Postal Intelligence

I’m in the pool yesterday, when Bentley races to the gate and begins barking as if we’re being invaded by jackals. I get out, barely dry off and rush over: There’s a postal truck, and a woman mail carrier emerges with a large box stamped “priority mail.” “This wouldn’t fit in your mailbox,” she said. Two things occur to me: Was this the only mail? That would be highly unusual. Bentley appears to be loading a gun and I have …


Modern Contrarianism

One of my original “brands” was as “the contrarian.” For example, at the height of the quality movement, I preached that quality could be taken to a dysfunctional extreme, actually costing more money than necessary. I remember at one point wading into a “lean” project at a client where secretaries were being asked to rearrange the contents of their desks. They thought it was stupid, and so did I. At another point I was watching a plant manager and his …


Circumlocutions

Why do people insist on going around the block to get next door? In a restaurant, “Are you still working on that?” (or “Still enjoying that?”) when my dish is obviously empty is  more than silly. “May I clear?” seems appropriate. I also love, “The chef will be preparing….” as opposed to “We have filet mignon tonight” (and of course it’s “cooked to your liking,”—would it be cooked to someone else’s “liking”?). On the airlines, “final descent” is more than …


Sweepers

I increasingly deal with people who just want to get the problem off their desk and onto someone else’s. They don’t want to be bothered with work, and customers just get in the way of trying to be totally unproductive. I call these people “sweepers” because they want to sweep any kind of accountability out of their area. The main reason for this is that they don’t own the business. They have no skin in the game, no pride in …


Would You Like Some Perspective in Your Coffee?

I have a hard time with people who “can’t” start their day without coffee. I’ve tolerated people late for meetings, or who have insisted we drive out of our way, or who have expected me to excuse boorish behavior on the basis of “not having had my coffee, yet.” Then there are the people who need only certain kinds of coffee. They have to have Starbucks, or require soy milk, or a double shot in their latte. I saw one …


Translation

I am going to translate the language of It’s All Your Fault (IAYF) to the language of Maybe I Should Accept Responsibility (MISAR). Be careful with the irregular verbs. IAYF: You didn’t send me the link. MISAR: I should check my spam folder and junk file where it probably is. IAYF: When does the session start, I’m trying to make plans? MISAR: I should read the instructions I already have carefully. IAYF: Here’s what I need from you. MISAR: Here’s what I can do for you. …


Do You Have A Leak?

When you have a water leak, it makes sense to check the fittings, the faucet, the valves, and so forth. Somewhere along the pipe something has gone wrong. If you have a buyer who has agreed to review a proposal but then “goes dark,” you have a sales process leak in one of these areas: You weren’t interesting or compelling and the buyer just wanted to get you out of the office without saying “No” to your face. Your ROI …


What the %&&^#>!!

You want to curse when you bang your thumb with a hammer, good for you. I do it, too. You need to vent. If you’re an Atlanta Falcon fan, and you were caught up in expletives as the Patriots used you as a doormat in the fourth quarter for the greatest Super Bowl comeback in history, I understand your pain. The same for you Seattle Seahawks followers who lost a Super Bowl to those same Patriots on the goal line …


Get Out of My Way

What is the commonality? I was afraid of, earlier in my life: • Addressing a large group of students in high school. • Roller coasters. • The dentist. • Bullies. • An overbearing college professor. • Skiing. Answer: These were all fears that I overcame by facing them and taking them on. Once I did so, I either became excellent at it (speaking), enjoyed the hell out of it (roller coasters, skiing), tolerated them (dentists), or confronted them so they …


Plunging

Too many of us immediately try to decide how to do something before deciding whether or not to do it. I call this the “plunge effect.” This is why you’re stuck with a hire who isn’t close to competent, on a bad vacation wondering why you chose it, in a relationship that is smothering you, or working with a client you can’t stand, Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you should do it every time.