we've come a long way baby!


Flying the Coop

Chapter 2 - The Chicken and the Dove

African parable about a chicken who wandered into village and was convinced that living in a coop and getting hand fed was better than the dove's freedom. We create coops in our minds and are willingly trapped by them, but they make us vulnerable to catastrophic loss.

Incentives that often trap

  • bigger salaries (along with the toys it buys)
  • medical benefits
  • vacation and sick leave
  • status and power
  • bonuses
  • stock options
  • tuituion reimbursement
  • retirement packages
  • life insurance
  • titles
  • private offices

Don't waste the most precious thing: time. If you're spending 50 hours a week getting fulfilled by work, then it's not wasting. But if you hate it and wanna do other stuff...

"The consequences of organizational inequity is high turnover, and the first to leave are often the most employable." (p 20)

"There are two currencies that make up our quality of life: time and money. Money can be spent, and earned again, but time cannot"

The danger is not with the incentives, but within ourselves to not be caught in a self-made jail.

Chapter 3 - The Courage of the Mongoose

"Free agents recognize that management is a lot like spandex. Anyone can wear it - but it's not a good idea for everyone." (p 46)

Get going with a backup plan, or disaster prevention scheme so you can not get trapped. Home equity line of credit, paid off car, 6 months of salary saved up etc, whatever it takes to feel secure that if you lose your job you'll be okay. Don't be dependent on that big paycheck. Then you can speak up and take risks without screwing yourself.

Chapter 4 - Why the Rhino Scatters His Dung

Don't let your mouth get too far in front of your brain. Think all that you speak, but don't speak all that you think. Build your technical cred first by doing quality work, and learn the org and how it works at the same time. Surprise is also a lousy way to get support - don't just spring a mutiny on everyone and think they'll follow Jerry Maguire style. This doesn't mean the choice is "shut up and keep the peace" or "speak up and face the backlash." Use questions to get people to think like you. Avoid trigger words that get people defensive: "yes, but", "you're wrong", etc. Disagree agreeably. Find something you can agree on and then build on that.

Good questions to ask when someone wants something you don't agree with:

  • What do you want to achieve with this?
  • What options have you considered?
  • What criteria will you use to select?
  • What are the pros and cons of this option vs the others?

Summarize their idea to make sure you got it right. Ask if you've characterized it correctly. Then ask if you can explain things from your point of view. It takes a lot of time :( Sometimes you can be too tactful and need to be more direct.

"Leaders need to worry more about those who hide their disagreement."

  • Don't look good at the expense of others. Control your ego.
  • Surprise is a crappy way to get support
  • Focus on winning support rather than arguments
  • Disagree agreeably
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Listen
  • Add value to others
  • Pick battles carefully: they should be important to you and serve the common good
  • Make a difference rather than worrying about a promotion

Chapter 5 - A School for the Animals

Do what you're good at. It's okay to leave your comfort zone, but be smart about it: volunteer, do part time, etc. It's one thing to find a hidden talent, but if it ain't happening, you're killing talents you do have. Talent + passion is a great thing to harness.

  • Look for jobs that utilize your strengths and will stretch you
  • Align talent and passion
  • Manage rather than fix your weaknesses
    • Make sure the core 80% is a good fit
    • Partner with people who have what you lack
    • Minimize the impact of your weaknesses
  • Control your destiny and don't let others manage your career

Chapter 6 - The Ostrich and the Owl

Receiving feedback is tough. Try not to get defensive, and if giving feedback, make sure they know it's coming from a place of helping. The only unhelpful feedback is no feedback. "Praise is like perfume. It's fine as long as you don't swallow it."

Get more honest, timely feedback if you

  • accept the gift, regardless of the wrapping
  • make it safe for others to give to you
  • express appreciation for it

Criticism is more effective when

  • your motivation is to help
  • those you give it to trust you and believe you value them
  • you give it the way the reciever prefers
  • you make a request for the future rather than critique the past
  • build on what they're doing right

Chapter 7 - The Bear Who Dared

Go outside of your job description. Adding wood to the fire will benefit you immediately, but also make you more employable. Only average performers meet the job description. If you do something bold and break with tradition, get your boss on your side first and get them involved in your success.

Chapter 8 - The Zebra Who Drank With the Baboons

Don't get high and mighty, insulated, and ignore what others are doing. Often those most unlike us are great sources of learning. The rest of the chapter is hippie claptrap.

Chapter 9 - Where the Heck is Timbuktuu

Treat people with respect. You'll need the goodwill to accomplish anything.

Chapter 10 - Summary

  1. Retain control of your destiny. Don't be seduced by the trappings of career success.
  2. Be employable and have options
  3. Maximize the value you create for others and expand your influence
  4. Ensure that your talents and passions are engaged in your work
  5. Receive feedback and give it well
  6. Go beyond your job description and meet the unarticulated needs of the org
  7. Leverage the strengths of others to fill your gaps
  8. Treat everyone with respect

Mindsets -> Decisions -> Actions