I was contacted by Katie working at Quicken Loans where she was participating in a leadership development program regarding green energy, with an assignment to reach out to various leaders and get a set of relevant questions answered.  These were the questions and responses that I provided.  I think it is great to hear about such a program at Quicken Loans and since Katie would not use these outside the course she was on, I asked to publish them here with my responses to get people to discuss these points with their own ideas as well.  How do you answer these questions?  Please add your comments below.

1.  What are the 2-3 most exciting technologies that you use or are watching?

Google Plus has got to be one the most recent and interesting applications of technology for social media anyway.  It lets the user control the connections how they see fit instead of putting connections into a system that is forced upon them.  It will certainly shift the way people think about social ‘circles’ (no pun intended).  I watch many technologies in 3D graphics as well for rendering technologies, distributed computing an social rendering for large computational work.  As a 3D artist, I love the idea of using a wider social circle to create graphics and capabilities in that.

2.  What is the top trend that you are watching or think people should be watching?

Trends are not something I recommend at all actually.  I strive to recognize individualism and would rather see more people following their own ideas and carrying through on those ideas.  There are enough people following the masses and mindlessly living among social influence.  Trends are really only out there to be broken, so if anything, I’d steer away from them, especially if you hope to build leadership confidence.  One societal trend however, is that collaboration on new ideas and new systems is making the speed of adopting change shorter than ever as people are able to connect with link minded folks more easily and build on each others’ ideas.  It’s hard to label that as a trend, but instead of a way the masses can collaborate when connected to do so.

3.  What’s your favorite magazine?

I’m very interested in responsible building and living and the magazine, Home Power has been one of my favorites for some time.  It is a magazine that provides a window to the best creation, design and new innovations that more and more people are finally getting value from and making things more readily available.

4.  What is your favorite book that you would recommend to people?

I really don’t have a favorite as books need to address areas of interest topics so there isn’t one book that fits all and I’ve read far too many to have a favorite book.  Some of my favorite authors are Patrick Lencioni and Malcolm Gladwell as I highly enjoy their respectively, fable style of writing and  data backed discoveries.  Some of my favorites are: Win Friends and Influence People, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, The Other 8 Hours, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Goal

5.  What is your favorite website?

TED.com, by far.  Inspiring speakers, leaders, design, technology and entertainment.  There are literally hundreds of incredible presentations and technology messages to learn from and I owe a lot to the presenters and leaders that contribute that I have learned from.

6.  If you could recommend one book for people to read, what would it be?

For me, life lessons, learnings and spirituality are all based from the Bible so it is the ONLY book you really need.  However, I understand that spiritual bias doesn’t suit everyone but I do belief that the many great spiritual books of the world (including other great teachings) so offer the most value for life.  If I had to pick something recent from other well known authors, perhaps “Win Friends and Influence People” by Carnegie would be the most valuable if applied. As with any book, reading it does nothing, application of the content is what counts so I’d instead recommend that people make a habit not to read more, but to study what they read and put at least one thing into practice from what is learned.

7.  What’s the most frustrating customer experience you recently had? And how could it have been improved?

Definitely would have to be at a restaurant (Boston Pizza actually) where I had a terrible waitress that yelled across a table of 10 people instead of waiting around to take orders individually, then my meal was missed so they had to rush it after everyone else was already eating that I was with, then the rushed order was wrong and they didn’t bring the correct meal, then they billed me for the wrong meal, (the one I didn’t order) and they had no way to add two orders together into a single payment (my wife and I), so the whole experience was really bad.  They did nothing to fix it without me asking and they made excuses instead of apologizing for the mistake or offering anything in return for all the problems.  I guess they didn’t understand how to think about the service from the customer’s perspective, since they got so much of it wrong.  It was very frustrating.

8.  What was the best customer experience you recently had?

A sporting goods store locally named Mountain Equipment Coop is and has been over and over my most memorable customer experiences due to quality service staff, fast checkout tills, and great return policies and warranty coverage.  I recently went in to buy a sleeping bag for backpacking and had my mind set on a certain bag per price ratio I thought was ideal.  In the store however, it only took a few minutes from one of the staff in camping to find out I really wanted a super light and small bag, since I would be packing it on trips on my mountain unicycle.  He showed me another bag that was colder temperature rating, half the weight and one third the pack volume, with obviously more cost, but worth the price in size and weight.  He did not hesitate to rip one out of its plastic bag for me to check its size in a tent on the floor, and pack it into some tiny compression bag to prove it was as small as advertised.  Needless to say, it only took a few minutes to select it and I am very happy he knew his stuff so I didn’t have to find out the hard way how much larger the other ones where I was looking at.

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