Archive for December, 2005

Good (if breathless) advice from Tom Peters.

24 December 2005

I can deal with Peters’s overuse of exclamation points. I can deal with his overuse of massively-hyphenated-word-strings. Unlike, say, Tom Wolfe, Peters does it to grab your attention with a certain dose of humility about his own zaniness. Anyway, here he offers a classic dose of good advice. It meshes well with my own experiences in the world of business.

Half the companies in the country (not to mention my own Democratic Party, etc.) could improve themselves hugely just by following the first part of point (A): ‘Bedrock #1 for corporate success is a “culture of execution.” ‘ My own gloss:

1. Find the people who don’t execute.
2. Give them a short period to get it turned around — maybe a month. (This saves organizations from getting rid of employees, like my younger self, who coast so long as execution is secondary, but who will put up good performance if it’s demanded of them.)
3. Flush out the unreformed, quickly and without any further compunction.

That’s it. That’s the key to turning a business around, so long as you’re willing to do it in every single area — product, marketing, sales, HR (Peters is right — especially HR), finances, provisioning the break room, whatever. It has to apply to everything.


Wish List: Xtracycle.

24 December 2005

For quite a while I commuted by bicycle most days, home to work to school and back. I got leaner and fitter, had more energy, and enjoyed not driving a car in Austin’s aggravating traffic. For now, daily kid-taxi duty prevents me from resuming this, but in the future, I’d love to get something practical like an Xtracycle to combine chores (including limited kid-taxi duty) and the enjoyment of cycling.

FP’s Top 10 Missed stories of 2005

22 December 2005

Yet another fascinating thing to read, full of stuff I didn’t know — in my own field!

I simply must do more reading . . .

Grandma Moses

18 December 2005

I stumbled across the 1961 New York Times obituary for Grandma Moses. I like her paintings, but more than that I’m fascinated by anyone who continues to create and produce into extreme old age, especially when they do it with the wit she showed. The obituary quotes Moses’s autobiography about her view on life, which I share:

“I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”

It seems to me that life was fascinating to her, though she lived all of it on farms. Read the obituary here.

Jack LaLanne

17 December 2005

A while back I got on a jag of reading about Jack LaLanne. I’ve always been fascinated by people who ignored the typical conventions about performance, including about what appropriate performance is for a given chronological age.

In the case of LaLanne, this could be seen as extremely forward-looking for me, since he’s sixty years older than I am. Then again, I’m far from the shape he was in at my age, and I’m sure my diet would appal him.

Links to LaLanne articles:

From Reader’s Digest, 2003 — “Jumping Jacks for Jack LaLanne . . .

From Outside magazine, 1995 — “Jack LaLanne Is Still an Animal

Long interview on LaLanne’s approach to nutrition.

Wikipedia entry.

Raison d’etre

17 December 2005

I opened this Blogger account in June of 2005 — six months ago as I write this. I think I was going to use it as an online repository of my to-do list, which is waaaay to big for my own good. Whatever my reasoning was then, it didn’t stick.

Just now, I read for the first time Cory Doctorow’s article, “My Blog, My Outboard Brain”. Typically for him, Doctorow hit the nail on the head: he’s an infovore (ditto here), if he bookmarks things he never goes back to consult them like he meant to (ditto), but through the use of blog technology he can let the computer do what it does best by searching things out for him. Well, here I am, finally making something of this Blogger account.

Here’s my little breakthrough, as I understand it now: In the past I had read too many blogs (and too many articles about the blogosphere) that brought to light what bloggers were trying to achieve in terms making money, or bringing about political change, or whatever it is they’re after. None of these seemed that great to me, for reasons I won’t go into now. But Doctorow’s article suggested what blogging could do for me — which I guess gets me back to my original (apparently uninspiring) idea of using it for a to-do list.

So . . . thanks, Cory. I hope I can return the favor of a good idea some day.