ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Finally, after years of everyone telling me about it, I have come to realize on my own that I am quite spiritual. Not religious - but spiritual.

I didn't really know what that meant until watching Hallmark Hall of Theater the other night - about faith - about the relationship of a Jewish man to his Rabbi and to a reformed Black criminal turned Minister.

As I became aware of how emotionally moved I was at this story - and how emotionally moved I become at other stories of people connecting and helping each other - I suddenly discovered that was what others who describe me as very spiritual meant.


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Gimme gimme gimme

As much as I think the system in which we are living - both here in California and across the country needs a lot of tweeking - I am appalled at the Occupation movement's demands for "gimme, gimme, gimme."

This morning's paper exclaimed that the group that protested at the various UC campuses were demanding that taxes be raised because they had "a right" to free education. While, I long admired any institution that made it possible for people to get educated, I don't believe there is an inalienable right to my paying for someone else's education (other than my own children, of course).

Yes, there are the greedy among us. There always will be. Yes, there are the unfortunate poor among us - and we need to voluntarily reach out to help them. Key word here: Volunatarily - private charities are run far more efficiently than government ones and thus more of the actual money contributed to private charities goes to the intended recipients.

But, there is no natural right - our values in the USA - our constitution - give us the right to try - the right to the freedom to run the race - not the right to the production of others.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Me - In a Red Dress

I am wearing a red dress for the first time since I was a teenager. I remember a beautiful red/orange dress I wore to the Stork Club (New York Night Club) with Harry Kolbe. I don't recall the occasion.

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If nobody smiled and nobody cheered and nobody helped us along.
If every man looked after himself and the good things all went to the strong.
If nobody cared just a little for you and nobody thought about me
And we lived alone in the battle of life, what a dreary old world it would.

Life is sweet because of the friends we have made and the living and doing we shared.
We want to live on, not just for ourselves, but because of the people who cared.

It's living and doing for somebody else on which all life's splendor depends
and the joy of the words when you have summed them all up is in the making and keeping of friends.

This is a poem, by anonymous, that my father gave to me when I was in the second or third grade. I recited it in the play, Pandora's Box . What I just typed up is from memory, and I don't guarantee its accuracy.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Leadership Extraordinaire

Leadership Extra-Ordinaire

We make distinctions between leading and managing and often say leaders can manage and managers should also learn how to be leaders. But, what do we really mean by those words? What is great leadership? In my unfinished book, Leading and Managing a Global Workforce I am trying to answer that question.

In my courses on Leadership and Organizational Behavior, my MBA students struggle with these terms, often describing leaders as “visionaries” and managers as “making sure the tasks get done.”

I recently read a definition of workplace leadership as “the ability to build a team that achieves sustained, long-term performance.” (WJM Associates, Inc. – from their website)

I like this definition because it reminds me of the incredibly effective and cooperative team one of my CEOs built. Let me describe it for you.
Coming from India, working together in the same company, the more risk taking and visionary of the group decided to form a company and he invited some of his friends and colleagues to join him and become his executive team. They did. Together they formed a boutique high-tech company here in Silicon Valley. Since I didn’t obtain permission to write about them, I am going to disguise some information and the names of the executives.

Having consulted in many other companies, I am always interested in observing how executive staff meetings are conducted. Most of the time I find that the executives have had their staff create sexy power-point presentations and that they talk at each other, rather than with each other during those meetings. Typically they don’t interfere with each other’s “sandboxes” or “silos” – except if they are back-stabbing of course.

Not so at this little boutique company – which I will name Milpitas Tech just for this article. When I attended the first staff meeting – and many others after that I observed six men (no women, I’m embarrassed to report) come into the room as equals with a common goal of doing what was best for the entire company. Under the leadership of their warm, personable and friendly CEO, who I am naming Joe for convenience, this group actually talked with each other, problem solved together, helped each other make departmental decisions, and although they were careful not to step on each other’s toes, they never hesitated to make suggestions for improvement. Indeed, one of my tasks with them was to collaborate with some of their executives to improve processes.

As they grew they looked for an infusion of money. The Venture Capital Community made offers – but these offers included wanting to replace some of the executives, especially Joe, the CEO with “professional management.” Because of how powerfully positive the team was under Joe’s leadership, I advised him to hold out and not leave the team. He agreed.

Sometime later they received an offer to sell they couldn’t refuse – the money was great, integration with another company had marvelous potential and best of all the team was respected as a team and left in place.

Another CEO with whom I worked turned a company around from being mediocre with each division building its empire, into a cohesive and cooperative well-run organization. He walked his talk. He cared about people and their personal/professional development. He wasn’t quick to fire anyone – rather he had me mentor and coach many of his managers. He sometimes had to transfer people from one area of responsibility to another into which they were a better fit. BUT, he held people accountable while at the same time caring about them. His management grew under his tutelage.

I really believe that great leadership includes the ability to create trust and safety among those you lead so that they can talk freely with each other without posturing and showing off. The executive team members should not be in competition – or conflict – with each other, although disagreement due to different needs and points of view should be encouraged. (See my chapter, The Tyranny of Pleasantness in my book Conflict Resolution: Causes and Cures.)

Leaders Extra-Ordinaire encourage the disagreement – don’t allow attack – and bring out the best from all their team members. They lead, they learn, they synthesize. Great leaders know they must listen to their other executives, but ultimately make their own decisions. Ronald Reagan was this sort of leader and Harry Truman gave us the phrase, “The buck stops here.”

When I work with CEOs, Executive Directors of Boards and Associations, and managers at all levels, I stress the importance of developing a relationship that encourages mutual support, respect, honesty and cooperation. Hiring well, developing teams that really respect each other and don’t get defensive or on the attack, and leading those teams through example are significant contributors to the company’s reputation, value and of course, bottom line.

Leaders Extra-Ordinaire are men and women who deeply care about other people as well as their visions and desire for success within their companies. Are you one?


Performance Appraisals

Performance Appraisals

Boy, the Wall St. Journal is really getting smart – because once again it is agreeing with me. As I wrote some years ago, and tell all my clients – the once a year performance appraisal is worthless. (If you want a copy of that old article, just get in touch with me and I’ll send it to you.)

In the Managing & Careers section on Sept. 6th, the same writer, Rachel Emma Silverman’s headline reads: “Yearly Reviews? Try Weekly: Accustomed to Updates, New Generation of Workers Craves Regular Feedback.”

I’m certainly not of the new generation, nor are most of the clients I serve, but almost without exception, people want timely feedback. I often say I don’t like hitting a dart board blindfolded. One of the benefits of biofeedback is that it allows the participant to get immediate feedback, thus being able to re-calibrate.
In the workplace most people want to do their best – and welcome an interactive process with their supervisors. Interactive – not just filling out forms for HR or payroll. Interactive – feedback about how they are doing what they are doing, how they can improve, how they can have more challenging and interesting projects, etc.
We talk about management as coach or mentor – but do we really use our management in that manner?

We create pro-forma 360 degree feedback forms – but are they really giving the kind of feedback that is useful to a particular employee or boss? Are they customized, personalized? Are the people completing them being honest knowing that they will really remain anonymous (which means the person compiling the data must be able to disguise some of the information if it is too concrete and thus revealing the person writing it.)

Evaluating performance, whether as a supervisor, or as a team conducting 360 degree evaluations is critically important to the health and growth of team members as well as the organization itself. The better it is executed the better the results.

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Innovation and Creativity

Innovation and Creativity

The Wall Street Journal has finally caught up with my research and recommendations regarding the process in which good ideas “bubble up” in an organization.

When I conducted the research with approximately 50 C level executives a few years ago, I learned that they all wanted good new creative ideas but that by in large they weren’t getting them and they didn’t have a process in place whereby employees could bring their new ideas to the attention of upper management.

Many of the CEOs I interviewed complained that good ideas were being stifled by their mid-managers, who they believed were threatened by the presumption that their bosses would see them as less competent if one of their staff had a better idea.

Sometime later, when I was giving a speech on this topic, my friend Carolyn Gannon, retired from her executive position at Oracle reminded me that the manager is caught in the middle – having deliverables to deliver and that more than likely that was the reason there was less attention paid to the good ideas that weren’t allowed to “bubble up.”

From the information I learned during the research, I create processes with my clients that enable deliverables to be delivered while at the same time, encouraging and supporting new ideas.

When I think of creativity – I think anywhere in the organization. Creativity is a process. Innovation, on the other hand is the product of creative thinking.
In most cases the new idea cannot merely be implemented on whim but must be vetted, or tested in some way because it no doubt will affect other processes in the organization. Too, many new ideas need a cooperative effort with others to bear fruition and thus they need to have time and resources given to them.

I, and the Wall St. Journal have concluded that there needs to be “specific ways firms can generate ideas and execute new products.” (Managing & Careers, Wall St. Journal, August 29, 2011, by Rachel Emma Sliverman.)

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Second Acts

Second Acts

I have a new regular column called “Second Acts” in the magazine Active Over 50. My first column, talking about the road less traveled will appear in their fall 2011 issue. I invite you all to subscribe:

This column will be in addition to my regular column in Outsourcing Magazine, my newsletter, blog, etc. It’s a good thing I love to write. Unfortunately, writing doesn’t pay the bills. It is my private clients (individuals or companies) that feed us.


Resume Help

Resume Help
Although it’s not something I advertise on my website, I have helped countless people improve their resumes – and of course have lectured about resume writing. My friend Steve who is CEO of his own company and a very accomplished and experienced salesman, was “wowed” when I recently helped him create a resume. He suggested I offer a service (and actually create a new website – which I haven’t done) called the 37 minute resume writing for $100.00. So, I am here to offer the service – and test-market it.

What I do is improve, tighten, re-arrange and help the resume become a dynamic marketing tool rather than a laundry list – just data sheet. I also suggest removing all the unnecessary phrases that everyone else uses and have become cloying.

If you know of anyone job hunting who wants to improve their resume, send them my way. I can work with them via e-mail ( or by phone 408-554-0110 or both.


Arbitration - Biased or Neutral?

Arbitration – Biased or Neutral?

I wrote a Letter to the Editor – which was published on Oct. 19th in the San Jose Mercury News. In part, the following is what I said:

Several cities are having – have had problems with Arbitrators who in the opinion of many, were biased in favor of unions, in particular police and fire unions.

I want to say that not all arbitrators are biased or incompetent. I have been an arbitrator and mediator for many years and have taught Alternative Dispute Resolution to many professionals through the years. We are taught to be neutral – but, as you can imagine, some people can’t get past their own biases.

My reason for writing is to ask you and your readers to not blame all arbitrators for the allegedly biased decisions made by a few. Selection is important, as it is in selecting any professional to serve your needs.

As you know from reading other copies of my newsletter, I am a firm believer in Alternative Dispute Resolution and although I prefer mediation, I am also an arbitrator. Some situations aren’t appropriate for mediation – or when mediation has failed, arbitration is the next best step.

Of course, as I said above – who you select as your arbitrator is critically important.

I’d also like to add that it doesn’t have to be a retired judge or an attorney. I am neither.


Resume Writing & Interviews

Resumes and Interviews

The classic resume and passive interview no longer work very well in today’s job market. There are too many people seeking too few positions and you have to shine above the noise.

The first step is to really think about your strengths – your accomplishments, skills, personality and how these set you apart from others. When writing your resume and cover letter, you want to show how these come about. Show – not tell. By that I mean you need to share enough information so that people know you are not just spouting bragging clichés.

Next, or perhaps first: Get rid of the clichés. When you use specific examples of what you’ve accomplished you no longer need to say you are “a hard worker” or “dedicated” etc. Not even “looking for a position that is challenging and allows you to grow.” Everyone says those things.

Next: Do your homework. Do not apply for a job without having learned about the company, the specific needs that you might be able to fill, the culture, and anything else you can learn about that potential employer. This is where informational interviews with those who work there – or who have worked there can be helpful.
Be careful though that you are really only seeking information when you request an informational interview – don’t ask for a job at that time – you will ruin it for yourself and for others who might really be honestly asking for an informational interview.

Just as you proof read your resume and cover letter – proof read your grooming and image before you go for your interview. People will judge you by how you look.
When you have the interview – on the phone – or face-to-face, listen more than you talk, but when asked a question take the opportunity to expand on your answers. When you ask a question, make sure it is about the work – the company – but not about what’s in it for you. DO NOT ask questions about salary, benefits, time off, the expertise of the caterer in the cafeteria or any of those questions during preliminary interviews. They might be negotiating tools at the end of the process after the offer is made to you.

You are there to persuade the interviewer that you are the best person for the position.

In short, you need to stand out as more interested, better qualified, and more interesting than the others also seeking employment.

Good Luck!

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Ten Steps to Success

Ten Steps to Success

I meet so many professionals who dream about creating their own success but find themselves being stopped by obstacles of their own doing. In the many years in which I’ve been consulting to people, I often help them look at and overcome these obstacles so that they can reach the heights to which they subscribe. The obstacles are different for different people, and the steps to success are also different.

I am offering an on-line, or on-the-phone consulting service called “Ten Steps to Success” which will consist of three separate sessions (for an hour or more each) over a one or two month period to mentor and coach those interested in taking the ten steps to success. The rate for this service is a flat $1,000.00.

If you are interested, or know of anyone interested in creating their success path, please contact me and/or refer them to me for more information.
Courage is the first of human qualities
because it is the quality that guarantees all others.
Winston Churchill


Are people checkers or chess people?

Are People Like Checkers or Chess Pieces?
I recently had an unusual experience with a client and learned that people were not regarded by the CEO for their uniqueness, but rather were pushed around as though they were checkers on the board. In writing my recommendations for him, here is some of what I said (disguised where necessary to protect him and his company):
In some areas of your organization, people are being used like checkers pieces as though they were easily interchangeable. People, however, are more like chess pieces. Whereas pawns can be interchanged, you cannot substitute a rook for a knight. There is only one queen – and the king’s power is limited. His role (and the winning of the game) must be protected and preserved by the executive management team, of Queen, Knights, Rooks, and Bishops, each of whom has a different role.
Each piece moves in a different way. (from Wikipedia)
 The rook moves any number of vacant squares along rows or columns (forward, backward, left or right). It also is involved (with the king) in the special move called castling.
 The bishop moves any number of vacant squares diagonally. Consequently a bishop stays on squares of the same color throughout a game. The two bishops each player starts with move on squares of opposite colors.
 The queen moves any number of vacant squares in any direction along a row, column, or diagonal.
 The king moves only one vacant square in any direction. It can also castle in conjunction with a rook.
 The knight moves to a vacant square in an "L"-shape (two spaces forward, backward, left, or right and one space perpendicular to it). The knight can jump over other pieces when moving.
 The pawn can only move forward one space, or optionally two spaces when on its starting square, in a straight line away from the player. When there is an enemy piece one square diagonally ahead from the pawn (either left or right), then the pawn may capture that piece. A pawn can perform a special type of capture of an enemy pawn called en passant. If the pawn reaches a back rank of the opposite player, it undergoes promotion to the player's choice of a rook, bishop, queen or knight

In checkers pieces are promoted as they reach the other side of the board. Pieces are interchangeable and any piece has the potential to be promoted. In chess, only the pawn has promotional power and there is an intense amount of work he/she has to do to get to the other side. The other pieces maintain their positions rigidly.
Unfortunately, this rigid need to stay fixed in place is very true in your organization. Not only do you not have a clear succession plan, you have long term employees who do not want management or even supervisory responsibility.
On the other hand, people are rotated around – put into positions into which they do not fit, just to fill needed spaces. You have people who rather do paper work serving clients and people who loathe paperwork and prefer client interaction, stuck in routine paperwork tasks.
I’m sharing that with you because I find that all too often the uniqueness of people is disregarded when making selections. Yes, of course, if an organization has someone with a specific technical skill that person is usually placed in a job requiring use of that skill. However, technical people, who have little or no people management skills are often promoted into positions requiring them to manage others. Bad fit.
In non-profits, too often people are considered like chess pieces assigned volunteer responsibilities based on the need of the organization, without due regard for the preferences of the individual. Thus, the commonly hear complaint that volunteers do not fulfill their obligations.

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Energy, Enthusiasm & Excitement

Energy, Enthusiasm & Excitement Gets You To The Front Of The Line
On November 17th, I spoke to the group at CSIX about the importance of the quality of everything you do towards networking and getting a job. My talk ranged from the importance of doing your research to the way you write your query, cover letter, and resume. I offered suggestions about how to handle the interview (once you get it) so that you appear to be the “A Player” they are seeking.
Mostly though, I talked about the importance of staying energized. You, especially if you are not a “twenty-something” need to show your vim and vigor. You need to be energized and enthused. I offered my audience a series of tips on how to stay energized. They included:
• Start now – you can’t wait for the last minute
• Get plenty of sleep – even take a nap if you can
• Exercise
• Have FUN! This is most important
• Socialize – yes, even though you are depressed
• Personal Hygiene and Grooming – at all times (as I looked around the audience, I knew this one had to be emphasized)
• Learn something new
• Be around young people – they energize
• Get involved in your community, associations, etc.
• Create and meet with small support groups
• Read – for pleasure
• Love children – be around them to hear their giggles – it is so energizing.
• Love family, friends – let yourself love and be loved
My conclusion: As difficult as it may be because you’ve been out of work too long, you have to pull yourself together and act as though all is well in your world. You can’t do that if you are staying in a deep tunnel of depression. Grab a toe hold this minute and start to pull yourself out of it. You need to be energetic, enthused, and excited in order to convince those you want to have hire you that you are the best possible choice for them. Good Luck!

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Leading and Managing a Global Workforce

Leading and Managing a Global Workforce
My wonderful editor, Bernie Silver made this book so much better than it would have been without him. It is currently at the publisher waiting for a marketing plan and printing. It should be released for sale before the end of the year. To tempt you to not only buy a copy for yourself, but to also purchase copies for your staff, here is the Table of Contents from the manuscript. Page numbers will change when it is printed in book form:
Leading and Managing A Global Workforce
by ArLyne Diamond, Ph.D.
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 2
Introduction 3
I: Leadership In The 21st Century: What Makes It Different? 6
II: Past, Present, And Future 10
III: Management Through The Ages 14
IV: Change Is Inevitable In Today’s World 21
V: Education Needs To Catch Up 28
VI: Leadership In A Globally Competitive World 32
VII: Leadership Extraordinaire 37
VIII: Additional Traits of Great Leaders 44
IX: Managers Are In The Middle 49
X: The Funnel Theory Of Management 55
XI: Teamwork 60
XII: Career And Professional Development 64
XIII: Tomorrow’s Challenges And Opportunities 69
XIV: Chaos In The Clouds 71

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Art Show at City Lights

Art Show
Several years ago I took a cruise to Alaska and during the cruise took a ½ hour a day watercolor class. My instructor kept giving me compliments, but I actually thought she was being condescending because I didn’t think I had any talent at art. Much to my surprise though, as we all were waiting in a huge room to disembark the ship, she walked over to me and commented: “I know you think I was just being nice to you, but I was serious. You have enormous talent. If I were you, I’d quit my day job and go to New York to study at the Art Institute.” My mouth hung open!

So, of course I haven’t rushed off to New York – but I did take a couple of classes at Adult Education. I’ve taken classes in watercolor and oil. I also took a one day workshop in working with pastels. Surprisingly, my instructors also thought I had talent.

Recently, I was speaking with Lisa Mallette, the Artistic Director at City Lights in San Jose, California and mentioned my art since they show local artists in the back of their theater. She asked to see samples, I showed them to her, she liked them – and lo and behold – my art is now appearing at City Lights for viewing and sale. Some of these make great holiday gift items, so go check them out.

The performance is “The Santaland Diaries” and will run from November 17th – December 18th at City Lights 529 S. Second St. San Jose, CA 95112. For information or tickets call: 408-295-4200.

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