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Integrity & Awareness by Paul Burnstein

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Work Interruptions

I am currently working in an office that has been dropping it's Internet connection a few times an hour (not purposely). We do have someone coming out to check it, but it is frustrating nonetheless to have our work interrupted.

What I have noticed is that it takes away from my rhythm when all of a sudden I cannot load the page I need or get the information I am after. One staff member here jokingly remarked that he was going to appreciate it more when the Internet is up since it is sill running a majority of the time.

The awareness for today is to appreciate when we can work without interruptions and to be patient with ourselves and others we cannot avoid interruptions.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Different Personalities

This weekend I was at a holiday party hosted by some Intel employees. Everyone was very nice, but I did notice it was a social event filled with introverts. That is not a complaint as I am often quite introverted myself.

What this made me realize is that it really does take all different kinds of people to shape our world. I have been interviewing sales candidates over the last couple of weeks and I have noticed there as well that different personalities are needed for different reasons.

The awareness for today is to step back from judgement and appreciate that there are many different personality types out there and we each have our own roles to play in the grand scheme of things.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Example of Poor Customer Service

I tried out a new networking group yesterday. I don't think I will go again, but the experience was worth sharing. I had contacted the executive director of the group and she invited me to come and attend their (at the time) upcoming event as a guest and even registered me for the event. I looked at all of the information on their website and even read through the additional information she had shown me.

When I showed up for the luncheon, she said that it was $20. What?!?! It was not about the dollar amount, but rather the fact that there had never once been a mention of me having to pay just to explore this group. I have attended MANY different networking groups and have never had to pay to explore a group for a single attendance. This rubbed me the wrong way, but the executive director did not care in the least. The event was fair at best.

Upon my return to the office, I looked over all of the information I had seen previously to see if there was ever any mention of cost of attendance and there was not.

I decided to write her to share my feelings and findings. This is my complete e-mail to her without the headers or signature block (and event name and web addresses removed):

Hi Pat~

Thank you for having me as a guest today at the XXX luncheon event. I wanted to readdress the cost issue that I was shocked by when I arrived.

Looking back at your website, there are no prices/costs to attend listed on any of the event pages I looked at which included:

[web address removed]
[web address removed]

Perhaps if I had registered myself there would have been mention of a cost during the registration process, but you registered me so I did not go through that process.

Twenty dollars is not the end of the world, but as I said there was never mention of it before actually showing up at the event and that definitely rubbed me the wrong way.



Here is her response with headers and signature block removed (nothing else has been altered):

I am not sure why it got left off as I entered the price when I put the information on the website. It is on their for other monthly meetings.

She did not even want to address that I was bothered by this. She did not address the e-mail to me, nor even sign off. I don't believe that she even cares whether I join or not.

This is a great example of someone simply not caring nor standing behind their work. I find it quite unprofessional and off putting.

The awareness for today is to listen to your customers/clients/patients when they are put off by something and do your best to resolve it while addressing their concerns.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back Pain

Ouch. I am still dealing with a lot of back pain that came from a car accident I had in 2001. I go through periods where it is fine and periods where it is definitely not fine...right now is one of those not fine periods.

The awareness for today is to make sure and take care of yourself physically.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Professional E-Mail Addresses

I have many (too many) different e-mail addresses; ones for business, personal, posting items for sale, from different organizations, etc. I do not recommend getting an e-mail for every occasion, however, I do believe people should have a professional e-mail address to use as needed.

When someone applies for a job using his or her personal e-mail address, it can look quite unprofessional (i.e.; I have seen this and I know people who still do it. I am not saying one should not have that address, but when you are sending e-mails related to business, get a professional address if you don't have one (i.e.; you do not have to use it for anything else.

The awareness for today is to have plenty of fun coming up with a creative e-mail address for personal use, but remember that when it comes time for business use, a professional e-mail address is appropriate.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Certainty of Change

Looking out the window, I can see that autumn is truly here. Trees have leaves of many colors or no leaves at all. It is a beautiful time of year. It is important to recognize that with change comes, well, change. While we can struggle against it as much as we would like, change is inevitable.

The awareness for today is to pay attention to the one thing we know for certain in this world: things will change; impermanence is real.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cold, Rainy Friday

Today will not be a late day in the office. It is rainy and cold outside and I had a large lunch, so I am just dragging this afternoon. I am not a coffee drinker, so that is not an option. I think, no, I know that I will not be working late today and that is okay. For me it is about completing my tasks, not the hours it takes to do them.

The awareness for today is let go and take it easy if we need to. Obviously, we cannot always take it easy, but when we can, let's take advantage of it.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Responsibility for Our Actions

I have recently connected some consultants with funding sources of mine. I always feel that is a good thing as it leads to the potential of me receiving referral or finder's fees for successful deals. The frustrating part is that I have been getting two completely different stories when I check in with both sides.

The consultants say they were told one thing, while the funding sources explain they were saying something else. I then try to interpret it and share it back with the consultants, hoping to keep them from being too discouraged. I do whatever I can to keep both sides communicating. Sometimes there is nothing I can do.

The awareness for today is that we can only control our own actions (and even then control is an illusion); let's say we can only be responsible for our own actions. In saying that, let us do our best to improve any situation we are in rather than bog it down.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Productive Long Meetings

I had a finance meeting this morning that went for over three hours! It was a long meeting, but very productive. The small group of us worked on the financial plan for a start up company. It was a drastic change from the plan we had before and it really helped to tie up the business model in a much more succinct package.

Short and simple...the awareness for today is that not all business meetings are a waste of time. Meetings should not occur simply to meet up, there needs to be a purpose for the meeting. With a purpose and an end goal, meetings can be quite productive.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back Pain and a Short(er) Fuse

Since travelling last weekend, my back has been causing me a lot of pain. I spent most the weekend relaxing, keeping my feet up, hoping that would help, but it is still hurting me today, so I know that I need to get some help; I am trying to get in to see a chiropractor.

The reason I bring up my back pain is because I notice that because of the pain, I am less patient and quicker to be aggressive with others. This is definitely not my intention and being aware of it has helped. I wrote about this not too long ago, saying that we never know what the person on the other side of the table/other end of the phone is going through.

The awareness for today is patience with ourselves and others. We need to pay attention to our bodies and help ourselves if we can, but we also need to be considerate of others and their issues.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Volunteer Boards

This morning I met with a fantastic organization that would like to open up discussions with me about joining their board of directors. I definitely take this as a compliment and if everything is in alignment for both the organization and myself, I will do it. I have been on boards before and one thing to take into consideration is that it can be quite a drain as far as time involved.

The boards that I have generally been involved with are entirely volunteer boards. As board members, we are giving our time to help organizations that we believe in. It is very important to pick our volunteer activities carefully so that we do not spread ourselves too thin and provide a lousy job to many organizations rather than the ideal, which is to provide a fantastic job (most likely to a limited number of organizations).

If I could be a full time philanthropist, I would. I would sit on many boards and create my work week around those volunteer activities. However, that is not where I am and I therefore need to ensure that I pick organizations that I truly want to stand behind.

The awareness for today is to pick our volunteer activities carefully so that they do not drain us and we are not a drain on them, but instead we help add to the organizations we choose to help.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bargaining Power

If you were to buy a house, you would not wait until the day of closing to negotiate the price. At that point you have very little bargaining power because you have put in a lot of time, energy and interest in getting to that point and the seller knows it. At the closing you could say I want [a specific low price], but the seller could easily say no, knowing that you already want the house or you would not have been involved in the process up until closing; it is obvious that you have invested in the house whether financially or not.

So with that example in place, it does not make sense to me to see people negotiate referral fees, salaries or stock participation in companies after they have already been involved in them. Now one can always walk away from any deal, but the further along we are, the more expensive it is to do so.

The awareness for today (and this is very important for myself as well) is to not get ourselves stuck in the place of little leverage. We need to look at our situations and ensure that we are getting the deal we want from the beginning, not pushing it off to deal with when we have no bargaining power.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lost Luggage? No Worries.

I just returned late last night from my brother's wedding in luggage returned this morning. I read once that there are two types of luggage: carry-on and lost.

We were going to carry everything on, but one of our bags busted and we decided we did not want to have to deal with it, so we tied up the bag and checked it in at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. We then went to check in at North West Airlines and confirmed that our bags would go all the way through to Portland (we did not book the flights at the same time, so we had a flight to Los Angeles and then from Los Angeles to Portland.

Our flight from Los Angeles to Portland was booked online through American Airlines. I tried checking in online and found that there was some error and I could not do it. While in Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, we went to the American Airlines ticketing counter and could not check in there either; we were told that it was an affiliate flight for Alaska Airlines and we would have to wait and check in once we were at Los Angeles International Airport.

To begin with, we only had an hour between flights and knew that we did not want to have to leave the secure area or we would most likely be late catching our flight to Portland. The airplane departed an hour late, but made up some of that time. When we landed in LA, we had about forty-five minutes to check in and come back through security and we actually made it in minutes. The North West Airlines crew made an announcement asking passengers to let us off first so we could make our flight and most people were quite courteous.

Well, we made our flight, but our luggage didn't. Alaska Airlines delivered our luggage this morning and it really was not that big of a deal; a little frustrating, but no skin off my back.

The awareness for today is that worrying does not help in the least. There was nothing that we could do last night to remedy the situation, so we let it be and went with the flow. Everything worked out fine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Getting Out the Door

There is always one last thing to do. I am trying to get out of town (I have a plane that I need to catch) and one thing after another keeps coming up. As much as possible, I do not want to have a pile to deal with upon my return. I also need to set a cut off time so that I do not miss my flight. I have never missed a flight and I am always quick to return calls and e-mails.

If I can help my deals move forward by getting agreements in place or providing introductions before I leave, then I will. However, I cannot and will not let it hold me up when I have other deadlines.

The awareness for today is to be, well, aware. By that I mean aware of our time constraints, our commitments, our goals and our needs. We can only do as much as we can do, but that is where we can put our focus. As I have written before, we each need to set our own boundaries.

I am traveling for a bit. I will write more when I can.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Meeting Confirmations

When I set up meetings via e-mail and there is discussion to the date and time, I always end the e-mail asking for a confirmation back or if I am responding, I make sure and write, "confirmed." I find this helps, when there is confusion, to go back and look at what was agreed upon.

I do not fault people (not that much at least) for making a mistake when it comes to time and date. Mistakes do happen. The problem I have is when someone tries to blame me...that is when it is incredibly helpful to have the confirmation via e-mail.

The awareness for today is to get confirmations and to provide them. Keep your e-mail as records for this; this does not mean you should keep all of your can read about that here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Last Minute Project Frustrations

I am currently working with a client that often comes up with last minute projects. It is quite understandable that there is a need for specific information that could not be planned for. The flip side of this is that last minute information is not always immediately available.

When one needs something immediately, we can only do our best to get it as quickly as possible. The way to alleviate this is to plan our needs out in advance or not make promises to others based on information not yet in hand. Planning will save a lot of time and frustration later on.

The awareness for today is to avoid last minute urgency in our work whenever possible. Plan out your needs in advance and schedule enough time to complete necessary research. This will alleviate pressure on your employees as well; I know firsthand that it can be quite frustrating to be told something is needed immediately only to learn it is not immediately available.