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Golden Oldies: A Lesson in Capitals

Monday, April 10th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

Have you noticed how boring/confusing/annoying/embarrassing/etc. so much content, emails and other written communications are these days?

Or are you happy communicating by text and feel everyone should just forget dumb, outmoded stuff like grammar, capitols, punctuation, and shoving it out the door fast?

If you’re in the latter category I feel sorry for you. I’ve written many times about the value of good writing along with the importance of reading as a basis for it.

I don’t mean polished and professional; I mean the ability to put words together in a way they won’t be misunderstood.

If you think that it really doesn’t matter read the following 2012 post and join me tomorrow to see how a lowly comma cost a company big time.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottiet812/3064819572/My client/friend, EMANIO [now Quarrio] CEO KG Charles-Harris, has been a guest poster here; he’s received several hat tips for sending links to information used in various posts and he just racked up another one.

I’ve written before about the importance of details when writing; details like commas, periods and capitals.

But the note KG forwarded drives home the importance of capitals—unforgettably.

Miki, I received this from a friend who is an English Professor and thought you would appreciate it; it’s short and to the point.

In the world of hi-tech gadgetry, I’ve noticed that more and more people who send text messages and emails have long forgotten the art of capital letters.

For those of you who fall into this category, please take note of the following statement: “Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.”

Thanks, KG; graphic word imagery does get the point across, even to teens.

Flickr image credit: ScottieT812

Ducks in a Row: How Good Is Your Face-To-Face?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017


Why is it that the most difficult part of management, i.e., people management, constantly moves backwards?

Managers from the Greatest Generation tried to manage by memo.

That lasted until the 1970s when Boomer and Gen X managers took a giant step backwards and started trying to manage by email.

Millennials have taken an even larger step in that direction by trying to manage by text and have swept many of the previous contingents along with them.

Granted, people at all levels often look for and find ways, frequently turning to available technology, to avoid, or at least minimize, the most frustrating and difficult parts of their jobs.

However, that doesn’t work when the frustrating part is 90% of the job.

Every time this comes up I find myself quoting something Terry Dial said to me decades ago.

“People are 90% of our costs as well as the key to customer service and satisfaction. The only thing that should take priority over hiring a new employee is keeping a current one.”

Wally Bock puts it this way (and offers excellent advice on how to do it.)

In the Marines, I learned that when you’re responsible for a group, you have two jobs. One of them is to accomplish the mission. The other is to take care of the people.

I personally guarantee that you won’t accomplish the former if you ignore the latter.

You cannot “care for your people” by email or text — it requires face time.

It requires one-on-one conversations — wherever they take place — and not just about performance.

Conversations need to be human, that means family, hobbies, food, sports, etc.

Face-to-face humanizing contact is critical for teams, too, whether they are in a different office around the block or around the globe.

As Valerie Berset-Price, founder of Professional Passport says,

“Building trust is a multisensory experience,” she says. “Only when people are physically present together can they use all of their senses” to establish that needed trust. Without a bond, conflict or disengagement can more easily arise and is more difficult to resolve.

So whether you consider yourself a manager, a leader, a boss, or just a plain working stiff honing your in-person communication skills will not only improve your career opportunities, but also all parts of your life.

PS I just saw this article on IBM’s move to have teams in-person face-to-face.

Image credit: gorfor

Miki’s Rules to Live by: A Quick Reminder

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

You may find this surprising, but the phones you texted to arrange getting together for dinner are not sentient.

In reality, they are the property of sentient beings whose face2face company you enjoy (or did at one time).

Since you planned a meal with them, I’ll assume you still do and suggest you follow the advice below.

no wifi 46716

Buon appetito or, if you prefer, bon apetite.

Image credit: Anonymous email

Ducks in a Row: Shocking Reaction

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016


Way back in the 1965 there was a major blackout that knocked out power throughout the Northeast. It may not have actually increased the birthrate nine months later (that’s an urban myth), but I know from friends who lived there that after the sun went down the choices of what to do were limited, so many fell back on age-old entertainment.

So what happens when technology goes down?

A foreshadowing came in early December when the Azure Cloud was incapacitated.

Under the heading “Services Experiencing Downstream Impact from Azure Active Directory” Azure’s status page additionally clarified:

Engineers are engaged on an underlying Azure Active Directory issue impacted several Azure properties that rely on the service. Services currently reporting impact include Web App, Operational Insights, Machine Learning, portal.azure.com and manage.windowsazure.com. Updates to this message will be provided as events warrant.

One Reg reader whose office has thoroughly adopted the cloud informed us of the savagery this outage is causing their colleagues to stoop to: “Some people seem to have got a connection, but most of us have now given up and some have even taken the drastic measure of actually talking to each other. It’s most unnatural!”

Can you imagine the shock and consternation when colleagues actually had to talk directly to each other?

And just in case our message is too subtle for you, the world is not improved when talking directly to another human being is considered unnatural by even one person.

Hat tip to KG for taking time to send this.

Image credit: gorfor               

Expand Your Mind: Just for Fun

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

expand-your-mindOK, I admit it. I don’t feel like putting together a meaningful group of articles that offer insights or enhance your professional persona. Instead, I’m going to share four articles that I found interesting and/or amusing that provide little outside of interesting dinner conversation.

Winter weather often annoys gardeners; either the weather is yucky enough to take reduce the pleasure of being out (me) or so bad it’s impossible. This article is an almost lyrical look at winter gardens, especially for those who live in areas of true winter (not me) where everything seems to die except the evergreens.

We cry that the earth is draggy, the garden defunct. But as usual we’re actually whimpering about ourselves. (…) For in truth, our gardens haven’t gone anywhere at all. It is we who have elected to migrate someplace else for the season; that is, to a cocoon made of duvet, cookie crumbs and tubs of Eucerin.

I am a firm and vocal proponent of “doing good by doing [it] right” and so was fascinated to read an excerpt from the story of the building of Grand Central Station, which shows the idea has been around a lot longer than most people realize.

William J. Wilgus, the chief engineer for the New York Central Railroad, unabashedly proclaimed, “marked the opening of a remarkable opportunity for the accomplishment of a public good with considerations of private gain in behalf of the corporation involved.”

Libraries loan out all kinds of media these days, but it took a librarian’s innovative turn-of-mind to think of loaning out a donated doll.

When Ms. Taube became the children’s librarian in 2004, she found Kirsten languishing on a forgotten shelf in a library office within earshot of the busy children’s room, because library workers considered her too expensive to risk damage by displaying. (…) “I thought, ‘Well, we loan out books that are that expensive, so why can’t we lend her out too?’” said Ms. Taube, who hoped the doll would attract more children to the branch, leading them to read the doll books.

Last, but not least, is an opinion piece from the one and only Woody Allen who took time from his busy schedule to explain the difference between a hypochondriac and an alarmist. (This is especially for Julie.)

…I am not a hypochondriac but a totally different genus of crackpot? What I am is an alarmist, which is in the same ballpark as the hypochondriac or, should I say, the same emergency room. Still there is a fundamental difference. I don’t experience imaginary maladies — my maladies are real.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

Quotable Quotes: Sustainable Conversation Starters

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

‘Sustainable’ always finds an audience, especially when you can relate them to unusual topics.

This one is especially useful, because it applies to gardeners, those interested in healthcare and vampires—the liquid inside young coconuts is used as a substitute for blood plasma.

For those who have trouble waking up and mainline coffee in the morning you can suggest this healthy alternative, apples, not caffeine, are more  efficient at waking you up in the morning, but I don’t know why.

In case you end up making conversation with snobs who love showing off their wealth you can mention that they should be careful around the salad dressing, since pearls dissolve in vinegar.

Finally, to lift the mood of the over-fifty remind them that oak trees don’t produce acorns until they are fifty (50) years of age or older and that they are at least as proficient as a tree.

Image credit: Tomorrow Never Knows

Oddball Facts: Conversation Starters and Stoppers

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

4192690649_4aa534b095_mThe holiday season starts earlier every year. Dinners and parties that require conversation—often about subjects other than work or the differences between Android and iPhone. With that in mind, for the next three weeks Oddball Facts will provide some intriguing bits of information that you can use to start or rescue a face-to-face conversation.

Most of the time conversations starters begin as a “did you know” question like this,  Did you know that the first product to have a bar code was Wrigley chewing gum?

But they don’t have to.

Let’s say you’re a bit shy, but want to start a conversation with a clean-shaven guy who looks interesting. You might mention that the  King of Hearts is the only king without a moustache and ask if he plays cards.

If you’re a guy looking for an opening line that’s not cliché, mix this factoid with a bit of charm like this, “You know, Venus is considered feminine and it’s the only planet that rotates clockwise, which probably means that the rest of the planets are masculine and a bit backwards.”

Or try this one if you like a more direct approach, but be careful, if you don’t get the second part out quickly it’s likely to backfire. “Did you know that you burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television? In fact, there are lots of things you can do in a bed or chair that burn more calories.

Factoids are also great conversation stoppers when you encounter a bore or, worse, a jerk.

For instance, you’re at a party and some woman is droning on and on about her most recent doctor visit or hospital stay. When she takes a breath you say, “Dentists say that one thing that will help you stay healthy is moving your toothbrush at least six feet away from the toilet to avoid  airborne particles resulting from flushing.”

Here’s a ‘did you know’ to shut up those folks who spend winter in the sun and brag about their tan, while you’re shoveling snow or dripping rain water on the just washed floor. Did you know that most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin?

Finally, a couplet for those obnoxious folks who insist on smoking around those who don’t just because they can legally do so.

You say, “I read an interesting article that at one time the three most valuable brands in the world were Marlboro, Coca Cola and Budweiser, in  that  order.”

Now that you have their attention, you say, “Of course, the first Marlboro Company owner, as well as the first Marlboro Man, both died of lung cancer, Budweiser was taken over by InBev and Coke is under attack for contributing to obesity.”

Amazing what a few facts and a little creativity can accomplish.

Flickr image credit: 101st CAB, Wings of Destiny

Miki`s Rules to Live by 17

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

The day before a long weekend doesn’t seem the time to offer up anything heavy, instead here’s another of my Rules.

Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile.

Read them all, you’ll find a lot of wisdom and life help in them—I do.

And since it’s a holiday you’ll probably be seeing people, so here are a couple of good conversation starters. Both are supposedly signs, but you know how reliable Internet stuff is:)

Dr. Jones, at your cervix. (In a Gynecologist’s Office)

CAUTION – This Truck is Full of Political Promises (On the back of another Septic Tank Truck)

Feel free to add a Rule or another conversation piece.

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