the blog of dan pontefract | Looking Back on Four Decades: My Top 40 Learning Moments
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Looking Back on Four Decades: My Top 40 Learning Moments


“We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change place with an easy and blessed facility.”

Mark Twain

Please rest assured I am not here today seeking well wishes, congratulations or virtual high fives.

The spotlight of a birthday, my 40th no less today, is something I’ve always been uncomfortable with. In the spirit of my own personal mantra (see #39 below), however, I felt the opportunity arise to share, give back and humbly annotate my own self postulated moments of wisdom over the past 14,610 days.

Where have my partialities and prejudices changed? What have I learned?

  1. I’m still working on being less abstruse. (pun intended)
  2. Those that write or teach about change management, yet have never moved cities or jobs, should stop writing and teaching about change management.
  3. Higher Education professors who have never actually held a paying job in the corporate sector and opine about organizational design, culture or engagement will never be invited to my house for dinner.
  4. Most corporations love touting their long-term vision but in reality, they are quarterly focused.
  5. Blackberries & other mobile devices are the root of Adult ADD; important evolutionary mechanism but a severe lack of discipline now exists when to appropriately use them.
  6. I feared being a parent; I now consider it the best job in the world. (thanks to the three of you)
  7. Having my direct reports physically around me was rule number one; that rule was thrown into the bin in favour of 100% flexible work styles.
  8. Blogging is for all, not only the loud.
  9. The more money you make, the less likely it is that you’ll actually collaborate.
  10. If you could get 500 K-12 teachers into a room for 6 months, they would have the time to completely reshape how education from Kindergarten through Grade 12 should actually operate.
  11. Canadian indie music is drastically unappreciated.
  12. If a relationship started out in close physical proximity and then transitioned to becoming one separated by great distance, it is likely to dissolve as the years pile on.
  13. Learning is lurking.
  14. Anyone who self identifies themselves as a futurist deserves a wedgie.
  15. Alcoholism really is the root of all evil for many families.
  16. A positive attitude replete with smiles and a care for the other person’s personal life can assist even the direst situation.
  17. Marketing (the department & action) is necessary; toast is bland without a dose of sweet honey.
  18. Moore’s Law is a farce in many organizations without IT budget to improve the work experience itself technologically.
  19. Everybody lies. Deal with it.
  20. Writing a book is harder than I anticipated.
  21. I’m a much better speaker when I don’t wing it; although 75% of the time, I’m winging it.
  22. The Learning Management System (LMS) was designed as a practical joke by somebody; when I track down whoever it was, I’m going to give them a wedgie too.
  23. Hierarchy is ok for the right situations, decisions and reasons and should not be completely eradicated. It’s naïve to think an entirely flattened organization will be productive.
  24. When people are promoted, particularly to VP and SVP/EVP levels, they begin to act weird and often hide behind their newly instilled Executive Assistants. Why?
  25. If I return to Academia, I sure hope I’m a better person than when I left it.
  26. Time management & self-discipline are invaluable to a proper and healthy life-work balance DNA.
  27. All principals should teach at least one class at their high school.
  28. Micro-blogging is great, but for some it often equates to that kid in high school or university who put his/her hand up for every question and in the end, became annoying due to having way too much to say without having anything to really say in the first place.
  29. Acquisitions are not fun, if you’re being acquired by SAP. They don’t give a shit about what fantastic practices, processes and culture you might have previously built.
  30. There are always good people you can talk to about your fledgling ideas; first step is be open.
  31. Recognition; one of the most overlooked actions of leaders.
  32. Star Wars Episodes I-III was a good example of leaders not listening to their people. (the making of the movies, not the actual plot)
  33. You can’t expect your team to follow a tyrant; engage & explore first, be humble, and most importantly … empower those around you and encourage risk, failure & courage.
  34. My personal reading has suffered in favour of work/professional reading; I’ll pick it up again once I eventually leave the corporate sector.
  35. We are entering into a world that will lack acumen depth in favour of clickable breadth; search is not a substitute for depth.
  36. Current performance management practices that I’ve read about at most organizations are as uncomfortable as watching your own circumcision; there has to be a better way.
  37. God makes them and they find each other.
  38. Family does in fact come first, despite geographical distance.
  39. We’re not here to see through each other, we’re here to see each other through. (my mantra)
  40. I’d be nowhere without my better half. Thank you for 16 of my 40 years being so blissful.

Tempus fugit.

8Comments

  • Danielle / 20 June 2011 8:39

    DP…you’re the best! A Huge AMEN to #22,#29 & #30! Happy 40th Bro! Must not let geography ruin our beautiful friendships…an “I survived the SAP acquisition and swiftly exited so I could live to tell about it” reunion party is in order..don’t you think?

  • Mike Desjardins / 20 June 2011 9:00

    This is by far your most humourous and my favourite of all the blog posts I’ve read since I starting reading your blog 2 1/2 years ago my friend. I appreciate the lessons, the transparency, and the reminder about what’s important, what’s real, and what’s just plain crap.

  • Dan Pontefract / 20 June 2011 9:01

    Amen sista.

  • Dan Pontefract / 20 June 2011 9:02

    Thanks @Mike … the feeling is definitely mutual.

  • Krystal Gabriel / 20 June 2011 9:28

    LOL! This is awesome. Thanks Dan! I like this one in particular – “39. We’re not here to see through each other, we’re here to see each other through. (my mantra)”
    I feel like I’m in the church of DPontefrac…any one else throw up their hands after they finished reading this?…Bueller?…Bueller?

  • Angela Alini / 20 June 2011 9:36

    Dan,

    Regarding #22….I’ll hold them down while you do it. See, me being a team player:)

    I enjoyed these…here’s to you working on your next 40 Learning Moments.

    Cheers,
    Ang.

  • Brian Reid / 21 June 2011 4:54

    I love lists. This is a great one Dan! Your life lessons that most of us can identify with.

    I liked 30 and 33 as how leaders should act. Good ones do things this way!

    Of course, 6, 38, 39 and 40 are really what life is about and makes everything else count. We always need to take the time to remind ourselves periodically.

    Live well, love always and laugh out loud every day!

  • Dan Pontefract / 24 June 2011 3:15

    @Krystal – that was way too kind

    @Angela – let’s take the lack of a Thrashers team in ATL and revenge against that three letter acronym company

    @Brian – next time, I’ll add “live well, love always & laugh out loud every day!” (thanks for bday voicemail as well)

Want to leave a comment? I'd love to hear from you. Cheers, dp.