Frightened, clueless or uninformed?

As usual, Seth Godin makes some good points in his blog Understanding business development.

Yes, yes - I know. You are possibly over the fact that I'm an avid reader of Seth Godin, but as usual, he makes some good points in his blog Frightened, clueless or uninformed?

In my job, I deal with a lot of clueless people.

I was talking with one of my colleagues yesterday where he articulated exactly what I'm talking about: He met with a technical decision maker who 'knows what to do and how to solve his organisation's problems'. To do so, he's chosen best of breed applications - the best tool for each specific job. Then in the next breath, he admits the organisation's problems are a result of having stove-pipes of data with no visibility across them all.

Did I miss something there?

Sounds like more coaching is in my future.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:18 AM, ,

What the CEO Wants you to Know

I first heard about Ram in Fortune magazine in an article titled The strange existence of Ram Charan, where his travel regime was dissected: he travels non-stop and regardless of his location, his assistants in Dallas send him new clothes via courier and he returns his dirty laundry to them.

What the CEO wants you to know was the first of his books that I purchased.

This book is from a similar approach to Winning and The Art of Profitability
in terms of it's ease of reading and practical views on business.

In it, Ram takes the principles of 'street smarts' and relates those basics to how a good CEO looks at, and runs, their business. Those principles include margin, velocity and ROE but in a far more engaging way than any business textbook you could pickup. Moreover, it does remind the reader that everyone in a business, whether it is the CEO or the receptionist, is responsible for the organisations profitability.

I managed to bump into Ram in the Qantas lounge in LA whilst returning from Chicago in November of last year - he's quite a nice guy and judging from the people chatting with him, quite populate with Australian executives.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:29 AM, ,

Predictable Irrationality If You Build What They Ask For, They Will Not Come

Traditional approaches to defining and deploying enterprise software fail to account for that fact that people are influenced by their environment, emotions, shortsightedness, and other forms of irrationality. How do we get past the predictable irrationality of people to redefine the problem and create experiences that people will embrace?

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:02 PM, ,

Life's a Pitch

I originally bought this book knowing of my leaving Adobe so thought it would be useful to get my brain into the right head-space for my next role. My partner also constantly accuses me of being too 'nice' at work and not trumpeting my successes nearly as much as I should.

So it was with those points in mind that I picked this book up at the airport on my way over to the United States in December, but as usual, didn't get through nearly half the reading material I took with me.

Fast forward to late February 2009, with several job options available to me, I finally opened this book (and ignore that it took until November for me to blog about it).

The book is organised into halves with each of the authors providing a different approach. Roger Mavity writes the first half and Stephen Bayley the second. Roger's style is more end-result oriented that is concise, organised and business-like, where as Stephen's style is a journey that is more philosophical and colourful. I gravitated more to the first half initially, but after a few chapters the second half grew on me.

This really is a 'must read'. For everyone. At first glance, you'd believe it was only for sales people but about 80 pages in you realise that "the whole of Life's a Pitch".

The first half of the book opens with a brilliant explanation of why 'pitching' matters:
"Life is not a pattern of gradually evolving improvement. It's a series of long, fallow patches punctuated by moments of crucial change. How you handle the long fallow stretches doesn't matter much. How you handle the moments of change is vital

These big moments are not decided by chance - they're decided by how you handle them. How you pitch your case is what makes the difference."
You can either choose to believe that or not... I do - as I made the point in my blog Optimism & Staying focused where I called out Po Bronson's point of similar effect as well as the underlying them to Outliers.

We're then guided through chapters such as:
Beautifully, we're then taken to the application of the pitch with examples such as job interviews, which as Roger notes: "All pitches are a personal test. But they are not a test of you alone. They may be a test of you and your team; they may be a test of you and your idea.... Except in one very special case: the interview".

Finally, Roger finishes up with the psychology of pitching - understanding the transfer of power. Again, to quote "It's about the removal of negatives and the creation of positives". It relates a little to the book All Marketers are Liars in terms of understanding the dynamics of what you are attempting to do. It's this chapter and the following six that segway so nicely from the 'how' into Stephen's... I guess you'd call it the 'why bother?'.

Read it and you will be better for it. Chop chop!

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:54 AM, ,


A handy concept to understand in sales is yours and the other parties BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).

BATNA is the course of action that will be taken by a party if the current negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached - a party should generally not accept a worse resolution than its BATNA.

I'm always amused when I enter a negotiation with someone who hasn't looked at the situation from a position other than theirs. Equally amusing is someone who hasn't fully explored their options to understand which ones are actually available and/or suitable.

BATNA is the key focus and the driving force behind a successful negotiator and it has interesting parallels with the battle strategy of Helmuth von Moltke.

Moltke's main thesis was that military strategy had to be understood as a system of options since only the beginning of a military operation was plannable.

As a result, he considered the main task of military leaders to plan for all possible outcomes. His thesis can be summed up by two statements, one famous one that I often repeat: No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

Worth noting with any negotiation, people's positions and what they value will change over time (timing is everything).

The important thing is to ask for what you want - don't make people guess!

Image by Sanja Gjenero

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:29 AM, ,

Rice Paddies and Math Tests

I recently wrote about Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Outliers.

One of the chapters of the book is titled Rice Paddies and Math Tests which Malcolm uses to illustrate his point about heritage and it's impact on your abilities which you can leverage in order to succeed in life.

There are two aspects to this chapter that I found fascinating:
  1. That you can tell a lot about a culture's values by their proverbs; and
  2. The theory as to why people of Asian backgrounds do so well in maths tests.
I'll start with the maths theory first.

He takes the TIMSS data which shows kids from Asian countries scoring significantly higher than their Western counterparts in maths. As Malcolm went on to explain in his blog:
"A more modest gap between Asian and the rest of the world could, I think, be safely explained with conventional arguments about differences in pedagogy, or school funding or some such. But 40 percent versus 5 percent? Differences of this magnitude require more fundamental explanations, which is why I felt it necessary to make such a strong cultural/historical claim in my book."
Malcolm presents the theory that the key reason is that Asian languages have a logical counting system and as a result, students find it easier to approach and learn than Western counterparts.

The research presented was quite logical and rational including:So if you accept that theory, the second becomes a KO: the cultural legacy of the rice paddy is one of hard work.

Through supporting evidence (Graham Robb: The Discovery of France), Malcolm proposes that rice paddy farmers work some 3,000 hours per year - some 10 to 20 times harder than wheat or corn farmers.

To illustrate that, Malcolm leverages historian David Arkush's comparisons of Russian and Chinese peasant proverbs:
"If God does not bring it, the earth will not give it" is a typical Russian proverb.


"No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich."
As Malcolm goes on to say: "Working really hard is what successful people do", and, "it's not so much ability as attitude".

I have to say, this is a point I TOTALLY subscribe to. At work, I've often discussed with managers that we can teach people skills but you can't teach people attitude.

Image by Diana Myrndorff

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:42 AM, ,


I added this book to my Amazon wish-list after having read The Price of Loyalty and being intrigued by the viewpoint:

"When this project officially began in February 2003, I was heartened, though not surprised, to find Paul O'Neill had a striking view of the value of secrecy - that it had almost no value. We both happened to have read Secrecy, a 1998 book by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a friend and mentor to O'Neill, who wrote that twenty years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had taught him a single sterling lesson: The threat to our national security is not from secrets revealed, it's from bad analysis."

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (as per wikipedia) was an American politician and sociologist. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected to the United States Senate for New York in 1976, and was re-elected three times (in 1982, 1988, and 1994). He declined to run for re-election in 2000. Prior to his years in the Senate, Moynihan was the United States' ambassador to the United Nations and to India, and was a member of four successive presidential administrations, beginning with the administration of John F. Kennedy, and continuing through Gerald Ford.

The books originated when, in the Post–Cold War Era, the 103rd Congress enacted legislation directing an inquiry into the uses of government secrecy. Moynihan chaired the Commission. The Committee studied and made recommendations on the "culture of secrecy" that pervaded the United States government and its intelligence community for 80 years, beginning with the Espionage Act of 1917, and made recommendations on the statutory regulation of classified information.

The Committee's findings and recommendations were presented to the President in 1997. As part of the effort, Moynihan secured release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation of its classified Venona file - the history of which is truly fascinating:
  1. President Truman was not told of the contents of made aware of the contents of these decryptions; and
  2. It's potential impact to have shed much needed light on Alger Hiss, the Rosenbergs and Kim Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess.

This file documents the FBI's joint counterintelligence investigation, with the United States Signals Intelligence Service, into Soviet espionage within the United States. Much of the information had been collected and classified as secret information for over fifty years.

Mr Moynihan looks at how this culture has impacted decades of American politics, including the Iran-Contra affair and pretty much the entire Nixon administration with it's disastrous culmination in his impeachment.

He also looks at the economic & functional costs of such a culture.

A big part of my interest in this book was how it provided perspective on the Bush II administration and how it can be viewed through the lens of books such as The Price of Loyalty, The One Percent Doctrine and State of Denial. Aside from the Cheney agenda contained within each and it's domination of the administration, all show how a culture of secrecy shaped thinking - even to the point of insane stupidity.

Don't be misled, however: Mr Moynihan wasn't advocating abolishing of secrecy, merely that it shouldn't hidden from scrutiny and that it has a 'shelf life' before it's costs outweigh it's benefits.

Beyond politics, I think many of these lessons can be applied to the workplace. People hoard information as if it is a competitive differentiation for them with their colleagues i.e. people working for the same organisation sharing the same organisational goals. In that context, I was given great advice a long time ago: information isn't power, it's a burden.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:27 AM, ,

Dopplr for the iPhone

Back in May, I blogged Where am I? and took a look at the apps available for planning & sharing your travel.

Since then, Dopplr has released a version of their app for the iPhone, and I must say - it's quite good!

I used it whilst over in Toronto, and the Social Atlas feature is incredibly useful!

From their website:

"Because your iPhone knows your location, the app can show you nearby places to eat, stay and explore, as recommended by the Dopplr community. It also comes with built-in recommendations for 250 popular cities around the world.

With a single tap, you can add new places you've discovered to the Dopplr Social Atlas. You'll be able to confirm these additions, and enter more details, next time you log in to"

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:17 AM, ,

10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint

Guy Kawasaki offers up his golden rules of Powerpoint on his blog How to Change the World: The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.

It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.

Guy's article is a good reminder to some of the basic principles I blogged about in
Nine steps to PowerPoint magic (and Seth's Best of 2008) back in Jan '09.

Having just spent a week at Open Text's sales kick-off for FY10, the reminder about font size is timely. Whilst it seems people are improving with their presentations, you still get the occasional 'eye chart' that nobody can read and therefore defeats the purpose of the slide!

Image by Brybs


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:38 AM, ,

10 Cultural Faux Pas You Should Never Make in India

CIO has a great article titled 10 Cultural Faux Pas You Should Never Make in India.

Considering that all of us operate in a global business environment, whether we're aware of it or not, these tips are a good reminder that awareness of culture is important and valuable - moreover, it can give you a competitive advantage!

Image by Zsolt Zátrok Dr.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 9:27 PM, ,

How not to run a business

Back in June, I blogged about Where to leave your car at Sydney Domestic terminals for those of you that are frequent day-trippers via Sydney airport.

For trips longer than same-day, leaving the car there gets a bit expensive, so in order to keep the accountants happy I recommend finding another way.

I'm not a big fan of the standard taxi for a couple of reasons. The first is the inconvenience of having to wait for them as opposed to having them waiting for you. When you do enough travel, that time adds up and is unproductive. The second reason is probably more reflective of my own phobias, but Sydney cabs don't have a reputation for being clean and Sydney cab drivers don't have a reputation for being hygienic or familiar with the streets.

As such, I've always attempted to use a Silver Service, Prestige Cab or other hire car where it can be booked and they are waiting, the car is clean and the driver is professional.

However, I would like to share with you a recommendation of who not to use as well as an example of how not to run a business... at least if you want to stay around for long.

I tried elimousine & ecotaxi recently as a friend who manages a hotel recommended them a while back.

The concept seems cool but the execution was anything but. Out of four pickups I arranged with them, they only picked me up once - the first time.

On the second instance, I was left hanging at Sydney T3 as 'the driver had the wrong information about my flight's landing time because his blackberry had a javascript problem with Qantas' website and would take 20 minutes to get to me'. It took only 15 minutes to wait for a regular cab. The manager of the business was 'kind enough' not to charge me for the missed pickup - really! Like he had any grounds to charge me!

On the third instance, I was offloaded to Silver Service, which wasn't really a bad thing.

In the final instance, I was just left at Sydney International with no indication as to why they weren't there or anyone answering the phone to make alternative arrangements. Upon email the manager of the business, I was told he was "very surprised to hear that" and that he "will address tomorrow morning"... which he never did.

Clearly, I won't recommend using them to anyone but at least they serve as a good example to the rest of us how you shouldn't run a business.

Checkout these Demotivational Posters at

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:00 AM, ,

Be one of the smart people

Having recently joined a new organisation, there is a fair degree of "getting up the learning curve" with respects to the solutions we can offer customers and the sort of value they should expect.

Entering a new environment where customers, colleagues and competitors (sometimes) know more things than you, especially when you are looked upon as a trusted adviser, is incredibly daunting for anyone.

That why Seth's advice in When smart people are hard to understand is basic, accurate and well worth practicing.


posted by Lee Gale @ 6:48 AM, ,

LinkedIn’s native iPhone Application

A recently addition to my iPhone is the LinkedIn app.

Great features of use to people out on the road are the address book, searching and your LinkedIn messages.

The search feature is useful whilst in meetings - just type in a name and see if you are connected!

Checkout the video of the app here:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:52 AM, ,

Great advice. Period.

As usual, Seth Godin - author of All Marketers are Liars - provides a hard hitting perspective on how you are investing your time in his blog Why am I here?, that is very much in line (but slightly more succinct, punchy and fundamental) with what I blogged in Are You Spending Your Time the Right Way? and definitely central to Tim Ferris' views in The 4hr Workweek.

See how powerful that question is by applying it to your next meeting.


posted by Lee Gale @ 2:34 AM, ,

The seven habits of a typical bad manager

I came across the article The seven habits of a typical bad manager in one of the LinkedIn groups I'm a member of.

I think we've all had the misfortune of dealing with bad managers at some point in our career's, but as with anything we experience, it's important to use it as a learning experience.

I can think of two distinct experiences with bad managers in my career. Both were 'new' managers - that is they hadn't managed more than a single person before in their career's.

The first was just bad because they were green and did most of the things in the article above. He just focused on the wrong things, despite his good intentions and care for his team. He focused on what time I started, ignoring the fact I'd been working until midnight the day before, and then admonishing me in front of the team. Like it matter's what time I started if I didn't have meetings! Where is the credit for the hours put in and work accomplished? And don't EVER deal with an issue in a team meeting that is more appropriate in a 1:1 conversation.

I learned a lot about managing upwards early in my career.

The second bad manager was similar to the first in that he was also 'green'... but he was different in that I don't think he gave a stuff about the team. My perception was that we were all 'tools' for him to propel his career. I don't have any problems saying that working for him was singularly THE most difficult year of my career & life. I learned a lot but this experience cost a lot - for both myself and other members of the team.

Thankfully, the first managers I reported to in my first job at JP Morgan were fantastic and nurtured me. Without this foundation, I'm not sure I would have learned as much from the bad experiences.

I've blogged about some great resources for people dealing with difficult managers. In Winning, Jack Welch takes readers through a discovery framework through which one can determine if it's them or indeed the manager whom the issue really lies. If it is with the manager, Jack suggests you can either 'put up' or 'shut up' or leave. In Who Moved My Cheese?, readers gain insight into dealing with change that you'd have to undertake by leaving an organisation.

More importantly, in First, Break all the Rules, aspiring or current managers learn how to change their style for building and nurturing their teams.

There are some other highly amusing Additional Seven Habits Articles from Dudley B. Dawson:
1. Seven Habits of Highly Effective Slackers
2. Seven Habits of Highly Annoying Emailers
3. Seven Habits of Disrespectful Work Poopers

Checkout these Demotivational Posters at

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:50 AM, ,

Where am I?

There are quite a few useful apps you can use to share your travel plans with your online social networks.

I've been a user of Dopplr for over a year now. It's got an easy to use interface through which you can: connect with your friends and share your travel plans, link it to your Facebook profile and publish you plans there, as well as see when who you are in the same city as at any point. It does a whole lot more, but that is primarily what I am using it for.

I'm going to attempt to use the mobile version as my travel picks up in the coming months but as yet, it remains untested.

But I'm also a member of Linked In. And Dopplr doesn't post my travel plans to Linked In but I did notice that TripIt does. It was shortly after that I read VentureBeat's article TripIt launches iPhone app — puts itineraries at your fingertips.

So I've now signed up with TripIt, installed the iPhone app and connected to my Linked In account.

Based on my initial use of both TripIt's iPhone app and Dopplr's mobile version via Safari, I think TripIt is winning in the usability stakes.

As I mentioned, there are a few apps out there. Another one that will probably take off, more in a real-time use, is Google's Latitude which I read about in ReadWriteWeb's article Google Latitude: Ready to Tell Your Friends (and Google) Where You Are?. There is also a great video there worth watching that I've posted at the base of this blog. As the article suggests:
"Google Latitude allows you to share location-based information with friends. And it's incredibly easy to get started. Simply install the app on your smartphone (no iPhone yet) or iGoogle. You have the option of sharing your location by dynamically updating the service using your phone or by manually updating your location on the Web."
I'm not sure I'm ready to go there just yet...

For an interesting peek into the future for users of the Google service, it's worth reading
ReadWriteWeb's other article Did Google Just Kill All the Other Mobile Social Networks?. In that article they look at how online social networks are evolving and how proximity mapping might evolve as a feature for those networks.

Checkout Google Latitude on YouTube:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:01 AM, ,

I've joined Open Text

The 1st of May was my first day in the employment of Open Text.

Open Text is the largest independent software company providing enterprise content management (ECM) software solutions, where I'll be helping grow the SAP solutions sales across Australia & New Zealand.

Why Open Text?
As Jack Welch says in Winning, an organisation that is winning energises everyone that is part of it and at present, Open Text is winning.

I believe there are some core reasons for this including:
  1. The ECM market generally is growing;
  2. They provide specific value that is sought during this current recession cycle;
  3. The products are class leading; and
  4. The company's culture.
Drilling down further to each of these points, to the point that timing is everything as reported in Global ECM market to hit $US10.45B by 2015, "the Global content management software market is projected to cross $US10.4 billion by 2015, with Asia-Pacific representing the fastest growing market, according to a new report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc., (GIA)". Such enterprise-content-management software has assumed a growing importance in recent years as companies use ECM software to adhere to tough new compliance laws, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Bucking the trend during the GFC as the the WSJ article Open Text 2Q Defies Odds; Is It Sustainable? highlights: "Many of the world's largest software companies are cutting forecasts, slashing jobs and restructuring operations as the global recession crimps sales, but Open Text Corp. soldiers on." I attribute this to them providing software that helps companies improve cash flow and operational efficiencies - what COO or CFO wouldn't welcome a sales call from a software company who could help them do that?

To the point of class-leading products, the simplest evidence of this is the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management (source: Gartner, September 2008). You can read the report at the link provided to better understand the quadrant, but simplistically, the higher and further to the right an organisation is in the chart, the better the ranking.

Finally, looking at the company's culture - in particular the APJ team - as I've discussed in
Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?, it's super-critical for the team to be cohesive in order to execute flawlessly. In my first days spent with the team I can honestly say that I have respect for all of them and the skills, experience and passion they bring to the business.

Aside from why the company is winning, another key factor for me personally was to be part of the key business at an organisation. I've found most organisations will leverage the Pareto principle in their investments - they'll focus on the 20% that generates the 80% of returns. Unlike my time with Adobe, the enterprise software market is where Open Text focus and the the line of business I'll be part of is a more significant % of their business than what I was driving at Adobe.

How did I get here?
I took the advice of Meiron Lees (whom I last spoke about in Optimism & Staying focused), specifically: putting my energy into the outcome I wanted in order to avoid distractions. Early on in my job search, the hiring managers at Open Text outlined the great opportunity I've written about above and I decided this is the organisation I wanted to focus my efforts on.

Yes of course I looked at other options, but how else would I have satisfied myself this was the right choice?

In addition to the team at Open Text's case, I believed they had needs that my skills best served. The article Tip for job hunters: build your network and research who you are meeting makes this case pretty clearly: "Don't look for a job - search for a need."

The other point this article highlights is that it was from my existing network that my conversations started with Open Text - I've known the managers there for years, in one case for over 6 years. The difference in the interview process this knowledge makes is quite valuable. Their knowledge of my skills and accomplishments helped my case and my knowledge of their style and needs helped me determine I could be successful there.

PS - just as we did when I left Adobe, we celebrated this occasion by cracking open a bottle of Bollinger's 1997 La Grande Annee - the bottle Adobe gave me in fact !

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posted by Lee Gale @ 6:05 PM, ,

Tip for job hunters: build your network and research who you are meeting

I thought I would share a useful tip for job hunters in the current environment. In fact, everyone should be doing this regardless of their employment status as it will give you a head-start should things change.

Use the tools available to you to build your network and to research potential employers at all stages of the recruitment process.

Sounds obvious, right?

I've been talking to recruiters and prospective employers since December 2008 when I was notified my own employment situation was going to change, and the interesting observation has been how important my network has been.

Given the pressure on companies to reduce costs, combined with the unemployment rates increasing, organisations are using recruiters a lot less than they did over the past 5 years. To compound this issue further, recruitment organisations themselves are responding to the down-turn in work and implementing redundancies themselves and loosing the connections in the marketplace that their customers value.

So what can you do?

A good start is leveraging LinkedIn. I predict that 2009 will be the year that LinkedIn really takes off as the professional version of Facebook.

LinkedIn provides you a great tool to keep connected to people as they move around as well as put your resume out there for people to search for. Even better is the recommendations aspect so your connections of connections can zoom in on you for potential opportunities. I find it more useful than Plaxo but that might be a personal view.

There are some caveats. Like Facebook, you need think carefully about what you do and say because your recommendations & comments on others will reflect on you.

Once that network is up and running, you should be using this to research people you want to (or are going to) meet. This could be for an employment opportunity or any other opportunity i.e. sales, partnering, etc. I found the connections I had to people I wanted to meet to be quite eye-opening. Being in sales, I can tell you now that having a mutual contact make introductions is a lot more effective than cold calling people. I've also leveraged my network to hear people I trust's view on an opportunity I'm investigating and then sharpening up my questions in an interview.

For some great additional reading on this topic, checkout the articles below:

Obviously you don't need to stop at one tool to do this as I mentioned previously in Googling people before you meet them - use everything at your disposal to win!

Once you've used these tools to research going into a meeting, you can use the tips from the article What Job Seekers Can Learn from Sales Professionals to land your new role. There are some great points including:

"For job seekers new to networking, it can be a daunting challenge. Yet, there are quite a few lessons that the job seeker can take from the sales profession. However, I believe that one stands out as most important: Don’t look for a job…search for a need."

Image by Marcelo Gonzalez


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:52 AM, ,

There is No Delete Button on the Web

I read the article The Unforeseen Consequences of the Social Web on ReadWriteWeb with interest.

Of particular note was the point that there is no delete button for content - it's all cached and stored. Lidija Davis makes the point that "...although the information you put out on the Web may seem insignificant today, you have to ask the question of whether it will be insignificant tomorrow, or in five years when you need to apply for college or seek new employment".

I've posted commentary on this issue before and you'll enjoy how Peter Shankman recently discovered a seemingly off-the-cuff Tweet by James Andrews, an executive of Ketchum New York.

The bottom line is that social media has made it easy for us to tell the world what is going on in our lives and inside our head, but as always, you need to think carefully about what you do and say because you can no longer choose who is going to read about it.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:14 AM, ,

Fitness update #4

Image by Stefan Krilla
In my last update I mentioned I'd enlisted Andreas' help three times a week during February, partly because I wanted to improve my workout intensity but also because I had some time on my hands.

This weeks DEXA scan wasn't exactly great news (21.8% body fat - increases of 500g fat and 900g lean muscle) as body fat had increased since November. However, a few things need to be factored in: I did almost no training in Dec and holiday season probably added a bit to the waistline. Interestingly, Andreas commented that I had probably also lost a fair amount of lean muscle mass due to the lack of training and in combination with my inferior 'muscle memory' (in the alternative context). So, I'm not upset and I can honestly feel the difference in last month's efforts.

So, checking back on the original goals of my fitness program started 9 months ago:
  1. I've lost most of the bad weight (i.e. fat) but would be happy with a little more and getting it under 20%;
  2. I can fit into all my old clothes again; and
  3. Once we figured out I was eating too little food, I have a lot more energy during the day.

The single comment I'd make to anyone else (which should be everyone) thinking of going to the gym: spending money on a trainer is money well spent. The business equivalent is hiring someone with the right skills for the task - you get the benefits of their years of experience from the get-go. You'll avoid injuring yourself (I'm sure you can justify an ROI for a trainer just by calculating your time off work and physio costs!) and you'll have the confidence to make this a permanent change to your life.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:39 AM, ,


In my blog Optimism & Staying Focused, I mentioned Meiron Lees who is an executive coach and trainer that I was introduced to last year. When we last caught up for coffee in January and having told him about my changes with Adobe, Meiron handed me a copy of his book.

With D-Stress, Meiron takes us through 7 resilience builders to manage your stress:
  1. Transforming your Thought Attacks™
  2. Asking the right questions
  3. Focusing on the now
  4. Telling a different story
  5. Changing the labels
  6. Observing the feeling
  7. Developing a sense of gratitude
In all, a good, simple and effective framework for changing how you look and react to all the stuff that happens in life.

There were a few points I had mixed feelings about, for instance, I subscribe to Tim Ferris's view on stress - it is really distress (the negative) and eustress (the positive). As such, Meiron really focuses on distress in his book.

Having said that, D-Stress is a good amalgamation of lots of points I believe strongly in, including:
Finally, hat's off to Meiron for offering a course by which to take action to change. Meiron encourages readers to practise just one idea for the ensuring 21 days - similar to Leo Babauta's process outlined by Tim Ferris here.

You can download the 'sampler' here and buy the book online here.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 8:20 PM, ,

Awkward Conversation? Determine your Objective

I consider the piece of advice below to be one of the singular most important lessons I've picked up in my professional life.

I can't find the original article that I made notes from, so if I've 'stolen' your intellectual property, I'll apologise in advance and happily republish this blog if you contact me :-)

My notes of the advice:
Have you thought about whether you really need to have the conversation?

Have you considered exactly what you are trying to accomplish?

  1. Some conversations are unnecessary. Sometimes the conflict you are feeling may be inside your head, rather than between you and someone else. Sometimes, what's called for is a change in behavior rather than a conversation.

  2. Some objectives are inappropriate. You may be entering a difficult conversation hoping to change the other person. But that's not a realistic goal. Alternatively, you may be looking to blow off steam. Acknowledging emotions can be helpful as part of a conversation - but just venting your feelings and then walking out isn't likely to be productive.

  3. Some conversations should be given up. Sometimes despite our best efforts, nothing helps. And if changing the whole situation is impossible, then you have to learn to live with it.
There are really only three reasonable objectives for a difficult conversation: learning the other person's story, expressing your views, and attempting to solve the problem together.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:46 AM, ,

Fitness update #3

It's perhaps overdue to provide an update on the progress on my fitness program that I embarked upon last June.

My last DEXA scan was done before leaving on holidays on Nov 27th. The results were good - body fat is down to 21% which is good progress from October '08's scan of 24% and June 08's scan of 30%. At the same time, muscle mass is up indicating I've made progress in both directions.

December was very much a 'treading water' month with holidays, work travel, Christmas and New Years celebrations making it hard to maintain the gym schedule... so I haven't had a scan since as I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have changed much.

In a move to break past the current barrier, both from a results perspective as well as the mental one, I've enlisted Andreas' help three times a week. An added side benefit is the exercises will stick in my mind better by training all three with him each week - for those of you that have used a trainer you'll know you often spend the session just trying to do what you are told and sometimes forget the details of the exercise as written in your diary.

Interestingly, I was reading this Men's Health article, that said:
"Looking good can help you land a better job and a better mate. In a recent study, researchers at Yale University found that a significant bias against overweight people--stereotyping them as lazy, less valuable, and less intelligent--exists even among health professionals whose careers emphasize obesity research. So imagine what that Fortune 500 HR specialist thinks."
Hopefully that will help me with my current job search! ;-)


posted by Lee Gale @ 7:42 PM, ,

Optimism & Staying focused

Back on the 31st of Jan, I wrote about in Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face and promised I'd elaborate on optimism and staying focused on finding the next challenge.

How can you do this when you feel like you've been punched in the gut? In a nut-shell as Winston Churchill said "For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else."


Okay, easier for me to say that in February - two weeks after I've left, two months after I was told, three months after I was part of the process to review cost containment in our region (so no surprises) and after a severance hand shake that affords me time to look for the next challenge.

I learned the hard way during the merger process between Adobe & Macromedia back in 2006 (and subsequent counseling in early 2008) to focus on what you can do vs being caught up lamenting what has changed or what you have lost.

That seems particularly hard these days as with the current global financial crisis, the media (predictably) is focusing on the negative. Negative stories sell newspapers, but they do nothing for people's confidence. Negativity creates a sense of resistance, and while resistance to unpleasant conditions is an expected human condition, it also stymies your capacity to act and focus. The reality is that in tough times there are just as many opportunities as there are in good times - maybe even more.

Some great resources worth referencing:
Before spending time on a stress-inducing question, big or otherwise, ensure that the answer is "yes" to the following two questions:
  1. Have I decided on a single meaning for each term in this question?
  2. Can an answer to this question be acted upon to improve things?
If you can't define it or act upon it, forget it.

Now that we're out of the negative mindset, we can focus on picking ourselves up and getting on with the job of finding the next job.

Author & coach Meiron Lees, made a good point when we met last: put your energy into the outcome you want in order to avoid distractions.

Now get going!

Image by LittleMan

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posted by Lee Gale @ 7:02 PM, ,

Help for managing your email

So far we've looked at Managing Email and getting stuff done and Writing emails properly - saving yourself and other people time, so I thought I'd offer a little more help in the war against declaring e-mail bankruptcy: you don't need to do this the hard way - you can cheat and get help!

I'm an MS Outlook user because:
  1. I manage several email accounts so a mail client is easiest in order to have everything in one place;
  2. I want access to my email online and offline;
  3. I always have used it so I'm familiar with the tool i.e. I'm productive with it; and
  4. It has been the corporate standard of the all the companies I've worked at.
There are some pretty cool Outlook features such as being able to find all messages in a thread, that when used, can seriously cut down your inbox.

The news that Gmail will soon have an offline client means users can then bolt on a few tools, such as Xoopit, to assist them.

Yahoo! Zimbra Desktop could be useful... I haven't used it before, so if anyone has comments on it, feel free to do so.

Postbox looks quite interesting so I've signed up for the beta of that... but I can't tell from their website if it is an add-on and if it works with MS Outlook. I guess I'll find out.

A tool I have used is Xobni (inbox spelt backwards). It is an Outlook plug-in that saves you time finding email conversations, contacts and attachments. I used a beta version about 9 months ago and did find some tools to be more helpful than others. For instance, Xobni automagically extracts a contact's phone number from their signature - very cool!

I did uninstall the beta because I found with Windows Search, Google Desktop AND Xobni's search all running, my laptop ran like the proverbial dog, but perhaps the current release has solved that issue.

See Xobni's product demo'd here:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 11:37 PM, ,


During December I read Winning by Jack Welch. Having read Jack: Straight from the Gut previously and enjoying Jack's writing style, I figured this would be a good read whilst travelling.

His first book was more of a memoir where as Winning is more of a 'how to' guide organised as follows:

As Michael Erisman writes on his review of this book on, "The book itself is written in a conversational tone. It is easy to read, and feels as though you are in a dialog with him over a cup of coffee."

I had started out concerned that I was going to come away with stories that were really only applicable to monster-size organisations such as GE, but what really impressed me with Winning was how Jack applies universal principles that are suitable for large and small organisations alike.

A large part of this comes from Jack's distillation of topics that business schools and corporations have needlessly turned into marathon events when really all that is required is having a solid understanding of the key factors at play in both your business and the market at large, and creating a flexible operating plan to deal with them.

One of things I've discovered reading books like this is you can never have too many ideas about how to improve what you do to succeed at your own career, or how to get things done. Whether you take any of the new ideas onboard, dismiss them or simply have an existing behaviour reinforced, doesn't matter.

Three ideas I will definitely leverage;
  1. Realizing that mentors don’t always look like mentors and there isn’t one perfect mentor;

  2. Strategy is a living, breathing, dynamic game - you pick a general direction and implement like hell rather than getting bogged down in the process. Pages 173-180 of the book have "5 Slides" of strategy creation that I'm going to use in the the future; and

  3. The operating plan replacement for the budget introduced on page 198. Again, like strategy, this process at the past organisations I've worked in is all back-to-front. It's about what we can do over last year rather than looking at what the market and competitors are doing and other variables like how foreign exchange or consumer spending will impact the organisation.
In summary, this is a must-read book for everyone and I've already ear-marked a few friends that need to read certain chapters to better comprehend decisions/issues they are dealing with!

Still not convinced? Checkout this interview with Jack Welch on YouTube:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 12:19 AM, ,

Writing emails properly - saving yourself and other people time

A few days ago, I blogged about Managing Email and getting stuff done, and in doing so suggested that a significant issue that creates more email than necessary is poorly written emails.

Allow me to rant: I can't tell you how much it gets up my nose how the vast majority of people use their CrackBerry - punching out one line answers to complex issues as if merely replying solved the issue. I've got news for you - it doesn't! All it does is create more emails to try to clarify what wasn't addressed properly the first time.

You can save yourself a tonne of time by thinking about what you are writing and doing it properly the first time. Granted, this doesn't guarantee others will automatically reciprocate, but it does raise the chances.

Back when I enter my first corporate job with JP Morgan, I was pretty confused as to the conversational style most people used for email. Email was pretty new to the masses and everyone was learning how to use it.

I can't remember the book I read but it was on effective writing and not specific to emails and it's value was in it's simplicity. It had all the key tips including:
The book was actually geared towards getting what you wanted done i.e. have people read the email and take the action you wanted.

Seth outlines a good checklist here, and whilst it is largely written with respect to who you are emailing and why, there are some good questions you need to ask such as:
Another good piece from Seth worth leveraging is Write like a blogger.

I really wish I could find that book... it think it was Effective Business Writing :(A Guide For Those who Write On the Job).


posted by Lee Gale @ 3:40 AM, ,

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face

Apparently, that is an often used boxing maxim that I thought fitting for the tittle of this blog.

After 5 and a half years, Jan 31st 2009 was officially my last day with Adobe and reason enough for us to have cracked open a bottle of Bollinger's 1997 La Grande Annee.

Back in December 2008, Adobe announced the implementation of a restructuring program, reducing its headcount by approximately 600 full-time positions globally (see press release for details) - approximately 8% of it's workforce and myself included.

In Asia Pacific they decided to apply the Pareto principle and focus on the part of the business that generates 80% of the revenue - Creative Suite. I'm in two minds as to whether that simple approach works out as well in the long term. Having a portfolio of profitable products in different markets is a great risk management strategy - when one market/product is down, others can carry it through and vice versa. Divesting from one product line to focus on the product line that is suffering the most from the current decline seems to me, curiously counter-productive - especially when the market you are divesting from is relationship oriented.

Seth Godin sums up this tactic of persistence on his blog nicely. Interestingly, it is in times like this that the big shifts in market share occur - companies that exit prematurely lose out whilst those that (cost effectively) invest, thrive and gain market share.

Sadly, this decision means less investment in the area I was focused on - the Enterprise business.

I definitely get to leave on a high note: my results for our FY08 of 299% Y/Y growth for the product line in Asia Pacific are quite decent.

Interestingly, as I go through all my files, strategy documents and customer presentations, I do feel I had a positive and reasonably significant impact on Adobe. I was reviewing a global industry solution presentation and 2 of the 3 customer success stories were ones I'd delivered. The last deal I worked to close was the largest enterprise license deal ever done in Asia Pacific. I feel pretty proud about that.

I wish Adobe all the best in it's future - I think it will be a reasonably bright one given the technology they have and continue to produce. I do hope they figure out how to be good cloud computing players as it seems to be alluding them so far (with the one exception of Connect Pro - a much more elegant solution than WebEx or Microsoft NetMeeting). They are showing some promising signs with Cocomo but best to wait for the results rather than believe the PowerPoint's. :-)

What is next for me? I'm not 100% sure at the time of drafting this blog entry... I think I'll stick to software and I'd like to focus on cloud computing and/or leverage my knowledge of enterprise customers, software vendors and system integration organisations.

Despite the small inconvenience of timing and finding the right career advancing role during the GFC (I'm having flashbacks to timing is everything), I'm optimistic that this is a great opportunity to find my next challenge and move to the next level in my career.

The important thing to do is to be optimistic and stay focused on getting back into the game - two topics I'll elaborate on in blogs over the coming days.

Perhaps I should be rereading Who Moved My Cheese? Or perhaps I should be asking for a personal bailout from US Congress? :-)


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:00 AM, ,