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Are You Doing Business In The Cloud?

Are You Doing Business In The Cloud?

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    All of my email addresses are directed to my Gmail account. Most of the documents I need on a daily basis are on Google Docs. I’ve been slowly moving towards living in the cloud. In a way, this has been very good for me: I can access just about everything I want, whether I’m in my office, at someone else’s office, a friend’s house or anywhere else with an internet connection. But there are downsides. If something happens to one of the services I use, I’m up the proverbial creek — and the same is true if something happens to my internet connection.

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    Business In The Cloud

    Keeping personal data in the cloud is one thing, but uploading the information you rely on to earn a living is an entirely different matter. The benefits are huge. Just the ability to pull up files while visiting a client’s office can make the difference in landing an account. But risks go hand in hand with those benefits — the likelihood of something happening to your data in the cloud is about on par whether it’s personal or work-related, but the consequences can be far more complicated.

    So far, it’s been difficult to determine whether the risks outweigh the gains. Working from the cloud can be incredible: with just a netbook, you can often access everything you need for a project from half way around the globe. A business will to upload files to the cloud can make it much easier to work with telecommuting employees, along with clients who may need easy access to information. It doesn’t hurt that many online applications come with a price tag that makes the cost of the software many companies currently rely on absolutely laughable.

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    Personally, I’ve found that moving my own work into the cloud has made a major difference in my ability to work on projects. I can work just as easily from a coffee shop as from my office. There were no barriers to me moving my work into online applications, though: if I had needed a supervisor to sign off on my choice of applications and whether they were online, getting to the point that I am now might have been almost impossible.

    Getting The Okay

    Depending on who you work for, moving into the cloud may not be a simple matter. If you’re self-employed, you must reassure yourself that your information will be safe in the online applications you plan to use. That sort of reassurance can include:

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    • Security: If you’re placing any sort of sensitive material online — financial information or files your competitors would be very interested in looking at — you’ll want to double check that each application you use has sufficient security measures in place to protect your data.
    • Backups: In the event that something happens to your data online, you’ll want to make sure that you have a backup in place — even if that means manually downloading your data on a regular basis. Remember, not even Gmail works perfectly every day.
    • Contingency Plan: Making sure that you have access to your information goes beyond creating a backup. If you’re planning a presentation that relies on a file you’ve saved to an online application, for instance, have a contingency plan in place in case you don’t have internet access or you’re not on a computer with the right software to use it.

    All that is necessary just to make sure that you’re able to work in the cloud effectively. If you’re adding an employer to the equation, though, things get more complicated. At a bare minimum, you’ll have to convince your supervisor that your idea to work in the cloud is not only effective but will clearly help the company.

    When it comes to working in the cloud, the “better to beg forgiveness than ask permission” approach seldom works. If you’re thinking of taking even a small amount of your employer’s information into the cloud, I’d recommend against it. Some employees sign contracts specifically stating that they will not share information with a third party — which can include Google Docs. Others get issued a company handbook stating essentially the same thing. That means uploading information to the cloud could constitute a firing offense if something goes wrong.

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    That doesn’t mean that you can’t convince your higher ups to move into the cloud, though: it just means that you’re going to need to be able to reassure them on issues like security and backups before you even think of uploading one file.

    Are You In The Cloud?

    Have you already moved into the cloud? If so, it would be great if you’d be willing to share in the comments how you addressed the issues that go with keeping important information in the cloud. Personally, I stick with a handful of trusted sites, and I still have a few pieces of information I don’t put into the cloud. For instance, I keep my financial records on just one computer in my office.

    I do know some people who simply aren’t interested in moving any of their work into the cloud, for one reason or another. If you fall into this category, it would be great if you’d share your comments on why, as well. Is it due to one of the concerns I listed above, or another issue altogether?

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    Last Updated on June 12, 2019

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

    With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

    #10. Look for Joy in Life

    An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

    • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
    • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
    • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
    • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

    #9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

    If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

    • 13 Movies
    • 11 TV Shows
    • 5 Words or Phrases
    • 19 Personal Stories
    • 5 Cartoons
    • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
    • 11 Comedians
    • 7 TV Personalities
    • 7 Funny Photos
    • 7 People You Know
    • 15 of Anything Else
    • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

    Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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    #8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

    Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

    • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
    • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
    • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
    • Times of change or learning
    • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

    When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

    #7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

    Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

    Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

    • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
    • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

    #6. Understand Your Audience

    Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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    • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
    • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
    • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
    • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

    In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

    #5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

    There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

    Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

    • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
    • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
    • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
    • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

    With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

    #4. Get over Yourself

    Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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    You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

    • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
    • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
    • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

    Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

    #3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

    The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

    As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

    • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
    • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
    • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

    #2. Surround Yourself with Joy

    If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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    Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

    Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

    #1. Dive into the Fun

    Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

    • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
    • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
    • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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