Recently my wife Michele and I started a new chapter in our lives by moving to a lovely, somewhat remote island. We also decided to start working together. We thought, what better way to strengthen our marriage than to spend every waking minute of every single day together – eating, playing, sleeping and now working? What could possibly go wrong?
Okay, I know what you’re about to say: What were you thinking? But before you question our wisdom, I should point out that our skill sets are remarkably complementary. On the one hand, my wife is an extremely talented portrait artist. And on the other hand, I am the husband of an extremely talented portrait artist.
My job will be to market my wife’s portrait business. I am an experienced professional marketer. For example, remember the pet rock – a crazy, fun idea from the 1970s that generated millions in sales simply by packaging an ordinary rock in a box with funny instructions about how to care for it? Brilliant marketing. No, that was not actually my idea. But the idea for selling a 25-pound box of litter for your pet rock was mine. Sadly, it never made it to market. Okay, perhaps this isn’t helping make my point about being a marketing guru.
My wife wanted someone to oversee marketing so she could spend more time painting – and shooting down every marketing idea I came up with. (I still think my idea for her to parade the sidewalks of Seattle in a sandwich board handing out coupons for $10 off a portrait would have worked. But alas, we’ll never know because she squashed that idea, too.)
When Orville Wright first took flight over the beaches of Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903, he couldn’t have imagined that a century later, millions of people the world over would be getting into shouting matches with ticket agents, security screeners and baggage handlers over the nearly universal frustration caused by his invention. Thanks for the 12-inch gash in the side of my Louis Vuitton suitcase, Orville.
Singapore, New Delhi, and Buenos Aires are just a few of the famous world cities I will probably never get to visit because I refuse to put up with the headaches required to fly there. Also because, like most Americans, I’m not sure exactly where those cities are on a map. (I think New Delhi might be in Belgium.)
But sometimes air travel is unavoidable. If you simply must book a flight, here are a few helpful tips to reduce your stress level. These just might help you resist your urge to strangle the Delta Airlines ticket agent in Concourse C.
Booking your flight – Choosing the right airline
The first rule of air travel is simple: Don’t fly if you can possibly avoid it. But if you absolutely must fly, for example, to attend a family reunion, I recommend Qantas, the official airline of Australia. The last time Qantas had a fatality was in 1951. Of course, if your family reunion is in say, Chicago, you may need to make a couple connections through Sydney, Tokyo and New York. But you will arrive there safely, albeit two days later than the rest of your family, who opted for the nonstop on United.
[Author’s note: The following is a memo I plan to send our daughters in three years, when both of them will have graduated from college, informing them that they are now officially responsible for their own lives – and phone bills.]
MEMO TO: Junior members of Jones Family Enterprises
FROM: Senior Executive Team
Congratulations to the junior members of Jones Family Enterprises [henceforth JFE] on your recent completion of your undergraduate studies. The Senior Executive Team is confident that your long-term economic forecast is bright. We wish we could say the same for your near-term economic outlook. This memo is to inform you of an important decision the executive committee has made regarding your status on the JFE org chart.
After a series of challenging years in which JFE has experienced steadily declining economic growth and spiraling costs, primarily in the area of our educational assistance program, the senior management has decided to implement some immediate cost-cutting measures in order to preserve the organization’s long-term cash reserves. This decision has forced us to make difficult personnel decisions to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste.
Effective immediately, JFE is announcing a 50% reduction in force. As a consequence, we are forced to terminate your roles as fully-funded dependents of this organization and re-classify your status as “non-essential employees.” We considered all other viable options before coming to this decision, including a recommendation by our firm’s Co-CEO, Ms. Jones, to eliminate my position on the executive steering committee. But that recommendation failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage by the two-person executive steering committee.
[Note from the staff at VFTB: This post was originally scheduled to run in September 2012, but Tim didn’t get around to it. He was extremely busy attending to more pressing matters, by which we mean trying to break his record score in Angry Birds.]
Do you wake up some mornings feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to get done? Do you sometimes wish you could just stay in bed for another hour? Another six hours? The month of April? Wish you could avoid all the items on your never-ending to-do list? Well, then what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time than right now – right this second – to start PROCRASTINATING!
Hi, friend. This is Tim Jones – professional procrastinator and author of the book Why do today what you can put off till forever (a future best-seller – if I ever get around to finishing it). That’s right, friend. Now you can discover my proven techniques to put off completing even the most urgent, unpleasant project.
Tired of your spouse nagging you with her “Honey-Do” list? I know I am. Well here’s my first tip: just keep stalling. Before too long, I guarantee that your spouse will stop nagging you once and for all. (Of course, her attorney may pick up where she left off.) Keep reading for more time-tested tips.
I’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years (as well as the worse part) in sales and marketing. One thing that has always impressed me in perusing the web sites of the industry leaders is how I have absolutely no idea what they actually do. Smart marketers learned a long time ago that when it comes to beating the competition, you don’t have to build a better mousetrap. You just have to sound like you build a better mouse. trap. That starts with the words you use to describe what your mousetrap does.
No industry has mastered this technique more than high tech. Ever heard of a little company called Computer Associates? Here’s what they do, in their own words: “CA Technologies provides robust management solutions utilizing closed loop orchestration of provisioning and configuration across physical and virtual resources.” It’s just that simple.
Or how about the 800-pound gorilla in the world of routers, switches and network systems, our buddies over at Cisco Systems. I wonder what they do. Here’s a description any seven year-old (with a graduate degree in Linux computer programming) could understand: “Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture is implemented as a five-phase plan that moves from baseline services to advanced policy management and integration that ultimately delivers the borderless experience for users.”
If there’s one thing nearly every American can agree on it’s that having aerial surveillance cameras capable of eavesdropping on our every move from outer space is a wonderful thing. Oh, sure, sometimes surveillance cameras can be used for evil, like the time they caught me doing 45 in a 35 mph zone. But video technology can also be used for good – say, to observe remotely whether employees are wasting time at work playing video games, when they should be wasting time pretending to make sales calls.
That at least appears to be the thinking behind a new, state-of-the art mobile video robot called the Ava 500, a name most experts consider a far better selection than the original idea: the Self-Navigational Operations Observational Prototype (SNOOP for short). The Ava 500 is the world’s “first self-driving business collaboration robot,” according to the manufacturer’s cheery marketing brochure. Now, business executives can collaborate with employees without leaving their corner office, using a mobile robot with a two-way video camera that lets them roam the halls or join in on team meetings remotely. Employees will love it.
Want to check in on your crew of illegal Mexican factory workers to see if they are keeping pace with their production quota of 1,500 sneakers per hour? No problem. With the press of a button, you can remotely walk along the assembly line floor to inspect the quality of their work, without leaving your yacht in the Caymans. Hey, looks like it’s already been ten minutes and Pedro’s still not back from his five-minute lunch break. Uh oh. Looks like Pedro’s got some ‘splaining to do.
Periodically in this column, I don my business consultant hat (a stylish Italian grey fedora) to share innovative business strategies to grow your business and improve your employees’ productivity. As a sought-after business process improvement expert and author of the popular business handbook, Stop Tasering Your Team – and 50 Other Strategies to Improve Employee Morale, I can help businesses prosper – if only they’d stop and listen to me for once.
I have frequently been approached by executives from Microsoft to Amazon.com to Ninja Ned’s Car Stereo & Hot Tub Emporium on South Aurora Avenue – all asking me the same question: How did you get past security? But as soon as they discover who I am, they are often surprised to learn about my out-of-the-box business strategies (usually as they are escorting me out-of-the-premises).
In this installment, I share the thought-provoking conclusions of a recent Dutch study published in the scholarly journal, Psychological Science. The study tested people’s decision-making ability when their bladders were full and found that people with full bladders tended to make better decisions and were better able to control and hold off making impulsive, costly decisions, leading to better judgment. (I swear I’m not making this up.) Other findings included that Dutch researchers appear to have way too much time on their hands.
It’s hard to believe I have been at this humor blog for more than 25 years. That may be in part because it’s actually been less than three. See what I just did? I made a joke. Didn’t find it funny? Join the club. That’s been the reaction so far from just about every newspaper, magazine and online news site in response to my submissions of humor articles over the past year.
I have reached out to publications ranging from The Huffington Post to Field and Stream, and have pretty much received the same response: Who are you and how did you get my email address?
Over the past couple of years in this weekly humor blog, I have commented on everything from how to become a Tiger Mother parent to my fleeting friendship with an internet scammer; from my recent colonoscopy to my solution for the US debt crisis; from how the iPad compares to Jesus Christ to my exploration of why the state of Montana hates me. And there is one thing all of these brilliant pieces of satire have in common: NO PUBLICATION WANTS MY MATERIAL.
I’ve been collecting a list of reasons publications have given for rejecting my humor submissions. Below is just a sampling of some of the more common responses:
As a successful entrepreneur and highly sought-after business guru, I am constantly being asked by people trying to climb the latter of success “How can I ever become as successful as you?” Well the short answer, of course, is “You can’t. Don’t waste your time trying.” That said, there are still several things you can do to ignite your career, including offering to have sex with your company’s president or blackmailing the CFO with photos from last December’s Holiday Office party. But these strategies are best reserved for the experienced career climber. For someone with your more modest level of talent and ambition, how about we start with something a bit more basic, shall we?
One of the most important things every business professional can do to improve their chances of getting promoted is this: Awlays proffread yoru wrok.
How we communincate in righting can leaf lunglasting impassions about us. Weather its an emale massage, a business mammo or a for mall propostal, it is criticial to revue your work for accuratecy. By making egreekious grammer and spoiling misteaks, it can from in the mind of the reader a severally negative impersonation abort you. They may persleeve you too bee someone who is lazey, careles, disogranized or somewon who simply can’t finnish their
I can’t stress how pearamount it is to careflee skan your work for posse ball tie pose. Remember, how you communionate in rightwing may be the differents between getting a raze and getting fried. I could knot be moor serialous about this then I are.
In this tumultuous economy, America’s leading consumer brands have come up with a bold new strategy to replace sagging revenues: Filing multi-million dollar lawsuits for brand infringement.
Recently it was reported that America’s leading cereal manufacturer, Kellogg’s is suing a Californian non-profit organization, the Maya Archeology Initiative, claiming the nonprofit’s use of a toucan in its logo (left) too closely resembles Kellogg’s famous Fruit Loops cereal icon, Toucan Sam. Apparently Kellogg’s is trying to corner the market on both high-fructose breakfast cereals and cartoon toucan characters.
Kellogg’s is no stranger to filing lawsuits for brand infringement. In 1998, they sued Exxon over the oil company’s use of a tiger for a long-running ad campaign to “put a tiger in your tank.” Kellogg’s claimed that Exxon’s tiger bore too close a resemblance to their own famous icon, Tony the Tiger. Apparently, Kellogg’s is also trying to corner the market on cartoon tigers – perhaps with an eye to opening America’s first cartoon zoo.