Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Drucker's Insight

Writing in Opinion Journal, Adrian Wooldridge reviews a book that gives us the thoughts of the great Peter Drucker as he neared the end of his life. An excerpt:

Drucker believed that the challenges facing companies now were more dramatic than anything he had seen in his long life. Consumers were gaining unprecedented power. Global competition had gone from wind level to storm level to hurricane level. Clever new companies were inventing not just new products but new human needs. (Who knew that it was impossible to live without carrying 10,000 songs around in your pocket?) Seven of the 10 companies that have seen the biggest growth in share value over the past five years did not exist a couple of decades ago.

To thrive in this new environment, Drucker claimed, companies would have to rethink everything. They would need to partner with "rivals" and consult with customers so that they could view themselves from the "outside in"; they would have to tap new sources of talent, such as retirees, and focus fiercely on their core competencies. "If it's not in your front room, then make it someone else's front room," he liked to say.

As for individuals, they are now in charge of their own progress. "Knowledge workers are neither bosses nor workers," he said, "but rather something in between--resources who have responsibility for developing their most important resource, brainpower, and who also need to take more control of their own careers." In the 21st century every man is not so much a king as a CEO of his own career.

Read it all here.

Churchill Spinning

Christopher Hitchens looks at the topsy-turvy world of British politics:

Twenty or even 10 years ago, it would have been inconceivable that the historic left-right divide in British politics could have taken this form. Old leftist friends of mine from the 1960s are now on Labor's front bench and staunchly defend the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as a part of the noble anti-fascist tradition, while dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries are warning against American hubris. I keep having to pinch myself.

Security Update: Data Leaks

You can probably recall the one at the Veterans Administration but the others might be harder.

Note From Boss To Employees

  1. I am sometimes under enormous pressure from upper management; pressure that you seldom see. Anything that you can do to make my job easier will be greatly appreciated.
  2. Your interests are important, but please remember that I also have to juggle the concerns and feelings of a bunch of other people, including individuals outside of the department.

  3. I may not have been given a huge amount of training before being named to a supervisory position. As a result, I’ve had to learn through trial and error. That's not always bad. Many of my responsibilities can only be learned through practice.

  4. If you are a former co-worker of mine, please recognize that supervising former peers is one of the toughest jobs any supervisor faces. The support that you give me is crucial.

  5. I will make mistakes. Please give me the same understanding that you’d like me to give you when you blunder.

  6. If I do something dumb or am on the verge of doing so, please tell me. Don’t hint. Tell me.

  7. I don’t like unpleasant surprises. Let me in on bad news as soon as possible. (Things that you believe are obvious may not be that clear to me. On the other hand, you'd be surprised at how quickly the latest gossip reaches my ears.)

  8. I expect you to take initiative. If you keep bouncing things to me, I’m going to wonder why I have you around.

  9. You should ask questions if you don’t know what to do. On the other hand, you should not have to be taught the same thing over and over again.
  10. Let’s respect each other’s time. We each have a job to do and the more we can reduce unnecessary interruptions, the happier we'll each be.
  11. Don't let all of my talk about meeting goals and producing results lead you into unethical behavior. You always have my permission to be ethical.
  12. If either of us has a problem with the other's performance, let's talk about it.

Humor Break: Overheard in the Office

Overheard in the Office collects humorous comments that were overheard in the, well, you know where.

An excerpt:

9AM Then You Lose Them and We Send You Another Set

Consultant guy: Yeah, we overnight the documents to you. It takes about a week for you to get them.

Garden City, New York

Sharing the Defense Burden

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Max Boot examines why the United States has to bear so much of the defense burden: the other western countries have let their militaries decline. An excerpt:

The total size of its [Britain’s] armed forces has shrunk from 305,800 in 1990 to 195,900 today, leaving it No. 28 in the world, behind Eritrea and Burma. This downsizing has reduced the entire British army (107,000 soldiers) to almost half the size of the U.S. Marine Corps (175,000). Storied regiments such as the Black Watch and the Royal Scots, with histories stretching back centuries, have been eliminated.

Even worse hit is the Royal Navy, which is at its smallest size since the 1500s. Now, British newspapers report, of the remaining 44 warships, at least 13 and possibly as many as 19 will be mothballed. If these cuts go through, Britain's fleet will be about the same size as those of Indonesia and Turkey and smaller than that of its age-old rival, France.

Britain is hardly alone in its unilateral disarmament. A similar trend can be discerned among virtually all of the major U.S. allies, aside from Japan. Canada is a particularly poignant case in point. At the end of World War II, Canada had more than a million men under arms and operated the world's third-biggest navy (behind the U.S. and Britain), with more than 400 ships. Today, it has all of 62,000 personnel on active duty, and its navy has just 19 warships and 23 support vessels, making it one-fourth the size of the U.S. Coast Guard.

[HT: RealClearPolitics ]

Trademark Aroma

Writing in Fortune, Stephan Faris explores the trademark battle between Starbucks and Ethiopia. An excerpt:

To produce a pound of organic sun-dried coffee, farmers in the southern Ethiopian village of Fero spread six pounds of ripe, red coffee cherries onto pallets near their fields. They sun the fruit for 15 days, stirring every few minutes to ensure uniform dryness, then shuck the shells.

Last season, that pound of coffee fetched farmers an average price of $1.45. Figuring in the cost of generator fuel, bank interest, labor and transport across Ethiopia's dusty roads, it netted them less than $1. In the U.S., however, that same pound of coffee commands a much higher price: $26 for a bag of Starbucks' roasted Shirkina Sun-Dried Sidamo.

Quote of the Day

The best way out is always through.

- Robert Frost

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Height Matters

Want to feel woozy?

Read this story. If the architects have their way, mile-high buildings may become common.

The Tube

A great list of the top 11 underground transit systems in the world.

No surprise: London is number one.

[HT: kottke ]


My computer has been taunting me today.

They Called Them "Stewardesses"

Check out Dark Roasted Blend's great collection of photos of the glamour days of flight attendants.

[HT: Daily Nooz ]

Name Tags

Bravo to Seth Godin who has some marvelous thoughts on a seemingly minor item that is bungled at many a conference: nametags.

An excerpt:

Doing a name tag right isn't easy. Here are my rules:

a. BIG first name

b. positioned in a place where you can see it

c. ideally two-sided, on a short lanyard (why on earth would you make a one-sided lanyard tag?)

d. a piece of information that is an ice breaker. Here's my latest example. Every single sticker had a different picture. No real logic behind it. But what if there was? What if attendees picked their favorite movie star, metaphor, state capital, political gaffe, Saturday Night Live skit... anything worth talking about?

Good Enough

One of the great undetermined areas in human relations in the workplace is the question of "What is 'good enough'?"

Certain types of behavior - harassment comes to mind - are usually declared to be unacceptable, but that leaves a lot of explored ground. As a young manager, I was stunned to find in one organization that the revelation that one executive routinely and knowingly violated a major administrative regulation was shrugged off. In my prior workplace, that would not have been tolerated. The result of the shrug in my mind was to call all regulations into question. After all, if management could ignore one major violation, why couldn't it ignore another? And how could other employees be disciplined for the violations while the executive walked away without so much as a reprimand?

The real wilderness, of course, can be found in the field of daily interactions. Some organizations tolerate abusive behavior if the person is technically proficient or "has good numbers." Even more accept gossiping, excessive sarcasm, backstabbing, casually missed deadlines, overpromising, and casual put-downs. I suspect that the reason is people decide, to use an old phrase, that enforcement is not worth the candle. The violation is not extreme enough to fall under the usual disciplinary categories and so it is ignored because correction will take too much time.

The best leaders, however, set a higher standard. They perceive the organization's standards as the minimum but personally demand much wiser, more ethical, behavior. In my experience, their teams tend to be more cohesive and effective and have higher morale. They've set a standard of "good enough" - few of them are perfectionists - but it is far above the level normally accepted.

It is hardly a complex task, but one of the most important things leaders can do is to ask, "What is regarded as 'good enough' around here?"

Quote of the Day

Let us act on what we have, since we have not what we wish.

- Cardinal Newman

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dealing with Hecklers

If you make presentations you may, on rare occasion, encounter a heckler.

I say "rare" because most audiences are friendly and would-be hecklers quickly sense that acting out their hostility will score few points.

With that in mind, here are some time-tested tips from an old, scarred, veteran on what to do when someone starts lobbing poisonous darts:

  1. Don't automatically assume that the person has bad intent. Some questions or challenges are poorly worded and may sound more contentious than intended.

  2. Seek to clarify and then focus on the area of disagreement. Lack of clarity can unnecessarily expand the scope of conflict. Furthermore, as you clarify the issue, you may find areas of agreement and reduce the adversarial nature of the exchange.

  3. Be professional and polite at all times. The more polite you are and the more obnoxious the other person is, the more likely it is that the audience will sympathize with you, even if they disagree with your ideas. Few people favor the rude. It will be tempting to slam back, but - unless the other person's behavior is extreme - resist doing so.

  4. If the other person has made a valid point, admit it. You want to maintain your credibility. A honest exchange means that valid points should be acknowledged.

  5. Don't let the heckler dominate the proceedings. Once the person has had a reasonable chance at being heard, move on. The rest of the audience deserves to hear the entire presentation.

Whatever Happened to Cars with Real Style?

Try to remember the last time you saw a new car and said, "Wow!"

As you look over the various models featured in this post at 2Blowhards blog, it is easy to get the sense that when it comes to car styles, in the early days we had the equivalent of fine suits and then "progressed" to hides and rags.

Quote of the Day

It isn't the mountain that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe.

- Robert Service

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'd Like To Thank My Third Grade Teacher....

Oscar time.

For some nice flashbacks, check out Neatorama's collection of Academy Award trivia.

The fact that there are several strong contenders awaiting tonight's envelopes means some stars and films that would have won in less creative years will receive nothing, nada, zip.

But before crying to the heavens over such injustice, we should remember one item:

Hollywood does not stint when it comes to recognizing its own.

I don't watch much television but it seems that many a star's calendar must be peppered with one award ceremony after another. Casually flick on the set and you'll frequently see the same group passing around the gongs.

In some cases, of course, a star who is not honored here may be lionized elsewhere. [As one wag observed, all Jerry Lewis movies should have the subtitle: "But he's considered a genius in France."]

There are clear injustices - neither Cary Grant nor Alfred Hitchcock got an Oscar - but when it comes to recognition, Hollywood makes other industries look Amish.

Relationship Maintenance

Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users has a candid post on how customers are treated before and after the sale. An excerpt:

Most companies would never outsource their sales reps, but we all know what happens with most tech support.

Most companies would never make a brochure with the same (lack of) quality in the product manual.

Most companies would never make their main website as uninviting as the tech support site.

Be Kind to One Person

We've all heard the lament, "If I knew then what I know now!"

I was reminded of it the other day when a young man asked me what I wish I'd known years ago when just starting my career. Although many things came to mind, one item in particular stood out:

Don't be so hard on yourself.

Many of us are prepared to forgive the mistakes of others but are brutal when it comes to our own shortcomings. Sure, there are plenty of people who take just the opposite approach and yet in my own career, while uncaring clods have pushed through to the best seats in the house, the sensitive types are beating themselves up for having failed to hold the door for someone.

All virtues require balance. The desire to be right and kind is admirable. These self-reproaches, however, can paralyze a career and evaporate happiness. It is important to be caring, but it would help if we'd accord ourselves the same forgiveness and generosity that we give to others.

Primo Levi

In addition to the usual management books, I've been absorbed lately by Ian Thomson's extraordinary biography of Primo Levi.

Imagine this: A young Jew from a thoroughly assimilated family that has lived for generations in Italy. Like many other Jewish students in the early years of Mussolini's regime, he joins the Fascist youth organizations. A serious scholar, he studies chemistry at the university. And then, when Mussolini decided to placate Hitler by adopting anti-Semitic laws, Levi's world deteriorates. Eventually, he is sent to a Nazi death camp.

Thomson's book goes beyond mere biography. It is a study of a society gone mad.

Spacing Out

If you have an extra $200,000 and a yearning to see the world from space, Richard Branson and some others are nearing the day when you can launch. As Time magazine notes:

While Branson was hitting the beach with future passengers, his competitors-- smart, rich and innovative like him--were busily at work plotting to beat him into space. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos just tested his first prototype for personal space travel in West Texas. John Carmack, co-creator of the Doom and Quake games, is test-firing rockets for the next generation of spaceliners and lunar landers near Dallas. In California, Jim Benson, founder of Compusearch, is developing a space taxi with a motor that runs on rubber and laughing gas. (Don't laugh. It works.) PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, who has a NASA contract to build a robotic Pony Express to the International Space Station (ISS), is pouring his own millions into a ship for galactic travelers at his factory south of Los Angeles. Robert Bigelow, founder of Budget Suites of America, already has a small-scale, inflatable space station--hotel in orbit, an outgrowth of his curiosity about UFOs. New Mexico wants to become the Cape Canaveral of space tourism, but six other proposed spaceports across the country are vying for business too. There's even an Orbital Outfitters store to provide space suits for civilians--whether portly or petite.

Quote of the Day

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Prez Race Analysis

Michael Barone does some electoral analysis on Hillary versus Newt and Hillary versus Rudy presidential races.

Upshot: Watch Giuliani and watch Obama.

Remarkable Alexis

He was tiny, five foot four according to some though others allowed him an inch or so more, very slightly built with sloping shoulders. But his lovely brown eyes and wavy black hair and his wicked mouth were capable of enchanting, as was his melodious voice which was startling, coming from such a little man. We think of Alexis de Tocqueville as a chilly aristocrat looking on the follies and brutalities of his times with an austere and unsparing eye. An aristocrat he was, the son of a landowner in the Cotentin – the Château Tocqueville is just over the hill as you come in to land at Cherbourg – but he was warm, hot-tempered and sentimental. He burst into tears when he visited his childhood home after five months’ absence. He was amorous, too, nearly fought a duel, wrote love letters in invisible ink made out of lemon juice, married for love Marie Mottley, an English girl with no money, and never stopped loving her despite his numerous strayings. In middle age he lamented “how could I manage to stop that sort of boiling of the blood that meeting a woman, whatever she may be, still causes me as it did twenty years ago?”. Marie was probably the perfect wife for him, almost absurdly English, fond of small dogs and gardening and chewing her food thoroughly. She ate so slowly that one day Tocqueville got up, snatched her plate of pie and threw it to the floor. “Some more pie”, she said calmly to the servant.

Ferdinand Mount
reviews Hugh Brogan’s biography of de Tocqueville.

Harmless Celebrity Update

Somewhere, probably near a beach in Italy, lives a retired advertising genius who conceived of the idea of using a man named Fabio to sell butter-like spread.

Click here for Fabio's latest pitch.

[HT: Adfreak ]

Totten Interviews Oren

Michael J. Totten has a great interview with historian Michael Oren, author of Power, Faith, and Fantasy, at Pajamas Media. An excerpt:

MJT: When speaking of the Barbary War you used the word “jihad.” I don’t think you used that word in your book, though, did you?

Oren: No, I didn’t really have to. There was the case in 1785 where Thomas Jefferson is sent to negotiate with the envoy of the Pasha of Tripoli. Jefferson says to him that America only wants peace with the Barbary states. And he says to Jefferson “No, we want war with you. We have a holy book called the Koran which says that we have to conquer and enslave all infidel states. And the United States is an infidel state. And moreover our holy book the Koran tells us that if we are killed in the course of carrying out this war that we’ll go directly to Paradise.” So I didn’t think I even had to put the label jihadist on there. I figured that remarkable report of Jefferson’s at the Continental Congress would suffice to alert contemporary readers what Jefferson was dealing with in the Middle East.

Bar Wars

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the details on an upcoming documentary about six people preparing to take the California bar exam.

Want to make the bar exam fairer and more closely tied to the actual practice of law?

Require that all practicing attorneys pass it every five years.

Trivia Test. Which of the following prominent individuals failed a bar exam?

John F. Kennedy Jr.

New York City Mayor Ed Koch

Attorney Gerry Spence

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley

[Answer: All of them.]

Midways is Up

On the Moneyed Midways, with its collection of posts from business, management, and finance-related carnivals, is up at Political Calculations blog.

Law Novels

John Mortimer, who knows a thing or two about the law and novels, gives his top five list of legal fiction.

I confess that I've never heard of the Trollope novel but Bleak House is one of Dickens's best.

School and Money

John McWhorter examines a myth of modern education:

Eskimos do not have more words for snow than English. James Cagney never said “You dirty rat” in any of his films. Abraham Lincoln had a reedy voice, not the elegant baritone of Sam Waterston.

Those misconceptions are hard to shake because they sit so comfortably in the mind. There is another one more disturbing: the bien-pensant American’s assumption that the reason inner city schools are such disasters is because the feds starve them of money, instead shunting cash to schools in leafy suburbs.

Jonathan Kozol’s book “Savage Inequalities” set into the Zeitgeist an image of poor kids sharing textbooks in schools “with peeling paint.” The paint, which one hears cited again and again, seems to have made an especially deep impression on readers. The lesson is that lack of funds is the reason no learning goes on in these schools.

Interesting, though, how little interest people, who impose Kozol’s theory on students nationwide, have in observing cases in which Mr. Kozol’s advice is actually taken. Such cases teach a new lesson.

the rest here.

Quote of the Day

Fashions fade - style is eternal.

- Yves Saint Laurent

Friday, February 23, 2007

Oscar's Box Office

Political Calculations has crunched numbers to answer this question:

Income and Happiness

Michael Shermer, writing in Scientific American, notes that “keeping up with the neighbors” is alive and well:

Imagine you have a choice between earning $50,000 a year while other people make $25,000 or earning $100,000 a year while other people get $250,000. Prices of goods and services are the same. Which would you prefer? Surprisingly, studies show that the majority of people select the first option. As H. L. Mencken is said to have quipped, "A wealthy man is one who earns $100 a year more than his wife's sister's husband."

This seemingly illogical preference is just one of the puzzles that science is trying to solve about why happiness can be so elusive in today's world. Several recent books by researchers address the topic, but my skeptic's eye found a historian's long-view analysis to be ultimately the most enlightening.

Consider a paradox outlined by London School of Economics economist Richard Lay­ard in Happiness (Penguin, 2005), in which he shows that we are no happier even though average incomes have more than doubled since 1950 and "we have more food, more clothes, more cars, bigger houses, more central heating, more foreign holidays, a shorter working week, nicer work and, above all, better health." Once average annual income is above $20,000 a head, higher pay brings no greater happiness. Why? One, our genes account for roughly half of our predisposition to be happy or unhappy, and two, our wants are relative to what other people have, not to some absolute measure.

Wiretapping and Translating

The FBI is translating over 1000 wiretapped conversations a day. An excerpt from David Kaplan’s US News & World Report article:

Spurred by adding hundreds of new linguists and help from allies overseas, the FBI is translating a record 34,000 wiretapped conversations a month, bureau officials tell the
Bad Guys blog. Long criticized for its lack of language specialists, the FBI, they say, is finally catching up to an unprecedented intake of foreign-language surveillance recordings, electronic data, and text since 9/11.

Most of the wiretaps are tied to counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases, officials say. Since 9/11, the FBI's counterterrorism agents, in particular, have collected a mother lode of intelligence. In a widely overlooked report to the Senate Judiciary Committee in November, bureau officials ticked off their counterterrorism take over the past four years:

519,217 hours of audio

5,508,217 electronic data files

1,847,497 pages of text

Quote of the Day

Not to know certain things is a great part of wisdom.

- Hugo Grotius

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Gizmo Update: The Time Table

I know some people with serious punctuality problems who could use a table like this.
Better yet, they could use an even more convenient version that could be strapped on the wrist.

Customer Service Steps

Joel on Software gives seven steps to remarkable customer service.

[HT: Seth Godin ]

Diplomacy's Motives

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Daniel Johnson examines the European approach to Iran:

The leaders of Europe can no longer pretend that they don't know what Iran is up to. A leaked internal document prepared for the European Union's foreign ministers warns that it is probably too late to prevent the Iranian government from acquiring nuclear weapons. "At some stage we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons programme." The document also admits that efforts to impede the Iranian nuclear program have failed. "In practice . . . the Iranians have pursued their programme at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the U.N. or the [International Atomic Energy Agency]." Nor do the limited sanctions announced by the U.N. Security Council hold out any hope: "The problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone."

So now they know. Years of diplomacy have made virtually no difference. Carrots and sticks have been tried and failed. The regime in Tehran is determined to become a nuclear power--the first nuclear power with a yearning for martyrdom. Europe's strategy has hitherto been merely to play for time--but time is on Tehran's side.


Now that the threat of a second Holocaust is staring Europe in the face, however, its leaders are in denial. Worse: They seem insouciant. Why is the E.U., which makes so much of its humanitarian credentials, which sees itself as a creature of the Enlightenment, so seemingly indifferent? The answer, I fear, lies in the process that has deprived Israel of legitimacy and branded Zionism as a relic of European imperialism. That process has been grinding away for decades, but only now is it becoming plain that Europe's vast superstructure of collective atonement for the Holocaust has been hollowed out from within. The calumny that Israel--the most liberal and egalitarian country in the Middle East--is an "apartheid state" has hardened into a conviction. The mud has stuck.

Michael Ledeen has another take.

Biz Schools and Hiring Prospects

What are the 50 best business schools for getting hired?

Fortune has the list.

Fame Whores?

When a generation reveals so much of itself on the Internet now, what will it be saying later?

On Being the Exception

Writing in CareerJournal, Sarah E. Needleman has some solid suggestions on what to do if you find yourself to be the odd one out at work.

One observation: I've talked to teams in which everyone felt that he or she was the "different one."


Thank God for the Australians and the British.

Mark Steyn explores how some choose to spin the word "ally."

An excerpt:

According to my dictionary, the word "ally" comes from the Old French. Very Old French, I'd say. For the New French, the word has a largely postmodern definition of "duplicitous charmer who undermines you at every opportunity".

For the less enthusiastically obstructive NATO members, "ally" means "wealthy country with no military capability that requires years of diplomatic wooing and black-tie banquets in order to agree to a token contribution of 23.08 troops." Incidentally, that 23.08 isn't artistic licence on my part. The 2004 NATO summit in Turkey was presented as a triumph of multilateral co-operation because the 26 members agreed to contribute between them an additional 600 troops and three helicopters to the Afghan mission. That's 23.08 troops and a ninth of a helicopter per ally. In fairness, Turkey chipped in the three helicopters single-handed, though the deal required them to return to Ankara after three months.

Read the rest here.

The Fakers

I recently had a conversation with a team concerning individuals and organizations who are the exact opposite of their professed title or mission.

Some examples would be:

  • Bigoted equal opportunity/diversity officers

  • Prevaricating or manipulative religious figures

  • Corporate HR executives who proclaim themselves to be "people persons" when in reality they are carnivorous people persons

  • "Community activists" who care little for the community but a great deal for a narrow agenda.

These charlatans are often hugely successful because the chutzpah behind their hypocrisy is so large that people naturally deride the idea that they could be complete fakes. So how do they do it?

Setting aside the sociopathic operators, I've come to the conclusion that the others succeed in their fakery by first deceiving themselves. They genuinely believe that they are doing good. They justify odious behavior by asserting that it's all for a good cause.

Historian Robert Conquest observed that some of history's most murderous movements were staffed by people who meant to improve the world. If the operators of death camps or the Gulag were able to convince themselves that they were helping mankind, then the amount of self-deception needed to become a corporate hypocrite shrinks in comparison.

Chrysler's Future

Business Week believes that a buy-out of Chrysler is all but inevitable.

Quote of the Day

A person wants to become a scholar and a leader overnight, and to sleep that night as well.

- Rabbi Yosef Horowitz

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Brunacini on Customer Service

Alan Brunacini's book on Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service is the best book on the subject that I've ever read. Its lessons can be easily applied to other professions because customer service rules are universal and, if anything, firefighters encounter people in far more demanding circumstances than does your average store clerk.

Chief Brunacini's prototype of a customer - Mrs. Smith - has been adopted by fire departments throughout the United States. His writing style resembles his conversational style.

An excerpt:

This human-to-human process begins with the initial call to request assistance. Mrs. Smith could care less that we have a space-age 911 electronic, nano-second, pass through computer driven call receipt and dispatch system with automatic address/phone verification capability and an instantaneous satellite-driven vehicle locator and an on-line computer terminal in the front seat of every vehicle that is painted red. Rather, she instantly connected with the voice and helpful feeling she received from a heads-up, calm, professional communications center human. When Mrs. Smith sent the personal message that she was in trouble, the dispatcher sent a personal message back to her that the system cared about her and help was on the way - at that critical initial stage, the human (dispatcher) became the entire fire department to Mrs. Smith. As the event continues to evolve, Mrs. Smith somehow forgot to ask about the results of the last pump test on the rig that pulled up on side A at her home. She will typically remember and relate (two page letter to the Fire Chief a week later) three basic observations about our service - none of it mentions pump test results (or anything else very technical):

#1 Quick response time - "It seemed you arrived as I was hanging up the phone."

#2 Skillful performance that solved the problem - "Your firefighters were so calm and took charge. Everything got better after they arrived."

#3 Positive personal treatment - "Everyone who responded was so kind, and I will never forget how nice they were to my family and to me."

Numbers 1 and 2 (QUICK/SKILLFUL) each get a nice three-sentence paragraph. Number 3 (NICE) gets a full page and a half from Mrs. Smith.

Razor Sharp Advocates

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog talks to a jury expert on the pressing question of whether attorneys should have facial hair.

The expert wisely treats beards with respect although goatees don't score many points.

Kick Boxing Update

The presidential campaign is starting to heat up.

This could be a very long political season.
[HT: Drudge ]

Sick Organizations

I was coaching a manager on a problem the other day and as he revealed items about the culture of his organization, it became apparent that a major culprit was not in the room.

Some organizations are sick. Upper management routinely sends messages that inadvertently - or perhaps not so inadvertently in some cases - tell employees that they are easily replaced, their co-workers are rivals, management distrusts them, customers are adversaries, and that there is a big gap between what is proclaimed and what is practiced.

In many cases, the illness is so severe that the patient is delusional. Various "problem employees" are identified, but the organization's problem is not noticed. (It reminds me of the old Jackie Mason line that his mother didn't know how much he drank until one day he came home sober.) The leadership of the organization is so steeped in poor practices that the executives think treating people shabbily is normal, wise, and "all part of the game."

Unfortunately, this is one of those occasions where getting the patient to the doctor is a major challenge. If the consultant suggests an examination, he or she may be suspected of trying to run up the bill. If an executive or manager does so, the person is accused of weakness or disloyalty.

In the meantime, the employees suffer and, year after year, the managers lose less touch with reality. Perhaps saddest of all, they lose touch with their humanity.

New Promotion, Former Peers

Rowan Manahan has a great post on supervising former peers, which has to be one of the toughest chores ever faced by a supervisor.


Good stuff:

An ad from Britain on "A World Without America."

[HT: Instapundit ]

Quote of the Day

It might be termed the Law of Triviality. Briefly stated, it means that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in adverse proportion to the sum involved.

- C. Northcote Parkinson

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Making Libya Competitive

Libya has been consultants!

Harvard competitiveness wizard Michael Porter (not pictured above) and a team are advising the government on how to make the nation more competitive.

Business Week has the details on what has to be one of the biggest challenges ever faced by a consulting team.
One revealing item: 51 percent of the labor force toils in the public sector.

Will It Work?

If you want to learn humility, make predictions.

That's one of the messages in this brief interview that Guy Kawasaki conducted with Michael Raynor.

An excerpt:

Question: What is the explanation for Toyota’s success?

Answer: A big part of it was being well-positioned for the oil crisis of the mid-1970s. Toyota was influenced by its origins in the Japanese market, where size and fuel economy mattered, and in the U.S., it was focusing on the second car market, where the need for low prices similarly rewarded smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. When the oil crisis hit, Toyota happened to have products that were much better suited to the suddenly-changed environment.

As Louis Pasteur said, “Fortune favours the prepared mind,” so this bit of luck would have been useless to Toyota if it made inferior cars. But of course customers quickly noted Toyota’s vehicle quality. This reflected its tradition of manufacturing excellence, of defect and cost reduction and quality improvement, a system that is known today as the Toyota Production System, or TPS.

By the way, Toyota has been selling cars in the US since the mid-1950s. They’re #2 and threatening to become #1, but it took fifty years. GM overtook Ford as the #1 automaker in the early 1930s, less than twenty years after Alfred Sloan created GM. Toyota’s accomplishment is remarkable, but it took a long time.

JetBlue's Blues

Writing in City Journal, Nicole Gelinas has some thoughts on what’s been happening with JetBlue. An excerpt:

In fact, the entire industry’s laserlike focus on low fares is a big reason why airline profits are often razor-thin in a good year, and, over the long haul, nonexistent. And JetBlue’s particularly low fares force competitors—who’ve usually been around a lot longer and thus have to pay for things like pensions that JetBlue doesn’t have to worry about yet—to push their fares down, too. The older airlines solve this problem by declaring bankruptcy once in a while, pushing costs onto three groups: workers, who get lower-than-agreed pensions; the federal government, since the government must make up for some of the pension shortfall; and shareholders, who lose the value of their stock.

Neeleman promises that JetBlue will regroup from last week’s chaos by designing new rules to compensate future stranded customers. Further, the company probably will reimburse last week’s beleaguered travelers at a much greater rate than the government requires, which might help counter some of the bad press the company has earned. Naturally, Neeleman also said JetBlue will invest in its communications system to avoid future disarray.

But all of those costs should result in higher fares at JetBlue, creating an excellent opportunity for the next JetBlue: an upstart airline that comes out of nowhere and offers crazily low fares, which it can do only because it has no legacy costs and chooses to underinvest in its vital infrastructure. Given a choice, if history is any guide, customers will vote their short-term interest, taking the lower fare and leaving theoretical problems to the future.

Update: JetBlue is doing damage control.

When Persuading: Shout "Fire" Instead of "Police"

It's a common problem: a supervisor has an employee who is an obnoxious, arrogant, saboteur whose technical abilities may be strong but whose people skills are an F Minus.

Members of upper management, however, do not have to deal with the character on a daily basis. Their exposure, in fact, has probably been filtered by the supervisor in an effort to keep the troll from causing embarrassment or insult. The supervisor may also be operating with the assumption that he or she must "handle" the situation without burdening anyone upstairs. This reluctance may be tripled if the supervisor hired the problem employee and fears any review of that poor decision.

If the supervisor tries the following arguments to persuade upper management to support disciplinary action against the saboteur, here's how management may respond:

"The employee is rude and disrespectful." He's never been rude to me. Are you doing something to trigger this?

"The employee is incompetent." That's not what you indicated when you gave him "Meets Standards" performance evaluations. You deal with him.

A flaw in the above approach is the supervisor is calling "Help, Police!" when the better cry is "Help, Fire!"

For years, security professionals have noted that you are more likely to get prompt assistance if you shout "Help! Fire!" instead of "Help! Police!" A cry for the police causes many people to hunker down, hide, and hope that someone else will solve a problem that may endanger them if they give assistance. A cry for assistance with a fire causes concern that the problem faced by the crier may spread to the listeners. Self-interest argues in favor of intervention. That's why the following arguments have a greater chance of getting management to help the supervisor:

"This employee's disruptive conduct is going to trigger a bunch of grievances from the co-workers." Hmm. If that occurs, it will land on my desk and the question will arise of how we backed up our supervisor.

"The law department believes that we must take action to correct or remove this employee." If the lawyers are involved, I can't fob this off on the supervisor.

"The employee is bringing down the team." That may affect productivity. My numbers won't look good.

In short, the supervisor will be more effective if he or she can show how upper management will be affected and that it is in upper management's best interest to back up supervision.

This doesn't discount the impact of idealistic arguments. I've seen plenty of times when those have carried the day. They should be accompanied, however, by points that show how the audience will be directly harmed if this or that course is not adopted.

Think Fire, not Police.

Unconventional Advertising: Hammer & Coop

The advertising execs have apparently concluded that the only thing better than a Mini-Cooper is a Mini-Cooper ad disguised as a mindless mini-series.

Check out Hammer & Coop.

It's not up to the Flea Market Montgomery ad (What is?) but it has its moments.

[HT: Adrants ]

Quote of the Day

The world is a dangerous place to live - not because of the people who are evil but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

- Albert Einstein

Monday, February 19, 2007

Customer Service: The Weakest Link

We all have one of these.

Phil Gerbyshak relates a customer service disaster. An excerpt:

Phone rings once and someone at the restaurant picks up:

Pizza phone boy: "Hello."

Hungry Customer: "Hi is this [insert chain here]?"

PPB: "Uh huh."

HC: "I ordered a pizza 45 minutes ago. Can you tell me if it's left your store yet?"

PPB: "Uh yeah. What's your name?"

HC: "Gerbyshak. Phil Gerbyshak."

PPB: "Our driver broke down. He's got your pizza."

HC: "So my pizza is in some delivery driver's car? Do you have any idea when I'll get my pizza."

PPB: "Uh, hold on." hands phone to Pizza Restaurant Manager.

Lincoln Portrait

Take a break:

Here's a video tribute to Abraham Lincoln, complete with Aaron Copland's composition and Gregory Peck's narration.

Going South

I've heard a lot of Boomers talk about the possibility of living out their retirement in Mexico. describes itself as the English speaker's guide to living in Mexico.

Of course, if retirement budgets become tighter, then get ready for

Time to Drop Presidents' Day

Today is Presidents' Day in the United States.

No doubt large numbers of Americans will spend most of the day honoring the presidencies of Warren Harding and James Buchanan.


President's Day is a worthless excuse for a three day weekend and it should be abolished.

The old holidays celebrating the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln should be restored and there should be a serious effort to remember and teach about the greatness of those two leaders.

Quote of the Day

I have no expectation of making a hit every time I come to bat.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Big Brother as Health Coach

Many people may cheer upon reading this Business Week account of the way Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. monitors the health of its employees, but my reaction is negative; in fact, I think such programs are chilling.

Most of us dislike Orwellian Big Brother government.

Why should we embrace private sector Big Brothers?

Steyn on The Surge

Mark Steyn looks at the news media, panic, and Iraq. An excerpt:

The week's news from Iraq: According to the state television network, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was wounded in a clash with security forces just north of Baghdad. A senior deputy was killed.

Meanwhile, the punk cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has decided that discretion is the better part of mullahs and has temporarily relocated to Iran. That's right: The biggest troublemaker in Iraq is no longer in Iraq. It may be that his Persian vacation is only to marry a cousin or two and consult with the A-list ayatollahs, but the Mookster has always had highly sensitive antennae when it comes to his own physical security -- he likes being the guy who urges martyrdom on others rather than being just another schmuck who takes one for the team. So the fact that urgent business requires him to be out of town for the Big Surge is revealing at the very least of how American objectives in Iraq are not at the mercy of forces beyond their control; U.S. military and political muscle can shape conditions on the ground -- if they can demonstrate they're serious about doing so.

Read the rest here.

Book Review: The Go Point by Michael Useem

Michael Useem, a professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, grabs your attention early on in The Go Point: When It's Time to Decide. He analyzes the decisions behind the deaths of some highly experienced firefighters who'd been battling a blaze on Storm King Mountain in Colorado.

Useem's technique is to go on site and trace the key points in the decision trail. At one point, a group of firefighters who are studying the decisions are timed as they run over the same ground that the doomed firefighters had to traverse in their flight from the flames. Most don't make it to the top of the ridge that would have meant the difference between life and death.

Useem notes: However you word it, the odds are good that anyone who has been through the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program will be far better prepared to deal with two of the three root causes of the suboptimal decisions that plagued leaders on Storm Mountain in July 1994: inadequate preparation for decision making and high stress. Separately, the fire service has attacked the third root cause - ambiguity of authority - by sharpening and better instilling the principles of unequivocal responsibility when on a fire line.

Useem's book contains other examples of decision making that go beyond the board room, such as Robert E. Lee's decision to order Pickett's Charge during the battle of Gettysburg and Roberto Canessa's decisions when he and other passengers struggled to survive the aftermath of a plane crash in the Andes in 1972.
One point that bothered me was Useem's willingness to embrace, in a "When All Else Fails" section, the use of nonanalytical log-jam breakers such as the use of signs. For example, Rick Pitino is trying to decide whether to leave the NBA and coach the University of Louisville Cardinals when a cardinal flies onto the porch and lands on the table in front of him. Pitino took that as a sign. Useem sees that interpretation as a recognition of what Pitino truly wanted to decide. Using signs could be a pretty sizable loophole in any decision making process if all else has not failed and yet, given Useem's condition that all other options have been exhausted, it may be a way of breaking through indecision.
Although Useem's book contains plenty of thought-provoking cases, the section that may be the most heavily used by executives and managers addresses what to do when authority is not bestowed, responsibilities are unfamiliar, analysis is bogged down, agreement is too rapid, thinking is constricted, failure is repeated, and warring factions exist. Michael Useem's templates provide real solutions.
If I were to recommend a single book on decision making, it would be The Go Point. The reasons are simple. Michael Useem has written an interesting, highly readable, non-academic, volume containing guidelines that can be applied to any workplace. His on-site case studies are memorable and, in some instances, haunting.

WaiterRant Dines Out

WaiterRant is working on his book, looking for a job, and seeing the restaurant experience as a customer.

Quote of the Day

I never was ruined but twice - once when I lost a lawsuit, and once when I gained one.

- Voltaire

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sites for Smart Travel

Business 2.0 gives some nifty web sites for road warriors.

They contain - among other things - info on first class seat discounts, plane and local transportation schedules, and free wireless sites.

Hollywood Disasters

It could be the subject of a lively workshop on decision making. [They forgot the movie version of The Bonfire of the Vanities.]

The ACLU Saga Gets Weird(er)

If you think that idealistic organizations (or those who think of themselves that way) are devoid of personnel problems, think again.

The squabbling at the American Civil Liberties Union is beginning to resemble a cross between a soap opera and the Roman senate.

Former director Ira Glasser is turning on his successor, Anthony Romero. An excerpt from the New York magazine article:

"He’s totally ill-suited for this job," Glasser tells me over a shrimp salad at the Empire Diner one chilly afternoon. Glasser ticks off a dozen instances in which he believes Romero was negligent, dishonest to the point of pathology, or bullying of his colleagues. "He lies, and he covers up for his lies," he says. "Anybody who tries to call him on this, he threatens and attacks personally. He’s got some of his own board members scared of retaliation against them or their local affiliates. And the rest of the board is suffering from some sort of willful blindness."

Mega-Caffeine Drink Update

For those of you who have a compelling reason to stay up for a couple of days, Jolt is back in six different flavors.

upTick: Dynamic Pressure

In a Harvard Business School classroom, students in the Dynamic Markets class may have one minute to make a decision in a pressure cooker one called "the most stress I've experienced in ten years."

It's margin call time in a real-world market investment computer simulation called upTick. Students whose investments have fallen below margin requirement levels are being told they have sixty seconds to liquidate part of their portfolio to cover—effectively locking in a loss—or gamble that their investments will recover before insolvency is declared.

"Many students find this minute—and the decision of whether to ride it out and hope for a recovery or to blink and 'puke their position' (pardon the phrase but it's how actual traders describe it)—to be an extremely harrowing experience," says professor Joshua Coval.

And that's the point. Real life money managers face such stress frequently, but it's a hard thing to teach in a classroom.

Read the rest of this
Harvard Business School Working Knowledge article here.

Hidden Agenda

Victor Davis Hanson is not impressed with Newsweek’s reporting on Iran and especially with the newsmagazine’s use of anonymous sources. An excerpt:

The implication is that Newsweek calls up Powell and Armitage, relates to them something said by one of Newsweek’s supposed unnamed administration sources critical of both, and then starts taking down quotes as they fire back.Then we also get the de rigueur cry of the heart from the "former" NSC staffer who at ground zero confirms our worst Powellian fears about what the nefarious "some" in Team Bush "secretly" are conjuring:

Some view the spiraling attacks as a strand in a worrisome pattern. At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs.

A student in Journalism 101 would not earn a "C" on a storyline that is framed as "some view," then clarified by "at least one," and concerns what "some" advisors "secretly want."

Money, Money, and Management

On the Moneyed Midways, with its collection of business, finance, and management-related blog posts from various carnivals, is up at Political Calculations blog.

Consider the Obvious

The meeting dragged on as the managers tried to identify what would please a disgruntled employee.

One person suggested a reassignment would give her a fresh start. Another thought the removal of some irritating co-workers would show that management seriously wanted her to stay. Still another restructuring her job responsibilities so she could work on projects of particular interest. Each idea was designed to produce a result that would please the employee and head off further conflict.

Finally, a seasoned manager wandered by the meeting room and one of the participants posed the question to him. He looked a little confused, then said, "Why not ask her?"

Everyone else stared at the floor. For almost an hour the obvious answer had eluded a reasonably intelligent group.

In all of our sophisticated attempts to create elaborate explanations of why the chicken wants to cross the road, we can easily miss the one about "getting to the other side."

Books on Wartime Leaders

James Swanson gives his top five list of books about wartime leaders.

I'll second his recommendation of Lincoln and His Generals. It contains lessons that can be applied to the modern workplace. [Many of us have had to deal with a McClellan.]

Quote of the Day

Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.

- Robert Frost

Friday, February 16, 2007

Must Reading: What Got You Here Won't Get You There

One quick sign of how much I’ve gotten out of a management book is whether or not I’ve scrawled notes in the margins or within the front cover. My copy of Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, is filled with stars, arrows, and orders to "Reconsider this", "Incorporate that", and "Be sure to re-read this part!"

In short, his book is a powerful analysis of the harmful habits that can keep successful people from achieving even greater success and a detailed strategy for positive change.

Goldsmith, who is a legend in the field of executive coaching, identifies twenty transactional flaws that can sabotage careers. For example:

Adding too much value: The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.

Making destructive comments: The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.

Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However.”: The overuse of these negative qualifiers which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”

An excessive need to be “me”: Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.

Goldsmith notes: Study the twenty annoying habits and you’ll see that at least half of them are rooted in information compulsion. When we add value, or pass judgment, or make destructive comments, or announce that we “already knew that,” or explain “why that won’t work” we are compulsively sharing information. We’re telling people something they don’t know. We’re convinced that we’re making people smarter or inspiring them to do better, when we’re more likely to achieve the opposite effect. Likewise, when we fail to give recognition, or claim credit we don’t deserve, or refuse to apologize, or don’t express our gratitude, we are withholding information.

Goldsmith’s amiable and gentle tone – his Buddhism comes through at various points – makes it all the more powerful when he occasionally bops you in the head with a hard truth. (Read his description of “the dream” and tell me that it doesn’t apply to you.)

Five stars out of five stars.

Buy it. Read it. Re-read it.

Quote of the Day

Here's a good rule of thumb
Too clever, is dumb.

- Ogden Nash

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thoughts on the Road

Slow posting today. I taught a class on ethical decision making this morning, then drove to Tucson. Tomorrow brings a workshop on communicating in a diverse workplace.

If you wonder about all of that unexpected traffic out there, there is an explanation:


They're out there, clogging up the highways and the airports, and there's one for every type of specialty. [This may be because the job has a very simple definition: Someone will pay for your advice. Everything beyond that is commentary.]

I once met a consultant who specialized in doctor's offices, which can resemble a caste system out of the Middle Ages. Her main task, it seemed, was keeping the front desk staff from assaulting the doctors. She never explained how the nurses fit into the equation but apparently her specialty was a lucrative gig. I think of her every time I see sad faces staring out at a waiting room.

Several good points were brought up during the class discussion this morning but one in particular stays with me. At what point is it permissible to bury your concerns about a management action in order to preserve your job and your family's economic security? My response was that the old "family security" defense can be a huge loophole. Many a scoundrel has probably been abetted by good family men who went along for the ride because the mortgage was due, baby needed new shoes, or a teenager wanted a car.
Most people are repelled at an employer who would permit the harassment of employees by a major client. The idea that management should permit someone to harass employees if the harasser pays enough money is odious. But what about sell outs on the other end of the power grid? Are some employees saying in essence, "If management pays us enough, we are willing to go along with unethical behavior?"

Quote of the Day

We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

- Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Benefits of the Siesta

This should not surprise us:

And not just a little good.

"You've gained weight."

If you're not Chinese, you may be surprised by the bluntness of your Chinese co-workers.

CareerJournal reveals the culture gap.

A Not So Little Thing

Val Willis, writing at the Tom Peters blog, explores the significance of the daily catered lunches for Home Depot executives under the old regime.

Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine’s Day.
If you have not gotten the Valentine(s) in your life something appropriate, it's time to scramble.

For the history of the holiday,
click here.

For information on people who dislike Valentine’s Day and want it replaced by something involving ashes and sackcloth,
click here.
[Cartoon from gapingvoid ]


A key test of the sophistication maturity level of a workplace is the extent to which factions are tolerated.

High tolerance for factions = Low sophistication and immaturity.

This is hardly surprising. What does shock is the extent to which factions are permitted by supervisors who should know better. Some supervisors of limited skills join one or more of the sub-groups. Others, who may think themselves wiser, play manipulative games and increase the level of distrust. The result, however, is the same: Team cohesiveness is severely damaged or destroyed.

In my experience, these negative practices are not adopted overnight. They grow slowly. Gossip is permitted here. A caste system develops there. A maverick is ostracized. A dissenting voice is squelched. People are given undesirable labels. Favoritism begins to flourish, lines are drawn, and one day, the team finds that it is no longer a team.

Leaders have to catch these bad actions before they become habits. They have to watch for the tendrils of factions much as a gardener keeps an eye open for pests, weeds, and fungi. At the first sign, the leader must act firmly and clearly to declare that the behavior is unacceptable.

During the Second World War, General Eisenhower's efforts to prevent the fracturing of the Anglo-American military alliance were well known. When informed that an American officer, while drinking in London, had declared that the Americans would show the British how to fight, Eisenhower became "white with rage." As historian Stephen Ambrose describes the incident: [Eisenhower] summoned an aide and told him to arrange for the officer to report the next morning. As the aide left the office, Eisenhower hissed to [General Hastings] Ismay, "I'll make the son of a bitch swim back to America." The officer was sent home - by boat.

In another incident, a British officer defended an American who called him a son of a bitch, noting that the term is "sometimes used as a term of endearment." Eisenhower replied, "I am informed that he called you a British son of a bitch. That is quite different. My ruling stands."

The American was reduced in rank and sent back to the United States.

Quote of the Day

If you want to be loved, be lovable.

- Ovid

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Celebrity Culture

Despite all efforts to make this blog an Anna Nicole Smith-free zone, I couldn’t resist this article by actor Larry Miller. An excerpt:

No one who wasn't in a fugue state for the last year could have missed the most recent, and it turns out final, iteration of Anna Nicole Smith's public life. In the last year she had a daughter born and a son die. Her lawyer decided to come around the other side of the desk and take her in his arms, and, you know what? They seemed happy, and I hope they were. Then an ex-boyfriend took time off from eating Cheetoes to sue somebody for something, but what does it matter anymore?

Similarly, you had to have known she married the rich old guy a dozen-or-so years ago and was unpleasantly embroiled ever since with his first loving family over--what a shock--the money. When I heard the old fellow passed away, I read about his son suing her over the will, and I remember thinking, "His son? What is he, 60?" Sixty-seven, it turns out, and he's gone now himself. Since yet another of the heart-broken offspring has gallantly appeared to pick up the cudgels and continue contesting it, I'd like to offer two choices of what I think is some pretty good advice: (1) Get a job. You didn't earn that money and you don't deserve it. And, by the way, every penny of it should go to Anna Nicole's daughter. Or, (2) Try your best to get reincarnated as a sexy woman.

Read it
all here.