Archive for November, 2013

Ah, Christmas time.  There’s a nip in the air from Old Man Winter’s exhales, the world seems a tad cozier, and millions of shoppers with mostly good intentions rush to buy crap for other people.

Before you click REPLY and call me Scrooge, let me explain: Gift giving is a lost art.  It has morphed into a seemingly obligatory gesture toward anyone you have even remotely had contact with in the past year.  Now we have a sense of obligation to give gifts to bosses, neighbors, pets, dentists, the paper deliverer, teachers (though my copywriter, as the husband of a teacher, has no problem with this since it usually means gift cards to restaurants and retail outlets that he can enjoy,too), barbers, doctors, cashiers— it’s as if we’ll be shunned by society if we don’t buy something for everyone we know. While being generous and giving to others is great, the meaning behind it has been lost in the mire of Black Friday sales and credit card access, all part of this imagined requirement to  give people junk, er, presents, in order to prove to them that we like them and wish to stay in their good graces.

There was a time when giving a gift had a very special meaning behind it.  You liked/loved someone enough to think about what the perfect present would be to show that person how much you cared.  In the office environment, this sense of duty is running rampant.  It’s an awkward exercise in butt-kissing and ego strokes, where you end up giving gifts to people you may not like. all out of some politically correct requirement to make everyone happy.  Bull manure.  If you want to give gifts to co-workers, that’s fine.  But please, do it on your own time and in private. Make it personal, not a spectacle for everyone around to look on in faked admiration of your gesture.

If you can’t escape the clichéd Office Gift Giving Spectacle*, here are some rules you should abide by:

  1. Give the same gift to everyone.
  2. Never give personal gifts while on the clock.
  3. Follow current gift giving protocols.  Don’t rock the boat; it ain’t worth it.

If you would like to do away with gift giving in the office, consider these:

  1. Adopt a family in need and have the office pitch in to make sure their Christmas is a merry one.  (Heck, why not start it now and keep with it during the year?)
  2. Adopt a charity and have people donate to a large pool that will be given to the charity under the company’s name.
  3. Simply end it.  Outlaw it.  Be the Grinch and forbid the Whos in Whoville from giving gifts during office hours.

In an ideal world, we’d all be known for daily acts of generosity.  Being generous and kind enriches us all and has a way of snowballing and spilling over into other areas of life.  Gift giving in the office, however, is about as pleasant as being handed a “hot job” at 4:55 on a Friday.

What are your thoughts on giving gifts in the office?

How can organizations spread holiday cheer within the office?

*Gift giving in an office with a SMALL number of employees is fine

What if.  Two words that can either mean pondering the possibilities of what can be done or looking back in regret at what wasn’t done.  In all our lives, there have been at least a few times where we made a decision, for better or worse, that affected the rest of our lives.

In his poem “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost describes his thought process on which path to take at the divergence of two roads.  He describes each path as being similarly overgrown and traveled but leading to different locations entirely.  His dilemma: Taking either way presents its own challenges and rewards, so which one should he take?

Frost’s poem eloquently puts into words a common occurrence in everyone’s life: We arrive at a fork in the road in the form of a decision, and choosing one direction will yield ‘x’ results while choosing the other will yield ‘y’ results— sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book but with real consequences.

Think about your life and the decisions you have made.  Have you undeservedly forgiven someone?  Forgiving them usually yields peace of mind, but what if you didn’t offer them absolution?  How would your life be right now?  Or, on the flip side, what if you could bless someone extravagantly?  What if you could bestow upon them good health and happiness— even if they may not deserve it?

What about your professional life?  What if you could disciple/mentor someone personally?  What if you could take that proverbial lump of coal and transform it into a sparkling diamond?  What if you could give your team the skills and the confidence to reach beyond what they thought was possible?  What if you could be a shining example of professionalism, determination, and drive?

What if?

What if you had a bucket list (similar to mine)?

  • Forgive someone undeservedly.
  • Bless someone (ANYONE) extravagantly.
  • Disciple someone personally.


Why not?

I’d sure appreciate YOUR feedback and YOUR action steps in the comments below.

From the time we are children to the time we breathe our last breath, we’re involved in negotiations.  Whether it is negotiating to stay up later as a kid or a later curfew as a teen, we’ve all done it.  (Granted, I usually lost those negotiations but hey, live and learn!)  As a guy who grew up in the 80s, my first memories of serious negotiations involved the US and Russia as well as Israel and Palestine, each seemingly involved in never-ending discussions involving give and take on both sides.

Fast forward to your professional life.  In sales, good negotiating skills are a must.  Without them, you’re spinning your wheels as your car is suspended in the air.  Successful negotiations involve a little give and a little take from each party involved— I have and will deliver ‘x’ if you can do ‘y’.  Simple concept, yes, but in order to nail it, it takes practice.

The main goal of any negotiation should be leaving the table satisfied that you are getting something equal to or greater than what the other party is offering.  Stand your ground and be firm in what you want, but be willing to bend a little to make that needle move your way.

Recently, I attended a funeral and my mind wandered to its usual “morbid” place when I’m at one of these solemn events.  I wondered about the dash between the deceased’s birth date and death date.  What events took place in this person’s life that shaped them to be the person they came to be?  What joys and pains did they experience?  Were they able to travel to the places they dreamed about as a kid?  Did they enjoy what they did for a living?  Did they make a difference in the areas they wanted to leave an impression?

We are all on a limited-engagement basis on this big ol’ rock we call Earth.  We all experience happiness, sadness, elation, depression, and a host of other emotions throughout the course of our lives— that dash between the ‘Born’ and the ‘Died’ on our tombstone.  Some embrace the urgency of living life to the fullest within the allotted time we have, however long or short that may be; some of us choose to wallow in uncertainty and fear while the days fade into months, which disappear into years.

As for me, life is for living mezzo forte.  But I don’t want a dash; I want a damn lightning bolt.

What does YOUR dash look like?