Monthly Archives: March 2012

Invest in your communication skills to excel

IT managers who have great communication skills are rare, and it is the key skill that will set you apart from your peers. I tell every class that if I were a young manager the one thing I would invest in would be my communication skills.

OK, I realize this is probably not what gets you excited. Before you stop reading, consider a few benefits that come with IT managers who become effective communicators.

  1. They get what they ask for – Good communicators know how to discuss the business value of projects and IT initiatives. When you communicate benefits and justify the cost of things, , , senior management buys in.
  2. Effective communicators develop partners – More importantly, they develop partners with their clients (senior managers and department managers). Clients need to know what’s going on with IT support and keeping them up to date creates trust.
  3. Strong communicators develop respect – No one knows what you are doing unless you communicate it. Effective communicators know how to deliver IT successes with facts and numbers that demonstrate how well IT support is working.
  4. Effective communicators motivate their staff – Leadership is dependent upon effective communication. Strong communicators rally their troops when they provide vision and coach the team to succeed.

Your career will take on a whole new path if you develop strong communication skills, , , it is the key trait required to succeed in your management role. Develop all of the following skills and watch your career take off:

  • Presentation
  • Negotiation
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Coaching

“One is the loneliest number” – IT Manager Institute #49

Linda Duntsch didn’t realize she would be the only student in the 49th IT Manager Institute. We knew the class was going to be small as there were just three paid registrations. First, one no-show from Accra, Ghana and another who requested to be allowed to attend the Atlanta class in May. Turns out that the manager who asked to postpone is also from Linda’s company.

Well, , , “The show must go on!”

When Linda told her manager she was the only one in the class, he jokingly suggested she might need “remedial instruction”. It’s obvious she has a good relationship with her manager, , , always a good thing to see.

The great thing about a small class is that we get to know one another a lot more. One of the best aspects of my travels is the opportunity I have to meet so many good people who are striving to succeed as IT managers, , , the most difficult management role in a company.

There was plenty of discussion and Linda achieved her ITBMC certification with one of the best exam scores we have had, , , looks like the “remedial help” worked.

Here are a few photos:

IT Manager Institute #49 – Columbia TN

Dinner with The Sisco’s, , , Mike, Dorine and Eddie

Cajun dinner at River Terraces overlooking the Duck River – always memorable

Small classes are fun and allow considerable more discussion of the material and what the students would like to talk about. Every class is unique with a different “class personality”. Linda made this class fun and interesting.

To the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai

On my last day in Dubai, I was able to go to the top of the tallest building in the world, , , the Burj Khalifa. It is something I’ve wanted to do in previous trips but it just never worked out.

This trip I made it happen.

What made it special is that I was able to do this sightseeing experience with one of the managers from my IT Manager Institute. Majed Al-Rukhaimi attended with two other managers from his company. They live in three different cities in Saudi Arabia. It was great to meet and work with them and being able to see the top of the Burj Khalifa with Majed made it much more fun.

The building itself is remarkable and stunning in the city skyline. The Burj Khalifa at 125 stories simply towers above all others, , , makes 50-story buildings look relatively small.

The Burj Khalifa also sits in a great tourist area, , , next to the Dubai Mall, the largest indoor mall in the world where they happen to have the largest indoor aquarium in the world.

Every night the grounds are filled with people who are there for shopping, dining, or to see the spectacular water show.

To say there is a lot to see and do in Dubai is an understatement, , , it remains one of my favorite cities to visit.

Here are a few photos from this year’s trip:

In the waiting area about to go to the top, , , the trip starts in the Dubai Mall

Majed takes a photo of the World Record Statistics display

A view of our destination inside the walk area on our way to the elevators

At the top you are literally above the clouds

A view from the top, , , notice the reflection in the building

The Burj Khalifa towers above all others, even the 40-story building below.
Dubai Mall is on the left

Majed (reflection) gets a shot of me at one of the documented historical areas

Majed Al-Rukhaimi from Saudi Arabia, , , that’s me in the reflection

A spectacular view from outside the Dubai Mall

So tall, it’s hard to get the whole building in your camera lens

The water falls inside Dubai Mall

A perspective of how the Burj Khalifa towers above the city skyline

The water show at night at Dubai Mall

I have at least one more trip planned for Dubai this year and look forward to my next visit. When I get my golf game in shape, I plan to play golf in Dubai on a trip. In one of my earlier visits was able to attend the Al Jumeirah World Golf Championship tournament which was a fun day.

One of the nice things about Dubai is that it is very safe and taxi cabs are everywhere making getting around very easy. The people in UAE know how to treat their visitors.

48th IT Manager Institute – Dubai, UAE

Today wraps up my 48th IT Manager Institute and 5th program in Dubai, UAE.

What a GREAT group this was to work with, , , without question one of my best and most fun group of managers to spend time with. They clicked with one another from the very first day.

And what a wonderful city we are in, , , there is nothing like Dubai in the world.

Last night’s dinner was special. We ate at the Armani Mediterraneo restaurant in the Burj Khalifa, , , tallest building in the world. It is more impressive every time I see it.

Food was great but the cameraderie and bonding with members of the class is what makes our class dinners so special for me. I tell everyone that I get to meet some of the best people in the world and this group stands among the very best.

Today, we finish the presentations, award class certificates, and finish the ITBMC exams. They are all a bit anxious about passing the exam, but I can tell they will do fine. I’ve done this many times and you get a sense for these things based upon class participation, type of questions asked, etc.

My next class is just a couple of weeks away, , , this time I’ll be at home in Columbia, TN. I look forward to the next group and know it will also be a great class.

More photos of this week.

  In the classroom

 Burj Khalifa at night.

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at over 828 meters (2,716 feet), , , that’s over half a mile long. This building owns several world records:

World Records

•  Tallest building in the world
•  Tallest free-standing structure in the world
•  Highest number of stories in the world
•  Highest occupied floor in the world
•  Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
•  Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
•  Tallest service elevator in the world 

Over twice as tall as the Empire State Building

Dinner at the Burj Khalifa

Awesome experience with my Arabian friend

Eisa Al Monsoori from Abu Dhabi  attended my last Dubai class and I was able to get to know him a bit. In our discussions he told me about he and his brother’s passion for raising falcons and training them to hunt. I was very interested in what he had to say.

Since the class, Eisa and I have stayed in touch via email. He is a strong family man like me and has a weekend retreat like we do so we have several things in common.

I made Eisa aware of my trip to Dubai and he offered to spend the day with me to show me his family farm and resort, , , I jumped at the chance to learn more about the local culture and see something outside of Dubai.

Eisa and I spent most of Saturday together. I was able to meet several of his brothers and nephews and a few friends. It was a great day with a few totally new experiences for me, such as:

  • Eating a great feast while sitting on the floor and with my hands from a gigantic platter of rice and lamb. They asked if I would like to “break the head of the lamb”, but I declined not knowing what it actually meant. Hope I didn’t insult anyone, but they all laughed so I’m probably ok.
  • Saw the largest fruit basket I’ve ever seen with exotic fruits from all over the world. I was so full from the meal that I declined most of the fruit. Eisa says that this is normal for them because on the weekends they have 60 or more people at their resort to share time together. The close family bond they have with his 13 brothers and 6 sisters  is quite amazing.
  • The best experience was seeing his falcons. There were six of them housed in a large open room building. The photos below tell it best.

Eisa Al Monsoori with one of his falcons 




It was an awesome experience with a new friend, and I owe Eisa a big debt of gratitude for sharing his day with me.

My 5th trip to Dubai

This week I’m in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) for my 5th visit to teach another IT Manager Institute, , , it is my 48th program since 2003.

The trip started off well with an open seat next to me on the airplane. The flight was free by using points from my frequent flyer account and being able to stretch out a bit on the 14-hour flight from Atlanta made it even more better.

I’ve worked in IT most of my career so I take a few precautions when flying on such long trips.

  • First, I take an earlier flight from Nashville to Atlanta. It causes me to have a longer layover, but I have a backup plan with later flights to Atlanta if mine is delayed or something happens to cancel the flight. Sure don’t want to miss my connection as it would mean I have to fly through Paris, , , and I avoid that airport at all costs.
  • Second, I arrive in Dubai a day ahead of time. This gives me a whole day to rest before class and also provides a backup plan in case something happens to delay or cancel the flight. I had to use this backup alternative on one of my previous flights so I know it can happen.

Getting here a day early allows me to rest up like I said and to get my body adjusted to the local time.

Class started yesterday and we have a great group, , , 7 managers from UAE, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. The week will go by fast because I can already tell this group is going to be fun to work with, , , they started “jabbing” a bit on the first day, , , a very good sign!!

I plan to see some new things on this trip plus I have already had an amazing experience that I’ll share in my next post.