Feedback: Direct, Specific, Clear

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

Feedback is a really idownloadmportant factor no matter the environment that we are in; it is the coaching along the way that helps us improve from bad to good and good to fantastic.

When I was around 10 years old, I quit playing the piano. The feedback that I got from my highly trained, but young and inexperienced teach was so overwhelming. There was always so much correction, pressure and expectations – it was difficult to process. Six years later, I returned to playing the piano with a more experienced coach. I learned to appreciate the process of learning how to string the notes together – first by measure, then increasing the tempo and last, perfecting the phrasing. Granular feedback had turned me into a confident pianist.

In order to coach others into their full potential just as I was, I believe that there are three simple rules to follow.

Be Direct: People sugarcoat areas that need improvement, but really you need to tell them how it is – that is what is truly valuable. Of course, show sensitivity while delivering the facts. Something that might help you is by asking permission such as, “May I give you an observation that may bother you?” They will automatically convert into learning mode and be ready to hear you. Lastly, as always, present it in a positive framework that is aimed at them improving themselves rather than comparing to a quantity or measurement.

Be Specific: The least effective feedback is when it is generalized. Use a recent instance and talk about the effect that it had on the team or their performance. Provide this kind of feedback privately because a confidential conversation makes hearing these tough truths easier. They will focus on your words instead of worrying about what everyone else is thinking.

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Be Clear: If the feedback is serious enough that they risk losing their position, then say it in a non-threatening way. Give them time frames for improvement, measurable ways to improve and schedule a follow up. So basically, don’t skip to the punch line.

The wonderful thing about being in management is watching others grow. You are not the solo performer; you need the rest of your team there. Yes, giving feedback can be difficult, but it is as vital as deciding whom to hire, to promote and even to let go. Be the leader that keeps confidences, removes obstacles and notices what can be improved. That is the kind of piano coach I had and the one that I aim to be.

4 Steps to Lead Effectively

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell


The fact of life is that we all have to lead at some point. Some are pushed into authority position whether they like it or not, some are required to lead as their daily duties and some are looking to lead to promote ideals and guide others to values that they feel strongly about. There are so many ways that we need to be leaders and it doesn’t have to be scary, I’ll tell you how to lead a team without becoming the manager that everybody hates.

  1. Set an Example

Think about when someone asks you for directions. You can write step-by-step directions, draw a map, or even provide details such as landmarks. Or you could simply say, “Follow me.”

Value statements and culture decks are not effective, especially not the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ sentiment. These respect and integrity lines don’t mean anything if you turn around and curse a member of your team out.

The point is, show people what you believe in and they will naturally follow.

  1. Be Humble

Think about two scenarios. In the first, a boss makes a mistake and refuses to admit it, blaming someone else. In the second, a boss recognizes the mistake and admits it, learns from it, done. Which boss would you rather work for? Exactly, the second because owning up to mistakes inspires respect. No body is perfect so don’t be afraid to ask your team for help. This will humanize you to your team and create an environment that everybody feels that they can learn from each other.

  1. Praise Sincerely

Authenticity is key – DO NOT just go through motions to check people off of a list. Be specific when telling someone how and why you found their actions to be so beneficial. The overall goal is to instinctively recognize and appreciate efforts of others and to communicate that appreciation consistently. I believe that praise and recognition can be inspiring, so don’t skip this one.

  1. Learn to Listen

No one has ever learned anything while speaking. So, listen to your employees and stay in touch with the reality of your company. You will begin to become aware of new problems much quicker and understand how your people are dealing with them.

Remember, what is important to you is important to them. Your voice carries more weight because it is based on reality.

Being a ‘leader’ is just a title. We all lead, so focus on leading effectively by paying attention to these simple steps. I promise you that you will have results that you are proud of.



Bangkok Blast Suspect Identified


Almost one week from today, on August 17, a bomb exploded inside of the Erawan Shrine at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok, Thailand. The blast killed 20 people and injured as many as 125 people. There is surveillance footage with a man leaving a backpack at the shrine just before the explosion. The Royal Thai Police have said that there was 3 kilograms of TNT was stuffed into a pipe and placed inside the backpack. They believe that an electronic circuit could have been used, which was found 30 meters away from the shrine. The suspect, Mohamad Museyin has not been arrested yet.

The man, who police say is a foreigner, was captured on security footage at the Erawan Shrine. Thai police are looking at budget Bangkok hotels on the Sathorn Road area, where he is believed to have stayed. Motorbikers and tuk-tuk drivers who may have picked up and dropped off the man have also been questioned.

Another suspicious surveillance video that was obtained by the Thai media shows a man in a blue shirt putting a bag on the ground and kicking it into the water some time just after the explosion that would have been several miles away at the Erawan Shrine.

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Pol Gen Somyo Pumpunmuang, the deputy national police chief said that they have found enough evidence to suggest that the bombing involved several people inspecting the site in advance, finding the components to make the bomb and plan an escape. The size of this team has been estimated to include 10 people.

There was also a second explosion the following day. On August 18th an explosive device was thrown from a bridge near the busy Sathon pier. Luckily, it did not cause any injuries because it did not explode until it was in the water. Police believe that it was a grenade that was thrown. If it had exploded before it hit the water, it would have caused injuries. It is still being investigated whether these two accounts are related to each other or carried out separately.

No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for either of the bombings. However, potential groups of suspicion are international jihadists, members of Thailand’s souther Malay-Muslim insurgency, China’s Uighur minority, militants on both sides of Thailand’s political divide, as well as just a group of individuals with a personal grudge.

The Thai police have promised to release information to the public once it does not need to be kept a secret – which they have kept their promise with us so far.

An Ebola Vaccine Is On The Way

The Lancet published that preliminary testing of the Guinea Phase III efficacy vaccine trial has proven that VSV-EBOV (Merck, Sharp & Dohme) is extremely effective against Ebola. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board conducted the review and concluded that trial testing should continue.

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Up to this point, the vaccine has shown 100% efficacy in individuals. However, the Guinean national regulatory authority wants to see more conclusive evidence that the vaccine can protect large populations through, “herd immunity.” In which, the vaccine would be a form of indirect protection from infectious disease when the majority of the population has become immune to an infection, in that, it would provide certain protection for non-immune individuals.

The Guinea vaccination trial began in late March of 2015, evaluating the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of a single dose of the VSV-EBOV vaccine in affected communities. The vaccine trial is actually based on the smallpox eradication strategy – using the ‘ring’ vaccination method. The idea behind this method is that by vaccinating every person that has come into contact with an infected individual, a protective ring will form and stop the disease from spreading further.

To this date, over 4,000 individuals that were in close contact of 100 Ebola patients such as family members, neighbors, and co-workers have participated in the trial. On July 26, the trial stopped randomization so that all people that were at risk could receive the vaccine immediately and minimize the necessary time to gather more conclusive evidence. Now this has stopped and 50 % of the rings have been vaccinated 3 weeks after the identification of an infected individual to have a comparison with the rings that were vaccinated immediately. The trial will also include new evidence of the vaccine’s safety for 13 to 17-year olds and possibly 6 to 12-year-old children.

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“In parallel with the ring vaccination, we are also conducting a trial of the same vaccine on frontline workers,” said Bertrand Draguez, Medical Director at Médecins sans Frontières. “If the vaccine is effective, then we are already protecting them from the virus. With such high efficacy, all affected countries should immediately start and multiply ring vaccinations to break chains of transmission and vaccinate all frontline workers to protect them.”

Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director of the World Health Organization gives credit to the Guinean Government, peopling living in the communities, and their other partners in the project. Dr. Sakoba Keita, Guinea’s national coordinator for the Ebola response sees the vaccine as Guinea’s gift to West Africa and the word. He acknowledges thousands of volunteers from across the country comprising of doctors, data managers and community mobilizers for contributing to the success of the vaccine so far.

“A Woman’s Place Is On The Money”

Women’s rights and gender equality have been on a lot of minds these days. From Patricia Arquette’s speech for equal pay at the Oscars to the fight in India for women’s rights to be recognized by everyone and not just by lawmakers. It’s interesting to me that although most of the free world considers themselves to be progressive that such inequality is still an issue.

The year 2020 marks an important anniversary in the United States: the 100th anniversary of constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. To commemorate this occasion, a non-profit organization called Women on 20s is setting out to petition the White House to put a female face on the $20 note. For almost a year, they’ve been planning on petitioning President Obama for the change, but now they’ve come to a point in time where they need the voices of the people to help choose who will be on that bill. Their first primary round of voting includes 15 valued American women who’ve helped shape the United States into the society we know today.   


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Fortunately, the process of making these types of changes is fairly easy (as far as politics go). A petition to the White House takes at least 100,000 names to be heard by the President and to have executive action take place. At that point it’s up to the President to decide whether to go ahead and direct the Treasury Secretary to make the change.

This would be a historic change to the Department of the Treasury. Women have been featured on their coinage, but never on paper bills. In 1978, Jimmy Carter introduced the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. 800 million were minted but they were commonly mistaken for quarters by consumers. In the year 2000, the dollar coin was revived by the gold-hued Sacagawea. By 2012, only 3 million had been minted and clearly never gained popularity. Personally, the only place that I’ve received and used a Sacagawea dollar has been through metropolitan transit terminals and kiosks. How about you?

If you would like more information and would like to cast your vote as to who should be on the $20 bill, you can go to the Women on $20’s website.