Search This Blog

Monday, March 31, 2014

It’s March Madness! Who Loves Ya, Baby?

 It's March Madness. Who loves ya, Baby?

For about five years, actor Telly Savalas* played a New York detective in the television drama Kojak. His trademark line, "Who loves ya, Baby?," became part of the American lexicon. He also created a new interest in lollipops.

I thought about that recently when I saw a newspaper poll asking about favorite teams in the NCAA basketball tournament. Or as most people call it, March Madness.

As it turns out, there is more madness than on the court. That same poll asked readers to identify the teams they most like to see LOSE! No doubt this kind of polling could be taken wherever there is intense rivalry.

I am guilty of this. While I have no particular loyalty to Duke, I have always admired Mike Krzyzewski. It is his commitment to build character into his players that most appeals to me. I consider him a class act in college sports.

If you didn't know, Duke is one of those teams people love to hate. So when they lost to an energized Mercer team in this year’s tournament in the first round, I was both shocked and disappointed. Others were cheering Duke’s early demise. But Coach K showed his truly classy side by visiting the Mercer locker room after the game.

This kind of resentment in sports also certainly applies in the business world. WalMart is a company a lot of people love to hate. Not me. I like WalMart. I have issues with the customer service I don't receive at times, but I admire the company and thought Sam Walton was a retail wizard.

I think the more sinister side of business bitterness is among companies and employees who cheer when a competitor fails or stumbles. Because large sums of money are at stake in a successful enterprise, big winners generally result in one or more big losers. And the losers who are knocked out of the game mean careers and jobs are gone as well. When that happens, I’m sure many a winner stands with fist pumps shouting, "Yeah!!!" Right?

This makes me wonder how to interpret Jesus's words when he says to love your enemy. Also, pray for those who persecute you. Read Matthew 5 to get the context.

What does this say to us in terms of our attitude toward our strongest rivals? I believe it calls for us to get a balanced perspective on winning and losing. And especially to recognize the pain and consequences that losers experience.

Really, no one likes a boastful, proud, or arrogant winner. And while it's tempting to stand over a fallen adversary in the dominant posture of a champion, our fall may not be far behind. In the midst of that defeat, I can easily see Jesus reaching out His hand to lift up the defeated one.

So…Who loves ya, Baby?

Now ya know.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

*Note: Savalas's real first name was Aristotle. Based in Chicago, the Aristotle Foundation continues to bless others charitably.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Give It a Rest!

Earlier this year, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch announced a rather interesting policy. As the New York Times reported, the investment bank unit told its low ranking analysts and associates to try to spend four weekend days away from the office each month. This “gracious” directive came in an internal memo. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase are also thinking that time off might be best.

Some within the banking world say they actually ENJOY the long hours. One fellow claims it fosters good camaraderie and better bonding. The younger set (translation: millennials) seems to think that there may be more to life than hellish work schedules. I’m there.

No doubt Wall Street leads the list of places where work demands, and the drive to succeed, create an unwritten rule of neverending work. We say that people in these stressful conditions are on the job “seven days a week.” But that’s silly. Basically, they never STOP working.

Forget the corporate concession that work overload is simply “too much.” We got that story straight thousands of years ago when the Creator of the Universe stamped this message on His famous tablet memo we call The Ten Commandments:

“Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.” (Exodus 20:8-11 / The Message)

For those under 30, you should know that Sundays in America were quite different just a few decades ago. The so-called “Blue Laws” put restrictions on what could be bought or sold on Sundays. Many of those laws still exist. And not only in the U.S. Places like Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway keep most stores closed on Sundays. Some Islamic nations ban working on Fridays. A lot of Israel closes shop on Saturday Sabbath.

It’s well known that Chick Fil A and Hobby Lobby locations are closed on Sunday. Both companies emphasize it is to give all of their employees a break. I’ve found that despite my conviction that a Sabbath rest is absolutely the right way to go, the change in our culture finds me frustrated when stores DO close on Sunday! Poor me.

Doing business this way takes some guts. What about all that potential revenue lost? Both Chick Fil A and Hobby Lobby are not hurting. And their employees can come back Monday refreshed. That WAS God’s intention.

The broader message here is for employers to apply their faith in caring for the well being of employees. And each of us needs to set boundaries on our workload. It is a biblical imperative. Ignore it at your own risk.

Consider this bit o’ wisdom: “Hard work never killed anybody. But why take the chance?” C’mon, man. Give it a rest!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Well, Now I’ve Seen Everything!

I’ve always liked the phrase, “Now I’ve seen everything.” Well, no you haven’t. Another possible gadget with no future has hit the market. It’s called the Hapifork.

This baby is designed to help you control your out-of-control eating habits. It was introduced at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show after getting funding from Kickstarter. Apparently, many people wanted to invest in an electronic fork. I said…an electronic fork!

It vibrates. It connects to your computer. It has a built-in accelerometer to track hand motion. Amazing.

The Hapifork wants you to wait 10 seconds between bites. From the article link I shared above, we learn “The Hapifork counts, and measures, a hand motion registering a bite: the moment food enters your mouth and completes a circuit with the fork's metal tines, a bite is measured. If you waited the full 10 seconds, there's no vibration. If you didn't, you get buzzed. Ideally, the Hapifork system works best with a phone next to your plate: you can watch the app time your bites and give you encouragements when you make a perfectly timed bite.” Oh…and it costs about $100. That’ll bite you.

I’m no prophet. But I feel safe in predicting that The Hapifork will be available at garage sales in the not too distant future at a fraction of the original price. It just might join a significant list of product blunders. Blunders like…New Coke. Ben Gay Aspirin. Smith and Wesson Mountain Bikes. Life Savers Soda. Clairol’s Touch of Yogurt Shampoo. Frito Lay Lemonade.

We’re not done.

How about Earring Magic Ken? Many incarnations of Barbie & Friends have come and gone. But none drew more controversy than Earring Magic Ken, debuting in 1993. As one web site described it, “Exit classy tuxedos and suits and enter mesh t-shirt, purple leather vest, and earring. Pretty soon "New Ken" was dubbed "Gay Ken" and parents were not pleased with his fashion-forward style.” Mattel discontinued production and recalled as many Kens as possible.

It raises an interesting question: If the product has limited market value or use, is it worthwhile to produce in the first place? There is SOME value, even in products gone bad.

Jobs are created. A learning curve is established. Motion is derived from innovation. But innovation is risky. Success OR failure can result. Hmmmm. (I still wish the thought of Frito Lay Lemonade would leave my head.)

Recently, I spoke to a men’s group about my life between jobs. I shared that I have asked God to keep my creativity at bay in ways that are not productive. God made us in His image and creativity is one of our true blessings. But as we know, creativity can be a blessing or it can turn out like Earring Magic Ken.

I encourage people to seek new creative approaches. However, learning some boundaries on our creativity is wise. And having some good counsel on your wealth of ideas can save everyone a lot of trouble.

As Archie Bunker might say, sometimes it’s good to “Stifle yourself!” Such is the nature of wisdom.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Visit to a Happy Place

They call it “The Happiest Place on Earth.” We’re talkin’ Disneyland. And that original idea still has life as the theme park that opened in Anaheim in 1955 remains a major attraction today. Add in locations like Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, (and soon in Shanghai, China) and that’s a lot of Mouse houses!

It is also a lot of Mouse-ka-bucks! My wife and I recently attended a conference in southern California. We finished our time there with a trip to Disneyland accompanied by our two adult sons, their spouses, and two of our grandchildren. We opted for just one of the two Disney themed options, and that was a $92 ticket. The Mouse accepts plastic, of course.

Despite it being a Monday and a school day, there were PLENTY of customers to create those famous long lines to ride. It was a surprise not only to see how many people weren’t working that day, but how many of them had lots of money to spend at Disneyland! Even the adults have enough Mickey-fever to put on the ears, t-shirts, and more expensive mouse gear.

Truth be told, Disneyland IS a remarkable place. Each park is as clean as a Pluto dog whistle. (Note…where were those passionate street sweeping kids when needed around the house?) There are very talented people on stage and as street musicians. Thrilling and not-as-thrilling rides await to please just about everyone. Stunning set design and captivating waterworks and fireworks shows can end your day. It’s all there to make you happy. Except…those long lines, of course.

To ease the pressure and wearing down of crowds, Disney theme parks offer restaurants often tucked away from view. We enjoyed a nice leisurely break in just such a restaurant in California Adventure. I could not help but notice that this experience actually took us away from the very reason we came to Disneyland—the rides! And the lunch came at a premium price. Well calculated, I am sure.

Skilled photographers can be found throughout, to make sure you get just the right memory of your happy time. And those souvenirs? Oh my. Who knew THAT many Disney product lines and variations even existed? It all makes for The Happiest Place on Earth—especially for the shareholders!

I know…this all makes me seem a bit cynical about the world of Disney. Having been there a number of times, I know it is a magical place—in the best sense of the word. A great escape. It’s clean, safe, fun, and family friendly. (With one exception which is obvious to most.)

In contrast, four days before Disneyland my wife and I were hearing of the needs of a mission organization that began several years before Disneyland opened. Despite the limited resources and financial challenges of the ministry, the workers who came from various sites around the world were genuinely among the happiest on earth. Their passion was not for a Magic Kingdom, but a Heavenly Kingdom. Their thrills come from hearing how broken lives have been healed. Marriages restored. Eternities changed.

Mission work takes place in a very different kind of Adventureland. And when this ride on earth ends, that’s when the stuff of legends really comes to life. Heroes with stories more incredible than any theme park could dream up.

And here’s the really remarkable part. We pay no admission charge to get there.

John 3:16. Now…that’s the ticket.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.