Category Archives: Management

When you slow down, I slow down

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I have noticed that in my handling of people who work for me, I tend to mirror their behavior. When I first hire someone, I am very attentive to them. In fact, I normally delay hiring new people until they will be able to have my full attention. There is a lot I will have to explain to them and a lot I would need to do to check up on them.

Since I am very short of time most of the time, I have to prioritize where my time goes. If I am not done on a project, and someone needs my help. I have to choose. Should I delay my project to deal with someone’s project or finish my BPO project? If that new helper is putting in a lot of hours helping me, I would be more likely to get back to them quickly since I value them. Please keep in mind that I hire freelancers which might be part of the problem. On the other hand, if they slack off, and deliver far less than they promised me, I tend to keep them waiting as they are no longer critical to my survival. If someone quits who doesn’t do much, I am not losing much either.

In real life, I need to find a way to get more done and always be ahead on my schedule so I have time to deal with hirees. That way I never have to keep anyone waiting. I hope I find a way. That means outsourcing a higher percentage of my work so I’m not bogged down as much. Another thing that I need to think about is hiring people who speed me up, so I mirror their behavior, because I am always behaving like a mirror!

How I cut five hours a month off my routine

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I have a routine for how I do my work. Everything I do is regimented to a point. I have a routine and system for everything. However, those routines evolve over time. I get rid of some, refine others, and create new ones as well. Part of my system for running several directories is to give a welcome call to new members. I used to spend a long time on these calls. However, I realized that those who couldn’t give straight answers to questions didn’t do well on our outsourcing directory in the long run and did poorly on test questions indicating poor competency. So, I learned a shortcut. If people I called did poorly on basic questions, I learned from experienced (and tracking numbers) that they would do poorly in the long run. So, I ended the call with these people early. That way, I could spend more time with those who showed promise and future potential. The key here is not to spend less time but to invest your time in people who are worthy and end correspondence with those who aren’t.

If you want to rise to the next level in business, the most valuable skill you can learn is how to allocate your valuable time. If you can get the same result in 50 hours that another can get in 160 hours, you can use your remaining time to grow your business!

Compilation of posts about offices

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Some of our most popular posts have been about offices. So, here is a
compilation about office related posts.

Handling stress in a call center office

Working in an office vs. at home

How to find great offshore companies to do your back-office work

Judge a book by its cover; Judge a company by its office (2016 version)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your office in the Himalayas?

Finding a lucky feng-shui spot for my office

Creating a corporate culture like Google’s and a customized office to match!

A 20 minute office visit reveals the character of a company!

Rates for office space around the world compared

Office in nature concept

3 ways for startups to save on office space


Younger workers want a positive social atmosphere

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Most companies are owned by older folks or people who are focused on work. But, to attract the younger crowd these days, you need to focus on what they want. Millennials expect a lot from their job and from their boss to the point that it might seem like you are working for them and not the other way around. In addition to salary, they want a positive social atmosphere, fun, and they want to grow their skillsets and develop in a way that will enhance their future career. Many are willing to sacrifice salary if they feel that growth is a possibility.

The point here is that the boss of such a company has to think not only of the most efficient way of getting work done, but how to create jobs that will provide satisfaction and evolution to their younger (and demanding) counterparts.

India’s work culture
In India, the traditional cultural model for the workplace is to have some older guy who is an ogre who is very harsh and critical towards workers. The workers who like the boss tend to huddle around him as they feel insecure without the stability of a superior thinker and leader around. The millennials or younger generation in India (and America), but especially India in the tech sector hops from job to job faster than you can say aloo-gobhi-paratha. In real life, to have any meaningful work relationship that grows into something you need to stick to the job for at least four years, not four months. It takes a year just to develop trust in an employee enough to trust them to do any meaningful and critical tasks.

Designing a dream job
If it were me designing the perfect job, I would make the worker pay their dues for a year doing work that is not fun to prove themselves. People jump boat so fast, that why should you invest in their comfort when they are not even going to be there. But, having a guaranteed fun job after twelve months is enough to entice a serious employee to stay. They will see the others who stuck around having fun doing all types of tasks. Even if you cannot have someone do meaningful work forty hours a week, they could do 10-15 hours a week so they could feel they were growing. You could have them do innovation, manage others, and more tasks that might make them feel important.

Does fun just happen spontaneously, or do the proper conditions need to be met? For me, fun happens when I am doing fun things with fun people. Fun is also unexpected, and you never know when you will find a task to be interesting or get a good laugh. Sometimes you need to throw in some unexpected or unusual activities in your day to increase your chance of having fun. Many call centers have regular contests, outings, and activities to boost the fun quotient.

Hire fun workers even if they are not good workers
My recommendation for having a fun work environment is to hire a certain percentage of people who are fun, even if they are not as good workers as you might desire, they will boost the spirits of the others. In China, they hire pretty girls to play ping-pong and talk to their male workers just to make them feel better. The girls can’t do any type of “real work,” but they do raise morale. It might be more efficient to hire people with desirable social (or physical) traits who are also capable of doing something productive even if they are a little less productive than the others. Or, you could have all workers be somewhat fun — with some being more fun than the others. How many fun people to have is up to you, but my only definitive piece of advice is to avoid people who are dampers to people’s enthusiasm or those who are hostile to others with little or no provocation as they will ruin the mood of your company really fast.

Don’t ruin the “fun”
Another easier way to have fun lies deep in the mystery of the Chinese culture. In China, fun is a type of noodle typically made from rice or mung beans. Fun is often a wide type of noodle which I enjoy eating. If you don’t know what to have for lunch at your company, try a group lunch where you eat fun — after all, you are what you eat. Unless you pronounce it the way they do in “other” (non-Cantonese) dialects in which it might be called “fen” which would ruin the “fun.”

Compilation of best Management & Success blog entries Part 2

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Here are some more of our most popular management and success blog entries from over the years.

A corporation has a board of directors, why shouldn’t you?

6 ways to be more in control in your business!

Putting clients on hold in a call center is a big problem

Does your downtime make you a better business person?

Do you see yourself as an entrepreneur or a CEO?

The right sized company to outsource to

Is it better to hire your own top-notch employee or outsource your task?

Does your team function as a team?

Is it better to have a woman do your phone calls?

24 tech workers for each manager

Handling stress in a call center office

Long range effects of business decisions — a mistake that got turned around

A coffee house guy gets hired by corporate America

5 tips for rewriting your outsourcing contract

Working in an office vs. at home

Having a foundation in business for long term growth

How to make sure outsourcing companies follow directions

How different cultures handle time

Are outsourcing contracts just another trap?

Bathe and meditate before making business decisions

Only 1% of customers feel they get the service they deserve

Half company; half school

3 ways for startups to save on office space

Small software companies lose a client as fast as they gain one

International contracts to watch out for


America invented & forgot about customer service

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America invented customer service, and then forgot about it The irony of customer service is that America invented the concept of customer service on a corporate level. The reason this is so ironic, is that these days, corporations are in a huge hurry to save as much money on customer service as possible while sacrificing quality. I would say that these days, America is very unreliable in customer service on all levels from restaurants, stores, banks to large corporations.

What about other countries?
Traditionally Europe never had good customer service according to a friend of mine who is from Austria. I cannot confirm her claim, but after my brief visit to Europe, I was appauled at how I was treated as
a customer. Indians have good customer service if you go to a hotel or restaurant in person. But, the minute you are dealing with a phone company, or dealing over the phone with anyone, the quality of service degrades to a horrible level.

Hospitality in Ethiopia
I spent three hours talking to a local Ethiopian girl who told me that
in their country they learn hospitality from age three. When they come
to America they excel in any business involving hospitality including
restaurants, hotels, cafes, etc. It comes naturally to them as that is
part of their culture. They know how to interact well, make you feel
at home, and take care of all of your needs. In short, with
Ethiopians, you will be treated like a king. What a nice change from
being treated like “whatever.”

Customer service is cultural.
However, cultures change over time, and America has gone from a place where customers are cared for to a place where saving money is key. India is a place where customer service involves having someone who can barely communicate in any language answer the phone and then put you on hold without even asking permission which is the height of rudeness — then, the phone disconnects and you get hung up on.

What can we learn?
We learn from others. Unfortunately, if you are in an environment where people are unkind, you will learn to be unkind. If you start off nice, the moral erosion might take a few years or decades, but those bad guys around you will rub off on you. On the other hand, if we want to learn how to give the best customer service, we can learn from those who do it best. We can learn what they are doing, and what it is about them that makes them so good.

My favorite restaurant has three Italian waiters.
These are not run of the mill guys. They have all traveled and had a lot of life experiences. Additionally, they are warm, inviting, friendly, talkative, and they love food. At other restaurants they have people who are just there because it is a job. Having people who bring personality, warmth, and spice to a job makes the customer service experience a lot better.

It pays to travel the world
If you go to different countries and see how they interact and see how they serve people, you will learn something. Of course you’ll see the “how not to” more than anything else. But, you might also see how nice Indians can be if they are in person (opposed to behind a phone) and how Ethiopians interact with guests. You might see how Wells Fargo handles its affairs in a professional way, and how efficient the Japanese are handling basic business transactions. I don’t believe you can provide good customer service unless you soak in some experiences with good role models and make service a priority.

Compilation of best management & success blog entries

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Here are some management and success articles to read. Some of them are very unusual and interesting.

What does Warren Buffet look for when he hires people?

The mindset of a millionaire

Business quotes that will inspire you

Being liked is a huge factor in an outsourcing manager

The rupee mentality

In China, hot girls were hired to motivate programmers

Small talk, Indians and attracting US clients

Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully, so should you!

Mistakes and learning from them

I’m going to succeed because I’m crazy enough to think I can

Google has its employees devote time to innovation, what about you?

Warren Buffet works two hours a day; Are you a workaholic?

Think big, but start small in business

How do big companies get big? It’s not an accident!

How to create a corporate culture like Google’s and have fun doing it

Effects of hanging around the wealthy

How good are you at estimating jobs?

A good organization has people who take charge without being overbearing

What is the cost of a screwup?

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Do you run your own business or manage one? Do you screw up? I do too. But, not that often. When I try new things, or am too overwhelmed to be able to attend to things — screw ups happen. Generally the screw up is that the person I hired didn’t do what they were supposed to and didn’t give a damn either. I am too busy to babysit people. So, those that screw up are at the bottom of my list.

So, there are different classifications of screw ups. There are experimental screw ups where you try a new approach and see if it works. If not, you learn something. If you invest too much in going the wrong direction, then you lose big. There are hiring screw ups which are far more common. If you test people out over several months to see if they do good work and don’t lose interest, there will be fewer screw ups. Then there are major screw ups where your data got compromised or you lost a key employee due to an argument that would have better gone un-argued.

My main point of this quickie article is to keep screw ups small. It is okay to screw up, especially during experimentation. In fact, I wouldn’t even call an experiment, or trying something new a screw up if the results weren’t good. I would call it a success because you succeeded in learning what not to do next time. Until next time — I have things to screw up.

What if you got your business advice from Yoda?

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In the world of startups, outsourcing and business, there seems to be a critical lack of common sense. People are in a huge hurry. Few invest in training their employees. In foreign countries they rarely even invest in a proper phone line where they will be able to hear their prospective clients. The business world is insane, greedy, and idiotic. So, what is the solution? After watching the Star Wars series multiple times, it seems clear that the only way to learn any good sense in business is to learn from a Jedi Master. Obi-Wan Kenobi would be a good choice, but Yoda has about nine-hundred years more wisdom than good old Obi-Wan. So, the choice is obvious.

What if you wanted to get an idea of what business to go into. What would Yoda say?

20 YEAR OLD: “Yoda, I want to start a business, but I need to know which one to start.”

YODA: “Search your inner feelings young one. The feeling that stays with you will be the one. Hmm.
Search you will, but find you will not. A work ethic you do not have. Success will not be possible. Perish you will — hmm! First you must learn to work you must. Do you know how to fix droids?”

I wonder what Yoda would say to BPO owners who refuse to train their workers.

BPO OWNER: “Yoda, what can I do better in my business?”

YODA: “Answering the phone correctly your workers do not. How can you possibly succeed in business if you can’t even answer the phone correctly? Hmm! Double checking your workers output you do not. Sloppy work they do. Attention is not there. You will never be able to use the force with this attitude. Hmm.”

But, what would Yoda say to the more disciplined business owners. Would he have a different point of view?

YODA: “Where do you see your business 200 years from now? Hmm?”

BUSINESS OWNER: “Hmm, I never thought about that. That is so far in the future.”

YODA: “Far in the future it is not. In a blink of an eye it could arrive. Think you are there, and it shall be done — hmm!”

BUSINESS OWNER: “Wow. I’ll have to meditate on that reality. First let me think five years into the future.”

YODA: “Seek you must, first five years, then ten, then twenty. Hmm. Keep seeing farther. Find the consciousness that keeps your business ahead — it is the superiority of the consciousness that makes you win. It is by using the force that your consciousness becomes supreme. But, without discipline — this is impossible. Discipline you have — cultivating it you will.”

BUSINESS OWNER: “So, what is the best technique to develop the force within me?”

YODA: “Forget about that MBA program you must. Time it will take, knowledge you will gain, consciousness of the force and real life experience it will not teach. Learn to meditate you will. The force will develop within you. Also, learn to play the ancient Chinese game of Go from planet Earth you must. Earth has many people of wisdom. Too bad they destroyed their planet in a nuclear holocaust seven hundred years ago. Earth was once a planet of great beauty, but the humans there did not treat their planet with love — hmmm. Lost it they did. Escape they could not. Die they did. But, some of their culture was preserved — learn you must, benefit you will — hmm.”

You don’t get to the next level in business by being in a hurry

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Some people think you get ahead by being in a hurry. Others think they can slack off and still do okay. The truth is that you need to work very hard, but not be in a hurry. I remember reading how Warren Buffet observed that it takes nine months for a baby to be born. You can’t use nine women working as a team to get a baby in one month. Certain things in business just take time. This doesn’t mean you should slack off during this time. You should work hard and let nature take its course.

I remember when I was twenty I was in a huge rush to get ahead in my life. But, at that time in my life I was a complete failure. I was mediocre in everything that I did. Now, in my forties, I am still far from perfect, but I work hard and am always driving to get ahead. However, I realize that success and getting to that next level is not something I can control the timing of. There are some years that are good years and other years that are slow. I try to learn from what I did during those good years and learn from mistakes as well.

On a converse note, many successful managers do less. They find ways to supervise the right people for each task that they need to have done. If they are overworked, they won’t have time for critical things or for putting out fires. Whether you work hard or work smart, the point is to be on top of everything and make sure quality work gets done. After that — just let nature take its course.

Managing your attention with energy to gain focus

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Many of us work hard or work a lot of hours. But, we lose attention and start mindlessly doing tasks. For “busy work” this might work, but for work that requires our attention we need a way to gain focus. It is easy to do busy tasks all day long, but we often need to prioritize or make complicated decisions which require deeper though. How can we gain that focus?

By increasing your energy level, your brain will have more food for thought. Increasing your energy level is not rocket science. Here are a few techniques:

Eat an apple per day & go bananas!
Eating more fruit is an easy and cost effective way to raise your energy. You get enzymes, vitamins and other forms of nutrition. Eating an apple can change your entire world in a snap — or a crunch. If you are regular about eating fruit, you too will become more regular in terms of bowel movements which in turn raises your energy level. Additionally, fresh juices that were squeezed within minutes of your consumption are excellent.

Take a shower in an hour…
Your body attracts certain energies. Those energies can get yucky. The best remedy is using healing oils and showering. Most of us shower daily, but if you shower a second time you might feel better. Showing not only physically cleanses you, but cleanses your unclean energies. There is a reason why Hindus have a tradition of bathing twice per day. It is partly due to their balmy weather in India, but partly because of the purifying effect that water has on the human body or anything else. Many people own crystals, but they too attract heavy energies and water is one of the ways of cleansing them not to mention sticking them in dirt or salt to absorb the energies. Many humans put a cup of Epsom salt in their bath to go that extra mile cleansing their bad energies. Showers are good, but baths are even better!

Vitamins & Supplements
Taking vitamins and supplements can help your health. The quality of the vitamins can really vary, so getting most of your nutrients from real food is a good idea so that the supplements can supplement an already healthy diet. Keeping your cholesterol and triglycerides down can increase energy too. I have found that Q10 is great for your heart and blood vessels while Grape Seed Extract is good for eye and capillary circulation which is critical if you stare at a computer all day long with your eyes!

Walking can increase your energy step by step
Many people just don’t get enough exercise. Some of us think we need to go to the gym. The gym is good for building muscles. If we sit too long, we need good back muscles for our posture. But, for the most part we need walking or swimming to stay fit. An hour a day or more of walking is excellent. But, I really feel it if I cut down my walking for a week or two when I’m busy.

If all else fails…
Chocolate is a nice way to get some extra energy later in the day. Caffeine might cause you insomnia even twelve hours after the fact, but chocolate will do the trick and energize you for about five or six hours.

Take Breaks
We wrote many other articles about when to take a break and how often. This is really up to you, so study how you react to breaks and take different types of breaks. You can measure the effects. See if you feel better, and see if a walking break is better than a napping break. You will be able to work more effectively if you take breaks — and listen to your body, it will tell you what you need a lot better than your boss will.

In China, hot girls were hired to motivate programmers

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How do you motivate a stubborn programmer?
My experience with programmers is that very few of them care even slightly about the experience of the people who will one day use their programs. The commenting in the code for other programmers to read is not even that clear in many instances. Most programmers just want to be left alone to do their work the way they want, how they want and when they want. Deadlines are almost never honored, and instructions are almost always taken lightly. Very few programmers were even motivated by money. I offered large amounts of money to many programming companies who politely declined stating that I was, “Not a good fit.” I told them that I am giving you money to do programming work and you are a programming company — how am I not a good fit? The managers at programming companies are as impossible to motivate as the programmers. So, what is the secret?

The Chinese are masters of innovation.
The Chinese have always been an innovative people from thousands of years ago. When they had a problem with the Mongols, they built the longest wall in human history. They even innovated a way to deal with all of the dead bodies of the workers by burying them in the wall! The Chinese created gun powder, many forms of martial arts, gardening, and even new aspects of semantic internet searches. A few years ago I predicted that if anyone could master the art of dominating the computer programming industry, it would be the Chinese. I was right, but not in a way that I expected.

Hiring beautiful cheerleaders to motivate programmers works!
Specialists who understand the importance of building a healthy corporate culture understand that you need positive upbeat people to build a motivated and fun work environment. Cliffbar, Google and Starbucks actively embrace this principle. A few years ago, I had the thought that call centers in Manila and Central America should hire good looking girls to interact with their workers to add a good feeling to their day. Call centers are apparently very stubborn about improving the grueling conditions of their work. But, the Chinese are not. It is commonplace in Chinese companies (and restaurants) for the workers to all get together and share a meal. Eating is an integral part of the Chinese culture, and communal eating is just as much. Eating together makes people feel good and feel more connected. But, I am happy that the Chinese implemented “my” idea of having lovely ladies improve the grueling conditions of the work day. Why not look forward to coming to work? Your wife might not like it, but at least you’ll show up for work and give it your all.

Productivity is up
The programmers in China, India and other countries are mostly male and very anti-social. Programming is a bit like mechanics intellectually. Guys like fixing things while women just want to be listened to which is why guys dominate programming. But, having these ladies around seems to get the guys to produce better. Men tend to be more motivated in general if there is a woman who is appreciative of what they do according to “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It seems that the Chinese managers must have read that book or have an understanding of the concept. The easiest way to get a guy to stop trying is to have a woman who doesn’t give him any appreciation.

What do these ladies actually do?
The programming cheerleaders buy breakfast for the programmers so they have the energy to do a long day of work. They also chat with the programmers which is very valuable since most of the programmers lack the ability to interact with the opposite gender, or even with their own gender, and probably also with dogs and cats as well (insufficient data for the last claim.) The ladies must be talented and smooth (and probably patient) at interacting with the socially handicapped. In a sense, they are like therapists or psychiatrists in a very pedantic way.

What do the wives of the programmers think about this?
I can imagine that someone’s wife might not want their husband regularly hanging around with beautiful women at work. It is bad enough that your husband works with women, but beautiful women who give them a ton of attention? But, maybe this is what men need. I go through my day getting absolutely no attention from women other than my housemates. Imagine how much better I would feel if I was paid some positive attention by someone in their twenties or thirties who was female and voluptuous. This problem is my fault for living in Los Angeles. Women here are relentlessly unfriendly. But, the minute I cross the border into New Mexico, I get tons of positive attention from everyone! Maybe I should be living there!

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