Good Job Advice

Another day in my cubicle at work #newsfromthecube

One of the blogs I read regularly is The Art of Manliness.  I forget where I first found it, but it is a great blog.  Great advice for men, teen boys, and anyone else looking to become a well-rounded person.  And it avoids the sexual angle that is so prevalent on so many other “lad-blogs.”

Anyway, this week, I finally got around to reading their article on your first day and week at a new job:  Hit the Ground Running: How to Ace Your First Day and First Week at a New Job.  Here’s a summary of the main points (and my thoughts on one of them)

1. Before your first day
     Do your research
     Set out what you need the night before
     Brush up on your business etiquette
     Dress for success
     Aim to arrive ten minutes early
     Carry yourself with confidence
     Take the initiative in introducing yourself
     Take notes

2. How to Ace the First Week
     Ask lots of questions
     Listen, observe, and research
     Decorate your space
     Set up a calendar
     Create a to-do list notebook
     Don’t talk about how things used to be done at your old job
     Send your first Friday Update

That last one is one I really like.  A Friday Update.  The article says

The Friday Update is a short email that “functions to communicate your progress and the status of your current projects and tasks.” Here’s what they [Bennington and Lineberg] recommend including in the update:

Accomplishments this week
Challenges or stumbling blocks (areas where you need direction or input)
Noteworthy opportunities, suggestions, and insights
Issues that need your boss’s input or approval
Your schedule and goals for the coming week

I work on a 5 person team spread out geographically (and in different timezones).  My supervisor/boss isn’t in the same country as me.  I really like this idea to summarize what I did and what I plan to do.  I think I’m going to start doing that.

Image from slworking2 via flickr

Interesting Natural Gas Article

 For those who know, I used to work at Columbia Gas Transmission (for the 1st year or so) then NiSource after they bought the Columbia Energy Group.  Working at that job made me learn quite a bit about Natural Gas and the business of gas.  All in all, it was very interesting.

Well, I came across this article today that proved to be a good overview of the natural gas business and “producing” the gas.  I’d recommend it if you have no idea about where gas comes from (mostly from the Gulf of Mexico and Canada) and how it is transported (in pipelines powered by huge compressor stations). 

Thanks to Mundane_Joy for the picture. 

Urgent vs Important

Seth Godin has an article on his blog about urgent vs. important. For the most part, I think he is right on the money. Below are some excerpts:

There are two ways to catch a plane. The first, which happens to be the most common, is to leave on time, do your best to park nearby, repeatedly glance at your watch, and then start moving faster and faster. By the time you get to security, you realize that you're quite late, so you cut the line ("My plane leaves in 10 minutes!" you shout). You walk fast. As you get closer to your gate, you realize that walking fast isn't going to work, so you start to jog. Three gates away, you break into a run, and if you're lucky, you barely make the flight.

The second way is to leave for the airport 10 minutes early.

How can you tell if you're too obsessed with urgent?

Do senior people at your company refuse to involve themselves in decisions until the last minute?

Do meetings regularly get canceled because something else came up?

Is waiting until the last minute the easiest way to get a final decision from your

I don't know about you, but I can answer those questions in the afirmative.


One of my co-workers recently had a baby. I thought I would post this here (with permission) so everyone could enjoy. I sent him the URL, so if you want to congratulate him, leave him a message in the comments.

For those of you into this sort of thing, here are the stats: born at 2:18pm (21 hrs labor) 7lbs 10oz, 20.5 inches


Dr. Rankin

Every Wednesday, the IMB has chapel. Occsionally, there is a special chapel service where new employees are introduced, terms of service are recognized, etc…. Today was one of those services. As a new employee I was introduced, stood up, everyone applauded, etc…. Afterwards, I hung around to speak with some people and meet new people. Well, while I was standing there, I turned around and was face to face with Dr. Rankin. If you don't know, he is the President of the IMB. (If you want, you can find out more information about him here at the IMB website.)

We made some small talk. He mentioned that it was good to have me there. I said it was good to be there. Standard stuff. However, combined with what he said in chapel, his past, etc…, this came across as very nice and real. Here is a guy who has TONS of stuff to do–remember, the SBC annual meeting is coming up–and he takes time to show up at chapel. But not only that…he makes time afterwards to make conversation. That meant something to me. It gave me a feeling I never had at NiSource about the CEO there.

NiSource Outsourcing

Even though I have left NiSource, I still want to keep up on the outsourcing so I talk to friends regularly. I have heard that IBM has started the interview process. Of course, all the company says is some people will stay NiSource, some will be rebadged, and others will loose their jobs.

At the outset of the project, the employees were supposed to know by the end of May what was going to happen. Well, that has been pushed back to the end of June.

Good luck to all at NiSource!

Bye Email

I sent this e-mail out to my coworkers today at NiSource:

Well, with so many people to say bye to, I know I'll miss someone…feel free to pass this along to anyone you wish.

I have only been here for 5 years, but in those five years I have interacted with many people and learned many different things. Thank you to everyone who put up with my learning curve and the barrage of questions. I will treasure the experiences and friendships I have had at Columbia/NiSource and would like to keep up with everyone.

My personal e-mail address will always be My current address and phone number can always be found at I have started a blog and will do my best to keep it up to date. If you want to read it, the URL is Yes, it has an RSS feed: I would like to keep up with everyone. Part of how I do that is through Christmas cards. If you want to be included on my list, send me an e-mail with your address (don't reply back to this e-mail…I won't get it).

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Moving Day at the Maxson’s

Yesterday, the movers came and packed everything we hadn't already (we packed books, sheets, etc…). When I got home from work, the house was full of boxes! Today, the driver came and loaded the truck. Our delivery in Richmond will occur 21 May (Saturday). Cyndi took pictures post pack. I'll be posting those once we get to Richmond and have a computer and Internet connection available.

More On NiSource Outsourcing

Well, it looks like Gary Neale is leaving NiSource as CEO right before the "big" outsourcing announcement–the one where the NiSource and IBM will announce exactly what will be outsourced. Here is a link to the announcement on the NiSource Investor Relations site.

NiSource Inc. announced today that, effective July 1, 2005, Robert C. Skaggs, Jr., NiSource President, will assume the additional responsibilities as NiSource Chief Executive Officer. Skaggs will succeed Gary L. Neale who will retire June 30, 2005 as CEO, but will continue to serve as Chairman of the NiSource Board of Directors.

OutSourcing Date @ NiSource Pushed Back

According to this article, the rumours about "the date" being pushed back are true.

"We are in due diligence and contract negotiations to decide what really gets outsourced, who gets rebadged, what happens, where will the investments be made," NiSource Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Neale told shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

By mid-June, NiSource should be announcing some details of the plans, Neale said.