Excellence…

Just some quotes and random thoughts on “excellence”…

“I would rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent than in the extent of my powers and dominion.” ~ Alexander the Great

“Paint a masterpiece daily. Always autograph your work with excellence.” ~ Greg Hickman

“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” ~ Pearl Buck

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” ~ Vince Lombardi

I treasure and respect those around me who continue to pursue excellence in their professional and personal lives.  Actually, excellence has become a rare and somewhat misunderstood quality now these days, because of political correctness, skewed cultural prejudice, super busy schedules, and overnight star syndrome.  Well, that’s why I am determined to do my best to go extra miles to recognize, encourage, and celebrate such excellence around me.  ~David Bang

When you hit rock bottom

When you hit rock bottom financially, do not be anxious, but be generous!

When you hit rock bottom academically, do not focus on grades, but go back to the basics!

When you hit rock bottom professionally, do not complain, but stay positive!

When you hit rock bottom politically, do not cover up, but put the truth on the table!

When you hit rock bottom emotionally, do not be isolated, but stay connected!

When you hit rock bottom relationally, do not blame, but forgive!

When you hit rock bottom physically, do not lose hope, but be thankful!

When you hit rock bottom spiritually, do not rationalize, but repent right away!

When you hit rock bottom, it is ok to kneel down and cry out in your distress!

And, when you climb back to the top, guard your mouth and heart with humility and remember the days when you hit rock bottom!

David Bang

Six totally different bosses I learned from

Fortunately, the first boss in my career life was a true gentleman who could stay calm in any adverse situation.   That’s a good lesson for a rookie, right?  He then left the company and tried to recruit me for an attractive position with a lucrative package at a nationally reputable company.  I was very grateful for his thinking highly of me.  But, at the end, I called and told him that I greatly appreciated his offer but would have to turn it down.  Why did I reject?  Although I respected him, I did not see the genuine passion in him (see my blog title “Are you passionate about your job?”).

Well, after I had declined the offer, nothing better and glamorous happened to my current job.  To be frank, I thought a couple of times that maybe I should’ve taken the offer.  After all, my wife and I were young couple with our first twin babies, trying to make our ends meet.  Actually my job became more demanding and tedious as I started supporting 5 corporate directors.  Back then, there was no sophisticated voice mail system.  Basically I was the one who took all their customers and partners’ phone messages (nearly 25 to 30 messages a day) and properly and timely handle them individually while printing, responding, and filing their incoming email messages.  Our company email system was an archaic dumb terminal (green screen) that had only 2 MB in-box memory.  Yes, I was printing, responding, and filing nearly 30-50 emails per director per day, not to mention my own emails and projects to be managed.

Looking back, this period was the best opportunity given to me because I learned first hands from operations to sales with international cultural exposures, requiring highly organizational and execution skills, maintaining no-excuse accuracy and outside-of-the-box thinking.  Since nearly one fourth of the company revenue (little over a billion dollar in annual sales) was upon their shoulders, intense pressure and stress trickled down to my level frequently, which also taught me to keep my sanity in chaotic situations.  Besides, their personalities and backgrounds were drastically and even comically different from each other.  Japanese, German, and American.  Sales, compliance, customer services, and operations.  Quite, loud, and charismatic.  You got the picture!  However, I was lucky to learn from these seasoned professionals; to be culturally sensitive, to be customer-oriented, to be punctual, to value details without losing big picture, to present passionately, and to push aggressively when needed.

Of course, throughout the years I had many other great teachers who challenged and helped me broaden my view to the area that I am not comfortable with or had no clue about.  I believe teachers are everywhere as long as we are willing to become students.  Naturally I am not a humble learner, but I learned it in a hard way that my knowledge and talent were very limited and could not afford to stop learning from others regardless of their backgrounds, strengths, and talents.

The moment we think we’ve reached the point of no more learning could be the moment we are no longer needed in this world.

David Bang

What is your value to your organization?

You may think that I will start talking about going back to colleges, get a MBA degree, or acquire new skills.  Not really.  No, I am not talking about how much you need to look confident and intelligent to others either.  Those attributes cannot be ignored, but they are just self-centered.  In other words, you think you are valuable and even indispensable to your organization, but actually your boss, colleagues, or customers may not think that way (unfortunately).  

Then, what do we need to do to be valuable?  Here are some of my own personal measuring rods that I’ve been carrying through my career life. Up until now I can safely say they worked 8 out of 10, and that 2 out of 10 are only when the company, the group, or the leadership is completely dysfunctional. Please note that this is not an exhaustive or statistically analyzed list.  Some of you may even think these are elementary!  But, isn’t it life’s truth that those elementary things do make a huge difference at the end?  

1. Be punctual!

Do you show up at internal meetings on time or always 3-5 minutes later?  Do you complete your projects on time, or blame quickly delays on other external influences?  Being punctual and on time sounds easy and basic, but it can be very powerful and send positive messages about you to others louder and faster than your own self-promotion can.  By contrast, not being punctual can taint your image and credibility slowly but surely.  The worse thing is that people will quickly build up their own parameters around you to protect themselves since you are not reliable.  The sad thing is that once these parameters are built, people will not even bother pointing this weakness to you.  So, if your colleague or boss takes their time and energy to point out to you about not being punctual, be thankful and take heed!

2. Be more organized than your boss!

Are you on top of all those deliverables, emails, meeting minutes, deadlines, follow-ups, phone calls, etc?  Do you support your boss to be organized, or does your boss need to support you to be organized?  Do you get frequent emails from your peers asking you about the status of your delayed deliverables, or do you actually help your boss and customers to be on time with their deliverables?  Do you take better meeting notes than your boss?  Of course, some of your bosses may be super-organized and there would be no way for you to be more organized than him or her.  In that case, you should at least stay on top of your own items.  If you still have post-it notes and blank note books as your personal organizers and no systematic approach in managing your incoming emails and tasks, today’s speedy, multi-dimensional, and demanding business environment will bury you.

3. Be more of a “yes” person, than a “no” person!

Ok, hear me out!  In this super-demanding world, you absolutely cannot and should not say “yes” to everything.  Also, there is a profound benefit in keeping your to-do-list at a manageable level.  But, are you more of a “no” person, than a “yes” person?  Do you naturally think of first why this cannot be done than why this can be done?  When your boss asks someone in your group to step in for a very demanding situation, do you step forward or backward?  Do you immediately think of external influences to blame on why you cannot do this or that?  Your attitude carries pretty strong signals to others around you. Either you are the problem solver or the problem!  A problem solver is always valuable and needed in any organization.

4. What Would the Owner Do (WWOD)?

Many business problems will disappear if employees and CEOs always ask “What would the owner do?”  If you are the owner of a company, you would not mind greeting and serving a customer walking in your shop a few minutes after the business hours.  If you are the owner, which hotel would you choose to stay on your business trip?  You see, the perspectives change when you put yourself in the owners’ shoes.  Publically traded companies have owners too.  They are the shareholders.  Politicians and federal, state, municipal workers should always remember their owners are the citizens they are serving, and their salaries are paid by the tax payers.

5. Be a positive encourager (or influencer)!

For this one, I can tell you that you cannot judge yourself if you are a positive encourager or not.  Your peers need to testify if you are one or not, because we all believe in this self-centered idealism that we encourage other people.  However, especially when things are gloomy in the office, do you counter it or become the next victim or messenger of negativity to others?  Do you encourage others to become more than who they are and achieve more than what they can?  Being a positive encourager (or influencer) is not about spitting out many empty pep talks either.  People can immediately spot the authenticity because they know sooner or later how you behave when things are rough, demanding, unfair, and difficult.

David Bang

Are you passionate about your job?

What is a true passion?  It is not simply being hyper active and outgoing-ly positive.  These are outward things, not necessarily the core!  Actually you cannot motivate people to be passionate!  Passionate people are already motivated!
A true passion (in the context of career aspiration) is a quiet strength deep inside you that supersedes title, salary, possession, popularity, etc..  This passion makes positive impacts on many people without even realizing it or claiming for credit, because you think you are simply fulfilling your given responsibilities.  There are two key phrases here; quiet strength and given responsibilities.
Quiet strength does not boast or speak loud.  It acts quietly but deliberately with authenticity and clarity.  It takes risks and yet counts small, unnoticeable milestones to reach higher grounds with determination and discipline, because any meaningful success does not come with one big lucky shot.  Also, a professional with a true passion does not worry too much about the past or the future, although she does reflect on the past and plan wisely for future.  She is simply faithful to her given responsibilities and always willing to go extra miles if that’s what it takes.  Sounds too basic?  Yes, it does.  But, when was the last time you encountered passionate people at your grocery stores, local banks, doctors’ offices, schools, etc.?
A small team of five passionate people can do the work of ten or even twenty people!  They are jewels to their employers and co-workers!  So, are you passionate about your job?  I am not saying you don’t care about title, salary, possession, or popularity.  But do you have that quiet strength and faithfulness to your given responsibilities?  If you do, keep it up and spread the energy to others!  If you don’t, don’t give up or get discouraged but examine yourself deeper and seek advice from trust-worthy and passionate people in your life.

~David Bang~

DISCIPLINE

The first and best victory is to conquer self.”
~ Plato

“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.”
~ Roy L. Smith

“The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him – and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.”
~ Jean Paul Getty

“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”
~ Julie Andrews

Are you happy?

Some of you probably remember the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” that came out in 2006.  Will Smith was playing a desperate father who had started his dream business with much anticipation.  But soon his business (selling some sort of portable bone scanning device for doctors) fails, his wife leaves him and her young son.  The story gets really touching when the father and his boy (probably 4-5 years old) hop from motel to subway station rest room to homeless shelter to survive (basically they were homeless.).  Well at the end it was all happy ending.  He lands his real job at one of the large investment companies and later he becomes an owner of a multi-million dollar investment company.
 
I do not know if the real person (the movie was based on a true story) has reached true happiness in his life or not, but I have no doubt we all have this pursuit of happiness in every part of what we do and who we are.
 
But, if our definition of being happy is constantly defined and measured by materials, accomplishments, health, people (yes, even family and friends), etc., will we ever be truly happy?  Dale Carnegie said, “Did you ever see an unhappy horse?  Did you ever see a bird that had the blues?  One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.”
 
Happiness is not “because of” but “despite of”.  It is a profound hope for the future and even after you and I are gone.  Maybe that’s why there is a saying, “Live your life as if today is the last day of your life!”  If today is your last day, suddenly all those things or people that you thought would make you happy don’t matter much! 
 
Sometimes, I am guilty of missing out those profound happy moments (because they look trivial and easy to be missed!) in my life because I am already on to other thoughts and tasks that I illusion will make me happier.  How wrong I am! 
David Bang