Work Resolutions You Can Keep

Posted by Richard Moran.

A Primer in removing misery and being more productive in 2008

By now you are Off the Diet and Drinking Again – Here’s the new way to lose weight through work resolutions

Some of the resolutions you made on New Year’s Eve may be a distant memory by now, the middle of January. Sure you bought Quicken to get your finances organized for the year but I would bet the shrink wrap is still on the box. Those new $120.00 workout shoes still look a little too clean. Even though you vowed that zero drops of alcohol would touch your lips in January, you couldn’t help it when they were serving Silver Oak Cabernet at that business dinner. And, since the seal was broken, just a glass or two a night won’t hurt, will it?

If I could look in that planner or secret journal where you wrote those resolutions, I would wager that there is some permutation of all or some of the following promises to yourself:

o Lose weight
o Work out more
o Spend less time on the computer/blackberry
o Get personal finances in order
o Don’t over-commit or over-book
It’s not too late. All is not lost, there are plenty of resolutions you can still make and keep that cover some of the basics of your life. These resolutions are best kept to yourself and, although, they are only a few, will change your life.

Resolution One
I will stop eating in my car.
If there is a stack of empty Starbucks cups behind the passenger seat of your car, you are in trouble. Think of how many times you cursed out loud because the burrito you were eating in your car got all over your shirt. Plus, when you get to those meetings after eating in your car, your potential customers can’t help but notice the ketchup stains on your fingers from opening those little ornery packages. Not to mention eating in your car makes you gain weight because of what you eat in your car. Even though you might not get caught eating that Whopper and fries while going 65 MPH, it will show up in your back side.

Following this one resolution will help you lose weight, look better when you get there and keep your car cleaner. It is safer too since you are not chatting on driving while talking on your cell phone, drinking a latte and eating a scone.

Resolution Two
I will avoid technology addictions and recognize that my Blackberry (or other PDA) is similar to crack cocaine.
If your thumbs are getting bigger than your big toes, you are addicted. If you sneak out into the hallway at 2 am while on family vacations to check your email, you are addicted. Not only are your thumbs getting ruined, your life is going down the technology 24×7 drain. Re-think your life and how you manage your “in-box” and how you use your PDA. Avoid PDA addictions.

Following this resolution will help you lose weight because you can spend more time on finding healthy food instead of worrying about what you are missing. Your cell phone addiction may be too far gone already. If you regularly answer your cell phone while you are in the bathroom, it is too late for you. We will work on that addiction next year.

Resolution Three
I will travel only if absolutely necessary and only to good places.
“Road Warrior” is not necessarily a good title or one that makes you a hero. The one with the most frequent flyer miles is not the winner. Plus, it is becoming increasingly expensive as airport security continues to take away that 5 oz. tube of toothpaste and tells you that only 3 oz. tubes are allowed but it doesn’t come in 3 oz. tubes. Traveling is difficult and will age you before your time. There are other tools to use and you will find that the only people that care that you stopped traveling are at the airline. If you do travel, resolve to see a friend while you are there. Following this resolution will help you lose weight because you won’t be eating Gummi Bears at the airport.

Resolution Four
I will improve my communications skills
-PowerPoint is a presentation tool, not a language. It is possible to have a meeting or conversation without speaking in bullets. AVOID DEATH BY POWERPOINT.
-Email is one of the most efficient and effective communications tools of all time. It is not necessarily a management tool. BE A MANAGER, NOT AT E-MAILER.
-Conference calls are a way to keep you off airplanes and are not the time to allow people to work on their emails. LEARN HOW TO CONDUCT CONFERENCE CALLS THAT PEOPLE WANT TO JOIN.
-Meetings can transform from a habit into a vice and often occur only because they are scheduled. Meetings can get in the way of meeting goals. TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MEETINGS.
*Even if there are twenty people sitting around a meeting, the one person that calls into a meeting can be the most disruptive. CALL-IN TO MEETINGS ONLY WHEN NECESSARY.
*Everyone is scheduled too tight and can go into a stress spiral when always late. Meetings are a big culprit of schedule stress. END MEETINGS WHEN YOU SAY YOU WILL.

Improving your communications skills might allow you to lose weight because you will be less stressed and less likely to eat that doughnut.

Resolution Five
I will stop saying the word “whatever”.
Saying “whatever” means you are not making decisions. Make decisions, large and small, and live with them. It is possible to go to soccer games and be on a conference call at the same time and be a good manager and a good parent. It is not “whatever”. You made the decision that the mute button is your best friend. It is easy to spend days just saying “whatever” and draining email and voicemail and a sitting in on a constant stream of conference calls. That’s probably not what you are supposed to do. Resolve to be more productive and stop “whatevering”. Eliminating “whatever” will help you lose weight because you won’t say, “Quarter Pounder? Dunkin Doughnuts? OK, both. Whatever!”

There are ruts, habits and routines that are too easily carried from one year to the next. We all want something to look forward to in the new year so get out of the ruts and try one risky new thing like ball room dancing or an adventure vacation Every year goes by fast and the unfulfilled resolutions fly by. Make choices to follow these resolutions and rejoice in them. You will be much thinner when you start next year.

That’s What I Like

Posted by Richard Moran.

After all these years in wine country I was finally invited to a blind wine tasting.

It was a simple exercise, I was in a group and five different glasses of pinot noir were put in front of us. We had to determine where each glass was from, not whether or not we liked the wine. That’s when the fun began because none of us liked any of the wine. In fact, it was awful. All of us were spitting like crazy and all of us admitted we were not spitters.

As the wine expert and group leader tried to facilitate the discussion he asked what special flavors and senses we tasted. One of my colleagues said he detected a hint of a burnt buttered popcorn jelly belly. There was a murmur of agreement because we all know how that one jelly belly can ruin the entire batch that’s popped in the mouth. Another of the tasting group thought he felt the gestalt of World War II in one of the wines. The sentiment was not based on strolling through the French countryside.

We weren’t quite done. Another taster talked about those big bins of just picked grapes that we see spilled on the side of the road this time of year as catching the romance of one of the wines. Yet another said the wine conjured up images of making out in front of the Chi Omega house in the front seat of a Camaro. We weren’t sure if that was good or bad.

When the results were given, none of us guessed correctly on the source of the pinot, not even the right continent. Turns out, the wine we tasted was reasonably expensive and well known but the price and brand had no bearing on whether or not we liked it better.

It didn’t take long to find some wine that we did like and that’s when the questions and discussion really started. The big questions were related: Are we such a bunch of goofs that we can’t tell a cabernet from a Chevrolet? And, related to that, are there really people who can identify the square mile in France that a wine comes from without so much as a hint? We agreed the answer was probably that everyone’s palate knows what it likes and that some have a palate that is beyond belief. With resolve, we promised to bridge the gap and reconvene sometime later when our palates grew larger.

Like most of us, I stand in awe when someone can identify graphite, wet stone or white truffle in a glass of wine. Then there is forest floor, quince, hawthorn and cigar box that others can find. That can’t be a big number of people who can taste all of those nuances. I think my palate stopped developing just a little beyond, “tastes good to me.”

Someone recently asked me, “How does one start to build a proper wine cellar?” My response was, collect what you like and learn from others. The “others” are those that really can taste white fleshy peach as well as those who know what they like and what they don’t.

Living in wine country is the perfect Petri dish for tasting and going to a blind tasting might be the ultimate litmus test of what one likes. A blind tasting is a test unencumbered by the price or the label which is still, I think, the criteria on which most people buy wine. My favorite local events are ones where real wine guys bring bottles along with no label, or at best, a yellow sticky on the side and a date scribbled on the cork. Wine making is truly an art. Wine tasting is a way to exercise your palate and your imagination. It’s good to be around artists and imaginative people.

Rich Moran owns a winery and writes for wine country newspapers.

Success at Holiday Parties

Posted by Richard Moran.

A Primer

At the last really huge corporate Holiday Party I attended, a young woman who reported to me jumped up on stage just as the beginning drum beats to the classic “Love Shack” were filling the hall. The crowd went wild that someone would be so brave. I leaned over to my wife and mentioned with apprehension, “I hope this doesn’t go on her permanent record, or mine”. This was not the party at Fox TV or Vanity Fair or some hip record label. It was the big consulting firm Accenture, not known for its singers.

Although a little tipsy, turns out that girl could sing and dance and sing and dance she did. She knew all the words to “Love Shack” even down to that phrase yelled in the middle that many the drunken undergraduate has tried to figure out. I think it is “Tin Roof, Busted!” but I could be wrong on that. It was the highlight of the night at the party and turns out it did end up on her permanent record. She was no longer an anonymous analyst. Now everyone knew her name and she was sought for projects. The thinking might have been, anyone with that much moxie should be able to sell something.

See, Holiday Parties are not always the career killers they are reputed to be. There can be an upside, however rare. Since that Love Shack incident, my own parties have grown dull. Holiday parties are not as wild as they used to be but they are still fraught with stress about whether or not to go, with whom and what to wear, among other critical decisions. Given the time of year and given the fact that most of us do go to that party with optimism, here are some pointers to get the most out of that party.

Go. Yes, always go. Come, on. You have to go. Your co-workers want to see who you are dating or married to and what you think “festive holiday attire” is.

Don’t get drunk at the company holiday party. Repeat, don’t get drunk.*
*No matter how many times I have presented this advice, it is universally ignored. So I suggest adhering to the following advice assuming you will end up in that mind altered state…

Always have someone with you who will remember what you said at the Holiday Party so that you can make appropriate apologies when necessary.
Under all circumstances, when tipsy, stay away from your bosses spouse. You don’t want said spouse to ask later, “Who was that totally smashed person who said you were the besht bosh he ever had?”
Take a taxi home. Embarrassing yourself can be forgiven, being reckless cannot.

If you are the boss, give your toast and speech of thanks early. Before the audience or you have had too much to drink.
Stay away from any one with a video camera. You may think you are a good dancer but you might show up on YouTube next to the classic of Elaine from Seinfeld dancing at that party.
For that same YouTube reason, don’t wear any fancy clothes that can fall off and reveal something that might show up on an ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend web site.
Never sit with the company lawyers. They are never any fun at these events since they are focused on the liabilities of everything that is happening around them.
If the company is coming to the end of a really bad year, cut the management some slack for goldfish and beer instead of steak and wine. At least they are trying.
Do not sneak out into the hall to check your blackberry or PDA. Leave all blackberries and any thing that seems like work at home.
Remember that there will be no secrets. Anything that happens at the holiday party, does not stay at the holiday party. Whether it involves sex, drugs, facebook pages, rock and roll, annual reviews, wearing lampshades or obese dates; it will be on the web and message boards and other places on Monday.
Lastly, have fun. It is a time to get to know your co-workers in ways never imagined in cube land. It is a time for your date to see who you have praised or complained about all year. It is a time to relax and say, “I made it here for another year.” Congratulations.