Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


[Updated] Creating job descriptions with MindManager

I recently wanted to revamp a position description, and decided to pull out my trusty ol’ MindManager Pro to help get the job done.

First, I created a basic templatePositionmap_1 to help organize various aspects of a position.  I then used MindManager to populate details and fill out the template with things that articulated what I’m looking for in a candidate for that position.  I find that using MindManager to brainstorm makes it easy to quickly create a crisp view of the things I want and need.

I also took this opportunity to roll in the view of “What do you hire on?” and “What would you fire on?” as discussed in my post on that topic a couple of months ago.

When I’m done with fleshing out the mind map, I create a more traditional job description based on what I’ve come up with.  Of course, I don’t just type in everything verbatim from the mindmap.
For example, the “Things I’d Fire On” doesn’t get put directly into the job description.  However, I do ensure that I have requirements and experience elements that minimize my chances of hiring someone I’d fire. 

The “…Fire On” list also provides great fodder for building a strong interview guide so you can ask questions to drill on specific areas of concern.  This will allow you to discover whether candidates may be incompatible or unacceptably deficient in comparison with your requirements for the position.

For example, if I determined that I’d fire someone if they couldn’t predictably manage and complete complex projects on time, I’d do things like:

  • Add requirements and key success factors describing the need to manage complex projects and meet committed delivery and completion dates;
  • Add experience requirements targeting candidates with a proven track record on-time projects;
  • Add interview questions probing for examples of when they’ve done what I’m looking for – and examples of when they haven’t, so I can find out what they’ve learned from that;
  • Add questions for use during reference checks to drill for the ability to satisfy my requirements.

If this sounds useful to you, I’ve provided a copy of the basic template for your use here, and would love to hear about any useful iterations, improvements, or similar tools you use.

Note:  After you’ve hired someone and it’s time to review their performance, you can also use MindManager to collect and organize your thoughts and feedback from their co-workers.  Find out more here.

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'Trump' Your Competitors: 4 Business Lessons Learned From "The Apprentice"

The harder you work the, "luckier" you get. That's an interesting statement. If you think about it, the harder you work, the more chances you have to be successful, so, in turn, you feel "lucky." On "The Apprentice," Donald Trump has a lot to say. His business advice is generally sound, honest and can help anyone succeed if they are willing to follow it. Actually, not just follow it but take the bull by the horns and charge forward.

Trump is a multi-billionaire because he is knowledgeable and bold. He's an educator and - above all - he's a great showman. Whether you love him or hate him, he knows what he's doing and he is a champion, when it comes to business (I wouldn't ask for his advice on hair styles, but business is another matter). Here are a few business tips to help you triumph in your own world and "trump" your competitors.

Be Coachable

Separate yourself from the "pack" to stand out and get ahead, suggests Trump in an NBC interview. The humility in accepting the fact there might be a better way to do a certain task, defines you as a person. It shows you want to improve and know that no one (even yourself) is perfect. By allowing leaders to coach you in business, you actively take responsibility for improving your life and increasing your knowledge. Some people consider being humble to be a key attributes of a successful human being.

Admitting faults can be hard; however, the grace you show in turning constructive criticism into opportunity keeps you humble. Being coachable can take practice and discipline. Getting rid of a negative, sour, defensive attitude can completely change your direction.

Money Isn't the Primary Goal

Don't get me wrong - money sure is nice when you get it. However, the key to making money is not letting it be the reason for your actions. Ask yourself, what happens when you attain the amount you are going for? You may hit a ceiling and could begin to make bad decisions and slack on your business practices. Stick to the rules of saving by separately budgeting your business and personal finances.  Don't be afraid to get creative with financing, either.  If you're a small business owner, you can solidify your credit with an American Express cash flow card, for example.

While Trump is known to say money is a scorecard you can use to gauge how well you and your company are doing, it should not be your driving force. Keep in mind you are always wanting to move toward something.

A good driving force? Strive to become a better version of yourself.  Personally, learning new things, helping others and solving interesting problems is a big motivator for me - I've just managed to find ways to make money by doign that.

Communication is the Relationship

Communicate effectively. Learn to express yourself in a positive manner and avoid attacking people or "going negative." Go into challenges asking questions and don't assume it is someone's fault; there could be sound explanations for happenings. Also, while you are in it to win it, it often takes teamwork to prevail. In teamwork, communication can make or break you. "The Apprentice" is all about working together. Strive to be the respected leader of the pack.

Transparency and genuine communication is also important - that is how you build trust with others.  That isn't to say diplomacy isn't necessary, but open communications go a long way toward building stronger relationships with others.

Create a Personal Brand

Because business is an "every man for himself/every woman for herself" enterprise (according to Trump), it's important to know your audience and for them to know you. A big part of confidence and success relies on your personal brand. How do you want others to perceive you? While first impressions are essential in building positive relationships, you must continue to impress and stimulate your audience's perception of you.

A good guideline I've heard is to "continually do the things you want to be known for."  This is a key when creating your personal brand, which means focus is important.  Decide the top 5 (or so) things you want to be known for and figure out the things you need to do to demonstrate and be known for them - make it a habit and your personal brand will develop.

Be Bodacious: Improve your career with cowboy wisdom

Just finished reading Steven D. Wood's "Be Bodacious: Put Life In Your Leadership" and I must say I am impressed.


This book is solid theory for personal leadership development, presented in the form of a story about a guy who learns  some powerful lessons from his boss.  The boss is a colorful character nicknamed "Cowboy," who teaches through a series of stories from a Journal he's assembled during his life.

To be transparent, I avoided this book for a little while because I'm kind of tired of these "leadership fables" - there have been a lot of them in the past several years, and they sometimes take too long to get to the advice.  Now, I wish I'd jumped right in.

I'm happy to report that "Be Bodacious" doesn't waste time in getting to the point - with just a little story setup, you get to the meat of the learning pretty quickly.

This is an easy, entertaining book to read and it goes quickly (it's only 150 pages).  In this book, you'll learn:

  • How to get out of crappy jobs and into jobs you really enjoy and feel passionate about;
  • How to lead a team by igniting their drive and spirit;
  • How to get to know your team as individuals so you can give them what they need to be challenged and successful;
  • And a whole lot more.

Some other things you'll learn are just as important - like how to get out of the trap of comparing yourself to others, which can really mess with your confidence and limit what you can achieve.  Closely related to this are some good techniques to help you identify when you are hanging on to old habits that are preventing you from being successful (the chapter "Rocket Fuel" was very relevant to me).

The book also deals with some proven "sharpen the saw" techniques to make sure you spend time on yourself, so you can improve your own skills.  There are some thought-provoking elements on this topic.

This book is a quick read, and I think it's perfect for anyone who's a business leader or aspires to be. You can find out more at including seeing the "Be Bodacious" movie (it's short, but good), and you can download a sample chapter.

You might also check out Wood's blog, where you can get a taste of his writing style, philosophy, and leadership mojo.

So, 'nuf said - Be Bodacious, and put some life in your leadership.

Deja vu, all over again - are you guilty?

Ever notice yourself or others making the same mistakes over and over again?  I have seen this in a lot of the places I've worked, and a lot of the problem is that people tend to tolerate "emotional business cases" (latest, loudest, and most charismatic) over "real" business cases (logic, data, and well-thought out strategy decisions).

The root cause is that we like to do fun and exciting things, and real business cases are hard work and sometimes boring.  Then there is the fact that we often take shortcuts when analyzing ideas we like.

Know what?  This is not uncommon - take a look at this comparison of the current BP oil spill to one that happened in 1979.

It's eerie how similar they are, isn't it?  Are you guilty of repeating the mistakes of the past?  How can you break the cycle?

Speaking The Language of Accountability

I'm trying to instill more accountability and discipline in myself, my team, etc.  Since words are important, I am trying to start by insisting on what I refer to as "The Language of Accountability."  This is about being deliberate about commitments, specific about what you're committing to, and trying to root out "squishiness" and weasel words in your commitments.


For example, use words like:

  • "I own this."
  • "I will complete this by <date>."
  • "Here is what I will do..." or "Here is what I will deliver..." or something similar.

Simple changes like this can make a big difference.  The test is pretty simple - you can ask three questions to find out if you're using The Language:

  • Do I know what I'm committing to / what is the expected outcome?
  • Am I clear on who owns this item?
  • Do I know when to expect it to be completed?

If the answer is no to any of these, you aren't done committing.