Archives For Thoughts

The Power of Words

December 5, 2010 — Leave a comment

We all know that it is important to choose your words wisely in the business world. Below are a few of the more important word choices you can make. I bookmarked this a few years ago and thought I would share it.

Think about these two words: spend and invest. Would you like your bank to spend your money or invest it? Since spending implies the money is gone, you probably want a bank that invests. Now apply these same words to corporate budgets and see how that influences thinking. Early in my career, I saw budgets as allocated company money I had permission to spend. And I did spend it. I never thought of budgets as investing in the company’s future until I was given profit and loss accountability for a new department and discovered my flawed thinking. I learned that in order to grow the department, I needed to budget with an investment mentality. Shifting words shifted my thinking and my results.

Try these words: problem and challenge. Would you rather a boss see your mistake as a problem or as a challenge? It’s more than semantics. Problems are fixed; challenges are met. Different words evoke different feelings. I have a more positive frame of mind meeting a challenge than fixing a problem. But a word of caution. I’m not suggesting you play the buzz-word game like a colleague of mine who walked into my office saying, “Do I have an opportunity for you.” We both knew differently.

Here are two favorites: bodies and people. As a young manager, I was jolted every time I heard another manager talking about how many “bodies” they needed, or putting “butts in seats.” Later, I learned many of those managers struggled with departmental morale problems. I could understand why if they saw people as interchangeable pieces to a puzzle rather than individuals playing an important role in their departments.

I realized the words I use to think and talk about my workload, my goals, my projects and the people I worked with influenced my thoughts and actions about them. So, I changed my words. If I say I work “for” someone I have a different vision about my work-life than if I work “with” them; same with my staff working with, not for me.

Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations and hold people back. Well chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking and alter results. I learned in twenty years in management my words have power over my thoughts and actions. They also impact and influence people I speak them to.

via The Power of Words.

Robert Gates is the Defense Secretary. He was appointed under Bush and retained by Obama. Perhaps because he is not an elected official, and does not have to worry about re-election, he can offer honest assessment of the real threat wikileaks represents – not much.

From Daniel W. Drezner:

I’ve expressed skepticism about whether WikiLeaks will actually lead to greater foreign-policy transparency. That said, l’affaire WikiLeaks has generated just a smidgen of greater candor from at least one U.S. policy principal. Here’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the fallout from the cable dump:

Let me just offer some perspective as somebody who’s been at this a long time. Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a sieve, and it has for a long time. And I dragged this up the other day when I was looking at some of these prospective releases. And this is a quote from John Adams: “How can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations, I know not. To me, it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel.” …

Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think — I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets.

Many governments — some governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation. So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another. Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.

I couldn’t agree more. The United States began as the world’s modern experiment with Democracy. That means that “we the people” need information about what our representatives are doing in our name. The only leaks that are a real problem are those that never happen.

In the US we have celebrity trainers, celebrity cooks, athletes, song writers, scientists, CEOs, politicians, zoo keepers, mechanics, comedians, and ballon-boy. But where are the celebrity teachers? When a preacher is really good they build a mega-church and broadcast to millions of people. But the best 7 grade math teacher IN THE WORLD can only have 30 students. Why?

Why can’t we celebrate exceptional educators with a nationwide platform to let them reach as many students as possible? Pay them the mega-salary and give them the rockstar treatment. Why can’t the guy in first class sitting next to Vanna White be Mr. Smith – celebrity Algebra 2 teacher one his way to his next Opera appearance?

Just wondering…

Einstein never said that…

November 30, 2008 — 60 Comments

Einstein quoteI was testing BlogJet today as a possible desktop blogging tool. Strangely, what caught my eye first was not the tool, but the quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, that they used in the sample post… I found it a little hard to believe that Einstein who died in 1955 would have a quote about computers…especially about computers being fast. Here is the quote:

“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein (or was it Leo Cherne?…read on)

Continue Reading…

I have been watching the debate about dark energy as a possible explanation of what is causing the universe to expand faster and faster (as cosmologists first discovered 10 years ago). But last night, as I was watching the new series “The Universe”, I was reminded of a particularly interesting facet of Einstein’s relativity theory – the effect of gravity on time. Bottom line of that theory is that time passes slower when you are inside a gravitational field.

This is something NASA has been able to demonstrate by putting atomic clocks in orbit and that the programmers of the GPS satellite system had to take into account to make the system work properly. Clocks (and all other matter) move faster when there is less gravity. Time, as we measure and understand it, passes slower on earth, than in orbit, and it is faster still once you get away from the sun, and even faster when you get out of the Milky Way. This leaves me with 2 questions:

1) If time is passing faster, the further away from a gravitation field you get, wouldn’t that explain why the universe is expanding faster? Eventually, as galaxies get further apart, there is less and less gravity in inner-galactic space, thus (I would assume) time is going faster between galaxies and the “normal” expansion process would be occurring at an accelerated pace. In other words, voids grow faster than matter rich areas of the universe because everything happens faster there. Think of a large balloon that is expanding on a wall of video monitors, some of the videos are playing faster and thus that part is expanding more rapidly. Not only that, be the expansion itself is causing gravity to be less and less on an influence because the galaxies are now further away (more space-time between them). Will time eventually become a run-away engine in the vast emptiness of space? Will the speed of time approach infinity?

Fact: The emptier space is (the less gravity) – the faster time passes.

One way I thought to test this would be to observe the speed of stars (if there are any) or any other matter in the “vast hole in the universe” that was discovered recently. If “emptiness” has the affect of accelerating time, that may be measurable by observing its affect on light traveling through those empty spaces. (objects opposite fast empty holes in the universe would appear closer than they really are)

2) About this time/gravity relationship. I imagine that as gravity approaches infinity as in a black-hole, time approaches zero. If time is slowed down – then what does that say about the spectacular speeds of stars orbiting black-holes? Have those calculations beed adjusted for this? Is there even a mathematical way to express time passing differently in different regions of the universe?

As I type this, it also occurs to me that this may also explain why there seem to be few stars between galaxies – maybe they age and die very quickly. I don’t understand the math well enough to try and calculate the relative difference in the rate of time in inner-galactic space versus on earth – much less in the middle of that billion-light year wide void, but imagine if there is a measurable between the surface of the earth, and 200 miles up in orbit, that a billion-light years of gravity free space might tack on the years pretty quickly.

If any one out there has a science background I would love to hear from you in the comments.