March 30, 2012

Being One Doesn't Necessarily Mean You Are The Other

"Aspire to be a hero than merely appear one."

Baltasar Gracian
17th century Spanish philosopher

Substitute "great manager" for hero and it works in business as well.

However understand that being promoted to manager is not all that difficult whereas earning the adjective "great" in front of the title is.

March 29, 2012

"It Was Good Enough For My Grandfather . . ."

"To look back to antiquity is one thing, to go back to it is another."

Charles Caleb Colton
18th century British clergy

Much can and should be learned from the past and not just when it comes to retro design in automobiles.

And as George Santayana ominously suggested, "Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it."

However there is a very fine line between learning from and continuing to live as we once did, no matter how successful that approach might have been.

Whether you be an employee or an employer, is your focus primarily past, present, or future?

They are not supposed to be the same.

March 28, 2012

Move On!

"How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win."

Gilbert Keith Chesterton
19th/20th century British  author

Because too much time spent lamenting those losses keeps you from planning future victories.

March 27, 2012

Forgive And Forget?

"If I die, I forgive you.  If I live we shall see."

Spanish proverb

If you actually die, why not, you're not around to suffer the consequences of whatever wrong was done to you.

But what about in business where "death" means many things other than actually dying?

March 26, 2012

Them, NOT Me!

"Much ado about nothing."

William Shakespeare
16th century British playwright/poet

How much of what you do at work does this describe?

How about those you work with?

March 23, 2012

Are We There Yet?

"The end is never as satisfying as the journey."


An abbreviation of a longer quote with the deleted portion making the point why this is true.

But why aside, do you agree with this much?

Whatever level of business and point in your career you are at, if you could would you "wave the magic wand" and put yourself at what you now consider to be the best possible conclusion?

Think carefully.

March 22, 2012

March 21, 2012

Division Of Labor

"The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them."

Robert Frost
Late 19th century/early 20th century American poet

An entertaining if not somewhat jaded view of the world.

Is that how you see things where you work?

March 20, 2012

(Fill In The Blank) vs. Fast

"A good and faithful judge always prefers the honorable to the expedient."

1st century BC Latin poet

Substitute any number of adjectives for "honorable" and this works in many situations.

Accurate, correct, fair, efficient, timely, effective, etc.

All and more like them, qualities we should emphasize in business more than expedient.

March 19, 2012

United We Stand? We'll Decide That

"Any unity which doesn't have its origins in the multitudes is tyranny."

Blaise Pascal
17th century French mathematician/philosopher

True unity must come from those who are to be unified; you can't force unity on them.

As a manager can you order your direct reports to work together?


Will they?

It's your job to see that they decide they want to.

March 16, 2012

Maybe Tomorrow

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

William James
19th century American philosopher/psychologist

Nor as inefficient in the use of resources.

Have you ever considered how much of your company's time and money is wasted by not completing important tasks as soon as possible?

March 15, 2012

Too Much Talk, Is

"A dog that barks much is never a good hunter."


Think, plan, discuss, talk, even bark if you will, but above all else, do.

March 14, 2012

I Wonder

"All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance."

Samuel Johnson
18th century British author
photo by Will Koffel

A "wonderful" thing already seems identified as good whereas something I wonder about does not necessarily.

It might one day be but until I declare it wonderful . . .

Given all the uncertainty (ignorance) in our business lives, do you employ process to categorize things as wonderful versus those you should wonder about?

Identifying the presence or absence of novelty relative to what you don't understand may be where you start.

That's pretty wonderful.

March 13, 2012

Do You Believe That?

"The privilege of absurdity; to which no living creature is subject, but man only."

Thomas Hobbs
17th century British philosopher

Just to pick this nit a bit, I could argue that absurdity is in the eye of the beholder.

For example "cleaning" oneself with one's tongue, behavior common to many animals, strikes me as pretty absurd.

Did you ever get the sense that Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, Sir Richard Branson, and others like them, were absurd?

Or do we only ascribe absurdity to those who fail doing what the rest of us see as outlandish?

If so, how absurd!

March 12, 2012

Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

"It's all right to rat, but you can't re-rat."

Winston Churchill
20th century British politician

I like this quote, partly because it is a subject expressed in a way I would not have associated with Winston Churchill.

All the more reason his point hits home.

He's talking about betrayal.

When it comes to business, do you agree?

March 09, 2012

I Hope You (Yawn) Buy My Product

"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."

Henry David Thoreau
19th century American naturalist/philosopher

As is true of many of the Business Wisdom quotes, this was intended for individuals, not companies.

But it applies don't you think?

At the heart of every business is a customer and if you can't be enthusiastic about what you want to sell them, how can you expect them to be?

March 08, 2012

Just Think What I Could Do If I Could Only Get This To Work!

"Technology does not drive change it enables change."


I thought this would be appropriate, one day after the introduction of iPad 3.

Of course there are those who believe that technology does little if anything to facilitate positive change; a view I myself have enthusiastically subscribed to while waiting on hold for some tech support agent to take my call.

What do you think?

Thumbs up or down for technology as a change enabler?

March 07, 2012

Imagine Tomorrow

"The quality of the imagination is to flow and not to freeze."

Ralph Waldo Emerson
19th century American poet/essayist
and namesake of my elementary school

Everything is business comes from imagination.

Without it you will not succeed but if you do you will ultimately fail if you do not continually reinvent what and how you do what you do.

While some of the "wisdom" contained within these quotes is debatable, this is not.

March 06, 2012

Your Worst Employee?

"If you want to manage someone, manage yourself."



It is our ego that prevents us from seeing our own weaknesses, but they are there nonetheless.

Regardless of whether or not you currently manage anyone, start managing yourself and you and those you work with will be much better off that you did.

March 05, 2012

Can I Help You?

"When a person is down in the world, an ounce of help is better than a pound of preaching."

Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton
19th century English politician

There is a time and place for lecturing, preaching to employees, but sometimes the more effective alternative is to simply help.

But as I often ask, how do we balance the need for each, particularly in those situations when there are many more employees needing help than we have time to give?

March 02, 2012

Best Of All, Months Of Eye Blinking

"There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis."


Malcolm Gladwell

Yes, but the reverse is true as well and in neither case is the outcome certain.

The best of all worlds is a mind capable of operating on either level.

March 01, 2012

I'm Not Kidding!

 "Wit is more often a shield than a lance."


Humor plays a central role in business with the result of it depending on timing and the balance between there being too much or too little.

How conscious are you in your use of humor?

This is no laughing matter.