it’s value, not time, that matters

theory-practice-yogiFrom the amazing book by the creator of Freshbooks called Breaking the Time Barrier.

Page 18:

“I guess I’m not sure what you mean by value.”

“The value of what I do,” Karen said, “is based on the impact I can have on my client’s business. Impact is how they value my services. So I look at pricing from their point of view. They don’t hire me to design a website for the sake of designing a website. They hire me to design a website that’s going to help them from their perspective—it’s clear I’m not selling time. Instead, I’m selling a solution that is going to make an impact for my client and achieve some business objective.”

Page 20

I’m not a collection of hours,” Karen said. “I’m the accumulation of all my skills and talents. I’m wisdom and creativity. I’ve stopped seeing myself as a punch card. My clients don’t see me that way either. Yes, sometimes, I’ve had to change my client’s mind-set. But it starts with selling time. The best thing you could do for yourself is to get the concept of time out of your head.”

It puts you and the client on opposite sides of the table. If you’re selling hours, it’s in your best interest to take longer, to bill more hours. But your client is interested in getting solutions that work as promptly as possible. What if you work quicker for one client than another but deliver the same value. Should you penalize the client you worked longer for? If you’re slow, it’s not their fault.”

“And if you get quicker at something,” Steve said, “which was happening with me, you should get rewarded, right? But I was charging less if it took me less time.”

Men, ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?

This is a cross post. Please comment on “Men, ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?” on

Yup, I’m calling the men out on subtle sexism. A lot of men, probably me too when I was younger, have a problem with their women making more than them. Rachel, my wife, made more than me for YEARS after we first got married. This was in the early 90s and I would argue that we have made a lot of progress reducing sexism over the last 20 years, although certainly it still exists.

So here we are in 2011. And if you ask a guy “would it bother you if your significant other made more money than you?” they will, based on my small sample survey, still say “YES!” It bugs them. They feel that men SHOULD make more than women. No particular reason, just because. If you follow the first question up with “Do you consider yourself sexist?” They say “NO!” – but they are. And I’ve wanted to say this to them, but I just didn’t have the data and really I have other battles to fight. Then I saw this editorial in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle.

Scott Burns: A bad decade for jobs — especially for men

Hey, guys, I’ve got to confirm some tough news: Women have become the new men.  While the Atlantic Monthly went a bit overboard last year in an article titled “The End of Men,” the economic statistics aren’t encouraging.

Truth is, the gals we like to impress so much with our manliness have wiped us out when it comes to the game of Bringing Home the Bacon.  That’s not hyperbole. In the first decade of this century, U.S. Labor Department figures show that women have gained 2,119,000 jobs.  During the same period, men gained a piddling 54,000 jobs.

This is the kind of score you’d have if the Yankees played against a Little League team, or the Dallas Mavericks played against a very small high school.

Basically, we guys never had the ball. Women got 97.5 percent of all the new jobs created between 2000 and 2010.


In the 1990s, men won 46 percent of the 18.4 million new jobs created. In the 1980s, men won 41 percent of the 19.5 million jobs created.

and apparently this is particularly true for cities like Houston.

One group of women out-earns their male competition. Researcher James Chung of Reach Advisors found that unmarried women under age 30 and without children who lived in large cities made more money than their male counterparts. Specifically, he found that this group of women earned more in 147 of 150 major cities, with the premium reaching as high as 17 percent in New York

and this one has gotta sting a bit if you still think “he-man-caveman-should-make-more-money-than-girl

“One way in which college-educated married men have gained financially is that they increasingly are likely to be married to the highest-income wives.” Now men can go to college in hopes their B.A. or B.S. degree will lead to a coveted “MR.” degree.

At my son’s recent High School graduation honors ceremony, there were probably 20 women to 3 guys who achieved the highest honors in the senior class. The guys have checked out. But somehow they don’t think this is going to relate to the real world when they get a job later. And the men are really insecure about this, and I have written about insecurity and the dangers that go with it in the past.

If America is a meritocracy, if business works like it should, then women SHOULD be making more than men. Because they are EARNING it. And if men have issues with this, let’s call it what it is; insecurity and sexism. So ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?

This is a cross post. Please comment on  “Men, ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?” on


work smarter and harder

The false axiom “work harder not smarter” came up in conversation today. Which reminded me of this paragraph I did on the book Rework called When to Apply Business Advice:

Sometimes advice is populist, but there is a logical flaw. A company who follows the infamous “work smarter not harder“ quickly falls to a company that believes “work smarter AND harder.“ Working smarter-not-harder would only work if hard workers were dumb. But we get smarter through experience! So unfortunately, hard workers are typically also smarter than you. Oooops. But we don’t like to admit that. What we want to hear is that the  4 hour work week is a winner.  I certainly wish the global economy worked that way. (But it doesn’t)

You can read the full post at When to Apply Business Advice.

representation of millennials versus the reality

When you encounter a millennial job applicant who is right out of school looking for the “perfect job“, as an older person, you think thoughts like “Hey kid, I was just served a $3 coffee by a 50 year old working a split shift of 5AM to 9AM and then 3PM to 7PM at Starbucks! There is no perfect job, so get over it.“

There are two issues with this. The first is that the young person has been taught by our school systems that if they follow the rules, get a degree, they are entitled to a “perfect job.“ Nobody ever mentions that there is no such thing. That they will 99% quit their first job within two years (or so it seems to me) regardless of how “perfect“ it is because they assume the grass is greener. And in fact it IS greener when they talk to their friends because people only talk about the good stuff. Talk to someone working for big oil and it’s all about the salary and benefits. Talk to someone in entertainment and it’s all about hanging out with rock stars at the House of Blues.

The second issue with the example in the first paragraph is the subtle judgment by ME that the job at Starbucks is necessarily a sacrifice on the part of the 50 year old. That presumption that they aren’t enjoying their work, that it might be perfect for their lifestyle and benefit needs, is flat out wrong on my part. It hints at the subtle prejudice in our society against non-college-prep types of jobs. If you are managing a restaurant it must be because you couldn’t get a job in a cube at the local insurance branch. Baroo? I’d MUCH rather run a hoping restaurant than work in a cube. Yet I too fall into this trap of incorrectly judging other people’s jobs.

Further Reading:

this profound disconnect

millennials redefining

Email Communication Tips

Workplace ConnectorsLets start by pointing out that while email is efficient, it is a symbolic representation of what evolved as something much richer; face to face communication. The writing didn’t come first, speech did. And speech was part, just PART, of human communication. And any symbolic representation of an original is going to lack in quality.

A while back I wrote what was initially an internal use only help file on how to write a decent email. The summary is below but I’d encourage you to read the original help file on how to communicate effectively in an email. What follows is an addendum to that help file that is more about dysfunctional organizations than actual communication skills. First the original list in abbreviate form:

  1. Subject lines – all emails need a well articulated and relevant subject line
  2. Links – ease of use changes behavior so LINK to what you are talking about.
  3. Numbered Lists – stop with the bullets. Use numbers so that YOU the sender can prioritize your own message!
  4. Short Paragraphs – try it. They are good.
  5. Nickel Words – save them for scrabble.

Additional considerations when writing an email.

  1. Don’t delegate to the recipient unless that is your intent. Specifically avoid phrases like:
    1. “Let me know” – a polite way of delegating to someone else the decision making power for the topic. And realize they have three votes; to confirm, deny, or just let it hang out there unanswered like a bill that doesn’t make it through congress. Regardless you are ceding all decision making power to the recipient to “let you know.” Probably not what you or the organization wants. On the other hand, “let me know” is a great way to avoid doing actual work so there is that.
    2. The “I can do A or B or C. Which do you prefer?” – a common response to a task request that again avoids risk by delegating back to the sender the ultimate decision making power. Granted this is an appropriate response to micromanagers. But then again, if you work for a micromanager you have a whole different set of problems. Stephen Covey talks about the difference between gofer delegation and stewardship delegation. What high performing organizations need is Stewardship delegation capable people who can make decisions and complete the intent of the task more than the specifics. If you are delegating everything back to the sender, you might have fallen into a gofer mindset.
  2. Don’t be rude.
    1. NO SCREAMING!!!! – enough said. I don’t care who you are. If you can type, you can hit a key, and the shift-lock is just another key on the keyboard. No screaming please.
    2. Thank you in advance” – arguably the rudest, most passive aggressive way to end an email. Typically people resort to “thank you in advance” after years of “let me know” fails thinking it will lead to greater accountability. Instead, you just piss everyone off with an implied “do it or die” type of ending regardless of having the authority to require compliance by the recipient. Best strategy to handle “thank you in advance” closings? Ignore the email. Or if you know the person at a friend level, pull them aside and say “really, do you mean to be rude every time you finish an email?” (Side note: yes I realize this is common for Spanish speakers, but it is a cultural difference that doesn’t translate well into the American culture.)
    3. No pre-excuses – the book Absolute Honesty talks about pre-excuses. People who say repeatedly “I’m not good with technology” over and over so they can pre-excuse themselves to not try to fix their own email problem. What a pre-excuse does, quite well actually, is prevent you from doing the hard stuff and forcing your coworkers or friends to do the hard stuff for you. Very Zsa Zsa Gabor, good work if you can get it, but for most of us we need to stop the pre-excuses and do the hard work and not delegate it to our friends just because they don’t call us out on our pre-excuses. But again, in a dysfunctional organization, pre-excuses are a another great way to avoid actual work.
    4. No Comic Sans. OK, I can’t prove there is any correlation between comic sans and a decrease in productivity, but I will say nobody will take you seriously if you send emails like a 13 year old into kittens.