Big Harry Deal

You can't get funnier than the news.

According to CNN:
"Prince Harry is to be pulled out of Afghanistan immediately amid fears for his safety after news of his deployment was made public, the British Defense Ministry said Friday."

They were fine having the lad fighting in battle - boys will be boys and all that. But having people know he's there? Now that's just dangerous.

Maybe, giving the family's history, they're more afraid of the paparazzi than any gun-wielding enemies.


Body Shop

I always thought that a car was a reasonable metaphor for a body. You give it fuel, it runs reasonably well, and when parts occasionally break down you go to the repair shop and get it fixed.

As I get older, I realize just how wrong this metaphor is.

With a car, you can actually get things fixed. It may take several trips to the shop just to figure out what the problem is, and you'll probably replace several other perfectly working parts and send your repairman's kids through college along the way, but you can eventually nail it down and either repair or replace the broken part.

Also with a car, you may have things breaking often and feel like the repairs are never-ending. But you can fix things one by one and, when you're all done, start fixing them again until you finally reach your limit and torch the heap outside your home and try to bluff the insurance company into believing your story about the unfortunate accident with the squirrel and the M80.

A body, on the other hand, consists of parts that, when broken, never actually get completely fixed. And until the glorious future of black-market doner banks where you can get entirely new limbs and organs for the right price from the wrong people, you really can't replace what you have. Or even if you could, the things wouldn't actually fit and function correctly.

The model for body repair is: you go to the doctor, they give you some medicine and exercises, and you go away and work on the problem. Months of physical therapy and several stages of addiction later, you realize that, in fact, the problem is still there always will be.

If cars worked like bodies, we'd never actually get them fixed; we would just learn to make do. You've got a problem with a wheel? Learn to drive with three. Transmission problem? Just put it in neutral and give it a good shove when the light turns green. Heater won't shut off? Just strip down to your thong whenever you get behind the wheel. Meanwhile, your mechanic will give you some useless fuel additives and stretching exercises for the vehicle. Sure, they don't do any good, but it got you out of his shop and your money into his bank account. At least, unlike body repairs, it didn't cost you an actual arm and a leg.

With bodies, the trick that makes it all work is that another, worse problem eventually arises. You worry about your blood pressure until you blow your knee out. Then you go through therapy and surgery with your knee until shoulder tendonitis kicks in, and you go back to the doctor and get meds and exercises for the new problem. This new problem will be your main worry and time drain until the next part breaks, and so on, until some problem is dire enough to ground you, six feet down.

Meanwhile, you'd better watch out for your spouse. When they get sick of your constant moaning about your aches and pains, they may just decided to torch you some night and try to bluff the insurance company.


Corporate Survival Guide: Sole Survivor

In Corporate War-drobe, it's all about the shoes.

  • The shoes are what your minions see when, awestruck by your power, they look down at the floor as you walk forcefully by.
  • The shoes are the only article of clothing you wear that sounds with each step (apart from the chain mail girdle), announcing to everyone around that You Are Walking.
  • The shoes, when shined appropriately, can reflect your visage enough for you to be able to tell in an after-lunch meeting whether you have any of that chili verde burrito left on your face.
So whatever you do about the rest of your clothing, make sure to wear the right shoes. Heels made of cast iron, leather made from the finest tanned squirrel hide, and buffed enough to shimmer; these are Shoes of Power.

I have experimented with different colors in the battlefields of corporate life, and have determined without a doubt that yellow does not cut it. Today's corporate warrior needs to make a bold color statement. This is why black is so critical to success; not only is it strong and stunning, it's a color that clearly says "Hey, I'm one of you, guys! My shoes are the same color! See?"

When choosing a style of shoe, first watch the executives of your company carefully. Come to the office in stocking feet, initially; choosing the wrong shoe will be worse than wearing no shoes at all (except for the broken glass in the parking lot, but the pain and blood will only harden your resolve). Note the color of the shoes (simply verify that they're black; I'm just proving a point here). And the style (wingtip? loafer? hi-top?). Now comes the important part; you need to know the manufacturer and brand exactly.

The best shoes are subtle about this, and only divulge the brand name inside the shoe (unless the tag is still dangling from the laces), so this will take some detective work. In some cases, you might be lucky and have a boss that takes off their shoes in meetings (this is a Corporate Warrior trick to keep meetings short with underlings). Or they might take off their shoes at the corporate gym when they go for a Power Shower. In either of these cases, you have easy access to the shoes. Otherwise, you will need to find out where they live and raid their closet.

Now that you have the shoes in your hands, take them. It's not good enough to just copy what they wear - you need to wear their exact shoes. The Corporate Warrior's version of the old saying goes, "You can never be the boss until you've walked a mile in his shoes." It's not a metaphor.

In some situations, this strategy can be problematic. For example, the shoes may be a poor fit or your boss may be of the opposite sex from you. There are two workarounds possible:
  • Suck it up: this is war, and you've got to be prepared to do what you need to in every battle. The shoes are just the beginning. If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn't, change your feet.
  • Choose your department and executive carefully. Everything about corporate life takes planning and precision, and choosing your department is no exception. As you look around the company, choose a group with an executive whose shoes look like they might be comfortable.
Sure, the boss might have big shoes to fill. But better your feet banging around in them than those of one of your conniving co-workers.



I like to make my own greeting cards. I'm just not convinced that Hallmark really nails everyone's feelings accurately. Here are some efforts that I'm considering for this Valentine's Day:

Roses are red
So is my blood, gushing from multiple thorn wounds.
Take your damn flowers.

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm bleeding profusely
I hope you are, too.

My love is like a red, red rose,
Cut short in its prime, now dead.

I already gave you the flower of my youth.
Is another bouquet really going to make a difference?


Mission State Meant

Marketing wanted "Strategy,"
A clear and concrete vision.
So the team went on an offsite
To create themselves a Mission

Statement, brilliant in it prose,
Clear, Concise and quite exquisite.
The offsite team performed its task
And came up with the requisite

Statement of their purpose
Boiled to its very essence
Crafted from experience and
All the myriad lessons

Learned from years of hard-fought toil
Fighting battles of release,
Silly dates, and sillier features,
Work that would not cease

Until the product finally shipped
Into the sweaty client's hands
Down the street, across the seas,
To those in distant lands

Who promptly ran the install program
And tried the product out
And quickly overran its limits
And began to shout

About the features not yet working
And the bugs that weren't yet fixed
Ensuring that the team's brief hopes
Of success were quickly nixed .

And so they all went back into their
Cubes, stained black from use
And eyed the next release
As though it were a bloody noose.

In memory of these former times,
Of utter, sad defeat,
The team did write their Mission Statement,
"Code. Ship. Repeat."


Happy Thoughts for Monday

Life actually is fair. We're just on the losing side.

Engineering is the welfare system for the socially inept.


Corporate Survival Guide: Meet the Challenge

One of the most critical actions that Corporate Warriors perform is meeting. We meet in the morning. We meet all afternoon. We meet to summarize our days in the evenings and we meet with our global workforce at night. We have breakfast meetings, we meet over lunch, and we have crucial meetings with drinks and dinner.

With all of these meetings, it's obviously vitally important that we have the right skills to conduct ourselves appropriately in each and every meeting. Through my years of experience on the Battlefields of Corporate Excellence, I have gleaned the most important factor in effect meeting: Staying awake.

Some people talk about the importance of attractive slideware with cool transition effects, or authoritative voices and a decisive speaking tone, or even the ability to reasonably discuss important topics. But all of these capabilities pale in comparison to the Corporate Warrior's ability to simply keep from nodding off and drooling onto the conference table or, even worse, drooling into your laptop keyboard, causing it to short out and bring the meeting to an embarrassing halt.

We can look beyond meetings to other, less important, facets of our lives to validate this assumption. For example, in all of the presidential speeches you've seen, from the State of the Union to the quick wave of "I can't hear you over the chopper blades" as the Big Man boards the helicopter, what is the single characteristic that the president exudes consistently? Right - he is always awake.

In the myriad of plane flights you've taken to transport you to other venues for more meetings, what is the single-most important factor in the pilots' abilities to fly and land the airplane safely? Right - staying awake.

In fact, I challenge you to come up with any important goal ever achieved by anyone important while the person was asleep (apart from the 1956 record-setting Helsinki snore-athon, of course).

Staying awake is probably the most important skill that any of us employee in doing anything. And since meeting other Corporate Warriors is the most important thing we do in life, it is even more important to remain vigilantly sleepless at during those meetings. Just imagine the poor decisions and lackluster discussions that might happen in our absence were we to simply doze off during a particularly tedious bit of level-setting process parley - it makes me shudder.

Now that we've established the importance of keeping those eyelids propped, you're probably wondering how to do it. After all, we have to sleep sometime, and between the all-day meetings, evening and night meetings, preparations for meetings, trips to the barista, and toilet breaks, how can we possibly stay awake at these most critical times?

It's possible, but it takes discipline. Fortunately, if you follow my 7-step program , you'll be able to do it.

Program Wakeup

1) Drugs
Drinking coffee to get through the day is old news. After all, companies have been using this legal drug for centuries to get their workforce through their tedious jobs, day after day. Coffee was apparently invented a mere two weeks after the industrial revolution, when management saw workers actually getting bored operating the looms and lathes. At first, management simply doped the cafeteria water fountain with liquified No Doze, but genetic engineers soon came up with a way to have the coffee plant, previously a mildly poisonous weed, actually bear fruit that contained enough stimulant to do the job.
But, like your gym workouts that you talk about but don't quite manage to have time for, you need to take coffee drinking to the next level. Don't choose between drip coffee and espresso; get a double-espresso as a depth-charge shot in your large coffee. And skip the Mocha-Frappa-Latte-Ccino drinks with the Italianesque names; you need the pure stuff. And get a pound of beans to go when you get your drink every hour; you can pop them just like you do your antacid pills. Sure, they taste awful and lodge in your teeth, but suck it up: they're also keeping your career alive, buddy.

2) Talk
It's not good enough to simply attend your meetings; you have to participate. For one thing, it's important for the people in the organization to know you exist. More importantly, the people above you need to know about you. But most importantly, recent studies from the Management Institute for Managing Studies have shown that it's physically impossible to talk and sleep at the same time.
It doesn't matter what you say; just talk. Nobody is listening anyway; they're concentrating on staying awake themselves.

3) Argue
Sometimes, it's not good enough to have a reasonable conversation. At some point, someone else will butt in and wrest the discussion away from you as they fight their own fatigue. That's why you need to, at least once an hour or once every meeting, jump into the discussion with a heated argument. Pound on the table, raise your voice, jump to your feet it you have to; whatever it takes to raise your blood pressure and pump a little adrenaline into your flagging system.
Like the "Talk" element covered above, it doesn't matter what your point is; no one cares. But they will care that you are passionate about something and obviously care; it will serve you well in the upcoming re-org.

4) Chew
Step one above included the use of espresso beans as a daytime snack. This is important for the drug itself, but also to keep something in your mouth. Research has shown that the body is less inclined to sleep if it's going to choke on something by doing so, so get something in that mouth of yours besides vapid conversation. Espresso beans are a good example. Also, gum works well, but try not to blow and pop bubbles. Mints can work as well, and have the advantage of always making everyone think that you smell so darned fresh. Of course, you don't want to completely gross out your co-workers, so, "be discreat." Examples of foods that don't work as well during a meeting include soup, spaghetti marinara, chewing tobacco (unless you are meeting in Texas), and the fruit durian, an Asian delicacy that smells like an outhouse.

5) Snort
Some Corporate Warriors are fortunate enough to suffer from allergies, but for the rest of us, we need to fake it. There's nothing like a constant sniffle and occasional sneezes to keep your body alert. If you don't have a cold and don't have allergies, you have to make do. In the old days, they used snuff for this purpose, but today we have many options available. I have found that the small paper pepper packets from cafeterias are just about perfect for the purpose. One packet snorted before every meeting ensures that you will sneeze and sniffle for most of the next hour. Lacking that, you might try mints; crushed Altoids work well, while Tic Tacs may lodge uncomfortably in the nose if snorted whole.

6) Drink
You should already be sucking down enough coffee to keep the legal Columbian economy afloat, but sometimes coffee is not enough. In particular, coffee is processed gradually by your body, causing an unwanted delay in bathroom breaks. Water, on the other hand, runs straight to the bladder, causing you to need a bathroom break on a frequent basis. Experiment with amounts that work for you, but a potty break every fifteen minutes is what you're shooting for. Beer is even better for bathroom frequency, although it has other downsides such as increased fatigue, speech slurring, incoherent arguments, and occasional fisticuffs. Beer should therefore only be used by politicians.

7) Make a Point
Finally, here is the ultimate stay-awake methodology; use your pen.
Many laptops have a mouse joystick in the middle of the keyboard. It’s that thing that looks like a clown nose but is far less disturbing. Remove it.
Now, insert the back end of your pen into that hole. The tip should stick straight up.
Position the laptop directly in front of you, a few inches away from the edge of the table.
Now your final fail-safe mechanism is set up and ready to go. If all of the above steps fail to keep you awake, you will eventually tip forward toward the table, jabbing the pen into your forehead (or perhaps your eye; let experience be your guide on positioning it appropriately). Besides being an amazingly effective mechanism for waking you up, it's also a fantastic metaphor for the Corporate Warrior; upon failing to stay awake, you voluntarily fall on your sword. But the pen is mightier than the sword. In this case, you die only metaphorically (in most cases) but then awake instantly, ready to discuss, argue, and wipe the ink and blood from your forehead.

If you are new to Program Wakeup, you may want to start slowly, mastering one step at a time. Soon, you should be able to practice all seven effectively, allowing you to achieve your full meeting potential.

Note that I've summarized the program above, but it's also available in DVD format, a 3-week Executive Offsite Seminar, and in my Forward Osmosis audio tape series, for easy listening while you're in transit to a meeting or asleep in one.


When I am King: Grave Concern

When I am King...

It's time for the Big Questions.

Why were we put here? What purpose does it serve the universe? What are we supposed to be doing on the planet before our untimely demise? And what's for dinner tonight, anyway?

I believe I have, after long observation, deeply vapid thought, and plenty of booze, figured it out.


That's right – we're just supposed to stress out for our entire existence until we kick it.

I'll qualify this: children don't need to worry. It's their job to make us worry instead. But the rest of us had better get worrying because there's no time to lose. Hurry up!

It's obvious if you look at our lives. After that initial period of carefree youth, we enter puberty with a dull wet thud and begin to worry about what others think of us (they hate us) and what we look like (it's not good). Then as we continue on in our education, we worry about passing our classes and whether people like us. We finally hit the workplace, where we worry about finding and then keeping a job.

Meanwhile, we start worrying about finding a mate.

Finally, after a few years of concentrated worrying about life and work, maybe things start to settle down. We're confident about our job (although we worry that we should be paid more). We might have found a mate (although we worry that they'll leave us). We do find other things to worry about instead, like money, our health, a home, our parents, our looks, whether people like us, television writers strikes, or even trivial things like war, famine, and the destruction of the entire planet's ecosystem. But for the most part, we worry less than we did.

Then we have kids and it starts all over again. Only this time we get our own worries plus those of our children: school progress, intelligence, activities, happiness, juvenile arrest records, health, and whether other kids like them.

This amplified level of worry sticks with us through the bitter end as we pick up other concerns, such as getting laid off, aging and falling apart like that piece of birthday cake forgotten on top of the fridge last June, getting stuck in a home by our thankless children, and whether people like us.

I've heard that some people say that life is too short to worry. But they're completely missing the point: life is all about worry. Take away the stress and what do we have left of our lives except a bunch of people that don't like us?

When I am King, I'll make sure that people have fulfilling lives by giving them constant things to worry about. The economy, the environment, the quality of Hollywood movies, the exact arrangement of foods on the FDA food pyramid; these are just a few of the things that could be toyed with to ensure that everyone has a full plate of stress, always.

But I feel I could do so much more to help; it worries me.