Not again?

                I moved here in the spring of 1992. Shortly after my arrival, I went to a little bank branch and opened a checking and savings account. I have had those accounts ever since and have used that particular branch almost exclusively.

                Some years ago, (I don’t rightly recall when), the bank that operated that branch sold out to another bank. I remember at the time wondering if any of the employees would be replaced or moved. I don’t recall that any were and it seems the transition was pretty seamless. Oh, there was a minor issue getting my website access to work and remembering the new name but it was a pretty simple affair. I don’t recall it being a big deal or anything. The new owners seemed a respectable bunch and I never feared that my money (such as there was of it) would get mysteriously moved to some unknown offshore island. I have, in short gotten pretty comfortable with it and with the people that work there, past and present. However;

                I stopped by the other day to make a deposit and discovered that the bank has been sold yet again. It will, (so I am told), be a great fit for this bank and its new owners as there will be more products to offer and I will still have my branch and the people that work there. For some reason, I was not immediately re-assured. I can’t really say why either. I guess it is a case of being comfortable with something and hoping that at least one thing in my life will stay the same. This has been my branch for nineteen years now and I want it to be my branch for at least nineteen more.

               My own story: I worked for a truck company in the mid 90’s. It moved its operations from West Virginia to Indianapolis. The move turned out to be less than wise, and, almost twelve months to the day, the owners sold it to a company in Missouri. The employees had little, if any, warning. The majority of the employees were let go and a  few (me included) were kept on for a month or two as they transitioned to another state. So far as I can recall, not a single employee was kept on by the new owners. It was a tough time for a lot of people and a lot of families.

With that in mind, here is my message to the new owners;

                We don’t know one another from a sack of potatoes but I know and remember most of the people that have worked and who currently work at that branch. They are my friends and they are important to me. Make the transition easy for me as a customer but make it easier for them. They are good people. But I bet you already know that. Treat them well and you will never lose customers like me. They take care of me. Please take care of them.

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Oh no! Another “project!”

                  The wife has always been in the habit of finding indoor projects for me during the winter months. She announced the newest project at dinner one night and my heart sank to my feet. She would like to have the master bedroom painted. As it happens, we are empty nesters now so I no longer have two sons and a daughter around to do my work for me. It is a new burden since my third born left for college not long ago. I have to wash my own car, mow the grass, and even clean out the cat box. When my dear bride of thirty plus years announced this new project, I knew what was in store for my next few weekends.

                I thought about going on an extended business trip or maybe even a short term mission trip. I thought if I could be gone for a week or two, maybe her desire to change colors in the bedroom would subside and I would be off the hook. She already had my calendar for the next month so that plan would not work. My next idea was to announce that I needed to focus all of my attention on the book that I am revising so just would not have the time to do any projects. “Sorry sweetie. I wish I could but I just have to have this book done sooner than later.” I tried to sound as empathetic as I could. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “You have not touched that book in a month. What makes me think you will immerse yourself on that?” I tried to explain that a writer is not always writing when he’s writing. That excuse didn’t pan out too well.

                Lucky for me it took her two weeks to figure out what color she wanted to use.  It was a good selection if I say so myself. That did not allay the realization that I would be doing the bulk of the work. I spent the next few days steeling myself for the “changing of the colors.”

                Our bedroom has cathedral ceilings and has a six inch wide paper border left by the previous owner. That had to come off the wife decided. You know, those things don’t come off too easily. Being as how I did not want my dear bride that high up a ladder, it was left to me to do that part of the job. My workload had doubled. We also have a lot of turns and angles in our ceiling, all of which had to be prepared and painted. I thought about running away to another state and hiding until she abandoned the project. It was sound logic to me. There are politicians in the Indiana and Michigan Houses of Representatives that had done it to dodge their jobs. Why couldn’t I? I abandoned the idea after a bit in the realization that I cannot afford to hide out in a hotel.

                By and by, the project was finished. It does look pretty good, if I do say so myself. The only problem with a finished project is there is the inevitable “next project.”

A Riddle

(I was asked to post the following riddle);

Two men are cellmates in prison. One of them receives a visitor. He goes to meet his visitor and is gone two hours. When he comes back to his cell, his cellmate says, “Who was your visitor?”

He answered, “Brothers and sisters I have none, but that man’s father is my father’s son.”

Who was the visitor?

A study in creativity

                It seems there was a study done at some point in the past about the effect of sleep on creativity. If memory serves, this particular study advanced the opinion that the mind is at its most creative in the middle of one’s sleep or just upon waking. If, as the study seemed to suggest, one could wake up at, say, 3:00AM or thereabouts, the mind could be harnessed to levels of creativity unknown during waking hours. I think the mind has, by that hour, forgotten all of the abuses it was subjected to the previous day and was just now able to think about stuff other than how it will pay its bills and thus ward of the debtors.

                I have found that the mind is capable of amazing things at 3:00 AM. Why, just the other day I woke up at that hour and found my mental processes in an unrelenting fit of creativity. It seems I had been dreaming just before waking. I had been giving a speech before a large crowd that continued on even after I woke up. My mind had reached such a lofty and heavenly level of creativity that I myself was stunned at my own intelligence and eloquence.  Before this imaginary venue of learned folk, I pronounced the ultimate and final cure for cancer, opined on the elimination of poverty on earth, and solved the energy crisis for all time. The crowd could only stand in hushed reverence as my creative mind went even further in a successful attempt to explain how and why womankind thinks the way they do. Before the sheer power of my 3AM mind, the vast problems of society were solved. Never before had anybody heard such advanced intelligence and profound logic come from one mind. I concluded my oratory by pronouncing that I would be publishing my vast findings on the internet so that the entire world could benefit from this new found level of creativity. It goes without saying that all of this profundity was advanced with the greatest of humility.

                The original report that I mentioned at the outset of this article offered the suggestion that one should sleep with paper and pencil nearby so as to jot down the stunning ideas of the mind when they are fresh. I did not feel the need to follow this suggestion as I knew that I could remember even the most minute detail. I lay in my bed and thought briefly about getting up and finding paper and pencil. The decision against it was made as I did not want to leave the adoration of the crowd and break this streak of grand creativity. Besides, a mind as creative as mine can certainly remember the speech I had given that night.

                The morning came and I wanted to make note of my eloquence. I cannot remember how I cured cancer, eliminated poverty, or solved the energy crisis. Only the Almighty Himself knows how women think and He is not telling. The sum total of the creative genius that I can make available on the internet is before you in this article.

Uh, dude? Or is it dudette?

                It has been my habit the past few years to use the word “dude” in conversation and in the occasional email. There is one gentleman with whom I am well acquainted that this particular noun is the first word uttered in every conversation. Upon the hearing of this word, there is no further need of identification. This habit has, among many of the people with whom I have frequent contact, become the greeting of the day. The word has become part of my vocabulary only in the past few years. Its use has recently caused me some degree of consternation to the extent that I have considered a cessation of its use.

                I am a moderately frequent user of Facebook™ and I am known in certain circles to make comment as to one or more of my friend’s activities. I am also known to post what has become known as the “Bad pun of the day.” On one particular morning as I was perusing the activities of my Facebook friends, I noticed a short post from a friend of mine. This friend is well-known to me as he is the one who has the sole responsibility of protecting my home from the dreaded termite hordes. His name is Rob and he is a gentleman of the highest quality. This particular day, he posted an intention to some strange activity the likes of which I no longer remember.   I seem to recall that his plan had a feminine tone. The post on the wall elicited the question from me “Uh, dude?” It was my intention to inquire why one would take the now forgotten weird decision that was being written about.  I posted my question using the sarcasm font and went on my merry way.

                Later that day, I was back on Facebook in the hopes of finding that all of my friends had had days of exquisite joy and fulfillment. I noticed that somebody named Toni had written on my wall with the simple exclamation “Dude? I’m not a dude.” I was, of course, puzzled by the comment and wondered who this Toni was. Further investigation revealed that Toni was Rob’s new bride and I had actually posted my earlier question “Uh dude?” on her wall in the mistaken belief that she was Rob. I had committed the almost unforgivable act of referring to a young woman as “dude” instead of the far more appropriate “dudette.” I reported the incident to Rob at the first opportunity but he already knew and thought it tremendously funny.

                The “running gag” now is Toni’s nickname  is “dude.” I expect that she may very well change her Facebook profile to reflect her new nickname.

                @Toni – Dude (sarcasm font)

Know and be

                I have a friend who I will just call “friend” to protect his identity. He is a master networker. He goes to pretty much every networking event that he can drag himself to. He is on Facebook and Linkedin with alarming regularity. He Tweets and Diggs and whatever else one does on the internet. I don’t know how many boards of directors he sits on. His office is downtown at the “right address” (I won’t say what downtown he is in). He drives the “right car.” I assume he has the “right” home as well though I have never seen it. Why, to hear him talk, he knows everybody there is that’s worth knowing and the ones he doesn’t know ain’t worth knowing anyway. He is a thoroughly likeable fellow and I am always glad to see him.

I have no idea what he does for his daily bread.

                I really don’t. I’ve heard him explain it a number of times but I cannot spout it back to you, even with a gun to my head. So far as I know, nobody else does either. I’d like to ask him why he networks so much and yet nobody knows what he does but I’m afraid of the answer I’d get. I’m not sure he knows himself. I’ll tell you though, if you want to meet somebody (so I am told), he is the person to ask. Friend can introduce you to the Sultan of Antarctica if you ask him. He will also promise no end of assistance for you in helping you build your business and introducing you to just the right people. Yes, my friend is an expert at networking and helping people achieve their goals. The only problem with my good friend is he rarely does what he says he will do. He is wholly unreliable in virtually everything he says and does. It is a sad thing to see somebody so talented waste it all on an inability to do what he says he will do.

                My point in this discussion is to point out what should be the bleeding obvious.

Be reliable

                My friend has two strikes against him now in that nobody really understands what it is he does and, furthermore, nobody cares. They don’t know because he is unable to articulate it clearly and they don’t care because he is untrustworthy. We all have that human tendency to forget. It’s another thing altogether to forget on a regular basis and even worse to promise as much as he does and never do any of what he says he will do.

                So, two ideas I want to leave you (and me) with. 1) Know and be able to clearly articulate what you do for your daily bread and, 2) be reliable.

                Ok, I’m done with writing about networking for awhile. Augie is in town and I am sure he will have a story or two for us.

On Meetings

If you are one who has the sad responsibility of conducting meetings of any sort, this article is for you. Herewith is my advice on how to have a meeting and inflict the most suffering on the attendees so as to enhance your own standing as an individual to be feared. If you follow my advice, I can personally guarantee that the people over whom you have charge will obey you without hesitation, mostly in fear that you will subject them to even more meetings.

  • Set your meeting time at the most inconvenient hour possible. Personally, I have always preferred super early in the morning, say 5:00 AM. Your attendees will be sleepy and will be easily intimidated. NOTE: If your charges are hourly employees, have it right smack in the middle of the work day so they can’t get overtime. As an added bonus, do not have any coffee or anything else to eat or drink. Make sure you have your coffee though.
  • Show up at least forty-five minutes late. Surely they cannot expect you to be there at 5:00 AM!! They should use the time from 5:00-5:45 (give or take) to study and prepare for your entrance. I actually saw this done once by a man who had scheduled a networker’s power circle for the middle of the morning. When he showed up forty-minutes late for his own meeting, he was stunned that we had not been working to prepare for his arrival. I am glad to report that  particular power circle never met a second time. Or third.
  • You will want to spend a large amount of the meeting time talking about your own lofty accomplishments and how your leadership will make sure everybody stays employed. Even though they have less ability than you even when their talents are combined, your wisdom will save the day. Again.
  • Make sure all decisions are made and plans finalized before the meeting. Surely you don’t want anybody actually discussing options and changing plans do you? Remember your reason for having a meeting in the first place. Because you can. All they are there to do is stand in awe of your remarkable leadership skills.
  • During the course of the meeting, pick out one or two people to single out. Use one to demonstrate your vast motivational skills. Salespeople are easy targets. Tell the group that Sandy’s sales are abysmal and you have decided to take her under your wing and show how YOU can help a weak saleswoman to excel at her job. Don’t worry. This won’t involve any real work on your part. Tell her to go buy a sales book (any one – it doesn’t matter which) with the admonition that if she will adhere to the advice in this book like you did, she will indeed to be stellar sales professional that you so clearly are. Fire the second person right in front of everybody. It’s a wonderful motivational technique.

There you have it. One final word, if you are reading this and actually contemplating applying this advice in your own professional life, I have one last bit of advice. Get your head examined. Now.