Braverman's Blog
Terry Braverman and Company

Plymouth Rocks

In 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, toting 102 passengers—an assortment of religious renegades seeking a new land where they could freely practice their faith plus other adventurous, liberty-loving folks lured by the promise of land ownership and prosperity in the New World. They initially dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod; one month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, landed at Plymouth Rock to begin the work of establishing a village.
 

The first winter was brutal, with only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew living to witness their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers relocated ashore from the ship, where they received a surprise visit from an Abenaki tribal member who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, who taught the Pilgrims, hampered by malnutrition and disease, how to grow corn, extract sap from maple trees, snare fish, and detect both edible and medicinal plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the rare examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
 

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest was deemed successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as the first “Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. A holiday that now tends to stress immediate family bonds, its original spirit is a tribute to the family of humankind, and the values of liberty, mutual respect, and working together for the common good.

Life After Debt

My friend Michael Horn once said, “Are you wondering if there’s life after debt?” When the going gets tough around money, a sense of humor and perspective will help you navigate through difficult financial times. It can even be hysterically funny how worried, attached and obsessed we get with our money!

 

Comedian Jack Benny, the acknowledged king of the tightwads, satirized this brilliantly in a sketch that had him being held up at gunpoint. When the gunman says menacingly, “Your money, or your life!” Jack strikes his patented pose, pondering the choice, and says, “I’m thinking...” In real life, Jack was reputed to be a generous man. Making fun of the tightwad persona reminds us all to lighten up our relationship with money.

 

If your money could communicate to you, what would it say? “Darling, take me out before I get old and wrinkled,” or conversely, “You don’t give me a moment’s rest! I feel used up. Would your money say, “You just don’t appreciate me; I feed you, clothe you, give you a comfortable home and a car, and you treat me like dirt. I’m outta here!” Or, “Do you want me locked up in a safe all day? You’re too possessive! I need to go out and circulate.” Money is like any other form of energy, it is meant to circulate. Of course, it helps to be prudent in deciding how to circulate your money. From the book, Accent On Humor: “Last week I spent $450 to fly to Florida, $350 to rent a car, and $80 for gas to drive to a $250 a day resort and attend a $1,995 seminar called ‘Money Isn’t Everything’”

.

Prosperity is a state of mind. If you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell, you’re conscious of prosperity, or at least the sensual banquet of life. Having enough is a very relative concept. Millionaires have a lot of money in most people’s eyes, yet some of them are chronically worried about money, while some of the poorest rejoice in what little they have and feel as though all their needs are being met. In his book “Everyday Wisdom,” Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “The first step towards discarding a scarcity mentality involves giving thanks for everything that you are and everything that you have.”

 

So what does humor have to do with money? It keeps us in balance when we undergo financial setbacks. It keeps the little voice of fear out of our ear. In the documentary film “Marx Brothers In A Nutshell,” writer Norman Krasna reflects on an encounter with Groucho: “One afternoon in 1929 Groucho lost $230,000 in the stock market. Years later, he took me to the VIP gallery at the stock exchange. At the top of his lungs in a vaudeville voice, he starts to sing `When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. ‘The whole stock exchange froze like a painting. He sang two lines, then stopped and said, `Fellas, I lost $230,000 here one Friday afternoon in 1929. I am now going to sing two choruses of `When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.’ And he started again. Now, the (ticker) tape is coming in blank all over the world. They must think there’s an earthquake in New York. So Groucho finishes the song and everyone gives him a tremendous hand. He looks down to the floor and says, ‘Don’t just stand there, you could be wiping someone out in Beverly Hills,’ and continues to do five minutes of shtick. They were roaring at every joke, and the stock market went up several points that day. I don’t see why they didn’t keep Groucho there permanently.”

 

Excerpts from the book, “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough, Lighten Up!’ 

                                                       

CMental Floss Publications

all Rights Reserved    

 

                                                                                                                          

Is Your Project Under Budget or Underwater?

Quote for the week: “Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.” — Cornelius Fitchner

IS YOUR PROJECT UNDER BUDGET OR UNDERWATER?

In-depth surveys by the Project Management Institute (PMI) indicate that approximately $80 billion dollars per year is lost in challenged and failed projects in the U.S. The reasons are myriad - lack of human and material resources, tepid buy-in from senior management/stakeholders, poor governance procedures, or skeletal planning. William Volpe, my PMP associate, asserts that 50% of the project life cycle needs to be spent in the planning phase. In reality, perhaps 10% of the life of a project is invested in planning, all but grounding any chance for a successful arrival at your destination.

 

Comprehensive planning includes not just a document life cycle, but thoroughly documented policies and procedures, defined roles and responsibilities, how resources are shared, prioritization, the “hand-off” points of a project, document templates and work instructions, stress testing, and quality control. 

 

Finally, there has to be a communication plan that includes a conflict resolution process and contingency arrangements. Why? It's estimated that 80% of mistakes, miscues, missteps, malfunctions in the workplace, call them what you may, are due to sloppy communication. Causal factors can be lack of complete documentation, lack of consensual definitions, or the silent killer of projects...withheld communications.

 

It is imperative to have a very clear, documented protocol in everyone’s hands that protects those who protect the integrity of the project, allowing candid communication of errors and exposing concealment of facts. Each project participant must have the official freedom to “blow the whistle” of admission, with limited or no negative repercussions; and for anyone withholding information essential to the project’s success, consequences must be detailed and enforced.

 

According to 55 percent of project managers, effective communication is the most critical success factor in project management. Nothing will maximize the success potential of a project more than a complete communication plan.

Best Excuse for Lying Down on the Job

Want to brainstorm or master mind for a great idea? We're smarter and more creative lying down than standing up, according to research on workplace productivity from Australian National University. 

 

In a study led by psychologist Darren Lipnicki, 20 people were given 32 five-letter anagrams to solve, such as "osien" and "nodru." Anagrams were ideal for the study because they are insight problems requiring creative thinking that are solved in a moment of sudden awareness, unlike a math problem. The participants were able to solve the anagrams more quickly if they were on their backs than if they were on their feet, report ABC Science Online and Discovery.com. "[Often] the solution just pops into the mind similar to the 'aha' or 'eureka' experience associated with large-scale creative breakthroughs," Lipnicki told ABC Science Online. "In that sense, anagrams replicate the experience because it's easier to solve them, or solve them more rapidly, lying down.”

 

It's brain chemistry, specifically how neurotransmitters are released when we're lying down or standing up. Noradrenaline is a chemical associated with cognitive ability and attention but is also thought to weaken creative thinking. Less noradrenaline is released when we lie down than when we're upright. Lipnicki says his research is still preliminary, and says it's too soon for companies to rush out and buy beds for their conference rooms. The study findings will be published in the journal Cognitive Brain Research.    

Auto Neuroticism

Quote of the Week:  “A fun game to play with car insurance companies is to see how long you can keep them on the phone before they realize you’re trying to insure the Batmobile.” – Adam Newman

 

Having just traded in my old vehicle for a new Insight Hybrid, I called my auto insurance company to get a quote for the revised premium. As I usually do whenever I need to contact them, I asked if there were any other discounts that I qualify to receive. Already I am getting the good driver and low mileage discounts. The customer service rep informed me of a Business Owner’s discount which would lop off a substantial 20% from my premium. “How long has the company offered this?” I inquired. The rep said this has been obtainable for a long time. “I’ve been a customer for 27 years, a business owner for 31 years. First time I’ve heard of it. Has it been in effect that long?” The rep replied, “I believe so.” Now I am feeling a bit cheated.

 

I continued: “What evidence do you require to get a Business Owner’s discount?” I was told either an academic degree, professional license, or business card would suffice. Easy enough, but what about all those other years that I qualified? I had the rep transfer me to the supervisor, who then turned the issue over to their Special Services Department.

 

Yesterday I received a call from Eileen in Special Services, who stated that the Business Owner’s discount has only been offered since 2006 (front line customer service seldom gets these things right). Still, seven years of being qualified for the discount. Why wasn’t I informed? “We’ve sent out information by mail, updating our customers on new discounts,” she asserted. Initially, I thought I went paperless for this, as is the case with everything else, but it turned out I was wrong. Yes, I suppose it’s my responsibility to rummage through those envelopes typically stuffed with sales offers, the kind I typically discard before opening. I’ve never seen a discount update inserted with a policy renewal notice. After all, most everyone would notice that.

           

If discount updates were sent and I didn’t read them, it is a moot point to request a rebate for all the years that I qualified. And, according to Eileen, “We can’t go back into the system to calculate any sort of rebate.” Still, doesn’t 27 years of customer loyalty count for something? Why wasn’t I told about the Business Owner’s discount when I asked about other discounts on the phone? Is it fair that other business owners are getting the discount, just because someone told them or they sift through every letter received from the company like gold miners?

      

The insurance firm is sending me a form to sign so that my premium will now reflect the added discount. They are maintaining their position that they cannot do anything about the previous seven years that I qualified for this discount. Do I deserve a rebate for those years? What do all of you readers think? Feel free to send comments!


15 Tips to Lighten Up at Work

Receive 15 Tips to Lighten Up at Work from
Terry's best-selling book...

AND get a FREE subscription to The Weekly Manager.

The Replenisher