Rob Saric

Software entrepreneur.
Unrelenting optimist.
rob@saric.ca

What does leadership mean to you? The 5 challenges faced by women in technology leadership

Is it fair to say that one of the main reasons that our societies today are at once so palpably unsustainable and socially  unjust, is that we have fallen into the trap of traditional “old boys club” masculine behaviour and values? Is this true?  Well, I certainly do think so.  So, that means one of the highest priority tasks of the sustainability movement is to bring in many more women into leadership positions.  However, women today face several challenges that tend diminish their natural leadership abilities in order climb the corporate ladder, so to speak.

Below is an article my sister put together for her Woman in IT Leadership group

She provides a unique perspective on 5 specific challenges that women may face while trying to advance their career.
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Simple but Effective Rule to Give Yourself More Personal Time Each Month

One of my biggest challenges is that I don’t sleep enough, and thankfully it’s neither insomnia nor any chronic sleep conditions.   Over the past few years and the launch of some good and not-so-good ventures,  my wake-up time has typically been 5:00AM (no matter how late I’ve gone to sleep).  For me, I place my business towards the top of my daily priorities.  Work, play, exercise and innovating daily is tiring.  One of my good colleagues is a doctor, and she recommended that I apply one simple rule to give myself more personal time each month.  I listened to her and tried it, and as a result I have established a healthy routine, slept much better and most importantly, became much more productive.

The 3-2 Work/Relax Rule

This simple rule has really become one of my favourite things to follow every month.  It’s simple, because it forces you to shut down and relax routinely.  Monday to Friday, ensure that you stop ALL work related activities by 5PM, 3 times per week – no cellphone, no emails .. just relax.   2 weekends per month, do the same.  Even for the busiest professionals, this still leaves you with 2 days per week to work as late as you want, and 2 weekends per month to dedicate to working on your business.  In the past, I never had a relax regime, so for the most part, I never shut down and I was always on .. this rule forces me to take a certain amount of personal time each month and it seems to work for me.

When it comes down to it, getting the sleep that you need is critically important to your company’s current and future success.  To take care of your business, don’t forget to take care of yourself first!  Make personal time routine, many of you have already mastered this — but if you haven’t, try applying the 3-2 Work/Relax Rule each month.  :)

Poor Leadership – Warning Signs, How to Avoid the Elephant in the Room

Solid leadership is an essential component of effective management, and although not everyone is a born leader, it is possible to be molded into a leader.  The subject of leadership has been greatly covered by academic scholars & management consultants, yet building high-performance teams remains elusive to most companies. Leadership is the most important competitive advantage of a company, not technology, finance, operations nor anything else. I would love for someone to justify otherwise (I also asked this on LinkedIn).

A high-performance company with solid leadership is like a high-performance car and driver.  Proper performance and integration of all components are critical.  Unanswered customer calls are like faulty wiring.  Missed production schedules are like misfiring spark-plugs.  A poor strategy is like an engine out of tune.  Poor internal communications are like a weak battery.  Poor morale is like a flat tire.  And, poor leadership is like a moving car whose driver has bailed out.  Companies, like cars, need all components properly working, and working in an integrated manner.  Such integration is even more important in today’s dynamically competitive environment.

One of the biggest problems facing poor leadership, and possibly the most significant reason we are stuck with it, is that so many of us are prepared to tolerate – or even support – those who are not fit to lead. “The reason we do so”, says Peter Drucker, “is that it is easier to toe the line than to make trouble”.

Another reason that many of us are happy to follow people for whom we may hold little respect is that we tend to crave the kind of simplicity and stability that does not go with the responsibilities of leadership.
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9 Steps to Creating Your Sales Battlecard

I’m sure that most of you have heard of sales battlecards.  The Microsoft Partner Network still encourages every channel partner to create at least one to help them better align competencies across their channel ecosytstem.   Battlecards are short, sales-ready documents that provide sales teams with an understanding of a specific competitor’s marketing strategy, key sales messages, product information, and tactical value propositions to use when selling against your competitors. Typically battlecards are no longer than 2 pages, and provide sales organizations with a competitive displacement “cheat sheet”.

There really isn’t a simple applied methodology to creating a sales battlecard.  The best “standardized” framework that I have come across is by the Forte Consultancy Group.

They recommend using the following 9 steps or sections to create an effective sales battlecard ..

I will quickly summarize each of the steps.

1. Market Conditions

This step ensures that your sales staff has a firm understanding about the marketplace they are selling in. Quick points about market size, estimated market demand, and other relevant data related to market segmentation should be added here.

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7 of the Most Extraordinary People You Probably Don’t Know but Should!

For all intents and purposes the general theme of my blog is to inspire collaborative creativity. To help people realize the vital importance of working together to not only achieve business success but also social betterment. This article focuses on the “exceptional people” that have created the infrastructure necessary to inspire change, make a difference and improve a life besides their own! These individuals are the silent champions that are not credited in mainstream media, yet their efforts are far more glamorous, courageous and valuable than a majority of Hollywood’s finest faux social advocates. Networks should all focus on paying homage to these individuals instead of broadcasting the trivial rhetoric we are forced to consume each day about some pop star’s troubles. These remarkable individuals represent a new breed of entrepreneur, the “social entrepreneur”. Courageous, compassionate and committed to transforming society, these brilliant men and women have turned their business skills into tools for change, development and hope. Their unrelenting desire to help others without the expectation of anything in return, really does make them truly extraordinary.
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Economic Crisis is an Opportunity to Take Stock of What Really Matters

With the eminent collapse of our economy, it’s becoming more and more evident that we need to learn some lessons that will guide us as we go forward.  Now, one of my worries is that many of us will learn the wrong lessons – specifically as it relates to risk-aversion, fear of creativity and innovation and the rise of our ever-present internal beast, known as individualism.

Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at the University of Warwick, has a more poetic way of making the same point. Oswald is a pioneer of a field that might be called “happiness economics”–the study of the interplay between money and human satisfaction. His rigorous academic work confirms the rhetorical advice that we hear in our religious sects and from our shrinks–the relentless pursuit of wealth may fill your bank account, but it will leave you empty as a human being.

The curse of humanity is that people feel compelled to look over their shoulders. Oswald further states that, “happiness and self-esteem depend on rank and relative income. We are consumed by relativism. If your neighbor drives up in a new Lexus, and you’re still driving the Toyota that you were perfectly satisfied with yesterday, you start to become dissatisfied.”

So don’t use the financial crisis as an excuse to stop taking chances or downsize your ambitions. But do use the crisis as an opportunity to take stock of what really matters–and to stop looking over your shoulder.  Just remember – we are all in this together.

In an exclusive conversation with Charlie Rose, Warren Buffet gives a clear, concise, and rational reason why our economy is in turmoil (certainly worth watching!):

Charlie Rose and Warren Buffet (Video)

Respectfully,
Rob

Does Your Business or Idea Make Meaning?

I really enjoy writing this blog for one reason, to INSPIRE the people that read it.  That’s my passion. All of my posts may not be inspirational per say, but for the most part, I really try to add an element of meaning to everything I do.  Guy Kawasaki, founder and Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures, believes that those companies who set out to make a positive change in the world are the companies that will ultimately be the most successful. I happen to agree with Guy on this point.  According to Guy, “meaning is not about money, power or prestige.  It’s not even about creating a fun place to work.  Among the meanings of “meaning” are to:

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Where Do You Find Your Professional Inspiration?

Over the past 10 years, I have had the opportunity to meet and come to know several people, from many cultures and walks of life and with the economy and society ever evolving, I am always interested not only in what “drives” them, but also, what “inspires” them.

So! This post is purely from a professional perspective and I’m asking all of YOU!! What is your source of inspiration — in your job, your business or your career? What drives you each morning to work harder, to push for success and to ultimately become a winner?
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5 Things to Remember for Maintaining Your Professional Credibility

It has been about a week since my last post, so I thought it would be appropriate to write about the importance of setting the right expectations. But what is the right expectation? Different people certainly have different expectations in different situations.  I find that many of us are guilty of OVERPROMISING and UNDERDELIVERING, let’s be honest here, even though we are told to ensure the contrary.

Some of us may not think so, but it is very easy to overpromise.  Shading the truth a little bit or even cutting corners to save a few bucks on your bottom line. Without setting clear expectations, even your most successful project can quickly become nothing more than a subjective pat-on-the-back from your boss.
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The Four Main Life Lessons That We Can Learn From Bill Murray

Bill Murray is famous for his deadpan acting and impenetrable cool. With a phenomenal level of consistent greatness, Murray is one of the most enduring comedic actors in movie history.
The Comedic Genious of Bill MurrayMurray received an Oscar nomination for his role in “Lost in Translation.” His screen credits also include the “Ghostbusters” movies, “Caddyshack”, “Stripes” and “Groundhog Day.” During a recent red carpet celebration a posse of media hounds assembled to meet Murray on the red carpet. In anticipation, the limo doors open with a flourish, and an unknown couple steps out, surprised at the fuss. In the background, a scooter sputters into view struggling like a broken down lawnmower, as Murray’s figure emerges from the saddle. He checks the location, flicks down the kickstand and with a deadpan look on his face – parks. “I always like to have my life in my own hands,” Murray says.
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Posted on August 5, 2009 in Random Observations by Rob Saric
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