Friday, December 14, 2007

Go Read a Book

Josh and his Radish got me the latest Steve Martin book, "Born Standing Up" for my birthday this week. It's number one on my list right now. However, if you have to stay on line, you can go to Steve's website.

Or you can go here

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Honesty, a lesson from Harvey

Many folks around my age think of Jimmy Stewart and the invisible rabbit when I mention "Harvey". ( Go check out the movie some time.) But this time Harvey is Harvey Mackay who's writings 20 or so years ago helped fuel my career.

This was in my email today:

Live and work like your mother is watching

I had the great honor several months ago of being inducted into my high school Hall of Fame at St. Paul Central in St. Paul, Minn. Previous honorees include Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip; Richard Schulze, founder and chairman of Best Buy; and Dave Winfield, a member of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.

Approximately 500 selected students were invited to the auditorium for the ceremony and to hear a few remarks from this year's recipients. I shared four ideas with students, the first three being: 1) Believe in yourself—even when no one else does, 2) Don't quit and 3) There is no "I" in team.

I want to touch here on my fourth point: Act like your mother is watching.

Let me tell you a true story about Professor Bonk who taught chemistry at Duke University. One year, three students were taking chemistry and all earning a solid "A" going into the final exam. The weekend before finals they decided to go to another school to party with some friends. They didn't make it back to Duke until early Monday morning, in no shape to take the final.

They explained to Professor Bonk that they had been away for the weekend and had planned to come back in time to study, but they had a flat tire on the way back and didn't have a spare, so they didn't get back to campus in time.

Professor Bonk agreed to let them make up the final on the following day. What a relief! They studied all night. When they arrived for the exam, Professor Bonk placed them in separate rooms, handed each of them a test booklet, and told them to begin.

They saw the first question was simple, worth 5 points. Piece of cake! Then they turned to question 2, worth 95 points: "Which tire?"

Unfortunately the business community does not get stellar grades for ethics the past few years. Too many companies have tried to fool the public.

Ethics and integrity must be the cornerstone of your existence. If you want your employees to tell the truth, a company better start by being truthful with their employees.

Let me tell you about our mission statement at MackayMitchell Envelope Company, which is: "To be in business forever."

What does that mean? It stands for no hidden liabilities ... no cutting corners ... no small print under the small print ... no red flags.

We in the business community need to set a good example for our young people. Surveys show that a disturbing number of students cite recent corporate and political scandals to justify their dishonesty.

It's critical to use good judgment so that you aren't hauled up before a court. And I'm talking about the court of public opinion as much as any court of law. If you don't use good judgment, you're already judged—especially in business.

A mother was invited for dinner at her son Brian's apartment. During the course of the meal, Brian's mother couldn't help but notice how beautiful Brian's roommate, Jennifer, was.

Brian's mom had long suspected a relationship between Brian and Jennifer. Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between them than met the eye.

Reading his mom's thoughts, Brian volunteered, "I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer and I are just roommates."

About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian saying, "Ever since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don't suppose she took it, do you?" Brian said, "Well, I doubt it, but I'll send her an email just to be sure."

So he wrote: "Dear Mom: I'm not saying that you 'did' take the gravy ladle from the house, I'm not saying that you 'did not' take the gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner. Love, Brian."

Several days later, Brian received an email back from his mother that read: "Dear Son: I'm not saying that you 'do' sleep with Jennifer, I'm not saying that you 'do not' sleep with Jennifer. But the fact remains that if Jennifer were sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the ladle by now. Love, Mom."

Mackay's Moral: Never lie to your mother ... or anyone else.

Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.

Weather: Fact, Fiction, or Hoax?

Blizzard conditions, Deathly Freezing Rain, Thousands of cars lying in ditches, tens of thousands maimed or killed. Flood wipes out entire state, no survivors. It is all a bunch of Hype, and Fear mongering by the over protective weather forecasters that are trying to justify their jobs and technology with false predictions.

I live in Indiana. Grew up here, returned 9 years ago. I lived in town when Ronald Reagan came for a photo opp due to flooding in 1982. We had a lot of snow followed by a warm spell and the rivers overflowed. As a result our city built better banks for the rivers, changed zoning, created a new park (Headwaters) and moved forward.

Today however, the weather forecasters are unable to accurately predict what is going to happen in the next 24 hours or even the next 6 hours when it comes to bad weather.

And really, what would we do differently if we knew that we were going to get 6 inches of snow overnight? What can you do? Not much, just make adjustments to your plans. But to rely on our forecasters is just plain, dumb, foolish and stupid.

Until they can prove the accuracy of their forecasts, they're just crying "Wolf". And we have grown numb to their words of warning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

'nother year older and wiser?

It has been a fun day as I have received many birthday surprises and wishes from friends and family. But also in my email today was the following from Scott, "The name tag guy". Excellent words of wisdom:

9 Things People Don't Care About

1. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … how good you are.
They care how good you’re going to help them become.

2. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … what you’ve done.
They care what you’ve learned, and how those lessons can help them.

3. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … what you can’t do.
They care what you CAN do.

4. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … what they hear you say.
They care what they SEE you DO.

5. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … what you do for a living.
They care what you’re passionate about.

6. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … if you’re having a bad day.
They care how you’re going to help them have a better day.

7. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … about price.
They care about value, convenience and risk.

8. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … about your company.
They care about the problems your company can solve.

9. PEOPLE DON’T CARE … about being apologized to.
They care about answers, solutions and resolutions.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cats, Coffee and Choice

Cats: Nearly a week ago we had a grumpy neighbor visit us complaining about our cat Napoleon. Nappy is the white cat of ours that has grown accustomed to outside living. Problem is that he apparently doesn't know his boundaries and has been bothering this neighbor and getting into his stuff. So we decided to confine the cat to the inside of our house. And we did from Tuesday until last night. We took extra precautions so he would not run out when the garage door was open and it worked. Until last night. He got out. For about 3 hours and then we found him sitting on the front porch swing and brought him back inside. The training continues....

Coffee: Never drank the stuff except for the caffeine until I met Kathy 7+ years ago. Since then I have had my share of espresso drinks and overpriced mocha beverages. Here is Fort Wayne there are a number of coffee shops that offer free wi-fi which makes it an alternative to my desk and office. And there is also...

Choice: Yesterday, while hanging out with a group of friends at one of my favorite coffee shops, the topic of choice came up. What became an interesting dialog/debate/argument with a philosophy professor only became so because of the word usage. Words such as "choice" and "free will" were being debated, as Steve had this occasional puzzled look on his face. In the meantime, I understood where he was coming from and his perspective which was filled with both "absolutes", and "exceptions to the rule". Having read and studied various aspects of neurology, sociology, and psychology, has provided me with an interesting mix of perspectives and insights. My basic argument is that we make choices constantly, based on the world we are exposed to. The "free will" is only free to choose that which it knows about.

And the more I know, I realize how much I do not know!