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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Web Development Portfolio Case Study #18: MineRatMinerals.com     MARKETING SNIPPETS: Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision. ~ Peter F. Drucker     GRANNYISM #69: Take the time to stop and smell the roses.~via SweetLeaf

Welcome to my Snarky Business Tales area. Please be advised that anything you read in this section is not the kind of thing you'll find on other agency sites. It's a *personal blog* (and in fact contains various old blog pieces written over the years, many of them highly irreverent in tone, language, taste, etc.). Still, I'd rather keep all of my business writings on my own business site. So, they're here. Quite honestly, looking back on the older articles here (pre-2010), they range from a number of fairly well-written pieces to a rather unsettling picture of the attitude that can accompany a strong case of "corporate burnout." Eventually I left the east-coast corporate culture, though. My family and I moved west, I became self-employed, and life improved.

I Pulled a Will Hunting Last Week and Didnt' Even Know It!

Last week, I had a rare melt-down at work. It just sort of came at me with no warning when one of the owners blew up at me for no logical reason. Basically, the dude went apoplectic at me for something that was his own fault. When I did not accept responsibility for his error (and why should I?), he escalated his rage. Still not backing down, I became angry and escalated things in return.

It nearly got irreparably ugly until I finally decided to back off, if only to salvage my job for the moment. I'd definitely entered dangerous waters, though (standing up to an owner being unheard of in this industry). I figured the chances were reasonable that, upon arriving at work the next day, I'd be fired. (I wasn't. Turns out most of the other management sided with me.)

Although it's kind of an interesting story, what's more interesting to me is what *almost* happened. Prior to my firing off my "backing off" email, I'd nearly sent out a further escalation in which I attempted to "read" the guy beyond the argument we were having at the moment.

Ever see "Good Will Hunting"? Remember that scene where Matt Damon deconstructs Robin William's life based solely on that painting hanging in his office? I totally did that to this guy. I looked into his anger and saw so many things wrong with his life that I'm so glad now I did not throw out there -- because everything I "saw" was spot-on. Turns out his wife *just* left him. I mean ... I was *this* fucking close to typing that very thing into an email.

Thank god I kept a level head about this. Can you imagine the level of rage that might have sent the poor guy into? And what good could possibly have come out of my letting him have it, anyway? This is all yet another reason for me to leave the toxic corporate world once and for all. I don't want to put myself in situations in which my newfound mental clarity is used for negative purposes.

But, what interests me is: Is *this* going to be my superpower? I'm not usually like this. Normally, this kind of intuition is unavailable to me. But, as I've been saying for the past several months (on those rare occasions when I actually post something), I feel more in tune with this than ever. This was just the latest affirmation of it, even though it was an uncomfortable experience.

Intuition. Damn, I was hoping for levitation or invisibility. Oh well ... maybe we get more than one superpower. We'll see, in time.

An Open Letter to the YouTube Legal Team

Dear YouTube Legal Team:

I found a typo in your Terms of Use document today:

"10. Limitation of Liability
IN NO EVENT SHALL YOUTUBE ... BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ANY ... DAMAGES WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM ANY (I) ERRORS, MISTAKES, OR INACCURACIES OF CONTENT, (II) PERSONAL INJURY ... (III) ANY UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS ... (IV) ANY INTERRUPTION OR CESSATION OF TRANSMISSION TO OR FROM OUR WEBSITE, (IV) ANY BUGS, VIRUSES, TROJAN HORSES, OR THE LIKE, WHICH MAY BE TRANSMITTED TO OR THROUGH OUR WEBSITE BY ANY THIRD PARTY, AND/OR (V) ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN ANY CONTENT OR FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND INCURRED AS A RESULT OF YOUR USE OF ANY CONTENT ... "

SEE? You have TWO item #4s.

Best regards,

-Jim

ps Yes, I actually read the whole thing.

pps: Yes, I'm available for editing gigs.

ppps: No need to thank me. Just pay it forward.

[Note: This was written in 2008. As of June 2014, this error still exists in their Terms & Conditions. I guess they never read my blog.]

What is a "Team Player," Anyway?

Is it just me, or do you agree that the question "Are you a team player?" is extraordinarily pointless? Here's my thinking:

First, this is something generally used only as a weeding-out question by HR administrators. Everyone wants a team player on board, right? So, you clear your throat and use your best professional interviewer voice to ask, "Tell me, Josh, do you consider yourself a team player?" In return, you're treated to a well-rehearsed, warm & fuzzy description outlining Josh's history of pitching in for the greater good. Way to go, Josh! (And if Josh hesitates or indicates a "no," well, you have plenty more resumes to fall back on.)

But, Josh's perky, textbook answer could have several meanings. Among them:

1. He's basically a decent guy, and gets along well with others. This is what most HR people are after, really. But, you have to keep in mind:

2. He could be painfully incapable of independent thought and therefore has clung to the "team" concept for dear life -- because that's all he'll ever be capable of. As a result, he'll consistently shun any personal accountability for his mediocre performance.

3. He could be bright, but years of corporate monotony and mind-fucking has ensured that any leadership capacity he once had has been stifled once and for all.

4. He could be a professional liar and is actually a total prick.

I know it'd be job-interview suicide, but wouldn't it be refreshing if, just once, some Josh somewhere out there, when asked this question, would say:

Am I a team player? No, Mr. (or Ms.) "HR Professional," I'm NOT a team player. I like to be rewarded and compensated for my *personal* successes. I welcome the responsibility of accountability for my *own* failures and dislike taking fallout for some twat upper management decision. Sure, I'm a nice guy and get along with others, but I also won't compromise my values, vision, methods, etc. in the name of making nice with others or taking on projects fairly described as pointless, irrational, unprofitable, or busywork -- which leads others to believe I'm a prick from time to time.

[LOL ... bitter much, Jim?!] Josh would definitely not get the job, of course.

But seriously, is Tiger Woods a team player? Well, he may have an entourage and a well paid advisory staff, but he's out there *alone*. Hmm, what about Venus Williams? Oh, wait, those are individual sports... Okay, well, how about Michael Jordan? Was he a team player? I don't think so. I'm sure he looked to Phil Jackson for direction, but let's face it: Michael WAS the team.

Look, I know the above seems bitter and kind of ridiculous. But while getting along with others is certainly a great quality (one I don't dispute as universally desirable), how many of us have never truly thought about what being a team player really means, and whether it's necessarily, always, absolutely what's needed in every hiring situation? Apple Computers prided itself once on "thinking different"... How did that play into their HR culture, I wonder. Did they find value in the definant ones, the divergents?

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