How I Learned: Be Flexible, Adapt Or Die

flexibility

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: Working Well Under Pressure

work under pressure

“Must work well under pressure” shows up on a lot of job descriptions, but how does one develop the skill to work under pressure? Washing dishes and breaking news taught me to handle pressure and I wrote about it here for AOL Jobs.

How I Learned: Positive Attitude Makes The Difference

positive attitude

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?