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Archive for March, 2008

Another look at the tax refund

Monday, March 31st, 2008

ex-tax.jpgPost from Leadership Turn  Image credit: Notionscapital

Kelly over at Tax Girl offers up an interesting stat—it’s costing at least $200 million to publicize and send that exciting, overwhelming, unbelievable, solution-to-the-recession “economic stimulus” check y’all are waiting for with baited breath.

As Kelly points out, “Putting it into perspective, that $200 million would have bought 74 Super Bowl commercials – more commercials than were aired during this year’s widely watched game. Now that would have been publicity.”

So, being the helpful, really nice person that she is, Kelly is putting together a “Tax Rebate Super Bowl Commercial” contest. Watch for it!

That’s good, because the IRS really needs some creative help. I say that based on the writing in the letter and the video now showing on YouTube (link on Kelly’s site), although they’re excellent if you’re suffering from insomnia and need a soporific.

How could that $200 million be better used?

Your comments—priceless

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Stupid quotes: 3 expert rejections

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Another Sunday, another set of quotes. But a number of you wrote me and said that you’d prefer to have them all at once, so that’s how it’ll be going forward unless you tell me otherwise.

The challenge is for you to respond with another quote on a similar or connected topic.

We’re back to stupid this week. I always find it amusing to see by how far the “experts” miss.

“A period novel! About the Civil War! Who needs the Civil War now — who cares?” — Herbert R. Mayes, Editor of the Pictorial Review, when turning down a prepublication offer to serialize Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind, 1936

“He’s passé. Nobody cares about Mickey anymore. There are whole batches of Mickeys we just can’t give away. I think we should phase him out.” — Roy Disney, Walt Disney’s brother, 1937decca.jpg

“We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out.” — Decca Records Rejecting the Beatles, in 1962

Heard about any good rejections lately?

Your comments—priceless

Image credit: GWtW – shawnzlea; Decca – Sharon Horton

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Leadership requires communications

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: Arjen Klinkenberg

Ask any leadership expert, consult any leadership book or blog and one of the constants that you’ll find is that it’s crucial to craft a vision and, more importantly, to be able to communicate it clearly, so that there are no misunderstandings.

That’s the only way to have everyone on the same page, with no ambiguity regarding what you’re saying.

Your ability to express an idea in a truly memorable manner can improve loyalty, drive productivity, and solve long standing problems.

One way to make communications both clear and unforgettable is to enhance them by using some kind of visual.

One of the best known examples dates to the late eighties and may be an urban myth, but it could just as well be true—not that it matters.

It’s a perfect example of communicating a vision using a visual aid guaranteed to solve a problem, change stubborn behavior and get everyone on board.

kissing_lips.jpgLast year, according to a radio report, a middle school in Oregon was faced with a unique problem. A number of girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Warnings and posted notes didn’t help. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it was to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance guy to clean one of the mirrors. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it into the toilet and then cleaned the mirror.

Since then there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

The ability to get the point across can be found in leaders at all levels in any type organization.

Have you used visuals to clarify or enhance your communications?

Your comments—priceless

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Miki’s Rules to Live by 15

Friday, March 28th, 2008

pearls.jpg

Every so often I share one of the small pearls of wisdom by which I try and live my life.

Usually I can quote the source, but occasionally I’m forced to mark them anonymous and this is one of those times. (If you happen to know the source, please enlighten me.)

There’s always someone out there who thinks you’re an idiot, so try not to give them proof.

Unfortunately, I find myself handing out proof far too often!

What about you?

US Healthcare leadership: oxymoron 9 – people outsourcing

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: markhillary

(Part of an ongoing series)

outsourcing.jpgThose Americans fortunate enough to have medical insurance have long known (if they gave it any thought) that their sensitive medical records are frequently sent overseas for processing right along with most other forms of insurance processing.

Now their bodies are following—paid for by their own health insurance.

“David Boucher, 49, doesn’t fit the usual profile for such medical tourists. An assistant vice-president of health-care services at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of South Carolina, he has ample health benefits. But Boucher recently chose to have a colonoscopy at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, mainly to make a point about the expanding options available to Blue Cross customers. And his company happily picked up the $640 tab—a bargain by U.S. standards.”

“”All of the largest U.S. insurers are starting to educate themselves or are putting [offshore] programs in place,” says Jonathan Edelheit, president of the Medical Tourism Assn., an industry group formed just last year. Companies that self-insure are also bombarding Edelheit’s group with requests for information.”

India’s not stupid, they know where the money is, as do many other countries and there are plenty of entrepreneurs who know that medical tourism is definitely a growth industry. One such is Value Medicare that offers “First world care at third world prices.”

The fact that most Indians don’t have access to medical tourism’s palatial care isn’t surprising either, in most countries locals can’t pay what foreigners pay and globally healthcare is a profit center.

One result from all this will be stronger financial returns for insurance companies—premiums based on actual US healthcare costs and payouts based on the price tags in countries with much lower costs—a heart bypass in the US costs $130,000, while it’s $18.5K in Singapore, $11K in Thailand and just $10K in India—all countries where the medical staffs are probably better at hand-washing, too.

Another will be more costs on the backs of the working poor and uninsured who have no options—unlike the poor in India where the state pays for the healthcare they do get.

Would you want to go overseas for a needed procedure?

Your comments—priceless

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Corporate Culture I/O

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Corporate culture has begotten a thriving industry that researches, dissects, writes, discusses, preaches, teaches, and studies it—all with the goal of helping people understand its effects and learn how to improve it.

It’s considered a soft science, a moving target, amorphous and difficult to pin down.

motherboard.jpgBut I’ve always believed that corporate culture has much in common with a computer.

Yes, a computer, with its unyielding hardware and logical, literal software.

You see, in computing, the term I/O refers to input, whatever is received by the system, and output, that which results from the processing.

Programmers know that if you enter incorrect or bad data the results coming out of the computer won’t have much value, hence the term “garbage in/garbage out.”

And there you have it—the similarity between computers, corporate culture and most everything else in life.

What comes out is a function of what you put in.

Blindly accepting everything offered—whether from the guru du jour or religious texts—is sure to result in garbage out at some point.

Improving corporate culture requires critical thinking on your part. No one person, past, present or future, has all the answers. You need to evaluate the available information, take a bit from here and a bit from there, apply it to your situation and, like a computer, process it.

The resulting culture will differ from what you start with, because you’ve added the flavor of your own life experiences, knowledge and MAP to the mix and that’s good—different people, different culture.

A viable corporate culture is a living organism, growing and changing all the time and you’re contributing to that growth.

Recession—or mindset?

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn  Image credit: OiMax

The following story has been told in various incarnations for more than 40 years.

hotdog.jpgOnce upon a time there was a man who ran a hot dog stand. This man ran one of the finest hot dog stands in the whole city and, strangely for a hot dog stand, he even used real meat in his sausages. People came from miles around to get tasty hot dogs that were freely covered in onions and sauces. In fact, the man was so successful that he could afford to send his son to Harvard. His son even went on to finish an MBA.

After graduation the son came back to work with his dad. “Dad”, he said, “based on the current economic statistics, we’re heading for a recession. You’ve got to stop using all that sauce, and you dish out onions as if they were free.”

The father was torn. He’d always been generous to his customers, but his very bright boy didn’t get all that education for nothing. So, reluctantly, he cut back on the sauces and the onions.

His son moved him to buying a cheaper brand of hot dog with a more traditional sawdust ratio. It was just in time, because it turned out his son was right—his business took a real dive.

Tuesday I cited statistics compiled by Business Week that showed that the expansion that’s ending did not, in fact, expand much. In fact, of the three worst performing countries, the US loss in terms of world output was more than three times Japan and four-and-a-half times Germany.

So, if we weren’t really growing as we were told, are we really receding as we’re now being told?

Whether The Conference Board’s Consumer Price Index goes up or down, the media spreads the word, people read/hear about it and lemming-like follow in “their” footsteps.

In a comment Tuesday Rob Davison asks, “Is the whole world heading for recession, or is it that we are being told we are heading there, hence we all act accordingly?”

You tell me—how much of the sky that we hear is falling is real and how much is exacerbated by the speed of today’s ubiquitous communications?

Your comments—priceless

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Wordless Wednesday: Ideal corporate culture

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

558629_wrong_turn_okay.jpg

Be sure to visit my other WW—Mixed signals

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Mixed signals

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn Image credit: CraigPJ

confusion.jpg

Be sure to visit my other WW—Ideal corporate culture

 

Your comments—priceless

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Leadership. What leadership?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Post from Leadership Turn  Image credit: AMagil

Aside from tax rebates, has there really been strong economic advances under the Bush Administration?In its current issue, Business Week does a quick roundup of this so-called expansion,

“The expansion almost certainly ended in 2007, seven years after the previous peak in 2000. Unfortunately, this cycle has been lackluster, with real wages falling for many, economic growth slow compared with past cycles, and the U.S. getting a smaller share of the global pie.”

popped.jpgHere’s the pertinent info…

Global output: In order, China, India and Russia were the biggest winners in terms of world output, while Germany, Japan and the US (dead last) were the biggest losers. The US loss was more than three times Japan and four-and-a-half times Germany.

Median earnings: They were basically flat after adjusting for inflation. People with advanced degrees managed a whopping 2% increase as opposed to losses for all others.

Growth: U.S. growth averaged only 2.4% per year, nearly a full point below the average of the last two cycles.

What happened to you during this cycle?

Your comments—priceless

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