Monthly Archives: January 2014

Four steps to be a status report hero

Here are the essential elements of a good status reports. Size doesn’t matter.

  1. Did: Here’s what’s been accomplished.
  2. Doing: Here’s the plan.
  3. Milestones: Here’s what we’re aiming for, when.
  4. Unless: Here are the risks and potential conflicts.

Client / contractor example: Did the about page and recipe template. Doing the review template. Milestones are getting them both done by Friday, unless you don’t review my work.

Parent / child example: Just got back from the mall. Sleeping at Billy’s. Will be back by 10, unless Billy’s mother can’t get her car out of the snow.

Spouse / spouse example: Got to work late. Working on 1MB project until 7pm. Will be home at 7:30 unless traffic is worse than normal on highway.

Follow those four steps. You’ll be a hero at work and home.


Status and hugs

Status reports come in different shapes and sizes.

  • A carefully formatted pdf.
  • A 30-minute conference call
  • Some powerpoint slides.
  • A text message.
  • A voicemail.
  • A carefully formatted email.
  • A one-line email.
  • A note on Trello.
  • A tweet.
  • A snapchat


They all do the same thing. They communicate status.

And no matter who it’s to, communicating status is as good as a hug.


Give more hugs. Give more status reports.

Just don’t do it too often or for too long. Nobody likes those kind of either.

I thought I was the model employee

I was loyal.

I was responsible.

I was dependable.

I was hard-working.

I was smart.

I was honest.

I was hungry.

I was willing to sacrifice sleep, family, and love — all for the good of the company. I was the model employee, wasn’t I?

But then it hit me. Getting it done on-time, correctly, and with a smile on my face wasn’t enough.

All that stuff was nothing without status. Status of the project. Status of the deliverable. Status of the status.

Once I figured out how to give status, I figured out how to be the model employee.

Give status and you can be a model employee.

[On a related note, lifeisnoyoke is looking for model employees.]

Being aware of where

Of the five “W” question words, “where” might be the most useless.

Strangers use where. “Where is the closest McDonald’s?”

Interviewers use where. “Where did you go to college?”

Deal shoppers ask where. “Where should I buy my Vitamix?”

Because “Where?” is so easy. It’s informal. But, with people, it gets you nowhere.

If you really want to get to know someone, figure out how to replace “Where?” with “What?”

What was your college experience like? What do you like to eat around here? What are your thoughts on the Ninja Ultima?

“What” is where it’s at.

What do you think?

What kind of fish are you passionate about?

More than a tweet. Most than a status update. More powerful than a buzzfeed list.

Less demanding than a long editorial. Less verbose than a feature story. Less heavy than other stuff out there.

And finally, emphasis on words. I’m constantly resisting temptation to let images outshine my words — alliteration, metaphors, typos and all.

That’s what I go for on this blog.

And now there’s a place to find more of that. Short, meaningful, unique pieces that make you think.

It’s called Medium. Here’s my old friend Ben Cohen’s piece on Trout.


Would you want it published in the newspaper?

Marginalizing restaurant staff.

Lying to your employees.

Breaking promises to your clients.

Yes, newspapers are becoming obsolete. And, there will always be trolls incentivized to write disparagingly about you. But reputable institutions that employ writers to report the truth are growing by the day.

Your actions speak louder than words. So? Be sure you’d be comfortable if someone wrote about them.



Memories of routine, trips

Remember what you did last night? Last week? Last month?

How about your last few trips? Not work trips, but trips for fun. Vacations.

Willing to bet you have more memories of the latter.

So why not break up the former more often?

Blueprint first

Pound some nails. Saw some wood. Pour some concrete.

You wouldn’t do that stuff before having a plan of what you’re going to build, right?

So why putz around on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest before having a plan of what you’re going to build?

For email senders

What’s in the subject line of your email?

Detailed description? That doesn’t get it opened.

“Please read” after the detailed description? That doesn’t get it opened.

Capital letters and a threat like “PLEASE READ AND DO NOT DELETE?” That doesn’t get it opened.

What about building trust in your email recipients that your emails will be relevant, brief, and value-add? That can’t go in a subject line. But it’s something any administrator, consultant or marketer can do to get their emails opened and responded to.

Because if you’re using too much detail, begging, or making THREATS in your subject lines, you’ve already lost. Perhaps, then, start from the beginning. No subject.

How you got there stories

Casually doing work on the 10th floor balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean hearing waves crashing and birds singing. Nobody wants to hear that story.

That’s a “Where you landed.”

Telling people you learned how to build a free blog on while sitting in soul-crushing, 10-person, budget-system design meetings. Who doesn’t want to hear that story?

That’s a “How you got there.”

Enjoy the former. But, tell more of the latter.