Back to the gym

I had a knee surgery about two months ago and I have not been able to work out at all. Now I have enough strength in my knee to go back to the Gym. I worked out 3 times last week and will try to keep that up. I’m avoiding lifting heavy weights for the time being. It sucks that I need to do surgery to my other knee pretty soon too.

Which Game console should I buy?

PS3VS.

It about time to get a new video game console. My PS2 has served me well over the past 5 years and now its time to move to a next gen console. Which next gen console to buy? PS3, Wii, or Xbox 360??

Here is a break down of the things that I care about:

  • High Definition quality games
  • DVD player
  • Web browsing
  • Online gaming
  • Large Hard Drive and ability to run Linux.
  • Motion sensing or at least future support for it

HD Games and player

The Nintendo Wii is out because it can not run HD. It ends up being Sony vs Microsoft. PS3 and XBox360 both support HD.

Cost

XBox360 costs $399.99 for the main system with 20GB drive and $199.99 for the HD player. While the PS3 costs $599.99 with a 60GB drive and includes the blu-ray High Definition player.

PS3 wins since it has a larger hard drive and off course it has far more powerful hardware.

Games

XBox360 will not have Final Fantasy XIII, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Resident Evil 5. Those games are absouletly essential and they will be PS3 exclusives but I’m willing to reconsider given good alternatives. XBo360 has Halo3, Lost Planet, and a number of great games. They had a full year to ramp up before the PS3. The only game that I would buy on the PS3 right now is Resistance: Fall of Men. I guess I could play God of War 2 and Final Fantasy XII on the PS3 until more games come out.

Bypassing my bias for Sony, XBox360 wins the game category right now.

Online Gaming

The PS3 online gaming platform is not as well developed as the XBox360. So clearly the XBo360 wins here too.

Motion Sensing Support

The Sony Six Axis controller already supports motion sensing. Sony also mentioned that third party companies can easily creat customized motion sensors that offer better control. XBox has nothing to compete with that. Sony wins in this category.

Web Browsing

The XBox360 does not support web browsing. You need to hook it up to PC Media Center. Sony wins here with flaring colors. The PS3 can also be hooked to a Keyboard and a mouse. Not sure of the XBox supports that.

Linux

Sony wins here. Yellow Dog Linux is the only Sony approved Linux distribution but I think more distributions will be supported in the near future. Obvisouly, there is no official support for Linux on the XBox. I’m hoping that Sony will offer DVR functionality pretty soon. But if they do not, I’m sure I can hook up a large hard drive through USB and get some software to make it act as a DVR. This might not be easy but anything is doable with Linux 🙂

Bottomline

Sony is the winner. The cost is about the same as the XBox360 with the HD-DVD drive. Sony offers

  • better hardware (the cell processor)
  • More storage
  • backwards compatibility with thousands of great PS1 and PS2 games
  • Blu-Ray Player which supports 50GB on a single DVD. 20 GB more than a HD-DVD
  • many exclusive titles that will not come out on other consoles
  • Linux support
  • Web browsing
  • Integration with the PSP
  • Bluetooth support
  • Future proof (the XBox360 will get outdated as soon as a game company figures out how to push PS3 to the limit). With a PS3, I know my console will be good enough 2-5 years from now.

MV house prices

I checked out a new housing project in Mountain View. They are asking for $650,000 for a 2bedroom/2bathroom house (around 1300 sq. ft.)

These house prices are crazy!! and people are still buying!! and then you hear them saying that the housing market is slowing down. Maybe its slowing down in nationally but it aint slowing down over here.

The ten dimensions

10th dimension

I have always wondered what the hell do physicists mean by the 5th, 6th, ….. nth dimension. One of my math teachers told me early on that time was the 4th dimension, but I never understood the other dimensions until today. Check out this site and click on “Imagining the Ten Dimensions” from the Navigation menu at the left side of the screen. There is a cool animated flash video about the ten dimensions.

Another Interesting read

Marketing When YOU Are the Product
by Abhay Padgaonkar
December 5, 2006

The greatest thing to be achieved in advertising, in my opinion, is believability, and nothing is more believable than the product itself.

—Leo Burnett, Advertising Pioneer

Marketing professionals widely use the 4 Ps for marketing a product. But how do you market yourself when YOU are the product? How do you make your own accomplishments believable?

In this day and age, we all might as well be from Missouri , the “Show Me” state. We constantly have to prove ourselves to others. We have to provide believable evidence of our capabilities.

A laundry list of responsibilities (“responsible for 2,000 people and a budget of $100 million”) hardly says much about how you really performed on the job. Simply documenting activities (“managed supplier relations” or “participated in reengineering efforts”) doesn’t say much about your contributions or the outcomes you helped achieve. Impressing people with scope, size, or history (“over 800 offices globally” or “150 years of history”) doesn’t exactly tell the listeners what you can do for them.

Your level in the organization matters very little. In fact, the higher you are trying to go, the more you have to prove yourself. Whether you are an executive thinking about that next big promotion, an employee writing performance self-appraisal, a stay-at-home mom re-entering workforce, a consultant trying to sell to a potential client, or an organization trying to establish credibility through marketing… you have to face the music and answer the inevitable question: “What have you done for me lately?”

As Aldous Huxley said, “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.” So focus on what you did and how—with what happened to you.

Fit and Proper

There are two things the person on the other side of the table is trying to find out:

  1. Fit: Does this person’s motivational and behavioral profile fit with the company culture?
  2. Capability: Does this person possess the competencies and specific skills required?

Your education, experience, work history, technical knowledge are all important. Taken together, however, they manifest themselves as “competencies” or capabilities required to perform successfully the job at hand. It is much more than just knowledge about a given subject matter. As the old adage says, “People get hired for what they know, but fired for how they behave.”

A traditional way of assessing competency was based on theoretical questions. The trouble with theoretical questions is that they elicit theoretical answers. Besides, they are not verifiable. Smart interviewers are increasingly looking to assess competencies by asking behavioral or competency-based questions. These questions may begin as “Give me a specific example of a time when you…”

The basic premise behind these questions is that past performance is the best predictor of future performance. Many of the skills and competencies are transferable as long as the situation is somewhat similar. That is why when the President of the United States appoints cabinet members, they have rarely performed that specific job but have supposedly demonstrated the competencies necessary to succeed in it; moreover, confirmation hearings in the Senate are designed to verify President’s assertions about the nominee.

SOAR With Your Strengths

We are asked to demonstrate (though not necessarily on national TV) competency in many forms—a performance appraisal, resume (or C.V.), behavioral interview, or marketing collateral.

The first step is to make a list of all the recent accomplishments you are proud of and then follow the SOAR model, described below, for each accomplishment:

  • Situation: The situation (briefly) provides the context for the specific accomplishment you want to talk about. This allows the other party to find out the basic facts about the situation you dealt with and establish an overall context for what you are talking about. A mistake people often make is that they forget they need only set the scene and not tell their whole life story.

    Example: “We were dealing with a situation where voluntary attrition rates among employees were running as high as 50%. As a result, the morale was low, the customer service was poor, and the hidden costs were sky high. We estimated that the total cost to the business was more than $3 million annually. This was clearly not sustainable.”

  • Obstacles: The obstacle describes why the situation was particularly problematic or thorny. It describes why your accomplishment deserves even greater kudos. Depending on the situation, particularly a forward-looking scenario, you can also use “O” for Opportunity instead of obstacles.

    Example: “What made this situation even more difficult was that we were dealing with several call centers across the country with different job markets and leadership styles. To make things worse, the unemployment rate was at a historic low. In essence we were dealing with an employee’s market.”

  • Actions: The actions describe specific actions you took to remedy the situation or capitalize on the opportunity. The actions are only important to the extent they will showcase the competencies in question. Make sure that you describe the actions with powerful verbs rather than worn-out, boring expressions. (Hint: Highlight the word in question in Microsoft Word and press Shift-F7 for synonyms.)

    Example: “I scrutinized the attrition data using a sophisticated statistical technique. Based on that, I generated profiles of employees who were leaving the company at a much faster rate than the average. I brainstormed with the larger team the root causes. We crafted specific action plans in three key areas: selection, engagement, and leadership effectiveness. We rolled out these insights in the form of an employee retention workshop with the help of the leadership team on the ground.”

  • Results: Just as the proof of the pudding is in eating, the proof of your accomplishment is in the results. This is where the value of your solution is demonstrated. Make them powerful also using action verbs. The results need to be believable, justifiable, and sustainable.

    Example: “The result was a dramatic 40% improvement in employee retention in less than six months. There was an equally dramatic upsurge in customer satisfaction and in quality scores of 10 percentage points. Most importantly, the enhanced retention was responsible for slashing more than $1.5 million in recruitment, training, quality, and productivity costs.”

Mix and Match

The second step is to carefully study the job, project, or assignment you are bidding for. Put yourself in the decision-maker’ s shoes. What are the job accountabilities and what competencies do you think will be required to achieve them? Many times, the job description specifies what the necessary competencies are. Sometimes, you have to read between the lines to figure out the skills necessary to be successful.

Some examples of different competencies:

  • Thinking strategically
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Planning and organizing
  • Driving results
  • Communicating effectively
  • Orchestrating change
  • Fostering teamwork
  • Solving problems
  • Resolving conflicts

The third and final step is to match the SOAR stories you have constructed for your key accomplishments to the essential job competencies. Remember, a single accomplishment often demonstrates multiple competencies. So, depending on the competency being probed, you can expound on a different facet of the same SOAR story.

It is equally important to use this technique in a forward-looking manner. When you are presented with a new opportunity, visualize ahead of time a SOAR story that you will be able to write when you have completed it successfully. This will help you to be selective about the right opportunity and to approach it with a clear-cut plan in mind.

Proper Preparation

Just because it looks simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy! As with anything else, practice will make perfect. Using this general framework, however, you can customize your accomplishments to the given situation.

For a resume, you will need to condense each individual accomplishment to no more than two or three lines of summary. For a behavioral interview, you will need to identify the competencies and prepare and rehearse the relevant facet of a SOAR story for each. For marketing collateral, you can prepare a one-page glossy that describes your accomplishment. If you can top it off with a strong client testimonial, that is icing on the cake.

Regardless of the situation, proper preparation will almost always prevent poor performance and help you market yourself effectively. The choice is yours. You can soar with your strengths or fall flat and be sore!

Abhay Padgaonkar is a management consultant, author, and speaker, and the founder and president of Innovative Solutions Consulting, LLC (www.innovativesolut ions.org).

Interesting read

What’s Your Google Identity?
by William Arruda
November 14, 2006

To be successful today, you must have a clear and compelling online identity.

People are googling you and making decisions about you from what Google reveals. Whether you are an employee looking to advance in your company, a professional seeking your next marketing role, or a consultant looking to land your ideal client, you should plan on being googled. And you should prepare for it.

In a previous article, I shared with you the techniques for understanding your current online profile. In this article, I show you ways you can build your personal brand online so that you can be visible to those who need to know about you.

When I work with clients on their personal brands, we develop an online communications strategy, and often that strategy includes a personal Web site. The ideal way to create a relevant and authentic online identity is to build your own personal site or blog (you can see examples here: www.brandego. com/gallery. php).

Having your own place on the Web ensures that Google says exactly what you want it to say, but you may not be ready to make that kind of investment. Still, you understand the importance of being virtually visible.

Fortunately, there are many ways to enhance and refine your online identity even if you aren’t ready to buy your own real estate on the World Wide Web.

Here are seven simple ways you can build your personal brand online:

  1. Build your ZoomInfo profile (www.zoominfo. com). ZoomInfo crawls the Web to find content about individuals and then consolidates that content into a mini online profile. You may already have a profile at ZoomInfo. The best way to find out is to visit the site and type your name into the search box. You can create a free account to establish or edit your profile. Hiring managers and executive recruiters are using ZoomInfo to learn about prospective employees.
  2. Build your Ziggs profile (www.ziggs.com). Ziggs is similar to ZoomInfo in that it allows you to build a complimentary mini-site with pertinent professional information. It is another resource that hiring managers, customers, and others who want to know about you are using to learn about you.
  3. Get published. Publishing articles on the Web about your passions, expertise, and interests is a great way to establish your thought leadership and increase your visibility with Google. There are lots of article banks and Web portals that will accept your content.

    ArticleAnnounce from Yahoo, for example, accepts articles of all kinds and makes them available to those who need content for magazines and e-zines. Brandchannel. com and, of course, marketingprofs. com accept articles for publication online. Find the right places to post your articles and make a plan to regularly submit content that will bolster your online identity.

  4. Share your opinion. Post your reviews of books that are relevant to your area of expertise at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble. com and other online bookstores and link back to your Web site or blog (if you have one). But remember, if your area of expertise is marketing metrics, posting a review of your favorite cookbook is only going to dilute your brand message. Write your reviews in a way to reflect your personal brand. For example, if you are humorous, make your reviews witty.
  5. Participate in communities. Join professionally oriented online forums and information exchanges such as Yahoo Groups or Google Groups. Share your expertise and increase your visibility at the same time. You’ll also start to build your brand community with others who share the same interests. The MarketingProfs Know-How Exchange http://www.marketin gprofs.com/ ea/index. asp is one place where marketers can share their knowledge with colleagues and others who want to learn more about marketing.
  6. Provide your point of view. Comment on other people’s blogs that are relevant to your personal brand. First you must find the blogs that focus on your area of expertise (www.technorati. com is a blog search engine that will enable you to find relevant blogs). Then you can subscribe to feeds from these blogs so that you can comment on relevant posts. Posting comments takes just a small time investment, but over time this effort leads to a powerful online profile.
  7. Network and build your brand. With some of the online networking sites, you can make your profile public. LinkedIn, for examples, gives you tips on building your profile and lets you decide whether to make it visible just to members or to anyone on the Web. Your profile is a lot like a professional bio. It enables you to succinctly express your brand promise.

To make sure you get the most value from these online image enhancers, remember to include your name with every post, and always use your name in the same format. For example, I always use William Arruda, not Bill Arruda or Will Arruda or William Vincent Arruda. Google “william arruda” and you get 38,900 entries, most of which are about me. Google “bill arruda” and none of the 183 results are about me.

Also, remember to use words that reflect your area of expertise with everything you post on the Web. If you are an expert in viral marketing, ensure that you use those words every time you comment on a blog or review a related book.

By employing these tools for building your online identity, you make small deposits in your personal brand bank that over time will yield huge dividends.

William Arruda (williamarruda@ reachcc.com) is the personal branding guru and founder of Reach, a global leader in personal branding. He is the cofounder of the Reach Branding Club and author of Stand Out—the upcoming personal branding book for career-minded professionals (www.standoutcareer. com).