom each day. At the end of my stay, I carry them in my checked luggage, and I drop them off at the charitable location that I am logistically closest too at my final destination.

I figure, if I am paying for the room and the included amenities each day, I am very happy (and not at all embarrassed) to leverage that to help others. I would encourage others to consider doing the same.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Parents, Educators, and The Global Achievement Gap...

Last night, I purchased an impressive book titled "The Global Achievement Gap" by Tony Wagner.  I believe it is a must read for all educators and parents!

Tony Wagner is the Co-Director for the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In the book, he discusses "Seven Survival Skills Our Children Need" for success in the grown-up world...

1.) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

2.) Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence

3.) Agility and Adaptability

4.) Initiative and Entrepreneurial

5.) Effective Oral and Written Communication

6.) Accessing and Analyzing Information

7.) Curiosity and Imagination

Through interviews and other research, the author high-lights these seven skills as requirements that business leaders are looking for in a workforce for tomorrow.  He then goes on to explain how our current education model does not support that crucial skill development.

Mr. Wagner uses compelling examples of student’s work to demonstrate how our education systems are failing these students.  One example is a book review written by a student in 10th grade, on “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone”.  At first glance the paper does not seem to have too many glaring mistakes.  He points out that as a 10th grader, the book chosen is far below the appropriate reading level for a high-school sophomore, as the book is intended for ages 9-12.  He admits that although J.K. Rowling's work is an interesting read, the problem with a student reading below the appropriate grade level is that it does not challenge a student’s comprehension and analytical skills.

I have always thought of the importance of reading level within the elementary school years, but this was an eye opening experience for me.  It never crossed my mind regarding the critical comprehension and analytical skills that are developed through high-school reading assignments, to prepare a student for the rigors of college.

He makes recommendations on the changes that need to be made both as parents and as educators, and identifies new and more effective approaches for educating the youth of today.

I have only had the book in my hands for a few hours, yet I am already impressed with the level of research and the evidence presented. I highly recommend this book for anyone concerned about the development of students and tomorrow’s future leaders.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Characteristics of a High Performing Professional...

In the suggestions below, I tried to be comprehensive, but in no way is this list to be considered exhaustive of characteristics of a high performing professional across any field or industry.  Simply put, it is not enough to understand your job and to have the basic skills to do it, there are additional characteristics that are required to move your way into senior level position in a company.  It requires an investment of your time and money, outside of the office.  I do not claim to have mastered all of these traits, but I do try to work at each of them as often as possible.

1.) Academic Pedigree—As I noted in another post, it is really critical in this day and age to have as much academic accomplishment as possible.  Most companies require all senior leaders to have a Masters degree, and many are sending their senior leaders back to school to achieve this to improve share holder and client confidence.  As a company they want a measurable way to say “Look how smart our leaders are!”  I would also include any professional certifications and licenses in this category.

2.) Academic Contributions—It is important to be involved in advancing academic work. It is necessary for the development of future leaders of tomorrow.  Being involved in academia opens an entirely different professional perspective that you would not have had without that experience.  In light of that experience it helps you to better understand how your field can advance, and makes you a more credible opinion on the subject.  The basic message here is what you learn from your students and fellow instructors in academia, you will bring back to your “day job” practice, and this will make you a more valuable corporate contributor with enhanced credibility.

3.) Professional Documents—There are three professional documents that every professional should have on hand for sharing with networking contacts and for your own company’s use.
a. Curriculum Vitae (CV)—Highly detailed document that chronicles your professional experience, this is a living document that grows and grows accumulating pages and pages of data about your professional experience.
b. Resume—This is a two page document that serves as a snap-shot of your CV
c. Biography—This is a one page or less document that tells the narrative “story” of you
d. Executive pictures—Have professional pictures taken of you in a business suit to add to your CV, biography, or resume

4.) Publishing/Patents—In order to further your professional career and visibility as a subject matter expert, it is important to publish articles, white papers, and or books on the subject matter of your work.  Today with the help of technology, having a blog supports this as well.  If you are an innovator, remember that patents are a necessary part of your advancement as well.  In the world of academics the phrase is "Publish or Perish!" in the world of innovation the phrase is "Patent or Perish!"  If you straddle both academia and innovation, you certainly have your work cut out for you!

5.) Professional Dress—A professional always makes a great impression in professional business dress.  Every time you dress down in business casual you are creating a professionally limiting situation.  Here is an example; your leaders are havving a meeting today with a CEO of an organization or other high ranking professional from a potential client.  The team is only as strong as its weakest link, and professional appearance is an important part of that link.  You are called to the meeting to provide some subject matter expertise, and you are dressed down and everyone else is in a suit.  I have made it a personal rule, to try to dress in a suit every day.  I don’t want to be sidelined or excluded from an important opportunity based on my lack of professional attire.  There are of course, various corporate cultures that have less strict dress requirements, but regardless, professional business attire adds to the strength of your presence.  The old saying, "Dress for success!" still holds true.

6.) Public Speaking—Look for opportunities to do some public speaking on your subject matter of expertise.  This may include conferences, internal company meetings, or for out-side audiences.  I am a firm believer that any audience, is a good audience to speak too.  Look for ladies/men groups, religious sponsored events, charity events, chamber of commerce.  It is likely that someone in your audience will know someone else who may be interested in further dialogue about that subject.  It’s a great way to network, and a great way to create professional visibility.

7.) Networking—It is inherent to American culture to network and to connect with as many people as possible who do anything and everything.  Our culture thrives on that, as evidenced by social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn , and so on.  The more likely that you are able to bring in client referrals or investors, the more valuable you are to an organization.  By joining various organizations related to your subject matter, can provide you with a networking edge.  I have also been a believer in networking within the various chambers of commerce of the larger cities.

8.) Thank You Notes and Season’s Greetings—It does not matter what level of the organization you are in, it is important to write thank you notes.  In the day and age of email, a hand written thank you is still a better “thank you”.  If a colleague takes you out for lunch or helps you with a project, send a hand written “thank you”.  It is not only the polite thing to do, but it will also make a great professional impression.  This is not a gender biased rule of thumb, it is equally important for both men and women to do this.  Keep a big box of “Thank you” notes in a desk, which makes it easier to follow through on this important task.  During the holiday and new year season you should send a season greeting to each of your contacts, it is an important way to keep in touch and re-connect with colleagues and business contacts.

9.) Politics—It is crucial that you understand what is going on within politics at the local, state, federal, and global level as it relates to your field. It does not matter your political view, but having a clear understanding about the various political decisions that are being made and how it impacts your industry, is critical to the survival and advancement of your business. The better you are able to communicate your clear understanding of this to your company’s leadership, the more valued you will be to your company. Additionally, the more comfortable you are speaking with politicians and other leaders in government, the stronger your business acumen will be in the corporate setting. Your knowledge and political savvy will set you apart from your peers who aren’t as switched on as you.

10.) Stability and Flexibility at Home/Work Related Travel—It is hard for anyone to perform at their best in the office if things are not okay at home.  One thing to be aware of, as you climb the corporate ladder, your home life and dynamics will change.  Start planning how that flexibility will be built into your home life.  If a spouse or both spouses are traveling a significant amount, childcare and other household responsibilities will need to be managed.  You may need to consider childcare options by an outside care source, such as nannies, housekeepers, online grocery shopping, dry cleaning delivery, and so on.  I have always been a proponent for boarding schools, for this reason of stability and for the academic advantage boarding school students have over those in a traditional school setting.  If your work requires you to travel 50-100%, or perhaps you relocate several times in a year, a boarding school arrangement will provide more stability for your children and their education.  Prepare marital /dating relationships for prolonged durations apart, and try to identify alternative a work-around for spending time together, such as virtual/webcam meetings and weekend meet-ups.

11.) Social Responsibility—As a high performing professional you will likely be compensated accordingly, therefore it is important to give back to organizations who are trying to make a positive difference in this world.  If you are unable to volunteer your time, perhaps you can make a financial contribution.  When your chosen charitable organization has fundraising events, do your best to attend and support those events.  Look for opportunities for your company to contribute, and help to facilitate that support as a liaison between your company and the charitable organization.

12.) Environmental Responsibility—As a leader in your organization, your advocacy for thinking green is not only the right thing to do ethically, but also from a business perspective.  The better you utilize resources, the better the financial performance.  Additionally, as more green legislation is moved along, the more ahead of the curve that a company can be, the better the compliance and less regulatory headache the organization will experience.  There are likely Green organizations that are formed within your industry, or by your industry to support your green initiatives.

13.) Global Awareness—If your goal is to take your company into a global market or if you are already there, it is important to create global contacts.  One way to do this without travel is to connect with national leaders at the local consulate for the country’s market you may want to enter or work within.  Introduce yourself and your company’s services to the consulate leaders.  These folks can help provide you with some guidance on the best way to enter that market, or will facilitate your introduction to those who can do that for you.  If you have an interest in entering an emerging market, an important book for you to read is “Fixing Failed States”, it offers insight on how to do business in these environment and the important considerations when entering these fragile and developing markets and economies.  Also, remember that you are an American and no one outside of the US really likes you (although this is changing).  To ensure greater success, try to enlist the help of a national from that country.  You will have better success with your initiative.

14.) Coaches and Mentors—When looking for mentors, try to identify folks who are at the top in your field and learn as much as you can from them.  They have likely published a great deal—read their work and then use that as an opportunity to communicate with them.  Send them a letter or note, asking them thoughtful questions related to their work and your work.  You will learn a great deal from them, and will be that more mature in your professional development from their advice and feedback.  If you are already a senior leader in an organization, there are organizations that offer coaching services for senior level executives as well.

As a mentor yourself, take note of the success stories from your mentoring and coaching.  These stories can be used to demonstrate your leadership skills as well as your ability to influence people to bring about a positive change.

In closing, as I said, this list is not exhaustive but it provides a good foundation for professional advancement.  All of these characteristics take time to develop and build, but the sooner you start this process the better positioned you will be for professional advancement later on.  Every good wish in your professional journey!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Humpty Dumpty and Swarming...

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  All of the King's horses and all of the King's men-couldn't put Humpty together again."

We all remember this nursery rhyme.  As a child and then later in life as a young nanny, I remember being perplexed by the relationship of Mr. Dumpty to the King.  Why the all King's horses?  Why all the King's men?  At this point in my life, I am still not sure of what kind of relationship existed between Mr. Dumpty and the royals.  The important part was that a relationship existed, and the King's resources swarmed to Mr. Dumpty's unfortunate situation.

It paints a picture of great collaboration, powerful utilization of multiple resources of various skills, and coming along with those valuable resources are the additional existing relationships stretching beyond them.

Swarming occurs in the professional world today.  It can take place when an executive is displaced from a corporate organization chart, perhaps is in need of current career protection, or safe passage to a new career opportunity.

The relevant professional network is ready to move into action.  The "why?"--is answered by the existing network relationship. It might be a close or loose relationship--but one thing is for certain--it is effective.

JD Stanley from Cisco, wrote a white paper on the effectiveness of "digital swarming".  We witnessed this behavior on facebook related to the devastating effects of the earthquake in Haiti.  Millions of dollars raised within hours of a facebook posting.

Facebook provides the networking--but what about collaborative tools.  One of my favorite Google tools for collaboration is Google docs.  What if an entity such as facebook could combine the social networking with a collaborative work space?  I believe that would be very powerful for open source innovation.

Few examples:

You have a decision to make, you need access to the best and the brightest minds.  You all can share a discussion and engage in a virtual white boarding session.

Post a PowerPoint presentation--asking others from "friends" or a "group" to contribute ideas and modify the content.  Maybe a person would be able to do a slide show with audio--like a WebEx.

Perhaps a person could post a document for review and modification by a group of individuals, who were selected from your friends list.

I don't think we are leveraging swarming to its fullest potential.  How can we turn these networks into an oracle of knowledge, advice, and action?  How can we swarm in more effective and efficient ways?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Greetings from the Princess...

Hello! Welcome to my blog!  As this blog moves along, you will learn more about me and I will learn more about you.  My desire for this blog is to create something highly engaging, interactive, and educational.  You may find yourself looking at a conventional world in an unconventional way.  There will be posts that will make you laugh, cry, angry, cause you to ponder, and yawn.  I hope there will not be too much of  "yawn".

Before we begin this journey...you should know a little about me.  The rest we will learn about each other along the way...

Princess Stats:
Age: 36 years old
Height: 5'5" (no longer growing vertically...)
Weight: 138lbs (still dieting...)
Eye color: Blue/Gray
Cuteness factor: Cute as a button.
Favorite colors: Pink, Blue, Silver, and Black
IQ: 135
Myers-Briggs score: Rational ENTJ
Favorite Food: Indian (Northern and Southern)
Occupation: I am a nurse, a consultant, and lecturer in healthcare IT.
Birth order: Eldest of 4 girls.
Interests: Just about anything that most people find unusual.  I pride myself on being different.  Currently, I am dual focused on my career and becoming a mom.
Car: Silver Saturn 3 Door coupe--2001
Languages: English, and conversational Swedish

I look forward to the time we spend together!