Sometimes life is just surreal.

My current iPod playlist seques from “Amazing Grace” (Paul Schwartz, State of Grace) to “Push” (Prince, Diamonds and Pearls CD).  Bizarre.  Whyever did I set it up that way?

No clue.

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I wish I had more time to spend on marketing research.  I keep thinking of things that need measuring but never seem to find the time to develop the metrics.

Take the term I use in the title of this post:  “time to cliché”.   It may be a WOT (in both “Wade original term” and “wot?????” senses), but I’ll leave to those less lazy than I the task of  searching for prior use.

I get an awful lot of email that isn’t technically spam, but might as well be for all the likelihood of my opening the messages.  (For me, the technical definition of spam is something like “unsolicited, without offering double-opt out, etc.”)  It might as well be spam because the subject line tries to pull via cliche.  Using phrases like:

?    ”free web summit”
?    ”"double your …”
?    ”the secrets to …”
?    ”official notice”
?    ”save up to…”
?    ”how to … Now!”
?    ”you’re invited…”
?    ”only XX hours left”
?    ”I don’t usually do this, but …”
?    ”I blew it…”

And the same is true for the teaser copy on the snail mail solicitations…
?    ”urgent update”
?    ”final
?    ”official correspondence”

And so on.

Now, I understand that these cliches are used because they worked in the past.  And, direct response being what it is in the Internet age, abandoned when they don’t pull enough.  That I’m still getting all of the above means they probably are still working to some extent.

But it’s amazing how quick they become tired and unproductive.  Take the first one.  I’ve been offered more web summits than there are peaks in the Rockies, Himalayas, and Andes combined.  “double” and “secrets” and all the others — instant trashing.

And it happens faster and faster all the time.

And I don’t think its just me finally developing better bullshit filters.  I’m still pretty gullible, after all.  But I think individual pieces of language are getting worn out faster and faster.  Scroll down your inbox (if that’s where you keep your clutter), or though your email trash before you hit “empty” — look at all the phrases that bring forth that delete key in your mind….and think about how recently it was that the same subject line phrase would have pulled you into opening the email.

For years I’ve taught about the dangers of cliché in writing.   But a hidden assumption of that teaching was that it takes awhile for something to become a cliche, a while during which the word or phrase has social or economic value.  How should one approach the use of cliche when the half-life of meaning begins to resemble that of a transuranic element.

I don’t think the answer is obvious anymore.

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I’ve remarked briefly before about my changing business model for Iterative Listening. Part of the story lies in my realization that, for lots of reasons, I wasn’t interested in having “direct mail/emaill copywriting (business-to-consumer)” at the center, as it was in the original plan.  One reason:   I’m just not convinced that the “tried and true” of direct response will work with the various Gen Y-related demographics I’m most interested in..

It isn’t that Gen Y won’t respond to some direct mail/email solicitation.  They have, they do, and they will continue to.

But their information filters work very, very different than older direct response demographics, and that makes some of the DR marketer’s traditional techniques highly problematic.

Think of it this way:  any given marketing activity can engender three types of “response”:  (i) positive response (leads, sales, other conversion goals); (ii) non-response (the most frequent, call it “send it to the trash” response; and (iii) negative response.  This last is the most dangerous, and the kind that an awful lot of direct mailers simply seem to ignore.

I call it the “pissed-off percentage”.  People in group (iii) don’t just trash your letter or email.  They remember.  They take umbrage at your wasting their time.  They remember, and they spread the word.  And the word is not good.

As long as the positive response is “big enough,” traditional direct mailers have always been happy.  (And so are those who write copy for them, by the way, since copywriter fees/royalties are directly a function of the copywriters ability to “pull”.)

And it’s worked.  I can point to dozens of copywriters whose own financial success (and their clients’ financial success) is directly related to their ability to pull.  Focus on making group (i) as big as possible.  Period.

Look closely at the demographics.  These successful writers get their  greatest successes with whom?   How often are they aiming at Gen Y?  Or even Gen X?  How many of them are focusing on Boomers.  Seniors?  Super-seniors?

Or they’re writing B-to-B copy.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that B-to-B copy looks different than B-to-C copy, and pretty much always has.  Business buyers — well, they just don’t have the time or the patience to deal with those things that work in many B-to-C markets:  constant upselling, daily autoresponders, telemarketing.  And their “piss off factor” is very high.

And Gen Y is the same way.

Take up-selling.  Nothing wrong with it.  Gotta do it.  But do it “too much,” and the recipient stops reading you completely.  They see the envelope from the Upselling Institute, and it goes immediately to the trash.  They see UI is the sender, and one click removes the message from the inbox.

And if they keep seeing UI, and you make them scroll down to the unsubscribe button — well, they don’t see that as “easy”.  They see that as someone wasting their multi-tasking time.  And they’ve joined the pissed-off percentage.

And guess what?  A lot of those Gen Yers on your mailing list?  The ones who haven’t unsubscribed yet?   You might think they’re still warm or semi-warm prospects.  But they are colder than cold.  They’re as cold as a bath of liquid nitrogen.

They’re illustrations of the Klingon/Sicilian proverb about revenge.

Okay, perhaps that’s stretching the point — since most of them simply aren’t going to be bothered to waste any more time with you.

But they are going to talk about you.  Because they don’t like being “just a customer.”

By the time you identify how to transplant your upselling strategy and “discover” a new marketing channel like Facebook or Twitter, they’re already living their real internet lives somewhere else.  Somewhere else where they’re spreading negative vibes about you.

You’ve violated the authenticity principle.  You’ve entered the realm where the best that you can hope for is that they ignore you.  And the worst — they spread the word about how your only interest is your revenue stream.  They don’t mind you wanting to be rich.  But they do mind you only wanting them for their money.

Whether they should have such a view of the marketplace is beside the point.  The fact is, they have it.  And they live it.

They’re not into “doing business” (at least not when they’re behaving as prospective buyers).  They’re into relationships.  And they’re not interested in relationships with people who see them only as prospects.

It’s basic marketing, really.  Learn the psychology of your market first.  Then choose from your box of tools.  Not the other way around.

That hasn’t changed.

What has changed are the consequences if you don’t do it.

These prospects have choices beyond “yes” and “no.”

And they know it.

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A few days ago I posted for the first time on the blog of perhaps my favorite science fiction writer, L. E. Modesitt, Jr.  (It’s either him or C. J. Cherryh, I go back and forth.)  Mr. Modesitt had posted about an Economist study about the effects of the Internet on social relationships, and the thread got my Gen-Y-apologist knee jerking.

I started by pontificating, “First, not reading tripe (i.e. most newspapers) could be evidence of sanity on the part of the populace rather than the opposite. Even could I abolish sleep, I only have 168 hours a week to work with; whyever should I spend it on what passes for newspaper reporting today?”  And then went into a way-too-extended discussion of Tocqueville on American associationalism.

But it got me thinking about the reading of newspapers.  (Modesitt is a favorite author because he always makes me think!)  After all, despite my comment about “tripe”, I do subscribe to a daily newspaper.  So why do I subscribe?  What do I read?

Today’s Gazette — formerly known as the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the paper now bills itself as “An Independent Newspaper in Iowa’s Technology Corridor” — is in three sections.

Section A — state news mostly, plus editorials, weather and obits.  The section takes just seconds to scan.  I read about four paragraphs about our idiot governor’s idea to run a passenger train from Iowa City to Chicago — a train that would travel at a leisurely 79mph and take 5 hours (assuming Amtrak went against its usual practice and ran on time).  Obits — well, I’m getting old enough that i check these periodically, a tiny bit of evidence that social relationships still matter. Glance at weather — more thunderstorms.  Lovely: my neighbors and I have been helping each other out all weekend after Friday brought not one, but two, hailstorms with quarter-sized hail.  (Actually baseball-sized a few miles southeast of here.  Yech.)  The rest of the section — scanned headlines and done in under a minute.

Section B — sports, national/world news.  When younger I would have spent some time on sports pages — now, the only thing I notice is that last weekend was the British Senior Open and that I’d never heard of the golfer who won it.  The national/world news — under a minute, and that was a waste of time.

Section C:  “Accent”, comics, classifieds.  Haven’t read comics in years.  Classifieds I rarely look at, but I looked at them today — looks like a pretty healthy section, actually — lots of social interaction there.  Though I suppose it doesn’t count since its the social coordination of markets at their best.  (Craigslist, E-bay — all they do is drive us apart, say many know-everything critics.)

And “Accent”.  Well, I suppose it used to be called “human interest” or some such.   Most of the stories today are about health.  One about 72 year-old yoga practitioner.   The rest — basically articles about scientific studies, health risks, what the smarties think us dumbshits should be doing.  Funny thing, isn’t it, the section of the newspaper that one might imagine celebrating social relationships, building them, encouraging them, is doing very little.  There’s a single editorial  about a dad re-uniting with his sons after 3 decades.

Counting writing this blog, I’ve spent about an hour with today’s paper.  I expect that if I had spent an hour randomly surfing the internet I would have seen more, not less, evidence of social relationships being built/developed/strengthened.

How about you, Iterations readers?  How much time do you spend with newspapers?  And what do you spend it on?

Me, tomorrow I expect I’ll be back to “15 minutes or less”.  And to wondering why I keep the subscription.

(p.s. If you want to check out Mr. Modesitt, there’s a link to his website in the blogroll at right. In my opinion, he has a better understanding of economics than just about any science fiction writer out there, even those whom I’m more ideologically simpatico with.)

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On May 25, I began a serious “listening” approach to the Bible.  (More on that what that means, later.)  And for the first time in my life I have been able to make daily Bible reading a sustained habit for more than  a couple weeks.  In 55 days, I’ve missed just two; and each of those two came with a near physical sense of being deprived.  So far I’ve made it through just two books — Romans and 1 Corinthians.

Here’s what I’ve heard.  (Note:  these are my lessons; I make no claims, not yet anyway, that they should be yours — see #11, #12, and #30.)

  1. That Christian life is all about “the obedience that comes from faith.”  (Romans 1:5)
  2. That “service” is about enslaving myself to His will.
  3. That the key to reading the Bible is doing so with a “listening heart.” (1 Kings 3:9)
  4. That the response to “troubling” parts of the Bible is neither rejection nor identification of contradiction or obsolescence.  It is to listen harder for God’s will.  It is not to substitute my judgment or my learnedness for His.
  5. That I show our repentance by our constant striving to obey.
  6. That it is the striving to obey that matters, not “getting it right” 100% of the time.
  7. That step 1 of faith is believing.  That step 2 is, having believed, to trust.  That step 3 is, having trusted, to strive to obey.
  8. That I’m still profoundly ignorant of what the Bible says.
  9. That beying the law is not to put ourselves right with God, it is to point out to us how we are sinners.
  10. That taking a listening approach requires me to regularly stay silent, to refrain from speaking, because I do not yet know enough to claim knowledge or illumination.
  11. That the lessons that come from reading the Bible are first and most importantly lessons for me, my own belief, my own conduct.
  12. That I must be sure of what God intends for me before I go out preaching “thou shalts” to others.
  13. That I serve God not to prove myself worthy, but because He is worthy.
  14. That while I can claim to be a seeker of wisdom, I cannot claim to be wise.
  15. That obedience = listening.
  16. That one of the biggest temptations I face remains the idolatry of my own work.
  17. That I am not the potter, but the pot.  And pots do not question the potter.
  18. That faith that is firm is also patient. (Isaiah 28:16, GNV)
  19. That obedience must be a stance of faith, not of fear.
  20. That trusting God means trusting the speed He chooses.
  21. That there are three required acts of faith:
    1. Realizing our salvation is by Him.
    2. Striving to obey His will in all things.
    3. Repenting when we fail.
  22. That  I must look at the Bible first as a man of faith, and only second as a man of scholarship.
  23. That the solution when something in the Bible seems “wrong” or “contradictory” is to look deeper, to pray, to be patient.
  24. That two things take precedence over obeying “human authorities”:
    1. Preaching the Lord’s Gospel.
    2. Avoiding a decrease in the credibility of one’s witness to that Gospel.
  25. That against the loving of God and His Gospel, the value of coins is trivial.  And that includes the value of coins unjustly taken by the state (or by others).
  26. That there are (at least) four locations of the Great Commandment in the Bible:
    1. Matthew 22:37
    2. Matthew 12.30
    3. Luke 10:27
    4. Deuteronomy 6:5
  27. That the “commons” is a place of shared faith.
  28. That I can use knowledge of historical context to understand the motives and rhetorical choices of the man called Paul.  However, I cannot use it to speak to God’s intent for us.  Only prayer, obedience, and submission can reveal God’s intent.
  29. That the route to salvation and Truth lies in who I follow, not in who I am tempted to not follow.
  30. That the Christian life is lived in personal relationships.  A personal relationship with God, and personal relationships with other individuals.
  31. That, as the Word of God, the Bible has multiple layers of meaning.  That, as a result, several translations each have part of the Truth.
  32. That I should not judge others, but instead concentrate on not putting stumbling blocks in the way of their obedience of God.  (Romans 14:13)
  33. That living in Christ is about mutual edification.  (Romans 14:19)
  34. That idolatry of human wisdom is still idolatry.
  35. That compared to the wisdom of God, the reason of man is bare foolishness.
  36. That if you’ve never believed yourself really smart, you can’t truly feel the depths of your own ignorance.
  37. That whoever wants to boast must boast only of what God has done.
  38. That anything built on something other than God’s foundation is nothing.
  39. That having a clear conscience does not require innocence, only an unwillingness to judge.
  40. That the problem with sexual sins, what makes them sins, is pride and idolatry:  pride in my judgment; worshiping the sexual instead of God.
  41. That moneylending isn’t the problem; that moneylending in the temple is.
  42. That if I worry about having been wronged, about my position in the world, am I not putting God somewhere other than first?
  43. That sexual practices are sinful because they put a temple of the Lord to use for something other than God’s glory.
  44. That while Paul’s positions on gender are historical, God’s are not.
  45. That having knowledge brings with it greater responsibility for temperance in its use, for the actions I take is an example to those of lesser knowledge; and part of pursuing the glory of God is not adding to my brothers’ temptations.
  46. That there is a difference between having a freedom to act, and the appropriateness of acting.
  47. That the more I fill the glass that is my mind with thoughts of God, the less room temptation can find in it.
  48. That I should affirm others when they strive to please God, even if I disagree with their view of what God requires of us, even if I think their reading of the Bible is flawed  (1 Corinthians 10:25-33)
  49. That rushing about and worrying about getting things done takes attention away from the glory of God.
  50. That successful collaboration depends on the roles played by the less capable, the less diligent, and all the other “lessers.”  The lessers are not barriers to be overcome or cancers to be excised, but necessary parts of the body needing honoring and including.
  51. That the opposite of inclusion is not exclusion, but excision.
  52. That the last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26)

So I believe.

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It’s that day again.

Last year I spoke of the Declaration of Independence.  Of how “we the people,” following the mad example of King George, have become addicted to our own abuses and usurpations.

This year, I’m too tired to try and improve on what I said a year ago.  Just read the Declaration, America.   And look in a mirror.

Me, today I start flying the Gadsden flag.

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Time for a completely unscientific survey of Iterations readers.

How often do you blog?  Daily, weekly, monthly, once in a blue moon?  How do you split your time in the blogosphere among writing on your own blog, commenting on others,

How does your practice vary from month to month, week to week, with the demands of the Asylum on your time?  (Aside: a free set of toothpick instructions to anyone who can name the minor literary character who perceptively re-named the “real world” to The Asylum.  Hint:  it’s not Arthur Dent.)  Do you religiously set aside a particular part of your schedule/time for adventures in blogging?  Or do you find yourself sometimes spending far too much time in the blogosphere and other times where you go days, weeks, perhaps even months without entering?

Is blogging something you do to relax or escape from the Asylum?  Or is it something you use as a primary information source? Something you do as part of a marketing or other business strategy?  Something else?

Yes, I know, there are dozens of studies out there.  I’ve read some of them.  Bookmarked others with plans to “read someday.”  And I’m happy to take any references you want to share.

But I’m not interested, not at the immediate moment anyway, in scientific evidence on the blogging phenomenon.  I’m merely curious, looking for some   individual stories from those whose interests at least partially overlap with mine.

In short, friends and acquaintances, I’m nosy.

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Word continues to fall on the “essential software for my Mac” list.

When it comes to documents with a lot of formatting, I’m using Pages more often.

Other stuff — like blog drafts, for example, or any kind of web content, or notes, or, well, about 75 percent of what I do with words — gets done in TextEdit.

But TextEdit has always annoyed in one way — no word count.  So, when I wonder just how long-winded a proto-blog post might be, I’ve had no choice but to cut and paste into either my blog’s online editor or Word or somewhere else that will count words for me.  And that’s a pain and a memory hog and all the rest.

But today I found out about something called Nanocount.  It’s a little tiny freeware program, written by a chap named Paul Gorman.  (Here’s his website, as delightfully minimalist as his program.)

All Nanocount does is put a little one-inch window (which you can drag on your screen wherever you want) that keeps current on the number of words in whatever TextEdit file you’re currently working on.  You can select the how often it updates (between 2 seconds and 5 minutes), and choose whether to display word count or character count.

Bravo, Mr. Gorman.  Beautiful.

And the final little irony?  Right below the link on MacUpdate I followed to download the program, was a GoogleAd for Office 2008.

Not clicking through that link today. Sorry.  :)

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Is eating escargot obscene?

I’m fond of pontificating about the “economic way of thinking.”  About how there are only half a dozen ideas that matter in my principles course, but these half dozen are critical.   That were these few ideas understood by even half the voting and consuming population, we’d be free of 99 percent of the idiocies that come out of the White House and the Congress, out of the corporate executive suite, and out of academic faculty meetings.

Okay, I wax hyperbolic.

It would only be 93%.

Of the half dozen ideas, number one for me, by far, is the notion that all choices have opportunity costs.   (So much so that “opportunity cost” is the only term whose definition I insist every student memorize, the only concept I guarantee will “be on the exam.”)

But number two, and the one most likely to get me labeled as an apologist and worse, has to be the virtues of market-based trade.

And, if truth be told, I am an apologist for trade. At least if you use apologist in the way it has been used to describe C S Lewis writing about Christian belief in books like Mere Christianity.  I am an apologist if an apologist is someone who, having spent a great deal of time thinking about the reasons for his belief, makes no apologies for believing as he does.

I am well aware that markets are economic institutions with flaws.  But I have thought long and hard about the arguments for and against, and, in my unapologetic opinion, it’s not even close.  Markets win.

Today I want to give part of that apology.  And I’m going to start from a place of trading which would appear to argue against my claims of virtue:   the expensive restaurant.

In a recent post I spoke of my trip to Grand Rapids.  Perhaps the most memorable part of that trip were the two meals I had at a fancy restaurant called the 1913 Room.  Now if you’ve ever seen the prices of high end meals in places like New York or Los Angeles or Miami or London, what I am about to reveal about my charges to American Express those two evenings won’t surprise you.  But unless you are a serious foodie, what I spent will likely appall you.

The first meal, eaten alone over a period of two-and-a-half hours, ran with tip to $167.47.  The second, taken in the company of several other foodies who, having heard my stories of the first, invited me along for another go, took over 4 hours.  And set me back a cool $209.58.

Two meals.  One person.  $377.05.

Now, when I relate this amount to friends, family, colleagues, I generally receive three responses:

Response #1:  Are you nuts???

To this one, I can only say, probably.  Lots of people have interests that cost them over $350 that I consider borderline nuts— traveling to Nascar races, say, or filling a basement with workout equipment or going to the opera. I’m no less nutty.

Response #2:  Isn’t that rather extravagant?   Again, I have to say, probably.  Especially given my income level and my net worth.   I’ve never been particularly good at holding on to my money, and this is further evidence on that proposition.  With my income level, it’s very extravagant.

Neither of these first two criticisms bother me. Each time I chose how much to spend, I did so fully cognizant of the personal consequences of the choice.   Bluntly put, if it turns out that it’s a dumb thing for me to have done, if it was extravagant, *I* bear the costs.  I’m the one who may have to pay interest on my Amex card until the meal is fully paid for.  I’m the one who has people thinking I’ve got dumb hobbies.  I’m the one who doesn’t get to spend that $350 on books or groceries for several weeks or on real estate or on whatever.

But there’s a third response I’ve received, and that one does bother me.

It’s the response that says spending $200 on one meal is obscene.  That says I’m morally flawed because I’m conspicuously consuming when people are being laid off, when children are starving in Kenya, when there are hundreds if not thousands of ways of spending that money that would be better for the world.

Am I morally flawed?  Of course.  My belief in that proposition is at the center of my Christian faith.  (If I were not morally flawed, I would not need Jesus and His grace.)

And I have to admit that yesterday, when I watched part of a “Feed the Children” infomercial, I felt a bit guilty for not having more funds to give.  Gluttony is a sin.  Extravagance is not a good character trait.

Extravagance isn’t just bad for my bank balance, it’s bad because it is an offense against God.  To me this is the truth a fortiori under Response #2.

But when I, or people like I, get accused of obscenity, it’s not just a variation on Response #2.  It’s rarely that criticism from Christian theology.  They’re not claiming I offend God by eating escargot de la bourgourgnine, bison sous vide, and filet au poivre.

No, they’re claiming an offense against society.  Against the economy.  Against my fellow man.

And *that* argument reflects both bad economics, and bad moral philosophy.  It’s the kind of argument that has yielded the continuing economic idiocies of mercantilism and that encourages the judgmentalism of Phariseeism.

It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what is going on economically when I buy that meal.

Take the escargot, for example, the only item I actually ordered on both visits.

Response #1 is obvious:  “Snails?  Are you kidding me? You *are* nuts, Wade.”  :)

And, all I can say, is, if you’ve never had good escargot (and this restaurant’s version is the best I’ve ever had), you don’t know what you are missing.

So is Response #2:  “Five snails.  A bit of garlic and lots of sizzling-hot butter.  Ten bucks plus tip???”  Well, I consider myself an above average cook.  And I’m not afraid to try things in my own kitchen:  Despite living in  Iowa, I’ve done sushi.  But I’ve never tried to do escargot.  But, still, it’s a point.  Two bucks a bite is, well, two bucks a bite.

But response #3?

Look closer at what goes into getting that escargot to my plate.  You need a waiter.  And not just a guy in a white shirt and black pants, but someone who knows enough about food to answer any questions or make recommendations about “exotic” food, and someone who can coordinate multiple complicated orders simultaneously and still get that dish in front of me at just the right time as not to disturb either my dining pace or the conversations at our table.

And then there’s what has to happen on the other side of the kitchen door.  The undercook who probably was tasked with the dish’s primary preparation.   The person who checks each dish before it goes out.  The chef who ensures that the snails are of the proper quality, who wanders the kitchen ensuring quality control, who writes (and rights) the recipe.  The dishwashers who ensure that all the dishes are clean and available.

And I haven’t said anything about the sommelier, about the people who are removing the plates as I and my dining companions finish, about the bartender, about the maitre d’restaurant.

And that’s just the people at the 1913 Room.   What about the people who harvest the snails?  Who package the snails?  Who transport the snails between place of harvest and place of purchase?  Who provide the fuel for that transport?  Who churn the butter?  Who make the pans in which the snails are cooked?  Who glaze the dish the snails are served in?   Who clean the napkins and tablecloth stained with the butter that drips off between dish and mouth?

When I paid the 1913 Room for my snails, I traded my $10 for all those other services.  To get to the point where I could get the snails and all the rest of the meal for $200, hundreds of trades had to take place.  And each and every one of those trades could only take place if each party to the trade felt that the trade would make him/her better off.  Waiter, sommelier, maitre d’, farmer, truck driver, oil refiner, dairy employee, all the rest — every last one of them traded something of less value to him for something of more value.

And therein lies the problem with an awful lot of arguments against “conspicuous consumption.”  When I consume my escargot (which with all that butter, trust me, cannot be done in secret!), I’ve got dozens, no hundreds of collaborators.  If you want to judge what I do as immoral, fine.  But can you judge me without similarly passing judgment on all those collaborators?

Because that’s what they are.  I didn’t hold a gun to their heads and say “feed me fancy snails.”  Heck, apart from the waiter and a couple others, I couldn’t tell you even the first name of any of the people involved.  No, each of them decided they wanted to be waiters and chefs and truck drivers and all the rest.  They decided.  Not me.

And when you add in all those interconnected decisions, it’s no longer obvious that the $200 meal is a socially bad thing.    Not unless you are willing to go beyond saying “Wade is wrong” to saying “All those collaborators in a system that serves snails to idiots like Wade are also wrong.”

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty arrogant about some things.  Pride seems to be a real occupational hazard from having taught economics for the better part of two decades.  But my arrogance pales compared to those who decry conspicuous consumers on the “simple” grounds of wasting resources, etc.

Feel free to call my hobbies silly.  Feel free to call me extravagant.  Feel free, even, to point out the virtues of temperance and the evils of worshiping snails instead of God.  Feel free to call me an idiot.  Each of those criticisms have merit.

But don’t judge my consumption of snails as a social evil unless you can back up a claim that you know better.

And not just that you know better than me.  That takes no work at all.

But better than those hundreds of people in the snail supply chain.  Better than the thousands of people in the supply chains of napkins and dishes and black pants and wine and … well, I hope you get the point.

And if you think you can back up *that* kind of claim about the social coordination of value,  then I’m sorry.   Er, apologetic.

Because I’m afraid you may have an even bigger problem with hubris than I do.

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How the worst managers are addicted to their own urgency?

If you want a list of “12 managerial practices guaranteed to ensure employees [or collaborators, or students] listen less rather than more, and do so sooner rather than later,” put “constantly press for the urgent” near the top of the list.

Every urgent request interrupts the employee’s workflow.  “Urgent” says put aside that long to do list I’ve already given you.  “Urgent” says put aside that thing I’ve already got you working on.

“Urgent” says, “I can’t manage my own work flow, so I’m just going to push it off on you.”

Well, I’m sorry, you’re the manager.  That’s ass-backwards.

And if you keep doing it?

Trust me, no one likes constantly having to smell a certain part of the anatomy.  If you press your employees constantly about what’s urgent?  They’re going to find ways to avoid you and that smell.

And guess what *that* will do to your to do list!

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