In The News: NY Condo Getss ‘Poor Door’

By Inaw Oh from Huffington Post

A controversial plan to have the lower-income residents of a New York City luxury condo go in and out through a separate entrance has officially been given the green light.

The proposal, from the New York-based developer Extell, was approved under a city program meant to incentivize affordable housing, the New York Post reported Sunday. New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development was reportedly the city agency that gave the go-ahead.

The 33-story building, now under construction at 40 Riverside Boulevard on the Upper West Side, will contain 219 luxury units facing the Hudson River. There will also be a segment on floors two through six that will contain 55 street-facing units for the building’s poorer residents. This segment will have its own entrance.

The more affordable units will be given to families of four whose annual income is $51,540 or less — about 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Residents living in the lower-income part of 40 Riverside will be prohibited from using the attractive amenities commonly found in Extell properties, including a gym and a swimming pool.

Extell’s proposal, which has been widely described as a “poor door” policy, was approved under the city’s Inclusionary Housing program, which allows developers to use more square footage than they’d ordinarily be allowed to — provided they set aside some units in their building for affordable housing. For doing so, developers also receive millions in tax breaks.

Gothamist reports that arrangements like the one planned for 40 Riverside are not uncommon in New York.

Still, ever since plans for the separate entrance were revealed last August, city officials and community members have been demanding that Extell officials jettison the policy for a more inclusive one.

“This ‘separate but equal’ arrangement is abominable and has no place in the 21st century, let alone on the Upper West Side,” Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal told the blog West Side Rag last year. “A mandatory affordable housing plan is not license to segregate lower-income tenants from those who are well-off.”

As The New York Times noted in May, minorities and the elderly largely make up the city’s rent-regulated population.

Getting the Same Amount Done in Half the Time

Pomodoro-TechniqueBy Jessica Stillman

A formerly frazzled founder claims he managed to squeeze 40-plus hours of work into just 16.7. Could his system work for you?

What if I told you there’s a way to get exactly the same amount of work you’re now accomplishing done in less than half the time? You’d probably respond that you have some amazing magic beans you’d like to sell me or ask for directions to the unicorn stable.

The idea that some miraculous wrinkle in the time-space continuum exists that can instantly compress your workweek into a more humane duration seems too fabulous to be believed, but entrepreneur Chris Winfield insists that the idea is fact, not fantasy. In a recent post on his site, he relates how he’s developed a system for cramming 40 hours of work into just under 20 hours (a startlingly precise 16.7 hours, to be exact) using nothing fancier than a kitchen timer and his phone’s airplane mode.

He laid out the whole system in detail in a recent post that also explains the genesis of his new approach. If you’re seriously considering giving the system a try, it’s well worth a read in full to get all the finer points, but here’s a basic rundown.

Employ the Pomodoro technique.

There’s nothing radical to Winfield’s first suggestion–the Pomodoro technique, which is simply a fancy term for setting a timer to work in 25-minute sprints of single-minded focus (no Facebook, no popping over to your inbox quickly, etc.) followed by 5 minutes of rest. It has been around (and much recommended) for ages. After every four intervals, called Pomodoros, you’re supposed to take a longer 15-minute break.

It sounds incredibly basic, but Winfield insists that after much monkeying around to find the perfect number of Pomodoros to shoot for in a week, the simple technique radically increased his productivity and his sanity.

“My goal was eight Pomodoros each weekday, for a total of 40 per week. This worked, sort of, but as they say, life happens. Some days I had so many meetings to attend, or my daughter had a recital at school that I didn’t want to miss, and I just couldn’t find fit in eight Pomodoros. It became clear that 40 was my magic weekly number, but I needed to be less rigid with how I approached my workweek,” he says (which also explains the oddly exact time he allots for work in this system: “40 Pomodoros = 1,000 minutes of work (plus 350 minutes of breaks) each week. This averages out to about 16.7 hours of work each week.”)

Choose your tasks wisely. 

The second half of Winfield’s approach, as the quote above suggests, is all about flexibility. To manage to get to his goal of 40 Pomodoros, he found he had to choose his tasks wisely each day, taking into account his mood, physical energy levels, and degree of mental focus.

“The reality is that I’m a human being, living in a world full of other humans. I have emotions I don’t control, and I often get tired. Some tasks I simply don’t feel like doing, even though I know they’re important, and possibly urgent. To make this work long-term, I had to face these things and learn to accept them, working with rather than against them,” he writes. In order to stop fighting his moods, he learned to survey his mental state and find jobs to do that would reverse whatever was ailing him–on low energy days, he’d find tasks that made him feel healthier; if he was sad, he looked for work that would cheer him up.

Truly forget the nine to five.

The last step for Winfield was jettisoning old ideas of when he should work and when he should unwind, so he could better utilize all the hours of the day, not just the ones falling within “normal” work hours.

“The final piece to my puzzle was moving from a five-day work-week, where I had to stop by 5 p.m., to a seven-day work-week, where I could work when it suited me. This took me from 40 to 45 hours available to get my 40 Pomodoros in, to having 168 hours each week. Since I only need 16.7 hours net, that means I only work 10% of my time. What a difference.” he says.

A note for the skeptics

Taken together, these three simple changes meant that Winfield went from working a frazzled 40-plus hour week to getting just as much done in half the time, he claims. Though there is a pretty hefty caveat: He doesn’t count meetings and calls within those 16.7 hours of work.

His bottom line: “I ‘work’ 35 to 40 hours a week, but I spend at least 20 to 25 of those hours on calls, meetings, networking online and offline, and other less-focused tasks. These are important, but I don’t count them as work time. I truly work 16.7 hours each week, and I get about five times more done in those few hours than in the other 25 hours.”

So that incredible 16.7 hour number does take a little word-choice wizardry to make a reality, but whether the final tally of hours worked is a little tarted up or not, Winfield insists he’s a far saner man for his system–having whittled an overwhelming 60-hour workweek down to a healthier and more manageable schedule.

Spending Time With Your Employees

By Jessica Stillman

A new survey claims to have found the perfect balance point between neglect and micromanagement.

Leadership is a balancing act. Spending timePlenty of experts and studies note that the best route to empowered, engaged employees is to trust them and leave them alone. But weighed against this minimalist management approach, another small army of advisors repeatedly tells managers that their team crave feedback, appreciation and guidance. So what’s a confused entrepreneur to do? How can you find that sweet spot between outright neglect and annoying micromanagement?

A massive new study of more than 30,000 American and Canadian employees, executives and middle managers claims to have found a definitive answer to this tricky question. The magic number according to the survey from research firm Leadership IQ: six hours per employee per week.

More Is Better… Up to a Point

The results show that almost half of us spend less than three hours a week with our bosses. They also show that increasing that amount of contact has some serious benefits–at least up to a point. Take inspiration for example. “We found that their inspiration increases significantly every hour [employees] spend interacting with their leader, up to six hours,” says the study report. Moving from one to six hours weekly contact with the boss increased employee inspiration by 29 percent, but after six hours inspiration actually started to take a hit.

Other questions around engagement, innovation and motivation found similar patterns. Six is the sweet spot, so that the more time teams spent with their leaders up to that point the better, but beyond that, time with the boss hurt rather than helped. Even more startling than the consistency of these findings, perhaps, is the fact that they seem to hold no matter how much people actually like their boss.

For people “who do not feel positive about their leader (they feel like their leader does not value their work), the more time they spend interacting with their leader, the more inspired they feel,” claims the report. “Essentially, even after controlling for peoples’ feelings about their leader, these findings show a robust relationship between time spent interacting with one’s leader and increased inspiration.”


So what are the takeaways here beyond the obvious nudge to leaders to get a bit more hands on if they’re currently falling short of the six hours a week mark? Leadership IQ CEO Mark Murphy offered a few to Fast Company:

  • Telecommuting can work. The study findings that there are diminishing returns to more and more face time supports the idea that part-time telecommuting shouldn’t ding innovation or engagement. “There really is a point of diminishing returns here,” Murphy said. “Sitting with the boss for 20 hours a week doesn’t help.”
  • You can’t truly manage more than seven people. “You can have 50 employees, but you’re not really managing 50 employees. You can monitor them, but you can’t really manage them. There are limits on span of control,” Murphy claims.
  • You can wrack up six hours in a variety of ways. The study counted phone calls, face time and even emails from the boss as time spent together, so there’s no need to think that you have to to formally schedule this exact amount of time with each employee each week. In fact, that might be a little weird. “If you try to instantly go from zero to six, it’s kind of hard,” Murphy said. He recommends having “one really good, meaningful conversation this week” to get started.

How many hours a week are you spending with your employees?

Bored at Work? Good

By Jessica Stillman

Studies show that in moderate doses boredom actually has a big upside.

These days there are more options than ever to avoid ever feeling truly bored. Got five minutes to spare? Whip out your phone for some gaming or trawl through Twitter. Have a bit more time? Thanks to the wonders of tech you can download your favorite music or TV show in minutes and fill the gap.

At first blush that sounds like a great thing. Who likes being bored, after all? But according to psychologists, if you’re keeping yourself perpetually engaged, you may be missing out on the benefits of boredom–yup, you heard that right, boredom, it turns out, is actually good for us.

The Benefits of Boredom

How? Idle brains, scientists have found, aren’t just a source of pointless pain. Being bored actually signals to the mind that you’re in need of fresh ideas and spurs creative thinking.

Researchers recently confirmed the counter-intuitive creativity-boosting effects of boredom by subjecting one group of study participants to the mind-numbing task of copying out the telephone book for 15 minutes. After attaining a state of utter boredom in this manner, the study subjects were then given a standard test of creativity in which they needed to come up with as many uses as possible for a common household item (in this case a plastic cup). Their results were compared to those of a control group that hadn’t been pre-tormented with boredom. The telephone book copiers, it turns out, were more creative.

A follow-up study compared those who given passive but boring tasks (just reading the phone book, i.e. the rough equivalent of hearing someone drone on stultifyingly at a meeting) to those completing the original active but boring task of writing out telephone numbers. Boredom plus daydreaming while passively bored, the psychologists discovered, was an even greater productivity boost (may that be some comfort to you during your next interminable meeting).

PsyBlog points out that writers have long known about and exploited this reality, offering a quote from comedy writer Graham Linehan as an illustration: “I have to use all these programs that cut off the internet, force me to be bored, because being bored is an essential part of writing, and the internet has made it very hard to be bored. The creative process requires a period of boredom, of being stuck.”

The Takeaway for Bosses

The author of the telephone book study, Dr Sandi Mann, commented that “boredom at work has always been seen as something to be eliminated, but perhaps we should be embracing it in order to enhance our creativity.”

Bosses, she notes, who demand constant busyness may actually be inadvertently denting their team’s creativity. “Employers, who are under the misguided notion that boredom is a problem to be eliminated in the workplace through increased activities and tasks, should look to embrace it in order to enhance employee creativity,” she advises.

Are you going overboard with your efforts to eliminate boredom?

In The News…

HOA forces suburban farmer to give away hemp plants

A homeowner in Denver, Colo., has been forced to shut down his hemp-growing operation after the homeowners association at Todd Creek Farms found him to be in violation of several community rules. Jim Denny failed to notify the HOA of his landscaping changes and his plans to sell his product, which breaches the association’s ban on home businesses. Westword (Denver) (7/2) 


Veteran, HOA may go to court over flag in flower pot

The homeowners association of the Tides at Sweetwater in Jacksonville, Fla., is demanding a 73-year-old veteran remove a 17-inch-by-12-inch American flag planted in a flower pot on his front porch, but the resident says he has no plans of taking it down and may even take the issue to court for the second time. The association’s documents state that flags must be flown on brackets and hung, and flower pots must only hold plants. San Francisco Chronicle (free content)/Associated Press (7/3)


South Carolina homeowners want laws regulating HOAs

South Carolina is home to 6,400 HOAs, according to the Foundation for Community Association Research, and officials throughout the state say that letters, calls and emails from dissatisfied homeowners are a near constant. They don’t come in a flood, say people in state and local governments, but you can count on them every week or month or so.  The writers want to eliminate what they see as unresolved problems in their developments and to rein in what they feel are out-of-control HOA boards and declarants, as developers are known legally.  There ought to be laws to help them out, they say. The State (Columbia, S.C.)/The Sun (7/6) 


Condo insurance for owners

Condo insurance differs from renters’ insurance and homeowners’ insurance in the way it deals with responsibility for the building’s structure and certain interior components. Make sure that between the complex’s master policy and your unit-owner’s policy, you’re fully protected but not over-insured. Investopedia (7/3)


HOA life: Being labeled as a complainer

Clete Linke doesn’t mind at all that some of those in charge at Waterford Plantation label him a complainer. “I’m a complainer when I’m not treated fairly,” he said. A resident of the subdivision for about four years, Linke not only takes on issues for himself, but for other residents as well. He’s taken on a variety of issues in the past, ranging from the lack of circulating fountains in some of the development’s lakes to sidewalks that aren’t built across common property, to the legal authority of some who have been in charge The State (Columbia, S.C.)/The Sun (7/6) 


How Satisfied Are Homeowners?

survey pic

The Foundation for Community Association Research recently published a survey that explores community association resident satisfaction.  The survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, in March and April of 2014 showed that almost two-thirds community association residents rated their association experience as positive.  26 percent were neutral, and only 10 percent expressed some level of dissatisfaction. 

The homeowner survey also inquired about board member and community manager service, disagreement issues, assessments and more.  See what Tom A. Skiba, CAE, chief executive officer of the Foundation for Community Association Research, had to say about the survey here.  You can also download the free, compiled results here.

The Foundation for Community Association Research provides authoritative research and analysis on community association trends, issues and operations. Its mission is to inspire successful and sustainable communities. Visit

How to Win at Wokplace Conflict

by Jeffrey Pfeffer

No matter how sound or well-intentioned your ideas, there will always be people inside — and outside — your organization who are going to oppose you. Getting things done often means that you’re going to go head to head with people who have competing agendas. In my career studying organizational behavior, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing some incredibly effective conflict management techniques. I’ve distilled a few of them into some rules for dealing with organizational conflict:

1. Stay focused on the most essential objectives.

It’s easy to become aggravated by other people’s actions and forget what you were trying to achieve in the first place. Here we can learn a lesson from Rudy Crew, a former leader in the New York City and Miami-Dade County schools.

When Crew was verbally attacked by Representative Rafael Arza, a Florida legislator, who used one of the nastiest racial slurs to describe Crew, an African-American, Crew filed a complaint with the legislature but then essentially went on with his work. As he told me at the time, a significant fraction of the Miami schoolchildren were not reading at grade level. Responding to every nasty comment could become a full time job but, more importantly, would do nothing to improve the school district’s performance. Arza was eventually expelled from the legislature. Crew’s takeway? Figure out: “what does winning look like?” If the conflict were over and you found that you had won, what would that look like? Which leads to the second rule…

2. Don’t fight over things that don’t matter.

For a while, Dr. Laura Esserman, a breast cancer surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and a leader of fundamental change in breast cancer treatment and research, was sponsoring a digital mammography van to serve poor women in San Francisco. The sponsorship was taking a lot of time and effort — she’d had trouble raising money for the service after the Komen Foundation had reneged on a pledge of support. Her department chair was worried about the department’s budget and why a department of surgery was running a radiology service. The hospital CFO was not interested in funding a mammography service that would generate unreimbursed care while the university was raising debt to build a new campus. And Esserman herself did not (and does not) believe that mammography was the way forward for improving breast cancer outcomes. After figuring out that sponsoring the mamo-van was absorbing disproportionate effort and creating unnecessary conflict with important people inside UCSF, Esserman offloaded the van. It smoothed the relationship with her boss and allowed her to focus on higher-leverage activities.

3. Build an empathetic understanding of others’ points of view.

As the previous example illustrates, sometimes people fight over personalities, but often they have a reason for being in conflict. It helps to understand what others’ objectives and measures are, which requires looking at the world through their eyes. Don’t presume evil or malevolent intent. For example, an ongoing struggle in the software industry has centered around when to release a product. Engineers often want to delay a product release in the pursuit of perfection, because the final product speaks to the quality of their work. Sales executives, on the other hand, are rewarded for generating revenue. It’s therefore in their best interest to sell first and fix second. Each is pursuing reasonable interests consistent with their rewards and professional training — not intentionally trying to be difficult.

4. Adhere to the old adage: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

The late President Lyndon Johnson had a difficult relationship with the always-dangerous (because he had secret files on everybody) FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover. When asked why he spent time talking to Hoover and massaging his ego, Johnson was quoted as saying: “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” This is tough advice to follow, because people naturally like pleasant interactions and seek to avoid discomfort. Consequently, we tend to shun those with whom we’re having disagreements. Bad idea. You cannot know what others are thinking or doing if you don’t engage with them.

5. Use humor to defuse difficult situations.

When Ronald Reagan ran for president of the United States, he was (at the time) the oldest person to have ever been a candidate for that office. During the October 21, 1984 Kansas City debate with the democratic candidate, Walter Mondale, one of the questioners asked Reagan if he thought age would be an issue in the upcoming election. His reply? “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

Let’s face it: you’re going to have conflict in the workplace. It’s unavoidable. But if you keep these simple — albeit difficult to act on – rules in mind, you’ll learn to navigate conflict more productively.


What to Do When You’re Overloaded

By Kevin Daum @Awesomeroar

Too much on your plate again? Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Here are some quick tips to help free you from the workload.

Trying to grow companies is hard work. Rarely are there enough resources and no matter how late or hard you work there is always more to be done. Big projects can often mask the load because they draw focus. But when you get over the hump on a major initiative you can find yourself with an overwhelming amount of work that got pushed aside. That’s when the workload can just feel debilitating.

No need to panic. You can dig yourself out of almost any hole if you keep your wits about you. If you clear away mounds of work in a short time, you’ll feel re-energized and ready to create new opportunities. You can systematically reduce your workload with a little thought and organization. Start with a positive attitude and make a list of everything on your plate. Then take a deep breath and use these tips to attack the mountain of work ahead.

1. Eliminate unimportant projects. Does everything on the list really need to be done? Often we have tasks on our list that are only nice to have, or perhaps are legacy tasks that are no longer important or applicable to our success path. Go through the list and rank items of critical importance from 1 to 5. Take all of the 5s off your list and focus on the 1s and 2s. You can always move an item back on the list when it becomes useful or crucial.

2. Minimize steps. Often people make tasks more complicated then they need to be. Most of the time this happens either because the task hasn’t been carefully planned or because the way it’s been done in the past hasn’t been reassessed and updated. Examine each task on the list as if it were brand new and write out a simple 5-step completion process for each one. Most likely you’ll simplify the process on several tasks and free up some of your time.

3. Move out deadlines. It may seem like everything needs to be done right now, and it probably does. But in truth, everything can’t happen simultaneously. Set your list on a timeline identifying requirements to get started, so you can see which tasks are inter-dependent and then determine how long they will actually take. Now you can prioritize and calendar each item. This process will help set priorities and eliminate inefficiencies and wait times.

4. Outsource some tasks. Part of what builds your overload is keeping everything on your plate when someone else could do much of it more effectively. Go through your list and mark the items that could actually be done in whole or in part by someone other than you. Whether you delegate to an employee, farm out to a firm, or bring in an independent expert, you are bound to free up time and mental space by being the supervisor rather than the doer. There may be some learning curve to get outsourcers up to speed, but once someone learns to handle the task, it should stay off your desk for good.

5. Involve the team. You don’t have to do everything alone. You hired employees and took on partners so your company could become more than the sum of the parts. Use the brains and hands of those around you to support the effort efficiently. Set up an efficacy meeting. Have people on the team use this article to get their own list trimmed and prioritized. Then you all can share your lists and spend a little time on how to get all the tasks done as a group. You’ll be able to reposition tasks to the most appropriate people, establish accountability and eliminate redundancy. The added emotional support from the team will make completing the tasks more fun as well.

6. Run a marathon. Going back and forth from task to task can make completion take twice as much time. The best and most efficient work happens with focused attention. Clear your desks for 48 hours. Move your meetings, and reduce your communication as if you were going on vacation. Now schedule as much of your list as possible for that 48-hour marathon. Put yourself in a comfortable work environment and attack all the tasks that require serious brainwork, writing, number-crunching, strategy or whatever demands deep thought.

7. Take a breather. Each of these tips should help lighten the load, but when all is said and done your list will still probably big and possibly insurmountable. Such is the reality of fast growth companies. There is always a new product to launch, a competitor to crush, and an investor to please. But you as a leader must be in control if you are going to succeed. So make sure that no matter how big and pressing your workload, you take the time to rest your body and your brain. That way you’ll be in your most productive and efficient mode so you can perform at your best. Most importantly you’ll eliminate careless mistakes that add more tasks to your already heavy workload.

CAI Honors CAMICB Board Members

Two current members of the CAMICB Board of Commissioners were honored at the recently completed Community Associations Institute (CAI) annual conference. CAMICB Board Chair Rob Felix, CMCA, LSM, PCAM, RS received the CAI Award of Excellence in Designations. Board member Jeevan J. D’Mello, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM was honored with CAI’s President’s Award.

A national leader in the community association industry for more than 20 years, Rob Felix, with Innovia/CMC, has laid the foundation for countless managers on their journey toward earning CAI designations. He teaches and speaks extensively around the country for CAI and has been a lead CAI faculty member for many years, including service as chair of the Faculty Review Panel and the current faculty training leader. He chairs both the CAMICB Board of Commissioners and the CAMICB Exam Development Committee.

Jeevan D’Mello is senior director of Emaar Community Management LLC, AAMC, which is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. D’Mello was among the first managers in the Middle East to earn CAI designations and helped introduce CAI’s professional development courses to community managers in the Middle East. D’Mello also was instrumental in establishing a CAI presence in Dubai. The President’s Award is given at the discretion of CAI’s sitting president to an individual who has displayed exemplary service and commitment to CAI and who has been instrumental helping the president achieve CAI’s goals. D’Mello was recognized by immediate past CAI President Dennis Abbott, CMCA, AMS, PCAM.