Up Your Game: 6 Timeless Principles for Networking Your Way to the Top

Up Your Game: 6 Timeless Principles for Networking Your Way to the Top Book Cover Up Your Game: 6 Timeless Principles for Networking Your Way to the Top
David Bradford
Non-Fiction
Life Science Publishing
2014
Kindle
192

This was an easy and fun read.  The 6 principles outlined in the book are:

  1. Start Up
  2. Show Up
  3. Follow Up
  4. Link Up
  5. Stand Up
  6. Scale Up

What the booked showed me, was that there is no magic to networking, it is simply to be aware of our relationships and KNOW that they matter.

Start Up

This means to “give with no thought of getting.” I am amazed how many time we need to be reminded of the golden rule, “Do unto others.”  I guess that when people have been cheated on, trampled by loved ones, or otherwise abused it is hard to believe that we have to give freely and others will reciprocate.  I do believe that people will reciprocate, and I am amazed by the love that I have received through out my life.

Show Up

This principle is to be present, and in this world of so many options it is hard to be in the NOW.  I have been guilty of being at home, yet having my head buried on my phone, or my computer.  I have also seen the benefits of showing up, being at the right place.

Follow Up

Return calls, connect back, make something out of an encounter.  There are people who are masters of this art, I am not one of them.  I have to program myself to do a follow-up, but I know tha it is valuable.

Link Up

Go deeper than just “friend” someone, or “connect” with someone, or “follow” someone.  This is the real process of caring for your network.  This is easy for me, I am curious, and genuinely care for people.  My problem is that when I am comfortable in a group, I don’t try to grow it or meet others.  I forget that I need to be more inclusive and continue to find points of interest with other people.

Stand Up

This is about moral fortitude, doing what is right.  This will be something that we all need to constantly think about; and strive to be righteous.

Scale Up

Never stop working on your network, this is your footing for anything that could happened in your career or in life.  You must push forward.

Week Post-Mortem :: 6/6/2014

I’m having trouble coming up with good topics each week, or at least each week, so I’ll do a post-mortem on Mondays.

Stop

  • Making excuses for not going to the gym in the morning; I don’t know why I am having trouble getting up at 6 and going to the gym.  I just need to do it! I should re-read about habits.
  • skipping Monday Planning; when there is not much going on I tend to skip my weekly planning on Mondays, I need to reboot this, things are getting complicated.

Start

  • Reading “Up Your Game” by David Bradford; I’m really excited to read this book, looks like something I enjoy already.
  • Making your quarterly Updated List; I want to have a list of people who I connect with at least each quarter.  I have a good idea of who should be on the list, but I just need to write it.

Continue

  • Learning about Spigit; this is a great ideation tool.  We kicked this off last week and I continue to learn new things.  I’m really happy with this tool
  • Working on the Cummins BYU MBA group; there are few things that get me  really excited.  This past few weeks I’ve been really immersed in helping with the new interns and new full-time employees.

Making Better Decisions

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work Book Cover Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
Chip Heath, Dan Heath
Crown Business
March 26th 2013
e-book
336

In my new role in the Technology Strategy and Innovation office we get to think about, how to decide which ideas should receive R&D dollars.  This books really helped me understand a few things that we would want to implement.

Predicting the Future

All companies want to be innovative, they want to know the future and be ready for it.  One of the quotes in the book really got me thinking

… most corporate executives favor prediction; their belief seems to be, “To the extent that we can predict the future, we can control it.” In contrast, though, entrepreneurs favor active testing: “To the extent that we can control the future, we do not need to predict it.”

If we could carve a space where the tech leaders are not looking for THE future, but shaping it.

Ideation

Products, patents, improvements all begin with ideas.  I’ve seen about 15 software vendors of ideation software like this, this, and this.  They all have some concept of a challenge that should spark ideas, à la “How can we make X product better.”  Crafting that challenge is not easy, which challenges are better and would generate better ideas.

The book covers the concept of “perspective hindsight,” the idea of thinking of the future as if has already transpired. Say you are planning a company picnic and you want to make sure that everything went well, in spite of possible problems.  Think of these 2 questions, which one gets you thinking more:

  1. “The company picnic is tomorrow, there is a chance of rain, what can you do to make sure that rain doesn’t ruin the party.”
  2. “It’s Monday morning, the picnic was on Saturday, it rained, but everyone is congratulation your team because you had a great plan in place.  What made the picnic a success?”

Russo and Schoemaker have found that when people adopt the second style of thinking—using “prospective hindsight” to work backward from a certain future—they are better at generating explanations for why the event might happen.

Their Method

They call the overall process: WRAP

  • Widen Your Options
  • Reality-Test Your Assumptions
  • Attain Distance Before Deciding
  • Prepare to be Wrong

Although their process seems interesting, I don’t think I will be using the whole process, but I will adopt certain heuristics to the way I think.  I will also implement certain concepts in the way we implement our innovation process at the company.

 

How To Document a Family Vacation

I love to write about my experiences, show how to do the things that I’ve learned.  To give freely of my knowledge, even if only 1 person actually reads this blog.

I’ve been working on catching up on the summer of 2012, I did an internship that summer and although we had a lot of pictures, we didn’t post them anywhere.  I started the family blog over a year ago, and I never intended to do retro posts, I felt that we should document that time.

I wanted to find ways to document our vacations on a blog post.  There is a lot of thing on family vacations, but there were no tips how to write a post about your vaction, how to convert hundreds of images into a good post.  So this is my atempt at that.

Begin with the End in Mind

ImagesYes, cliché, but so very true.  Gather all the images into one place: all your DSLR images, the ones you took with your phone, ask relatives if they have images, videos, etc.  Put everything in one place and look at them once over.  What is the feeling you want to transmit on that post.  I write one word themes: excitement, fun, sun, bright, awe, etc.  That is the feeling that will guide you throughout the post.  Your goal will be to have your readers feel that.

I will use this post on our trip to Saint Louis as an example. I chose to have my readers feel small, because that is how we felt when were were at the monument.

Select the Images with Purpose

This is always the harderst thing for me, for this trip to the Saint Louis Arch I had over 200 images.  How was I ever to going to reduce that number to a handful of images to use.  I normally make a copy of my images and I start deleting, I do multiple passes, this is sort of the way I do it:
twoImages

  1. Any images that are just bad, blurry or empty
  2. Remove some duplicates, there will be pictures of the same thing in different angles, I remove most of the duplicates leave a few for further consideration
  3. Images that don’t convey your theme, I’m not saying to remove everything, just think about your theme and remove some more.

I’m able to remove around 50% of the images using the previous 3 steps.  There will always be images that you fall in love with, so make sure you keep those.  There will be a time when you will have to make a decision, but right now just reduce your images to a manageble set.

Design the Flow

By this point I get sick of just looking at pictures and videos.  Most of the time I feel overwhelmed and think that I will never be able to write a post that is not 2000 words long that not even my family would want to read.  So I leave that behind and start thinking of the flow.

DSCN4022I use blank paper and I start drawing headings and boxes.  I first think about what I want to write about, which experiences make sense.  What emotions did I feel during the trip and how will they all fit together.  I think of my audience, mostly my family, if we were gathered together what do I want to tell them.  One thing I always tell myself is: “You are not making a documentary on the place.”  I don’t want to be just showing images of building and exhibits, I want to document my family, and the emotions we’ve felt in those places.  Yes there will be images of buildings, but they should make us remember those feelings.

Depending on the length of the post I will write 3-4 headings.  For the Arch post I settled on 4 headings: the museum, the math behind the arch, being at the top, and our return trip.  On my piece of paper I put down the heading, and put some boxes with images that I thougth would be good.  I wanted to put 2 images side by side, on for the east side of the monument and another for the west side.  I wanted an image of the “elevators.” I also think of what I call, obligatory picture, you know the one that shows the name of the place with your whole family in from.  Yes, the Disney Land Mickey Mouse garden in the entrance of the park.  So in a few places I just write, oblig, to make me look for an image that would be that, THE images for that section.

I also represent with smaller squares images that I think will be good to give context or to tell part of the story, but if people skip them I’m fine.  WordPress uses galleries, and I use galleries in different ways on my posts, but those smaller boxes are the galleries.  I use 3 column galleries to most of the time I think of how many images I want to add to a certain sections in increments of 3 (3, 6,9, etc).

Back to the Images

Having a good grasp of what I need to do, I go back to the images and it becomes a lot easier to find the images I want to use.  There are times when I know I need 5 images and I still have 30, I create a new folder, put the 30 images inside and start deleting more images.  Sometimes I have to do the oposite, I have to look at all the images and think of 3 that I HAVE to keep, so I move those to the new folder, that eases the process.

resolutionMany, many times I know I will need 5 and I end up with 10 in the set, and I’m fine.  I start editing process, I use GIMP for the post processing.  I’ve found that at this point there are images that I thougth that were amazing, and then looking at them in a post production state, they aren’t really that good.  Or I thougth I could straighten them, but then they don’t work out. So it is good to keep a few extras on hand.  I reduce the resolution to about 2048px x 1536px; it is still HD, but not too big.  WordPress creates lower resolution copies for various applications, so that makes it even easier.

Start Building Your Post

Preliminari01At this point is where I start putting my blog post together.  Begin by getting some sample text to help me see what it’s going to look like.  I use lipsum.com to get dummy text, it helps me picture inside the post what the final product will look.

I then start adding the images to the sample text, I use my paper flow to guide what I’m putting where.  Not 100% strict, some images looke better in one way rather than another.

You are done with images.

Start Writing

Once I know how the post is going to look like, and I see the images and I start remembering the events, all the emotions come back.  I then convey those emotions and memories in the text.  Some explanations takes long paragraphs, some take a caption on an image.

I picture my family (my audience) waiting for me to tell them about our vacation.  I think of my daughter going back in time and reading about the time she walked, or rode a bike.  I want her to see those images, but also remember those stories.  I write to her, I write to make those memories last longer.

This is not how I would write a post like this one, but this is how I write a post about our family.

This is the result, from a bird’s eye view:

finalProduct

 

25 Years of the Ram – Cummins Co-Brand

Can you believe that it has been 25 years since Cummins joined forces with Chrysler on the Ram brand.

I recently attended MATS in Louiseville, KY and saw the history of the Cummins – Ram co-branding, but also many other co-branding partnerships.

DSCN3794

DSCN3792

This is a Western Star truck using the Transformers brand to drive traffic to their booth.

DSCN3786

DSCN3785

This is a Freightliner truck with a Cummins Natural Gas engine. This truck uses CNG, notice the big CNG tanks in the back. Each one of those cilinders cost about $40,000. Again an example of a co-branding, using the expertise of Cummins for the engine, and the Freightliner brand for the truck.

Translate a WordPress Blog

For my family blog, I decided to fully convert it to Spanish.  We had been primarily posting in Spanish, but most of the descriptions were in English.  The primary reason for doing the blog in Spanish was so that we could have a connection with our family in Guatemala, and although many do speak English, Spanish is still the best way to communicate with them.  Although I did not do all these changes in the order that I present them here, now that I have given more thought to the process I think this is the best way to do it.

WordPress in Your Language

From the WordPress help:

Although WordPress displays in U.S. English (en_US) by default, the software has the built-in capability to be used in any language. The WordPress community has already translated WordPress into many languages, and there are themes, translation files and support available in many other languages. It is also possible to create a multilingual blog with the help of Plugins.

It is fairly simple to change the language for the installation of your WordPress instance.  You can find a list of languages in the codex site, the list will live here soon. For now, go here.  Since I wanted the Spanish translation, I started at es.wordpress.com, but the instructions are always the same:

  • Download the .mo language file for your language.
  • On your site server, create a new folder in your /wp-content directory called /languages
  • Upload the .mo file to the languages folder you just created.
  • Open your wp-config.php file in a text editor and search for:
define ('WPLANG', '');
  • Edit this line according to the .mo file you’ve just downloaded, e.g. I wanted the Spanish language so I added:
define ('WPLANG', 'es_ES');
  • Once you’ve added your language code, save the file.
  • Upload the modified wp-config.php file into the WordPress root directory.
  • Open your browser and go to your WordPress site. It should now display in the newly-installed language.

A Theme with Internationalization

Now that your installation is in the language that you desire, you can change the language on your theme, this is can be as easy as your main installation or downright impossible; this because you depend on the theme’s creator to allow internationalization.  I believe that the all default themes come ready for multiple languages, for others it really is hit or miss.  I had chosen Pinboard because it offered internationalization.

What does it mean to offer internationalization

You can find a lot of information in the wiki entry, but in short for a theme to offer internationalization, or as commonly written i18n (where 18 stands for the number of letters between the first i and last n in internationalization), they need to provide a template.

Pinboard provides a template file called pinboard.pot, which contains a list of all the translatable strings extracted from the sources.  The .pot files looks something like this:

 #. TRANSLATORS: Please leave %s as it is
 #. Thank you for contributing to this project.
 #: src/name.c:36
 msgid "My name is %s.\n"
 msgstr ""

Translating the theme

Search for other people that have translated the theme, you should be looking for a file name like themename-locale.mo or themename-locale.po (ie pinboard-es_ES.mo).  I couldn’t fin any translations on the support forums or on searches, I had to do it by myself.

In short you need to rename the .pot file into a .po file and add all the translations on the messages.  You can find all about it here, but there are easier ways.

LocoI used the web service Loco, which offers a very easy interface to load the .pot file, translate each message and then download the .mo file. From their about page: “Loco helps you manage and integrate translations into your software, whatever you’re building.”

Folder Tree
Folder Tree

I renamed the file as pinboard-es_ES.mo and then uploaded it to the correct folder.  This is in a subfolder where you placed the wordpress language file.

Folder Content
Folder Content

By this point you should be able to see your site in the language of your choosing.  I love looking now at my blog and just seeing that I made it happen.

Compare

Changing the Language in Your Posts

There are several ways to do this, you can learn about them here.  I considered these 3:

  1. Translate each post
  2. Create separate posts for different audiences
  3. Use a service to translate

Although I would have full control over the content on options 1 and 2; the burden was so big that I couldn’t do it.  I tried a few services and settled on Google’s Translation services.  Here are the steps I used to add this service to my blog.

Go to translate.google.com

GoogleTranslateSelect Website Translator

GoogleTranslate2Then click on “Add new website”

GoogleTranslate3Add your site, the original language and the languages you want to have available

GoogleTranslate4Pick the way that you want your dropdown bar to look and see if any of the Advance features apply.  I use Google Analytics so I wanted to track this.  If none of them make sense to you, leave them unchecked.  Now click on “Get Code”

GoogleTranslate5This code needs to be inserted in two places for it to work on your wordpress site.  This is where it becomes less easy, if you see the instructions as being too complicated you can try this plugin “Google Language Translator” it looks simple to use and has very good ratings

First you will need to find your theme’s functions.php and edit it.  You can find it in the Appearance editor.  Then add the following code:


if ( ! function_exists('mijangos_google_translate')):
/***
Adds Meta tag to header
*/
function mijangos_google_translate() {
echo '<meta name="google-translate-customization" content="XXXXXXXX-XXXXXXX-g4a2bfd921f7edf6c-f"></meta>'."\n";
}

add_action('wp_head', 'mijangos_google_translate');

endif;

Notice that the part after echo ' is from the code being generated, and don’t forget to end it with ' ;.  This functions puts this code in the header.  Now click on “Save File.”

Edit the single.php page, this is the page that generates your posts.  I wanted the language selector to be just above the post content.  I located that part and put the following code in.


<!-- Google Translate -->
<script type="text/javascript">
function googleTranslateElementInit() {
new google.translate.TranslateElement({pageLanguage: 'es', includedLanguages: 'en,fr,pt,ru', gaTrack: true, gaId: 'UA-37421093-1'}, 'google_translate_element');
}
</script><script type="text/javascript" src="//translate.google.com/translate_a/element.js?cb=googleTranslateElementInit"></script>
<!-- Google Translate -->

<div style="margin: auto;">
<div id="google_translate_element"></div>

Save the file and go to a post. This was my result.

GoogleTranslate6

 

What do you want to do next?

Recently I was in the midst of a redeployment effort as the project I was working on was put on hold.  My manager and other leaders would ask me, “what do you want to do next?”  I had some vague concepts of the things I wanted to do, but it was very difficult to articulate them.  In the back of my mind I kept saying: “I just want to still be employed.”  That was not an issue, thankfully, but it seemed everyone was allowing me to think of what I wanted to do, and I had no thoughts.

I met with my mentor and with other managers to learn how they though about transitions, and I was able to learn some very interesting bits.  I don’t think that any of this is revolutionary, but it created an easy way for me to answer the question: “What do you want to do next?”

Big Dreams

The first thing that I learned was to set my mind free and say: What are my big dreams?  This includes retirement and spending long days in the beach with my family.  This is everything, all your dreams onto a piece of paper.  Then do a second paper, more structure and this will be just your professional Big Dreams. (I’ve included a simplified version of mine)

Your Big Career Dreams
Your Big Career Dreams

As you see I’ve put age just to have some context and some titles, but mainly it will give you some context.  It provides just jumping points, but if someone asked me what do you want to do next I would just be able to answer: “Eventually I want to be a Director, maybe internationally, in either Marketing or Strategy or some combination of all of that.”  It does not answer what I want to do next, but it does give you a good next milestone.

What should I do next in 5 steps

Step 1 – What kind of work do you want to do?

There are infinite permutation of work that you could do and you would enjoy doing.  Think broadly, things like “exciting work” or “working close to customers” or “working close to the product” or “thinking about long term strategy” or all of the above.  This could change on your next leap, but shouldn’t vary too much.

I want my work to be exciting, important to the company, and strategic and forward looking.

Step 2 – What is your history?

Think about the past 3 or 4 roles you’ve done and list them out.  For me they would be: I was a developer, then a general manager, then in market research, then a program manager.  This gives you context; do I want to do more of software development with a twist or a project manager over something bigger? Or I want to use my MBA degree into something more like marketing.  Start thinking about skills that you have acquired and what you want to develop

Step 3 – What skills do you want to develop in the next 5 years?

Remember my statement: “Eventually I want to be a Director, maybe internationally, in either Marketing or Strategy or some combination of all of that.” To get that I need to develop a few skills.  I know that where I work to be promoted to director I have to be 6 Sigma Green belt certified; I need that skill.  After talking to a few people that are in those roles, I saw that I need to learn more about the products and customers.  Think about the skills that you will need for that next milestone

Step 4 – Convert that milestone into possibilities

Look for positions that would be possibilities for the milestone.  I looked in my organization and there were a few positions that I would say, yes that is what I want to do.  One of them was Director of Competitor Intelligence, another was Director of Market Strategy and Planning, and another Director of Market Segment in Mexico.  These were places that would fit my milestone, I want to get there, so finally, which role/s would take me there.

Step 5 – List the roles that will take you to your next milestone

It has become evident that I might have to be in 2 more roles before I get to be a Director, but that is fine, as long as I can identify a few roles that:

  1. Take advantage of my past skills
  2. Give or strength my desired skills
  3. Are congruent with my overall type of work I want to do

That is the last step, find 2 or 3 roles that would lead you to that milestone.  I talked to the directors that hold the positions I want and learned about their path.  Some took a longer path because they had to gain more experience or education.  Others had similar roles than those I want to pursue, so I could relate easily.  We discussed the skills and which roles provided particular skills that I have to master.

Putting it all together

Slide2A mentor shared a similar slide that puts all those steps into one visual image.  As you see each part has a number, but you can fill it out in any way you want, as you are putting things together.  You will probably have to do a few passes before you can say that you are satisfied.  In the end I had  3 jobs I thought would be good next steps and looked for open positions.  One spot I interviewed and discussed the skills I wanted to gain and those that I was bringing; the manager agreed that I would make a good fit.

I don’t think I will update my slide until next year, when I will start again thinking about next steps.  In the meantime, I have a lot of material to read to catch up to the rest of the team.

Here is a template that you can use:  Template