Thursday, June 30, 2016

Month in a Minute

We are easing into summer with a slower month of client events. As far as travel goes, however it has come with its own share of adventures. On June 15th I was scheduled to leave Portland Maine, bound for San Francisco via Charlotte on American Airlines. Those of you who have been following me know I am no fan of the airlines and have a lot of experience with delays, changes and the vast number of travel issues that occur. Even by my already low airline standards, this month wins the award for BAD.

Speaking at the Building Owners and Managers Association International(BOMA).  What a fabulous group!
I was flying to San Francisco to speak at the National Apartment Association conference on the 16th. Before we left Portland the pilot warned us that there was weather near Charlotte but said it was safe to leave anyway. We were in range of Charlotte when they put us in a holding pattern. They needed us to circle for 30 more minutes but our plane did not have enough fuel so we were told they were diverting us to Tri Cities airport in Tennessee to refuel and then fly to Charlotte. I alerted Jane to my change in plans and she called AA to see if I were to miss my connection if they could add me to the list of the later San Francisco flight. The phone agent said she had no knowledge of our diversion, the system was not current and until it showed our diversion they couldn’t add me to any back up lists.
We arrived in Tri Cities and sat on the plane on the ground for an hour. Jane again called and they still didn’t show any diversion so still would not help us come up with a back-up plan. I checked the status of my original connection to SFO and even though the inbound showed it wouldn’t be in until our departure time, my connection was still “on time." Finally, a ground agent in Tri Cities came on board and told us that we would not be going to Charlotte NC, instead we were going to Knoxville TN. Anyone who wanted to go to Charlotte could take a 3-hour bus ride they would provide. Otherwise, there were flights for us in Knoxville to Charlotte, Dallas or Chicago. They gave us a phone number to call to make changes, but closed the door and told us to turn phones off so there wasn’t any time to do anything. We finally arrived in Knoxville (5 hours after we boarded the plane in Maine) and the last flights of the night were all preparing to board. Ironically, the plane I had just come in on was turning around and going to Charlotte but none of us were offered seats on it. And none of us were offered seats on the Dallas or Chicago flights either even though all three flights had empty seats, because “they didn’t have time to print the tickets for us without delaying the flights.”
After a virtual mob scene ensued, the gate supervisor made an announcement that Knoxville had told Tri Cities that they could only accommodate 20 passengers, but Tri Cities sent 62 instead, which meant no one was accommodated. A classic example of pass the buck. I called the special 800 number they gave us and spoke to a nice lady who said, “You are all set, we have rebooked you from Tri Cities to Charlotte, and on the later flight to San Francisco that gets in at 2am.” I said, “That would be great but I am not in Tri Cities. I am in Knoxville.” She said, “I show you are in Tri Cities. We have no information about you being flown to Knoxville.” Serenity now.
As you can probably guess, I was stranded in Knoxville for the night (at my own expense), I missed the speaking engagement the next day and American sent me 15,000 miles for my “inconvenience." I have a different word for it, but whatever.   

Thursday, June 23, 2016

On a Positive Note...

I've decided to temporarily suspend the monthly "What Not to Do" segment with tales that scatter more optimistic light.  After all, I don't think it's possible to have too much "positive" in our lives.

I'm re-posting an article from the June 7, 2016 edition of the Boston Business Journal. The article can be found here.

Way to go gentlemen!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Transparency in Feedback

During a coaching engagement, I spend a fair amount of time collecting feedback from the coworkers of the person I am working with and debriefing online 360-degree assessments. There is something that occurs about 10% of the time: the person on a 360 who leaves their name at the end of their comments or the person who shares openly with me on a phone interview and says I don't need to be anonymous. Every time it happens I am immediately impressed. It's easy to hide behind a blind survey but the willingness to own your comments and be prepared to discuss them requires someone with a healthy self-confidence combined with the empathy to share the message in an appropriate enough way they are willing to own it.
Imagine how refreshing it would be for your peers and colleagues to give you open feedback that could be discussed and clarified instead of having to interpret from body language, hints, and indirect advice? I've made a commitment to always be transparent when I am asked to give feedback to others and I encourage you to do the same. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Interview with Retired Rear Admiral Doug McAneny

With so many organizations looking for opportunities to hire veterans, I thought it would be helpful to hear from a senior leader in private enterprise who came from a military career to better understand his perspective on it. Doug McAneny retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral after decades of experience in the Submarine Forces. He is now a senior leader at HDR which is a global employee-owned firm providing architecture, engineering, consulting, construction and related services through various operating companies. Welcome Doug!
JS: First I want to thank you for your military service. You have an impressive career, what was the most important leadership lesson you learned?
DM: This is a great question and one I am frequently asked.  For me it is easy---trust your instincts.  Experience is a great teacher and provides a foundation for future success.  As one accumulates experience it is important to reflect and take aboard important lessons both good and bad which can be used to guide future decisions.  There is one important caveat to this rule though---while instincts are important, one should be willing to admit they aren’t always right.  In other words, trust your instincts but don’t rely on them completely because they can be wrong too.
JS: Makes sense. And I assume that means leaders need to have the humility to admit that when they are. As I write about, the best path to humility is emotional intelligence. What are some of the EQ skills (self-awareness, empathy, self-control, motivation, flexibility) that helped you the most as you transitioned to the private sector?
DM: Retired military officers have a well-deserved reputation for being dogmatic and inflexible.  As I transitioned to the next chapter of my career I tried to keep this in mind and worked to make sure I didn’t contribute to this notion.  The company I joined has a reputation built over nearly one hundred years of doing things right to make great things possible.   We listen to our clients and then do our absolute best to deliver on their expectations.  This focus from the outset made it easy for me to understand where I might best make a contribution to my company.  While I have had much to learn about the industry our promise has eased the transition.
JS: In your opinion, what can young leaders focus on that will give them the greatest advantage in the workplace or the military?
DM: Stay confident in your abilities and do the absolute best job you can with the job you have.  If you stay true to this principle then you will achieve the success you are looking for. 

Rear Admiral Douglas J. McAneny, USN (Ret.) serves as HDR, Inc.’s Federal Business Group Director.  He is based in HDR’s downtown Washington, D.C. office, and is responsible for guiding and growing HDR’s federal government business practice across all HDR operating companies. He serves on both the architecture and engineering company executive teams and is the Chief Executive Officer of HDR Environmental Operations and Construction (EOC). 

McAneny entered the Navy in May 1978 after completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering as a member of the University of Nebraska NROTC program.  He qualified in submarines in May 1981.   He also holds a Master of Arts degree in economics from the University of Oklahoma.  McAneny has extensive command experience having served in a variety of operational assignments.  His final at sea assignment was as Commander Submarine Forces Pacific.  In this role McAneny was responsible for attack and strategic ballistic missile submarines which operated from the west coast of the United States to the Suez Canal conducting a broad array of missions in support of critical national security objectives.

HDR is a global employee-owned firm providing architecture, engineering, consulting, construction and related services through our various operating companies. Our more than 9,000 professionals are committed to helping clients manage complex projects and make sound decisions. Learn more at

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Month in a Minute

Clockwise from  top left: Pam, Steve and Me at DEN;Managers meeting with 120 top leaders from SNHU; Molly Manning from Income Research + Management and me; Speaking at the Argentum Executive Summit
We had another busy month with travels to Virginia, Denver, Irvine, Boston, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City. Thank you to everyone at Argentum, what a great conference for senior living professionals. I hadn’t been to Denver in a few years, especially downtown. I have to say it was disappointing to see the amount of young people just loitering in the streets during the day. Many of them were begging for money and using drugs in public. I am guessing that I must be getting old because my thought was, “These are able bodied kids, they need to get a job!” which sounds like something my grandma would have said.
On the upside, Pam, Steve and I had a quick check-in for a few hours at the Denver airport, there’s nothing like a meeting on the go.
Hope your summer is off to a good start!