Advanced Management

I recently completed a court as part of the curriculum the company has for managers. I was very skeptical at first because I have not learned much about actually managing people or time with previous courses and or books. Most concepts are great on paper or being presented, but putting the into practice is a totally different story. I was amazed when in preparation for the course I had to take two very different tests that measure aspects of how I manage people and how I resolve conflict.

These were not very simple tests either, they combined personality tracking with all kind of observation and conflict resolution skills. I was surprised about many of the things the tests scores revealed because I thought I had a good handle on my self evaluation when it came to managing styles, but I will discuss those in detail some other time. What I want to discuss today is how excellent was not just the course but the instructor.

I have always admired people that can stand in front of a room and command attention. I believe that being a teacher is one of the most undervalued professions in our society. The ratio of pay for teachers is just dismal for the value of the job that they perform in our communities. I always have it in the back of my head that someday I want to be a teacher or instructor of some type. I have enjoyed every single opportunity I have had to do public speaking or even just corporate or technical training I delivered.

The instructor was not just a good public speaker, she was also the course designer. I had never thought about how much work goes into putting together a good seminar, but little by little I saw she wasted no time trying to use the time to fill us up with not just information but tools we could actually use. This one was specially challenging when it came to time because as managers time is scarce. It was great that most of the busy work, like doing the surveys, was done before we even arrived at the class.

The topics covered ranged from conflict resolution to actual interviewing skills. The amount of information that we received in a very short period of time was amazing, and I am happy to report that I have retained most of it if not all. I wish some of the people that I had interviewed with in the past had attended this course.

The way that she was able to reveal only very little about herself, while at the same time sharing life experiences was amazing. Even more amazing was that she is a complete introvert, yet able to talk for long periods at a time keeping people interested that had blackberries making noises the while time.

I am sure everyone that uses the net is tired of personality tests, but the instructor actually believed on them. She encouraged us to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator along with the other tools to help teams work together. She also believed that people should be aware of other people’s personality types because it would help greatly with their interaction.

She also addressed the question of leadership and if it is innate or taught. While she did not give a conclusion, she did make it more clear that some people are simply not cut out for it. While vision is a great thing, being able to connect with people and share that vision is sometimes more important.

I am not sure if I will eventually be a corporate trainer or even become a teacher. If I do, I would like to be able to be as good with a subject as she was.

2012 (**)

I have seen enough apocalyptic movies to last me until the end of days. My favorite alien invasion movie is Independence Day because it is fun to watch; the destruction of civilization as we know is the backdrop but it does not try to do commentary about our society… well at least not very hard. That movie entertains. The Day the Earth Stood Still is also about the impending end of the world by an alien race because we, as a species, are killing a planet where many others live. Strong commentary but I wanted to know exactly what happened, and either way if we were to die at the hands of the aliens or survive I would have been equally pleased. District 9 is probably one of the best alien movies ever, and even though I was not entertained in the same level the other two blockbusters did, I loved the movie for its commentary and its message.

2012 fails at everything listed above. The only saving grace this movie has is that there are quirky laughs and the CGI effects were amazing. Even after that I did not want humanity to win the battle, I just wanted the movie to be over already because in the first action scene I had already gone “come on, that’s just BS.” When this movie makes it to Netflix I might rent it just to sit there and count how many BS moments there were; heck it might even make a good drinking game.

The acting was dismal at best and most characters were either annoying or too caricatured. There was no way of relating to any of them because they were all poorly developed. Trying to make all the different mini plots into one central plot felt forced. It made me wonder how many times they had to rework the script to make it into a movie because it just did not feel cohesive.

The movie has everything that is wrong with Hollywood wrapped into a one CGI package. I guess a blockbuster needs to be an action packed, tear-jerker commentary on humanity’s selfishness all into one.

If you are a sucker for good CGI, this might be worth the money for you to see it on a big screen. If you want to see a movie about the end of the world, go rent The Day the Earth Stood Still. If you do decide to stomach this at your local multiplex, make sure you go into expecting to believe on Santa having flying reindeer. I only call it believable to a 5 year old, and even then he might call BS a couple of times.

Crazy I tell you, Crazy

So I have been writing tons of posts. Yeap, write about two paragraphs and bam I have something to take care of and a post turns into a draft. I like having tons of drafts to work on later, but I really been meaning to post more often about our adventures here in Chitown. So for lack of time you are just going to get a disjointed post of thoughts and random info.

Things are work continue to be crazy busy, but there are several lights at the end of the tunnel. No big guiding lights, more like LED flickers, but still. I will be happier once the candidate that I really liked finally fills a position to free up some of my time.

We enter one of those weekend that I did not miss at all. There are 3 different invitations from friends to parties because the word has finally spread that I’m back, two on them tomorrow night. There is also an outing with the motorcycle crowd, but its early on Sunday and we have family commitments in the early afternoon. It turns into a balancing act of having too many things to do and not doing any of them.

I am super excited that a new Cirque de Soleil is going to be in town soon :)

The cats have a new play thingimayigy that I think Bea is going to review. Not sure if they will like it but they freaking better.

We have a couch, with double recliners!

Our place looks more and more like a home every day. We have put some of our pictures up and don’t have any more boxes to unpack. Big YeY!

So what is your crazy life like?

Craptastic

I dislike comcast, quite a bit. I was their customers years and years ago, well about 6 years ago. They had horrible customer service and never lived up to their speeds when I was with them when it came to internet. It was a no brainer to pick ATT for our internet service… that is until we realized that they deliver the service via DSL and not cable. I will not bore you with the details of the technologies, but DSL depending on your location can suck. We decided to deal with the DSL and so far it has performed well enough and the speeds are not all that bad. The bad part is that we do not have the capability of getting their Uverse service which lets you pretty much set up a little home network and share a DVR between all of your TVs.

With reservation we decided to give Comcast a call to see what they offered and when it was all said and done our first bill for just two TVs was going to be over 150 bucks. That was not their bundle with everything, that was just for plain old cable service with an HD DVR for one TV and a regular set top box for the second TV. Even if I dial it down to just getting one TV with digital signal for HD and a DVR they still want way too much money every month since everything is “rented.”

So I have been looking at alternative and TiVo now is its own company not associated with DirectTV any longer, but for their HD offering they want $300 bucks plus a $15 dollar monthly fee. Other non subscription alternatives are still $300 bucks.

Direct TV is not an option, nor are other providers (there is one I know of) because the condo association only allows comcast since the lines are already in.

We got the little converter box and a good antenna and started getting HD reception like a champ, until we realized that CBS does not have a strong signal. This is frustrating because I actually don’t watch much TV anymore, but Heroes and The Big Bang Theory which are the shows that I do like to watch are both in that channel.

I thought technology was supposed to move forward, why am I still dealing with bunny ear antennas and transmitter positioning?

Looking at my stacks of blank DVDs I figured, well the technology is there for DVDs to be used like VHS (set the time) type of recorders right. Sure they are, but a good unit is still over $200 bucks if you want it to have a tuner.

I could build a PC to take care of everything, there is even a Linux distro that is not all that bad to set up, but I would still be spending about 200 bucks for really good hardware with a sizeable hard drive and good TV tuner card.

I am almost ready to break down and get comcast, but they are a horrible company. We signed up our new number for the Do Not Contact list, but we are still getting telemarketers. Out of 10 calls in the caller ID, 5 are from comcast. If you have any ideas, I all ears.

Pícaro

That words means mischievous in Spanish and it is the mood I am in today. I’ve had one of the most exciting work weeks in history. I thought I was gathering a lot of knowledge the past month, but things really have been kicking into high gear lately. So today my brain is about to explode and its making me super mischievous. Its not even 10 A.M. and I have already offered to procure a Voodoo doll, used the word debauchery, heck I even used the word procure in the sentence before.

Working from home is not as cool as people think it is. While it adds tons of flexibility to your day, it also means that you end up working a lot of hours. I have been logging quite a bit reacently and I am hoping it will slow down. After setting some boundaries myself I think its starting to level off.

I had worked from home plenty when I was in the consulting world, so I learned how to deal with it back then. The thing now is that since I am in learning mode, the time goes by way too quickly and I don’t even remember to check the clock. But like I said when the post started, I am in a very good mood today having accomplished more than seemed possible this week and already planning a pretty full week the following.

When working from home it is important to still keep your morning routine of getting ready for work. Also don’t forget to eat, even if you have to set up an alarm to do so.

One thing that helps me break the day up, is bathroom breaks. I have learned to drink water and if you do several glasses a day, which its healthy, it will help you make sure you get up and around. Tuesday and Wednesday I don’t think I moved from my chair for more than 4 hours and my back started not to like me much. This trick works well and I am good at doing it while at work, but I seem to forget about it when I am working from home.

This weekend I will be meeting up with some friends I have not seen in years, some of them since I went to Michigan. Thanks to facebook one just called me last night and we talked for quite a bit catching up. I am glad that the group actually stayed pretty close together and they are eager to go get a bite to eat. Also the motorcycle crows has grown to sizes I had seen on paper over the years still being a moderator of that forum but now the get meet ups are just insanely large. I have met with one of the other mods for lunch a couple of times and tonight we might be seeing a couple more for happy hour. There are still plenty of other people that still don’t know that I am back but I already have too many things going on and with the holidays I might just wait until the beginning of the year to contact some of them. Which also reminds me that I still need to set up dinner with Barb and her hubby. Its nice to reconnect with friends and being close to fully unpacked.

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