Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cost-saving measures at work

Our internal news site asks for letters and other employee contributions. We were recently asked for ideas to continue cost savings. I submitted a list of what I thought were great ideas, but unfortunately they were not used. I changed the company name to be generic throughout the note, but that pretty much falls apart when the note starts talking about the upcoming Windows release.

We've all felt the effect of our company's cost-savings measures in recent months. First, we would like to thank you all for doing your part to help us stay the great company we are. Effective next Monday, we are implementing additional cost-savings plans that will improve our profitability by almost $800 in FY09. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these new guidelines for a leaner company.

1. All personnel will be asked to save 25% on their travel expenses. Company preferred hotels now include Motel 4.5 and Super 6.

2. In order to trim the cost of airfare, all employees must share a seat when traveling on the same route. The senior employee will get the seat, and the junior employee must dress as an infant and ride on a lap. Level 68+ employees still retain use of their private jets.

3. We are always looking to provide inexpensive but nutritious meals, so our cafeterias are pleased to participate in the FDA Recall Buyback program. Today's healthful entree will be peanut paste-crusted Field Roast.

4. We are looking to get a handle on construction costs. All parking spaces on campus will be repainted as compact-only. This will have no immediate effect on most employees, since you ignore this anyway and triple-park Escalades, H2s, and Excursions in these spots.

5. The towel service provided on campus will be retained, but the towels provided may say "Stolen from Overlake Hospital" on them.

6. In your next meeting, look at the person on your left. Now look at the person to your right. Would you start paying attention to the meeting now instead of looking all around the room, you time thief? Thanks.

7. All art hanging in our buildings will be sold off and replaced with framed copies of unsold Magic School Bus Explores the Human Nose software.

8. Do not flush! Each floor will have a designated Flush Marshal who will be in charge of flushing all toilets on campus every two days.

9. We are removing the overhead of hot water and soap from rest rooms on campus. As a good corporate citizen, we will be using reclaimed water in the sinks, and the towels will be those rolls of recycled brown paper. Yes, those horrible ones that are less absorbent than wax paper.

10. All building-sized banners will be hand-written with erasable marker to encourage reuse. Congratulations on your product launch, Win ow 7!

11. When purchasing a new mobile phone for work, purchase one that promises "total office access." These phones are designed to gossip about coworkers who are out sick, steal your stapler, and if you hit *39 a Diet Cherry Coke will come out of it.

12. The 2009 Company Meeting will be held at a secret location. The first 50 callers to the Q-103 Morning Zoo Qrazy Line will get tickets. Attendance is mandatory.

13. Networking costs have skyrocketed over the past decade. We are pleased to announce a long-term arrangement with NetZero to provide on-site Internet services for only $9.99 a month. If another employee is online, we ask that you not pick up your phone to make a call until they're finished.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New photo site

So let's say you have an idea for a new kind of photo site. You want a place where professionals gather to display and sell genuine photo art. This isn't going to be another Flickr; this is all high-end stuff.

You spare no expense on the rollout. You invest in a gorgeous design, both elegant and functional. You grab as your domain name. Descriptive, but not too long to type. Everything's going great. You don't even need to pay for product identity development. And as a result, you nickname your site after flatulence.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yale hockey and Tim Taylor

There's been a lot of excitement lately Chez Cynicor due to the unprecedented success of the Yale hockey team this season. The team won both the regular season and playoff titles in the ECAC, for the first time ever. (And this is the 114th season they're playing.) Back in the dark ages, I was the student manager of the team. It's about one step above towel boy (I did travel planning, stats, shot charts, handed out per diems, crap like that), but I look back upon that time fondly.

For three decades, Yale was led by coach Tim Taylor. As a leader, Coach Taylor was unparalleled. He taught me more about integrity and doing the right thing than just about anyone in my life. One story in particular stands out in my mind to this day.

During the season, we had a player who was injured. He healed up, and skated in a JV game for conditioning. During the the course of the game, this player threw a really dirty hit on an opponent. It was one of those "why did he do THAT?" moments. He didn't get called for it, but it was nevertheless ugly.

The next day, the varsity team had a practice before leaving for Cambridge to play Harvard. Coach Taylor gathered the team together without the one player. He informed them that because of the cheap hit, the perpetrator was going to sit out the weekend back in New Haven. Taylor said words along the line of, "It doesn't matter that it wasn't called. It was a cheap hit, it wasn't right, and it has no place in Yale hockey."

When you are being led by a coach who would send a message like that - that you play hard and with integrity - it never leaves you. So many coaches take a "boys will be boys" mentality to stuff like this. To this day, when I'm faced with a situation, at work or in life, where it may be a matter of integrity, I often think back to that moment. If you do the wrong, backhanded, or dirty thing, where does it really leave you? You might advance temporarily, but it's never worth it. Anyone who knows about your actions has problems trusting you from then on. You can't go to sleep knowing you always did the right thing. What you've done is always out there to see, and people take notice even if it's not called right away.

I have had situations where I spoke up when I saw that something was not the right thing to do, and situations where I should've spoken up but didn't. The immediate incidents have long since passed. Guess which ones I feel good about today?

Three years ago, Yale named Keith Allain head coach. Allain played under Coach Taylor 30 years ago, and he has built the team into quite a successful group. Today he was named the College Hockey News National Coach of the Year. It's just been a great year for both him and the team.

I'm not with the team on a regular basis the way I was way back then, but I have no doubt that his values were shaped in part by his close association with Coach Taylor all those years ago.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A proud day for DirecTV programming

While flipping around on DirecTV, I just came across some of the finest programming ever offered on PPV (channel 120):
Ghetto Brawls: Craziest Chick Fights NR-Mature
Experience the Ghetto's craziest 100% REAL hair-flying, weave-pulling, skirt-splitting, ultra-sexy CAT FIGHTS ever CAUGHT ON TAPE in this collection of bloody, jaw-dropping, violent and shocking female fighting INSANITY! (All Day Ticket 6am ET - 6am)

And at 6 PM?
Wild VIP Parties Uncensored NR-Mature
Go beyond the velvet rope as sexy girls get naked in the DJ booth and bare it all on the dance floor. Wild coeds take their clothes off once the drinks start flowing. (All Day Ticket 6am ET - 6am ET)

My question is not related to the societal value of these two fine offerings. These both look like excellent light TV fare for the discerning gentleman. No, my question relates to relative pricing. Why is the first show priced at $14.95, while the second receives a true bargain pricing of $3.99?

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's time to go FIST CLASS

Huge sign on Rt 112 in Medford. I actually screeched off the road in traffic so that I could take this pic. I wonder what life was like before they put cameras in every cell phone.

In case you can't read the text above FIST CLASS MANAGEMENT and don't feel like clicking through, it says:
This is a unique opportunity to be a part of a brand new 18,400 sq.ft. Retail Strip Center. This site is located in [sic] one of the busies [sic] roads of suffolk [sic] county [sic] Long Island, New York. Rout [sic] 112 is an access point to one of long [sic] island's [sic] major highways, 495- Long Island Expressway. This center is a part of growing [sic] retail & residential community of medford [sic]. A brand new 500+residential [sic] units development is in progress right across the street. Please call for more details.