Friday, March 30, 2007

Rule 16 of Business

16. Never Trust Your Boss

That's not to say that you can't like your boss. Or lend him money. Or think he is going to use the old "shoe wedge" on the links when you aren't looking. I am not talking about trust as a character trait. I am talking about understanding that his best interests don't always lie with your best interests.

"Bing" who writes business humor for Fortune put it best:

Never forget that your boss will happily eliminate your high paying job in order to keep his higher paying job.

And that is the crux of the matter. Your boss is answering to higher ups and is concerned about you only so far as it makes him look good. If something that makes him look good happens to also be something that makes you look bad, guess what the chances are that it will happen? If a higher up asks him to do something that conflicts with a request you made, where do you think he will land?

This is all put into perspective that part of your job is to make your boss look good (See Rule 15). This is the flip-side of the coin, and a reminder that the reverse is not true.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Finding Wa

Jogging around the ancient palace in Kyoto in the early dawn, the cherry blossoms swayed in the breeze. I continued through the park, watching the slow graceful movements of a group practicing Tai Chi to meditative Eastern music. A group of young boys in school uniforms rode past me on bikes, smiling at the site of the gaijin pounding his feet on the pavement, rushing by the scenery. Instead, I stopped and took in the young spring day, joining in the harmony of the moment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Setting a New Fashion Trend

Due to a "packing accident", I arrived in Asia with a blue Glen Plaid suit coat and navy blue slacks. So I have a non-matching suit.

And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I would be leaving about the time one of the matching pieces got sent from the States. And The Men's Wearhouse doesn't have branches in Seoul. So I have no choice but to wear the ensemble.

To tell you the truth it doesn't look that bad. It basically looks like I matched a sports coat to some blue slacks. In Korea I fit right in since this country is a fashion disaster. The colors and materials the men wear over here is just off. Milan this is not.

Japan will be different, though. The navy blue uniform blue suit is standard business dress, although as an American I am given some leeway on what I can wear and be acceptable in a business setting.

In the end I have to treat this like I would if I were to wake up with a giant zit on my nose. I have to go out and face the world like nothing is amiss and everything is perfectly normal.

Update: After two days of meetings, I actually found time to swing by the mall next to my hotel and picked up a sports coat that actually matches my slacks for a very reasonable price. They even did some small tailoring to it in less than an hour. So I will be set for Japan AND my CEO, who is showing up for the back part of the trip.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Sinking Galieo Program

Interesting article on the Galileo Program, found courtesy of Pajamas Media.

I had doubts about this since it was announced. My first thought: why would they put up the same sort of system that is offered by the U.S.? That question sort of answers itself, doesn' it? Because it isn't about military capability since Europe doesn't field any sort of real military. It wasn't for business reasons since they want to charge for signals that the U.S. puts out for free. Not, this was about pride, about setting up the same sort of systems the Americans put up to prove they could keep up.

Except that they couldn't. The sheer bureaucratic weight of the EU system crushed the schedule, and internal squabbling about jobs will delay it any further. The article hints that the program will be cancelled, but my guess is that this is seen as a "jobs program" and the EU will keep shoveling tons of money down this black hole.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

American Suicide Bombers?

The Major looked at the fifty men assembled in front of him, each sitting a combination chair-desk familiar to high-schoolers across the nation. In fact, the room he was in looked like a classroom, complete with a chalk board at the front with an American flag to its side. But what he was going to talk about wasn’t going to be a history lesson, although what happened here might one day make history.

“Gentlemen, each of you civilians are here today because you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Each of you has an estimated six to eight months to live.” He watched the empty, hopeless eyes look at one another across the room.

“I am here today to give you hope.” Eyes riveted on him. “Not hope for a cure, but hope for a purpose. To make your deaths meaningful.”

“As you know from the newspapers, suicide bombers have wreaked havoc on our troops in the Middle East. In this type of asymmetric warfare, the lone act of one individual not only creates deaths to our better armed and better trained warriors, but creates suspicion, fear, and loss of morale.”

“We have tried to battle this threat with tactics ranging from early detection to better engagement with the population. And while these attacks have largely moved away from our troops to civilian targets, we feel that we need to fight fire with fire; to use the enemy’s own tactics against him.

“So I, under top security clearance, have been granted approval to form the Asymmetrical Special Service Honorary Officer League. Under this program, we will be recruiting terminally ill Americans to engage in suicide attacks to strike back at the country that is supporting most of the suicide attacks in the region, Iran.

A group of nervous eyes searched the room.

“I know what you’re thinking. But know that our targets will only be military. You will be going to barracks, parade grounds, officer clubs and the like. You will not be going to markets or any civilian areas.”

Many eyes had found the door, where a marine at parade rest looked straight ahead without emotion. They weren’t leaving until they heard the whole thing.

“Just think about it. Many of you will be wasting away, under extreme pain. Your spouses, your children’s last memories of you will be of a helpless invalid, languishing in bed, unable to care for yourself. And many of you will be so drugged up on morphine and pain killers that you won’t even be able to recognize them.”

“We are offering you a choice to go painlessly and in the service of your country. And to go while advancing our cause against the enemy. What we are asking you is not new. We ask young men to volunteer for “one way missions” all the time. Japan asked its young men with many years yet to live to take on Kamikaze attacks. And there are, of course, many documented instances of U.S. soldiers gladly giving their lives in the service without being asked.

“So all I am asking you to do is think about it. Think about the number of months you have left, and how you want to die. Long and painful, or short and quick. And we are offering extra incentives: a special memorial will be erected in your honor at Arlington, and your family will get full death benefits and a pension as if you had been killed in action as a major.

“All of us in this room are going to die one day. You as a group know your days are numbered. I am offering you the unique chance change the how and the why of your deaths.”

“I look forward to your responses in the next 48 hours.” He nodded silently at the marine, who opened the door and stepped to the side. Fifty bewildered men filed out silently, lost in their thoughts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

This iPod Thing Is Going Too Far

That's seven iPods in my household:

- One 2nd Generation (lower right) - This was the first one in the collection and has TEN gig (big at the time). I got this Christmas 2002 for my frequent plane trips. This has been put out to pasture and is just used as a back-up hard drive.

- One mini (lower left, blue) - This was Mrs. Director's first, and a direct result of me having one. This is now retired as the "car iPod" and sits permanently connected into Mrs. Director's car audio system.

- One nano (upper left) - The iPod arms race was on. Mrs. Director had the mini, and my 2nd gen was loosing juice pretty quickly, so I had to one-up her with this addition.

- Two Shuffles - Mrs. Director one-upped me and got this for jogging. I was amazed at the size and the capacity and had to get one for for biking since my nano was pretty big for that. I got the blue one so we could tell them apart easily.

One Special Edition U2 30 Gig Video Ipod (upper right, in protective case) - This was a special gift for Mrs. Director, who is a U2 fanatic. It also double dogged, one-upped my nano. Was I going to take this sitting down?

One 80 Gig Video Ipod - The newest member of the Director household, I was clever with this one. First, I got the Mrs. Nike iPod running shoes. These ONLY work with the nano. Since I had the only one in the household, I gave her mine since I love her so much. That left me with only a shuffle, which isn't good enough for overseas plane trips, so I had to get a new iPod, and got the 80 Gig so I can watch movies.

So what has Apple got out of us? Assuming probably $250 on average for the big ones and I think $75 for the little ones, that comes out to $1400 Apple has got out of the Director household, not counting music from iTunes.

Monday, March 05, 2007

GEICO Caveman TV Show?

Like most people I find the GEICO caveman commercials rather amusing. Their constant consternation of how they are depicted in print, media and ads is something everyone can relate to. Plus the fact that these cavemen are running around in present day society is part of the joke.

But is this set-up enough for a TV series?

These days the caveman is breaking from the confines of the 30-second spot toward longer formats -- the latest a still-in-negotiation deal to star in a half-hour comedy show produced by ABC. The potential series, being worked out with Geico's shop, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, would focus on (the) three cavemen who have found themselves repeatedly humiliated by Geico's tagline: "So easy a caveman can do it."

I dunno. This is one of those one-gag set-ups that works fine in a commercial or SNL skit, but would quickly lose comedic steam in a longer format.