Friday, August 25, 2006

Idlewild, Art Deco Musical

Short discussion of the movie Idlewild starring Outkast. Fanciful musical set in Prohibition era, American South.

Powered by ThinkFree

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why Leaders Fail

Earlier today, I sat in on an EXCELLENT seminar, given by the PMI Diversity special interest group (SIG). I try to make a living by project management, usually in a software technology company or on a software development project, so I'll take any advice that will help me do by job better or easier.

Tom Mattus, President and Co-Founder of Successful Strategies International, Inc. (SSI) gave the dynamic presentation “Why Leaders Fail”. Dynamic as in speaker style and topic. Tom was a great role model in how to give an engaging presentation. I definitely recommend looking into any of the seminars his company gives. You won't be bored unless you work hard at it.

The presentation hit the button with the 5 main reasons leaders fail. Three of the five are things that can be improved by experience. Self centeredness and untrustworthiness seem to be personality flaws, I don't see how they can be fixed as easily as some of the others. Interestingly enough, the presentation proposes that the failures of managers under a leader is demoralizing to all staff. Not just the personal failure of the individual who did not succeed. In reality, the person who failed is scapegoated as the bad seed. The goal is for them to take away the bad vibes when they leave.

There were a few slides on the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI), which was new to me. I got a phone call right as I was going to dial into the webinar, then my computer decided to act up, so I missed the part of EI part of the preso. So I looked up what it's all about on the web.

Just about every site I found on the topic referenced at least one of Daniel Goleman's books: Social Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and Working with Emotional Intelligence, so I guess these are good places to start.

Emotional intelligence: a set of competencies that distinguishes how people manage feelings, interact, and communicate. Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can keep growing--it continues to develop with life experiences. Understanding and raising your emotional intelligence is essential to your success and leadership potential. This book is an excellent resource for learning how to accomplish this.

Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman's brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our "two minds"—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny.

The best news is that "emotional literacy" is not fixed early in life. Every parent, every teacher, every business leader, and everyone interested in a more civil society, has a stake in this compelling vision of human possibility.

EQ - Emotional Quotient by Business Balls,

Emotional Intelligence -EI by, overview of the field and related psychology theories.

My Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ)

I found a free test on iVillage. Suprisingly I scored average. I thought I'd get the equivalent of "check yourself into the nearest institution before you hurt yourself or others". Here's my results. What did you get?
Emotional intelligence Research suggests that a person's emotional intelligence (EQ) might be a greater predictor of success than his or her intellectual intelligence (IQ), despite an assumption that people with high IQs will naturally accomplish more in life.

Emotional intelligence is a person's ability to understand their own emotions and those of others, and to act appropriately using these emotions.

You scored 75% correct!

Your score indicates that you have an average EQ.

People who typically score in this range are usually able to recognise and understand their feelings and to express them in an appropriate manner. They are fairly comfortable with who they are. In most circumstances they are not afraid to show love, empathy and compassion for other people. In general, they are comfortable with intimacy, and giving of themselves to other people.

They are pretty good communicators. They are fairly in tune with themselves and those around them. They generally know how to say the right thing at the right moment. They are good friends and partners. They are normally able to show anger in appropriate ways. More often than not, they are able to stand up for themselves when necessary, but also are not afraid to cry if they are hurt. They are able to admit when they are wrong and take steps to correct their mistakes. They are rarely unable to say they are sorry.

They are generally happy, well-rounded people. They accept challenges. They can stay motivated and focused in the face of setbacks. They are able to set goals for themselves and often achieve them. They are positive and optimistic about themselves, others around them, and their future.

However, just because people with an average EQ have a pretty good grasp on their emotions they still have plenty of room for emotional growth. They can continue to be introspective. They can continue to communicate with the people around them and continue to work on their goals. They can utilise what they have and continue to identify areas within themselves that need work.

Remember that a person's emotional intelligence never stops growing. Because we are always evolving as people, EQ is something that must be nurtured. If it isn?t cultivated, emotional intelligence will disappear.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jan and Micki Make the USA Today Cover

Some of my "Folks I Know" blog people (see the link to The Jan and Micki Show: The incredible adventures of two girls in love on the right) got a story in USA Today. And they didn't even have to commit a major crime. Here's a link to their blog posting about it: On the Cover of the USA Today.

I met Micki Seibel and Jan Leger when we worked together at Netscape and I stayed in touch. I've seen them through houses in St. Helena, Los Gatos and Mountain View, a wide variety of cars including a Range Rover, BMW sports car and MINI Cooper, many jobs at technology companies around the Bay Area, their lovely wedding in the Santa Cruz Mountains, their dog Kisha as well as Jan's battle with breast cancer. Now their housing adventures are splashed across an national newspaper, for all the world to see. You go girls!

Jan and Micki in front of Noe/Castro Valley House
Jan and Micki in front of Noe/Castro Valley House By Jack Gruber

For Some, Renting Makes More Sense

Updated 8/10/2006 12:50 AM ET
There's been a debate ever since Micki Seibel and Jan Leger told their friends they were going to sell their home in the heart of San Francisco and rent an apartment.

"Half think it's great. The other half have been trying to talk us out of it," says Seibel, 34, who works for MyNewPlace, a new online apartment search firm.

Though Seibel and Leger love their home, which they bought in 2002 for about $1 million, it's been draining them of $5,600 a month for their mortgage and taxes, when they could be renting a place just as nice in the same neighborhood for about $3,400. "We can put that savings in the bank and make it work for us and take away the risk of the unknown future of the real estate market," Seibel notes.

It's hard to imagine the American dream as a two-bedroom apartment with a pool, instead of a single-family home with a white picket fence. But in some of the nation's priciest real estate markets, that's what's happening. The financial reasons for renting instead of buying are the strongest they've been in 25 years.

"The last time home affordability fell to such an extreme was in 1981, but that was because interest rates jumped from 13% to 16%," says Hessam Nadji, a managing director for Marcus & Millichap, an investment brokerage firm.

"What's alarming this time is that interest rates are still historically low. That means rents need to go up, and home prices to come down in some areas, for the balance to be regained. And that may be a painful process that takes between a year to 18 months."

The market was thrown out of kilter during the five-year real estate boom. Renters stampeded at the sight of an "open house" sign, trying to buy anything they could afford. Prices soared by 40%, and by even more along the coasts and in such places as Las Vegas and Phoenix. Landlords couldn't raise rents as fast, so many apartment owners simply gave up and converted their buildings into condos for sale.

So how out of whack is it now?

The national median mortgage payment is $1,687 a month, nearly twice the median rent payment of $868 a month. The financial gap is even larger in cities where home prices recently rose to sky-scraping heights, such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, according to an analysis by Marcus & Millichap for USA TODAY.

Though adjustable-rate and other exotic mortgages enabled families to buy homes with low-to-no down payments, many of them are still stretched to the financial limit. For a family earning the U.S. median income of $46,913, for example, owning the median-price home of $224,739 would eat up 51% of their income. Renting would require just 25%.

Buyers sit on the sidelines

Add rising interest rates, and it's easy to see why many would-be home buyers are sitting on the sidelines and why even some homeowners are cashing out.

By renting, they gain the flexibility of a lease and freedom from home repairs. They can also invest more money in stocks, bonds and other assets that could appreciate faster than real estate over the next couple of years.

"For someone debating whether to rent or buy in a market that's experienced recent and substantial house-price run-up, it may be better to delay the home purchase and see what the market looks like a year or two down the road," says Stuart Gabriel, director of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California.

He adds, though, "Over an extended period of time, homeownership is going to make sense for most people, most of the time."

How long is an extended period? It depends on the size of the gap between the cost of renting vs. owning.

A homeowner in Orange County, Calif., for example, would have to stay in his or her home for a decade before breaking even on out-of-pocket costs compared with renting, according to Marcus & Millichap.

Of course, on the other side of the debate, homeowners can argue that they're building wealth by investing in an asset that appreciates over time, while renters are throwing money out the window. Homeowners can also enjoy stability (with a fixed-rate mortgage), tax advantages and financial security.

'It's crazy'

"Real estate is probably the best investment any young person can make," says Yadiris Ferreira, 29, who bought a condo last month in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Still, her mortgage, including homeowner association fees, totals $1,800 a month — more than half the money she takes home as a high school math teacher. "It's crazy," Ferreira concedes.

But, she explains, "If I didn't buy something soon, it was going to get to the point that I couldn't afford anything."

Lots of other people thought the same way during the boom years. But now home sales are falling, and in some cities, prices have started dropping, too. In June, condo prices fell 2% nationwide, and single-family home prices dipped in several markets, including San Diego, Boston and Washington.

"It would be scary to buy something in a hot market and have the price just fall a few months after we buy," says Joel Coffey, a 21-year-old accountant who signed a lease last week with his wife, Katy, for an apartment in Seattle.

As more people like the Coffeys take a wait-and-see attitude, they put pressure on home sellers to cut prices. At the same time, as renters swarm the apartment market, they force up rents. This year, rents are expected to climb about 5%, and by even more in such expensive markets as Seattle, New York and San Francisco.

When the Coffeys were apartment hunting, Katy, 22, called a landlord who had posted an ad on the Craigslist website. "She told me, 'You're the sixth person to contact me, and I've had it listed for 15 minutes.' "

In Manhattan, the rental market looks pretty much the way the housing market did two years ago: multiple applications, dueling agents and rising prices.

"Renting instead of buying is becoming a more popular option than it's been in a long time," says Jonathan Miller, CEO of Miller Samuel, a Manhattan appraisal company. "Landlords who have been suffering for the last four or five years are trying to make up for lost time."

Rents in New York City have already climbed 5% to 20% over the past year, but that's still not enough to rebalance the market. Miller estimates that rents would have to rise an additional 20% before it would make more financial sense for renters to start buying.

In San Francisco, where the median home costs about $760,000, apartment rents have jumped 15% in the past two months, says Janan New, executive director of the San Francisco Apartment Association.

"There is a huge demand for apartments in San Francisco because homes are so unaffordable," she says.

That's still not enough to persuade Seibel and Leger to keep their home there. "We've been watching the rents," Seibel says. "But for what we're paying for our mortgage and property taxes, we could be renting a mansion in Pacific Heights."