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Showing posts from 2014

New Year, New Job

Are you looking for a job in the new year and have the idea that the festive season and early in the new year are not the best time to find one? Its true to a point, however, there are companies that are keen to start the new year with a full complement of people and are proactively looking to recruit and fill vacant positions. It is possible to take advantage of this and position yourself as a front runner. Getting to the front of the recruitment queue Quieter periods may mean that you get the opportunity to meet directly with senior personnel and decision makers, instead of going through layers of interviews. A carefully constructed, well thought out and presented curriculum vitae can bypass many restrictions and competition and secure interviews. It is always best to remember that the small things count, especially when the rules of engagement are different. Follow up notes A post-interview ‘thank you’ mail or note will be a memory aid for the interviewer. Additionally, a well writt…

Chair Kickers and Queue Jumpers

I am one of the elite who is chosen to always sit in front of the chair kicker at the movies.   It is a great privilege that I don’t take lightly.
I start by subtly turning my head to see if there is really somebody behind me, because it is possible that the row of seats is a little unstable.
If there is, I hope that it’s just a once off settling in bump.   Sadly, by the third or fourth kick in the first ten minutes, the movie is no longer my main focus.   My husband is often kind enough to swap seats.   Now can he just not feel it, or do they stop kicking when they are facing the back of the head of a 6’3” man?
It happens on planes, too, and even in a financial reporting session recently.   My personal favourite is the person who is only able to stand up from his plane seat by leaning heavily on the back of mine, tilting me backwards while he raises himself into a standing position.   Sitting is an equally challenging process which requires both hands on the back of my seat, a sharp pul…

Just because its legal...

……..doesn't make it right!
We all know people who define right as "within the law". In other words, if you won't go to jail for it, it has to be OK.
Sadly, the law is so stretched today, we have also stretched the legal and right parameters.
People who have studied Ethics can present us with numerous situations where knowing which the right decision should be is almost impossible.
It is interesting that there is a school of thought that believes that everybody is corrupt (except themselves – they are just forced to go with the flow).   Not corruptible, but corrupt.  It is a cynical view, and the truth is there is a good chance they are going to be correct enough times to be able to treat opposition as na├»ve!
Have certain white collar issues become generally acceptable?
We had an internal fraud case a few years ago.  One of the fraudsters told me, and he appeared to believe it, that he didn't see what was so wrong.  He was of the opinion that this was how all new compan…

How are you managing your Jet Stream? Building a personal brand.

"Never judge a book by its cover" - well, eBooks have certainly changed this, for me, because its not about the cover, its about the content, the advertorial and the recommendations of other readers.

When I was a teenager, I read a book that had a profound impact on me - A Patch of Blue, by Elizabeth Kata.

The story is about a young white blind girl who meets a black man and falls in love.   The realisation of how much of our judgement of people is based on their externals, was both depressing and empowering.
Depressing because if you don't fit into preconceived ideas of what success looks like, you are at a disadvanatageEmpowering because that knowledge allows you to work at making the best of yourself by reading widely, practising lifelong learning, as well as looking professional (industry appropriate) and being reasonably well organised.Angela Peacock and the People Development Team, have done great work around conscious and unconscious bias, and the impact it has, in…

Procrastination or Carpe Diem?

Like many people, I constantly feel guilty about procrastinating.   I make long lists of things to do, and feel extremely virtuous if I cross any off.
When I started writing this article I was focusing on reducing the guilt, while improving the flow of work and personal projects, as well as still managing to have genuine chill time.
Then, I remembered a Robert Benchley article which I had read years and years ago, at school, (so really a long time ago).   It was called How to Get Things done, so I googled it (I do love Google, I feel I am achieving things when I do research) and reread it.  Just delightful.  It had to be shared, and so I did that on LinkedIn.
Back to my article on procrastination, realized it had turned into an article about decision making, and so I published it.  
The following day, I returned to my article on procrastination and, what a surprise, noted that I was a living case study for procrastination, as well as how to get things done the Robert Benchley way, becaus…

How do you take notes in meetings?

Tablet or Notebook? Moleskine, anyone…..
Three years ago, the move from laptops and notebooks to tablets in meetings was noticeable.  If you didn’t have one, you definitely felt a little technologically challenged.  Move to November, 2014, and what do you see? A myriad shaped moleskine notebooks emerging, mostly black! Trends in Usage
Laptops are getting smaller, only to be augmented by huge screens on desks, loose keyboards and additional disk drives. (Although the laptop is effectively being used as a mobile disk drive.) I assume that, in some cases, this set up is duplicated in home offices. So laptops are easy and light to carry into meetings, and, of course, tablets have added keyboards and yet….
In meeting after meeting, I am seeing the switch back to notebooks and pens. Mini Research Project
Is it just my perception? Or are some of you noticing the same thing? Links, References and Notes
Business Connexion:Accsys
email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn

Do you have enough money to retire on?

Does anybody really have enough retirement income?

Okay, the really rich, but for most people today, there will definitely be a cutting back after retirement.

And that’s the crux.   If you are used to living a certain way, it is not easy to change your patterns when you stop working.

A combination of the new Liberty Life ad and an excellent presentation to Accsys clients and staff by Professor Jackie Arendse, got me thinking.

Liberty says that the average monthly earner receives 480 payslips in their lives.  If you retire at 60 and live until 85, you will have 300 months when you don’t earn a salary!   That is a frightening thought.

When you consider that the average age keeps rising, and retirement ages have not been increasing at the same pace, planning for retirement becomes more critical than ever.

Rumour has it that the first person to live to 150 has already been born.   What do you think her retirement age will be?

Retirement Reform

No wonder the government have looked at Retire…

Is any decision better than none?

Decisions, decisions, decisions
Slow decision making is seen as weak leadership.   True or False?
People make comments like “Well, at least he makes decisions” as if any decision is better than none.
And once a decision is made, woe betide the leader who changes his or her mind.
No matter that new facts have come to light, or that certain information was deliberately withheld, leaders who change their minds are incompetent in the eyes of many.
So getting the balance right between sourcing all the relevant facts to make a decision, and not waiting so long that you are seen to be a procrastinator, is not easy.
And allowing yourself to be forced into decision making because of outside opinion is also not a great choice.
Leaders have to accept early in their careers that popularity based on decisions made should  not be a goal. It can be a nice side effect as long as you realise that it will only be a small group that like most of your decisions, and a much larger one that believes they c…

Do you need to train on every software package you use?

The short answer is yes!

As a software vendor, we regularly get told the following:
My staff don't have time to come on trainingWe will come on training once it is all workingWe have worked on other similar packages, we will teach ourselvesThe person leaving will teach the new user While most software companies limit services to formally trained operators, this rule can cause serious relationship challenges with clients.
The reality is that staff who don't have time to come on training spend a lot of time learning on the job, over the phone on lengthy calls to service centres and don't learn many of the shortcuts and tips that enable them to use the product more effectively.

While many vendors spend large sums on developing manuals, whether soft or hard copy, we have found that a lot of people prefer to simply phone the supplier.
Delaying training until everything is working also can slow down the roll out of the product, as well as add risk to both supplier and user compan…

Living My World of Tomorrow Today

When we look at the future, and what we want from our world of tomorrow, our point of departure is usually what is available today. So I took a step back into my childhood and tried to imagine what my future dreams would have been.    I was a bit of a day dreamer, and know that I rather shocked my Grade 6 teacher, and my mom, by saying I wanted to be buried at the North Pole, so that the worms wouldn’t get me.   Still waiting for Cryogenics or Cryonics What was I expecting? The question is would my 16 year old self recognise the world I now live in. She would certainly expect me to still be reading a lotShe would not expect me to have a Kindle and an iPad, with hundreds of books downloaded but still belong to two print book clubs (the ladies are so nice, and we have such fun, and a little bit of wine) I know she would also be delighted by: Laser (hair removal and eye surgery, among other things)Microwave ovensInstant access to Google, she was as much a trivia junky then, as I amOn line …

Back to the Future - My World of Tomorrow

My World of Tomorrow – Back to the Future
The build up to the Business Connexion (BCX) event has really got me thinking back over the early days of working in the computer industry.
As a fully fledged baby boomer, my career started when being a computer programmer still had a strong air of mystique.
Computer rooms were gigantic, smoke free zones, limited to the chosen few.
We hand wrote code, the punch room ladies punched it onto cards, and we booked time for testing.
Testing time was very tight, the reason so many of us worked lots of overtime.    Much easier to get a testing slot after hours, and the computer rooms ran 24 hours shifts, anyway.
Overtime usually started with drinks at Jimmy’s Tavern in Braamfontein, and led to a few punch card disasters!
Carrying the punch cards for a big program was a delicate, balancing act.   If you dropped them, getting them back into order was a real challenge, even if you remembered to number them….
At NCR, developing communications systems so t…

My World of Tomorrow - MWOT

Speculating about what would really change our world is a constant conversation in IT companies.   Business Connexion (BCX) and  +Accsys being no exceptions.
When BCX decided to launch an Expo and Conference around the topic, the conversations became really focused.  Personally, I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy junky, and that is, in part, because what was SciFi when I was 20 is now a daily reality.    My dad died in 1972.   He was a real futurist, always wondering what would be happening next, whether in buildings or technology.   Part of his legacy is that he taught me to think like that, too.
If you re-read HG Wells, Jules Verne, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, you will see what I mean.   And if you are lucky enough to be reading any of them for the first time, you will agree how truly prophetic those writers were.   And as for Da Vinci…..
So what do the Accsys staff look for in their world of tomorrow?    It is an interesting mix of personal and business requirements.
My perso…
Biometrics – Identification or Verification
At +Accsys, we get asked everything from how fingerprints form, to what is the best solution, identification or verification.
Then there is optical or capacitance as a choice, too.
Lots of choices.
The Identification or Verification question is interesting, though.   Biometric identification is simple, you present the required body part to the reader, and it recognises you based on an algorithm saved on the system.   Verification requires media or a pin code first, then you are asked to verify that it has the right person by presenting your finger or face etc.
Verification is more secure, as it relies on the double affirmation.    However, unless pin code is used, it requires the employee to carry media, with the attendant risk of loss or “I forgot it at home”, not to mention the cost of the media.
While verification does seem to be a slower choice, in certain circumstances it can speed up the operation, as the memory search for the correct …

Marketing and Measurement

I do love a good truism and "You can't manage what you can't measure" is one of them.

Why do so many companies, the moment they hit tough financial times, look to Marketing departments as a place to save costs.

While it may be a short term cost saver, the truth is it might also seem to be a good, long term decision, because so many marketing departments do not deliver easily measurable results.

Yes, they deliver great ideas, brilliant award winning advertisements, fabulous collateral and mind blowing events.   But how do they measure success?

I believe it is critical for Marketing departments to have very clear measurables running parallel with brand building.

I feel the same way about training and conferences.

Sometimes the only way to evaluate whether things are working, is to stop doing them, and do before and after comparisons!   Dangerous, though.

To get back to brand building, it is really tough to evaluate brand improvement over shortish time periods which mak…

Drawing in the customer

Recently, I was in Istanbul for the first time.   Wandering around one of the many, fantastic street markets, I saw a display of the most luscious looking dates.

My son loves them, so I walked over.   Within moments, one of the men in the store came over, and started discussing dates with me and which would be the best choice.   He told me where he sources them, as well as some of his more interesting other merchandise.

He shared that he ships products internationally, and took me around the store to show me.  He insisted I tasted them, just the best pistachio nougat ever.   He slipped a few samples into my bag, and I added saffron to my purchases.

Then my family joined me in the store, and they were all offered nougat to taste, as well.   By this time, we were on first name terms.

On our way out, we walked through the adjoining carpet and silks store.   Silk scarves were on my shopping list, so I had a look.   It turns out he owned that store, too.   As we were buddies, I was given a…

Was that a compliment????

Sometimes I just don't know how to respond to things people say.

One of my favourite conversation stoppers is the question "Did you get your hair done?   Now, if you respond yes, and they say "Oh", or say nothing further, what do you think your next response should be?

How about, "Is that a new dress?  - same problem.

Following on from those is the combination question and statement "Teryl? that's an unusual name."   I used to say "yes", then I got a bit irritated somewhere in my early 40's, and said, with as nice a smile as I could muster "Not to me, I've had it for over 40 years", now I go with just the smile.

Johannesburg haters are my next challenge.   I have lived in Jozi for most of my adult life, I met my husband there, had my two wonderful children, have some truly amazing friends, and have built a challenging and interesting career, I am really happy in our vibrant, economic centre of the country.

I wonder how …