Michael Salamey

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Volunteer to Make Your Dojo Great.

Posted by Michael Salamey on January 31, 2010

 

Angela helps a guest at Mizudo. 

 

When I am not training at the dojo, I am training at the dojo.

That is to say, when I am not training, I work as a volunteer at the dojo. I have a career in Communications, but when I volunteer my time, I do whatever is needed–from developing marketing strategies to cleaning restrooms or taking phone calls. You have probably seen me around, working behind the desk or vacuuming. You may be surprised to know my volunteer time is (gasp!) unpaid and (double gasp!) highly rewarding. How can that be?

I consider volunteering to help around the school as just part of my training, like learning self-defense or kata. Through volunteering, I practice the philosophy behind the martial arts I have learned.

 

Martial Arts is about Discipline and Self-control.

I demonstrate both self-control and discipline by focusing on the needs of the dojo and keeping my commitment to make my dojo the best school around. Because it is volunteer work (not paid), it is my choice (not my job), with no outside incentive to push me to do it. That means I have to rely on myself to keep my word. I must truly practice discipline and self-control to honor my commitment to be there.

 

Martial Arts is about Responsibility.

By volunteering, I take responsibility for my training. I take responsibility for the success of my dojo also. I understand my dojo is a reflection of me. That means when guests or family visit, they are not only observing Sensei and the walls. They also watch and judge my ability and my seriousness about training when I am on the mat. Visitors observe how seriously we students take our training on and off the mat, and they notice the dojo’s appearance and cleanliness.

A potential student considers the students currently in class and the general conduct of the dojo (including my conduct). When I think of that, I have to remember it is my dojo; it is where I train; it is up to me to make it great. My dojo and my training are my responsibility.

Martial Arts is about Hard Work and Skill.

Nothing happens without effort and this is certainly true in martial arts. It takes practice, practice, practice. Then it takes more practice, and as with any skill, you get out of it what you put into it.

If all someone hopes to achieve with martial arts training is to know how to intimidate others or beat people up, then I would tell that person they can save a lot of money by going to a schoolyard and watching how bullies do it.

If you want to be something more than a bully, I recommend volunteering as much time helping your dojo as you spend training there. Volunteering is an opportunity to build other martial arts skills. Even things that seem small are an opportunity to show respect to your training area. Washing the windows and helping to clean floors honor your dojo as much as developing a strong counter-attack (perhaps more so because these things also require humility and teamwork).

It may sound crazy, but volunteering allows a chance to put as much effort into perfecting your window-washing and floor-cleaning skills as you put into perfecting your side-kicks and punches.

Through volunteering, you learn how a dojo is actually run. You can build or refresh your business skills. You can become better at working with teams or, if you are a career manager like me, you can seize the opportunity to re-connect with the work you normally direct others to do.

That is why I say, when I am not training at my dojo, I am training at my dojo (as a volunteer).

When you commit time to helping your dojo, you train yourself not only to be a better fighter, but also to be a better person.

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

It is my honor to train with Shihan (Master) Montise Peterson at his highly esteemed school, Mizudo Academy of Martial Arts in Dearborn, Michigan.

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Generations, Part 1 (filed under Leadership, ROWE) v1.0

Posted by Michael Salamey on January 12, 2010

The book, “Mass Career Customization” by Cathy Benko and Anne Weisberg makes a great point about the fundamental shift in work philosophy between baby-boomers and following generations. This excerpt helped me understand the source of ambivalence (if not flat-out disdain) I often see from executives and company leaders toward concepts like a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE, where employees are managed by results produced rather than time spent at the workplace).

I see similar negative reactions to flexible work schedules (such as four-day workweeks), personal or job-related use of social media, and the use of unfamiliar technology to increase worker freedom or reduce time spent in the office. Here is the excerpt:

The Elephant in the Room

…We are aware that not everyone is on board in recognizing that (1) there is a structural workforce shift at hand, (2) the workplace must respond in kind, and (3) now is the time and place to sustainably address this challenge.

Perhaps this perspective is best described by my recent personal experience in a comfortable local Italian restaurant with a great friend and newly retired mentor. Over a leisurely dinner we began talking about workforce trends in general and the subject matter of this book specifically. After some good-natured bantering back and forth, his bottom line took me aback. At the end of the day, he asserted, the most successful people in business possess two qualities: They are talented, and they work really hard. (The clear inference is that anyone who had dialed down [their office hours], by definition, didn’t work really hard.)

As I paused, organizing my thoughts to respond to this claim, his wife, Cindy, jumped in—which was uncharacteristic when it comes to business topics. A dear friend and someone whom I admire for her many qualities, Cindy had just spent the past forty years or so being the quintessential corporate wife. She was very comfortable with her position, dedicating the “working years” of her life to this role.

“The reason that you were so successful,” she interjected, “is because you had the talent and you worked really hard at one thing—your career. All the other elements of life during those years were handled by me.” To be sure, from child rearing to household projects to domestic finances to community contributions and beyond, Cindy carried all the non-career responsibilities. She was, in essence and reality, the not-formally-appointed COO of their household.

Cindy went on to remind her husband that this division of labor in their marriage was not so for their three married children, all in their thirties and parents of young children. She pointed to her oldest son as an example. He was talented and worked very hard—and so did his neurologist wife. The difference was that they did not work hard singularly at their careers. They worked hard as a team, traversing home and work responsibilities.

Cindy’s point? The delineation between the home front and the work front has become irreversibly blurred. While she and her husband typified the 17 percent of the U.S. population that categorize the traditional workforce, their children, on the other hand, characterize the 83 percent that do not. And this was not likely to change.

–For more, visit the website:  www.masscareercustomization.com

The funny thing about baby-boomer executives and other “traditionalists” reluctant to change or embrace innovative ideas proposed by younger generations, is that the older group is on a steadfast path to extinction. The boomers are nearing or entering retirement and the difference between the fearful and the brave may only be a question of time. My suggestion to the boomers: get on the boat or learn to swim, but either way, the rope to the anchor will be cut.

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Generations, Part 2 (filed under Leadership, ROWE) v1.0

Posted by Michael Salamey on January 12, 2010

When speaking about Results-Only Work Environments or innovative use of social media and other web technologies, I often sense ambivalence, and sometimes straightforward disdain, for concepts like ROWE from company executives, bosses and older leaders. At the time of this writing (2010), I was 37 years old and clearly part of the line of demarcation between innovation and tradition.

People roughly a decade older than me are from the last generation to have a sole bread-winner in a given household; I am roughly the first generation where a single income household became no longer viable.

Take, as example, my own family—my father is 59 years old and my two younger brothers are 24 and 16 years old.

For people about ten years younger than me and perhaps more so the generation after that (today’s young teen-agers), the concept of a “stay-at-home” parent will be nearly unheard of by the time they reach their 30’s. With consideration to the current state and predictable trend of the economy, the idea of a person living alone, supporting him or herself, will seem unrealistic, even “quaint” in a few years.

In other words, I think, for example, my father’s generation sees little value in a precept like a Results-Only Work Environment as being a necessary innovation because that generation never needed it.

The call to be many things at once and the easy access to possibilities for holding a fulfilled life has never been as prevalent or as ubiquitously available as now. I am Manager of People Development for a transportation company and a freelance writer on the side. I am a vegan activist, a martial artist, husband, amateur web designer, and much more.

I play many roles in my life and my average work day, including travel (which is now an unnecessary expense) is 12 hours. I am not the busiest person I know. Most of my peers play equally diverse roles in their lives.

For my great grandfather, my grandfather, and my father, the status quo was to be a a worker, a husband, and then a father in whatever time was left. When my dad left the military, he worked for Ford Motor Company. If he had hobbies, he gave them up in his thirties to further his career. My grandfather was the same, as was his father.

Grandpa owned a small family store, which he ran until he retired, turning it over to my uncle, who intends to do likewise. Not to be dismissive of the character or contributions by these men to the world—those contributions are incalculable, but I do not remember there ever being more to their lives.

They woke up, read the newspaper in the morning (the actual, physical, printed paper), they went to work, they came home, they watched television, and then went to bed. On the weekends, they worked around the house or visited friends or family. This routine continues through those generations in my family. To them, as my grandfather will surely tell you, that is about as fulfilled a life as anyone can expect.

There are only 19 years between my father and I, but, generationally speaking, there may as well be a hundred. The advances in technology and changes in the way work can be done are happening so fast, it feels like we are from different historical periods. The difference between me and my little brothers, separated by fewer years, is even more pronounced.

Change is happening faster, and all the time. Staying innovative and relevant requires two things:

1 – A desire to keep learning new ideas and embracing new ways of doing old things. E-mail, for example, is a relatively new way to do an old thing–send a letter. What will replace e-mail? A likely candidate is Google Wave, an even newer and more innovative way of communicating. I am learning and practicing on Google Wave now, to make my own transition easier as it gains popularity.

2 – Trust. I trust (and encourage) younger members of my social group to follow trends and stay current with technology. For example, I heard about Google Wave from a Facebook post by my friend, Verdi. “Trust” is where many executives tend to jump ship. “Trust” and “Empowerment”  make for great jargon but it is rare  to see either actually practiced at an organization. Case in point–Whole Foods posts the salaries of every employee, from the cashier all the way up to the CEO for all employees to see. That way there is no mistrust about what your co-workers make or what you can expect to make as you advance your career. It takes a lot of trust to post everybody’s salary for the world to see. It means you have to offer jobs that provide more than a raise, so that employees are in it for more than the money.

Does your company do that?

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Generations, Part 3 (filed under Leadership, ROWE) v1.0

Posted by Michael Salamey on January 12, 2010

When I was 13, the apex of living was a handful of G.I. Joe action figures, a Four-square ball, and some comic books. It is noteworthy that even the most expensive, jaw-dropping, must-have toy (the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier), was priced at an eye-popping $99. Only my friends whose parents were especially affluent could afford a price tag that large. A few of my buddies, besides afternoon cartoons and a game of “War” (played with sticks substituting for toy guns) may also have been busy with an extracurricular sport like football (equipment provided by the school as hand-me downs), or if truly ambitious, would carry the burden of one additional hobby, usually under protest (piano lessons, for example).

Even into my twenties, my social group never expanded beyond 20 or so friends, and only rarely would all of us gather at one spot. Usually, I would meet with whichever group of 5 or 10 friends was doing the most interesting thing (more than likely seeing a movie or eating). The details vary, but the childhood of my father and grandfather was similar.

Flash-forward just one generation. What was the apex of life for my little brother, when he was 13? Milo had a cell-phone ($150), an Ipod ($200), shared a laptop computer ($500) with our brother Mercel, played basketball, football, and tennis (parents had to buy all the equipment). Milo owned an X-box 360 ($400) and a PlayStation 3 ($300), had his own television ($200), and much, much more. In his neighborhood (in fact, the same house in which I grew up), this lifestyle is considered about average. Not considering the sheer expense of his toys (and don’t get me started on the shoes), and with consideration to the fact these are what he HAS, not necessarily what he WANTS, I marvel at his social circle.

For Milo, there is MySpace, FaceBook, Instant Messaging, Text Messages, Flickr, Twitter and a slew of other websites and applications. His social circle is well into the hundreds of contacts, if not more than a thousand. Today, there is no losing track of people you knew in third grade and indeed, many children consider the size of their social circle a (somewhat obscure) mark of status. Milo stays in touch with everybody—even family and friends I have not spoken to in a decade or more. When these groups get together, they meet in small armies (word travels fast and electronically; keeping track of people is easy and crowds gather quickly). It goes without saying these teens and “tweens” spend exorbitant amounts of their parents’ money.

For me, at 13, there simply wasn’t anything (for entertainment) I could buy for more than $100. The idea of a toy costing more than that would have been considered preposterous. For Milo, a $300 phone is not even top of the line; it is the starting point of negotiation. Parents can drop thousands of dollars on a computer, portable DVD player, Ipod and brand-name sneakers without breaking a sweat. It should not go without mentioning the expense of my parents’ toys has sky-rocketed as well–a camcorder, 2 flat screen televisions, cable and satellite TV, internet, cell phones, etc.

Though it may seem otherwise, I have not even broached hobbies, social activities, and personal passions yet. Milo has many, as does Mercel. They are both sports enthusiasts, for example. Both brothers have a collection of “authentic” sports jerseys, costing around $100 per jersey. Milo has a small army of collectible bobble-head figures and Mercel, with a gang of friends, has produced their own rap CD’s. Both boys have traveled abroad, as well…at the expense of my parents, naturally.

The point is, the generational “divide” has become an ever-expanding chasm. Beyond most of the baby-boomers, our hobbies, habits, and passions demand more from us than ever and the trend is increasing exponentially.

Work, however, has not fundamentally changed since the early 1900’s. It is largely done the same way (albeit with new tools) and with the same mentality as it has been done since the Industrial Revolution. As productivity has increased, so has the length of the work day, although there is no longer a legitimate reason for these to be correlated. With the advent of cell phones, laptop computers, high-speed internet, e-mail, and collaborative software and hardware, not only do we have the ability to work from anywhere at anytime, but also we ignore the possibility of unleashing productivity to heretofore unimagined levels.

By ignoring schedules and location (instead of ignoring possibilities), we free talent to perform at its peak, when and where it peaks. We free people to follow as many passions as they care to pursue while pushing the American Dream forward. For perhaps the first time in history, it is truly conceivable for a person “to have it all”—work/life balance, family, social connectivity, entrepreneurship, community, and time to relax.

To my dad, work is the most important thing in life simply because there was ever little else to compete with his time.

For my little brothers, work will be nothing more than a necessary evil to pay for their true passions (which happen in “Life”, a place distinct from “Work” to them). Work will be, For Mercel and Milo, indistinguishable from other socially immoral acts, such as street-walking. Work, if it remains in the current paradigm of “Time + Location (and pandering to others) = Success” will become only a reprehensible act that must be performed to pay the bills until workers can escape to do something they really love.

How do we change the mentality of older generations to allow for the creativity and technological prowess of younger generations to shine instead of remain stifled?

Further complicating this question is the notable fact that younger generations are moving immeasurably faster than older generations while fearful (older) executives unjustifiably evoke great effort to slow them down.

My brothers are running up the escalator while my dad leisurely takes the stairs. Frustration mounts when the boys reach the top and turn to find dad only a third of the way there. They are forced to wait for Dad to catch up before they can go further, and the exercise is repeated every time they strive to reach a new level because, of course, dad does not trust them to go too far on their own.

Eventually, all of their peers will pass the boys by or the boys will leave dad behind to move forward on their own.

The boys are like the peak performers in an organization and dad is the stodgy executive slow to change and adapt to new paradigms growing around him. The high performers will eventually grow tired of the political wrangling and constant pushing it takes to move some boomers to embrace new ideas, and the talent will leave to form newer, faster-moving upstarts.

Hello Google; good-bye AOL. Hello Amazon; good-bye Borders. Hello Itunes; good-bye Tower Records. Hello ROWE; good-bye 9 to 5.

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A Martial Life (filed under Martial Arts, Personal Philosophy), v1.0

Posted by Michael Salamey on January 11, 2010

 

When people hear the phrase "Martial Arts", what springs to mind is usually something violent: kicking, punching, gouging, chopping, etc. The first thought is probably not of meditation, concentration,  book-study, or Philosophy. That is to say, most people focus on the "Martial" instead of the "Arts".

 

To be an exceptional Martial Artist, we can not have one without the other. The Martial Arts are inclined to both war ("martial") and beauty ("arts"). The inclination to war obviously lies in the fighting–martial arts were created to help people protect themselves and their families from attackers. The inclination toward beauty is in understanding martial arts does not only teach someone how to fight.

 

A student of nearly any fighting style will surely learn to use his or her body to its best potential. That is only part of the beauty, though. A great master ensures his students learn the Philosophy of the art, as well. It is as much a part of the training as kicking, punching, and blocking.

 

Martial arts teach us not only how to fight properly, but also how to live properly.

 

I am lucky to learn under a great Master and from my fellow students. Thanks to that and a lot of studying on my own, I see as I learn to discipline my body, I also learn to discipline my mind. This principle has a cumulative effect. When I learn to discipline my mind, I also learn to discipline my body.

 

Think of a basic punch. Learning to throw a proper punch disciplines the muscles required to do so. Remembering the principles of a proper punch disciplines the mind, which, in turn, makes a stronger punch and further disciplines the body, which makes it easier to concentrate on the punch, thus disciplining the mind, etc.

 

Through martial arts, I gain focus, patience, control, confidence, self-discipline, strength, and personal power by learning to use my body to its best potential. I retain youth, endurance, flexibility, and stamina, which I am able to apply in other areas of life. For example, I need less sleep than I did before starting Karate, and that leaves more time for studying, training, or just relaxing. I feel healthier and more alert which improves how well I do my job. I am able to be more physically active with my family and friends whereas before I avoided strenuous activities.

 

In Ancient times, this was called, "Sit Mens Sana in Corpore Sano"—the famous Latin phrase for "A sound mind in a sound body". It means total health is about more than physical exercise. That is why martial arts is the perfect path to fitness–physical, mental, and even spiritual fitness are available to anyone willing to learn and train. Through complete and proper studying of the martial arts (which means learning the physical elements as well as the philosophical), you benefit by getting regular exercise, learning new skills, finding new approaches to life, gaining personal power, and no doubt making deep, personal friendships along the way .

 

Through study and physical training, I become a Martial Philosopher as well as a Martial Artist. To me, that is a thing of beauty.

 

 

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Servant Leadership is Dumb. (Leadership Myths)

Posted by Michael Salamey on January 1, 2010

I like to explore popular ideas pushed by thought leaders and accepted as valid, practicable beliefs by many managers. It is important to examine what we accept as true simply because we were told it is so.

One of the most widely held leadership myths I see perpetuated is the concept of “Servant Leadership”. Management gurus like Robert Greenleaf (who coined the phrase), Ken Blanchard, and Stephen Covey speak and write at length about the importance of putting others before yourself.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP.

Being an egoless, selfless leader is a surprisingly popular idea. And it is wrong.

It is important to value talent in others and it is important to help others when and as it serves your own rational self-interests. However, serving the interests of others regardless of whether their goals are aligned with yours not only undermines your effectiveness, but also steals time and energy from your focus, and subordinates your happiness and goals to the whims of others.

This Dystopian Doublespeak popularized by legendary leadership gurus like Robert Greenleaf and John C. Maxwell is the worst kind of thinking. The idea of “servant leadership” is a contradiction-in-terms. A leader who is a servant…is a servant who thinks he is a leader, and nothing more. A servant is a servant. To clearly illuminate the lie within the phrase, simply replace the word “servant” with its more proper term, “slave”. Have you heard of “Slave Leadership”? Of course not. You may have heard of a slave who became a leader, but a Leader Slave is as ridiculous as it sounds.

A leader’s ego is the most precious and coveted attribute he or she owns. It is the ego of a great leader that drives him forward, that allows him to trust his own logic and have confidence in himself when others might not. It is also a leader’s ego that others value; it is the very thing others look up to and try to emulate in great leaders (even seemingly “egoless” leaders like Gandhi… or Ken Blanchard).

If you want to be a leader, do what other leaders do. Be egotistical enough to throw out the textbook and choose to believe in the power of your own mind to make the right decisions required to lead others.



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Hello world!

Posted by Michael Salamey on December 31, 2009

It is customary to announce a new internet presence with “Hello world!”, a tradition started by programmers. When teaching students a new programming language, student would often begin by writing (or coding or whatever) “Hello world!”. Anyway, here it is… Hello world!

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