Getting organized

I have to get organized. Course, I say that every year and repeat it at least once a week. I do manage to drag myself through the years without missing too much but it’s getting harder.

As of this writing, I am in the possession of, or have exclusive access to, two desktop computers, a laptop, a tablet, smart phone, and a paper planner. I have a business card scanner and an app on my smart phone for the same purpose. In short, I have every possible tool that could or would make my personal and professional life the envy of my neighborhood. The end result of this state of organizational copiousness is nothing works.

The two desktops have different versions of the same time and task management software. Neither one of them will talk to my cell phone though they will talk to each other if they are in the mood. The laptop is old and works when it feels like it. Because it was the workhorse of the bunch until a few days ago, much of my history is on it. I can get it switched to a desktop when the beast is up to working.  It’s just plain ornery in its old age. The tablet is so conceited it won’t talk to anybody. The smart phone tries to get along but it’s tough when nobody will talk to anybody. Oh, I failed to mention that I have a twelve-plus year old customer relationship management software that will talk to nobody but itself.

I bought a business card scanner and its attendant smart phone app in the hopes that I could, at long last, get this crowd of braniacs to talk to one another and help me get my act together. The end result is I have to load each card twice. Once into the desktop scanner and again into the cell phone with no advantage at all to me.

The only “system” I am not having problems with is the paper planner. It never crashes, does not NEED to talk to anybody but me, and does not require any weird stuff or tools. It’s also cheap. Its sole downfall is the entry clerk. “He” can’t write worth a hoot.

Army Strong?

                Those of you who are approaching or in the years that qualify you to order from the senior citizen’s menu at the local eatery will appreciate this story.

                I decided to get into shape not long ago. My dear bride had dropped a hint or two in that direction. I remember when I was in the Army that we did a lot of calisthenics and running. The latter was never an activity that I enjoyed but the former was indeed something I could do with a certain level of devotion. So it was that I drew some of my former calisthenics from my memory of days in the Army. It would be a painful trip down memory lane.

                It was my plan to do calisthenics five days a week, taking Wednesday and Sunday off. It started well and I was super-motivated at the end of the first week. It was Tuesday morning of the second week that my body decided to teach me the lesson that I was no longer in the Army and should not act as though I was. Working from the middle, my back entered into full rebellion. It did so while at work and in the presence of my co-workers. The pain was beyond anything I had endured since the last time I took a “whupping” as a young ‘un. My back calmed down a little bit after a time (and sufficient “I told you to be carefuls” from the Mrs.) then my shoulders took up the siege and let it be known that they were not going to do pushups or any other kind of “ups” thank you so much. The knees put in the coup de grace on my program to return to “Army Strong” shape and refused to do anymore squats.

After all this abuse, I went to my doctor and told him of my dilemma with the hopes that he could help me make myself behave and get into shape. He took the side of my back, shoulders, and knees with the “You’re not a kid anymore,” speech.

Fine. I’ll sit here and watch TV. That’ll show ‘em.

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.

It’s not rocket science

                I did an internet search on the word “business networking” the other day. Whatever time I have left on this good earth is wholly insufficient to research the information made available by that investigation. Wikipedia™ even had an article on the subject.

                There are networking clubs, institutions, and gatherings of all sorts to facilitate business people of all walks of life in their daily quest to meet people and sell them stuff (or, as they will say, “Build strategic relationships”). Because so many people apparently don’t know how to network, there are speakers, books, articles, and seminars ad infinitum, all designed and written to help the business people of the world in their never ending quest to meet people. There are the five R’s of relationship, the “X” procedure of reciprocity, and the one elevator speech that, if properly written, will wow all who hear it and create in the audience an immediate desire to do business with the speaker. Yes, the “network industry” is big business.

                It’s also hogwash.

                Yes, I said it and I’ll bet there are a few people that would like to see me arrested for doing so. Take all the methods, procedures, and positive thinking malarkey out of the equation and what do you wind up with?  People meeting people with the intent of doing and/or referring business. That’s really all there is to it, folks. There are only a couple of things you need to know and do to be a successful networker. Over the next few Mondays, I will present one idea at a time for your consideration. You may or may not agree with me and some of you may wish to see me burned at the stake for heresy. The fact remains, though, that you and I have been networking since birth. The target market may change along the way and the elevator speech is certainly different depending on one’s age. It is all essentially the same process.

                I could give examples of networking at each stage of life and maybe I will at some point. For the purpose of this article, let us save to say that there are certain behaviors and methods to be used in networking that cannot be violated regardless of age or station in life. They range from the absolutely most basic of all things (like showing up) to the simpler things. None of it is complicated unless one chooses it to be so. I recently met someone who claimed to be a “certified networker.” I don’t know what that is. Maybe he went to a school. I don’t know and I was kind of afraid to ask. Anyway…

                Ok, enough. Next Monday, I will present the first and most important rule of networking. Do try to get some sleep between now and then. I will also see if my old friend Augie has anything to add to the conversation.

Ya’ll quit

I was going to write a scathing rant on the inability of some people to have a rational discussion of opposing viewpoints without resorting to name calling and generally boorish behavior. I was going to rant and rave about our unwillingness to have civil conversation and to remind folks what Grandma told most of us years ago, “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all. ” I’m not going to because this column is supposed to be about the everyday stuff we see and hear.

But we see this kind of incivility on a daily basis. Is it possible that there is somebody in these United States that can have an adult conversation without threats, insults, and / or a frequent use of “THAT” word? Why are we seemingly unable to agree to disagree? Is this maybe the result of a society that has been over exposed to the self esteem movement? Maybe we have been told we are special too many times and have internally decided that we are right and everybody who does not agree is unworthy of oxygen and should not be allowed to vote. This column is not the place for this discussion. I will leave it to wiser people than I.

Instead, I will tell you what Augie told me the other day when this topic came up. (You will remember Augie from a previous article – he is my life long buddy from Army days and is a hog farmer today). He reminded me of the aforementioned wisdom from Grandma then told me about his Daddy. His Daddy was also a hog farmer but he was better at it than Augie. His Daddy once told him and I quote, “Don’t you ever talk bad about anybody to their face or behind their back. The Bible teaches against it.” Augie’s dad wasn’t educated but he was a pretty smart fellow. I don’t recall him ever saying anything bad about anybody. Augie hasn’t either so far as I know. He told me once if he ever did talk bad about somebody his Daddy would come up out of the grave and get him.

We’d all do pretty well to listen Augie’s dad.  I would not want to see Augie’s Daddy come up out of the grave either.

Calendars, calendars, calendars

                 Good gravy! Not another calendar! I had just gotten my email account set up only to find that my new email host had also given me access to yet another free on-line calendar. So, let me see just exactly how many calendars that are available to me. First, there is the one that I have at my day job. I never use it so don’t know that it counts. Second, there is one on my CRM (customer relationship management) software. It is an older version and, though I still keep most of my contacts there, I do not use the calendar.  Of course, my company owned laptop and my home desktop both have calendars. Wait a minute. Both of them have at least two calendars each and there may be even more lurking on the hard drives.  

                My cell phone has a calendar that syncs with my calendar on my home laptop. It also keeps one of my address books. Well, I also have one on-line service that I have never used. There is one in my personal email account and that one I use because it will send reminders to my cell phone though the two won’t sync. I tried to get my on-line calendar to sync with my desktop calendar so it would sync with my cell phone and therein nirvana would result. No such luck.

                My wife keeps a family calendar on paper. I have to sync my calendar with hers every week or there’s the devil to pay.  All three of my kids have their own calendars but they don’t live with us anymore so I (thankfully) don’t have to sync with them too.

                Then there is my trusty old paper planner. I’ve been using this particular paper planner for years. It gets manually synched with my calendar on my personal email account which syncs with my cell phone. It is a little more work but, having never come to completely trust technology, I take comfort in the feel of paper and its control over my life. It has never been known to fail me except when my handwriting is illegible. My paper calendar is my security blanket.

                Ok, how many calendars is that? I don’t know and, furthermore, I don’t feel like counting. Too many is the easy answer. Now I have yet another one with my new email account. I am determined not to use it. Sheesh, these calendar are about as bad as email addresses. I have more email addresses than I do calendars. I just made a quick list of email addresses and came up with five PLUS the ten that I have with the company owned prospect / lead manager. I have never used any of those ten.

                Sure wish they made a paper email.

Phony Veterans

                  (Sorry, folks, I am on a rant today) On this date in 1972, I left my home in Amarillo, Texas and was placed into the tender mercies of the United States Army. My first “home” with the Army was in Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry (BCT) at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Thus began a twenty-one+ year adventure that would take me across the Atlantic Ocean eight times (not including leave) and to homes in six states. I would not trade my time in uniform for anything. I am as fond of the Army now as I was then, even though I have been retired eighteen plus years. Even now, I can remember every unit I ever served with and every job I held.

                It is because of this fondness that I take an extremely dim view of anybody who makes claims to be a veteran who is not or, worse yet, a veteran who makes claims to daring-do that are not true. If you ever have a few minutes to do some simple research, conduct an internet search on “phony veterans.” There are entire websites devoted to exposing these imposters. You would be surprised at the claims. For example:

  • Right here in Johnson County, Indiana, a man (who will remain nameless) made claims to being an airborne ranger and a Green Beret. He told stories of being directly involved in action in Cambodia. A little research revealed that he had been an Air Force draftsman in Saigon.
  • In the past year, I met at least two people who made claims to be snipers, including one who told me that he was a civilian sniper under contract with a federal agency that he was not allowed to name. I am no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
  • Recently, I ran into a man who had a US Army hat on. I asked when he was in and he used dates that would include the Viet Nam era.  He was, of course, a Green Beret.  I asked him what his unit was and he had a tough time recalling. He asked when I was in and whether I had gone to Nam. I had not, I said, been to Nam though I was in at the time. He ended the conversation by telling me in no uncertain terms that he had been in Nam and had the wounds to prove it.
  • I lost count of the number of “Navy Seals, Rangers, and Green Berets” that I have come across over the years.

Phony veterans disgust me as they do any honest veteran. I have made it a policy to avoid these guys and not bother with them but I am rethinking that position. Any vet can ask a few probing questions and easily expose these bums.

Words fail to explain how I feel about these scumbags and that’s where I will leave it.