managing

Managing Your Iceberg

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At 9:30am on 4/23/2017, I attended Managing Your Iceberg, presented by Cory Miller, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC

Managing Your Iceberg

Cory opened by telling us that we’d be hearing some very personal things. Entrepeneurship is the hardest and most rewarding job there is. When looking at the important info, he came to this idea of the iceberg.

The tip we see is seunchine and success – everything is awesome. Below the waterline, struggle and suffering – all the stuff I bury & hide from everyone. Anger, stress, frustration, jealousy, competition,. conflict, loss, insecurity, criticism, failur, fear, etc. You’re not alone.

For the man’s life in 2010-2011, so much was going on in his business life, that everything was coming up roses. However, there were numerous items under the surface which was tearing his life apart.

Today, things are slightly different. He has a 4-year old child just like him, and a 2-year old child just like his wife. And, certainly being a parent is the most frustrating job which has ever existed. They are the greatest joy in life, but they are also the greatest trouble. 🙂 Its worth it though

Same Problems, Different Names

We have to learn to be human. You’re a real person, you have emotions. Let’s not hide the human experience, lets not sweep it under the rug (let’s NOT do this on facebook). Be Human with others, and you’ll get human back. SOmetimes its not always awesome, but it is real. There are too many opportunities to be robotic or inhuman. If you aren’t being human or acting it, you’re missing out.

What holds us back

Self defense, fear, ego, pride, shame, embarrassment, guilt… these things hold us back. In short, a superhero syndrome. That he may not want anyone to help him, that he could take it all on. The right people rushed in to help him when he let it out.

How to navigate the iceberg NOW

Its all about relationships and people. Those who rush in, while everyone else runs out. Those are the helpful ones. For us viewers, if everything in your world got turned upside down, WHO would you need? Things will go wrong. When everything hits the fan, who is there to help you make it through.

Your significant other- your first and essential partner. Your counselor- someone who you may not have to ask to pass you your favorite dish at thanksgiving.

My iceberg group

Safe group of like-minded, value-aligned people on a similar path. What’s the why? The learning, growth, accountability, support you need to keep you afloat. Its ok to have a uniform group #2, and iceberg friends that help to keep you afloat. I hate the term “mastermind group”. To get them, find those who are trusting and respect, confidentiality, no pillow talk. Learn and grow, not there to sit and gloat, and able to receive Empathetic support and not be jealous or judgemental. Empathy is not sympathy. its walking in one another’s footsteps without judgement.

Wysiwyg, shed the masks and costumets. Share the iceberg, the higest highs and lowest lows. Parallel stories offered, but not arrogant advice. More often than not, we want your story, not to be told things as advice. Give me the story and I’ll draw my own conclusions.

It starts with you

Be proactive and start herding cats. Start today. be open and honest, but have mutual trust and respect with CIA-level secrecy. There are plenty of support groups for problems which are specific, but not exactly one for LIFE.

Start simple and build from there. Dedicated meetings regularly. Monthly by phone, zoom, whatevery works. Once a year, have a retreat, and add new members.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. THis has been tweaked to:

if you want to go miservable and lonely, go alone. If you want to go supported and happy, go together.

Success = 3 things you’re grateful for, and your support team.
Struggle = what’s holding you back, your fears, whats keeping you up at night or giving you heartburn

Cory Miller is a former newspaper journalist turned full-time entrepreneur. In 2008, he started iThemes, one of the first commercial product companies in WordPress, that now offers key products like BackupBuddy, iThemes Security and iThemes Sync. Named the 7th fastest growing company in Oklahoma City in 2011 by the Metro 50, iThemes employs over 20 people around the globe with headquarters in Oklahoma City. In 2011, he co-founded The Div, Inc, a nonprofit tech foundation aimed at inspiring and training the next generation of web developers through its kid’s program, Div Jr. He is the co-author of WordPress All-in-One for Dummies (Wiley, 2011) and is a member of the Oklahoma chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a network of over 8,000 entrepreneurs in 40 countries with companies that have revenue over $1 million dollars annually. He blogs regularly about entrepreneurship and career advice here at CoryMiller.com. He is married to Lindsey Miller, who is the Partner Manager at Liquid Web. They have an adorable son named Caloway and a little sweetheart daughter named Lillian.

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ECGC: Leadership – Leading Disciplines You Don’t Understand

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Leading disciplines you don't understand

Session entitled: Managing Disciplines You Don’t Understand, ECGC, 4/24/14. Professional development on leadership with Dustin Clingman. This session was principally for producers and anyone managing a multi-disciplined task force.

Leaders and leads are primarily the target for this talk. Clingman posed the question: “What shall we rant about?” asking leads and leaders what some of the major complaints about their jobs happen to be.

Major responses included:

  • Team members (or team as a whole) don’t do what they say  they will
  • They don’t follow through
  • They provide work that does not meet specs
  • They fail to communicate (problems, solutions, issues, or at all)
  • Excuses (there’s always an excuse)
  • They do not meet established schedules

Many team members do not understand that leaders and leads are on the spear’s tip to meet deadlines and produce quality work.

What is the role that we play as the lead? We have the ability to explain and understand the scope and intent of the project, goals, parameters, and the timeline. We have to make sure team is happy or healthy (preferably both).

In reverse, what are the staff saying about the leaders?

  • Producers suck.
  • Producers suck. (this is not a typo, these are the top 2 complaints)
  • Producers talk, and they don’t listen
  • Producers don’t defend us
  • We’re always being crunched
  • What do they do?
  • I’ve never worked with a good producer.

Where does that energy come from? Those commenters are not bad apples or poor designers or crybabies. Those responses are from qualified employees. Producers are middle managers- buffers and barriers between workers and the management team. Many producers take so much time managing and not enough time leading. So, I have renamed this discussion and professional development session:

 

LEADING DISCIPLINES YOU DONT UNDERSTAND

“Producer” is a term pulled from the movie-making and video industry. Perhaps because we see video games as elaborate and award-winning as movies. Real producers gather the money to make a film come to the screen, and then take an elaborate amount of the attention. So, we are not paying for the production costs, but maybe taking credit though.

Not all producers have experience with each and every discipline in the game industry. Just ask a developer. It can be said that the level of happiness for Developers is measures by the number of WTFs per minute. The important thing to remember here though, is that we are all different, and we are all the same. Many of us chosen to be leaders have little or no experience- and some of us no interest- in leading. If successful, we charge ahead from game to game, we don’t backfill or teach people how to be great leaders. There is little in the budget or time for leadership training, and most of us achieve training within the the community.

 

TESTING: BOON OR BUST?

Myers-Briggs and True Colors tests are good to point out blind spots in our views, and different needs for staff members based on emotional behavior. BLAME-CULTURES are the worst. Don’t take the test if you work in a blame culture location. People will lump together into hate groups and strike out or shun those who think differently. Bad information in these climates can be used to reinforce grouping behavior, and it will be painful in the end.

Most leaders are FORCED into the role. Some choose it. It is lonely being OF the people but at the spear’s tip, leading the group. As a leader, you need to recognize the personality and humanity of those under you. They will not think the same of you.   😦

The boss needs to know the people. Spend time investing in personal relationships, get to know them (that is their lives) outside of work, etc. Don’t be a buddy over a boss, but fraternize in limited amounts. This will pay big dividends. Once you can recognize their qualities and individuality, they are willing to work harder.

 

Give clear directions, and Grow a Spine

Decide a production methodology that works and then find a way to sell it to your management and team. “But, we’ve always done it this way” are the seven most dangerous words in business.

Grow a spine when either side fights back. If you’ve agreed on a path, take it- don’t let management above roll your team, and don’t let the team force you away from your path. Hold people accountable and support them. Spinelessness is not leadership. Negotiation and compromise ARE leadership. It is evil to be disengenuous to your team and crumble to the boss. Be swift, spare no souls who stand in the way. People are often afraid to tell the truth, especially if it is about failure, disagreement on keen points, or needing more than you initially planned. IF you tell the truth, you can return to the team as a hero

 

Protect the creative environment

Find out how your people like to work best, and enable that to happen. Get buy-in from the rest of the studio or at least your neighbors. Examples of this might include: quiet time from 2-5pm, low/high light, headphones

Keep YOUR personal life together

You can’t lead when you’re not in your right mind. All your hard work on relationships in your workplace can be ruined by a glib comment or two. Know how to keep things separated. If you’re the leader, you never get a pity party. EVER. There is a lot of stress in leadership, but you cannot let that affect your workplace

Get rid of troublemakers
If you have non-performing indvidual, do not balk about getting them on a performance plan. Mental anguish arises and team morale quickly declines when one person isn’t pulling their weight. Developers don’t like conflict, because that’s your job as a manager. Everyone would rather do more work than have to put up with someone dragging them down.

Don’t over-manage/be a control freak too often
If you come from another discipline, use it. Don’t ever argue over colors or words.

Learn how to play poker
For leaders, this is a must. Life itself is a game of incomplete information. How people behave or patterns they exhibit become their behaviors. How they play poker is how they think about life

Play to the strengths of the team
set them up for success at least on this project. FInd the path that works and speed things up. Some team members thrive under controlled crunch. Find out ow your team works best and then create those conditions.

DON’T BULLSHIT ANYONE OVER ANYTHING. EVER.
This will trivialize them. If you don’t know, ask them questions and make them teach you,

 

So leadership tactics formed easily in the first part of this discussion, but lets talk specifically about how to manage and lead disciplines if you are unfamiliar with the archetypes.

Managing the artists
Artists need space and they space out more than you like. Save them from themselves, get involved early and give good boundaries to your art requests. Be very specific about what you want to see, how many variations, how many ideas, etc. Rework drives them BONKERS, especially when this is preventable.

Managing engineers
When engineers explain their ideas and plans passionately, ask them to deconstruct this for the lay person. Don’t be afraid to ask them what the options are. Look to them as technical mentors and ask how you can learn more about a particular subject. Beware the coding zinger joke.

Managing designers
Designers want rules, but they are often tempted to break them. Give them Bite size work, and embrace the protypes! Support them, organizational chart pending. Understand that they exist to give order to the game. They are frequently Tauran, liking stability, sameness, comfort.

Managing sound designers
Audio guys want respect. Bring them into the process early so they can be part of the ideas and concept from the very beginning. People usually want to build the game THEN add the sound, like a movie. The more immersed the sound designers are, the better the product will be. Be very, very clear with your feedback.

 

Closing Thoughts

How can you get people to separate their ego from the end product? Well, you can’t. Leadership starts at the top. I never introduced a person as someone who works FOR me, but rather I introduced them as someone who works WITH me. If ego is trumped at the top, it will trickle down. Leadership should be humble, willing to do everything they ask others to do. Preferably the interview process will allow you to throw someone under the bus and tout themselves so you can get an idea of what they’ll be like in your organization, but good luck getting that to happen…

Oh, The Things I Wish I’d Known (Online Teaching)

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Have you ever thought about teaching an online class? This professional development course presented by Cathey Jordan was built to help teachers organize their online courses and class shells. This course was broken down into three distinct sections.

In the first section, special attention was given to discuss ways in which we could help keep students on the right track on day one and help keep them there. A great deal of this discussion was built upon setting the pace for student expectations early, and sticking to your guns. Many students have no experience with online classes, and feel they are running the show, or that you are available for discussion 24/7. They set out some strong expectations via lists that were easy for everyone to follow.

The second portion of the class discussed mistakes made in the first semester of the presenter’s experience and ways in which they were shared. This was an amusing section outlining errors that fit many people’s experiences. Everything was given in terms of problem, solution, lessons learned, and future adjustments to the program.

In the third portion of the class, a Q&A section was opened and we all discussed potential issues and solutions.Questions were very generalized and opened doors for many teachers, but there were also some real horror stories.

In all, I found this a fantastic session for new online teachers.