piątek, 26 października 2012

Meetings are toxic!


                    You may or may not agree with this, but to me meetings (or at least some of them) are toxic. How? There is a lot awkward silence moments, pointing fingers and getting off the point. 
Did you ever send a text to a friend, who replied: "Can't talk, I am in a meeting."? 
Well if he/she was so busy with the "meeting" he/she would not reply to the text in the first place

Or have you ever walked in on a meeting?

Now what am I getting at here? 
Meetings work for some businesses and others which pretend they do work for them. A software/it company 37signals that designs CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software and web-based solutions, based in Chicago, runs differently.
Jason Fried, the founder of 37signals explains:




Interesting management style, right? Jason is clearly an outlaw when it comes to running his company and it is working for him.

What 37signals makes us realize is that sometimes the proximity between us, our co-workers and office brings in additional distractions.

Learn more about other useful changes that 37signals covers in their book "Rework":

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson - Excerpts

Krzysztof "Chris" Dargiewicz

USEFUL VOCABULARY:


1.  To get off the point - stracić wątek; zmienić temat
2.  In the first place - na początku, od razu
3.  To walk in on a meeting  - wejść w trakcie spotkania; przeszkodzić komuś
4.  To get at something - mieć coś na myśli
5.  Outlaw - buntownik; odmieniec
6.  Proximity - odległość
7.  Distraction - roztargnienie
8.  To cover - zawierać; opisywać

TED = ideas worth spreading

Dear Business English Blog Readers,

Today, I would like to remind you a useful resource for a listening task, picking up new vocabulary and pronounciation, but most importantly "ideas that inspire".


TED is a world-class event. One of its kind.
It started in California, and now run independently as TEDx spread like a wildfire all over the place.
(in Poland its already happened in Warsaw, Poznań and Kraków)

TED stands for the acronym: Technology, Education and Design.
It gathers the best speakers sharing their ideas with the audience in a 3-6-12 or 18-minute presentation.

And what is best about TED? You can watch almost all of it online!
Perfect for developing your business and language skills when and where you want to.

I have cherry-picked some of my favorite talks for you.
Take a careful notice at both the language used throughout the presentations, as well as the presentation skills (body language, eye contact, rapport etc.)







By the way-how are your presentation skills doing? :-)

           Krzysztof "Chris" Dargiewicz

USEFUL VOCABULARY:

1. World-class - światowej klasy
2. One of its kind - jedyny w swoim rodzaju
3. To spread like a wildfire - rozprzestrzenić się w zatrważającym tempie (niczym pożar)
4. All over the place - wszędzie
5.  To stand for - znaczyć; oznaczać
6.  Acronym - akronim (skrót)
7.  To cherry-pick - wybierać ostrożnie, dokładnie
8.  Talk - przemowa; wystąpienie
9.  To take a careful notice - zwrócić szczególnie uwagę na
10. Throughout - podczas; w trakcie
11. Rapport - porozumienie

środa, 16 listopada 2011

Polish football team without an eagle? - Let's talk about branding...

fot.PAP/EPA/Maciej Kulczyński
(source: polskieradio.pl)

Dear Readers,
You may have seen the news tonight - Polish football association (PZPN) decided that the Polish football team will lose the white eagle, our national symbol from their t-shirts. They must have thought: no big deal, no one will notice, right?

That was not a smart, well-planned branding decision.

To see where the problem lies, let's take a look at the main concepts of branding & emotions.

First watch this short video on the definition of branding:


Now let's put our national white eagle emblem into the equation.
See how our most famous brand evolved throughout the centuries, by reading the "Coat of arms of Poland" Wikipedia entry. (I know, not the most reliable source, but they got it right this time :)

Here is the legend associated with it:

"The White Eagle emblem originated when Poland's legendary founder Lech saw a white eagle's nest. When he looked at the bird, a ray of sunshine from the red setting sun fell on its wings, so they appeared tipped with gold, the rest of the eagle was pure white. He was delighted and decided to settle there and placed the eagle on his emblem. He also named the place Gniezdno (currently Gniezno) from the Polish word gniazdo (nest)."


Now for the Poles it is not only a legend, story from their high school history lesson, its a core, foundation of values and identity.

As much as brands are a creation of corporations and serve to be associated with a certain product or service & generating an emotion to buy or use it, a country's emblems are not to be messed with.

This is something that PZPN should have thought about before pulling the plug on our poor white bird fella. As a result they have a large PR mess to cleanup, a swarm of upset football fans, ex-footballers, critics and spectators all around.

You can take the eagle out of the t-shirt, but you can't take it out of Poles's minds and hearts. This is an emotional bond not driven by commerce, but by belonging to a society, community & country.

Lessons for business? Try to replicate that kind of strong emotional bond for your brand, so that  the next time when you change a minute detail, you get hordes of angry customers. Then, you know you are doing branding the way it should be done.

Until the final decision about our football team is made, listen to the famous, relevant song...


& enjoy the rest of your week!

Krzysztof Dargiewicz

SŁOWNICZEK

1."Notice"- zauważyć
2. "well-planned" - dobrze zaplanowany
3 "where the problem lies" - gdzie leży problem
4. "put sthg into the equation" - mówić o czymś, brac coś pod uwagę
5. "To evolve" - rozwijać się, ewoluować
6. "Century" - wiek, stulecie
7. "Reliable" - niezawodny, godny zaufania
8. "To get sthg right"- udać się, zrobić coś dobrze
9. "To associate with sthg./sb." - wiązać się z czymś, związany z czymś/kimś
10. "Tipped with" - wyposażony w, przepełniony czymś
11. "Delighted" - zachwycony, zauroczony
12. "To settle" - osiedlić się, osiąść
13. "Core" - jądro, rdzeń
14. "Identity" - tożsamość
15. "Emblem" - symbol, znak
16. "Not to mess with" - nie "mieszać" z, nie tykać się
17. "To pull a plug on sthg."- przerwać coś, zaprzestać
18. "Fella" - "gość", facet, kumpel
19. "Swarm" - rój
20. "Spectator"- widz
21. "All around" - wokół, ze wsząd
22. "Emotional bond"więź emocjonalna
23. "Driven by"- napędzany przez
24. "Commerce"- przemysł
25. "Society" - społeczeństwo
26. "Community" - społeczność
27. "Replicate"- przenieść, odzwierciedlić
28. "Minute"- malutki, niezbyt ważny, minuta

piątek, 11 listopada 2011

Becoming independent is not easy, but well worth it.

To commemorate  Independence Day in Poland, I thought I would bring up an image from the new movie with Brad Pitt "Moneyball".



It shows the struggles of the GM (General Manager) of the "Oakland A's", a professional american baseball team. Pitt (playing coach Billy Beane) is ostracized by his team co-workers, the so-called "scouts", whose job is to find & place talented players in the team, after he hires a Yale Economics graduate (played by Jonah Hill) to advise him on the next strategy moves.

Coach Beane had quite a task ahead of him - with no major budget, declining game scores, team morale and his own confidence in the game, he had to put a team together that could win the MLB (Major League Baseball) championship.

You might say impossible, right? As it turned out the Pitt & Hill brainstorm, and relying on player stats (as opposed to scouts intuition about them) they initially did not go forward at all, however what came later was an unprecedented surprise in the history of baseball.

When you compare this movie with Poland gaining independence in 1918 some patterns are similar. The polish Chief of State Józef Piłsudski was in many ways, an outlaw like coach Billy Beane. While critics around him where saying "its impossible" to achieve his goal, he persevered and kept at it.

Now applying it to our everyday management issues, we can learn (from both Beane and Piłsudski) that having a clear goal is absolutely essential, then comes the execution of that goal and getting some of our co-workers on our side to make headway. In the end, the results will convince the "naysayers" that in fact we were right. However it isn't supposed to be a power struggle of who was right or wrong, just working for the common good of our company, country like Piłsudski or team like Beane.

Think about it before planning the next strategic meeting.
In the meantime enjoy a trailer of "Moneyball" below.

All the best,

Krzysztof Dargiewicz



SŁOWNICZEK

1. "Commemorate" - uczcić pamięć, uhonorować
2. "Struggles" - zmagania
3. "Ostracize" - bojkotować, wykluczyć z towarzystwa
4. "Task" - zadanie
5. "Decline" - spadek, pogorszenie
6. "Team morale" - morale, duch zespołu
7. "Confidence" - pewność siebie
8. "Championship" - mistrzostwa
9. "To turn out" - okazać się
10. "Brainstorm" - burza mózgów
11. "Stats" - statistics - statystyki
12. "As opposed to" - w przeciwieństwie do
13. "Initially"- początkowo
14. "Unprecedented" - niesłychany, niespotykany
15. "Pattern" - schemat
16. "Chief of State"Naczelnik Państwa
17. "Outlaw" - wyjęty spod prawa, wygnaniec
18. "To persevere"wytrwać, przetrwać
19. "To jump at the chance" - wykorzystać okazję
20. "To keep at something" - kontynuować coś, dążenie do czegoś
21. "Essential" - niezbędny, podstawowy
22. "Execution"- egzekwowanie, wykonywanie
23. "To make headway" - czynić postępy
24. "To convince" - przekonać kogoś
25. "Naysayer" - krytyk
26. "Power struggle" - zmaganie sił, walka o coś
27. "Strategic meeting" - spotkanie strategiczne

środa, 2 listopada 2011

Be "Bold" in business!

We all have either seen or heard about this perfect, heroic plane landing by Captain Tadeusz "Tadziu" Wrona in Warsaw.
It was masterfully planned, calmly and professionally carried out, despite the extreme conditions that took place during the Polish LOT

Flight 12 from New York to Warsaw.
There are many lessons to be taken from this emergency situation, especially for business, where everyday feels like doing twists and turns in the air & emergency landings.

Delays with shipments, unpaid invoices, angry customers are just some of the turbulences ahead of every entrepreneur.

How to persevere through those difficulties and get to see the clear skies? You have to be bold.
Shaun Smith & Andy Milligan explore this concept in their latest book:
"Bold: How to be Brave in Business and Win."

The authors showcase brands which have taken business to another level either through an eccentric product or service or just by their culture and actions on the market. These companies do not fear of failure or being mocked by their competitors. They jumped at the chance of doing something differently, individually, rather than following the herd.

"Bold", as Shaun and Andy suggest, will become the new shift of how companies present themselves and do business in the modern economy. Those who will not fear to stand for something of their own will win, others will perish.

Are you brave enough to be a bold manager, marketer, pr specialist or teacher?
I hope so, or your flights will not be safe to board...



See a short clip from one of the authors of "Bold" speaking at the London Business Forum in 2010:


Another methodology is presented in this wiki:"How to be brave: 6 steps"

The 6 advised steps are:
  1.  Practice makes perfect (you can bet Captain "Tadziu"wasn't flying the Boeing 767 for the 1st time)
  2. Don't think-act (I would no go as far as this but rather "don't overthink", just plan and implement)
  3. Put on your jogging shoes - Do what you believe in, no matter if others tell you, you're wrong.
  4. Be comfortable doing new things -experimenting with new solutions won't kill you, it can only progress you to new areas

5. Do something by hook or by crook - Thomas Edison, who invented the lightbulb, did not get there by the first try.
6. Honest conviction will determine your success - if you don't think it will work, no one will.

And there you have it, be bold, have determination and fly safe!

I wish you all the good weather ahead and perseverance through tough circumstances!


SŁOWNICZEK

1. "Heroic" - bohaterski
2. "Masterfully" - mistrzowsko
3. "To carry out" - przeprowadzić (plan, projekt)
4. "Despite" - pomimo
5. "Extreme conditions" - ekstremalne warunki
6. "To take place" - mieć miejsce
7. "Twists and turns" - przeboje, przewroty, manewry; trudności
8. "Invoice" - faktura, rachunek
9. "Entrepreneur" - przedsiębiorca
10. "To persevere" - przetrwać
11. "Get to see something" - mieć możliwość, szansę coś zobaczyć
12. "Bold"- łysy, pogrubiony (tekst); odważny
13. "Showcase" - przedstawiać, prezentować
14. "Brand" - marka
15. "Take sthg to another level"- przenieść coś na inny (wyższy)poziom, podnieść jakość
16. "Eccentric" - ekcentryczny, nieszablonowy
17. "To be mocked"- być wyśmianym, być ofiarą drwin
18. "To jump at the chance" - wykorzystać okazję
19. "Follow the herd" - podążać za stadem
20. "Shift" - gwałtowna, duża zmiana
21. "To stand for something"- znaczyć coś, wierzyć w coś
22. "To perish" - zepsuć się (np. jedzenie), przepaść, odejść w zapomnienie
23. "To board" - wejść na pokład (np. samolotu)
24. "Methodology"-  sposób, metodologia
25. "Advised" - polecany/e
26. "To overthing something"- przekombinować, myśleć nad czymś za dużo
27. "To implement"-  wprowadzić w życie, zaimplementować
28. "Solution" - rozwiązanie
29. "By hook or by crook" - za wszelką cenę
30. "Conviction" - przeświadczenie
31. "Deteremine" - zdetereminować, mieć wpływ na
32 . "Perseverance" - wytrwałość, wytrzymałość
33. "Tough circumstances" - ciężkie, trudne okoliczności

wtorek, 12 kwietnia 2011

Self-help doesn't have to be a myth...

Dear Business English enthusiasts,
I would like you to explore one of the self-help courses done by one of my mentors  - Anthony Robbins.

Now, whatever you think of mentors, self-help speakers or authors,
some of them know their stuff and Tony is definitely one of them.
He sells educational products that help you improve or develop
both your personal and professional life.
He himself has been up and down, broke and rich, unhealthy and fit.

What does this have to do with Business English?
Well, the reason is two-fold:
1. His content offers value and results if you follow-through.
2. He is a perfect sales/presentation-man to watch and imitate.



Without further ado meet Tony Robbins:
http://www.squidoo.com/tony-robbins-lifecoach

Krzysztof "Chris" Dargiewicz



USEFUL VOCABULARY:


1.  self-help - rozwój osobisty/personalny
2.  educational products - szkolenia/produkty edukacyjne
3.  improve - ulepszyć/poprawić
4.  develop - rozwinąć
5.  fit - zdrowy/wysportowany
6.  two-fold - podwójny
7.  follow through - konsekwencja
8.  imitate - imitować/naśladować
9.  without further ado - bez zbędnych wstępów/informacji; nie przedłużając

Listening and learning from failure.

Dear Bloggers,
In learning languages, everyday lives and business it is hard to admit or even worse learn from a mistake. We tend to strive for perfection, yet we get mediocrity or average at best.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group advises to:
1. Become objective and criticial
2. Listen
3. Listen and do something about the feedback you receive (change your behaviour if it doesn't work well)

When learning business english or any language as a matter of fact, it is best to make many mistakes. The skill is to take criticism from others and turn it around into a strength - improving from the bad usage of business terms like "ROI"(return on investment) or CSR (corporate social responsibility) happens by trying, making it in the first place and then accepting criticism.

To learn more take a look at the interview with Richard below:




So next time you will have doubts about whether to use "have had" or "had had" in an interview or meeting, just say it and ask which one is right.
You will either get the criticism and appreciation for admitting failure or the meeting will end.
Usually it is the former.

Go and make mistakes in your business english, that is how you learn & develop!
Remember to get some objective criticism tough, as mistakes themselves will eventually get you to failure...

Krzysztof "Chris" Dargiewicz

USEFUL VOCABULARY:


1.  Tend to - mieć tendencje do
2.  Strive for something - mieć na celu; ubiegać się o coś
3.  Mediocrity - mierny, lichy
4.  as a matter of fact - tak na prawdę; właściwie
5.  ROI - "Return On Investment"- zwrot z inwestycji
6.  CSR- "Corporate Social Responsibility"- Społeczna odpowiedzialność biznesu