Whoa – a brutal (challenging) week to reach clients by phone – which in some ways is kind of nice :)

This past week was one of the worst weeks I can remember at successfully reaching people.  Very few people responded to my emails, and even fewer picked up my phone calls.  Why?  I don’t know – I am just reporting what the data shows me.  In general, I reach people about 11% of the time when I make an attempt to reach them (which means when I *have* to reach them I need to try several times :)).  This week was 7%.  8% is lousy, and about as low as I ever see except for the week of July 5, Christmas, etc.  so this week was absolutely brutal.  Ironically though, I had several good meetings so it was overall a successful week.

Speaking of which, it is ironic that I make a lot of sales calls each week.  I *hate* using the phone — I literally walk several blocks to my favorite pizzeria to place my delivery order so I don’t have to phone in the order and I am pretty bad at returning voice mails but good about responding to text.  But my job pays the bills, and I’ve found over the years that phone is an effective tool for doing my job, so just have to grin (and reward myself with coffee and chocolate) and bear it.  I am also less likely to pick up a call from a friend than I am from an employee – I always pick up calls from people who work for me.  On weekends, I don’t pick up the phone from anyone who is not a client or employee – friends know to text me if they want to reach me, and if they don’t text then it must not be that important or must not be anyone that truly knows me that well 🙂

In my last job, we had this clown VP Howard in New York, one of those loud and annoying guys who is like 300 years old and was buddies with the CEO and always flying into everyone’s offices but no one knew exactly what he did.  He and I didn’t always see eye to eye — it was one of those things where my team was dependent occasionally on my pushing back on his intrusivness so that we could generate revenue, so to ignore him hurt my business but to push back hurt me politically and unfortunately he had a vested interested in one of our area accounts so was always in our business poking around.  But he was  also one of those guy was always calling on things that he could’ve emailed about, so we would have a 20 minute conversation (mostly one sided) about something that would have taken a 2-minute email or text exchange.  I used to call him (privately) the SHakespearean Fool – the foolish court jester that everyone pokes fun at but also has the king’s attention so is potentially dangerous.  I am very glad I don’t have to worry about that guy anymore.

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Whoa – a brutal (challenging) week to reach clients by phone – which in some ways is kind of nice :)

Personal Reflection: I really don’t want to be — and couldn’t be — an Exec because I don’t care about rank

In his book Travels, Michael Crichton mentions that an Exec might not want to spend too much time in the hospital partially because they want to protect their rank at their firm.  That was an astute observation, because to someone who values promotions and climbing up the Corporate Ladder protecting rank is very important.  It is The Call of the Wild out there in Fortune 500 Corporate America, and if a fellow Exec smells blood it can be trouble… Which means that although I’ve always been a top sales person on my teams, and I’ve always had a pretty good instinct for strategy and have been successful at leading teams, I will likely never be a tenured Sales VP at a big firm.  Why?

I’ve never cared about title or rank.  When I was a VP, I never mentioned my title. WHen I was Managing DIrector, I privately winced when my team introduced me as “my managing director.”  Why?  It is hard to take myself or life that seriously, and I actually don’t respect people who do.  But the thing about Corporate America is, most Execs *do* care about title.  Jack Welch didn’t want to be *Vice* Chair — he wanted to be Chair.  He obsessed about it to the point I get the impression from his book that it engulfed most of his time and energy.  So then once he got it, he was obsessed about keeping it.

So although I myself don’t take things seriously like that, the people making the decisions do, often to the point it is more important than the actual work.  I was honestly raised to believe that if you work hard, and you do what your boss tells you to do, and you always try to do the right things, that people will notice and you will get promoted.  That is total bullshit.  It happens some times, but it is the exception and not the rule. Getting  promoted means playing the politics, which in high school is equivalent to being elected Homecoming King/Queen – sometimes it is the best student or the best person, but often it is not — but then keeping that homecoming title every year and fending off other people who want it. I had zero interest in any of that stuff growing up, and I don’t now.  Life is too short, and none of this will matter in 100 years.  

Personal Reflection: I really don’t want to be — and couldn’t be — an Exec because I don’t care about rank

Thinking about John G – a horse’s ass who talked his way to Sr. Director at a large firm :)

Meet John G.  Five years the firm I was working at hired him as the Director of Operations, and put all of delivery and recruiting beneath him.  He had previously been an unemployed Tester before moving into Test Management a few years earlier.  Now, he was in charge of my delivery teams when I had a 7M book of business with several important clients.

From the get-go, he was a horse’s ass.  After two months, we had no clue what he was doing, he made no commitments other than it might take up to a year to see changes, and he was calling in sick at least every two weeks.  Then he started attending our three Partners’s weekly lunches, and everything began to change.

He hired a random consultant to start generating reports.  Suddenly, what used to take a few minutes, took 15 minutes since we had numerous fields we had to complete.  Then he had us go back two years in the system to implement changes. I complained to the owners, stating I was trying to generate revenue, not reports.  We started getting data, but no improvements to delivery.

Then he implemented twice a week meetings, took away my dedicated Sales Engineer, and realigned all of delivery so they had specialties, which made 1 or 2 people happy (the ones with good specialties) but alienated the rest of delivery.  Then he started changing our pricing structure, which impacted my sales efforts.

Then he took away my consultant (one that I hired) and assigned to one of his projects, but in doing so he alienated my clienbt, and this client canceled our project. Then, a month later, after I told this John G point blank not to give pricing to my client he did anyway, and because sales is a finesse game where you have to build credibility over time, he spooked the client by presenting a large price at once and they cancelled the budget.  

I complained to management, but nothing changed. Still, everything might have been okay, I probably could have gotten rid of the guy, except I was diagnosed with lung disease and put on prednisone in the midst of all this.  Now, what I didn’t realize is how much prednisone messes first with your brain, then with your energy, and suddenly I was too foggy headed and exhausted to think clearly although I could see whwat he was up to.  

Frustrated (the entire staff was actually) by his destruction, and probably because I was stoned on prednisone, I quit. THe next week, I’m certain because I’d left, they whacked several members of the delivery team, primarily the ones I’d endorsed.

In the near term, of course, profits skyrocketed.  After all, they were still billing for my clients, but no longer had to pay my compesnation.  But that was temporary, of course, and before long John was in hot water.  But leveraging his trumped up success at this company, he somehow talked himself into a Sr. Dirctor position at a midmarket firm before he could be fired. Two years later, he is still there, in no small part I am sure because he is spending his time keeping his job rather than providing value.

The lesson here is a few fold.  Primarily that good things can happen to bad people, although some day it might catch up to him.  And that in Corporate America, it is not necessarily about working hard or being valuable — it is about positioning.  WHich is part of the reson I am loving my current role working with a specialty and smaller firm — far less politics and backstabbing.

Thinking about John G – a horse’s ass who talked his way to Sr. Director at a large firm :)

The People’s Liberation Front Of Judea – Today more than ever

Facebook is filled with opinions and political rants, but until people take action nothing will change. We are the people’s liberation front of judea – all talk, no action. :). Sociopathic leaders and despots seem to know that there are no moral victories – in the end, Brian is dead and talk is cheap.

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The People’s Liberation Front Of Judea – Today more than ever

Poetic Justice – my replacement at my last firm quit after a spectacularly unsuccessful 2 months

At the beginning of the year, my compay merged with a subsidiary, meaning there were suddenly two offices in the same city doing the same thing and chasing the same customers.  Despite company assurances that no changes would be made, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that at some point the company would need to merge teams, which meant me and my peer manager would likely be competing for roles.  After my boss — who supported me — was let go and by all accounts my peer was a backstabbing two-faced former car salesman (literally a former car salesman), it was pretty obvious my tenure was giong to be short.  What I loved most was my VP’s replacement thought he was being secretive, but it was really obvious to anyone with an IQ that my peer was “his guy.”  Two months after I parted ways with that firm, the office has had nearly 100% turnover, my team’s tremendous Q1 revenue growth evaporated and the pipeline was dry.  Last week, the backstabbing peer resigned after 2 months of spectacular failure, which means the VP has an office that has lost tremendous groudn and no one to run that office.  I love it!!  Bad things can happen to bad people.     Even better, I love my current new job and am already making strides.   

Poetic Justice – my replacement at my last firm quit after a spectacularly unsuccessful 2 months

What ruined the Earth and resulted in Donald Trump – the end of the last ice age maximus

120k ago the last ice age reached its peak – for a million years preceding this humans were trapped on Africa. But 60k years ago the ice retreated enough that humans had room to move – a short time later they burst out of Africa and within a few thousand years had covered the planet. Thus began the exponential process that put us where we are today – overcrowding, pollution, globalization, libertarianism, imperialism and Donald Trump. We don’t need Armageddon, terrorism or guns to start over and to spare us from Trump – we just need the glaciers to come back!

What ruined the Earth and resulted in Donald Trump – the end of the last ice age maximus

Scariest Book I’ve Ever Read: Rise of the Third Reich

Perusing the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (I love history of all kinds).  It is the scariest book I’ve every read (and I am a Stephen King fan)…  

Hitler and the Nazis didn’t suddenly storm into Berlin and take over Germany.  It started with a listless and disillusioned ex-soldier joining a very small community political discussion group at a time of social unrest.  Over the next decade, his abilities as a public speaker combined with increasingly bold moves and the successful recruitment of violent/powerful men at a time of social unrest led to the rise of Nazi Germany and the ultimate deaths of 10s of millions of people.  It is a terrifying book, because when people lose hope and there are times of social unrest, very bad people can take the small steps that lead to very bad things.  For Americans to think it can’t happen to us – at a time when increasing numbers of people in America feel the system is letting them down — is naive.  It is why a very blustery and racist Donald Trump has a surprising number of believers when in normal times he’d be laughed off the stage.  

The Third Reich — and 1984 — would not happen suddenly.  It would happen over time, in baby steps, as the ruling government was distracted by other things.  The real threat to Uncle Sam is not terrorists, but the disillusionment of the increasingly common American working at Walmart, living in their car or standing in line at The Food Bank.  And the only ones who can eliminate the real risk — the ones ruling our government — are too fractured and distracted right now to make the changes that are needed to put things back in balance.    

Trump, Cruz and Clinton are not the answers.  I love America, but oh my gosh it is a scary time 😦  

Scariest Book I’ve Ever Read: Rise of the Third Reich