December 26, 2007

Post Christmas Photos

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December 24, 2007

Somebody Stole Baby Jesus

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December 23, 2007

The Eyes of a Child

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First Check!

I got my first check for kevin sturm Consulting in the mail on Friday. The first of what I hope will be many...Yeah!

December 21, 2007

Jammies Party!

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December 20, 2007

Is There a Past Tense of Except?

I was reading my friend Tim's blog (he's an awesome photographer in Santa Barbara) and found this picture. He took it while in a WalMart in Torrence, CA. Seriously, how does this happen?

December 19, 2007

How Promotable Are you?

The other morning I was having coffee with my sister-in-law, Cara, discussing her current job opportunities. She is an up and coming tornado at Anthropologie and is now ready for the next big thing. In our conversation we talked about what employees that quickly get promoted do. Obviously there are the qualities of hard work, enthusiasm, knowledge of the business, years of experience, leadership, and such. But in most companies that is not enough, or at least not what is going to get you moving quickly to the next big thing.

In my experience there are a three lesser discussed things that can have a huge impact on your promotability. There are more than three even, but for brevity I'll focus on three.

Stop asking what qualities and experience is needed for a promotion.
As a manager I had an endless number of conversations with employees who would ask
me, "What are the traits you look for in a <fill in the title>?" This is a bad way to approach it. The question worded this way tells the manager you don't believe you are ready for the promotion but would like to be considered at some point in the future.

Instead of asking this question do some research to understand the position that you want and then meet with the manager to inform them that you want the promotion. Point out all the areas that you have the experience, qualifications, and successes to be great at the job. Outline how you specifically could add value to the organization in this new position. Then, if need be discuss what specific areas you need experience in before being qualified for the promotion, and ask the manager what opportunities exist in the near future for you to get the experience needed.
Leave your personal finance choices out of the discussion.
Most employees seek out a promotion or pay increase because their personal financial situation has changed and they need to make more money. Probably 80% of employees that asked me for a promotion or raise had this as a major point in the discussion. This is about the worst way to go about getting a promotion. It tells your manager you are spending money you don't have! That is a big red flag because it means you may not be as responsible as you should be. Additionally, don't make the focus of your discussion what says you should make. Unless you are working for a Fortune 500 company that pays at the top 10% it is not a realistic comparison.

A conversation about compensation and promotion needs to be focused on what you specifically do or will be doing to increase current revenue production for the business. If you don't know how you are doing this, you have no business asking for a promotion.

I once had an employee ask me for a salary increase and promotion with a breakdown of what affect his current salary had on the percentage of gross margin for the department, how his specific performance was increasing company revenue by tracking his revenue performance for 6 months, and that his requested increase would affect less than .1% of current gross margin for the department. He then outlined how he would further increase his revenue production, and how the increase would make him feel more valued for his hard work and his job would be more enjoyable. I gave him the promotion affective immediately, without even getting approval from our CFO. I knew that with that level of detail the CFO couldn't even say no.

Stop waiting to get recognized.
When I left my last company they asked me to complete an Employee Exit interview. One of the questions was about how often I got feedback from my manager.

How frequently did you get feedback on your
performance? What were your feelings about them?
I received feedback almost every year during my normal
performance review. I generally found they were informative and provided good feedback and opportunities for improvement.
How frequently did you have discussions with your manager about your career goals? What are your
feelings regarding these discussions?
As often as I initiated and felt it was needed.
However, I think employees who receive the best feedback seek it out versus wait for it. Generally those who wait patiently for recognition and guidance end up feeling slighted, abused, and unappreciated. I am a firm believer that opportunities are created and taken not given, and corporate recognition is directly related to how well you market yourself.

Recognition in the work place is like dating. If you're a wall flower it's tough to get recognized. If you are waiting for someone to give you pat on the back and a promotion for a job well done, you most likely feel like you work for a company that doesn't reward hard work, you often feel abused by the company, and that the company always says great job to other people but never you (there are companies out there that reward hard work all the time, I worked for one for a while). If this is you, stop waiting to get recognized and point out the value you bring the organization. Most likely the employees that always get recognized are self promoting while you are waiting for someone to notice you.

December 14, 2007

What's Your World View?

I had coffee yesterday with a friend and business colleague. We worked together at my former company and both left about the same time to go out on our own. He is doing consulting now as well on sales stuff and is a very smart guy. We got to talking about travel and how we were enjoying the opportunity to travel more. Chrystal's friend Sarah is going to be in South Africa for a couple of years so I was telling him that we are planning on visiting her at least once, and while we are there visiting at least one bank with Opportunity International.

My friend had never heard of Opportunity International so we got on the subject of micro finance lending. Inevitably it turned into a political conversation and he expressed an opinion that most African countries (and other 3rd world nations) are in the position they are in because of their own fault (political corruption and such), and most of them were better off in every economic way when under the rule of a colonial power. This is not the first time I've heard this comment, and each time I do it saddens me. It saddens me not because someone does not agree with my opinion, but that someone who is very smart with a college degree and has traveled extensively throughout the world can look at the situation of extreme poverty and respond with, "They created this problem for themselves and need to fix it. If we give them our money their corrupt government is just going to steal it from them anyway." I may be overstating his position but it was clear that he did not find it realistic to try and end world poverty. (I define poverty in this case as the 50% of people in the world living on less than $2 per day.)

I recommended that he should read "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey Sachs (I've posted about it before here). I also asked him, "If they did create the problem are we not in some way, as the wealthiest nation on Earth, responsible to help them?"

I know that there are at least a couple of readers of this blog out there and I'd like to know your thoughts. Can we as Westerners (or a least Americans) actually make a financial difference in economic support of 3rd world countries, or are we really just giving our hard earned money to a problem that will always exist?

Further more, if you are the in the top 10% of income earners in the US do you have a responsibility to help?

December 12, 2007

Importance of Fellowship

One of my favorite things about being self employed is getting to fellowship with friends in the morning over coffee. This morning I got hang with DJ at his SWEET pad in Santa Barbara. This place is seriously amazing because it has a view that is unique even in Santa Barbara. You can see Ventura and north Goleta practically. DJ and I were going to meet at Whales Tail downtown but we decided to have breakfast at the Freedom House instead. Crystal cooked us an amazing breakfast of French toast coated with corn flakes and almonds. It was 5-star style eating, plus we ate on the patio (which DJ had never done!) and had an amazing view to go with the amazing meal. Thanks Crystal! We also had mimosas with Dom Perignon that was left over from a get together the previous night...livin' the high life!DJ and I talked about how much fun it was to be able to just hang out in the morning to do what we felt was important (which may be to work, read, or fellowship) versus rush to be at work at 8:00 am. I really feel so blessed to have the freedom to do this and have friends like DJ to hang with and enjoy time together.

The view from DJ's patio as displayed by my iPhone!

December 10, 2007

I love my wife!

It was my birthday this past Friday. I turned 32 but I still feel 28. 28 is a good age I think.

My wonderful wife Chrystal (and my parents) surprised me with an iPhone. This is my 3rd PDA phone and it is by far the best. I'm a recent mac convert (switched when they went dual core processor) and I love the experience. Apple knows how to deliver an unparalleled experience.
Thanks sweetie for the best phone ever made!

That's Disgusting!

As a frequent traveler this video makes me want to throw-up. I've stayed at each of these brands multiple times and drank from hotel drinking glasses bunches of times. I'm always a little wary of the bedding and check to ensure it appears clean (I once found dirty underwear in my hotel bed!), but I've never found the glasses to appear dirty.

This is one of those things that would make me just not drink from the glasses though.

Don't Ever Drink From Hotel Glasses