Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Are you getting enough exercise?

Referred Link - http://www.ameliochildcare.com/blog/?p=38



Most parents find it hard to fit an exercise regimen into their tight-squeeze schedules, more so in the case of working parents. But you don’t have to devote too many hours a day on your exercise. Here are a few pointers you can follow to make healthy exercise a part of your daily routine
When Radhika delivered her first child she had gained almost 15 kilos. She resumed work five months after the baby was born and shed most of her pregnancy weight over the next one and half years. However, she felt sluggish and unhealthy and realized that she would gasp for breath if she just walked briskly for about 200 meters! A check up with her doctor showed that all was well, but readings in certain essential areas like cholesterol and hypertension were higher than normal. While diet of course was something she had to mind, she also realized that her fitness level was really low. Clearly, she was not getting enough exercise.
Sounds familiar? Well, like most parents, she had the perfect excuse for not including a fitness routine into her daily timeframe. It was just not her priority when compared to home, her work and her child.
Making exercise and therefore health, a priority is a challenge that most parents face.  But this is a challenge that must be overcome. “If both parents stay healthy, then they bond with the child better,” says Karthi, who runs a gym in Chennai. But the question that looms large is how to include this essential activity into an already tight schedule.
All you need is 15-30 minutes in a day, and you can squeeze that time as you are doing other activities.
Here are a few things you could do:
  1. Fit  in exercise time while your  child naps during the day. You don’t need a treadmill – a skipping rope or a fun exercise DVD will do.
  2. Distract your child with something that will keep them occupied for a ‘long’ spell of time, say 15 minutes, while you do some toning exercise like squats or stretches.
  3. When you take your child for a walk in the stroller, make it a brisk walk.
  4. A fun way of staying fit could be to switch on the music and dance vigorously with your child. Needless to say toddlers love to dance, especially when parents are in too! Carry the baby for increased aerobics, but watch out – you don’t want to sprain your back, or hurt your child while you are having fun dancing!
  5. When you spend the evening at the park, do not sit by and relax while the child plays. Join in, and ensure that you work out your legs and arms. You can use water bottles for weights.
  6. You could play catch with a ball, or even kickball with a softball. Join in the child’s activity so that it serves your purpose too,
  7. You could try swimming regularly with them. It is an excellent form of activity for both child and parent.
  8. Skip the lift! Run up and down the stairs, daily.
  9. If you have a garden, then that’s a good place to get a fair amount of exercise.  Bending, squatting and digging will help loosen those stiff limbs.
  10. If your child is old enough, you could teach your child to ride a bicycle. “All that running behind the cycle will help,” says Karthi Sekar.
  11. Ensure that your routine with your child involves things like sitting on the floor in the lotus position, getting up and sitting down often, and crawling, with them.
  12. Practice yoga. This can be accommodated in more flexible hours.
It is important to bear in mind that where there is a will there is a way. If you learn to value your health, there are any number of ways to fit in an exercise regimen into you daily schedule, however busy it happens to be.
And if you have ingenious ways you fit a quick workout into your busy day, share it with us!

Making Sure you’re Spending “Quality Time” With Your Child

Referred Link - http://www.ameliochildcare.com/blog/?p=38



For working parents, managing their home and work is a fine balancing act. And when there is a child involved, things get that much trickier! But parents must understand that the ‘real time’ they spend with their child is what is actually fulfilling. And it takes just a small effort to plan “Quality Time” into their daily routine.
“A few days back, my 3-year-old son was frantically trying to get my attention at the park,” narrates 30-year-old Ramya. “It took me three minutes to respond to him. And that surely annoyed him!” she says with an embarrassed smile. A banker by profession, she had taken the afternoon off to be with her boy. But what with the phone calls, SMSes and not to forget the work-on-the-move BlackBerry, the afternoon off didn’t quite seem like one. Clearly, what her child wanted was not his mother’s physical presence, but her undivided attention.
Dr. Mangala Ayre, an expert on early childhood development, stresses that parents need to spend meaningful time with their child and the number of hours they spend has very little to do with the kind of time they spend with their child. Something that media professional Aruna Natarajan understands fully. “I create activities and specific times when we do stuff together,” she says. For instance, it’s either story time before he goes to sleep or a cycle ride to the park on weekends. “It is usually just the two of us and I normally do not attend any phone calls then,” she adds.
Dr. Ayre suggests that parents perform at least one simple task daily for their child that relates to a physical need and an emotional need. For instance, she recommends simple activities such as brushing their teeth, bathing them, dressing them up, helping them eat, or being with them at bedtime. “Find those few minutes in the day to touch, feel and hug your child” she says. “Do small, but, meaningful things that make them emotionally secure. Use endearments and words of praise generously.”
 Do snatch some quality time with your child whenever possible. There is no organized way of doing this and a lot depends on the schedules of the parent and child. But, either parent must definitely find time to play with the child, at his level as a playmate, and with his favorite toys! For instance, Meenakshi Karuppiah, an architect, spends post-dinner time with her two kids doing what they love to do the most – painting with her  eight-year-old daughter Yamini or building blocks with her  four-year-old son Adithan.
Dr. Ayre offers some simple tips to get quality time with your child:
1.When you are out shopping for vegetables, invite your child to point out his favourite veggies, allow him to pick some. Ask him to share what he has learnt at school with you. Use that time to interact with your child.
2.While bathing your child spend those few minutes in fun and meaningful dialogue rather than mouthing do’s and dont’s.
3.While you give him dinner, tell him a  story and ask him which one he has heard in school. Let him talk. Doesn’t matter if it takes five extra minutes. He will eat without watching the food and your work will get done faster.
“I allow them to help me in the kitchen and with gardening!,” says Meenakshi. They also have some physical activities together like playing foot ball or cricket in the play area on Saturday or Sunday.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if work keeps you away for long hours from your home and child. Just make sure you have a list of ‘must-do together’ things and snatch those precious moments of bonding with your child!

Your Kids’ Cold and Cough Driving you Crazy? Tips to Prevent Common Illnesses this Season.

Referred Link - http://www.ameliochildcare.com/blog/?p=74



When you enter a pediatrician’s clinic and see around you ten other kids waiting for their turn before yours, you know at once that it is the ‘Climate-Change Syndrome’ that has struck. Yet again!  Just look at your young victims… coughing, runny-nosed, cranky, dull-due-to-fever or raring to go despite all the symptoms! Not to forget the sickest (in more ways than one) of them all, the poor, hassled parents! Don’t you sometimes feel it might be better that you fall sick instead of your li’l ones?  
Well, considering the fact that erratic weather changes have become the order of the day, it will help if parents are better prepared to tackle this problem with some foresight, by protecting their children adequately. Here are a few tips, some personal, some professional, to protect your child. And if any of them prove to be effective, do write about it!
 1.When entering a cold atmosphere, say an air-conditioned auditorium or theatre make sure your child is dressed in warm clothes. The chest, feet and ears should be protected. Needless to say, a hot, humid environment requires light, cool clothing.  
 2. Encourage children to drink plenty of water. Make sure that it is about one litre a day, says paediatrician Dr. Priya Chandrasekhar. Most importantly, she insists that the water be boiled before consuming.
 3. Climatic changes can lead to dry skin which can get itchy and irritating. Dr. Priya suggests use of mild soap-preferably glycerin-based, and the use of a moisturizer. Regular oil massages can be very good for children.         Use chap sticks for chapped lips and avoid using powder as it tends to dry the skin. When going out under the harsh sun, apply child-friendly sunscreen lotion to prevent sunburns. A cool cap or hat can be of help under the blazing midday sun.
 4. Instill healthy habits in your children. For instance, you should encourage your child to wash his hands and feet before eating or when they return home from outdoors. This prevents transmission of germs. “If they are running a cold or cough, parents need to teach their kids cough etiquettes,” says Dr. Priya. They should be taught to wear a cold mask or at least cover their mouths with a hankie when coughing or sneezing. At the same time they should be taught to avoid close contact (however ‘close’ the friend) with infected people.
 5. Take care of the asthma attacks. Dr. Priya says, “Asthmatic conditions can get aggravated when there is a climate change, apart from the usual trigger factors, like pollution, smoke and dust.” So be prepared with the right medication for any wheezing attacks at this stage.
 6. Avoid eating uncooked food or vegetables outside. Your child runs the risk of picking up stomach-related infections, if vegetables aren’t cleaned properly. Water borne diseases are particularly rampant during cold or rainy weather
 7. If your child has low immunity, it’s best to avoid crowded places. And to boost up immunity levels, pay attention to their nutrition including their full share of fruits and vegetables for vitamins so that their general health improves.
 8. As a final word of advice,  Dr. Priya requests  parents to ensure that their kids have been given all the injections, that have been prescribed for their age. “And if you are entering the cold season, get the flu shots done,” she says.

10 Things Your Child Might Not Say, but Wants to!

Referred Link - http://www.ameliochildcare.com/blog/?p=84



1. I love it when you keep hugging and kissing me. I don’t think I can ever get too much of it!
2. It’s okay to be strict with me. In fact, it’s probably better for me. I may not always like it, but I’m sure I will be glad in the long haul.
3. Don’t give me everything I want. Sometimes I ask just to test you and see how much I can get.
4. I get confused when you keep changing your mind. Please be consistent, especially when you are disciplining me.
5. There are things that scare me which you might not understand. Please try. Don’t tell me I am being silly.
6. Don’t be upset when I say “I hate you”. It’s not you I hate, but your power over me.
7. I love to ask questions. That’s the way I learn. Please don’t make me stop asking you.
8. I know you love me and don’t ever want to see me hurt. But it’s alright to allow me to make my own mistakes and face the consequences. Sometimes it’s the best way for me to learn.
9. Please don’t make promises you know will be difficult to keep. I feel really bad when you do and when the promise is broken.
10. I love you very much. You are the most important person in my life. And I love everything you do for me. But most of all, I love it when we just have fun, play and laugh together. Thank you for the fun times we have together.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Job Interview: The 5 Questions YOU Must Ask by Bernard MarrInfluencer

Referred Link - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141124074017-64875646-job-interview-the-5-questions-you-must-ask?trk=pulse-det-nav_art

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“So, what questions do you have for us?”
It’s the inevitable question that comes at the end of nearly every job interview — and yet it’s the one question job seekers rarely have prepared an answer to. And when people do think to prepare for this part of the interview, they often ask bland stock questions that aren’t truly important to their job hunt.
People get so hung up on preparing for the question they might get asked that they often forget to answer important questions they should have and need answers to.
Unfortunately, in a down economy, job hunters tend to adopt a scarcity mindset. If you need work, you may not be able to afford to be picky about which offer you accept, but that doesn’t mean you have to approach the interview from that frame of mind.
Rather, if you ask questions as though you are weighing the offer of this job against other offers (whether you are or not) you’ll be in a better position to know if the job is a good fit for you and how you can best succeed with the company.
Remember: The power in these situations is with the listener, so you can end on a powerful note by asking thoughtful, insightful questions that not only make the interviewer think, but give you answers you need to make a choice about whether or not to accept the job.
Here are my top five:
  • Which of my skills do you see as most important for the challenges that come with the position? You want a job that leverages your key strengths. Answering this question help you understand whether the company is interested in you because of they key skills you have and want to grow, or maybe for other skills you see as less important to focus on and grow. It also helps you to check whether the challenges they see for the position you are applying for are the same you were expecting.
  • How will the company help me develop? You don't want to simply apply your skills, you also want to improve and learn new things. Make sure there is a plan or a support system to ensure this happens before you accept the job. This can come in form of support for continuous professional development or other support such as coaching or mentoring schemes. Asking this question also shows the interviewer that you’re interested in self-improvement and growing with the company.
  • Can you tell me a little about the team I’ll be working with? This is an excellent question to address the culture of the company — without actually asking about the “culture” of the company. You might find you get a very different answer than what’s printed in the company’s mission statement or on their website. It will help you to understand how well you fit in with the company, and psychologically it’s a great question to ask because it gently assumes you’ll be getting the position.
  • What constitutes success with this position and company? This is a great way to demonstrate that you’re interested in succeeding (not just punching a time clock) but it also gives you key insights into the expectations of the position and the culture of the company.
  • Do you see any gaps in my skills or qualifications that I need to fill? This is a bold, gutsy question. Not everyone is going to be confident enough to ask it, which is going to set you apart from the competition. To the interviewer, it shows that you’re a bold thinker and demonstrates that you’re willing to fill any gaps that might exist. For you, the worst-case scenario is that there are gaps that will preclude you from getting the job, but that’s valuable information to take into your next interview. In the best case, the interviewer won’t have any answer, and hopefully you’ll be shortlisted for the position!
Some interviewers may consider this portion of the interview a “throwaway,” answering easy questions about salary, benefits, time off, etc. But for the applicant, it’s an excellent opportunity to stand out, get important answers you need to know if you’re a good fit for the job, and demonstrate that you’re an individual, not just a resume in a pile.
Of course, you don't have to wait until the end to ask your questions. In fact, it is much better (and much more natural) if you cover these questions during the interview.
As always, I'd love to hear your views. Have you got any other key questions a job hunter should ask the potential employer in an interview? Share them or any other thoughts in the comments below. I look forward to reading your responses.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Element is unexpected according to content model of parent element in Infopath

1) Element '' is unexpected according to content model of parent element '' 

Reason: Attribute details are missing in template.xsn file and XML data file has the following details.

Solution 1:
                1) Download the XSN file from Form Library and change extension .xsn to .cab
           2)  Add element details (Attribute Name) entry on
a.       template.xml
b.      schema.xsd
c.       myschema.xsd

Solution 2:  
1)    Download the template.xsn
2)    Download the error xml file from Form Library.
3)    Open xml file through Infopath Designer
4)    Click on ‘Data’ Tab – Refresh Fields

5)    Publish back to the form library

Top 5 Lessons My Clients Have Taught Me by Hilton Barbour

Referred Link - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141117191631-3653444-top-5-lessons-my-clients-have-taught-me?trk=pulse-det-nav_art

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You could literally drown in all the ink belabouring the tension that exists between clients and consultants. Poor briefs, poor communication, inaccessibility of the real decision makers and my all-time favourite “they don’t get it”, “it” being anything from creative concepts to expense report reconciliations or strategic business recommendations.
Like anyone reading this, I’ve been in achingly frustrating situations where the decision tree could be mapped as “homicide or suicide”.
But what we don't celebrate enough...The clients who knock you on your butt. The one’s who test you and raise your game. The one’s who make you better.
Here are five lessons I learnt from some of my clients. I’ve deliberately named them because I believe they deserve the recognition and my thanks.
Understand the whole business, not just your part.
Early in my career, Duminda spent a disproportionate amount of time schooling me on a packaging re-launch he was bringing to the category. The intricacies of forward-buying raw materials, supply chain issues and econometric pricing modelling. Sh*t I thought, you’re making this thing 1kg from 500grams what’s the big deal? What I was too naive to appreciate is it is all important. Distribution, manufacturing, the politics, the economics, the advertising, the customer. All of it. Obsess about your part sure but you better have more than a passing interest in the other stuff, especially the things that you don’t believe are as sexy.
Transparency means there is nowhere for anyone to hide
Antipodean client Shane was so committed to transparency he regularly shared his business issues with us in minute detail. Of course financials weren’t part of it but the level of openness was refreshing. But he expected the same transparency from us. For every “we need to do this better”, there was an expectation we’d respond in kind. While it’s trendy to talk about transparency how often do we really do it? Acknowledge we’re not an expert in all the things we say we are, that our financial rigor could be tighter, that our best folks don’t want to work on their business. It’s tough, impossible even, because openness requires trust and faith that your candour won’t become their next negotiation point. Astute business folks get this so they act without guile or agenda.
Management’s role is to protect
Fancy titles, swanky lunches, flying in the front of the bus are all trappings of the rarefied air of management. Your real task is simpler. It is to protect your people and their ideas. Protect them from distraction so they can focus. Protect them from meddling that can muddy the waters. Protect them from politics that can cause fear or animosity. Global client Richelle did this with aplomb, triaging the stuff we needed to know and deflecting the BS we didn’t. Any manager on any team has to develop that skill. Trust me when your team knows you’ve got their back there’s little they can’t achieve.
Always think about how you’re maximizing value
One sunny afternoon Jim uttered the fateful phrase “how much is this frigging meeting costing me?” Ball-buster? Sure. His point was valid though. All professional services should be about maximizing value, not cost, and cost-maximizing is what a roomful of consultants tends to look like. Consider how much more effective you’d be if you only allocated resources (human or otherwise) based on their ability to maximize value? Consider how profitable you’d be if you reallocated resources from a situation where their value was minimal (or under-appreciated) to one where it was optimized? Consider then, how much equity you’d gain if clients knew you were obsessed with operating this way.
Believe in your people more than they believe in themselves
It’s human nature to be resentful when your work is rejected. It takes a savvy operator like Tony to infuse a team with a sense that better work is within them and that they’re capable of unearthing it. His approach went beyond empty platitudes but a genuine “we’re in this together” orientation. A deft balancing of carrot and stick but an unwavering positivity that we would crack it. Guess who was able to keep us enthused and jazzed to work on his project? Who would always get a little bit more? No matter what role you have, this is a critical skill you must hone. It takes a true magician to raise the bar and still keep your team gagging to try scale it.
Consultancy of any kind is tricky. You’ll have some clients who drive you to distraction. If you’re lucky you’ll also have several who up your game.
What’s the most powerful business lesson a client has ever taught you?
And here's some advice you need not heed...

Being an Indian Woman Entrepreneur by Rekha Narayan

Referred Link - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141117034949-5011106-being-an-indian-woman-entrepreneur?trk=pulse-det-nav_art

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Being an Indian woman entrepreneur showed me that the road less travelled is quite different. Entrepreneurship allows freedom from a routine, an ability to be yourself, to think outside the box and show creative ways to add value. For many this is the road they wished they had taken. But it comes with its own drawbacks so you need to go in fully aware of those. Like you don't really know if you have what it takes to succeed. And most of the time you are on your own establishing your product or offering. You also have to work twice as hard to prove you are great. And being a woman brings its own challenges - you need to prove and establish yourself and get through the old boy network in most organizations.
I was familiar with being one of the few women in technology back in my Engineering days. We had just a handful of women in a large class of 300 engineers. When it came to my MBA class there were just 8 women in a class of 78.
So in taking on entrepreneurship I knew I was walking onto a road that would be challenging. Being an Indian woman added another layer. People couldn't believe I could communicate, I could lead or that technology was not alien to me. At one point in my career I ran into a manager who later became a great mentor. One of his comments was "But you speak English really well!" I did face this stereotype and was quick to corect it.
I've worked with many clients from different industries over the years and remember what I learned from them. These are 10 key lessons from my consulting career that have helped me in the road to entrepreneurship. I am sharing these so others can benefit from them.
1. There is no right or wrong - There is never a right answer. Asking the right questions is more important. You will discover the extent of your ignorance and will figure out what next to ask.
2. Value failure - I value failure and I value people who openly acknowledge when they've been wrong. It takes guts to stand your ground and own up. What I don't tolerate is people who blame others without understanding what the root cause was.
3. Find your mentors - Women have a tougher time seeking mentoring and ensuring they keep this going. I always look for a strong network that I can support and I can look at for guidance. There is wisdom in seeking advice and knowing when you need help. In time I became a mentor and still have former cients, students, peers and superiors reaching out to me.
4. Don't give up - You will hear No several times. Why does this new procedure need to be adopted? Why should the old way of doing things change because you came along? Learn to deal with resistance and how to handle the tough crowd. I have been on projects where resistance runs high. As one of my wise friends put it "bring a horse to the water, teach him how to swallow the water". If nothing this will help you come out ahead.
5. Be ready to change direction - There is nothing as pointless as ignoring changing business needs. Learn to deal with change.
6. Speak up - No matter what role you play, speak up, show your presence, show what you know and how you count. I've met women who are afraid to talk to their boss,to their key customer, tongue-tied when they are in that elevator ride with senior leaders. Don't do that to yourself. You'll get there if you make an effort.
7. Show your leadership - Women can make a difference by taking on more leadership roles. For your team pick what you would like to help them with and proceed to do so. A leader doesn't wait to be asked. A leader also makes herself available.
8. Never admit fear - If you admit fear you will be setting yourself up for failure. Think positive and think the best of yourself. You can do it.
9. Build your high performing team- Build your team with all your effort and diligence. Your team will remember you for the great feelings you inspired. If you left them with harsh words and a stick- to- the- process mentality you'll be another face in the crowd.
10. Never look back - For me it was the road I jumped on and decided to never look back. I got some sound advice that helped me stay on and persist.

11 Ways Email Can Boost Your Executive Presence by David Peck

Referred Link - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141117195304-261449-11-ways-email-can-boost-your-executive-presence?trk=pulse-det-nav_art

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Executive Presence (EP) is a hot topic from cubicle to corner office. Reading the room plus minding your body language, and having a dash of swagger are key ingredients; but how do you demonstrate EP—and certainly avoid diminishing it—on email? After all, the majority of our work-related communication involves hitting SEND.
In fact, based on my experience coaching many executives, EP-busting email habits are rampant. Yet with a few simple practices, and by breaking a few habits, you can use email as an instrument of greater influence.
Coaching Tips and 11 Practices: It's not just what you say, but how you say it
When was the last time you re-read a sampling of your sent email to assess its impact on your colleagues or team? In the heat of the moment, you may have hit “send” once or twice and thought better of it thereafter, or “in the interest of time” you may not have thought quite enough about how you were communicating versus just get it out there and hit send.
Here's an experiment that some of my clients have tried, and I know works. Carefully select a sample of, say, 20 of your sent emails. Make sure they represent both smooth and stressful times, and a spectrum of people. As you carefully reread your sample, start to reinforce the following tips in your mind:
1. Don't blow off your subject line
Take the time to write a subject line that gets the correct attention and priority. Your email lands on long lists, and your most important recipients don't have time to click more deeply into your meaning. Be creatively concise on the headline and, if appropriate, time frame. "Project X Phase 2 Needs Your Approval by 5/15" works better than "Project X Follow Up."
2. Don't bury the lead
Once you have their attention with your effective subject line, if it takes more than a sentence or two to decipher importance and required action, you've buried the lead, and your email EP along with it. Why they should care and what you want from them should be right up front.
3. Be brief -- very brief
If you need to write more than a few paragraphs, you've missed a conversation that needs to happen. Keep your emails short and sweet. If you can't, then start an IM, pick up the phone, or go face to face.
4. Don't confuse an email chain with a conversation
A string of emails and replies shouldn't be considered a substitute for a conversation, brainstorming session, or a decision-making process. It's a series of "tells" with varying lag times that often lead to unnecessary churn. Voice to voice, face to face, and IM are much better forums for important interactions.
5. Don't use email to confront, vent or process
Lasting EP problems spring from this mistake. As a therapist might say, "Write the letter and don't send it." Email isn't the place for processing an issue, venting, or confronting. Since email subtracts nuance and body language needed for deeper understanding, it makes thorny issues thornier.
6. Follow the New York Times rule
You've heard this one before -- now believe it: Email is barely communication. It's certainly not a forum for risky disclosure. As your General Counsel should say: Don't put anything in email today you wouldn't want to read in the New York Times tomorrow. All emails are or can be read by others.
7. Check your grammar, spelling and avoid text-speak in emails
EP degrades with poor quality communication. Check your spelling. Read it out loud. Look for words spelled correctly but in the wrong place, such as "here" versus "hear" or "affect" versus "effect" or "your" versus "you're." Using text-speak like "ure" and "btw" and "LOL," even when sending from your smartphone, degrades your EP. Double-check these before sending.
8. Read the message you received carefully before sending your reply
Too many people scan and reply in a rush, and miss the point. Before replying to a message, read it twice. Think. Prioritize. THEN BEFORE SENDING, read the original email and your reply together. If you don't have time for that, wait until you do, or connect with the recipient by another method.
9. Don't be lazy about forwarding emails
We've all forwarded emails without double-checking what lurks below, earlier in the chain. Please scroll all the way down, and read the full chain. Delete irrelevant, outdated, or recipient-inappropriate stuff.
10. Check and double-check recipients
Avoid sending the wrong thing to the wrong person. Before clicking SEND, check and double-check your recipients. This may seem obvious, but is a step too often overlooked.
11. Be calm about response time
When you send follow-up emails too shortly following the original (e.g., "did you have a chance to review my email from earlier today?") you're degrading your EP, not to mention being an e-stalker. If you're going to need a response that quickly, then don't use email in the first place.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to Reduce Innovation Failures by Gijs van Wulfen

Referred Link - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141110121851-206580-how-to-reduce-innovation-failures?trk=pulse-det-nav_art

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A study by Booz & Company shows only a quarter of all companies are effective at the start of innovation. And Stage-Gate Guru Robert Cooper shows that of every seven new product/service projects, about four enter development, 1.5 are launched, andonly one succeeds.
Innovation is difficult to master. In my experience from practice, innovation really is a balancing act. It's all about finding the right balance between:
  • the business of today and the business of tomorrow;
  • creativity and business reality;
  • 'outside the box' and 'inside the box';
  • breakthrough thinking and feasibility;
  • customer interests and company's interests;
  • breaking rules and fitting existing patterns;
  • risks and rewards.
Innovation confronts you with a lot of questions on how to start it the right way. I like to inspire you with 12 practical tips to reduce innovation failures at the start: ' a good start is half the battle'.
  1. Create momentum for your innovation project. There must be urgency otherwise innovation is considered as playtime and nobody will be prepared to go outside the box. If this is not the case: stimulate other managers to explore your fast changing environment and wait until they get nervous and will prioritize innovation.
  2. It is essential to start your innovation project with a clear and concrete innovation assignment. This forces the top management, from the start, to be concrete about the market/target group for which the innovations must be developed and which criteria these new concepts must meet. This forms the guidelines underway.
  3. Use a team approach to get both better innovation results and internal supporters for the innovative outcomes. Invite people for whom the assignment is personally relevant. Invite both people for content as for decision-making reasons. Invite also a couple of outsiders as outside-the-box thinkers. Get a good mix between men and women, young & old, et cetera.
  4. Let the internal top problem-owner (vice-president) and important influencersparticipate in the innovation team.
  5. Use a structured approach. To think outside the box is a good start. But you have to come back with innovative concepts, which fit the ‘in the box’ reality of your organization, otherwise nothing will happen. A structured approach helps you to connect the dots. The FORTH innovation method, f.e. connects creativity and business reality in five steps in a great visual way. FORTH is an acronym and stands for Full steam ahead, Observe and learn, Raise ideas, Test ideas and Homecoming.
  6. New products, - services or - business models fit 7 criteria. Use them actively in your project: 1. It is very appealing to customers. 2. It stands out in the market. 3. It has great potential for extra turnover. 4. It has adequate profit potential. 5. It fits management’s personal goals. 6. It is (somehow) considered quickly feasible. 7. It has internal support.
  7. When you ideate unprepared with the usual colleagues hardly anything new appears. That’s why it is essential to get fresh insights before you start creating ideas. Let all team members visit customers and others that serve as a source of inspiration for innovation opportunities
  8. Winning new concepts give potential customers a concrete reason to change. It will solve relevant problems of customers. If you want to create innovative products or services start with discovering relevant customer frictions to solve. There are several ways to discover them, like personal visits, focus groups, web searching and crowd sourcing,
  9. Visualize your ideas and new concepts. Make prototypes as soon as possible.
  10. Keep the pace of your innovation process going; otherwise it becomes long-winded and boring. It gets killed when it takes too long without any progress.
  11. How attractive are the new product or service concepts really? That’s a legitimate question. Therefore you should check the strength of the new concepts and prototypes among potential customers at the front end of innovation. Use the voice of the customer internally.
  12. Draft mini new business cases instead of coming up with post-its or mood boards. And substantiate, in a businesslike and convincing manner, to what degree and for what reason the new concept can meet all essential financial criteria of your organization.

How Successful People Stay Productive and In Control by Dr. Travis Bradberry

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TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). The hallmark of emotional intelligence is self-control—a skill that unleashes massive productivity by keeping you focused and on track.
Unfortunately, self-control is a difficult skill to rely on. Self-control is so fleeting for most people that when Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania surveyed two million people and asked them to rank order their strengths in 24 different skills, self-control ended up in the very bottom slot.
And when your self-control leaves something to be desired, so does your productivity.
When it comes to self-control, it is so easy to focus on your failures that your successes tend to pale in comparison. And why shouldn’t they? Self-control is an effort that’s intended to help achieve a goal. Failing to control yourself is just that—a failure. If you’re trying to avoid digging into that bag of chips after dinner because you want to lose a few pounds and you succeed Monday and Tuesday nights only to succumb to temptation on Wednesday by eating four servings’ worth of the empty calories, your failure outweighs your success. You’ve taken two steps forward and four steps back.
Since self-control is something we could all use a little help with, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people do to keep themselves productive and in control. They consciously apply these twelve behaviors because they know they work. Some are obvious, others counter-intuitive, but all will help you minimize those pesky failures to boost your productivity.
They Forgive Themselves
A vicious cycle of failing to control oneself followed by feeling intense self-hatred and disgust is common in attempts at self-control. These emotions typically lead to over-indulging in the offending behavior. When you slip up, it is critical that you forgive yourself and move on. Don’t ignore how the mistake makes you feel; just don’t wallow in it. Instead, shift your attention to what you’re going to do to improve yourself in the future.
Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.
They Don’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression, all of which erode self-control. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them. Just remind yourself that saying no is an act of self-control now that will increase your future self-control by preventing the negative effects of over commitment.
They Don’t Seek Perfection
Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward excited about what you've achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.
They Focus On Solutions
Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions which hinder self-control. When you focus on the actions you'll take to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.
They Avoid Asking “What If?”
“What if?” statements throw fuel on the fire of stress and worry, which are detrimental to self-control. Things can go in a million different directions, and the more time you spend worrying about the possibilities, the less time you’ll spend taking action and staying productive (staying productive also happens to calm you down and keep you focused). Productive people know that asking “what if? will only take them to a place they don’t want—or need—to go. Of course, scenario planning is a necessary and effective strategic planning technique. The key distinction here is to recognize the difference between worry and strategic thinking.
They Stay Positive
Positive thoughts help you exercise self-control by focusing your brain’s attention onto the rewards you will receive for your effort. You have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, self-control is relatively easy. When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, self-control is a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, or will happen, no matter how small. If you can't think of something from the current day, reflect on the past and look to the future. The point here is that you must have something positive that you're ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative, so that you don't lose focus.
They Eat
File this one in the counter-intuitive category, especially if you’re having trouble controlling your eating. Your brain burns heavily into your stores of glucose when attempting to exert self-control. If your blood sugar is low, you are far more likely to succumb to destructive impulses. Sugary foods spike your sugar levels quickly and leave you drained and vulnerable to impulsive behavior shortly thereafter. Eating something that provides a slow burn for your body, such as whole grain rice or meat, will give you a longer window of self-control. So, if you’re having trouble keeping yourself out of the company candy bin when you’re hungry, make sure you eat something else if you want to have a fighting chance.
They Sleep
I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and maintaining your focus and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams), so that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. Sleep deprivation raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present, which are a major productivity killer. Being busy often makes you feel as if you must sacrifice sleep to stay productive, but sleep deprivation diminishes your productivity so much throughout the day that you're better off sleeping.
When you're tired, your brain's ability to absorb glucose is greatly diminished. This makes it difficult to control the impulses that derail your focus. What’s more, without enough sleep you are more likely to crave sugary snacks to compensate for low glucose levels. So, if you’re trying to exert self-control over your eating, getting a good night’s sleep—every night—is one of the best moves you can make.
They Exercise
Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. If you’re having trouble resisting the impulse to walk over to the office next door to let somebody have it, just keep on walking. You should have the impulse under control by the time you get back.
They Meditate
Meditation actually trains your brain to become a self-control machine. Even simple techniques like mindfulness, which involves taking as little as five minutes a day to focus on nothing more than your breathing and your senses, improves your self-awareness and your brain’s ability to resist destructive impulses. Buddhist monks appear calm and in control for a reason. Give it a try.
They Ride the Wave
Desire and distraction have the tendency to ebb and flow like the tide. When the impulse you need to control is strong, waiting out this wave of desire is usually enough to keep yourself in control. When you feel as if you must give in, the rule of thumb here is to wait at least 10 minutes before succumbing to temptation. You’ll often find that the great wave of desire is now little more than a ripple that you have the power to step right over.
They Squash Negative Self-Talk
A big final step in exercising self-control involves stopping negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it's time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you're doing and write down what you're thinking. Once you've taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity.
You can bet that your statements aren’t true any time you use words like “never,” “worst,” “ever,” etc. If your statements still look like facts once they’re on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you trust and see if he or she agrees with you. Then the truth will surely come out. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts as thoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.
Putting These Strategies to Work
The important thing to remember is you have to give these strategies the opportunity to work. This means recognizing the moments where you are struggling with self-control and, rather than giving in to impulse, taking a look at these strategies and giving them a go before you give in.