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Documentation…

I write a lot in my professional life (in my personal life too – Thank you in advance for reading today’s little ditty!).  I wonder how long “writing” will continue in our society what with voice recognition technology advancing the way it is.

They say to be effective at writing; you have to “grab” your reader quickly.  Otherwise, short attention spans take over.  I even attended a Training and Development seminar recently where the focus was on “micro-training”; 180 to 300 second training pieces to match the short attention spans that dominate – maybe even “control” – people today.  I guess writers of User Manuals didn’t get the memo about this “grab them quickly” concept.

But being “trained” 3 to 5 minutes at a time, WOW! Add in “machine learning” and it makes me wonder who’s doing the learning; us or the machines?

Documentation goes well beyond the Training and Development field.  Just about everything in our world can be improved when it’s properly documented.  However, there is “meaningful” documentation and then there’s “fluff”:

The bad news about formal proposals is that most are poorly composed, poorly written, include a lot of unnecessary information, are hard to comprehend, and are usually much too long.  The good news?  Nobody reads them anyway. 

Mahan Khalsa

I believe documenting what you do makes you better at doing it.  Remember the almost fanatical commitment to documenting step-by-step procedures in the movie Apollo 13?  No place for “fluff” on the way to the moon and back.

I recognize not every task we do at work carries equal importance.  In fact, according to our favorite Unknown Sage:

Cohn’s Law

The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. Stability is achieved when you spend all your time doing nothing but reporting on the nothing you are doing.

That’s one way to reach stability I suppose.

Nonetheless, the VPs at my company are committed to meaningful documentation.  My program (and my colleagues’) must be properly documented whether we believe anyone actually reads it or not. That’s OK by me; I don’t mind doing the work.  But I confess that sometimes I wonder:

Written reports have purpose only if read by the King. 

Wess Roberts

How hard would you work at documenting your job if you thought the King wasn’t reading your reports?  Assuming you don’t work for NASA, of course.  Said differently by Charles Kingsley:

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

I know I should do the best job I’m capable of doing regardless of inspection by others.  And as I stated above, documenting what I do makes me better at doing it.  I will know, as will my clients, whether I deliver quality work or not.  Pride in that quality should be motivation enough.

Yet I confess when it comes to documentation that Unknown Sage has me worried:

Arnold’s First Law of Documentation

If it should exist, it doesn’t.

Arnold’s Second Law of Documentation

If it does exist, it’s out of date.

Arnold’s Third Law of Documentation

Only useless documentation transcends the first two laws.

Especially, that Third Law!

So, I’m documenting for you today the details behind my personal and professional documentation activities.  In so doing, I hope it improves the quality of my work.  And thankfully, someone took the time to document all those laws for us kings to read and contemplate today.

GAP

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What makes you tick?

OK everyone; I’m swimming in the deep end of the pool with this one.

My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, “Mom, they weren’t trying to teach you how to swim.”

Paula Poundstone

I was thinking about my career the other day in anticipation of attending a Learning & Development seminar (e.g. a seminar on training trainers how to train). I knew at this seminar I would be asked to introduce myself and give a short “elevator pitch” on my background and what brought me to the event.

I have written about my shyness many times before. Mingling in public with strangers in professional or even social settings is painful. I’ve had to learn how to overcome my awkwardness.

How about you? What makes you tick? Are you extroverted; introverted; it all depends; all of the above? Do you subscribe to the quote that according to the Quote Investigator is attributed to Mark Twain as well as many other sources?

Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt. And live like it’s heaven on earth.

That definitely doesn’t describe me. In order to disguise a delicate level of self-confidence I have become a “situational extrovert”. Maintaining this appearance takes practice. I practice via frequent, social interactions. I do so for two reasons; the first is because I am a life-long-learner. The second is because I’m following the advice of William James:

Everyone should do two things each day that they hate to do, just for practice.

What makes me tick is the realization that choosing to be a sales professional requires continuous interactions with others; mostly strangers. To succeed requires practice. So I practice that which I hate, often.

I have trained myself to face these confidence-shaking situations by preparing; in advance; in detail; rehearsals included. And at first when I did not succeed; I tried, tried, again. I’m still trying.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Alvin Toffler

Ignorance in the 20th century led to my fragile self-confidence. I wasn’t illiterate as I built my career; just the opposite, I think. I didn’t know anything about anything so to make a living I had no choice but to learn; quickly; on-the-job.

I was reminded of this once when I was interviewing a sales rep who wanted to join my Major Accounts team. His resume looked good, but don’t they all? It was during his interview that I sensed he did not truly have the experience he claimed. He picked up on my concern and said:

Gary, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I’m all balls and no brains, but I will learn quickly.

I hired him. He did learn quickly and ascended to a President’s Club level of sales performance.

I’ve come to realize that what makes me tick is this career connection to learning. My first 10 years in the sales profession I was learning while doing. During my second 10 years, I was learning to manage while still doing. In my third 10 years, I was leading while learning to teach. And the past 10 years I have been teaching while re-learning.

I get great fulfillment from life-long learning. The social interactions part? Not so much. What makes you tick?

GAP

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Our Loans to Repay…

Happy Memorial Day in advance everyone!

Next Monday is an occasion to celebrate America – our America – our nation of great opportunity and great diversity, yes?  Even though our country and our cultures are addressing many difficulties, Monday is a day to celebrate our blessings and our future possibilities.

On any other day, it’s easy to get mired in everything that seems to be wrong with America.  What concerns you the most? Politics?  The economy?  Health care?  World peace?   Airport security lines?  Lots of opportunities for worry, fear, frustration, and anger, I suppose.

Conservation of our Earth for future generations is another difficulty – and periodic hotbed of debate.  Nothing new about this however; it is a topic dating back to our country’s original landlords:

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children. 

Native American proverb

Do you believe we’re experiencing (and contributing to) global warming?  If we are, what can each of us individually do about it?  Will our children feel the same way about lending us their Earth as we do about inheriting our Social Security trust fund?  (Not much “trust” in the use of that trust fund is there?)

But Monday is a holiday and a time for celebration not worries; for national pride not fear; for appreciation not anger.  Monday, we Americans can celebrate the interesting, diverse, and humorous lifestyle others have enriched us with as noted by our favorite, Unknown Sage:

Only in America…

can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in America…

are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America…

do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in America…

do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Only in America…

do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to  the counters.

Only in America…

do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America…

do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America…

do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning  “bloodsucking creatures.”

Only in America…

do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

Yes, only in America.  And in America, Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our country and the men and women of our armed forces who have preserved a country where cultures of diversity come together unlike any other place on Earth.  It’s a time to salute our service men and women; present and past; who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our optimism and way of life.

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. 

Reginald B. Mansell

We all benefit today from those who overcame difficulties before us.  But what are we making of our opportunities?  And what opportunities (and difficulties) will we leave for our future generations?

Monday, let’s be optimistic and enjoy the holiday.  Then we’ll go back to work Tuesday – working to overcome our difficulties; working to leverage our opportunities; working to preserve our way of life for future generations; working to pay back the loan on our planet Earth to our children.

GAP

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Doing alright…

“How are you doing?”  For many, every day is a struggle – sometimes literally between life and death.

I believe for most of us we have a choice; we still can control our mood; we can choose how we face each day.  But not for all of us…

Dedicated to those amazing people who unlike me, face each day “doing alright”; which means so much more:

Like Eric.  I have known Eric for 42 years.  Over that period Eric’s Mom and Dad have shared some of his most joyous occasions; and some of his most upsetting events; and in between these highs and lows Eric would tell you that he has been doing alright.  And for Eric, doing alright shows how amazing he truly is.

You see, Eric is the strongest person I know.  I’ll give you an example.  Close your eyes and return to the happiest day of your life – feel how you felt during your most exhilarating moments.  OK, now think back to how you felt on your saddest, darkest, most depressed day ever.  Just set those mental bookmarks in your mind’s eye.  There is an unbelievably wide and powerful range of human emotion, yes?

For most of us, we migrate from our highest highs and our lowest lows slowly; with long, “recovery” spans of simply feeling average in between.  Unfortunately, Eric is different; his mood swings back and forth, between euphoric highs and debilitating lows in a matter of minutes – multiple times – every hour!  Now picture your life with his type of mood swings – as if our other challenges aren’t enough to deal with.

Rapid Cycling – that’s the technical term for Eric and others who suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder.  And Eric lives every day with this unwelcome guest.  Medical science is not much help.  Bi-Polar Disorder is an affliction of the brain; and very difficult to properly diagnose and treat.  Trial and error, mostly.  That means people with Bi-Polar Disorder typically wind up dealing with this on their own.

Most can’t hold down a steady job.  Eric can – and he has consistently been a “go to” person for his company.  He is a skilled tradesman; good with customers; dependable; hard working; shows up no matter what; a positive attitude that no job is too tough; that’s Eric.  Most people with Bi-Polar Disorder can’t live independently.  Eric does – and if you met him, you would never know the internal turmoil he is living with.  He has a pleasant personality; a great smile; a nice sense of humor; knowledgeable of current events; just like the rest of us.

But Eric isn’t really like the rest of us.  Just getting up and facing the day; every day; takes enormous strength.  And he offers no excuses – never has.  Eric has earned success and experienced failure.  No matter; Eric treats each day anew, the best he possibly can. And when you greet him saying, “Hi. How you doing?”  you will almost always hear him say, “I’m doing alright”.

If Eric does alright each and every day even though feeling these uncontrollable mood swings – should we do any less?

No, I don’t have Bi-Polar Disorder, but it lives next door. And though I don’t have it, I can see first-hand the strength Eric has as he lives with it.  I’m very proud to say that Eric is my son.  And one day I hope to learn the source of his amazing strength so I too can be, “doing alright”.

Happy birthday Eric.  I love you.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

Special Moms…

Posted May 9 2018 by with 0 Comments

Moms are special, true? My Mom was special – I bet your Mom is (or was) special, too. This coming Sunday – in mind; in memory; or in person; please be sure to make it a special day for your Mom.

My wife is a special Mom. She continues to lovingly mother our grown boys and our grandchildren even while their father worries, “How do I get all of these kids off the payroll?” But I digress.

Our Moms have a special sense of humor – just ask our favorite, Unknown Sage:

A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” I wouldn’t know what to say”, the girl replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say”, the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Our Moms are special teachers. Remember many of the life-long lessons you learned from your Mom? These special lessons we learned from our mothers are often passed down through generations. Back to our Unknown Sage:

What my Mother taught me:

My Mother taught me logic;

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My Mother taught me irony;

“Keep laughing and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My Mother taught me about the science of osmosis:

“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!”

Even Bill Gates has a take (including “Mom” in his reference to his parents, and ours):

Excerpt from Bill Gates’ speech to Mount Whitney High School, Visalia, CA:

Rule 1 – Life is not fair; get used to it…

Rule 7 – Before you were born, your parents weren’t
as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Our Moms have a special and immeasurable reservoir of power. I bet your Mom has power; my Mom did. She was stricken with cancer when I was 6 years old. In fact, I no longer remember a time when she was not ill. The last 15 years of her life were spent undergoing cancer treatments.

I watched my Mom’s great power, which she needed in order to deal with a new cancer treatment in the late 1960’s that was so unimaginably harsh – that the administration of this treatment was solely based on the primitive science of trial and error – where the doctors’ routine consisted of observing how much of a dose could she tolerate without dying from the treatment.

It was an experimental treatment back then; offered only as a last resort for terminally ill cancer patients. This wasn’t a cancer cure; just a radical option to extend one’s life another year or two. It was due to her staying power (and that of many other patients like her) before she finally succumbed in 1974, that has helped pave the way to the development of the commonly used, life-saving cancer treatment we all know today as chemotherapy.

How many special Moms have died fighting terrible diseases (and brutal treatments) so the rest of us can benefit from the overly exaggerated term, “modern medicine”?

Mother’s Day – make it special for your Mom if she’s living; make it special for you through your memories of your Mom if she’s not.

GAP

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“That guy”, still…

Posted May 3 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

I was chatting about my recent little ditty with a friend of mine who never knew “that guy” (see http://thequoteguys.com/2018/04/that-guy-again/ ).

The real me would rather be a hermit.  With today’s headlines I doubt I’m alone in that yearning.  But life is meant to be lived among others; so here I am – living and working with the villagers.  It’s not easy.

Dr. Travis Bradberry wrote this about people like me.  Maybe you can relate:

Nine Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Sensitive people get a bad rap. Highly sensitive people’s strong emotions are easier to identify (and potentially use to their benefit) than the average person. This also helps them to communicate effectively because they don’t just hear the words coming out of other people’s mouths, but they also catch on to subtleties in gesture and tone.

The Highly Sensitive Person:

  1. You think deeply. When life throws you a curveball, you retreat deep into your shell, thinking through every aspect of what transpired before taking any action. Small things (in your own life and other people’s lives) can have a big impact on you.
  2. You’re detail-oriented. You’re as sensitive to details as you are to feelings. You see details that others miss, and you aren’t content until you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s. This is a strength that is highly valuable in the right profession.
  3. You take longer to reach decisions. Since you’re prone to dig deep beneath the surface, you tend to drag out decisions. You can’t help but try to run every possible outcome through your head, and this is often at the expense of the ticking clock.
  4. You’re crushed by bad decisions. When you finally make a decision, and it turns out to be a poor choice, you take it much harder than most. This can create a vicious cycle that slows down your decision-making process even more, as fear of making a bad decision is part of what slows you down in the first place.
  5. You’re emotionally reactive. When left to your own devices, you have a knee-jerk reaction to your feelings. You also have strong reactions to what other people are going through. When your emotions come on strong, it’s easy to let them hijack your behavior.
  6. You take criticism harshly. Your strong feelings and intense emotional reactions can make criticism hard to take. Though you may overreact to criticism initially, you also have the tendency to think hard about things and explore them deeply. This exploration of criticism can play out well for you in the long run, as your inability to “shrug it off” helps you make the appropriate changes.
  7. You work well in teams. Your unique ability to take other people’s feelings into account, weigh different aspects of multifaceted decisions, and pay attention to the smaller details makes you extremely valuable in a team environment.
  8. You have great manners. Your heightened awareness of the emotions of other people makes you highly conscientious. You pay close attention to how your behavior affects other people and have the good manners to show for it. You also get particularly irked when other people are rude.
  9. Open offices drive you crazy. Your sensitivity to other people, loud noises, and other stimuli makes it practically impossible for you to work effectively in an open-office environment. You’re better off in a cube or working from home.

It’s that fifth one that I constantly work to overcome.  You?

GAP

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“That Guy”, again…

I have written about this side of me before (see http://thequoteguys.com/2014/04/that-man/).  Not the proudest time in my personal or professional life.  In a competitive world when there is seemingly a lot at stake; sometimes we feel it is OK if we “have to do what we have to do”:

David didn’t beat Goliath with a whiteboard. 

Brad Feld

Here’s the good news:  If we have demonstrated behaviors we are ashamed of in the business world (or any other part of the world for that matter), those behaviors, embarrassments or failures don’t have to define us forever.

Life is change…

Growth is optional…

Choose wisely.

Karen Kaiser Clark

Still, those tendencies may lurk underneath; I know mine do and recently did – again, not my proudest moment.

I am on a cross-functional team working to support a strategic initiative at my company (which I have also written about  http://thequoteguys.com/2018/03/strategic-direction/ ).  One member on the team, from another department, has several different views than I on both the initiative and how we should work together.  OK, we have our differences; happens every day in your world too.

Normally, our disagreements are tempered by the fact that we live in different cities and communicate via phone and email.  When “that guy” begins to surface during a disagreement, I can put my phone on mute and vent; or I can write my scathing email reply and then push “delete” instead of “send”.

But recently, he was in my office and came over to my desk for a visit.  I appreciated the gesture and told him so.  The conversation started with customary pleasantries… the weather, his flight, sports.  Then the topic turned to our strategic initiative.  He wanted an argument.  Argument?  Count me in!

Pratter’s Prayer

Lord, make my words as sweet as honey, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.

Unknown Sage

I don’t know, maybe this is a result of our generational gap; he a millennial (e.g. a bright young man with little real-world experience) me a baby boomer (e.g. a grumpy old man with plenty of real-world experience).  Maybe I could blame it on the horses as in the opening to Chapter Two of my book:

Dedicated to those business professionals who know the difference between the smell of horse manure in the barn vs. the “sound” of horse manure in the office.  Not everyone can do this for a living.

Maybe I just like a good argument once in a while.  Regardless, when my boss called and asked about the encounter I knew “that guy” was sited – again.  No honey in sight.

Coincidentally, my colleague’s manager works on my floor.  In fact, she walks past me many mornings on the way to her office.  I don’t really know her – just an occasional exchange of “good mornings”.  She wanted to see for herself if I was the ogre her direct report said I was. We had a very pleasant conversation – “that guy” was gone.

Today, the cross-functional team is back on track.  My young colleague and I are communicating on a professional even pleasant level.  And I’ll be more careful with any future, in-person encounters:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. 

The second-best time is today. 

Chinese Proverb

Oh, I still bite.  But when it comes to horse manure at the office, I have enough real-world experience to “choose wisely” and seek growth.  After all, there’s not much time left in my professional career to grow that tree.

GAP

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April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

Nineteen years ago today, my hometown experienced the terror that two teenagers, feeling a sense of hopelessness, can bring to their high school, their community and our nation.  It was considered a rare event back then – unfortunately, it has become all too common today.

Life is hard and can often seem hopeless for too many young people.   If you have a son or daughter; grandchildren; nieces or nephews; or neighborhood kids; hug them today.

Tell them today that you love them and will support them as they make their way in the world to adulthood and self-sufficiency.  And if they are struggling to make ends meet – give them a few bucks.  Help them find a job.  Today, help them feel they belong.

Let’s reverse our society’s violence.  Let’s use our power of self confidence to increase the sunlight for those heading towards darkness:

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us. 

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton, Colorado – We are all Columbine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Seqhcq23M 

May you feel peace – and share the power of peace with others – today – and every day!

GAP

Self-Centered?

Well… I am definitely self-focused.  And I confess self-promotion is a close cousin that also contributes to my make-up.  However, I hope others don’t consider me self-centered.  I believe self-focus, self-awareness, and even a little self-promotion can actually be a good thing.

Ever since I can remember it has been important for me to do things well.  I’ve wanted to be an accomplished athlete; a successful salesman; a caring husband; a loving father; an excellent driver.

More than just striving to do well; I live in almost constant fear of failure.  I am not alone:

Only the Paranoid Survive ©

Andy Grove

I remember my first sales job in the technology industry.  They didn’t want to hire me.  I kept calling; kept interviewing; kept saying I could get the job done.  When they ultimately did hire me I remember thinking, “How the h@&! am I’m going to get this job done?”  I didn’t know anything about B2B selling.

Back in the day, I didn’t wear the right clothes; drive the right car; I wasn’t witty.  Everything about my sales role would have to be learned; scripted; rehearsed.  Trial and error was my constant companion.   I was in a perfect setting to fail.  Fear of failure was on my mind every single day back then.  Still is.

What made things worse – I was socially awkward.  One of my clients (Chip) told me a while back that he can relate.  Don’t ask me how we got on the subject; adult beverages were probably involved – liquid courage.  He described it as being a “Situational Extrovert”.

I remember the day my wife and I brought our first son Eric home from the hospital after he was born.  I looked at her and said, “Now what?”

Fear is not always good; it’s not always a driving force behind success:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

But for me; I’m afraid I won’t be good enough today; I’ll fail; I’ll let others down; I’ll drive poorly.  And that’s driven me to become self-focused; to pay attention; to realize how hard it is to succeed.  I’m still trying.

There are so many things in life outside of my control; the best thing I can do is to stay focused on me; on my performance; on doing my best.  I try to let the rest of the world take care of itself.  I mean, life is challenging enough for us all, yes?

Law of Life’s Highway:  If everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane. 

Unknown Sage

Truth be told, I think our world could use more self-focus even if it is at the expense of getting more of its cousin; self-promotion.  If people worried more about our individual effort and contributions; then things at our job level; our relationship level; our friends and family level might just improve.

Self-focus can be a good thing when applied appropriately:

Marcus Aurelius had a servant follow him around and every time Aurelius received a compliment the servant had to whisper in his ear, “You’re just a man… just a man,” to keep him humble.

Unknown Sage

Agreed – we must beware of those other “self’s”; self-absorbed; self-centered; selfishness.  Those aren’t beneficial; just the opposite.  And we all know more than a few people with those characteristics.

So, even though I’m an excellent driver, when self-driving cars finally arrive on seen I won’t resist.  I will finally be able to stop fearing my driving skills aren’t good enough.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

Breaking the rules…

This little ditty breaks several of my rules.  First, it contains some profanity – please stop if that will offend you.  Second, it continues beyond my “standard 600 words”.  For those of you who are new – welcome to my world LoL!  (see http://thequoteguys.com/2015/07/a-peek-inside/)

Staying with me?  Thank you!

I attended my company’s women in business lunch ‘n learn recently.  The topic was, “Gender equality in the workplace is good for everyone – including men.”  The presenter was a male millennial from our sales department.  He assigned us to small groups and facilitated an excellent and provocative discussion on our respective career views from our gender perspectives.

There are lots of “rules” in the workplace these days about roles men and women play.  Lots of terms like “glass ceiling”; “gender equality”; “women in the workplace”.  A general theme is today’s rules seem to have been written by men for the advantage of men and the disadvantage of women.

When our meeting facilitator played a TED Talk video clip featuring a prominent professor of social studies from an east coast institution (I apologize, I don’t remember his name), the professor offered this position for us to contemplate:

Privilege is invisible to those who possess it.

That caused me pause; I’m privileged.  Perhaps not always and in everything.  Like so many others, I’ve experienced my share of failure and even tragedy.  But perhaps because I’m a man; with a college degree; and a successful sales career; I would now be considered by others as “privileged”.  And if that is their view, I could not argue.

I never thought comparatively about my privilege from the perspective of women who do not feel they share equally.  This was the topic of our small group discussion.  The women in my group each said they do not feel they carry the same amount of respect as their male counterparts in the eyes of their managers or their clients – just because they are women.

Truth be told, I don’t give gender privilege in the workplace much thought.  Maybe because privilege is invisible to me.  Maybe, because my life has been largely influenced by women.  My wife and my mother are the two most prominent people who have helped make me the man I am.

In my first role as a technology sales “hunter”, my (pre-sales) Systems Consultant, Donna Provost, was my guide.  When I worked at Integral Systems and hit my first “Million Dollar Seller” recognition, Barb Sadtler was the sales rep in my office I looked up to.  Debbie Fritchman and Kathy Garvin were my pre-sales teammates every step of the way.

In my first sales manager role, Sheila McDonald, Lisa Kwicien, and Joy Cox were my top reps.  In my first divisional role, Patty Manvelichvili was the first person I recruited for my team of subject matter experts.  When I started my own company Teah Bennett was my mentor.  Today, an experienced, successful, and female executive leads my department.

I don’t believe my criteria for success in the workplace is gender-based.  I respect excellence; performance; results; and anyone that helps me win – male or female.

Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

Bill Gates

I hope the women in my life know how much I appreciate their help in not losing.

We are approaching my 600-word rule.  But today, I thought I’d continue with the wisdom from one of my favorite comedians (or is it comedienne?) – profane; provocative; professionally successful…

Feel free to stop here if you’re not a fan of Joan Rivers.  OK, that’s my 600.

Here’s what Joan Rivers told Penn’s graduating seniors in 1989

When they asked me to speak at graduation, I thought they meant GRADUATION. I’d been looking forward to quaffing champagne and wearing a black cap and gown – to match my roots. And I thought I’d be receiving a degree! They said I wasn’t going to get the degree, then they said I was going to get the degree, then they said I wasn’t going to get the degree. It became a situation I’m sure some of these seniors can easily relate to!

It seems like yesterday my late husband and I were talking to our daughter Melissa about choosing a college. The choice was made more difficult by our California standards. There, higher education is anything above crayons; the only culture you find out there is in yogurt. The idea of a really deep, philosophical, existentialist question is, “How tan am I?” We went to Bennington, where I was shocked at tuition – you could support South Korea for one year on it. And we went to Williams, where the most popular course was “How To Speak To Your Servants Without Using Your Facial Muscles.” We went to Brown and we sat in on a philosophy class where they discussed, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, who gives a shit?”

[At the first Penn football game I went to], Melissa had bet on Penn, and I bet on the number of cheerleaders who didn’t have nose jobs.

I’d like to tell you one thing, which is the truth as I see it. Please, everyone, look to your right, and look to your left, and look all around you – because right now, this is as good as it’s gonna get for a long, long time.

I hope all of you learn to fail, and plan to fail, and fail early on. Failure is the best thing that can ever happen to anybody. Not only did each failure in my life teach me something, it made me stronger. And moved me one step closer to success.

Don’t be proud. If you think the world is waiting for you now that you’ve graduated, you’re wrong. You think you’re hot. You think you graduated from Penn and Wharton: big deal. Nobody’s waiting for you. Try any path you can, go through any door that opens. Don’t wait for the right moment, because right moments come out of wrong moments.

Barbra Streisand is probably one of the biggest stars in the world, right? But if you think of her as unknown – she was no beauty: ug-o nose, stupid-looking crossed eyes, great voice, but nobody cared. She would go from audition to audition to audition. Nobody wanted her. Finally, in desperation, she sneaked into [an] audition for The Sound of Music. The call was for a 16-year-old, blonde, blue-eyed, young, very pretty Aryan. They’re looking for a Nazi. Perfect for Barbra! And she has the nerve to sing for them. [Someone told her], try nightclubs, which she did, and [eventually], she was discovered. She became a major, major star. And from that day on, I haven’t heard from the bitch.

If you don’t think [love and money] are related, spend a week in Hollywood. John Paul Getty once said – and I agree – “If you know how much money you have, you haven’t got enough.” Get out there, work hard, and thank God we’re living in a country where the sky is still the limit. And the stores are open late. And you can even shop from your bed, thanks to television!

I was one who, for about a minute and a half, went around saying, “Money doesn’t make you happy.” Yes, you can be happy without it. But it opens a lot of doors…From money, I turned to love, which is money’s first cousin. Look for love, and when you find it, grab it with both hands. And if it isn’t there at the moment, don’t be discouraged, because believe it or not, love comes to everybody. Even ug-os.

When love arrives, you have to make a choice: should I buy a real sofa or a sectional? A sectional is good because then you can split it up if it doesn’t work out, but I’m saying to you all, please get the sofa. Go for the gold. Don’t live together. Get married. It sounds dull, but marriage is just like living together – except you get presents.

Success doesn’t mean everyone’s gonna love you. Forget that. Success is short-lived, and you never want to trust success. Enjoy it for the moment, then, for God’s sake, go back to work. Never forget that work is the reason you became successful.

You think your childhood is over, but as long as you’ve a parent left, all you graduates will always be a child to somebody. Always remember, no matter how old you are, a light will always be in the window at your parents’ home for you. You can always come home. You can come for two days, for two weeks, for two years – even though that’s kind of pushing it a little bit.

I was asked to speak her today because I’m funny and I’m caustic and I’m cheap. That’s not the reason I accepted. I came because I wanted to pay tribute publicly to my daughter and to her friends and to the institution which has supported them and nurtured them and, please God, educated them. And what I mean by “educated”: I think that means that Penn has taught all of you to see, to hear, to smell, taste and touch.

You’re college graduates now. Use your education. Remember, it’s not who you know…It’s WHOM.

From Under The Button ©

GAP

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