Monday, February 25, 2013

Swing and a...

Baseball's spring training has commenced.  I know this by the calendar, and by the fact that I've been hearing baseball cliches more frequently in recent business meetings.

"I've told my people that I want them to be more aggressive.  Have a plan and swing the bat," one CEO told me recently. "It's OK for them to strike out, but I want them swinging."

This statement brought to mind the 2006 National League Championship Series (NLCS), when NY Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran was at the plate in a situation that many who play baseball dream about:  deciding game, bases loaded, two outs and the winning run on base.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chances are...

The 1974 film Blazing Saddles is considered one of the great American comedies.  A satire not only of movie westerns, but also of American popular culture, many of the movie's scenes have become classic.

One of those highlights was the late Madeline Kahn's performance of "I'm Tired" a comic lament to over-abundant but largely unfulfilling opportunities:  "I'm tired of being admired..."  We should all have such problems.

The song came to mind this week during discussions with business leaders about coping with the endless series of decisions they must make to keep their organizations moving forward.  Being fatigued was a common complaint.

Indeed.  We've all had those days where we have felt so bombarded by incoming requests that by day's end we feel paralyzed or simply unable to process even a simple request like: "Honey, what do you want for dinner?" without risking a domestic violence charge.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Who loves ya, baby?

Dear John,

I know that we’ve never paid much attention to the Valentine’s Day thing – it’s not like it’s a legal holiday and all – but I couldn’t let it pass without saying how much better things are between us. What a difference a year makes!

Last winter, I thought we were on the rocks, heading towards being done. You weren't yourself and it seemed like you were just going through the motions. 

You had been caring, upbeat, positive, full of ideas.  We were a hot item. Everyone talked about us. You were proud. You loved every aspect of running your business.

I know that the never-ending "recession" wore you down. I could see it in the little things, those small gestures that showed that you cared: studying the day’s orders to get a feel for what who was buying what: you could spot changes before they became a trend; “buddying” up with a new employee to get them up to speed, then staying late to catch up on your own work; going to Chamber events and coming back with orders, not just a few business cards that you threw into a pile.  I was worried, and I know you were too, though you didn't speak about it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Deja vu all over again

Two great American pastimes intersected this past weekend:  weather prognostication and football, in the forms of Groundhog Day and Super Bowl Sunday. 

Both are now spectacles that have evolved far beyond their humble beginnings.  Regarding the Super Bowl, I am always awed by the sheer magnitude of this often-not-so-special event.  Some big facts about the 2013 Super Bowl:
  • 7.5 million TVs will be bought for the game.
  • Nearly $4 million will be spent per 30-second ad during the game.
  • 1.2 billion chicken wings will be consumed and 50 million cases of beer will be quaffed.
  • 2 billion gallons of water will be used to flush those wings and beer away.
  • 7 million people will call in sick on Monday

Groundhog Day is a less over-the-top affair, even in Punxsutawney, and whatever the predicted outcome.  Whether early spring or more weeks of winter, February 2nd heralds repeated opportunities to catch one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day.  It's a classic American business morality tale.