Monthly Archives: May 2010

Office 2010: Productivity, Productivity, Productivity

If Steve Ballmer had been presenting Office 2010 today, he might have riffed on his old “developers, developers, developers” line with a quip about “productivity, productivity, productivity.” That’s the focus of the new version of Microsoft’s flagship suite of office tools, which is now available to business customers worldwide — and which Microsoft is hoping offers enough productivity enhancements to persuade firms to upgrade.

It wasn’t Ballmer presenting the Office 2010, though, it was Stephen Elop, president of Redmond’s business division. I was hoping to get a chance to see what he had to say about the new versions at the launch event in New York, but it seems that interest in the launch (from the press at least) was so great that the website couldn’t deal with the demand.

Fortunately, however, I’ve already had a chance to check out the product, as Office 2010 has been available as a Technical Preview since July of last year. I’ve been impressed with the new features, and early hands-on reviews have also mostly been very positive. There are no huge changes to the main desktop products in this version of Office, unlike the radical introduction of the ribbon UI in Office 2007 (which, incidentally, Microsoft is persisting with in Office 2010, and extending to more products in the Office 2010 family). Most of the effort has gone towards productivity and ease-of-use tweaks (like Outlook’s neat new “Social Connector,” which pulls social network updates into the app), new collaborative features and stability improvements.

The big news in Office 2010 is the introduction of Office Web Apps. Office 2010 has a number of innovative online competitors now, not least of which is, of course, Google Docs. Microsoft has responded to that threat by releasing access-anywhere online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, with seamless transitioning of work from desktop to the cloud and back again. Despite perhaps coming a little late to the party, Office Web Apps is an impressive suite of products. They work cross-browser, and I particularly like the way that the web apps look and feel almost identical to the desktop versions of Office. I also really like Office’s new co-authoring features, which enable more than one person to work on a document simultaneously. Office Web Apps will be available to everyone for free, but to get the full benefit of the products, you do need to have the desktop Office 2010, too.

Despite the perceived threat of Google Docs, the greatest competitor to Office 2010 is probably previous versions of Office. Although Office 2010 is a very solid and polished upgrade, with plenty of new features and improved performance and stability, Microsoft might find it hard to convince cost-sensitive businesses that they really need to upgrade to this latest version, just as many businesses didn’t upgrade from Office 2003 when Office 2007 was launched. Will the new Office Web Apps, the productivity-boosting tweaks and other collaborative features prove to be enough to persuade them to open their wallets for the new version?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Enabling the Web Work Revolution

More on LinkedIn

Having got everyone using LinkedIn with this series of podcasts and…, here’s another tip for using it.

You can now follow companies. In the search box at the top right hand corner, click the dropdown to companies, and enter the name of the company you’re interested in working for. For some companies you’ll get a list (some are broken down by division), but for some just a single entry. Click the right one and you’ll get a summary of the company and interestingly, details about their staff. There are new hires, leavers, and promotions and changers. Reviewing these lists will give you an idea of the current hiring needs of the company and whether your skills are required. There’s also details about career paths: where people worked before and where they worked after working at this company, which can give you a good idea of where to look in your network for connections.

There are two other tabs, one which details other people following changes at that company, and activity, which gives you a twitter like stream of the changes in the company. By following the company (click the star at the top of any of the tabs), you’ll get updates, including new job postings on your LinkedIn home page.

This information is useful for your search period, but can equally be used as company research once you get your interview.

Technical Resumes And Business Accomplishments

Many technical resumes focus on the systems and processes used in particular roles. IT professionals often list the program and version number of both systems in a migration for example. When we review resumes, we often tell the technical professionals to remove those details. (I imagine them reading those sentences with a look of horror on their faces).

There’s two reasons why we give this recommendation. The first is, if we’re applying to a particular role, the systems required will be specified in the advertisement, and we respond to that specifically in our cover letter. If it asks for Oracle 9i, we say in the cover letter: “I have used Oracle 9i in the development and implementation phases of projects. I have also migrated to it from 8i and from it to 10g”. There is then no need to have this detail in the resume.

Secondly, the most powerful accomplishments follow the ‘verb, result, method’ formula. This forces us to find the business results of our activity. The business result (reduced cost, increased revenue, projects delivered on time) appeals to more people than just the technical manager who will review your resume. Project managers, career managers, HR, sales people and account managers may all be involved in technical recruiting and they understand ‘delivered on time and on budget’ not ‘migrated from 9i to 10g’. By removing the technical detail from resumes, we make them more appealing, not less.



If you want to exercise more but are always wondering where the day goes, you may be surprised to learn that you can see big results by spending just a few minutes of your lunch break working out, says Selene Yeager, author of “Perfectly Fit: 8 Weeks to a Sleek and Sexy Body.” Studies show that people looking to improve their overall health don’t need to take an all-or-nothing approach to exercise.

For example, in a two-year study of more than 230 overweight, sedentary adults, researchers from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas found that men and women who made simple lifestyle changes such as taking the stairs at the office or walking around the soccer field during their kids’ practice had similar gains in fitness, blood pressure and body fat as those who did vigorous gym workouts for 20 to 60 minutes, five days a week.

Mini-workouts deliver powerful results because you’re more likely to do them, says Yeager.

Here are three do-anywhere, 10-minute routines that burn calories and tone trouble spots. All you need is a pair of supportive walking shoes, a set of 5-pound dumbbells, a chair or low table, and a mat or soft, carpeted area.

Routine 1: 10-minute calorie-burn walk
Ease into your noontime walk with a one-minute stroll. Gradually pick up the pace over the next three minutes. Now, walk as fast as you can for one minute, then taper back down to a moderate tempo for 60 seconds. Alternate between these two tempos for the next three minutes. By the last minute you should be slowing down to your initial strolling pace.

Routine 2: Butt and thigh firmer
The following three moves strengthen and tone your legs. Warm up for 30 seconds by marching in place. Perform each exercise eight times on each leg, rest 20 seconds between each move, and then repeat the routine twice.

One-legged lunges. Place your left foot on a chair or table behind you so the left leg is extended and you’re balancing on the right leg. Bend your right knee, lowering into a lunge, front knee behind your toes. Press into your right foot and stand back up.

Monster squats. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out slightly, arms relaxed at your sides. Sit back into a squat, keeping knees behind toes. As you stand up, raise your left knee out to the side, placing your foot back on the floor as you lower into the next squat. Repeat with right leg.

Side-to-side shuffle. Sit back into a squat, arms bent in front of you, elbows by your sides. Shuffle 10 to 15 feet to the right, moving your right foot then your left foot. Return, shuffling to the left.

Routine 3: Arm sculptor
Get upper-arm definition with the following simple moves. Warm up for 30 seconds by marching in place and doing a breaststroke motion for 30 seconds. Do each move eight to 15 times with each arm. Rest 10 to 20 seconds between exercises. Repeat the routine twice.

Supported curls. Sit in a chair with your feet a few inches apart. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lean forward at the hips and rest your elbows on your thighs, palms up. Bend your left elbow, curling the dumbbell toward your shoulder. Keep your upper arm still. Hold for a second, then lower and repeat with your right arm. Continue alternating arms.

Side plank push-ups. Start on your knees, hands beneath your shoulders, your body in line from your head to your knees. Bend your elbows out to the sides, lowering your chest almost to the floor. Straighten your arms, pushing back up, and then raise your left arm overhead, rolling your body to the right to form a side plank. Lower and repeat with the other side.

Mountain climbers. Get in a push-up position with your hands on the seat of a chair. Bring your right foot forward 10 to 12 inches, knee bent. Jump quickly, switching feet as if climbing a mountain.

Tips for Managing Remote Workers

Since my post last week talked about how to manage your boss while working remotely, I thought that it was only fair to provide managers with some tips for managing those employees in other locations — something that I’m about to start doing again.

In past jobs, I managed quite a few people who worked out of remote locations. Some of them worked from home full-time while others were in offices that were spread out in California and Washington while I worked here in Portland, Oregon. But right now, all of the people that I manage are working in the same office building. While we all work from home regularly, we all have cubicles in our office. However, that is all about to change. The building that we work in is being renovated this summer, and we’re being kicked out of our little boxes. There isn’t really room for us in the other buildings, so the company is encouraging us to work from home full-time from July through September. I’ll be managing remotely again, and here are my tips for managing a remote team.

Regular Staff Meetings

It’s important to get the team together on a regular basis to stay in touch with each other and keep up with what other team members are working on. Depending on the team and how much collaboration happens between team members, you may want to meet weekly, monthly or somewhere in between. I’ve worked on teams of program managers where the team members spent most of their time working with stakeholders outside of the team, so the staff meetings focused on learning best practices from each other along with occasional corporate communications or budget updates. Other teams work much more closely together and meet more frequently to collaborate on common tasks. It’s important to get the team together occasionally at least over the phone, but how often you need to meet depends on the team.

Check In Regularly

The focus here should be on checking in with your employees (not checking up on them). This could be a regular meeting with each employee or something less formal over IM or email, as needed. One of the most important responsibilities of any manager is to make sure that the people who work for you have what they need to accomplish their jobs efficiently. You may need to help them overcome roadblocks from other teams, which could involve kicking some butt on their behalf, or you may need to help them get budget for some critical resources. When people are working remotely, it can be easy for them to feel a little alone, so it’s important to keep in touch and let them know that you’re happy to help with whatever they need.

Email Updates

I mentioned the importance of email updates for remote employees last week as way to make sure their manager knows exactly what they are doing. This goes both ways, and managers should also be providing regular updates for remote employees. These updates might include any corporate communications people need to know, updates from other teams and anything else you might hear that impacts the people who work on your team. Making sure that the people who work for you have accurate updates is especially important for remote employees who might otherwise miss important information.

An important task for any manager is to make sure that your team stays well connected and productive regardless of the obstacles. This is especially true for remote employees who can become disconnected from the company and other team members if they don’t have good support. Getting everyone working together regardless of their location is critical for managers of remote teams.

What are your tips for managing remote workers?

Photo by Dawn Foster, used with permission.

"Until the different started to feel normal"

An article in Fast Company, adapted from Dan and Chip Heath’s book, Switch, quotes Jerry Sternin: “Knowledge does not change behavior. We all have encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors”. The article continues, talking about mothers of malnourished children: “They’d have to act differently until the different started to feel normal”.

Knowing intellectually that one on ones, feedback and coaching work, is not enough. We have to make changes in our behavior. For a while, acting differently will make us feel like we’re standing out. It brings back the feeling of being a teenager and wearing the sweater our mother picked out, not being cool and feeling like the whole school is looking at us. Of course, the truth is most people are too busy worrying about themselves to be looking at us. After a time, and it’s usually a shorter time than we expect, different becomes normal. And when we reap the rewards of our new behavior we wonder why we did not make the change earlier.

We often get feedback that validates this. After a member carries out their first round of one on ones, they say “It was ok, but it felt a bit awkward”. Inevitably, we comfort the manager, letting them know that this awkwardness is normal, and that one on ones will start to feel much better after a month or so. And often, we get another email, a month later, saying “I’m so glad I persevered”.

What change are you going to make?


I recently read a piece in Success Magazine which quoted Pat William’s book American Scandal in which he discusses Eisenhower’s actions prior to D-Day. He says:

“A leader can give up everything but final responsibility. In the hours prior to the attack, as rain splattered on the windows outside, Eisenhower sat down at a small table and wrote out – by hand- a press release to be used if the attack should be repelled. He wrote: ‘Our landing has failed.. and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.'”

Of course, we now know that the landings were successful. However, Eisenhower prepares himself to take all the distress of the situation upon himself if they fail. By describing the situation so simply and factually, he creates a calm place to ask ‘What do we do next?’. I can imagine him saying this paragraph at the beginning of a briefing and all of the emotion draining out of the room. By taking all the responsibility himself, he allows others to work on solutions and next steps unemotionally.

We’ve all been in crisis situations where the dramatic telling of the situation and blame attribution heightened emotions and prevented solutions from being found. How would those situations have been improved if someone had said: “I take responsibility for where we are. Whatever decisions were made and actions taken, were with the best of intentions and with the best information we had. What options do we have now?”.

A Mother’s Love–In Honor of Mother’s Day


By unknown Author

A little boy came up to his mother in the kitchen one evening while she was fixing supper, and handed her a piece of paper that he had been writing on. After his Mom dried her hands on an apron, she read it, and this is what it said:

  • For cutting the grass: $5.00
  • For cleaning up my room this week: $1.00
  • For going to the store for you: $.50
  • Baby-sitting my kid brother while you went shopping: $.25
  • Taking out the garbage: $1.00
  • For getting a good report card: $5.00
  • For cleaning up and raking the yard: $2.00
  • Total owed: $14.75

Well, his mother looked at him standing there, and the boy could see the memories flashing through her mind. She picked up the pen, turned over the paper he’d written on, and this is what she wrote:

  • For the nine months I carried you while you were growing inside me: No Charge
  • For all the nights that I’ve sat up with you, doctored and prayed for you: No Charge
  • For all the trying times, and all the tears that you’ve caused through the years: No Charge
  • For all the nights that were filled with dread, and for the worries I knew were ahead: No Charge
  • For the toys, food, clothes, and even wiping your nose: No Charge
  • Son, when you add it up, the cost of my love is:  No Charge.

When the boy finished reading what his mother had written, there were big tears in his eyes, and he looked straight at his mother and said,

“Mom, I sure do love you.”

And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: “PAID IN FULL”.


  • You will never know much your parents are worth until you become a parent
  • Be a giver not an asker, especially with your parents. There is a lot to give, besides money.


  • If your mom is alive and close to you, give her a big kiss and ask her for forgiveness.
  • If she is far away, call her.
  • If she has passed away, remember her and pray for her.