Me! Me! Me!

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Firms are fighting for the same customer thereby giving the customer the upper hand.  Each company focuses on catering to the needs of their customers to a point that they provide customized services around the needs of their customers.   Take for example, McDonald’s has it your way, in which you can choose what you want, including super sizing it.  Isn’t it great that the company wants to meet my needs and customize their services to match them?  That’s awesome!   It creates a society focusing too much on individual needs, which results in people thinking that is it is all about me.

The ME-focused society has created a challenge in which people tend to want to do things for the sake of getting the credit.   The need to be rewarded every single time is not realistic, because it creates a shift in focus from team to individual.   Who has not worked with someone who wants to be front and center and take call the credit?   They might have worked alongside everyone, but when it is time to get the credit they are in front of everyone.   Right, wrong, or indifferent, most projects are a team sport.  You need a group of people to work together to get the job done. Therefore when providing recognition, you focus on the team first.

How do we make sure the team gets the credit?

  • Highlight the delivery and what value it brings either to the organization or clients.
  • List all the names of all people who participated in the project.
  • Specify any special process or innovation that we put in place to make the solution better
  • Last but not least, unless someone has done a special job, stay focused on the team effort and commitment

At work, celebrate your people’s uniqueness, but focus on the over-arching goal and how the team accomplished such goal.   State the collective wisdom that helped accomplish the goal.   Highlight innovation and game-changing decisions that help differentiate your company.  Individuality is great, but in a team sport of having many people working on your project, you need to make sure the team feels recognized and appreciated.

Plan your career like planning your vacation

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travel plansIn the recent class that I taught on 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I pointed out to the participants that while the 21 laws is a leadership program, the underpinning of the program is personal development.

The class participants were a cross section of individual contributors to mid-level managers.   My objective was to let them know that even if you don’t manage anyone right now, you still need to learn what it takes to be a leader. More importantly, that self-improvement is crucial to their future success.   What they do now will greatly affect their future.

When I taught the third session, I asked the participants by show of hands, how many created their ‘DO NOT DO LIST’.   I was surprised that less than 1/3 created their DO NOT DO LIST and created a plan of action on how to improve themselves. I then followed up with a question: How many hours do they spend planning their vacation? Their eyes lit up and I could see the excitement and enthusiasm.     On average, they spent 20 hours preparing for their vacation; that’s almost three days spent to plan a vacation, but they could not be motivated to create a plan to help improve themselves.

Canadian personal development expert, author, and public speaker, Brian Tracy, once said, “If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development.”     Remember that you can only harvest something if you plant the seeds.   Everything takes time to grow and develop; without proper planning you will always be at the wrong time even in the right place.   Imagine being in the right place, but at the wrong time; it means that you don’t have what it takes to get the job done.

career directions

As I look back to that moment, I decided to reiterate the value of planning. I stressed the importance of planning for your future.   I asked them the question: Would the fear of failing now be greater than the fear of failing to achieve your dream? It is a question only they can answer.   Remember that regret is always in the end.

Writing is a labor of love for me. If you like my blog, please share it to someone who need to read it.   It is through sharing that we can make this world a better place.   Also, feel free to share your thoughts and perspective.

2013 Year in Review

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Year In Review

Change is the big word for 2013.   It is about the only thing that was constant throughout the year.   As I reflect on what transpired during the year, I break it down in three areas:  Work, Personal and Personal interest.

At work, 2013 was a year of changes that challenged my ability to cope and keep abreast of the changes.   From team composition changes to new partnership ventures to changes in technology then moving on to another technology when the prior adoption has not been completed.   On the flip side, I welcome the opportunity to be a part of Human Capital Group committee, which aimed to deal with tough issues like employee engagement and improving communications between management and its constituents.   I learned a lot by staying put and dealing with the challenges.  It stretched and helped me grow and develop.   The growth and development came with a huge price in terms of stress, but I was able to lead by example and be there for my team.  I ensure that I recognize them and let senior management know their accomplishments.   I continue to mentor my mentees and led the Stevens campus recruiting as Team Captain for UBS.  This is the third year in a row in which we hired at least 9 GTPs from said school.  I take pride in the work and process we put in place to enable us to recruit the best talent to join our firm.

From a personal perspective, I cherish the memories created of the great run we had as St. Elizabeth 4th Grade basketball team and eventually winning the championship.     I had the opportunity to bond with my daughter and work with a great group of players.   I instilled principles of teamwork, sportsmanship and respecting others.  At the same time, I taught them never to give up.   We had numerous come-from-behind wins by staying in the moment and chipping at the lead that our opponents had.     During the golf season, Faith participated in US Kids Golf.  She participated in three tournaments and I caddied for her.  Each tournament she improved and showed patience and poise in handling pressure.  I truly enjoy being out there with her.    Maddy’s soccer season was also great to watch the team finished in the middle of pack.   Maddy had her great moments, especially her winning goal at the Columbus Day weekend tournament.  In November, Faith made the TGA B team and played three other clubs to win first place overall.    Take a step back for a moment, winner of a basketball championship and then a golf team champion, that is an awesome year that will be hard to replicate.    In March, both Maddy and Faith received their piano excellence trophies.   Maddy had three years of superior rating, while Faith had six years of superior rating, her second trophy.   Faith also had her trophy for her duet.   Outside of sports and other activities, we spent a lot of time together playing card games, goofing and horsing around and getting to know one another.  It has been an awesome year in this area.

With regards to my pursuit of my personal interest, I found my passion for teaching leadership to others.   Since joining the John Maxwell Team to secure my certification, I led three mastermind groups and I enjoyed each of them.  The highlight of the year was attending the John Maxwell Live event.  Being taught by John Maxwell, Nick Vujicic and Les Brown is the most amazing experience.   Learning from the best and being in the same room, you can feel the energy and their passion.   I also met some great people that I belong to as an international accountability partner.    I made some great progress and then I fell off the horse as work took up more of my time.    In 2014, I commit to get back in the saddle and pursue my dream of being part of the John Maxwell Team by focusing on learning the lessons that will enable me to be effective as an instructor.

In spite of all the challenges and adversity, I learned a lot about myself and my ability to cope and handle stress.   I believe that Will of 2013 is better than Will of 2012. With that said, I’m really glad with my progress.    But more importantly I’m proud of playing an active role in my daughters’ lives, which in my mind is the most important thing in life.   In life, we only pass through this road once. I’m making sure I do my best and be in the moment and make it happen.    I look forward to 2014 with much enthusiasm and excitement that it will be better than 2013.

It is time to move on Robin – Make a name for yourself

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

Batman and RobinGrowing up I was fascinated by Batman and Robin.   It is an American comic book icon.    I often looked forward to borrowing a copy from my classmate, as my family could not afford it.    The comic book brought hours of enjoyment.

As I reflect on Batman and Robin’s relationship, I noticed their chemistry.  They are compatible, as they know what each other does and understand their respective roles.   Together they are unstoppable.  Batman is the main character and Robin is what I call the supporting character.   Robin is a role player who plays his role really well.   Robin is comfortable being a sidekick and continues to do it for many years.   They complement each other and continue to fight against their villain.

At work, I also see people who pair up like Batman and Robin.   Batman usually gets the accolades for all the accomplishments of the group, while Robin is a willing participant.   Robin goes wherever Batman goes, from department to department at times.   So, what’s my point?  I’m of the opinion that it is okay to be Robin for a period of time in your career.  Because Batman is taking you under his wing to nurture, mentor, and help you grow and develop.    Those are priceless gifts that go a long way in establishing a successful career for you.

At some point in Robin’s career, Robin must think, what would it be like if I’m the star?   It would be nice if he saved the city and received the accolades and recognition.    Maybe Robin is comfortable being the sidekick and has no desire to do his own thing.   Robin might just be happy to say “Holy atomic pile, Batman!”.

The reality in life is Robin cannot stand behind Batman forever.  What if Batman retires?  Would Robin be forced to retire?  Robin needs to venture out and try his own thing.  Flex his muscles and demonstrate that he can accomplish things without Batman’s help.   It would be looked at as a confidence builder for him to realize his goals and do them on his own terms.    Over the last four years, I’ve seen people whom I deemed as Robin step outside their comfort zone and do their own thing.    Most of them were successful.  They pushed themselves and made a name for themselves.   It is not easy; if it were easy then everyone would be doing it.

I’ll end this post with these conversations between Robin and Batman,

Robin: “You can’t get away from Batman that easy!”
Batman: “Easily.”
Robin: “Easily.”
Batman: “Good grammar is essential, Robin.”
Robin: “Thank you.”
Batman: “You’re welcome.”

I say of course you can get away from Batman.  Does Robin have the initiative to take the first step?  Initiative is the most important thing.  Once the first step is over the rest will fall into place.

I’ll end this note with this exchange from Batman to Robin: “When you get a little older, you’ll see how easy it is to become lured by the female of the species.”    It is time to move on Robin.  Make a name for yourself.   For those folks whom you know that are Robin, engage them to take on the challenge and grow and develop.

Year In Review – Explore …Dream…Discover

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I’m starting my post by reflecting on Mark Twain quotes, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover.”     Just like most folks, at times I do feel the comfort of the current state and am hesitant to test the water.   Why risk it?  Why make a move and end up at the bottom of the pool?  Why change things at work?  Too many questions, but I don’t have any answers, as I have not put much thought into it.

To summarize my year, it has been a great year for me because of the following reasons:

  • Participated in the St. Elizabeth Men’s Cornerstone program – for years, I hesitated attending this retreat, but in the end I’m glad I did because I have a profound sense of appreciation for what I have and gained 18 good friends along the way.
  • Promotion at work – after years of waiting for my turn, I never waver and continue to work hard. I evolved by learning new skills and doing my very best at all times.  I never give up and believe in chasing my dream and making it happen.  It helps that I stayed positive during the numerous years of not getting my promotions.  All throughout this journey, I continued to put my people ahead of my personal agenda and make sure that I show my appreciation for their commitment and contributions.   It is my belief that people are the most important assets.
  • Participated as an assistant coach for my daughter’s recreational soccer team – soccer is not my best sport, but I figured that I’m a quick learner.  I enjoyed being there for my daughter and helping out the coach.  I truly enjoyed this experience and bonded with my daughter.
  • Caddied for my daughter’s golf lesson and tournaments – I value the time I spent with my daughter and the test of my patience.   We’ve spent a lot of hours playing together that made me look forward to next season with much enthusiasm.    The highlight was when she played at the Twin Willow shootout and placed second.  I’m so proud of her.  I’ll forever remember this experience.
  • The-Character-Based-LeaderBook launch of the Lead Change Book project on Character-Based Leader – writing a book has been on my checklist for many years.  I’m honored to work with 20 other authors that I never met until the book was launched.  This is pure collaboration using social media to its full extent.  We met through Twitter and collaborated until we completed this book.   The icing on the cake was when I met Tara at the Danbury book signing.   What an experience!  A true test of pushing the limit and working outside of my comfort zone.
  • Presenting the Recipe to the 2012 Year Up at UBS – I prepared this material in the middle of the year and was excited to share it with folks who are starting their careers and learning the ropes.  The goal of the presentation was to impart knowledge on what it takes to be successful.
  • Hosted a picnic for my group – I believe that, as a leader of my group, I’m serving my people first and making sure that I show them my appreciation for their hard work and commitment.   I took over a new group in June and was given the challenging tasks of building out a new platform while continuing to roll out the existing application. By helping the team to focus on our goals, we were able to complete our initial deliverables and then build out the new platform.  It is an amazing accomplishment considering we were behind the eight ball by 5 months.  The picnic was the highlight that people on my team still talk about to this date.
  • Learning a lot about myself – Hurricane Sandy tested my ability to help the firm recover its critical infrastructure.  I worked through adversity and led the team through our recovery and restoration efforts.    With 9 days of no electricity and working through almost 30 hours and, all in all, two weeks of continued work,  I learned that I’m capable to lead in tough situations when called upon.
  • Coaching my daughter’s basketball team – being an assistant coach is one thing, but coaching is taking the challenge to the next level.    I look at this opportunity to teach the girls leadership and teamwork.  At the same time, I’m there for my daughter and making the most of my opportunity to be part of her activities.   Like anything that I get myself involved in, I do it 100% as I spend time planning, reviewing and organizing sessions.  So far we have a great season and the girls are having fun learning how to play basketball.
  • Celebrated three years of blogging – this is an important milestone in my aspiration to spread the word and share my knowledge and experiences.   This is one of the most important missions I have—to help raise awareness on issues or challenges that people are encountering.

By all standards, this is one of the best years I ever had.   As I look back to the year that went by so fast, I feel blessed that I created a plan and tracked my progress throughout the year.   The lesson that I want to impart to everyone is that you need to create a plan.  Because without a plan, you’ll be working on other people’s plans.   Without a plan, it is like walking blindfolded as you go down the stairs.  Please start your year by creating a plan, then track your progress.   I urge you to dream, explore and discover new things and challenge yourself.

As I look forward to next year, I challenge myself to think about Mark Twain’s quote as I start updating my plan.   I want to make sure I challenge myself and avoid playing the what-if scenario.   In the next two weeks, I’ll be reviewing my plan and plotting my next steps.   Mark Twain’s quote will be a constant reminder not to play it safe.    As your take away, I hope you’ll prepare your plan and track your progress throughout the year.    I encourage you to share your story and let me know how I can be of help.  Best wishes to you on the coming year.

Recipe for success

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

The purpose of this blog post is to share my experience in my over 22 years in the Information Technology (IT) industry.    The goal is elicit readers to ask themselves what they are willing to do to be successful through better career management.

When I think of career management and how to better explain it in simple terms, all I can think of is a recipe.   A recipe is the outcome or end state that is an amalgamation of all of the ingredients.   So, I’m calling this blog post a recipe for success.    I’ll try identifying and explaining the different ingredients that I learned along the way.

What are the ingredients for the recipe for success?

1)      Discipline – this is in my mind the most important ingredient.   Discipline is an orderly pattern of behavior in which we have a self control over how we want to conduct ourselves.    This starts by understanding your core values and making decisions based on how it aligns to your core values.

2)      Work hard – making sure that you earn the day’s pay is an important concept.  It meant making sure that you’re doing the right thing and working and not spending time on things unrelated to your work.    It is putting forth your best effort at all times no matter if you want the work or not.   It is important to learn that there should be no work beneath us.  Because if we start thinking that we are better than the work we are asked to do, we’ll stop being an effective team player.

3)      Integrity – be authentic and be accountable for your actions.   Commit to doing the right thing regardless if anyone is watching.    Ensure that your actions are in alignment with your core values.

4)      Be positive – no matter how hard the challenge that you face.  Don’t let it wear you down, and keep on pushing forward.   Focus on the positive side of every situation.  By doing so, you’ll see things differently.

5)      Be Proactive – means that you show initiative to want to do more if you have some bandwidth.  Also, it means that you ask for more work, assuming you completed your work ahead of time.  Seek to learn new things in order to help you grow.

6)      Team player – remember that in order for you to be successful, everyone working on the project also needs to get their job done.   If you have bandwidth, offer your time to help others.   One person cannot do it alone, teamwork is necessary to get the job done.

7)      Plan – if you don’t have a plan, you’ll be working for someone else’s plan.    Also you would not know if you’re on track or not.  Make a plan, work based on your plan and track and adjust your plan accordingly.

8)      Network – connect with others and establish a good relationship.   The relationship established will go a long way.  Make sure that every interaction you have is a positive one.   Respect others and demonstrate that you care about the people around you.  Focus on making a meaningful connection beyond just being connected on Twitter and LinkedIn.   Reach out to them and connect and interact with the people on your network.

9)      Mentor – seek mentors who can help you accelerate your learning.   Also, pay it forward and mentor others in your organization and community.

10)   Embrace the change – change, like death and taxes, is certain to happen.  In fact, change is expected to happen and your ability to adapt to change is crucial to your success.

11)   Play – as you work hard it is important to realize that you also need to enjoy and relax and unwind.  You need to recharge to enable you to sustain your performance.  Just like an engine, it needs maintenance to keep it running smoothly.   Determine when to take that downtime to refresh and help you refocus.

12)   Learn something new – there is a saying that you cannot do business tomorrow with the same tools you use today.   Commit to continuous improvement by learning new things over time.  Sharpening your saw is essential to your success.

13)   Focus on long-term results – instant gratification brought about a whole set of problems as exhibited in the financial industry.  Greed took over and a lot of short-sighted decisions were made that caused the economic downfall.    When we map out our career plan, we need to focus on the long term goals (between 3 to 5 years) and devise a plan to accomplish that goal.

In my opinion, the top five ingredients are integrity, discipline, being proactive, working hard and passion.   The other ingredients can be added accordingly.   It is worth noting that our career is a marathon, or perhaps an ultra marathon, and not a sprint.  Therefore we need to be able to sustain a level of performance over time.    Consistency and commitment to continuously developing and retooling your skills will help you attain your goal.

Do not lose sight of your career goal and dream.   Our dream is the target that we need to focus on.   Focus on chasing your dream and making it happen.    In closing, think long term and act swiftly and make things happen.

Tired of your job – Is it time to move on?

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, MBA, MASCL

I recently spoke to someone whose son quit his job because he did not find it interesting.  According to the person, he did not like the progress he was making and didn’t feel the passion to keep doing the same job.   The question is: Is that reason good enough to drop everything and move on?

During the time he quit his job, he was convinced it was the right thing to do.    It has been over two months and he has not found any other opportunity and his cash is running low.    He’s feeling the pressure of the decision he made and wonders what he got himself into.    Life lessons often provide us with tough lessons that we can learn, but the experience is rather a painful one.

The question is: Is it right to quit your job without having another job?  My personal point is that you need to assess your personal situation and also the economic situation in general.    In this economic situation, is it best to stay at a job you don’t feel passionate about, but that gives you a steady income and stability, or do you seek what makes you tick?  If you leave your job without another job, you run the risk of being unemployed for an extended period of time.

My suggestion is staying put for the following reasons:

  • Reinvent yourself – you can always showcase other skills you have by volunteering on other projects.  It provides you with the opportunity to show you’re a team player and are maturing to accept new challenges.
  • Learn new things or attend a class – sometimes by attending classes, you can learn new skills that can help you to be more marketable.  Also, you might learn something that you can take back to your job and use this so your manager sees that you’re adding value to the firm.
  • Find the reason why you’re leaving – unless you know why you don’t like your job, you can’t just leave for the sake of leaving.  You need to be able to pinpoint the three things that make you hate your job.  Otherwise, you’ll be in the same stage again a few months down the road, except you’ll be working elsewhere.   You need to seek the reason for your dissatisfaction.
  • Seek your mentor’s help – sometimes asking someone’s perspective can help you see things differently.   Especially if you have an experience mentor to work with.

One has to take into consideration that grass is often greener on the other side.   It applies to jobs and also your lawn if you own a house.    From a certain vantage point, my lawn looks great, but as I drive closer, I see brown patches that make my smile turn to a frown.    I agree that you need to find your passion and do what you love, but you also need to summon your practical side and survey things before you jump to conclusions.   The best decisions are the ones that are made over time rather than one hastily made because of a knee-jerk decision.

Unless you find why things are broken, you are bound to repeat the same mistake, only that the view is different.   The cost of mistake later on in your career cost a lot more than mistakes incurred earlier in your career.     I say let the head do the thinking and keep your emotions in check.