Tag: workplace

Happy St. Patty’s Day – Weekly Article Dump

Happy St. Patty's Day - Weekly Article Dump (Image by http://www.sxc.hu/)

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I hope everyone who was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day was able to not only have fun but stay safe doing so. Of course, when there is drinking associated with a holiday it can be easy to get carried away. It’s always a great idea to have driving arrangements or the option to sleep at a friend’s place set up before you head out to celebrate.

This year I was able to celebrate with a handful of my university friends that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. I haven’t been drinking much at all now for nearly half a year, so I stuck to my one Irish coffee to meet my liquor allowance. We all had a blast discussing where our lives have taken us so far, and it’s great to see everyone doing so well. I was excited to hear that more people are hoping to relocate into or closer to Waterloo!

Happy (belated) St. Patty’s Day everyone, and I hope the recovery has gone smoothly today.

Articles

  • Empower Your Visionaries: Steve Faktor talks to us about who the visionaries are in your company and why you should be empowering them. Steve says that the visionaries within our organizations are frustrated by bureaucracy and will often leave to go start their own Next-Big-Thing. So what should we be doing with them? What can we do with them? Well… challenge them! Challenge them to make their radical ideas a reality. Extend the boundaries you’ve placed on them so that they can try to make their vision a reality and make them feel comfortable with the possibility of failure. Wouldn’t it be great if they’re next big thing was the next big thing for your organization?
  • Don’t Forget Me! Ensuring Distributed Team Members Aren’t Left Out: In this article, Gary Swart touches on how to make sure remote employees are kept engaged. Working remotely can be difficult not only for the person offsite, but for the people that are supposed to interface with the person offsite. Timezone differences, cultural differences (i.e. different holidays, for example), and the fact that you can’t interact in person are all things that make remote team members a lot trickier to work with. Gary suggests using the ICE (Identify, Clarify, and Extend) principle, which he outlines in his post. He also suggests using things like video conferencing so that you can pick up more on body language when you’re meeting remotely and even ensuring that you try to keep your technology homogeneous so that information can be shared easily.
  • Inspire Creativity at Work With All 5 of Your Senses: A good friend of mine shared this with me the other day, and I thought it was worth passing along. Many people don’t pay attention to it, but if you work a traditional office job, you spend a lot of time in the office. Even if you can get a little boost from your environment, it can potentially go a long way over time. This mashable is an infographic about how different colors and ambience in the office can be used to enhance (or restrict) different aspects of your thinking and interaction. If your work environment isn’t playing into your senses, you may be missing out on a positive effect!
  • Great leaders aren’t afraid to take risks: According to Alex Malley, risk taking is a very important part of leadership. He has a handful of suggestions for gearing yourself up for taking risks in your leadership role such as separating the personal aspect of failure from your role. If you’ve set yourself up with talented people, you have open communication with your manager, and you’re prepared for the “worst case”, then you should feel more comfortable taking risks.
  • The complete guide to listening to music at work: I’ve personally given up on listening to music at work during core hours due to the nature of my role (I’ve been told this is “humblebragging“, but realistically I’m just making myself more approachable). However, when I’m cranking through some development work on my own and I know I’m not going to be approached by anyone, I love to turn up some tunes. I thought Adam Pasick had a pretty cool write up about the different aspects of listening to music at work. Essentially, different styles of music may be better for different tasks at work.  I think it’s worth a read if one of the first things you do when you get into the office is strap on your headphones!

Thanks for reading! Follow Dev Leader on social media outlets to get these updates through the week.


Movember Prep – Weekly Article Dump

MoMagnets - Magnet Forensics' Movember Team

Movember Preparation

You might think we’re a bit early on this one, but at Magnet Forensics we’re going to take Movember to a whole new level this year. If you’re not familiar with Movember, you may want to head over here and get a rundown of the history of it. Movember started in Australia between a group of people who wanted to (somewhat jokingly) bring the moustache back into style. The next year they started getting people to grow mo’s for causes. Now people participate in Movember to raise awareness for men’s health, and it’s bigger than ever.

Our team members of MoMagnets have started discussing the various styles of mo’s that they’ll grow this year. It looks like there’s going to be some intra-team competition to grow the best mo. The top contenders? It’s looking like:

Matthew Chang - Movember

Matthew “The Chang” “Changarang” Chang sporting a well-groomed black moustache. Although it’s a standard ‘stache, the care put into keeping this beauty mo in tip-top shape is obvious. Can he do it again for this Movember?

Cameron Sapp - Movember

Cameron Sapp showing off a rock solid handle bar mo. The bars on this ‘stache are so impressive that it almost gives the illusion that this mo is taller than it is wide. Wait… is it?!

Check out the MoMagnets page and keep track of us! Please contribute what you can to help raise awareness for men’s health.

Articles

  • Python, Visual Studio, and C#… So. Sweet.: First one on the list this week is the post I put out on Monday about using Python, C#, and Visual Studio all together. It’s definitely for the developers out there, but for those of you who aren’t programmers, it’s still interesting to see how PyTools and IronPython have bridged a gap between C# and Visual Studio. I was pretty happy with the number of people who responded on social media and thought that it was a good read. The tweets actually led me to find a related post by Scott Hanselman from earlier this year (that I wish I saw sooner). My article has also received some pretty good visibility at Code Project which I’m excited about. Feel free to check it out over there too (people seem more likely to engage in discussion at Code Project versus on my blog)!
  • Want To Build A Business? Lead With Trust: David Hassell wrote an article that really hit home with me. Having a successful business means crafting a team and culture built upon trust. It needs to be the foundation of your team. Having high levels of trust makes everything else in the business come together more easily, but lacking trust can really make everything fall apart. Teams need to trust their leaders, and leaders need to trust their team members–it goes both ways.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Had His Top Execs Read These Three Books: John Fortt discusses his interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Now while I don’t read as much as I should (and I’m consciously trying to get better at it), I thought this little list of books might be great to keep my eye out for:
  • Confidence ‘boosts pupils’ academic success: I thought this article was a great find. It’s primarily around research that’s shown confidence plays a big role in students’ success, but I believe it applies outside of the realm of formal education. As a leader or mentor, I think it’s incredibly important to instill confidence. You want your team members to know you trust them with what they’re doing. They need to know they can make mistakes and learn without having to be punished for doing so. Having that confidence is going to be what makes them successful.
  • Leadership Lessons From LEGO: What do leadership and Lego have in common? A whole lot according to John Kotter. Consider innovation (get creative with those bricks!), overcoming challenges (can’t find that piece you were looking for?), team work (building things with friends is way more fun), and quality (it’s as good as you make it). It was an unexpected article for me to stumble upon, but I thought the parallels were interesting!
  • The Four Most Powerful Lessons in Management: Joel Peterson has some great points on being a successful leader or manager. Among them, putting actions behind your words, bring the right people on board (noticing a trend with having the right people yet?), and having a meaningful mission.
  • What is a Thought Leader?: I found myself asking this question at one point, which is why I wanted to share Daniel Tunkelang‘s article. It seems straight forward really. It’s important to have an area of expertise in the ideas you want to share, and it’s important that the things you’re sharing have meaning. In my case with Dev Leader, I certainly haven’t mastered leadership and programming, but I’m sharing the ideas that I’m hoping will some day get me there.
  • 17 Things You Should Never Say to Your Boss: This was definitely a great read. At first, I started thinking “How could anyone in their right mind say these things to their boss”? But then I realized I had actually heard some of these things (or similar things) and it really got me thinking. Dave Kerpen has put together a great list, and although it’s humourous, it’s still something important to watch out for. Just in it for the money? Not your role? Some people need to get a grip or find something else to do in their career.
  • Why These Happiness “Boosters” Might Actually Make You Feel Worse: Gretchen Rubin shares some ideas on why certain things we do to make us happier may actually be counter-productive. One interesting one I thought was the idea of your attitude shaping your behaviour may actually be your behaviour shaping your attitude. On weekends I often hang around in a pair of shorts until I have to head out of my condo. If I got in the habit of being prepped to leave the house and be productive from the beginning of the day, would I find that I’m actually more productive? Worth trying!
  • What Makes Developers Really Great: Deane Barker shares his experience with a software developer that was giving off some bad vibes. So what’s a good developer? Is it just someone who can code? Do they need to know all the latest and best languages, dream in code, and have four computer science degrees? It certainly helps (and I don’t think many would dismiss it), but the one thing that’s really important is their attitude and ability to work in their team. Check out the comments on that blog post. If you’re working on a team and you can’t fit in the team, you’ll bring the whole team down. This means if you’re all soft skills and no hard skills, you can’t contribute squat. If you’re all hard skills and no soft skills, you’re going to be a road block to your team. You need to have both to be a really great developer.

Remember to check out the MoMagnets page! We’d really appreciate it. Follow Dev Leader on social media outlets to get these updates through the week.

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Failure – Weekly Article Dump

Failure: Weekly Article Dump (Image provided by http://www.stockfreeimages.com/)

Failure: Should You Fear It?

Thanks for checking out this weekly article dump, and sorry it didn’t make it out on Friday. I was out visiting family in Alberta and I didn’t have enough time to get this post all set up. Better late than never!

The theme for this past week seemed to be articles about failure. Not all of them, of course, but a lot of authors are writing about what it means to fail and why that’s not always such a bad thing. Do we need to avoid all failures in order to be successful?

Articles

  • Stepping Away, So Others Can Step Up: In this article, Jonathan Bush discusses something that’s often hard for leaders to do… Step away. It’s difficult for many people to disconnect and have trust in their team to get things done. Trust should be at the center of any highly functional team. At Magnet Forensics, we embrace trust as our core value because we know we’re working with talented people we can rely on. It’s crucial for ensuring that people can operate effectively to the best of their ability.
  • HELP! I Hired the Wrong Guy: In this article, an individual has written in and gets some advice on how to handle a bad hire. Liz Ryan makes some great points on how to address the issue, including a nice segue for the person that wasn’t such a great fit. This first example of “failure” to hire properly offers a lot of learning. Know what warning signs you ignored this time around. Know how you can detect it before the hire happens and worse case, how you can detect a bad fit early on.
  • Negotiate Great Deals, Without a Fight: Firstly, I’m sharing this not because it might be a good sales tactic or business tactic in the perspective of making money. Forget that for now. In my opinion, this is a great tactic for you to take when you’re trying to pitch your idea. Next time you’re working in your team and analyzing the pros and cons of some decision, remember that you’re not out to make your opinion the only one and everyone else a loser in the outcome. Fight for the win-win, which is often a combination of multiple perspectives. Great article, Joel Peterson.
  • Why We Should All Embrace the F-Word (Failure): Arguably the article with the most eye-catching title this time around, Amy Chen discusses failure and why so many people fear it.
  • Vulnerability Makes You a Better Leader: This article by Brad Smith discusses why a perfect leader is actually less than ideal. In order to make people really look up to you, it’s important to show them that what you’re modelling is attainable for them. Chasing perfection isn’t realistic, but chasing awesome certainly is.
  • 7 Signs You’re Working in a Toxic Office: Definitely one of my favourites this week, this article addresses some key signs that your place of work is a crappy place to work, from a work culture perspective. Not only that, the author discusses how to go about solving the problem if you’re the victim or if you’re the perpetrator! Great stuff.
  • Don’t Write Off the Coaching Leadership Style: Daniel Goleman discusses why leaders that act as coaches shouldn’t be forgotten. A leader that can coach is familiar with their teammates’ individual strengths and weaknesses. This let’s them delegate effectively and help address the weak areas of their team.

Hope you enjoyed, and remember that failure isn’t always a bad thing! Remember to follow on popular social media outlets to get these updates through the week!

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Weekly Article Dump

Weekend Motivation Reading!

Here’s a collection of things I shared over the week. Lot’s of motivation, tips, and leadership pointers!

  • 10 Leadership Nuggets From Nelson Mandela: Some inspiring words to lead by!
  • 5 Public Speaking Tips That’ll Prepare You for Any Interview: Several basic interview tips that are related to public speaking. Being better at interviewing never hurt anyone 🙂
  • A Foolproof Tool for Motivating Your Team (and Yourself): I’m always looking for different approaches to motivate. This article offered a pretty good approach that’s worth checking out.
  • Shiny objects: tips for using both sides of your brain: Some tips for boosting creativity, mostly aimed at those that may not be that creative 🙂
  • Are You Coachable?: An interesting article about being “coachable”. The best part, I thought, was addressing whether or not you’re actually seeking help or if you’re seeking validation. Big difference.
  • 10 Ways That Small Businesses Can Enchant Their Customers:
  • One Strategy for Workplace Happiness: Meet Others Where They Are: A great article about increasing and maintaining engagement from your customers.
  • Get Out of Your Own Way: You might be your biggest burden. Try to take a deep breath and stop letting others bring you down.
  • Should Colleges Charge Engineering Students More?: I’m not a fan of online debates, but this one churned my stomach a bit. In my opinion, if the program costs the institution more to offer it, then there is no reason it couldn’t cost a student more to take it. If the demand for people with these degrees is high, then perhaps the costs should actually be subsidized more (That doesn’t actually mean making it cheaper than other degrees necessarily, just putting in more effort to bring the cost down comparatively). If the whole reason is to balance out salary potential then I think people need to get a grip (Hi, I pay taxes based on my income). If you’re going to start charging more based on potential salaries, you might as well bust out the statistics and start charging a person’s tuition based on gender, race, age, and any other obscure metric you can attach to potential salaries. That would be cool too, right? Maybe I should start overly sarcastic rant posts…
  • Consider My Happiness Manifesto: It’s important to be happy! Do you have your own list of things that you use to gauge your happiness? Have you ever considered it?
  • The Unexpectedly High Cost of a Bad Hire: Having someone on your team who doesn’t fit the bill (technically, from a company culture perspective, or any other reason) can be pretty costly. It’s not even a matter of paying their salary while they are ramping up, but consider the impact it has on the effectiveness of other employees on the team.
  • The First Thing You Must Do On Monday Morning: I bet this is actually difficult for a lot of people… Do nothing?! I can’t even imagine how tricky this would be, despite the fact it’s only 5-10 minutes. I think I can afford the time, and I think I’d like to try it on Monday!
  • Name the Elephant in the Room: I thought this article was excellent. As a young professional in a leadership position, I get to see all sorts of awesome things in the startup I work at. Sometimes these things aren’t so awesome though, and they can be really hard to address. Having a well-lubed and smooth-running company culture means being able to be transparent and trust-worthy. Having those hard discussions is crucial for ensuring things don’t get bogged down by the elephant in the room.
  • Get Anxious Speaking Up At Meetings?: I can personally say that I’ve been there, but not so much anymore! It’s important that you can voice your opinions at meetings–That’s why you’re there!
  • Quiz: Do You Make Other People Happy?: A quick one, but it should provide some good indications that you actually do make others happy!
  • Praise or Criticism: Which is better?: An interesting article for sure. I’m sure we all think being praised is great, and surely we can’t all be wrong. But criticism can’t be all that bad for us, can it? Is there a right and a wrong way?

  • Nick Cosentino

    Nick Cosentino

    I work as a team lead of software engineering at Magnet Forensics (http://www.magnetforensics.com). I'm into powerlifting, bodybuilding, and blogging about leadership/development topics over at http://www.devleader.ca.

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