How to Buy a New PC

Buying a new PC can be scary – a wrong decision can saddle you with a PC that does not meet your needs for the next 3-4 years. So how can you choose one that works for you?

The screen on my beloved laptop, long in tooth at 4 ½ years old started failing seriously and progressively 10 days ago. So I did my shopping on the web and ordered my new PC, which I am now using. Here’s what I did:

I created a spreadsheet with potential computer models down the left side as row titles, and the various attributes as column headers. The column titles were:

· CPU speed (available from PassMark) – faster is better. An Intel Core i3 can be faster than an Intel Core i5, depending on generation, etc. For example, an Intel Core i3-8130U is rated at 5080, while an Intel Core i5-4300U is rated at 3739 (and an Intel Core i5-4300M is rated at 4411). Checking speeds is easy – just google http://www.passmark.com intel core-i3-8130U. Clock speed doesn’t necessarily matter – a 2.2GHz chip is not necessarily better than a 1.7GHz chip.

· Disk (hard disk or solid state – I decided that I’d rather have a Solid State Disk drive rather than a traditional hard drive (with rotating disk). Solid state disks make a computer much faster and more responsive, although they’re more expensive

· Memory – I wanted at least 8 gig, again for speed

· Battery life – (sometimes this information was not available)

· DVD/CD Drive – some newer models don’t have DVD/CD drives. But that’s how some of my software would need to be loaded, so I needed that drive

· HDMI port – I need that to connect to my monitor; it has superior picture quality compared to VGA. My new laptop has a Thunderbolt port, so I bought an HDMI adapter pigtail for it which I will leave permanently attached.

· Refurbished/New – I wound up getting a much more powerful computer refurbished. I have had other refurbished laptops that ran very well for years.

· Warranty – since I got a refurbished laptop, I bought a 3-year warranty from Square Deal.

· Price

· Vendor (the retailer you’re buying from)

You can also get laptop brand ratings from Laptop magazine online, to check the brand you’re considering.

My new (refurbished) system is a screamer, with an Intel Core i7-4800MQ rated at 8497 and 500 g of solid state disk. And it was under $500 (plus $79 for a 3 year warranty); it originally retailed for $1300-$2000. If you’d like, I’ll tell you what I actually bought.

PS – I have an external hard drive attached to my laptop whenever I’m in my office, backing up my system continuously. I STRONGLY encourage you to do the same, just in case your hard drive crashes.

PPS – for this column, I let my inner geek out to play. Yes, I do have a quantitative side as well J


You’re Here to Work, Not Play!

“You’re here to work, not to play!” my boss scowled when I cracked a joke or laughed in one organization. I’ve also worked in organizations where people laughed and joked as they worked.

My experience has been that when people are laser focused on the task at hand, they do indeed accomplish that task. But they are not as creative – their focus prevents them from thinking outside of the parameters of the problems that they’re trying to solve. And while they can take pride in their tangible accomplishments (one more deadline met), they lack deeper connectedness to their team and their organization. They feel more like human cogs in a big machine, where their worth is measured solely by their output. They don’t try to go above and beyond.

By contrast, when people are relaxed enough to laugh with each other, their creativity is unleashed. They come up with novel ideas. These workers also know how to meet deadlines, and laugh together as they do so. They’re part of a team. They make work fun. And in the long run, I think they get more done.

Does this matter? Which organization style do you think will be able to attract and retain the best workers? Which organization style do you think will produce better results?

What has been your experience?

Gary Langenwalter

Inspiration Does NOT Matter!

I’ve deliberately sought to be inspired as I’ve worked, because I’ve believed that the work I do when I’m inspired will be higher quality than the work I do when I’m NOT inspired. And yet, my own experience strongly suggests that there is no direct correlation between inspiration and quality.

My major form of production is writing. I’ve written 3 reference books, 3 CPE courses, countless proposals and reports, and 350 sermons. And some of the time I’ve been really inspired – the keyboard has been smoking as I poured forth inspired words of wisdom, explanation, insight, etc. Reading those words later, I have thought that they were really good! However, they still required some editing.

At other times I have been completely uninspired, flat, blah, when I have had to write to meet deadlines. So I’ve just gutted it out and written what needed to be written. Those writings tended to require more editing before they could be released.


3 months later, when I read documents that were written while I was on fire with inspiration, and documents written when I was so flat I could hardly write a word – I can not tell any difference in the quality. The uninspired writings are just as good as the inspired ones. This has been consistently true through many manuscripts.

What’s the take away? I no longer worry that my writings when I’m uninspired will be lower quality – I just leave some additional time for the extra editing. I still find that writing when I’m inspired is more rewarding.

Could this be generalized to other activities as well? Does this work for you? What do you think?

PS – Since I was inspired as I wrote this, it took about 25 minutes. I spent another 25 minutes editing a day later.

Gary Langenwalter

Summer Treat, formatted

Here’s a summer treat, reformatted for easier reading

My-rish Blessing

Words & Music by Joy Zimmerman

May your cats have no more furballs

May your basements all stay dry

May your joints remain stable

May you eat some humble pie


May you dance and go on roadtrips

May your allergies go away

May you sometimes surprise yourself

May gratitude light your way


May you have a lot of picnics

May you sleep to the sound of rain

May the squirrels not eat your birdseed

May regrets not cause you pain


May you renew your license easily

May you let someone else win

May you sometimes surprise yourself

Be brave and kind again

Be brave and kind again


Last Friday evening, my wife and I were privileged to hear Joy Zimmerman, from Kansas, play acoustic guitar and sing. We were in a wine-tasting room outside McMinnville, watching the sun slowly set. Joy created an atmosphere of peace, well-being, and hope.

May you have a wonderful summer.

Gary Langenwalter

Retain Your Best and Brightest #2

Following up on last week’s blog, if you want to retain (and attract) the best and brightest, you need to lead the pack as far as being the employer of choice in your area. Here’s a very unconventional suggestion:

1. Ask your employees why they work for your organization. You can use a combination of various means, for example:

· anonymous surveys (e.g. Survey Monkey),

· one-on-one meetings,

· an outside agency, and/or

· Glass Door.

They each have their pros and cons. The most important aspect of any of these is to listen to what’s really being said, underneath the words. Watch the body language, listen for the tone of voice, hear the pauses and subtle nuances in phrasing, pay attention to Freudian slips, and pay especial attention to jokes (which often hide a truth that the speaker does not want to say directly).

2. Then ask your employees what they’d like to see changed so that they would wholeheartedly recommend your organization to a close friend. And again, listen.

3. Then, DO SOMETHING with the information that your employees have entrusted to you. At the very least, let them know the results of the survey – good, bad, and indifferent. When you do, you will reinforce their trust However, if you don’t, they will feel that you have just disrespected them in a very important way, and you will damage morale. So be prepared to be transparent with your survey results and your follow-up actions.

Let me add a shameless commercial plug at this point – check out Vantage Point, an organizational health survey. I’m one of the creators. However, an OD consultant with decades of experience has said that it’s the best survey he’s ever seen. You can see more at https://synermetric.com/products/vantage-point


Retain Your Best and Brightest, #1

As the job market tightens up, your best and brightest will have opportunities to move to other employers. Conversely, if you’re an employer of choice, you can cherry-pick the best and brightest from other organizations, including your competitors.

Why would someone choose to work in your organization, compared to other organizations?

It’s not primarily for pay, although that may be the reason people give during their exit interviews.

Reason #1 – they want to feel respected and valued. We have a young friend who will change employers the first decent chance he gets because his current boss jerks him around and does not respect him. He left his former employer because his original boss left the company, and his new boss was a micro-manager.

This is especially true for Gen Z. WeSpire has just published a white paper titled 15 Critical Insights into Gen Z, Purpose and the Future of Work. Among the findings:

· They prioritize purpose over money

· They need to be proud of their organization

o Equality and environment are vitally important

· They want authenticity

· They are motivated by meaningful work

How well does your organization do on these factors?

You can get download the paper at :https://www.wespire.com/resource/15-critical-insights-into-gen-z-purpose-and-the-future-of-work/

Look for Retain Your Best and Brightest, #2, next week

Hope you have an authentic, meaningful day at work,


What’s Your Story?

Our stories define us. We relate to each other with our stories. In our stories, we are parents, single or married or divorced, sports enthusiasts, working or looking for work or retired, etc. The collection of many stories serves as our gyroscope. They keep us centered and grounded.

Organizations also have stories. Not just the ones on the web, but the ones inside, in the culture. And they likewise serve as the organization’s gyroscope. That’s why organization change is so challenging. Because to successfully change the organization, we have to change the gyroscope, the stories, the cultural expectation. We do that by changing the stories.

What are the stories that underpin your company? What are the stories that guide the culture in your department? Are they stories of courage, of greatness? Of going above and beyond? Of developing a new product or service that made a difference in people’s lives? If not, what would it take to get some?

If your organization has become mostly ho-hum, same-old same-old, let me ask you a question. What would happen if you called a organization-wide or department-wide meeting and asked each person to come back in one week with one idea about how you all could use your organization’s products and services to make a substantial difference in people’s lives. Then the group will pick the top 1-2 ideas and start to implement them. And then watch what happens. Watch what happens to your stories, your gyroscope. Watch what happens to the energy level and the excitement of your people.

(Of course, you should get top management’s buy-in before you start this journey. But, if done properly, it should require minimal investment.)

Please let me know what happens.

Gary Langenwalter

Just Do It!

“Just Do It!” is an antidote to procrastination. One cause of procrastination is trying to ensure that we expend resources most wisely – to not make a mistake. But trying to decide between two disparate choices can lead to paralysis by analysis – not being able to decide which is the better choice. So instead of making a decision and potentially being “wrong” about our choice, we delay. And we beat ourselves up because we couldn’t decide, and we’re not achieving results. This just increases the pressure to decide without adding any information to help us make our decision.

There is an alternative. When I am teaching high performing teams about fishbone diagrams and the 5 whys, I tell them that it doesn’t matter very much which fishbone they choose to go down – the other paths will still be there when they’re done with their first choice. The same is true for most other choices – there is frequently no “wrong” choice – just the question of which one we work on first. The others will still be there.

The root of the word “decide” is Latin, meaning “kill” – it is also the root for “homicide”. In deciding, we are “killing” all the alternatives that we did not choose. So the fear of making a bad decision is natural, especially if we have been criticized for our decisions previously. However, in many cases, the choices are neither right nor wrong – they are just choices. For example, when you visit an ice cream shop – do you want chocaholic’s delight, or wild huckleberry, or toffee butter pecan, or any of the other delicious flavors? Whatever you choose, you will enjoy. The others will be there the next time you visit the shop.

Suggestion – instead of “deciding” (which means killing the non-chosen alternatives), can you “choose” instead? Whether you “decide” or “choose”, you are indeed selecting one alternative over all others. The difference is psychological. Choosing does not have to carry irrevocability as its sub-meaning. To me, “choose” seems more like I am selecting that which aligns most closely with my values. No matter which term you use, select an alternative. Then do it. Then observe what happens to your energy level as you make progress because you chose to take action. So, perhaps the “real” choice is this: action and results and feeling good about yourself, or analysis paralysis and feeling bad about yourself. Your choice J

I’d welcome your feedback.

Gary Langenwalter

Ultimate Icebreaker – Secret Santa

“Who was your hero when you were 8?” Typical icebreaker question – right? And these are fine when members of a group don’t know each other. Safely superficial. Anything deeper would be inappropriate – too personal, too soon. But what kind of icebreaker can help a team go deeper and increase their trust when they already know each other? Here’s one we got from a client recently.

Secret Santa Icebreaker

A day or more before the team meets, write each team member’s name on separate pieces of paper and put them in a hat/bowl/jar. Have each person draw one name (if they draw their own, they draw again) – this is their “honoree”

Each person writes a short complementary paragraph or two about their honoree. Only positives! Topics potentially include:

· what they have learned from the honoree,

· what they admire about the honoree,

· how the honoree has had a positive impact on the team or organization,

· some skill the honoree possesses that others do not,

· an outstanding accomplishment of the honoree,

· etc.

At the start of the meeting, each team member honors their honoree in front of the entire team, one at a time. Rather than using 3rd person (“Jim really helped me when…”), the speaker talks directly to their honoree’s face, using “you” language (“Jim, you really helped me when…”)

This process was suggested by an introvert, who did well in both giving and receiving complements publicly.

Let me know how it works for you.

Gary Langenwalter

You Are Whole!

YOU ARE INHERENTLY WHOLE! In this context, “whole” means complete, fully integrated, not lacking anything. A coach assumes that each person has the innate knowledge, wisdom, and power to

· ask and answer the deep questions,

· face and embrace their shadow side, and

· be the gift to the world that the world desperately needs, and that their soul wants them to be.

In this model, the coach lets the client do the heavy lifting, because that’s the only way that healthy, lasting change will happen. And that is the only way to empower the client, to help them realize how powerful they are so that they can reach their full potential. The coach journeys beside the client, rather than carrying them. The coach provides a safe place for the client to examine their assumptions about life, and helps them ask questions that they might not otherwise ask. The coach encourages the client to face the pain and work through it, rather than avoid it. The coach helps the client see him or herself as he/she truly is.

The coach helps the client see that the client’s limitations do not, in any way, make the client less creative, resourceful, and whole. In fact, the limitations might turn out to be blessings in disguise! In all cases, the coach is a powerful, steadfast stand for the client’s health and well-being – the coach sees the client as fully human, and the coach sees who the client can be, at his or her best: fully powerful and fully engaged in the world.

The Coaches Training Institute teaches us that each client is Creative, Resourceful, and Whole. My previous 2 blogs covered Creative and Resourceful. I hope this has helped you on your journey and that it will help you help others on theirs.

Gary Langenwalter