Archive for the ‘Laziness’ Category

Am I Off ? Who Can Tell, Really?

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

I called in and immediately got hit by “I thought you were off …” Naturally, I responded with the knee-jerk “What does that mean?”

In a time of nearly impossible quality control, how could a CEO of a midsize PR firm actually go away and be away? I mean, I love my staff and all (all being the key word) but I’m a realist: What place on earth would AT&T not make my BlackBerry go buzz?

This friend of mine went to Mexico for a week and didn’t bother to check his email–fool. He returned to the bad word: “You won the contest of a Free Weekend in Amsterdam–Flight Included,” but only if he wrote back by week’s end. Which he couldn’t have. When my foolish pal begged in to say he was away, they scoffed, “Was there no copy shop/Net café/hotel center/person-with-computer where you were?” I mean, you’re a guy who checks his email once a week?

I can turn off like the best of them. And it is, however, in your better interest to not tell anyone you’re on, off, or in between! Who would know? I’m here, I’m there, I’m used to it. If I run away for a few hours on a workday, or reschedule a meeting here and there, who’s questioning where I am located?! Or–who cares?

These Out of Office pronouncements (OOFs) are badges we wear like the “Sent from my iPhone” banner that reads more like I-got-one-do-you! We chuck so much information onto our bounce-back responses that I am waiting for John Carpenter’s new scare-flick about the girl chased by knowledge picked surreptitiously by an errant email responder. Lately I’ve been sending returns to OOFs with my own: “But please come back.” It confuses people.

[I use “Sent from a good old-fashioned desktop” on outgoing emailsl.]

So, we covered email. When it comes to phones I’m all set because I screen, like you, and get the details via voicemail. Do you want people to hear the live sounds of your vacation spot? Way too revealing. Now I’m in the market for a good sound machine so I can put in New York-style traffic noises while lounging poolside. (”That splash? That was all Carrie Bradshaw!”)

Then there’s the infrequent in-person meeting we have to miss since we’re actually away. You could send someone in your place, but that would be rude and questions arise. Lately, I’ve been making excuses for not showing up in the vein of I stubbed my toe, because I wonder if taking a break is seen as a sign of weakness in these fantastically-connected times.

What difference does it make if you’re calling, writing, jotting a note down, sending a FedEx, Twittering, or tossing a quick text to check the heck in. When I am on mars, they will have 4G I’m sure.

Naturally, I’m as self-important as the next guy. I have to wonder if The Vacation has any meaning. It’s either a proclamation you are way too busy to think about the sender; or the ability to say, Look, I have an assistant, dude! What would happen if everyone took a deep breath and said, “I’m not in; I’m lurking.” Then you’d know how important you were ’cause someone responded to you when they were a little bit away.

And the funniest part of this rant was as I write it, on the beach during a week of speeches in a lovely location, I am starting at a not-skinny older man with his Blackberry left waiting for vibrations on his belly while he sunbathed. What a mark that left, for sure! Explain that to your mistress, bucko.

In this year of “vacationots” I bet you can be in office pretense mode…and you are fooling no one. I went to see my parents a few weeks ago and turned everything off except for conference calls, but told no one except Twitter followers. My assistant let it slip to someone in my office, who told a client; that guy in turn asked me how the dunes were in a call I was assumed to be in the office for. It’s a game that only real fakers can win. I’m exhausted having to describe it. You know what? I think it’s really time for a…

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Bandwagoning: Lazy Way To Success

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

You know how we’re always being told to do things better, to try harder, to reinvent, to reengineer, to break the rules, to innovate, to make a difference?

You know how “good” is never good enough? How we’re made to feel guilty for doing what’s been done before, for taking the well-trodden path? Just look at some wow-selling book titles: Good to Great; First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently; The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement.

Well, maybe there’s just a chance that it’s okay to follow in others’ footsteps.

Not to reinvent the wheel, but instead to roll with it. Maybe we can live better, saner, even more successful lives by jumping on the bandwagon, not sitting at the reins trying to blaze the trail ourselves. I call it bandwagoning. It’s succeeding in your goals in a way that feels more natural… some might even say a “lazy” way.

Here is my definition of bandwagoning: it’s the lazy person’s way to success. But don’t let the “lazy” part put you off. I don’t mean lazy in a bad way, or, rather, I don’t necessarily think that being lazy is bad. In fact, I think that being lazy can be positively good for you. There is pseudoscientific evidence that being lazy not only is beneficial to the spirit and to our general well-being, but can actually make us more successful. Successful according to all the usual criteria such as wealth and happiness!

So please justify all things that are the path of least resistance in life, whether at home or at work, that feel right for good reason. Demonstrate to everyone that taking naps, bucko, is good, nay, a brilliant part of everyday life and leads to greater productivity. Watching TV opens your eyes to the world and provides undreamed-of moneymaking opportunities — those Ginzu knives must be making someone real cash! We’ll give you tips on how to avoid unwelcome social contact and how to survive when you’re traveling away from home.

Recognize that, as a bandwagoner, you’ll be ahead of the curve, and not everyone will be accepting of your new stress-free way of life; you can now proudly cover up so as to appear suitably frenetic and driven.

The above is a reference found inside 2011: Trendspotting, from McGraw-Hill.

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That Thing You Don’t

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Thing thing thing thing. Things. Thingamabobber. Thingamajig. Thingery. Thingy thing.

Possessing sophisticated skills of communicating is elementary when you want people to notice you. Your spoken words have to convey a level of

Earth to Lou Dobbs: Hawaii is a “United State”

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

No matter what you think,today is not a wasteland of slow news. The Government is having its most thorough health care discussion ever witnessed, the climate is doing all sorts of strange things (summer has yet to arrive here in the city of New York), and Michael Vick is once again a free man. And playing.

Still, the lazy media finds ways to report on possibly the most asinine

Do You Speech?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Speech is the Rosetta Stone of your own image. Master it and you have taken a gigantic step toward people starting to see the best you. And yet, the easiest way to fail is to lack the ability

Everybody Wants to be Everything Sometimes (apologies, Dean Martin)

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Many corporations believe the downward trajectory in consumer spending means they better become something they are not–and quickly. Instead of sticking to their knitting, selling what they are known for, many have inexplicably started trying to be a mercantile of all things.

Is this a sign that sellers are simply trying to be better corporate citizens by providing more solutions to the consumers? No, no no. It is, though, a clear indication that recessionary panic has bamboozled some of the powers-that-be into believing that expanding their businesses beyond what they are known for is actually good business. Example:

Best Buy is the only big-box consumer electronics retailer left standing, except PC Richard but that’s only east coast. (Circuit City is back as an online store, but has no plans to reemerge as a brick and mortar business.) Best Buy is a good place to pick up consumer gear, especially television sets and digital photography equipment. Bought something at Best Buy lately? As you are checking out, the cashier will inevitably attempt to sell you — ready — magazine subscriptions. Yes, magazine subscriptions.

You go to Best Buy to get a deal on headphones, not to be sold Entertainment Weekly or Car & Driver. Is the company really so desperate for sales that it risks pissing off all of its consumers by trying to upsell them on monthly rags AFTER they’ve already gone through the sales spiel on the floor? Sure, magazines are somewhat high-margin products, but is it really worth changing your brand identity to sell a few? Not when it leaves a bad taste in your consumers’ mouthes.

Another strange strategic example: Subway, the sandwich hawker. This chain has a reputation for making decent sandwiches. (They must be good, considering the franchise flourishes in the City of New York, which as you know is the deli capital of the world.) You roll in, get your footlong turkey on wheat for $5, it comes to you in that specially-shaped sandwich bag, and BOOM! back in the office.

Well, do you know that Subway now serves pizza? Seriously. You can order hand-held pizzas from the king of sandwiches. Why on Earth did the braintrust at Subway think this is a good idea? (And wait a minute: why is my favorite diner in suburban CT selling — tortillas?) There is literally no way your Subway Personal Pizza is going to measure up to the quality of your sandwiches, especially when the retail pizza business has been captured by the boys and girls of Pizza Hut and Domino.

Subway, stop it. You are dilluting a good thing. You make footlongs. If people want crummy pizza, they will go to a crummy pizza place! Yes, oh and besides being the deli sandwich capital of the world, New York is the crummy pizza capital of the world. For every good pizzeria, there are at least four baddies. All named Ray Something.)

The point is that if you are known for selling what it sells, be remembered in these putrid retail days for selling what you sell. That is, after all, what your consumers want. They come to you for your product, the one they once and still love(d). They don’t want you to imitate someone else’s. People don’t appreciate that. Just remember. Say it twice.

I’m at www.twitter.com/laermer a lot.

Generation WTF: The Newest Crowd

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I’m not ashamed to say it. My generation was the first “seriously cool” generation. We are post-boomer, and yep it’s true: We had it all figured out. Everything made sense to us, we seemed to come along at the right time.

Fast forward a few (semed like quite a few) years and as we were getting settled that Gen X arrived on the scene. The X kids weren’t anything truly special as a gen — young adults who worked all day, drank at night, talked a lot about what they deserved, and happened to know how to use a computer. Dirty little secret: Our group was much less boring than those dudes.

Generation X. Boring.

Then there’s today. What now? We have a bunch of twentysomethings who look everything up on Wikipedia b4 the question is asked. Sure, all this open source is great, but it can’t teach you what you need to know about the humanist side of things.

Generation WTF is, according to you, unstoppable. Lest I sound like a crotchety old man (ROFL. That’s an acronym thrown in for the kids!), let me say I DO know several WTFers really well, and work with them on a fairly frequent and not un-fun basis. The WTF phenomenon is not a passing phase, either, as it seems to stick to many new grads.

Gossip Girl. WTF.

The new gen’s We Came First stance is also partially deserved. A ton of tech/social change has been proliferated during your short adulthood and you guys grabbed it and owned it full-stop. However, in the rush to instant expertise, WTFers often forget that the inventors of the stuff they use everyday were born in my time. Ahem.

Yeah yeah, you know it. All these ramblings arrived in me while wandering the streets of downtown Austin at SXSW (”South By”). So the next time you call me sir, Mr and Ms WTF, how’s about breathing a bit of context into your next kind of smarmy Tumblr update?

Can you do that kid. Can you?

10 Ways Businesses Are Killed

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

During the last mercurial business cycle, I sneakily asked super successful types such as Mark Cuban (Mavericks dancer), Peter Guber (Guber), David Brancaccio (NOW man on PBS), Bob Davis (Speedy Lycos dude), and Gerald Storch (Toys

Something To Write Home About: an essay that merits no subtitle

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

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It

Resolve to Be Pessimistic: An Eager Lesson for 2009

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

The year we just lived through saw unparalleled amounts of optimism. Despite the worst economic recession since the early 1990s, record gas prices, high unemployment, incompetent leadership, and so much more direness, America came out of the woodwork to vote in November on a belief that happy days can be here again

Buy the Book - 2011

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