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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Change is Good...You Go First

As a leader, deciding to make changes is the easy part. Getting your people on board is much more difficult. Why is that? Quite simply, change is an emotional process. We are all creatures of habit who usually resist it, and welcome routine. Uncharted waters are scary!

In the long run, however, sameness is the fast track to mediocrity. And, mediocre companies won't survive. 

Tuli Kupferberg said it best..."When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." And, that is your convince your team that the new world you are trying to create is better than the one you're in. Is it easy? Of course not. It takes planning, commitment, patience and courage.

The truth, of course, is that change can be a wonderful gift. In fact, it is the key that unlocks the doors to growth and excitement in any organization. And, most importantly, without it...your competition will pass you by. A big part of success, as a leader, will be your ability to inspire your team to get out of their comfort zones; to assure them that even though they are on a new path, it's the right path, for the right reasons.

An excerpt from
Change is Good...You Go First
by Mac Anderson and Tom Feltenstein
Something magical happens when we accept personal responsibility for our behavior and our results. But, it's not easy, because it's human nature to "pass the buck". I (Mac) know there have been times in my life when my business was struggling where I found myself blaming others, blaming the economy, blaming this, blaming that! But as I've gotten older (and a little wiser) when things go wrong in my business, or my life, I can always find the the mirror. In every instance, it always comes back to choices I've made in my life that put me exactly where I am today. I have to say, that this one "tweak" in my attitude may sound like a little thing, but it has made a big difference in my life.

What does all this have to do with change? Plenty! As a manager, one of the most important things you can do in times of change is to get your people to understand how taking personal responsibility and recognizing problems as opportunities, will not only help the company, but will help them as individuals. In other words, sell the idea of...what's in it for them?

Authors B.J. Gallagher and Steve Ventura wrote a great little book about achieving success through personal accountability titled: Who Are "They" Anyway? I like their list showing how each individual in the company can benefit by adopting a "personal accountability attitude."

• You have more control over your destiny
• You become an active contributor rather than a passive observer
• Others look to you for leadership
• You gain the reputation as a problem solver
• You enhance your career opportunities
• You enjoy the satisfaction that comes from getting things done...the power of positive doing
• You experience less anger, frustration and helplessness - all leading to better physical health
• You realize a positive spillover effect into your personal life at home

According to Gallagher and Ventura, the most important words of personal responsibility are as follows:
The 10 most important words:
I won't wait for others to take the first step.
The 9 most important words:
If it is to be, it's up to me.
The 8 most important words
If not me, who? If not now, when?
The 7 most important words:
Let me take a shot at it.
The 6 most important words:
I will not pass the buck.
The 5 most important words:
You can count on me.
The 4 most important words:
It IS my job!
The 3 most important words:
Just do it!
The 2 most important words:
I will.
The most important word:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How do credit cards compare to bank debit cards?

Half of all US consumers surveyed recently by TransUnion said they use their bank's debit card to pay for most of their purchases, but debit card fraud is increasing. Many of these same consumers reported that they fear becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.  How easy is it for someone to get your debit card information and help themselves to cash?

In case of loss or fraud

With both credit cards and ATM or debit cards, the key to quick recovery and low liability is how quickly you report the loss. If you report a credit card loss before the cards are used, under the Fair Credit Billing Act you aren't responsible for any unauthorized charges. If you report an ATM or debit card missing before it's used without permission, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act provides that the card issuer cannot hold you responsible for any unauthorized transfers. But the cards differ here: if you don't report the loss of an ATM or debit card within two business days after you discover the loss, you could lose up to $500 because of an unauthorized transfer. You also risk unlimited loss if you fail to report an unauthorized transfer within 60 days after your bank statement containing unauthorized use is mailed to you.

Cash vs. debit cards

Making purchases with cash, like debit cards, won't lead to finance charges. But cash can be lost or stolen and can never be recovered. A lost or stolen card, on the other hand, can immediately be reported to limit possible liability.

Debit card vs. ATM-only card

Most banks will issue you an old-fashioned ATM-only card, that allows you to withdraw cash from an ATM but unlike debit cards, don't operate on credit card networks. If lost or stolen, an ATM-only card is useless to a thief who doesn't also have your PIN code.

All payment methods have benefits and drawbacks. But from a fraud standpoint, the amount of liability for fraud losses may be lower with credit cards. To avoid piling up debt if you’re going to use it for daily purchases, apply for a new, low limit card and pay off what you’ve charged every month.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My first life lesson on systems

I was 25 years of age and thinking of settling down, getting married and raise a family.  Life had been good to me and just thought it was time.  No more games just enjoy life that’s ahead of me.
I met this girl 3 years my junior, not the usual girl would date but thought it was time for a change and wanted to make my family proud and I was looking forward to settling with one woman for a change.
I landed my first full time employment after experiencing different types of work.  Didn’t pay much $6.50 an hour, but it was a start.  I started off as an order picker, easy job just filling orders and getting them ready for the shipper.  Fun job, regular breaks, started at 8:00 am and finished at 4:30.
After about 3 months the shipper had quit so I started packing the orders I had picked and prepared for shipment.  I had picked all the orders that came in and now had to have them ready for shipment.  The Warehouse manager was showing me what needed to be done to prepare the packages for the courier company and what forms needed to be completed for each shipment.
There were shipments all over Canada and they needed to be weighed and priced out for invoicing.  So we start one package at a time and managed to get all the orders packed, invoiced and ready for pick up by the courier company.
No sweat!
Six months into my employment I met some great people, brought my mom to work as well as a seamstress.  The company was manufacturing Shower curtains and they were short staff so I mentioned the opportunity to my mom and my employer and that week she started work.
7 months into my employment I arrive at work and find out that the warehouse manager had quit.  I was thinking what happens now?  I had gotten to know the designer very well during my time here and asked him what I should do?  He looked at me and said, “just follow the system”.  I looked at him and said, “What system?” Just repeat everything you were taught and follow it. 
This was strange to me for I had never taken control of anything till that day.  The boss was not in so I had no instructions except for the orders that were prepared for me.  So my lesson began.
Shipment from Switzerland arrives and the merchandise need to be counted entered into it’s designated section and inventory updated.  OK, all done. That only took me two hours.  Now I need to pick the orders for today’s shipment.
Started picking the orders and laid them out on the floor one by one.  This process took me about 2.5 hours, time was getting late the courier was going to be here at 3:30 and it was lunchtime.  I had no help but I knew it had to be done.
I was speaking with Helmit over lunch and we talked about just following the same routine as I’ve seen everyone do time after time.  I was shocked to see how much I had accomplished in such a short period of time.
After lunch I started packing all the orders, I was having a great time, radio playing listening to all the hits being played and at times I remember hearing the same tune twice.  With all the excitement between the music and the thrill of doing something different for a change just drove me.
3:30 had come around and all the parcels were packed, tagged and invoiced, I looked around and said to Helmit “now what”.  He asked me if I had done everything and I said yes, order came in, entered into inventory, picked all the orders, packed them and parcels are ready at the shipping door on the skids for the courier to pick them up.
I was sitting at the Managers desk and the boss came walking into the warehouse.  I was ready a newspaper and I thought oh shit, now I’m in trouble.  He looked at me and said were are all the orders.  I told him the courier had already been here.  He asked if the shipment had arrived and I told him that it did and it was already entered into inventory.
He just looked at me and said you did this all on you own.  I told him I had spoken to Helmit and he said to just follow the system and I did.
Into my 8th month at this company, which by the way is the longest I’ve every stayed with one company I became warehouse manager.  I went from earning $13,500 a year to $45,000 in just nine months.  What a wedding present.
There is a system in everything we do in life.  Find it and work it and you will succeed.