It's not often you come across an article quite like this one. It says a lot about why Apple is so successful these last few years. And it's not just about design, anyone can copy the iPod's coolness...anyone! But when a company's culture is so incredibly different from it's competition you can't help but to notice, and to buy. Click the image to read more from the NYT.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Cross-posted at linkedin.com
In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d recount the scene of domestic holiday tranquility that was only marred by threats to my physical person...by my dear brothers (the cop and the part-time small arms dealer), who lamented that I purchased irresponsible (and loud) gfits for their hoard of children (the western contingent of the Chinese Army).
Their children call me Auntie Lita (or in the words of the less-than-verbal ones, Antee Yeeda) and they call my house Wonderland. It’s the place where the rules (time, space, propriety, courtesy, gravity) don’t apply. Anything can happen and usually does and now that I’ve trained them not to squeal on me (have just _one_ snow cone party…at 1 am…using real snow…and strange snow cone toppings like prickly pear cactus syrup, and they just can't be counted on to hold their water: they blabbed and I was punished by some stern-looking adults).
Now, each year, I expand my plan to further ensnare my brothers’ expanding tribes to my evil will. I have no shame: I can buy their undying devotion with an assortment of toys that are turning my brothers into tired, old men.
I love it.
One year, last I think, one brother attempted to thwart my plan. He called my cell while I was out shopping for his boys. He heard the reign of thunder that was the noisy backdrop for one particular toy I was handling. He told me he would make it painful and leave my entrails along an overpass with a sign as a warning to all other aunties to be afraid–-that it would be a public service to all fathers everywhere. I thought policemen weren’t supposed to threaten to murder people, but just so we’re all clear here: I got scared and scarpered away from that section of the toy department as fast as my shopping cart would go. I think there were scorch marks on the floor.
Now, here’s the lay of the land: there are 6 of them. Six! Two girls and four boys.
The girls are girlie girls (no help for it), so I got them art stuff (messy, staining art stuff) to help advance their creativity (and to help them redecorate their mother’s house). For their two brothers (boys’ boys) I selected monster trucks with realistic sound. These trucks transform into monsters (much like my nephews did when they saw them). One monster toy smokes enough to set off detectors!
For my other brother’s two boys (the Baby Gap/Little Einstein poster tots), I gotten them musical instruments–xylophone, drum and, oh yeah, emergency vehicles with lots of fussy parts and lots of noise. One other shopper in the store, a harried dad, suggested I consider witness protection. I remarked: “These are educational toys, sir” and sidled away in a pretend huff.
Now, this means that, in order to give myself a fighting chance of survival I had to get excellent presents…for their wives. I’m now officially broke. It takes a lot of cheddar to manage this kind of deep-seated evil throughout the holidays.
One day, I’ll be made to pay. But not now, friends. Not now.
Entering an Auntie Protection Program
Lalit...er, Sven Svensen
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Don't even know what I was supposed to be doing when I stumbled in this Sony Bravia ad.
Can anybody tell me what the deal is with the clown making a clean getaway? He looks a little, um, sinister.
Monday, December 17, 2007
You know, I'm about as sick of Christmas as I am of this presidential run-up. Neither seem like they'll ever be over. Ever.
But, then, the season brings some of my favorite commercials. I've listed two of my favorites: the creepy Garmin commercial (love them all) and one of the ancient Norelco commercials which always signaled the coming of Christmas.
"I missed my turn. I'm gonna burn...."
And from way in the past...
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The invites have gone out and come in.
Holiday party season is upon us. Now, our only hope, while listening to the wife of our best client (the boring wife of our best client), is not to overindulge in ways that will have us later lamenting the impact on our businesses...or on our waistlines.
From ... say
Forget about honey hams and apple pies. What's really going to widen your
waistline this month is the booze. Americans drink more hard liquor in December than any other time of the year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a national trade association.
That extra alcohol not only packs on the pounds, it encourages us to eat more, says Marisa Moore, a registered and licensed dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, a Chicago-based professional organization of those in the food and nutrition (read more)...
Now, if we can all keep to the wine spritzers and Diet Cokes and keep our wits about us....
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
You know how there were bands and artists from your youth that you followed throughout your life? For me, one was Queen. Fat Bottom Girls, Bohemian Rhapsody and all the rest were anthems to me. Almost orchestral, with lyrics that had me looking stuff up in the enclopedia (Scaramouche, like Freddie, was "born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad") I remember where I was when I hear that Freddie Mercury has died and it struck me more than the passing of John Lennon or Elvis Presley.
Now, Queen's guitarist, Brian May has continued to amaze me. Before joining the group in 1970, May had completed a Baccalaurate degree in science (with honors) had already started work on a PhD at the Imperial College London departments of Physics and Mathematics, "studying reflected light from interstellar dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the Solar System." Um, damn!
Yesterday, it was announced that he had been selected Chancellor for Liverpool John Moores University, succeeding Cherie Blair (wife of the former PM).
He's written Bang! The Complete History of the Universe and a host of scholarly articles in astrophysics.
Certainly May and Queen have challenged conventional wisdom. They're role models to me of working from a uniquely inspiring vision and having at it!
This is going to be fun. Lisa Thomas, from the P3 Group, has asked me to appear on her BlogTalk Radio Show, Power Boost, this morning at 10:00. Our topic will be on how vision relates to business success. If you have a minute, be sure to navigate over and listen or download it if you can.
Monday, November 19, 2007
It's Turkey week, ooops, The week of Thanksgiving, some people won't be in the office, some take a few days off and others relish in the the reduction of calls and emails and cubicle visits that disrupts their daily work flow. So are you going to use this week at least from Monday to Wednesday to plow through lagging items on your today list, or will you just let things idle until next Monday. Well either way, you better have a plan for everyday. Not just a to-do list but a get-it-done plan. Here's an excellent article in the NY times.
Blogged with Flock
Posted by Yorkali at 6:55 AM
Monday, November 05, 2007
I appeared in the Lafayette Journal and Courier today. Seems they wanted to hear from members of the hometown crew that do well in business and remember where they came from. Here's a little bit of it:
She coaches businesses to succeed with less struggle
By MAX SHOWALTER
A zeal to help businesses chart a course for the future and train, staff, plan and coach employees led Lafayette native Lalita Amos to start her own firm in Indianapolis.
And the path to entrepreneurship was first paved with employment at the Sycamore Girl Scout Council in Lafayette, RR Donnelley & Sons in Crawfordsville and a nonprofit organization in southern Africa.
"I got to really make a difference there in the time I was (in Namibia) and got to spend quite a bit of time with their House Speaker, Mr. Mose Tjitendero, who suggested that I stop playing it safe when I went home. So I hung out my shingle in 1996 and haven't looked back," said Amos. "I started my company, Total Team Solutions, as a way to bring all the things I'm passionate about in business together.
"I help business owners and executives make more money with less time and have more satisfaction with less struggle. I challenge them to fulfill on meaningful goals and establish new capacities along the way so that they can maintain the ground they take." (read the rest)
For those of you who have been giggling at the fact that my beloved Kyo 7135 smartphone went up in a greasy puff of smoke (some foolishness about technology not lasting forever), you'll love this.
Just as I was unhooking the docking cradle and getting ready to say "bye-bye" to my trusty smartphone forever, I opened it up for one last look. The ugly "I'm dead, Jim" screen that I've been staring at for the last several weeks...was gone. It works. Now, at this point, Garland, who was nearby, said "Lalita, don't be fooled" likening it to the way a dead man can sit up and appear to sigh, he held my grubby mitts as he forced me to put it down and then he watched while I disconnected it.
Oh, the humanity.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
You’re juggling a whole bunch of projects, and having a hard time managing all of them, and not completing many. More projects keep being added. It’s really stressing you out.
Blogged with Flock
Friday, November 02, 2007
Leverage... Cutting edge... Scalable... ...and the list goes on.
When did our business communication stop being authentic and start being a frantic race to leverage robust world-class business intel that offers flexible, yet scalable, capabilities to help achieve (I really wanted to say "leverage" again) potential and future stakeholder value?
Listening to what passes for business communication sometimes give me hives, like Frank Zappa's Valley Girl with its collection of "likes" and "totallys."
We can do much better when speaking and writing to each other. We just don't. Gobbledygook, a kind of mutated chat or scribe to impress has become a nearly Olympian sport and is far less entertaining to witness. Many of us could use a Gobbledygook Book (a Dictionary of Acronyms Abbreviations Initializations & Esoteric Terminology) to keep track of the arcane terms we hear in meetings and, hell, on TV.
Use language that is clear and check in to make sure that your intended meaning is coming across. Trust me: people will cheer.
Read this article from Web Ink Now on gobbledygook in marketing. It's a good one.
Listen Now: 13:44
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Yup, Daimler just introduced a new soundmark with which to associate their brand luxury of horseless carriages. A gentle nudge to remind us that our brands are so much more than what can be printed. (listen for the soundmark at the very end of the ad)
Blogged with Flock
Monday, October 29, 2007
Blogged with Flock
Posted by Yorkali at 6:14 PM
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I'm on day 2 of my switch from my Kyocera 7135 (he's dead, Jim) to the Samsung U740 Black Phone (Verizon Wireless). Let me say that, for its size, it is packed with features.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Thank the goddess, my new cellphone has come in. I'm back in communication! It's a Samsung u740--pretty nice, though not the glory of my recently-deceased Kyocera 7135 smartphone.
I'm scaling back my cellphone so that I can scale up my computer to something along the lines of an OQO. I want something small enough that I can carry it easily, but with enough power and expansion capabilities that it will work as a desktop machine as well.
By the way, the shipping box just came in from HP. I'm finally sending my Pavilion back to the Mothership for repairs.
Forgive me Gates for I have sinned.....It's been almost 3 months since I fully became a switcher. And let me tell you...
I'm lovin' it.
In one sentence this is how I would express owning a new Mac.
It's the cheapest computer I have ever bought and it's the most productive I have ever been.
I purchased a lil white MacBook in August I was pining after the more expensive, by almost a grand, MacBook Pro, but my lil budget said, are you crazy?!! So I bought the lowly MacBook. Well after a few weeks I realized that this 15" inch screen pip squeak of a machine had a few power cards up it sleeve. It just runs. Mind you it has crashed a few times (5 or 6) but that was when I know I've been maxing out the memory and whipping the dual Intel processors with heavy multi media work, that is it's weak point. Weak point because it's memory card uses the RAM from the machine.
So there you go, due disclosure of the cons of this specific model, up front. Now for the pros. I've been a designer for over 10 years and I did not start using my own Mac until about a year ago. I managed to acquire a G5 on a barter from a client. It worked well but it had issues that were becoming harder and harder to bear, it being a second hand un-refurbished machine and all. But I was still impressed with the Mac platform. As the Mac became less reliable, I grudgingly shifted work to my HP Pavilion laptop. Plugged away at it until the chance to purchase new machine came along. I jumped at the opportunity to buy my first brand new Mac.
It's been a great 3 months and I think the only side effect to owning a Mac is I have become "one of them". Yup a Mac zealot. When I start waxing romantic about my new purchase I sometimes see the look that you give a person that is trying like the dickens to get you to try a new religion or to purchase that exercise machine you KNOW you don't need. But still I wax on, why, I simply love this machine. I do not say that lightly, now for the why's and the wherefores.
Although it's are a bit limited on this model due to shared memory, the dual processor architecture makes up quite a bit. Photoshop on this machine handles HUGE files much better than my $2,200 HP Pavilion laptop. Running multiple programs with the 1 gig of RAM is for the most part pretty smooth.
More than just pretty
The UI, goodness gracious, what can I say, it's pretty, it's smooth, it's pure eye-candy delicious-goodness. This may sound strange but look forward to looking at the machine, everyday. Jumping from program to program using Expose has improved my productivity incredibly. One thing that has helped in this is my Logitech mouse. With just a flick of the mouse wheel I see all my programs, pick one and I jump into another app. Flick,copy....flick,paste.....flick view new feeds in rss reader.....flick,send invoice in browser.....flick,copy image from web....flick,paste into Photoshop. I'm in multi-tasking heaven. Also the convenience of the dashboard and the fluidity of the interface makes personal computing....personal. Also, for me it's not just about, oh the Mac is so pretty and all the eye candy. If the beauty and fluidity of the interface can elevate my user-experience on a day to day basis, then form and function are become one. For me design isn't just about making things pretty it's about elevating the user experience, and cloud nine is feelin' fine. Warm fuzzy feelings when things just work....so beautifully, I get those everyday.
Apps and Productivity
There are a ton of lil 3rd party worker bee programs/apps that make using the Mac a more productive experience. The main one being of course Quicksilver. To put it plainly it's like an assistant that never needs a raise, is always on time, put's what I need at my finger tips and delivers everything but a steamin' cup a joe. Quicksilver increases my productivity by making things easier to reach without going too far from your immediate think-space. It's that simple. I won't go into a review of the app here but let me say this. Nothing comes close to how smoothly this app helps me to; open a new program, send an email to someone by just a quick keystroke. But I will leave it there :)
The other side of productivity are the apps that come with the Mac. The iLife suite of programs, iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, iWeb and Garage Band are a joy to use and makes digitizing memories quite easy.
Wanna do a podcast and mix in some cool loops or that cool new song you have on your iPod, Garage band.
Want to whip up a beautiful, functional (Youtube videos, Google Maps, forms) site in less than 30 minutes, iWeb is King!
Just got those lovely pictures of your granddaughter, whip up a coffee table book to show off her baby-blues in iPhoto.
The list goes on.
How about, serious work. The new iWork '08 apps are incredibly good. I do not miss Office...at all! And yes there is a new app for working spreadsheets called Numbers who's beauty belies it's power. You have got to try it out. Keynote will do wonders for your presentations, literally. The cinematic nature of the final production is nothing short of awe-inspring. You could actually do an entire 30 second ad in this thing, ready for HD or broadcast TV, sayonara Flash. There are caveats mind you, but few and far between they are. And then there's Pages, layout and word-processing genie. Whip up spanking new and crisp newsletters in no time flat. Do up some new business cards for that meeting tomorrow if you just ran out. And a host of other cool functions are built into this solid app.
There is just too much to write about the design of the machine. Although there is just so much you can do with a laptop's design. Just go by an Apple store and get a feel for it. I'll let the merchandise speak for it self.
So at the very high expense of being labeled a Mac Zealot/Believer/Evangelist I will still say it.... Being on the Mac has renewed my joy in daily work, it really has, and this MacBook will be the single reason for saying, "This is the cheapest machine I have ever used and the most productive I have ever being."
p.s. Along comes a Leopard, ladies and gentlemen. With a major OS release with two major halo products (iPhone and iPod), Apple is officially at a significant tipping point.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
...and the list goes on.
When did our business communication stop being authentic and start being a frantic race to leverage robust world-class business intel that offers flexible, yet scalable, capabilities to help achieve (I really wanted to say "leverage" again) potential and future stakeholder value?
Um, I feel a little bit better. Can you tell I've been reading some deadly emails today...and casting a jaundiced eye to some that I've recently written as well?
What is your least favorite gobbledygook business term or phrase? Bonus points if you're willing to write it on a 3x5 card, set it on fire and never use it again.
Chime in on the discussion here or here.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Interesting little gizmo. I like the screen protection afforded by the clamshell-like design along with the twist-to-tablet operation, but I can't help thinking it's a little too small. His hands look a little too large for touch typing. The video shows a user typing (albeit somewhat torturously) with it sitting on the table and using two thumbs (like a Treo or Blackberry) when holding it in both hands.
The video also follows what seems to be an industry trend to show a user playing games or music with the device (very clear images showing how it would work) and grainy images of work applications (if they're shown at all). For me, I'd like to get real work done while listening to music. I'm not a big one for futzing around (a technical term) with downloadable tracks: I just tune in my Sirius account online and listen in the background.
In the 20 some odd years that the BG posse over in Redmond have been creating new products, they've finally done it: left us completely bewildered by their product icons. Aside from the usual suspects (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Frontpage), I've gotten good at guessing, which is the only reason I scored so well (trust me: I still don't know what Groove is). Take this quiz and see how you do (so far the average score is 58% with 327 responding).
Icon... Can You?
Score: 83% (10 out of 12)
My comments (and those of other inquisitive souls) at Mental Floss...
Friday, September 14, 2007
Just as I was getting ready to head off to do some other writing, I saw this write up on the Wired.com website: OQO Model 02 Upgraded: Faster Chip, Faster WWAN, Faster Storage. From the OQO website:
Huh! Now, it's not uncommon for a new product roll out strategy to include higher initial prices (to try to recoup up-front development and marketing costs) and there's lots of chatter on the 'sphere about the tad too quick $200 price drop on the iPhone (leaving early adopters feeling like iDiots). But I think unlike the iPhone price drop, the drop in the OQO price is due to the entry in to the marketplace of other UMPC's.
SAN FRANCISCO – September 10, 2007 – OQO Inc., creator of the model 02, the world’s smallest PC running Windows Vista® and the first ultra mobile PC (UMPC) with embedded 3G mobile broadband, today announced new model 02 products with high performance features that deliver increased Anytime/Anywhere Productivity™ and extend OQO’s lead in the category. To accelerate consumer and enterprise adoption of the model 02, OQO is aggressively pricing its upgraded UMPCs starting at $1,299.
Bigger HDDs, New Flash Memory SSD The improvements to the model 02 product line start with a choice of high-capacity storage options. In an industry first, OQO now offers an ultra-mobile PC with a 120GB hard disk ideal for video, audio, and data-intensive applications. At the same time, HDD capacities have increased across the board: to 40GB in the entry-level model, and to 80GB in the standard high-end configuration. For users requiring an even more advanced storage solution, OQO now offers the model 02 with a flash-based 32GB solid state drive. The SSD provides up to 50% faster boot and application launch times, as well as increased battery life and the ultimate in rugged physical data protection.
Faster CPU Speeds and Improved Wireless Connectivity
The new model 02 delivers faster CPU speeds of up to 1.6GHz, another industry first in a UMPC. WWAN configurations of the model 02 are now available with higher-speed wireless connectivity provided by EV-DO Rev. A with mobile broadband service from Verizon Wireless or Sprint. EV-DO Rev. A offers data rates of up to 1.4Mbps, improved upstream speed, and lower latency. Users will find Rev. A particularly useful for online video, interactive web content, and bandwidth-intensive enterprise applications.
Due to increased volumes and new technologies, OQO is delivering the new model 02 with a lower price point or improved functionality at every level of the product line. The entry-level price for an OQO model 02 has been reduced by $200 (to just $1299) while increasing disk drive capacity by 33%. Additional pricing is available at OQO’s online store at www.oqo.com/store.“With today’s announcement, OQO further extends its lead in the fast-growing UMPC category,” according to Bob Rosin, senior vice president of marketing & alliances. “OQO created the UMPC and our new products offer performance, wireless and storage options that further advance our vision of anytime/anywhere access to information, applications, corporate networks and the full PC internet.”
Usually the market leader sets the price and, when others enter the market (and competition heats up), drop their price significantly to drive others, who can't afford a price drop, out. Trouble is, it drives out innovation and creativity as well. Oh, and the fact that the OQO was priced at the higher end in the first place (and the market isn't quite getting warm yet). The recent entry of the Vye mini at $1,350 (with an $850 model available) has got to be giving new OQO CEO Dennis Moore (dum-dum-dee!) a case of the shakes (is it any wonder, then that the price drop came simultaneous with his appointment).
Having heard nothing from the good people at OQO, I'm left with the clear impression that they are unwilling to consider the impact of the right-handed bias with respect to their pointer placement. I've been looking for other options, though I'm still holding out. Here's one, the Vye Mini from VyePC with their write-up:
Weighing 2.2 lbs and small enough to fit in a school bag, handbag or briefcase, the mini-v is the world’s most practical mini notebook computer designed to offer everything that a notebook can. The mini-v has the benefit of having an easy to use qwerty keyboard, with real keys and full notebook functionality. The mini-v combines your conventional notebook, desktop, PDA, MP3 and MP4 Player, whilst being not much bigger than a paperback book. The mini-v mini-notebook from Vye Computers offers great performance in a stylish silver and black lightweight design. With its stunning 7-inchWSVGA touch screen display, this mini-notebook offers you the best on-screen performance, enabling you to operate full Microsoft Offic applications, watch films or view pictures of your last holiday. All this with the freedom to choose from keyboard, mouse, touch pad, joystick, touch screen and stylus.
The mini-v comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Vista and can act as a Phone, Notebook, MP3 Player and PMP (Portable Movie Player) as it has been fully tested with iTunes, DiVX, Skype and comes with CF (Compact Flash) compatibility to support a 3G data/voice card. Using Intel® McCaslin technology and configurations that will include Intel Stealey processors, the mini-v is a compact notebook computer that’s capable of acting as your office PC. With an integrated VGA port, 10/100 LAN and USB 2.0 interfaces, you can connect all your desktop peripherals and multimedia devices to the mini-v. With integrated Wireless LAN and built-in Bluetooth® you can also take advantage of wireless networks and hot spots whilst out and about.
The Vye Mini is slated for US release next week. The two memory options will allow you to get your mitts on one: The Intel A110 800MHz processor or the Geode chip which is about half the price (and half the memory).
Still looking for options as my HP Pavilion continues to get some age on it. Besides, it isn't getting any lighter and my travel schedule is heating up (much like the battery compartment on the loaner Dell I'm using).
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I just got a call from my Dad in Lafayette, Indiana (my hometown). Excited, he explained to me that there was an article about me and my podcast in his newspaper today. Seems one of his fellow deacons told him about it at church today and he rushed home to see the article for himself.
Now, I'm certain that my Dad doesn't understand the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) that makes my podcast (or this blog, for that matter), possible, but I'm still smiling thinking about how he sounded when he read the article to me: "...Amos is the daughter of local resident, Gordon Amos...."
Nothing better, friends.
I love words. Always did. My mother bought us, first a dictionary, and then a set of encyclopedia when we were very young children. My brothers and I read the entries in those blue and white Grollier International volumes like short stories in an anthology.
My work with clients includes constant clarification of what they say and how it connects (or doesn't connect) to their beliefs, actions and results. Does your language create your business reality? You bet. Is this something New Age, connected with the? Where have you been? Really! It isn't just the good people in the marketing department who agonize over words: It's also the concern of those of use who work in the area of business strategy as well. Our words are like the points on a map towards our desired results. Nebulous strategic mission, vision, objectives, strategies and action plans will get you...well, you get the picture.
In this TED Talk, lexicographer Erin McKean discusses her work in the constant pursuit of new words, new meanings for old words, or signs that once-favored terms have fallen out of use. She worries that dictionary editors are viewed as little more than traffic cops looking to police the "bad words" and put dictionaries on the Internet in the same way that they exist on paper. She longs to participate in the Internet-driven transformation of words and meaning.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I know that on your blog you occasionally introduce new products/services that you have found useful and innovative. I want to make a recommendation to you that would be a great tool for a lot of small business…particularly those that have employees who travel or that want to send/share files.
I use this service instead of uploading to my own company web server. The transfer speed is blazing fast and the user interface is nearly dumbproof. Password protecting files takes two clicks. Just a great all around file tool.
See ya’ around-
Body Shop Founder, Green Movement Pioneer, Dies -
Body Shop founder Anita Roddick died of a brain hemorrhage Monday. Ms. Roddick started the environmentally friendly cosmetics boutique in 1976, long before the green movement became mainstream. She didn't wait for her marketing division to tell her that there were imminent profits to be had before doing what she believed was right.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven called Roddick an "incredible woman" who would be "sorely missed."
"She was so ahead of her time when it came to issues of how business could be done in different ways, not just profit-motivated but taking into account environmental issues," Sauven said. "When you look at it today, and how every company claims to be green, she was living this decades ago."
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has settled lawsuits with alleged abuse victims for $198 million, double what the church offered just months ago. Settlements here in the US have topped $2.3 billion in the aggregate and leave me wondering at what could be the largest failure in sexual harassment and abuse of children in history.
Now, before we beat our chests and thunder "The Children!" know this: we're not too good at dealing with harassment and sexual harassment in the workforce when all parties are adults. I worked for a time as an internal HR rep. Our focus seemed not on rooting out problems before they escalated; instead, with little company-funded training (I paid for a lot of my own development), reps were known to tell people they were making too much of situations, being "too sensitive" and other things. The thinking was that by getting the complainant to simmer down, it would go away. It didn't. Generally, complainants began suffering workplace write ups as their productivity and workplace ethic began to decline. It usually started with attendance and the every-ready "attitudinal" anomalies. On several occasions, it escalated to violence (including gun play).
One gentleman that came to my attention had an employee file that was almost an inch thick, stuffed with complaints by women workers that spanned over 20 years. The corporate "we" had done nothing--and he wasn't the only one. Side note: When I came to talk with him at the end of second shift about the most-recent complaints--wait for it...wait for it--he hit on me, telling me how pretty I was and moving from his side of the table to mine (we were at a small table with only two chairs).
Help me, heaven!
When I suggested escalating the discipline, I was reminded how many years of service he had with the company, with no consideration about policy or the law (or--heck--the feelings and rights of the women involved). Like priests with long tenure, these people are given a "pass" and begin to believe that their behavior is acceptable: "If they really didn't want me to do this, they'd punch my ticket." It wasn't lost on me that just I was leaving that organization they were served with a $550 million race and age discrimination suit.
In an earlier blog post on this site, Like Nobody's Business: How We Want to Work...and Live: Mean People are Made to Pay!, we saw that it didn't take an censer and a sacramental vestments to get slammed by our reluctance to roll up our sleeves and deal effectively with predatory behavior in the workplace. Deutsche Bank got a $1.5 million spanking for refusing to effectively deal with threatening, harassing behavior. Studies suggest that our inability to deal with workplace relationships can cost in excess of $60 billion annually.
We didn't get it any more than these diocese.
I've said before, how ludicrous it is to me that the people charged with fair dealing with firms (churches, civic organizations, etc.) are not required to be trained in problem solving and effective conflict resolution.
Friday, September 07, 2007
This is a short work week due to the Labor Day Holiday. People are slammed, trying to get work done and the children back to school...and everything else. Someone said their short week felt more like a punishment requiring them to work even longer hours. Conversations have turned to the mythic Work-Life Balance.
Where did this come from?
This term was coined around 1986. Men and women of color and white women had begun making serious inroads into the professional workforce. The country had been experiencing a depressed economy and people were working longer hours to try to get ahead. Added to this, workforce reductions caused people to work even longer hours. Workers balked at complaining over the extended work weeks for fear that they'd wind up on the chopping block. There was a heady mix of increased worker productivity, advances in technology, stepped-up globalization, and more people in the workplace that went into the RIF brew. After WWII, the average work week was right at 40 hours. Today, younger workers are unfazed by a 70 hour week with an average work week of 47 hours (this with the addition of women and people of color).
To most minds, WLB is little more than time off.
I remember taking a group of managers off into the "wilderness" (Oconomowoc, Wisconsin) to meet in groups, discuss our personal mission statements, meet with a Jungian analyst and get a massage (yup, it's all true and I'm hanging my head in shame). Sounds nice, but the gathered managers and key employees were left wondering: How do achieve that much vaunted "balance" when my evaluation depends on producing results (no matter how long I have to work to get them). Added to the mix is the trend for performance management systems to include evaluation of a worker's work-life balance. Now, I had been in HR for a number of years and I know I didn't have a solid explanation of WLB. As it turned out, no one else did.
Seemed kind of pointless.
How you think gives an insight to how you work?
Even though I'm trained in behavioural science, I'm not a fan of extensive testing in the workplace--mostly because I'm not sure that those tests are valid (measures something worth measuring) or reliable (consistent application of the measure over time). Taken in broad strokes, humans tend to think and solve problems in two dynamic ways (there are others, but just hang on: we're embarking on a little chat here): linear or serial thinking and non-linear or parallel thinking.
In a serial world, a person handles one problem set through to completion. Ask them to take on several projects and you'd be spitting into the wind. Parallel or non-linear thinking and problem solving tends to see people working on several projects at the same time (or moving from project to project). In most companies, we make space for only one kind of thinking: care to guess which one?
Does it work?
Now, I've met those people who thrive on the energy and drama of a packed schedule. You may like to run from pillar to post with your hair on fire, trailing paper, taking on the cellphone and sliding into a parking space at the gym in just enough time for yoga. You may like being up in the wee hours checking email and crafting a question for your LinkedIn Q&A forum. If that works for you: God love you. Keep on keeping on.
There really is no need to force change on a person whose personal system is working. Where we get into trouble is when it no longer serves us: That's when it's time to consider other options and develop other habits.
Listen Now: 22:58
Recently my wife underwent some serious tendon repair surgery on her left foot and cannot put any weight on it for 6 weeks in order to let it heal. Then last weekend I was tooling around my studio and whoops, slipped and pulled my right hamstring........owwww.
Since then the two of us have become the walking, or in her case, scooting wounded.
I'll turn 52 in a couple of weeks and do not typically feel my age. Well I think I am experiencing a preview of coming attractions as all of us Baby Boomers age.
We have been tooling along in life and then BAM one day it hits us, "we're not as young as we were." It allows for the opportunity to reflect on where we are in life, and where are we headed.
I used to be make a list every six months:
As I was gimping around the house, it occurred to me, "I haven't thought too far out into the future lately." I see myself as a little complacent, perhaps stopping at a rest stop in life. At least from my perspective. My wife and many of my friends thing I'm nuts.
I work full time at the University of Cincinnati as the Superintendent of Utilities, I teach as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in our College of Applied Science, I sit on the Board of the Hamilton, Ohio City of Sculpture, Chair the City of Montgomery's Arts Commission, work in my sculpture studio, spend time with my wife, kids and dogs and at times it still feels like I'm a slacker.
So I am taking some time to ask myself my list of questions again, and I'll let you know how it goes.
Have you heard of Second Life. I was listening to NPR last week and on Science Friday I heard a story about Second Life. Perhaps I am behind the curve, or too old or too....
to understand what the big fuss is all about.
I went and checked it out and was thinking, "What a horribly unproductive use of time." That's one of the reasons I quit playing video games years ago. Too many other fun and productive ways to use my time.
So the question is: how do you choose to spend your time?
When is a "leisure time" pursuit worthy and when is it a waste of time?
I'll watch Jon Stewart on the Daily Show on Comedy Central, and enjoy it quite a lot. But some people think it's a waste of time.
I know far too many people who watch professional sports, and I think that's a horrible waste of time, not too mention supporting less than admirable values in athletes and their teams' owners.
So what determines how you spend your time outside of work. Can you separate life and work? Isn't it all your life? Don't you choose how you spend your life?
So how do you choose?
I prioritize my time to keep my commitments in life moving forward. I have several plates spinning in my life and throughout the day I need to spin one a little more to make sure it keeps moving and doesn't fall and hit the floor.
I mentioned Jon Stewart. I choose to spend some time watching his show now and then as a means of defusing my disappointment with current events. He is able to provide a sufficiently humorous and sarcastic view that it's all a little better.
Now Second Life. Isn't the one we have in the physical world interesting enough???
Sunday, September 02, 2007
It's no surprise that I'm committed to seeing Africa move from requiring aid to active participation in trade. I just don't think it will happen if we train African leaders to be good little copies of Euro-centric styles of leadership. I think a cut of this is the complaint many have of Hillary Clinton: they think that she's succeeded to well in being the best little shark in the water. On one televised focus group, one women commented on the possibility of a Hillary Clinton Whitehouse. Another woman replied that she might gain the Whitehouse, but that it wouldn't mean that there would be a woman in that seat of power.
While I was in Namibia, I got to meet extensively with several leaders in the Namibian government, most of whom were Western educated (their families got them out of the country in part to help them survive the worst of the upheaval connected with the death throes of apartheid). I found myself more than a little worried that they seemed to be adopting the best (and the worst) of our leadership styles. For instance, while women were making inroads in public service, the halls of Corporate Namibia looked like ours: from the year 1980.
In this TED talk, Patrick Awuah discusses failures in leadership that he believes are connected to a failure to train leaders. He left a great gig in Seattle to start a liberal arts college in Ghana. He succeeded in imbuing them with ethical quick-thinking and idealism.
Ray asked a great question in the LinkedIn Q&A: Who do you see as authentic leaders? Here's the text of his question...
I think it is easy to pick out leaders from the past who made an impact, like Gandhi, Marting Luther King, Malcolm X, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Niels Bohr, Einstein..... Who do you see as historic leaders, local or on the world stage? and today? who do you see as authentic leaders, again local and global?Be sure you post your responses there or here.
Designs are getting hipper (the first wave of the MTV Generation has just turned 50, ya'll) and have a more youthful appeal. The little gem pictured above (from Widex.com) is slathered with diamonds (I couldn't have foreseen this one if I tried) and sells for a staggering $49,000! Quite a lot of cabbage, I'd say. I think they're getting ready for Paris and all of her friends.
I can't wait for a design brainiac to combine an iPod and a "Personal Communication Aid." Maybe they'll combine it with an iPhone and get the most out of this possible convergence device.
Now that I've put that in the blogosphere, I'll wait for my check from Apple.
Got back from the gym a little while ago. Did a good set with 15 minutes on the bike to warm up, 30 minutes of hard resistance and 25 minutes to yoga (the last pose, savasana, is named appropriately, corpse pose: you end up lying there like a dead thing). I was a sweaty mess. Serene, but a sweaty mess. The yoga at the end of my workouts is the treat I look forward to. The other stuff, however...
Oh, and I've learned that fitness water is a bad thing. A terribly bad thing for the Lalita home team. After our workout, Garland and I stopped by the cafe at the HealthPlex for something light to eat. While I was at it, I decided to try a Revive Fruit Punch vitamin water from Glaceau. Now, I should have been put off by the un-warning label that suggested that children or women wanting to get pregnant shouldn't drink it (I'm not lying). But, the un-warning was so charming (my euphemism for confusing) that I dove right in. It tasted slightly...medicinal and was only vaguely fruity tasting, but I like the other Glaceau products (meaning: I'll give this one a pass).
On the ride home, Garland pronounced sentence on the Glaceau. Seems I took a deep breath when we left the gym and didn't stop talking (or breathing) until we got home. This stuff is packed with caffeine.
I'm getting back into the rhythm of working out with 20 minutes on my Total Gym in the mornings (no hitting the "snooze button," um, more than once) with 10 minutes of yoga to set myself up for the day. I'm finding that I'm more clear-headed in the mornings, having slept better at night. I don't drink the green tea first thing that used to use to rev me up. Also, I'm taking lots of vitamin B. It was suggested by my doc that I'm vitamin B-12 deficient and I started taking a serious supplement early in the day along with a set of vits for adrenal support. Calcium rounds out the day, with me chomping down a handful right before lights-out. While I'm out and about, I put an Emergen C fizzy packet into a glass of water and I'm off and running. Good stuff.
This is starting to get me where I want to go.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
What do you mean you don't use PowerPoints...?
Hunkering down in my comfy chair with a steaming cuppa tea last night to re-read The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity through Changes in Perception by Luc de Brabandere, I smiled when I remembered how much I enjoyed the opening page the first time I read it. Seems Bill Gates was coming to Brussels and the head of Microsoft Belgium had organized a conference meeting with a thousand users and customers. Luc, a rock star in the consulting world, was going to be a presenter and would introduce Bill to the gathered throng. The evening before the conference, the MS Belgium head called, and it didn't go well...for him:
(Note to Self: be sure to post something on the book later. It's a wonderful example of how to use powerful questions to shape better enterprises and expand creativity and innovation.)
"You've forgotten to send the slides of your presentation, and Bill Gates would like to see them," said the head of Microsoft Belgium.
My reply was immediate: "Most people in Belgium and France know full well that I never use slides. I prefer to practice the art of oratory as was done in old times. I've got clear ideas and I'm ready for my presentation tomorrow."
"So...you have no slides?"
"No," I said for the second time. "The spoken work and the written word are two different things. I use both but I never mix them. I give speeches, and I write books. The ideas are the same, but the way I express them is different. When I speak, it's in real time. When I write, it's in delayed time--it's as if I were someone else."
The death of communication as we know it
We can all agree that in the 20 years since Bob Gaskins and Dennis Austin sold their little program to Microsoft, business presentations (hell, all presentations) have become an endless testimony to our inability to communicate ideas that matter in ways that stick. They've become a horribly emotionless mashup of incomprehensible text, pictures, fades and spinning text than set dogs a-howling and babies crying.
"This is largely so because people do not know (or don’t care about) the difference between a well-written document and well-designed supporting visuals. PowerPoint users usually shoot for the middle and create a slideument, a “document” that would make your third-grade English teacher apoplectic with disgust and shame that you ever attended her class, and draw scowls of disapproval from anyone who makes a living as a designer or visual communicator."
A slidument to call my very own...mother would be proud
At this point, I remembered a strategic staffing course I took in B-School--a team project (which meant the strongest players did all of the work) which culminated in a presentation. We were graded on the PowerPoint presentation and I can remember the completely blank look on the prof's face when I suggested that we may not have any PowerPoints at all--that PowerPoint may not be the most effective way to communicate our ideas. He was horrified. Well, we did have PowerPoints and the prof suggested we turn in our slides for a grade. To make certain that he had all of our commentary on the slides (we didn't want to chance his memory), I added an extensive comments section to each slide as well as a slide for our bibliographical references, which generate a huge printed slidument.It was painful, but informative the way we've commonly expected PowerPoint slides to be created. We got the highest grade for our work, but still.
Solid ideas trump pretty PowerPoints
Godin challenges us to create presentations instead of PowerPoints, working to be sure that our ideas are solid, rather than ensuring that our slides are clever. He promotes
- No more than six words on a slide. EVER. There is no presentation so complex that this rule needs to be broken.
- No cheesy images. Use professional stock photo images.
- No dissolves, spins or other transitions.
- Sound effects can be used a few times per presentation, but never use the sound effects that are built in to the program. Instead, rip sounds and music from CDs and leverage the Proustian effect this can have. If people start bouncing up and down to the Grateful Dead, you’ve kept them from falling asleep, and you’ve reminded them that this isn’t a typical meeting you’re running.
- Don’t hand out print-outs of your slides. They don’t work without you there.
A few years ago, I started simplifying my PowerPoint presentations, first by putting together the presentation and then deciding how best to communicate my ideas. I find I tend to work best when I can see the white of my audience's eyes and combine discussion, presentation, stories and drawn representations. Immediately, that meant cutting my number of PowerPoints in half...and then, actually talking with the people who came to hear me speak.
Novel idea, that.
I'm not quite done with this topic. There's the issue of Pecha Kucha that I want to get into. I'll save that for another time. Looks like an interesting way to put Godin's exhortations to good use.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Little words in whatever language we speak. Big mischief if we don't use them when we should. We end up half-committed to projects and other decisions we know we really don't support, taking precious time away from other priorities, working without the focus that comes from commitment.
Resentfully wasting time.
Search Amazon.com and you'll find a staggering amount of books in getting to "yes" but nary a one on getting to a "no" or saying "no" for that matter. Curiously, most of the ones on saying "no" were written with children in mind. Truthfully, some of those books purport to be sales manuals, but are little more than cheap verbal manipulations designed to satisfy us. Funny enough, I can't tell you how many salesfolk I've met who hate being "sold to." They hate when someone doesn't take "no" for an answer. We all do. And still their bookshelves are lined with books that keep spreading the magic.
In this business 2.0 world of relationships we find ourselves on a collision course between two sets of desires: theirs (customers, partners, vendors, suppliers, employees) and ours. Doing untold damage to their chances for the further collaboration. A half-hearted "yes" becomes the low-hanging fruit.
Clean, concise, authentic communication is always the ticket. We end up with less to remember when we stick to the plain, unvarnished truth with little embellishment.
On the show, I talked about the four options you have in responding to requests made to you. They are:
With us committed to an action either immediately or in the future. Ever heard a prospect say "I'd like to do it in January at the top of the budget year?" Our training has us inclined to try to get them to do it now when they might really mean "I want to sign up in January." Here, you can tell them that you're going to take them at their word...and get your proposal ready for them to sign now with a January start date. You can even make sure that they meant it by calling a spade a spade: "I want to be clear that you are commencing in January. So, I'll take you American Express number so I can run the agreed-upon amount on January 1."
Onlineorganizing.com maven Ramona Creel suggests that there are 20 Ways to Say No; however I find that, given some of the equivocations she suggests, people are liable to enter into a tussle with us, believing that those equivocations are up for negotiation. If it doesn't work, isn't consistent with your commitments--whatever--stop trying to be "nice." A clean "no" will save you from trying to manufacture a reason (which isn't nice, by the way). You don't need one (unless you've trained your business associates that you do).
You may, in fact, want that project, but with some clear caveats. Tell them so: "I'd like to commit here, and I have a few changes that will have it really work for our team. Take a look and see if we can work those in and then I'm all in." Here, they can say yes or no--they can even counter your counter. This is called a negotiation. Have fun and be clear in you communications.
Commitment to Commit Later
You may be racing out the door. Keep moving. We sometimes say things to people to placate them and hope we can dig ourselves out later. If you don't have time to carefully consider an offer now, resist the pressure to commit right away. Giving people a clear date and time you want to discuss the merits of their request with them will satisfy most. Putting it on your calendar will satisfy even more. Really racing out the door and can't stop. Ask them to email you a request with some suggested dates and times for your talk...and then keep moving.
...and now some Zen from the epic movie, White Men Can't Jump:
Rosie Perez: Sometimes when you win, you really lose. Sometimes when you lose, you really win. Sometimes when you win or lose. you actuallyWe hate it, too. Woody. So get this: Some of us sound eerily similar when we say "Sometimes when they say yes, it's really yes. Sometimes when they say no, it's really yes. Sometimes when they say yes or say no it's actually maybe..." You get the point (and probably a headache, too.
tie. Sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose.
Woody Harrellson: I hate it when you talk like that.
Simplify Your Work Like: Ways to Change the Way You Work So You Have More Time to Live...some of these suggestions are stunningly simple and effective.
On my list to read is Saying No: A User's Manual by Karen Bading. It purports to helping people say "no" without wrecking their relationships. I'll let you know.
Listen Now: 24.01
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Filed under: Desktops
This is what Dell is seriously lacking and it's the ONLY way they will get back in the saddle in a serious way...differentiation by design! Sony started the Apple onslaught but has faltered, now I think HP is the first PC manufacturer to take the "design duel" to One Infinite Loop with this sweet piece of work.
Posted by Yorkali at 6:48 AM
I think we are about to see the first major fruit of Apple's collaboration with the G-force (Google) and that is the Gphone. Apple and Google have been working closely for some time now and with the imminent release of the Gphone from Google we are beginning to see how their collaboration is going to pay off. The strategy seems so simple. Establish the iPhone as the creme de la creme of the PDA space sell it for a premium price, then offer the gPhone as the bargain buster option but super connected to your existing Google world (that's where the value come from of course). I see good times ahead for Apple and Google....good times. This is a perfect example of company cross-pollination with out the product cannibalism. It's fast becoming a Google-Apple world.
Posted by Yorkali at 6:33 AM
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I was just listening to more news from NPR (which I keep running as the soundtrack of my business day) about the collapse of the mortgage finance market, and was just about filled to the brim with cynicism. Following a link to TED, I found this amazing artist. We I wind down my business day, I thought I'd share it with you.
He runs through a three song set with about as much fire and sweetness as one person can. A South African, he's managed to keep his sould while generating songs that have become anthems. I was in Namibia for several months just after apartheid fell (yes, there was a Namibia pre-Angelina) and took weeks for me to get the funk off of me so I stopped eyeing my fellow man and women with some measure of fear.
Don Heckman of the LA Times writes that "Despite the fact that his songs are frequently filled with political subtext and despite his personal familiarity with the horrors of apartheid, his performances are optimistic and soulful, delivered with an intensity that captures the attention and embraces the heart."
He sings about love, hope, family and pride--all the things I have at stake in the development of my business. You probably have some pretty heady stuff at stake, too.
I don't know exactly what hell will be like, but I'm certain that there will be some lower level demon with a laptop and a never-ending PowerPoint presentation.
Life After Death by PowerPoint
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Imagine how cheesy my grin got when I learned that my podcast "Like Nobody's Business" has been listed among the Top 100 Business Podcasts by Small Business Trends Radio! This online radio station is the best thing since cheese in a can, with news reports, interviews and a whole lot more from business experts and entrepreneurs from all over the nation.
Be sure to listen in to the other podcasts. If you have a business problem, the solution is a mouse click away.
Monday, August 27, 2007
You hear the advice all the time, "Live life to the fullest!", "carpe diem", "This is not a dress rehearsal, you only get one shot at life", and a number of other old adages.
But what does it mean? Does it mean don't stop and smell the roses? Eight hours sleep is too much? What should you be doing thats more important than what you are doing right now?
What does it mean to you? For me it means taking advantage of the opportunities life presents us. Not putting off something you want to do because you feel too tired, or it seems frivelous.
We probably only do get one time around, so enjoy it! Do you spend time each day doing something for yourself? Something that forwards your commitments in life? Showing appreciation for the people in your life that you love?
I used to think I had to schedule every minute of everyday to live life fully. Well to some extent that's true. The best way to remember to stop and smell the roses is to put in on your schedule.
Schedule time to drink a cup of coffee and enjoy the breeze on your back porch. Play with the dogs.
Living life fully..............................it doesn't mean work hard!
I was heading home from a conference in New Orleans (BK, before Katrina). There were two other ladies from my city who were traveling with me. When we got to the airport, we learned that all the flights were overbooked (the city was packed to the seams with conference-goers, graduating seniors and the like). The gate attendant was telling each person in turn the situation and getting back less than the milk of human kindness. One of my party started to work herself into a panic attack (explaining that she'd packed her meds and checked them at the curb....*).
So, I gathered up all three tickets and told both women to take have a seat.
Just before it was my turn, a disgruntled almost-passenger ripped into the gate attendant with a napalm-level barrage, suggesting that her parents were never married. Then, it was my turn. When she began her spiel with gritted teeth, I told her that I knew she didn't create the problem and that she would do her best to get us home...that night. Then, I flashed a sincere, though toothy grin and shut up.
She got us out on the last flight of the night, after typing what looked like a manifesto into her computer.
On the way back, the other ladies dubbed me Charmella, The Charming One. The name has stuck.
I get called in to deal with execs with whithering temperaments, partnership meetings where people are afraid to drink anything they didn't bring, project teams that can only agree that the boss is the devil and deserves a stake in the throat (and have written the project charter to carry it out).
I can disarm the nasty at 20 yards. They never see it coming.
If mine is the power of charm (I have southern parents on both sides), what, praytell, is yours?
Cross-posted at linkedin.com
Friday, August 24, 2007
I was talking yesterday with Darla Williams, a local attorney who had been interviewed and featured in the Indy Star's report Promising Black Women Face Barriers. I'd gotten on Darla's radar when I wrote a piece for the Indiana Minority Report about Black Hooliganism. In it, I recounted a disturbing business trend among some in black business "leadership." Elected officials and others create their own lists of "approved" black business people and encourage contract holders to do business with these people, regardless of the host of others who have built solid businesses. They use the power of their position to get contract holders to consider these people over others on government approved lists of vendors, particularly minority vendors. Coupled with this is the fact that some will offer to have you put them on your payroll so that they can broker business deals for you using their Rolodexes. One suggested that I pay him $5,000 monthly and 20% of whatever he brought in. I hoped he was joking. He wasn't.
Now, I'm a fan of free enterprise like the next kid, but there seems to be something a little off here. For businesses that have worked to gain their MBE, WBE or DBE certifications (which is onerous enough), having a separate list that one has to curry favor to get on (or pay for) seems to defeat the entire purpose.
In the article, Darla asserted that "One barrier in my personal experience is African-Americans creating barriers for other African- Americans," Williams said. "If they (black leaders) let you become a leader, you can only be one if you let the other black leaders exploit you. And if you don't, they blacklist you."
One commenter seemed to have it all sorted out: "black females have have special status in the workplace. all they have to do is claim racism and presto, they get the promotion. i've seen it happen too many times, quality, production and customer service go down the drain but the company gets a tax break. the really sad part is that truley capable and qualified people either get fired or have to work for this caricature of a professional. "
Really? Then Black women must be stupid because if "all we have to do" is make a spurious claim of racism to get promoted, we sure have been lying down on that particular job. Be sure to read the rest of the commentary thread on this one. The general tone goes to show that there is bias against Black women in the workplace. Nasty bias.
At one time I was in HR, worrying that I might be a "lifer." It didn't take long for the other white staffers and the secretaries to claim that I was hired for my race and gender. One even went to far as to say "we had to hire you." What was shocking was that I graduated with distinction from Purdue (and a host of other accolades) and have been blessed with an IQ in the 130's. Oh, yeah, and was the very department where (whether I liked it or not) every member had access to my resume, application and transcripts. Trouble was: they didn't care to find out that they might be wrong.
They didn't invite me to meetings (claiming that I was clearly too busy), held lunches where business decisions were made without my input and didn't invite me and they weren't above lying. One secretary claimed that I hit her...she was committed for psychiatric care after her accusations and behavior got even more extreme. The damage to my reputation was immense.
They didn't even want to consider that I had a right to be there. Very sad.
Do we all have ladders to climb? You bet: every one of us. Is there grease on the rungs for sum (added later: "some"...I meant "some")? You bet.
Friday, August 17, 2007
In 2002, compliance coal, that met certain specifications cost the University of Cincinnati $28 a ton. UC now paying about $90 per ton, after negotiating with a utility to supply coal. (Prior to that it was significantly even more expensive. The utility would only recently start to sell coal to 3rd parties ).
Regrettably it appears that the 6 miners trapped 11 days ago are probably not alive, and now several more are know dead and more injured. Work will progress in some manner to try to find the first 6 but the MSA will work to reduce any more risk to rescuers.
Coal is abundant in the US. It's probably one of the biggest energy assets we have. But to use it we have to mine it either underground, or surface strip mining. We have to ship it constantly on barges in rivers, by rail and by truck as it is consumed on a very large scale. And not only by power plants. Coal is used to make coke (not that kind) and that coke is the pure carbon source for addition to steel to produce carbon steel for industry.
Looking at energy and alternatives, one needs to look at the whole picture. When nuclear power construction was stopped in the US 30 years ago that shackled us to fossil fuels. The industry needed a new source of energy that was cost effective and could be rapidly developed. That lead to the rapid growth of the sale and installation of combustion turbine generators across the country and even to foreign markets. They use natural gas, and lots of it. It was a fairly clean technology, and plants could be built rapidly, and due to the fact that they are relatively small compared to traditional large scale coal plants, they were easy to permit and cheap to build.
Then Enron happened. oops. Now natural gas has tripled in price and the vast majority of combustion turbines are sitting idle waiting for dramatically higher power costs or dramatically lower natural gas prices.
So we are back to coal.
If we were to wave our magic Harry Potter wands and chant "ignitus carborundum" or something like that and be able to replace all coal fired power plants with some new yet to be developed technology, we would still need coal mining to support the steel industry. With diminished demand for coal, prices would drop as mines would close, putting thousands in the industry out of work. When enough mines closed for pricing to recover, the remaining mines would have the steel industry at its knees. If you push on the balloon in one place, it goes out somewhere else.
If you divert fields to corn for ethanol production, and corn prices soar because of a spark in interest in ethanol, then corn feed for cows gets expensive, beef prices go up and cheese prices double. Push on the balloon in one place and it goes out somewhere else.
Closing down nuclear power plant construction 30 years ago pushed on the balloon in a big way and we are still watching it go out.
Don't worry too much about reducing your personal carbon footprint, that will just cause something else to happen unless we develop a holistic approach to energy policy in the US and globally.
I meander around don't I?