Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Sad State of American business

I am always baffled by the ineptitude some company's are capable of displaying. I have some long stories but they are so tiresome for me to think about that I will try to be brief.

We just did a house swap in Florida. The home had service with Direct TV. I called them to initiate service at my new Florida address. I currently have Direct TV at my home in Illinois as well. The order was placed and everything seemed to be under control. Then the installer shows up...he was lost. He failed to get one of the boxes to work and indicated he would return to fix it the next business day. The next day came and went and we never heard from him. When we get home to Illinois there is a message on the answering machine that the Direct TV installer is sitting in our driveway and he's wondering if we will be home so he can get the satellite box authorized. The problem...the guy on the message was sent by his idiot company to our home in Illinois; the box in question 24 hours away by truck....unbelievable. Obviously it took additional shenanigans to get the box in Florida fixed. One other interesting thing...several of the satellite boxes installed by Direct TV are refurbished units, sold for the same price of new units. They told me that the refurbs are actually better than new units. I hope the Direct TV people merge with CarMax and try to pull that crap. What they are doing is a deceptive trade practice; plain and simple. If you want Direct TV, buy your boxes at Best Buy. They will be new and they are the same price. Total bullshit. I thought this company was better than Comcast. Now I rate them as an equal and I think Comcast is useless.

Speaking of the Comcastic ones...I needed to get them to reactivate cable internet at my new home. I had to make 3 calls to them to get to a customer support person that actually said it could be done. The two other reps had no clue as to what to do. None. Nada. I'm glad that I just kept calling. The 3rd guy got a guy out the next day and we had internet. The first two used two different reasons why service could not be scheduled for a couple of weeks...If I was stupid enough to own stock in this company, I would give it to Al Queda. It would serve them right.

This is the quote that sticks with me..."You don't have to be different to be great, being good is different enough." Amen

Friday, March 06, 2009

Conversation Stoppers

Some of these actually happened...

What do you think of our new President, Barack Hussein Obama....next

I think professional wrestling is awesome...oops gotta run I'm late for my root canal

Well, my house was on the market for quite a while but then Jesus sold it for me...one question before I run away, was he wearing a yellow Century 21 jacket...just curious....bye

Well, all rich people have no morals, are greedy and dishonest...excuse me?

Same sex marriage is not natural...well I guess people who think like you should be sterilized...deal?

Me - I'm going to vote for the best candidate available
Response - Why would you do that?

Why should I vote for a tax increase for schools, my kids are all grown...you must think that way because school was lost on you...gotta go

I love Rush Limbaugh...were you just at the WWF smackdown? What I meant to say is "can I smack you down?"

Have you found Jesus?...no but I heard he works for Century 21 Realtors

I hate __________ (this is a fill in the blank)
rock music
the way Eric Clapton plays his guitar. Its noise to me.
people that drink alcohol
that movie you just told me you saw and really kinda liked

Ok...we're done

I love ______________

your wife
my toupee
the Jonas Brothers
Dick Cheney
George Bush
Barry Manilow
Pine Nuts

Outta here...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

You've got a friend

Something happened recently that I had some trouble processing.

A business colleague that I hadn't worked with since 1985 or so passed away and I hadn't seen her or talked to her in about 10 years. She was 61 years old and working in Arizona. She apparently contracted some type of terminal cancer. She was not someone that you would call "warm and fuzzy". On first blush,, she seemed cold. I had worked with her for about 10 years at several different firms. I got to know her and, on a personal level, this woman had a great sense of humor once you broke through with her. Flat out, I like her; she made me laugh. Her personal life was somewhat of a shambles; I know she was married and divorced at least 3 times; she never had any children.

When I was informed of her passing, I went online and signed one of those newspaper guestbooks expressing my condolences at her passing and making a point of saying how I appreciated her sense of humor. I never did go back and check the guestbook.

Several weeks later I received a notice that the guestbook was going to be closed unless I wanted to extend it. I clicked through to the guest book and was mortified that mine was the only comment that had been left. I felt an instant pang of hurt for Madeline. Was she really that alone? I hope not. Maybe people just didn't find the guestbook. In any event, it made me a little sad to think that she might have been this alone. May she rest in peace and somehow know that while we were not close, she was my friend and someone that touched my life.

I am so thankful for my friends and family. You should be too.

To all my friends and loved ones, I love you more.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My "economy" post or people suck

Something happened today with some of my former employees that makes me want to take back everything I said in my last post. Not really. That post is a theory and probably has as little application in the real world as the economic theories that led us to the mess we're in today.

Let me say this though...people really can suck sometimes. People can do things to make you travel to places you don't want to go. OK, longtime employees you made things complicated. You "thanked" me and "appreciated" me while doing me at the same time. Just screw me...don't patronize me. You insult my intelligence. I respect your right to do what you feel is right for you but I don't have to agree with you or deny that you cut me deeply. My former colleagues I am sorry and certain you made a mistake on many levels.

I'll get over it but it is no wonder families are splintered, religions blow each other up and there is so much other discord in this world. These folks were like family. Cancel Christmas.

Follow up ... Okay so maybe I was a little emotional when I wrote this. I don't apologize for letting my feelings out even if they are clouded by the heat of the moment. Suffice it to say that things were not as they seemed. Everything has calmed down and regular uninterrupted sleep has returned. I'm sorry for letting my emotions boil over but I thought that my blog was a great place to vent and work my way back to dealing with the problem that arose in a calm professional manner. I did get there. Christmas is back on.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is there something wrong with the economy?

I have to get this off my brain.

There are a number of fundamental problems with large numbers of American businesses. These problems can only be fixed from the inside out. The government can prod businesses and regulate but it is really up to the business community to make their way out of a lot of the messes they have created.

Some are going to read this and call me a socialist or an idiot, or worse yet, an idealist; call me anything you want. For the record, the only one of those three I have not been is a socialist.

Most of the businesses in this country are run for the benefit of stockholders. I don't have a problem with that idea at all. In the simplest of examples, if the stockholders are risking their investment to start the business, they should reap an equitable reward for taking the risk. If that relationship doesn't exist, we will lose the risk takers. Not a good thing...

The problem comes in how many businesses prioritize the components essential to running a successful business. This is the way it has worked for us. This is the thing that makes me extremely proud of what we have done over the last 20+ years.

Priority 1 - Employees and their families
Priority 2 - Customers

Simple. You take care of your "families", they will "go to war" for the company. Again, simply put, if you make your employees feel the "love", your customers will also feel it. Treat them with respect, Happy customers equals happy owners (stockholders).

This is the ideology or framework, there are obviously a lot of details in constructing a useful business. If you use this ideology to create a business for which there is no market, you may be great to your employees but there are no customers...big problem. Recognizing the need for your product or service is an example of one of the important details.

If you are not being equitable to your employees, the lack of equitable treatment will extend to your customers and it follows that your stockholders are also at risk of being cheated. Is there any chance that a business run like this is good for the community? adds value to society? has a chance for long term success?

While I have used the word "simple" several times, I have not used the word easy. This is not easy. Competing is not easy but we are not afraid of competing. I just think that competition does not mean that you have to give up the qualities that make you a good citizen of this world and in fact, I don't think sustainable success is achievable without contributing to furthering the greater good on some level.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Update on Gerard

Well, the Melancon euphoria didn't last long. Gerard wrote back and told me he no longer makes left handed guitars. He wasn't making enough lefties and decided not to hold on to the tools that he needed. Oh well it's not meant to be.

I do have a lead on another custom guitar maker (Suhr Guitars) and I think I am going to take the plunge. I've decided on the specs...now I just need to "stimulate the economy".

The only thing that is constant is change...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Guitar update

Back in May of 2007, as many of you know, four of my guitars were stolen. If you are interested in details, posts about the incident are still available on my blog. One of the guitars that I really missed was the first custom made guitar I ever bought. It's pictured here. It was made by Gerard Melancon of Thibodaux, Louisiana. I was unable to make contact with Gerard at the time and I figured his shop was another victim of Katrina. I was right. On a whim, I tried to contact him with an email yesterday and he responded! His records were destroyed so he does not have the specs on the guitar but I think with the information I have and his talent, we are gonna build Jim's Melancon II.

I'm ecstatic. The police in my hometown were useless in recovering our stuff. The states attorney, who was a college friend, was no help. They had one of the kids red handed and absolutely nothing happened. It was a very disappointing experience with law enforcement and justice. The thought of replacing one of the precious items that was taken by the worms that did this is a small, unexpected victory for me.