Hi, Neighbor

Occasionally, I’ll see someone doing something odd, like blocking traffic to stop to talk to someone. If I don’t recognize them, I tend to think, “Really a dumb move.” But if I know them, I just sit patiently figuring there’s a good reason. We give people we know the benefit of the doubt because we are familiar with many aspects of their lives: children, jobs, residence, hobbies, relationships, family, possessions, and so on. With the exception of the familiar “pest,” …


The Ragin’ Cajun

James Carville was my guest yesterday at my annual Thought Leadership Conference at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach. He is a fast-talking, straight-shooting guy who goes full bore, start to finish, and he joined us for dinner, as well. I asked him why Barak Obama, elected amid speeches between Doric Columns and Greek Porticos, with a rock star excitement in the audience, is now shunned by members of his own party seeking reelection in states he originally carried. James …


What Do You Need, What Do You Want?

I observe in amazement people who pile-on every digital gadget that comes out, and upgrade from 4.6.541a to 4.6.541b. They have to have it first and fast. I have no issue with that. My own inclination is to wait three weeks for the new iPhone to be delivered and not wait on a long line in Manhattan. I’l also set it up when I have time, not the moment that UPS drops it in my hands. I have my own …


Checked by Choice

I used to play military games on my computer that were intuitive and simple. If I built enough battleships or bombers or tanks, and brought them against inferior forces, I would win. I played against the computer at various levels. I could choose the type of terrain. Recently, I was offered a game of fighting tanks. The instructions alone were stupefying: dials to read, varied ways to move and fire, getting the tank out of the garage, and so on. …


The Irrelevancy of Fresh Pupperoni

Bentley and Buddy Beagle adore Pupperoni and dog bacon strips. Not too long ago, I noticed the bags were different. They enabled me to tear off the top, but then reseal them with a locking mechanism such as you’d find on the cold cuts you buy in the supermarket. It never occurred to me to keep the dog treats “fresh.” The dogs loved them equally when they became somewhat harder in composition, I’m assuming (neither dog would sit for an …


Duck Beaks and Empiricism

My son was home for a visit and watched me feed the ducks as we talked. We have cement steps which go down to the pond, and I threw a bucketful of feed down the steps. “Why are you throwing their food on the steps instead of the grass?” he asked. “Because the ducks are like rototillers and the dig up everything when they eat, causing a mess and ruining the grass.” “But their beaks will be hurt by the …


Don’t Cut Your Client’s Steak

I find consultants assuming they can improve their buyer’s behavior, even though that’s not part of the project. They listen to employees complain about the boss and figure they should “fix” the boss, sort of as a public service. That they have no hard evidence other than schoolyard gossip doesn’t seem to deter them. I once heard a woman who re-entered consulting after achieving an “empty nest” during the day say she was worried, out of force of habit, that …


Square Zero

I’ve never understood the concept of “square one.” If you want to start anew, then erase the board, tear off the sheet, delete the entry. Square zero is your starting mindset approaching a prospect. There are two primary chords which seem to be played: 1. How can I get this business? How can I “sell” this person? What objections will I have to overcome? What are the weaknesses in my arguments? How much money can I make? 2. How can …


Just the Facts, Ma’am

Jack Webb played detective Joe Friday in the old Dragnet TV series, and he was constantly requesting that he be told “just the facts,” and not opinion, hearsay, suggestions, or personal bias. The same applies to us in consulting. I coach people every week who want to know what to do with the equivalent of schoolyard gossip and casual rumor. Of course employees may say they can to the job better than the boss who got the position through “connections.” …


But Why?

My twin granddaughters keep asking “Why?” ever since they learned to speak. “Why is the car top down?” “Why don’t all cars have tops that go down?” “Why don’t trucks have tops that go down?” You get the drift. It’s a great habit, one often ignored by consultants. A buyer says, “We need a two-day strategy retreat” (or a week of coaching or interviews with our clients or a focus group) and the consultant tries to figure out how to …