All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Keys To Leadership

My Keys To Leadership CDs is something I’ve written about before on this blog, so you can check that post out if you’d like. Of course, the back story is so much more fun. But I told that story on the other post; what more is there?

The day I did the first seminar, which led to the first CD, I was at a crossroads in the early part of my career. I wasn’t a happy guy. I was doing some sporadic subcontracting work with this other company that was leaving me very frustrated. The money was good, but the working relationship was not.

I’m all about communications. When I was a director, I made sure to keep the lines of communications open with those who worked for and with me. If something needed explaining, I made sure to do it right, especially if I needed it done a specific way. The owner of the company I was doing the work for wasn’t quite that type. She expected people to just know how she wanted things. That might have been fine for the people who worked for her where she lived, which was in the Baltimore, MD area, but I didn’t see her on a daily basis. I knew my work, but not how she wanted it presented all the time. Sometimes I’d give it to her and it’d be what she wanted, while other times I’d present it to her and she’d say that’s not what she wanted, without an explanation.

Still, it was bringing in money that I needed. But I wasn’t happy, and I knew I was going to have to make a decision at some point. That’s another reason I had set the seminars up, and even though I’d definitely picked the wrong time to do them (you’ll have to go to that other link to learn why), I figured it might tell me something about myself no matter what happened.

I gave the presentation that Wednesday night and it felt really good. And the topics I discussed made me realize that it was time to end that association, to drop that client for my mental health. So when I came home I wrote her, since she never answered her phone, and said I was done. And you know what? She never responded, never acknowledged, never asked me why… as if I didn’t exist. She could have cared less; I meant nothing to her except a body that might have had a few skills, and based on how she was treating me, I’d started to question that as well.

For the next two months I was floundering; that loss of money was big, and my mind wasn’t in a great place. Then I got my mind in a better place, not only after revisiting my own words when I was creating the sound files, but that’s when I started getting into motivational things. Within two weeks of starting that process I had both a short term project then a very long term project, and I was on my way.

And that’s the rest of the story. Anyway, this is am immediate download product; you can buy either one or both presentations, and on the site there’s also a sample clip, for those of you who’ve never heard any of the interviews I’ve done, so you can hear my voice as well. Here’s the product link to Keys To Leadership, which is also there to the left underneath my book.

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Let’s Talk About The Word “Expert”

The word “expert” is an ugly word, though it’s not supposed to be. It’s an ugly word because when people use the word in describing themselves other people don’t like it. Some people dislike it so much that they go way out of their way to be called anything except an expert. I know this because I’m one of those people. I’ve been thinking about the word a lot lately, even before I took a gander at Scott Stratton’s book Unmarketing, which I read in about 40 minutes and that seems to stun people. No matter, it is what it is.

I’m going to make an interesting disclosure here as part of the sidebar. I kind of Mets got online back in 2004 on Ryze. It was the precursor business website that also had a lot of personal things that people could interact about to both LinkedIn and Facebook. it was pretty neat, and I still have a page on that site, but it went obsolete fairly quickly because the owners of the site really didn’t care to put much maintenance and it, probably thinking it was fine just the way it is and not seeing the juggernauts that were coming. Anyway, I wasn’t a big fan of his. I thought that he showed a lot of meanness to a lot of people and that he projected an image of not having any patience in dealing with people who may not be as smart as he thought he was at the time.

Now the one thing I like to think I am is somewhat fair, and just because I might have a negative personal feeling against someone or something does not mean I can acknowledge when something they do is pretty good. And the book Unmarketing is a pretty good book; after all I never said he wasn’t a smart guy, just probably not as smart as he thinks he is. That’s why I’m linking to the book and if someone decides they want to read it anyone buy it from me who am I to turn down a little bit of money?

Anyway back to this topic of the word “expert”. Scott takes the word on in his book and it’s kind of interesting what he says. He starts off by saying that when people call themselves experts you really need to be careful of that because it’s hard for anybody to be an expert in a field that’s constantly changing. And since that’s pretty much every business, you really have to be up on your stuff if you’re going to call yourself an expert. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that you can’t claim to have expertise in something, and by de facto having expertise in the field does help to make you an expert in someone else’s eyes. He admits to cringing when people call him an expert, yet acknowledges that there are things he has done in his life that in the eyes of others and himself does justify the terminology here and there.

He makes a good point in his absolutely right. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot of people who are experts in their field. Being an expert does not mean you know everything there is to know, but it certainly means you know a heck of a lot about it. I don’t think there’s many people who would say that Stephen Hawking is not an expert on black holes, and yet even he wrote a different book 20 years later that disputed some of the things he had said was his original book, A Brief History of Time. See, true experts aren’t stagnant on something; they’re always evolving, always learning, and hopefully always open to the possibility that something they said the first time might not still be valid years later.

Back in February I wrote a post called Expert, Specialist, Professional Or Hack? In that post, I railed against the term because of a seminar I went to where one of the speakers had advocated herself as a social media expert, yet it turned out she knew a lot less about the subject and probably 50% of the people in the room. My mind said I didn’t want to be associated with something like that, so I have avoided the term like the plague. In thinking back on it though, I’m wondering if it’s fair to myself to dampen in some fashion the knowledge that I have attained over the years and some of the different fields I’m in. At the very least, if someone else is writing up marking materials that are promoting me for a speaking engagement or some other type of presentation, should I eschew the term or just roll with the punches?

This thought isn’t only for me. I’m betting most of you feel the same way I do about this term. Yet, if we look at some of the people we follow on other blogs, I’m betting we see some of them as experts, even if they would fight it if we called them that. Pat is obviously an expert on lavender; my friend Scott is obviously an expert on photography. Everyone else has expertise in something, whether they read about it in their blog or not. Do you find yourself running away from the term, or are you willing to embrace it when necessary, especially if it’s possible it just might be true?

Y’all have read here where I said I want to be rich and famous; a big deal if you will. Well, in this world you get to be a big deal in two ways. One, you do something spectacular that everyone sees, or two, you have expertise in something and are able to get people to notice and then pay you for. And since I don’t see myself winning Wimbledon anytime soon, I guess I’d better shoot for number two.

What are your thoughts? What will you own up to being an expert on?
 

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Mitchell Employee Evaluation Module

The second product I ever created was supposed to be a way to help people in leadership positions not only evaluate their present employees, but determine criteria for interviewing and hiring new employees.

The Mitchell Employee Evaluation Module was that attempt. What prompted it was a conversation I was having with my friend Jeanette Sweet, a human resources expert and professional, on how employers often have no real clue in what they really need to consider when hiring new people. So many get hooked on degrees and stupid stuff like that, while many of us know people that have years of experience and are very good at something but never took the time to get a degree.

Even though I’d written the book, I felt I needed an actual product as well. So I sat down and wrote out an outline for the project. I knew it didn’t have to be large, and it’s not because no one would use it. Actually, the hardest part of it all wasn’t in the outline or the criteria, but in creating the worksheets so they’d be easy to use.

The basic idea is to whittle one’s way through some special headline criteria, 3 categories, then drill down a little bit into 46 specific things one might want to look for in a new employee, or evaluate a current employee on. With this criteria, managers figure out exactly what they want, and they’re good to go.

So, this is a specific product for only those who hire and fire, or need to evaluate people who work for them. I’ve sold some, but not all that many. It’s the most expensive product I have as well, even though it’s also the simplest to use. So, if you don’t check this one out, I fully understand. But if you need to do either of those things, the Mitchell Employee Evaluation Module is for you.

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W3 Total Cache

One day last week my blog finally crossed the top 100,000 mark per Alexa. Since I write these posts in advance, I’m not sure what it’s sitting at today, but the day after reaching that one goal it was back over 100,000 the next day; c’est la vie.


Cache Valley Sunset
by Jared Smith

Anyway, one of the things it had evaluated my site on was its loading speed, and it said my speed was less than 90% of the websites out there. Now I’m debating that one, but I do know that images can make a site load slower, as well as javascript things. So, based on a recommendation that was retweeted in a post from Kristi, I decided to try another one of these WordPress plugins to see if it would speed my site up some.

A long time ago I’d tried WP Super Cache and had nothing but problems from it, so I didn’t want to go that route again. This time I decided to try W3 Total Cache, the recommended plugin. As with all WordPress plugins, it was easy to load and activate; after that, well, easy isn’t part of the deal.

I’ll get this out of the way first; the plugin has yet to speed my blog up. I’m not going to say it’s loading slower, but I’m not seeing close the the type of results I thought I would. But I’m not sure why, and that’s my issue.

Like many other plugins, it comes with all these options of things you can do, but without any explanations of what all this stuff actually means. If you follow the link to the plugin site, you’ll see it lists all this stuff that the plugin can do; it doesn’t tell you what any of it means, or whether you should activate this or that and what the stuff that’s already checked means. I don’t consider myself a dumb guy, but sometimes this stuff is really confusing, and if it’s busting my brain then what’s it supposed to do to someone who knows nothing about technology?

I’m probably going to run it another week, and if it improves then I’ll be happy. If not, then I don’t see the point in keeping it around. Has anyone else worked with this and had really great results?

Follow up: a representative of the plugin saw this post on Twitter and sen me this link to another blog for instructions.

Juniper AX411 IEEE 802.11n (draft) Wireless Access Point - 300 Mbps

Juniper 802.11n Wireless Access Point – 300 Mbps






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Embrace The Lead

This is the first of products I’ve created that I’m going to talk about this week. In this case, I’ve written about it on this blog before. Advertising is going to be a little different from the norm. I’m going to give links to the main sales page, and if I’ve written about it here before I’m going to link to that as well. But in general I’m going to tell the story of what got me to create the product instead of doing the hard sell here. Anything to stand apart from the crowd.

The name of my first book is Embrace The Lead. That wasn’t the original name. The story of this book actually starts in 1998. The hospital I was working at had merged with another hospital, then become part of a larger hospital system. Then the powers that be decided to bring all management level people together for a big retreat. They gave us tools which were supposed to help all of us come together at one; didn’t work, and that was the first time I thought about putting together my own theories of management and leadership.

Then in 1999, a strange thing happened. My hospital decided to set up leadership classes, and hired a guy who I was less than impressed with. He took a major dislike to me on the very first day, and trust me, if you didn’t like me, you were going to have problems with everyone else at time. Over the course of 8 weeks we clashed because I thought his material was great, but his theories were stupid. That and he had this way of talking down to everyone.

The ninth week he actually threw me out of class. It was within 30 minutes, and I have no idea what I did, but he decided to “dismiss” me. The powers that be kept telling me not to take anything he’d been saying to me personally, but it’s kind of hard when he kept messing with me, and when he threw me out, it definitely was personal.

Then a funny thing happened. At the end of that particular class he decided to ask what they thought about how he handled throwing me out of class. They took that as permission to tell him what they thought, and for the first time in all those weeks people let him have it. I had been the only one not putting up with things, but finally they let loose. They told him how bad he’d been treating me, how bad he was, and many other things. I got wind of it later on, actually feeling happy beforehand because I didn’t have to go back.

Once word got out, he knew he was in trouble, and I knew he was in trouble as well. Upper management put the last couple of classes on hold, and suddenly this guy was blowing up my phone; I knew it because of the caller ID. And I wouldn’t pick it up; I didn’t want to talk to him. I wanted him to squirm. I wanted him to come to me. But he’d been banned, so he couldn’t come to me.

I talked to one of my friends about it all eventually, and he told me I deserved to talk to the guy and set him straight. So one day I did pick up the phone. He apologized, then asked my opinion on where things went wrong. That was my invitation, so I spent the next 90 minutes telling him pretty much how stupid he was and how he’d messed up. I wasn’t that harsh, as I never am directly, but in general I told him that he hadn’t taken any time to understand his audience, nor any time to figure out just what I actually meant to all of those people. And he’d also missed that his behavior made him look racist; none of those people were putting up with that, as I wasn’t either.

At the end of all that he thanked me, then said I knew as much, if not more, about management and leadership than him and that I should write a book. And that was confirmation number two.

Number three… I started the book in July 2001 with an outline, then started actually writing. And then, September 11th… you know what happened. It bothered me for a long time, so I didn’t touch the book for 2 months. Then we learned my dad had lung cancer, and suddenly I knew I wanted to finish the book so he’d have a chance to read it. I did get it finished, but unfortunately he only got to read the first 60 pages or so before his mind just wasn’t there anymore. But he told me he liked what I’d written; I’ve carried that with me all these years.

And there you have it. Embrace The Lead is a book on leadership and management, yet I tried to write it in a conversational style. Of all things, Ken Blanchard, author of One Minute Manager, read it and critiqued it. He said it sounded like I was giving a seminar; it wasn’t meant as a compliment, but I took it that way because that’s how I meant it to be. If you follow the link back to the sales page, you’ll see that I have a cross section of people who read it, and all seemed to enjoy it. And I sell it as a softcover book and as an ebook, so two different prices; I’ll even sign the softcover book. And I even talked about how I self published my book on this blog.

It’s not pretty, but it’s my book, and I talked about how I published it. And now I’m done. Embrace The Lead; take a look at it, because you might know someone who’s a bad manager that could use it. 😉 No ad since the book is there on the left side; actually for all of these posts it makes no sense advertising something else at the bottom, so you won’t see it on the second day’s post this week.

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