Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions

Book Description:

America is the home of the brave and, apparently, the stupid and gullible. Satirist Leland Gregory teaches us a lesson in historical hilarity with Stupid American History.

From Columbus to George W. Bush (that's a lot of material, people), Leland leads us through American history's mythconceptions, exposing idiocy and inanity along the time line. He reeducates by informing us about myths. For example, Samuel Prescott actually was the guy to alert us that the British were coming and not that Paul Revere dude.

Move over Colbert and Stewart; satire has finally found its rightful place in American history.

Excerpt from the Book:

"John Tyler was on his knees playing marbles when he was informed that Benjamin Harrison had died and he was now president of the United States. At that time marbles was a very popular game for both children and grown-ups."

For reasons still unknown, Texas congressman Thomas Lindsay Blanton, a Presbyterian Sunday school teacher and prohibitionist, inserted dirty words into the Congressional Record in 1921. His colleagues overwhelmingly censured him on October 24, 1921, by a vote of 293-0."

About the Author:

Leland Gregory has authored more than a dozen humor titles including What's The Number for 911?, Stupid History, and the New York Times best-sellers America's Dumbest Criminals and Stupid American History. A tireless promoter, he has made hundreds of radio and television appearances, including multiple appearances on NBC's Today show. Leland lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Wounded Knee, South Dakota

The massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota was on this day December 29 in 1890, the U. S. 7th Calvary gunning down hundreds of unarmed Lakota Indian warriors and their families. As framed in Dee Brown's influential, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, the massacre represented not only the culmination of the Indian Wars but the mindset which began to form with the arrival of Columbus. Dee's first chapter quotes from a letter which Columbus wrote home to the King and Queen of Spain describing the Indian tribes in what appears to be glowing terms:

So tractable, so peaceable, are these people, that I swear to your Majesties there is not in the world a better nation. They love their neighbors as themselves, and their discourse is ever sweet and gentle, and accompanied with a smile; and though it is true that they are naked, yet their manners are decorous and praiseworthy.

Columbus's point turns out to be that the Indians and their nation should be easy pickings, with only a firm hand needed to make the natives "work, sow and do all that is necessary and to adopt our ways." Brown's book then traces the centuries of abuse, his last chapter describing the Wounded Knee killings, his last paragraph describing the transport of the fifty-one wounded Indian survivors to shelter in a nearby Episcopal mission:

It was the fourth day after Christmas in the Year of Our Lord 1890. When the first torn and bleeding bodies were carried into the candlelit church, those who were conscious could see Christmas greenery hanging from the open rafters. Across the chancel front above the pulpit was strung a crudely lettered banner: PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN.

Thanks for TodayInLiterature

Rules For Capitalization in Titles

I used to think there were only two ways to use capitalization in a title: (1) Capitalize only the first word in the title (except for proper nouns), which I learned working for a local newspaper; and (2) Capitalize the principal and longer words and lowercase the minor, shorter words, which I learned was wrong.

I also came to learn that the rules for capitalization in titles—like the rules for other areas of English grammar—are not set in stone; style guides and grammarians disagree on which words to capitalize in a title.

In fact, there are really only two rules that are consistent across the board:

  • Capitalize the first word of the title
  • Capitalize all proper nouns

Sentence case, or down style, is one method, preferred by many print and online publications and recommended by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. The only two rules are the two rules mentioned above: Capitalize the first word and all proper nouns. Everything else is in lowercase. For example:

Why it's never too late to learn grammar (all words lowercased except "Why"—first word in title)

Another method is to capitalize all words in a title. This one is considered simple because there's no struggle trying to remember which words to capitalize and which ones to lowercase; they're all capitalized. However, one could argue it's the lazy man's method or that it's not very aesthetic. For example:

Why It's Never Too Late To Learn Grammar (all words capitalized)

Title case, or up style, is another method. Whether or not you capitalize a word in a title depends on its part of speech. According to most style guides that use title case, the basic rules are as follows:

  • Capitalize the first and last word in a title, regardless of part of speech
  • Capitalize all nouns (baby, country, picture), pronouns (you, she, it), verbs (walk, think, dream), adjectives (sweet, large, perfect), adverbs (immediately, quietly), and subordinating conjunctions (as, because, although)
  • Lowercase "to" as part of an infinitive
  • Lowercase all articles (a, the), prepositions (to, at, in, with), and coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or)

For example:

Why It's Never Too Late to Learn Grammar (all words capitalized except "to," a preposition)

That last rule for title case is upheld by some style guides, but not all. The Chicago Manual of Style follows that rule (except in cases in which an article, preposition, or coordinating conjunction is the first or last word in a title). However, The Associated Press would have you capitalize prepositions and conjunctions if they are four or more letters long. For others, the magic number is five rather than four. So, according to some guides, you have to worry not only about the part of speech, but also about the length of the words.

There is another common—but incorrect—"method" of using capitalization in titles. I used to follow it myself (see my first paragraph). May writers mistakenly believe that in a title, you should capitalize the principal and longer words and lowercase the minor, shorter words.

For example, writers often lowercase all two- or three-letter words in a title because they're short, and many articles, prepositions, and conjunctions—most of which should be lowercased—are short, as well. However, short words can be nouns, pronouns, and verbs, etc., which should be capitalized. Part of speech is more important than length when it comes to determining capitalization in titles. For example:

Why it's Never too Late to Learn Grammar (wrong)

"It's" is a contraction of "it," a pronoun, and "is," a verb, both of which should be capitalized; "too" is an adverb, which should also be capitalized.

Regardless of which convention you'd prefer to follow (except for the last example), you need to be consistent. Pick one (or follow the style guide of your employer, school, or clients) and stick with it.

Thanks for Daily Writing Tips

5 Tips to Understand Hyphenated Words

The complexity of rules about those little dashes that separate many words for various reasons causes so much misunderstanding that many writers just leave them out of the recipe or spill them randomly into the mixing bowl. But your compositional cuisine need not be so undisciplined. The rules may seem complicated at first, but soon you'll be able to put hyphens in their place.

1. Adjectives

Hyphenate two adjectives united to modify a noun: "a well-trained writer." But do so only before the noun: "a writer who is well trained." Keep in mind, though, a convention that has arisen in which permanent open compounds, words that have been bonded together to form perpetual concepts, like "income tax" or "ice cream," don't take a hyphen even in phrases like "income tax records" and "ice cream cone."

How do you know which compounds have bonded and which remain free agents? If an open compound is listed in the dictionary, it's permanent.

2. Adverbs

But notice that these rules apply to adjectives but not to a similar-looking class of words; adverbs ending in "-ly" aren't hyphenated to the verbs they modify: "a brightly colored shirt," "a quickly memorized poem." But most other adverbs are ("little-known fact," "best-kept secret"); compounds with "least," "less," "most," and "more" are exceptions.

3. Nouns

Nouns are usually compounded, too, of course ("footstep," "mountaintop") but some, like "life-form" and "mind-set," resist the closure that most of their like have accepted. Compounds that can be used as verbs and nouns alike differ in that the former are often hyphenated ("I had to jump-start his car") and the latter aren't ("He asked me for a jump start"). Another example is "fast track": "We fast-tracked the project," but "It's on the fast track.")

4. Multiword Coumpounds

Multiword compounds like "right-of-way," "back-to-back," and "up-to-date" always include hyphens. Beware, though: "Head to toe," although a common expression, does not appear in the dictionary with or without hyphens, so omit them (unless the phrase modifies a noun: "a head-to-toe inspection"). Familiar word strings that modify nouns are usually hyphenated before and after: "next-to-last person in line," "the reply was matter-of-fact."

5. Confusing Words

Some words in which you wouldn't expect a hyphen to persist remain to avoid confusion with a similar word with a different meaning ("re-cover," as opposed to "recover"; "re-creation" instead of "recreation").

Had enough? We haven't even covered every hyphen rule yet, but I'll save some for later. The bottom line about this floating line, though, is: "When in doubt, look it up."

Thanks to Daily Writing Tips

Monday, December 27, 2010

10 Writing Exercises to Tighten Your Writing

Writing projects can be like children. You love them dearly, but sometimes they irritate you to the point that you just need a break. Working on something fresh and new can invigorate your mind and give you a new approach to your work. These exercises can work for any genre of writing, fiction and non-fiction alike.

1. Free Association

This is probably the most popular writing exercise to get the juices flowing. Pull up a new Word document, take a deep breath and just write whatever comes to mind. Dig as deep as you can into your subconscious and don't worry about what comes out. Sometimes there's a mental blockage with something that's been bothering you, so it helps to write it down and get it out of your system.

2. Think Outside the Box

Think of something you're passionate about, like a hobby or a love interest, and write everything you know about it. Sometimes writing slumps happen and it helps to write about something you love. Even if you just write a paragraph, it's better to write something that's not your current project. This will rejuvenate you to re-start on your current project.

3. Sharpen the Saw

Something I love to do when I'm stuck is read another author's work, especially an author who writes in the same style or format as my current project. If you're writing fantasy, read some Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. If you're writing a biography, try taking a look at some biographies of your favorite actors or writers. Escaping into someone else's world for a bit can relax you enough to delve into your own imaginary world again.

4. Use the Musical Muse

Writers feel their work, and when you can quite describe what you're feeling on paper, it can be frustrating. Get out your ipod or computer, put on your earphones and find some songs that appeal to you and the scene or piece you're working on. and are two websites that offer free, instant music streaming to get those juices flowing.

5. Mad Libs

Choose one noun, adjective and verb. Make them as random as possible. Write a story using these words in context. You can also do this exercise with a fellow writer and give each other your noun, adjective and verb to see what you both come up with.

6. Eavesdropper

This is a wonderful exercise if you struggle to write natural dialogue between your characters. Sit in a public place like a park or at your local college campus and listen to the things people say as they walk by. Take copious notes and share them with other writers. This exercise is also great if you need a laugh.

7. Use Writing Prompts

A writing prompt is simply a topic around which you start jotting down ideas. The prompt could be a single word, a short phrase, a complete paragraph or even a picture, with the idea being to give you something to focus upon as you write. 8. Person, Place, Event

If you're in the middle of coming up with some new ideas, this exercise can help. Get a piece of paper and a pen and draw two lines down the middle to form three columns. In the first column, list every type of person you can think of, such as the police, firemen, grandparents, your spouse, a princess or whatever comes to mind. Next, think of a variety of places. It can range from the grocery store to Ireland. In the last column, list a time period or famous historical event like the Battle of Gettysburg or the year 1492. Combine a person, place and event and experiment with writing about that particular situation. You can try as many as you like!

9. Research Rendezvous

Select a random topic, like the African Bush or squids and look it up on as many reference sites as you can find.,, and are some research sites you can begin with. Learn as much as you can about this new topic. Keep a file for research notes.

10. A New Point of View

Pick a genre or point of view you have never tried before and write a short story with it. If you normally use third-person point of view, switch to first-person. If you normally focus on non-fiction, branch out and write some fiction. If you normally write sappy romances, give action/adventure a try. It's scary to leave your comfort zone, but you'd be surprised the kind of inspiration you get when you switch perspective.

Thanks to Daily Writing Tips

10 New Year's Resolutions For The 21st Century Leader

"I'm going to be a better leader"

It's that time of year again, where the calendar marks an end, and the approach of a new beginning – a time of much self-evaluation, and from those thoughts, the annual New Year's Resolutions.

For leaders, these proclamations can certainly be helpful as a jump start, but these days, simply declaring we want to be "better" just isn't enough.

There's a new dynamic at work that's creating the new leaders of the 21st Century, and the better we can understand it, and adapt our "resolutions" to it in very specific ways, the greater our chances to find and stay on that road to leadership greatness.

Recently I read a great piece in the New York Times written by David Segal that addressed this evolving leadership paradigm entitled "In Pursuit of the Perfect Brainstorm".

In it, Dev Patnaik of Jump Associates cites the rapid advance of technology as the catalyst, and compares the current leadership challenges to what painters faced in the late 19th Century, when photography pushed them to change:

"Then painters said: 'Well, wait, you can tell what is but you can't tell me my impression of what is. Here's how it looks to me, like Seurat. Or the Cubists who said, 'You can't capture what is going on from multiple angles.' " Technology forced painters to re-evaluate, which transformed their work. Something similar has happened in corporate America. As Patnaik puts it, "We're in the abstract-expressionist era of management."

Technology has evened the playing field in the corporate world with an amazing swiftness,  and leaders who recognize the "new" differentiators, and like the painters, develop new techniques to take advantage of them, will be the ones who thrive and get to the top of the heap.

And yes, they are more "abstract".   They are about people.

And as we all know, people have a much higher level of complexity than any process, policy, income statement or balance sheet they can produce.

So our resolutions for the coming year need to be pointed towards people  – recognizing that THEY are the ones that will make or break you.

And because of the complexity, there must be more to these resolutions than "I will be better", or "I will learn to adapt".

Here are 10 that I believe form an excellent foundation for excelling as a 21st Century leader:

  1. I will enable my teammates by giving them the freedom to make decisions on their own, and not disable them by micro-managing.
  2. I will inspire, every single day, by leading with real purpose, and with my heart as well as my head.
  3. My actions will match my words as to how our company values are represented, for I know that my integrity is vitally important.
  4. I will eliminate fear from the workplace by encouraging open dialogues and the flow of bad news as well as the good.
  5. I will enthusiastically, and not scornfully, seize all opportunities to learn and improve from our mistakes.
  6. I will encourage creativity by not dominating discussions or "pre-judging" any ideas – no suggestions are dumb suggestions.
  7. I will treat my leadership as service to my teammates, not the other way around.
  8. I will listen, and listen more, and then, listen a little more.
  9. I will show compassion, tolerance, empathy, and if I really want to embrace this new paradigm, I will not fear putting love into my leadership as well.
  10. And most of all, the joy I have in leading, and being a leader, and the sense of enjoyment and fun that I bring to the workplace, will spread like a virus to all who cross my path.

For this new year, let's embrace our inner Picasso, and indeed be resolute in embracing (and thriving in) the new world of the 21st Century leader.

Thanks to Terry Starbucker

Language Lovers Unite!

Kathryn McCary has asked for a post on when to use a and when to use an.

Her request was prompted by the following passage she read in a piece of professionally produced corporate publicity:

Since the HLB is a secured lender, all of our credit products require collateral to maintain our positions [sic] as a accessible and cost effective source of credit for members."

Says Kathryn,

HLB is the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, part of a system of banks chartered by the Federal Government in 1932–you would think they could hire writers who know REALLY BASIC English usage rules!

This post is not going to explain the uses of a and an. You'll find no fewer than four posts on the indefinite article in the DWT archives:

Give Me an A
Using "A" and "An" Before Words
When to Use "an"
A Historic" or "An Historic" Event?

The kindest thing we can say about the lapse in the bank copy is that it may have been a simple typo. It happens to the most conscientious writers. We proof an article twenty times, and as soon as the piece is published, the dratted error leaps out at us.

But let's say that it wasn't a typo. Let's say that the writer didn't see anything amiss with writing "a accessible." That's not a reflection on the writer's professional education so much as an indictment of U. S. elementary education.

It's not just professional writers who should know "really basic English usage rules" like when to use "a" and when to use "an."

Any English speaker educated in an English-speaking country should have a form of basic standard usage down by the age of 13. As much of the content of this blog reflects, many high school and college graduates manage to get by without mastering the basics.

So, what's to be done, other than to tear our hair?

I think that a possible answer is for language lovers to put their money where their mouths are.

Improvement in the teaching of basic English skills is not to be hoped for from the current flurry of education reform. The emphasis is all on math, science, and computer skills.

Thanks to the ubiquitous computer keyboard, handwriting has already become a despised skill. Spelling instruction is on the way out because spellcheck programs are seen by many as a substitute for knowledge of the English sound code.

Something that might help delay or reverse the decline of basic literacy skills would be a grassroots movement spearheaded by language lovers: people who respond to blogs like this one, and language zealots who go around painting out unnecessary apostrophes and correcting misspelled words on signs.

Language lovers could get together on a local level and sponsor contests for handwriting, basic grammar, and spelling. (And by spelling, I don't mean the kind of oral exhibition that rewards overachievers for their ability to memorize words few people use. I mean competitions in which children write down words like February and definite from dictation.)

Local groups and individuals could organize contests for children ages 6-13 through youth clubs and county fairs. Aspiring novelists could be recruited to sponsor contests in which children demonstrate an acquaintance with books. After all, there's not much point in writing books if the audience for literature continues to dwindle. Prize money could be minimal, anything from a dollar to $25.

Who knows, if such contests got started at a local level, a corporation might come along to offer a national contest with big bucks in prize money. A 13-year-old Brooklyn girl just won $50,000 from a manufacturer of mobile phones for her ability to text quickly and accurately.

Perhaps the answer to declining literacy skills lies outside the classroom.

Thanks to Daily Writing Tips

Triple Filter Test for Truth

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

"Hold on a minute," Socrates replied. "Before telling me anything I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."

"Triple filter?"

"That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say. That's why I call it the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "Actually I just heard about it and..."

"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really..."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "If what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"
Thanks to PravsWorld

This Week In History - From Dec 27 To Jan 02

December 27, 1971
Vietnam Veterans Against the War staged a peace protest at historic Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia. 
December 27, 2002
North Korea ordered U.N. nuclear inspectors to leave the country and said it would restart the Yongbyon plutonium Plant to meet the fuel needs of its nuclear power reactor. The plant had been shut down and sealed by the U.N. in 1994 in exchange for shipments of fuel oil. When it was discovered that the North Korean had been pursuing a uranium-based weapons program, the U.S. and Japan, South Korea and the European Union suspended the fuel shipments.
December 28, 1869
The (Noble and Holy Order of the) Knights of Labor, a labor union formed by tailors in Philadelphia, held the first Labor Day ceremonies in American history. Led by Uriah S. Stephens, they advocated and end to child and convict labor, equal pay for women, a progressive income tax and cooperative ownership of mines and factories by management and workers. They organized among the growing mass of industrial workers, their motto, "An Injury to One Is the Concern of All."
December 28, 1968
An anti-draft conference launched a "Don't Register" campaign to resist Australia's conscription system.
December 28, 1973
 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956," was published in Paris in the original Russian. The book is a brutal and uncompromising first-hand description of political repression and terror in the Soviet Union and its forced-labor prison camp system, where the author spent eight years. He dedicated it to "to all those who did not live to tell it." Solzhenitsyn was again arrested and forced into exile within two months of publication.
December 28, 1981
A peace camp was set up at the Molesworth Royal Air Force base in Cambridgeshire in the United Kingdom. Led by men and women from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and inspired by the encampment at Greenham Common, it was set up to protest the siting of 64 U.S. ground-launched nuclear-armed cruise missiles at the base.
December 28, 1996
Three were arrested at the Capitol Hill Post Office in Seattle for refusing to leave after attempting to mail humanitarian supplies to Iraq in defiance of the U.S.-led embargo.
December 29, 1890
The U.S. Army killed approximately 300 Oglala Sioux at Wounded Knee, in the new state of South Dakota. The 7th Cavalry (Custer's old command) fired their artillery amidst mostly unarmed women, children, and fleeing men. The Wounded Knee Massacre was the final major military battle in the genocide against Native Americans. 18 soldiers received Congressional Medals of Honor for their "bravery."
Encroaching white settlement after gold was found in 1874 on Sioux lands led to conflicts. The Great Sioux Agreement of 1889 established reservations for the native inhabitants and encouraged further white settlement on Indian land.  
December 29, 1996
War-weary guerrilla and government leaders in Guatemala signed an accord ending 36 years of civil conflict.
December 30, 1936
Members of the United Automobile Workers sat down at a General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan. GM, the world's largest corporation at the time, had refused to recognize or negotiate with the union, despite passage of the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) in 1935 which promised unions the right to organize. The local's membership adopted a tactic developed by French workers. Instead of picketing outside a factory only to be ignored or forcibly cleared away, the sit-down strike enabled workers to halt production and seize the plant "from the inside." The strike began just days after the end of a successful sit-down at Ford supplier Kelsey-Hayes.
December 30, 1971
Daniel Ellsberg, a Defense Department analyst, and his colleague Anthony Russo were indicted by a federal grand jury for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the news media. The papers were part of a 7000-page, top-secret government history of the United States' political and military involvement in the Vietnam War from 1945 to 1971, and described air strikes over Laos, raids along the coast of North Vietnam, and offensive actions taken by U.S. Marines well before the American public had been told that such actions had occurred. 
December 30, 1972
Pres. Richard Nixon ordered an end to U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. The most recent air strikes had been retaliation for North Vietnam's walking out of the peace negotiations in Paris and pressure to force it to submit to U.S. terms. Bombing of strategic targets and Hanoi (the North's capital) and Haiphong lasted for eight days with a 36-hour break for Christmas. The 20,000 tons (18.1 million kg) of bombs killed just over 1600 North Vietnamese, and a dozen B-52s were lost. North Vietnam agreed to return to the bargaining table.
December 31, 1915
The U.S. branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) was founded.
FOR's Mission Statement:- The Fellowship of Reconciliation seeks to replace violence, war, racism and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace and justice. We are an interfaith organization committed to active nonviolence as a transforming way of life and as a means of radical change. We educate, train, build coalitions, and engage in nonviolent and compassionate actions locally, nationally, and globally. 
December 31, 1970
The U.S. Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which in 1964 authorized an increase in U.S. military involvement in Vietnam as a response to a reported attack on U.S. naval forces patrolling close to the North Vietnamese border. The reports of the attacks were later revealed to be fictitious. The resolution was used as the basis for the entire war which lasted until 1974 and took the lives of millions of Vietnamese and over 58,000 Americans.  
January 1, 1831
William Lloyd Garrison first published The Liberator (four hundred copies printed in the middle of the night using borrowed type), which became the leading abolitionist paper in the United States. He labeled slave-holding a crime and called for immediate abolition.
From the first issue: "I will be harsh as truth, and uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation.
William Lloyd Garrison "Assenting to the 'self-evident truth' maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, 'that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights—among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,' I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population." ~~~ January 6, 1832 
January 1, 1847
Michigan became the first state – the first government in the English-speaking world – to abolish capital punishment (for all crimes except treason). This was done by a vote of the legislature, and was not a part of the state's constitution until 1964.
January 1, 1989 
 Kees Koning, a former army chaplain and priest, and Co van Melle, a medical doctor working with homeless people and illegal refugees, entered the Woensdrecht airbase (for a second time), and began the "conversion" of NF-5B fighter airplanes by beating them with sledgehammers into ploughshares. The Dutch planned to sell the NF-5B to Turkey, for use against the Kurdish nationalists as part of a NATO aid program which involved shipping 60 fighter planes to Turkey. Koning and van Melle were charged with trespass, sabotage and $350,000 damage; they were convicted, and both sentenced to a few months in jail.
January 1, 1991 
Early in the morning Moana Cole, a Catholic Worker from New Zealand, Ciaron O'Reilly, a Catholic Worker from Australia, and Susan Frankel and Bill Streit, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, D.C., calling themselves the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand and U.S.) Peace Force Plowshares, entered the Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York.
January 2, 1905 
The Conference of Industrial Unionists in Chicago formed the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), frequently known as The Wobblies. The IWW mission was to form "One Big Union" among industrial workers.
January 2, 1920 
U.S. Attorney General Alexander Palmer, in what were called the Palmer or Red raids, ordered the arrest and detention without trial of 6,000 Americans, including suspected anarchists, communists, unionists and others considered radicals, including many members of the IWW.
 This followed a mass arrest of thousands two months earlier based on Palmer's belief that Communist agents from Russia were planning to overthrow the American government.
A suicide bomber had blown off the front door of the newly appointed Palmer the previous June, one in a series of coordinated attacks that day on judges, politicians, law enforcement officials, and others in eight cities nationwide. Palmer put a young lawyer, J. Edgar Hoover, in charge of investigating the bombings, collecting information on potentially violent anarchists, and coordinating the mass arrests.
January 2, 1975 
A U.S. Court ruled that John Lennon and his lawyers be given access to Department of Immigration and Naturalization files regarding his deportation case, to determine if the government case was based on his 1968 British drug conviction, or his anti-establishment comments during the years of the Nixon administration.
On October 5, 1975, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the order to deport Lennon, and he was granted permanent residency status.
January 2, 1996 
Khaleda Zia An estimated 100,000 Bangladeshi women traveled from the countryside to attend a rally in Dacca, the capital, to protest Islamist clerics' attacks on women's education and employment.
Khaleda Zia, the country's first female prime minister, had introduced compulsory free primary education, free education for girls up to class ten, a stipend for the girl students, and food for the education program.
Credit / Link to

Saturday, December 25, 2010

15 Facts You Didn't Know About Your Penis

For all the attention they direct below the belt, most men actually know very little about their penises. Here's the knowledge you need to keep yours healthy, strong, and ready for action—for life.
Penis Fact # 1
Smoking can shorten your penis by as much as a centimeter. Erections are all about good bloodflow, and lighting up calcifies blood vessels, stifling erectile circulation. So even if you don't care all that much about your lungs or dying young, spare the li'l guy.
Penis Fact # 2
Doctors can now grow skin for burn victims using the foreskins of circumcised infants. One foreskin can produce 23,000 square meters, which would be enough to tarp every Major League infield with human flesh.
Penis Fact # 3
An enlarged prostate gland can cause both erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. If you have an unexplained case of either, your doctor's looking forward to checking your prostate. Even if you're not.
Penis Fact # 4
The average male orgasm lasts 6 seconds. Women get 23 seconds. Which means if women were really interested in equality, they'd make sure we have four orgasms for every one of theirs.
Penis Fact # 5
The oldest known species with a penis is a hard-shelled sea creature called Colymbosathon ecplecticos. That's Greek for "amazing swimmer with large penis." Which officially supplants Buck Naked as the best porn name, ever.
Penis Fact # 6
Circumcised foreskin can be reconstructed. Movable skin on the shaft of the penis is pulled toward the tip and set in place with tape. Later, doctors apply plastic rings, caps, and weights. Years can pass until complete coverage is attained....Okay, we'll shut up now.
Penis Fact # 7
Only one man in 400 is flexible enough to give himself oral pleasure. It's estimated, however, that all 400 have given it their best shot at some point.
Penis Fact # 8
There are two types of penises. One kind expands and lengthens when becoming erect (a grower). The other appears big most of the time, but doesn't get much bigger after achieving erection (a shower).
Penis Fact # 9
An international Men's Health survey reports that 79 percent of men have growers, 21 percent have showers.
Penis Fact # 10
German researchers say the average intercourse lasts 2 minutes, 50 seconds, yet women perceive it as lasting 5 minutes, 30 seconds. Are we that good or that bad?
Penis Fact # 11
Turns out size does matter: The longer your penis, the better "semen displacement" you'll achieve when having sex with a woman flush with competing sperm. That's according to researchers at the State University of New York, who used artificial phalluses (ahem) to test the "scooping" mechanism of the penis's coronal ridge. Next up: curing cancer.
Penis Fact # 12
The penis that's been enjoyed by the most women could be that of King Fatefehi of Tonga, who supposedly deflowered 37,800 women between the years 1770 and 1784—that's about seven virgins a day. Go ahead, say it: It's good to be king.
Penis Fact # 13
Better-looking men may have stronger sperm. Spanish researchers showed women photos of guys who had good, average, and lousy sperm—and told them to pick the handsomest men. The women chose the best sperm producers most often.
Penis Fact # 14
No brain is necessary for ejaculation. That order comes from the spinal cord. Finding a living vessel for said ejaculation, however, takes hours of careful thought and, often, considerable amounts of alcohol.
Penis Fact # 15
The most common cause of penile rupture: vigorous masturbation. Some risks are just worth taking.
Thanks to Mike Zimmerman / Men's Health

Gardasil Now Approved For Prevention of Anal Cancer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just approved the vaccine Gardasil for use in prevention of anal cancer and related pre-cancerous states caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) types 6, 11, 16 and 18 in males and females between the age of 9 to 26. Gardasil was previously approved in 2008 for use in preventing cervical and vulvar cancer in females from 9 to 26 years old. Since the same strains of HPV can cause both types of cancers, there is a rationale for using the same vaccine for prophylaxis. Anal cancer is a relatively rare cancer with approximately 5,300 newly diagnosed cases in the U.S. annually. However, the incidence is growing, with 90% of cases thought to be related to HPV. [via Medical News Today]

Thanks to DailyDose

The Monkey With The Wooden Apples

There once was a happy monkey wandering the jungle, eating delicious fruit when hungry, and resting when tired. One day he came upon a
house, where he saw a bowl of the most beautiful apples. He took one in each hand and ran back into the forest.
He sniffed the apples and smelled nothing. He tried to eat them, but hurt his teeth. They were made of wood, but they were beautiful, and when
the other monkeys saw them, he held onto them even tighter.
He admired his new possessions proudly as he wandered the jungle. They glistened red in the sun, and seemed perfect to him. He became so attached to them, that he didn't even notice his hunger at first.
A fruit tree reminded him, but he felt the apples in his hands. He couldn't bear to set them down to reach for the fruit. In fact, he couldn't relax, either, if he was to defend his apples. A proud, but less happy monkey continued to walk along the forest trails.
The apples became heavier, and the poor little monkey thought about leaving them behind. He was tired, hungry, and he couldn't climb trees or collect fruit with his hands full. What if he just let go?
Letting go of such valuable things seemed crazy, but what else could he do? He was so tired. Seeing the next fruit tree, and smelling it's fruit was enough. He dropped the wooden apples and reached up for his meal. He was happy again.
Letting Go Of Wooden Apples
Like that little monkey, we sometimes carry things that seem too valuable to let go. A man carries an image of himself as "productive" - carries it like a shiny wooden apple. But in reality, his busyness leaves him tired, and hungry for a better life. Still, letting go seems crazy. Even his worries are sacred apples - they prove he's "doing everything he can." He holds onto them compulsively.
This is a hard thing to see. We identify so strongly with our things, even feeling pain when our cars are dented. How much more powerfully do we identify with our beliefs and self-ideas? Yet they don't always feed our souls, do they? And we become tired of defending them.
How else could the story end? The monkey might be found dead of hunger, under a beautiful tree, with fruit within reach, but still grasping his
wooden apples. I chose to end it with him letting go, because only with open hands can we receive.
Thanks to Steve Gillman

Notable Events - From Dec 26 To Jan 1

December 26, 1776 - The British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolutionary War.

December 26, 1865 - The coffee percolator was patented by James H. Mason.

December 26, 1917 - During World War I, the U.S. government took over operation of the nation's railroads.

December 26, 1921 - The Catholic Irish Free State became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain.

December 26, 1944 - Tennessee Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" was first performed publicly, at the Civic Theatre in Chicago, IL.

December 26, 1947 - Heavy snow blanketed the Northeast United States, burying New York City under 25.8 inches of snow in 16 hours. The severe weather was blamed for about 80 deaths.

December 26, 1982 - The Man of the Year in TIME magazine was a computer. It was the first time a non-human received the honors.

December 27, 1831 - Charles Darwin set out on a voyage to the Pacific aboard the HMS Beagle. Darwin's discoveries during the voyage helped him form the basis of his theories on evolution.

December 27, 1932 - Radio City Music Hall opened its doors to the public for the first time.

December 27, 1945 - The World Bank was created with an agreement signed by 28 nations.

December 27, 1947 - The children's television program "Howdy Doody," hosted by Bob Smith, made its debut on NBC.

December 27, 1971 - Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Woodstock of Charles Schulz' "Peanuts" comic strip were on the cover of "Newsweek" magazine.

December 27, 1978 - Spain adopted a new constitution and became a democracy after 40 years of dictatorship.

December 27, 2000 - Mario Lemeiux (Pittsburgh Penguins) returned to the National Hockey League (NHL) as a player after over 3 years of retirement. He was the first owner-player in the modern era of pro sports. Lemieux had purchased the Pittsburgh Penguins during his retirement from playing.

December 27, 2001 - U.S. President George W. Bush granted China permanent normal trade status with the United States.

December 28, 1836 - Mexico's independence was recognized by Spain.

December 28, 1902 - The first professional indoor football game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Syracuse defeated the Philadelphia Nationals 6-0.

December 28, 1945 - The U.S. Congress officially recognized the "Pledge of Allegiance."

December 28, 1964 - Initial filming of the movie "Dr. Zhivago" began on location near Madrid, Spain. The movies total running time is 197 minutes.

December 28, 1981 - Elizabeth Jordan Carr, the first American test-tube baby, was born in Norfolk, VA.

December 29, 1848 - U.S. President James Polk turned on the first gas light at the White House.

December 29, 1851 - The first American Young Men's Christian Association was organized in Boston, MA.

December 29, 1888 - The first performance of Macbeth took place at the Lyceum Theatre.

December 29, 1940 - During World War II, Germany began dropping incendiary bombs on London.

December 29, 1952 - Sonotone Corporation offered the first transistorized hearing aid for sale.

December 30, 1879 - Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" was first performed, at Paignton, Devon, England.

December 30, 1887 - A petition to Queen Victoria with over one million names of women appealing for public houses to be closed on Sundays was handed to the home secretary.

December 30, 1940 - California's first freeway was officially opened. It was the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena.

December 30, 1948 - "Kiss Me Kate" opened at the New Century Theatre in New York City. Cole Porter composed the music for the classic play that ran for 1,077 performances.

December 30, 1953 - The first color TV sets went on sale for about $1,175.

December 31, 1897 - Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City.

December 31, 1929 - Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played "Auld Lang Syne" as a New Year's Eve song for the first time.

December 31, 1940 - As a result of a dispute between the radio networks and ASCAP (the American Society of Composers and Publishers), the radio industry was prevented from playing any ASCAP-licensed music. The ban lasted for ten months.

December 31, 1946 - U.S. President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.

December 31, 1967 - The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17. The game is known as the Ice Bowl since it was played in a wind chill of 40 degrees below zero.

January 1, 1772 - The first traveler's checks were issued in London.

January 1, 1801 - Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi became the first person to discover an asteroid. He named it Ceres.

January 1, 1863 - U.S. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in the rebel states were free.

January 1, 1898 - Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island were consolidated into New York City.

January 1, 1937 - The First Cotton Bowl football game was played in Dallas, TX. Texas Christian (T.C.U.) beat Marquette, 16-6.

January 1, 1985 - VH-1 premiered as an adult contemporary music video channel with Marvin Gaye's "Star Spangled Banner" video.

January 1, 2002 - The euro coin and banknotes were put into circulation in 12 European countries.
Thanks to On-This-Day

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 Steps To Success

1. Self-Belief:
Success is begins in the mind. One has to be a believer, first, if one wishes to be an achiever. Never under-estimate yourself. You have no idea how often can you surprise yourself. So to begin with, let's get in the belief, "I Can."

2. Clarity Of Vision:
There is no point running around without knowing where one wants to reach. you must get your job cut out. Greatest achievers in the world have been visionaries. Know exactly what you are best at and give it your best shot.

3. Setting the Right Goals:
The goals should be realistic .The goals should be achievable ,and yet challenging enough - neither too easy nor too difficult -something in the middle.

4. Be focused:
If the sun's rays are focused on a piece of paper with a lens, the intensity of the concentrated energy burns the paper. Focus on your objective will enhance the intensity of the effects of your efforts.

5. No Short Cuts to Success:
There are no short cuts to success. Divide your overall goals into smaller targets. Divide your monthly plans into weekly and weekly plans into daily plans and see how simple can things be.

6. Take Risks:
Without any risk no progress is possible. Life comes to a stable standstill. People who take chances are the people who get ahead in life. The only way to reduce risk is to take risks.

7. Take the Initiative:
People who take the initiative make the most of their lives. Proactive people do not wait for success to happen; rather they make it happen. As they say, 'JUST DO IT'.

8. Never Hesitate to Struggle:
No one has ever climbed a mountain just by looking at it. Struggle, hard struggle, is a key to success.

9. Own Responsibility:
Failure to hit the bull's eye is never the fault of the target. People, who own complete responsibility of their lives, are the people who make the most of it.

10. Never Give Up:
Many people who failed in life, where those who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Success demands extra-ordinary amount of perseverance. Never, never, give up.

Thanks to Pravsworld

Friday, December 10, 2010

That's Why We Need Friends

Many times in our lives we are dropped,
crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make
and the circumstances that come our way.
We feel as though we are worthless.

But no matter what has happened or what will happen,
you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased you are still priceless to those who love you.

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who we are.
You are special. Don't ever forget it.
Thanks to Pravs

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My 10 Favorite (And Most Effective) Leadership Quotes

One of my favorite things to do as a leader is make a big speech or presentation.   The kind that is designed to "jazz up" and inspire the team.

I've been delivering them on a regular basis for the past 8 years in my (soon-to-be) former position as an SVP of Operations, and throughout that time I have sprinkled a few famous quotes here and there, to really bring home the point I was trying to make.

These quotes are quite useful because of their eloquence, and the way they bring a certain gravitas to the discussion.

I've assembled my 10 favorite quotes on this post (and the best context to use them) – the ones I have used the most effectively, and the most often, in practicing my leadership craft.

Try one of these yourself next time you are rallying the troops.

  1. Decisiveness: "There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction". – John F. Kennedy
  2. Excellence & The Joy Of Work: 'The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both"James Michener
  3. The "Value" Of Experience: "Experience suggests it doesn't matter so much how you got here, as what you do after you arrive"Lois McMaster Bujold
  4. Trust: "When trust is high, relative to fear, people and people systems function well. When fear is high, relative to trust, they break down." – Jack Gibb
  5. Confidence & Determination: "An army destined to defeat fights in the hope of winning" -  Sun Tzu, the Art of War
  6. Too Much Talk, Not Enough Action: "We have a 'strategic' plan. It's called doing things." — Herb Kelleher
  7. The Joy of Progress, & the Journey: "Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb" - Sir Winston Churchill
  8. The Real Job Of Leadership: "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." – John Quincy Adams
  9. Bad News is Good News: "The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." – Colin Powell
  10. Overcoming Fear (And My All-Time Favorite): "It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt
Thanks to

How to Rebut 3 Common Objections To Measuring Performance

You've done your research, you've prepared your case, and your next step is to try and convince managers and colleagues to endorse your proposal for a performance measurement project. And you brace yourself because you know what's coming...

It will be a torrent of 'yeah-buts' - basically, objections to giving time, money or effort to performance measurement. Are you going to sit back and take it, or do something about it before it even happens?

OBJECTION 1: Performance Measurement Hasn't Worked In The Past.

What's happening with this objection is that the person is assuming that because there has so far been no successful approach to performance measurement, that means there can't be a successful approach in the future. Your focus should be on raising and challenging this assumption, and offering an approach to performance measurement that acknowledges the causes of failure and show how that approach solves those causes.

A constructive response: "You're absolutely right that performance measurement has had problems - we've got too many measures, people don't find the measures useful, they don't align to our strategy and staff are spending too much time collecting data for these useless measures. So if we want performance measurement to succeed, we obviously need to take a different approach, and an approach that deliberately solves and prevents these kinds of problems. Here's how my proposed approach does that..."

OBJECTION 2: We Don't Have Time For Performance Measurement.

At the foundation of this objection is the assumption that everything people are currently doing is of a higher priority than performance measurement. We already know that people spend a lot of time on urgent things that aren't in alignment with strategy or that are rework resulting from ineffective or inefficient processes. You simply need to highlight how good performance measures can reduce the time wasted on these kinds of activities, and therefore is of a higher priority than these activities.

A constructive response: "I agree - it seems like we're all getting busier and busier and the last thing we need is something ELSE to try and squeeze into our days. And yet I can't help noticing how a good proportion of the things we do can be done so much easier and quicker. For example, [insert some well-research examples from your organization]. I truly believe that it's better to risk taking time out from some of these urgent-but-not-important activities, in order to prevent them from continuing to happen in the future."

OBJECTION 3: We Already Know What Matters, Performance Measures Won't Tell Us Anything New.

The assumption propping up this objection is that just by looking around or relying on our experience with the work we do, we can see and know everything that matters. But the truth is, we all have biases caused by our values and moods and what we notice and what we don't notice. And these biases prevent us from seeing objectively the patterns and trends that data can show us more quickly and easily. It's not hard to demonstrate this with a few examples of how data has led people to surprising and valuable insights they otherwise would have missed.

A constructive response: "Our people have a fantastic knowledge of the work they do and a very strong commitment to doing their best. Our job is to empower them, so they can more easily focus on what will produce the best results. We can't expect them to simultaneously watch the big picture as well as what's right in front of them. Performance measures are great for showing them what's happening in the big picture, quickly and easily, so they can make the best choices about what's currently in front of them. For example, [insert some examples of how performance measures have produced insights that no-one noticed from just looking around]."

Be Prepared, Respectful, Honest And Focused On The Big Picture.

Handling objections to performance measurement requires that you dig a little deeper to understand the assumptions people are making that lead to their objections, raising those assumptions so everyone realizes they are there, and then stimulating some dialogue to move beyond the objection.

It's not about being a smarty-pants or winning a debate with the person who voices the objection. It's about elevating the dialogue to a constructive level, so you can all get a better understanding and movement forward.

Take Action:

Which of these three objections is blocking your path to better performance measurement? Take pen to paper for 15 minutes and prepare some well-informed, respectful and constructive responses to the ways you expect this objection to be expressed by your managers or colleagues.

Thanks to Stacey Barr

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All About Abbreviations

An abbreviation is defined as a shortened version of a word or phrase. But did you know that there are many different types of abbreviations? Here is a list of abbreviation types:

Acronym – This forms a word using the initial parts or first letters of a name. For example, ABBA, MADD, and OPEC are all acronyms that take the first letter from each word to form a new word. Lesser known acronyms include scuba and laser. The latter examples show that not all acronyms have to be capitalized.

Initialism – Also called alphabetism, this is a group of letters, each pronounced separately, used as an abbreviation for a name or expression. Examples include: CD, TV, and UK.

Truncation – This type of abbreviation consists only of the first part of a word. These are most often used when referring to proper titles such as months of the year or days of the week, e.g., Mon., Fri., Apr., Oct.

Clipped – Similar to truncation in that you are using a part of the word to form the abbreviation, but in this case you're using either the middle or end. Common clipped abbreviations include phone (telephone) and fridge (refrigerator).

Aphesis – In this case, you have dropped the unstressed vowel at the beginning of the word. These are often unintentional and casually spoken versions of the words. Perhaps the best example is 'cause instead of because.

Portmanteau – The blending of two or more words will give you a portmanteau. Some of my personal favorites include liger (lion and tiger), spork (spoon and fork), skort (shorts and skirt), and brinner (breakfast and dinner).

Some things to consider when using abbreviations:

  • Anyone can make up an abbreviation and many are non-standard. They should, therefore, be left out of formal writing.
  • If the full word would be capitalized (e.g., Sunday or January), make sure to capitalize the abbreviation (e.g., Sun. or Jan.).
Thanks to Letia Graening / Daily Writing Tips

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are You Too Pessimistic About Your Personality?

New research finds friends think we're less neurotic and more conscientiousness than we imagine.

From time to time we all wonder what other people think of us. Often in a quiet moment, just before going to sleep, while reviewing the day, we try to work out how friends and family might interpret what we've said and done.

How neurotic does my partner think I am? Do my colleagues think of me as a reliable, hard worker? Do my friends think I'm stuck in a rut or open to new experiences?

Here on the inside we have a model of ourselves that makes sense, but out there, what conclusions are those who know us best drawing about our personalities?

Of course we all differ and you might imagine that the differences between actor and observer would cancel out. For example some people might appear more conscientious than they are, and others less so.

How Do Friends See You?

When psychologists compare people's ratings of their own personality with those of others, they find something curious. There are consistent and reliable differences between how people, on average, see themselves and how those closest evaluate them.

Estonian psychologist Juri Allik and colleagues gathered personality tests on participants across Europe; from Belgium, The Czech Republic, Estonia and Germany (Allik et al., 2010). People were asked to fill out one personality questionnaire themselves, and get someone who knew them well to do the same.

Here are the five different dimensions into which personality is most often broken down, along with brief descriptions:

  • Extraversion: assesses how outgoing you are, for example do you love or hate parties?
  • Neuroticism: centers around the dark thoughts you might have about yourself and others.
  • Openness to experience: measures how much you like trying out new ideas or activities.
  • Agreeableness: looks at how easy-going you are.
  • Conscientiousness: do you get things done or is your to-do list overflowing?

Despite the differences between the four cultures examined, the pattern of results was remarkably similar. When Allik and colleagues compared what people thought of themselves compared with their friend's judgement, some consistent differences emerged. Here's what they found, on average, across all the participants:

  • People were rated as less neurotic by those close to them than they saw themselves. This could suggest we appear less anxious, depressed or self-conscious than we feel.
  • People were rated as more conscientious by others, having greater competence and self-discipline than they gave themselves credit for.
  • People were rated as less open to experience, including to fantasy, new ideas and values, than they thought of themselves.
  • For agreeableness and extraversion people were generally in agreement with their friends.

To rule out the conclusion that there's something unusual about Belgians, Czechs, Estonians or Germans, Allik and colleagues looked at similar data taken from 29 cultures, including the United States, Japan, India and Burkina Faso (in West Africa).

Broadly the same pattern of results emerged, which suggested that people all around world share this same tendency to see themselves as more neurotic and self-conscious and less open to experience than they are rated by friends and family.

Battle Of The Biases

None of the differences that emerged were huge, but they were consistent. And it's the exceptions that are fascinating because they are tricky to square with people's natural tendency for self-enhancement, i.e. most people think they are above average. If that were true we'd expect to see people rating themselves higher on conscientiousness and lower on neuroticism than their friends.

One way to resolve this apparent contradiction is to notice who the comparisons are between. In the experiments where people consider themselves above average, the comparisons are between strangers.

But, in Allik et al.'s study, the comparisons are between friends and family. Because our friends and family naturally have a positive bias towards us, they may rate us higher than a stranger on socially desirable personality traits.

The finding from Allik et al.'s study that doesn't fit with this explanation is the lower rating others gave for openness to experience. Because being open to new experiences is socially desirable, if this theory is correct, we'd expect the same positive bias from our friends. It's certainly a hole in that particular explanation so we can't yet be sure exactly how to explain these findings.

The researchers conclude that, on average, our friends and loved ones have much the same view of our personalities as we do. Perhaps we are a little pessimistic on neuroticism and conscientiousness, maybe a little optimistic on our desire for new experiences. But in broad-brush personality terms, the real you is probably shining through.

Thanks to PsyBlog

What Great Bosses Know About The Note

Admit it, you have one. It may be tucked away or kept on display. I'm talking about The Note.

It's a message of appreciation -- from a boss, a co-worker or an employee. It might be typed or hand-written. Could be memo-formal, Hallmark-personal or Post-It®-casual.

The words in The Note were so meaningful to you that the message became a keepsake.

The holiday time of year provides a perfect moment to remind managers of the power of The Note, and to encourage you to craft a few of your own. Writing words of thanks comes quite naturally to some bosses. For others, it's a chore. They're busy. They're not wordsmiths. They don't want to seem sappy.

Moreover, some supervisors believe written recognition should be reserved for extraordinary performance. Why make an extra effort to acknowledge employees for simply doing what they're supposed to do?

Here's why: It reminds people that what they do matters -- even the small things we too easily take for granted. When bosses restrict their written praise to heroic acts only, they miss opportunities to reinforce the quality that shines in everyday actions. And those everyday actions are the building blocks of excellence.

I'll prove it.

Let Me Offer A Dozen Examples -- 12 Messages You Could Put In Writing To The Right Employees Today:
  1. Thanks for coming to me with problems -- always coupled with suggested solutions.
  2. Thanks for keeping current on industry issues and trends.
  3. Thanks for treating company equipment as if it were your own.
  4. Thanks for seeing beyond your own cubicle and looking out for colleagues.
  5. Thanks for your curiosity and interest in learning.
  6. Thanks for being relentlessly reliable.
  7. Thanks for keeping family photos in plain view, a reminder that work alone never defines us.
  8. Thanks for the gentle heat you send my way when my ideas are half-baked.
  9. Thanks for making our meetings productive, not ponderous.
  10. Thanks for the trust you inspire with your integrity.
  11. Thanks for your calm in the occasional crisis -- and for never causing one.
  12. Thanks for making it so easy to write this note of thanks.
I hope my list got you thinking about the people on your staff who deserve The Note. Most of all, I hope you'll write and deliver a few this holiday season.
Thanks to Poynter Institute / Jill Geisler

Friday, November 19, 2010

Accident Attention: Analyze & Investigate!

Make your employees "accident aware" by informing them of what the organization is doing to prevent accidents. And let them know that they are a part of all of these accident prevention processes. Their input will be solicited and valued as the organization makes its decisions to create and maintain a safe workplace. For example, the organization analyzes operations and work areas in the following ways:
  • Doing a hazard analysis for each job
  • Reviewing use of hazardous chemicals
  • Studying the layout of workstations
  • Analyzing worker duties for ergonomic risks
  • Doing a safety check of all equipment
  • Inspecting the facility for layout hazards
  • Reviewing the worker training program
  • Always enforcing safety rules
  • Making any changes indicated to reduce hazards
    Tell Workers Not To Miss The Message Of A Near Miss! Near misses are accidents waiting to happen. The only difference between a near miss and an accident is a fraction of an inch or a second in time. Train workers to:

    • Report All Near Misses Right Away. Most accidents are preceded by multiple near misses.
    • Report Near Misses To You so you can track the patterns, pinpoint the problem, and take corrective action.
    • If Possible, Remove The Hazard Immediately. Do your part to protect your co-workers from injury. But don't forget to report the hazard even if you removed it. And don't remove certain hazards if you're not qualified or trained to do so.
    • Report Damaged Equipment Or Property.
    • Don't Wait For A Near Miss or accident to happen. Stay alert for anything that could cause an accident. Injuries can often be traced back to equipment or property damage that was never reported and repaired.
    • Report Damaged Equipment, such as:                              
                      => Fractured hand tools,
      => Power tools that give a slight shock,
                      => Machine guards that don't fit or work properly,
                      => Forklifts with damaged parking brakes,
                      => Ladders with broken rungs,
                      => Worn PPE, and 
                      => Other similar problems.
    • Stay Alert For Property Damage, such as
    • Crumbling stairs,
    • Loose handrails,
    • Loose plates in the floor,
    • Holes in the floor,
    • Loose hinges on doors,
    • Broken sidewalks, and
    • Other damage to the facility.
    As your workers cooperate with analysis programs, stay alert for hazards, and follow reporting instructions, they will be able to avoid most accidents in the workplace. If a rare accident does occur, encourage workers to report it immediately and cooperate with investigators so you can find out what caused it and prevent repeat accidents.

    Why It Matters

    • In one recent year, nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in private industry occurred at a rate of 3.9 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers.
    • That amounts to 3.7 million injuries and illnesses.
    • Nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among state and local public sector workers combined occurred at a rate of 6.3 cases per 100 full-time workers.
    • Many of these injuries and illnesses occurred because of accidents.
    Thanks to SafetyDailyAdvisor

    Be An Inspirational Leader

    What can we learn about inspirational leadership from successful start-up companies? Conversely, what can failed corporations teach us?

    Think about the inspirational leaders of Apple, Amazon and Southwest Airlines. You can probably name them: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Jeff Bezos, and Herb Kelleher.

    Next, try to name the leaders of General Motors, TiVo and AOL during the same period. Some were good, but very few left a leadership legacy that was strong enough to ensure future success.

    Hundreds of newly published business books attempt to define the qualities of great business leaders, while claiming that leadership can be learned. But can it? Why do CEOs at top-notch companies fail to provide truly inspirational leadership?

    Apparently, leadership is not easily learned or practiced, even though myriad resources - from leadership development programs to executive coaches - exist.

    The situation is truly puzzling: We know competition is fierce, and most candidates for senior leadership positions are highly qualified, experienced and deeply engaged in their work. Lousy bosses are commonly weeded out in the long run, and competent bosses are usually promoted. Why, then, do so many good managers lack the requisite leadership skills?

    Leading With Why

    There are as many different formulas for leadership development as there are brands of cereals at your local supermarket.

    Leaders who want to succeed should clearly communicate what they believe and why they're so passionate about their cause, according to business consultant Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Portfolio, 2010).

    Most people know what they do and how they do it, Sinek says, but few communicate why they do what they do.

    "People don't buy what you do; they buy into why you do it," he writes.
    If you don't know and cannot communicate why you take specific actions, how can you expect employees to become loyal followers who support your mission? Great leaders inspire us when they connect with our hearts and emotions, says Sinek, who presents his ideas on
    TED TV.

    Great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Walt Disney always communicated their "why" - the reasons they acted, why they cared and their future hopes. Great business leaders follow suit:

    • Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, believes air travel should be fun and accessible to everyone.
    • Apple's Steve Wozniak believes everyone should have a computer and, along with Steve Jobs, set out to challenge established corporations' status quo.
    • Walmart's Sam Walton believed all people should have access to low-cost goods.
    • Starbucks' Howard Schultz wanted to create social experiences in cafes resembling those in Italy.
    The Why Of Apple

    Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak teamed up in their 20s to challenge a computer industry designed for large corporations. Wozniak saw the personal computer as a way to provide tools to the "little guy" - to give everyone the ability to perform the same functions with similar resources.

    Steve Jobs had originally sold surplus electronic parts, but he was much more than a salesman. Jobs wanted to make his mark on the world, and he envisioned building a company as the best way to start a revolution.

    In Apple's first year, with only one product, Wozniak and Jobs brought in a million dollars in revenues. Year 2 produced $10 million in sales; year 4, $100 million. Within six years, Apple Computer was a billion-dollar company with more than 3,000 employees. The computer revolution was, indeed, established.

    Jobs and Wozniak were not alone in their technological quest, nor were they the smartest or most experienced of the bunch. They actually had no leadership development training or executive coaches.

    What made Apple remarkable was not its fast growth, nor its unique ideas about personal computers. Apple has repeated a pattern of success over and over again. Unlike any of its competitors, the company has challenged conventional thinking within numerous industries: computers, small electronics, music, mobile phones and broader entertainment categories.

    1. Think about this: Revolutionary products in several fields
    2. Founders without any special powers or mystical influence over others
    3. No corner on hiring the most brilliant people

    With only a 6 percent market share in the United States and about 3 percent worldwide, Apple is not a leading manufacturer of home computers. But the company nonetheless leads the computer industry in innovation and technological advancements, while becoming a force to be reckoned with in other industries, as well.

    Apple's success lies in its leaders' ability to inspire and be true to their core values: challenge the status quo and empower people.

    Apple inspires because it starts with why, according to Sinek. Company leaders communicate the reasons Apple exists, as well as their heartfelt motivation for creating new products that give customers new levels of freedom and power.

    Apple has access to the same talent pool shared by every other computer company. Its leaders hire those who can eloquently verbalize their desire to be great. Those selected to join the company can achieve this goal because their leaders communicate passion and their "why."

    Creating Loyalty

    There are leaders, and then there are those who actually lead. Every executive who supervises others must be prepared to motivate - a skill that really isn't difficult. It requires you to create loyal customers and workers who link themselves to your higher cause.

    General Motors so successfully motivated people to buy their cars, for example, they sold more than any other automaker in the world for over 77 years. Although they were first in their industry, they did not inspire loyalty.

    External incentives or benefits are insufficient. True leaders create followers who are inspired - not simply swayed by marketing or hype. Their willingness to act is rooted in a deeply personal cause that is greater than themselves - even if it means making a personal sacrifice. They're willing to pay a premium, put up with inconvenience, and even ignore their own pain and suffering. They will do whatever it takes to follow your ideas because they believe in you or your company.

    The leaders who helped create the iPhone, iPod and iPad don't complain about long hours or technological challenges. They remain dedicated to finding solutions that improve others' lives. They don't inspire employees with money, gym facilities or company picnics. They inspire their employees to care about why.

    As for customers, never mistake repeat business for loyalty. Repeat business means people do business with you multiple times. Loyalty means people are willing to turn down a better offer to continue doing business with you.

    Loyal customers don't even bother to research the competition or other options.

    Creating Dream Jobs

    Studies have shown that more than 80 percent of U.S. employees don't believe they're working in their dream jobs. What if leaders could change this? What if they began to inspire their people with why they do what they do, instead of the what and the how of company policies and procedures? What if 80 percent of your workforce actually thought they had landed their dream jobs?

    People who love going to work are more creative and productive. They go home feeling satisfied and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and customers better. Inspired people are the glue that holds strong companies together, while also increasing bottom lines.

    Inspired employees care because you care. You may know why you fought long and hard to ascend to a leadership position, but you cannot inspire others until they buy into the "why" and become self-motivated.

    You know you've succeeded when employees' beliefs resonate with your own, when they demonstrate their loyalty and when they're willing to turn down better offers or other options.

    The Brain Science Of Inspiration

    Sinek created a diagram called "The Golden Circle," which represents how successful leaders and companies motivate people.

    Those who start with why engage others' brains long before explaining how they intend to get things done and addressing what they need to accomplish.

    Martin Luther King Jr. engaged the world's hearts and minds when he started his speech with those four famous words: "I have a dream." He stressed that people of all races needed to bond for a better future. He didn't say, "I have a plan," or explain how he intended to change laws and practices.

    Starting communications with "why" works because it's based in biology. While messages are simultaneously processed by all parts of the brain, the area most responsible for decision-making registers subconscious thoughts, lacks language, uses gut intuition, and is heavily influenced by feelings and drives for survival.

    This part of the brain wants to know: What's in it for me? Is this pleasure or pain? A threat or something that will make my life easier? Can I trust the messenger? Does he/she have my best interests at heart?

    When you share your greater cause and higher purpose, listeners filter the message and decide to trust you (or not). When listeners' values and purpose resonate with your own, they are primed to become followers who will favorably perceive subsequent messages.

    You cannot gain a foothold in someone's brain by leading with what you want them to do. You must first communicate why it's important.

    The Shift From Why To How & What

    Leaders who start with a strong why will ultimately focus on the how and what of their businesses: metrics of success, shareholder interests and short-term results.

    Their why can become fuzzy once they attain a certain degree of success and become entrenched in the battle to achieve better results.

    Strive to be one of those leaders who never loses sight of why they do what they do and why people should care. Only then will you inspire your people to attain sustainable success.

    Thanks to Kashbox Coaching