This happy fellow dancing badly is my high school classmate Doug Stone. He partied all the time, was a total slacker and arrived late & drunk to graduation. He now manages a global hedge fund & earns $15 million/yr.
Every three months, like clockwork, I suddenly experience an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. It happens when my high school alumni newsletter arrives. I went to a private all-boys’ military high school, the Albany Academy, founded in 1813. The school sends out a quarterly newsletter for three reasons:
- to update alumni on programs they’ve initiated, like the incredible new state-of-the-art athletic complex
- to not so subtly solicit generous donations to fund the incredible new state-of-the-art athletic complex
- and most importantly, to invite alumni to send in updates about their booming careers (and invite them to share their riches to offset the cost of that incredible new state-of-the-art athletic complex)
I don’t normally suffer from poor self-esteem. I feel fairly good about most of my vocational moves – even my current ten-year gig as a humorist, despite the fact that it is a source of constant embarrassment to my wife and kids.
I generally avoid contact with most of my high school classmates because it invariably degrades into a rencounter among alpha males for top honors in career achievements. I’ll bump into someone from my graduating class who had been a stoner and slacker and barely eked by with a C- average. In the first minute of our encounter, he informs me that he’s now Chief of Neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic. Or perhaps he invented GPS technology or won the Nobel Prize in Mathematics. Then comes that awkward moment when he asks what I’ve been up to and I am thrust into the awkward moral dilemma of whether to tell him I’m the CEO of a multinational technology firm or Ambassador to France. I usually just dodge the entire issue by vaguely alluding that he does not have the proper security clearance for me to divulge the details of my amazing story. (more…)
I’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years (as well as the worse part) in sales and marketing. One thing that has always impressed me in perusing the web sites of the industry leaders is how I have absolutely no idea what they actually do. Smart marketers learned a long time ago that when it comes to beating the competition, you don’t have to build a better mousetrap. You just have to sound like you build a better mouse. trap. That starts with the words you use to describe what your mousetrap does.
No industry has mastered this technique more than high tech. Ever heard of a little company called Computer Associates? Here’s what they do, in their own words: “CA Technologies provides robust management solutions utilizing closed loop orchestration of provisioning and configuration across physical and virtual resources.” It’s just that simple.
Or how about the 800-pound gorilla in the world of routers, switches and network systems, our buddies over at Cisco Systems. I wonder what they do. Here’s a description any seven year-old (with a graduate degree in Linux computer programming) could understand: “Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture is implemented as a five-phase plan that moves from baseline services to advanced policy management and integration that ultimately delivers the borderless experience for users.”
Welcome to installment #61 in my periodic series of business lessons on how you can take your business to never-before-imagined levels of success. In this challenging economy, companies are forced to do more with less and continue to look for ways to squeeze efficiencies, often by means of painful layoffs and other draconian cost controls. I have a better idea: Hug your company’s way to success.
Recently the New York Times reported fascinating findings from a soon-to-be-published research study by scientists at University of California at Berkeley. They measured the level of physical contact between teammates in the National Basketball Association over an entire season. Their conclusion: Teams and individuals that hugged, high-fived and chest bumped their teammates more tended to outperform those that engaged in less frequent affectionate physical contact.