(Smart)Phone Etiquette

Have a P.A.I.R. and Kill Phone Zombies

Guest blogger Dan Wojenski is an I.T. Technician at Geller & Company in New York, NY.  His previous employers include A&E Networks, and Apple, and UBS AG.  Dan is also a 20+ year musician (drums).Dan Wojenski

“To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is unacceptable.” Wisdom I first heard from a teacher I didn’t like and barely listened to. But when I hit the working world, it was etched in my memory, and therefore I was seldom late.  Etiquette comes from strange places.  We hear it, see it, and sometimes, we ignore it.  But you can not ignore etiquette if you want to succeed in the business world.

I remember having extensive customer service training when I was employed by an insurance company. The instructor said, “It doesn’t really matter what you say, if you say it with genuine tones of respect.” He was right.  I began to see the power in negotiation, conversation, and even just casual speaking. You can look someone in the eye and tell them a monkey just farted in his or her soup, did a backflip, and laughed away from the table. While ridiculous, if said with genuine confidence, there’s not much to argue.  Obviously a dramatic example, but the point is clear.  The same can be said about my topic today: (Smart)Phone Etiquette.

Patience. Attention. Intelligence. Responsiveness. =  P.A.I.R.  (I’ve always wanted to do that.) These are a few of the traits required to have a conversation on a professional level. Whether a person is a CEO or the building maintenance crew, proper etiquette is essential to building trust and earning respect. The world is evolving into a social media frenzy that #occupies a large percentage of our daily conversations. It is very easy to allow the technology to control our manners or even our attitudes.  It creates what is known as the “Phone Zombie.”  A plain traditional Zombie appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unaware of his or her surroundings.  Now add a phone to that picture you have a Phone Zombie.

For example: You are talking to your manager and they suddenly start typing fiendishly on a Blackberry.  All it took was a vibration or beep.  They stop listening to you and begin paying attention to the text flying in from some other virtual source. There is no issue with that; except you and your manager were just mid-conversation, talking about company business, at the same company in which you are currently standing! Even if it were an emergency, there is no excuse for not politely removing themselves from the conversation they are currently in with you. No excuse, none.  It takes five seconds to say, “Excuse me I have an emergency that I need to attend to, can we please pick this up when I get back?”  Courtesy is still relevant, and will not cost you anything, except maybe an angry employee or coworker.

For my next point we can venture out of the workplace.  The old saying was, “[so-and-so] can’t walk and chew gum at the same time” or something like that.  Nowadays, it’s all too common to see people texting,  mp3-ing, streaming, drinking, eating, and all while doing something that can seriously hurt someone: driving.  No text or song is worth twenty years in prison, or the guilt you will suffer for the rest of your life if you accidentally take another’s.  We all have our vices but, in my opinion, vehicular homicide should not be on the top of your list!

By no means am I saying never text, never email, or never surf on my devices. I’m doing it right now! This article was drafted during my commute (subway), at home, and on my lunch breaks at work.  I was not typing this post in the middle of a meeting, typing away at my smartphone under the table, while supporting my false arm with the other hand.  Today’s companies want employees who can multitask, without ignoring their superiors. In-person conversations and meetings have a point, and your superiors will judge you based on how you act during them.  You can see reactions, feel the tone, and feed off each other’s ideas.  Brainstorming anyone?  Even bad news is better in person.  Would you really want to hear about your job loss in an email or an accidental post in the termination mailbox?  If you do, just stop reading now, as it probably has already happened.

There is one business thriving off this behavior: Social engineering. They will have your credentials before you even look up to see the stairs you’re about to trip on.  The money will be gone faster than you can swipe L-A-R-C-E-N-Y on your touchscreen. The amount of information released into the open air due to phones and other connected devices is staggering. I was on an hour-long commute the other day and within minutes had this woman’s name, social security number, credit card numbers, security codes, pin, and I was not the only one that could hear her! I hope she was lucky, but some part of me is saying, “Get her some nice new credit and debt she never wanted.”

Life teaches us lessons.  Listening to them is my lesson for you today. Try not to end up here: http://textface.com/

Company Culture

What Makes A Good Company Great? The People

Guest blogger Kelly Perkins, CTS is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Vaddio.  They are the leading manufacturer and OEM-distributor of specialty PTZ cameras, high-end camera control systems and custom furniture used in the broadcasting, audiovisual and videoconferencing industries.

Kelly Perkins CTSCrap jobs. Who hasn’t had a bad job? And if you didn’t, well then I’m sorry because you missed out on some amazing stuff. You really did. I mean how could you appreciate a good job if you’ve never had a bad job? Think working at a pizza joint inside of a discount store with a crew of pathological liars, drunken bosses and some guy who stole half the register (and I’m just naming a few). You gain some serious awesome people skills, or at least a better understanding of how to deal with multiple personalities.

Oh, and then throw in all the “free internships”. I mean you’re gaining real world job experience right?

I remember the exact moment I knew I needed a real workplace change. And it wasn’t in high school or college.

It was my first “real” job out of college. Don’t get me wrong – I was beyond excited when I got hired. Like “holy shit this is awesome, I FINALLY HAVE A REAL JOB.  Then reality hit.

I was getting ready for work one morning and was completely, utterly dreading the day ahead of me. And not just that day – every day (well Monday through Friday at least). No particular reason really. I didn’t have a bad job. I didn’t have a bad boss. And my coworkers were fairly pleasant. So what did I have to complain about? Who was I to not value a job in this economy? I was working in my field, had just graduated and was steadily climbing my way up the corporate ladder. What the hell was wrong with me? People would kill to be in my position.

Well I was young and naïve for starters (or was I?) and I wanted more. Looking back I really had nothing to complain about. I was impatient. They took a chance and gave me a great opportunity – and for that I am very grateful. That job laid the groundwork for where I am today, which through some twists, tumbles and turns (maybe fate?) I eventually found my way to the AV industry.

And I am so thankful I did.

At the beginning I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. I barely knew what AV stood for. I’ve always been a music/film person but by this I mean I like listening to music and watching movies. Who doesn’t?

I had no idea what a BNC connector was. YPbPr.…ummm what? Forget the gazillions of industry acronyms; I was in a whole different dimension.

On one of my first days my boss said, albeit nerdy, “No question is a dumb question.” And I thought, “Shit, is this guy for real?” Yes he was. And this is why I love my company, have stayed with my company and will continue to love the industry as a whole.

I work for an awesome company. Not just because we create killer products – BUT because we have fun doing it. I mean we really have fun doing our jobs. Why? What? How can you have fun at work? Because the importance of the company’s culture is full-on emphasized. People are going to do better at a job they enjoy doing; working with people they enjoy working with. It’s that simple. By promoting creativity, teamwork and an environment where people can feel free to share ideas, work no longer becomes work.

Holy shit. What a concept. I am happy. I don’t mind going to work – in fact I look forward to it.  Forget stability, obligations, benefits, the hoo-ha… I am making a career out of what I enjoy doing, which makes me happy(er).

But people do work hard here, and I mean haaaaaard to get projects not only done, but done on time and done right. I can’t speak for everyone but I do it, yes for some obvious reasons like compensation, etc. – but I mostly do it because I want to. It’s exciting, rewarding and I am passionate about what I do (the office humor isn’t too bad either.) But everyone here is passionate about what they do. People take pride (again holy shit, what a concept.) BUT they do.

We have monthly company lunches where the entire company (including shipping, front desk, engineers, etc.) gets together to talk about what’s been happening, future company/product plans – who’s birthday it is. Jokes, chatting and hallway talk is encouraged. Disc golfing over lunch is not uncommon and attending a coworker’s concert is pretty standard. Stories galore come from the annual fishing trip (think break dancing) and let’s not forget the average amazing nerdy, awesome things people do every five minutes – the-make-me-love-my-job-type – things.

And I’ve learned this:  when you get a group of eccentric, amazing, hard-working geeks (who love what they do) together you’re going to have a great team. And if you’re lucky enough to get leadership that is smart enough to empower this group of geeks (and yes we are all awesome AV geeks) you get what I call a company culture of awesomeness.

And really, when all is said and done, we’re just a group of people who work together to create some cool stuff – and we’re happy. I like it. I appreciate it. And I want to continue to be a part of it. I don’t know about anyone else in the AV industry (because I haven’t worked for any other AV companies) but it seems to be the general consensus throughout.

And that my friends, is why company culture is so important.