Friday, July 31, 2009
At Stuyvesant, where he taught from 1968 to 1987, McCourt was already a larger than life figure. To begin with, though several of our teachers at Stuyvesant in the late 1970s were immigrants, McCourt was the only Irish one. (Few Irish went into teaching--the remnants of the ethnic spoils system created by the party bosses sent them to the police or fire departments.) And, true to the stereotype, McCourt had a glorious brogue and the touch of blarney. He could, with a hint of exaggeration and a twinkle in the eye, turn the most mundane of human interactions into an amusing anecdote.
A few years ago, I was not allowed to have minor knee surgery at an orthopedic hospital unless I went through a comprehensive "pre-operative examination." There was no financial incentive to the hospital because this pre-operative exam was to be done elsewhere. As it turned out, I had recently endured all those tests in my annual physical. But the orthopedic hospital would not accept month-old test results, nor even an explicit waiver by me of any liability. The result was pure waste: more than $1,000 spent on wholly unnecessary tests.
I'm starting with a 7 a.m. meeting followed by a 9 o'clock meeting, but upon returning to the office I plan on burning off the caffeine by leading all present in the following songs:
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Read the rest of the Business Week article here.
Chief Executive Officer
Special Project Advisor
1st Vice President
2nd Vice President
Regional Vice President
two Local Managers who had direct contact with the problem.
Result? Extraordinary communication problems and confused authority in the field produced a disaster.
Organization Y used this chain of command in a similar situation:
Chief Executive Officer
[The 1st Vice President was available for assistance regarding resources.]
Organization Y also had a complex chain of command under normal circumstances, but they reduced it in order to handle the pressing project more effectively. By doing so, they put the ultimate decision maker in touch with the decision maker who was on the scene.
Result: Clarity and success.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Take the rule about crowds. If Adams was at a party with friends, he'd open his mouth to talk, only to find the words tumbling out in a raspy, imperceptible staccato, chopping off sentences before they had a chance to form. If he tried to say, "Tomorrow is my birthday," for example, it would morph into a weak "Ma robf sss ma birfday." But if he was on the lecture circuit, delivering a prepared speech to a crowd of thousands, he could stand behind the podium and—"Hello!"—his voice would whir back to life, if only for the hour he was onstage.
Read the rest of the Wired article here. It is a fascinating account of illness and recovery.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.
- Gaius Petronius, a.k.a. Arbiter
Read the rest of the Wired article here.
In my humble - but undoubtedly correct - opinion, the cell phone should not be used when:
You're in traffic. Exception: You're on a deserted highway in Texas where you can see 100 miles in either direction.
You're in a theater. A few weeks on a chain gang would be suitable for this violation.
Monday, July 27, 2009
He had to survive 16 interviews before they made a decision.
Now I like the idea of thoroughness, but isn't that a bit excessive? Although my friend's talent is in the serious A+ league, is it not possible that telling them to go to hell after the third or fourth interview could have been a positive sign of independence?
Can you imagine Teddy Roosevelt sitting through 16 interviews?
NS: Who should we feel most sorry for in the wake of the bust?
TS: The people I feel most sorry for in this whole episode are the people few express any concern about—the taxpayers, present and future, who will be forced to pay the price for decisions they had nothing to do with. Moreover, the thrust of the “affordable housing” crusade was not to reduce or eliminate the impediments that raised the cost of housing but to force banks and other lenders to finance home purchases at existing prices but on less stringent terms. The net result was a variety of “creative” financing schemes to lower monthly mortgage payments, if only temporarily—such as during the first two years of a 30-year mortgage—and to lend to people whose income and down payments did not meet the standards of conventional mortgage lending.
Read the rest of Heather Mac Donald's City Journal article here.
"No one," they insist, "is perfect."
I respond that being outstanding is not the same as being perfect, but they shrug off that argument. What they are really saying is that their evaluation system is skewed, Any third party reading the evaluations should know that for many of the employees, "Meets Standards" is as good as it gets.
Unfortunately, not all of them will know that.
I've met other managers who can tell you what this or that employee did wrong 10 to 15 years ago. I ask, "Shouldn't there be a statute of limitations on such infractions?" Something in their smile makes me suspect that their honest answer would be "No."
How do people slide into such attitudes? I don't have the answer. I do wonder how many of them have ever been subjected to serious unfairness; not some minor "I don't think that was right" moment, but a raw, brutal episode that leaves a scar.
Fortunately, many managers have such memories. In most cases, those recollections provide a helpful perspective and a healthy sense of justice. In others, of course, it clouds perspective with prejudice and resentment.
Either way, as one observer noted, it can be difficult to see the picture if you are in the frame.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Read the rest of Joan Goodchild at CSO here.
P.S. 9 "dirty tricks" are here.
A top executive stands before a meeting of employees and announces that he or she wants them to speak up if they see anything that can be improved in the organization.
Suddenly, throughout the audience, there are these side glances. Some people look at the floor. Others discover an intense interest in their schedule books. Those in the back may even bolt for another cup of coffee.
And the unspoken question is, "Do you really mean that?"
Another question is, "Even if you mean it, what about those other folks up on the podium?"
But the dignity code itself has been completely obliterated. The rules that guided Washington and generations of people after him are simply gone.
We can all list the causes of its demise. First, there is capitalism. We are all encouraged to become managers of our own brand, to do self-promoting end zone dances to broadcast our own talents. Second, there is the cult of naturalism. We are all encouraged to discard artifice and repression and to instead liberate our own feelings. Third, there is charismatic evangelism with its penchant for public confession. Fourth, there is radical egalitarianism and its hostility to aristocratic manners.
We should instead remember the great pessimistic voices of history, of which I cherish two in particular. One is Seneca: “What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.” The other is the French moralist Chamfort: “A man should swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.”
The class of 1976—who left West Point at a low point for both the Army and its famed training ground—has produced a striking number of generals now influencing the shape of the U.S. military. All told, at least 33 active and retired generals, now all in their mid-50s, were among its 855 graduating members. Gen. McChrystal’s deputy in Kabul, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, was a classmate, as was the officer leading U.S. efforts to train the Iraqi army, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick. Retired Lt. Gen. Dave Barno, who spent 19 months as the top commander in Afghanistan, was also West Point ’76.
“It’s really sort of unprecedented,” says Stephen Grove, a civilian who recently retired after 30 years as West Point’s official historian. “The class of 1915 is known as ‘the class the stars fell on’ because of graduates like Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower. But you could argue that the class of 1976 is becoming just as influential.”
Read the rest of the Wall Street Journal article here.
Friday, July 24, 2009
- We hide out when we should go out.
- We make assumptions when we should be analyzing.
- We add "just a few more remarks" when we should be silent.
- We blow up when we should take a walk.
- We construct blame where no blame is legitimate.
- We expect change from the unchangeable.
- We rely on wishes and call them plans.
Most powerful people are on the manager's schedule. It's the schedule of command. But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.
When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in. Plus you have to remember to go to the meeting. That's no problem for someone on the manager's schedule. There's always something coming on the next hour; the only question is what. But when someone on the maker's schedule has a meeting, they have to think about it.
Read the rest of Paul Graham here .
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Taking careful aim and hitting the serious targets requires perspective, courage, and focus. You may appear to be moving slowly, but you are methodically achieving the items that need to be achieved.
The perspective and focus components may be obvious. Why is courage essential? Because you need to have the courage to resist internal and external pressures to rush.
Admiral Rickover, reviewing the history of the nuclear submarine program, gave what I believe is the best description of the trait. He called it "courageous patience."
The Judiciary Committee members who are part of the majority party ask questions filled with adoration. They might as well ask, “Isn’t it true that you are a great American?” And the nominee can answer, “Well, that’s not for me to say, but I’ve always tried to be.” The members of the minority party ask questions about suspicions, alleged contradictions, and concerns — all within the the scripted framework of showing servile abasement over learning some new truth about the nominee.
Execupundit note: I'm not sure if politicizing of the votes on Supreme Court nominees has recently been indulged in to the same degree by the two parties.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3.
Stephen Breyer by a vote of 87 to 9.
Both were Clinton nominees. But what of the Bush nominees?
Samuel Alito: 58 to 42.
John Roberts: 78 to 22.
The background of the police sergeant.
I may be missing something but it appears Professor Gates was the person acting stupidly in this matter. If that indeed turns out to be the case, will his career be damaged?
I think you know the answer.
Good singer. Good song.
But then someone produced this weird to the point of being inadvertently hilarious music video.
What were they thinking?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Take some time today and watch a short interview with novelist and poet Jim Harrison.
Read the rest of Malcolm Gladwell's article in The New Yorker.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
We’re only in the early stages of the liberal suicide march, but there already have been three phases. First, there was the stimulus package. You would have thought that a stimulus package would be designed to fight unemployment and stimulate the economy during a recession. But Congressional Democrats used it as a pretext to pay for $787 billion worth of pet programs with borrowed money. Only 11 percent of the money will be spent by the end of the fiscal year — a triumph of ideology over pragmatism.
Read the rest of the Wired article here.
It took eight years from the time John Kennedy declared we would go to the moon to the day an American landed on it, 40 years ago this week. It was also eight years ago this September that terrorists struck the World Trade Center, the site of which continues to be a hole in the ground and a national disgrace.
Yes, New York politics is complicated. There were lawsuits over who owed what to whom, countless constituencies to please, and no single accountable political authority governing Ground Zero. Still. How much harder can it be to fill a hole in the ground with buildings of any kind than to master the ground-breaking science and mechanics of space travel over the same number of years?
That's not true - many Ph.D. programs require the ability to read in a foreign language but not complete fluency - and yet the full fluency requirement was solemnly repeated as a universal truth.
Looking back, I should have considered the sources, all of whom had never wandered near a doctoral program. Even aside from that, however, it is not unusual to hear people give grossly inaccurate accounts of how companies screen and select candidates. Everyone, it seems, is eager to expound upon human resources practices.
That could easily be classified under the standard smoke and mirrors of life, but I wonder how many careers have been affected by off-hand - and inaccurate - remarks made in articles or by acquaintances.
Monday, July 20, 2009
For a number of reasons, the term "icon" cannot be used the way it is currently being tossed about. If your nickname is Wacko Jacko, if you have forked over tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits in which you were accused of child abuse, the term "icon" is probably not le mot juste. "Iconic" carries with it a subtext of moral elegance. It is not interchangeable with "famous" or "powerful" or even "brilliant." This is why Henry VIII, Attila the Hun, Oliver Cromwell and Satan are rarely described as "iconic." They were interesting chaps, they put a lot of points on the scoreboard, and they changed the world forever. But iconic? No.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
- People who give you a very short period of time to decide whether to buy what they are selling are trying to slip something past you.
- It is a mistake to accord automatic trust to companies, unions, or governments.
- Few scoundrels are unethical all the time.
- Being able to spot weasel words is one of the most important skills in life.
- Trusting your intuition that something is wrong is usually wiser than trusting your intuition that something is right.
- Some highly educated people stopped learning twenty or more years ago.
- The more you know about a news topic, the more you are disturbed by the reporting on the news topic.
- Some of the most anti-American people you'll ever meet are Americans.
- Always know the strongest arguments on both sides but don't assume that either side has a strong argument.
- A test of knowledge is whether or not the person can explain the subject in plain language.
- Beware of anyone who is cruel to subordinates.
- It is better to have and not need than to need and not have.
- The most articulate person is not necessarily the wisest but many people will believe that to be the case.
- Celebrity is not the same as greatness.
- Don't kid yourself: Experience matters.
Barry Callebaut (BARN.MU), whose annual output of over 1.1 million tons of cocoa and chocolate products makes it the world's largest producer of chocolate, has developed a type of chocolate with completely new properties. According to the company's head developer, Hans Vriens, the chocolate has up to 90 percent fewer calories than regular chocolate.
What's more, high temperatures can't touch it—unless, by chance, they soar higher than 55 degrees Celsius (131 degrees Fahrenheit). Depending on its composition, traditional chocolate starts to melt at around 30 degrees Celsius. And that's the inspiration behind the tentative name its developers have given the new product: "Vulcano."
Read the rest of the Business Week article here.
Many of the missteps that have followed flowed, in part, from your reliance on these Clinton holdovers. Your chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, defined your early strategy by stating that the financial and economic crises presented an "opportunity" to jam through unrelated legislation. To many of us, the remark was cynical and wrong-headed.
Cultural Offering on the offer never made. An excerpt:
- The book never written will never be printed.
- The plans left unfinished will never become an enterprise.
- The idea never stated will never rally supporters.
Friday, July 17, 2009
- Gordon A. Craig, The Germans
Thursday, July 16, 2009
After a venture-capital presentation at a Hamptons home three years ago, guests were moved poolside for cocktails. Several people donned bathing suits. “After that, I felt I knew them very well,” says Jonscott Turco, an attendee who watched the swimmers frolic from the safety of his business suit.
Mr. Turco sometimes sees those people in Manhattan these days. Their names often escape him, but other details are indelible. “No matter how dapper they look in Midtown, I think, ‘He was the Speedo,’ ” says Mr. Turco. Same with the people he has dubbed “White Bikini,” “Leopard Bikini” and “Board Shorts.”
Read the rest of Christina Binkley on surviving the corporate outing.
If it employs the same methodology as the ranking for law schools, I'm sure there's room for debate.
With every individual or team success, the unwary leader can increase their vulnerability to the destructive forces of pride. The same skills, competencies and values that make you successful as a leader can be the very things that can “puff you up” and replace humility in your heart with a lethal dose of venomous pride.
- Many things are planned but few are completed.
- "Yes" does not always mean "yes." It often means "perhaps" or "no."
- Conflict is seldom expressed openly. That would be unseemly. Instead, people are quite cordial, even when they strongly disagree. They are always searching for an appropriate time to surface their disagreement and that is usually when the other party is not in the room.
- Authority is murky and it can be difficult to determine who is/was responsible for what.
- There is little coordination because coordination involves sharing information. Sharing information is another task that requires the ever-elusive "appropriate time."
- Unless the infraction is extreme, people are not held accountable for poor performance.
- Memos are written, as the old saying goes, not to inform but to protect.
- After a while, the best people flee.
The Blob, sad to say, is not hard to find.
- Ben Stein
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Can't believe I waited so long to see the film. Louis Calhern, Sam Jaffe, James Whitmore, Marilyn Monroe, and Sterling Hayden are extraordinary.
[Calhern's performance goes way beyond good. The man should have been a household name.]
I know that's a stretch, but bear with me. If you were able to limit those vices to three, and indeed could not have less than three, which three of the following vices would you choose for your current job?
- Lack of punctuality.
- Insensitivity to others.
- Poor productivity.
- Poor writing skills.
- Poor speaking skills.
- Poor planning skills.
- Lack of focus.
- Lack of initiative.
- Poorly motivated.
- Lack of versatility.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The places that don't train often cite money as the reason but I don't think that is the case. They don't train when times are flush. Instead of worry over finances, you can sense a feeling of inferiority on their part; a fear that if the employees gain knowledge - especially from an outsider - then management will somehow lose control.
You can show the value of the finished product. You can describe the process used to get there. You can point to similar groups that benefited. But it is still hard to remove the fear that drives groups that regard knowledge as an adversary of control.
And so, we miss it – real, breathtaking heroism – when it is displayed. We often don’t notice it when we, ourselves, are its inspiration, its origin, or its beneficiary. It is not observed, it doesn’t rise above the background noise of our daily lives. It is not singled out for attention. It is just repeated.
Surely, there is no need to belittle those who have justly earned renown for their actions. But the stories untold are the most powerful. They are all the more so for their anonymity, and their ubiquity.
Read the rest at Cultural Offering.
Monday, July 13, 2009
The main door of the French Mill opened, let in some glassy snow, and shut. At first, Peter Lake thought that the wind had done this, but then he looked down and saw two small men walking to a table on the opposite side of the room. Not only were they no more than five feet tall, but they both wore bowler hats, and ragged jackets that, before they were trimmed in the back, had once been tails. Their eyes were sunken, their faces had a leathery look, and they had bony cheeks and mouths that would have been large and toothy on men twice their size. Their hands were fat little balls of flesh with flat infantile thumbs, as delicate and strange as the paws of a tree frog. Their voices matched the rest of them in that they were small and sounded like the supplicating chirp of men who are married to female lumberjacks or prison matrons.
Operate with different definitions of standards and compliance and you'll wind up with very different results.
Definitions are a form of navigation. Rush past them and you may find yourself on the way to the administrative equivalent of Turkey instead of Tahiti.
The need to define stems from the fact that we may ascribe widely varying meanings to the same terms. Consider how some organizations lump those who resigned and those who were fired under the label of "terminations." Similar confusion may arise when defining "applicant" or "test."
Years ago, when conducting investigations, I followed the Columbo approach of asking dumb questions and striving to get a verbal picture of what had taken place. What I learned was that the dumb questions were far from stupid because of the spins and assumptions that are so easily attached. When we conceive of items, we draw from our experience and that may lead us astray.
Mention a locker to one person and visions of high school may emerge while another may think of a gym. Still others may be picturing foot or tool lockers. A rose is not always a rose.
It's not clear how hackers managed to gain access to Kawasaki's account -- security experts say that he and others may have fallen victim to earlier Twitter phishing attacks, where attackers tried to trick victims into logging into fake Twitter sits in hopes of stealing their login credentials.
I always enjoy it when the masks slip and the warm-mongers explicitly demand we adopt a massive Poverty Expansion Program to save the planet. “I don’t think a lot of electricity is a good thing,” said Gar Smith of San Francisco’s Earth Island Institute a few years back. “I have seen villages in Africa that had vibrant culture and great communities that were disrupted and destroyed by the introduction of electricity,” he continued, regretting that African peasants “who used to spend their days and evenings in the streets playing music on their own instruments and sewing clothing for their neighbors on foot-pedal powered sewing machines” are now slumped in front of Desperate Housewives reruns all day long.
One assumes Gar Smith is sincere in his fetishization of bucolic African poverty, with its vibrantly rampant disease and charmingly unspoilt life expectancy in the mid-forties. But when a hereditary prince starts attacking capitalism and pining for the days when a benign sovereign knew what was best for the masses, he gives the real game away. Capitalism is liberating: You’re born a peasant but you don’t have to die one.
Read the rest of Mark Steyn here.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Early organized American baseball took two forms. New Englanders knew the game as “town ball” or the “Massachusetts game,” which featured base paths laid out in a square instead of a diamond, and a rule allowing fielder players to put out the batter or “striker” by “soaking” him (hitting him with a thrown ball before he reached base). Town ball flourished along the eastern seaboard. A group of young men in Philadelphia, who formed the Olympic Ball Club to play town ball in 1833, may have been the first organized baseball-related team in America. In 1838 the created and published rules aptly called their “constitution.”
Read the rest of the Fortune article here.
It isn’t unusual for movies to be rescored under pressure, but Goldsmith’s music for “Chinatown” is so well suited to the film that it’s hard to imagine that he knocked it out at the very last minute. The original score, written by the classical composer Phillip Lambro, was heard on the soundtrack of the version of the film that was shown seven weeks prior to the film’s release date at a preview in San Luis Obispo, a small town north of Los Angeles. “By the time the lights came up, half the audience had walked out, scratching their heads,” Robert Evans, the producer of “Chinatown,” wrote in “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” his 1994 autobiography. Concluding that Mr. Lambro’s “dissonant, weird, scratchy” music (as Mr. Towne would later describe it) was responsible for the film’s poor reception, Mr. Evans called in Goldsmith, and 10 days later “Chinatown” had a new score. Mr. Towne, who was present at the first recording session for Goldsmith’s score, later told a journalist that “you could see the movie come to life. It was like you couldn’t see the movie with the other score, and now you could, and I thought, ‘Omigod, we may have a chance.’”
- Charlton Heston
Friday, July 10, 2009
In the U.S., however, don’t do this. Don’t suggest it. Don’t ask your employees if they’d be interested in it. Don’t bother getting legal advice. Rely on a lesser known American labor and employment law proverb that there is a fine line between having fun at work and a hostile environment.
Read the rest of Phil Levy here.
For clients I will take a personal meeting every time. The week started with a client lunch meeting. So much is expressed by a head nod as a concept is explained. The look a person gives when they have a question. A smile when they understand what you are saying. The conversation that starts and ends the meeting.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
The main function of the race industry today is to repackage problems of black underachievement as instances of white racism. For decades, the vast majority of alleged discrimination violations have been manifestations of the black-white performance gap, whether in academic achievement, crime rates, or poverty-producing behaviors like illegitimacy and dropping out of school. The race industry cloaks such problems in the language of rights and racism—pushing the achievement gap offstage, keeping alive the phantom of ubiquitous white bias, and generating jobs in the race industry. Thus, employment and educational standards that no one would otherwise think twice about are suddenly viewed as legally suspicious, without any reason to think them flawed except that blacks do not meet them at equal rates.
"How to Sell and Market Your Way Out of this Recession and Get Your Business Buzzing like Never Before (even though your customers don't want to know)," has been on my desk, in my briefcase, and in my car for several weeks.
I keep diving into the book for ideas and taking notes, even on sections I've already read. As with all of Nicholas's books, this one is crisp and to the point. [The section on negotiation should be re-read frequently.] An excerpt (I've substituted dollars for pounds):
Before you go into a negotiation and if necessary during the negotiation: do the calculations. Let's keep it simple. You sell for $100. Your cost is $50. So that's $50 profit? Lovely. But now you give 5% discount. Assuming your costs are fixed (we're keeping it simple), you've just given away 10% of your profit. Mmm, something to think about.
Short, sharp, and helpful. Check it out.
Still, this has to be one of the most professionally produced acts of consumer vigilantism I’ve seen. Musician Dave Carroll, fed up by United Airlines’ response to his broken guitar, produced a four minute video about his experience. I’m not sure how much this will damage United’s reputation for baggage handling—most airlines don’t have much of an image in this department—but it certainly can’t help it, either.
Click to her post and watch the 4 minute video by Dave Carroll. It is extremely well-done.
Michael Jackson wears tube socks.
You can have them.The King of Pop’s 28-year-old acrylic, rhinestone-encrusted footwear intimates are known in auctionspeak as “signature pieces.” They make up item No. 7576 in this month’s auction of all sorts of things that found their way onto Neverland Ranch before Jackson abandoned the place in 2005. The catalog’s “low estimate”: $600 for the pair.
Read the rest of Amy Wallace in Portfolio. [Note: The article was written before Jackson's death.]
I don't know what happened but they're gone. I apologize and hope that you'll repost.
Over a year ago, I had to start a comment approval process not because the genuine commentary was poor but because spammers were submitting as many as 25 to 75 unrelated comments per post. Most of the spam dealt with selling gold and all of them had nothing to do with the subject of the post.
Once again, I'm very sorry for the inconvenience.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
A colleague who has nothing to do with the project and no expertise whatsoever in the subject matter takes a gander over your shoulder, points to a paragraph, and declares, "That'll never work" and gives some ridiculous reason why.
Your irritation evaporates after ten seconds of thought when you realize the unsolicited opinion has more than some merit; it has a huge amount of merit.
What the meddler was able to do, of course, was to approach the proposal with fresh eyes and no agenda. We fall in love with our projects and rush to dismiss their failings. No matter how many genuises we manage to get on-board, a bad idea is still a bad idea. Some very bright people were behind the creation of the Maginot Line, the Titanic, and, for that matter, the Edsel.
Injecting a review by disinterested parties can at least turn up the lights and end the romance.
Until the switch, I hadn't realized how the old briefcase had turned into a paper trap. The new one facilitated the organization of projects and saved time. I'd sensed a problem, but had not identified the culprit.
There are people who serve as a pebble in the shoe for teams and who need to be reformed or removed. But what I'm focusing on now are devices; consumer goods that you've found to be an extraordinary aid in increasing productivity and efficiency.
Are there any that come to mind?
[BTW: The briefcase is the Swiss Army combination computer case/briefcase on rollers.]
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
The wilderness is never far away. One night a few years ago, wolves ate 44 of a neighbor’s sheep, right under the Harrisons’ bedroom window. The front yard is full of rattlesnakes, which Mr. Harrison says he shoots at with a pistol.
Sun drenches the big open kitchen, where Mr. Harrison and guests occasionally cook elaborate, multi-course meals—many featuring birds and game he’s hunted himself. Earlier this summer, Anthony Bourdain, chef and host of the Travel Channel’s food show “No Reservations,” visited Mr. Harrison’s home during a trip to Livingston. Mr. Harrison cooked an elk and antelope stew and grilled about two dozen doves, washed down with several bottles of Côtes du Rhône. “Basically, I want to be Jim when I grow up,” Mr. Bourdain said in an email.
Iran seizes British diplomats? That's on page nine.
North Korea fires off more missiles? That's pages behind the story about the rescued cat.
Remember when President Bush went to Iraq and some reporter with Baathist ties threw a shoe at him? Which received greater press attention: the throwing of the shoe or the substance of the President's meeting with the Iraqi government?
Setting aside press bias - and the bias favoring the Obama administration is an embarrassment - is there any doubt that editors favor fluff, and especially celebrity-related stories, far more than ever?
Monday, July 06, 2009
In my experience, organizations usually don't know about bullying because they don't want to know about it.
Should most cases of bullying result in progressive discipline rather than termination?
Why shouldn't it be the other way around?
The point? We live in an age without rules only to reinvent them at a whim. A prudish society does not invest billions in Botox, reconstructive surgery, and sexual enhancement; yet a Gomorrah does not demand public contrition for sexual intercourse outside of marriage. I am not passing moral judgment as much as confused about the consistency, and puzzled over what are the exact rules, if any any more.
They are whispered about as people to watch. Long before gaining any serious power, they benefit from an unusual amount of deference because of their perceived potential.
No one wants to cross a rising star.
A great many of them fall. It is often difficult to determine the reason. Sometimes their fortunes were linked to a mentor and when the mentor went into disfavor, so did the protege. On other occasions, the rising star ran afoul of some arcane corporate rule or unwisely stepped on a person who still retained enough power to be lethal.
This is not surprising because rising stars are targets. Not everyone who smiles on their fortune is a friend. And for students of Machiavelli, there are twelve different ways to ruin an opponent before breakfast.
Other rising stars self-destruct. They take reckless risks that seem designed to produce scandal and perhaps they were.
There are times, however, when nothing but simple exposure brings about the decline of the rising star. The space telescopes reveal there is not much substance beneath the glitter.
That condition that fascinates me. What creates the image of a faux rising star? These are some common characteristics:
- They are good looking. Few people who are flat-out ugly are regarded as rising stars. They look the part.
- They are articulate. Listen to a faux rising star and you may be impressed. Read the same words and you will be less impressed.
- They dress well. These folks know how style seduces.
- They have powerful allies. Their main skill may indeed be the cultivation of connections.
- They hide a vague grasp of issues in the guise of sophistication. For them, matters are always complex. Very complex.
- They are famous for being famous. Search for a real accomplishment and you'll probably find few, if any. They rise on potential, not on achievement.
But they can give a good speech.