The power of the Losada Line

I like saying thank you! I truly do.I selfishly enjoy everything about the experience. Today was no exception. I made a big deal about a co-worker who had performed really well over the past week and added to his already long list of accomplishments. But I made it a point to say thank you in front of everyone and promised to take him out to lunch, along with everyone else, on my dime, to celebrate. It felt amazing!

The Losada Line, as explained in the ‘pedia, is the ratio of the minimum number of positive feedback to negative feedback that is needed to make teams higher performing. Of course you can go overboard (see Losada Zone) but that number is so high that a normal human being (me) would never have to worry about it. We bitch at people all the time and all I care about doing is making it a point to say thank you and provide positive feedback at any and all occasions, no matter how small or inconsequential. I figure that the negative feedback will creep in because I am a human being with my own set of issues and I don’t need to worry about keeping myself in check with finding something to complain about.

Meaty Congrats

Creative Commons License photo credit: Anemone Letterpress

I am not the best boss in the world. On the contrary, I might suck. So I try to do everything I can to make it better, just in case I really do suck so my co-workers can come in to work and really want to be there. I just have to watch it when I get crabby and force myself to not react when I always want to. I try to hold back the negative and let the positive flow through with gusto. So there!

PS: All of this is to make myself happy in the long run, so I am selfish as well.

A vacation can bring people together in more ways than one

One of my co-workers just came back from a three week vacation. It was nice to see him again and have him around to share in the load. But aside from that, I watched today as the rest of our team rallied around him to listen to him talk about his wonderful trip across the pond. It was so much fun to hear his tales and even more fun to watch the morale of the team lift up. The meetups were impromptu and always accompanies laughter and wide eyed participation. In between the short bursts of social interaction, the team took on new challenges and found quite unique and effective solutions to complex projects. All without knowing how well they were doing.


Creative Commons License photo credit: randystoreyphotography

He enjoyed his vacation and came back refreshed and ready to face the world. His experiences livened up our day and the group accomplished a whole bunch of goals without even knowing how productive they had been. A boon in so many ways.

Satisfaction of knowing that a loved one is getting better

My dad has been ill as of late. He had an infection, which led to persistent fever at night and general malaise. We first eliminated any serious illness through the ER and now he is taking some heavy antibiotics, courtesy of an emergency clinic and a fine doctor, to get rid of whatever has been plaguing him.

Get Well Soon

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Just the fact that he is taking good medication and he is slowly on his way to getting better makes me feel somewhat light hearted and happy about the day. I hope he gets better very soon but I want him to continue to feel full and energy and vigor.

I love you Baba and I hate to see you unhappy.

I love days when I don’t have time to think

Do you ever have those days when time flies so fast that you do not have time to think? Today was one such day. Actually yesterday was one such day and I finally had the chance to start thinking again today. Well it felt good. Kind of like when I feel after a grueling two hour bike ride or after taking a long and relaxing shower. I am not sure what it is about being busy doing things you like, but it makes me happy and content. As if life stops around you.

This is the beginning of a long weekend. I like long weekends but they get boring without too much activity and I get antsy when I am not up and about. I hope to spend some time playing with Lucien, enjoying a couple of really long rides along the back roads (working my way up to 20 miles per ride) and spending some time with Jennifer and my parents. Here is to the end of this summer and a quick jump over to the next one.

Lake St. Peter [2]

Creative Commons License photo credit: ?ick Harris

Speaking of summers, I think this has been one of the best summers I have ever had. I cannot stop thinking about how much fun I have had with Lucien, of finally being able to take up bike riding and spending some time with family. Sounds like a broken record? Those three things just happen to be my “life fuel”. I enjoy those more than anything else in the world at this point in my life. So I try to do them as much as I can, while I can. Self serving and recharging as they may be, I am collecting all my wits about me, learning how to keep them about me while I forge ahead with as much steam as I can.

“Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! (Pause. Vehemently.) Let us do something, while we have the chance! It is not every day that we are needed. But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it, before it is too late!”
– Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Giving honest feedback is good

I had a small heart to heart with a co-worker today. It was not a review, not a criticism, not an admonition, but just a little feedback from what I had observed of him. I was not chastising him for anything and I made sure that my tone was even and I took the time to explain exactly what I had observed and what it should mean to him. I also took the time to explain that it had absolutely nothing to do with the conversation that led us to the more private conversation and that I was willing to listen to any feedback he would have for me.

It was such a pleasure to just have a nice give and take of what made me feel good about the person and his behavior. To provide what I consider to be valid feedback and re-enforcement of core values that are successful for the individual in a non threatening and usable format, is not something I can practice all the time. Strangely, it also led to a quite private yet quite enriching conversation about our strengths and weaknesses and how we can use them to our advantage. I made the mistake of talking more than listening and I have made a mental note to reverse that trend in our next conversation.

Lucien Loves to use the Couch as a Slide

My son Lucien, much like many other kids his age I am sure, loves to play on a slide. However, since we do not have a slide at home, he has learned to make one of us adults help him get to the top of our leather couch and then slide down to the ground. He has such a good time that he cannot contain his glee. This afternoon when I went home for lunch, I took a few minutes to play with him. He must have slid down a hundred times before I had to let him go and come back to work. It is such a guilty pleasure watching him grow up. I keep reminding myself to enjoy the little moments as much as I can and not get caught up in the act of being a parent too much.

Slide experiment

Creative Commons License photo credit: Caza_No_7


He is my shona chele!

Pleasure to see things come together

It was a real nice feeling to see a plan come together today and produce excitement and happiness. We had a project, that was put together by my team, come together beautifully. A lot of hard work, planning, cajoling, restructuring and refactoring had gone into this project and to see the launch be a non-event was very heartening. To make things even better, when I logged into the website and started using it, it felt right. The look is modern, the data is interesting and the concept comes together and holds its own.

I love it when a plan comes together.

I’m on a Boat!

Well, not really. The reference is to a Lonely Island song that has become a mantra at work for the past few weeks. You see, a co-worker is off tonight on a 20 or so day cruise across the Baltic Sea. He is going to fly to Iceland and then take a boat across the sea, visiting St. Petersburg, Germany, Iceland and a few other countries surrounding the sea. My parents and I had traveled across “the continent” when I was very young and I have always had pleasant memories of the trip.

Sunset Cruise
Sunset Cruise

Creative Commons License photo credit: ecstaticist

I have been looking forward to taking the trip vicariously through the eyes of my co-worker. Today we spent quite a bit of time going over what he was the most excited about. He talked about a Spanish Galion he wants to visit, a few museums, some fun places to eat that we have all heard about and go for excursions on every port that the ships docks into. What a fun time it should be! I hope he takes a lot of pictures for all of us.

So, Happy Travels Amigo!

Sharing a lunch with friends

As a ritual at work, we go out to lunch with a bunch of friends from work. Many weeks are too full of meetings and minutiae to actually make the lunch possible but it is a time of the week that I look forward to. Today was no exception.

Just being able to sit and talk with like minded people, facing similar happenstance at work and at home, makes for a very enjoyable time. We went to the Star Diner on Glendale today. I like to order their fish sandwich. It is a large meal with a lot of fish, nice serving of tartar sauce and thin cut fries. I cannot speak for the rest of the crew, but I hope we never stop doing this as long as we work for this company.

We bitch about our co-workers, about taxes, cost of living, political snafus, current events in the world and at work and talk about a host of other things at these lunches and but they are almost always jovial and leave a sense of satisfaction. The food and the service are mildly important, but I think the company makes it all worthwhile.

Bean Dip with Hummus tastes Delicious!

So yesterday my coworker, who has a girlfriend who loves to cook for her beau, brought in a large tub of bean dip for us to share. Boy did it hit the spot. I remember thinking that the bean dip tasted very mild and fresh but also thinking that the garlic taste and the slightly gritty texture was very attractive. He told me that there was no hummus in this bean dip but the more I think about it, the more I think it would taste very nice. The sour cream taste along with the taco seasoning and the mild garlic and onion taste really made the morning.

We did run out of chips but what a great way to start a day!

Why do people find it so difficult to agree with others?

Disagreements are a surefire sign of passion and involvement. They make us humans, they involve us in the topic at hand and give us a sense of belonging. Then why are they so painful and why do they lead to so much division? I have a couple of theories.

  • Too many people are used to disagreements. The minute there is an option to agree or disagree, they want to be sure to get their end of the story in. I think a lot of people think that disagreeing somehow will make things better in the long run and it is their responsibility to make sure everything is perfect according to them. Anecdote to that is to think about the cases in your life where disagreeing has led to a positive outcome and how that positive outcome was reached in spite of the disagreement.
  • Too many people are used to having their disagreements discarded and their voice not heard. Since they think that they will be ignored anyways, they try even harder to be heard. As they get desperate, their counterpart pushes out their opinion quicker, thus resulting in discord. An anecdote to not having your opinion heard is to think of the other party. Have you paid attention to them while they were explaining their position? Can you put yourself in their position for a minute?
  • People disagree because they care. However, we are conditioned to care more about the topic of disagreement than about the person we are disagreeing with. This idea came to being because I have often found myself not caring about the issue that I had a huge argument about, but caring more about the person I have been arguing with, when I have let enough time pass after the argument. If I felt that way during the argument,  I would not have let the argument happen.
  • People disagree because they are disgruntled about something else, but the disagreement allows them to vent their frustration/anger on the present issue. This cause increased discomfort because the opinions seem strained and reaching. Would you have disagreed on this topic if you were in a happy state of mind? If not, how will you get there?

Now I think that it is very important to disagree. But I think that we should get into a disagreement with the right state of mind and be ready to accept the outcome of the disagreement, whatever that might be.

A few questions to ask yourself when you get caught in a quagmire of disagreements and arguments.

  • How much does this mean to me? Can I live without it?
  • If I was in a happy place (think Happy Gilmore Happy Place), would I still be saying/doing the same thing?
  • Am I listening to the opposing party? Could I explain their position to them?
  • Has the opposing party listened to what I have to say? Are they paying attention to me? Can they explain my position to me? Have I asked them that?
  • Am I choosing my battles?  Do I really care about the issue or is it something else?
  • Do I have an exit strategy? Am I just building boundaries with no compromise in sight? Am I giving the opposing party an option to come to a conclusion?
  • And last, but not the least, am I too angry to think straight?

How do you calm yourself? Disagreements and arguments work well for all of us and that is why we have successful relationships throughout our lives (preponderance of us). What techniques work best? What is different about those disagreements?

HTC Evo 4G upgraded with Android 2.2 Froyo

So I upgraded my phone as soon as 2.2 was available. I downloaded over WiFi and 3G, about 86MB, took about fifteen minutes for the whole process to be completed. I

also upgraded my wife’s phone in the process.

Now for the good:

  • The phone seems zippier, screen changes appear faster, applications open quicker
  • I have gone back to using the Android browser from Dolphin HD because the Android browser seems faster and now has flash support. I dutifully tried the flash player on and it played the clip just fine. It was a little choppy but nothing that concerned me. The browser speed is definitely improved and pages load quicker than before.
  • The flashlight application is fun but I had an alternative that I removed. It is nice to be able to use the flash to take videos now and interesting that the camera interface rotates with the phone, always showing the right side up.
  • I like the ability to move applications to the SD card but was disappointed that only certain applications can be moved. I moved as many as I was not using too often and have not cared to check for how fast or slow they run. As long I can install more apps, I am fine with putting the lesser used apps on the SD card. I have lots of space.
  • The Profile widget, the Ringtone widget and the SMS widget are interesting but useless to me. I bought an app called profile that gave me blackberry like control over the ringer profiles that I needed. It works well enough.
  • App sharing is weird but I guess it could be useful. I have not tried it.
  • The SMS application now touts the ability to attach media to make them into an MMS (I am guessing) and that is a feature that I might use in the future.
  • Update All in the Applications Market is there in this install and much appreciated! This was a pain in the butt!
  • Every other application that I have installed on the phone, including our beloved Internet Camera browsing apps, are working as usual.
  • Memory usage was higher out of the gate for 2.2, but the phone now eats less memory as time progresses since last restart. I still have the same amount of memory free that I had when I restarted after the update last night.
  • Last but not the least, the battery usage seems to be lower than before although it is not that pronounced. As I write this at 7:00 PM my battery meter reads 66%, which is pretty normal but slightly on the high side. I don’t think battery usage will change much for me.
Android 2.2 Froyo

Now for the bad:

  • It really was a kind of let down because the update did nothing spectacular. The phone was already very stable for me and my wife (knock on wood) and though this update might have made marginal improvements on a variety of things, nothing quite stuck out for me.
  • There were supposed to be “interface improvements” that I have yet to notice. I was hoping for a different interface experience, especially considering this is probably the last major Android update the EVO will see before EOL.
  • The mail application still sucks in spite of the polish! Why is a “mark all read” feature sodifficult to write? Blackberry switchers really miss that feature.
  • Group chat for Google Chat? Hello? Anyone? This would be a KILLER feature for me.

Anything else about Android 2.2 Froyo on the HTC EVO 4G that caught your attention? Did I miss anything cool?

Shady Sirius XM business practices

So I had XM in my Honda Accord and I subscribed to it on for one year after I found a really good coupon to use with it. When I turned it on, I figured since I was paying for a year in advance, I would not pay for it again if I don’t use it enough. My wife drives the Accord now and she barely ever uses XM. So we decided to let the subscription expire, thinking that if we did not renew it, they would simply not renew the radio again and life would be dandy.

Boy were we wrong! A week after the radio truly expired, we received a letter in the mail stating that our credit card on file was not valid (we had used a one time use) and that our subscription was going to be canceled if we did not call and present a new credit card. Well that meant to us that we should just ignore the issue and it will be canceled. Wrong! This was followed by regular phone messages on my cell phone without a real person on the other side. I figured this was another way to force a call back that would take effort and they were banking on the fact that people would forget. Phone calls became more frequent, till this week in July when I started receiving two messages a day.

Finally I called back today from work and was told that my “contract” was valid forever and I had agreed to the fact that my service would be renewed every year if I did not call and cancel. While I do not recall that I had agreed to this, I have no doubt that it was read to me when I signed up. However, I had verbally agreed to only pay for the first year and there was no written contract signed. I was also told that their letter might have stated that the service would be canceled but it also meant that I would still owe for the month(s) that it sat unused without being canceled. But really, they would not cancel the service until I called and canceled. They would just make harassing phone calls till I responded. Since I had called back a month after my paid period, I would have to pay for that months’ use, at the full price.

To add insult to injury, the lady on the phone asked me if I would like to continue using the service if she made it free for three months. I asked her to use one of those three free months and redact my bill but she started getting snooty and snarky. Rather than get irritated, I decided to let it go. I asked them to send me a paper bill and I will put a check in the mail. Then I told her I wanted nothing else to do with XM again, ever!

I know very little about US law, but I remember reading somewhere that these phone sales and verbal agreements do not hold water in court. They really need to get a written signature in order for them to enforce their contracts. Does anyone have any relevant information that explain the details of phone call based contractual obligations and their enforceability?