In an article in Businessweek, Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security gives an explanation of how to quickly get through the security checkpoints in an airport. His secrets include having your liquids and electronics accesible for easy removal and replacement. He also recommends having your change etc in your jacket pockets rather than your pants. That way you can lay the jacket, still loaded, in the tray, rather than rifling through your pants pockets.

I'm pretty good with security, but this article made me think, yet again, about optimisation. Smart people think about ways to improve every time single time they do something. Whether it's a conversation or a physical skill or a process that has to be gone through, there's a way to improve it.



We received a question last week asking if it was appropriate to take a bottle of water into an interview. The answer is no.

Years ago people didn't carry water bottles. We know it's healthy and more water is better, but you really can go a few hours without water. Most interviewers will offer you a drink, but if they don't, you can go a little while without being comfortable.

You might not want to be uncomfortable, but do you want that more than you want the job?

I didn't need to know that...


Standing in line at a department store, waiting for the lady in front of me to remember her zip code and finish answering whether or not she wanted a store card, I heard the two assistants start a conversation. One asked,' can I go for my break after this lady?' (meaning me) and the other replied, 'break? I haven't had my lunch yet'. And then she looked me in the eye and carried on, as if she wanted me to join in, 'I've been here all day and I haven't had lunch yet'. Given the service I'd received in the store in general, I couldn't say I really cared. But as a customer, I definitely didn't need to know.

We've talked before about the things flight attendants say when they can be overheard, and the things call centre reps say when they want you on side: "it wasn't us, it was some other department". There is never a reason for a client to hear the things that are internal to your company.

There certainly isn't any reason for them to hear the things you 'really think'. Any sentence which begins: 'let me tell you what I really think' is about to lead you to disaster. If you hear yourself starting, stop. Breathe. Think. Then talk. Or as my dad always told me: before opening mouth, engage brain.

One Page Resume


We got a question today which read: Just been listening your podcast on Resume's. You mention that you should only have 1 page. Does this apply to your CV uploaded to job portals? Because recruiters are searching for key words on job portals, and if your resume is just 1 page, those key words will not appear in the search.

Here's the quick answer: Yes, 1 page does still apply if you're uploading your resume to job boards.

First, the job board's search engines are a lot less efficient than you think. When I was a recruiter, I would regularly look at 500-1000 resumes after a search, looking for the 10 I wanted. Recruiters don't put in 3 perfect words and find the one resume that meets the job description.

Second, if you have a resume which covers what you've done and how well you've done it, you'll automatically include the words a recruiter is looking for. They're not looking for the obscure skill you used once ten years ago. They're looking for the thing you used day in day out for the last 5 years - and that will be on your one page resume.

Other Opportunities


A blog post on the HBR network begins: "Here's a simple question for all you students of business success and stock-market returns: What has been the best-performing stock in the United States since the "Black Monday" crash of 1987?". The answer is not Apple or Microsoft, but Fastnel, a company which sells nuts and bolts through vending machines.

First, bet you didn't know there was such a thing as vending machines for nuts and bolts. Second, this is a great example of places where there are jobs that nobody has ever heard of. There was a recent forum post where someone said, I've applied to Apple and Google and made no progress. It's not surprising, they're the most well known companies in the world, let alone the country, and they have masses of applications per vacancy.

One alternative would be working in an innovative company (still betting you didn't know about vending machines for nuts and bolts) in a small town in Winona, Minnesota. One of my friends found the job of his dreams working for a company that sold light switches to hospitals. The employment market is not restricted to consumer brands. Looking at a broader range of companies will give you more opportunities and maybe the job of your dreams.

More Data


I'm watching Midsomer Murders. John Nettle's voice reminds me of home. (For those of you who don't know, Midsomer Murders is a british tv detective/mystery program). Like all well designed murder mysteries, my first guess as to the perpetrator is never right. Nor is Chief Inspector Barnaby's - and you'd think he'd be better at finding murderers than me!

In a similar vein I was pricing a bunch of flights yesterday. We had two options, each with different benefits, and with three or four flights for each option, without doing the addition, I couldn't work out which was financially best. When I finally had all the data to add up, it turned out the least likely looking solution was most cost effective.

It's easy to think our 'gut reaction' is right. Sometimes it is (and we remember those times). Often it's not. Guts are all very well, but data is better. And more data is better than that. Especially for High D's who invariably go with their gut and don't remember when waiting a little would have been better.

Sea of Behaviors


When we introduce the idea of behaviors at the Effective Communications Conference, we sometimes say that once you've been through this training, all you will see is behaviors. Everyone will be behaving right in front of you and you won't be able to avoid looking at their behavior.

What happens next is that you can't avoid deciding what DiSC profile they fall into. Take this quote from the WSJ today about Stephen Girsky, GM's Vice Chairman: "If presentations run long or meetings drag on, he has been known to cut them short with an abrupt "What's the point here?" or "Why are we still talking about this?" His emails often are just one line long, ending with a question mark." Can you say High D?

Or the person who sent an email ending 'Thanks!!!' Or the person in the supermarket who carefully arranges their groceries by the way they're going to put them away when they got home - fridge things together, freezer things together, coffee things together and so on.

The best thing about everyone behaving in front of you and in every interaction you have, is that there's plenty of opportunity to practice. Every time I forget to smile, every time I forget to slow down when I talk, every time I get all exuberant and someone steps away from me, I realise I'm practicing and hopefully, getting better at communicating.

Best Practice


We're thrilled that One on Ones have been recognized by canadian business network, as the number one best business practice in their recent list.

We always knew it to be true, but it's great to have it validated by an outside source. More importantly, it allows us to reach even more managers, and improve their experience and those of their directs.

If you haven't started, and you need one thing to do today as a manager, send out the One on One email. You won't regret it.

50,000 YouTube Videos


There's an article in the Wall Street Journal about Procter & Gamble's announcement that they are blocking use of Pandora and Netflix over the company network due to the bandwidth issues it was causing. The article says that on "an average day employees were viewing 50,000 five-minute YouTube videos and listening to 4,000 hours of music on Pandora".

It sounds like a lot, although the article also says that some employees use YouTube for professional purposes and they do have 129,000 employees, so that's potentially less than half of the employees watching one YouTube video per day.

Holistically, it makes sense for the company to prevent use. Individually though, managers have a solution. Give your directs more to do. Nobody need go home with all their work done. That's the way you make sure that the work that isn't useful isn't done. (See delegation, to the floor). And, if you've got too much work to do, you don't have time to watch YouTube.



In Walmart last night, I wanted to buy a new hairbrush. There were several to choose from in the style I wanted, at different price points, and I stood there for a while. The thought went through my head involuntarily: I need to know the star rating to choose.

It's been so ingrained in me from internet shopping, that I feel lost without the additional information that other people's rating gives me. Given it was a $5 purchase, I steeled myself and chose. I can afford the risk :-)

But it struck me how easy it is to make decisions without thinking - both personal and professional. It's wise to review the decisions we make and the assumptions we use periodically - before we get sucked into only doing things because we've been trained to.