Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Idiot’s Guide to Management for Dummies

“I manage therefore I am” (to paraphrase Rene Descartes) has been the guiding principle of my life. Not only that but also “I am, therefore I think I manage.” In this respect I go both ways (but I’m not consciously gay). When people ask me: “How are you?” My response is invariably: “I am managing.” Managing is in my blood, in my guts, in my shorts, even in my urine. It’s not just what I do, it’s what I am, which is to say, I am a manager.

Being a manager is in some ways like being a father, or a mother; in other ways like a rich uncle or a distant second cousin or just a simple nobody. You are part of an extended family, and everybody is looking to you because you have all the answers. It’s lonely to be all by yourself, stuck with the tough problems, and you better have a management philosophy to guide your decisions, otherwise you might be accused of being ad-hoc or tactical or maybe even a terrorist.

My management philosophy in a nutshell is it’s all about people. I am a people person, first and foremost. Yes, it’s possible to run a business without people, especially if you’re in poultry, but in my line of business, you need people. The problem with managing people, though, is that they have personal agendas, negative attitudes and minds of their own. Also they have body odor and dental hygiene issues that can knock your nose out of its socket. Face it, people are pretty much unmanageable. To address these and the multitude of other obstacles standing in the way of managerial success, the manager applies what is known as management.

The founding father of modern management is widely acknowledged to be Jack Welch (aka Captain Neutron) the former CEO of General Electric. I’m a Welchian and you are too, whether you realize it or not. We’re all Welchians. Except I am a Neo-Welchian. Welch’s management philosophy is as deceptively simple as it is Darwinian – every year fire the bottom 10% of your workforce. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that in 10 years time your company will have exhausted all its bottom performers, and will be left with 100% top performers. And how can you tell who these top performers are? Simple, just tally up the top earners. It’s about as quantitative as it gets, it’s that basic.

Now the technical term for these bottom performers is turkeys. Your typical company consists of turkeys and foxes. The strategy is simple. Slaughter the turkeys and feed them to the foxes to increase the size of the pie for the pigs. Right, I forgot to mention the pigs…and the weasels. The weasels are constantly trying to outsmart the foxes, while leaving the turkeys in the dust at every turn. Also worthy of mention is the rattlesnake spewing its venom throughout the organization and the hyena spreading misinformation. Kill them if you can, but take care. Sitting on top of this circus is you, Joe the manager. Your directive is simply to slaughter the turkeys, feed the foxes, nurture the weasels, shoot the rattlesnake, trap the hyena, placate the bear and serve the pig. Did I mention the bear? Whatever you do, don’t mess with the bear for goodness sake.

Sounds simple? It’s anything but. Ever hear of Sarbanes-Oxley? If you’re Joe the manager, you not only have to be constantly managing all these beasts, you also need to take individual responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of your company financial reports. So while you are busy slaughtering the turkeys, feeding the foxes, nurturing the weasels, shooting the rattlesnakes, trapping the hyenas, placating the bear and serving the pig, you’ve got a calculator in your other hand checking the rounding errors on the company balance sheet. And don’t look now Joe, but the government just raised your taxes.

How do you keep on top of all this? In two words, Six Sigma. This is Welch’s second great innovation brought to life at GE. Six Sigma is a systematic process by which defects and errors are identified and eradicated, without mercy. Six Sigma was originally conceived for the factory floor, but has since been extended to other types of business processes and just about any situation you can think of. In fact I recently deployed Six Sigma at home with highly satisfactory results. My wife was initially quite skeptical, but now she swears by it. Like baseball, Six Sigma is very statistical, which is to say tedious and boring. The bottom line is the grading system ranging One Sigma (31.0000% efficiency) to Six Sigmas (99.9997% efficiency). The implication for you Joe the Manager is clear. Convince the evaluator to certify your performance as Six Sigma. That’s not going to be all that difficult given that the evaluator is bound to be the fox or the weasel whom you’ve been feeding and nurturing all this time.

So maybe you’re not so good with numbers? Join the club. I’ll make it really simple for you. You know Milton in Accounting, the guy who is constantly nickel and diming you on your expense reports about unauthorized lunches and alcoholic beverages and business retreats at men’s social clubs. He’s a turkey. Then there’s Jason in Business Development who has recently been holding impromptu meetings with Laura in Sales, the girl you’ve had your eyes on for the past two years, and was on the verge of asking out for one of those lunches that Milton would most likely give you grief about. He’s a turkey. Jason that is and Milton - they’re both turkeys. Not Laura, she’s a fox. Only make sure your wife doesn’t get wind of Laura; wives don’t appreciate the intricacies of management. Most wives are entirely clueless about the subject, at least mine is.

In my experience, this is pretty much all you need to know to be an effective manager. At least it’s everything I know. Though I would strongly recommend attending one of my management workshops where you can learn by listening rather than by reading. Also you’ll get an opportunity to meet a wide range of Joe the Managers just like you. I should add that seating is limited and void where prohibited by law. Now go out there and start managing! And for Chrissake don’t mess with the bear!

© Copyright 2009, LoserCafe. All rights reserved.

Confessions of a Sexaholic

My name is Norm (that’s not my real name of course; my real name is Clifford) and I am a sexaholic. There I said it. I’ve been plagued by this awful disease, and yes it is very much a disease, since the tender age of twelve, months of age that is. It is a plague that does not discriminate by race or gender, though something like 99% of sexaholic s turn out to be male, closer to 100% actually.

As is commonly the case, my sexaholism began at home, in the bathroom. My father was a sexaholic, though the condition had not at that time been identified as such by the medical establishment. My father had a tendency to engage in sexual intercourse with my mother, though at less frequent intervals as time went on. Their bedroom was strewn with massage oils and candles of the sort advertised in the back pages of magazines that shall go nameless like The Nation and Esquire. Though nowadays this sort of paraphernalia are openly sold in the checkout line of your local supermarkets and seven-elevens. That is what passes for progress I suppose.

Growing up in a sexaholic household was in many ways quite ordinary, at least on the surface. We watched TV, celebrated Thanksgiving, Halloween and especially Valentines Day, and even tossed around the baseball now and then, but clearly something was amiss. As a child I always felt different from my friends, in part because of the unspeakable acts happening under my roof, which incidentally was very prone to leaks, the roof that is. Sometimes my father and mother would spontaneously hug and kiss in plain view, as though I wasn’t even there, surely as a prelude to what must lie or should I say lay ahead. And afterward my father would invariably take a shower. That leaky, drippy sound will forever be etched in my brain. To this very day I find it difficult to shower, and much prefer sponge baths.

The trauma of growing up in a sexaholic household extended to school as well. Simple tasks, like homework and test taking were very painful for me. I lived in constant fear of exposure, and to compensate submerged myself in useless hobbies like stamp collecting and tennis. I wanted to be invisible, but I also wanted to be extremely popular and cool. I felt confused, isolated and adrift.
One day after school, I must have been eleven years old at the time, I snuck into my parents’ bedroom and lit one of their scented candles. I think it must have been a desperate attempt on my part to escape from my feelings of inadequacy and isolation. Or maybe the electricity was out yet again; the electrical wiring in our house dated back to at least the 18th century. The candle smelled weird, yet oddly pleasant, kind of like my mother’s salmon casserole, her signature dish. Then I became dizzy and almost blacked out. Although I knew what I was doing was wrong, I couldn’t help myself from returning the next day and the day after that, even when the electricity was working. Soon it became a routine and shortly afterward a habit I could not break.

My problems however were just beginning. As I turned twelve strange things were happening to my body. Hair was popping up in the most awkward places and I suddenly started having salacious thoughts about my world history teacher Ms. Sherman. Suddenly the Peloponnesian war took on whole new meaning if you get my drift. I was hooked.

And then my life took a serious downward turn. I began to fantasize about women’s body parts, especially the naughty ones. I began to hang out with girls with the intent of engaging in unnatural acts of one kind or another. I began to go out on dates with girls in my high school. I was a mad man. Going into my senior year events began to spiral out of control. And then it finally happened, at least for me, (I’m not sure about Jenny though.) It was brief, but intense. Also a little messy. Words could hardly describe it. Most amazing of all, I felt completely on top of the world, completely oblivious to the depravity into which I was sinking. I was in way over my head.

Things went downhill from there. Over the following two decades I went about my life in happy go lucky fashion entirely oblivious to my ever worsening condition. Amazingly, I didn’t even realize I had a problem. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned to hours, hours to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, years to leap years, and before I knew it I was married, engaging in sexual activity once, even twice a week. Things were reeling out of control. On our honeymoon we engaged in intercourse twice in a single day! My sexaholism was beginning to consume increasing amounts of time and energy to the point where I would be chronically late to my regular poker game. I was beginning to get that knowing look from my poker buddies, but I was too wrapped up in it all to even notice.

I was on a collision course with disaster and the locomotive had already left the station. Then one day, about a week ago things finally came to a head. The kids were finally in bed, and I proceeded to put on the Marvin Gaye on the bedroom stereo and prompted my wife to join me upstairs for yet another carnal fix, but tonight was going to be different. Tonight my wife was going to take a stand and draw the line in our shag rug, which looking back on it could really have benefited from a power vacuuming. Things got heated. She finally blurted out, “you know Norm (actually Clifford) you really have a problem, I think you may be a sexaholic, deal with it.” I was totally thrown for a loop. “Sexaholic? What is that?” She responded, “look it up on the Internet, dickhead, And how many times do you expect me to listen to that sex machine song for Christ sake? Can we maybe find some music from this century?” That hit me like a ton of bricks. What an eye opener. Do you have any idea what it is must be like to live with a sexaholic, day in and day out, for upwards of twenty years? Maybe you do, it’s a fairly common condition. So you know it had been no walk on the beach for my poor wife all these years, that’s for sure, (though I myself am not big on walks on the beach on account of my weak ankles, give me pavement any day). Anyway that was the night that turned around my life forever, and I resolved then and there to seek treatment.

The following morning my wife kindly tried to soften the blow by stating that she might have overreacted the night before on account of being premenopausal or some such pretext. I think she was trying to soften the blow. She even offered to give me a “rain check”, and became increasingly insistent as the conversation went on. What a woman. But enough was enough. I had finally come to the realization that I had been living a lie, and that the past 20 years of my life was nothing more than a cry for help. The time had come to take the bull by the horns and get my life back on track.

Later that day I checked into Sexaholics Anonymous and began their patented 12 step program. Through SA, I have encountered dozens of people such as myself. I have come to realize that all the sex I had engaged in was a colossal waste of energy, merely a symptom of my insecurity, low self esteem and lust. A new world has opened up for me. I came to realize that my childhood and adulthood was not my fault, that I had merely been a victim of circumstance, but the time had come to take charge of my life. I gave myself permission to love myself again. Today I am a new man, as you can plainly see.

Over the past week I have transformed my life top to bottom. I finally quit my job (which I believe was a major contributing factor to my sexaholic tendencies) and have devoted my life to helping people such as myself suffering from this devastating illness. The victims of sexaholism are not merely those unfortunates plagued with this devastating illness, but also their wives and girlfriends and mistresses not to mention children, aunts, uncles, in-laws first cousins, second cousins and even causal acquaintances. It’s a disease that claims millions if not billions of victims, not only in the United States but across the planet, and consequently cries out for a global response, on the order of the United Nations or maybe NATO. I have therefore launched a web site on the World Wide Web to address sexaholism in all its complexities and nuance. The address is, not to be confused with, which is nothing more than a porn site. My web site, which incidentally is optimized for broadband and is highly secure, requires registration and a major credit card. The credit card is for solely for identification purposes; you will not be charged a dime, at least not within the 30-day trial period. It’s all disclosed in the fine print, which I would skip if I were you.

On the web site you’ll learn about some of the incredible research being done to treat and eventually eliminate this horrible epidemic. There are also tons of fun facts. For example, you may be surprised to learn that while there is a high correlation between being a sexaholic and being a sex maniac, the two conditions are in fact entirely distinct with very different symptoms and treatments (though I was treated for both conditions just in case). You might also be amazed to learn that according to recent findings, maleness is the primary risk factor for sexaholism. Other risk factors include baldness and being Jewish. If you’re a balding, male Jew like me, congratulations, you’ve hit the trifecta, you’re practically guaranteed to be a sexaholic. But don’t despair because the condition is utterly treatable and a cure is just around the corner given sufficient funding. This is a problem definitely worth throwing dollars at (and Euros too)! On the website you will also be eligible to participate in a virtual walkathon to end sexaholism once and for all. The beauty of it is that the walkathon exists in a virtual world where you select an avatar to walk on your behalf, sparing you the walking not to mention the blisters. Why knock yourself out? Just sign up and register. It’s all on the web site.

Ever since I have emerged from treatment I feel like I have received a second chance, a new lease on life, and have therefore decided to dedicate the rest of my days to finding the cure, not just for me, not just for you, but for our children, and our children’s children, and our children’s children’s children – beyond that I begin to lose interest. Together we can stop the cycle of dependency. The time is now, if not yesterday.

© Copyright 2009, LoserCafe. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Five Questions......That Will Land You Your Next Job

True Fact: This is not your father’s job market. In today’s economy it can take years to find the right job. In some cases, decades.

Another True fact: Most employment decisions are based not so much on your responses to interview questions as on the quality of the questions asked by you!

Yet Another True Fact: To land an offer in today’s dog eat dog job market your questions must not only be informed, they must be distinctive and memorable so as to define you as a stands out from the pack maverick.

Final True Fact: Without a qualified job coach such as myself, you don’t have a prayer.

Over the past year I’ve patented a series of questions that are virtually guaranteed to land you your next job. Armed with the Five Questions, I would be amazed if you do not land a job offer right on the spot, and as those who know me will attest, I am not easily amazed. Without further adieu, here are the Five QuestionsTM :

Question #1: “Why is your company different from all other companies, and how does that tie into my signing bonus?”
Strategy Pointer: It’s always wise to lead off with a softball question. This question also demonstrates your strong confidence in your qualifications, and more significantly provides some immediate cash flow potential.

Question #2: “I am a team player and committed to the financial health of the company at which I am employed. Could you share with me precisely how much cash is kept on hand and where exactly it is kept?”
Strategy Pointer: This not only demonstrates your deep concern about the company’s welfare, it provides useful information that will come in handy down the line.

Question #3: “What is your favorite color of the rainbow?”
Strategy Pointer: This trick question is guaranteed to throw your interviewer off his or her stride. Let’s consider some hypothetical responses:
Red: Better dead than red as they say…
Orange: Better Red…
Yellow: The color of cowardice? Not this GI Joe.
Blue: The color closely associated with depression, licentious music and worst of all the ultraliberal democratic party. I don’t think so…
Green: Expropriated by Al Gore and the eco-terrorist movement. No thanks.
Indigo and Violet: Acceptable, but not terribly bold.
The best response: “I don’t much care for any of them,” or “I’m colorblind and am frankly offended by your question.”

Question #4: “What would you consider to be my top strength and weakness?”
Strategy Pointer: This kills two birds with one inquisitive stone. First, it furnishes you with your top strength and weakness should you be asked to provide this at a later date. Second, it provides a perfect opportunity to suck up to the interviewer by stating how spot on and perceptive he or she is about the tremendous skills you bring to the position.

Question #5: “If you were me, would you hire me?”
Strategy Pointer: This clever, semantic puzzler turns the tables and puts the interviewer on the spot. The answer will of course be yes – who wouldn’t want to hire themselves?

Why am I giving away all this valuable information? Because I desperately want your business, that’s why. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to win your business. But what would I actually do? you might ask. Well for starters I will accompany you on your job interviews, and be at your side during the job interview itself providing hand signals and other useful cues. And that’s just for starters. For the full picture, check out Clifford by the way is my partner. My business partner that is, not my gay partner. He’s not nearly good looking enough for that, and in any case I am not particularly gay, though I could be if that’s what it takes to win your business.

Must be over 18 to apply, void where prohibited by law.

© copyright 2009, LoserCafe, All rights reserved.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wanabat Resolutions

It’s that time of year again. I refer of course to Wanabat, the Cambodian New Year. Happy 2553 BE (Buddhist Era).

As you probably know, Wanabat falls at the end of the harvesting season when farmers can finally relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Wanabat is often celebrated with water-throwing or dousing, similar to water boarding, but of a good natured sort.

In commemoration of the holiday, I have assembled some Wanabat resolutions which I’m going to keep by gosh:

1. Spend more quantity time with the special people in my life, the loved ones who really matter, which come to think of it are pretty much me. So even more me time in 2553.

2. Give myself permission to love myself again, and most importantly, act upon it. Initiate a love affair with myself. Shower myself with spontaneous acts of affection on a frequent basis. Arrange romantic candlelight dinners with myself and read aloud sonnets proclaiming everlasting love and devotion to myself.

3. Sell all stocks and shift funds to online gambling sites that provide a more secure rate of return.

4. Confront gambling addiction. No wait, that’s too confrontational. Nurture gambling addiction.

5. Get a new look, or for that matter any look.

6. Improve my listening skills, or at least pretend to listen, or maybe just nod my head occasionally.

7. Connect to 10,000 new friends on Facebook and ask each of them for a $1,000 loan secured by my Facebook wall.

8. Watch less television and more YouTube. Make that more television and lots more YouTube.

9. Recharge my batteries and consider switching over to ethanol or any other alcohol based compound.

10. Do something about global warming, even if it’s merely a hollow, symbolic gesture like turning up the air conditioning in the summertime.

11. Remove Mccain-Palin poster from my front lawn and replace it with “White Middle Aged Bald Guys Seeking Bail Out, for Obama” poster.

12. Finally quit smoking once and for all. This should be doable as I don’t smoke. Always handy to have at least one realistic resolution.

© copyright 2009, LoserCafe, All rights reserved.


Memo to my Boss


From: Norm

To: Boss

Subject: Executive Compensation

According to the media, we are living in desperate times, and desperate times as they say call for desperate measures. Take the Treasury Department restriction on executive compensation to just $500,000 a year for banks that (reluctantly) receive federal bailout money. Call me a socialist (on second thought don’t!), but I believe this could perhaps be extended to the private sector – to our very own company even. You’re thinking: Norm, you talk a good talk, but are you prepared to walk a good walk? (In these shoes?) Yes, I am! I am prepared to make this supreme sacrifice here and now.

Specifically, I propose that effective immediately my compensation be adjusted to $499,999 per annum (that’s per year in case you’re not fluent in Latin). That is well within the $500,000 cap imposed upon the banking industry, the very backbone of our economy (which reminds me I need to book an appointment with my chiropractor, my back is killing me). I understand that this means foregoing the deferred compensation package I have been receiving in the form of company backed collateralized debt obligations (please remind me again, exactly how do I cash these in?) I am also prepared to give up the executive perks that had been generously bestowed upon me including the all expenses trip to the company’s annual arm wrestling tournament in Indianapolis . Fortunately my team building skills are fairly well honed by now.

You are probably thinking, this makes a great deal of sense, but how do I justify this rather substantial increase in salary at a time when management has been charged with reducing expense and headcount? The answer is simple: Ever wonder why the Yankees pay ARod $28 million a year when the Yankees fail to make the playoffs or why the head of Merrill Lynch pulled in a $15 million bonus last year while his firm went down the tubes. It’s called pay for performance, not results. Not only past and present performance, but potential future performance, weighted by probability and discounted for net present value. In other words, you’ve got to look beyond the numbers. Downsizing and cost cutting are part of the problem, not the solution.

Sure, you can pay me what I’m worth - and you know what - that’s exactly what you’ll get. Or you can pay me far more than what I’m worth, in which case, you’ll get all that and then some. As any economist will tell you, you get what you pay for. If you want to hire the best people, you need to pay top dollar, and in all humility, I am best people material. So why arbitrarily limit compensation in the first place you might ask? Good question for President Obama!

This is a classic case of viewing the glass as half empty as opposed to half full. Needless to say I am not in the glass half empty camp, and neither I trust are you. When I see a glass, with a few drops of water or even with no water in it, I look beyond that to the water that could potentially inhabit the glass. I see not only a glass overflowing with water, I see a flood of water. I’m thinking, somebody grab a mop for Christ sake and clean up this mess. A mess not in the negative sense, but a positive mess, a mess of abundance and happiness. That’s why during last summer’s so called drought, I continued to water my lawn in full view, notwithstanding the dirty looks from some of my neighbors, in full knowledge that the so called drought was merely an opportunity to accommodate the deluge of rain that would inevitably follow. Interesting fact: the human body is composed 78% of water, give or take.

The bottom line is that somebody has to step up to the plate and make the necessary sacrifices imposed by the government, so it might as well be me. I say together we can make a difference, and once again please refresh my memory on the company backed collateralized debt obligations.

A great man once told me, Norm, your opportunities are limited only by your imagination; your success is limited only by your enthusiasm; your upside is limited only by your desire, and for goodness sake, go out and buy yourself a decent set of cufflinks already. That great man was you.

© copyright 2009, LoserCafe, All rights reserved.


Kiss My Grass

And they will beat their plowshares into scythes
and their pitchforks into rakes. — Isaiah 2:4

According to the eminent theorist Professor Klaus Von Yurman, landscaping is in reality one-upmanship waged by means of gardening. Professor Yurman draws a sharp distinction between landscaping strategy, which falls primarily within the realm of botany, and landscaping tactics which falls squarely within the realm of horticulture. All this is widely accepted, though I have to admit that when it came to my own lawn I was at a complete loss as to strategy or tactics; all I knew was that my lawn was swimming in crap. Literally. I came by this knowledge upon being served with a citation from my township’s Bureau of Waste Management.

As to the dismal state of my lawn I had nobody but myself to blame or should I say my wife. It was my wife who pressured me into delegating the lawn mowing to my son. Pay the boy $20 to mow the lawn and instill some responsibility. It would kill two birds with one stone, build up my son’s character and preserve what remained of my lumbar vertebrae. Unfortunately it would also kill my lawn because my son’s understanding of the arrangement was $20 a week and he would maybe mow the lawn if and the extent to which circumstances would permit. Inevitably however circumstances seldom permitted - circumstances such as tennis, twittering, facebooking, shopping, and chilling. Of course my daughter who had an airtight parity clause written into her contract would insist on the same deal, leaving me $40 a week in the hole. Then there was my wife - who is not exactly domestic - more like foreign - from Massachusetts that is - a place real Americans (especially Americans from Massachusetts) have a hard time pronouncing let alone spelling.

In a matter of weeks my lawn began to resemble the brush land outback of the Kalahari and the situation steadily deteriorated from there. My neighbors began to dump their trash on my lawn, not merely their recyclables. Apparently they mistook our lawn for the village garbage dump. Next came the dogs. Then things finally came to a head when the block committee held a secret meeting and voted us off the block association. Henceforth we would be shunned by our neighbors. If we needed to borrow a cup of sugar, we would need to go around the corner. This would pose a major hardship because although we purchased sugar by the fifty kilo bag, we were constantly running out, and don’t get me started on our dental bills.

In abject despair I turned to Professor Klaus Von Yurman’s seminal text “Horticultural Thinking, and What To Do About It.” I read with particular interest his chapter on “so called” professional gardeners, which was rather complex and mathematical, though I could discern a distinctly ominous tone. After several days of intense caution, and against my better judgment, I hired our local landscaping service Sandino & Sons, though as I later learned his sons had a similar deal to that of my children. After obtaining the services of a Spanish interpreter I was heartened to learn that Sandino would mow my lawn for the modest sum of $80 per week, May through September. Given that I was already in to the tune of $40 per week, the additional $80 per week seemed like a steal, especially if it included having my lawn mowed. I signed up on the spot. A month later when Sandino finally showed up (sans sons), he informed me of a slight complication. My lawn was apparently diseased, and whatever it was, it was highly contagious. The only hope would be to tear up the lawn and start from scratch. Happily I would be eligible for a limited time 10% member discount, so the cost would not exceed $8,200 unless complication arose, which as he disclosed “inevitably would, in all honesty”. The only alternative would be to lay pavement over the lawn, which would of course be unthinkable. After a second of considered thought I opted for the unthinkable.

As the final section of concrete was being poured, I was served with yet another summons, this time from the township’s Department of Planning, Building and Zoning. Apparently my little home improvement project was in non-compliance with building code section 347-173, which mandates the procurement of a bona fide permit for partial or total demolition of residential property, and which in any case would not have been granted in accordance with zoning ordinance 548-345 subparagraph D, prohibiting the pouring of concrete, pavement, tar or any other inorganic substance on acreage hereto designated for horticultural use. Failure to comply may result in a fine of up to $60,000 and prison time up to 2 years for repeat offenses.

Twelve thousand dollars later, after the final slab of concrete had been pulled out, I was at the end of my rope - literally out of rope - so I rushed out to the hardware store to buy some. On a wild impulse I also purchased a bag of grass seed figuring what more do I have to lose. Turned out the bag of grass seed was infested with rat feces, but I returned it for a brand new bag, and laid down some grass seed. Well the grass gods must have been with me that day because a brand new all American green lawn sprouted in a matter of two weeks. Then I threw total caution to the wind and had a go at the lawnmower all on my own. Turns out mowing the lawn is actually salubrious for your back; it exercises the muscles and stretches the joints. Feeling pretty heady at that point, I mustered up the gumption to call off the mowing deal with my son and daughter, pocketing an additional 40 bucks a week.

It wasn’t pretty though. They convened a family meeting and threatened to mount a massive legal challenge to the Supreme Court if need be. Nevertheless with all the money I am saving, I once again am able to make the dental payments; don’t get me started on my dental and legal bills.

Most importantly, however, I am a man again. I am at one with my lawn.

© Copyright 2009, LoserCafe. All rights reserved.


Company Culture: Finding the Best Fit

Congratulations! You’ve got a job offer, finally. But is it the right job for you? Are we talking about a fleeting infatuation or a long term relationship? Are you and the company truly simpatico or merely lusting after one another? Are you unprotected? No matter how prestigious the position, how high the salary, how outrageous your target bonus, how high up the corporate ladder, how fabulous the health plan, how generous your vacation days, how amazing your corner office view (by the way what was the name of that recruiter again?), if your company culture is unhappy or ethically challenged, you may not in the end feel entirely fulfilled (note: though in the end we’re all dead anyway). It is therefore incumbent upon you to determine whether your prospective employer is aligned with your core values and beliefs, but how? Luckily for you, we have devised a patented 6-step approach to assessing company cultural fit, guaranteed not to fail. Guaranteed by whom you might ask. Guaranteed by Clifford&, that’s whom.

Step #1: Self Assessment
The first step in this process is self assessment. Ask yourself: In all honesty, do I have any core values and beliefs? If you are like most people, the answer to this question will be a resounding no, in which case you are in luck. You needn’t read on any further, though you might want to just for the heck of it, in the unlikely event you acquire any core values and beliefs later on in your career.

Step #2: Inventory of Core Values & Beliefs
As to those of you who imagine that you hold core values and beliefs or anticipate doing so in the future, there is a second crucial question you must ask yourself (note: it’s not too late to go back to step #1 and call it a day): What are my core values and beliefs, or what might they be if I were to have any? Unlike step #1, which is a simple “yes, no, or depends” type question, this second step is somewhat more open ended, and thus requires some reflection and thought. Of course there’s still time to go back to step #1 and crack open that six-pack. OK, time is up, list your core values and beliefs in order of importance, or if you are having a difficult time prioritizing, just list them in alphabetical order, or just randomly, the order isn’t really all that essential.

Step #3: Clear your mind
Take a long break and clear your mind, but don’t leave your self assessment list lying around where it will get thrown away or lost in the clutter. Store it in a prominent location such as your kitchen table; just whatever you do, don’t lose the bloody list. (Note: in the event you do lose the list, which you most likely will, you can simply return to step #1 and move on already.)

Step #4 Assess Company Culture
Culture is expressed through the words and behaviors of each employee, especially bosses. The job interview is your golden opportunity to assess the work environment and organizational norms. But how can you assess the company culture during the interview while you are trumpeting your accomplishments, expanding on your differentiated value proposition and repositioning your weaknesses into strengths? Well, nobody said it was going to be easy (note: Don’t tell me you haven’t gone back to step #1 yet; what’s wrong with you?). Your window of opportunity is towards the end of the interview when you are invited to ask questions. Here are 3 fool proof questions you would be well advised to memorize verbatim (just do it):
• Does your company have a company culture, and if so can you describe it? Also where can I locate it on your company web site?
• I am a work hard, play hard kind of guy (or gal). But what really gets me up in the morning is making money and lots of it. Not just dollars and cents, but also Euros, Pounds, Pesos, Rubles, Rupees, Dinars, and Shekels. Is this compatible with your company culture?
• I am a people person. My management philosophy is to put people first; especially people of the opposite gender who I find exceedingly attractive, however I am also very bottom line oriented, and I tend to put profit firster. How does this map to your company culture?

Another effective assessment tool is keen observation. Don’t let anything escape your notice during the interview. No detail is too small or trivial. At the same time, it is essential not to be distracted, and to stay on message. Here are some factors to be on the lookout for during your interview:
• Office Décor: How did the workspace look and feel to you? Was the paint peeling? Did you notice any offensive photos or artwork on display such as swastikas, confederate battle flags or other potentially offensive imagery? Were the restrooms conveniently located?
• Courtesy & Respect: How well were you treated while interviewing? Were you left in the waiting area for hours on end and forced to fill out a detailed 20-page application in triplicate? Were you treated like an honored guest or a terrorist? If the latter, were you subjected to torture as defined by the Bush doctrine (physical pain equivalent in intensity to serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death)? Were you at least provided with an interview schedule?
• Rapport: Were there any unusual gestures or offensive language that the interviewer used? What sort of body language was conveyed? How about eye contact? Did the interviewer bring up any uncomfortable topics of a violent or prurient nature? Did the interviewer at any time request a cash payment or personal favors? Did the interviewer smile and shake your hand firmly at the close of the interview?

Remember, interviews are your opportunity to observe, ask questions and assess the company culture. In some cases it can even lead to getting a job offer.

Step #5 Take Another Break
Time to take a deep breath again and relax. You’ve just been through the interview from hell for chrissake. Don’t worry too much about the follow up letter. You’ll get around to it when you get around to it. Besides, if the cultural fit isn’t right, what’s the point? Cultural fit is what needs to be focused upon first and foremost. At this point I bet you’re wishing you had taken my advice earlier on and skipped back to step #1 and be done with it. Well, dream on, it’s too late for that now. (Note: technically it’s not too late, you can return to step #1 at any time).

Step #6 Map Self Assessment to Company Culture Assessment
The sixth and final step is the part that requires a modest attention to detail. First retrieve your self assessment document (don’t tell me you lost it; no more excuses already), then map each of your company culture observations to your self assessment listing. Don’t panic you can do this, though perhaps not competently though, which is why you should consider engaging a certified Company Culture Compatibility (CCC) Consultant such as myself. Yes, it’s expensive, and worth every penny and more. Company culture compatibility assessment is the last place to be penny wise and career foolish.

We can’t guarantee that you will find the perfect workplace that is 100% aligned with your every value and belief, but if you rigorously follow our patented 6-Step process you ought to eventually find an organization out there where the culture and your values can to some extent coexist. But why take a chance? Immediately contact a certified Company Culture Compatibility (CCC) Consultant such as myself, and leave your worries behind. Remember we’re not just talking about a job, we’re talking about your career.

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