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Here's To FY15, w/ 5 Hard-Learned Lessons























Every year on October 1st the Federal performance cycle resets itself. Combined with the Jewish High Holidays (Yom Kippur and the accompanying fast just ended) the amount of navel-gazing can literally make your stomach hurt, as well as your eyes.
But it also helps you to grow. So, here's to distilling some simple things-you-already-knew from the highs and lows of Friday fires, team high-fives, unexpected project arrivals, and other assorted "experiences" that were together FY14.
1. Perspective
The other day the son of someone I know professionally went missing. I was horrified when I found out and overwhelmingly relieved when they found him. That kind of thing is worthy of strong emotion. On the other hand most work crises really...aren't. The fact is, things break and when people try to work together it's an imperfect science at best.
2. Peace
Feel peace within yourself. Wish others peace. It's karma, what emanates from you always comes back. All that anger you feel because...why? Someone shouted you down at a meeting? Kept you off that email chain once too many times? Made a snarky remark about your shoes? These are minor things compared with stuff like...ISIS, Ebola, economic insecurity and the persistent war against women. Get involved in making the world a better place and have compassion for people whose vision is still limited by fear, ignorance and hate.
3. Laughter
There is so much that is absurd at work and everywhere. On Friday I walked into my office and saw a clock on the wall. It was sort of crazy, to look up and see this Staples clock looking back down at me, brand spanking new. I vaguely remembered that someone had asked me to get a clock to keep meetings on time, and I forgot about it. So they must have gone and requisitioned one and had it installed. That level of effort struck me as kind of odd and great and hilarious, all at the same time.
This of course is not to mention all the screw-ups that are so bad you just have to laugh.
4. Sparks
This year I witnessed more than one turnaround, often unexpected but it was always amazing. What I learned is that you don't know what lights a fire in people. How one little spark can produce a roaring flame. Never be so sure when you look at people; what you perceive of as a quiet type may actually be someone who is just waiting for their breakout moment.
5. Help 
You'll never be sorry helping somebody else out. Maybe you don't have time. You probably won't get the credit. Doesn't matter - you do it because you're there. And others do the same for you. It's not possible to get the work done otherwise, and anyway, it just feels good.

Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Photo credit: Eleanna via Flickr.

15 Things Employees Want From Their Managers

Photo credit: Drew Bandy/Flickr

There is definitely more that belongs on this list. What would you add?

1.   Consistency / follow established processes 

2.   Integrity

3.   Empathy

4.   Action (not just talk)

5.   Followup

6.  Communication about what affects them / resources where needed / help prioritizing and eliminating busywork /deconflicting areas of confusion

7.   Detail orientation

8.   Technical proficiency 

9.    Reliability

10.   Support, respect, trust 

11.   Hold team members accountable (diplomatically if possible, directly when necessary) - swiftly 

12.   Discuss and evaluate work achievements

13.   Listen and understand history before introducing change (which should be done gingerly)

14.   Maturity / wisdom 

15.   Training / emphasis on continuous development / time to think not just do


Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government.

The Intimacy API


"Never have lives less lived been more chronicled." - Dennis Miller

It occurred to me the other day that social media has distorted the very nature of our selves.

And yet it is essential.

My daughter said she had "given up Facebook."

But a couple of days later, felt "kind of out of it."

On Hot 99.5 they were talking about women who wrote love notes to their boyfriends on Facebook while in real life things aren't so good.

"I don't want anyone talking trash about me, judging," said one caller-in.

Gawker had the story of an "alt-lit" magazine publisher who readily admitted to raping his acquaintances, though he said he felt bad about it. As he didn't realize the relations were nonconsensual.

One of the victims described staying at his place after some email correspondence back and forth. 

Electronically he seemed trustworthy enough, but in person it was a different story. 

And there was no practical way to leave his apartment in Brooklyn, seeing as it was the dead of night and she was option-less for a room.

In the Age of Social, the hive mind so quickly takes over and we feel like the Star Trekkian Borg, one with all the others for good (or not).

But we have also forgotten, and should not forget that real intimacy is human to human only. That it takes time. And that it  can't be replicated via an API.

_____

Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government.



10 Great Tips From Government Executives



Over the years I've been fortunate to receive some really good advice from senior government leaders. I carry these "golden nuggets" around in my brain and refer to them often. Hope they are useful to you.

1. "If you want to be successful, be polite, be professional, and have a good work ethic."

2. "The pie gets bigger the more you share it."

3. "Our people don't get enough credit. We need to make sure the public knows the good work they are doing."

4. "How is your husband doing? I remember him from ___" (This is the head of an Agency, who took the time to remember and thank each and every person he interacted with.)

5. "Think it through before you bring it to me."

6. "Dashboards, metrics, high-level bullet points...please."

7. "There is nothing new under the sun."

8. "One thing I like about you, is that you always support the executive" (and don't put yourself in the limelight.)

9. "That issue is very divisive here - I bring it up judiciously."

10. "Go out there, be creative...I trust you."

______

Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Photo credit: Jesus Solana/Flickr

Leveraging The Power of Online Communities

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Today marks the re-launch of my open, free-to-join GovLoop group, Community Cultivators, formerly E2E (Employee-to-Employee Communication), as well as Online Communities Best Practices at LinkedIn.

I hope you'll join the conversation at either place, because online communities today represent the #1 opportunity to reach and influence a target audience, yet few understand the science of influencing their beliefs and behaviors.

Jump in and join the conversations.

___
Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Image source: Open Clip Art

How To Succeed Without Even Trying (Well, Almost)
















My mother always said I was a schmuck. 
"All of the women in our family are," she says. "We work like goddamn animals, and what does it get us? Nothing."
We call this the "Coopersmith gene," for my grandmother Muriel, may she rest in peace.
Grandma had a heart attack in her early 40's, shoveling snow off her stoop. She didn't wait for Grandpa.
I don't believe that people die, rather they go to another more spiritual dimension. So I will speak of her in present tense: I love my grandmother fiercely.
She raised six kids. She made a Jewish home and cooked from scratch. The family was poor, "so poor we couldn't afford the 'o' and the 'r,' my aunt Sari says.
But Grandma made sure they never knew it.
She ran a real estate business with my Grandpa, after the mattress factory burnt down. A beautiful woman, it was dangerous for her to show properties to strange men, but she handled it.
I can't remember the whole story she told me once. But it ended with the words, "and when that guy got fresh I told him, 'my husband knows where you live.'"
Grandma was in love with my Grandpa. She had no intention of getting any divorce. But she worked her ass off anyway.
She said, "Dossy baby," (my nickname), "you've got to put up a shingle. Don't depend on a man."
By that she meant "have your own business." And as soon as I was old enough, I did exactly what she said.
But there were some things Grandma didn't know. Things that men do.
One of them, an important one, is that success at work is not necessarily correlated with how hard you work there.
Rather it has to do with something else entirely: how calm you make people feel.
If you think about the case of Friends, this point becomes pretty simple.
You wouldn't want Monica or Ross in charge.
Even though he's dumb as a doornail, you'd rather take Joey. Or probably Chandler, who knows when to quit.
The reason for this is intuitive, but I'm not sure I ever put it into words: The workplace is normally fraught with tension.
People want leaders who know how to take things in stride. Who are composed, and smooth, and look happy.
It is impossible to work yourself into a frazzled pulp and portray this kind of image. You have to actually be relaxed. 
If you want to get ahead at work, try doing a little less.
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Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Photo by me.