Monthly Archives: July 2008

Get Real

One of my favorite movies is Barry Levinson’s Tin Men.  Made in 1987 about 1963, it’s the second in his trilogy about Baltimore (Diner and Avalon are the bookends) and it’s my favorite of the three, though all are terrific.  Great cast, great music, great cars!

Given that it’s all about sales and integrity, there are dozens of business lessons (I’m sure that was exactly what Mr. Levinson had in mind) in this picture.  One of my favorites comes as Tilley (played by Danny DeVito) and Sam (the inimitable Jackie Gayle) are driving around and Sam speaks of an epiphany he had:

Sam: You know when I saw ‘Bonanza’ the other day, something occurred to me.
Ernest Tilley: Eh?
Sam: Ya got these four guys living on the Ponderosa and ya never hear them say anything about wanting to get laid.
Ernest Tilley: Huh.
Sam: They don’t talk about broads – nothing. Ya never hear Little Joe say, “Hey, Hoss, I went to Virginia City and I saw a girl with the greatest ass I’ve ever seen in my life.” They just walk around the Ponderosa: “Yes, Pa, where’s Little Joe?” Nothin’ about broads. I don’t think I’m being too picky. But, if at least once, they talked about getting horny. I don’t care if you live on the Ponderosa or right here in Baltimore, guys talk about getting laid. I’m beginning to think that show doesn’t have too much realism.

What Sam is really talking about is the need to be authentic.  Every business needs to resonate with its consumers.  In Authentic Leadership, Bill George defined the concept as understanding your purpose, practicing solid values, leading with your heart, establishing connected relationships, and demonstrating self-discipline. In other words, not presenting a false corporate image or trying to emulate the leadership style or characteristics of others.  I think of it as passing the BS-sniffer test that our readers, fans, consumers, or clients put us through.

Get Sam in your head – is your ranch real?

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What’s the plural of doofus?

People who know me know that I’m not in love with accounting.  I understand it, I have a brother who is a CPA, I’ve been lucky to work with some fine accountants over the years.  That said, just as reading a cookbook doesn’t make one a chef, so too does buying an accounting program not make me a bookkeeper.

I’ve railed in this space before about Peachtree Accounting.  I also realize that 90%+ of problems are user error, not software design or code BTW.

So here’s one that isn’t.  I received an email this morning with an offer of “free shipping” on an upgrade of my accounting software package that is good for 2 days only.  Having realized that there are some nice features in the next level package, I decided to investigate by clicking through the link.  Maybe, if it’s not too expensive, I’d even buy it.

And that’s when the fun stopped dead.  Ignoring the fact that an offer of free shipping on a product that is to be downloaded is kind of bogus to begin with, the link I clicked through gave me this on the Peachtree web site:

We cannot determine the product you want to review. Please use your browser’s Back button, select another product and try again.

WHAT?  A potential customer just tried to order something (the link says “upgrade now”) and you blew them up?  What doofus coded this email?  What other doofus proofed it?  Yes, I tried in IE as well as Firefox and no joy.  Even the error message is screwed up – I didn’t get to that page via my browser per se – I clicked through an email and going backwards isn’t an option – the mail opened up a new tab and this error page is the only thing in it – one can’t go “back.”

This is, to me, as bad an error as a business can make:  literally to cut off a customer as they’re trying to hand you money.  If I’m running Sage Software, Peachtree’s parent, I’m finding a new person in charge of this.

So sorry, Peachtree.  I tried to upgrade, honest.  And hopefully I’ll be more careful entering data into your software than you seem to be with the emails that promote it.

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?

Playing In The Band

I took my daughter to see Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium last night – great show, lots of rare material, a good time had by all.  I’ve seen Bruce and the E Street Band many times over the last 35 or so years but each time I do, I’m reminded of the special bond that they have with each other as they perform.

I played in a number of bands throughout junior high, high school, and college.  OK, so we weren’t quite ready for prime time but we were good enough to get paying gigs – quite a few of them, actually.  The way I knew we were ready for them was if any of us could nod or gesture or use a facial expression to get other members of the band to do something as we were playing.  That’s the sign of an organization that’s on the same page and whether you like the Boss’ music or not, you have to acknowledge that the band is TIGHT!  Same thing with the Grateful Dead or the Allman Brothers Band – when you’re jamming and playing a song in a new way every night, the band has to listen to one another, anticipate where everyone wants to go, and keep up.  When it works, it’s magic.  When it doesn’t – well, no one goes home happy (except the promoter).

How tight is your band?  We used to practice almost daily – the general rule was 4 hours of practice for every hour of performance (yes, we still found time to go to classes!).  What are you doing to tighten up your organizaiton?  How can you “practice” so you’re all on the same page when it’s performance time?

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