Dr. Jimmie Flores

Month: March 2015 Page 2 of 6

From Cruise Director to Flight Attendant


On an American Eagle flight from Dallas to Garden City, KS, we were in the hands of a jovial and talkative flight attendant. His name was TJ, and I was able to get a picture of him while he served a beverage to the passengers on this 90-minute flight.

The Greet!
Upon boarding the small aircraft on this bright sunny afternoon, TJ was at the front of the door welcoming passengers. “How are you?” “Welcome onboard!” “Those bags do look heavy!” It was obvious that TJ had a way with words.

The Pre-flight Announcement
Most of us who fly frequently are used to the standard policies that are covered before the aircraft heads out to the runway. We are reminded to shut down all electronic devices, how to buckle our seatbelts, and what to do in case of an emergency. Many flight attendants have the instructions memorized, while others carry a cheat sheet they read while outside the view of the passengers.

TJ took an amusing approach to the announcement. He began by saying: “You know I was a cruise director for 18 years before becoming a flight attendant.” He didn’t stop there! For the next five minutes we learned about the famous people who he met on American flights, including the Harlem Globetrotters. He also gave a pretty detailed history of the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Airport.

I observed that many of the passengers wanted TJ to complete his message so they could have quiet time. This was not his style, however. He kept on talking, and talking, and talking.

The Flight
I was able to get about 10-minutes of sleep before I heard TJ’s blaring voice asking passengers if they needed anything from the overhead. He made his way from the front of the airplane to the back, “Let me know if you need anything from up here. I’ll get it for you.” Only one passenger took him up on the request: “Sir, may I get my backpack?” “Sure, young man, but first let me ask mommy if that is okay. You know that she is the boss.”

After serving the drinks, TJ had the beverage cart in tow heading back to the front of the aircraft, but it took quite a long time to get there. He struck up a conversation with an elderly couple, and they shared several long stories. From what I could tell, TJ was doing most of the talking.

The Lesson

I must admit that TJ’s approach was a bit over the top for me. However, the more I observed how he handled his work, the more he grew on me. I could tell that he liked his job. He went beyond the minimum expectations. His jokes were oldies, but at least he tried to make us laugh.

I’m writing about TJ because he was different. The next time I cross paths with a rude flight attendant, I will remember how hard TJ worked to make the short flight to Garden City a pleasant experience.

He said to me, “Sir, I don’t have an entire can of Diet Coke, but I can serve you an entire can of Diet Pepsi. Will that work for you?”

Thanks, TJ!

Flight Attendants Gave Me Vodka, Bug Repellent, and Hair Spray


My flight from Newark to Bombay, India was mostly uneventful. I was fortunate that United Airlines allows its frequent flyers a perk called “Global Upgrades.” In essence, if we book the ticket in the appropriate class, we can apply the upgrade, which means we can fly in Business Class. This particular flight is 15 hours, so moving up to the front cabin is wonderful.

The Ink Problem
After sleeping about 6 hours, I went to the lavatory to brush my teeth. Once back in my seat, I decided to watch a movie from the expanded list. In this case, I selected Argo, which was an interesting flick about the hostages in Iran.

The movie consumed about two hours, and before we knew it, we had only a few hours left of flight time. Earlier in the journey across the Atlantic Ocean, I received a customs form from the flight attendants. Now that the movie was over, it was time to complete it.

I usually carry several blue-ink pens in my roller bag. I found one of those pens in the top compartment of my bag, and started to work on the customs form. The form had the usual questions, such as passport information, reason for my travel, and the countries I had recently visited. In all, I completed the form in 5 minutes.

As I prepared to put the pen away, I noticed that several of my fingers were covered with blue ink. If the ink were red, some might argue that a crime took place. The ink was saturated on my skin, or so it seemed.

The Flight Attendants
Given we had a few hours left on the flight, I went to the lavatory to wash my hands. I tried soap, more soap, and even more soap. No luck! The ink was now part of my skin. It seemed like an impossible task.

As I walked back to my seat, I showed my hand to the flight attendant, and asked for solutions. She recommended alcohol. I thought she meant Rubbing Alcohol, but she actually meant the real thing: alcohol! There was no hesitation on my part. Let’s take the vodka straight! I washed my hands with the vodka, and it worked a bit, but the blue ink was too stubborn.

Another United flight attendant came to my rescue when she recommended a bug repellent spray she carried in her bag. I applied the bug stray, and wiped my hands together. Still, the blue ink would not go away. The problem was bigger than I originally thought.
Another United flight attendant noticed that I was in need, and she recommend hair spray. She said: “This will get rid of anything!” She sprayed my hands, and I rubbed them together. It worked, but the blue ink was still on my skin, especially my left thumb.

She said: “Wait! Let it soak in before rubbing your hands.”

That did the trick. I let the hairspray soak in for a bit, and then I started the rubbing process. After a couple applications, my left hand was nearly back to normal.

I think you know where I am going with this story. I was impressed! While the flight was uneventful, the service was not. The flight attendants showed they cared, and made an effort to resolve my ink problem. As a disclaimer, I fly United or its partners nearly anywhere I travel, and this story explains one reason I’m a loyal customer.

When Employees Quit in Large Numbers: A Conversation with Katrina


Several months ago, I had a discussion with a colleague who informed me that her entire department quit on a Friday when she was at a conference. She received a call from the HR department informing her that all five of her employees submitted their resignations.

Here is the discussion I had with Katrina:

Me: Hey, Katrina. It’s good to hear from you. What’s keeping you busy?

Katrina: Well! You’re not going to believe what happened.

Me: Try me!

Katrina: I was attending a conference last week in Puerto Rico, and all my employees quit – on the same day!

Me: Wow! That’s weird! Do you know why they left?

Katrina: You know that I took over this department several months ago, and we just never connected. They wanted things done the old way, and I wanted to make a change. For example, they were used to setting their hours. They call it flex-schedule, or something like that. I made it clear they had to work the regular 9-to-5 schedule. I really need them at the office when I’m at the office, and not some crazy 11-to-7 thing.

Me: Was there anything else?

Katrina: There were other issues. You know that I like to work on Saturdays. I asked for at least one of them to come in on Saturday mornings. They could rotate.

Me: How did that go?

Katrina: It was like starting World War III! They told me that their Saturdays were for family and stuff. C’mon! I’m only asking them for one Saturday morning, and they can rotate between themselves.

Me: So the flex-schedule and working on Saturday mornings were the only issues?

Katrina: There was also the issue of daily status meetings. I asked each of them to schedule 10 minutes with me at the end of the day, assuming I was in the office, and brief me on how they were coming along with their work assignments. Some gave me the story of how busy they were, and that they didn’t have 10 minutes to meet with me. I’ve seen what they do most of the day! I know they are surfing the web, and texting friends during company time. Asking for a little time for a status meeting is not too much. I need this information to determine how well they are performing.

Me: What was your role during these status meetings?

Katrina: I would listen to them talk for about a minute or two, and then I would provide feedback. I could tell that many of them were making up stuff. I’m sure they were not doing half the stuff they told me.

Me: What’s next?

Katrina: I guess I need to hire people. This time I’m going to bring onboard only those who think like me! They need to be hard workers, and committed to the cause. I can tell you the interviews will be tough!

An important takeaway here is that Katrina is a dedicated worker. She is committed to exceeding expectations. However, when coming into a new organization, it’s important to understand the culture. Before initiating change, you must have a clear idea of how to make it happen. If you alienate the staff at the outset, you can expect a tough road ahead.

The Sneaky Click


We’ve all done it! It’s 8 a.m. on Monday and you are sitting at your desk getting ready to tackle a new week! Of course, you can’t be expected to lunge right into your work. Not just yet! This is your time for Facebook, personal emails, and online shopping. Think about it … you haven’t even felt the effect of your Starbucks coffee. Work can wait.

The Sneaky Click Gives it Away
It’s almost funny that as soon as a co-worker or manager approaches his desk, the mediocre employee develops a quizzical look on his face, almost wondering what you could need this early in the morning. He is right in the middle of confirming his Amazon purchase, and you have the audacity to interrupt him. At this point, he maintains eye contact with you, the intruder, while simultaneously clicking on the “X” that ends his online fun. It’s amazing how adept he has become at closing out of an internet window while maintaining an intelligent conversation with someone. In some cases, he closes multiple windows. When he hits a snag, he shuts down the entire system by holding down the power button for what seems like an hour!

A Few Stats
A recent Gallup poll found that employees spend an average of 75 minutes per day using computers for non-business activities, which translates to roughly $6,250 per year for each employee. Let’s extrapolate that conservative number by 400 employees, or a midsize company, and that equates to an expected loss of $2.5M for the year. Many of us know employees that spend far more than 75 minutes surfing the web. In fact, some employees are on the web managing personal affairs several hours per day.

I often ask my university students the following question: “In the past year, how many of you have gone to work and done absolutely nothing related to your work?” Surprisingly, more than half of the hands usually are raised, and most of these students hold professional positions within their organizations.

Middle Ground?
Some employers understand that restricting employees from using the computers for personal use is likely not feasible, and probably not the best policy for morale. Employees today have smartphones and tablet PCs to keep them connected, and thus they can find other ways to stay distracted. Therefore, having an employee-friendly policy on internet usage can provide a win-win situation. One employer only allows personal use during the lunch hour, and that level of access seems to provide a balance. However, given that the web is available anytime, employees have the opportunity to abuse the policy.

Managing the Click
As an employer, I understand that employees are going to use company resources for personal use. My approach is to provide clear expectations, include a deadline, communicate the level of quality expected for the work, and measure the employee’s performance based on those agreed requirements. If the employee performs at the expected level, the noise of those sneaky clicks is tolerable.

The Doctor Gave Her Only One Crutch


While heading to teach a Project Management course, I ran into a colleague making her way to teach a Database Management course. From a distance, I noticed that she was limping along with just one crutch. Knowing that she needed assistance, I approached her and asked how I could help. With the crutch on her right side, I provided balance by allowing her to hold my arm. She continued to limp, and we made several stops, but 15 minutes later, we arrived at her office.

The Story
While helping her along the way, she shared the story regarding her accident. Over the weekend, she fell while rock climbing, which caused an ankle injury. She did confess that she did not use the harness, which is recommended for this strenuous activity.

She went to her doctor, and he diagnosed her injury as an ankle sprain. He recommended no physical activity, especially rock climbing, for at least a month. Given that she needed assistance to walk, the doctor prescribed crutches. However, her doctor had two patients this day who both needed crutches. Therefore, he decided to give each one crutch.

Does this make sense?

I broke my leg while playing high school football, and was assigned crutches for 10 weeks. It was difficult enough to navigate with two of them, let alone one of them. Part of using crutches is learning to balance. You can imagine the difficulty of walking with just one crutch, especially when considering the pain of a recent ankle sprain.

Business Application
Let’s talk about how this example applies to our work in the business community. How many times do we ask our employees to perform work without providing them with the tools and training needed? In essence, we set them up for failure.

Here is how management can help us succeed:

Set clear expectations: ensure that all team members understand the end result. In essence, communicate the vision. While the leadership team sets the direction of the organization, the front-line employees execute the work.
Provide funding and resources: Money is needed for many reasons, including for training and development. You must also ensure that resources are available, including people and equipment.
Remove obstacles: When barriers are encountered, such as when you need information from another department, the management team needs to help with this effort. It’s important to understand the corporate culture. In some companies, decisions are made quickly, but this process is far slower in other organizations.
Providing encouragement and empowerment: Excellent management is focused on motivating the team. Motivators include providing challenging work, recognizing excellent work, and creating a fair advancement program. Empowerment also means that individuals are well-trained, and allowed to make mistakes during the learning process.

The situation I observed today with my colleague showed that even highly-capable individuals can be slowed down when they do not have the right tools. You have many individuals within your organization that can be top producers, but you must provide the environment for them to succeed.

3 Strategies to Motivate Yourself at Work

Some days it’s tough to put on your game face and stay focused on the activities ahead. For some, this work-related malaise strikes on Monday, but any day of the week can have a similar impact.

The Morning Ritual

As you jump in your car, and back it out of the driveway, you’re thinking of the unused excuses that might work to call in and skip the day. A couple weeks ago, you made up a parent-teacher conference for your 5-year-old. When the manager extended the conversation by asking about your child, you added a bit more flare, informing the manager that your young daughter was having issues with Science. After you hung up, you wondered if Science is taught at that grade, but the excuse worked, and you stayed home. Once back in the house, you slept a couple more hours, and finally got your day going closer to lunchtime.

There are a few techniques that can help you stay motivated even when lethargy surfaces:

#1: Focus on something that can get done in 30 minutes or less.

When your brain is functioning as slowly as molasses, it’s important to avoid big projects or tough work. Instead, take on a small, definable, and doable task first thing in the morning. For example, you might need to write a summary of a recent meeting for the key stakeholders. Gather the information you need, and stay focused until you get it done. Once you’re done, take a short break, and top-off your coffee. It’s a small victory, but one that can give you some traction.

#2: Review the positive comments in your most recent performance appraisal.

Everyone is driven by positive recognition. You love it when others think you bring value to the team, department, and organization. During performance appraisals, managers will indicate what you have done well, and where you can improve. When feeling a bit unmotivated, review what your manager likes about you.

Jack, you’re an excellent team player! We appreciate your commitment to our department.” By reading those comments, you’re reminded that others depend on your skills and capabilities. Instead of sitting at your desk and waiting for time to tick by, get up and ask others how you can be of assistance.

#3: Get the checklist.

When I’m having a tough time focusing, I quickly make a checklist of work that needs to get done. From previous experience, I know that if I am stagnant, I will lose the day. In fact, I might get absolutely nothing done. With the checklist in hand, I write down the absolute three items that I will get done that day. I will work on Item #1, and will not stop until it’s complete. By taking this approach, I can have a relatively successful day even though my motivation is quite low.

As a manager and leaders of your organizations, you must keep a positive attitude even when you are a bit down. If your employees see that you lack energy, they will soon emulate this emotion. Keep a professional and moving-forward approach, and you’ll have a productive workday.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Earning a College Degree


The decision to go back to school is tough for many people, especially considering the time and cost commitment. As a professor for nearly 20 years, I have seen many students come through my classes. I remember starting my college teaching days at Houston Community College, where many of the students were working adults, otherwise known as nontraditional. After a long day working in the Space City, they would spend several hours in one of my Marketing or Management classes. I am sure many of them questioned if the investment was worthwhile, especially because they were spending long nights away from their families.

I am going to cover three issues to consider when deciding of a college education is right for you. For some of you, the examples shared here might be too close for comfort.

Being Prepared for the Opportunities

Earl Nightingale said that unless you are prepared for the opportunity, the opportunity will make you look stupid. The point is simple, but true. If you fail to have the level of education required for a particular position, the opportunity will go to someone who has made the investment to be ready. A good example is when I decided to obtain a full-time faculty position. I remember making call after call asking for the chance to teach full-time at a university. Invariably, I was informed that individuals with a terminal degree, or those with a doctorate filled permanent positions. After hearing that rejection many times, I made the decision to earn my PhD, and it has opened many opportunities.

Avoid the “Backing Into my Job Dilemma”

The advantage of earning a college education is that you will assume control of your future. I know of many people who accepted a $10 per hour position with the intention of leaving the work as soon as they found something better. After 6 months on the job, however, they were offered a promotion that led to $12 per hour. Six months later they are making $14 per hour and had a nice title to go along with it. Before long, the job they accepted on a temporary basis had become their long-term employment. After 10 or 15 years, they could ill-afford to leave the job because their mortgage and other expenses were aligned with the salary. Given they lack the education to take control of their career, these individuals have little choice but to continue doing the status quo, and hope for the nominal pay increases that come every so often.

A College Education Changes Your Mindset

Those who have earned a college degree understand the hard work required to reach this tremendous accomplishment. The fact is that roughly 25% of the US population has a 4-year degree. Those who go on and earn their master’s are part of the 8% group, and only 1% of the population has a doctorate. As you earn a higher degree, your confidence level soars, and it is not an accident. By learning more from your professors and sharing knowledge with fellow students, your brain is working nonstop. You are thinking of new ways to position yourself better for future opportunities. In some cases, you get that terrific idea that leads to owning a business, and then you can experience the freedom that makes life so wonderful.

Instead of looking stupid when opportunity knocks, you are prepared to accept a position placing you on the path to future successes. You have that wonderful feeling that your future is dictated by your commitment to your aspirations and goals.

The Chubby Doctor Advised I Eat Less Cheese

Several years ago, I went to my annual medical physical, and after the routine procedures, I had a chance to chat with the doctor regarding my blood pressure, weight, and so on. Exercise has been part of my life since my days playing college baseball. It’s just something that I do nearly every day.

Controlling My Weight

After college, I gained more pounds than I wanted, and I was having a tough time getting rid of them. I even tried working out twice per day, and learned this plan failed to yield the intended results. The drawback was that I was even more tired at the end of the day, and I usually lost another hour or so of productive work.

I understand the issue of metabolism, but I also knew there people who could keep the weight off despite getting older. I wanted to know what they were doing to succeed. The annual physical gave me an opportunity to ask an expert regarding a plan that might work for me.

“Stop Eating Cheese!”

I asked the veteran doctor his advice regarding a meal plan that could improve my health, and simultaneously shed some unwanted pounds.

ME: “Dr. Keller, do you have any idea what I can do to lose weight?

KELLER: “Well, do you eat cheese?”

ME: “I guess I do. I’ve been known to eat a cheeseburger here and there. Does that count?

KELLER: “I do know that cheese can lead to weight gain. My recommendation is for you to cut back on cheese.”

ME: “Will that do the trick? I already workout, so will eating less cheese help me lose weight?”

KELLER: “I think it will lead to good results. Cheese can be bad for you.”

ME: “Okay! I will take note of the less cheese diet. Thank you.”

The Chubby Doctor

The fact is that I did not give up cheese. However, I don’t eat cheeseburgers very often anymore, but cheese is part of my diet.

A study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that overweight doctors were less likely to discuss obesity issues with patients. The researchers learned that overweight doctors usually refrain from providing weight loss advice to patients because they are failing to practice what they preach.

The fact was that I was only looking to lose about 10 lbs., and I did hesitate to ask the doctor his advice regarding my weight loss. I suppose my question was more specific to how a more fit body would improve my health.

The Answer

I eventually met my weight goal, and it wasn’t all that tough. As most people know, portion control is the key. Of course, it’s important to avoid the fatty foods, and it’s good that we have more health-conscious choices at the supermarket and restaurants. The rest is self-control, right?

Please understand that I am not a weight loss guru by any means. I do my share of reading on the subject, and try to implement what might work for me. I found it surprising, though, that I eat more cheese today that in the past, and it hasn’t added too many pounds to my body.

The Lesson a Youth Soccer Goalie Taught Me

Over the weekend, I attended a youth soccer game here in San Antonio. This particular contest was played by kids ranging in age from 9-to-10. A boy named Caleb captured my attention. He was one of the best on the team, and I could tell that he was going to do whatever it took to win the game.

When the game began, Caleb was assigned the position of forward. In other words, he spends most of his time near the opponent’s goal hoping to strike the ball into the back of the net. This player is known for good ball handling skills, and can jostle with the best.

First Half

Caleb plays for a team called San Antonio United. On this particular day, they were playing a talented Chelsea team. While the kids were about the same age, the Chelsea players looked bigger, faster, and more agile.

United stayed close for the first part of the game. They were behind just by a couple of goals at halftime to a very good team. Caleb worked hard to get to the ball, and had several good shots on goal. However, the Chelsea goalie made excellent stops.

Second Half

At the beginning of the second half, the Chelsea strength took over, and they scored several quick goals. Before you knew it, they were up 7 to 2. Around this time, the United coach made his programmed substitution and Caleb took over the goalie role.

I was watching the game from behind the goal, and had a good perspective of how Caleb was handling the game. When first assuming the goalie duties, he stopped several strikes from the formidable Chelsea players. These boys were adept at passing the ball, which resulted in wide-open shots on goal. Eventually, several goals were scored on Caleb.

Caleb’s Reaction

I’ve watched youth soccer games for several years, and many young goalies are upset when a goal is scored on their watch, but they are sometimes nonchalant in their reaction.

Not Caleb! When a goal was scored on him, he groaned loudly, upset that he allowed a score. However, he never blamed anyone. He took full responsibility, and was ready for the next attack on his goal.

His father was heard yelling:

“Caleb, that was a tough shot. You couldn’t do much about it.”

“Good try, Caleb! You’ll stop it next time.”

Those words of encouragement helped Caleb stay focused.

The Lesson

While I will probably never know Caleb when he joins the workforce, I do know that he has the skills and fortitude to be a top-notch leader. He is going to demand the best of himself, and he will not make excuses. When someone falls short on a team project, he will help that person get back on track. Best of all, he is not going to point fingers at anyone, for any reason.

San Antonio United lost to Chelsea by a score of 10-3. The game was not close, but Caleb and his team played hard until the final whistle. After the game, the players went their separate ways with their parents.

I could tell that Caleb took the loss a bit tough, especially since several goals were scored on him. In fact, I heard him say to his father, “Dad, I can’t believe I let that team score four goals on me. That will not happen again.”

What an impressive young man.

The Benefits of Stupid O’clock


While on a Disney Cruise with my family, the cruise director was discussing the activities for the next day. Look … tomorrow we arrive at Costa Maya around 1 p.m., so that means that you don’t have to get up at Stupid O’clock! While I’m sure he’s used this line many times, it was still funny for the many vacations-goers that filled Walt Disney Lounge. I even chuckled!  

Stupid O’clock Has Its Benefits

I agree that getting up super early while on vacation is counterproductive to relaxing.  However, when back home and in the routine, there are notable benefits. Many years ago, I heard a motivational speaker stress the importance of an early start each day, and I’ve heeded that advice ever since.

Here are smart things to do early in the morning:

  • Get your workout done!

    For most of you, the day becomes complicated as it progresses. While you have a schedule, you can expect things to change, such as a new requirement that arises on a mission critical project. You might also have a child who becomes ill, which changes your plans for the rest of the day. I also lose interest in doing my workout late in the day. I prefer to spend my time with family, friends, and even catching a ballgame on TV. Can you imagine that?

  • Focus on professional development.

    A big secret to successful people is that they are up at Stupid O’clock working on professional development goals. In my case, I spend an hour or so reading-up on project management and technology topics. I do teach these topics for a living so preparation is essential. The early morning is also an excellent time to study for certification exams. I find it very difficult to set aside even a half-hour for professional development once the day begins, so doing this work before the sun rises works for me.

  • Do the first pass of your Inbox.

    After my workout, I make sure and review emails. Given that I have a tight schedule in the morning, the goal is to understand what is waiting for me before I arrive at the office. In some cases, I need to make phone calls regarding the emails I received overnight. Therefore, I will jot down the phone numbers and call during my commute to work. This is an excellent time-saving activity.

I’m writing this blog while sitting on the balcony of my stateroom. Through my headsets, I am listening to enchanting classical music, and I can still hear the waves caused by the moving cruise liner as it sails through the Western Caribbean. I did get up at Stupid O’clock to workout, but it’s around 10 a.m. now, and I found a little time to write this blog before enjoying the rest of the day with the family.

The problem with Stupid O’clock is that it’s different for everyone. For some, getting up at 9 a.m. might be stupid, while others might consider those who wake up at 9 a.m. stupid. I suppose it really doesn’t matter because we all have our unique schedules.

Thus, Stupid O’clock is probably just a saying that sounds right while on vacation. It did the trick!

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