Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure - Get That Righteous Feeling

I was once in a meeting with some colleagues when I used the word "ensure" in the context of making sure something happens. To my surprise, a woman in attendance corrected me on the spot. She said I had confused "insure" with "ensure." The Duke Ph.D. in English part of me rankled at this, and I told her that while the two verbs have similar connotations, their meanings were the opposite of what she said. But she held her ground over this interesting point of grammar. I realized she had a strong need to be right, and with an open mind said, "You may be right," and let it go.

Today, 30 years later, I remembered this incident. Don't ask me why. At my age a lot of off-the-wall memories pop into my mind. Maybe my life is flashing before my eyes.

So just to be sure, I googled it, and the top-rated grammar website happened to be my favorite: GrammarBook.com. If you're ever concerned whether you're about to make a fool of yourself by misusing the English language, I highly recommend it. Search for the issue, or get the book and keep it close.

It's amazing the mistakes people make, especially news and sports announcers. Book authors not so much; they have editors to keep them straight.

Here is what Grammar Book says about assure vs. insure vs. ensure:

Assure is to promise or say with confidence. It is more about saying than doing.
Example: I assure you that you’ll be warm enough.

Ensure is to do or have what is necessary for success.
Example: These blankets ensure that you’ll be warm enough.

Insure is to cover with an insurance policy.
Example: I will insure my home with additional fire and flood policies.

So. I was correct. And even better, I restrained myself from arguing about it at the time. I just love righteous memories.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2015. Building Personal Strength .

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Ultimate Book on Networking: How to Be a Power Connector

After the third time my business partner, MeredithBell, raved about Judy Robinett’s book, How to Be a Power Connector (McGraw-Hill, 2014), I decided I should read it. Meredith is almost never wrong about these things.

The book arrived the day before I left to go SCUBA diving in Bonaire with friends, so I brought it with me to read on the plane. By the time I'd returned, I'd read it cover-to-cover, very slowly, twice, meticulously underlining hundreds of need-to-remember passages.

 http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Power-Connector-Business/dp/0071830731/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420666238&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=robinett+power+connectThis is the most important success/professional development book I've read in decades. For me it’s a game-changer. It has caused me to rethink how I approach my business and how I work as a writer.

An exceedingly well-structured and well-written book, it skillfully blends the idea of strategic, purposeful networking with the central imperative to generously add value, giving over and over without expecting anything in return.

More than that, Robinett gives a wealth of specific how-to recommendations:
  • How to put practical limits on your networking activities: the 5+50+100 rule.
  • How to evaluate your professional relationships.
  • How to organize a system to keep track of these relationships.
  • How to “ask” for what you need.
  • How to follow up after making contact.
  • How to “work a room” at a public gathering.
  • How to use social media to nurture your network.
  • How to identify people you don’t want in your network.
  • How to assess your own value as a network resource.
  • How to approach a new contact.
And a lot more. I especially liked her insights about the differences between male and female networkers.

The book has so much how-to “meat” about this vital subject that for me, it’s more than a how-to book. It’s a reference book. It won't live in my bookcase. It will live on my desk. Before I adopt a tracking system, before I attend another conference, before I approach another high-profile influencer, I'll reread the relevant chapters.

No wonder Inc. Magazine named it the No. 1 Business Book of 2014.

I honestly feel that anyone who is trying to succeed in business and who hasn't read the book is at a serious disadvantage. My advice: get your hands on a copy and read it at your earliest convenience.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2015. Building Personal Strength .

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gary Player - Hard Work Made Him a Golf Legend

I've always been a big fan of PGA golf. As a young man in the 1960s, I played 18 holes nearly every day and sometimes 36. As a high school senior, I was captain of the golf team. And I enthusiastically followed the careers of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player - all legendary champions.

I recently viewed a revealing interview with Gary Player. What struck me is that the physical and mental strength that allowed him to compete with Palmer and Nicklaus and win 9 major championships in his career came from his difficult childhood. He deeply loved his mother, but she died when he was 8 years old. His father worked in the mines, so young Gary would have to get himself up at 5 A.M., make his breakfast, catch a trolley car to town, walk across town to a bus stop and ride a bus to school. He returned home the same way to an empty house - at the age of 8. So as a young boy he learned that life was challenging, and he consciously worked on toughening himself up - physically and mentally - to prevail through the challenges.

By contrast, many kids raised today are coddled by parents who feel they must protect their kids from want and difficulty. Young people who don't have to work for what they want grow up with a feeling of entitlement and without the personal strengths they'll need in a world that doesn't care whether they succeed or fail.

How can a child learn to do the hard things if they are protected from adversity while growing up?

I think you'll enjoy this...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2014. Building Personal Strength .

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

HRD's 'Dirty Little Secret' about Training

I was recently interviewed by David Lee, internationally recognized expert on employee performance. The topic was my book, The Dark Secret of HRD. We talked about how and why I came to write it and how organizations can transfer what is taught in the classroom to consistent performance in the workplace. Click here to listen to the interview on David's blog.

David Lee
David Lee is the founder of HumanNature@Work. He works with leaders interested in optimizing employee performance and customer service, through his work as a facilitator, consultant, trainer, and coach. He has worked with organizations and presented at conferences in the US, Canada, and Australia.

He is the author of Managing Employee Stress and Safety, Powerful Storytelling Techniques, and nearly 100 articles and book chapters on maximizing employee and organizational performance, which have been published in North America, Europe, India, China, and Australia.

His article, "Why Your Employees Are Just Not That Into You," the third most popular article at TLNT.com in 2012, is a must-read for any leader desiring greater productivity and engagement.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2014. Building Personal Strength .

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Intelligent Lifeform Exposes Himself to Deadly Radiation

Me, soaking in rays (photo Kathleen Scott)
Where I live, the coolest breakfasts in town (in my opinion) are hosted by Casa Garcia's Restaurant and Cantina. Here I am on a Sunday morning after a custom-filled omelet, sitting outside on one of their benches, enjoying the warm sun.

Actually, I was thinking that the solar radiation that had reached my cheeks had penetrated our planet's magnetic field and thin atmosphere. Most of the sun's deadly rays had been shielded and absorbed, and just enough made it through to give warmth to me and all the other lifeforms on the surface.

The radiation from our star is essential to life. It's the source of energy for plants and animals, and it allows water to exist in liquid form.

But sustaining life on Earth isn't our star's purpose. Actually, it has no purpose. It's simply a medium-sized star doing what stars do, blasting radiation, solar wind and occasional solar mass ejections into the space around it, all of which can destroy what we know as "life."

We're lucky that our planet has a massive hot liquid iron core that rotates far below the surface, creating a magnetic field in the space around our planet, which deflects most of what the sun sends our way. Much of what gets through is absorbed by our atmosphere. The little bit that makes it to places like Garcia's is enough to support life without destroying it.

As long as you aren't exposed too long. Stay out in the sun long enough, and your skin will start to burn. The rays might even disturb your DNA, causing skin cancer.

Mars wasn't as lucky as Earth. A smaller planet, it's smaller core cooled billions of years ago, ending it's ability to generate a protective magnetic field. The onslaught of radiation and solar particles blew away most of the atmosphere, and today only the tiniest remnants of carbon dioxide gas remain. Mars' surface is now an extremely cold, lifeless and deadly place.

This was what I was thinking when my wife took the photo. I know, I know, why can't I just enjoy being warm on a November day when the gentle folks in Buffalo are digging out from more than six feet of snow?

It's because I'm one of the intelligent lifeforms that now co-exist on Earth, and in my case I sometimes use my intelligence to think about stuff like this, especially when I can actually feel the rays bombarding my cheeks.

The sun, our oxygen-rich atmosphere, the abundance of water on our rocky surface, and our stable climate were not "put here" to make a perfect home for us humans. The Earth has been revolving around its star for about 4.5 billion years now, and the environment wasn't always ideal for life. We humans exist today because just the right conditions have accidentally come together after billions of years of Earth history.

In short, I'm lucky to be alive, breathing delicious air and feeling the warmth on my cheeks. I'm lucky to have been born, and I'm lucky I'm still alive. I've had several close brushes with death, and on this particular Sunday morning what I feel is, well, appreciation that I made it this far, far enough to reach Garcia's to enjoy a really great omelet.

I also entertained some radical thoughts about intelligent life in the universe, but you know what? That's another story....

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2014. Building Personal Strength .