Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Controlling Fear

Brad Isaac has put together a good list of 10 ways to control fear.

One of the fascinating aspects of fear is its ability to affect people in different ways: The combat veteran who is afraid of delivering a speech. The trial attorney who is afraid of giving a deposition. The decorated police officer who is afraid of being on television.

This also says, of course, that there are different types of courage. I recall a story of a Civil War soldier who would stay in line until the bullets began to fly and then run away. The rest of his unit never mocked him because he always returned and was always in the front ranks for the next battle where he would do the same thing again. The author of the story, which was true, reflected that the man may have been one of the bravest in the regiment because he was willing to face his fear time after time.

Where the Already Haves Get Even More

Once you are nominated for an Oscar or slated to present one, the loot just keeps rolling in.

Details here.

[Via AdFreak.com ]

Show Biz Secrets

Rob Long is one of the funniest writers out there on the subject of show biz, possibly because you sense that much of what he's joking about isn't a joke.

Catch this article about his latest venture and don't miss his regular column in National Review.

[HT: Cathy's World ]

Customer Service: Don't Just Apologize, Offer Something

Notice what this excerpt from a CareerJournal article on customer service doesn't say:

While observing the employees at work over several weeks, they noted that about 10% of the team didn't follow scripts but resolved many problems in one call, sometimes selling customers a new service as well. These customer reps were able to use their knowledge of the company's products and listening skills to find solutions.

Average performers "apologized a lot to customers about what they couldn't do, while the high performers always offered something," Ms. Grayson adds. When scheduling a repair person to make a house call, for instance, the high performers would say, "I can't get you anyone on Friday, but I'm making this appointment for Monday -- and meanwhile I'll put you on a waiting list for Friday, so give me a cellphone number where you can be reached if something opens up."

It doesn't say: We'll be there between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. so just hang around until someone appears.

Satisfactory Answers?

One of the first steps in achieving excellent management is to check ourselves out.

Do you have a satisfactory answer if any of the following questions pertain to you?

  • You have a problem with your co-worker. Why haven’t you talked to the person about it?
  • You know you have an incorrigibly abrasive person working for you. Why haven’t you fired him?
  • You know a team member is being ostracized. What real action have you taken to ensure that person is brought into the team?
  • You have just hired a person. Have you given that person a serious orientation?
  • Your organization claims it hires on merit. Why are you giving preferences based on race, sex or national origin?
  • You think your marketing people may be misleading customers. Why haven’t you tried to change that?
  • You know that upper management routinely discounts the efforts of a peer who is doing extraordinary work. What have you done to help that person?
  • One of your best people has turned in a letter of resignation. What are you doing to convince that person to stay?

Did Blondes Have More Fun?

A report on whether the popularity of blondes goes back to the cavewoman days.

[Via Arts & Letters Daily]

Melting Dragon?

Will China melt down?

Tyler Cowen thinks so.

[Via www.thestalwart.com ]

Close Shave?

Solid evidence that there is a blog on absolutely everything.

Click here.

Cheap Thrills Department

The Anna Nicole Smith case will be heard at the U.S. Supreme Court today.

CNN described the touching romance that started it all:

Smith married the oil tycoon in 1994 when he was 89 and she was a 26-year-old topless dancer in Texas. Marshall died the following year. His fortune has been estimated at as much as $1.6 billion.

Read the entire article here.

Quote of the Day

"With money in your pocket, you are wise, and you are handsome, and you sing well too."

- Jewish proverb

Great Moments in Litigation

You own a condo. You take baths early. The couple upstairs objects. Their son is a lawyer.

You can take it from there.

Click here.


Animal-shaped chocolates, including fire ants?

This posting at TomPeters.com shows how one company gave its product a special twist.

I wonder if training workbooks can be given some flair?

Succession Planning

This excerpt from the Harvard Business Review describes a sophisticated succession planning program.

Two items to consider:

Will evaluations be candid if they are written?

Doesn't a succession planning program carry Equal Employment Opportunity dangers by implying that there are tapped successors?

Bad Bosses - Part II

Of course, remember this option?

Bad Bosses

What should you do when you report to a bad manager?

CareerJournal has some options here and they carry some risks.

My take: In most cases, the organization knows the manager has problems and is ignoring it until a crisis is produced. This is a bad practice that organizations need to address. It's unfair to the employees, harmful to the organization and even a drawback for the boss who may be correctable.

This is tied to the entire area of performance evaluation, which is often handled terribly.

Blog Dangers

"Dooced" is the term for getting fired for blog entries?

A college professor scanned Facebook to determine which students to admit to his class?

Business Week has more here on the dangers of blogging.


McDonald's is playing into the video game culture by launching a game in which the player has to save its new sandwich from a pack/herd/law office of sharks.

Play the game here.

[Via www.adrants.com ]

Monday, February 27, 2006

Don't Look Back

It's hard to tell if this photo is authentic but who hasn't had days like this?

Queenan on Movies

If you are going to read about movies, go for the throat and read Joe Queenan.

Even when you disagree with him, he's a hoot. An excerpt:

Serious Americans - frumpy, middle-aged men with furrowed brows - love to rattle on about the "culture wars" that plague society. The left, or what passes for the left in America, resents the fact that politics and business are controlled by Republicans. The right deplores the fact that culture, entertainment, style and even cuisine are dominated by Democrats. The right punishes the left by slashing taxes, badgering minorities, stirring up trouble in abortion clinics, and filling the airwaves with the ramblings of paunchy, pill-popping ideologues extolling virtues they do not themselves possess, while the left punishes the right by putting Jimmy Carter's fatuous memoirs on the bestseller list and making high-minded motion pictures in which conservatives are portrayed as hyenas. The saintly Susan Sarandon is never terribly far from the action.

Read the entire article here.

Let Me Refresh Your Memory

The effect of framing on memory: It's been used by trial attorneys for years.

Read more about it here.

[HT: www.marginalrevolution.com ]

Money Making Secret

If you ever wondered how Google makes the big bucks, this Business Week article explains how.

Jet Lag?

It would be interesting to see if this jet lag watch works with more than five out of 100 people.

But perhaps I'm unduly cynical.

The Brutal Truth

David Maister has long been a major influence on how to manage professional service firms.

He now has a blog - doesn't everyone? - and fires a broadside here on the brutal truth about people.

[HT: www.jimcalloway.typepad.com ]

Pro Juries: Con

Here's more on the professional jury issue: Douglas Kern doesn't like them.

Click here.

Book Recs from Tom Peters

Tom Peters is recommending some books.

Click here.

Handling a Values Gap

This Harvard Business School article examines what companies can do if there is a gap between their values and their performance.

No Bozos

Guy Kawasaki has a great article on how to spot a potential "bozo explosion" at your workplace.

One of my favorites: His analysis of which types of cars are in the parking lot at different times of the day.

Read it here.

What's Rain?

Here in Phoenix, we've now gone 132 days without rain.

Living in the desert, you get used to sunny skies but this is getting to be a bit much.

The weather reports give us a 40% chance of rain tomorrow.

They may be toying with us. We've heard that sweet talk before.


Joseph Epstein examines plagiarism and notes that he's never encountered any in his career as a university professor.

In addition to my consulting practice, I teach a business law class at a community college where I used to run across cases that were not even close calls. Some students would just flat-out copy material and pass it off as their own. We've since changed the paper requirement to make it more difficult to plagiarize and the cases have dropped - so far - to zero.

Epstein notes that plagiarism has long terrified him as a writer. That may be a common fear. You write a passage and worry that it may resemble something you read five years ago.

That worry, however, may be your greatest safeguard.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]

In the Trenches

Here's one reason why you should always be kind to waiters.

Integrating Exercise with Office Work

This is marvelous. A treadmill in your office so you can exercise while reading email. Desks that rise with you so you don't have to remain seated.

CareerJournal has the details here.

75 Start-Up Tips

The 75 business start-up tips from Entrepreneur can be translated into any sizable project.

Click here.

Quote of the Day

"Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good."

- Samuel Johnson

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Summers School

Here's a good list of things that executives and managers can learn from the Lawrence Summers situation at Harvard.

I like "If the board says it wants changes, don't believe it."

If you think that individuals can send mixed signals as to expectations, multiply that with a board. What their message really means is, "If you succeed, we'll like it" and "If you don't, we'll barely remember how you were selected."

The one about the apology is also sound. Summers tried to appease some groups that would never be placated.

My choice for Harvard president: Alan Dershowitz, if only to see the reaction of the Liberal Arts faculty.

[HT: Althouse Law Blog ]

Get Human

The movement to put the human back into customer service has a site!

See Get Human.com here.

Craig and His List

Check out this article on Craigslist, the business that is zapping newspaper revenues.

[HT: www.newt.org ]

The Velvet Glove

Joseph S. Nye Jr., writing in Foreign Policy, explores the concept of soft power.

It's the sort of concept that would get 10 extra points for creativity in an international relations seminar but note how vague he gets when it comes to providing specifics.

Soft power only appears to be effective when hard power is backing it up.

Click here for the article.

Profiles in Omission

Mark Steyn examines how crimes are reported in European newspapers and finds an interesting omission.

An excerpt:

This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan's screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.

This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element. Just one of those things. Coulda happened to anyone. And, if the gang did seem inordinately fixated on, ah, Jews, it was just because, as one police detective put it, ''Jews equal money.'' In London, the Observer couldn't even bring itself to pursue that particular angle. Its report of the murder managed to avoid any mention of the unfortunate Halimi's, um, Jewishness. Another British paper, the Independent, did dwell on the particular, er, identity groups involved in the incident but only in the context of a protest march by Parisian Jews marred by ''radical young Jewish men'' who'd attacked an ''Arab-run grocery.''

Read the entire story here.

P.C. Speech

Robert McHenry looks at the Never Offend Anyone movement and finds it wanting.

An excerpt:

What a glorious vision is this, this future Eden, where speech is so carefully watched, even if it is not listened to, and where no one need ever again experience judgment or reproach. You'll be OK, I'll be OK, we'll all be OK, truly OK, and we can shout out together the immortal words of Sally Field: "You don't dislike me. You really, really don't dislike me."

Read it all here.

Telephone Guerrilla

If you've ever called a company and had difficulty gaining contact with a living being, there's a chart developed by a blogger that gives tips on how to slip past the system.

Click here.

Book Rules

I’ve been weeding out my book collection lately. I’m a stone book addict. Television could end tomorrow and I’d barely blink. Books, on the other hand, are as necessary as breathing. When stacks of books start to impair mobility, however, steps must be taken and several rules have evolved:

  • With the exception of classics such as War and Peace, beware of long novels. Few writers nowadays can write them.
  • Don’t complete a bad book. Not finishing a book was a major sin when I was young. No more. I’ll give a writer a few chapters and if that sucker isn’t working, forget it.
  • Aside from reference books, the only books that belong on the shelves are those that are yet to be read and those that will be re-read. If a volume falls in-between, it’s gone.
  • Know when you’re reading trash. A little trash reading can be a nice break, but don’t equate Stephen King with Charles Dickens or Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • Find a prolific great writer. I just stumbled onto Anthony Trollope a few years ago and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series can be enjoyed again and again.
  • Give a second break to the classical novelists who bored you when you were in high school. There’s a reason why they are classics.
  • Avoid the sort of “dysfunctional family” books that Oprah likes. They will only depress you.
  • Periodically, read something completely out of your normal routine. You may lurch into a new perspective.

Casting Call

The reality TV show, The Bachelor, wants to cast a lawyer, 27 to 33 years old and, of course, single.

I thought I'd pass this story along to anyone who wants to trash his reputation.

Quote of the Day

"During my 18 years I came to bat almost 9,000 times. I struck out almost 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at-bats a season. That means I played seven years in the major leagues without even hitting the ball."

- Mickey Mantle

Saturday, February 25, 2006

False Events Appearing Real

This Ben Stein column on how to maintain serenity in your financial investments can just as easily be applied to your life or your career.

Car Wars

Here are some reasons why Toyota, a "conservative" and "innovative" company, might take over General Motors.

Humor Break: God Save the Queen

I search the Internet to find the best in leadership, management and ethics and, although I aim for new items, some classics must be acknowledged.

Even when it comes to humor.

Click here.

Paid By The F-Word?

Someone, somewhere, gets paid to monitor the level of Howard Stern's profanity.

It's up 34%.

Details here.

[Via www.marketingvox.com ]

Dr. Evil's Pot Farm

It is hard to look at these pictures of an underground pot farm in Tennessee without thinking, "These were serious business people."

{Via www.instapundit.com ]

Cookie Toss

Here's a really important example of something to avoid if you are ever interviewed on TV:

Click here.

[HT: www.boingboing.net and www.panopticist.com ]

Give the Condensed Version

CareerJournal has some sound advice on how to respond to that standard job interview line:

"Tell me about yourself."

One of my favorite true stories from the world of interviewing is the applicant who handled the question, "What is your weakness?," by smiling slightly and sheepishly replying, "Fried chicken."

What's in a Name?

Mitsubishi Motors has sponsored a wacky street name contest, soliciting actual but strange names from around the country.

I always thought that Tucson, Arizona's Speedway Boulevard had a less than safe tone but it may be mild compared to Psycho Path and Divorce Court.

Read the entire list here.

Bird Flu Planning

The Wharton School has a great article on the planning to deal with an avian flu pandemic.

An excerpt:

"The concern is not simply with people getting sick and staying out of work," says Kobrin. "It has to do with a fairly substantial breakdown in infrastructure. If there is a pandemic, people will be reluctant to leave their homes. That means disruptions in food supplies, supply chains, mass-transit systems and information technology systems if the systems [fail] and IT people aren't there to fix them. The issue is, 'How do you operate in the context of turmoil?' You have to plan for a substantial breakdown in the physical and social infrastructure. The question companies should be thinking about is how to keep their businesses going." Imagine just a few of the effects a pandemic would have on attendance at any number of venues -- high-rise offices; factory floors; airlines, buses and trains; schools; hospitals and doctors' offices -- as people stayed home either because they were already sick or feared becoming ill.

Wharton management professor
Peter Cappelli recalls the strictures that were put in place in companies when he was visiting Singapore during the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003. Each morning, some companies made employees report their body temperatures -- an indicator of whether they were infected with SARS -- before being allowed into their offices to work. Officials implemented a "buddy system" under which one employee was required to take the temperature of a co-worker to certify that the "buddy" was not lying about his or her thermometer reading.

Read the whole thing here.

Meth and Heavy Breathing

Here's a story on what may have been one of the more popular anti-meth campaigns:

Urging teens to try phone sex instead.

Not quite but it shows the power of the typo.

[HT: www.reason.com ]

Global for Thee, But Not for Me

This Fortune article on whether anyone really believes in globalization hits on the issue of the Dubai company's contract to run ports in the United States.

I'm a bit confused by all of the shouting and have some questions:
  • If we are going to win the war against Islamo-fascism, aren't we going to need Arab allies?
  • Will we win Arab allies by barring any Arab companies, no matter how respected, from contracts?
  • Shouldn't we have strong security oversight regardless of the nationality of any port management company?

Careerism Report

I can understand why companies may want to sponsor these summer camps for middle schoolers so they can build a highly skilled pool of potential recruits.

After all, police and fire departments have had cadet programs and ROTC programs are in high schools.

But do you ever wonder whatever happened to childhood?

George Now, Ike Later?

Things are hopping at Home Depot. The Chief Executive Officer, Robert L. Nardelli, has adopted a military model and is favoring military veterans in employment and leadership.

Part of this is a calculated move to change what had been a relaxed culture. Nardelli has taken the George Patton approach. What will be interesting to see is how well he does when the organization evolves to the point when an Eisenhower is needed.

Read the Business Week story here.

Quote of the Day

"I used to think that running an organization was equivalent to conducting a symphony. But I don't think that's quite it; it's more like jazz. There is more improvisation."

- Warren Bennis

Friday, February 24, 2006

Just Don't Take It to the Boardroom

This is bizarre.

You will soon be able to get a SuperMom action figure.

Details here.

[HT: www.management-issues.com ]

Going to the Dogs

Now you can get information on "dog friendly" companies.

Click here for details.

The Zamboni Elite

The athletes competing for medals are not the only people who pass a stringent selection process at the Olympics.

There are also the Zamboni drivers.

Zamboni drivers simultaneously perform three operations: scraping away a thin film of ice, picking up the debris and laying down water to create a fine new layer of ice. One false move with the scraping blade and the ice is scarred with a gouge that could trip up players. Too much water leaves puddles that slow the puck, too little doesn't fill the ruts cut by the skates. The drivers also keep an eye on the temperature of the water, which is usually about 150 -- hot enough to remove the oxygen that slows freezing.

All this while driving about nine miles an hour, looking backward at the ice they leave behind, and keeping aware of a second Zamboni on the ice (in hockey matches, they usually drive in tandem). During each 15-minute intermission between periods, the drivers have about six minutes to cover the 200-by-100-foot sheet of ice, which leaves enough time for the new water to freeze before the players return. (A vast network of cooling tubes beneath the ice keeps the temperature at about 22 for hockey. The icemen must watch the temperature, too, taking regular readings as the arena heats up with cheering fans; too cold and the ice chips, too warm and the skates dig in.)

Read the entire article here.


If you are an Apple Computer/Steve Jobs fan, this is your site.

The cult continues.

[HT: www.adpulp.com ]

People Management Cheers and Boos

An item I should have posted earlier: Fortune's list of the Most and Least Admired Companies when it comes to "people management."

See it here.

[HT: The Human Capitalist ]

Adios Ted

Ted Turner is leaving the Time Warner board.

The impact of that decision on my life will be underwhelming.

Europe and Islam

Bruce Bawer's While Europe Slept is starting to spark a lot of discussion, especially in the wake of the cartoon riots.

Read one review here.

The statistic on the French prison population is startling.

Bob Marley Smiles

It appears that FedEx has reached a settlement in the case of the Rastafarian employees who wanted to wear dreadlocks.

Here's an early report here.

Religious Accommodation and Cat Food

What do you do when an employee asks accommodation for, shall we say, unconventional religious beliefs?

The Alabama Employment Law Newsletter provides some good guidelines.

Read them here.

Employee Blogs?

As blogging becomes more popular (27 million blogs and counting), employers are getting worried about employee blogs.

There is concern that an employee may embarrass the company, as in the case of this flight attendant blog, or anger customers or harm the company's reputation.

Forbes examines some policy considerations here.

A Train Wreck and Retention

Richard Perez-Pena writing via gladwell.com on a train wreck that appears to have been caused by negligent retention.

Just what was the safety record of the train engineer?

Read it here.


The issue of rudeness in the workplace is starting to get more attention, as this article indicates.

In addition to otherwise nice people who are pressed for time and who often don't recognize how small oversights may appear rude, there is the corrosive nature of a society where the put-down is raised above simple kindness and where the cult of Me First and Foremost has a large membership.

I sometimes see that in classes. A person in a supervision workshop gets upset because part of the class deals with what he sees as the unnecessary topic of time management, all the while missing the fact that many other class members want help in that specific topic. There is an inability to get beyond self that can be jarring. Our society's marvelous ability to customize products and services to please every taste may foster the attitude that every experience should be customized and there should be no trade-offs. You see many teams that are collections of independent operators instead of a blend of collaborative participants. When that environment exists, rudeness can flourish.

[Hat tip to Business & Legal Reports.]

Servant Leadership

Read this interview with Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko's, and you'll understand why that company became successful.

More Falling Sand

Okay, this is back by popular demand and because it's Friday.

Click here for the falling sand game.

UPS and Customers

This Business 2.0 article examines what Silicon Valley can learn from UPS, but it applies to anyone who has - or wants to have - customers.

That "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door" concept is bogus.

Albert and I Go Way Back

If you want Einstein to deliver your message, check out this site.

[Via www.boingboing.net ]

Support Denmark

There's going to be a Support Denmark rally in front of the Danish embassy in Washington, DC today.

Here's hoping it's well attended.

No King in the Stores

A story from Adfreak brings up an interesting marketing question:

Does Burger King keep its "King" character out of the Burger King stores because he gives people the heebie-jeebies?

There is something spooky about a character who smiles and never changes expression. The story speculates that it may scare off young/future customers.

Click here for the story.

Piracy Report

The business of counterfeiting has gone way beyond fake Gucci bags.

Look here.

Quote of the Day

"Like ancient Mayans accepting human sacrifice or Catholics in the Middle Ages buying indulgences, Americans today accept that being sued is the price of freedom, and that diving for cover is the natural response to reasonable daily choices."

- Philip K. Howard

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What Causes Happiness?

John Lancaster reviews two books on happiness. The most solid conclusions are we are descendents of Og, the formula for happiness isn't as profound as you thought it would be and if you have time to ponder happiness, you should be thankful that you do.

It becomes clearer here.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

Feeling Unproductive?

In 1994, 83% of workers described themselves as extremely productive. Now only 51% do.

In 1994, workers reported that they completed at least half of their planned daily work. Now only 50% do.

Read the entire study here.

al Qaeda Corp

Al Qaeda is run like a corporation, with vacation and sick leave plans?

The policy on religious discrimination, of course, may be a bit weak.

Read more here.

[HT: www.hrmdirect.com ]

Woodman, Spare That Treehouse!

Why strap yourself to a tree in order to save it when you can have a comfortable treehouse that accomplishes the same thing?

Are these protesters getting soft or simply comfortable?

Click here.

Integrity Management

Robert C. Chandler of Pepperdine University has written an article on integrity management that deserves much broader attention.

An excerpt:

In addition, the “inherent ethics” of the “good moral people” that a company hires include:

76 percent of MBA graduates who reported that they were willing to commit fraud to enhance profit reports to management, investors, and the public;

The fewer than 50 percent of employees who believe their employers have high ethical integrity;

30 percent of all employees who currently report that they “know or suspect ethical violations such as falsifying records, unfair treatment of employees, and lying to top management;”[7]

41 percent of employees in the private sector and 57 percent of employees in the public/government sector who are aware of ethical misconduct or illegal activities;[8]

60 percent of employees who state that they know but have not reported instances of misconduct in their organizations. Most employees cite the lack of companies’ confidentiality policies as reasons for not coming forward about ethical misconduct. They fear “whistle-blower” retaliation and that existing policies won’t protect them.

Read the entire article here.


The range of ingenuity: a new Navy plane and an iPod tie.

[HT: www.gizmodo.com ]

Divine Right and Tenured Professors

Peter Beinart of The New Republic looks at the current mess at Harvard.

It's not a pretty picture.

Click here.

The Price of Your Information

How much is your personal data worth?

Here's an article that lists the prices of a variety of items, ranging from 50 cents for your address on up to $35 for your military record.

In the future, we all may want to be in the Witness Protection Program.

[Via www.thestalwart.com ]

Call Center Backlash

This BBC report says that Indian call centers are experiencing some outsourcing backlash.

[My own experience is that the call centers are quite professional, with the one exception being an operator who was extremely nice but who insisted on my spelling all names in military alphabet terms such as Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. It was both frustrating and amusing.]

What is often missing from the outsourcing critics' views is that the call centers are probably using American telephones and American computers.

Let's see now: They're supposed to buy from us but we aren't supposed to buy from them?

The Cost of Inaction

We all know of supervisors who spent a significant amount of time each week, worrying about how to deal with a problem employee.

The cost of that worry can be rather surprising.

(A) Take the total number of supervisors in your office, team, division, or department: __________

(B) Estimate the average hourly pay for those supervisors: __________

(C) Assume those supervisors grapple with preventable problems for an hour each day, so the total daily cost is:

(A)__________ times (B)__________ = $__________

Take that amount and multiply it by 22 for 22 working days per month and you’ll get the total monthly cost: $___________________

Multiply that amount by 12 for the total annual cost: $_________________

[Via: www.managersadvantage.com ]

Poisoned Pen Dept.

If you ever wanted instructions on how to write a vicious letter, Donald Trump is giving pointers.

I guess that he and Martha Stewart aren't having lunch any time soon.

Click here.

[Via www.adweek.blogs.com ]

Leadership Trends

Check out these poll results from The Center for Creative Leadership on the changing nature of leadership.

Note the results on working collaboratively and building relationships.


This is one office pool that you wish you were in on.

I like the immigrant connection too.

[Via www.althouse.blogspot.com ]

What I Meant to Say Was...

How do you rebound from a email gaffe?

Groveling helps. This CareerJournal article explains.

Lay-off Fears

American Demographics states that one-third of American workers fear lay-offs.

An excerpt:

Many workers are reluctant to take vacations, fearing the boss will view them as slackers -- or decide they’re not even missed. A 2005 study by Universal Orlando Resort found about half of workers left vacation time on the table. That actually leads to some good news: Mr. Faulkner said employers, concerned about health and productivity if workers don’t take time to recharge, are beginning to add policies mandating that employees take at least a weeklong vacation.

Read the entire story here.

Is an Alarm Set?

Here's something to check in on:

The U.S. Census Bureau's population clock.

[HT: Michael Barone Blog ]

Quote of the Day

"The plural of anecdote is not data."

- Frank Kotsonis

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bad Vibrations

For all of the talk about refining the selection process, there is still the matter of whether you should go with your gut feeling, especially when it signals there might be a problem.

Here's one account of a supervisor who wishes he didn't ignore the message.

Dershowitz on Summers

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz believes that there has been a politically correct coup against the president of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers.

Read his essay here.

Running Wild.

This will be a slow blog day due to a wild schedule.

Bear with me.

Just Who Are You?

CareerJournal has a take on how people discreetly signal their minority group membership on a resume.

Read it here.

What Road Warriors Know

  • If you can avoid checking luggage, do so.
  • Never check any luggage that can’t be lost.
  • Rent from a rental car outfit that permits you to return the car at the airport.
  • Trying to stuff a steamer trunk into an overhead compartment is rude.
  • Take reading material for when you get stranded.
  • Take your professional magazines with you, tear out the articles you want to read and dump the rest of the magazines in the trash at the airport.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Flights get canceled. Have a back-up plan.
  • Keep your cell phone charged.
  • Take along basic medicine like aspirin and Pepto Bismol tablets.
  • Watch your laptop computer as if it’s your child.
  • Put a Power bar in your briefcase or carry-on bag.
  • Don’t gripe about security.
  • Don’t discuss sensitive business information with your colleagues during the flight.
  • Treat the flight attendants with extra courtesy.
  • Overtip the SkyCaps.
  • The most dangerous part of the trip is any shuttle or cab that you take from the airport.
  • Marriott is almost always a safe choice.
  • Hotels with 24 hour room service tend to be on the ball.
  • Have a routine as to the number of bags that you take and what goes where.
  • If possible, bring your pillow.

Quote of the Day

"When your victimhood is your empowerment, recovery is the enemy."

- Tammy Bruce

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sign "X" Here

I went to a drugstore today to get some medicine. As in Starbucks, they no longer need a signature when you use a credit card.

It reminded me of this famous credit card prank of a few years back where the prankster signed with a variety of weird signatures and symbols and no one noticed.

Perhaps getting the signature was always the equivalent of adding an egg to a cake mix. It made us feel as if we'd done something important but it was really just a psychologically-placating gesture all along.

Hmm. I think I'll go read the medicine's ingredients.

Sago Mine

A former Sago Mine foreman was indicted for falsifying inspection reports and for not being certified to conduct safety inspections.

One of the inevitable questions will be whether the lack of experience and certification could have been caught when he was being considered for employment.

"I roll"

This article on how companies got their names can spark "That's reasonable" and "That's weird."

I had no idea about Pepsi and am disappointed that Cisco wasn't named after The Cisco Kid.

Xerox was too clever by half.

[Via www.blogs.guykawasaki.com ]

Not Just Science Fiction

Ray Bradbury wants monorails.

See his editorial here.

[HT: www.gizmodo.com and www.treehugger.com ]

Gatekeeper Awards

I'm late in posting this but Common Good has issued its Third Annual Gatekeeper Awards to honor judges who draw reasonable limits on lawsuits.

You can get the names and decisions here.

Immigrant Chic

Designer shoes for illegal immigrants for $215?

Read about it here.

I'll let you know when the entire clothing line is rolled out.

[Via www.boingboing.net ]

76 Cents?

Many articles on pay gaps between men and women raise more questions than they answer.

This one goes after the 76 cents gap but then raises questions of its own. The estimates by the HR consultant make you wonder where they came from.

Tone-Deaf Execs

Maggie Craddock examines some tone-deaf personalities in this Forbes article.

I'll bet you've worked with some of them. I know I've coached a few and, she's right, many of them hide sensitivity behind aggressiveness.

Male - Female Thinking

A Larry Summers-type controversy hits Britain.

If 60% of biology students are women, why do so few of them become biology professors?

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]

Reverse Course!

Now the White House must really be nervous.

See why here.

[Via www.drudgereport.com ]

Really Small Projectors

A pocket-sized projector?

If this product rolls out, every presenter will want one.

See the inventor's site here.

[HT: www.summitmanor.blogspot.com ]

In More Than Out

Blogging may be a bit slow today and tomorrow.

I'm on a training project but since much of my blogging and research is done in the evenings, it may not be that slow.

Mac Attacks

Some viruses are going after Apple computers.

Business Week has the details here.

Altruism and the California Bar

The California state bar exam, one of the toughest in the country, is catching flak over its failure rate. The dean of Stanford University law school and the mayor of Los Angeles are just a few of the prominent people who've flunked the exam.

Bar exam officials deny that they are just trying to keep down the number of attorneys. They claim the exam is needed to protect the consumer.

Gee, if that is so, shouldn't they give the exam to every attorney in the state every three years and perhaps just give them two weeks to prepare?

After all, they should know the stuff, right?

Read the whole Los Angeles Times story here.

[Via Wall Street Journal Law Blog ]

Quote of the Day

"Jane's Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane."

- Jane Galt (Megan McArdle)

Back to Basics

This interview with John Shields, the former CEO and chairman of Trader Joe's, makes some great points.

An excerpt:

GBR: Those are tough decisions. The last question really summarizes a lot of the points that you have talked about. That is, if you were to describe four or five of the key management principles that guide your business philosophy, what would those be?

JS: Well, I don't know that I can keep it down to four or five, but I'll try. Let me go back again to start with integrity. You have got to be ethical. I think you have to have a clear vision and communicate that vision to the organization. I believe strongly in listening. I would spend two days a week out visiting the stores, listening to our employees and our customers. I always go back to hiring the best people you can and giving them the education and the tools they need to do the job. I have always encouraged people to be entrepreneurs. And I guess the last thing that I am famous for saying is, "Have fun." I really mean it .I remember that I used to go to all of the pre-store openings and I would talk with the new people for about two hours, and I always ended up saying, "Look, at the end of thirty days, if you are not having fun, please quit." And they would look at me with these big eyes, and I would say, "No, I really mean it. You spend most of your life at your job. If you are not having fun, get out of here." And I really sincerely feel the same way. I am almost 70 years old and I still think you have to have fun doing what you are doing.

Newsroom Ethics

Poynter Online has an article on journalistic ethics - not an oxymoron - and it's pretty good.

Find it here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Getting the Shaft

Julia Child didn't pass the final exam at Cordon Bleu?

She tells the story in this article on The New York Times Magazine and anyone who has ever encountered unfairness will identify with her.

The unmentioned issue: Did the school ever do anything to correct the injustice? Apparently not.

Rating the Justices

Here's an interesting parlor game: rating the degrees of ideology of U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

Read one professor's ratings here.

Business Class for Bureaucrats?

There's been some publicity here in Phoenix concerning some City of Phoenix Aviation employees who flew business class to Europe. The European trips were taken by managers who were seeking to attract greater business to Phoenix.

It's the sort of story that is the journalistic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel: bureaucrats living it up on taxpayer dollars. Some people have been reprimanded and suspended. Life goes on.

The criticism is easy; perhaps too easy. Anyone who has flown from Phoenix to Europe knows that it is quite a trek. If you are going to conduct important business at the end of that journey, then at what point does it make sense to make sure that you'll be reasonably alert during the sessions?

Can you fly in a day earlier to get over your jet lag or would the extra day's hotel bill be excessive? Can you fly at a more convenient time even if another time would be cheaper? Can you fly a more expensive direct flight or should you bounce through several connections if it will save some bucks?

When I was in the Army, I had to fly to Germany once on an investigation. Another officer and I flew from Washington, DC to New York, then to London and then to Frankfurt where we were picked up by a driver and taken to Heidelberg where, with no rest other than catnaps on the plane, we walked right into a meeting. Was that wise scheduling? In retrospect, I think we were nuts. We should have taken an extra day to decompress and get our bearings.

That's not what you want to hear, however, if you're a reporter.

Full disclosure: I once worked for the City of Phoenix and it is a client of mine. And no, it never sent me on a trip to Europe.

If Life were Film

In case you missed it:

40 things you only see in the movies.

Click here.

[A very belated thanks to www.kottke.org ]

Undistracted Citizens

This story has nothing to do with leadership or management although you could say it has to do with ethics.

The main reason, however, for posting about pickpockets in Venice is it is hard to resist a story in which the name for the heroes is "undistracted citizens."

And they're doing a good job. Read it here.

Irving and Free Speech

David Irving, the British historian whose career has gone from controversial but interesting to now flat-out nutty, has been sentenced to prison by an Austrian court for denying the Holocaust.

As loony as Holocaust denial is, should it be a prison offense?

You're Realtor?

This article by The Bad Pitch Blog makes several great points about public relations mistakes.

It reminds me of a letter I received several years ago from an organization touting its Total Quality Management (remember that?) program.

The letter contained more than seven typos.

I toyed with the idea of circling them and sending the letter back to the company but then abandoned that as too cruel. Most of us have sent out items with glitches of some sort or another.

Our ability to cringe is a force for excellence.

[HT: www.emergencemarketing.com ]

The Indispensable Man

Lee Harris has a good column on why George Washington was so darned important.

An excerpt:

By a stroke of extraordinary good fortune, the man for whom this office was designed was also a man who was profoundly aware of the potential dangers inherent in the office that had been specially designed for him. Washington was keenly aware just how easily the Presidency could degenerate back to a monarchy, or worse; and, shrewd man that he was, he clearly saw that there was nothing in the written Constitution that could prevent such a process from occurring.

For example, there is a remarkable letter that Washington wrote, before assuming the Presidency, in which he argues that he is peculiarly qualified to be President because he has no son. Now imagine a candidate for the Presidency today making such a claim: Vote for me, because I have no son. How strange it would sound to our ears. Yet Washington regarded this as virtually an indispensable desideratum in a President—or, at least, in the first President. Nor is it difficult to see why this mattered to him so much. He did not want the office of the Presidency to become the possession of a dynasty.

Read the whole thing here.

Spot Check

This is one product that should sell: a small mirror for your cell phone so you can check yourself out before that big meeting.

[HT: www.dailycandy.com ]

Dough Hoe?

A New York Times food reviewer discovers exotic job titles and friendly people as well as fine (?) cuisine in an American institution.

Expect to see calls for his resignation next week.

Click here.

[HT: www.buzzmachine.com ]

Sue 'em

There is a court judgment against the estate of an al-Qaida financier for a death and wounding in Afghanistan.

See the details here.

[HT www.bizzyblog.com ]

A Common Problem

A brief word about a situation that many of you have encountered:

I'm currently blessed to be working with some extraordinary people who get along well with one another.

If you've spent any time in the workplace, however, you know how rare that can be. Usually, there's at least one troll - some unrecognized genius - who tosses out snide remarks at staff meetings, plays devil's advocate as a blood sport and is generally unpleasant. People work around rather than with the person because of his or her abrasive qualities.

The person may have some skills - after all, few people are devoid of talent - but there's only one real solution: Get rid of that person as soon as possible!

I'm not recommending a rush to judgment so don't put me down as someone who won't give a team member a decent break. This isn't about someone who needs a few rough edges polished but who otherwise has a good attitude and solid values. This is about the incorrigible offender who might be fine in a job where food can be slipped under the door but is lousy in any position that requires working with others.

  • Send the person to expensive workshops in the hope that the person will be turned around. It won't happen.
  • Restructure the job to please the person. It won't work.
  • Ignore it. The people who have to work with the character will resent your weakness.
  • Tell yourself that we all have weaknesses. We do, but not to that degree.

If you are faced with this situation, you know I'm right. Talk to any group of managers or supervisors and they can quickly list their dysfunctional employees. Ask them why those people are still on the job and they stare at the ground and draw circles with their shoes.

Don't procrastinate. Go to your Human Resources people, your organization's attorney and your boss and explain that the employee is not working out. Set a schedule for a rapid turnaround and, if lightning doesn't strike, a dismissal. Don't keep someone on who can make your life miserable for years.

You'll be happier and the co-workers will be happier.

A Touch of Cube

A Rubik Cube for the blind?

It's actually pretty neat and I'm sure that those of you who are sighted and can solve the regular cube in seconds will want the extra challenge.

You can find it here.

[Hat Tip to www.gizmodo.com ]

Ethics Watch

This is an amazing story, if only because of the chutzpah of the crooks.

A seemingly nice couple finds a lost camera, hears from the rightful owner but then decides to keep the camera because their son likes it.

Click here.

[Via www.kottke.org ]

Photo Break

Check out these photos of China.

Be sure to scroll down and prepare to be stunned.

[Via www.neatorama.com ]

Presidents Day: Ugh!

There's something very corporate about Presidents Day.

It's like a boss who is so afraid to single out anyone for recognition that everyone gets a prize, even the slugs and the scoundrels.

In short, it's ridiculous. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln deserve separate holidays. They earned them. The others didn't. There are some close contenders - Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan come to mind - but close doesn't do it. Washington and Lincoln are the ones.

You can barely turn on the television without finding some Hollywood tribute to, well, Hollywood and the two major presidents don't get honored?

Smoke and Mirrors

Workplace Prof Blog has an interesting update on the issue of employer incentives to reduce health care costs.

Some issues: Just what rights do smokers have? Can an employer dictate your weight?

Gimme the Money

The Porkbusters Hall of Shame has named the politician who has done the most to snatch pork and pillage the treasury.

It's not a surprise choice.

Think West Virginia.

[Via www.instapundit.com ]

Prez Flicks

Box Office Mojo has a list of movies about presidents.

The movies, like the presidents, range from excellent to terrible.

Quote of the Day

"Just imagine that in 1940, on pain of death, you had been forced to predict the next three presidents of the United States. You would have to pick an obscure Missouri senator who was so identified with a corrupt machine that his re-election was in doubt, an even more obscure Army lieutenant colonel in the Philippines, and a kid in his second year at Harvard."

- Morris Udall, explaining his dark horse candidacy in 1976

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bubble News

A cool news site where stories pops up as bubbles over a world map.

Just what you want to see. Right here.

[Thanks to: www.cenedella.com/stone ]

Surfing Safari

If you are prone - make that addicted - to mindless surfing of the Internet, blogger Brad Isaac has some good tips.

As we all know, however, there is a fine line between mindless surfing and directionless research.

You can find his tips here.

Crystal Ball for Google

What will the future hold for Google?

Business 2.0 ran that by some thinkers and came up with a wide range of scenarios.

Although written before the stock dip - to use a polite term - they are still thought-provoking.

Read them here.

Blog Blunders

What happens when blogs slip up?

Inc. magazine has some answers.

Click here.

May Day

Here's a Berlitz TV ad that may get some attention.

[Via www.adscam.typepad.com ]

Mediation Software

Here's an article from Law.com on software that may facilitate dispute resolution.

Why not? It won't help in all cases but the odds are it can help in some.