Friday, October 17, 2008

Lowe's supports the troops

That was the subject line of an e-mail I got today from a friend on the left coast. Part of my MBA cohort at BYU, Amazon snatched our fearless class president off of the job market, but he still keeps in touch. That is nice of him to keep the little people in mind even after we leave the confines of our sanctuary in Utah Valley.

Anyway, what apparently prompted the e-mail was a recent shopping experience he had at my one of my company's brick and mortar stores- and thankfully, he wasn't complaining- he'd simply noticed they had an interesting way of showing their support for the troops....

In case you can't read the small print, Allan realized he was shopping at the "Home Improvement War House"

To celebrate the event, I'm going to spend this weekend wearing my Army Combat Uniform as I go to look for a new unit in the Charlotte area. I go, beret in hand, looking for jobs, interviewing with local units with my 3 last Army job evaluations in hand. OK, I was going to do that anyway, but what a happy confluence of events. I feel more confident carrying that beret around, knowing that I speak French. That's got to be worth something to somebody. Probably not in Charlotte, NC, though.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

And on the 7th day, He rested. On the 7th day, they created panic.

On the Seventh Day, They Worked, Amid Finance Crisis (Update1)
By Oshrat Carmiel and Demian McLean

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Sunday is the new Monday.

Beyond the obvious 'keeping the Sabbath day holy' issue, I wonder if all the weekend wheeling and dealing hasn't to a degree heightened the sense of crisis in this current economic spectacle. What would have been different if 'all the king's men' worked on this just on weekdays, and stopped for a day or two over the weekend?

Given that we're told all of the "fixes" will take time, what is the rush to blow up the weekends? (I have to say I'm with the French and most Europeans on this 'work less' philosophy. Take some time to smell the wine and cut the cheese....wait a second...)

How would things play out if the government and big players in all this limited their big policy moves and decisions to Tues thru Thurs, leaving Fri and Mon to plan and react, and Sat and Sun to let people live their lives outside of work- and for some, worship properly? I can't help but think it might have signaled that there were serious problems, but that the sky wasn't falling. With how things have been going, could one argue that delaying all the Sunday dealing to Monday would have caused things to be much worse?

More on fiscal management- what's a trillion here or there?

I've been having lots of conversations with family, friends and coworkers about debt. No surprise, given the current economic situation.

Leverage is a term that I've found ridiculously overused at work- I'm in talent management, not finance. It reminds me of the good old days in the MBA program when we'd play buzzword bingo, and sometimes, even the professor would play along. Good times had by all. Good times. My fervent hope is that someday people will decide that the term leverage should only be used in financial-speak to take the edge off the term "debt", or in physics and engineering to talk about physical levers, like in explaining the principles of balance scales, wheelbarrows, and teeter-totters. But alas, I fear my hope will be in vain.

Anyway..... here's another great "leverage" article. I still can't wrap my head around $53,000,000,000,000. I know it is a lot of money, I just can't really figure out how much that is.

Commentary: America's $53 trillion debt problem

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Less effective talent management techniques

Way back, waaaaaay back, when I was training to be a missionary for the church, we would go through examples of "effective" and "less effective" behaviors or discussion techniques.

Some of the 'less effective' examples were painfully funny- written examples, audio clips, etc. You would think sometimes, 'no one would actually say or do this', and then during my mission I came to realize that, well, they wouldn't put those examples in their training if they weren't happening. Sometimes I had to make sure I didn't laugh out loud in the middle of discussions when I saw these things play out.

In any case, I came across an example this week- not in person, but in the media, of 'less effective' talent management, that I thought was also painfully funny, excepting the fact that when it happens in government situations, our taxes are paying for the follies.

From the Washington Post, some great work from the NIH.

Various media links- economics and the bail-out- sales pitches and pork

I liked this article because it provided a rational explanation for the public's initial (and for some, enduring) dislike for the bail-out package:

These next two are a couple of reactions to the pork issues (or as some liked to call them, "sweeteners") related to the bill the Senate passed and pushed back to the House. I'm thinking I should have invested earlier in wooden arrows for children.

And I'd like to have the names of the senators who are responsible for inserting those clearly pork projects into the bill. These types of actions are why military folks bristle when they perceive that political figures are even close to questioning the honor, integrity, or political motivations of military leaders. We complained when we saw this type of behavior in Iraq, but sometimes I feel we are not so different as we think.

Against political correctness

During my year in Iraq, I spent a great deal of time with people from a variety of english-speaking countries who were contracted to provide security training to the National Police we were training.

I came to more fully understand some of the cultural differences in the various countries of origination for these various expatriates.

Very quickly along the way I realized that Australians as a whole (not just the tough guys at our Training Center) tend to have a bit of disdain for political correctness. Here's a humorous example linked to Usain Bolt's crushing victories at the recent summer Olympics events in China.

Thanks, Justin M., for sending that my way a bit ago. I came across it again as I sifted through my collection of silly media, and enjoyed it just as much this second time.