In The Know or Dark

So here is one way that some people can (try to) manipulate you–positively or negatively. 


They can help either to keep you “in the know” or “in the dark.”


As we all know by now, information is power!


When you’re in the know–you are a trusted agent and a valuable resource; you have more dots and more connections between the dots to make; you are able to analyze what’s happening and make better decision going forward; you can lead with knowledge, wisdom, and hopefully understanding. People come to you for advice, guidance, and because you are a true asset to the team, your superiors, and the organization. 


When you’re in the dark–you are untrusted and unvalued, you may actually be seen as the enemy who needs to be marginalized, put out or taken out! You are kept out of meetings, uninformed or misinformed, and so you become more and more intellectually worthless. Further, others are implicitly or explicitly told that you are poisonous and not to get caught up in the pending slaughter.  A colleague of mine put it this way: “Don’t get between a man and his firing squad.”   


So with others, there can be information alliances as well as information warfare. 


To a great extent, you are responsible for keeping yourself in the know. You need to build relationships, bridges, and networks. You need to read, observe, and talk to lots of people. You need time to digest and analyze what you learn.  And you must build your information store so that it is ready and actionable. 


But to another extent, there are others–superiors, competitors, bullies, abusers–who just might seek to keep you in the dark and bring you down. Not everyone is your friend…some maybe just the opposite. (Wouldn’t it be nice, if we all were just friends!) But showing you the intellectual ass of the group is a powerful nut that once superimposed as an image, cannot be easily distilled. There is plenty of groupthink to go around. And taking out a perceived enemy diffuses their power to everyone else.  What a lousy coup by some nasty f*ckers!


Why some friend and others foe you–who the heck knows. Perhaps some is chemistry; some is tit for tat; some is personal bias and bigotry; and some just the crapshoot of fate. 


In the end, keep doing your part to enhance your value, your friendships, and your integrity. The rest, you have to be vigilant about and realize not everyone wants the lights kept on. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The 3 P’s Do NOT Matter

So I heard Joel Osteen give a great speech. 


He said that it’s not any of these things that make a person worthwhile:


1. Possessions

2. Performance

3. Popularity


But rather, it is a person’s inner self and soul that determine their value. 


Each person is a son or daughter of G-d.


I agree that our personal worth is a matter of how we act as human beings in choosing right over wrong and good over evil; and it is not based on how much we have, how successful we have become, or how much we are liked. 


In the end, a person must return to their maker alone to answer for their actions.  


You can’t take anything with you.


Materialism and vanity all fade away and only your spiritual inner self will pass over and live on.  


So how will you spend your time and attention–chasing vanity of vanities or doing good in all your words and deeds? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Third-World Office

Paper Towels.jpeg

So hooray for paper towels. 


A good workspace is definitely conducive to productivity and morale. 


That means cleanliness, open collaborative spaces, quiet work areas/offices, ample supplies, and obviously good technology. 


I’ve been in world-class institutions in terms of their mission, but that were third-world in terms of their work conditions. 


In one place, the bathroom toilets kept getting clogged with paper towels, so they got rid of them altogether, which forced the employees to use toilet seat covers for hand towels–yes, believe it!


Of course, at least we had running water, but there was also often flooding in the cubicle areas and the windows were nailed shut–high-tech security, not. 


In another place, in the private sector, I remember a new CFO coming in and being so cheap that he actually got rid of the milk and creamer from people’s coffee. 


Talking about pennywise and dollar foolish. 


Don’t these institutions get that the way you treat people impacts the way they respond to their work.


How can we be the Superpower of the planet and can’t provide decent, normal work conditions to our workers. 


It goes without saying that treating people with respect, dignity, and value should be happening all the time, but doesn’t.


We’re not even talking six-figure bonuses and stock options either–just treat people like human beings and not indentured slaves or cattle. 


Wake up America–you’re people are worth working plumbing, paper towels, and some milk and creamer for their coffees and really a heck of a lot more than that. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

2017 Year Of The Customer

Customer Service.JPEG

So here’s a resolution for all of us for 2017…


How about this year be the year of the customer!


– Where we care more about doing a good job for someone than we do about what time we get off from work.


– Where we talk to and treat customers with respect, dignity, and ultimately to solve their needs, rather than it escalating to a yelling match and oh, did I accidentally hang up the phone on you?


– Where we make the customer feel good about dealing with us and our organization, rather than wanting to beg for a supervisor or cyanide please!


– Where the customer isn’t lied to, manipulated, and taken advantage of just so someone can make another quick buck!


– Where the quality and value is #1 and it’s not just a shinny veneer on a car that accelerates on it’s own and with fake emissions test results or smartphone batteries that light up on fire and explode


– Where we don’t cross-sell and up-sell customers, like phony bank accounts or other things they don’t want, need, and never asked for just to make our sales quotas, and accrue the fine bonuses and stock options that go with them. 


– Where we don’t oversell the capability of a product, like fraudulent blood testing devices and medical results, and instead deliver what’s really doable and as promised. 


– Where there’s no error in the charge to the customer or it’s in the customer’s favor, rather than always an overcharge in the seller’s favor, and the price from the beginning is fair and reasonable and not hiked up 400% like on critical medicine that people’s lives depend on. 


– Where items arrive on time and work the first time, rather than having delays, making excuses, and causing endless customer returns of defective items or those that didn’t fit, look, or work as advertised. 


– Where the customer is happy to come back to and where they feel trust in the people, products, and services offered–not another Home Shopping Network or QVC shoddy experience of “It slices, it dices…the only tears you’ll shed are tears of joy!”


– Where we solve genuine customer needs or problems and not just “build it and they will come.”


– Where rather than a pure what’s in it for me (WIIFM) mentality, we suspend our self-interest and greed for the moment and we do for others, because it’s not just a job and we actually have a work ethic and care about what we do. 

 

– Where we delight! and wow!, rather than disengage and disappoint, and we put the customer first, and like first responders, we run to help and not run away. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The King And Queen

King And Queen

Took this photo of these two Chinese porcelain statues.


They remind me of royalty–a king and queen. 


They stand so tall, proud, and elegant. 


Together on the mantel, they make a wonderful centerpiece to the room. 


I like the contrast colors–him in tan and she is white with the accent colors on their robes. 


His grasp on the long beaded necklace and her open fan give them a air of motion and life.


Yet, the faces are calm and balanced. 


These are awesome pieces of art work. 


Don’t know what they are worth, but to me they have value of beauty. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

STEM Lost And Found

Discovery

ASPIRATIONS.JPEG

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things…from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 

America Desperately Needs More STEM Students” (Forbes 2012)

Americas Lack of STEM Students is Bad News For National Security” (US News and World Report June 2015)

Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the “STEM crisis is a myth,” still “we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts.”

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), “Oh, don’t depend on my math skills for that!”

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets–and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it’s being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization’s free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Know When I’ll See You Again

Ocean Window

So in synagogue today, the Rabbi introduced this very old man to the pulpit to say a few words. 


Apparently, he was one of the founders of the shule. 


This grey headed, stooped man walks slowly forward carrying a small oxygen tank with wires dangling in his jacket and to his nose. 


The man stands on the dais and says:


“I am 91-years old, and the doctor says  I have this, that, and the other thing, and I am terminal. 


It was very hard for me to get here today in my condition, but I wanted to speak with you all. 


I have lived a good life, but not an easy life. 


My life was a rollercoaster–at one time I had six cars and another time just one car, for the most part I had enough money, but never a lot of money. 


Now, I ask myself what is really important. 


When I have shortness of breath then nothing seems so important anymore–and it is the simple things that really count. 


My son called the other day to tell me that he is being given more responsibility at work–not just his teaching responsibilities anymore–and he won’t have time to call so often anymore. 


So while I’ve studied and explored all facets of thinking from Shintoism and Buddhism to communism and socialism, in the end, I realized that I have the Torah and am a just simple Jew from Fez. 


I wanted to be here with you today to ask you all for your forgiveness so that I can go on as I am very sick and am terminal.  


I don’t know when I will get to see you all again.” 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)