Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Being Ready

Sitting in a well-known spot downtown noted for business activity, my client and friend discussed details of a major upcoming contract. We called no names, only spoke of numbers and services. We both go there often for such meetings and find the food great and service wonderful. Except this particular time the service was lacking, although this was not immediately apparent.

We both took notice of our waiter right away. He attended to us well, smiled graciously and nodding warmly from the moment he introduced himself. We were pleased, though neither of us had seen him there before. I mentioned to my friend that this guy's a keeper, knowing he would relate as he looks for talent everywhere. He has so far found gifted and hard-working talent in the most unlikely places. He said, "It's great you saw that. I noticed him too." We resumed our conversation.

The waiter had come back and forth respectively bringing our salads, refilling our water and bringing our meal. But then he said something that dumbfounded me and he could not recover. But it wasn't that we we didn't allow it. Rather, it was that he himself could not simply respond appropriately, re-adjusting and seeing that he was clearly out of line. Instead, he got increasingly worse. It's bad when our pride gets the best of us.

"Do you have time for me?"

Hmmm??? What a strange question in this setting.

"May I ask you something? "

"Yes," I said.

"I've been listening to your conversation..."


"...and you guys seem like you really got your stuff together. "

AND!!! Did you just say you were listening in on our conversation!!!

"I gotta ask you," he continued. "How do you make that kind of money?"

I was flabbergasted. Had no one trained this young man of 23 or so at home or work?

"I appreciate your question," I said, holding myself together enough to teach and not scold. "We're in business, but excuse us please. I am in part doing what I do right now and this conversation is somewhat a hindrance to my business. Perhaps later"

He walked away annoyed. I didn't like this. There was something offensive and inappropriate about his demeanor that I did not appreciate. After all, we were there on business and he was intruding. He was oblivious or simply didn't care. I left not really knowing which was so.

My friend wanted to help the young man. So, when he returned he engaged him in conversation. Giving him great pointers. I added a few points myself. But the young man could not receive them graciously. He proceeded to tell us that he understood where we were coming from but we did not fully understand him; he saw things differently.

The advice given was general and in most terms could not be objected to. Instead of being appreciative of the fact that we were taking time out to give him what he apparently needed, he assumed the posture that he knew best. He spoke with a kind of arrogance and ignorance often associated with youth, but you would think that he would have been trained properly to hold himself at least on the job.

"You know this is really not a good time," I added.

OK," he continued, "All I want to know is what ..." I cut him off. He looked sincerely puzzled. I was incredulous.

He continued as if he was repeating a line from the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" when Will Smith's character's asks a guy who jumped out of a red Ferrari, "All I want to know," he says, "what do you do?" It was a good line in the movie, but it was not a good line as my client and I sat for lunch discussing business.

Someone a few tables over was beckoning for the waiter. I gently pointed to him that someone else needed him and that he should take care of first things first. This young man actually looked me in my face and said..

"I'm going to get to him but I will be back to discuss business with you."

"No, we're done here for now. Thank you."

This young man was relentless, inappropriately so. He didn't have a clue about the negative impression he was giving. But my friend and client felt compassion for him and I could see in his eyes that he wished to assist this young man. I too felt compassion but I must admit to feeling more incredulous. I'm a first things first girl. His first role was that of a server. We were his first priority; he was serving us.

When he returned my friend briefly told him about what we did and gave him some good advice and encouragement. But this wasn't enough. He could hardly let me friend tell him anything, as he was so eager to show us what he knew. He was so eager to tell us all about him. He was not eager to listen. We listened and encouraged him, hoping that he would move on. He didn't. Finally, I said...

"I'm really sorry but we have business to attend to." He left.

He actually did not come back post haste, but did return. When my client and friend got up to meet others we both knew, I did not join him, taking the opportunity instead to give this young man some needed advice:

1. NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! listen in on those you serve and NEVER tell them so.

2. Only ask questions that you want sincere answers.

3. Listen once you've asked a question, especially if you regard those whom you've asked the question to be of interest.

He seemed to understand, taking in the advice. But perhaps not. As we got up to leave he came and thanked us for the information, saying...

"Thank you for your help. I will uphold my end of the bargain. I hope you will uphold yours."

We smiled and thanked him, leaving a handsome tip.

On the way out, my client and friend turned to me and said...

"I guess he gave us our answer. Here is a guy we were both considering hiring. He clearly is not ready."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Being Divisive, Different or Deficient?

In spite of the opinion of many of Reverend Jeremiah Wright as being divisive, I ask you to listen to his recent address to the NAACP in Detroit in its entirety, forming your own opinion.

Click on the title above to hear the address. It's 37 minutes in length. Youtube snippets will not do, as often such snippets won't in things that matter. Who's afraid of Youtube?

Reverend Wright's penchant for disruptive thinking, the only kind that engenders change, is powerful...whether you agree or not.

We often talk in business of change and innovation, but we so often avoid differences of thought and means of expression, dismissing them as dogmatic or deficient...even fanatical.

Is Reverend Wright's speech to the NAACP divisive or does it point to some of our differences in ways that could bring the needed change?

Does difference point to deficiency?

What is dereliction? Who, in fact, has been derelict in duty?

Of our two last esteemed presidents, who served in the military? (Which pundit, pray tell, has donned the stars and stripes?) Of the three, Reverend Wright served his country honorably.

(Is Reverend Wright running for the presidency?)

Who is disruptive? Who is different? Who is deficient? Who is distinguished?

Addressing hard questions is at the root of change and innovation in life or business. It is also the root of whether change or innovation occur.

Hard questions also draw the light inwardly, instead of outwardly, making us asks consistently who am I? Or, who have I become? Inward searching brings outward results.

Shhh! the disrupters is what we often hear. Marginalize them is the often refrain.

Why is it that we seek to silence or marginalize disrupters in life and business?

Is Reverend Wright in the purest sense a disrupter?

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Being Persistent

As a seed beneath concrete reaches for the sun, finding various underground routes, bursting through cracks in cement, what are you reaching for?

As the smaller oak tree underneath a much larger one bends its outer most limbs towards the sun, soaking in its rays to its roots, what are you bending towards?

Being persistent is the endless reaching and bending towards light. It is the force of life and business.

How persistent are you?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Being Constituted by Work

What if you realized that your work constitutes your being? If your daily work makes you who you are, how would you then work to create work that matters, the work that constitutes you?

In 1981 I read Pope John Paul's, Loborem Exercens, On Human Work, that really got me to thinking about the formation of who I am beyond the physical at work. I began thinking about the importance of doing work that matters. I had just entered college, but as I have always been interested in philosophy, ontology, the study of being in particular, the thesis therein caught my attention immediately. In fact, sense my early teens I had been thinking about how we come to be who we are.

Tom Peter's article, Brand You, in Fast Company in 1997 was also essential in my understanding of the importance of the formation of being through work beyond religious or philosophical meaning. His import, for me, is creating work that matters everyday aligned with being who you are. This aligning has a constitutional affect on the formation of being. The person affects the work and vice verse. It is forever being and becoming through creating work that matters. There is never stagnancy, only constant creation and innovation.

Brand You was directly applicable to business: being and business effortlessly coalesced as I so it. It was confirmation that my early youthful thoughts had foundation; they had meaning. Reading the article and enacting its principles was constitutional for the work that I did whether I was cleaning floors, managing others, or creating value for other companies. The formation of me extends to we, creating constiutional work that matters congruently.

As those who serve the public in ways that, in fact, allows them to influence our business in the sense that they determine whether our service or product has value, the important of doing work that matters becomes even more significant, if it is the work that we do that actually forms who we are. It is not whether the work is intellectual or manual, good or bad; there is no such thing. It is the importance of how work is done.

The significance of work is how the work itself is done to create work that matters which constitutes being, making us who we are. It is the value we give work that matters most for its constitutional property. It is not a matter of what, but a matter of how works forms being and purpose. It is we, ourselves, who create being through engaging in work that matters. Consider an excerpt from Pope John Paul's, Loborem Exercens, On Work:

"Through work man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very natures, by the virtue of of humanity itself.

Man is made to be in the visible universe and image of the likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work, Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work, Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence of earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very existence."

If work is thought of as that which constitutes your being, how would you work today? How can you serve others with excellence which is then reflected in the making of who you are? Work is also reflected in value, monetarily and relationally. How does your work affect your internal and external relationships? Does it add value? If work is what forms being, who do you wish to be?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Being Judgemental

If we would only judge ourselves, others will most likely not.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Being Personally Unaccountable

It looks like many of us will be without gas with prices skyrocketing.

It also looks like many of us will be without rice too as Sam's Club and Costco just announced a rationing of this grain.

Wake me up somebody...please!

Is this America? As in the United State of America? In my history I do not remember such a time.

With the sub-prime mortgage crisis in full swing and home prices in a free-fall, this is a reminder that being personally unaccountable affects everyone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Being Enterprising at Best

Being enterprising at best is being in full service to others. Being enterprising at best is maintaining good relations with other while serving. How can we better serve you? How do you find our products? We're sorry that didn't work for you? You can return it no questions asked? Can we interest you in another? How is Spot? You look great this morning!

Enterprise (at its best) = An emotional, vital, innovative, joyful, creative, entrepreneurial endeavor that elicits maximum concerted human potential in the wholehearted service of others: Employees, Customers, Suppliers, Communities, Owners, and Temporary Partners.

--Tom Peters

Enterprise is all about people; its soul is the basis of others. Enterprise is service. What are your thoughts on the embodiment of enterprise as service to others?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Being Bullish in a Bear Market III





Where are you?

Being Bullish in a Bear Market II
























Sunday, April 20, 2008

Being Bullish in a Bear Market

Yesterday morning my partner, Connor, and I went to one of our housing inspections. During the inspection something became very clear: being bullish in a bear market can net great results. It also became very clear that acting upon your gut based on positioning, preparation and profit is important.

My partner tends to be more conservative than I but he is also quite the contrarian investor. It did not take him very long to see the possibilities in the midst of the nation's housing crises, especially in Michigan, but it sometimes takes my clear voice of reason to dissuade doubt. Here is an email that I sent my partner this morning that I wish to share.

Although Connor and I have know each other for quite a while, there is still a constant need on both of our parts to re-evaluate things, considering all things anew. The email speaks to being bullish in a bear market; it also speaks to stepping out in spite of dissenting external voices. The names have been changed.

Dear Connor,

Sometimes when others, purposefully or not, fill out heads with junk we do not think the best thoughts or make the best decisions. (But often times we come around if it's not too late.) I do not know what was said when you and Hilda spoke during the inspection, but what I could see immediately was a difference in attitude about certain areas. (Hence, my "snobbery" comment in the car.) What was apparent immediately after your extended conversation with Hilda during the inspection, while I had to take other calls, was a somewhat dismissive attitude about certain areas where the houses were owned by minorities.

Now, I have always known that Hilda had some issues in this regard. This was the puzzling thing about my friend, Bella, who passed last year whom we both loved dearly. Bella remained close to Hilda, though she was very much different. We may understand something about someone but look for the best in them. This I try to do also. I brought Hilda into our investment process in the spirit of our beloved mutual friend, Bella. As you know, I have been out of the real estate business for some years now and thought that she could write up the purchasing agreements without signing an exclusive agency with her. This way we can keep our options open.

I know the real estate business well and we need her only to show the houses that I have found and write the offers. But it appears that she cannot even do this. Taking a week vacation without assigning someone in the office to negotiate our deals was not acceptable. Since Bella's passing, Hilda's business, by her own admission, has plummeted. I understand this. Bella was the genius and charm behind their partnership. I learned many of my sales techniques from watching her and joining her for social events. I wish you could have met her.

Seasoned real estate agents of Hilda's age (she's almost 70) have a way or redlining that is quite subtle but downright scary. (I have seen this in action myself in the swank real estate office in Birmingham in which I worked part-time those many years.) The bad thing about this is that Hilda herself, though she lives in Birmingham in a very modest house, bordering Royal Oak, struggles herself, especially since the passing of Bella. The house is quite cute with a little red door. You know, adding a red door adds to the prestige of any house. Right?

Hilda does not have much and neither do any of her children. (This is not a putdown, but rather a fact in light of her snobbery about the area in which we wish to invest.) Hence, her strong suggestion to you about her mechanic son who cannot keep a job but who, nonetheless, do what you do. Not! The last I checked you were a senior executive engineer with a Fortune 500 with a MBA from a prestigious school with great investment successes. Her son has most certainly not accomplished these things. God bless him, nonetheless.

Hilda's attitude also displays a real arrogance that does not serve us best in economic terms. Her comment about the other houses not meeting our standard because of the area they were in is not so. This is a solid middle class community that has been affected by the housing market. (In fact, we found 30 houses in Birmingham last week within three blocks.) Where will these people live? Where will those live who have lost their homes? Will they be able to get credit anytime soon? They haven't lost their jobs? What about the displacement of children in the community during the school year? Will they not make payments like those a couple of miles down the road?

Hilda has very little zing and business scruples. Years in the business do not necessarily render expertise. Weak ones, after dropping the ball, do not apologize forthrightly for having done so but will often seek to displace their lack, often sublty depositing fear in order to elevate their postion and standing. This will not happen. We don't need this. I know the current housing market well and this community in particular. I say we charge ahead as planned being bullish in this bear market!

It is always better to handle business appropriately and timely the first time than lame conjectures the second time around that is not sound economically. This is why I hit her hard on several occasions yesterday to let her know that in no uncertain terms will she step over her simple boundary. I tried to be kind in my words. It is not my objective to make her feel bad. But it is my objective to win, looking after our best interest. If she would have just done her job effectively, she too would have benefited, not only with this deal, but the many that will come after. By the way, after this deal, she's out!

Injecting subtle fear tactics (though wisdom is always in order in investing) and being snobbish will not put money in our pockets or provide a great product! Neither will fear of certain areas based on the ethnicity of its people. My first real estate mentor, Cheryl Ann, the self-proclaimed "southern baptist deeply rooted red head hillbilly blue-collar multi-millionaire," who dropped forty thousand or so monthly in cash at the Casino, understood this well! She is brilliant, action-oriented, and brave.

Instinctively Cheryl Ann knew that being bullish in a bear market paid big. She bought nearly 30 houses in the depressed housing market of the 1970s. My years with her were more relevant than the ones I spent in the swank Birmingham office. In fact, she would say to me, "Judith, those people up there don't know what the hell they're doing. Should we compare bank accounts and investments?" Her multiple properties were in various communities ranging from upper to lower; some of the areas were indeed not the best.

Cheryl Ann also leased her homes and sold them on land contracts to anybody who could pay, not asking a lot of questions about credit and work history. She did, however, get the potential renter's or homebuyer's place of employment, number and address. She also insisted upon three references. She owned the houses free and clear and if the homeowner defaulted on the land contract she did not care much; she would then call the cleaning crew in to get the house ready for new occupants. Cheryl Ann made tons of cash each and every month that the likes of likes of Hilda will never make! Though, I wish her well.

The neighborhood that we visited after the inspection was a great neighborhood, though this particular area is predominately African American. I say "though" here for there is still the notion in some places that African Americans will bring the neighborhood down upon arriving in a community. This is not so but neither should this be a problem because money has no color, save green. Wall Street understands this well. Wall Street also understands that African Americans spend twice as much as white Americans even when they make less. Those who are striving to put the best face forward will often spend needlessly no matter the ethnicity.

While I'm not proud of the fact that African Americans are great spenders, it is very much the truth. Why don't we offer them and all others a respect, an equitable contract, good housing, and competitive housing leases and interest rates on our land contracts? We can make a bundle in this market if we're bullish at providing valuable housing and services! Cheryl Ann was a stickler for getting what she wanted while providing well maintained properties for her tenants and homebuyers. She drove a hard bargain and was quite successful. I watched her in action for years and learned a ton!

This is not a lesson on fairness or the virtues of equality only, but a lesson in how to make some loot in this bear market! It is a lesson on how to beat a system that tries to beat you. It is a lesson on putting aside the snide suggestive comments of others in order to see the larger picture. It is also a lesson on being very aware who deposits into our lives.

This note is one on buying and selling in a bear market with the bull charging ahead! It is also a lesson on being aware of what and whom are influencing you. Subtleties are dangerous things. Beware. You have taught me much over these years and I value your words immensely, as I know you value mine. I am also very aware of my role in our partnership which includes seeing beyond the obvious to make better decisions. Now is the time for us to really do some extraordinary things in these extraordinary times. I think a very astute man once told me these exact words recently, one whom I greatly respect in business.

Our vision these past months are not the stuff of pipe dreams or thoughtless investments; they are the stuff of reality, with the potential of great rewards. Cheryl Ann bought the bulk of her homes in the 70s when she was strapped for cash, striking while the market was hot. We are in a much better position than she was then. Let's continue to be bullish in this bear market with our planned agenda. Let's continue to strike while the iron is hot and use judgement and wisdom, not fear, to temper ourselves and to choose areas from an array of communities. My bet remains in Oak Park where there is diversity and a strata of solid middle class incomes. Between the two of us, we will not go astray! The time is sooooooo right! In the spirit of the aforementioned man whom I respect greatly, let's monetize! And I'd like to add let's provide valuable service and a sense of dignity for all.


Are you being bullish in this bear market? How might you do so in relevant ways that will benefit you and your customers? What are you thinking? Are you thinking possibilites?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Being in Purpose

What I cannot see I cannot be.

What I will not hear I will not see.

What I will not fashion will not fashion me.

What I will not say will never be.

Being in purpose is seeing, hearing,

fashioning and saying that which is me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Being in the Best Interest of Self

Here comes a rather obvious question: have you ever been irate about bad customer service when all you want to do is buy a product? Have you ever been incensed by poor treatment when a simple apology would have alleviated your anger? When corporations or customer service reps would just own up to their mistakes or apologize for our troubles, it is so much easier to let it slide. It also easier to let some things slide when your best interest is at risk. When I'm particularly annoyed about a thing, I can't tell you how those three little words, I am sorry, can resolve a great many issues or at the least the potential for bad feelings. Not that the problem would be fixed immediately, but it does calm a live nerve and the despondent can move forward in relative peace, perhaps even moving forward with purchasing the product. But when an apology isn't offered, when you are made to feel that their problem is yours, what then?

Just the other day I longed for those three words but was simply not going to hear them. Instead, I had to talk to myself repeatedly on the virtues of understanding and the necessity of what is my best interest here. I was successful with the latter, but not particularly the former. I came across a house for sale the other day and called on it. The well-known listing agent has 200 or something houses in this terrible market in Michigan and had to contract the showings out to other buyer’s agent, not being able to show so many houses. Because my partner and I want the option of working directly with the listing agent to perhaps get the best deal (their commission would be 6% for dual agency instead of 3%) and ascertain the best knowledge of the house, we had not signed an exclusive agency with no one particular agent.

Well, I called this top producing listing agent and was told to call Eleanor, her buyer's agent. I made my dutiful call to the agent who promptly wanted to get all of my "information" as if I had already seen the house and wanted to purchase it that very second. (I was already a little miffed by not being able to speak with the listing agent, as my whole idea was to have her sell me the house directly.) I halted Eleanor in mid stream, telling her that I had not seen the house yet and the information requested was premature. She went on to tell me that she had to get this information before showing the house to find out whether I was a serious buyer and if it was worth her trip to show it to me. What? This put me in a rather foul mood immediately.

Trying to alleviate her concerns, I told her that my partner and I (in our side business) had just recently bought a house for cash and had just yesterday put in three cash offers. This did not move her at all. She continued bombarding me questions and telling me about the price of gas and that she could not "risk" coming out and showing me the house without the requested information. She wanted everything except my bank account card with pin for immediate withdrawal and my social security number to check my FICA scores. She herself was acting in a dual role as agent and mortgage broker. But I didn't need a mortgage!

I tried to reason with the buyer's agent because I really wanted the house, telling her that while I appreciated her time and understood the high gas prices, as a buyer, I needed to see the house before giving such information. (It would not have even been wise to give this woman whom I've never met the requested information.) She proceeded to go on and on about the necessity of the information and continued with the now all to familiar line about the price of gas and her invaluable time, now wasted in about a 15 minutes of unnecessary conversation. Has it gotten this bad for agents out there? Perhaps so, but the more reason to hustle, the more reason to be amenable. I tried to be reasonable, but I was incensed. In fact, I was quite irate. I did manage, however, to hold to a certain amount of dignity. I continued trying to reason with her but instead was rebuffed with her own agenda. I then lost my cool.

Angrily, I informed her that I would call the listing agent to request a showing. She quickly retorted that there was no way she could even show me the house, seeing that she has so many. Before hanging up she said, "Ms. S will never show you that house and it's obvious you're not a serious buyers." Had I not told her that I just purchased one house recently and that I had just put in three offers the day before? As she hung up the phone she fumed, "what a bitch!" I could not believe my ears. All I wanted to do was to call the listing agent, have her or someone from her office show me the house, and put a cash offer to purchase it...IF I liked what I saw. But this was apparently too much to ask. This listing agent had to contract buyers agents who had to first find out where I worked, if I had a certain amount of money in my account, and whether I was really in the market to buy a home all before showing the house. Maddening! Did I not initiate the call?

I phone the listing agent back to tell her of my dismal experience and got her assistance. She was no better. I relayed the experience to the assistant and asked if the listing agent could call me back. I could hear the agent in the background wheeling and dealing before being placed on hold. I was on hold for about 10 minutes or so before the assistant came back informing me that the listing agent could not accept my call momentarily and that it is up to the buyer's agent how she handles her business. “With whom is the house listed,” I shot back? “And is your boss best representing her clients,” I continued? The response: "we have over 200 homes and there is no way that Ms. S can show every house and address every complaint." I was livid. "Does she not care about her business or her contracted buyer's agents showing her houses," I asked? "Does the Century 21 not care about how they are being represented in this buyer's market?" The assistant responded, "how the buyer's agent handles her business is not our business. You could see the house with your agent if you'd like and you can make a formal complaint with our broker."

It was apparent that Ms. S and her staff could care less if I bought that house, or seemingly the other 20 that I am in the market to buy. She has 200 others and whether I bought this one or 20 others seemed irrelevant. She was undoubtedly didn't need my money and seemed impervious to my concern. I appeared rather insignificant. This was not a good feeling. There has been two days since I made this call and I am still determining if I would even make a call to the manager of Century 21. It would probably do no good at all. They would undoubtedly care more about their top producer than one person who is, by the way, in the market to purchase quite a few homes beyond the 20 that I told them of without a mortgage. (And since banks are having such a liquidity problem, we thought our money would be good there...obviously not, at least in the view of these agents.) Having been so blatantly disregarded by the listing agent, her buyer’s agent and her assistant, the broker would undoubtedly be unmoved too. I was very angry.

Had the listing agent simply gotten on the phone, had another buyer's agent phone me, or called me back to apologize the matter would have been resolved quickly. I thought that I would deal directly with the listing agent, apparently in this case, this was not good. I did go and see the house yesterday with a broker friend. I waited a day to calm down and reason with myself. Had it not been in my best interest, I would have vowed to never deal with this listing agent or Century 21 ever again. But it was not in my best interest as I saw it and did the next best thing: I put in an offer with a broker friend to purchase the house. Maybe our best interest is the problem. Maybe nothing will change if we always thinking of our best interest. I'm sure this has happened to others but because it was not in their best interest, handled it as I did, not dealing with the issue itself. I guess there is also the most important issue of choosing your battles. The battle I chose was not to release any of my personal information to the broker, but chose not to battle with the listing agent or her broker, Century 21.

How would you have handled this situation? Is acting in our best interest a cumulative problem?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Being of Service

The importance of being of service in business is certainly not new. But how we serve, our motive for service, should be looked at anew. With our increasingly global economy, with new markets opening through innovative technology, service is becoming an even more integral part of why we do what we do.

Companies whose focus is service are undoubtedly in greater demand. Our increasing technological innovations from off-shore call centers to online interactive help aides to registering for airline tickets and hotels beg the question of service in our global economy. What is our motive for service? How can we best serve others? Who are some of the great examples of service and why?

The greatest example of service to me is Christ. His motive was for others, though his mission brought others to him. He spoke of service to others as not being connected with the desire to draw attention to himself, but one of being of service to others disconnected from the sole purpose of self-serving promotion. The "sole" here is necessary, as it is abundantly clear in scripture that Christ well positioned himself for recognition.

Recognition was not Christ's main purpose, but it was most certainly vital to his ministry on earth. His very statements alone brought attention to himself as well as his telling those to whom he brought miraculous healing not to tell of them. Who do you know, after being healed of such present diseases as AIDS or terminal cancer, would not tell of it? Not many, if any. Seeking recognition was by no means his raison d'etre, but recognition was vital to his cause. His mission statement was one of service. Christ said, "I am among you as One who serves." Service brought him recognition.

The distinction of being of service is the motive of drawing and the reason for being. It is the difference of drawing others to be as opposed to being to draw others. It is not that we do not prepare for how our service will impact us or our business, but it is our motive of being of service for others that distinguishes. It is our initiation of strategy and implementation of service that matters. Being for others, in fact, draws others to us.

Christ understood well that we often consider our personal position when serving others and not necessarily those whom we will serve. Strategy and implementation of service is often initiated by how it will most benefit us, as opposed to those whom we will serve. Service is not often about the other, but about us. While the focus of service should be about others, the result directly benefits us.

In Luke 22: 24-27 Christ's disciples wanted to know who among them would most benefit from their acts of service. They wanted to know who would be the greatest in his circle, as if the reward of service is greater than the act of service itself. Christ thought otherwise. Here is the scene:

"Now there was a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.

And He said to them, 'The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors.

But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.

For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves."

As those in business, our reason of being should be to serve. When we have served well we will have met the needs of our clients. When we have served well our rewards will be great. When we have served well our name will be known. When we have served well recognition follows. When we have served well others will seek us out. The key is being of service to others and not soley for ourselves.

What are your thoughts on service? I'd love to hear any stories.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Being Joyous Inspite of All Appearances

There is something about maintaining joy at the appearance of endless calamity.

There is something about keeping the faith amidst gloom and doom.

There is something about smiling when others around you are frowning.

There is something about speaking hope when others are speaking despair.

There is something about arising peaceful after an unrestful night of uncertainty.

There is something about showing love when hate appears more likely.

Being joyous inspite of all appearances requires action.

Act now for a joyous present and a hilarious imminent future.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Being in the Circle of Life III

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being in seven ages.

Acts Redefined

Act 1: Infant
Begin again. What have you begun lately?

Act 2: Whining Adolescent
Arrest complacency and unwillingness. What are you curious about?

Act 3: Lover
Rekindle the passion within which lights the passion without. Are you in pursuit of excellence?

Act 4: Solider
Swear by nothing; seek consensus. But what would you die for?

Act 5: Judge
Use uncommon wisdom and understanding void of arrogance and pretentiousness. How do you lead?

Act 6: Pantaloon
Vitality lessens; live anyhow through continuous creation not re-appropriation. Have you become a caricature of you?

Act 7: Ending
The end is the beginning again. From nothingness to creation. And then back again.

Being in the Circle of Life is created by our daily actions through work that matters. What matters most to you?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Being in the Circle of Life II

It can be posited that we create meaning through being. Our mere existing is being. But on a much deeper level, in a more significant way, we ourselves create being. This creation is meaning. Existing itself does not create meaning. Meaning is derived from the work we do every day. This is work that matters most. I work therefore I am.

The ideas in "All the World's a Stage" are not novel; they are eternal, forever thought-provoking in creating being, in creating work that matters. What matters most is the creation of being through performance. But performance is influenced by many factors such as the audience, ambitions, aspirations, dialogue, inspiration and value. As "All the World's a Stage," there are always others who are watching us, even when we are unaware.

Because we are forever on stage, these things, though seemingly insignificant, matter: our tone of voice, the kindness in our eyes, the warmth around the corner of our mouths, the encouraging of others, the hope in our step, the passion of our efforts, the judgelessness of our squint, the light of introspection, the gentleness of our stride, the determination of purpose, the welcoming of extended hands, the strength of our character, the embracing of all others, the intensity in which we seek solutions...

Work that matters most does not simply include what we do but how we do it. As "All the World's a Stage," others are influenced by our actions. Our conscious understanding that both what we do and how we do it then becomes increasingly more important. Our actions affect everything else. Everything is everything. Vibes are released into the world that cannot be recaptured, though they can be overridden by forthwith improved continuous actions. "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."

In the circle of life, I work therefore I am. Work that matters most constitutes being.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Being in the Circle of Life

William Shakespeare-All the World's a Stage (from As You Like It )

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

What is the significance of these lines in doing work that matters every day?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Being is Believing

On this day, the day of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I believe that his hope of unity is more possible in our country and in the world more than ever before. Hope calls for peace. Hope embraces change. Hope defers to others. Hope is beautiful. YES, WE CAN!

Being is believing the many possibilities of our very existence. It is the immediacy of change. Being is believing the imminent forever hopeful possibility of change. It is forever present, though perhaps not seen. It is the fulling of Dr. King's most beautiful "Dream." Being is believing all things are possible if we believe. Being is believing: YES, WE CAN!

Being is believing: YES, THEY CAN!

Being is believing the hope that does not disappoint.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Being Relevant in Marketing in the 21st Century with an 18th Century Spin

With a recent discussion on the negativity of snide advertising online, I thought about the relation between marketing and the theater. How is marketing similar to the theater today? Is marketing dialogue similar to the theater? As in the theater, there are a many people involved in the creation and response of marketing.

In the theater there are performers, make-up artists, writers, lighting technicians, audience members, etc. In marketing there are designers, technology professionals, researchers, advertising specialists, customers, etc. Customers participate in the dialoge for marketing strategies, but do not create marketing. Audience members in the theater used to participate in performance, creating a sort of improvisational performance dialogue, but no longer do.

There is the actual creative process of marketing (of creating an ad, for example) that customer has no awareness of, but the marketing team does. The initial process, in fact, involves the customer. The dialogue is created response to the marketing. The good marketing team, then, is both internal and external viewing and acting upon the consciousness of the customer wholly. The general public is indeed savvy and aware (rejecting or accepting a product) and their response is key to the success of marketing. But they are probably not aware of the ins and outs of the process.

I love movies and the process of movie making. So, when I go into the theater all aspects of the movie intrigue me. I am aware of the lighting, script, music, sound affects, and skill of the actor or lack thereof; I am aware of the process that involves the whole. Many moviegoers undoubtedly have similar experiences. But I would venture to suspect that most go into the theater and let the movie wash over them, simply emoting or experiencing the film in the moment.

A good marketing team sees the movie beforehand, experiences it in the now, and makes adjustments based upon the responses of the customer in data collected. I see the marketing team as the moviegoer who is very much aware of all aspects of the movie as both the creator and spectator, as apposed to the general public who simply go to the theater for the experience alone. The marketing team then becomes both internal and external in the marketing process.

Perhaps the analogy of a live 18th century performance would be better than the movies in describing dialogue which is by nature interactive. Spectators in 18th century theater actually had immediate input in the very performance; performers had to improvise on the spot in order to hold the audience’s attention and avoid rancid fruit and vegetables being hurled at them.

With technology, there may even become a time, if not already, that this immediate interactive approach to marketing will be a norm—though perhaps not as brutal. Imagine as a performer bracing for such immediate response of displeasure? Would this affect the performance for the better or worst? To silence an audience with pleasing music performers would improvise, even composing completely new pieces on the spot. This was a successful night at the theater in the 18th Century.

Could a sense of this kind of immediacy be relevant to current marketing? Innovation, quickness and foresight are needed in the creation and re-creation of marketing strategies that are based on the response of many. Sales persons, customers and technical support teams will all have a response in the dialogue. But somebody has to synthesize all of the responses. Is this not the marketing team? Monologues and internal brand-exploration is simply the initial ideas of individuals of the marketing team prior to synthesis. It is not good to try to synthesize before understanding the differences and similarities of thoughts and ideas; this is what dialogue addresses.

Dialogue addresses the difference and similarities to bring about consensus of marketing. Engaging the audience, allowing for dialogue and interaction, is inclusive. This is altogether lovely. The best marketing and branding is inclusive, not necessarily all encompassing but allowing for dialogue.

Does dialogue in marketing and branding include words alone? The best dialogue is probably that which is created by the team, influenced by customers, and responded in kind through sales. This may be the best kind of dialogue in marketing and branding.Dialogue is the relationship between you and your customers. What kind of dialogue are you having with your customers? Is it relevant? Does it result in innovative useful services and products? How are the sales?