Category Archives: Just for Fun

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Dipping Your Pen in the Company Ink

Attraction at work is almost inevitable.  Since we spend somewhere between 1/2 to 2/3 of our waking hours at work on a typical weekday, it is natural for our eyes to zero in on at least 1 person of interest that we work with. At my company there are countless couples who got together because they met at work.

Since a potential romantic situation with a coworker is bound to pop up, it is best to focus on what to do when the situation arises, instead of discussing how to avoid or prevent these situations.

Here is my advice on how to handle when these situations happen:

  • Talk it out… ahead of time– It is important to set some rules ahead of time and stick to them.  If you do not set the expectation that you will not let your newly found infatuation affect your work then feelings will get hurt if work becomes more demanding for one person. Boundaries will be crossed. Also, don’t make your relationship just about discussing things that happen at work. It is easy to fall into this trap, but if you do then your relationship will be based on your work as opposed to other interests or hobbies you and your mate may have. A co-worker of mine was married to another company employee and they made a point not to discuss work with each other unless it was incredibly hilarious or involved one of the people having to move to another geography to keep their job- this seemed to allow them to build a relationship outside of their work.
  • Don’t eat where you sh*t– While it is difficult to control it, do your best not to choose someone who is too close to you at work. If possible, look outside of your immediate team and stay away from bosses/subordinates. Many companies have rules against the latter and when it comes to workplace romance, incest is NOT best. If the relationship doesn’t work out (which it often doesn’t) you don’t want to have to see and/or talk with the other person every single day.
  • Keep things quiet– When it comes to talking out issues at work it is natural to rely on co-workers. Co-workers understand what your job is like and the pressures you are under. But when it comes to workplace relationships, it is important not to confide in co-workers. If anything private about your relationship (its problems or otherwise) were to leak it could really hurt your reputation throughout the company.  When dipping your pen in the company ink make sure to get support from your friends outside of work.
  • Separate work from play– Although tempting, don’t mess around with your special someone at work.  If you let this slip, there is an exponentially higher likelihood that your work performance will suffer. If you start adding impromptu “flirting” or “fooling around” sessions to your schedule during the workday you may start missing meetings and deadline, no matter how organized you are. Many companies also have code of conduct rules that you must be conscious of related to workplace relationships… the rules may even affect your job.

One final consideration to note is how to deal with a relationship after it’s over. Ideally this topic was discussed because the couple heeded the first piece of advice I got (talking out how they would handle a break-up). Yet if not, the best course of action is to move on. Stay above gossip and bad-talk about your ex and focus on your job, it’s as simple as that.

Here is another article I found interesting on the topic that offers some additional in-depth advice.




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Business Lessons From Movies (part 1)

It’s no secret, I LOVE movies!

While they mainly provide endless entertainment value, from time to time parts of movies offer solid advice on how to be successful in business (as well as good illustrations of how NOT to be successful).  In the spirit of illustrating my affinity for film, here are some notable quotes from some awesome movies that also have a business lesson within:

  1. Catch Me if You Can: “Two little mice fell into a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned, but the second mouse, he struggled so hard that he eventually churned that cream into butter and he walked out. Amen.” For those that recall, this line came when Leonardo DiCarprio’s character was put on the spot by his soon to be father-in-law to say a prayer at the dinner table.  Lesson- people love to hear stories and analogies. Make sure to use them whenever possible.  Moreover, have a few carefully crafted stories that are effective and memorable that you can pull out of your hat whenever possible. Stories make lessons memorable. When explaining my own management style I refer to “Aaron’s Allstate Hands.” For those familiar with the insurance company’s logo, I adapted it to be one hand below (to support my people) and one hand behind (to push my people to do their best)… it is a bit quirky, but it is memorable and effective.  Side lesson- this quote itself has a good message, don’t be the one who gives up.
  2. Boiler Room: “A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close?” Ben Affleck’s character is pretty right on with this direct statement. Most people assume if they are not in a “sales” role that they are not really selling.  The truth is that you are selling every day, from selling your ideas to your boss and peers to selling the value that you would bring to a company in a job interview; if you are not comfortable with selling, you better find a way to get comfortable with it. Morever, when selling don’t focus on telling the other person all about the benefits of the product, find out what is important to them and key in on that– then you will capture their interest.
  3. Steel Magnolias: “Smile. It enhances your face value.” I know this may seem like a strange reference, but there is a message behind Dolly Parton’s character’s cute statement. People generally respond positively to happiness. If you rely on anger and generating stress for others you will create fear and resentment. Instead when you build a positive branding for yourself then you create empowerment, trust support and buy-in from others.
  4. American Gangster: (I needed a bit of redemption for the Steel Magnolias reference above) “The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.” As the old saying goes, we were born with two ears and one mouth and we should use them accordingly.  Especially as a young professional it is important to be quick to listen and slow to talk. When you listen, you gain key lessons and often can build off of what was said to gain buy-in for your opinions.  If you focus on talking, there is a higher likelihood that you will hurt yourself politically in your workplace (and there is more of a chance you will say something stupid).  The less you talk, the more people will listen when you actually do talk.
  5. Office Space: “My only real motivation is not to be hassled– that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough no to get fired.” No reference to business related movies would be complete without mentioning Office Space… Oh Peter Gibbons, you make a solid point here.  While coming out of school the idea of making loads of money does sound pretty fantastic, money as a complete motivator has a short shelf-life. People need to be challenged and need to feel like they are part of something they believe in to be truly empowered and to operate at their highest potential.  Look at what you are passionate about and find more ways to do those things. Ala Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech, ask yourself what is motivating you and if you love what you are doing from time to time. This will tell you when it is time to do something new. Don’t be motivated by avoiding hassle and defensively keeping your job. Go on the offensive with things you are passionate about.

There are definitely more quotes and lessons where these came from.  Keep an eye out for future posts in months to come and remember that the lessons within movies can have solid advice that is valid in the context of building success in the corporate world.




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Corporate BINGO!

Sometimes you just need to lighten things up a bit… Especially on a Friday!

What is the key to keeping sharp and awake through back to back to back conference calls and meetings?

It’s having fun with it!

While there are many ways to “spice up” your work day (a friend of mine put tin foil all over her coworker’s office with a couple peers… note: I’m not saying I recommend doing this. It’s just an example), one simple way is to play favorite game of geriatrics all over the country- BINGO!

I think we have all been at meetings where our boss (or one of the higher ups) is going over results or the plan for the next quarter and he/she starts to ramble, spouting off all sorts of cliche corporate lingo.  Why not find a way to keep track of how “gimmicky” and absurd the talk gets? (while staying more engaged)

Here is how to play…

First make your game board.  Basically everyone has seen a Bingo board- a 5 square x 5 square grid (25 boxes total). Second, fill in a “corporate speak” word in each box (with a FREE space in the middle).

Here is a quick list to get you started… bottom line, synergies, change agent, strategic initiative, at the end of the day, benchmark, value-add, win-win, fast track… I think you get the point.  Here is a site that offers a fairly good template:

Warning– when you play the game, you may come to the realization that whomever corporate officer or manager speaking is totally BSing, or uses a bunch of these words to sound more strategic.  You may also realize how often you end up saying these words yourself (I know I do!).

Here are a couple ways to play:

Standard– Print one out and bring it to a corporate conference… odds are this is the best and fastest venue to fill out your BINGO card.

Bold– Pull out your game board during a conference call. It is one way to force you to keep paying attention to whomever is droning on about covers on TPS reports (or Swingline Staplers!)

BOLDER– Bring your gameboard to a face-to-face meeting.  Make sure to bring a few other papers to hide your gameboard between.  The challenge is marking off the words without getting caught.

In every set of instructions there is a “Winning the Game” section… Winning the Game: Not getting caught! As Bernie Mac’s character in the movie Oceans 13 put it… “Nuff Said.”

Enjoy… Any other fun work games out there that you play?

Mr. Biz, OUT!

To work from home, or not to work from home… that is the question

Just for fun I figured I would offer some thoughts on a choice that a growing number of employees have… should I work for home?

“Telecommuting” (as many refer to it) can provide many benefits from less time wasted commuting and fewer “co-worker related” distractions.  You don’t have to worry about going to a restaurant to eat, you just need to walk to the kitchen… and you don’t even need to get all dressed up.  There is a lot of flexibility that I like.  You may need to take care of a personal matter for an hour but then you can also work longer into the evening if necessary, which can be hard to do in the office (ever notice how in a lot of office buildings the lights have a timer that make them automatically turn off at 6 or 6:30pm?)

On the other hand, there are many “non-work related” distractions when you are at home… like the TV shows sitting on your DVR or that one on-demand movie you had wanted to see but didn’t get a chance to watch over the weekend.

I think the following really sums it up well:

Bottom line- working from home can be great but it is important to keep in mind the famous words of the philosopher Aristotle, “moderation in all things.”

Too much working from home and your social skills (and hygiene) may suffer.

Mr Biz, OUT.

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