Getting to Peak Performance – Team Leadership

Alex Ferguson shares his winning formula for running a team.  Same rules for business teams apply?


♦Start with the foundation

Bring in young players and build a youth system

that will sustain the club for years rather than signing

veterans for short-gain success.

Dare to rebuild your team.

Don’t be afraid of being fired, make decisions based on what the team will look like in four years.


♦Set high standards and hold everyone to them


♦Never, ever cede control

Get rid of an employee if he’s creating discord,

even if he is the best player in the world. Don’t worry about whether employees like you.


♦Match the message to the moment

When to criticise players and encourage players depends on the context of a situation.


♦Prepare to win

If you’re down 2-1, you might as well put on an extra offensive player and lose 3-1 rather than play conservatively and lose 2-1 anyway.


♦Rely on the power of observation

Delegate managing practices to assistant coaches so you can simply watch and observe each player.

Never stop adapting

I believe that you control change by accepting it.


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Advice for a Young Adult ( In Less Than 400 Words ) – Part 3

David KL writes

“Knowledge is everything, you learn it from your children”

  • General advice is like generals, in an ideal world you would not have generals and you would not give general advice because we are all different and ultimately defined by ourselves.
  • Many are the times when I wish that I had taken my own advice.
  • Be self-confident, listen well and read assiduously.
  •  Spend your time doing things that you enjoy and challenge you.
  • Spend your time with people who challenge you.

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Advice for a Young Adult – Part 1


The idea of this thread is to encourage people who are over 21 to share their best ideas to people around the age of 21 who are on the cusp of a part of their lives which will have large elements of unpredictability.

When I was 21, the world of work was a far more stable place than it it is today. My parents’ generation would typically enter a company that would see them through to retirement. Those days are long gone. Not only are companies more volatile, so are whole sectors. Whatever happened to all those satellite dish fitters?

In the past there also was an assumption that education would prepare the young adult for independent life. Is that still the case in a rapidly changing world? Is there a danger that education is, metaphorically, turning out people with skills equivalent to those of a satellite dish installer?

Some things remain constant. People who work hard, listen well and have good ethics will tend to thrive more than those who do not.

Have you got some thoughts to contribute? Mitch’s has the first kick at the ball.

Mitch writes:

Don’t Take Life Too Seriously Just Yet, But Don’t Set Yourself Up To Fail, Either

I was asked an interesting question the other day (by the editor, but why split hairs?). He said: “What advice would you give your daughter as she turns 21 and is about to move far away?”

The headline gives it away, I suppose, but let me elaborate. The world is full of people telling you to take life seriously. “This is important” they say. “Life is a gift. Don’t squander it!” Now, that sounds good, on the face of it. But let’s look deeper.

99% of the time, that is followed by “What you should be doing is devoting your time, effort, thought and passion into my project.” They want you to be serious, and consider your duty (to God, to your country, to humanity or some other ideal) because serious, dutiful people are easier to lead, and followers can make the leader’s goals and passions and projects become real.

The core of my message is that you don’t ‘owe’ anybody anything, and you have no ‘duty’ to devote your life to any particular thing, no matter how noble, glorious, or overladen with unverifiable promises of treasure in heaven.

Your life is a gift, and only you own it. Do precisely as you please.

Now, that being said, I don’t mean that I’d like to see you spend the rest of your youth holed up in a grubby shack smoking pot and posting to Facebook. I’d like to see you find something you’re passionate about, and build the kind of life for yourself that you’ll enjoy in the long term. But what I’d like doesn’t matter anymore. I know, in reality, you’ll spend at least half of the next ten years dating a disreputable guitarist, or exploring a sudden passion for body modification and trans-human politics, or something else my old-man mind can’t really fathom the purpose of.

The point is, that’s OK. Just don’t let anyone tell you that you owe anyone your passion or your labor. You alone own that, spend it how you want.

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Loneliness, Ill-health and Telephone Befriending

Alone again – naturally

Telephone Befriending – One Way to Combat Loneliness

In the UK, it is estimated that 500,0000 people were on their own last Christmas.. thuis is just one statistic that shows how pervasive loneliness is in modern society.

‘Being lonely’ is one of the challenges of life that many people experience, but chronic isolation is another matter. Can you imagine the effect of spending days without having a meaningful conversation with anyone/

Human beings are social animals. If you deprive a person of human contact that has a profound impact on them. It has been estimated that loneliness can cause as much damage as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Many religious and other voluntary groups have programmes to help bring people together. As church attendance continues to drop, it will fall to others, whether they are running book clubs, coffee mornings or amateur art exhibitions to take up the challenge of improving community involvement.

The UK’s Silver Line telephone befriending service started in late 2013 and hand currently has about 1,000 volunteers with another 1,000 being trained up to make a weekly call to someone who is alone. The charity has made over 400,000 calls in the last 18 months or so.

Behind every call there is a story that is significant and sad.. Unfortunately it might be that the service is only reaching a small proportion of those in need. The Sliver Line says that: “67% of older people say loneliness and isolation is their principal reason for calling the helpline but the stigma of loneliness means that they are often reluctant to ask for help. 88% of callers to The Silver Line live on their own. 7 out of every 10 calls (68%) are made in the evenings and at weekends….

….9 out of 10 older people told researchers that “a chat on the phone” is the most helpful solution when they feel lonely but 1 in 4 older people say they never or seldom have someone to chat to on the phone. ”

Relevant Link:

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Want Project to Go Viral?

Mitch Horst, our Omaha born guru writes with his customary sagacity:

A Viral Sensation – that’s the dream, isn’t it? To see your demo video get a million views overnight. To have your crowdfunding go way over target. Even to see your comic book so widely pirated online that it increases your actual sales! But it seems like you’re about as likely to be hit by a meteor as have it happen to you. Is there anything you can do to improve your odds?

1. Dream practically, but never fail to dream big!

It isn’t enough for your idea, your music, or your plan to be great. The internet is knee-deep in brilliant plans, and no one cares. To enchant people, to really catch their hearts, your message has to be big!

2. Connect with other dreamers!

No one can create anything truly great alone. The best ideas, projects and plans take inspiration, energy and hard work from many, many people. Build a small team of people who believe in what you want to do, and let it be their baby too.

3. Once you have a team, specialize!

A great team can also destroy a project. Dreamers get attached to their dreams, and no one’s ideas are as good as your own. The way to prevent the team spinning off into a dozen independent (and competing!) projects is to make sure each member has a distinct job that suits them, and contributes to the success of the whole, while being entirely their own.

One last word of advice: when things fail, and they will, take the best ideas from the project and make them into something entirely new!

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How to Manage Introverts

Mitch writes:

The Manager’s Dilemma – How to Get Good Work From an Introvert

I have a fair amount of perspective on this, having worked in management and being an introvert myself – to the extent that I’ve been told I fall on the edge of the autism spectrum.

I don’t claim to speak for all introverts, and I certainly don’t represent managers in any capacity, but I can share a few observation I’ve made over the years that may just help one or two frustrated managers get the kind of work they need from employees they might consider ‘difficult’.

Most introverts are neither followers nor leaders. They don’t want the burden of being responsible for others, and they don’t care to be nagged, cajoled or goaded into their work. Don’t try and make introverts into ‘team players’. They might play on a team happily, but they will only ever play their position.

Certain classes of introverts find their own motivation – everything they do they do for their own reasons, and they see attempts to ‘motivate’ them as manipulative and intrusive. This is why so many otherwise highly productive introverts get labelled as ‘difficult’ by managers. They resent and, quite naturally for them, resist what they see as an invasive, unnecessary and supremely ineffective burden being placed on them.

Now, on a lower management level, that doesn’t leave much. You can’t motivate them, you can’t ‘lead’ them – so what can you do? You can aim and facilitate them. Level with them, and explain exactly what you need from them, in terms of actual deliverables.

Don’t give them a goal and challenge them to stretch it, tell them what you expect from them in the end, and how long they have to work up to it. Give them everything they need to understand what part they’ll play in the machine that is your particular business or office, explain what resources they have to work with, and leave them to it. By all means let them know if they aren’t producing enough or well enough, but resist the urge to try and get that last extra 5% out of them. They’ll resent it.

Lastly, your goal is not to be seen as ‘the enemy’. Once an introvert sees you as a problem rather than a resource, the working relationship is probably doomed. If you can’t heal the breach, you’ll have to get rid of them. If they didn’t have the capacity for excellent work, you wouldn’t still be keeping them around. Give them what they need to do it, then buzz off.

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Innovation + Perspiration – a Formula for Success?

Mitch, our own sage from Omaha, writes:

Dreamers And Engineers – It Takes All Kinds to Build a World

This is about collaboration. History likes to single out one man or woman behind a great deed, an important movement, or an amazing building, and label them a ‘genius’. Maybe some of them were, but 99% of the time great things were accomplished by collaborative teams.

Thomas Edison, the Wizard of Menlo Park, New Jersey, is credited for the invention of more things than I care to list, but he wasn’t a great genius, really. He was a competent engineer and a great administrator.

He had a hundred nerds, boffins and rough-necked mechanics working for him that did most of the work, Edison mostly contributed the paycheck and the facilities.
One of those nerds (or maybe he was a boffin) wanted to be the one-man-genius-who-would-do-great-things.

Nicola Tesla worked for Edison in the early days of his career, then went off to do some seriously comic-book mad scientist stuff. But none of it ever went anywhere. A lot of his ideas were picked up and used elsewhere, but not in ways that made him a lot of money, or earned him much credit. As awesome as it is that he made giant lightning generators, the man died alone, near penniless, and in love with a pigeon.

I’m not saying this to tarnish either Edison’s or Tesla’s legacies, but to point out that each of us can contribute amazing things to the world without being a genius. We just can’t do it alone. Anyone can have a brilliant idea. Anyone can be inspired by a brilliant idea, and come up with a great way to use it. Anyone else might see that use, and think of a way to market it. Why don’t we? Because those three people may never meet. They may never talk, or exchange their ideas.

This is the only time in history that a glass blower in Lichtenstein could partner with a distiller in St. Louis, Missouri and an advertising guru in New York to sell schnapps in art-glass bottles, and have the whole thing happen in 2 months without anyone quitting their day jobs.

We need to share our ideas, and listen to other people’s ideas, to truly collaborate and make these great things. Dreamers and engineers and craftsmen and administrators have to make the effort to find each other.

Of course, they’ll all fight over who was really the ‘genius’ behind it all, but only after it all becomes a success.

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Emotional Labor – Working the Awkward Squad

Mitch, originally from Omaha, writes about the people aspect of work

Emotional Labor: Why Passion Matters

Like a great many people, my first jobs were in customer service. In the American Midwest, there are few other options for an inexperienced and essentially unskilled worker. I quickly moved on to a brief career in the then-expanding outbound cold-calling telemarketing industry in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska (and now you know how old I am).

One thing these jobs had in common was that customers were often angry. It was made very clear to us in the beginning that a large part of our job was to be a target for that anger. The customer could berate us, complain, tell us what we did was awful but (so long as they weren’t profane or violent) we had to take it all with a smile, offer to help, and above all sell them a cheeseburger (or an unwanted credit card, a trial subscription to UFC Monthly For Over 60s, or what have you.

Selling things was what we signed on for, that wasn’t a problem. Soaking up all of the verbal bile sprayed at us all day, though, quickly became too much. Turnover was fantastically high, and probably still is.

This is an extreme example, of course, but I bring it up to show how the most draining, ‘worst’ part of a job is often not what we think of as the ‘core’ of it, but rather dealing with customers, or the horrible owner, or that HR lady who wears too much grandma-perfume. Psychologists call this emotional labor, and sometimes it is most of the ‘work’ in a job.

Having my own business now, I can tell you that there is no escaping this ‘emotional labor’. But it isn’t the crushing, draining, soul-destroying thing it used to be. The difference is that I’m actually fairly passionate about my work now, because it is my work. I know the efforts I put into the social side of it benefit something I actually care about. I’m not slogging through the mud for a company that I don’t give a damn about (and which certainly doesn’t give a damn about me). I’m investing this labor, like all the other work I do, into something I think is worthwhile.

So, what can we take away from this? There are probably a lot of sinister lessons, about getting the downtrodden masses emotionally invested so they give you this extra labor for free without resenting it, but let’s not go there. Better to take away that finding something that you think is worth working for without that kind of manipulation makes the emotional work something you can actually feel good about.

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Hashtag #ChoreBarter?

Heather Davies makes a case for trading chores:

I absolutely adore cooking. Ever since I was a little girl, I would visit my grandmother in Bayside and she would teach me how to cook. At the time, I didn’t know how valuable the skill of cooking was; it was all just fun to me.

I would help shape meatballs, bread chicken and eggplant slices, and bake cakes and cookies. My grandmother would always have me make extra, and deliver a Tupperware container of food to her neighbor Suzanne.

I loved everything about it, and today I cherish the time in my own kitchen, creating meals and sweet treats in the same ways I was shown so many years ago.

I certainly don’t embrace all chores with the same gusto. For instance, I am not a huge fan of gardening. I do love the end result, but I find the work completely tedious and incredibly unpleasant. I do not like getting dirty and I hate bugs, worms, and have a mild phobia of birds. This means being outside more than required isn’t something I ever have enjoyed.

I am very lucky, as I have a husband who hates cooking and loves gardening, so we balance each other in the chores we are happy to take on in a pretty wonderful way. I know not everyone is as lucky, and that has me thinking: with social media being the giant that it is, how hard would it be to set up a local group where people can chore-share?

There are already countless community pages, buy and sell pages, and all manner of fan pages that get absolutely tons of fans and daily comments. Why wouldn’t it be feasible for groups to exist whereby chores are exchanged? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have your neighbour help with cutting your grass once a week in exchange for washing their car, cooking them a meal, or walking their dog on the day they work a double shift?

Aside from those who simply don’t like a particular chore, there are a lot of people who are not fortunate enough to be physically able to complete all the chores that make independent living possible.

I go to town each week to do some shopping. Would it not make sense for me to offer my mobility impaired neighbor a ride, or pick up something that they need, and in exchange maybe they can sign for a parcel I will have delivered while I am at work?

Social media and the internet is a wonderful tool, and it is used for a lot of good. Imagine how much more good can be achieved if we use it to connect to our local populous in a meaningful way?

I, for one, will be starting a local chore-share group. I would love to think others will invest just a little time to do the same, and would be so excited to see something like this trend in areas all over the country.

Wanting to try to start a chore-share up? I want to hear all about it! Leave a comment, drop me a line. Let’s use the internet for it’s best purpose, and share what works the best and make this a very real, and very reliable, thing.

Heather Davies is a New Yorker by birth and by definition. Her passion for her city and the people in it drive her to work towards creating stronger and more closely knit communities.

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Creative Things to Do With Soda Cans

Wait! Don’t just throw that empty can of Coca-Cola in the trash. By recycling soda cans, you can help the environment and the people living in it. But what can we do with these little aluminum containers? Here’s a couple of fun and creative things to do with soda cans. Just make sure not to cut yourself. Safety first.

1. DIY Beer Can Ornaments
If you have a couple of leftover Bud light cans from that thanksgiving party last week, why not make some Christmas ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree the following month? Your friends will be impressed and slightly amused at your unique looking designs. Here’s an excellent tutorial by ThreadSence to get you started:

2. Double Hangers
Is your closet feeling crowded and uncomfortable? Too many hangers on the rack? Here’s an easy and innovative way to use soda tabs and increase your closest space x2:

3. Hipster Soda Can Coasters
I simply adore these cute soda can coasters. If you ever wanted to make your own coasters while showing love for your favorite soda can drink here’s your chance to do it:

4. Pop Tab Bracelet
Ok, I actually made a couple of these and they turned out great! After seeing the wonderful actress Kristin Stewart rocking a Pop Tab Bracelet I just knew I had to find a tutorial that will teach me how to make one similar to hers. And I found it. Instructables has a well put tutorial that makes the process easy and fun:

5. Soda Can Lanterns
This DIY project will reaching teach you survival skills. How to make a lantern out of soda cans? Now that’s seriously creative. Check out the tutorial here:

And remember, any of the activities you’re doing here will help out the Earth quite a lot!


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