Business Books and other Drivel

I’m a big fan of popular business books. I’ve been reading them since my introduction to Tom Peters and Bob Waterman wrote In Search of Excellence in 1988. I also go thru phases where I really enjoy the rah rah feeling that comes from self-help and motivational literature. These I make even better by listening to the author read them. You can’t beat Zig Ziglar talking about your need to, “Get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’!” or, my favorite Zig-ism, “Get a check up from the neck up!” Biographies of famous business leaders fall into this group for me as well. Everyone is caught up in some fallacious thinking. They believe that these successes are replicable by following the formula used (or discovered) by the author. This is only true in as much as the formula is basic common sense like work hard, eat right, get plenty of rest. The missing element is LUCK, or call it timing if you want to leave the mystique in it.

I recently read a post about Business Books on his Scientific American blog, Frontal Cortex. He makes the statement more harshly than I do. He thinks the authors completely miss the point. I agree that the y miss the point, but I like reading the stuff for the same reason that I periodically listen to Rush Limbaugh. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean you can’t learn something.In every pop business book, or sappy self-help audio, I find something that is useful. Often, it’s a reminder of something that I learned a long time ago but have let slip away. Sometimes it’s completely new and forces me to re-evaluate some heartfelt beliefs that may not be serving me well any more.

I’m constantly experimenting with my Indianapolis computer consulting business. My goal is to create an organization that is good at what it does; where people enjoy working; and where we make a positive impact on our communities. I’m more than willing to learn from the experience of others as I travel along the path. I won’t take any of this stuff wholesale and expect to have the meteoric results that get written about, but I do hope that one day, some Harvard Business Review author selects my company to interveiw for one of their latest vignettes.

Everything Matters

Gracie the company dog

This is Gracie. She’s been a part of our family for about six years. We got her because my wife felt responsible for the death of Wilma, our previous dog. Wilma was not a pretty dog, but she was the smartest dog I’ve ever owned. Gracie is just the opposite — dumber than a box of rocks, but as pretty and playful as any animal you’ll ever meet. I give you that background to explain Gracie’s new status as the official pet of Port-to-Port Consulting.

Now, several years later, there is no one at home in our house during the day. It’s not unusual for the last person to leave at 7:30 in the morning and the first person not return until 7:30 or 8:00 that night. Gracie is up in years (We don’t know her exact age because she was found with her feet frozen to the pavement in a WalMart parking lot.) and she can’t manage her bodily functions for that long a period. Who could? As a result, she’s been relieving herself in our living room pretty regularly. Susie was fed up with that and wanted to get rid of her, so I, the guy who didn’t want her to begin with, decided to take her to work with me where she’d be able to get out during the day.

Port-to-Port is a customer service focused company. That makes it strange that our internal environment often feels caustic. It’s like we use up all of our nice in dealing with our customers so we have nothing but nasty for each other. All of that changed noticeably when Gracie started coming to work. Everyone started being nicer to everyone else. Nothing else changed, but almost overnight, our office became a nicer place.

We spend so much time worrying about the things that make a difference that we sometimes overlook the fact that everything matters. Adding a loving, friendly dog makes our company a better place to work. Who would have thought?