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Thursday, November 27, 2014

How to Get the Boss to Behave

     The boss thought he had fired me, but I got his boss to cram me back down his throat.
     It took a year, but he (the firing guy) got me in the end.
     I brought it on myself. I tried it again -- using the “nuclear alternative” of going over my manager’s head – for a second time.
     Take my advice: Don’t do that. It doesn’t work.
     This second round, the manager lined up the political ducks, they stepped aside . . . and my nine-year career in my first real job was over.
     You’d think I would have learned a real lesson, but I didn’t. Until 30+ years later.
     In Scene II, older but not yet wiser, I have taken a radical turn in my life. I am not a newspaper editor/manager any more. Now I’m a consultant/trainer.
     I’m doing role play with employees of a high-tech company, and we’re working on managing conflict situations. As we’re looking for subject matter, my ancient confrontation pops to mind, and I offer it.
     I describe the scene, with the egotistical senior editor posing behind a large desk and the infuriated young city editor (me) leaning in from the other side. At the back of the office, three compliant older editors are lined up to serve as a silent chorus to witness, disapprovingly, the fate of an insubordinate employee.

Monday, November 17, 2014


     My sister gave me a thin, flat wooden disk about four inches in diameter.
     On it was printed a circular inscription: “ROUND TUIT. You said you would do (whatever) when you got around to it. You wanted to get a Round Tuit.  This is A Round Tuit.  Now you have one. So, go do it.”
     Kind of an antic way to address this most pervasive, maybe most self-punishing, of our unloved habits as human beings.
     This is “I was too busy.” I put it off. I never got to it. I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m working on it (No, I’m not). I’ll get back to you. And so on.
     Well, who doesn’t live this way? Do you feel that you’re fully up to speed on all your intentions for today? For this week? This month? Your life?
     No? Me, neither. I'm working on it.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Botched Project: Borders Books & Music

     Look at Borders Books & Music. Actually, you can’t look at it. It’s gone, as of September 2011. Defunct, at the age of 40.
     Tom and Louis Borders probably didn’t consider themselves project managers, but their clear vision and consistent follow-through produced a hugely successful commercial project. For a while.
     The two University of Michigan students started in 1971 with a few used books in an upstairs room or two in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their concept was an engaging one, and shortly they opened a real store. Phase One of the project.
     Were you ever in a Borders store back in the ‘70s, ‘80s – even into the ‘90s? It was a booklover’s dream. Books, thousands of them. Endless shelves of books – fresh books, old books, every possible kind of book. Soft chairs to sit in and soft-selling staff people who knew books, loved books, could talk about books.