Making a Mockery

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What in the world?
Last weekend I was able to go jeeping in one of my favorite areas of Utah. Mineral basin is a local area that is a fun place to challenge driving skills and take in some of the most beautiful country in the world. I was out with my wife, my sister and her friend. We had had a great time and were on our way home when we were stopped by a teenager on a motorcycle. He asked if we could come pull him out as he was high centered. I have been stuck up this canyon a half dozen times and understand the helplessness of being stuck. I said I would love to help. We followed him several miles until we found his vehicle and several family members digging and pushing to free the vehicle. I didn’t have a tow rope so we quickly lashed some straps together and began to pull but we ended up snapping the straps. After a few minutes a group of four wheelers showed up. They happen to have a strap and we began to pull the truck out. In the process the jeep was having difficulty pulling out the stuck truck. Some of the 4 wheeler group began pushing on the front and just as we got it free one of the pushers shattered the headlight cutting his finger to the bone. It began to bleed profusely. We quickly wrapped it in towels and a belt to keep it from bleeding. I saw that there was no way he was going to be able to ride his 4 wheeler back to his car as we were 10 miles from his truck. I told him to jump in the jeep and we will take him where ever he needs to go. The wound was quite severe and I was concerned with the bleeding and possible shock. I drove the rutted and washed out roads as fast as I could. We reached pavement and figured out a place to meet his group. Just after reaching the paved highway we discovered we had punctured a tire and stopped. The injured man’s friends appeared shortly and whisked him away to the hospital. Soon after getting the jeep jacked up and ready to change the tire I realized the proper lug wrench was sitting in my garage as I had used it to do something else but had failed to return it to the jeep. A few minutes later a kind gentleman stopped and asked if we wanted a ride. My wife and I drove with him to the valley and called some friends. A friend came and picked us up and dropped us off at our house. We packed some tools and drove back up the canyon to the jeep. We were surprised when the tire had been changed by a stranger after seeing my sister with a flat tire.

Why did I bother to share this story? Despite all that is wrong with the world we live in there is still an amazing sense of duty to help people in need. Complete strangers helped people in need with out question, demands or selfish motives.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Businesses Sometimes Just Don't Get It...

General Motors recently tried to boost sales by offering all customers the same discounts available to their employees. If I were a GM employee I would be pissed. In a “brilliant move“ GM just removed employee benefits. Companies who face financial trouble have often lost touch with their customers and their employees. Happy employees make happy customers. Happy customers are more likely to buy again and buy more volume. Its easier and more cost effective to keep a customer than it is to attract new customers. Why did GM think this was a good move?

“Increasing numbers of studies over the past six decades all point to one conclusion:
Organizations that pay attention to people issues will see results in their bottom-line profitability and in their sustainability in good and bad times.

• Companies with high employee commitment showed greater financial sustainability in tough times. High-commitment organizations outperformed low ones by 47 percent in 2000 and a whopping 200 percent in 2002 when the economy was at its worst in recent years.
• Low-turnover hospitals had lower risk-adjusted mortality scores and lower severity-adjusted lengths of patient stays.
• Companies that used employee-involvement practices had a 66-percent higher return on sales, 20-percent higher return on investment and 13-percent higher return on equity.
• Southwest Airlines, long noted for its people-friendly environment and open, trusted communication from management, has been profitable the past 30 years, including the post 9-11 months.
Committed employees are the essential ingredients of company success. However, employees can be fully engaged only when they understand and appreciate important company goals. Then, they can tailor their daily actions to effectively support key strategies, initiatives and customer-retention programs.
Today’s employees want more information from management. The past several years have created multiple uncertainties: Employees are concerned about the wavering economy, waves of downsizings, the faster pace of change both within organizations and within their marketplaces and the demands of customers for rapid response times and creative solutions.
Recent studies are showing:
• Only 52 percent of employees feel they know how their job helps promote company objectives.
• Only 39 percent of American workers trust their companies’ senior leaders.
On the other hand:
• Companies in which employees trust top management had shareholder returns that were 42 percentage points higher than those whose workers lack confidence in management.
• A 5-percent increase in employee loyalty can increase profits by as much as 50 percent. “
According to research results from Employee Retention Strategies Phoenix AZ

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Deep Throat or A Complex HR Conspiracy?
Recently, as the world knows, Deep Throat was revealed. As a Sundance employee benefit Bob decided (I assume it was him) that employees should view his work All the President's Men. That’s really cool. I was excited to see it on the silver screen and believed Redford would be there to discuss. An email from the HR manager stated that the movie was free. It later came to light that it was mandatory to see.

The day of the free screening came… It turns out that Redford was in New York doing the Al Franken radio show. On the Air America show they were talking about Watergate and the importance of Deep Throat to our society. Redford spoke of how disappointed he was that young people today don’t understand the significance of Watergate yesterday and now. It was interesting to hear him speak of the good and the bad of Mark Felt whistle blowing escapades. While I was sad that Bob wouldn’t be around to speak at the film I was still excited to see it. When I am walking towards the theater the HR Nazi Department drops the bomb. You must clock out to watch the movie. What the … It’s mandatory and I get to pay $40 to watch the movie. This same movie I can rent for $2 or even purchase on DVD for under $10 they expect me to give up over two hours of pay. Once again when it looks like Sundance is going to give a cool benefit they quickly jerk it away. I informed them it was a good movie but not for $40.

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Good Times Bad Times You Know I’ve Had My Share:
Led Zeppelin may have known a thing or two about the Service Industry. Being that I work in the luxury service industry I often watch how businesses service their customers. Since service related business is one of the “oldest professions” in existence there really isn’t much new and “revolutionary” in the business model; however I believe that there are those who are doing it better. I like to take the knowledge others and apply it to my job. If I am at a restaurant I take mental notes of bad service and good service. Last night my wife and I ate at a local restaurant that has been in business for at least 15 years. The restaurant is known for cheap food and delicious non-alcoholic specialty drinks. Their business idea is simple: provide good, fast, value food in a family friendly atmosphere. I have eaten at this restaurant dozens of times since they opened. Service food and other things are normally good but have had a variety of good and bad experiences with them. We had a great waiter. Our waiter was young and energetic; he was fast friendly and very good at what he did. He did a lot of things “right”. He was able to explain the menu, offer his favorites, and explained that his job was to make sure that we had an enjoyable time and if we needed anything he would provide it quickly. The waiter was a man of his word. He was timely with ordering, with bringing extras and provided exceptional service, a rarity in a location that is well known for their poor tipping. Why was this waiter so good? He was friendly, he engaged us with conversation. He sold us on the menu. He used his knowledge of the menu and took clues from our reactions to up sell us, boosting revenue for the restaurant. He provided impeccable service. No empty drinks, no waiting unnecessarily for items. If I were a business owner this waiter would be the perfect employee. The waiter knew his business and knew how to boost sales through good service and a friendly manner.

Now let’s look at some bad service… I have had Qwest formally US Worst (US WEST Communications, DSL for a year and a half. I may sound like a former angry US West customer because I am. US West once told me it would take 4 months to get a new phone line installed during their strike in 1997. Telling a loyal customer that it was going to take 4 months was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I started my mobile service that same day and have successfully avoided US West until I needed high speed internet in a rural location. I have paid a premium price (translation: a non competitive high price) for my service because I was a captive audience and they were the only gig in town. Through out the service it has been unreliable. I had called tech support which often was answered by a person with a thick India Indian accent with an American name like George. The fact that the tech was Indian doesn’t surprise me or even bother me other than they were difficult to understand and often they had no clue as to how to fix my problem. My problem was that during rain, snow, high winds or extreme heat my connection wouldn’t work. I rewired it to my telecom box. I believe it was a bad connection between the box at the street and the Central office. Of course Qwest never believed me. The day came that I could tell Qwest to go away. I tried to search online to do this, I tried finding a phone number but there was nothing. It took me 20 minutes to find the number to call to get it unhooked. After calling the number I was redirected no less than 4 times after following lengthy messages and menu selections. I was even hung up on twice.

Business is business and if you neglect your customer you will lose business. Qwest was arrogant enough to believe that good service doesn’t really matter and that their business will last forever. This is sadly a mistake. Qwest has had all kinds of financial problems and the biggest reason is poor service. Customers are willing to pay a little more to have good service. I think it’s the Wal-Mart backlash. While cheap prices will always grow a business; better service will make a business last.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Do you ever wonder what happened to honesty and integrity?

I sure do. I read the papers and see articles documenting the extinction of such values. For example…today I read: “(Terrell) Owens stood by his desire to renegotiate his contract Thursday, telling Comcast SportsNet for a TV interview that he deserved more money.” Just to refresh everyone’s memory, T.O. signed a year ago a 7 year 50 million dollar contract. Twelve months later he believes he is under paid and is holding out. Aren’t most people underpaid? But here is where I think it gets ridiculous… Owens is mad because he believes he is owed more even though he signed a contract. A contract is a deal or a promise. Mr. Owens is teaching young people today that a contract or a promise doesn’t need to be adhered to. Owens is displaying a shining example of how if you decide you don’t want to keep your word you don’t have to. Where is T.O.’s integrity and honesty?

Here are just a few quotes from T.O. on this subject:
“Like I always said, if I’m one of the top players in the game, pay me like I’m one of the top players in the game,” Owens told the station. “That’s not being selfish. That’s not being greedy. Right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“It doesn’t matter what people say about me, whether it’s in Philly, or in San Francisco, all across the world,” he said. “They can believe what they want to believe, but I know in my heart what I’m doing is right. "

“I don’t have to play football. I don’t have to play for the Eagles. It doesn’t matter what any of my teammates have said about me. That doesn’t matter to me. All that matters to me right now is my family.”

“Right is right and wrong is wrong.” So is adhering to a contract you signed is wrong? In my opinion the Eagles should fire you just as if you were a normal employee and not some over paid athlete.

One More Letter from Henri V

Bonjour Robert
How are you ?
I read some of the page of the web site of your son about to give organs.
Perhaps you know one of my grandsons has been operated to his kidneys just
at his birth; I am aware he could need to have another organ a day in his
life, and even that it is something that can happen to everybody at all
moment of the life.
I did not look at all, because I do not really appreciate the style of this
web site to talk about that, because of my own sensitivity, it is not a
critic perhaps the others people appreciate it very well, just something is
not well for me in the atmosphere of the pages. I saw your photos the 23 or
13 september and I have some things to comment, to express, but only to you,
in front of you.
And I didn't find words about the stem cells researches that is interesting
ways to explore to make progress to help to rebuilt organs by themselves. It
is a long subject of conversation to develop and I would prefer to talk
about that to you near you if you are interested to speak with me about
See you soon.
Henri V



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