Eco Break: Giant Twist Freedom DX
Popular Mechanics looks at the Giant Twist Freedom DX electric bike, a form of transportation with a name worthy of a break-dancer.
Commentary by Michael Wade on Leadership, Ethics, Management, and Life
Popular Mechanics looks at the Giant Twist Freedom DX electric bike, a form of transportation with a name worthy of a break-dancer.
You know you should be focusing on Project A but you'd prefer to be doing something else. What is a valid excuse for distraction? Well, some excuses are time-tested and others are almost too weak to mention.
Heather MacDonald on math and The New York Times. An excerpt:
Writing in Entrepreneur, Rory Cohen examines entelechy, the force that seeks to be fulfilled. An excerpt:
Virtually every group in the population is less angry in 2008 than in 1996 -- those making more and those making less than the average income; college-educated and noncollege-educated folks; men and women.
Only one major group in the population has gotten angrier: people who call themselves "very liberal." While conservatives, moderates and nonextreme liberals all have seen their average levels of outrage fall over the past 12 years, the number of angry days among our leftiest neighbors has risen 56% (to 2.28 from 1.46), and the percentage with no angry days in the past week has fallen to 31% from 37%. Today, very liberal people spend more than twice as much time feeling angry as do political moderates. One in seven is outraged seven days a week.
Read the rest of Arthur C. Brooks on levels of anger.
Cultural Offering tells about a client who became sort of a benchmark for the people in his company.
A humorous recipe for rabbit stew went into extensive detail concerning spices and cooking. It began with "Catch a rabbit."
Perhaps most reflective of an arborist's day-to-day job requirements is the Work Climb Station. During this event, the climbers must perform five separate tasks. For instance, the Handsaw Station requires them to climb into the tree, safely tie themselves off, and ding a bell with their handsaw to simulate cutting a branch. The Limb Walk Station has them rappel far out on a branch, holding most of their weight with the rope. An alarm hangs down from the branch, just a few inches above a wooden box. If the climber puts too much weight on the branch, the alarm goes off and he or she is assessed a three-second penalty.
You must always work not just within but below your means. If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle five. In that way the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery and you create a feeling of strength in reserve.
Ranking the Presidents: John Fund reviews Alvin Stephen Felzenberg's book.
From a letter written by Baron von Grimm in 1765:
Anthony Bourdain, writing in his blog, discusses why he stays away from politics in his cooking show. An excerpt:
Terry Teachout responds to Joe Queenan's article on modern music.
Vince Vaughn just went up in my book. Read about his cell phone problem as well as other celebrity technophobes here.
Dab your eyes and think of England. A noted British public relations man ponders his career and its by-products. An excerpt from The Telegraph article:
The discussion eventually went to the core question of what should be the backgrounds of the team members for a very important community project.
Here's an article by Bjorn Lomborg that could launch a multitude of debates:
Leadership as an organization capability matters more than gifted individual leaders. Leadership focuses on the processes used to create future leaders. Sustainable, long-term success is not just a matter of having the leaders but of having the processes that reliably create them.
Political Calculations is a blog that is so well done and consistently interesting that it can be easily taken for granted. I am routinely stunned by the quality of its writing and research.
A Human Resources professional once told me that there was no need for managers and supervisors to get assistance on management questions from any other source since all they had to do was to pick up the phone and talk to HR.
One disadvantage of living off the revenues of your company is that you have to keep running it. And as anyone who runs their own business can tell you, that requires your complete attention. You can't just start a business and check out once things are going well, or they stop going well surprisingly fast.
The main economic motives of startup founders seem to be freedom and security. They want enough money that (a) they don't have to worry about running out of money and (b) they can spend their time how they want. Running your own business offers neither. You certainly don't have freedom: no boss is so demanding. Nor do you have security, because if you stop paying attention to the company, its revenues go away, and with them your income.
Read all of Paul Graham's essay on the pooled risk company management company.
A picture that has created an uproar in Italy.
In Fortune, Carmine Gallo looks at how customer loyalty is built at Del Taco. An excerpt:
Joseph Bottum, in First Things, on the death of Protestant America. An excerpt:
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, former MI5 director-general Stella Rimington gives her top five list of books about British spies.
My post on becoming "discoverable" is up at the U.S. News & World Report's Outside Voices section.
Did you know that fonts have personalities?
It is widely acknowledged that effective leadership requires balance. One of the most challenging tasks is finding a balance between revealing and filtering.
Adfreak notes you can't even do the Grey Poupon joke anymore.
Before you sign an agreement, read Tim Berry's story:
The usual process:
Jim Stroup at Managing Leadership looks at the thoughts of Mary Parker Follett on conflict. An excerpt:
You have a lot of creative ideas.
Why should people go out and pay to see bad movies when they can stay at home and see bad television for nothing?
Another photo depicts the eventual resolution of the Little Rock standoff, when the military enforced desegregation rulings at President Eisenhower’s command. The caption reads: “On September 25, 1957 federal troops escort the Little Rock Nine to their classes at Central High School.” The student is asked, “Based on this photograph, what was the job of the United States Army troops in Little Rock, Arkansas?”
In "Death in the Fast Lane" employment attorney John Phillips looks at a CEO suicide that is getting major attention here in Phoenix.
Business Week lists five non-biz courses for business majors.
In 1969 I published a small book on Humility. It was a pioneering work which has not, to my knowledge, been superseded.
He once studied the effect of installing air bags in cars at a time when automakers were offering customers the option of buying cars with and without the safety devices. Winston found that people who bought cars with air bags tended to be the safest drivers to begin with. And now, lulled into a sense of security, they tended to drive faster, effectively canceling out the safety benefits.
Check out SOX First on whether Sarbanes-Oxley makes fraud worse.
You walk into a restaurant that serves sandwiches and hamburgers and tell the counter staff, "I notice that your business is a little slow right now. How about making me a pizza or grilling some chicken?"
McArthur's Rant has a great excerpt from a witty BBC article about an HR "strike" in Britain:
Help thy brother's boat across, and lo! thine own has reached the shore.
Well, there’s nothing wrong with concentrating on the “uses” of something. The difficulty comes when we operate with too narrow a definition of “use.” At some point, we have to consider the ultimate goals toward which our life’s actions are directed. What makes for a genuinely meaningful human life? Of what “use” are things that fail to promote that end? If you’re so rich, we must ask, why aren’t you wise—or happy?
And that brings me to a characteristically humanistic way to relate a truth: by telling a story. The tale begins with a tourist on holiday, wandering through the back alleys of San Francisco’s Chinatown, where he comes upon a little antique shop, filled with curious pieces of bric-a-brac and art objects. What especially catches his eye is a beautifully wrought, life-size bronze statue of a rat. He asks the elderly shopkeeper the price. “The rat costs $12,” says the shopkeeper, “and it will be $1,000 more for the story behind it.” “Well, you can keep your story, old man,” responds the tourist, “But I’ll take the statue.”
Read the rest of the story in Wilfred M. McClay's essay in The Wilson Quarterly on the burden of the humanities.
If you've been in the workplace long enough you've probably seen these two personality types:
I've found that the Rough Barks are often old softies who hide a caring nature beneath a gruff exterior and that there are plenty of Smooth Barks out there who are, to alter an old expression, as fine a person as ever slit a throat or scuttled a ship.
Organizations often worry about their Rough Bark managers and executives. They are concerned that the bluntness and lack of refinement might trigger a harassment case. Those thoughts are not without merit. I've seen far fewer organizations, however, that worry about the Smooth Barks.
That omission is a major blunder. It can be akin to worrying about the flu when a far more serious illness is moving down the corridors. Smooth Barks, of course, are far more formidable adversaries. They possess the people skills and eloquence to dart between the rain drops and their appetite for revenge is unquenchable.
It is as if many companies make a deal with the devil. They ignore the predations of the Smooth Bark because that slickster always gives them an explanation with just enough plausibility to permit them to pretend that nothing bad really took place. They discipline the Rough Barks because those renegades might embarrass them and provide no decent defense for doing so.
What will they do, however, if the day comes when the Smooth Bark turns on them?
My rule always was to do the business of the day in the day.
A lawyer has sued a newspaper alleging that a decline in quality makes the paper not worth the cost of his subscription.
Reacting to the suit, Stephen J. Dubner wonders:
Shall I sue the New York Yankees if I take my family to a game and the team underperforms? I can certainly think of a restaurant or two that deserves my legal attention. And what about all the schools I’ve ever attended, none of which managed to teach me everything I wanted to know?
HT: Overlawyered ]
Writing in Fortune, Nadira A. Hira on - not office politics - but politics in the office. An excerpt:
The astute reader known as Cromagnum has passed along this story of a GPS defense in a speeding case.
Allison is the latest, and perhaps purest, iteration of the Warholian ideal: someone who is famous for being famous. Like graffiti writers who turned their signatures into wild-style gallery pieces, she has made the process of self-promotion into its own freaky art form. Traditionally, it takes an army of publicists, a well-connected family, or a big-budget ad campaign to make this kind of splash. But Allison has done it on her own and on the cheap, armed only with an insatiable need for attention and a healthy helping of Web savvy.
Years ago while in the Army, I had the good fortune to encounter senior officers who, rather than rushing to blame if subordinates chose a course that didn't work out, would instead ask for the reasoning. At first I was stunned when they'd say "That was a reasonable decision" but I quickly learned that the culture had enormous respect for the person on the ground who had to make choices rapidly and with incomplete information.
Writing in Business Week, Liz Ryan gives six signs that your company doesn't care about its employees.
Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.
This is periodically worth a visit. From a speech by economist Thomas Sowell on the quest for cosmic justice:
The Onion looks at the No Values voting bloc.
It certainly seems like our conscience comes from a light over which we are not master, a light greater than ourselves, which often faults our own behavior down to its roots far below the surface of our rationalizations. It certainly seems as if the questioning of our own long-held assumptions, and the relentless probing of our comfortable beliefs about ourselves, comes from somewhere within ourselves—but greater than ourselves and not subject to our own self-deceptions. Thinkers since Plato have discerned this, quite rightly—you can test it in your own experience.
Part of my day will be spent here: An event surrounding "The Magnificent Seven."
Jackie Collins picks her five guilty literary pleasures.
Many intellectuals disdain the marketplace because markets function nicely without the supervision of intellectuals.
Back by popular demand:
Let's pretend that there is a new discipline or area of expertise in the workplace. We want to make it a respected field so we should adopt some techniques employed by other professions:
Complicate Matters. All our endeavors must show a bias for complexity and a shunning of simplicity. Complexity favors the interpreters and guess who they are?
Introduce Obsolesence. The machinery and the rules must frequently change lest our customers get too confident and assume they can do without us. We must always charge for resolving the problems created by the changes we have engineered.
Punish Renegades. Occasionally, a member might decide to abandon our accepted practices. This deviation must always be punished. It is important that frustrated customers quickly realize that any problem encountered with one of our members will only be duplicated should they visit another.
Discourage Questioning. Free questions are only permitted if the answers are so convoluted that the person who had the temerity to ask will be discouraged to do so ever again. Requiring payment for the lengthy and inconvenient answering of questions, however, is desirable.
Create Specialties. Once the profession is established, specialties must be developed. If a member wishes to continue in general practice, then that too will be a specialty. See the above comments regarding mystery and jargon. Multiply their effects.
In the meantime, Mr. Brown is taking aim at the suburbs, concerned about the alleged environmental damage they cause. He sees suburban houses as inefficient users of energy. He sees suburban commuters clogging the roads as wasting precious fossil fuel. And, mostly, he sees wisdom in an intricately thought-out plan to compel residents to move to city centers or, at least, to high-density developments clustered near mass transit lines.
The height of human wisdom is to bring our tempers down to our circumstances, and to make a calm within, under the weight of the greatest storm without.
Neil Gaiman's experiment of giving away an on-line version of his American Gods in order to boost sales of an upcoming book seems to have succeeded.
Cultural Offering looks at our old friend Aristotle's view of virtues and provides a chart that should be on many desks, classroom bulletin boards, and home refrigerator doors.
Robert J. Lieber looks at reports of America's decline and finds them lacking.
To reduce excessive speeding and agressive (sic) driving in its residential neighborhoods, Philadelphia has resorted to tricking drivers. As part of its "Drive CarePhilly" campaign, the city's Department of Streets laid down a fake speed bump in a Northeast neighborhood. The fake speed bump is a flat piece of plastic burned into the street with blue, white and orange triangles designed to look like three-dimensional pyramids from afar, conveying the illusion that a driver is about to go over a real speed bump.
My post on the importance of courage and discretion is up at the U.S. News & World Report Outside Voices site.
Tom Peters wrote a book about Wow!
All I knew about the people was that they were a Mrs. Elizabeth Bright Murdock and family and that she wanted to hire a nice clean private detective who wouldn't drop cigar ashes on the floor and never carried more than one gun.
Using the internet to search for scientific articles is bad for researchers, says University of Chicago sociologist James Evans in an article published today in Science.
His argument is a classic computer-versus-paper library dilemma, updated for science: when researchers search online, they tend to arrive at just a few high-ranking articles. Lost is the breadth of scholarship encountered by old-fashioned, page-turning browsing.
Bravo! I've waited a long time for someone to say this. Read the rest of the Wired article.
It was extraordinary, because I had never planned to write for children. Harry came to me immediately, as did the school and a few of the characters such as Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost whose head is not quite cut off. The train was delayed, and for hours I sat there thinking and thinking and thinking....The irony is I almost always have pen and paper; I write all the time. And on this one occasion when I had the idea of my life, I didn't have a pen. For four hours my head was buzzing. It was probably the best thing, because I ended up working the whole thing out before I got off the train.
Okay, no middle ground options. If you had to pick one of each of the following, which extremes would you choose and still hope to be reasonably effective as a manager?
David Denby, writing in The New Yorker, reviews both "The Dark Knight" and "Wall-E."
When it comes to creative business ideas, the name Gary Busey naturally comes to mind.
Odds are a great many of the things on your list of worries will never happen.
How often do you see the following group loyalties in the workplace?
Can we pause briefly and acknowledge the unethical nature of that behavior without parsing the definition of "best individual?"
Stipulate that the qualifications are "DNA evidence caliber" clear; that the candidate from another group is indeed the best qualified, hands down. How can it make sense to continue to voice support for anything other than selecting the best person without inviting the erosion of the entire concept of merit?
I mention this because, sadly, such solidarity is alive and well out there.
You will never "find" time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.
An interesting article in Business Week on differing views of appropriate office wear.
I recall a conversation with a good friend back in 1968 when the presidential choices boiled down to Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey or George Wallace. The question was whether or not Nixon and Humphrey, as the major candidates, would have a debate and, if so, whether they'd permit Wallace to join them. "Oh no," my friend protested, "they can't let Wallace in there. The snake would have all the best lines."
How do we counter the snakes? Several strategies:
Finally, consider the possibility that the other person might not be a snake. Perhaps you are regarding eloquence as deceit.
Gee, it's a drag about your old man.
Back by popular demand: The trailer for The Maltese Falcon.
As they pondered the problem that had emerged, the two executives looked at one another.
For many of us, our fear of insincerity is so powerful that it limits our social and business contacts.
Check out this post on Rowan Manahan's blog regarding graduates with unrealistic expectations.
We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.
According to an article in Saturday’s New York Times, the faculty of the University of Chicago is in an uproar over plans to establish a research institute named in honor of the late Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and long time faculty member at the University. . Some 100 faculty members have signed a petition objecting to any such enterprise that might place a stamp of approval on Professor Friedman’s economic theories. They also seem to fear that such an institute would signal to the outside world that Chicago’s faculty “lacks intellectual and ideological diversity.” The indignant faculty members seem blissfully unaware that their protest sends precisely this signal, implying as it does that the left leaning faculty at the University are made uncomfortable and fearful by the presence in their midst of competing points of view.
These engineers, scientists, doctors, and researchers entered the country legally to study or to work. They contributed to U.S. economic growth and global competitiveness. Now we’ve set the stage for them to return to countries such as India and China, where the economies are booming and their skills are in great demand. U.S. businesses large and small stand to lose critical talent, and workers who have gained valuable experience and knowledge of American industry will become potential competitors.
John Lombardi, in a New York piece, on the ambivalence of Hunter S. Thompson. An excerpt:
My U.S. News & World Report post on the downside of too much information is up.
The student answered the test question with a curse.
Beyond words: The application for a British air traffic controller job - a position that requires 20/20 vision - is in Braille.
Writing in Slate, Ray Fisman explores the question of why public schools are so bad at hiring good teachers. An excerpt:
Q: But I’m worried that if I make time for personal things, like my health or relationships, that I’ll lose chances to be promoted in the workplace.
A: I suggest the opposite will happen. Reaching a level of life balance where you are learning to say “no” to the urgent and unimportant gives you time for things such as professional development activities. You are enabled to go the second mile in your efforts to help solve problems; you carve out time to mentor and be mentored, to look for other opportunities; you are able to anticipate needs long before they come up because you are not so urgency-addicted. Therefore, you are really promoting your promotability and increasing your options by choosing to spend time working on things that are most important. Of course, there will be some employers that won’t see things this way. They will look at you as a workhorse that should be given as much work as possible until your back breaks. My question to you would be, if this is the case, and you can’t focus on what is truly important to you, then why are you working there? You are worth more than that.
Read the rest of Stephen R. Covey on achieving a work/life balance.
Far be it from me to boost traffic by posting links to cute kittens or puppies.
As a teenager in Phoenix, I was more than aware of the Hub Kapp and the Wheels story. The act was clearly a spoof but it was difficult to ignore a group singing about work being the dirtiest word:
Martha Lagace, in HBS Working Knowledge, interviews Malcolm S. Salter about his new book, Innovation Corrupted: The Origins and Legacy of Enron's Collapse. An excerpt:
WSJ: Who is the Gap's core customer now, and how has that changed, if at all?
Ms. Hansen: Our stake in the ground is ages 25 to 35, and that's the customer we want. Twenty-five to 35 covers you from kind of postcollege to getting married to maybe having the first child. This puts you from the Gap itself into the babyGap and GapMaternity, but it's not trying to be everything to everyone.
When I got here, I think the team was more focused on 18 to 24 and really going after that kind of younger demographic that is where American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch play. I don't think that is right for us.
Read the rest of the interview with Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America. [I'm waiting for GapCodger.]
Northwestern University has announced an optional two-year, rather than the traditional three-year, law school program starting in 2009.
Perhaps their compression program is a first step in that direction and they have more up their sleeves. This will be an interesting experiment to watch.