Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why would anyone want to live past about 65?

We were asked, "Why would anyone want to live past about 65? Seriously, after 25 years learning and 40 years working, why would you want to live another 5-10 years when you're too old to do anything interesting?"

To the author of this question: many of these answers you received have been hard on you, unfairly, I think. I interpret your question as a genuine puzzle, not a judgment on older people.

My answer is this: Some people want to live past 65. Many do not. I’m 84, myself, and I’m one of those who wanted to live past 65. I think that’s because I enjoyed living before 65, so I looked forward to continuing the enjoyment.

It’s true I can’t do some of the things I did when I was younger, but on the other hand, there are things I can do now that were totally beyond my ability at a younger age.

Just yesterday, I experienced two examples of how being 84 is different than, say, 44. Dani and I drove past a neighbor's house and saw 6 cars parked in front. "Wow," she said. "That's a lot of cars." For me, though, it wasn't a lot of cars because when I was 15, I used to shuffle cars around for my father's auto painting business. At one time, I was responsible for more than 40 cars, so 6 cars doesn't impress me, even to this day. In other words, my life experiences have given me a calmer perspective today.

The second instance: A programmer wrote to me with a problem I was able to solve for him by using an example from my own programming about 50 years ago. First of all, I reassured him that his problem was solvable, which led him out of a state of panic into a state where he could listen to solution ideas. I would not have been able to do that forty years ago.

And, by the way, I've always managed my finances carefully, so that past 65, I no longer worry about how to survive until the next paycheck. And since there is no paycheck, I don't have to do the things some ignorant manager orders me to do. Being my own boss is a pleasure you may not yet have experienced. It's definitely something to look forward to.

Yes, I can no longer run triathalons or experience twenty-mile hikes in the mountains, but I experience similar examples of helping people every day, giving me great pleasure. I believe I’m wiser, more centered, and far more capable of helping others be more productive and enjoy their lives (which gives me great pleasure).

One of the things I do to help others enjoy their lives is teaching them how to find interesting things to do. That will prepare them for being “over 65” and wanting to keep on living. I hope you, also, will learn how to find things to do that interest you, so you will be able to enjoy your “golden years.”

When you’re older, you may not be interested in the same things that interested you in youth, but if you know how to discover new things, you’ll be happy you didn’t exit this world at 64.


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Can a Boss Take Corrections From Subordinates?

We were asked, "can a boss take corrections from subordinates?"

Certainly, some bosses can, but there are ways you can increase the chances of changing your boss, or at least your boss's mind.

I think that if the subordinate offers “corrections,” the leader is less likely to respond less well than if the offer is for “information.” That principle actually goes both ways. Most people are somewhat reluctant to take “corrections.”

So, if you are asking how you, as the underling, can “correct” your boss, I suggest you learn how to offer (not “give”) information. The boss can then decide whether or not to act on this new information, and how to do it. 

Again, this goes both ways. Leaders do better offering information than correction.


What Did You Say?: The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback Revised Second Edition

So, study the feedback process and become proficient. That will be your best chance, but be prepared for failure. Some people simply will not change, even if banged on the head with a two-by-four.

If your boss happens to be one of those frozen people, it will be up to you to do the changing.

Maybe change your behavior. 

Maybe change jobs.






Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Anti-Esteem Tool Kit

The self-esteem tool kit consists of tools you can use to build your self-esteem. For instance, the wishing stick (or wand) reminds you that it's okay to think about what you want, instead of always deferring to the desires of others. Or, the thinking cap reminds you that it's okay to come to your own conclusions about what's going on in the world.

These tools all help you to raise your self-esteem, but there's another tool kit, one that helps you remember to put aside certain tactics that simply help you to maintain low self-esteem. Here's some examples:

The Bully Club: Low self-esteem people often think they can feel better if they hurt other people. Sometimes they think the Courage Stick is a form of bully club, but that's a mistake.

The Blame Pointer: Low-self esteem people are often found pointing the finger of blame at others.

The Blindfold: This tool enables a person to go through life not seeing anything they don't want to see.

The Earplugs: By plugging their ears, people are able to avoid hearing anything that might make them uncomfortable. Some Earplugs replace all sound with distracting music. Some just totally deafen to all sounds. Both the Blindfold and the Earplugs counteract the positive effects of the Golden Key, a tool that allows you to open any inquiry you're puzzled about.

The Nose Clamp: This double-duty tool keeps their wearer from remembering to breathe with their Oxygen Mask. It also prevents the wearer from smelling the stink that everyone else is aware of in a situation.

The Stupid Pill: A single one of these pills drugs one's mind to counteract the effects of wearing a Thinking Cap which would otherwise have you thinking as clearly as possible.

The Last Aid Kit: - Use this to bandage your wounds after agreeing to requests you can’t fulfil because you did not use your Yes/No medallion.

Do any of these tools remind you of any politicians you know?

So, what other anti-esteem tools do you have in your tool kit?


For more on the Self-Esteem Tool Kit, get yourself a copy of More Secrets of Consulting: The Consultant's Tool Kit.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Why I'm a native American

I don’t know if I have any particular kind of ancestry, but I often claim to be “native American.”

Why? I do so when some institution is “surveying” so-called-race, which is a bogus concept to begin with. See 

Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, by Ashley Montagu.


People say I should choose “White,” but I’m definitely not white. My skin is pinkish yellow, or yellowish pink, and it grows red and brown when I’m out in the sun. I can’t imagine why its color would be important to anyone, except maybe a fashion consultant.

So, when surveyed, I choose “native American (small n)” because I was definitely born in America, so I’m a native. It’s a protest. I would be proud to be a Native American (capital N), but as far as I know, I have no such ancestry.

An interesting sidelight. Years ago when the university insisted I make a “race” choice, they assured me that the information was completely confidential. A year later, when I returned from a trip out of town, I found a note on my desk from Russell Means, a prominent Native American who had visited the university.

I wondered why he would write a personal note to me, until I found out that the administration had sent him to see me, their token “Native American Professor.”

So much for confidentiality. So much for the trustworthiness of bureaucrats.


In such a world, I shall remain “native American,” and I hope Elizabeth Warren and other smart people follow my example. 

Saturday, May 05, 2018

What is the difference between a good manager and a bad manager?

Because a previous blog of mine asked about good and bad managers, the question naturally came up about what's the difference.

There are, of course, many ways to be a bad manager. Or a good manager. But if I’d been asked for a single difference (and you didn’t use the plural) I’d say that the First Law of Bad Management is this:

If what you’re doing isn’t working, do more of it, faster and louder.


For more on good vs. bad management, take a look at 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stumbles for New Leaders and Managers


We were asked, "What were your greatest stumbling blocks as a new manager?"

Paige’s article is a terrific introduction to this subject. 

These are the four rookie manager mistakes described in the article:

Rookie mistake #1: Creating a blanket policy for one bad apple

Rookie mistake #2: Embracing the mantra, “do as I say, not as I do”

Rookie mistake #3: Fixing things that aren’t really broken

Rookie mistake #4: Not taking an interest in your employees’ futures

In my career, I’ve made all four of those mistakes, and lots of others. But the one I most remember, and most regret, is micromanaging.

Somehow, I couldn’t believe that other people could solve problems as effectively as I (thought I) could. My mantra was something like “for your own good,” or “for the organization’s good.”

It took me far too long to learn that other people’s solutions were simply other solutions than mine. Some might be worse than mine. Some might even be better. But most of all, they usually solved whatever problems we were dealing with. There was no need for me to push in with my approach.

I’ve gradually learned to reduce this micromanaging behavior. (I’ve never learned to stop completely.) As I’ve succeeded, I’ve noticed:

* people learn faster when allowed to make their own mistakes

* people listen to me more attentively on those few occasions when I do intervene

* I have more time for doing my own job

I strongly suggest that you loosen your grip on your own ideas and allow your employees and co-workers to implement theirs.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Leaders: Smart-but-evil versus Dull-but-good? 

Who's better in a leadership position, a smart but evil person or an unintelligent but good person?

There are different kinds of unintelligent people. For one thing, some not-so-smart folks know they’re not so smart and have learned some simple tactics to cope with their inadequate intelligence.

For instance, in managing software, such managers will refrain from micromanaging their programmers, whereas the smart-evil person is quite likely to interfere with the development and testing work.

What you want in a manager is a person who knows how and when to delegate, understands their own limitations, and cares about improving the environment for all the people on the staff. You don’t have to be all that smart to do that.

But if you are an evil person, your intelligence may be serving the wrong master. It may happen that your intelligent moves help your employees, but that’s not what you’re attempting to do, so it’s hit or miss.