Category Archives: Lead

Let it or Make it?


I’m a pretty laid back guy.  When things need to get done though, I make them happen instead of let them happen.  Yesterday one of my buddies said, “man, things are pretty slow today.”  Things are slow because we are allowing them to be slow.

To make things happen one must:

  • Learn the system and identify slack points and remove them.
  • Meet the people involved, especially decision makers, address their concerns directly and mitigate.
  • Drive the timeline.  When will this step be completed?  What’s next?  Warm up the next step.
  • Congratulate accomplishments.
  • Keep the bosses excited so you can ensure resources and support.
  • Be ready, each ‘thing’ made happened opens up the possibility for another.

If you let things happen you wait for things to come to you.  You avoid pressuring the system, your peers, subordinates or superiors.

It doesn’t matter if you work at McDonalds, Google or the White House.  Stop waiting for someone to hand you a purpose and make things happen, time is running out.

The Fall of Man

If your friend orders this for you, he is playing a trick or he’s not your friend. Bros don’t let bro’s do feminine shots.

I often order food from this pub close to the local university.  The other day we got some sandwiches to go. When I walked in I noticed a group of college age guys hitting on the waitress.  Ha, I thought, that must be annoying.  Then I smiled as I remembered doing the same while I was in school and after.

Waitresses never (hardly ever) are interested, they’re busy and probably get hit on all the time.  These guys were actually having some luck it seemed, I was impressed.

As I bullshitted with Scott the bartender he reached to the well and grabbed the Baileys and poured a few counts into a shaker, then the Goldschlager..then Kahlua.  I thought to myself, “Nasty, chicks will drink anything with Baileys.”  Scott shook the shots over ice then poured three shot glasses.  I saw the same waitress pick them up and head to the fella’s table.

“Nasty,” I thought, “Dudes will drink anything to get a chick to do a shot.”

She dropped the shots off and left.  These guys just did a shot of Gingerbread Man by themselves.

Hopefully it doesn’t interfere with their menstrual cycle.

Dolphins: Winning Friends and Influencing People

Awww, look at those two. It’s all part of a huge PR scheme by the dolphins. Genius.
Courtesy of Matthew Meier Photo

Dolphins are expert PR people.  Here are a few reasons why:

1.  Cooperate and win:  Going back to ancient times, Dolphins used to assist fishermen by herding fish in the fisherman’s direction then being rewarded with fish.  Genius; catch your fish but be sure to give me a cut.

2.  Winning Friends and Influencing People:  Dolphins are playful and seem to smile a lot, this is straight out of Dale Carnegie’s famous book.  Humans (the top of the food chain) love dolphins and protect them beyond what is done for many other sea species.  When was the last time you had “Unsafe Dolphin” tuna?

3.  Our allies in combat:  Like many countries, dolphins have chosen to side with the US in conflict.  They work for us as spies and messengers; I wrote about it here.  Whose side do you think we’ll be on in the next sea life war?

4.  Isolate the black sheep:  Did you know that the Killer Whale is actually a dolphin?  Yup, genius branding move by the dolphin elite.  It was especially useful when the trainer was killed at Sea World in 2010 by a “killer whale.”

So, while we watch and cry about Dolphin Tale, the heart touching movie about the tailless dolphin, the rest of the dolphin population swims through the ocean in super pods, protected by humans, and brutally slaughters other fish families by the thousands.  Genius.

The Japanese on the other hand are not fooled by big dolphin smiles or playful wave play.  They are not impressed by the dolphin public relations scheme.  For reasons of which we are not entirely sure, they slaughter tens of thousands of dolphins each year in somewhat of a ritual beginning in early September.   Read more about it here, pictures are graphic.

Read more about our mammal brothers:

Dear Media

Dear Media,

As I understand it, it’s your job in a democracy to inform the electorate.  I would like some information on the following:

1.  Foreign Policy:   Frankly, I don’t give much of a shit about Romney’s gaffs in London.  I do care, however, what our candidate’s stance is on interventionism.  Thus far I have heard different odd, entries from both candidates.  When you talk to them, could you ask them how they feel about getting ‘involved abroad?’  If they give you a bullshit answer, please ask them again until you get a real answer.  I don’t need specifics, but I would like to know what types of situations would constitute deploying Soldiers and where and why we would become diplomatically involved, especially in terms of money/aid etc.  I’m a Soldier, I would really like an answer on this.

2.  Domestic Fiscal Policy:  Got it, republicans believe in the free market and democrats are Keynesian.  Please, ask some questions to get beyond that broad issue.  Ask questions about how their policies might apply to the real world.   Again, if you get some talking points back, go ahead and ask a more pointed question.  It’s your job.  As a tax payer and citizen this stuff is important.

3.  Freedom:  It would be interesting to me as a voter to know how much the candidates think the government should get involved with our daily lives.  I’d like to know, more specifically, what their interpretation is for governing toward the common good.  This topic is somewhat related to number 2, but if you would, ask a little more directly about federal laws and how they relate to state laws and furthermore how they relate to freedom.  I hope you can avoid flag waving answers here about the freedom we enjoy blah, blah.  I really want to know how easy it will be for the police to arrest me or the government to tax me in the next 20 or so years.  I’m a citizen and a father, it’s important.  Also, it’s your job.

I guess I realize that if I search hard enough I can probably find these answers or at least draw some substantial conclusions based on their political actions thus far.  I’m pretty busy though, I think I mentioned before that I’m a Soldier (we are still at war.)

It would be great if you could just pin the candidates down to answers, don’t let them smile and talk passed the subject.  Keep asking, keep pushing.  You might not be invited back for a second interview, but know you are serving us.  It’s your job.



The Making of America: True Story

Are you willing to work?

True Story:

A large area immediately outside my office had to be excavated due to some kind of underground HVAC flooding problem.

The first day was pretty hot.  The guys started to clear the stones then cut into the dirt with a shovel.  It was getting hotter.  A few guys worked on it at first, then as the job expanded the guys had other duties to do and one guy was left to dig.  It was hot.  The man dug and dug.  It was apparent at this point that the shovel he was given was inadequate for the job.  He was in jeans that didn’t fit well and an old t shirt, he just kept digging.

The next day, another guy was on the job.  He was younger, tall and slender.  He dug some when he first arrived but the heat came quick.  He dug a little, stopped for a smoke. Dug a little more, did some texting then his buddy showed up.  He sat on the side of the hole for a bit, smoked and talked then dug a little more.  Someone brought over some Gatorade and a sandwich.  He left earlier in the day than the guy from yesterday.

It rained heavily that night.

The next day the first guy showed up again.  Since it had rained the job site was a bit of a mess.  The hole no longer had perfect edges, it was sloppy and eroded.  The dirt pile was flattened and some was falling back into the hole.  The man did what he could to shovel it out.  He wasn’t having much success.  He grabbed a nearby plastic cup from a fast food restaurant (the big kind that are against the law in NY) that was littered from the past.  The man began using the cup to throw the water out of the hole.  He had to throw it some distance as to avoid it from receding back.  He did this for several hours, even as it started to rain again.

The final day an excavator showed up, now with space to expand the hole.  In a few days, the entire job was finished.  It was covered nicely with new gravel, looking better than when it had started.

I didn’t see Juan or Steve again.

Highway confessions; I ran over that sign

This sign has directed its last patron

So I had a bit of a rough weekend in terms of driving.  I had a hitch mounted cargo carrier on the back of my jeep to haul camping supplies.  I guess I had a hard time judging distances, I blame the heat.

I hit two things:  I ran down a fast food joint’s sign and bumped someones SUV in the parking lot.  There’s a difference.

When I bumped the guy’s car, I felt really bad.  There was barely any damage, a small dent in the rubber probably on its way to popping back out.  I stayed out in the parking lot and waited until he came out of the store and explained what happened and apologized.  He looked at the bump briefly and agreed that it was too small to care about.  We went on our way.

I stopped briefly when I cut a turn too hard and clipped the fast food sign.  It made an awful sound.  Not a full stop, a rolling stop really.  I’m pretty sure the sign was already down and I just finished the job, it was rusty and seemingly sheered off at the base.  I didn’t feel bad though.  As a matter of fact, I was more concerned with any damage to my jeep and wondering why they chose such a poor place for a sign.  Honestly, I laughed  hardily as I drove down the highway, trading jokes with my wife about the situation and my impending arrest.

Here’s what separates the two incidents:

I identified with the SUV owner, even though I’d never met him.  He is a person and deserves to know that his car was bumped.  I was prepared to pay for any damage caused because I wanted to do right by him.

This fast food place is a nameless and faceless corporation.  Their parking lot was unkept and cared about me only enough to get me out of their drive through line.

The fix?

Chain stores need to identify themselves using their people.  Managers should have their pictures up and meet customers.  Clerks should make a bit of small talk and use their names.  It’s an easy fix really and customers will come back because they were treated like people BY people.  It’s not that corporations need to increase the number of self reporting sign runner overs, they need to increase the customer return rate.  Even corporations can be small town shops.

If I had met Bill the manager or even knew his name I may have let them know that I ran their sign over.  I might mention to him that it was really poorly placed though.

Contributing to our society; One Google review at a time

Mike’s pizza deserves more great reviews.

I read internet customer reviews before I buy something or go somewhere.  My wife reads them even more.  I post reviews on Google, when a business strikes me as very good or bad.  I should post more reviews on Amazon about the products I buy.

There is value in these reviews.  This is the power of the internet.  Anyone, anytime can post what they think about a product.  The most helpful reviews are cheered by other customers while the least helpful fall to the bottom.

This is good right?  This is increased access to information so that the customer can make informed decisions.

The economic law of supply and demand depends on the supplier and buyer having equal information about the good.  The opposite is called ‘information asymmetry.’  This condition is said to cause market failure.  Google it, it’s interesting.

Bad guys are creating asymmetry on purpose.

What if an author or publisher hires a company to post hundreds of positive reviews of their book on Amazon?  What about a product?

There are no laws against being shady and unethical.  It usually hurts your brand though.

The company, promises, “We don’t actually delete any webpages (only the person who posted [a bad review or negative content] can do that), instead we simply make unwanted pages about your business rank lower in search results so that virtually no one ever sees them.”

So, I guess the story goes if you are a shitty doctor or a restaurant with poor service and have earned some bad customer reviews, you can hire to make them ‘go away?’

That’s weak.

Let’s do our part and post quick reviews on Google and Amazon when we buy something or go somewhere…the market…no, our society depends on it.

Ok, maybe not our society.

Fried dough with sugar; who does it better? The hedgehog does.

I grew up on Long Island.   We had Dunkin’ Donuts.  I have fond memories of my Mom bringing home a dozen donuts or stopping by for a quick Boston Creme before we got on the train.  It was good.

Dunkin Donuts makes the best donuts and coffee on the planet.

Dunkin Donuts makes the best donuts and coffee on the planet.


Dunkin Donuts makes sandwiches.  Shitty ones.  Dunkin Donuts makes…well, they have ice cream stores attached to them now.  They make all kinds of garbage.  Check out the front page of their website:

They lost their brand.

What if, for the last several years, they just refined and built on to the fact that they make the best coffee and donuts on the planet?  Whether or not its true doesn’t matter; it can be true.

What if for the past several years they concentrated on just coffee and donuts, that perfect combo and left the rest to fast food joints or other, lesser establishments?

The Dunkin Donuts brand would be a lot better off.  Maybe they would make less money in the short term, but in the long term, they could forever seal their fate as the best coffee and donuts on the planet.

I walk into Starbucks and ask the bubbly chick what she does and she says she is a barrista.  She makes coffee, oh yeah, they have some other stuff too.

When I walk into Dunkin Donuts the dude isn’t sure what he does, he makes ice cream sundaes, terrible sandwiches, some  ice cream cakes, breakfast burritos and oh yeah, donuts too.

It’s sad really.

It all goes back to the hedgehog concept.  To be truly successful, you should:

1.  Determine where your passion is.

2.  Determine what you CAN be the best at.

3.  Determine what drives your profit engine.

Jim Collins, author of the Good to Great series describes it in video here:

The Hedgehog Concept

You can apply this anywhere.  Apply it to your life.  Apply it to your office.  There is something that you are passionate about, something that you can be the best at, and maybe it will even pay the bills…if not, maybe it should.  Whatever you choose should not be breakfast burritos, though.

Romeo Dance Cheetah – US Air Guitar Champion

He’s the best at what he does; can you be the best at what you do?

A few weeks ago I met this dude, stage name: Romeo Dance Cheetah.  He is a marketing guy who specializes in video production.  Pretty good guy it seems.

His boss mentioned that he was a national air guitar champion while we were having lunch.  After thinking about it, I was impressed.

He is the best in our country at what he does.  He trained, he performed and he won.  He went on to the international championship (I think in Amsterdam) but was out gunned.

Not everyone can be the best but we can try.  Maybe instead of trying to be the best and falling short, we should spend time trying to find out what we can be the best at, and then do it.

Either way, accept your lot or try to be the best, your choice.

My hats off to you Romeo Dance Cheetah.

Discipline versus Regret

I saw a plain, black and white sticker on the back of a pickup truck.  It read, “Discipline vs. Regret.”

That’s pretty much what it all comes down to doesn’t it?

Diet, splurge.  Exercise, sit. Save, spend.  Work, procrastinate. Relax, stress.

Its simple.  Either you are discplined or you will (should) regret it later.  This decision usually occurs in the little space in time between stimulus and response.  Think about that space and consciously make your choice.

Good luck.


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