December 30, 2011

You Want? You've Got To Give

"Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer."

Ralph Waldo Emerson
19th century American poet/essayist

Mr. Emerson's possibly unintended comment on social welfare programs?

December 29, 2011

Now Let Me Show You How It's Done

"I invent nothing, I rediscover."

Auguste Rodin
Late 19th, early 20th century French sculptor

Have you ever noticed how new management often throws out all that was in place before they assumed control?

Why is that?

December 28, 2011

From Dreams To Reality

"The dream was always running ahead of me.  To catch up with it, to live for a moment with it in unison, that was the miracle."

Anais Nin
20th century French/Cuban author

This should be the goal for all of us, both in our personal and professional lives.

Too much dream, not enough reality, and nothing gets done.

And the reverse is too boring to contemplate.

Ms. Nin is new to me and now that I've discovered her and like what she has to say, I will look for more of her works.

And the fact that we share a birthday is an added plus.  Us dreamer Pisces must stick together.

December 27, 2011


"Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences."

19th century Scottish novelist

To what extent if at all do you consider the consequences of your management decisions?

I'm not talking about the chance for success.

I mean the impact of your decisions on those who report to you.

December 26, 2011

An Attitude, But Which One?

"So of cheerfulness, or a good temper, the more it is spent the more it remains."

Ralph Waldo Emerson
19th century American poet/essayist

Sounds like Mr. Emerson thinks being cheerful, of good temper, is a good thing.

Do you?

In business as in one's personal life?

December 23, 2011

In The Beginning

"Even for practical purposes theory generally turns out the most important thing in the end."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Late 19th, early 20th century American jurist

And as part of "generally" I will take the liberty of including business.

You must start somewhere and in absence of anything else, a theory is an excellent place to begin.

December 22, 2011

Too Much Technology Never Is?

"Technological progress is like an ax in the hands of a pathological criminal."

Albert Einstein
20th century German/Swiss/US scientist

Coming from anyone else I might just chalk this up to being technology adverse, but from Mr. Einstein?

I believe but don't know for certain that he may have been over-generalizing about the ill effects of technology for the sake of technology.

How do you decide how much technology your business needs?

December 21, 2011

The Unseen Prejudice

"All the people like us are WE, and everyone else is THEY."

Rudyard Kipling
19th/20th century British writer

You may feel this way even though you profess otherwise, possibly without even knowing you do.

If so and your job is marketing or sales . . .

December 20, 2011

Let's Shake On It

"By the time a partnership has dissolved, it has dissolved."

John Updike
20th century American writer

Like marriages, business partnerships are relatively easily to enter with termination consequences that often ends the business as well.

Be careful!

December 19, 2011

Not Your Problem?

"The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down, and requires to be constantly wound up."

William Hazlitt
Early 19th century British essayist

The job you need done may be repetitious but at some point the person doing it will be less effective because it is, unless you do something to help them.

What, if anything, would that be?

December 16, 2011

At The Heart Of Every Labor Negotiation

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Karl Marx
19th century German philosopher/political economist

What if anything do you think this 1875 quote has to do with economics in the world today?

What about your business?

Don't know, don't care?

You need to, you REALLY need to.

December 15, 2011

Information For What Purpose?

"Kings have many ears and eyes."


But the important question is, what do they do with them?

Being kings they can gather information to keep their subjects in check, or they can do so to learn what they must do to be the best king possible.

If you are a CEO, VP, manager, etc., what do you do?

December 14, 2011

My Bad

"A man's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart, and his next to escape the censures of the world."

Joseph Addison
18th century English essayists/poet

Do you identify and "own" your mistakes before or after others do?

It will be one or the other.

December 13, 2011

Enough To Let Them Hang Themselves?

"The first mistake are theirs who commit them, the second are theirs who permit them."


Along the lines of "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me".

Increasingly management does not have the luxury of being fooled even the first time.

How much "rope" do you let out?

December 12, 2011

I Can Explain!

"The accidental reveals man."

Pablo Picasso
20th century Spanish painter

Accidents do happen but if you find you are often explaining your failures as being the result of things beyond your control . . .

Whether stated clearly as such or not, one of management's greatest responsibilities is to reduce "accidents".

December 09, 2011

(Is It) All In Your Mind(?)

"The pain of the mind is worse than the pain of the body."

Publilius Syrus
1st century BC Roman writer/poet


I've never experienced a physical pain that could make itself worse than it was meant to be, however my mind has done so.

How (do) you check the validity of what your mind is telling you?

December 08, 2011

There Are Two Ways To Look At It

"My sun sets to rise again."

Robert Browning
19th century British poet

The more common reference to optimism, "my glass is half full."

Why did your sun go down?

December 07, 2011

"Win" And You Just Might Lose

"The desire to conquer is itself a sort of subjection."

George Eliot
19th century British writer

And he's not referring to whomever or whatever you wish to conquer.

He means you.

Is it more important to win or achieve your goals?

They're often not the same.

December 06, 2011

Is Everything Old, New Again?

"All cases are unique and very similar to others."

T.S. Eliot
20th century American-English poet, playwright

Look for completely new ideas.

Create new variants from that which already exists.

Which works best for you?

December 05, 2011

"The Copy Machine's Down"

"A little neglect may breed great mischief."

Benjamin Franklin
18th century American statesman, scientist, philosopher

And this includes everything in business, both the obvious as well as well as the less obvious.

Neglect your copy machines and people at your own peril.

December 02, 2011

Who Are You?

"Nationalist pride, like other variants of pride, can be a substitute for self-respect."

Eric Hoffer
20th century American philosopher/author

And the equivalent in business would be what, pride in one's company?

I am not suggesting that large numbers of those who work for companies with well known/respected brands have no self-respect.

Were that the case the brands would not be successful.

But you do meet a lot of people who, when asked what they do, answer with a title prominently focused on the company brand as opposed to them as individuals.

Individual self-respect first or nothing good will follow for the company.

December 01, 2011

Philosophically Speaking . . .

"Many talk like philosophers but act like fools."


Most likely, we all do at one time or another, hopefully by accident rather than purposely.

But you still need philosophy in your approach to business.

What's yours?

November 30, 2011

The Job Won't Kill You But The Boredom Might

"Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it."

5th century BC founder of Buddhism

I would imagine this is hard to imagine for those who really don't like their jobs.

If that's you, the problem is you are simply doing your job and never really discovered what that job should be.

They call it "work" but it doesn't always have to be.

November 29, 2011

The Teaching Manager

"Who can direct when all pretend to know?"

Oliver Goldsmith
18th century Irish writer/poet

Why would employees "pretend to know"?

They might if management expected them to know even when that expectation is unreasonable.

Discover what needs to be learned and then teach it.

November 28, 2011

Truth Or Consequences

"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies."

Friedrich Nietzsche
19th century German-Swiss writer/philosopher

Because the liar knows they are lying and may be persuaded not to, but those things held as irrefutable are more difficult to expose given the veneer of truth.

Have your convictions but understand the difference between them and a potentially different reality.

November 25, 2011

Knowing the Difference

"Though wisdom cannot be gotten for gold, still less can be gotten without it."

Samuel Butler
17th century British poet

That's the easy part, the hard part is deciding what is and is not "wisdom" (a question I grapple with in BW 5 days a week.)

How do you decide?

November 23, 2011

Being Grateful

"If "thank you" is the only prayer you say, that will be good enough."

Meister Eckhart
13th century German philosopher

This seemed appropriate this day before Thanksgiving.

Thank you for reading and sharing your wisdom in BW.

November 22, 2011

Thank You!

"There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn as in doing it."

4th century BC Roman philosopher

And yet so few people do.

The next time someone helps you find a job, get a promotion, or with some part of your job, thank them.

November 21, 2011

Seeing What Does Not Exist

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge."

Albert Einstein
20th century German-Swiss-US scientist

"Absorbing positive knowledge" implies learning that which already exists, something any number of people could do.

But it is the ability to fantasize constructively that sets a few apart from most.

Almost everything we do as children is original creation, only to fall away the older we get.

How sad.

November 18, 2011

Working To Live Or Living To Work?

"The best work never was and never will be done for money."

John Ruskin
19th century English art critic

Maybe it takes someone from the arts to recognize this.

November 17, 2011

Who Called This Meeting?

"Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything."

John Kenneth Galbraith
20th century Canadian/American economist

I agree with one caveat.

The fault is not with the meeting but with the meeting participants.

Just as in planning, if you don't have a clear agenda and of greater importance, a solid commitment from the participants to take personal responsibility for what happens, nothing good will come from it.

And by the way, all that time wasted in the meeting will continue to be wasted in the participant's personal work space if they don't organize themselves there any better than they did in the meeting.

November 16, 2011

November 15, 2011

Got The Time?

"You are not born of fame if you don't know the value of time."

Marquis de Vauvenargues
18th century French writer

All the talent and resources in the world will amount to little if you lack the time to do what you wish to do.

Waste it now, regret it later.

November 14, 2011

More Than Hope

"The person who lives by hope will die by despair."

Italian proverb

Maybe too extreme, better to add "mostly" before "lives", but either way the message is still clear.

Simply wanting something will not get the job done; you must do everything necessary to achieve your goals.

Take time to think about what that means.

November 11, 2011

I Could Have Told You That!

"Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon or star."

5th century BC Chinese philosopher

A situation made even worse when the ignorant believe they see "moon or stars" when no one else does, and act accordingly.

But how do any of us know for sure that the "light" we think we see is truth?

We celebrate business leaders who take the alternative path and succeed, Steve Jobs being but one obvious example.

And we ridicule those who do exactly the same thing and fail, as if we knew all along that they were wrong.

Somewhere in this is the middle ground of speculative judgement we all should seek to find.

On a completely separate subject, to all those who served our country in the past, or who do so today, thank you!  Have a great Veteran's Day!

November 10, 2011

For Your Sake, Please Read!

This will not be the normal BW post but I hope you will take the time to read nonetheless.  Also, versions of this have appeared on both Facebook and G+ so if you've seen it there no need to reread here.  

Back to normal tomorrow.

Most of you who know me also know I typically do not use social media networks for personal posts; however this will be an exception, one I hope you read and forward to others.

In mid September I was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. As I write this I am now one week beyond successful radical robotic laparoscopic prostatectomy, which, in my doctor’s words, based on the post surgery pathology, was “a cure not a treatment.”

Detected early, as was true in my case, colon, breast, skin, and prostate cancer are all very treatable with excellent prognosis for the future, but there is a catch. You have to discover each of them as early as possible and the responsibility for that largely rests with us as individuals.

I’d like to say I was very diligent but other than having an annual physical, expecting to be told I was healthy, I really didn’t pay much attention. Fortunately for me my primary physician did and noticed a somewhat elevated PSA number just short of a year to the day ahead of my surgery. Had I not gone to see him, had he not browsed my file as we talked about something completely unrelated, I might be telling you a completely different story at some point in the not too distant future.

So what can and should you do?

1. Get very involved in your healthcare. Don’t assume the medical healthcare workers in your life are up-to-the-minute on you and your “numbers” (the results of your annual tests); ask for them and understand what they mean. Be proactive.

2. Pay attention to minor changes in your health and do not hesitate to see your doctor more often than for just an annual physical.

3. Consider supporting any number of organizations whose research may one day benefit you or someone you love. For example, when it comes to prostate cancer Movember (

4. If you or someone you care about is diagnosed with any of the diseases that threaten us all, don’t panic. Seek out knowledge and advice, working in concert with your doctors to find the best solution for you.

My story has a happy ending and I fully appreciate how lucky I am relative to so many, no doubt including some of you now reading this. Looking back I only regret that I was not more aware than lucky and I hope that becomes true for you as well.

November 09, 2011

November 08, 2011

Learning From That Which Does Not Kill Us

"There is no greater misfortune than to not be able to endure misfortune."

English proverb

Maybe there is.

The misfortune that results from not having learned that we can endure misfortune.

November 07, 2011


"Life's heaviest burden is having nothing to carry."


My son asked if I would help an early 20's friend of his, network for a job.

Absolutely; the friend is a well educated all-round great guy who has the misfortune of needing a job in one of the worst economic times any of us can remember.

That got me thinking about doing more than just help in those random one-off situations.

What about establishing an informal, all volunteer, 1 to 1 ("121"), generally but not always older person to younger person, free job mentor program, matching those who need jobs with those who know the people who have the jobs?

Those looking for a job must still prepare themselves with education, training, etc., but those of us with established careers and contacts could proactively open our networks to them, coaching them as needed.  

Approximately 90% of the workforce has a job, which means 1 out of 10 don't.  Why can't the 9 of us who do help the 1 who doesn't?  And this would not be limited to just college graduates; everyone needs something to "carry".

As of now, just a thought but one I intend to act on.  Let me know if you would like to be involved.

Bill Matthies
714 726-2901

November 04, 2011

When All Is Said And Done . . .

"The purpose of a business is to create a customer."

Peter F. Drucker
20th century American business consultant, author, educator

Bordering on but not actually over simplifying what business is about.

November 03, 2011

Instead, How About . . .

"In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might."

Winston Churchill
20th century British statesman

Adaptability is one of the most underrated qualities of management.

Are you?

Enough so?

November 02, 2011

Familiarity Breeds Contempt?

"The people who are absent are the ideal; those who are present seem to be quite common place."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Late 18th, early 19th century German author

As a consultant I sometimes find that clients who hire me, more value my opinion than they do that coming from some of their employees.

I understand I need to make a contribution, and more often than not, I actually do.  

However, taking nothing away from me, there are times when what that is was in-house all along, had senior management only listened to their employees.

November 01, 2011

Only "Own" What Is Yours

"What is not yours always chirps for its master."

Spanish proverb

And this is not just a matter of acting as though a suggestion or idea came from you; it must actually have done so or it will be apparent to others when it did not.

But even if that weren't true (it must be; I don't believe the Spanish would have turned it into a proverb were it not), there is as much if not more gratification to come from supporting the contributions of others.

Particularly if you are management.

October 31, 2011

You Better Do More Than Just "Find" Yourself!

"It is always the same; once you are liberated you are forced to ask who you are."

Jean Baudrillard
20th century French socialist and philosopher

For companies too.

Moreover it is not enough to simply offer a product or service; companies must also define what that is supposed to mean to those they wish to sell to, along with how they will do it.  

Just "being" may be fine in philosophical terms but it doesn't pay the bills in business.

October 28, 2011

Who Do You Trust?

"It is an equal failing to trust everyone and to trust no one."

English proverb

With the sweet spot coming when you determine who falls into which group.

How do you do that?

October 27, 2011

(Even) If It Ain't Broke, Fix It

"Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age."

Ernest Hemingway
20th century American author/adventurer

We all know this is true in our personal lives; the older we get the more risk adverse we become.

But in business as well.

The more successful a company, the longer it has been around, the less likely is management to consider and try new ways.

And in that are the seeds of its downfall.

October 26, 2011

Everyone Says It's A Sure Thing

"In economics the majority is always wrong."

John Kenneth Galbraith
20th century Canadian/American economist

You know what this is saying don't you?

The foundation for your financial business planning more follows minority thinking than it does majority.

Don't go against the grain just because, but at the same time don't follow it for that reason either.

October 25, 2011

The Business of Optimism

"If pleasures are greatest in anticipation, just remember that is also true of trouble."

Elbert Hubbard
19th century American author/editor/publisher

You will get beyond whatever is ahead, good and bad, just as you have every time before.

Every sunny day turns to night, every storm eventually ends. 

Prepare, have faith, keep going.

October 24, 2011

Sooner Is (Much) Better

"Don't wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it."


Another exhortation to be proactive.

And staying with the "ship" analogy, I would add be looking for it before you see it.

You know, early birds, worms and the like.

October 21, 2011

Just A Little More!

"The only failure a man should fear is failing to cleave to the purpose he sees as best."

 George Eliot
19th century British writer

And right behind that would be failing to recognize the need to let go.

But between the two, Mr. Eliot is right; whether it be a professional or personal goal, people give up much to easily.

You want it?  Work for it!