Monday, April 25, 2011
One potential failure point is that it's nothing more than dynamic pricing for the live entertainment industry; this means that, while you could get deeply discounted tickets for a show that didn't sell all that well, you could also end up getting gouged on tickets for a show where sales soared. It's nothing more than economics and simple supply and demand, but it could definitely get dicey. Just because there are a group of people willing to pay $1K for a t-shirt (there are always a handful of them) doesn't mean it's necessarily worth that amount.
It will be interesting to see how this affects ticket sales and internal revenue in the long-term.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I'll start out by saying I'm nowhere near a feminist. I have, however, taken note of what, IMO, appears to be a humongous shift in what it is that creates a remarkable workplace.
Ms. Rosin, one of the founders of DoubleX, is featured on TED with a talk titled "New Data on the Rise of Women," which is based on an article she did for The Atlantic titled "The End of Men". In her TED talk, Ms. Rosin makes some pretty substantial claims about men becoming increasingly powerless and women taking over the intellectual [and therefore business] world, citing research findings like a) young, unmarried women with no children now make more money (and are more likely to independently purchase a home) than are men of the same age, and b) for every two men who earn a college a degree, three women earn one, and finally, c) more women are earning PhDs than are men.
While these are all fascinating statistics, I don't find myself necessarily rooting for the dominance of the female gender. The most intriguing suggestion that Rosin makes, or I suppose hints upon and then completely abandons, is that feminine traits such as the ability to actively listen, empathize, and motivate teams and foster an environment in which people want to work together rather than independently [not necessarily women, since men as a gender absolutely employ certain feminine traits at varying levels] have replaced the "General Patton" mentality of masculine, dictatorial, order-barking leadership, or has at least begun the process of doing so.
I think it's important to note that referring to this shift as 'masculine' to 'feminine' is merely for lack of better terms; that the traits of what was versus what appears to be currently most effective seem to display masculine and feminine characteristics, respectively, however, I don't necessarily agree with the thought that you can accurately insert genders here. If a man can perform this adapted role there is no reason he can't be equally successful as a woman who performs the same role.
While it's clear that the shift from an industrial society has, in some ways, caused the aforementioned trend, I think there is another contributor that is entirely unrelated to gender, and that is time spent at work or time spent generally working. The militaristic, masculine thing worked for a long time because an employee could put up with being treated as such from 9a-5p, and then go home to his family where he was the top-earner, cared for his family, and other male-identifying traits. With the 9a-5p diminishing and becoming more like an 8a-9p, and with many folks having somewhat of a 24-hour a day role, there isn't enough separation between work and personal life to justify being treated in a condescending, militaristic way. Further, I think it's fair that as our careers continue to ask more and more of each of us, it should be reciprocated with more equal and respectful treatment.
Overall, I think Rosin makes some pretty great points and is on an interesting track. Again, I don't necessarily agree with everything, but I can still respect it.
Monday, August 16, 2010
In 7th grade I was subject to an advanced literary course which taught the fundamental elements of poetry and storytelling. One of the poems I was assigned to literally pick-apart was Earnest Hemingway's "If" -- to this day my favorite poem. I read it over and over again so many times when I was 12 years old that to this day, some of the lines pop into my head unprompted when I get frustrated or when I'm dealing with a challenging situation.
If you can read it for what it is, and what it was meant to be, the last line really has no matter. What's significant is that, in 32 short lines, Hemingway has captured nearly every piece of the most challenging personal standards and simplified them into individual slices of idealism that I think everyone should hang in his/her office.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I recently returned my leased Mazda CX-7 and sort of just winged-it. I had a lot of questions that no one really had any answers to, either because they had never leased or because they never paid attention. Here are some helpful tips that were specific to my situation, but probably general enough that they could be loosely applied to yours:
- Your manufacturer will send you a notice in the mail about a month in advance of your last payment notifying you that you should schedule an inspection (to determine excess wear and tear, etc.) Mine was performed by a third party inspection agency in my office parking lot. One downfall was the cable-like 4-hour window that they gave me for when he would show up, but because I was at work regardless and because they agreed to give me a 30-minute heads-up in case I had run out, it wasn't that big of a deal.
- Spend the $100 or so to get your car detailed prior to the inspection. Not only will it potentially mask some minor issues like worn-down carpet and spills, but it gives the inspector the impression that it's a generally well-kept car, or at least gives him no reason to think it's not.
- Replace your windshield if it's cracked -- they'll charge you double if they have to do it.
- Same with tires -- if the tread isn't past Lincoln's head on a penny (long-ways), replace them.
- If you're over on your mileage, you may want to explore other options, like carpooling or getting into your new vehicle sooner than you need, until you get your inspection. One benefit though is that the mileage is reported from inspection date, which for me, was a month before I turned in my car. I didn't go over on mileage, but the reported mileage and the mileage when I turned in the car varied by about 1000 miles.
- If you have a regular shop you visit and you're a super nice person, they may go over the car for you and cover up nicks and bumps for no charge so long as there's nothing substantial. If you're not that nice to the people who perform your service or just don't frequent a particular shop, definitely stop in to one with a good reputation and get a quote. If it's less than $50 it's likely worth it. Mom and pop shops are more likely to help because of the lack of corporate red tape.
- Chat with your inspector upon arrival. He'll likely be using some sort of ruler or standard measure with which he determines areas to be normal or excess wear and tear. Typically it's scratches to the exterior that are more than 1" long or dents more than 1" in diameter, with anything larger than a cigarette burn on the interior being excessive. One thing to watch out for is the nicks on your hood; have him point out which are noteworthy and which aren't. My inspector gave me 5 or 6 only because I asked the question, but did say that it's a tough spot for a lot of people who live in the West because of the pebbles from the snow trucks.
- Once you get through your inspection (about 30-45 minutes), he'll give you a receipt with everything he found. My balance was $194 +tax (why wear and tear is taxable is beyond me). This made me pretty happy that, back in college when I got that car, I didn't pay the $800 for excess wear and tear coverage.
- Call your dealer before you actually take the car back, but only to be sure the correct person is there. This part of the process is not nearly as lengthy as the inspection. I basically just showed up when it was convenient for me.
- Make sure you have both sets of keys to turn in. They'll charge you if not.
- You'll have to sign stating that you didn't mess with the odometer. Interesting fact, because of course I asked if people actually do that: when a vehicle with the same make / model is totaled, people sometimes pull out the odometers and switch them out with their own, of course assuming that the totaled vehicle had fewer miles. Sounds un-fun. And it's a felony, so probably don't do that.
- Of all things, they ask you if the spare and spare installation tools are still in the vehicle. Be sure they are before you go back. They'll charge for this too.
- Be absolutely certain that the dealer removes your plates and you take them with you. This should be standard, but it's not like there are no sketchy car dealerships out there, and you don't want your registered car and plates with keys in someone's hands.
- Also note that if you've relocated more than 75 miles from your original dealer, you can return it to whichever local dealer you choose.
- If you aren't interested in getting your new car from the dealership to which you returned your vehicle, be sure to say so up front; they will try to sell you one when you arrive. Mine even told me that the car I had already bought to replace it -- Volkswagen as opposed to Mazda -- was an awful choice and that I'll be in the service shop all the time. Classy.
Best of luck. Hope this was helpful if you're a detail-oriented person like me and need to know what you're walking into.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Nice effort, but it doesn't matter.
We're all busy, to say the least, but have you ever stopped to really look at what your agenda says to others? If your first thought is anything like 'But I don't care what other people think' then you can stop reading -- you'll manage yourself out of any important role without help from me. For the rest of us, we know it matters because it's likely that you're not running your organization independently and hopefully won't be in the foreseeable future.
If you're a leader, or any type of decision-maker, then nothing matters more than to whom you're willing to give your undivided attention. You could send an entire team of interns to a meeting to address your concerns, but the only thing others see is that you didn't bother to attend yourself. Not only have you told every person in the room that you don't care, but you've surrendered your opportunity to follow-up on the enforcement of your [intern's] issue.
Even worse is the practice of showing up for part of a meeting. This just tells us that what you have to say or address does matter, but the rest is just filler.
If you set a meeting, make it, and be on time. If the issue pertains to you, make it, and be on time. If you've got a conflict, try to resolve it, then make the meeting, and be on time. If you simply cannot make it work, address an email to all attendees stating the fact and be sure to follow-up on what you missed.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Or are you pointing them?
Pointing fingers at others is not only a frustrating game, it's breeding grounds for an unbearable working culture and extremely demotivating. If it's always someone else's fault then you probably don't have a very challenging workload. Because we all make mistakes, but the biggest one you can make is not being able to own the ones you own.
If you've ever had a boss or co-worker that truly owns their mistakes, you know the glory of it. You sit in a room and toss this ball of a problem back and forth with no resolution because no one wants to take the fall. But then what happens when the boss joins the room and says, "Wow, that is a problem, and I should have addressed that sooner. Let's work to come up with a solution," there's a completely different mentality -- a remarkably respectable and motivating one -- about both the person and the former problem.
On the other hand, if you've ever had a finger-pointer for a co-worker or boss (I'm sure we've all), you know the intense level of frustration and the "CYA" mentality that infects the entire company like a disease.
Next time you're tempted to point at someone else when there's a problem, think twice. Diseases go away, solutions likely stay.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I'll admit, after seeing the first episode I was totally sold. I thought it was done well and the concept of going undercover to really see what's going on in your company is exactly what corporate America needs to access higher standards at all levels of employment. But then I saw a second episode.
If your show is based on transparency and shock value, I would think the key is to really deliver those items. What they've done instead is created a cookie-cutter story board on which each episode is based and asked that the respective executives fill in the gaps. Here's where my real disappointment lies: you're an executive in a company large enough to have a recognizable logo and you agreed to do a show where you go undercover to work the front line and you're shocked to find that some of your thousands of employees are underpaid, under-utilized, over-worked, and have personal, sometimes tragic, lives outside of work. Why are you in charge of a company?
If you're going undercover to discover operational shortfalls and truly lackluster business practices and happen to encounter some remarkable individuals along the way, then fine. But, with the exception of the Hooters episode where they addressed some seriously disturbing management styles, these executives are doing nothing but realizing that they have people working for them and not machines. If your COO / CEO / VP / President's jaw drops at this discovery, I'd seek new employment immediately.
What are the odds that, in 5 out of 5 cases so far, a senior executive is not only exceptionally incapable of completing minimum wage work, but that the manager in charge of training who they think is a newbie is 100% of the time willing, on camera, to announce that said executive will likely not last in the position? Unlikely.
Why is it that so far every guy's voice is laid over a panning image of the budget hotel the first morning they're going to work saying, "My biggest fear today is being discovered" -- why is that only their fear today? Since they're always in a new city the next day, why are they not fearful of being recognized the following day? And really, are you that egotistical that you think minimum wage employees a) care who you are, and b) know what you look like? Maybe that's the first problem you should address.
It's unfortunate that the producers in control of such an opportunity aren't more interested in dynamic. I suppose that it sort of works to have the undercover announcement - significant fail of the executive on the front line - fortunate meeting of an outstanding employee - trip to the home office confrontation - announcement that the company will improve, structure of the show, but only for so long before you see the first person and say, 'welp, there's our token charity case' and so on. What would make this show worthwhile and likely entice talented people to involve his or her company, is to truly put the leader in the front line and see what happens, without prompting them to meet a great person who needs help, or to fail at their employees' work.
The lack of reality in reality TV is exactly why it will never be great. And until some company is daring enough to cut the puppet strings and really let the players play, there will never be a remarkable story or significant change as a result.