The 7 Habits of Corporate Executives

I’ve read and listened to a good number of books on business, marketing, management, etc. which offer many excellent approaches, techniques and tips to run a successful, innovative, motivated team and organization. These books were/are best-sellers.

7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_PeopleI know that the senior management of virtually every organization reads them and that many assign them to their teams and the next generation of leaders. “Long-term thinking,” “train, nurture and retain staff,” “always look at things from the perspective of your customers and prospects,” “treat everyone with respect and assume positive intent,” etc.

So my question is, “Why is it so rare that senior management actually follows any of that advice?”

Why do its readers go from "Good to Ghastly?"
Why do its readers go from “Good to Ghastly?”
Are they just not bright enough? Weak minded? Unable to change bad habits? Prefer “politics” to actual achievement as a strategy to advance? I mean really, WTF?

Did they mean well but revert to “Lord of the Flies” behavior after one bad quarter? Or are they just hiding their “crazy” in public most of the time? I’m asking because now that I’m back on positive side of the ledger I’m horrified at how bad it had been so often at so many places for me, my family and my friends. I had a chat with my first real business “mentor” the other night regarding helping his daughter get started in her chosen field and I was reminded how shocking it was when I first worked with him and was truly trusted, supported and empowered by him and the entire management team when we worked together in the 90’s.

We were all “jazzed up” to go to work every day, weren’t afraid to take calculated risks, and achieved great success with a small team and virtually no budget. Motivated, smart people we were and we innovated virtually every day to make the place better. Did I find a great leadership through my own research? LinkedIn? FuckedCompany.com? No, it was pure luck for me (and for them), that we “found” each other and were able to do great things and enjoy the process.

Why is that so rare today? Are 70% of Americans just idiots (as one of my best friends continually points out)? Do people really just not listen and comprehend good advice anymore? Are all “organizations” above a certain size just destined to go horribly dysfunctional because of their size? Is even the best corporate culture guaranteed to dissolve above 100 employees?

Soooo many "leaders" need to really read this book.
Soooo many “leaders” need to really read this book.
I don’t know the answer and believe me, I’m not complaining – I love competing against badly managed companies with toxic management styles and dysfunctional cultures. The bigger and better resourced they are, the better; it makes for greater satisfaction when you beat them and have your pick of their customers and their best employees.

I still would like to know the answer but until then I’ll just enjoy the fact that the competition is not going from “Good to Great,” doesn’t live by the “No Asshole Rule” and clearly hasn’t adopted “7 (or even 1), Habit of Highly Effective People.”

p.s.: When asked what my favorite “business” books are, the response is simple: “The Essential Drucker” and “The No Asshole Rule.” Great advice to work and live by everyday-

Best. Business. Book. Ever.
Best. Business. Book. Ever.

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Tipping is Not a City in China

housevsaptHouseowners deal with many issues that are foreign to apartment and condo dwellers.  Beyond the seemingly endless (and often expensive) hassles associated with purchasing and moving into a home, one then has to deal with some combination of tasks which include: trash disposal, lawn maintenance, appliance repair and maintenance, outdoor holiday decoration placement and removal, basement flooding, HVAC maintenance, “Mischief Night” soaping and eggings, neighbors’ rogue pets, and on and on.  But this is the time of year where you “make some of that back.”
The "Where's my tip?" hand
The “Where’s my tip?” hand

The holiday season for apartment and condo dwellers might as well be renamed the “Tipping Season.”  Every person that works in and services the entire building (and parking garage if you have one), expects a hefty tip this time of year.  A reward for a job well done (or perhaps some insurance for good service in the year to come).  Many of these people are relatively invisible for 11 months of the year but like clockwork they’ll appear in your vicinity several times between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.  You’ll get a hearty “Hello!” and smile and even a handshake with eye contact from some of them as they happen to be there vacuuming in front of your door, getting to that old maintenance request, tidying up the lobby or offering to help with a package.  Wonderful, friendly busy staff as far as the eye can see.  Much like waiters and waitresses, the tip is essentially an expected part of their compensation so you’re a heel if you stiff them.

 

But how much to tip?  When?  Who?  How do you appropriately “slip them the cash?”  Despite literally hundreds of years of doorman buildings and other apartment complexes with staffers on the books, there has been no progress on exactly how to do this “tip drill” well.  Does each one get the same or do the people that know your name get more?  Is there a “class system” in which doormen get the big dough and maintenance gets 50% less?  Can you send a big check or bag of cash to some management flunky and trust them to divvy it up fairly?  What’s this year’s “rate?”  $100 each?  $200?  $50 due to Obama and the recession?  Does the Super really deserve $500 (after all, he already makes more than everybody else, right?)?  Do I slip a $20 to the weekend substitute parking guy?
Will "Schneider" fix your overflowing toilet in a jiffy next year?
Will “Schneider” fix your overflowing toilet in a jiffy next year?

 

It’s crazy!  Don’t you already pay a “maintenance” fee each year for these services?  Even if you want to do the right thing, there’s no way to know what “the right thing” is.  Ask most doormen and they’ll shrug and say, “Whatever you think is fair sir.”  That’s no help.  You may spend thousands of dollars tipping different people and still miss the guy that fixed your toilet during your Superbowl party because you forgot what he looked like (note: you’ll know if that happened the next time you desperately need his services and he’s conveniently unavailable btw).

 

So to all you house-owners out there, be happy this holiday season knowing that this is your time… a time where you can relax in your home and enjoy the holidays while your apartment-dwelling counterparts are struggling with the all that goes with the “Tipping Season.”

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“Gate”-gate: A Travesty Analyzed – Breaking News

I think there is an emerging scandal that needs attention.  The “Gate-ing” of non-“Gate”-worthy scandals is a growing epidemic and it’s making me angry.  It is an insult to former President Richard Milhous Nixon, G. Gordon Liddy, and the rest of the Watergate gang to try to “-Gate” these minor scandals/dust-ups and put them on the level of the the G-Men’s “work” back in the 70s.  It’s the 40th Anniversary of the original “Gate” for crying out loud, so it’s time to act… and I intend to!

The one and only original “gate”

So which scandals qualify for “-Gate” status?  Let’s evaluate a small sampling (10), of the “best” of the many contenders:

Travelgate at the White House began in May 1993 and really got the “-Gate” business going when seven employees of the White House Travel Office were fired and replaced with friends of the Clintons.  During multiple investigations the discovery of reportedly false statements made by the first lady drove the Clintons to reinstate most of the employees and remove the Clinton associates from the travel office.  A 7-year+ investigation involving the White House, FBI, multiple Special Counsels, and the Attorney General = YES, it’s “-Gate”-worthy.

Bill & Hillary Clinton were at the center of the new “-Gating” craze

Troopergate began with the allegations by two Arkansas state troopers that they arranged sexual liaisons for then-governor Bill Clinton and the scandal escalated to include salacious and serious accusations regarding Paula Jones (who was paid $850K by the President), Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and White House intern Monica Lewinsky (leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998.  YES

Spygate was born when with the New England Patriots were found to be secretly taping NY Jets (and likely other teams), signals to gain an unfair advantage.  I would have originally voted NO to “-Gate” status for this but upon further review the facts do show an amazing pattern: 3-0 in Super Bowls while spying and cheating, 0-2 in Super Bowls since caught cheating.  That’s a YES.

Bagelgate occurred at a Fortune 500 company’s Annual Meeting in New York when the regular practice of serving breakfast at the stockholder meeting was changed by the incoming CEO, angering long-time stockholders who typically would make a day of it by eating at the meeting, voting their shares (or single share of stock in some cases), and catching a matinee at the theater.  The Q&A was dominated by elderly stockholders asking the new CEO why there were no bagels or other breakfast items provided for them at this year’s meeting.  Hilarious, but not a “-Gate” – NO

Nipplegate – Singer Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson’s right breast to 89.8 million viewers in a staged “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII causing an uproar and national debate about decency in modern culture as well as FCC fines for CBS.  The most viewed breast and nipple in recorded history = YES

Editgate – NBC TV edited a 911 recording in a way that made the motivation for the shooting of Trayvon Martin appear racial.  Powerful case but not “-Gate-worthy”-NO

Nannygate – A 1993 political controversy over nomination of Zoë Baird and near-nomination of Kimba Wood for U.S. Attorney General were withdrawn due to their hiring of illegal aliens as nannies or the failure to pay taxes for them. The soon-to-be chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. government and head of the United States Department of Justice breaking the law?… YES

Paterno/Spanier-gate at Penn State (hey, that rhymes!) – too soon to say but the coverup to hide the actions of a pedophile coach looks extensive and linked to the highest levels of power.  TBD

Camillagate was a Royal affair

Camillagate – Scandal which resulted from a tape of a telephone conversation between the married Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles in 1993; the tabloids leaked the details of an intimate recording in which Prince Charles told Camilla that he longed to be her tampon.  I’m still speechless about the content but not quite a “-Gate” – NO

Weinergate – U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account linked to a picture of a bulging penis (in underwear).  Weiner said his account had been hacked, but later admitted he sent the tweet; numerous other lewd photographs from the married congressman were later “revealed.”  All-time great NY Post tabloid headline (“HIDE THE WEINER”), but not a “-Gate” –so… NO

OK, so our analysis of these 10 media-anointed “-Gate” scandals shows that only half of them met the standard set by “all the President’s men.”  And these are only a handful of the dozens and dozens that people dare to bestow with the vaunted “-Gate” suffix.  This is Watergate we’re talking here… the biggest coverup in american government history; to besmirch it with Weinergates and other inferiors is tantamount to insulting the constitution itself.  It’s not right.   It will not stand.  Why?  I’ll tell you why… Because I’m here, I’m angry and I’m not gonna take it anymore!

“Gate”-ing is only for the worthy.

UPDATE: Since the publishing of this entry several new unworthy “gates” have emerged (which I won’t detail here), and a new “one-to watch” – namely, “Deflate-gate.”  It seems a ballboy at the mighty USC Trojans football program deflated half the footballs (the ones USC QB Matt Barkley would throw), for the recent USC-Oregon football game.  You see, a football slightly deflated below official specs is easier to grip, throw and catch than a typical new game ball.  Results?  Already considered a top QB prospect USC’s Barkley exploded for 303 passing yards and 3 TD passes… in the 1st half!  At half-time, officials discovered the cheating and the seeds of “Deflate-gate” were born.  USC coach Lane Kiffin and everyone else with the program claim the ballboy was a “lone pin-man” who inserted that pin and masterminded the deflatement.  We should all follow this carefully to see if this one becomes worthy of the “Gate” suffix.

USC’s Coach Lane Kiffin: Innocent preppy leader or Nixon 2?

 

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Mr. President, A Budget Tip

November 6, 2012, 3:30pm ET   

President Obamney (I’m not sure who won yet), I feel that if the rest of us have to balance our checkbooks each month (and year), our country should too.

Voters have to balance their checkbooks, right?

Call me crazy but I believe that the USA can find a way to survive on a meager $2.5 trillion/year (or whatever the expected revenue is next year).  Go through every line item the way we workers do with our own budgets and make adult decisions about what you absolutely have to pay for and what is a “nice to have” that will have to wait until you get a raise in revenue or an unexpected bonus.  If you and the leaders of the House and Senate can honestly say that every line item in that proposed budget is 100% required this year, then I’ll personally bet you everything I own that you’re full of crap.  The size of the debt itself is the next economy and retirement-crushing disaster-in-waiting and you and the House and Senate were elected to address just this kind of tough problem.

Line-item veto? OK

Please don’t violate the “No Asshole Rule” and put politics ahead of doing the job right.  I don’t care how you do it or who gets the credit and neither should you.  If a “line item veto” is how it will get done, then I’ll support the President (and Speaker and Senate Majority Leader if needed) getting that power and I don’t care which party any of them are from.

This isn’t rocket science or difficult to understand and you all know it.  Once the budget is balanced for the year, THEN consider options for tackling the existing debt.  Increasing taxes and adding those additional short-term $ to the budget kitty will only increase spending, not decrease the debt in my opinion and isn’t that the point, to eliminate the debt itself?

It’s a balanced budget, not the quest for the Grail

Find a way to spend within your current means and then I’ll support really reviewing all options (including new and higher taxes and fees), to raise revenue for the specific purpose of eliminating the national debt itself.

Who’s with me?

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Illegal or Just “Frowned Upon” ?

I was re-watching the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever this week and after thinking about it, I got a bit angry about legality, polite convention and political correctness.

A few thoughts/questions to ponder came to mind:

-Is it illegal (or just frowned upon) to use your neighbor’s cable and wi-fi if it’s readily accessible in your apartment?

-Is it illegal (or just frowned upon) to quietly detach (and keep) a $20 bill stuck to a vision-impaired adult’s shoe?

-Is it illegal (or just frowned upon) to reverse your college floormate’s peephole and organize “Cinéma Vérité” viewing parties in the hall when his girlfriend visits during the day?

-Is it illegal (or just frowned upon) to loudly pass gas while immediately adjacent to law enforcement?

Clearly these are all “6 to one, half a dozen to the other” scenarios, right?  Of course.

Why am I angry?  Because in “The Hangover” they all automatically dismissed and persecuted Alan for expressing his perfectly valid thoughts on whether card counting (and masterbating on airplanes for that matter), are illegal or just “frowned upon.”

It’s incredibly unjust for today’s “nanny state” citizens to force their radically “polite” views on others!

Judge not, lest ye be judged!

Lippman: It’s come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct? George:Was that wrong?

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Why So Much of the Same Ads?

If TV this month is any indication then I’d say that clearly:

1. We all need new car insurance (and haven’t decided on who to buy it from)

and…

2. We’re all potential voters that are “undecided” at the moment

 

Really?  That many of us haven’t decided?

 

My theory is that advertising agencies and their “inside” men and women are doing a phenomenal job – a phenomenal job of convincing their clients that we the people haven’t decided yet and that another 100 or so viewing “impressions” (industry term) of that “reptile” each week will make the difference (Geico’s The Martin Agency does a good job too).

They’re slinging what the industry calls FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) at their own clients and it’s working.

So people, brace yourselves for lots and lots more Flo, Gecko, the deep-voice actor guy, the guy that played Brenda’s boss on The Closer, Aaron “Discount Double Check” Rodgers and, oh yeah, Barack and Mitt because the agency guys are gooooood.
On the bright side at least I get to see more of Ronald using karaoke to get his “profile” out there and save money on online dating (it is so popular btw that they released an extended version on YouTube for Ronald’s fans)
Apparently Ron’s “hairline is receding, but (he’s) getting a weave”

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Why Do We Expect a Scorpion Not to Sting?

Why do we expect the NFL to care about player safety and the integrity of the game when we know all they really care about is money?

Why do we expect a new CMO to only fix what’s broken when we know they’re 100% predisposed to do a flashy branding/rebranding exercise?

Why do we forget “The Frog and Scorpion” Tale?

Why do we expect politicians to do what’s best for their constituents when we know they’ll always do what’s best for themselves?

Why do we expect our favorite team to replace a fired coach with the best candidate when we know they’ll hire the “safest” option who is the most opposite of the last guy?

Why do we expect universities to use that billion dollar+ endowment to keep/make college affordable when we know they’ll use it all to grow bigger? {And why do we keep donating money to that university when we know the above is true?}

Why do we believe TV networks will obey the “commercials will never be louder than the program” regulations?

Why do we expect business leaders to really lead with the long term in mind when we know they’ll mortgage the future to make the number this quarter?

Why do we expect that this particular scorpion won’t sting that innocent, unlucky “target”?

Is it the hope that better things are just ahead?  Drinking-related memory issues perhaps?  Insanity?  Cockeyed optimism?  Well, why do we check the coin slot to see if a quarter is in there?…  Because sometimes there is a quarter in there and last time, I found a Sacajawea dollar coin.  That’s why-

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Businesses: Shoot Thyself in Foot Much?

Real face-to-face training is becoming a fairy tale.

Companies no longer really train employees.  It saves them money to cut or minimize training and new skills programs.   And with employees no longer having to “waste” time in training, they can do more of their regular work (as well as cover some of the work that used to be done by their boss/co-worker/employee that no longer works at the company (and who may or may not ever be replaced)).  As expected, companies still make it look good and tout their commitment to the “learning/knowledge growth thing” and their extensive library of online classes employees can access (on their own time of course).

What about when you do need to hire?  There’s got to be plenty of unemployed candidates who’ve had the exact job role, right?   Those candidates will be thrilled just to get back to working and doing the exact job they had last year, right?  The recession solves the problem and keeps a lid on frivolous expenses like training new hires or cross-training employees to enable them to take on different roles in the company in the future.  Win-win!  It is win-win, right?

What’s interesting is that senior management’s cunning plan of using the recession combined with this hiring strategy is simply not working.  A recent survey confirms that employers are frustrated with the lack of skills of candidates they’re reviewing and that it is taking much longer than anticipated to fill job openings because of it.  Firms that don’t want to fill in the skills gaps of otherwise great candidates with some post-hire training essentially are annoyed that candidates’ previous employers didn’t train them well enough (think about that one for a moment… and then consider if your firm fits that ironic description).  So short-sighted, it’s almost unbelievable.  Good to Great?  Mmmmm, maybe not.

To these many, many firms I say, “Shoot thyself in foot much?”  Oh, and advice for employees and investors of these firms… short the stock. (186)

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Angry About the “Sandwich”

Sometimes in business the proverbial “shit sandwich” ends up on your plate.  It sucks that it does, but that is reality in the workplace.  When a shitty, no-win project or scenario does end up on your work plate, your options only really include: a. Eat it, b. Starve and look for work at a better restaurant/place,  or c. Send it back to the asshole chef who has the power to cripple and end your career (and then see what happens).

Unless you own your own business you should consider in advance what you’ll do if and when the sandwich comes your way (because it most likely will).   If you anticipate (and/or have already been served) shit sandwiches at your current restaurant and option b. is the most palatable option, I suggest start looking at alternative “restaurants” now (not all places are as bad as most, so reducing your chances of getting the foul meal is at least possible).

Unfortunately the asshole quotient in the management ranks of most organizations has never been higher, despite the great works of Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey and especially Robert Sutton (author of the brilliant book, “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t”), which all speak to how to treat, motivate and empower employees and managers to enable success.

“Secret Santa” gift for your boss?

Many managers are bullies, cowards, political animals, idiots, and/or overall ass-clowns so the recommendation is to be ready, to anticipate if and when those kind of no-win projects/scenarios (aka “shit sandwiches”), are likely to come your way, and to take action BEFORE the waiter comes to your table.

Thanks for listening and have a good lunch-

 

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