“I came. I saw. I conquered.”

Woman in a Meeting: “I don’t want to toot my own horn here at all but I definitely have been to those places and was just honored to be a part of it as our team did such a wonderful job of conquering them.”

via Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting. – The Washington Post.

So right and so very very wrong. And ugh, this one: the crediting of the “team” when is was the ME in team that did all the damn work!

Williams told me the story of one woman, named Rosemary, who had been removed from her role in CLT shortly after she completed new hire training. Her lead link didn’t think she was connecting emotionally with customers, even though the woman had 13 years of call-center experience. As it turned out, Williams said, Rosemary was simply too polite. She said, “Yes, ma’am,” and, “Yes, sir,” because that’s how she had been trained to address customers, but such old-fashioned formal manners were foreign to her lead link, who demanded a grittier personal style. Rosemary was the first beachgoer to keep a journal, which is now a requirement of the Why Space. At a recent all-hands meeting, Williams asked Rosemary to read her journal in front of the entire company, to show people how hurt she’d been when her new Zappos friends had ostracized her after she was beached. After reading the journal, Rosemary was offered a new role right there onstage.

via First, Let’s Get Rid of All the Bosses | The New Republic.

I’m really interested in new ways to organize workplaces, new ways to manage a workforce and customer service specifically, but this is FUCKING TERRIFYING. What a cult-like piece of nonsense. I hope Rosemary made up every single word of that stupid journal.

My truest self is sending GIFs to my friends, not cheerfully influencing strangers’ thoughts.

via My Paradoxical Quest to Build a Personal Brand | The New Republic.

My truest self is sending GIFs to coworkers so I’m probably definitely doing it all very wrong.

When Tey’s work was finished, she displayed an equally absolute devotion to indolence. “Next to chocolates, the cinema and racing, her favourite pastime was a day in bed, lying flat on her back, wide awake,” Caroline Ramsden wrote. After one of these epic lie-ins, Ramsden asked what she had been thinking about all day. “Nothing—absolutely nothing,” Tey replied. “I’ve had a wonderful time.”

via Decades After Her Death, Mystery Still Surrounds Crime Novelist Joseph | Vanity Fair.

Girl. You are amazing.

Another of the other big, quantifiable differences the researchers were able to find was much more of the top phrases in emails to colleagues or subordinates reflected cognitive processes — detected by comparing the phrase sets to a semantically-tagged lexicon — than the top phrases in emails to superiors.

via The Linguistics of Writing an Email Like a Boss.

That’s fascinating! But it also makes sense: emails to bosses are more likely to be about results (or should be I think) than about efforts. Emails to colleagues are more likely to involve needing some help resolving a situation or working out a process than announcing the end products of those efforts.

“Let’s discuss…” on the emails to superiors graph might have triggered an involuntary shudder down my spine.

Hidden costs of hellish schemes for claiming expenses

I am an inveterate consumer of podcasts, as is everyone else right now. I just found this very short business-y one and fell down the Lucy rabbit hole. As we too use iExpense* and it is indeed so unbelievably bad I especially related to her here: Listen to Lucy

(* how bad is it? It is so bad I am avoiding travel so I don’t have to deal with posting my expense reports afterwards)

This is really important. My own experience with kids aging out of foster care and trying to go to college was that they’re missing a lot of soft knowledge on “how it all works” – the sorts of things that if your family all went to college you’d have picked up my osmosis – around the dinner table or at Christmas break when your older sister came home. Without how it all works being made explict they have a much harder time both getting into schools that really want them and when they’re there, succeeding.

As an increasingly broad and diverse cross section of students enters higher education, knowing those rules matters more than ever. Without them, students stumble. They might miss the point of a paper, drift during discussions, or feel overwhelmed or aimless.

via The Unwritten Rules of College – Teaching – The Chronicle of Higher Education. (subscription needed)

Here’s the key part (it sounds simple and even in my own training I’m hoping to incorporate some of this):

Professors who have signed on to the project consider three questions when creating assignments: what, exactly, they’re asking students to do (the “task”); why students have to do it (the “purpose”); and how the work will be evaluated (the “criteria”). Then the instructors explain those things to their students. That’s it.

I’ve been chewing on how to create a workflow tracking system for my group. Right now that group is… me. So my own notes are sufficient. But shortly we’ll be expanding and at least one other person will be responsible for our customer onboarding and technical implementation processes. Being able to know where he or she is relative to any given customer and to see that across all customers is going to be key to our success at scaling. As an intensely visual person some kind of production board is ideal. Besides tracking where customers are in the process I also hope it can help us adjust that process and more quickly onboard new team members with a checklist-based approach. Our challenge is that we’re a distributed team and I very much want us to have a system that’s web-based so we can grow by adding staff where it makes sense geographically to better serve our customers and where we can find the best people. As far as I can tell our company doesn’t really have any systems purchased or used explicitly for this unless Confluence has a Kanban board?

Another organizational benefit of visual systems is the improvement in overall information flow. In most companies, information flow is hampered by sclerotic inboxes and flabby meetings. Valuable information gets trapped in inboxes filled with low-value, status update emails. Valuable time for analysis and decision is squeezed out of meetings in favor of tedious status update presentations that consume up to a third or even half of the meeting hour. (And let’s not even talk about the time spent writing those emails and preparing the PowerPoint slides.)

via How Visual Systems Make It Easier to Track Knowledge Work.

The most painful things are the most true.

Like being on every pre-sales call. Eventually you learn to just keep your mouth shut and nod. And of course deal with the fallout in the post-sale implementation.

How to Tee Up Choices: The Upside of Default Rules

the most desirable default rules are “informed chooser defaults,” which align with what most well-informed people would choose

Source: How to Tee Up Choices: The Upside of Default Rules

Decision-making Styles

From MSN Money is a piece on the 7 styles of decision-making. Since I can’t turn down a personality test I took the one on the author’s website.

My decision-making style? I’m ‘List Checking’.

Your number one tool for making decisions is creating a list of pros and cons. You move forward carefully in making decisions. All your friends know you as the one who does not miss a detail and has a list for every important event. If a decision is worth making, it is worth creating a list to decide how to make that decision. Lists help you research to be sure you are making the best choice. Decisions are best made when thorough research has been done. You may consult others who have made similar decisions to determine how their choices played out and what you can learn from their decisions. And then you add these opinions to your list. You may make a tree of possibilities to examine possible long-term consequences of each option. You believe the more written on your list, the better informed your choice will be.

I don’t actually make lists for decisions but mentally I do sort things into pros/cons a lot. I’m mostly just trying to backstop the ultimate decision against unanticipated negative consequences. “What’s the worst that can happen and how will I live with that?” is what I ask myself.

Take the test here: Yes or No Book

When Amazon acquired Goodreads

So today we learned that Amazon has acquired Goodreads. My feelings can most properly be expressed in a series of animated gifs, as per modern times dictates.

At first, I was:



And then I was:



But then I thought, yeah, it was probably inevitable:



And now, there’s just this:


Reading List from March 25th

This week’s reading is posted up on Readlists. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, including making trips to the library (haven’t been to the public library in so long they changed the entire check out system and completely confused me). Libraries are little miracles where you go in and then walk right out with free books, basically on a promise you’ll bring them back. How do I keep forgetting this?