A Heritage to Follow

Screenshot_20181012_225445The Lucius Clark book is up on Amazon.
It’s been really neat to find lessons in there that apply no matter what age the reader is.  I’ve enjoyed these stories as a teenager, and now as a parent.  My parents are finding parallels with his mission to theirs.  There seems to be something here for everyone.
Here’s the description from the book cover:
The Clark children didn’t have beds, but slept on straw filled ticks on the floor. When company came for dinner, it was the custom to have the children wait until the adults were through eating, or stand at the table to eat, because of the lack of chairs.Friendly Indians frequently rode about the area on their ponies. The braves would shoot squirrels with bow and arrows, and roast them over a fire on sticks. The Clark boys were invited to share this delicacy with the Indians. It sounds like the beginning of a great adventurous life, and through those experiences Lucius gained insight that allowed him to leave behind a great legacy. That legacy was passed on to his children during his lifetime, and is now passed on past that generation through this book.This is a selection of the writings of Lucius Clark and those who knew him. The book includes his autobiography, transcripts of interviews, and his funeral proceedings.

A Billion to One

In the Star Wars movies C-3PO is often heard quoting the odds of something happening and it’s usually at a moment where there’s a lot of very precise digits.  So, in case you wondered the Star Wars odds for successfully navigating an asteroid field are 3,720:1.  I wouldn’t bother to confirm if this is accurate or not because this information also comes from the same universe that uses parsec as a measurement of time instead of distance.

So, this blog is not anywhere near the top 100 internet sites out there.  In fact, it’s rather unpopular–and that’s ok.  I’m not blogging for my popularity.  But, I was thinking, what are the odds of someone coming to my site?  Based upon the fact that I routinely get about 1 person in India visiting it’s about 1,354,051,854 :1.  That’s pretty humbling, but then you must realize that the people in India are on the Asian continent and so it’s more like 1,415,045,928 (China)+1,354,051,854 (India) =2,769,097,782:1.

That’s how unpopular my blog is.

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Migrating From Squarespace

Squarespace is a great platform for photographers and other creative people.  I’ve had this site hosted on Squarespace for years, but today I decided to pull the trigger on moving the site away from Squarespace.  The choice was made largely out of a desire to reduce the costs and gain more control over the website.

You’ll notice here that the site is now hosted by WordPress.  I could have saved quite a bit of money by hosting it myself, but chose not to do this.  Self hosted solutions put all the requirements in my lap to maintain the site and ensure it stays current and secure.  I’m more of a fan of letting someone else do the work of protecting the site in case of an attack, so self-hosting wasn’t what I was looking for.

The migration process was smooth.  Squarespace had an export feature.  WordPress had an import feature.  I’ll give credit to both sites for being rather classy.  It’ll take Google a while to populate my links on the new site, but for the most part the work is done.

Another neat thing is that WordPress has a single app for android that does what three apps were doing for Squarespace.  They also have an app (although it’s just the website) for Ubuntu.

Squarespace still has a home, but for my simple blog I was able to find a home elsewhere.

Showing You Care: On Paper

Effective leadership is dependent upon being an effective communicator.  Being effective doesn’t mean just making sure you’re understood in person, it also means being understood by a neutral person unfamiliar with you and your team.  Over the years I have learned to appreciate and see the diversity of individuals under my care. For the most part, each person I’ve worked with has performed admirably and it’s a leader’s job to ensure that their efforts get the recognition they deserve. Recently, we’ve conducted a round of formal evaluations for several members of our workforce. They’ve worked hard and they’ve made a difference.

As leaders advance in their careers they realize that writing awards and formal evaluations is a big part of taking care of their workforce. While each organization may have their own nuances in their forms and writing styles, the underpinnings I use to communicate when I write evaluations follows a basic formula, unique, quantifiable, & improves the organization.

UNIQUE: Looking for an employees’ unique contribution requires that a leader be familiar with them as individuals, not as a group. This part of the write up needs to communicate what the person did that was different from others in their section and peer group. Where did they make a difference that no one else did?

QUANTIFIABLE: On this surface this looks like a numbers game, but it’s much more than that. This dimension forces the leader to work beyond phrases like “numerous” and “countless hours” to actually get at the meat of the employee’s contribution. Saying countless hours shows that the leader only views his employees effort, not the results for that effort. Not all quantifiable have to be large numbers a 2% cost savings across a large organization can translate to a huge price tag at the end.

IMPROVE THE ORGANIZATION: This dimension is where the leader is able to communicate and confirm that the employees effort moved the organization closer to its goal. Here our organization is measured in accurate and efficient throughput of our applicants. Each member here helps us achieve that goal.

This formula isn’t the perfect solution for each service, but it is my preferred solution when called to write awards and evaluations. Using this as a baseline has made it easier to translate what the person has done to whatever format is required to get them the recognition they deserve.

I strongly believe that good leadership isn’t just effectively achieving the organization’s goals, it’s making sure that the team that creates those results are recognized for it.

Writing Past the Professor

It’s late. You’ve been at it for hours. You got the assignment weeks ago. On this one you didn’t procrastinate. You started compiling notes. Now you’ve now been writing for hours. You look at the clock on the computer screen you’ve been staring at. Is that what time it is? It was easy to lose track about something you cared about. Finally after reading and rereading you’re done. Your logic is on point. Even the bibliography looks flawless. There’s no way you’re going to loose any points on this thing.

You turn it in.

A few days later you get your grade. A+. Congratulations!

And then a few moments later you’ve got a knot in your stomach. You thought the A+ was what you wanted, but now you realize that it’s just the nail in the coffin, and your paper is dead.

No one will ever read it again.

By the time the professor finished grading you wonder if she even remembered your third point. The one that really sold your thesis. You found it life changing and now that you’ve got your grade you know your insight wont be changing any more lives. Reality is a difficult weight to bear.

Of course just because this is a story you’ve probably lived with doesn’t mean it has to be a story you keep on living with. You’re the author of your own destiny. So change it. Take ownership and hack your school experience. Instead of using your professors as the final step in the life of your work use them as an editing service and take your work beyond school. Give someone else a chance to read what you found so helpful.

The easiest way to start this is with a blog. Squarespace.com and other hosting services offer student discounts. I don’t want you thinking that this is the road to popularity and self sustaining income, but it does give you a place to post your thoughts and give them a chance at another life. This small blog averages a few readers a day, but it really does much more for letting me practice my communication skills. Those skills are part of what helps me earn a paycheck. As they get better, the jobs I do get easier and it’s easier for my teams to do better as well.

If you’re confident about your work submit it to another site for their consideration or be really bold and submit it to an academic journal. This part could feel like a bit of a mine field, but with some effort you should be able to find an outlet for your thoughts. I’ve gotten lots of rejection. It hurts, but it’s part of the process. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

There are two reasons for doing all of this. One is taking charge of your brand. YOU! You are a brand.

There are several popular reality TV shows who’s popularity is solely based on the ability of the people being filmed to manage their branding. You can do the same. You don’t need your blog to be popular. In fact you only need one person ever to read it. That’s the person that is going to hire you. You’re going to get googled. When that happens what are they going to find? You can take charge of the answer to that question by putting some of your well constructed thoughts onto the internet.

The second reason I do this is because when I write beyond the professor I write better. I’m more passionate about my subject. I research more. I work harder. It’s paying off. My posts now appear fairly regularly at FreedomPenguin.com and I’ve even had an article published at OpenSource.com. I’m also getting better grades than I’ve ever gotten in my life. I use a professor’s comments not as the final word, but as the last round of editing prior to publication. By the way, they happen to be good at giving constructive feedback. Isn’t that what you’re paying them for?

You don’t have to live with giving life to great thoughts only to watch them die when a grade gets attached. Don’t let your grade be a nail in the coffin. Let it be the feedback right before publishing. Let it be a launchpad for something great. Otherwise you’ll be stuck asking yourself why you put in so much effort in the first place.

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