Lifeguard for Life (NY Times)

Lifeguard NYTimes

Think being a Southern California lifeguard is all fun and dames? Not according to James Birdsell, a 28 year lifeguard veteran from San Diego. He told his story to Matt Villano for the Preoccupations column of the Jobs section of the New York Times. Check it out here.

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Monday Morning Motivator – Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders

This is Merlin Mann.

Merlin Mann

He writes a blog called 43 Folders about “Time Attention and Creative Work.” You should read it and then get back to work.

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Teamwork Afloat in the Harvard Business Review


In the September 2008 Harvard Business Review, Mark de Rond wrote an interesting short piece in the Forethought section entitled Lessons from the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race (free article after accepting terms of use) which is derived from his recent book The Last Amateurs: To Hell and Back with the Cambridge Boat Crew Race. Here’s a link to the book blog.

In the HBR article, de Rond writes:

Few environments test the ability of team members to balance competitive and cooperative instincts as well as the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race does… Despite the public spectacle, celebrity treatment, and media circus, the race remains a profound, primal test of individual character in the context of a team. Indeed, the elite oarsmen who win coveted places in Cambridge’s Blue Boat are those who compete most ruthlessly—away from the glare of the cameras—to secure a seat and then collaborate seamlessly with whichever crew members are ultimately selected. How do coaches identify these rare individuals?

de Rond, Reader in Strategy and Organisation and Fellow of Darwin College at the University of Cambridge, explains seat racing, a process used in rowing to identify the most effective crew among a pool of individually qualified and competent candidates. Basically, teams of rowers compete with and against each other as individuals are swapped out after each training race until the most effective team is selected.

He then goes on to suggest a similar application in business.

Business teams aren’t rowing crews, of course, but the same principles of competition and coordination apply. The next time you’re trying to assemble a team, why not have two groups face off on a series of problem-solving challenges, swapping members between the groups until you arrive at an optimal combination? It may seem like a cumbersome exercise, but it could identify your strongest and most cooperative team. Not a bad way to get both oars in the water.

I always find it very valuable when new team members are introduced into problem solving since they often bring new skill sets and perspectives and can challenge the process already underway.  Of course, this has to be balanced against the potential disruption that can occur when you already have a high performing team. But if you are trying to build a team to tackle a tough problem, seat racing may help get you to the finish line before the competition.

Photo credit: crew by emurray on

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Monday Morning Motivator – Everything you need is already inside


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Messing About In Ships Podcast Episode 27

Lou Vest calendar photo Jan 2008 Heather Knutsen - header

(25 minutes)

Download MP3: Messing About In Ships podcast episode 27 (August 3, 2008 )

Subscribe Via iTunes HERE

Shownotes: Messing About In Ships blog

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"Great Encouragement for Seamen" – Then and Now

great encouragement for seaman

Back in 1777, Captain John Paul-Jones placed the above advertisement in the New Hampshire Gazette in an effort to recruit sailors for “The Ship Ranger. Seems that the fledgling US Navy was experience recruiting challenges much in the same way that the world’s merchant fleet is experiencing today, but that’s a story for another post.

Any Gentlemen Volunteers who have a Mind to take an agreeable Voyage in this pleasant Season of the Year, may, by entering on board the above Ship Ranger, meet with every Civility they can possibly expect, and for a further Encouragement depend on the first Opportunity being embraced to reward each one agreeable to his Merit.

Jones almost makes it sound more like a vacation than the harsh realities of life aboard a revolutionary war ship.

navy first call poster

The Ship Ranger is long gone but today another active US Navy war ship is in search of a able bodied seamen. According to the Strategy Page, The US Navy is Seeking Sailing Sailors. Candidates must;

  • Be able to handle going up in the rigging.
  • Have capability to give talks and presentations (to museum visitors).
  • Not been in trouble for drinking in the past 36 months, or have had a drunken driving conviction in the past five years.
  • Not have had financial debt or credit) problems in the past 36 months.
  • Have had above average fitness reports in the last 36 months.
  • Not have excessive, or questionable, tattoos.
  • Be in good physical shape and not overweight.
  • Have passed all physical fitness assessments in the past year, and have not failed more than one physical fitness test in the past four years.
  • Lower ranking sailors (E-3 and below) must be unmarried.

Hmmm? No drinking, tattoos or wives! Sailors who can handle going up in the rigging? What happened to our Navy when I was off watch?

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