Sunday, March 30, 2014


The is a big fan of Dan Pink. His talk was amazing. His books are amazing. Dan’s Office Hours which he calls “Car Talk…….for the human engine” is amazing. The Amazing Dan Pink - sounds like a magician.

ROWE - Results Only Work Environment is a human resource management strategy co-created by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler wherein employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number of hours worked. Cali and Jody, who originally proposed the strategy at Best Buy, have since started a consulting group called CultureRx.

ROWE tries to give managers the tools to define goals which can be clearly met or unmet by the results of individual contributors working for that manager. This focus on met or unmet results allows significant freedom to the organization to focus on fewer minute details of employee daily routine.

I first heard the concept of ROWE when reading Dan Pink’s book: DRIVE. Specifically pages 86-88, 100, 199, and 210 - 211. The concept of ROWE stuck with me. I would use it; I would tell people that we are a ROWE! I would tell employees, contractors and anyone that would listen to me that my companies - all of them - we are ROWE companies. If you wanted to work here, if you wanted to be here, if you wanted to hang out with me, you needed to embrace the entire concept of ROWE.

Chapter 4 of DRIVE is all about Autonomy. The chapter goes on to tell the story of ROWEs. ROWEs principals marry the common sense pragmatism of Ben Franklin to the cage-rattling radicalism of Saul Alinsky. In a ROWE workplace, people don’t have schedules. They show up for work when they want. They don’t have to be in the office by a certain time - or any time, for that matter. They show up when they want. They just need to get their work done. How they do it, when they do it, and where they do it is up to them.

Act I: Enter Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson from Chapter 4

Who: These two former human resource executives at Best Buy persuaded their CEO to experiment with a radical new approach to organizing work. They wrote a book about their experiences, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It, and they now run their own consultancy: .

Big Idea: The Results Only Work Environment. ROWE, described in Chapter 4 of Dan’s book DRIVE affords employees complete autonomy over where, when and how they do their work. The only thing that matters is results.

“People at all levels stop doing any activity that is a waste of their time, the customer’s time, or their company’s time. Employees have the freedom to work any way they want to work. Every meeting is optional. There are no work schedules.”

I wanted to be a ROWE! I wanted my company to embrace this, to be this. I forgot that I first heard about ROWEs in Dan’s book. I have been telling people that “We are a ROWE” for so long that I forgot what a ROWE really was. And then it hit me: we are absolutely NOT a ROWE, not yet anyway.

So, I Googled: ROWE

Rowe Furniture | Top Quality Custom Furniture | Sofas | Chairs  < OK, not them >

ROWE - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  < YES! THEM!>

ROWE - Results Only Work Environment is a human resource management strategy co-created by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler wherein employees are ...


Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) | CultureRx <AGAIN, THEM!>

Results-Only Work Environment goes beyond telework. It's a management strategy where employees are evaluated on performance, not presence. In a ROWE ...

What is ROWE | CultureRx
Results-Only Work Environment goes beyond telework. It's a management strategy where employees are evaluated on performance, not presence. In a ROWE

ACT II: Do some research, do some reading, and then get off your ass and get to work.
If someone Google’s ROWE the “result” is that they will find Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson. They will find their amazing website, their amazing books, and their amazing concept of ROWE. Go ahead, do it yourself. Google ROWE and you will see what I am talking about.

I found their website. I found their books on Amazon. I found their blogs, their LinkedIn pages, their Facebook pages, and Twitter as well.  But, I also found - them. The real, living version of ROWE:

My email to   March 28 2014, 10:27am

Subject: ROWE!!!

Jody, Cali, I stumbled onto your site when I searched for "ROWE" I feel like I just landed in Disneyworld..... Where do I begin? Do I read all of your books? Read all of your blog posts? Call you? I am giddy. I own and run MTP, NYDLA, and now I am involved with the USDLA. You can see folks like Dan Pink on our websites……

This was Friday. Today is Sunday. Less than 48 hours have passed from my Hello email until this blog. Since that first email we have had several exchanges, phone calls, conference calls, and we will meet again - tomorrow - for conference call number two.

ACT: III  Serendipity

If you Google the word Serendipity, you will find a "fortuitous happenstance" or "pleasant surprise".  Had I not read the book DRIVE, the term ROWE would not have stuck in my head. Had I not said “we are a ROWE” to then admit that we are NOT a ROWE but we want to become a ROWE, I would never thought to Google ROWE.
I would have never found and I would have never emailed I would have never met Cali and Jody (virtually) and I would not have had anything cool and exciting to blog about today. Cali and Jody will read this blog and they will smile at my energy and passion, as someone who gets things done. If they need a poster boy for ROWE, I’m up for the job. Or, Jody and Cali will read this blog and they will call the police, not sure yet. Comments, ladies?
Epilogue: ROWE Boats Need ROWErs
ROWE is a Results Only Work Environment. This is now very clear to me. And it is also very clear that you cannot be a ROWE at 95%, or even 99%  It is all in or nothing. ROWEs only work when a ROWE is full of “rowers”.
Results Only Working Executives
Results Only Working Employees. 
Are you a “rower” like me?

*** Stay tuned for the new adventures of Cali, Jody and Tom…… betcha “the results” will be worth blogging about.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Where have all the test pilots gone?

A test pilot is an aviator who flies new and modified aircraft in specific maneuvers, known as flight test techniques or FTTs, allowing the results to be measured and the design to be evaluated.

Francis Evans (USMC), explored the best way to recover from spins, 1917
Test pilots may work for military organizations or private (mostly aerospace) companies. Testing military aircraft, in particular, is regarded as the most challenging and risky flying conducted in peacetime.
In the 1950s, test pilots were being killed at the rate of about one a week. Today, the risks have shrunk to a fraction of that, thanks to the maturation of aircraft technology, better ground-testing and simulation of aircraft performance, fly by wire technology and lately, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to test experimental aircraft features. Still, piloting experimental aircraft remains more dangerous than most other types of flying.

The technology of flying changed the world. Today we take for granted a flight from New York to London or Los Angeles. But do we ever stop to think of how many men and women made the ultimate sacrifice to advance aviation?

In the 1950s, test pilots were being killed at the rate of about one a week.  It was worth repeating that line. Let that roll around in your head for a few minutes.

The aviation technology that changed the world - the technology that made the world a true global marketplace, required people to risk their lives to perfect, to advance said technology. Every one of us that have ever flown owe our safety to the men and women who risked their lives for the advancement of aviation technology.

No risk, no reward. From failure, we learn. No pressure, no diamonds.

Now look at today’s workplace. Does anyone risk their lives today - at Google, or Facebook, or Apple? Where have all the test pilots gone?

And I am not talking about the people who are assembling phones in China. Sadly, they ARE losing their lives.

Where have all the test pilots gone?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Let's Play Hunger Games!


Full Disclosure: I never played the game Candy Crush. Everyone that I know seems to have played the game - I have not.

Candy Crush Saga is a match-three puzzle video game released by the developer King on April 12, 2012 for Facebook, and on November 14, 2012 for smartphones. As of March 2013, Candy Crush Saga surpassed FarmVille 2 as the most popular game on Facebook, with 46 million average monthly users.

The game is primarily monetized through in-app purchases (through either a credit card or Facebook Credits); players begin with five "lives", lost whenever a level is failed. When they are exhausted, users can either send requests to their Facebook friends for more lives, wait for them to replenish themselves (a life is re-gained every half-hour), or purchase them. At certain points, primarily at the start of new "episodes", users must also either purchase, or receive a request from at least three friends before they may access the next set of levels. Boosters can also be bought using cash or Facebook credits.

Some Sweet Numbers:

Candy Crush Saga had over ten million downloads in December 2012 alone.

As of February 7, 2014, Candy Crush Saga, the most popular app on Facebook, had more than 61 million likes on the application page.

Candy Crush Saga has received particular attention in the Hong Kong media, with reports that one in seven Hong Kong citizens plays the game.

As of July 2013, it has been estimated that Candy Crush Saga has about 6.7 million active users and earns revenue of $633,000 per day in the US section of the iOS App Store alone.

As of October 2013, Candy Crush is the third most popular free app and the highest grossing app in the Google Play store.

As of November 2013, the game has been installed 500 million times across Facebook and iOS and Android devices.

I never accepted an invite to play an online game. I have watched people playing “Angry Birds” and I guess these are they same people who now play Candy Crush. I own a business; I have my own online game that I play every day, and it is called Angry Customers.

The numbers behind online games like Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Words with Friends are impressive. Here is my question: why cannot this be put to use for the greater good?

Why not have an online game called Criss Cross - and have this money go to the Red Cross?

Why not have an online game called Save the Children - and use real children?

Why not have an online game called Save the Planet - and well, I don’t know - maybe we can use that money to SAVE OUR PLANET?

Maybe I’ll invent a game called Sunny Daze (to finance the installation of solar panels) or Blowback, Blowhard or Blow me Down (to finance the build out of  wind turbines).

The playful nature of online games lowers the barrier of entry for people to get behind new social causes. For example, the simple online quiz game Freerice has encouraged gamers to collect more than 90 billion grains of rice for the World Food Program.

Much like how Twitter allows its users to interact with celebrities and businesses unlike any other medium in history, future game-like services and tools could encourage new kinds of social team building, allowing users to voice their opinions and affect societal change in myriad new ways.

One day we can ask our Facebook friends: “What level of Save the World are you on?” and we are actually saving the world.

What if when you reach “Level 10” of Hunger Heroes you get to video chat with the kid living on the other side of the planet while he eats his first nutritious meal in days? What if every time you get BONUS POINTS someone gets a gallon of clean drinking water for every point? Now THAT is what I call the real Hunger Games!

No one believes that every facet of our lives would improve if it adhered to the rules of online games. Life can’t be all fun and games, and sometimes effort is needed to produce results. Some work is just that - work. However, most industries and human endeavors may prosper if they do a better job meeting the psychological needs of their audience. No form of human expression understands needs satisfaction better than online games.

When used correctly, online games hold the potential to show us the world through a different set of lenses – to craft experiences that engage our mind both cognitively and socially, and ultimately make us feel like an active participant in shaping our destiny. Do we need a better reason to play online games?

Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Did you hear that?

Today, we are working, learning and teaching online. And as an instructor or leader, it’s your responsibility to know everything you can about your industry or your field of study. However, it’s no longer critical to spend all of your time telling everything you know. With today’s easy access to information, people already know more on the topic at hand than you can probably imagine.

Today it’s no longer “buyer beware.” It is “supplier beware.” Instructors, coaches or teachers are indeed a form of supplier. "Customer is King" now more than ever. Online schools and universities now compete for paying students regardless of geography, and these online students are voting with their tuition payments.

You need the ability to really hear what the student is thinking and feeling. That requires you to really listen and ensure that you actually heard what they meant. This is not as simple as it sounds, especially when you are all located in different time zones!

Listening has not ranked high on the skill bar for most people. Ask anyone for honest feedback and you are likely to confirm that they think most people do a much better job of talking, than listening.

An MIT study found that the major differentiation between top performing people and average producers is “effective listening.” Effective listeners comprehend better, build stronger relationships and foster greater trust. So, in an online world of constant change, an abundance of uncertainty and greater competition, is it any wonder that enhancing your listening skills can pay big dividends?

Think of enhancing your listening skills as a way of adding a new tool to your toolkit. The benefits can be significant in several ways:
Skilled listening shows your genuine interest in the person’s unique situation and needs ,and thus enhances the possibility of interest in your product or service (your course material).

Listening improves your ability to discern what the other person may not be directly saying, but is implying, making you more aware of his emotional drivers. What they don’t say may speak volumes.

Good listening enables you to better interpret critical pieces of information, which can help you to develop a more convincing case for your online material.

Good listening helps to position you as a problem solver—a true professional and subject matter expert who deserves attention and adds to your credibility.
When a person feels that they are truly “heard” and not just superficially listened to, they feel more comfortable with you and become more open to the knowledge that you bring to the table. And this is critical when working, teaching or training online.

Unfortunately, no one is born being a naturally good listener. It’s a learned behavior. The good news is anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort can learn to be an effective listener:

- Spend less time thinking about what you’re going to say and more time thinking about open-ended questions that will get the other person talking and engaged. Don’t dominate the conversation.

- Don’t interrupt. This can be harder than it sounds.

- Be genuinely interested in what the other person is saying and show it by affirmative gestures like nodding, interested facial expressions, and taking notes. This is interesting during High Definition videoconferencing sessions!

- Don’t be influenced by distractions; maintain eye contact and continually make him or her the most important person in the room - especially when the room is a virtual workspace.

- Use feedback to clarify and confirm. Rather than assume you heard what you think you did, repeat important information back in your own words to clarify that what you thought you heard. Make sure you know what the other person meant.

- Don’t react negatively or defensively to comments. Stay focused on your goal and politely address any concern or incorrect statement.

- Become aware of the other person’s communication style. If they pause between thoughts, don’t deliver your responses in a fast-paced manner or visa versa. Match the other person’s pace.

- Be fully engaged. Make yourself fully responsible for ensuring that your time spent communicating with others is successful; successful in that you end your online session with three critical things:

  • Insight into the other person that you didn't have before.
  • Assurance that you heard all information exactly the way they meant you to hear it.
  • A feeling that you have strengthened your relationship with them.
If you can leave each online teaching or remote working session feeling confident about these three things, chances are you will have done an effective job of listening!