October 25th, 2011 12:54 PM by Lehel S.
The Best Ideas Always Win
This week, I want to step gingerly around the edges of politics, hopefully without putting my foot in it. TIPS is not about politics. It's about living our values, achieving our goals, and having a great life along the way.
But this week, the news has been filled with events that put these issues in the guise of "political discussion."
I've been struck by the images of the Occupy Wallstreet protesters, first in New York, then in smaller demonstrations around the country. But, I've also been struck by people, folks we might label as Conservatives, who seem quick not only to disagree with the protesters, but to question the value of their actions.
Based on a flip of the coin, I'll address the protesters first.
I like their energy and passion. If only I could generate that kind of enthusiasm and commitment for my own goals!
They're up all night, marching all day, carrying signs, arguing, chanting, pursuing their agenda! It's got to be chilly on the streets this time of year, but there they are.
Good for them!
I remember as a younger man I had that kind of energy, but now I get tired and I fear I'm much more skeptical. The protesters remind me to ask whether I still believe that my words and actions DO make a difference. One of my core values is to speak out, share my truth, rock my world and shake things up, and so I try to learn from them. I contribute all I can. I try to stay focused on my priorities and make sure my time and actions reflect my values. The protesters remind me of these things, and I think that's good.
But I'm not sure they've thought clearly about certain things.
I see them protesting a banking system that, for all its faults and flaws, has allowed millions of us to get loans for education, mortgages for our homes, loans for our cars, finance our businesses and have many of the good things in life. I see them texting and talking on iPhones created by one of the great entrepreneurial capitalists of our time, Steve Jobs.
But most importantly, I see them celebrating the freedoms of assembly and speech, demanding the redress of grievances with no fear of repression or reprisal, and that makes me proud of my country. These are good things! I tip my cap to these people and wish them well, even as I disagree with much of their analysis of America's problems and their prescriptions for a cure.
And what of the other side?
Sure, as we get "older and wiser" it's easy to dismiss the enthusiasm of youth, to point out the weakness of their position or to disagree with their demands. Anyone can do that. We disagree with each other all the time.
What's harder is to hold on to our traditions and the good things of the past while being open to new ideas and new solutions. I see folks "of a certain age" dismissing the protesters because they are dirty or making a mess of the parks and streets. Sometimes they are rowdy and that offends my preference for thoughtful discussion. I get that!
But when we defend the status quo without listening to the demands for change, we miss an opportunity to grow. That makes me uneasy. As an old bald guy who likes our American traditions and mostly stands on the conservative side of things, I haven't been comfortable with some things I've heard from my friends this week. At a luncheon, one friend suggested we "Arrest them all!" On television I heard commentators suggesting the protesters should merely be patronized and ignored. That didn't sit well with me.
Over-throwing tradition and abandoning the values that have made America great is not a good thing, and merely revolting in the street is more like the violence of the French Revolution than the idealism of our American Revolution. But when a large group of people go into the street to proclaim their frustration, I think we should listen and try to learn.
Whether it's the Tea Party or the Occupy Wallstreet folks, people who take the time to march and protest do us a favor by speaking their truth. We should listen and try to learn.
Strictly Business: How to Lose Customers, FAST!
I had an astonishingly bad experience with a major clothing store this week, and I want to tell you about it. Perhaps it will remind all of us that perceptions count and integrity matters.
As a favor to my wife, I agreed to call a major catalog retailer and order some fall and winter outfits for her. I figured it would take 10 minutes to call the store, order the items, bill the credit card, and be done with it. And it might have, except for one little thing.
At the end of the call, the order taker asked permission to "include information about our travel club" in the shipment.
I wasn't interested and vaguely replied that would be fine.
She then repeated the offer and said she needed a specific yes or no. That got my attention and I started asking questions.
It turns out that once I agreed to her offer, I was actually agreeing to let them bill my credit card for membership in the club unless I specifically declined within 30 days.
Later, a supervisor admitted that almost everyone ignores the offer and throws it away with the paperwork they put in every shipment. Then, 30 days later, the company bills their credit cards.
I suppose what they are doing is perfectly legal, but I found it outrageous! For a $39 membership fee, they lost us as customers, forever. In one stupid move, they trashed their reputation and we won't be back.
My point? Trust is a vital business asset. Honesty, integrity, fairness and openness may be the "right" things, but they are also the SMART things when it comes to business! Never trick your customers! Never appear to take a short-cut, and always make the customer glad they did business with you.