• Tab Mix Plus Beta For Firefox 3.5

    Tab Mix Plus is a popular Firefox add-on that stopped working when Firefox 3.5 came out, many users were disappointed and did not upgrade for that. [...] If you have been putting up upgrading Firefox for this reason, you can safely do that now and use the beta version of Tab Mix Plus.

    Finally, I gained back control over my browser.

  • Why You Need to Fail

    If you believe your talent grows with persistence and effort, then you seek failure as an opportunity. [...] If you have a growth mindset, then you use your failures to improve.

  • Don't meet, work!

    On his blog Remarkable Leadership, Kevin Eikenberry cited an interesting study result in his article "Leadership and Meetings": Almost no manager expects productivity to drop if meetings got banned for one day a week. About half of them even think productivity would increase!

    In the OfficeTeam survey, 150 executives were asked "How would employee productivity be affected if your company banned meetings one day a week?" The results:

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    • No change: 46% (blue)
    • More productive: 45% (green)
    • Less productive: 7% (yellow)
    • Don't know: 2% (red)

    My subsequent question would be: "So, why do you think those meetings don't add value, and what are you going to do about it?"

    Meetings have the purpose of fostering efficient communication. But just coming together in a room to talk doesn't cut it. That's the time, money and drive sink we all dread. As always, you have to do things right to reap the benefits.

    Brian lists the most important things you should take care of to stop the waste by ineffective meetings:

    • Have clear desired outcomes for every meeting that are communicated before hand.
    • Use, and follow an agenda (that is focused on those desired outcomes).
    • Hold people accountable for the action items.

    So, there are two documents that are crucial for effective meetings: an agenda, sent to everyone in advance, and the meeting minutes (complete with action items and deadlines), sent to everyone after the meeting.

    And hey, if you make your meetings really effective, you can have that no-meeting day anyway!

  • Mac Mini as a baby monitor

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    Lauren Hirsch: What do you get when you combine a new parent on maternity leave with a love of gadgets and Apple products? Why, you get "baby monitor overkill!"

    Right.

  • How to get the customer off your back

    Customers become a nuisance whenever they develop a tendency to cling. Suddenly, you find yourself spending a lot of time in meetings and phone calls that you'd rather use for working on your tasks. It doesn't matter if you're a freelancer working for several companies or if your customers sit in the same company as yourself, you'll eventually experience the contact-hungry client.

    How should you deal with that need? The request "Excuse me, but could you please leave me alone and let me do my work?" doesn't seem very effective.

    Gitte Härter over at unternehmenskick.de gave that situation a second look and switched to another perspective: that of the customer. She found out that often a heightened need of communication comes from insecurity. In detail, she lists the following causes for insecurity in a professional relationship:

    • The customer doesn't yet know you.
    • The customer made some bad experiences.
    • The customer himself is insecure.
    • The customer likes to chat.
    • The customer wants to dominate you.
    • You invoke the feeling, that you're insecure or maybe understood something wrong.
    • You failed in posing enough of the right questions, maybe even regarding the core issues that you need to understand to deliver the right solution.
    • You seem to walk in another (your own?) direction.
    • You failed another time in the past.
    • You don't respond promptly to phone calls or emails.
    • You're generally too silent.
    • You communicate too vaguely.

    Over the years, I learned that customers abhore a communication vacuum. So, if you don't communicate the customer expects you to, oftentimes they will take the lead and make you communicate. Unfortunately, this will never be as effective as if you established a steady and controled information flow in the first place.

    Gitte has the following suggestions on how you can take the lead and position yourself as a professional partner:

    1. Create trust. -- Be present, pose the right questions, show genuine interest in your counterpart. Get all the information necessary to deliver a good job. Also, dare to give honest feedback; for example, explain the customer if his ideas don't hit the spot.

    2. Make clear that you'll get in touch when it's time. -- You'll rid yourself of control calls as soon as your customer can trust that you work on their issue and will get back to them when questions, showstoppers or delays occur. Make sure you do! Send short receipt acknowledgements, deliver status reports or give a perspective on when you'll follow up.

    3. Be the boss in your area. -- Your customer gives the order and has the say on goal and conditions, but he isn't supposed to interfere on your area of expertise. Stand your ground.

    4. Lead the conversation. -- Never be passive in a conversation. Lead the dialogue, show you're efficient. Get to the point. Don't get lost in endless discussions or waste your time in useless chitchat.

    5. Summarize what you agreed upon. -- Everytime you talked (or emailed) about something, at the end summarize the relevant points and what each will do until when.

    6. Acknowledge "good" behaviour. -- A customer delivers all information in time and doesn't question everything? He leaves you especially much freedom? Tell him about your happiness about his behaviour: "Working with you is great: you send everything so quickly and you're open to my suggestions -- thank you!"

    7. Always meet deadlines. -- Always. Meet them without exception. So make them realistic. If there's a rare emergency, inform the customer immediately.

    So the summary is: Oftentimes, it's not the customer, it's you. Drive or be driven.