Tuesday, August 30, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: THE OZ PRINCIPLE

From time to time, I've been known to dabble in what we may call "geek."  It's well documented that I love to read, and we all know how much I prefer fiction to non-fiction.  If you recall, however, there was a fundamental shift last year where I really started to enjoy nonfiction. 

While business management books certainly fall into the category of nonfiction, I have always enjoyed these types of reads.  In college I remember reading The World is Flat, The Definitive Drucker, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, and You Can Negotiate Anything.  Typically, I would read well into the night and hang on every management theorists' word.

The current President of the University where I work is also big into business theory books.  From him, I have also tackled Good to Great, Confidence, and Execution.  Of those, I would say that Execution is my favorite because it touches on the concepts of accountability.

Which is where The Oz Principle comes into the equation.  A friend of mine references this book often when speaking so I decided that I needed to check it out.  Packed to the brim with concrete examples (more on that in a second), I found it to be a highly informative read.  The easy to draw parallels from The Wizard of Oz characters makes the story "click" inside your mind.  The sense of urgency it drives home by the clicking of the ruby slippers is not missed, despite the sometimes overloading of real-world practical examples. 

The book is divided into three parts: an overview, a step by step practical Maslow-esque hierarchy of concepts, and finally a "ok what now" application section.  The journey down the "yellow brick road" in section two is when I felt that the book came alive.  Each character drove home a new concept in the book's mantra of "See it. Own it. Solve it. Do it."  Personal accountability is shown in a new way, a simplistic way, that I really enjoyed. 

Part three, the application of concepts presented section, is one that I believe I could reread every six months.  The how to guide on "living" the Oz Principle was, in my opinion, the best part of the entire book.  How to lead others to be accountable, how to change culture to one that exists "above the line," and how to minimize time spent "below the line" were addressed thoroughly yet in a clear/concise manner.  After completing the book in its entirety, I can say with confidence that I will return to Part Three to reference as needed.

All in all, this book is a must-read for anybody seeking a lesson in personal and organizational accountability.  The parallels between a famous children's story make the book instantly relateable, and the concepts are, frankly, ones that we can all use a refresher on.  Again, my only negative is the onslaught of examples.  Some are extremely relevant while others I feel are simply overkill after the point has already been proven.  Still, take the time to discover "The Oz Principle" and you may just find that the best of life lies solely within yourself.

Monday, August 29, 2011

TAMPA BLOGHER MEETUP....MAKING FRIENDS IRL!



So I did it.  I pulled the proverbial trigger and let Caroline, a very dear "IRL" (in real life) friend convince me to attend a BlogHer meetup.  So this past Saturday night, we made for "The Pub" at the International Plaza's Bay Street to meet others in the Tampa community who author a blog.  I went into the experience with a completely open mind and came away with some great new friends who have inspired me with their writing and storytelling capabilities.....oh and I totally GEEKED OUT that Maria was there.  Cause she is just ten thousand kinds of awesome.

Set in a casual atmosphere, the newly forged friendships developed naturally.  The serve yourself draft bar located oh so perfectly directly behind our table had nothing to do with it....I swear!  There was a wonderful icebreaker activity that allowed you to place the author to their respective blog, followed by a great guest speaker who painstakingly explained SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and even touched on how Google+ and Gmail all work harmoniously to determine a blog's relevancy and thus where it falls in the search engine results.

There was plenty of opportunity to mingle and get to know the other bloggers.  I loved learning more about Kirsten of Gone Bananas, Karen of If I Could Escape, Susie of Hide and Go Scrap, Angel of Cheeky Sweetie, Raffie of Running Betty, and our amazing host Denise of Run DMT.  These ladies were refreshingly real, and completely relatable.  I found myself longing to learn more and will anxiously await the March Meetup.  In the meantime, I will stalk add these blogs to my reader and keep up with these talented women.

Oh, and I managed to put my "coach" hat on for a few and talked recruiting with a blogger who has an interest in how to get her daughter noticed by college coaches for track/cross country.

I'm glad that I committed to going and I'm hoping that this band of bloggers continues to grow.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

BREAK 1-9: A VOYEURISTIC VIEW INTO TRUCKER CULTURE

The windshield wipers dance back and forth against the enormous expanse of glass to a perfect cadence: the noise is unmistakable.  Swish, scrape, swish, scrape, swish, scrape.

Chiming in to this precise rhythm the CB radio squelches with white noise: kuuuursh kuuuursh.

...and on it goes for a few moments swish, scrape, kuuuursh, swish, scrape, kuuuursh.

And then I turn to my dad and I smile.  I love this. He smiles back in approval....he and I perfectly capable of having entire conversations without uttering a single word

...words aren't necessary in this moment.  The tires continue to turn clicking off miles as the song crescendos: SWISH, SCRAPE, KUUUURSH....and then the rain stops.


The route: Jackson, Mississippi up to White Hot Spur, West Virginia

The load: Cleveland Golf's PGA Tour Trailer

The lesson:  To be forever grateful to the truck drivers who deliver literally EVERYTHING that we use on a daily basis.  Without them, our world as users and consumers stops.

The reward: Spending some quality time with dad and enjoying the beautiful scenery that America holds alongside her interstates.

Ok, so take any of your preconceived notions about trucker culture and lifestyle and throw those right out the passenger side window.  You think you know, and maybe you have a general idea about what happens on the roads surface.....but I'd be willing to bet that you have no clue about what runs deep inside these road warrior's veins. 

It's a job that these folks do not take lightly.....even if you don't realize how much you need these people, they realize it....and they perform their duty selflessly.  These are GOOD people.  Quite literally, the backbone of our Country.  

You see them everytime you take to the road, truck after truck after truck.  From all different companies, hauling all different loads, to all different destinations.  What you may not know is that this is very much a "TEAM." Regardless of your company affiliation, load, or destination, these people operate as one unit. 

Frankly, it's a lesson that would not be lost of many of us.  The CB radio traffic is something that I marveled out as an outsider.  Listening in, the commraderie was immediately evident.  Bridging the gap between the endless interestates, these men and women were constantly sharing relevant information.  "Mile 226, Eastbound got a 4-wheel on the right shoulder."  "Northbound you'll be coming to a stop at the top of the hill after mile 159, right lane get ya through quickest."  "Mayfield looks like you got tread coming off your right rear tire."  Even the simple things like passing in the left lane were met with a "driver you got room, come on back over," once the passing truck cleared the passed truck and needed to get back safely into the right lane.  All of this info helping the "team" navigate to their respective final destinations.....and all of this info answered with a sincere "Thank ya driver." 

It was remarkable.  Not the dog-eat-dog competition that so many of us are used to.  It was refreshing.  It was impressive.  It was a reminder.

The truck stops were another place to quietly look in.....I say quitely because I already felt like an intruder.....not meant to witness first-hand the truth about truckers.

The "Truck" side of truck stops is another world entirely.  I never thought I would hear "Ticket #48, you're shower is now ready," from the restaurant speaker.  Road weary truckers congregated in an almost religious way around long tables full of food.  Shedding the lonliness of traveling for a few moments shared with others like themselves.  Laughing, discussing politics, swapping stories, talking about family, all with patriotism clearly on display.  Some wore flannel cut off shirts, jeans and boots, others donned Birkenstocks and cargo shorts.  It didn't matter.  Come as you are.....you're a member of this "TEAM."  I soaked it in....quietly.

 After six different states, four weigh stations, three tunnels, two days, and one gorgeous sunset just outside of Birmingham, Alabama.....I was sad that my trip was over.  I wanted Dad to point her West and continue out to California. 

It was an incredible trip.  One that taught me many lessons....and reminded again that assumptions are stupid things to make.

Getting on a plane to fly home just felt wrong. 
I'm road hardened now, incapable of looking at them as I did before. 
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