Enlightened Conflict

a pragmatic primer for leading a business

October 6th, 2017

 

ideas thinking group community enjoy the tactic business

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“In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans.

 

Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.”

 

Robert Glover

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“Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

 

—–

Saul D. Alinsky

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So.

 

I was fishing around for some new ways to talk about leading a business <I get old habits new habits forward back progress life choice secretsbored with using the same words and thoughts over and over again> and I came across the Saul Alinsky quote … the second one I used upfront.

 

It resonated with me because I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in some company “forward thinking strategy” meeting discussing how we would expand the business … stretching not only beyond the existing functional strength of the business but also stepping beyond the existing expertise of the employees.

 

This is usually cloaked in the infamous “oh, if we can do this, we can certainly do this” statement … or the even more dangerous “we have always figured it out” mantra.

 

To be clear … progress is always tricky. And leading progress almost even trickier.

 

But, if you want it to be less trickier, ‘feeling secure’ is almost always a great step toward increasing the odds of success.

Now.

You can secure the … well … security … in a number of ways – some reality based and some emotionally charged ways.

 

And that is where Saul Alinsky comes back into the leadership discussion. He big plans ruler universewrote a book called Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals in 1971.   He wrote it as a guide to community organization <uniting “Have-Nots”, in order for them to gain social, political, legal, and economic power>.

 

What I loved about the Rules, beyond the rules themselves, was that Alinsky believed, when organized and directed well, the community can determine & achieve its purpose & goal. That thought, to me, is exactly the attitude a leader attempts to create <supporting a vision offered by the leader> within an organization.

 

What I loved about the Rules is the rules themselves are actually signposts for how to have a company compete in the marketplace.

 

That said.

 

Let me share the rules and some brief thoughts with the rules. The Rules:

 

 

  • “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood.

 

Far too often … despite the fact 99% of businesses unequivocally state “our difference is our people” … a business forgets to actually build their power off of flesh & blood.

watch people behavior what they say and doMoney comes and goes.

Machines and infrastructure does what it does.

 

But people, flesh & blood, is the true power. It pays, as a leader, to never forget that.

 

 

  • “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone.

 

Every business I have been involved with has had an expertise. Uhm. The difficulty is that far too many leaders & managers wish the organization had a different expertise or they aspire to some other expertise.

I, personally, love the thought of isolating a company expertise, consolidating the inside expertise and using it like a battering ram in terms of progress.

People love doing things well and being appreciated for the expertise they have <and not diminished by suggesting they should have another expertise>.

 

 

  • “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty.

 

When I saw this one I almost chuckled. It is so good, so solidly strategically right … and I would guess 95% of businesses never think this way. Oh. They may be happy  identifying a “this is what we are better at than they are” and competing with that in their hip pocket … but I struggle to think of any business I have ever been involved with who has sat down and said “let’s go outside their expertise <and consciously accepting they have an expertise.”

 

Crushing a competitor is always fun but ignoring an opportunity to outflank them is stupid.

 

 

  • “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.

 

rule book leading a company behaviorOk.

 

Here is why I loved this one.

I loved it because bullshit & hollow rhetoric and promises/claims are strewn throughout the business world. I can guarantee, with 95% certainty, I could pick up any business’s vision & strategy & ‘rules of the road’ binder and find a significant amount of hollow shit. What would happen if I consciously attacked one of my competitor’s hollow shit? Make them live up to their own book of rules?

I am chuckling.

 

You would crush them.

You would crush them in two ways:

 

  • External perceptions: everyone knows almost all businesses make hollow promises but get aggravated when it becomes too obvious that the promise really is hollow

 

  • Internal perceptions: almost every employee simply accepts that some of the company rhetoric is bullshit but they accept it because it doesn’t really affect them. But if the hollow rhetoric becomes obvious AND a pain in the ass … discontent grows. Bitching at the water cooler increases.

 

This is an awesome leadership thought.

 

 

  • “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

 

I admit. Ridiculing your competition is fraught with peril. However … having i was not made to be subtle me Brucesome swagger and vocalizing your swagger is … well … infuriating to some competition. It puts pressure on them.

Ridiculing, specifically, what a competitor believes is their most potent weapon will … well … infuriate them.

 

Pick your path wisely … but there is absolutely nothing wrong with swagger, infuriating your competition and putting some pressure on them.

 

 

  • “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones.

 

Far too often some strategic guru envisions some tactic that will be smashingly successful and then attempt to imbue some excitement within the people who will actually do it. I think the best strategic thinkers find tactics that people enjoy AND can be smashingly successful. Unfortunately this is harder than you would think. But nothing really good is easy.

 

 

  • “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news.

 

Amen.

A lesson we forget every day <and should not>.

 

 

  • “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.

 

work value replaced effort smarts businessTactical adaptation is possibly one of the most underrated strategic decisions a business can make. While we talk a good game on this in today’s ‘digital world’ the truth is that most of us chase numbers more than we think about outflanking and expertise advantages. That is kind of the bane of the ‘big data’ world.

 

Numbers are good in judging things but, in the end, people & behavior are not numbers and no matter how good a tactic may appear in a number it can always be replaced.

 

 

  • “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.

 

I am not an empty threat guy, however, ‘power is what the competition thinks you have.’ My point here is not to make shit up and offer empty threats but rather the more you can make a competitor think, and worry, about the wrongs things the better off you are.

 

Stoke their imagination.over thinking mess

Make them have high falutin’ meetings pondering “what if” scenarios.

 

I wouldn’t do this to replace any of the other rules … but in combination?

 

Whew. This is good stuff.

 

 

  • “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

 

Sometimes in today’s business world we treat tactics like spaghetti we throw against the wall and hope something sticks. I am not suggesting a business should invest gobs of energy developing operations to maintain constant pressure in INDIVIDUAL tactics but I am suggesting that strategic tactics tend to coalesce and operations can be developed to support them.

I imagine the real point here is hollow tactics may generate some numbers for you but they don’t really make any dent into the competition <which, inevitably, is the key to leading an industry>.

 

 

  • “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog.

 

I love this thought because, let’s be honest, we have become a mamby pamby business world. What I mean by that is at the first glimpse of any significant negativity we tend to retreat or retrench. Pushing through a negative is not standard operating procedure in a business today.

 

Let me be clear on this one.

If you do Rule #5 well, you will infuriate your competition. An infuriated competitor reacts <usually with some desire to inflict some negative pain> — they will violently react. If you stay the course, maintain your expertise, well … you can push through and own a positive.

More businesses need to remember this.

 

 

  • “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem.

 

the end game overI call this “consolidating a win.”

I cannot tell you how many times <but far too many> I have seen a business “lose after winning.” It is maddening, depressing & demoralizing … and completely avoidable.

Far too many businesses chase the success assuming they will be able to take a breath and take advantage of the success in a relatively timely fashion.

This is where ideas die.

 

In the take-a-breath moment.

 

This happens for a bunch of well-intended reasons … the most likely one is everyone invests their energy on the attack and a successful attack rather than diverting any energy & time to “what do we do when we are successful” other than maybe a framework of ‘what will happen.’

 

Unfortunately … frameworks do not consolidate.

The solution to this is so obvious I scratch my head as to why more businesses do not do it. Businesses always have two basic levels … the outside structure and the inside structure. The outside is the face of the organization and most typically is the one that pushes through and creates the ‘wins.’ The inside operations gets shit done … I have always had an ‘inside operations team’ well briefed and ready to go and insert them into the breach as soon as the win has occurred and have the ‘fresh team’ consolidate.

I could write an entire ‘consolidation strategy’ piece but suffice it to say your business gains value in a number of dimensions by doing it this way.

 

The larger point with this Rule is ‘don’t lose a win by not having a plan for when you win.’

 

 

  • “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

 

Well. Let me share the thought that first hit me on this … “a brand is a promise delivered in the store everyday” <this was The Limited’s phrase>. The point is that a business doesn’t exist if it doesn’t deliver upon what it promises.

 

That said … this is an important rule. As in a REALLY important rule that I bet crushed by objectives short term bludgeon99% of companies do not even think about let alone adhere to. Most businesses target another competitor’s users & customers and go about trying to steal them <persuade them to switch>.

 

Well.

 

What about instead we attacked the company, the support network … the “promise” as it were … and make the people who actually deliver the promise start doubting, or start feeling less than secure, or just “less good about their brand & promise”?

If we did this, we create a gap, isolate as it were, between what the customer thought they wanted and what they perceive they are getting or would get.

 

I love this rule.

 

I admit I had never thought about t this way before … but from here on out it is part of my leadership toolkit.

 

———

 

 

Okay.

 

control goal is to create something that will live together vision Life business

Those are some good rules for business.

 

But you know what?

 

It all comes back to the first Rule and my first quote.

 

Flesh & blood is the real power in any business and … people are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans.

 

Honestly … I don’t think most leaders ignore the fact the people in their organizations are important but I think we don’t elevate them to ‘flesh & blood is the power’ status.

And that is where the Rules come in.

Inherent to each rule, and the success therein, resides with … well … the flesh & blood. That is a pragmatic reminder for leading a business.

 

 

you believe that you are unworthy of care

September 18th, 2017

attention nobody cares gift message relevant

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“As a therapist, let me just say: almost every trauma survivor I’ve ever had has at some point said, ‘But I didn’t have it as bad as some people,’ and then talked about how other types of trauma are worse. Even my most-traumatized, most-abused, most psychologically-injured clients say this.

 

The ones who were cheated on, abandoned, and neglected say this.

The ones who were in dangerous accidents/disasters say this.

 The ones who were horrifyingly sexually abused say this.

The ones who were brutally beaten say this.

The ones who were psychologically tortured for decades say this.

 

What does that tell you?

 

That one of the typical side-effects of trauma is to make you believe that you are unworthy of care. Don’t buy into it, because it’s nonsense. It doesn’t matter if someone else had it ‘worse.’

 

Every person who experiences a trauma deserves to get the attention and care they need to heal from it.”

 

hobbitsaarebas

 

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“It’s true, I suffer a great deal–but do I suffer well? That is the question.”

 

Thérèse de Lisieux

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“… victimization is a way of attracting sympathy, so rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization.”

 

—-

sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning

 

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Whew.

 

still talk about it you care about it trump reporting on oneselfBelieving you are unworthy of care.

I call this “victimhood backlash.”

 

Now.

 

This is different than feeling unworthy of love, respect or … well … unworthy of something or any of that type of thing.

 

In fact.

 

This is actually the exact opposite of a victim mentality.

 

This is when something truly bad has happened to you <you are a real victim of something> and you look around and say “whew, they are the real victims.” In a real sense this person then constructs an extremely viable narrative to suggest that while they are in a shithole … their shithole is nothing compared to some other people’s shithole.

 

This is not self deprecation … it is a sincere feeling that what you did or experienced was closer to ordinary rather than extraordinary.

But.

I say this unequivocally  … even if someone is shrugging off help or maybe even adamantly opposing the help … a hole is a hole and you need help getting out of holes.

 

Someone may not think they are worthy of care, or asking for help … but they need it.

 

Anyway.

 

I have two thoughts on this ‘believing unworthy of care’.

 

First.

 

A hole is a hole.

If you are in a hole, it is a hole.down in a hole layne alice in chains

 

I have written this before … a shithole is a shithole. We are not in the shithole comparison business. All shitholes are dark, deep and often don’t have a visible ladder to get out of the shithole.

 

To me?

 

Horrible is horrible.

A black hole is a black hole.

And while maybe not all holes and abysses are created equal … all seem equally deep, dark & shitty when in one.

This may not be literally true … but figuratively I tend to believe that is how we view it when encountering some shit Life gives us which places us into some dark hole.

 

Second.

 

I do not believe that victimhood is some cultural crisis <the sociologists I highlight upfront do suggest that>.

 

Yeah.

 

The things for which we can publicly accept the fact we were a victim of has certainly increased. This doesn’t mean more shit, and shitholes, have occurred … it is just that it is now more acceptable to admit them and address them.

 

Can this get out of whack? Sure.

 

But a long as someone isn’t creating a shithole and claiming being a victim then .. well … a shithoe is a shithole.

 

I would suggest that we want people who feel like they are n some shithole because they were a victim of something to speak out regardless of whether an falling down the rabbit holeeveryday schmuck like me may look at them and say “c’mon, be real, that’s Life” and maybe we should be focusing on how to better address them when they speak out.

 

We need less pandering and more reality management.  We need less judgement and more dialogue.

 

We need to grow a dialogue culture. Rather than responding to comments or behaviors with less condemnation or judgement and more engagement to engage rather than repel <without increasing victim mentality but rather managing it>.

 

But we do not want anyone at anytime to believe that they are unworthy of care.

 

Anyway.

 

I can almost guarantee almost everyone will either slip into a hole or go crashing into a hole at some point in their Life.

And that person <which means, uhm, everyone> will need help getting out of it.

 

For if you permit someone to linger too long in the hole … well … the abyss will gaze into them. And inevitably find some dark corner in the mind that they will find a place to live, eat and breathe for years and years to come.

 

Just accept what I just said without shrugging or thinking “that’s some bad shit.”

 

<Most> Holes are fine in Life.

 

They are part of Life.stay in the hole

 

Regardless of whether the shithole is incredibly shitty or just basic shit they have the same intended conclusion — you just have to make sure you know how to get out of them.

 

Ah.

Which leads me back to the opening quote.

Someone who believes that they are unworthy of care.

 

I say that because you can spend a lot of time looking around at other shitholes thinking about how to get other people out of their shitholes … all the while ignoring your own shithole, avoiding finding a way out of our own shithole and, maybe the worst, if you gaze long enough into an abyss … anyone’s abyss … it will gaze into you.

 

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“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

 

<Beyond Good and Evil> Friedrich Nietzsche

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Look.

 

I have had this debate a zillion times … the one where you discuss who has it worse.

 

Who is going through tougher times.

Who has actually gone through a tougher time.

Maybe even discussing a bad moment in life as horrible, but always discussing ‘horrible’ relative to other horribleness.

 

pick a hole in the sky and we will all be n troubleAnd while it is most likely true that, regardless of your situation, someone somewhere has it worse than you do … that thought only seems to offer some false comfort nor does it really offer any solutions.

 

To me … comparing bad situations is not only not very helpful but it also tends to suggest the wrong thing to me – “my suffering isn’t equal to your suffering.” Which tends to lead to “I don’t believe I am worthy of care.”

 

Bad. Wrong.

 

I do not believe we should be in the shithole comparison business.

A shit hole is a shithole and anyone in a shithole is just as worth of care as anyone else in a shithole.

 

 

sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream

April 15th, 2017

 American Workers sweat hard hats

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‘In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream …’ It’s a ‘death trap,’ a ‘suicide rap.’

‘I want to guard your dreams and visions.’ ”

 

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run

 

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“This man said that you can move to Greece, live in Greece, but you can’t become a Greek. You can move to Japan, live there, but you can’t become Japanese; or France and become a Frenchman; or German—or become a—all of these things.

But he said, everybody or anybody from any corner of the world can come to America and become an American.”

 

—————–

Ronald Reagan

 

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Ok.

 

I have a piece coming up on globalization but today it is about the American work flintstoneswork ethos and American workers and, I imagine, a view on any version of isolationism <extreme to practical>.

 

I admit.

I find very little appealing in an isolationist concept <any aspect of it> … even the common rhetoric of the day.

 

Simplistically I feel like it suggests we, America, cannot compete globally. In my pea like brain I view it like sports … sports in which almost every home team retains an advantage … despite the same rules, same number of players, same dimensions of the court & field. Mainly it comes down to coaching, ability and , I imagine, pride of home field … uhm … but I still get on a bus and go play away games.

 

I believe it was Ronald Reagan who said ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone.”

 

Which reminds me of how much during American presidential campaign, and even now somewhat, I found it extremely aggravating how we had a bunch of people talking about American workers and American businesses.

work sheep wolf

They all seemed to forget that our ethos is “just do it.”

 

When set free to do the voodoo it does … American business is dynamic, energetic, innovative, can-do and actually gets out there and makes & sells shit.

 

We shouldn’t be impatient because the success is coming fast enough and in our impatience “change the rules” or “hide within our borders” but instead we should use our impatience to invite competition, sweat it out and beat the crap out of them.

 

My impatience? I sometimes get a bit impatient when I hear people moaning about the state of the world and the inevitable “the sky is falling” or “the world is unfair” <pick your poison>.

 

Given an opportunity every generation believes it is tougher for them and will create their own prognostications of doom & gloom and, yet, we are still here and still have the world’s largest economy <and best on a variety of measures>.

 

I am not suggesting there aren’t real business issues and I am not suggesting from a regulatory standpoint there are some tweaks to the system which would enable businesses to improve themselves to compete better <please notice I didn’t say “to constrict the competition” but rather to have us improve to compete>.

 

Isolation goes against every bone in our “just do it” American body & soul.

 

Nike trademarked it but the pilgrims brought it to America. From day one immigrants, with the help of Native Americans, went to work building America … stone by stone … seed by seed … idea by idea … sweat drop by sweat drop.

 

labor american workerAmerica First should never be America Alone.

 

America has never been an individual competition it has always been about a team competition.

 

America First should be earned on the playing field competing against the best of the best and winning <by the way … that defines ‘exceptionalism’>.

 

America should be about building a better engine, building a better race car and running a better race.

 

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”It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes.”

 

——–

Ronald Reagan

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It is aggravating to hear “close the borders” combined with “the world is going to shit” … which all leads to ‘disengage from the world <competition>.’

 

Really?

 

REALLY?

 

What kind of shit response is that?

What kind of “winner” doesn’t want to compete and compete against the best?

 

It seems like we should be investing not in building advantages for ourselves but rather in building a better team. That is where money and energy should be spent.

 

Hire better coaches.

Offer better training programs.

Buy better equipment.

Study better strategies.

Create better plan of attacks.

no substitute for hard work sweat edison

 

 

I wasn’t a huge Ronald Reagan fan but he got it … he hated changing the rules of the business game <tariffs & regulations> and only did so situationally, tactically and for short term ‘balancing out’ … as he says …  given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.

 

But … he understood the importance of the attitude of the American worker above all else … check out these words he said to Harley Davidson:

 

… you gave some folks in Washington an important lesson about how we go about buying and selling with other nations. You see, we’ve shaken hands on an agreement with most of the other nations of the world, an agreement that sets the rules for international trade. We have problems, of course, with some of those nations—the ones that don’t let us sell to their people as freely as they sell to ours. But the agreement, called the GATT agreement—that’s the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade — gives us ways of dealing with those problems, and it also gives us ways of giving industries the kind of breathing room we gave you.

 

And if they’re as serious as you were about shaping up—now we’re about to begin worldwide talks on how to make this agreement even stronger.

 

Because of the GATT agreement, when you were ready to sell more bikes around the world, no one stopped you.

But now there are some in Congress who say, in effect, that the United States should break its word with the other countries.

They say American workers need to run and hide from foreign competition, even if that means other countries will strike back by not letting you sell your bikes to their people. Well, Harley-Davidson has shown how wrong that is and what the truth is. American workers don’t need to hide from anyone. America does best when America sticks by its word. And American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace. No one is better than you are.

 

You may have heard that my temperature’s up about some trade legislation that’s before the Congress right now. On TV the other night, it was called one of the toughest trade bills of this century. I remember the last time we had a so-called tough trade bill. It was called Smoot-Hawley, and they said it would protect American jobs. Instead, after other nations were through retaliating, it helped us—or it helped give us, or at least deepened, the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I’m probably the only one here that’s old enough to remember that. I was looking for a job then. [Laughter] Twenty-five percent were unemployed, including me.

 

The Harley-Davidson example makes a very strong statement about how government, through the judicious application of our trade laws, can help the best and the brightest in American management and labor come together in ways that will create new jobs, new growth, and new prosperity. Government’s role, particularly on the trade front, should be one of creating the conditions where fair trade will flourish, and this is precisely what has been done here. Our trade laws should work to foster growth and trade, not shut it off. And that’s what’s at the heart of our fair trade policy: opening foreign markets, not closing ours. Where U.S. firms have suffered from temporary surges in foreign competition, we haven’t been shy about using our import laws to produce temporary relief. Now, there are those in Congress who say our trade policies haven’t worked, but you here at Harley-Davidson are living proof that our laws are working. The idea of going to mandatory retaliation and shutting down on Presidential discretion in enforcing our trade laws is moving toward a policy that invites, even encourages, trade wars. It’s time to work to expand the world market, not restrict it.

 

Today, as many as 10 million American jobs are tied to international trade, including many jobs right here at Harley. For more than a century, when America’s trade with the world has grown, America has created more jobs. When trade has declined, so have the number of jobs. So, when it comes to making new jobs, free and fair international trade is America’s big machine. It’s time to gun the engines, not put on the brakes. Your chairman, Vaughn Beals, summed it up when he said, and I will quote him: “We’re sending a very strong message to our competitors and to the international industrial community that U.S. workers, given a respite from predatory import practices, can become competitive in a world market.”

 

The best way to meet foreign competition is also the right way: by sticking to our agreements with other countries and not breaking our promises, by making sure other countries also stick to their agreements with us, and by being the best. As America prepares for the 21st century, you’ve shown us how to be the best. You’ve been leaders in new technology. You’ve stuck by the basic American values of hard work and fair play.

 

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A danger we are currently meandering our way toward is one of attitude.

 

attitude foreign life adventureWe currently have a president who doesn’t foster attitude and belief in self but rather believes success is found solely in removing disadvantages, real or not, and removing “unfairness” <even if the other team were simply playing the game better or had better players>.

 

He is wrong in his approach.

 

Business is often more about attitude and fortitude then it is about whether “the pitch was mowed at 1 inch instead of an inch & a ½.”

 

It is a false narrative, and a dangerous narrative, to suggest success is based on ‘fairness’. Why? Because … well … more often than not we will always find that the world was unfair in some form or fashion … and you know what?

You still gotta compete, you still gotta play the game and you still gotta figure out a way to win.

 

America is at its best just doing it … sweating it out on the streets seeking the runaway American dream.

 

America is at its best when it ignores all the reason why we cannot do something and just go do it anyway.

 

America is at its best when we have a leader standing up in front of us not making excuses, not whining about unfairness and all the reasons why we haven’t been successful … but one who is instead saying “here is what we are gonna do and lets go do it.”

 

It was Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904, who said:

“We, the people, can preserve our liberty and our greatness in time of peace only by ourselves exercising the virtues of honesty, of self-restraint, and of fair dealing between man and man.”

But he also reminded everyone of the importance of work ethic.

“They stood for the life of effort, not the life of ease.”

Freedom, Roosevelt warned, had to be earned by the exercise of restraint, and its bounty could only be harvested by diligent labor.

 

Anyway.

 

I am not an isolationist mostly because of all I have written today. I am a compete flower bloombusiness guy and as a business guy I want to compete … and I believe I can compete well and win often enough if I put in the smart thinking and the diligent labor.

 

While I may proudly wrap myself in an American flag I also proudly wrap myself in an attitude … ”American workers don’t need to hide from anyone” … and I am an American worker.

 

We should never underestimate the American worker and American business ingenuity.

We shouldn’t hide from the world … we should be building the best team and sending them to the far corners of the world, wherever they may have an opportunity to compete, and win through hard work and fair play.

 

Isolation is the wrong path. It’s not American. We compete, work hard, play by the rules … and win more often than we lose.

 

American workers can take on the best in the world, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

friends and enemies and interests

August 29th, 2016

friends goofy unintended together

 

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“We have no permanent friends.

We have no permanent enemies.

We just have permanent interests.”

 

—-

Benjamin Disraeli

 

===

 

Well.

 

I admit.

murderers among enemy

I have always had a slightly contrarian view on relationships with competitors in the business environment.

 

I always met with them.

 

I always encouraged my people to meet, and interact, with them.

 

I always debated and discussed with them.

 

I have always had some friends at competitors … and certainly had some enemies at competitors.

 

Oh.

And I have always been quite willing to put them out of business if, competitively, I felt like my business was better than theirs.

 

Yeah.

I just said that. In fact. I said two things.

 

First.

 

Put them out of business. This doesn’t mean doing anything evil nor does it mean going behind anyone’s back in some slimy undercutting way. This is about confidently putting yourself alongside the enemy and beating the living daylights out of them. And doing so over and over again until you suffocate their business or they just quit.

 

Second.

 

Please note ‘my business was better than theirs.’

 

Well.

 

Yeah.company culture die trying

 

Sometimes you are actually not the best and sometimes you are actually not different in any real significant way.

Sometimes you are just a different alternative.

Sometimes you don’t compete exactly directly.

And sometimes your enemy actually is a better fit for someone then you are.

 

But.

 

If you are better, then beat them.

 

Now.

 

Beyond beating the crap out of some competitor … 90% of the time I find the ‘enemy’ quite the delight to rub elbows with.

This doesn’t mean I was flippant with regard to confidential information it is just that I believe ‘unique’ or ‘proprietary’ are more often than not … well … not. I also believe that my ‘enemy’ was simply a business competitor who had the same interests that I did <selling more shit at the highest price possible>.

 

But I have never understood some absurd ‘never talk with the competitor.” And I think it is absurd for a variety of reasons but let’s go through why business relationships are always tricky But no reason to not interact openly with a competitor>.

 

Your best employee may become the best employee at your competitor at some point.

 

Your favorite boss may leave and start a new company … competing against a portion of your offering.

 

You may leave, leaving behind a boatload of people you like & respect, to take a promotion at some competitor and … well … compete against those same people you like & respect who happen to be at a company you still like & respect.

 

And the trickiest?

 

Sometimes you actually decide to partner with a sometimes enemy because of mutual interest <and money of course>.

 

What business teaches you … well … what it should teach you is that there are no permanent allies, no permanent friends, no permanent enemies and, really, only permanent interests.

 

This shouldn’t be construed in any way as morally hollow or ethically challenged.

just keep trying flourish grow

It is a simple business truth that it is in the interest of a person and business to maximize behavior in a given situation. That means you give your best, you offer your best and be your best regardless of who is in the room or whomever you may be competing with.

 

I imagine the net translation on that thought is that through individual behavior the interests of a business are being best served and ultimately it is the interest of the business itself that is the only thing that truly remains constant.

 

The corollary?

 

Friends and enemies may keep changing depending on what suits the business interest best.

 

Sure.

 

There are potential costs … as well as potential benefits to rubbing elbows and being friendly, or at least conversationally cordial, to your competitors.

 

But that should not mean ignoring competition nor should it mean not maintaining some dialogue with them.

 

Some people will not agree with this.

 

What I have on my side is diplomatic history. The concept of ‘continuous dialogue’ originated in the 17th century with the French and Cardinal Richelieu.

It is a “belief in the utility of diplomatic representation and communication even between states that have reached a hostile relationship short of war.”

And you do so not to be friends, nor to seek to be allies, but to maintain the respect of two entities with different interests, but a similar interest to succeed, as a way to reduce the chances of war.

 

But let me point to what I believe is the truest of benefits.

 

People.

 

As long as your business is well defined, as long as your business has a strong culture, as long as your business fosters the attitude of ‘being the best’ without arrogance … I would suggest that nothing strengthens your people than interacting with the people of friends, enemies and those with different interests. Your people, through interaction with others who may be seeking things on their own self best interest, are the surest arbiters of what is right, wrong, true, false, lawful or ethically hollow.

 

And while I do not think this is solely an American trait it was Alexis de Tocqueville who said this about Americans in 1831:

 

[T]hey hold that public opinion is the surest arbiter of what is lawful or forbidden, true or false. … They hold that every man is born in possession of the right of self-government, and that no one has the right of constraining his fellow-creatures to be happy. They have all a lively faith in the perfectibility of man; they are of opinion that the effects of the diffusion of knowledge must necessarily be advantageous, and the consequences of ignorance fatal; they all consider society as a body in a state of improvement, humanity as a changing scene, in which nothing is, or ought to be, permanent.

 

 

ignorance is their powerIt is the people who are the surest arbiter of true & false … therefore if you ever want someone to truly believe in your business that you must mentally believe “the consequences of ignorance fatal.”

 

And embrace that an industry, which is often a society within itself, is a body in a state of improvement.

Keeping yourself, or your employees, cocooned within just who and what you are endangers the livelihood of the business itself in that you miss the opportunity for potential change and run the danger of ‘permanent’ <or stagnant>.

 

I personally find nothing wrong with positioning yourself as close to your competitors as you possibly can. The benefits outweigh the possible negatives.

 

On a separate note.

 

I tend to believe this idea works just as well in non-business life.

 

I have friends & acquaintances who clearly have different political points of view, different views on religion as well as significantly different views on a spectrum of different things. I watch news programs and listen to news programs which clearly do not appeal to my sense of what is true or right.

enlightened conflict think

It doesn’t harden my point of view but it certainly makes me more self-aware with regard to how others think and why they do the things they do.

 

And it certainly reminds me that no matter how much I may disagree with someone the majority of the time they have the same interests that I do – a better country and a better way of doing things.

 

I don’t think this makes me any better than others but it may make me a little more enlightened and aware.

And I have to believe that isn’t a bad thing.

do I suffer well

April 2nd, 2016

 dignity suffer

====

 

“It’s true, I suffer a great deal–but do I suffer well?

That is the question.”

 

 

 

 

Thérèse de Lisieux

 

===

 

 

I have had this debate a zillion times … the one where you discuss who has it worse. Who is going through tougher times. Maybe even discussing a bad moment in life as horrible … but how horrible? … and horrible relative to other horribleness?

dialogue with pain

 

And while it is most likely true that, regardless of your situation, someone somewhere has it worse than you do … that thought doesn’t really seem that comforting nor does it really offer any solutions when it is you in that moment.

 

To me … comparing bad situations is not only not very helpful but it also tends to suggest the wrong thing  – “my suffering isn’t equal to your suffering.”

 

I mean … well … how the heck do you compare suffering? Isn’t suffering suffering?

 

I hesitate to use this next quote only in that while making the point it suggests ‘horrible’ can be viewed as a flower:

 

 

A flower does not think of competing to the other flower next to it. It just blooms.

<zen shin>

 

 

But I thought I could use this quote because flowers do not judge … and maybe we shouldn’t judge suffering, or more simplistic for most of us, the holes each of us fall into on occasion.

 

 

To me?

 

Horrible is horrible. A black hole is a black hole. And while maybe not all holes and abysses are created equal  … all seem equally deep when in one and the suffering when within a hole is … well … pretty insufferable.

 

This may not be literally true … but figuratively I tend to believe that is how we view it when encountering horror or slip into some dark hole.

 

And, yeah, we will all fall into a hole, or two, in Life.

I wrote this back in 2013 I wrote this about holes

 

…. almost everyone has their own hole that Life makes you climb in and out of on occasion.

 

But inevitably, at some point, Life puts you in your hole and leaves you there … alone … with your thoughts … thoughts of how different you are or how different you think or simply how different your life is from every one else … and Life doesn’t help you get out of the hole.

Because it is yours. And it is yours to figure out how to get out of.

 

 

This leads me back to my opening quote.

no brain pain

Everyone steps, slides or falls into holes in Life.

 

Inevitably this pretty much means we all suffer to some degree during our Life.

 

The question one must ask themselves at some point is … well … do I suffer well?

 

For if we all suffer at some point … and 99% of us figure out a way of getting out of our hole … then the question isn’t really about getting out of the hole but how did you manage yourself when in the hole.

 

In other words … do I suffer well?

 

An interesting question of character I would say.

 

A thoughtful one to ponder.

Enlightened Conflict