How To Become a Victim at Work – 10 Easy Steps

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You have the power to decide where you want to go and how you want to do it. We’ve all heard it a million times; you make your own success. You also design your own failure. Yep, your attitude and actions can bring you great rewards or a dismal crash and burn.

If you want to stumble into the lowest depths of depression, wallow in failure and blame everyone else for everything that has happened in your life, you too can become a victim. Here are ten easy steps to giving up your independence and losing it all. Try it, it’s fun for the whole family.

Always ask for permission. Wait for permission, even on the smallest things. Rather than taking charge, let everyone else decide which way you should go. Giving up your free will and ability to act is easy. You will never have to think for yourself or take a risk again. Plus, if you always get permission you never get blamed for screwing up.

Blame everyone else. Perfect. It’s not your fault at all. It is everyone else’s fault. You’re getting screwed and it is just not fair. Wahhhh! You’re getting the hang of it. How could it be your fault? You’re perfect and deserve so much more than everyone else because they all screwed you. Get out there and start pointing fingers.

Make excuses. This is a good one. Why be on time or over deliver when there is a perfectly good excuse for why you failed? An excuse is even better than keeping your word. Everyone will understand and give you another chance to come up with another excuse. A great excuse is always better than just delivering on your projects.

4 Act really busy and overwhelmed. This is a great way to become irrelevant. Make sure you are always on email, your phone, stuck at your desk, rushing from meeting to meeting. If you’re busy you will never have to take action or make decisions. Your busyness has already made all the decisions for you. You just have to show up and let it happen to you.

Wait for a savior. One of the best strategies on the job is to wait for someone to pity you and or save you. Of course this will magically happen. Take no action because the world is waiting to lend you a hand. Just look at all the people who didn’t take any action and were magically plucked from their easy chairs and thrust into great things.

Be on your phone in meetings. People love this and totally understand when you aren’t listening to them. It’s cool. You’re soooo busy so you shouldn’t have to listen to other people’s thoughts or ideas. It’s not rude if you have work to do. Seriously, everyone understands.

7 Never fight back. Think of yourself as the red carpet for every asshole in the world. Just lie down and let them walk all over you. People completely respect this. Just be a wimp and avoid conflict. If you give up people will remember that you helped them and let you win next time, just like in sports.

Take no for an answer. Don’t stick to your convictions. If someone objects just roll over and play dead. Better yet, give up your opinions and agree aggressively with others even if you completely disagree. Not only will everyone respect you, you will gain self-respect.

Stop taking care of yourself. Just get soft and lazy. Relax. Nobody is going to try and take your place because it isn’t a competitive world. There really is no reason to take care of yourself and be on the top of your game. Exercise hurts and takes up precious TV and snack time. You’ve earned that extra quarter pounder, so just dig in.

10 Give Up. Yep, you’re almost there. The last step; give up. Stop trying and let life happen to you. Just sit back and the world will pass you by. You can’t fix it so why bother trying. Just be a baby and sniff about how unfair it all is.

You made it. So get going and become a victim. Remember, inaction is an action and passivity has its benefits. The bottom is coming fast so enjoy it. Wallow. Enjoy. It’s a great place to be and nothing is your fault.

What I Learned From Failure

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Failure has become mythologized over the last few years. Tech founders and business titans have spun failure into a dramatic twist in their stories of ultimate success. It makes for great copy, but failure generally isn’t glamorous. It is painful, destructive and takes a lot of resilience and perseverance to recover from. However, it is a necessary and unavoidable part of any career.

So I’ve failed pretty hard a few times along the way. Sometimes it was circumstances or overreaching, but most of the time it was tactical or strategic errors on my part. For every great upward step or killer project I’ve delivered there have been plenty of mistakes. Some are easy to set right, others have posed big challenges to overcome.

So what did I learn? Here are ten things that might keep you one step ahead of failure.

1 Show and tell. You need to speak for your work because in any company and particularly a bigger company it often won’t speak for itself. This isn’t about bragging, but about showcasing what you and your team do in smart effective ways. PowerPoints, Keynotes, handouts. Explain it in a clearly so you make sure people see and hear your process and results. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Keep it short and simple, but make sure everyone knows you are doing great things.

2 Make alliances quickly and constantly. You can’t just sit in your office and hope that people are thinking and saying great things about you. Get out there and talk to people. Create relationships. Go to lunch. Go to drinks. Go to events. This is high school all over again and you need to make as many friends and alliances as you can. You don’t have to like everyone, but you need to keep your enemy count low. You will be busy with your job, but you need to spend almost as much time building and nurturing relationships.

3 LIsten and be present. You can’t sit in meetings and look at your phone. This is deadly. People want to be heard and you want to be seen listening to them. Seeming aloof, disinterested and apathetic are poison for your career. Leave your phone in your office. Smile when you enter a meeting. Listen with bright eyes. Nod. Acknowledge great ideas and offer positive feedback. Don’t feel like you always need to chime in. People want to hear themselves, not necessarily hear others. Share when you need to, not when you want to.

4 Avoid busyness. We all have a lot to do and not enough time to do it. However, don’t fall into the trap of being too busy to listen, too busy to work on a project, too rushed. Nobody cares that you are too busy. “I am so busy” sounds like a lame excuse and it is. Get rid of the busy work that makes you busy. Unsubscribe from email lists. Avoid personal emails and the lure of the internet at work. Do your job and do the busy stuff later. At home. Or on a break.

5 Fight back. Go with the flow and respect the politics when you can. However, if someone throws you under the bus, get up and don’t let them do it. Push back and push back hard. This is tough, but if you let someone make you look bad or incompetent long enough others will start to believe it. Find out how to control the message. Use your power. Sometimes you have to be an asshole,

6 Focus. Really focus on your primary goals. Make sure your boss is aligned with your goals and has had input. Then work like hell to get them done. Hire with speed. Fire with speed. Accomplish quickly and effectively. Don’t worry about anything else. Laser-like focus on your key objectives is absolutely critical. In a smaller business or startup this is even more crucial.

7 Get buy in. Make certain you get buy in from all key stakeholders. If you don’t it will hurt you later. You may not want to decide everything by committee, but it is better than getting shot or stabbed in the back later. A little compromise now could save you from getting your biggest projects tanked. Unless you have a lot of political power you need to get everyone on board. It sucks, but it’s politics.

8 Be the master of your time. Be on time for meetings and look like you are in charge of your time because you are. Don’t let the calendar control you. You are in control of your calendar. Don’t act too busy. Don’t act overwhelmed. Don’t act rushed. Make it look easy and make sure people know you are in control. Block off time for you to get work done. Every day. You need it and it will pay off when you are in back to back meetings, knowing that you’ve got time to get everything done.

9 Go to the gym. Find a way to get some exercise every day. The less stress you carry into work means a lot less you will carry out. You need to make time to take care of yourself whether it’s a walk, a run, meditation, yoga or hitting the gym. The time you put in will pay off in increased confidence, better focus and a healthier you. Schedule it. Don’t hope that it will happen or it won’t.

10 Go home. Leave work at work. There will be times you have to work late and times you will bring work home, but let that be the exception, not the rule. That means putting down the phone and staying off work email. Avoid burnout. You’re in this for the long haul and you need to relax, sleep and enjoy your friends and family. If you don’t control your job it will control you. And that can be the first step on the perilous road to failure.

How I Learned: Be Flexible, Adapt Or Die

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While I didn’t write the somewhat extreme headline, I did write the rest of the piece about learning to adapt and embrace change with confidence at AOL Jobs.

How I Learned: Positive Attitude Makes The Difference

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Positive energy is contagious. Catch it if you can! Here’s something I wrote for #JobsWeek at AOL Jobs. Check it out here.

#NJTech Meetup 44 with Vinnie Bharara

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Pizza, beer, startups, guest speakers. Hmm. what’s not to like?

Welcome to 2014 and the first NJ Tech Meetup of the year. I’ve written before that this meetup is a personal favorite and the Thursday 1/9/14 gathering lived up to the usual high standard. Startups included Mommies 247, Stantt and Pijon Box. The evening’s guest speaker was Vinnie Bharara, co-founder of Quidsi.

Aaron Price

Aaron Price laying down the law. A ripple of fear runs through the crowd

The founder, organizer and ringleader for the meetup is Aaron Price. The man is a huge cheerleader for tech in Hoboken and New Jersey. He runs this group like a machine which is probably why it is always awesome and sold out. After his opening comments and quick pitches and requests from the crowd it was time to hear some startup presentations.

Mommies taking over the world

Mommies taking over the world

First up was Mommies 24/7. They started as Hoboken Mommies as a way to get moms together online and in real life. “What if Facebook and Meetup had a baby?” is how they position themselves. They’re currently reaching beyond the borders of Hoboken and have a plan for mommy content world domination.

Say goodbye to small, medium and large

Say goodbye to small, medium and large

Next up, Stantt has a serious goal of ridding the globe of small, medium and large (please be gentle with extra large). They make custom fit clothing for men using data and technology. They boast of over 50 size combinations guaranteeing you a perfect fit. While they import the fabric, their clothing is made right here in the USA.

Please don't feed the Pijon, the Pijon feeds you

Please don’t feed the Pijon, the Pijon feeds you

Finally, Pijon Box aims to dominate the college care package industry with their monthly subscription boxes of goodies. These boxes are specifically designed and curated with college students in mind. You can customize for men or women. Plus, there is a social good component and Pijon gives back with every box sold.

Now on to the main event. Vinnie Bharara is the co-founder of Quidsi, an e-commerce company and parent of diapers.com, soap.com, wag.com and more. They sold to Amazon a couple of years back for $545 million. He recently stepped away from Quidsi and is currently plotting his next move.

Powerpoint? We don't need no stinkin' powerpoint!

Powerpoint? We don’t need no stinkin’ powerpoint!

Rather than the usual powerpoint typical of the guest speakers, Vinnie just talked without visual aid. He spoke about entrepreneurship, bootstrapping, company culture, customer service, kindness and rigorously standing by your organization’s core values. He quoted Maya Angelou to prove his point about Quidsi’s mission “to inspire passion in our customers.”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

What impressed me was how deeply he seemed to hold the company’s values and truly live them personally and professionally. Having made a recent purchase at diapers.com, I was incredibly impressed with the price, ease of purchase and overall service. It was obvious his passion for excellent customer service and belief in the core tenets were integral to Quidsi’s success.

The final highlight of the evening was the telephone vote for best startup presentation. After using their mobiles to answer questions about the startups and earn points, the crowd cast their ballots. All three companies gave smart pitches. All had compelling stories. Who would win? Both the glory of victory and a beat up hand-me-down trophy hung in the balance.

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The Pijon Box crew revels in the glory of victory. (photo by Dominic Rivera)

And the winner was…Pijon Box. Congratulations!

Next month’s meetup is the daylong NJ Spark Summit on Tuesday, February 25th. You can find the details here.

The Power of Great Management

There seem to be endless books and articles praising leadership as a virtue and vilifying management as a vice, that somehow mere management is beneath the lofty status of the great leader. Often portrayed as unforgiving, solitary geniuses who demand excellence and punish mediocrity, leaders can’t be bothered with the day-to-day minutiae of running an organization. They are busy singlehandedly building a brave new world while managers are cruel and stupid thugs hobbling us with layers of process and pointless bureaucracy. Leaders lead and managers block the way.

While those stereotypes make for captivating copy, great leadership requires great management. The only thing wrong with management is BAD management.

Company politics so often create an environment that encourages and rewards poor oversight. Suck up, punch down and never stick your neck out. This style of supervision breeds apathy, resentment and lowered productivity. It’s why people leave and organizations limp along. How can we change that?

Excellent managers provide leadership with a series of simple daily actions so teams can GET SHIT DONE.

  • Set goals
  • Make decisions
  • Give clear direction
  • Offer immediate feedback
  • Solve problems

And don’t overlook the awesome power of face time with your team. What we spend so much time trying to accomplish through endless meetings, email, phone calls, IM and conference calls can often be solved instantly and effectively with a few minutes of face-to-face. It takes time, but a lap around the office can be good for you, good for morale and great for the team.

in the end great management provides leadership, so lead from the front, not from behind. Clear the road ahead so your staff can be excellent every day. It’s harder and everything hits you first, but your results will always be better.  What do you think?