Reflecting on Leaders

Reflect on past and current leaders you have interacted with. Identify and describe the top three positive leadership characteristics you have observed – and the top negative characteristics you have observed. Top three positive characteristics – optimistic attitude The best leaders and managers I’ve worked with have been optimistic. They may be stressed, or have a million things to deliver and not enough time, but they keep their composure, remain light-hearted, and exhibit confidence that things will get done, and the world won’t end. They don’t spend all their time talking about how impossible tasks are, or complaining about the workload to people who can’t change it. – listening, listening, listening To really engage with the people around them, the great leaders I’ve worked with have relied on being available, being open to ideas, and listening to everything their employees have to say. They don’t just want to know how …

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on Tomato Time

It may be a stretch to write about productivity on a Friday (the Friday before Christmas holiday, at that) but I’m going to give it a try anyway. If you’re a human who must use a computer for any more than a few hours a day to do your job, chances are you probably struggle somewhat with staying on task. It is in the internet’s DNA to make jumping from one thing to another really easy. The purpose of hypertext (you know, that http thing in a web address) is to transfer you from one text to another… and do it at hyperspeed! I’ve lost a lot of productivity when I encounter a frustrating problem, and instead of forging through decide to take an internet ‘break’ which stretches into hours. It’s difficult to keep a disciplined work routine when you’re face to face with a ‘distraction machine’ all day. For the last several …

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Cubicles are Bullshit

There is a place inside every American middle and high school that misbehaving students are sent for rehabilitation. It’s called ‘In-School Suspension,’ or I.S.S. The method of this punishment is that unruly kids are taken out of regular classrooms and placed in a quiet room with desks that have ‘privacy’ walls – the idea being that if they can’t see other students they won’t be provoked to interact with them and disrupt the teacher’s authority. An enforcer sits in the room, overseeing everyone to make sure they aren’t just sleeping. Actual school work is expected to be completed during this time. What no one tells these kids, as they sit in I.S.S., is that they are getting a lesson of much greater utility than they realize – they’re being taught how to sit in a cubicle, which very many of them will inevitably end up doing once they become adults. As far as interior design goes, the differences between sitting in I.S.S. and working in …

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the Four Hour “Lorem Ipsum”

What would I do with the extra thirty-six if I only had to work for four hours, every week? In Tim Ferris’ book, The Four Hour Workweek, the answer to that question is given less attention than the ‘how-to’ guide for finding oneself in such a quandary. As he recounts his own experience, the author presents the alternative ‘new rich’ lifestyle of time spent dwelling nomadically through Europe, learning languages, and adopting several new ‘kinesthetic’ activities per year as the alternative to cubicle-dwelling wage slavery. For a creative mind, some of the ideas might be poisonous to accept – Ferris proposes a ‘physical product’ driven business as the only path to a life of R&R; he argues that selling widgets, gidgets and gadgets is the easiest framework for removing oneself from the day-to-day operations of a financial enterprise. Artists, singers, athletes, counselors, teachers, beware – there are no four hour workweeks in your future, if you can’t outsource …

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on What to Wear

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. -Mark Twain Some occupations require a uniform – to identify an individual who performs some specific duty, whether a police officer, a nurse, a judge. Other professions have ‘unwritten’ rules about dress, lawyers wear suits, mechanics wear work-shirts, and for some reason… web developers wear jeans and old t-shirts. Since I’ve entered the workforce, I’ve been on both sides of policy, with the majority of my time spent in offices where anything goes. Whether or not to give in to the ultra casual atmosphere of the office is a question I face every morning. There seems to be an ingrained belief in the community that developers are free to dress as slovenly as they like, because, goddammit, they’re developers! I’m usually in favor of people doing what makes them happy, but I struggle with trying to ‘dress down’ …

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on Employment

I guess my first gig was walking around my neighborhood, shoveling snow from the sidewalks of neighbors for a few bucks a house. Earning business was simple – the bigger I could stretch my 10 year old smile while making the pitch, the liklier the homeowner was to pay me. This progressed to eventually working at the swimming pool, checking member passes when people came in. I graduated from that to seasonal work at the costume store, where I donned a 70’s purple velour pimp outfit, with afro wig, and stood on the corner waving around a sign. I started the first job I had that really felt like a job in college. What I mean is: jobs are awful soul-sucking craters of despair, my first taste came while slicing half pounds of ham, working behind a deli counter, and wearing a hair net that covered a bald head. I …

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On Being a Tattooed Person

Various analysts see being tattooed as indicating a penchant for violence (Newman, 1982), a tendency toward self-destructive behavior (Burma, 1965; Kurtzberg et al., 1967; Taylor, 1970), a pathological need for attention (Haines and Huffman, 1958), or a tendency to engage in certain forms of property crime (Haines and Huffman, 1958; Orten and Bell, 1974). Customizing the Body: The Art and Culture of Tattooing How should a tattooed person react to a statement like that? Each source was published between 1958-1982. Has so much changed since then? If I go down the list, I can check off the afflictions that I feel safe saying aren’t mine: A penchant for violence:  I don’t have this. I was in a fight once, in kindergarten.  I punched a boy named Brad because I thought his name sounded dumb.  I have never punched anyone again. (But I still don’t have any friends named Brad) A …

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