Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Lesson in Ordinary Greatness

One of the side effects of my constant travel schedule is arriving at hotels in new cities late at night. Unable to sleep, I turn on the TV. Late-night TV is mostly a wasteland of infomercials and B-movies, but one of the bright spots has been Late Night with Conan O'Brien on NBC. It could always be counted on for a laugh. It was interesting to see recently that Conan has aired his final show, as he will be succeeding Jay Leno as Tonight Show host when Jay steps down later this year—according to Conan, a dream of his come true.
Conan's 'Career Path'

Conan's career path also contains many lessons for leaders, I believe. You see, when Conan was offered the role of host of Late Night in 1993 (after being encouraged to audition by the legendary producer of Saturday Night Live Lorne Michaels), he was following the very successful David Letterman, and Conan was a complete unknown. He had been a successful writer behind the scenes on The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live, but he had no show-hosting experience.

Many experts in the entertainment field were quite surprised and maybe even a bit offended that someone they did not know well had been chosen to host Late Night. In fact, NBC even acknowledged this perception in a radio ad that aired shortly before the show's debut that had O'Brien telling the story of someone who recognized him on the street and said, "Look, honey, there's the guy who doesn't deserve his own show!"

And his tenure was not without its bumps. For example, during the first 3 years, NBC insisted on renewing the show for only 2 weeks at a time. But then Conan and his staff began hitting their stride. The shows became consistently funny, ratings improved, and the show developed a loyal following.

This provided some comedic fodder for O'Brien on his 10th Anniversary Special. Mr. T appeared on the special to give O'Brien a gold necklace with a giant "7" on it. When O'Brien tried to point out that he's actually been on the air for 10 years, Mr. T responded, "I know that, fool ... but you've only been funny for 7!"

What I Learned from Conan

What's the lesson for leaders? Well, first of all, greatness in others is not always readily apparent. Sixteen years ago, no one was predicting that Conan would be such a successful host with such a legion of fans that he would actually be the next host of the Tonight Show. He appeared to be an ordinary man, the "guy who doesn't deserve his own show.' It took a visionary like Lorne Michaels to see the "ordinary greatness" in Conan.

Second, the lesson is that people need time. It might take a while to see ordinary greatness in others—don't give up. You might have to keep an eye on things weekly as the NBC folks did, but the results will be there.

So tonight, before you watch Late Night or go to bed early, be sure you have recognized greatness somewhere around you. Oh, and be sure to not just recognize it, but to tell someone you have. Here are some phrases to get you started:

  • I haven't told you this in a while, but thank you for ...
  • You might think that no one noticed when you...
  • Thank you for making my job easier when you ...
  • Thank you for always taking such good care of our customers.
  • I know they don't always say thank you, so let me.

There is ordinary greatness everywhere you live. If it's not apparent, you might have to be open to it and give it time. But the return on your investment will make it worth it, and you might find the next Conan!

Thanks to Just My E-pinion / By Brian Jones / HR Daily Advisor


Guide To All Future Parents


Monday, April 20, 2009

Origin Of Famous Names

There are many companies / brands / products whose names were derived from strange circumstances.
This was actually the financier's daughter's name.
This came from name of the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.
Apple Computers
It was the favorite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 O'clock.
It is not an acronym as popularly believed. It is short for San Francisco.
This name was formed by using COMp, for computer, and PAQ to denote a small integral object.
The name was derived from the founder's name Dr. Michael Cowpland.. It stands for COwpland REsearch Laboratory.
The name started as a joke boasting about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named 'Googol', a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100 zeros. After founders- Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to 'Google'
Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for hotmail as it included the letters "html" - the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective uppercasing.
Hewlett Packard
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett..
Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company 'Moore Noyce'but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics.
Lotus (Notes)
Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from 'The Lotus Position' or 'Padmasana'. Kapoor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' was removed later on.
Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for cars. The popular radio company at the time was called Victrola.
Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something such). The project was designed to help use the newly written SQL code by IBM. The project eventually was terminated but Larry and Bob decided to finish what they started and bring it to the world. They kept the name Oracle and created the RDBMS engine. Later they kept the same name for the company.
It originated from the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound, and 'sonny' a slang used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.
Founded by 4 Stanford University buddies, SUN is the acronym for Stanford University Network. Andreas Bechtolsheim built a microcomputer; Vinod Khosla recruited him and Scott McNealy to manufacture computers based on it, and Bill Joy to develop a UNIX-based OS for the computer.
The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book 'Gulliver's Travels'. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action and is barely human. Yahoo! Founders Jerry Yang and David Filo selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos.


Looking For the Good

Have you found yourself facing one challenging situation after another, posing a threat to your happiness, hopefulness, and peace of mind? Would you like to find another way to deal with those challenging situations? If so, let Johanna in the following story be your guide.
I Can't Wait To See What Good Comes Out of This Situation

Johanna woke up one morning feeling very sad because she and her boyfriend had broken up the night before. She somehow knew that he was not "right" for her, but she had been unable to end their relationship. She had also been told a week ago that her company was downsizing and, as a result, she would be laid off. As she was lying in her bed pondering the situation, her eyes fell on a framed cross-stitch piece that her deceased mother had made for her.

The piece quoted her mother's favorite saying, "I can't wait to see what good will come out of this situation." Johanna's mother was very wise and lived her short life in peace and contentment. Johanna found immediate comfort in the quotation, knowing that the words held power that could change a negative attitude into a positive one. She allowed the saying to permeate her mind as she rose and prepared for her day.

Johanna's day was to get more challenging. Her car would not start and she was going to be late for a job interview. As she stood staring helplessly at her "dead" car, the words again come to her... "I can't wait to see what good is going to come out of this situation."

As she was contemplating what she was going to do, she was approached by her next door neighbor, a very kind (and single) gentleman who offered her assistance. She accepted a ride from this man who she knew only by sight and to whom she had never spoken. As he was driving her to her appointment, she explained her job situation and the need to find another position. It happened that his company was looking for someone with her skills and background. Johanna interviewed with his company, and she accepted a position in her "dream job." She also entered into a very meaningful relationship with her "rescuer."

As Johanna was contemplating her good luck in finding a job and a relationship, she realized that she had been open and receptive to the good that would come out of the unfortunate situations in which she found herself. She learned the power of those words, "I can't wait to see what good is coming out of this situation."

It may be difficult to look for the good in those trying or devastating situations in which we may find ourselves. However, if we will take the time to review the wondrous events in our lives, we may find that many of them had their roots in adverse situations. In fact, if it were not for those challenging events, we may not have been the recipients of the good fortune that we received as a result of the adversity.

"I will look for the good in every challenging situation that occurs to me this week. I will change my life by changing my thinking about challenging events. I will claim the good, knowing that it will come to me." 
By Mary Rau-Foster