Manage Your Money

I was watching the business report on Canada AM this morning. Doom and gloom as the financial markets continue to implode.

What caught me by surprise was a parting comment by the business reporter. As the story closed, the Canada AM hosts were trying to be positive and they asked the business reporter what people should do. He told them that people should not panic. And then he said something very, very odd.

“This is why you should let the professionals manage your money.”

Hopefully not the same professionals who were leading Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

Office Jargon

Penelope Trunk provides some insight into commonly used office phrases and what they really mean in her book Brazen Careerist:

You and I are not on the same page: “Get on my page. Your page is misguided.” No one ever says, “We’re not on the same page, so let me work really hard to understand your point of view. If you want to understand someone else, you say, “Can you tell me more about how you’re thinking.”

I’m calling to touch base: “I want something from you but I can’t say it up front.” Or “I am worried that you are lost and I’m sniffing around for signs to confirm my hunch.” Or “I’m calling because you micromanage me.”

Let’s run the numbers and see how they look: “I know they look bad on first blush. But the true use of Excel is to keep changing the formulas until you find a format that makes the numbers look good.”

My plate is full: “Help I’m drowning,” or “I would kill myself before I’d work on your project.”

Let’s close the loop: “Let me make sure I’m not going to get into trouble for this one.”

Let’s touch base next week: “I don’t want to talk to you now,” or “You are on a short leash and you need to report back to me.”

Keep this on your radar: “This will come back to bite you. Or me.”

When to Change

A friend of mine shared some interesting thoughts on coaching for high performance. This quote gets filed under the “let me be really clear about your performance” category:

The only difference between a rut and a grave is depth.

Steve Jobs is Sick

I found this story about Steve Jobs very interesting. Should an executive be required to disclose information about their state of health?


Over the past two months:

  • I accepted a new role with my new company in a new city
  • I retired from my old company
  • We bought a new house
  • We sold our old house

And over the past three weeks I have been learning. Learning about the new company and its people. Learning about how to navigate in a different corporate culture. Learning how to approach the challenges of the new role.

To those of you who know me well, I will admit to being a bit challenged in terms of personal effectiveness. I know. It is hard to believe that Mr. Organized is having trouble keeping on top of things. My system of Getting Things Done is definitely under stress. Personal email is backlogged. Blogging is backlogged. Lots of things are being put to one side for now.

I have to remember that the Big Rocks go in first.

Watkin’s counsel in a Harvard Business Review article is particularly relevant as I begin this journey in my new career:

Q: Of the many challenges that managers face in their first ninety days, which one do you think is the trickiest and requires the most preparation and insight?

A: Learning about the culture and politics of a new organization.

Keynote Session

I received some wonderful feedback from the Microsoft session in Vancouver:

I wanted to thank you for your fantastic session at CSAF this year; our “all-up”? forum survey questionnaire indicated that attendees”™ overall satisfaction with the event was an incredible 87.6% with an astounding 97.5% saying that they were both delighted with their experience as well as that they would recommend the event to a colleague.

I had a wonderful time at the session and I was delighted that the presentation went well.

Annoying Phone Calls

The ultimate driving machine, yes. The ultimate customer experience, no.

And all it took was one phone call.

My BMW is coming to end of lease. And back in December I started receiving a number of emails from BMW. Emails telling me how much they valued my business and telling me that someone would be in contact shortly to help me transition the car. Presumably to another BMW.

December passes. January passes. February passes. No calls. I receive a couple of letters in addition to the emails but no contact with anyone from BMW. Until this week.

I am at work. In a meeting. And the phone rings. Usually my assistant picks up the call or, if she is away, the call goes to voice-mail. However, in this case, the phone kept ringing and ringing. After ten rings or so, I apologize to the person in my office.

“Please excuse me. This must be an important call.”?

“Do you drive a 2004 BMW?”?

Reality check. Someone is calling me at work to find out what year and make of car I drive?

“Who is this?”?
“I work for [some company name I can”™t remember]. We do the end of lease inspections for BMW.”?

“And why are you calling me at work?”?
“We need to schedule a time to inspect the car.”?

“That”™s fine. Call me at home to arrange an appointment. I am usually home by 7pm”?
“We only inspect during business hours. We will come to your place of work. I need a time and location.”?

At this point, the experience feels more like talking to an arrogant bill collector than a premium auto manufacturer.

“I have three issues. Issue number one: you have called me at work and I am unable to spend time dealing with this during work hours. Issue number two: I intend to return the vehicle to the dealer. You can coordinate your inspection with them. Issue number three: I am in a meeting and I have to hang up. Have a nice day.”?

I asked my wife to follow up with the dealer. They apologized profusely. A new process that BMW has introduced. BMW outsourced the end of lease inspection to a third party. However, they are willing to take the car in to do the inspection at my convenience.

All it takes is one bad call to damage a brand.


In a few weeks time I will be heading out to Vancouver to give a keynote at a technology forum. The event is sponsored by Microsoft. I had given a keynote for them at a similar event in Toronto last year.

I am prepping up the material now. As some of you know, I am not a fan of death by PowerPoint. I prefer the technique that goes beyond bullet points. If you follow sites like Presentation Zen or look at some — not all — of the top presentations at Slideshare, you can learn a lot about presentation techniques that work effectively when doing keynotes.

I did have a bit of a chuckle though. The organizer contacted me for a headshot, bio and abstract. And he is going to send me a template for my PowerPoint.

Er, no standard template for my PowerPoint. That would be bad. Really, really bad. But to even things out, even though I am a big fan of how Steve Jobs presents his material, I promised them that I wouldn”™t bring Keynote to the keynote.