Saturday, November 29, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Being thankful for - white blood cells??? 

With three kids in three different schools and me teaching at a university, viruses come around our house often and I am guessing most of family has built up a pretty good immunity.  This week however, that immunity didn't work out so well as a cold ripped through the household.  During this week of thankfulness, add white blood cells to the list.  So yeah to biological sciences...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Advice for Choosing a Dissertation/ Thesis Topic

I have gotten a series of requests lately for advice on choosing a dissertation topic. So while I am writing to specific people, I thought I would share these ideas broadly too.

4F Rules for Choosing a Dissertation/Thesis Topic

  1. Fun - You are going to spend a considerable amount of time doing this topic, you better at least be somewhat interested in it.  
  2. Fund-able - There are very few projects that can be done for free. Make sure you have the resources to be able to complete the project.  
  3. Feasible - The clock is ticking, make sure it is a project you get can done in the time available. 
  4. Future - Will completing this project help your job prospects after completing it? 
I have been approached to add more F's over the years (though for me all F's should be four letters). Two others which have been suggested are:
  • Foundation: Do I have the skills and abilities to get this done?   
  • Faction: Does my adviser have the skills and abilities help me through this? Can they help me put together the right committee to make this project all it should be?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Question For the Future of Hospitality and Tourism.

The question I was posed by Leslie for the coffee chat was,

"How full is your cup?"

As usual I am going to answer such a question in my own unusual way.  

One of the great traditions of the program I work at is that we have a capstone class event at the end of term.  During this event, each professor stands up and gives the graduating class a piece of advice for the future.  While some of my colleagues share the same story year in and year out (and they are great pieces of advice); I like to tailor mine to the class.  Here is my talk that I am going to give later this after noon (and you decide if it is cup half full or not).

"There has been a question that has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks.  I thought of the question when preparing a talk for the global tourism class and I think it is valuable thought as you venture out into the workforce.  I want to pose a question to you all.  How much hospitality should we trade  for the business?  The origins of the word hospitality comes from the Greek 'philoxenos' which means 'love of strangers.'   The root of 'travel' comes from the French, 'travailler' meaning 'to work.'  Combined the original intent of hospitality was to give comfort to guests because of the hardships it took to travel. Now, the question is, have we gotten away from that original intent?

Today, as you have sat in business school classes, we have taught you about profit margins, cost-benefit analysis and return on investment.  In such, we taught you as a good business school should.  In the current world you will be asked as managers to maximize revenue and minimize costs. Even in the hospitality world we are focused on revenue management and providing streamlined service.  In that vein, we now have businesses in our industry where one can rent a car, check into a hotel or order from a restaurant and not have to interact with a person.  Heck, one hotel has a program that if you do not want maid service, that you stick a sign on your door and that they will give you reward points in exchange.  So one could purchase their room online, check in with their phone and not have maid service meaning that they could stay in a hotel and not have to interact with a single staff person.  While this may be excellent business; is it hospitality?   That is your question for the future.  How much humanity are we willing to give up in the face of business? 

On one side, we can argue that is the way of the world.  Heck, when was the last time you actually talked to a bank teller?  We have been automating every industry in America one way or another for decades.  What makes hospitality immune to this?  On the other side, isn't the core of hospitality to create a sense of 'love of strangers' and how do one do that through a smart device?   Over the next ten years, I sense we are going to see the next evolution of our industry.  How that evolution is shaped will be based on your decisions.     How much hospitality are we going to choose relative to the business?   The future of this industry is based upon your shoulders. My advice to you is this day; is to choose wisely."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Memory Monday - Mom Theme

The theme this week is Mom.  

Retired Not Tired Memory MondayLike most people, I love my mom but how I do write about her without sounding cliche?  The fundamentals of my mom is that she is an intelligent, well spoken women.  If she was born 20-25 years later, she probably would have been a CEO.  She reads constantly.  She reads a variety and a plethora of literature.  She has carried a desire to learn and grow throughout her life.  She actually thinks about things and has informed opinions.  While she is introverted, she forces herself to become a customer service expert. She is willing to stretch herself as an individual.   She is a great example of how life long learning, growth and development leads to a happy life.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Interesting Lesson in Listening

In 1861, Drs.  Earnest Aubertin (Localistic Model) and Pierre Gratiolet (Distributed Model) got into a rather heated dispute about two varying theories on how the brain works.  The scientific community then spent years debating which one was correct until the late 21st century discovery that each model was correct in that one fed into the other.  The lesson as always, is that good ideas should be built upon rather than worrying about who is right and wrong.  Expending energy on 'winning' a debate is useless compared to if the time was spent trying to bring the best of ideas together.

Perhaps our political leaders can learn a lesson from us (as should we all).  The importance of the sharing of ideas and actually listening to one another, can lead to much bigger breakthroughs than trying to go it alone.  As a collective, humans are pretty smart when they choose to work together. If political parties were more concerned with working together to nurture, develop and put forward great ideas than winning, we could be in a much better position all around.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Be a Good Neighbo(u)r.

The other night before the Predators used the Leafs as playthings, the Toronto fans showed some big time class when the anthem signer's microphone went out.  It was great to see the Canadian crowd finishing up the Star-Spangled Banner...

This is just a month after the Pittsburgh crowd sang O Canada after the Ottawa shootings...

As a Canadian who lives in the USA, I am always happy to see when we act like the great nighbo(u)rs that we are.  Congrats on both sides of the both sides of the border for recognizing our great partnership!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Being Significant in Insignificance...

Every time I think I am a big deal, I leave it to physics to remind me otherwise...

Though I can make the argument that I am the center of the universe

Though, no matter our insignificant place in this universe, it is still important that we maintain a sense of fun (even if it is really just a little bit of fun in the grand scheme of things).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Death By Meetings?

I love my colleagues.  They are great human beings and do not really waste time (if anything, I am the social being of the group who they hate to see coming down the hall at times).  Being in the world of academia however, death by a 1000 meetings is common and quite often painful.  As I have moved into more leadership roles, I have really taken a lot of time to think about how to make meeting times more productive.  So when I watch this TED talk by David Grady it really made me think of how I am doing business so to speak.

With this in mind, I give you my rules going forward for meetings that I am a part of.

Agendas go out at least 48 hours before the meeting.
Every meeting must have at least three actionable items.
Meetings will take no longer than 45 minutes (to which I will add an optional 15 minutes for networking/socialization).
Try to avoid meeting time sucks (like getting off on tangents, exploring outside topics and gossip).
Make sure the technology works before entering the room.
Keep the mood of one of trying to move forward with positive goals in mind.

These are my rules.  What are your meeting rules?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why I Sometimes Hate This Time of Year

This morning I was coming into work and on the radio there were two DJs discussing Christmas gifts.  The one DJ was complaining that her husband was buying her a $1000 dining room table stating that 'it was a gift for the household, not for her,' especially since he was getting $500 University of Tennessee boots.  So many things bothered me about this whole conversation that I needed to rant.

If you are going to discuss buying each other $1500 worth of gifts in public at least have the decency to at least acknowledge that you are really dealing with some serious first world problems.  The ladies on the radio really did come off as being superficial.

Heather and I stopped score keeping on gifts along time ago.  I believe it to be a sign of immaturity and a lack of respect for your partner.  We have also for the most part given up giving each other gifts on major occasions.  It is much nicer to receive a gift on January 14th just because you were thinking about the person than having to be artificially pressured into buying stuff on February 14th because Hallmark says it is the way to show your love.  I prefer the spontaneous and heart felt gift rather than the custom/convention one anytime.

The moral of the story for me.  If someone gives me a gift, any gift, I am thankful to have someone in my life that is willing to use their time and resources to purchase/make me something. There are many people in the world that do not have that.