Posts

Showing posts from November, 2014

Revenge of the Socially Awkward

Image
"Let's begin the staff meeting, all right?" Everybody rustles to their seats. "How you doing Joe? How was your weekend?" "Good. We caught the football game. What a killer." I do not like, watch or endorse football and am praying this does not devolve into a discussion. On my left Mary whispers, "Pass me a bagel?" Wordlessly I take hold of the tongs. They are too narrow. I sit there jabbing at the bagel like it's a slab of leftover turkey that nobody really wants to eat. Raj reaches over me, a little impatiently I think. He grabs the bagel, a plastic knife and the tub of scallion cream cheese, hands it to Mary, smirks and shakes his head.Incompetent. "Chop chop, time's wasting. Dannielle, what have you got for us?" Very few people actually want to hear anything about what I do, much less the ins and outs of a weekly update. I have no weekly update. "I'm not sure what you want me to say," I say. In the corner, Tom had been …

Change Agents, Don't Be Fooled

Image
"You will always be on the margins because all you have are these idealistic notions that don't apply."  That's the fictional CEO in Amazon's Enlightenedchewing out whistleblower Amy, played by Laura Dern. "Well if caring about something other than money is dopey, I'm a fuckin' moron." Amy started the series as an angry, ruthless career-climber. She ends it finding inner peace (and not coincidentally a good cup of coffee). Her mother is proud of her as well. As we all know, it is very, very hard to make a difference in real life.  Part of that is because we are just so busy surviving. But conformity is also drilled into us from birth. And those who dare to speak up get subtly and overtly told stop from every angle. (Screenshot: Sign for sale at Ozark Saddle Company.) It is easy to be fooled by all these naysayers. They do after all take many different forms, are voiced by people both friendly and decidedly not. The dialogue on Enlightened sounded so e…

You Have To Look Beyond The Data

Image
The world is divided into two camps: Those who trumpet the rise of Big Data.Those who want to shoot it dead. Legitimate opinions of course may vary. But in my own personal observation, the more emphatically you pound your fist on the table, the more your opinion is based in fear. Here is a primer on the two extremes: The "trust my gut" team: People who suck at math, who want to preserve some arbitrary status quo or who are plain and simple close-minded will always scoff at the merits of Big Data. At the term itself.The "hard data" camp: People who are less naturally talented at reading the tea leaves, who lack the courage of their insight, who have a lot of money and/or power riding on their decisions and need a sound "audit trail" as to why, will always want to point to "hard data" to support.Consider the Deconstructed Nicoise salad at Whole Foods. (Photo by me) What led me to take a photo? Our approach to the answer - not the answer itself, because …

If You Have To Ask, You Can't Afford It

Image
"Do you love me?" "No." After 25 years, my husband gets to say that when I ask a stupid question. "I have a question to ask. Can I interrupt you for a minute?" "Why is it that you always call when I'm trying to write?" "I'm trying to be more collaborative with you. And we're in the store and I want to buy these shoes, but they're $89.99." "Are they new?" "Well that's the thing, they're a little bit used. But I checked eBay and we can make a $300 profit for sure." "Nothing is for sure. Put the shoes back and leave me alone. I'm writing." "Spoilsport." * * * If you have to ask, the answer is no. One time my boss put it this way: "If you're coming to me, I can guarantee that the plan is a little bit wonky." Let's play Family Feud, shall we? Where Steve Harvey says: "What kinds of questions do you ask, where you already know the answer is going to be 'no'…

Say Less - Earn More

Image
"That's great! Have a good night!" That is me, tiptoeing backwards. Because the other person won't stop speaking. Sure, there's a technique for handling this. But unfortunately not one that I ever mastered. "Did you say goodbye? I have a great story about goodbyes." Oh no. Oh no. "Hang on just a second, I'll walk with you." It's not that I'm reserved with words. Actually I like to talk, a lot. But not all the time, not with everyone, and generally not at work. I'm there to work. Executives do not talk a lot. They're busy.They're afraid of saying something wrong.They're immersed in the culture of power.Powerful people know: The more available you are, the less valuable.
That is why - although communicators bang their heads against the wall trying to get executives to speak - they are normally very restrained. They: Say less.Write shorter emails.Avoid extensive interaction day-to-day.If you want to actually become a rich execut…

Tell It To Me Like I'm Stupid

Image
"OK, let's get him on the phone."  That's radio talk show host Kane. It's the 99.5 FM radio segment "War of the Roses," it plays around 8 a.m. on weekdays, and it's really fun to listen to him and Intern John catch cheaters in the act. In the script, Kane plays a guy who owns a flower shop.  "Hello, my name is ____, I'm calling from __ Flowers. Is Pete there?" "This is Pete." "We're doing a promotion today, just for picking up the phone, you get a bouquet of roses sent to anyone of your choice." "Who is this?" "We're your local friendly flower shop, just trying to drum up some local business and compete with the big boys, y'now?" "How did you get this number?" "We subscribe to all the local customer lists." (Sounding confused) "Oh." "So who should we send them to?" "Um, let me think about that for a second. Hm. Yeah, you know what? I know. You can send…

Why You Can't Take Good Advice

Image
I've been doing branding for a very long time. And one thing sets my best clients apart from the losers: Their ability to take sound advice. One client flat-out refused to pay.Another threw a shit fit at my boss.A third became enraged at me directly.The things I say aren't rocket science, really. But most people are extremely invested in lying to themselves. When it comes to their own delusional lies or the unvarnished truth, they'll take the delusional lies even though it causes them not just pain but financial ruin. They could be coasting down the hill, but they'd rather ride a broken bike up a mountain.  Why is that? Why can't smart people take good advice? There are three possibilities here. Emotional baggage: They've got some screwed-up thing going on in their brains.Personal power: The solution will hurt their position, status or career.Organizational issues: They agree cognitively but the reigning dysfunction is too great to tolerate a real solution. I was tal…

Enter the Backstabber

Image
"Say, can I pick your brain for a minute?" "Sure. I am after all the Director of Things. I'll be happy to help." "It's just that the boss doesn't seem to like me very much." "Oh no. That's too bad." "Well, you seem to have a way of talking to her." "Me? Little me? Well, thank you very much for saying that. I do consider myself kind of an orator. Actually, maybe 'diplomat' is a better word. I've got a talent, you know? I may be a little bit brilliant actually. And here you are, you recognize that. Flattered, that's what I am. I am just, so, flattered." "I'm not trying to flatter you. You're a genius, and it shows." "Oh, stop. Now you're being generous." "I hate to bother you, you're so important and all. But would you mind teaching me how you do it?" "Of course not! I mean, it's not like I have any actual work to do. Especially when somebody clearly …

The Job Interview Mating Dance

Image
There are few things in life more painful than a job interview. Except, perhaps, dating. There are also few things more shameful. Right? It's not something you want to talk about. The screw-ups, the flubs, the asinine mistakes that everyone makes but which feel totally unique to your sorry ass. In a nod to the generous holiday spirit, I will attempt to lessen the collective shame of job interviewees everywhere by sharing some actual outtakes from various interviews I've suffered through over time. I would also like to reassure the group that with each of these horrendous meetings, your self-esteem will drop by 3 percentage points. Which you can later drown in a gigantic iced coffee at any high-end coffee shop of your choosing. Also on the positive side, you will likely never see these people ever again. And now without any further ado: Lights, camera, ACTION. * * * "Here, Dannielle, have a seat. Sit right here." Clearly this isn't a choice thing. "Sure. Thank you.&q…

The Job Interview Mating Dance

Image
There are few things in life more painful than a job interview. Except, perhaps, dating. There are also few things more shameful. Right? It's not something you want to talk about. The screw-ups, the flubs, the asinine mistakes that everyone makes but which feel totally unique to your sorry ass. In a nod to the generous holiday spirit, I will attempt to lessen the collective shame of job interviewees everywhere by sharing some actual outtakes from various interviews I've suffered through over time. I would also like to reassure the group that with each of these horrendous meetings, your self-esteem will drop by 3 percentage points. Which you can later drown in a gigantic iced coffee at any high-end coffee shop of your choosing. Also on the positive side, you will likely never see these people ever again. And now without any further ado: Lights, camera, ACTION. * * * "Here, Dannielle, have a seat. Sit right here." Clearly this isn't a choice thing. "Sure. Thank you.&q…