Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

Defining cool

I was in New York for the 140conf on Wednesday this past week. It would also be the hottest day of the year at 80+ degrees already at 7:30 in the morning.

I agreed to meet up with a colleague at a bakery on the Upper East Side before heading to the last day of the conference. After riding the train up town and walking a few blocks in the heat, I met him outside of the bakery and we went inside. The host greeted us and asked us where we would like to sit.

“The coolest seat in the house,” my colleague said.

“You want to sit here,” the host said, pointing to a table next to the open window. “Everyone passing by will see you.”

My colleague wrinkled his forehead, trying to process why everyone seeing us would make that table the coolest place in the bakery. What did that have to do with getting us a nice air-conditioned seat? We quickly figured out that his definition of “cool” was the polar opposite of our definition of “cool.”

Apparently seeking personal comfort is the most uncool thing you can do in New York City on a hot day.

Standing out in a large crowd

Last Christmas, a friend of mine who lives in New York City sent me a box of cookies from Levain Bakery. If you have never had a cookie from them, go right now and get one.. or two.

I’ll wait.

Aside of being the most delicious cookies in the whole wide world, what struck me the most is the label they put on every box and post card. Along the bottom, they draw the New York City skyline in pen. Toward the very end, they color in their bakery and float a heart above it.

Subtle, but the message is clear. Even in a crowded, dense city like New York where everyone is seemingly insignificant to everyone else, you find meaning, purpose and love in a little bakery in the middle of the chaos.

Slow down and find your little heart place.

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about exploring the theme, Cookies. To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

I apologize for that expectation

I apologize for setting that expectation. Apparently it was done during a weak moment of kindness, one that you are now making me wholeheartedly regret.

I’m sorry I answered the phone on a Sunday morning. You mistook a moment of genuine helpfulness for permission to call me and demand that I now put down my Sunday paper, cup of coffee and quit petting my dog to update your website because you failed to plan your resources in advance.

I’m sorry I returned your phone call switching planes while on a flight home Friday afternoon instead of waiting until Monday morning. You now have my cell phone number which you mistook for permission to call me any time, night or day and demand that I answer because it is a cell phone and not a call my receptionist has to process.

I’m sorry I answered your email at 5:30am on a Monday. You mistook that as permission to call me and email me before 9:00am and expect an answer right away since you now know when I start my work day.

I’m sorry I went out of my way to fix that database issue “on the back end” which you could have done yourself using the administration tools we spent thousands of dollars writing for you. In my eagerness to save you a few clicks, you now have the expectation that it is my job to do yours.

But mostly, I’m sorry I unwittingly set an expectation to be available for you on a 365/24/7 schedule. Apparently now when I am not available, I am crap to work with.

Will you now take my calls after 5:00pm and pay your invoices on time?

Yup, thought so.

Why you are unemployed

I recently responded to a LinkedIn posting about why employers find it hard to find qualified employees despite the 9.x% unemployment rate. Someone responded to my comment with a long diatribe about why I was wrong.

And he started off by calling me Gerald.

For anyone who knows me, they know this: I have what I call the “Gerald Test.” Any resumé, cover letter, vendor email, sales letter, etc. that calls me Gerald gets thrown in the trash immediately because my name is Gerard. I simply do not care at that point how talented the person tells me s/he is, how great their product is, whatever; her/his performance says otherwise. As someone who needs to rely on the impeccable skills of his staff, that error is a nonstarter. A full 70%+ of all applicants and salespeople fail this test, making my job of sifting through the remaining stuff a whole lot easier.

It’s not hard to verify my name. If you get it wrong in a conversation, I’ll correct you. Once. If you get it wrong after that, I’m simply no longer listening to anything you have to say.

But here is where the comment thread went off the tracks quickly. He apologized for getting my name wrong and then followed up with a justification of why typos may not matter all that much. He cited another LinkedIn thread where others felt it was ok to have typos in resumés and cover letters.

You are unemployed because you showed an initial disrespect to the person you are talking to, you failed to pay attention to the relevant details and you appear to have a rationalization for every mistake you make or will make.

And that shows up readily in your resumé, your online presence and your interviews. Employers have neither the time nor the patience to deal with mistakes that cost the company money nor do they wish to engage in battle with you at every turn.

Don’t be that guy.

In case you really want to read the LinkedIn thread, here it is.

I named mine Gerard

I get a kick when pop culture recognizes the name “Gerard” because it happens so infrequently. Maybe it has something to do with the popularity of Gerard Butler.

From the few to choose from though, Raymond’s cousin Gerard remains my favorite character.

Last night on Big Bang Theory, Penny, Amy and Bernadette were talking about some “tension-relieving techniques for ladies that [Amy] has been perfecting over the years.” One of these techniques involved an electric toothbrush. Amy named hers Gerard.

Amy did not offer any details. We may have to do some additional character analysis and research, but I’m not terribly shocked that the name Gerard was chosen by a brainiac character as the ideal for the task at hand. Gerards have a long history of success with natural selection.