Category Archives: Management

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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Your customers can feel if your workplace is unhealthy

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There are many reasons why a workplace could be “unhealthy.” An unhealthy workplace have too many people cramped in a small space. There might not be enough windows. The windows in offices generally don’t open which is why I don’t work in that type of environment. You might have argumentative people, or mean bosses. There could be office politics, overly long work days or other things to create an unhealthy environment.

Customers pick up on your office environment.
Customers enjoy working with pleasant businesses who get the job done with a smile. Most companies out there do not do their work correctly, have managers running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and workers who are either incompetent or don’t care — or both. Add stress and vindictive office relationships to the mix, and you’ve got a really unhealthy office environment.

Your Vision
The solution to this problem all starts with a vision. There have been cool companies in America that had a cool vision. Cliffbar has upbeat staff creating healthy food products. Starbucks created a pleasant environment with happy staff that the public can’t stay away from. Google creates workplaces that are customized for innovative collaboration. But, most other companies just don’t even start to think about optimizing their environment. Do you want to create a wonderful work environment, or do you prefer to take the easy way out and keep things the same? Maybe it’s easier if you can’t stand your environment, but are forced to stay and work in it. Then, you would have to change it or risk going insane.

Solutions to an unhealthy work place
Changing around the office space or getting a new office that is more appealing might be a good start. Aspiring to create a company culture of upbeat people would help a lot. Getting rid of sour employees who ruin everyone else’s day could be a life saver. Hiring a few people with bubbly personalities might add joy to the other people’s lives even if the bubbly folks were not good workers themselves. Having plants in your office might create some oxygen and lower stress. But, what about animals? I have seen offices in Hollywood allow people to bring their dogs and cats to work. It was a little unusual, but since their dogs were quiet, it worked out.

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Compilation of posts about offices

Making your workplace feel like home

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Do workers work better or worse if they feel they are at home? I personally work better, but others might get lazy. Some people do nothing productive at home, while others thrive in this environment. It might be best to study the productivity habits of all of your workers and customize their environment to suit them ideally. If one works better with trees, put them out in a forest. If another works best in a cubicle, then do the obvious. If another works better at home, but you need them at the office, then continue reading this blog…

Making your office like home
There are coffee houses and bars that strive to feel like someone’s living room. These types of business put effort into their ambiance otherwise they will have an empty house. But, how many offices do the same? Imagine how much easier it would be to attract nice workers if you created an environment they actually liked being in! If you have windows that look like home, dogs, cats, and pets in the office, shelves filled with books, and other home-type stuff, people might feel more like home. You might add a sofa and coffee table just in case people want to do some collaborative thinking. But, would people collaborate, or just socialize and waste time? That is for your analytics department (which you probably don’t have) to find out. In the mean time while you ponder having an analytics department, do the analytics yourself!

Happy workers
Whether or not a homey environment is good for productivity, it seems obvious to me that most workers would prefer to be in that type of environment, and your attrition rate would go down. Worker satisfaction would most likely go up. There are many factors to think about when choosing an environment and short term productivity is only one of them!

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Compilation of posts about offices

Compilation of posts about offices

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

Envisioning the long-term growth of your company in addition to the short-term

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I always get stuck on this. I study analytics, I figure out my next move, I take action and measure the results. I’m good at this and I like it. I do well with my business because I am analytical and enjoy analytics. I do well because I work hard and have vision, plan and take action. But, in my quest for growth, I tend to lose track of the long-term picture. The long-term baffles me. As a child, I had grandiose long-term strategies about how I would become a multi-billionaire like Warren Buffet, dominate industry, and be world famous. It didn’t quite work out like that although I am famous in my tiny industry. I am loved by some and despised by others because I implement policies for advertising that affect other people’s lives! But, I un an advertising site, so that is my prerogative!

As a realistic adult, it is harder to look at the long run. As a child, we think that life will go the way we plan it to go. We reject the idea that things beyond our control will happen. We don’t understand that relationships can ruin our lives, or that illness can cripple us. We are oblivious to the fact that an uncontrollable turn in the market can reduce our income to pennies overnight. As an adult, my problem is that I know to much, and have been through too much. I have lost my ability to be unrealistically optimistic. But, I need to look to the long term future. I need to envision some realistic ways that my business could grow and blossom into something bigger. Growth is the goal of any business (or Twitter account) and I want mine to grow.

Since I run directories, the only way to grow is to start new directories which is relentlessly time consuming and expensive. Dealing with programmers is nearly impossible these days as they are all overloaded and completely irresponsible. To get ahead these days you need good social media, and I am already spending half of my time on blogs and social media. If I try to hire others to help me with these tasks, their performance is usually so dismal that they get fired right away. Going into the unknown to grow is the problem.

I decided upon a solution for long-term growth of my outsourcing directory. I decided to go from writing 15 blog articles a month to 80. I meditated on this business problem while at the beach, and of all of the various solutions to the growth problem that I pondered, this was the one that would have the greatest results in the next year. I have never written so many blog articles before. This is going out on a limb into a new work strategy. Will the new help I hire do a good job? Should I use my existing people? Will I even have time to do half this amount of writing? I guess this little experiment will unfold. I’ll become almost a full-time blog writer. Wish me well.

Do you have a long-term strategy for your business’ growth over the next ten years. I think that both of us should meditate on this reality!