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Showing posts from May, 2004

Went to sleep in Chicago, woke up in Boston

I went for an overnight trip to Chicago yesterday, which was a strange experience. I've made quick business trips before, but I have never stayed overnight somewhere yet still spent fewer than 16 hours in the city. Nor have I gone to work, then flown somewhere, and been back at work before lunch the next day. It doesn't feel right. If I'm going to get on a plane it should feel like a trip, not a commute. And I shouldn't have to get up at 5:00 in the bloody morning, ever.

This was a sales trip, something else that I don't get to do very often. You see, I'm usually the guy trying to explain to the client that the sales guy was clearly high on a controlled substance when he issued that quote, and that they should be sure that he will be dealt with severely. I've always wondered how they got to the point where they were willing to mortgage the souls of an entire project team in order to get a stranger to give them a PO number. Now I know.

But I'm ge…

Never mind

My wife has a cold, so I had to go home from work early today to take care of her and the kids.

Remember that thing I said about face time vs. quality time? Never mind.

I won't grow up

I have to say, I am so grateful for the grownups in the business world. They have taught me so much and helped me to mend my foolish, childish ways. You see, I used to actually think that people were supposed to enjoy their work: imagine that! What did I think this was, college? As it turns out, to be a successful, mature company, you must put such silly notions out of your head and realize what business is really all about: obligations, responsibility, and the burden of respectability.

Young companies and entrepreneurs are allowed to play for a while, but the grownups demand their due in the end. After a while, the press and the other experienced business leaders start saying the things that all grownups say to young adults: "You can't keep playing around like this forever, you know. Eventually, you'll have to start recognizing your responsibilities. You have a duty to the board, to your shareholders, and to the market that must be shouldered. There are bills to p…

Quality time

Over the past decade or so, we've heard so much blather about "quality time" at home that the phrase has become a parody of itself. No one can say it without irony, or at least air quotes. Personally, I think that the concept of quality time was invented by people who felt guilty about how little time they were spending with their children, so they decided, "It's not the quantity of time I spend at home; it's the quality." Right.

The funny thing about kids, though, is that you have to have quantity time in order to get the quality time. You see, they determine when quality time arrives, but you have to be there for it to happen. You can't just sit Junior down and say, "Son, we're going to have some quality time now, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Want to know the meaning of life?" I've seen some friends try -- God help them -- and the next sentence is usually something like, "Son, please don't wipe you…

Why would anyone want to sound like an accountant?

Two more additions to the "words you will never hear me utter, except in air quotes" list:
Net-net
Net-new
What the heck: unless you're talking about injuries received during a summer fishing expedition or an NCAA basketball victory ceremony, I will baldly state that using "net" as a prefix makes you sound like a dork. Using it as both prefix and suffix makes you sound like you have a stutter, and it adds nothing to your conversation. Just say, "That's all we have," or "This stuff is new."

As far as I can tell, this new phrase is an outgrowth of accounting teminology, that eternal pantheon of hipness. While it's OK to say that an invoice is due "Net 30," I think we would be best served to leave that terminology there. Think carefully about this: do you really want people to associate you and your conversations with taxes and bald, nearsighted men in rumpled suits? I didn't think so.


(Note: all references to accountan…

More Vocational Vocabulary

More words and phrases I will never use, either in writing or in conversation, even if I choke on my own tongue trying to find alternatives:
Go-forward plan
Actionable plan of attack
Transition (as verb)
Accountabilities
Resource, as verb. By extension, resourcing
Bucket, as verb. Ditto for the past tense, "... has been bucketed."
Actualize
Impact, as verb. And "impacted," if you have ever watched ER, has a wholly different connotation than I think people are seeking when they use it in emails.
Transparent, when used in place of "invisible"

And some that simply need to be used sparingly, if only because everyone else finds a way to insert them into every other sentence:
Leverage
Facilitate
Sign off
Best practice (that one hurts, because I used to be the "Best Practices Manager" for a former employer)
Resources, as opposed to "people"

Got any more?

Chair games

It's spring in Boston, and there's a certain smell in the air. No, it's not pollen, though my car has turned a lovely shade of yellowish brown again. And the apple blossoms smell lovely, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the sharp, salty tang of reorganization!

Yes, it's time for the corporate answer to spring cleaning: the reorg. I've been through far too many of these in the past few years, so I recognize the signs: everyone looks extremely busy, but even less seems to be getting done than usual. Directors and managers find excuses to go visit their VPs three or four times a day, just to let them know how well everything is going on their projects. Unless, of course, they go to tell them how that guy in the other department -- you know, the one that does the exact same thing we do, only not as well -- keeps dropping the ball and delaying everything. Or at least, that's what they would say, except their VPs are nowhere…

Say "stress!"

I was loitering near a coworker's desk the other day, waiting for the people in the meeting before mine to evacuate my conference room, and I started looking at his pictures. At first, I didn't recognize anyone in the pictures, but then a strange feeling of happiness mixed with surprise came over me as I kept looking. After a few moments, I realized why I didn't recognize the man in the pictures: he was smiling.