Manage UP: How to Manage Your Boss

manage up, manage your boss, manage your life
Learn to manage your boss – Manage UP

You’re used to taking orders from your boss – that’s called managing down. Your boss hands down work for you to do or perform. Tasks to be completed. You take that direction as why you’re at your job – to do work. That’s what you do. That’s why you get a pay check – because you’re there to get some sort of work done and this applies to all jobs.

So what are you supposed to do if you want to move up or advance? Well, you’ve got to first take care of business. You need to be at least maintaining the standard of your employment and fulfill whatever role you are paid to perform. That’s number one.

Number two, you have to be proficient enough at number one such that you have some time and space to think about how things could be different or improved. You’ve got to get your minimum amount of work done in enough time that you have some leftover time to consider different alternatives or improvements on whatever it is that you are currently doing.

Day One

At this point (or really from your first day on the job) it is critical that you begin a conversation with your boss and start a dialogue. Ideally, you will have already started doing this from you first day of employment. If you started a new job recently, make sure that you’re checking in with your boss at least a few days a week if not daily. Give your boss an idea of how you’re doing, ask for feedback or clarification and ask how they’re doing. Find out about them too – Hey boss, what are you working on? How are things going for you? What are the challenges you are dealing with right now? What about our work is keeping you up at night?

A Person Who Has Feelings

These are examples of different things you can ask if you are just getting started in trying to establish a connection with your boss. Think about it this way – your boss is a person too. They have feelings and thoughts and concerns just like you do. They just deal with different things at work than you do and are likely in a different position in life, but either way they’re a person all the same. It’s called emotional intelligence and I’ll get into that more at another time in another blog post. For the purpose of managing up, managing your boss, you must start from a place of mutual respect and cooperation and you must share a mutual concern for making things better.

Solve Problems

In getting to know your boss and your boss to know you, you’re trying to figure out if this is a person that wants to make things better. What are the problems my boss is dealing with and what is my boss doing to fix those problems? By having a conversation with your boss about these things you’re learning what it’s like to be in their shoes. You’re learning how they think and what it’s like to be in their position.

Decide

Maybe after listening to what it is that your boss deals with you decide you DON’T want to be the boss one day. Maybe you like just punching in and out, doing your job and not having to deal with the pressure your boss has to face on a daily basis – and that’s OK! Not everyone is happy dealing with those types of responsibilities. Maybe you really like your job and can’t see yourself doing anything other than what it is that you’re doing? That’s great! You can still manage up – and this is especially important if you love your job and need something to improve your performance.

Improve

Managing up is important because it is a way to get what you need in order to improve. Managing up means convincing your boss that you have an idea that’s worth exploring and something that will make the company or the team better. Maybe you need a new desk. Maybe you need a bigger travel budget so you can get in front of more recruits. Maybe you need an assistant to take care of smaller tasks so you can focus on what’s most important. Maybe your strengths make your current job seem mundane when you really belong in another department doing a different job.

Rapport

Whatever the change you want to make, if you don’t have some level of rapport with your boss, you won’t be able to manage up and get what you need in order to make things better. Your boss will manage you and inform you of what they think you’re doing well and what needs improvement (hopefully) and you should be thinking about how you can do the same with your boss. Be careful though…if you just jump right in and tell your boss everything you think they need to fix you might find yourself out on the curb with a box. Take it one step at a time and start a conversation.

Just Talk

One of the most powerful things you can do with a person is just talk. Go talk. Get them alone either at lunch or in a scheduled out meeting and tell them what’s going on with you. Ask them what’s going on with them. If you’re experience dissatisfaction at work, you have to talk to someone. If it is unsafe at work to talk about what you are experiencing, usually there is a Human Resources department that can help you with that. If you work for a smaller organization and your relationship with your boss is too unhealthy to approach them directly, go to their boss. You have a responsibility to yourself and also to your organization to fix what’s not working.

Culture

That said, only you know how things are and only you know what the culture is like. If the culture is one that persecutes people for stepping out of line and one that is built on alliances and childish games, you probably don’t want to work there anyway. But if your organization is one that values improvement and positive gains (even if that means conflicting opinions), even though it might be difficult, find someone that you can talk to about what you are dealing with. And this is only if you feel like you can’t talk to you boss. I know it can be intimidating to face your fear and speak your mind to you supervisor, but if your boss has a genuine heart, they will take the time to listen to you and address your concerns if you are willing to express those feelings.

Be a person. Be a team player. Talk it out.

Go Forth.

How to Bake Sweet Potatoes

I love food and I pretty much always have. Probably a little too much and that’s something I’m trying to change…the way I think about food that is. Food is necessary for sustaining life, but when it becomes something more is when we have problems. I spend much of my free time looking at recipes and different ways to make healthy food that tastes good without a lot of hassle or time needed to prepare.

As a result of my independent study I discovered that sweet potatoes are actually a pretty decent food. They’re easy to store and keep for a good amount of time, they’re decently inexpensive, they are easy to cook and they have a balanced-enough nutritional profile for the amount of carbohydrates they contain. Plus, they taste great boiled, baked, or mashed, although I prefer soft-baked. Soft-baked is a term I just made up (I’m not even sure if that’s a real term) that describes a sweet potato that is baked enough that once cooled, it becomes very soft.

Depending on what you’re going to be doing with your sweet potatoes, here is a pictorial explanation of how to bake sweet potatoes. You can adjust the length of baking time based on what you’re going to do with them afterwards and to your desired level of softness. I prefer mine in that middle range when they’re not mushy, but definitely not hard either. I like them with enough density that you kind of have to chew them but not really. Sometimes I’ll bake them until they’re soft and make mashed sweet potatoes too.

No matter how you like your baked sweet potatoes, follow these steps:

Buy your sweet potatoes in bulk and save money if you can. When you prepare your sweet potatoes for baking, try to pick out ones that are similar in size. Doing so will ensure that you get an even bake for all the sweet potatoes you pick out, so that they are all the same consistency when finished baking. That way you don’t get some that are hard and some that are super soft. If you don’t have a choice, keep a close eye on the ones that are smaller so they don’t get over baked.

sweet potatoes
Bulk, raw sweet potatoes

HOW TO BAKE/ROAST SWEET POTATOES

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Let your oven warm up while you complete the next step.

Next, wash your sweet potatoes well. If you have a vegetable brush, you can use that, otherwise just use cold water, rub them down with your hands and make sure they get nice and clean, leaving the skin on. Leaving the skin on ensures that the nutrients inside the sweet potatoes stays there (one reason why baking is better than boiling…boiling can cut out some of the health benefits of sweet potatoes, but don’t quote me on that because I’m not a scientist…leave a note in the comments if you find a reference to this opinion either for or against)

sweet potatoes
Washed sweet potatoes ready to bake

After you’ve cleaned your sweet potatoes and gotten all the dirt and stray roots off, put them in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet to bake. I prefer a baking pan such as one made by Pyrex or Corningware so that when I’m moving them in and out of the oven they don’t slide off the pan onto the floor. Sweet potatoes are usually an irregular shape and don’t to want to stay still when moving, so please be careful when handling hot sweet potatoes.

sweet potatoes in the oven
Sweet potatoes in the oven

The sweet potatoes you see in these pictures are somewhat small, so I’d probably start my timer at about 45 minutes before checking them with a fork or knife. If they need more time to reach your desired level of softness, put them back in the oven for 5 more minutes and check again. Repeat every 5 minutes until you think they are ready. For larger sweet potatoes, I usually start the oven timer for about an hour or 65 minutes before I start checking their softness. If you have a convection oven (lucky you!) reduce your bake time by about 20%.

After your sweet potatoes are finished baking, set them out to cool for a few minutes before you start to handle them. Even if you plan on serving them right away, don’t worry, they’ll stay hot as long as you leave the skin on. You don’t want to burn yourself on the internal juices that might still be oozing around inside your sweet potatoes. Give the ooze a few minutes to settle before you start cutting them. (This might sound gross, but that ooze is some of the liquified sugar from the starched in your sweet potatoes…that’s what makes them taste so good!)

HOW TO CUT SWEET POTATOES

First, be careful when using knives. Cut the ends off and then cut them in half the short way, through the fat, middle section.

start to cut your sweet potatoes
How to start cutting up your sweet potatoes

Then set them upright with the large open face down on the cutting board, making them pretty stable to handle. In order to peel your sweet potatoes, start at the narrow end and slice off the skin using a “sawing” motion, going only about an inch wide piece of skin and only as deep as the brown skin goes. Take your time and make sure you’re not slicing too much into the flesh of your sweet potatoes – that just wastes good flesh. You really just want to remove the brown skin and barely anything more. Because you baked your sweet potatoes, the flesh underneath will likely shrivel up, so do your best to remove the skin, bruises, and root bases. They should look like this when the skin is all removed.

peeled sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes with the skin removed

Don’t those look delicious! I love that orange color – makes me hungry just looking at them! Depending on how you are serving your sweet potatoes, at this point you can cut them up into pieces, put them in a bowl and mash them, freeze them, whatever you want! Below, I show you how I cut them up and store them in plastic containers. You can check out some various food storage options here: food storage options on Amazon My baked sweet potatoes usually don’t last very long, so I either serve them right away or refrigerate them right away.

baked cubed sweet potatoes
Baked, cubed sweet potatoes

If you’re trying to watch your calories and make healthier choices, sweet potatoes are a great alternative to pasta and many other carbohydrate sources. Make every day net positive and do more good for yourself than bad. Carbs aren’t bad and sweet potatoes are a great source of this healthy macro nutrient. I hope you find this information helpful – let me know in the comments and by signing up for my newsletter.

Also, all of the Amazon links in this post are my affiliate links. When you click on them and buy something, I’ll make a small commission on your order – all at no cost to you! These Amazon affiliate links help support this blog and offset the costs associated with running a website. Thanks for reading! I appreciate your support of Bill’s Lifestyle Blog.

#SportsConf 2015

Hashtag Sports Conference 2015
Hashtag Sports 2015 #SportsConf

If you didn’t know about this event, you should really check it out. Put on by Hashtag Sports, a curator of sports business technology content, #SportsConf 2015 was a two day event that brought together the digital sports community through interviews conducted over Google Hangouts. They did this last year and obviously had so much success they were able to convince Whistle Sports to be a sponsor.

On another note, while you’re on the Hashtag Sports website, sign up for their email list. They do a great job of curating internet content related to sports and technology. While you’re thinking of newsletters, sign up for Bill’s Sports Business Blog email list while you’re at it as well!

Whistle Sports is another one of those companies that if you haven’t heard of them, you should really check them out. They are quickly becoming a leader in online sports video, giving fans without cable subscriptions a way to be involved with their favorite teams and athletes. They have a similar vibe as what many YouTube Creators have, which really means that they are excited about what they’re doing and having a ton of fun doing it. That in and of itself is a big reason why they’re popular as well – people are drawn to passion and to people living with purpose.

I hope you really take some time and check out the content on the #SportsConf 2015 website. There are some great gems in there and if nothing else, you’ll at least get to see and get to know some of the leaders in sports business today, from media companies to team executives to athletes and everyone in between.

Also, stay tuned for #SBWeek 2015 in Seattle! Next week I’ll announce this year’s sports business networking event location, so make sure you’re signed up for my newsletter!

Go Forth!

Take Care of Yourself

Take Care
“Take Care” – A way of saying thank you for being you.

Do you ever find yourself saying to someone as you leave a conversation or exit their company, “take care” or “take care of yourself”?

What does that even mean? Take care – of what? Do you think for some reason that I don’t take care of myself? Of course that’s probably not what they mean, but it’s interesting to think about where these sayings come from and what they mean, both at a surface level as well as at a deeper, more thoughtful level.

Perhaps we say this because subconsciously we all know that most people don’t really take that great of care of themselves after all. Do you eat right and exercise? Do you deal with stress or let it control your life? Do you floss your teeth every day? Maybe you do some or most of these but likely you don’t do all of them on a regular basis.

And that’s what we mean by take care. I want you to take care of yourself because I want you to be feeling well and healthy, mentally as well as physically, the next time we get together. Even when we don’t know someone, by saying “take care”, what we’re really saying is that I appreciate who you are as a person and I want the best for you.

Think of this the next time someone says this to you and say it back to them with more intention. Practice the next time you’re at the grocery store or out to eat. If that’s too personal because you see the same people there every week and you might feel embarrassed, then the next time you’re away from home at a distance great enough no one might know who you are, say this with whoever is serving you, whether you’re filling up your gas tank or buying a candy bar health bar from a convenience store. “Take care!” “You too, take care of yourself please. I appreciate you.”

Don’t worry about offending them. If you do, at least you will have made them actually think about something they don’t know telling them that they care.

The intention of Bill’s Lifestyle Blog is to inspire and motivate for intentional living and taking care of ones self is central to this theme. If you don’t tell the people around you how you actually feel, they’ll honestly never really know. Feelings are too delicate be to tossed around with facial expressions and innuendo. If you want someone to know something, ACTUALLY TELL THEM!

This is as true with work relationships as it is with personal and family relationships. It’s insane to think that something will know what you think simply by looking at you or listening to you tell them about things unrelated to feelings. I know it’s difficult, but it’s so incredibly worthwhile and fulfilling you won’t know what I’m talking about until you give it a try.

So start today. Start with your spouse or significant other. Start with your cubicle mate or personal assistant. Your trainer, your barista or your pastor. It matters not who you start with, only that you actually tell someone how you feel about them. Tell someone today to “take care” and add something to the end that’s unique to them.

Take care reader, Here’s to your success.

Community: My Perspective on Seattle’s “12’s”

Email From Seattle Seahawks Owner Paul Allen
Email from Paul Allen to Seahawks Fans , Thanking Them

I must say that it was pretty cool to live in near a city whose team went to the Super Bowl. Twice. Yes, I’m referring to the Seattle Seahawks who went to Super Bowl XLVIII and WON and Super Bowl XLIX and lost. I didn’t write about this last year, but never underestimate the power of your community. If you take nothing else away from this post (or really anything I write about on this blog) remember that you can never invest enough in relationships and community. Take care of people. Embrace your community. Tell people how you feel about them – especially when it’s something good! Develop rapport and a connection with your people that lasts beyond the field. (Good also for personal relationships…)

The Seattle Seahawks have had a great following on loyal fans for decades, but it was really quite something to witness what has happened over the last year and a half. Pretty much right at middle of last (2013-2014) season, once things started picking up steam in the community and it seemed more and more that the team was continuing to do well and a playoff berth was likely and then guaranteed. Of course the regular fans were already BIRGing (basking in reflected glory) and couldn’t stop talking about the team, but as things started getting more exciting at the end of the season, non-fans started getting on the bus too! By the time the Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints on January, 11th, 2014 I’d say the excitement was red-hot. Then when they beat the San Francisco 49ers, arguably their biggest rival, on January 19th, 2014 the excitement quickly shot through the roof to white-hot and the most incredible feeling anyone in this area has ever had, or at least as far as community/sports feelings go

The feeling of excitement around town and throughout the region was incredible. People were wearing their jerseys and hats non-stop, not just on “Blue Friday” or over the weekend – but literally every single day of the week. The team was selling more and more hats and scarves, stickers, car flags, large flags, and every other possible piece of merch you can think of – it was Seahawks swag everywhere! The fans of the Seattle Seahawks literally painted the state of Washington Blue. Even down into Oregon and over to Idaho you’d see the “12’s” jerseys walking around everywhere. It was really fun to see.

Then of course after the Super Bowl victory, the real party began – WE’RE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!!! The next three days were a fog for most people until the day of the celebration parade in the middle of the week following. The parade was supposed to start around 1230pm or 1pm and you’d figure there’d be quite a few people there and a little bit of media coverage, but literally the party started the night before. Police probably started shutting down streets downtown around midnight and people were literally camping on the sidewalks along the parade route. The weather that night was clear but terribly cold – one of the coldest nights/days we had all winter last year – but that didn’t stop these avid fans from claiming their real estate on Seattle’s sidewalks.

If that wasn’t enough, or maybe as a result of all the excitement, local news coverage began a constant stream around 9am and didn’t end until probably 5pm with the evening news. All of the regular scheduled programming that day was cancelled so that each station could cover the story of Seattle’s Super Bowl Parade. By the end of the parade, there are said to have been around 1 million people in the streets and stadiums of Seattle that day. Oh, and by the way, the population of Seattle is only about 700,000 people…so that just goes to show the strong following and sense of community the Seahawks have built in this region.

This past season was very much the same. The disappointment of the Seahawks loss to the New England Patriots was as painful to most fans as last year’s victory was exciting. There are only a few games I’ve ever witnessed and felt such a sinking feeling as I did on Super Bowl Sunday this year. Even still, that feeling doesn’t take away from the excitement leading up to this year’s game and the sense of pride in our community that was tangible. There were still the car flags, the stickers, the flags outside of homes, the lights in the skyscrapers in the shape of “12” – really cool by the way – and all kinds of people wearing the Blue and Green. Overall, the sense of togetherness and bonding was incredible.

But how does one accomplish such a sense of community? Well, look at what the Seahawks have done and continue to do – they gave their fans a name (the 12’s), they told them what to do (create the loudest stadium in sports, which on a few occasions registered on the Richter scale as if it were an earthquake), and they tell them how much they appreciate them being fans on a regular occasion (as evidenced by the email I got at the top). It’s really that simple. Give you fans a name, tell them what to do (How to be a Fan 101) and tell them that you appreciate them. I know it sounds simple, but that’s really all it takes. Sure, there’s alot of work built into those, but it’s still simple. It’s not complex. You can get a whole lot more complicated from there, but that’s really the basic formula. Give them what they want and encourage them along the way to get them to do what it is that you want them to do, then thank them for consuming your product and being there. Every person inside your organization ought to follow the same instructions and know what it is that your organization stands for and why. Regardless of what happens on a field, it’s personal interactions that people are going to remember no matter what your athletes do. Treat people with respect. Tell them you appreciate them.

Go Forth!