Don’t “quit!” Find a new boss…

5 06 2015

They go by a variety of titles:  foreman, chief, supervisor, manager, director, chief operating officer, chief executive officer, president, chairman, founder, employer…  The title most often missing is “leader.”  Regardless what title the person you report to may wear, beneath the surface he or she must be a leader, “the head guy or gal, the one running the show,” “a person who rules or guides or inspires others,” as defined by[1]

Look no further than the pages of Fortune Magazine[2] to find a list of the world’s greatest leaders.  They come from business (Tim Cook, CEO, Apple), finance (Mario Draghi, President, European Central Bank), government (Xi Jinping, President, People’s Republic of China), religion (Pope Francis, Pontiff, Catholic Church), show business (Taylor Swift, Pop Star, Big Machine Records), and every other imaginable source. How do these high profile over-achievers compare with Bernie Smallowitz, supervisor on the 12-8 shift at Any Ironworks in Everytown, USA?  Does Bernie lead/guide/motivate you to be the very best pipefitter on the shift, in the company, in the industry?

According to The Wall Street Journal,[3] the standard mix of bosses/employees stood at 1:10 since the 1930’s.  Most recently, that ratio has grown as high as 1:56.  So, pick a number.  For the sake of argument, a ratio of 1 boss for each 25 employees should be reasonable.  With a current labor force of 157,469,000[4], according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6,300,000 or more of them have a job title that calls for some level of leadership.  Obviously, they cannot all function at the levels of Cook, Draghi, etc.

The questions then are:

  • How do you measure your boss’s leadership?
  • What do you do if your boss’s leadership is unsatisfactory?

Use this simple guide to measure your boss’s leadership:

Characteristic Rank (1-5)
Is your boss honest with you/others?
Is your boss intelligent/knowledgeable?
Is your boss organized (Planning/follow-up)?
Does your boss offer recognition?
Is your boss dedicated to the company?
Does your boss communicate well?
Is your boss reasonable?
Does your boss trust/believe in you?

With 5 being excellent and 1 being unacceptable, rank the people to whom you report.  If the final score is 36-40, you are a lucky person; 30-35, better than most; 20-30, not good but fixable; 0-20, find another job.  If your response to the first question is less than 5, you may choose to go no further.

As you ponder this dilemma, some thoughts to consider:  Does upper management support your boss?  After all, they chose him/her for that position.  They may be unhappy with his/her performance.  Are you alone in your feelings?  Always look within first.  Perhaps you can change the situation by offering support and constructive criticism.  If you sense your boss’s dissatisfaction with you, then carefully weigh your effort, and attitude.  Do you like your job, your employer, your work environment, fellow employees?  Answers to those questions will help you decide whether to:

  • Sit down with your boss and iron out your differences.
  • Seek a position in a different department within the same company.
  • Find employment elsewhere.

The process of carefully evaluating your employment by establishing specific parameters for your situation and then fixing values for each one should begin on your first day of employment and continue on a quarterly/semi-annual/annual basis throughout your career.  The process will help you establish a baseline and measure changes. Career decisions will then be determined logically, not emotionally.

Fifty years in the labor market is a long-long time.  Advancement will keep you fresh and motivated. Stagnation and boredom will drain your energy and steal your health.  Rarely do companies give out gold watches for thirty or more years of loyal support. No one cares about your future more than you.  Two thoughts that come all too frequently as retirement age approaches:

  • “If only I had found a way to fix my issues and stayed with that company…”
  • “I never really liked my job…”

You were selected for employment because of your intelligence, your knowledge, and your experience, not your emotions.  Apply those resources to career management, and you will enjoy a fruitful, productive, rewarding career.


Improving on Perfection, or How a Trolling Motor Changed My Life

9 07 2014

My son, John, and I took up salt water fly fishing five years ago. We started with 6 months of casting lessons from an 80+ year old retired Command Sergeant-Major, Green Beret with the patience of Job. Sarge taught us a variety of casts for normal conditions, windy conditions, around docks, etc.

About the same time, John bought a boat. Actually, it was an old and tired 14’ Sears Gamefisher with a 25 hp Mercury tiller motor. After gutting the boat entirely, he fabricated and installed resin infused stringers and ribs, put down a solid deck, mounted a bench seat, a center console and a fishing platform in the bow. He created a jack plate out of an 8” aluminum I-beam and mounted a Honda 40 hp, 4-stroke motor with cable steering from the center console. John affectionately named her “Greeny” after her white deck over green hull custom paint job. A stern mount, tiller trolling motor with 30 lbs. of thrust helped us navigate skinny water, and a Stick-It Anchor Pin held us in place when we stopped.

For the next four years, Greeny reliably delivered us to myriad fishing spots in the Indian River Lagoon from Vero Beach, FL south to the Saint Lucie Inlet in Stuart. We fished the Loxahatchee River, the Saint Lucie River (North and South), Bessy and Taylor Creeks, and occasionally ventured out to Lake Okeechobee.

When John found an immaculate, 19’ Hewes Redfisher with a 150 hp. Johnson motor, he decided it was time to move up. After bringing her home, John’s first addition was a Minn Kota Riptide ST bow-mount trolling motor with 80 lbs. of thrust and i-Pilot® GPS Remote.

Although we have only had two chances to fish with the new gear, the differences are so stark and obvious that it’s really easy to draw a comparison. While I expected the move up to a longer, wider, faster, purpose-built platform would be the biggest difference, in reality the trolling motor is far and away the most amazing, most significant improvement.

First and foremost, I no longer have to feel the pain of John’s almost constant frustration as he tried to put me in position for the “perfect cast.” I don’t have to hear him getting up and down over and over in order to adjust the trolling motor speed or direction. All of that can be accomplished with the remote.

When the ads say that you can, “Lock onto a fishing spot – and stay there,” they don’t give full disclosure to the importance of that feature. One of our favorite spots to fish is under the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart. The spot is not 50’ from the popular, highly trafficked channel used by boaters on their way to the inlet.

The wave action caused by passing boats was rhythmic and almost hypnotic in Greeny until the anchor line was drawn taught and there was a sudden “snap” as Greeny suddenly changed direction. That direction change couldn’t be anticipated and made standing in the bow a real challenge. The i-Pilot® takes the frustration out of that challenge, as the boat is allowed to ride up and down unimpeded. Once the disturbed water has passed, i-Pilot® simply returns the boat to its former position.

Fishing with John is my favorite pastime. The Minn Kota Riptide ST 80 with i-Pilot® has completely eliminated the least enjoyable part of that experience. Just imagine how much fun we’re having now!

A Recipe For Growth and Prosperity

2 07 2014

Select a group of three or four successful business people from a specific geographic area (a county, city, town, or village). Grow the group slowly through an application/member voting process, establishing firm guidelines for membership.  Meet every Wednesday for networking, breakfast, introductions, and brief presentations by a different member each week. Continue the process for 28 years.  After nearly 1,500 meetings, the results will be astounding!

Each week, a different perspective on business values is presented.  Members are given a chance to describe their business to the assembled group and in so doing, important business characteristics are shared.  An exterminator says, “I won’t accept a job that requires opening up walls, because I’m not a contractor.”  The group is reminded of the risks of overreaching.  A sales manager says, “I insist that sales people provide a rate card only after the value proposition has been established.”  The group is reminded that a quality product/service is more important than a competitive price.  A professional marketer says, “Accomplishment is more important than experience.”  Sixty businessmen find a new way to measure candidates for employment.

There will be some business people who will subscribe to the values and make them their own.  Others will perceive them to be flawed and will reject them completely.  Those people will ultimately leave the group in search of something more closely aligned with their business philosophy.

As the group grows, its influence in the community will flourish.  Picture 60-70 businesses in any community that all display an American flag in front of their businesses on the 4th of July.  Driving through such a community would generate feelings of patriotic pride.  Imagine as many businesses sharing beliefs in character, honesty, integrity, fairness, respect…  The entire community would benefit from such an image.

Stuart, FL, has always enjoyed a reputation for uniqueness; as a desirable place to do business; as a great place to raise a family.  A group like the one described above continues to thrive and grow in Stuart.  As Martin County Business Exchange members strive to help each other succeed, the entire community derives benefit.

Washington, DC – From a Different Point of View

19 05 2014


From a high point on the western banks of the Potomac River, there is a view of Washington, D.C. that includes The United States Capitol, The White House, and many historic landmarks. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, in precise formation share that view, as they symbolically stand eternal watch over the leadership of the country they sacrificed their lives to preserve. Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for soldiers who fought in every American war dating back to the Revolution.

Every American is obligated to spend a quiet moment walking a portion of the 624 acres.  Listen in the serene quiet to songbirds celebrating the beauty of the landscape as the hollow, somber sound of a horse-drawn, flag-draped caisson making its way on a cobblestone road announces in muted tones that another soldier is joining his comrades in arms.

Our debt to these brave men must be paid in patriotic celebration of the values upon which our country was founded and which they upheld with their supreme sacrifice.  Let us all make this Memorial Day special.  Ask our congressmen and senators to cast their eyes upon the rolling sea of white gravestones; to consider in that moment their obligation to the silent sentinels who watch over every step they take, every word they speak.  Ask our president to honor those brave soldiers through words and deeds that recognize their role in the history of our country.

To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store

9 04 2014

To the Woman Behind Me in Line at the Grocery Store.

As our lifestyles and events cause us to become more isolated, the individual who reaches out to others with a helping hand becomes a beacon in the night, a bright, caring light in an otherwise dismal, dark existence.  That light has reached us through this story.

Our hearts are warmed, our souls comforted by the radiance of one person’s kind act and the recognition of its recipient.  While the consideration shown to a downtrodden soul is exemplary, that effort reached only one extremely grateful individual.

The subsequent public revelation of that act of kindness will ultimately warm the hearts of an entire world filled with people who have lost or never had faith in their fellow man, people whose jaded, cynical hearts cannot find room for generosity.  Pay it forward?  Andrea, you have done that monumentally!

The Sweet Sound of Success

8 04 2014

It was the fall of 1993 when an acquaintance approached me about the possibility of joining him in a start-up.  His plan was to create sales campaigns for businesses, complete with text and images.  He uploaded them onto CD’s that the companies could then send to sales prospects.  It was only a short time later that we became aware of the World Wide Web, that portion of the Internet where graphics could be used to enhance text, where images could be included, and where addresses were given names instead of a series of numerals separated by dots.

 Websites had to be built to 640 x 480 resolution in order to fit the tiny monitors of the time.  A balance between appearance and speed was necessary because 9600 baud phone modems were the standard.  Access to the World Wide Web could only be gained through providers like Prodigy and CompuServe and America OnLine.

 Twenty years later, a close friend and business customer called to announce that he had just landed the largest service contract in the history of his company.  The company had researched potential suppliers on the Internet, read the reviews, and studied their websites.  Upon completion of the research, the company called and offered a contract.

 “Walter, I never would have done this if it wasn’t for you,” he said.  “I’ve always believed that the success stories were all smoke and mirrors.  I trust you.  That’s the only reason why I moved forward with ‘the plan.’  Now, I see for myself what can happen.”

 “The plan” is a sophisticated digital marketing campaign that presents the business’ impeccable reputation to the public through a variety of channels with emphasis upon the quality products provided, the experience of service personnel, the geographic area the business covers, and the level of customer satisfaction the business has earned.

 Buyers have become very sophisticated over the past 20 years as they have grown more comfortable with online shopping.  There was a time when the largest Yellow Pages ad garnered the most business.  Most of the population eventually saw through that ruse.  Flashy, animated, hi-tech websites with bold colors and striking images are slowly being passed by for websites with meaningful, relevant (not boiler plate) content.

The things we do…

31 03 2014

The morning of March 31, 2009 was little different from every Tuesday morning, although there was slightly more tension in the air.  The staff meeting seemed to drag on even more slowly than usual.  There were a few less fires to put out.  After checking the clock one thousand plus times, it finally proclaimed the noon hour in bright, bold, throbbing red numerals that somehow knew the significance of that moment.

The first tone of my cell phone signaled the beginning of a new and unique adventure.  While fumbling to dig the phone from a pocket too filled with useless detritus, anxious strides propelled me down the corridor to the front door.  My wife’s voice on the phone confirmed what I could, by then, see.  She was behind the wheel of her Solstice with the engine running.  Our parking lot departure could have impressed professional bank robbers as her anticipation for what was about to occur rivalled mine.

The short drive to Carl’s Pontiac – Buick – GMC in Stuart, Florida required “the patience of Job” as every one of the six traffic lights somehow managed to create confusion and backups for the entire population of snowbirds that infiltrate our community each winter.  Once we arrived at the dealership, my wife left to complete her busy schedule, and the transaction that ended with me accepting delivery of a brand new Pontiac G8 GXP was efficiently completed.  If only the dealership staff was also in charge of Stuart automobile traffic flow!  The whirlwind process ended with the exchange of a $40,000 financial commitment (spread over 60 months at 0% interest!!) for the 1,388th vehicle off the G8 GXP assembly line at the Holden Australia manufacturing facility.


2009 Pontiac G8 GXP – Panther Black Metallic

When my eyes opened, I was sitting in the Onyx/Red Interior of my Panther Black Metallic, sunroof-equipped car.  My right hand rested comfortably on the shifter for the 6-speed manual transmission.  Of the 1,829 built, mine was 1 (actually #58 off the assembly line) of 70 with that configuration.  The dream of owning a full-sized sedan with a manual transmission had been with me since 1965, and suddenly it was fulfilled!  Bill Hayden, the general manager of the dealership, at that moment told me, “Walter, you’re never going to sell this car!” On the 5th anniversary of that momentous occasion, I might agree.

The experience has not been a love affair.  More like a marriage, the past 5 years have been filled with ups and downs, like my first speeding ticket (85 in a 50).  I was heartsick when I burned through brand new rear tires during a 10 day vacation in Lake Lure, NC, that included a spirited drive through Deal’s Gap – The Tail of the Dragon (truly a high).  Trips to attend my son’s wedding in the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square, PA, and 16 months later to attend the baptism, in Herndon, VA, of my granddaughter, proved the G8 GXP’s prowess as a people mover.  78,000 miles later, the car is still a head turner.  Its rarity raises a lot of comments and questions.  I particularly appreciate its understated elegance.  Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tuxedo, reserves of power lurk below the surface.  Most importantly, every time I slip behind the wheel, ignite the engine, and shift into 1st gear with that authoritative “snick,” I am transported to another time – another place.  My dream has come true.



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