Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Friend of Simplicity - Phil Gerbyshak

It is my pleasure to publish my latest "Friend of Simplicity" interview with Phil Gerbyshak. Phil and I have been in touch for about 4 years from our respective sides of the pond.

Phil is passionate and enthusiastic about all that he does and has optimism to burn. I hope you enjoy hearing Phil’s advice about how to “Make it Great!”

Trevor - Hi Phil - tell us a little bit about your career to date and where you are based in the US

Phil - Hi Trevor - thanks for the opportunity to share a bit about me. I've done a little bit about everything, from teacher, to stock broker, to IT guy, to manager, and now to author, speaker and trainer. I run the Make It Great! Institute from Milwaukee, WI, dedicated to helping folks create an amazing life.

Trevor - You are always optimistic - how much is optimism a key management tool?

Phil - Optimism is a critical management tool. You have to believe that the impossible is possible every day to be an effective manager. Belief isn't enough though; you must KNOW it can be done, in your heart of hearts.
I am optimistic about people, and I believe in them. This helps me be a better manager because it helps me focus on behaviours that I know my team can do better instead of believing the people who work for me are all messed up. It's a small shift for some, a greater shift for others, but a necessary shift for all of us.

Trevor - I read and enjoyed your first book 10 Ways to Make it Great - how has it been received and can we expect more book from you?

Phil - My first book "10 Ways to Make It Great!" was the culmination of my work to date, and it proved if I set my mind to something, I could do anything. I've told my stories many times and in many different ways, and I think it really helps folks see themselves succeeding thanks to the adversity I've overcome in my life.

It's been received very well, though of course, I would love for it to do better. Right now I am offering the book for just $9.99 at http://makeitgreatbook.com because I want it to be available for more people to use it as the workbook it's intended to be. It's not just a story book, it's a work it book, with 22 action steps you can do to improve your life.

My next book is called "Help Desk Manager Crash Course." It's all about how to be a better help desk manager, focusing on getting your help desk together quickly, and then offering the tools you need to keep it running smoothly.

You can learn more about that at http://helpdeskcrashcourse.com

Trevor - What is your latest project?

Phil - Latest projects is more like it Trevor :)

I have a few I'd like to share with your readers.

I recently moved Make It Great! to http://philgerbyshak.com to take advantage of all the great stuff WordPress has to offer. It was a long time coming, as I'd been hosted at Blogspot and TypePad for 4 years. The change is as good for me mentally as it will be for me from a 1 stop shop point of view.

As I mentioned, my new book "Help Desk Manager Crash Course" is out and I am VERY excited about that.

I'm planning to do more ebooks and such on Phil Gerbyshak.com as well, because many of my best worked is hidden in my archives, and getting these into ebook form will help a whole new audience make it great!

Trevor - I know you have an ambition to become a full time speaker. Can you share few tips on how to improving confidence on speaking?

Phil - Happy to do so.

First, practice getting in front of folks as often as you can. Whether it's a meeting of 2 people, or a congregation at a 50,000 seat church, you need to practice. No matter how good you are (or aren't), you need to practice.

Second, write out what you want to say and practice reading it. Not every point, but the high points need to be written down.
Next, ask for help from friends and non-friends. See what they say is consistently your area of opportunity for improvement, and work on that. Remember though: Some people are afraid to be critical, and others are overly critical, so unless there is a pattern, don't make any drastic changes.

Last but not least: find a mentor. Find someone you can trust, and work with them to improve your skills.

A great way to do all of this is Toastmasters. You can learn more about them at http://toastmasters.org

Trevor - You always seem to be ahead of the game when it comes to the use of technology. What excites you at the moment about communicating in our modern technological world?

Phil - Thanks Trevor. I sure try to stay ahead. What I love best is I can connect with a friend like you in England completely asynchronously via email, Twitter, Facebook and my blog...for FREE (except for the time investment of course).

Or I can communicate synchronously using Skype, GTalk, Yahoo Instant Messenger, or whatever, FREE, and do it using video or just voice.

The possibilities for connection are endless, and they are only going to get easier and more fun as time goes by!

The one tip I would give folks is to try everything, but stick to what works best for you. Pick a few things every week to try, but don't invest too much time. Just because it's free doesn't mean it doesn't cost you anything. You can't make or buy more time!

Trevor - Finally Phil, when can we expect to see you over on this side of the pond?

Phil - Boy Trevor, I wish I knew the answer to that question. Hopefully 2010 or 2011, but I honestly don't know. It won't be soon enough, I'll tell you that. You can bet when I do, I'll definitely look you up. Fair enough?

Trevor – Absolutely Phil – the first pint of English beer will be on me!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Learning in adversity

It’s funny how we learn much more when things go wrong than when they go right. I had another great learning experience yesterday.

I was delivering a training workshop for 10 front line healthcare employees. As usual I arrived early at the venue in good time to set up the laptop and projector and generally get myself well prepared. I love to arrive well in advance of start time.

All was well until I came to switch on the laptop and it didn't work. Despite our best efforts we just couldn’t get the projector and laptop to ‘talk to each other’ so it meant ‘winging’ the session without the aid of my usual PowerPoint presentation.

Though initially feeling sort of partly undressed I quickly warmed to the session as we proceeded without the ‘safety net’ of the technology. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the interaction with the participants. I’m sure the level of interaction was higher than normal – or maybe that was just me telling myself that to justify the ‘acting on one’s feet’s style that was forced by circumstances beyond my control.

I am a great fan of technology and I do believe PowerPoint adds value to training sessions when used sensibly, I wonder though if PowerPoint has become more important than it need be. In other words I guess I’m saying:

“Just cos we can, don’t mean we have to use it”

I am not saying I will not use PowerPoint in future training session but it has made me think seriously about over reliance on technology. We must know our subject so that we can cope when we hit technical hitches.

Maybe I will switch my balance in favour of fewer slides.

I have always said technology is the slave not the master – this was powerful evidence close to home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Your top 5 passions in business?

Discounting your personal life relationships and your religion and just concentrating on leadership and management in business today, ask yourself “What are my top 5 passions or beliefs?”

I’ve been thinking about my own and these are my current top 5:

1 A passion to simplify ridiculous and pretentious language used by managers.

2 A passion to see more power given to front line employees who deal directly with customers.

3 A passion to see a change in the leadership ‘currency’ so that we have leadership based on ethics and integrity rather than “how much money can I make?”

4 A passion to see real re-distribution of wealth to poorer countries.

5 A passion for a shift from the culture of ‘I’ to a culture of ‘We’ – from the ‘individual’ to the ‘community’ – however you wish to define the community in business.

I’d love to hear some of your passions about business.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Outliers"- Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” is without a doubt the most enjoyable and impressive book I’ve read in 25 years since I first read Tom Peters “In Search of Excellence” around 1984.

It is very unusual for me to read a book inside a week but this is one that I genuinely couldn't wait to pick up and finish.

Gladwell tells in a persuasive way that the word ‘genius’ may be over used. He argues that outstandingly successful individuals owe more to being in the right place at the right time; working damned hard; and even being born at the right time of the year than some intangible, mystical ‘gift’ that is possessed by a few blessed individuals.

The way Gladwell tells stories is brilliant and I found myself completely engrossed in certain chapters – it felt like I was there.

Particularly impressive for me is the chapter on plane crashes. It turns out that poor communication rather than technical incompetence is probably a greater contributor to some plane crashes. The evidence in Mr Gladwell's book is very convincing.

This book is already a best seller and I imagine it could become an all-time great book. I heartily recommend it and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Eagles in Birmingham

Annie and I were at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham last night watching The Eagles. This is the third time since 2005 we have seen them.

This was the far and away the best performance of the lot. They were terrific. Form is temporary, class is permanent.

There cannot be many better guitar players than Joe Walsh. Joe is lovably eccentric – when introducing “Life’s Been Good” he said: “If I’d known I was gonna have to play this for the rest of my life I’d have written something else.”

Glen Frey’s voice just gets better and his humour is superb.

Don Henley is a gifted writer and vocalist – he has the most versatile voice I’ve heard. His leading vocal on ‘Long Road Out of Eden’ was the highlight of the evening.

Timothy Schmidt is a brilliant vocalist and it was great to see him have at least 4 solos.

In fact there was not a single fault with this fantastic concert. Almost 3 hours of excellence was well worth every penny we paid.

We pray they will return to Britain for a few more years yet before hanging up their instruments. 38 years ago in 1971 Henley and Frey first met and formed The Eagles – and they are still improving.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Eric is a legend - Cristiano is not.

What’s the difference between Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo?

Cantona is a legend with Manchester United fans and Ronaldo is not.

This got me thinking.

What is that magical indefinable quality that some players have that makes them a legend with the fans whilst others, who may be better players, do not achieve legend status?

George Best, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are all legends as far as Manchester United fans are concerned.

Cristiano Ronaldo is widely regarded as a brilliant player and was recently awarded the World’s Best Player award. He is better footballer than many in the list above. And yet he is not considered a legend.

My own theory?

Well if we look at the list of legends I think these players were able to bridge the massive gap that exists between stardom and the ordinary person.

  • Somehow George Best seemed the sort of man we could sit quietly and have a chat about ordinary stuff.
  • With Roy Keane and Bryan Robson we knew they would run through a brick wall for the team, the club and the fans.
  • Ryan Giggs is a self deprecating genius who is clearly in love with the club and shows rare loyalty in these days of “money talks.”
  • Eric Cantona was simply a genius who got inside the hearts and minds of Manchester United fans because of who he was and how he inspired the players around him. He was also the sort you would want beside you in the trenches when the going gets tough.
  • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was always the boy next door. He appeared humble in everything he did and showed terrific loyalty to the manager and the club.
If you look at the qualities listed in the legends and compare Cristiano Ronaldo then the answer become clearer.

Ronaldo was undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever to have worn the famous red shirt of Manchester United and I wish him well in his new career with Real Madrid. But he will never be a true legend at Old Trafford with the fans. He was far too self-obsessed – he was ‘distant’ from the fans and never bridged that massive gap between the ordinary person and the superstar.

Nevertheless good luck in Madrid Cristiano and thanks for all you did for us at Manchester United.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Saturday - courtesy of Peter Kay

Some classic lines from my favourite British comic Peter Kay to lighten the day a bit. Feel free to add your own in the comments. I'm officially declaring today Happy Saturday.

I went to a restaurant that serves 'breakfast at any time'. So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.

If we aren't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?

I think animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.

Politicians are wonderful people as long as they stay away from things they don't understand, such as working for a living.

Right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before

Sharpening a pencil with a knife makes you feel really manly.

Nobody ever dares make cup-a-soup in a bowl.

You've turned into your dad the day you put aside a thin piece of wood specifically to stir paint with.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Why does mineral water that 'has trickled through mountains for centuries' have a 'use by' date?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, 'I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here and drink whatever comes out'?

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

Why is it that when someone tells you that there are over a billion stars in the universe, you believe them, but if they tell you there is wet paint somewhere, you have to touch it to make sure?