The Tale of the Sprinting Hippo

Some people call me the ‘The Sprinting Hippo’ and I don’t mind it at all. I coach and play for a softball team during the summers, and, just like the noble hippopotamus that can reach top speeds of 30 mph (it’s true, look it up!), I am much faster than you might assume just by looking at me. I’m not sure how to write out the sound that a hippo might make, but rest assured that I have attempted it several times as an on-field cheer (and it never fails to elicit a laugh – but no one has ever said, “That sounds just like a hippo!”).

My success with sprinting doesn’t end on the softball diamond though, nor does it even end with running. I have found it to be a very effective way to manage the work that my team and I do. If you have a lot of work, or a long way to go, it’s often daunting to try and look at the end as the goal. Instead, I like to think of it as a series of small distances I need to go.

My team subscribes to a method of work management called ‘Scrum’. Scrum has a lot of different principles (which are covered in this very excellent book), but the fundamental tenet that I like most is that you plan your work for relatively short periods of time called sprints. Sprinting at work has dramatically improved our throughput and may be exactly what you need to get through your own large project load.

At its most basic, a sprint is some period of time (we use 2 weeks, but typical sprint lengths range anywhere from 1-4 weeks). At the beginning of each sprint we decide, “What are the most important things on our list to accomplish during this sprint?” We select those items, discuss generally how they should be executed and then go to work. Each member of my team knows what’s expected from them during that time period, knows what success looks like, (Did we finish all of our objectives for the sprint?) and knows where to go next without needing me to guide or direct them. In short, it creates autonomous flow and keeps us having small successes.

Instead of looking at our entire workload as a never-ending pile of features to build, integrations to create and automations to… well, automate, we just look at it as a series of 2-weeks-worth lists of projects to accomplish. Our to-do list decreases down to empty as the sprint comes to an end and who doesn’t love the feeling of accomplishing everything on their list? What’s more, the relative importance of items on our total list changes pretty frequently. By only setting our list for 2 weeks, we have the ability to reprioritize every 2 weeks which keeps us agile and responsive to what our business needs.

Not everyone has the same kind of project list, I get it, but setting sprints for yourself has plenty of applications:

  • Completing Important but not Urgent Projects: Sometimes work is hard to predict – you can never really tell when jobs will come to your lot – but that doesn’t mean that your larger business objectives don’t have to be met. Your sprint objectives don’t have to be your entire weeks’ workload, just the most important thing for you to accomplish during that period. Choose just one or two such items set them as your sprint objectives for this week. Find time to accomplish those and then re-evaluate at the end of the week.
  • Completing Unpleasant Projects: Unpleasant tasks are often the most delayed because, well, they’re unpleasant. Sprint scheduling allows you to add one or two unpleasant tasks to your overall sprint goals which lets you take the sour with the sweet as you get work done. Just as importantly, success tends to beget momentum. Get a few things done on that painful project and the rest of the work will feel that much more possible.
  • Chipping Away on Home Projects: Got a big “Honey-Do” list at home? Pick the most important items you can reasonably complete in a weekend and choose that as your ‘Sprint’. You’ll feel less distracted by the entirety of your workload and will have a clear idea of what success looks like.

While sprinting as a runner is about going as fast as you can, sprinting for work is more about taking your work in appropriately bite-sized chunks. There’s always more work to do and if you always look at your full list, it’s human nature to get overwhelmed and decide that maybe it’s just better to not get started until tomorrow (or next week or next month). Instead, try choosing the bites you’d like to take, the sprint distance you’re going to run, and then start sprinting.

<Insert triumphant hippo noise here.>

 

Is Your Team Performing or Storming?

When there’s a lack of harmony on a team, chances are everyone is aware of it on some level, even if it’s just a vague sense of something’s not quite right. It could be really bad, palpable even from a distance – there could be internal turmoil, talking behind colleagues’ backs (which is never as secret as you might think it is), unrest, and open unhappiness. Or maybe communication just isn’t as smooth as it could be. There are hurdles like not being able to or wanting to talk face to face, digital communication dwelling awkwardly in the mystery tone-zone (was that sarcastic? mean? too informal?), or the relationships are professional but not much more than that.

I’m on multiple teams, and right now, not one of them is in the sweet spot. It stinks. It feels discordant, unsafe, and in the case of the team I manage, it feels like failure.

The four stages of team development as explored by my favorite leadership development tool, Officevibe, identifies the journey teams make in the course of change.

The difficulty the teams I’m apart of have had is that change is almost a near constant part of our workflow. We adaptably respond to the company’s needs and alter teams where need be. Just when it looks like we’re getting to “Norming” or if we’re lucky, “Performing” we have a change or a blow that sets us back to “Storming”.

“Storming”, what can be interpreted as dysfunctional teamwork, includes negative attitudes, competition, and breakdowns in communication.

My teams are storming. (Hi, teams, I love you, please trust in me!)

On one team, I can see as clearly as the words on the page the causes of our storms – staffing changes, work-life balance obstacles, and as ever, our ongoing Sysophisian challenge of figuring out how to effectively communicate with one another. Things are getting done, people are doing their own thing, but there isn’t harmony.

On my other stormy team, there’s distrust, competitive leadership, uncertainty, and complex relationships. It’s also, at times, highly effective. It’s the type of stormy team that when the clouds clear, they can accomplish some beautiful things – it can’t rain all the time! But it’s spring in Wisconsin, so, yeah, it rains.

Are you a member or leader of a stormy team? What’s to be done?

  • Know it: I know it. I am a leader of and member of teams that are forming, growing, feeling the pressure, and are sometimes storming. The first step is to accept it.
  • Don’t do nothing: Inaction and compliance are the safe and easy ways to let dysfunction win the day on teams. As a manager, I need to own it and work with my team to get to norming and performing. As a team member, I need to hold my peers accountable and not be complicit in behavior that holds the team back.
  • Get uncomfortable: I’m a highly self-conscious, sensitive, new and inexperienced manager. I’m pretty uncomfortable all the time. But, knowing my team is storming, and in part storming because of my role, I need to put myself out there, hear things that will suck to hear, and adapt to meet the needs of my employees, meet our team’s objectives, and grow as a leader – this is also true in my peer group – one’s got to lead by example!

Easier said than done, right? I know it.

We all want happy, healthy, and high functioning teams – if any of those 3 things are off, it’s time to check in and see what you can do as a peer and leader to get your teams from storming to performing.

You’re A Poet: A Leadership Exercise

This morning at an off-site leadership training session, Captain Reman challenged his office managers and your loyal REMAN U writers to write a poem… about leadership… inspired by our natural surroundings at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Society.

In a fashion consistent with his character, he didn’t tell us why we were doing this activity, just that we should try and do it. In pairs, we walked the grounds thinking about words that resound with leadership, taking in the senses, and letting our setting inspire us.

Here are the results:

I hear you talking
I feel the words as if they are mine
The tools you speak of are slowly walking…
towards you closer because I hear
Your need for structure
The structure is – near

-The Duchess of Drivetrain and The King of Catalog

 

Once there was a boy
who could fill a room with joy
but when he was bad
nothing could stop the little lad.

Even though he drove his parents crazy
he could never be defined as lazy.
He was strong-willed
no matter how many times that fort wouldn’t build.

The boy is now a teen
and to all his friends they may lean.
Captain of the team, he’s leading the pack.
Never lets a small defeat put him on his back.
Determined to win, but never alone,
gives credit when it’s due, even though he’s the reason they grew.

So the boy is no longer a boy, but a man.
Looking back on all the struggles,
all the scolding for coloring outside the lines,
this man is doing just fine.

Grown from a stubborn child
the leader inside him was determine to develop.
Never once could he be described as mild.
Empathy, strength, fairness, and poise
Separates the leader from the boys. |

-The Siren of Support and The Sales Soignuer

 

The comfort that comes from a well-loved smell, that’s how I know I’m being led well.
A leader always gives the impression they know how to respond, not unlike the swimming duck upon the pond.
The importance of interests and motivation are important to find, a good leader acts with open ears and open mind.
Staying connected matters so much, a great leader makes efforts to stay in touch.
A leader who acts with abundant grace, acceptance and taste is always followed with noteworthy haste.

-ET-D2 and The Trans Detective

 

We did it ourselves
work completed they will say
leaders are best unseen
work complete the team will say
we did it ourselves.

-The Duchess of Drivetrain and The King of Catalog

 

Hello, worm
Breaking through spring’s chill to
face the challenge
Feeding the earth around you
nurturing
Climbing up to regenerate
spirit

Hello, turkey
Crossing our path on your way
to hunt budding ideas
Reflecting in the water of
the Teal Pond

Hello, children
Being taught and teaching with
wonder and curiosity
Togetherness toward a
brighter day

-The Market McGuyver and The Rhythm of Reman

 

You can do it from the front
You can do it from the back
But you have to do it.

No, it will not be done to you,
Or for you, with or without you,

It won’t happen on its own
If not you, then who?

You have to do it.

You won’t sleep at night

Like the others.
You won’t rest when they do.
You won’t let things slide.
You won’t be thanked, likely not recognized,
You might not be paid,
You will be scrutinized.

But you’ll have done something big,
You’ll do it all the time,
When you choose to lead,
You’ll have done a great deed
For those who choose to follow.

-Captain Reman

 

Cheesy? Yes. Uncomfortable? Totally. Without merit? Not at all. The lesson here was to get uncomfortable, get creative, and make original and inspired observations about leadership. It’s an activity anyone can do, and they aren’t bad, huh?

 

Fish Stink From the Head

ETE REMAN’s founder, Sam Loshak, is known for his many insightful and pithy statements. We’ve regularly refer to his statements as “Sam-isms.”

One of Sam’s most frequent reminders to ETE’s leadership is “fish stink from the head.” What Sam means is that the worst smelling part of a dead fish is its head. But what Sam really means is that most problems within a company can be traced back to its leadership. Since you’re reading this, odds are that you’re a leader within your company. Odds are, I’m talking about (and to) YOU.

When you’re evaluating a problem within your business, it’s easy to blame everyone around you. It’s easy to point your finger at your builder, at your manager, at your assistant…pretty much at anyone. The hardest thing is to ask (and answer) why the problem truly exists. Often, your employees’ actions are a symptom of a greater problem. And, often, that greater problem is, well, you.

I’ll clarify:

Your people are a reflection of you.
Your people are a reflection of your work ethic.
Your people are a reflection of your attitude.
Your people are a reflection of your encouragement (or discouragement).
Your people are a reflection of your example.

You may not realize it, but you’re being watched. Your employees look at you, they look to you, and (sometimes) they look up to you. No matter how they feel about you, however, they emulate you. You set the standard.

Don’t tell them what to do, show them how it’s done.

Ask yourself:

  • “How’s my attitude?”
  • “How do I react to stressful situations?”
  • “How do I treat customers?”
  • “Do I always get to work on time?”
  • “Do I follow my own rules and policies?”
  • “How often do I praise my employees for doing things right?”
  • “Do I always deliver on my promises?”
  • “How well do I listen to my employees?”
  • “Have I provided my employees with adequate training – both in technical skills and personal development skills?”
  • “Am I living (and leading) by example?”

Those are tough questions. Well, actually they’re easy questions that result in tough answers and tough work should you need to make changes in yourself. But the results are worth it.

The bottom line: Be who and what you want your employees to be.

Bonus questions: If you were your own employee, how would you stack up? Would you hire you? Would you fire you?

Fire Your Center Manager

I know that’s a strong title, and an unfair one without qualification. I promise I’ll explain in detail just after I tell you about my last trip to Chicago.

My wife and I took our two older daughters to Chicago for two nights of fun in the city. We interacted with the trendiest brands – we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria, dined at RPM, took spin classes at SoulCycle, and went to see Hamilton. And fun it was!

It was also a learning experience. I learned the importance and the power of a single employee. I learned that no matter how much you spend on marketing, advertising, brand management, social media, whatever…your front-line employee can make or break your success.

Here’s what happened:

First, the hotel. When we arrived at reception there were two lines – one short, one long. I stupidly chose the short one. You know why the line was short? The front desk employee at the head of my line was unhelpful and apathetic, while her counterpart at the head of the long line was amazing. He took the time to really welcome each guest, to ensure their every preference and need was met, and to explain all the great features of the hotel. He then shook each guest’s hand, came out from behind the desk to hand them their keys, and walked them to the elevator.

Guess what? When we got to our room, it wasn’t even what we had asked for. I went back downstairs and gladly stood in the long line.

Then we went for dinner. RPM is well-known Italian restaurant that probably doesn’t need me to say a single good thing about the food (it was some of the best I’ve had). Anyway, it was our waiter that had us talking for days after. He was Johnny on the Spot the entire time, working backward from our target departure and timing the delivery of every single dish on our table with perfection. And, he was funny. If this guy left RPM and went to work at another restaurant, I’d follow him there.

Then we went to Hamilton. Can’t say enough good stuff about the show. Go see it. Take your kids. Take your friends. No lessons here, except maybe not challenge your foe to a duel.

The next morning, we went to SoulCycle as a family. SoulCycle is a high-end spin studio with a cult-like following and supposed $1.2B valuation. My kids came up with the line, “families who spin together win together.” I thought it was cute, so I joined them. I’m not really into spin studios. I’m a cyclist. I don’t do the woo-woo, motivational classes…I just want to work hard and sweat. But I had heard about this brand for long enough I wanted to see for myself what it was all about. And you know what? It was surprisingly worthwhile. The instructor was a ten. He pushed us to our limits and had us motivated to work all the way through 45-minutes of heart-pounding, bass-thumping, sweat-producing spinning. It was way harder than I thought it was going to be, and way more fun. We left on fire. So much so that we signed up again for the next day, and we told many of our friends about how great it was.

We went back…new day, same business, new instructor. She was a five at best. Not worth my time or money, and certainly not worthy of referrals. It was at this moment that everything clicked: your business is not what you say it is, it’s what your people make it.

It’s your business.

It’s your brand.

It’s your reputation.

It’s your people’s jobs to make your standards and your promises a reality.

It’s your job to hire and coach the right people.

And it’s your front-line employees (you know, the ones who interact with your customers) that matter most. The guy or girl at the desk (in our world, likely a counterman or a center manager) control your destiny.

So, how’s your center manager? What qualities and attributes do they possess?

Maybe a better question is, what qualities and attributes do you wish they possessed?

Make a list of everything that’s important to you:

  • Honest
  • Friendly
  • Smart
  • Resourceful
  • Punctual
  • Reliable
  • Trustworthy
  • High closing ratio

Those are just a few to get you started. This is your business, not mine. You get to choose.

Now highlight the three or four most important things to you. The ones that are deal-breakers.

Here’s the hard part: ask yourself, “Does my center manager meet those expectations? Do they have what I need them to have in order to represent my brand and conduct business in a way that makes me proud?”

Let’s say they do have what it takes. Consider yourself lucky and do everything you can to hold on to them and to coach them to continued success.

Now, let’s say they don’t.  The next step would be to consider whether their shortcomings are an attitude issue or an aptitude issue. If aptitude, you train them until they get it right…or until you just can’t train them anymore. If attitude…then it’s time to fire your center manager.

 

Let’s talk. Comment below or email Noah directly!

Slow to Hire, Quick to Fire

“Slow to hire, quick to fire” is one of the countless philosophies on how to staff a business.  As much as we have an official hiring policy here, it’s at the very least to hire slowly. Every candidate goes through a series of interviews with a variety of staff members, tours the office space, and is evaluated from not only a technical, position-related perspective, but many put their heads together to determine if an individual is, as importantly, a culture-fit. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months for the right candidate to find us, walk through our doors, meet our people, and then woo and be wooed by us.

We should all go into new hires like a young relationship: there should be optimism, excitement, and a little bit of professional infatuation. If you aren’t head over heels for your candidate, why hire them?

A new hire is an investment. Not only do they cost actual money to pay and insure, but there is an investment in time in the hiring process, training, and a potential loss of productivity during this onboarding period. If the hire doesn’t work out, that money and time is a bust investment. And then you have to start over. Hence, if you are going to go through the effort of hiring and it turns out not to be a good fit, better to lick your wounds and recover fast so it doesn’t cost you and your business more time and money for a hire that you think you might replace eventually.

Every hire is a gamble. And much like most gambling outcomes I’ve observed from afar, when you win, it’s awesome. But you sure can lose a lot.

I just lost.

Firing fast is a harsh reality. I care about the people I take onto my team. And because we hire slow, I’ve already invested a lot of time into choosing a person, training them, and believing they are the best for the role and that it’s going to work out. But then it doesn’t.

It takes some people a lifetime to learn they’re in a bad or toxic relationship. I am not one of those people. Hiring is a feeling. And when the feeling turns sour, it very rarely recovers. Why spend more time, more of your prime years in a relationship that doesn’t feel good? All relationships start sweet – that doesn’t mean they stay that way.

Fire fast because:

  • The “damage” has been done. I can’t divorce the emotional and financial impact that has been dealt already. How much more should I take?
  • I have a bad feeling. And once that seed is planted and takes root, I find myself watering it on a daily basis with every task, every interaction. It’s an unhappy plant.
  • We’ll be okay. I got along before that person was hired, I’ll find a way, and you know what? So will they. If it wasn’t a good fit, it wasn’t leading to the best possible place for that hire either.

Sometimes I haven’t fired fast. Sometimes I’ve really waited, trained, given chances, retrained, and exhausted myself and everyone else in the hopes that it would work out, that it would become a good fit, that the feeling would recover. In that scenario, the feeling was bad for far longer, I continued to invest time and money in the hire, and the productivity wasn’t there. I don’t see how that benefitted anyone in the [work] relationship.

Firing is a miserable management responsibility. Having recently fired fast, I spent the rest of the day and night, and next day… in a tailspin. Was it right? What does this mean for me and my workload? Are they okay? What will they do financially because of this? It’s a bad feeling. But so was working with this person. So, ultimately, I know this policy of hiring slow and firing fast is the way to make the best choices for my team and my company, but none of it is easy.

What’s your hiring – and firing – policy?

Shop Management Lessons from Malcolm Brogdon & the Milwaukee Bucks

 

This article is NOT about basketball. It’s about YOU. It’s about your shop. It’s about your business. And, arguably it’s about your life. It’s how about to get the most out of everyone you interact with.

It just so happens that today’s lesson came from a basketball player. A professional one. A really famous and really good player: The 2017 NBA rookie of the year, the President, Malcolm Brogdon.

My good friend Michael invited me to a behind-the-scenes look at the new Fiserv Forum’s media room and the Bucks’ locker room, and a short game-review and basketball strategy with Malcolm. Then we got to have our pictures taken, shake hands, and say something short. I came up with nothing cool. Just said something standard like, “Mr. President, you guys look great. Keep it up.”

Although I missed my opportunity to impress Malcolm, he certainly did not miss the opportunity to impress me, nor to impress upon me the following leadership lesson.

The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a great start this year (currently 18-9). EPSN has the Bucks at 2nd in power rankings. And they’re a young team with a new coach. Coach Bud (Budenholzer) is leading a starting lineup consisting of some of the most dynamic and exciting players in the world – Giannis Antetokounmpo (aka “The Greek Freak”), Malcolm Brogdon, Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez.

Near the end of the discussion, a fan asked a question: “What’s different this year with the coaching? Why do you think you’re winning so many games with many of the same players from last year?”

Malcolm immediately responded that it’s all about Coach Bud and his crew. Malcolm explained that coaches are invested in the players. They care about the players. It’s not just about winning games for the coaches, it’s about developing players. He said the coaches care more about player development than the team record. And then Malcolm capped it off with:

It’s amazing to play for people that I love playing for.”

It’s no different in the real world. People want to work for people they love working for. People want a coach (aka, a manager or a boss) who is invested in them. People want a boss who cares about them.

Basketball players don’t play for the team, just like your employees don’t play for your company. Basketball players play for themselves first, and they play for their coach second. Your employees work for themselves first and they work for you second.

Make sense?

Then, ask yourself, do your people love playing for you?  

Do they know you care about them?
Do they know you are invested in them?
Do they know you want to develop them into all-stars?

How do they know?

I challenge you to write down a few examples of actions you have taken recently to show your people that you care about them, that you are invested in them, and that you want them to develop and become better for themselves.

Look at the Bucks. Same players + different coaches = different (better) results.

Sometimes it’s not your employee’s fault they are underperforming.
Sometimes you’re the problem.

But you don’t have to replace yourself, you just have to be willing to make a few changes and a try a new coaching strategy.

I hope you’ll be the Coach Bud of your shop or your business or your family. I hope you’ll invest yourself into your people so that they invest themselves into winning for you.

Let’s make this interactive. In the comments field below, share something you’ve seen or done that speaks to Malcolm’s lesson. Tell me what you do in your shop. Or tell me about a time when your boss did something that got you to love working for them.

Making a Bad Choice the Right Way

This is a bad Reman U. I mean it. It hasn’t been thought through, agonized over, contemplated, speelchecked or proofreaded. I didn’t have a blinding insight nor did I have one of those everyday experiences that suddenly feels like an analogy for good work/life decisions. What I do have is a deadline, a commitment… ultimately, a promise. I would rather sign my name to a bad Reman U than break a promise. So, this is a bad Reman U… but maybe that’s a good thing.

You see, when I write a Reman U I start to think about the longevity of words. I think about how language is our legacy, literature is our history and the things we take the time to compose can often ripple out into eternity. And then I think, “I better not sound like an idiot.” And that’s the crucial moment where my fingers suddenly stop, and I begin to agonize over every word. All progress halts as I struggle to make the perfect word choice…

Recently, I was making another kind of choice, and this abrupt transition lets me tell you about it. I was configuring a new tool for my department to manage our workflow of tasks and projects, and I came to a potential sticking point. The tool I had researched and chosen to use had dozens of pre-configured project styles. Each one had plusses and minuses, and the one I chose will dictate how we work for the foreseeable future. In short, it was a decision that would impact my team, our internal customers and even our external customers. How could I make that choice but still not figure out how to end this paragraph nicely?

I chose the option that solved most of our current problems, even if we lost some features we currently liked. But, crucially, only after I’d read the documentation on how to migrate to a different style if this one didn’t suit us. Because of that, I know that even if I thought there was a chance this was the wrong choice, it was still the right choice to go forward.

So far, it’s worked out quite well AND it also turned out to be the wrong choice. Solving immediate problems means that we adopted it and got immediate benefits. But, we’re also finding things we want next, and that will require us to convert to a different style… good thing it’s so easy!

Making a “Bad” Choice the Right Way

These two principles can guide your decision making and allow you to move forward at a good pace while staying flexible enough to work around problems and limitations.

Any Choice is Better Than Not Choosing – Let’s pretend you want to run an ad in a local paper or on the radio, but you keep putting it off because you can’t think of the perfect way to stand out. Your current need is to get an ad out there. Until you do, you’ll reach exactly no one. Get something going first and start generating feedback, then adapt as you learn.

Have an Exit Strategy – You’re going to make a bad choice sometime, the law of averages dictates it, so make your bad choices easy to move away from. Don’t commit to running the same ad for a long period of time, or pay for a year of an untested service when a monthly option exists. It will be worth the relatively small extra cost to avoid sticking yourself with a bad choice.

In the programming world, we have a phrase “Software in development doesn’t do anyone any good.” You have to let people use your software before they can get a benefit – even if it’s not the full benefit you’d like to provide. It’s probably more widely understood simply as “Done is the new Perfect.” But there are different kinds of “done”, and safe ways to make decisions or deliver on the deadlines that you’re not entirely confident in.

So, this is the end of my bad Reman U. I was trying to think of how I can end it in a way that’s meaningful, but then I realized I was doing it again. So instead, I’m solving the immediate problem and not committing to any particular ending:

Until we meet again!


Jim committed to writing a REMAN U article. The good news? He did it. The bad? Well, he didn’t really do it right, or at least not the way he likes to do it. But there’s a lesson in that, too, isn’t there?  Join the conversation below or connect with Jim directly.  

How to Draft Your Dream Team

Summer is slowly slipping into fall, bringing cooler weather, pumpkin spice flavored everything, and unequivocally most important: the return of football season. As it happens, more of my coworkers than not are avid some-kind-of-sports fans. This lends itself to some (mostly) friendly competition in the form of fantasy football leagues.  

As is customary, to kickoff (pun intended) a fantasy league of the football variety, one must participate in the draft. For those who may not know what this entails, the brief version is that you gather in person or online with your former friends, now opponents and veritable enemies, and pull together from the available players as perfect a team as possible.  

Fantasy aside, back in our work environment, we’ve been slowly but surely crafting our own ideal teams. I pride myself, and every cohort of mine, on our ability to adapt and power through difficult days and second-rate situations. Being short staffed and overwhelmed is never in anyone’s game plan – you don’t plan your star players getting literally injured, having babies, or moving to new cities. But strategically adding quality players to the team who are equally equipped to handle whatever problem may crop up? That’s how you rise to the top week after week and take home the prize at the end of each season. 

What kind of players am I drafting to my team? 

  1. The QB: I’m going to want, scratch that, need a good quarterback. They’ve got to be the backbone of the team, know every play forward and backward and in their sleep, and always be ready to roll. 

I want that in the leader of my work team, too. They should have the skinny on everything going on with the crew, day in and day out. They can problem solve on the fly, and the team can be confident that if we’re stuck in a sticky situation they can guide us through it. I’ll need to be able to trust them to lead us to victory and stop at nothing to get us and keep us there. 

  1. Go-To WR: Of course, my quarterback is going to need someone to pass the ball to. A good wide receiver is ready to go long, get a solid grip on the ball, and score. 

Similarly, on the team we need people to go the distance. Someone who is willing to go the extra mile whenever necessary, whether that be for a coworker or a customer or someone who’s just dialed the wrong number and got us instead, on each and every phone call and sale and interaction they have. 

  1. The RB: I’m certainly looking for a strong running back to take the handoffs and screen passes and who can stay on their toes, all the while shaking off defenders while gaining every yard they can. 

The sheer versatility of this position is important in any capacity. Knowing I have a team member I can trust to handoff something I’m working on when I’m out, being able to send someone a call or an email when I’m slammed with an overflowing email inbox, and hustle when an order is extra time critical.  

  1. D-D-D-DefenseAnd last but absolutely not least, I need a defense who can block all of the opposition’s attempts to score. 

Luckily, when my work team and I are up against any competitive advances, I can count on any of them to step up and block for me. If it means that we’re in a better collective position, they’re always willing to take a hit so we can keep barreling towards the goal line. 

I like to think I’ve drafted a robust and capable team, both in my fantasy football world and in my work world too. Since we’ve added a whole new slew of players here, I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m already seeing these qualities across the roster.  

The next time you’re looking to draft a new team member to whatever team you may be building, taking some external cues from unlikely places (like a competitive ESPN online league) might take you in the right direction. 


When The Reman Runner reflects on her ideal work team, she’s reminded of some tried and true lessons in team building – and drafting – from fall’s favorite fanfare: fantasy football. The result? A versatile group ready to jump in when needed and to defend the team no matter what. Who would you draft #1? Comment below or reach out to Rani directly.

Take the Road Less Congested

It’s Thursday morning, and I’m running late for work. I scramble for my shoes, grab a banana for breakfast – don’t forget to feed the cat, oh, and remember to lock that door behind you! – I jump in my car and take off. So far so good: all the lights are green, nothing seems to be stopping me from making this the greatest late morning recovery in human history! Forget being on time, heck, I might be 10 minutes early at this rate! And then I follow the bend on to the interstate…and immediately step on my brakes.

Commuters during rush hour are estimated to spend 42 hours a year in traffic. If you have the same job for 5 years and don’t move, that’s just a little under 9 days of traffic congestion.

At this point, I realize I have two options:

  1. I can scream and honk my horn and damn the universe for having me suffer this miserable experience.
  2. I can treat traffic congestion as a perspective wake up.

The obvious lesson here is to always be prepared. Nowadays with cell phones and computers, there’s simply no excuse why I can’t just look up my workplace and find the fastest route. Often during rush hour, my phone tells me which side roads are faster at that time of day. Being prepared to identify and take the fastest route, even if it’s not the usual way, can lead to less stress about the little things in life, and subconsciously, I am more alert of my surroundings when I’m unfamiliar with the route. I notice a restaurant I’ve never seen before, a shop that looks really appealing, or maybe even a park I can take a walk in.

While making the most of a traffic scenario is one choice, perhaps I simply just need to reschedule my drive. I shouldn’t risk being late to work anyways, so maybe it’s probably time I suck it up and avoid traffic by leaving an hour earlier than usual. My work has flexible scheduling, so coming in early is never an issue. For some, work-flexibility is challenging. Could you leave early and spend that hour accomplishing hard-to-find-time-for goals you may have near or around your workplace? Need time to read that book? Interested in joining a gym? Need to do research on a job that understands the importance of flexible schedules? All of these you could make happen with an extra hour on hand.

Well, if you’ve stayed with me this far, it’s been about 4 minutes – and I’m still stuck in traffic. At this rate, being early has gone out the window and being on time is not looking so hot either. I need to accept the fact that I’m going to be late, but I also need to accept the fact that a change needs to be made not only in my work route but in my life route. I can’t keep accepting traffic and tardiness as an answer… or else I won’t be dealing with either for much longer.

Hypothetical job termination aside, it’s also important for my well-being: I don’t like traffic congestions, and I won’t accept traffic congestions. 42 hours a year is an incredible amount of time to be stuck next to semi-trucks sporting wheel spikes. I deserve better. So does everyone else in this jam. But it starts with us.

If we all choose to avoid normalcy and embrace change, even when it feels like a gamble, what’s possible? Reaching our destinations in a timely – and slightly self-improved – manner. It just might influence you to make changes elsewhere in your lifestyle.

And hey, if everyone chooses to find different routes, then some of us can maybe choose to use the interstate again!


The Video Guy hates traffic. Who doesn’t? This week, go along for the ride as he shares his advice on finding better routes – to work and in life. How do you deal with congestion? Comment below or email Andrew directly.