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Monday, December 29, 2008

Rugby Muscle

So that’s what I look like when I’m running down the field breaking tackles, and heading for the try line? OK, maybe not. But you do notice that he’s holding a rugby ball in this exhibit?

This is from “Bodies, The Exhibition” currently in Honolulu. There’s a couple of these traveling exhibits of dissected human bodies, and one is in Honolulu at the moment. I haven’t been to see it, but that’s just because I’m too cheap to pay the price of admission. I first heard about these exhibits a year or so ago on National Public Radio, and they sound pretty interesting. If you can handle seeing actual human cadavers being displayed this way, that is.

This photo (by Dennis Oda at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin) accompanies an article in today’s paper about the exhibit. Specifically about the controversy surrounding the bodies themselves. The company can’t guarantee that they came from willing donations, rather than from executed prisoners (they’re from China). A valid concern, of course. But mostly I thought it was neat to see that this particular body was carrying a rugby ball.

Lights Out

In case you haven’t heard, the power went out across the entire island of Oahu Friday night. Now I’m not going to get into the question of how this could possibly happen only two years after it happened before, that’s been asked enough already in the press. No, what I’m going to talk about is how some businesses stepped up during and after the blackout – and others didn’t. Think about your own business and how you’d react in adverse conditions (such as the sour economy we’re going through?).

My first shout of high praise goes to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the smaller of the two local newspapers (yes, Honolulu, a city of only about a million people has two daily newspapers). I generally read the papers every day, and I usually try to read them both. The fact that I primarily am interested in the comics, and that they each publish different ones, is irrelevant to this discussion.

On Saturday morning, after power had been restored, I was very interested in finding out about the power outage. I didn’t know the extent of the outage at the time, or how long it lasted (what do you do at night when the power goes out? Sleep), so I figured I’d get the paper and find out. I knew, of course, that the papers might have some trouble, but, again, I didn’t know the extent of the outage. There were no papers in the morning. OK. There were no papers into the afternoon. OK, must have been worse than I thought. Then, finally, late in the afternoon there was a paper.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, perpetual underdog in the local newspaper market, had managed to get out an edition. Not only did they manage to out maneuver their larger rival, I like the way they did it. Because the blackout was island-wide and lasted about 12 hours, they were very limited on what they could get out. So what they did was print a one-section edition. But within that one section, they printed one to two pages from every section of their normal paper. They had the blackout covered, of course, on the front page and a couple of pages inside, but they also had a couple pages of national and international news, business, sports, and even the comics. Sweet!

The larger paper (Honolulu Advertiser, if you must know), did nothing. So, while I’ve always enjoyed the Star-Bulletin, I am now a raving fan. That’s what business is all about; being flexible and adapting to the situation, out maneuvering the competition, and getting your product or service to the market even in the most extreme circumstances. I’m going to be writing about some other Honolulu businesses that stepped up, and others that didn’t, so come back.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Race Results

I ran the Honolulu Marathon yesterday. I use the word "run" loosely. Actually, I did run most of the way. My finishing time was almost exactly one hour off my target goal time, but that's OK. I'm not out there to race. I sign up for the marathon mostly for motivation, to get me out and exercise on those days when I'm feeling lazy and need a little push. The fear of the pain I would feel without proper training is a great motivator.

I trained pretty well this year, but I discovered that my training did nothing to improve my time. It did, however, help me greatly with my recovery. Aside from a little soreness in my thighs and lower back, I feel great. No tiredness or fatigue. My main goal for the marathon is to finish without too much pain. My secondary goal is to improve my time. I did good on the prime goal, now I need to work on the time improvement.

The Honolulu Marathon is a great race. It is the third largest marathon in the U.S., behind New York and Chicago, but what the Honolulu Marathon is known for is it's organization and that the course doesn't close until the last person finishes. This year the last person finished in over 15 hours, and the officials and volunteers were still there to welcome them (her, I think).

The fun of being in the midst of 23,000 people for 26 miles is not to be missed. In this marathon, you're never alone. And besides all the officials and volunteers, people who live all along the route come out and cheer on the participants. Throughout Waikiki, many tourists get up early to take in the spectacle. Even with this year's heavy rain in the early hours, the fans were out.

Overall I was happy with my performance, but I've still got a ways to go with my training. I know I'm not a born runner, but I enjoy it and will start training for next year's marathon about March. Next up is the Great Aloha Run in February (8 miles). I wouldn't miss the excitement and entertainment of the Honolulu Marathon for anything (well, OK, I did miss the past couple of years, but I wouldn't miss it for much).

So, with my finish time of 5:34:32, I'm not in the elite group (winning time was something like 2:14), but I could compete with some 80 year olds (look at some of those age group finishing times, it's amazing).

In Males age 45-49 I was 646th out of 1,062
For all Males, I was 5,598th out of 10,504
And for All Finishers, I was 8,795th out of 20,058

It makes me think I'm almost in good enough shape to get out on the rugby field.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I've got a refrigerator full of fruitcakes. I baked them last week and they're aging for Christmas. I make a great fruitcake. Nothing like those bricks you find at the grocery store. Everyone who's tried mine love them. It's hard to wait for them to age, but the anticipation adds to the excitement.

Instead of using the candied fruits that most people use, I use dried fruits - mango, papaya, cherries, apples, apricots, raisins, pineapple, figs, and more (meaning I can't remember). I chop up the fruits, then soak them in rum for a few days before mixing and baking.

Yum! I can't wait.

Hawaii Food Manufacturers

I attended the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association Holiday Party on Tuesday. I enjoyed myself. Met some people, had some good food (made with Association members products), and utilized my drink tickets. I met, and spoke with, Kai Cowell of Kaiulani Spices, who makes some great spice mixes. I thought I recognized her when I met her, and I had. She has a booth at the KCC Farmers market every other week and she mixes up some curry and potatoes using her mixes, for sampling. Her samples are great! I also met and spoke with Suzanne from Wong's Meat Market. I'm not familiar with their products, but will have to try them out.

I had to leave before the drawing, so don't know if I would have won.

Professional Rugby Blogger

Joe Ward, hooker for the London Wasps, has a blog, Inside the Locker Room - Life Inside a Pro Rugby Team. The title pretty much sums it up. If you want to know what life is like for a professional rugby player, take a look, it's pretty interesting. That's a picture of Joe, there on the right (photo lifted from the Wasp's website). Yep, looks like a hooker (for those of you who are not rugby knowledgeable, the hooker is the guy/girl who "hooks" the ball in the scrum. For all the teams I've played for, it's the short guy on the team.)

I'm going to add Joe's site to my link list (and update for those I mentioned in my last post).

Good luck with your recovery, Joe (he's injured), and good luck to the Wasps!

And, if you want to help the growth of rugby here in the U.S., shop at the Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger stores, where all proceeds are donated to USA Rugby.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More links

Yes, I know, I haven't posted in awhile (again). Keep meaning too, but been busy. Sorry.

In the meantime, here's some new links; a few more Rugger Owned Businesses, a rugby league in London made up of business, mostly in the financial sector, and an interesting website with lots of business articles. Again, looking at the Rugger Owned Businesses, you can see that rugby people (players, coaches, refs) are a diverse bunch. Just about any type of business you can think of is owned by a rugger. Take a look at these business, and if you need their products or services, support the rugger.

Citisports, City of London Rugby Union - John Cardosi

LakeHouse, a Marketing Communications company (The Netherlands) - John Jildera

FreelanceToday, a freelancer and temp site (The Netherlands again, hope you speak Dutch) - Richard Koops

rugby15 (rugby gear) and The Rugby World Cup (an unofficial site dedicated to the Rugby World Cup, I bet the IRB would like that web address) - Peter Montague-Ebbs

SayEconomy, all sorts of business articles (may find one from me sometime soon)

Will update the sidebar asap, 'gotta run right now....

As always, Hug-A-Rugger or Adopt-A-Rugger....

Monday, November 17, 2008


As a casual follower of the goings on in England rugby, I'm just wondering when the calls for Martin Johnson's resignation will begin. My unscientific data, from reading news of rugby mostly on the BBC's website, is that as soon as the coach/manager loses his first game, everyone starts crying for their resignation or firing.

Since Martin Johnson is the best thing since sliced bread (again, unscientific data), they may wait until England loses a second time, but it will come.

Now I've nothing against Mr. Johnson, seeing as I don't know him personally and he was an outstanding player. I'm just commenting on what I expect from the press and fans.

Should we start a pool to bet on when the calls will start?

Oh, pulled this photo off the BBC's Rugby website, in case anyone thinks I'm trying to claim this as my own.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Not Rugby... Cricket in Hawaii

It's not rugby, but it's a small island and a small community here. So here's some cricket in Hawaii information (supplied to me by Misa, who wrote the screenplay and cast me for the short film I was in - Kava Kultcha').

MEDIA RELEASE Thursday, 29 October 2008


The Hawaii Premier League (HPL) is launching its first 20/20 cricket competition next week. The league is scheduled to hold tournaments twice annually each November and May. The current three teams are comprised on all-star cricket players from Oahu and Maui. The three teams will wear different colored uniforms and be named the Master Batters, Spitting Cobras and Terminators. The league has plans to expand to include mainland cricket teams in 2009 before expanding further to include international teams from Asia and Oceania.

20/20 cricket was developed in the past decade and is a craze sweeping the cricket world. Unlike five-day Test cricket or even the limited over matches which take up to eight hours to complete, 20/20 cricket completes a match in just three hours, or the time it typically takes to finish a baseball game. Yet the fast paced game produces scores of more than one hundred and fifty runs per team. This level of cricket demands athleticism and all around playing ability.

The Honolulu Cricket Club was founded in 1893 and is noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “oldest sporting club in the Pacific.” The club is comprised of more than forty members from many nationalities that live, study and work on Oahu. The club plays its home matches at Kapiolani Park, in the shadow of Diamond Head and across from world famous Waikiki Beach. The 20/20 cricket league is the latest development in its proud, 115 year history.

The Honolulu Cricket Club has hosted teams from around the world including clubs from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada, England and the mainland United States. The plan is to expand the Hawaii Premier League into an international competition, in a tournament structure beginning in 2010.

An international 20/20 cricket tournament will foster tourism from new and emerging markets including South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and India. Mark Berwick, Captain of the HCC says “We will be partnering with the Hawaii Tourism Authority to generate interest in Hawaii as an international destination through sports like cricket. A new sports
tournament is a great way to diversify the inbound tourism traffic while promoting Hawaii as the paradise that it is for residents and visitors alike.”

About the emergence of 20/20 cricket, Berwick goes onto say “We have been eagerly awaiting the chance to play in a competitive cricket league. The Honolulu Cricket Club is excited about the development of a 20/20 league in Hawaii, especially considering the fast, action packed nature of this version of cricket”

For further information regarding the Honolulu Cricket Club please visit

Sunday 2 November 10:00 – 1:00 pm Terminators versus Master Batters
1:30 – 4:30 pm Master Batters versus Spitting Cobras

Sunday 9 November 10:00 – 1:00 pm Spitting Cobras versus Terminators
1:30 – 4:30 pm Terminators versus Master Batters

Sunday 16 November 10:00 – 1:00 pm Spitting Cobras versus Master Batters
1:30 – 4:30 pm Terminators versus Spitting Cobras

Sunday 23 November 12:00 – 3:00 pm Championship Match
3:00 – 5:00 pm Championship Celebration

Mark Berwick, Honolulu Cricket Club, Phone (808) 384 7292 Email

Rugger Owned Business Updates

A few more businesses owned by rugby people:

Hunter Stuckey Marshall - Removing the Barriers to Sales Performance. Sales & Sales Force consulting, training and coaching.

Raging Bull - clothing. Owned by Phil Vickery, captain of the England Rugby team. The Sales Manager is also a rugger (former England A player & Gloucester RFC captain).

SpinMill Group - A Global Communications Company.

It just goes to show that rugby people come in all shapes, sizes, and careers. There's just no limit to those of us who play "The Best Sport Ever".

Support your Rugger Owned Business.

And don't forget to Hug-A-Rugger or Adopt-A-Rugger....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blondie's Back

Blondie, at Saturday's A Rugby Day, is back to her blog. She's one of the reasons I started this blog. While I've missed her blogging, and am eagerly reading her new posts, during her absence I've become quite attached to and have been thouroughly enjoying Wendy at Your Scrumhalf Connection.

But since computers and the internet are wonderful, I'm capturing both their feeds in my feed reader so I can enjoy them both. Oh, and can't forget Total Flanker... Keep on blogging!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Venture Capital in the Down Economy

This is a follow up to my previous post regarding doing business in a down economy.

I went to a meeting of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association (HVCA) last week. One of the key points made by the venture fund managers was that any business they fund during the current economic conditions must be well run. They must cut costs and operate efficiently.

Excuse me, but shouldn't any business they invest in operate efficiently and effectively, no matter the current economic conditions? Shouldn't investors or owners of any business expect it to be well run and operate as efficient and effective as possible?

Or do we tend to only worry about wasting time and money when times are tight? When business is booming, we do tend to let waste creep in. Usually unintentionally, but not always. But that's not good business. We should always examine our operations, drive out waste, and design and manage our processes so that they are efficient and effective.

Good times or bad, good business is good business.

Doing Business in a Down Economy

Why are these ladies smiling? The economy is tough, people are curtailing their spending, and businesses are cutting costs to survive. Yet Kerry Hewitt, owner of The Crown Pub in Southampton (that's in England, southwest of London, according to my google map), is doing quite well, thank you. Other pubs are struggling, as are businesses all over the world, but The Crown Pub is thriving. How do they do it, and what can you learn from them?

Bars and pubs are businesses just like any other, and have to be run well to survive and thrive. So how do you survive and thrive in these tough economic times?

The real question is, should you run your business differently during tough times? One of the keys to The Crown Pubs success is retaining customers. Do you only want to be aggressive at retaining customers during the tough periods? Of course not! If you want your business to thrive and grow in the best of times, as well as the bad times, you have to keep your customers loyal to you. And you do that by providing your customers with the best products and services, at a reasonable price. Meet and exceed your customer's expectations.

Ensure your products are produced in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. Make sure they meet specifications. The same for services you provide. The process for providing your services must be efficient and effective.

These are basics of business whether the times are tough or the economy is growing and people are spending freely. Too many businesses allow waste to creep in when they think they can afford to waste a little. It's hard to drive that waste back out, so it's better to not let it in in the first place.

Effective and efficient business operations, which includes superior customer service, will not only get you through the lean times, it will allow you to thrive while others are falling by the wayside.

So head on down to the nearest pub and contemplate your operations over a pint of finely crafted ale. Better yet, head on over to The Crown Pub and see how business should be run.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rugger Owned

I've added the latest Rugger Owned Business link; Spencer Investigations, owned by semi-retired player and current high school coach (Oakland, CA Charter High School Warthogs RFC), Mike Spencer. Mike's a Private Investigator. Check out his website, it's very interesting. Definitely read his article on working with a private investigator, it's very informative. Not quite what you'd expect if you think Magnum, P.I. is your typical private eye. Sounds like an interesting business, though.

And remember to Hug-A-Rugger and Adopt-A-Rugger. Proceeds from the sales are donated to USA Rugby. The first donation was designated to the Senior Women's Team.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Still here

Yes, I'm still here. Been busy, so have been lax on posting. Been getting back into cooking too, which I enjoy. Made pizza for the first time. Amazing that I've never done that before with all the cooking I used to do. Really easy, and fun. Need to try more different combinations of toppings.

Will try to write something more substantiative soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hawaii Rugby News

There's going to be a rugby game this Saturday. It's a pre-pre-season game between the Islanders and Harlequins. The game will start at 4:00 pm at Kapiolani Park.

It looks like the Harlequin's Rugby Tournament will being going on. October 24th and 25th, also at Kapiolani Park. There will be teams from Canada, Australia, Maui, and they're expecting New Zealand, along with the home teams of the Islanders and Harlequins.

Check out the Islanders Rugby Club's website (link included in the Rugby Related Links list). Nothing fancy, but provides contact info and location of their practices. And best of all, it's free using GooglePages. I put it together for them, and I'll be getting with Lofi to add some pictures, some history of the team, and some other information. Oh, got to update it to put in their practice times of 7:30 - 9:30 pm (under the lights). I should probably include the days too, but need to look that up real quick (Tues/Thur?).

And don't forget to Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger, where all proceeds are donated to USA Rugby (so the girls - the Women's National Team - don't have to pay their own way to play in games).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hug-A-Rugger Donation

Well, it's taken awhile, but enough Hug-A-Rugger merchandise has finally been sold so that I can donate the money to USA Rugby. I first created the Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger merchandise with the promise to donate all proceeds to USA Rugby on November 17, 2007, and its taken this long to sell enough to get a check from CafePress that I then donated to USA Rugby.

I made my donation designated to the Sr. Women's National Team. Mostly because I've been following Wendy at Your Scrumhalf Connection and am more aware of what's going on with the Women's team. But, if more of you buy some Hug-A-Rugger merchandise, I'll be able to spread the wealth and support other programs or just USA Rugby general fund.

So buy your T-shirt, infant bodysuit, thong (I really thought they would be a big seller), or other items and help support USA Rugby.

Product Qty

Hug-A-Rugger Infant Bodysuit 1
Hug-A-Rugger Infant/Toddler T-Shirt 1
Hug-A-Rugger Infant Bodysuit 1
Hug-A-Rugger Infant/Toddler T-Shirt 1
Hug-A-Rugger Long Sleeve T-Shirt 1
Hug-A-Rugger Women's Long Sleeve T-Shirt 1
Hug-A-Rugger Hooded Sweatshirt 1


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wikio ranking

Apparently I'm ranked number 602 in sports blogs on Wikio (see the badge over there on the left). Don't know much about them, but there I am.

602? Who's ahead of me? Competitive tiddlywinks? Well, at least I'm on the list. Some list. Any list. I asked if I could be ranked in the business category too, since this blog is supposedly about Business Operations and Rugby, but they aren't able to rank me in more than one category yet. Where would I be ranked in business? Right after cost cutting via accounting for restroom paper products?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm still here

Just a quick note to let you know I'm still here. Just been very busy. Whether I'm actually accomplishing anything is another matter. I'm back to work on my next book. I set it aside for awhile while I was doing the webinar series, but I'm back on it. I'm tired of looking at it, so I need to finish. Moving into a new apartment and have some painting to do. I'm looking for a cheap, but good working condition, stacked washer/dryer for my lanai, so if you're in Honolulu and have one, please let me know. A love seat, large area rug, and floor lamp would help too.

Total Flanker has answered the Captaincy question with his usual wit. Check it out. And Wendy is raffling off some t-shirts, so put your name in the hat.

About three months to the Honolulu Marathon, and training is going pretty good. I need to do longer long runs (I'm doing 1 & 1/2 hours on Sundays, but need to bring that up a bit). My goal is twofold; finish in 4-1/2 hours and not be in severe pain.

I haven't heard anything about the Hawaii Harlequins Rugby Tournament that's scheduled for October. Is it still on?

Customer Service, probably the most overlooked, poorly executed part of Business Operations. I'll be ranting again soon.

Aloha for now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I always say, it's no sense being stupid if you don't show it.

I went out looking for turnips yesterday (yes, at the grocery store). Having never bought a turnip before, it was risky, but I felt pretty confident. I was going to make turnip soup. I made soup, but...

Went to two stores and found no turnips. At the third stop, I found some vegetables that didn't look like turnips to me, but the sign said they were turnips (even two different kinds). So I bought them. And made my soup. It's good soup, but it's not turnip soup.

I should have googled before I left, not after I got back. Now I know. I won't tell you what kind of soup I made, because this is already too embarrassing, but remember, it is good soup.

Like I said, no sense being stupid if you don't show it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mac Attack

I'm sitting in Starbucks, supposedly getting back to work on my book, which has been on hold while I've been doing the webinar series. So far I've written a couple of emails and read the paper, but no writing. And now it's time to go home, eat, finish my ironing, and go to bed (and watch some Olympics while I eat).

As I sit here, I see two other people working on their computers, and we're all using our Macs. I've noticed a lot more Macs lately, at least among the Starbucks crowd. I wonder if there's any sort of correlation there.

I've been considering the new iPhone, but haven't felt the need just yet. They're cool, but do I really need all that stuff? I use my phone to make calls. I only recently started texting, and I don't have a camera on the phone. I discovered how to set the alarm last week, but I know it does some other things that I either don't use or don't know about, so do I really need email, web, GPS, and who knows what else? Probably not. Still...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How do you hire?

Do you hire people who fit a narrow range of experience to fill a specific position, or do hire people who have great skills in a variety of areas but that might not match the specific experience or training you’re looking for in a particular position? I’d lean towards the latter. Sure, for some highly technical positions you need people with very specific experience and training. But most of the time the technical skills are secondary to attitude and work ethic. You can train someone to do a job, but you can’t easily change someone’s attitude and work ethic.

I’ve hired both ways, but I find it’s better to hire someone with people skills, who’s willing to learn, and who will work to make the organization successful. Someone who will not only fit in with the organization, but will act as an influence on others. In one of my interviews with the former president of a successful high-tech company, I was told how they hired many people who were either not technically qualified for a position they were filling, or who were very overqualified. But all the employees possessed a desire to learn, grow, and help the organization succeed. They trained the unqualified people, and kept the overqualified people engaged and interested in the job.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins makes the same point. Hire talented people, then let them make the organization great in their own way. Too bad not every organization thinks this way. I’ve recently spoken with a couple of people who are fixated on finding someone who meets a strict and narrow set of work experience. If you don’t fit exactly, you’re not considered. I bet they’re missing out on some very talented people who could help them move their organizations forward and upward. If they would only open their eyes to the possibilities.

The same thing can be seen in rugby. With many teams, if you don’t have experience playing in a particular position, you’ll never get a chance to play in that position. A good athlete can learn the specific skills required in a particular position. It’s not as easy to take someone who happens to have experience playing in one position and turn them into an all-around athlete who might provide a much needed spark.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!

OK, so the Russians aren't coming (that's the title of a movie from the 1960's), but I'm coming to Russia. Via my book, that is. My book, The Small Manufacturer's Toolkit, has been translated into Russian and is being published by a Russian publisher (Grevstov Publisher). How cool is that?

I received a couple of copies of the Russian edition a couple of days ago. I can't read a word of it, but it looks good. Actually, the quality of the book itself is much higher than the U.S. edition. It's very well done, and I'm impressed. I'm waiting for someone to send me a plane ticket to Moscow for a book signing and seminar tour. Hey, I can dream, can't I? I'd love to go to Russia. I love to travel and visit new places.

So here's a picture of the book. I haven't received a photo quality copy of the cover yet, so I just scanned this in. That's my name in Russian up in the top left corner.

Now if only my publisher would lower the price of the U.S. edition (hint, hint), this valuable tome would get into the hands of the masses.

Oh, and I'll get back into regular posting on this blog. I've been extremely busy lately, so have been lax. As to whether I've actually been accomplishing anything, that's another matter.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I was offended

I’m not easily offended, so it’s a bit of a shock when someone actually offends me. Listen to this.

I was at a business event where I sat in stunned silence as a tablemate explained how, after living in Hawaii for 16 years, couldn’t find anyone smart enough to talk too outside of these types of business events. As if that wasn’t enough, I had to listen to how her life revolved around her Ivy League alumni groups (apparently no one else is worthy), and how her only chance of finding a husband was through those same groups.

Now I don’t care where anyone went to school or whether they’re a bit snooty about that, I just find that sad and ignorant. I’ve met far too many people in this world to know that where you went to school is meaningless. I’ve met absolutely brilliant people who attended no-name schools, and people who’ve attended the “best” schools who couldn’t think their way out of a paper bag. And some of the smartest people I’ve met never even went to college.

But the thing that really offended me was the comment, and the implication behind it, about not finding anyone smart enough in Hawaii worth talking too. I have met, and I continue to meet, many people who are not only intelligent, but completely fascinating and a joy to talk to. I think that all my friends are smarter than me, because I’m constantly learning things from them. One of the reasons for that is that everyone has different interests. I may not be interested in something in detail, but I’m almost always interested at a basic level and I love to learn new things. There’s nothing better than eating, drinking, and having conversation with fascinating people.

Another thing is that with the wide diversity of cultures and ethnicities here in Hawaii, I don’t see how it’s possible to not meet people worth talking to and getting to know. Having grown up in small, all-white, communities in New Jersey, I’m interested in “local’s” views of the world (“local” being a catch-all term meaning anyone who grew up in Hawaii). We have different perspectives because we have different upbringings and different world experiences. How can you not want to talk to people with different views from yours? And then there are all the people here who are from other countries. How can you not want to talk to people who grew up in another country, in another culture, to get their point of view on things?

I was offended, but I’m more saddened that there are still people in the world who keep their heads in the sand. I can’t wait to meet someone new and strike up a conversation. I hope you do the same.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Innovation: What it means for you

I’m reading a group of articles in Inc. magazine about innovation. Apparently there are a fair number of consulting companies that specialize in innovation. I’m not sure how that works. Hire somebody to be creative for you, or something, I guess. Nothing wrong with that. As I say, do what you’re good at and outsource the things you’re not good at. That applies to creativity and innovation too. But that’s not what I find interesting in the articles.

What struck me is one article in particular, about how these innovation companies keep their employees thinking creatively and innovatively. I work a lot in the area of process improvement, and I advocate creativity during process improvement activities. I also advocate taking care of your employees and fostering a work environment where employees want to be, not just someplace they go just to get a paycheck. It turns out that the same things that these innovation companies do to keep their employees thinking creatively and innovatively are the same things you should do to keep your employees engaged and creative in their everyday work and in process improvement activities.

I tell people that if your employees aren’t making mistakes, you’re doing something wrong. Because if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying anything new. If you’re not trying anything new, you’re doing the same old things. You can’t expect different results if you’re doing the same old things, and you certainly can’t grow, improve, and become more successful and profitable.

You won’t be able to do all the things that these innovation companies do for their employees, but you can do many of them. You can, and should, encourage your employees to try new things and allow them to make mistakes. One of the innovation companies even presents an award to the employee who made the biggest or best mistake, which means they give an award for failure. If you punish failure, no one will ever try anything new. If you reward it, people will try all sorts of grand new things. You don’t want people making the same mistakes over and over, of course. I’m talking about trying new things in the context of making improvements to processes, products, and service offerings. Try it, and reap the rewards.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Learning from the best

I went to business school (still going, actually, working on my MBA), have read many books on management and business, have years of management experience, and now I advise and consult with businesses. So I probably know a few things about management and business. I find, though, that I have new teachers now, and it’s the best learning experience I’ve had.

I’m finishing up my next book, and part of what I’m doing is interviewing business owners and executives for inclusion in the book. I’m not a professional interviewer. I don’t do any real research on the people I interview and I don’t have a list of prepared questions. I’m not a researcher, so I don’t have any prepared surveys or questionnaires. What I do is let the person know what the book is about, what topics I cover, then just ask them to describe how they’ve become successful and how they manage their business in relations to the Operations side of things.

The first thing I’ve learned is that these successful executives and entrepreneurs are very passionate about their business and how they’ve achieved their success. This is without ego, just passion for what they do and how they’ve achieved it. It’s very inspiring. And because they are so passionate, they have plenty to say. So instead of trying to think up questions, I just let them go in whatever direction they lead themselves, the areas that they find most important or are most proud of. I do pick up on particular things and ask them to expand on that or to tell me more about how they do that, but in general, they lead the conversation.

I find this method to be much more educational and eye-opening than if I tried to control and direct the questioning to particular topics that I’m more interested in or that fit in better with a particular section of the book. Asking pointed questions will get you pointed answers, but that might not reveal the real reasons for the success of the organization. The real reason for success comes from the passion and the leadership at the top.

The second thing I’ve learned is that these leaders have a very clear vision for the culture of the organization, and it reflects their personal beliefs. But the culture is fostered, not forced, and well-defined steps are taken to promote and develop the culture that allows the organization to succeed. Plans are made, guidance is given, but the people are given latitude and are encouraged to grow and develop within the cultural framework.

To learn more, you’ll have to read the book. I’ll be learning more as I continue to conduct these interviews. If you know of a successful organization that shows excellence in their Operations, please provide me a contact so I can talk to them and we can all learn from them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Islanders Rugby Club Fundraiser

The Islanders Rugby Club is having a fundraiser and dance this Saturday.

Place: Kathy's Bar, 1336 Dillingham Blvd, Honolulu (that's in Kalihi, by the Zippy's)

Date: Saturday, June 28, 2008

Time: 6:00 pm - 2:00 am

Entertainment: DJ Kelemeke

Cost: Whatever the cover charge is at Kathy's (didn't get that info)

Should be a fun time, so stop on by.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In Training

I am officially In-Training for this year's Honolulu Marathon. Training is going very well, which is a bit of a surprise after taking 3 years off and gaining 30 pounds. But so far I've dropped about 15 pounds (maybe 20 depending on which scale at Don Quixote's is accurate), am not afraid to look at my naked self in the mirror, and my endurance is picking up. On Sunday I ran for 1 hr. 40 min, then walked home for a total of 2 hrs. out. On Monday I ran on the beach with a friend, mixing a relatively short (about 1-1/2 miles) run in soft sand with sprints and various other exercises. Then yesterday I ran a fast (for me) 50 minutes. Couldn't make my 1-hour, but needed a faster paced long run even if for a shorter time. Today is a rest day. Trying to mix in some weight lifting workouts, rope jumping, and other things for variety. Oh, and Sunday nights I'm back in dance class (which I've also missed for 3 years). All that and back on a healthy diet too. Not one bit of junk food in over a month, smaller meals, no between meal snacks, and cut down on the beer. In fact, I haven't had a beer in a week now, but I don't want to get too carried away.

Now I've got to start looking at some races to start getting more prepared for the marathon (this will be my 4th, by the way). I'm going to sign up for the Marathon Readiness Series of races, as it's the perfect marathon prep. It sure made a huge difference in my performance the one year I did it. The series of 5 races starts in August and runs through early November, with the marathon in early December. Race distances are 15K (9.3 mi), 20K (12.4 mi), 25K (15.5 mi), 30K (18.6 mi), and Half-Marathon (13.1 mi). Marathon distance is 26.2 mi, if you don't know (and those last point-two miles are killer!).

So, wish me luck, and send donations for new (smaller) clothes, since my fat boy clothes are too loose on me now.

Upcoming Webinar Series

I'm going to be presenting a series of Webinars over six weeks in July and August. Webinars are web-based seminars. Meaning that instead of me standing in front of a room full of people and giving the presentations, I'll be sitting in a room in front of my computer giving the presentations to people all over the world.

I'm doing the series for APICS - The Association for Operations Management, and registration information can be found here.

The series is titled Management System Selection - Selecting the Right Tools for the Job, and it's based on the subject of my book, The Small Manufacturer's Toolkit. This series is designed for any organization, NOT just manufacturers, so don't let the book title scare you off. The content of the series is as follows:

Steve Novak has developed a new APICS Webinar series to help managers and high-level executives sort through and select the systems, or tools, that will help drive their organization to success. A brief discussion of several of the most popular tools, including what they are designed to do and how they are designed to help, will provide additional knowledge that is needed in the selection process. Popular tools include lean, six sigma, sales and operations planning, enterprise resources planning, the Baldrige criteria, and more. Sign up to participate in this APICS Webinar series and increase your odds of success. Registration opens in June.

Session 1: Introduction
Date: July 10, 2008, at 1:00 pm CT

Session 2: Lean & Six Sigma - Promises & Expectations
Date: July 17, 2008, at 1:00 pm CT

Session 3: TOC & S&OP - Promises & Expectations
Date: July 24, 2008, at 1:00 pm CT

Session 4: ERP & Criteria for Performance Excellence - Promises & Expectations
Date: July 31, 2008, at 1:00 pm CT

Session 5: The Basics, and more
Date: August 7, 2008, at 1:00 pm CT

Session 6: Wrap up
Date: August 14, 2008, at 1:00 pm CT

Please sign up and join me.

Strange Days Indeed

I haven’t made any posts recently (if anyone's noticed) because these are strange days and I’ve been occupied with other things. Depending on your personal philosophical leanings, you might interpret things differently, but also remember that as a reader you are an outside observer, and things look different from the inside.

I don’t believe in coincidence. Everything is connected. And sometimes all that you can do is Trust the Universe. If you’re a student of Quantum Physics you’ll understand how everything is connected and seemingly unrelated events can have an effect on each other, and not everything is as it appears. Also, merely observing an event can effect that event.

Right now there’s a big wind blowing, and it’s surrounding me, a friend of mine, and some others who have been sucked into the vortex. I fear the storm isn’t over, and right now I’m just waiting to see what falls out in the end. I have little control over events as they happen. I do feel that good will come of this, but in what form I do not know. Trust the Universe.

There are too many things going on at once, “weird” things. Some might call it coincidence when the same thing happens twice, but what about a third time? And how about when other things happen at the same time, as if they’re attracted to the preceding events? I don’t call it coincidence. The Universe is acting in ways that I don’t yet understand. But if we’re not careful and observant, we might miss the answer when it appears. I’m waiting, and watching.

So how does all this mumbo-jumbo relate to business? In business we try to control things; our processes, our employees, our suppliers. Sometimes we try to control things too much. We often don’t understand what is happing at certain times, but we feel the need to do something, to act, to control. During these strange and confusing times, sometimes the best thing to do is just sit back, watch, and see what comes out in the end. You can’t control everything. Your employees have personal lives that affect their work, and many times you have multiple employees, or even entire groups of people, who have personal issues that are affecting their work. Add your suppliers, customers, and everyone else to the mix and the issues grow. You can’t control all of that, and if you try the results are often disastrous. So just sit back, wait, guide things when you can, and see what falls out of the storm at the end. You might find that what comes out is better than anything you could have planned or could have done on your own if you tried. Trust the Universe.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hawaii Rugby News

Been busy and out of touch recently, but here's some Hawaii rugby news:


A fundraiser for the upcoming Hawaii State Rugby Union Select Side tour to Utah in July.

Donation: $10
What you get: Pupu & Beer (Pupu, for you non-Hawaii people, means appetizers)
When: Friday, May 30th (today, so hurry and read this), 6:00 pm - midnight
Where: Puerto Rican Hall, 1249 N. School St., in Kalihi (below the Mexican restaurant)

Hawaii Harlequins Rugby Tournament

October 23 - 25, 2008
Kapiolani Park, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

This used to be one of the premier rugby tournaments in the country, with a diverse and international group of teams. When I first moved to Hawaii I showed up at the park with my cleats and picked up several games. I believe I played for one team from Australia and a team from Japan (but I could be mistaken, as that was many beers/years ago). I'll post more info as I find out. Definitely put this on your colander, though.

Hawaii State Rugby Union Meeting

November 15, 2008
Let's kick off the new season with even bigger and better things than we accomplished this year!

Kalihi Raiders Rugby Tournament

December 5 - 6, 2008
Kapiolani Park
This was a great little local tournament this past year, so expect the same or better this year. Definitely worth watching, and a great place to meet many of the local rugby crowd. It helped get me turned back on to rugby last year.

Hawaii State Rugby Union - Season Begins

January 24, 2009
Kapiolani Park

What a great season this year turned out to be. Thanks to Ma'afu (David Wendt), Union President, for all his hard work, and for all the hard work and dedication from all the teams, players, coaches, officials, fans, and supporters. Let's build on this year and make next year even better. Woo Hoo!!

Hawaii State Rugby Union

And remember, proceeds from sales of Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger merchandise will be donated to USA Rugby to help the cause of rugby in the U.S.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Are there when you need them, and ask for nothing in return

Give, without taking

Accept your frailties

Accept you as you are

Listen, without judgment

Offer a helping hand, when you don’t even know you need one

Know you love them, even when you don’t say it

Friendship is its own reward

I treasure my friends

I am a friend

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hawaii Superferry Operations

The Hawaii Superferry has been quite controversial, and quite interesting to follow in the news. It is a textbook case of how not to do something like that, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. We finally rode the ferry over to Maui this past weekend, for a very mini-vacation.

I have to say that my expectations were low. Having ridden some ferries in Scotland and really, really enjoying them (I want to go back and take a ferry to Ireland next), I couldn’t possibly expect Hawaii to match up. The efficiency of the Scottish ferries can’t be matched, nor the friendliness of the staff (or everyone in Scotland for that matter), and then there’s the pub’s. But, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the Superferry experience.

They do have some operational issues to address, and it’s definitely not for anyone who’s prone to motion sickness, but it is worth a ride. The onboard facilities are very nice. And if you’re feeling like a splurge, you can pay extra for the “first class” lounge. We looked in through the window, but didn’t feel the need to pay extra for it. Maybe on another trip, just to check it out.

There’s only one deck for passengers, but it’s big with an open floor plan. It’s well lit, with large windows all around. The “first class” lounge is at the front of the ship, then there’s the main cabin, and the rear (aft) cabin. The main and the rear cabins aren’t really separate, but the gift shop, restrooms, arcade, and deli counter in the center of the boat act to delineate them. The aisles are wide and the seats are plenty big. There is a variety of seating available. There are some rows of seats, just two across, that recline. There are some bench seats and some lounge style seats with tables. Then there are table seats, some with two seats per table and some with four seats per table. If it’s not crowded you can score a four-seater table to really stretch out, and not feel guilty. The four-seaters were popular with groups playing cards. At the rear cabin there are outside decks, though they’re very small and get pretty crowded at times.

The food was fine, and at regular prices too, which was a surprise. And you can get beer or wine. What I really liked, though, was that they had both the local papers. That’s important when you have to arrive before 6:00 am. You can’t get the paper at the airport at 6:00 am. I’ve tried.

Since I’m not an advertisement for the ferry, I have to mention they do have some operational issues that need to be addressed. The check-in procedures are… , let’s say, inefficient. We made reservations and paid online and we had a confirmation number. Check in should consist of showing our ID and giving us a receipt. It doesn’t work like that. And how many times do you really need to show your boarding pass once you’ve passed the passed the, whatever – security/gate keeper? The answer is none. Once you’re in, you’re in. How many people climb over the fence that surrounds the compound to get on the ferry? If people are doing that, skip the first check station and just have one when you get on. Hello, if people are climbing over the fence hire a security guard or something. Don’t make people show their boarding pass to get into the “secure” area, then make them show it again to someone else before you get on the boat – still in the same “secure” area. It’s not like there’s more than one boat and you might be trying to get on the wrong one.

Ho, and they should warn you about all the stairs. I’m in semi-reasonable shape and I was huffing and puffing after that climb. Everything’s fine once you’re onboard, until you get to Maui and have to get off. I guess Maui is still trying to punish them (if you don’t know the whole controversy, I can’t go into it here). In a perfect world, or in Scotland, the cars coming off the ferry would take precedence, for a short while, until all the vehicles are off. Hold the traffic on the road until all the vehicles have exited. It’s not that long, they come off pretty quick. Don’t keep the traffic lights at their normal times. The offloading traffic gets backed up and nobody moves. And that brings me to the next issue. If you don’t have a vehicle (we didn’t), you can’t walk from the ship to the terminal. You have to take a shuttle bus. And they don’t have enough shuttles for all the passengers, so they have to load up, drive to the terminal and unload, then circle back to load up again. That leaves people standing there waiting. Bad. And you’d think the shuttles would have a dedicated lane to make their circuit, but they don’t, which backs things up even more.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip, but they definitely need to fix the operational issues if they want to be successful in the long run. It’s worth giving a try though, if just for fun.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Aye, Captain

So I'm still wondering about the appointment of a person with no experience into a top management position. I still can't figure out why. I'm talking about the appointment of Martin Johnson as the team manager for the England Rugby Team. Not only will he be team manager, but he will hire a new head coach who he will have control over regarding strategy, tactics, and player selection. Apparently, the thinking is that since Mr. Johnson was a great player and a well-respected team captain, he is the holy grail that England needs to become the bestest and most perfect rugby team in the known universe. Because all the pundits (at least those I read on the BBC's rugby site) point to his excellence as a team captain, I needed to know just what a team captain does that is so important that it trumps any other training or experience in coaching and management.

Although I played rugby for many years, in college and at club level, I do not know the role of the captain in professional and international levels. In my playing experience, the captain was simply the one who was allowed to speak to the ref during a game. So, needing to know more, I turned to the best source I could think of: Total Flanker. Read his response to my query in this post.

I'm still confused as to what the captain actually does, but it seems it's centered around being an inspiration to the rest of the team. Hmm... I remember during last fall's World Cup when a certain player, who was not the captain, missed the first couple of games due to injury, and when he returned to the starting line up was heralded as the inspiration for the team's turnaround to winning. I wonder if two years after this inspiring person's retirement he'll be touted as the savior of English rugby? Regardless of training or experience?

This is akin to a working foreman or supervisor, who is a company's de facto leader through his charisma and inspirational qualities, being brought back to the company as the CEO two years after retiring and sitting in his Barcalounger (yes, that's the correct spelling) eating Twinkies and ranting about the company to his buddies at the local tavern (that's pub for you non-Yanks). So what if he has no experience as a CEO, he was a great supervisor.

I'm still wondering how long the Martin Johnson love-fest will last. Probably until the day he actually starts the job.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Working and working out

I got some work done today, and I got a workout in. Quite productive for a Sunday. I started the day by participating in the Life Foundation's annual AIDS Walk for Life. It was a big crowd today, looked even bigger than last year. Last year they raised $175,000, and this year they were aiming for $200,000. Even with the tough economy, there were plenty of supporters out today.

Then I came home, grabbed my computer and headed down to Starbucks to get some work done. I get more work done there than I do at home. Too many distractions here, and too quiet. I need activity around to concentrate. If it's too quiet, my mind wanders. I guess the noise and activity helps me focus. Especially if I'm writing I have to head to Starbucks. That's where I wrote my first book and that's where I'm writing the upcoming one. I've got to get this one wrapped up and out in the bookstores. Doesn't do anyone any good sitting on my computer and in my head. I'm adding some "mini case studies", highlighting organizations that are doing well the things that I discuss in the book. I'm focusing in organizations that I know about or are introduced to me, and ones that aren't the typical organizations you read about in other books. So if any of you know of any organizations that are performing well in their operational areas, please pass on a contact to me so I can give them a call. Any type of organization; non-profit, manufacturing, service, healthcare, arts, even government agencies.

I got waylaid for a while before I started work, visiting with a friend over coffee, but then I got some writing in. Besides finishing up the book, I've got to work on a webinar series I'll be presenting in July and August for APICS. It will be a six-session series related to the topic of my first book. The working title for the series, as of now, is Selecting the Right Tools for the Job. More on that later, as it gets closer. They haven't even announced it yet. I just signed the agreement last weekend.

Then, after working for a while, I had the urge to exercise. That doesn't happen as often as it should, or as often as it used to, but I really need to get back in shape. Supposedly, I'm in training for this years Honolulu marathon. If I run it, it will be my fourth. There's no good reason I can't do it this year, and no good reason I can't improve my time. Just got to keep the motivation up. So I actually did a little weights workout before heading out for a run. I have some weights out on the lanai (that's porch for you mainlanders), so I can just go out there and lift whenever I want. Again, that's not as often as it should be. But I did a few quick exercises before the run. Since I'm still ramping up after being a slug for so long, my running is slow. I should say slower than usual, since I'm not a fast runner anyway. But I got a few miles in before I had to take a walk break. I ran, with some walk breaks, for about 50 minutes. Not too shabby. Still got a long ways to go, but it's a good start. Need to run for 1-hour at least three times a week for marathon training. From past experience, I need to run at least an hour at least two days a week, then about an hour and a half for another one or two days, then a long run on Sunday. Sunday, because that's marathon day, so the body needs to get in the right rhythm.

Then I took a nap.

Got some reading in, a tiny bit more work, now getting ready to head out for a wake for a friends kitty who passed away. Don't laugh. Anybody who has pets will understand.

Will have to workout tomorrow just to run off the beers. Oh well.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I've added a translator to the blog. I see that people from around the world occasionally happen upon this blog, so I thought I'd add the translator and see if anyone takes advantage of it. I know Jim in Japan is a regular reader, so try it out for me and let me know how well it works. Anybody else who tries it out, please let me know how it works.

I know I use a lot of "American-isms" when I write, so let me know how much of an issue that is. I'm working on finishing up my next book, and I write the same way in the book. I'm wondering about translations for distribution outside the U.S., but I can't change the way I write, so hopefully I can be translated.

On a related note, I've tried to learn different languages, but I've never had any luck. I probably need an immersion program where I have to learn how to speak the language if I want eat. I took German in college, because there was a language requirement, but I took it pass/fail since I had difficulty. I took some Hungarian classes because I've been to Hungry and have relatives there. When I was in Hungary I got to the point where I could understand a lot of what people were saying, but I couldn't really respond. I took Spanish through the night, adult education program, because living in New Mexico for 12 years I should have picked up some Spanish (but didn't). And most recently I took Mandarin classes. I want to go to China, as I haven't been there yet, so I thought Mandarin would be interesting. Of course, with my track record I should know better. But I really enjoyed the classes. I took the same class several times then my teacher convinced me to take the next level. The teacher was great. I would often go visit her at the cafe that she and her husband owned. I never got very far with learning Mandarin, but I understand a few words when I hear people speaking it, and I enjoyed all the cultural things that the teacher threw in. I still occasionally listen to my Mandarin CD's. I should take the class again just for fun.

The thing is, with me, the problem is I simply can't remember the words. With Mandarin, I could get the sentence structure, and I had no trouble whatsoever with the tones (which cause many people much difficulty), but I just can't remember the words. That's why the immersion would be good for me. I'd have to remember them.

Well, adios, caio, see 'ya...

Feed readers

If you’re like me, and not much of a techie, you might be a little confused about subscribing to a blog or other websites that advertise or promote their RSS Feed. Well, I’m no expert, but here’s my understanding and a look at my new test at using a “feed reader”. For other descriptions on RSS, click here or here.

The simplest explanation is that when a blog, such as this one, or other website is updated, a message is sent out telling the world that it’s been updated or something new has been posted. Unless you frequently check a blog or website, you don’t know that it’s been updated. But if you subscribe to the blog or website’s “RSS feed”, you’ll receive a notification of the update. The part that always confused me, until now, is how you receive that notification. If you just click on the “subscribe to this feed” icon that you’ll find on the blog or website, nothing happens. Well, not nothing, but not anything that I understand. It takes you to another website and then you either have to know what to do from there or you have to try to figure it out. I still can’t say I understand what clicking on that “subscribe” icon does. But I don’t have to now, because now I have a “feed reader”.

A feed reader is how you receive those notifications that the blog or website has been updated. There are lots and lots of feed readers out there, so the tricky part is deciding which one to use. My method was to pick a name I liked and try it. Not very scientific, but that’s pretty much how I pick out wine too. You can do a Google search for feed readers, or check out this list from Wikipedia. I use a Mac, so I decided to test NewsFire. I downloaded and installed it, and found it was pretty easy to setup for what I want. Here’s a picture of it after I started setting it up to get the updates that I want.

When you install it, it comes pre-loaded with several feeds, or websites that it checks. I didn’t want all of them, so I just deleted the ones I didn’t want. Then I started adding the feeds, or sites, that I want to know when they’re updated. As you can see, I’ve got my favorite rugby blogs that I check every day, and I’ve got some business blogs, and some news sites. You’re supposed to be able to filter the feeds so you don’t get every update, only ones that interest you, but I haven’t figured out how to filter anything yet. That would apply to the news sites that report every update on every topic. I only want updates on particular topics. I don’t want to see 500 new posts that I have to scan through to find things of interest. Maybe someone will help me figure out how to filter.

In NewsFire, there are a couple of ways to add the feeds, or sites, you want to subscribe to, but the easiest way for me is to open the website I want in Safari (Mac's web browser), then go to File, Discover Feeds for Current Site in Safari. It then does everything automatically, so I don't have to worry about messing something up.

So, instead of going to every website that I want to check on, I simply look at my NewsFire reader (also known as an aggregator) and see if there are any new posts on my favorite sites. Pretty slick. I wish I had figured this out sooner. I can scan the headlines to see what I want to look at, then click on the ones I want to read the entire post.

Another option for receiving notifications of updates is to receive them by email. Not all sites do this, and if you want the updates from many different blogs and websites you could be overloaded with emails. But if your favorite sites allow you to receive email updates, and that’s how you want to receive them, that is an option. This blog allows you to subscribe in a reader or receive updates by email. I’m receiving email updates for my own blog and subscribing to it in the reader just so I know it’s working.

If you haven’t tried using a feed reader yet, give it a try. It will save you time from opening all your favorite websites to see if there are any updates. Of course, make sure you subscribe to Let's Talk Business!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Serving on non-profit Boards of Directors

I attended the Board of Directors meeting of APICS – The Association for Operations Management, a non-profit international professional/membership organization last weekend as a member of the Audit Committee. Then, just a couple of days ago, I was speaking with someone about an organization that offers training to non-profit board members. This got me thinking.

I’ve served on the Board of non-profit organizations, including a dance company as well as different professional organizations. I also worked with a small non-profit as a consultant, working on Board development, organizational development, and meeting management. Non-profit service, including on the Board of Directors, is very rewarding, and I encourage everyone to donate their time when they can. But you should know what you’re doing and what you’re getting into.

Serving on the board of a non-profit offers a variety of benefits. The most important, of course, is helping the organization that you’re serving, but there are other benefits. There are the personal benefits of a feeling of accomplishment and of helping others, and there are professional benefits. Professional benefits include the experience and training of serving on a Board of Directors. Even if you’re already at the top level at the organization you’re working for, serving on a board is a different experience. Networking with other Board members is one of most valuable benefits of service.

Boards differ depending on the size, complexity, and maturity of the organization. Many smaller non-profit organizations are completely volunteer run. The Board consists of volunteers, and volunteers perform all the work of the organization. This Board probably looks a lot different than one at a large non-profit with a full, professional, paid staff. The makeup of the Board at the smaller organization is most likely people who are passionate about the organization, have worked as a volunteer, and who want to do more. They often do not have any formal business training, and may have been recruited to the Board simply because they’ve been around for a while. This does not mean that they can’t or won’t be a high quality member of the Board, it just means that they’ll look at things differently and they’ll probably take more time to get comfortable in the position. This Board is usually small; 5 to 10 people.

Larger, more complex, and more mature organizations are more likely to have Boards that are populated with trained business executives and experienced Board members. The Board members may have never been involved with the organization as a volunteer. They have probably served on the board of other non-profit organizations, and likely are very knowledgeable about the role and responsibilities of the Board. The Boards of these organizations may also be structured differently.

Many large non-profit organizations have boards with 30, 40, 50, or even 100 members, but the size may be a little deceptive. A board that size simply cannot operate effectively to get anything accomplished or make decisions. And in actuality, the board is probably comprised of two distinct groups. The larger group serves on the Board in name only. They have little management responsibility. It’s likely that they’re on the board to give weight and credibility to the organization, and they are expected to donate a certain amount of money. They are also well-connected within the business and high net-worth individual communities, and are expected to leverage those connections for fundraising. The real work of the Board in regards to management and oversight is done by a small group of individuals who make up the Executive Committee.

The structure of the Board will also vary depending on the type of organization. Many professional type organizations, such as membership organizations and trade groups, will have a board of 10 to 20 people who are all involved with the work of the board and the decision making. Work will be performed (or can be) very effectively through committees made up of different Board members. There will usually be an Executive Committee with responsibility for specific items, but the majority of decision making is done by the entire Board.

Well that’s a lot about the structure of the Board, but what does the Board actually do and what are they there for. The answer is vitally important to everyone who serves on the Board of a non-profit, but not all Board members really know what their responsibilities are. So here goes. The Board has two main responsibilities; setting the direction for the organization, and oversight of the organization. Within that, the Board has legal and fiduciary responsibilities to the organization. They must act in the best interests of the organization and make decisions that are in the best interests of the organization. They cannot act for personal gain. Fiduciary responsibility means that you are entrusted with the well-being of the organization, and is generally regarded to mean the assets, or money, of the organization. It’s a big responsibility, and not one to be taken lightly.

The Board sets the direction, the long term goals, of the organization. They have the vision of what the organization will look like into the future, and set the motion to get there. They then guide the organization towards the goals and monitor progress. Monitoring progress includes monitoring activities and actions of the paid staff and volunteers who do the day-to-day work of getting the organization to accomplish its mission. The Board ensures that all laws, policies, and rules are followed and that everyone acts both legally and morally. The Board does not meddle in the details.

What’s all this got to do with Operations? Or rugby, for that matter? Operations professionals should serve on non-profit organization’s Board of Directors for several reasons. Besides the personal and professional benefits mentioned above, Operations professionals bring a unique view and skill set to the table. Operations isn’t about flash and glamour, Operations is about getting things done. Operations delivers on promises. This mindset will bring focus, a sense of direction, and the view of working towards defined goals to the Board. This is often lacking, even with an experienced Board. Too often the focus is on fundraising, marketing, and looking good, when the focus should be on accomplishing the mission of the organization, providing the services that the organization was founded to do, and moving the organization forward. Operations professionals always have their eye on the target, and will work towards getting there.

As for rugby, most rugby teams and clubs are organized and registered as non-profits. Some clubs are quite large and have a relatively large Board. Anyone serving on the Board of their rugby club should understand the role of the Board and their responsibilities.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Site Updates

I've added several new links, a mix of business, sports, and one artist. The new links are from around the world too. Since I'm always talking about how we're in a global marketplace, that should be reflected on this blog. Here's a rundown of the new additions:

A Girl's Guide to Managing Projects
Elizabeth Harrin (A Brit living in France)
Self explanatory - about Project Management

Executive Rant
Kevin Jackson (U.S.)
An executive posting about a variety of business topics

Green Corporate Network (India)
Green & Sustainability are the hot topics in business right now. This blog talks about corporate green initiatives around the world.

Business Blog Angel
Claire Raikes (Wales)
This is one awesome site. Blogging tips for business blogs. Also one of the best looking blogs I've ever seen (which is a good sign for someone giving advice on blogging). This is a must see for any business person who has a blog (which includes me). Follow my blog to see if I'm actually taking the advice she gives.

Paopi's Artist Blog
Pao Mateo (Philippines)
I just sort of stumbled across this blog, but the pictures really captured my attention. She posts her drawings and maybe some comments about them. For a business person, the mind of an artist is fascinating (I have a number of artist friends who constantly amaze me with their talent). Pao is a very talented woman. Check out this site.

Freelance Folder
All sorts of tips for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and self employed individuals.

Dersalsites - South African Business
Derek Robson (South Africa - doh!)
News and information on business in South Africa, with posts on rugby. Who knew?

The Millionaire Secrets
Shawn Lim (Malaysia)
Shawn wants to be a millionaire, and he shares tips about how you can become one too. Actually he's got some basic business tips that everyone should use.

Kevin Davis (England)
Sports news and posts, including rugby. Worth a look if you're interested in a variety of sports, including football (soccer for us Yanks), cricket, and rugby.

I also cleaned out some widgets that don't seem to be working anymore, and added a few others. Got to keep the blog clean.

Well, past my bedtime again. But take a look at some of these blogs that I've added here, and I'll talk with you again soon. I feel the need to rant some more on the appointment of an unqualified and unexperienced person to a top post in an organization (hint: Martin Johnson as the new England manager).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hawaii State Rugby Union Championship

I ran into fellow ref Shelly at Starbucks this afternoon and found out the results from the Union Championship game on Saturday (I was in Chicago on Saturday). It sounds like it was a good game. Tied 9-9 at the end of regulation time, the game went through two overtime periods with no score. The game was then decided by kicking.

The Islanders Rugby Club defeated UH for the Hawaii State Rugby Union Championship.

Congratulations to the Islanders! And congratulations to Union President Ma'afu and everyone who was involved in this wonderful and successful season. We've got a great foundation for bigger and better things next year.

Next week will be the Select Side Trials. I don't have the details yet, but will post them when I get them. I'm assuming they'll be held at the regular field at Kapiolani Park, but I can't say with certainty. Hopefully we'll get a good squad of players that can train together for some games on the road. Fitness will have to be emphasized, along with a firm grasp of basic skills. Learning to play with new people is always good, and the increased competition of being among other select side players will be a plus. Good luck to everyone trying out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Board Meeting

I'm sitting in a Board of Director's Meeting of APICS, in Chicago. It's cold and wet outside. It was supposed to snow today, but it's not cold enough for that. I wouldn't mind a little snow, but it looks like I'll have to settle for cold rain.

So what goes on in a Board meeting for an international professional society? Lot's actually. I can't talk about any specifics, obviously, because of confidentiality issues, but I can let you know in general what goes on.

As with any organization, there's a lot going on and a lot of work to do. As an international, membership based, professional society there are two groups of people involved. We have the volunteer members who make up the board of directors and who are in charge of all the committees that are needed to keep us running and moving forward, and we have the paid professional staff who are absolutely vital to the success of the organization. During the Board meeting there are two types of activities. One, which is the majority of today's meeting, is knowledge sharing. Or to put it another way, informational presentations. Various committees present information on what they're doing, where they're at, and where they're going. The Board needs to be kept informed on the status of all the activities and initiatives that the organization is undertaking. Much of the information is disseminated prior to the meeting, but the presentations allow for clarification, more detail, and the ability of the Board to ask questions.

The second activity at Board meetings is decision making and voting on proposals. There are many issues that need to be discussed and proposals voted on, but the two biggies are related to the structure and operations of the organization, and the finances. Again, today's meeting is mostly informational, which is good from an observer point of view. When they get to the discussion and voting it can be booorrring if you're not a participant. If you're not familiar with Robert's Rule of Order, and how motions are made, amended, held, and all, it can be quite shocking to watch. Necessary, of course, for an organization of any size, but not always the most efficient way to get things done quickly.

I'm here because I'm on the Audit Committee, and we had a meeting with the outside auditors yesterday, prior to today's Board meeting. Lot's of information being passed along today, so it's interesting for me. We had dinner together as a group last night, which was nice.

While I'm in Chicago I've got a business meeting tomorrow, then will try to get to the Field Museum for awhile before having dinner with a friend who lives here.

Friday, April 11, 2008


eKno - everythingKnow - everything you need to Know in today's modern age. A new series from Squealing Piglet Press.

You're not an Idiot, you're not a Dummy, but you don't know everything. Yet.

The new series - eKno - from Squealing Piglet Press will give you everything you need to Know on a variety of subjects. Easily understandable, but written for you, the person who is smarter than they think.

Look for eKno guides on your favorite subjects, available in a variety of formats. Coming soon from Squealing Piglet Press.

Squealing Piglet Press - Promoting Learning in All Ages and Stages of Life

Squealing Piglet Press is a new venture of mine. If you're interested in writing an eKno guide, please contact me. Look for some forthcoming titles from Squealing Piglet Press.

Look for these upcoming titles:

eKno - Operations. everything you need to Know about Operations.

eKno - Rugby. everything you need to Know about Rugby.

and more...