Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to introduce the person you've been dating to the people they'd eventually have to endure.

Thanksgiving is a great time to sit back and reflect on ourselves and review our personal and professional growth throughout the year.  We should all be thankful for all that we are given and continue to find the silver lining and aggressively target opportunities to play to our strengths while still growing ourselves and our competencies.  And, in the event you are traveling with significant others, in-laws, or other family – I hope all goes well!

Hope your turkey turns out great!

Til Next Time,


Customer Service in the Social Age

The social age is wildly fascinating to me. The ability for all of us to connect electronically at a moment’s notice has totally revolutionized the way we engage in and maintain professional relationships and friendships. Thus, it should not be a huge surprise that we have let some of this social media connectivity creep into our retail relationships. We now, more than ever, expect our big box retailers as well as many of our beloved boutiques to have an online social presence so that we can stay abreast of their latest sales and products. More importantly, we have started to lean on these retailers to provide us support when transactions or interactions go south. And, naturally, the truly exceptional retailers have adapted their offerings to acknowledge this level of support we require. To someone of my parents’ generation, though, the concept of social customer service is incredibly baffling. So I wanted to take a moment to recognize some of the great ways to optimize your own customer service through social media outlets.

Live Chat is a lifesaver for those of us who don’t have the time or the energy to wait on the phone on hold. It allows us to multitask and remain active as we wait for a message response from a specialized agent on the other end who is able to access back office support systems to investigate our concerns. Simply have the relevant order, product, or shipping information at your disposal, and be sure to provide the online rep all of the required information for them to leverage the tools at their disposal (i.e. their internal systems for CRM, Billing, Order Management, etc) to provide you quick and easy help. Also – don’t be afraid to ask for partial (or full) refunds if you were not satisfied. Many companies will be quick to provide you a coupon or gift certificate towards your next purchase for your trouble.

Facebook messaging or Tweeting has given us an outlet to issue cries for help directly to our retailers, either by direct messaging, tagging, or mentioning them in a post. Superb retailers will almost always respond in a timely manner to social outbursts, and in many cases they will look to follow you in order to provide more immediate resolutions the next time you need assistance. When dealing with these sorts of conversations, try to get the company’s representative to have a direct conversation as soon as you can so that you can provide them critical information like frequent shopper/traveler numbers without having those be publicly visible. Allowing reps to have more direct access to your consumer profile (if applicable) will always get you better service than an ordinary customer off the street.

Online help forums or complaint sites can be useful as well for ensuring that your complaint is rightfully handled.  It’s as easy as googling “Delta Complaints” (or, of course, an equivalent mechanism for your preferred company of complaint) to get to the right place.  Often times, you are simply asked to indicate the time and nature of your complaint, and you will be rewarded with amenities from the appropriate customer care department in order to repay you for any inconvenience you may have endured through a transaction or interaction with your company of interest.  I personally have chosen this route many times and, while the repayment might not be to my liking, I am at least usually given something in return for my woes.  And something is always better than nothing.

I’m not the king of complaining and I don’t try to be, but if there is a provider out there who isn’t meeting your expectations, the only way to change that is by saying something.  So please be smart when you embark as a consumer in the social age.  You might be pleasantly surprised at what the customer service you are provided yields you.

Til Next Time,

Working Smart While Traveling

Quick note on working while traveling…

If you plan to work (or do personal activities) on devices while traveling, be sure to do the following to make sure you are being safe and not inviting your neighbors to eavesdrop on your personal data:
-reduce screen brightness
-angle devices away from those sitting next to you
-reduce volume on calls, webinars, or online training/videos
-wear a headset or earbuds to ensure you are the only one hearing your audio
-invest in a privacy screen for your laptop/devices that will make sure only those looking straight onto the screen can see it
-be aware of people all around you, not just those in your immediate proximity

I know I have said before that most times it does not matter what we are working on because nothing is hardly ever that “top secret”, but in some cases it is just a respectful thing to do and makes you less of a target in case you do run into a bad apple that it trying to poach or stalk on your information.

Til Next Time,

Dressing the Part

My colleagues, friends, and I have recently engaged in significant talks about what is and is not appropriate attire for work. Inevitably, we fall all over the board as it relates to what is the best bet in terms of work dress. However, I think we can all generally agree on a few principles and best practices as it relates to acquiring and coordinating a good office wardrobe.

First, you should always dress at least as well as your coworkers or clients. This is so that you are meeting them and collaborating with them in attire that is comfortable for them, as you are neither underdressing them or severely overdressing them. Some will argue on the latter point in that statement (e.g. the typical “management consultant” that feels they should be in a three-piece-suit every day regardless of the client culture to justify their $250/hr charge-out rate), but I will always argue that showing up in a suit to a factory floor where even the top dog on site wears jeans every day is overly arrogant and will cause for you to be unfairly judged by the majority of the workforce unnecessarily.

Second, you should still aim to dress in something that fits you and makes you comfortable. Let’s face it: many of us struggle with various personal hygiene or appearance deficiencies that we need to care for when we go to put ourselves together in the morning. If you, like I, tend to be warmer than average on a temperature scale, it would be advisable to wear fabrics that are more breathable so that you aren’t sweating through your shirt just walking to a 9 AM meeting. If you are an especially tall person, it is important to select clothes that are proportional to your frame so that you don’t have to be self-conscious about wearing clothes that don’t fit. Ill-fitting clothes are one of the most inexcusable offenses anyone in the working world can make in my opinion. I know it can be costly to replace a wardrobe if your weight or muscle mass change, but in order to look the part, it is really important to dress in proper fitting clothes. You will ultimately be more comfortable and confident in whatever you do.

Third, there are several ways to “dress the part” without breaking the bank. One of my favorite sites for advanced men’s wardrobe on a budget is dappered.com, which aims to help aggregate style tips, large retailer sales, and under-the-radar merchandise that is available (often for a fraction of the cost of big name premier brands). Another great option for building a professional and sufficient wardrobe is to try out thrift stores. It is pretty easy to tell the quality of an item with a cursory inspection, and often times some of the merchandise will still have original tags on it because it was never worn. Just be sure to dry clean whatever you purchase, and you are all set as far as I’m concerned to start embracing “reclaimed” clothes.

While the conversation surrounding “dressing the part” is something that probably needs to be done specifically for each person with respect to their own colleagues, clients, and corporate culture, I believe the guardrails above at least help tailor the conversation to the things that matter when thinking about how to dress for success in your respective arena.

Bonus: here’s a great short video on finding a jacket that fits, courtesy of Birchbox Men, leveraging one of my favorite shows for the discussion: Suits (a MUST WATCH if you enjoy witty humor, Corporate America, and fashion in the Big Apple).


Til Next Time,

PowerPoint on iPad

Seriously, how much longer do I have to wait for this functionality? The majority of my job is E-Mail, PowerPoint, and Excel. If only I could create, edit, and do advanced functions in PPT on iPad, my life would be incredible. No more heavy laptop, no more bulky battery cord, no more unreliable Lenovo. I am sure that your typical iPad doesn’t have near the processing or computing power to accomplish this, but can someone please figure it out?

And before you suggest it, no, I’m not ready for Windows 8/Surface tablets yet. Too pricey and I’m still mad at Microsoft for oppressing me for so many years. Maybe someday though.

Just my rant for the day. Hopefully someone reading has fantastic news for me on a hack or workaround… Anyone? Bueller?

Til Next Time,

Dirty Jobs

For those of you who don’t know Mike Rowe or have never watched his show on The Discovery Channel, he essentially profiles some of the “dirtier” jobs in America by shadowing as an apprentice to learn how tasks are accomplished for the typical laborer.

Back in 2009, Mike was invited to do a TED Talk on his profession and reflect on what it has meant to him.  While the story he uses to open up the conversation is a bit grotesque (it wouldn’t be a “dirty” job if it weren’t though), the message he provides and the lessons he shares are really remarkable.

We are entering an age where the value of previously-considered commonplace jobs (e.g. electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders) has almost been forgotten.  I completely appreciate his sentiments on the need for a PR campaign for work.  Trade school enrollments and skilled labor training remains at an all-time low.  Our infrastructure is rapidly declining and the American Society of Chemical Engineers has stated time and time again that we have drastic investments in our infrastructure required just to keep things like roadways and bridges passable.  I know I have talked previously about the value of work of all kinds.  And while I generally push more for technology skills/training/jobs, his presentation is a calm reminder that we need to encourage people to enter into professions of all kinds if we want to continue to remain a viable world power.  The time is now; let’s all get to work!

Hope you enjoy it!

Til Next Time,


The Value of an Excellent Colleague

I work at a company that places a huge emphasis on the value of people and collaboration. Naturally, a lot of my colleagues have (since we started working together) morphed into friends. Which causes me to continually assess my professional network and understand what value my relationships, colleagues, and network bring me (and, converesely, and value I am making sure I bring them).

Just the other day, I asked a few people to take a peek at my site and offer some feedback. Of course, I didn’t expect a 100% take rate. I knew that some of them would punt it because they were too busy, some would give me the bare minimum to make sure I knew they valued our relationship, some would go over the top and give way too much, etc. Such is life.

An excellent colleague is irreplaceable. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy finding someone that I work well with (inside as well as outside of work) and aligning myself with them in future endeavors, even if they aren’t project or work-related. You know they have your back and will always go to bat for you or help you in a pinch. Largely, the people I sent the michael-wiggins.com survey to were those people. But it’s still intriguing to see how much time and energy some of them have dedicated to ensuring that I am fulfilling my goals with the site and helping add further value by offering suggestions on my next post or helping point out grammatical issues/typos (even if, as much as I hate to admit it, imperfection in my original drafts has somehow unsuspectingly entered a post – kidding). I truly value those kinds of feedback and it is my goal to always make sure I am giving them the same type of help if asked.

Another Public Service Annoucement: the holidays are rapidly approaching for most of us. Be sure to recall those excellent colleagues and do something special for them. A bottle of wine, a hand-written note, a $5 Starbucks card. No gift is too small. But also be sure to remember them at other times of the year. If you ignore those relationships, there’s a chance they will move on from you because you aren’t reciprocating their energy and collaborative spirit. Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.

Til Next Time,

Company-Issued Devices

I bet you get where I’m going with this already… But before I go into a massive rant that leaves you nodding your head saying “Yeah, but so what? Nothing’s gonna change it”, let me first warn you that a lot of this post will be just that. BUT – I am hopeful that sprinkled in here somewhere are some decent thoughts and ideas of measures we can all take to fight back against the system.

Now that I’ve got all that out of the way (phew!) let me say that I think the way companies typically approach issuing devices is a complete joke. I’ll try to limit this post to laptops and phones, but the extent of this widespread indifference obviously reaches much further beyond this. Speaking of phones – remind me to opine someday on the joys (read: agony) of corporate mobile plans and procurement. They single-handedly have taken two years off my life*.

I’ll start with laptops. I totally understand that it’s a numbers game and that most major corporations have to employ cost control measures in order to ensure they are not giving away the warchest every time Pete, the VP of accounts, decides to fumble his new laptop down a flight of concrete stairs. I get that the easiest way to have a front-line hardware support provider for onsite helpdesks is to align yourself with another big shop that specializes in specific brands and detailed troubleshooting procedures. I know that these partnerships with companies like Lenovo allow for us to obtain crazy good deals on laptops. Side note – I saw my EXACT laptop on 1saleaday.com yesterday for $350. $350! Felt like I was stabbed in the heart. Actually – I rescind that comment – the one on the site had more RAM… And, believe me, I get that aligning ourselves with “proven” software like Microsoft/Windows allows us to engage in a lot of critical processes like remote device wiping, quickly replacing or deploying system images, and controlling privacy and security.

All that being said though – these devices suck. I know no other “intelligent” or politically correct way to say it. Yes, it’s childish of me to put it in that sort of tone. But tell me you didn’t nod your head. You did! I saw it! They are too slow, they don’t have enough memory, can’t support multi-tasking (e-mail and Powerpoint at the same time doesn’t count), have horrendous batteries, and are generally reluctant to see two New Year’s Eves without at least one (or ten) blue screens of death.

To those forward-thinking companies who decide to issue better equipment (Macs, etc), I commend you. You are recouping your investment not only by having to replace devices less frequently, you are also reaping the rewards in terms of your personnel productivity (one time it took me 3 reboots and 2.5 hours just to fill out a timesheet – seriously). To the rest of you though, I highly recommend sitting in a focus group with your front line to hear the horror stories. I do focus groups all the time, and I promise they work. You just have to listen.

Moving on to phones – it’s more of the same. My old boss still has a Blackberry. RIM has already scheduled their own funeral, and our mobile plan is still providing Blackberries. Now the fact that my colleague hasn’t moved on yet is largely their fault (get on with the times, I’m sorry for your loss), but it’s still ridiculous that the carriers are providing these low cost devices and, furthermore, that my company is actually promoting us using them. I, personally, have moved up in the game. I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 3gs That’s right – not the 3g – the 3gs. I can think of a few things the ‘s’ stands for. I’m sure you can too. The bigger picture here? i need a reliable phone to do my job. I can’t have a phone that freezes or requires reboots every couple hours, or one that loses battery after 30 minutes of light use. The ability to make and receive calls from my clients and colleagues is probably of second importance only to my ability to read e-mail (see above – this is not always a given either). Figure out a way to get our carrier to give us serviceable options for decent prices. I know how much we pay for the plan – I promise there is someone in a procurement or supply chain department who has to have taken Negotiating 101.

So what? This is the part where I ditch the soapbox and try to get back to reality, offering my insights and opinions on what we can all do to help fix the problem:

  • SPEAK UP – Be it employee opinion surveys, focus groups, town halls, at the bar – wherever – let your leadership know. If they only hear the complaints from Richard (nobody likes Richard anyway), they’ll assume it’s not that big of a deal. When 80% of the front-line screams loud enough, though, results will happen.
  • Have an honest dialogue about BYOD (no, not bring your own beer – although that could help in worst cases I suppose?) – Bring Your Own Device is something that is a bit of a compromise and, when administered correctly (i.e. subsidizing employees for buying devices, having approved device lists that you will support for placement on internal networks, etc), can be a huge win for both the employees and the company. It is not a silver bullet though as there are many formalities to be worked through and I am not sure anyone has physically validated the business case yet, although I imagine 3 or 5 year success stories should be hitting just about any day now.
  • Rig your own device regardless – I’m probably a huge liability for saying this, but it’s really not that difficult to add your own device to a network. For instance, my company has an Apple exchange server in the UK which is extremely easy to configure and allows me to do the majority of my work tasks through my own device and ditch the company-issued for most other tasks. Let’s be honest, it is so rare for most of us to work on something that is so secret that there are massive data integrity/security implications that it really shouldn’t be a big deal to have external devices pinging a company-hosted server presuming you are appropriately obtaining credentials. Pretty sure my own Corporate Security department has probably already red-flagged me just for typing this. Oops.
  • Help someone in supply chain or procurement read the Cliff’s Notes on Negotiating 101 – Remember me stating above that it isn’t rocket science? Well, it isn’t. It’s also no cakewalk though. So volunteer to help them with some of the research or due diligence on new providers, new devices, typical market prices, and ways to investigate feasibility of wholesaling or obtaining seasonal/promotional pricing on devices. If you are able to do something, anything, for the greater good – not only will you help yourself, you will be a knight in shining armor for all your colleagues.
  • Stop multitasking – Listen, I’m the worst about this one; I need to look myself in the mirror and repeat this 10 times. If we know our devices have deficiencies, sometimes we just have to let them play to their (incredibly) limited strengths. Do I really need to have email open while editing PPT, on a webex, running scripts on a Remote Desktop, blogging on our own site, drawing critical path in Visio, updating Sharepoint with the latest status, etc? In some cases, maybe. In most cases, I can probably sequence my work so that I only have to do a few things at once. And, truth be told, my computer and phone can generally handle a few (2-3, let’s be realistic) things at once.

Another time, I promise to revisit BYOD in more detail (I’m honestly not a huge proponent – but the pros and cons are absolutely there) and more on this subject. But I just had to get this out there while on my flight out seeing as my laptop died (battery life = 46 minutes on a good day) and I had nothing better to do than break out another (more reliable) device to pass the time.

So – what do you think about company-issued devices? Feel free to sound off or offer your own suggestions/best practices for staying sane in the company device game.

Til Next Time,

*by conservative estimates (my doctor who is actually medically-licensed to make these statements may cite the number as higher)

Elon Musk – Soliciting Negative Feedback

After my colleague read my piece yesterday, he pointed me towards this TED Talk from Elon Musk (of PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX fame) who talks late in the video about the value of embracing and demanding negative feedback from friends/colleagues and how it has been fundamental in his innovation.  He is, of course, talking about it more in the creative landscape, but I think the message still resonates.  As an added bonus, this video gives some tremendous insight into his inspiration for Tesla/SpaceX and will let the nerds out there (like me) geek out on some basic science and engineering principles as seen by a visionary. If you’re not interested in the science, you can forward to the 18:30 mark to hear his perspective on gathering feedback.

Til Next Time,


Guest Posts!



I’ve had some inquiries about guest posts and decided that more content to react to is generally better than less content.  SO – in the interest of driving more dialogue and eyes to the site, I have decided to let some of my colleagues and friends join in on the fun.  Don’t mind them; they are generally harmless.  If we need to smack them on the hand or kick them out later, there’s always that choice.  In the mean time, though, I look forward to welcoming them to the party.  Hope you enjoy their insights!