“Republican ideas haven’t changed in 30 years”

I just read this quote and realized how ill-equipped too many are to parse it.

Democrats seek creativity from their politicians. They look for ideas that are going to fix things. They want their solutions from the elected officials.

Republicans seek creativity from the people. Their “ideas” haven’t changed because their core idea is to limit regulations, keep the government out of the way and live by the constitution. They want their solutions to come from the unpredictable creativity of the people… in the private sector.

You can debate which is better, but the notion that the Republicans are old fashioned or stuck in their ways couldn’t be further from the truth.

Republicans favor state’s rights because they know that you will get more innovations from 50 states trying to solve a problem than one gigantic federal government trying to solve the same problem.

Likewise, you’ll get more solutions when private individuals are left to solve existing problems and then benefit from their innovations. Government workers have no incentives to solve problems and much more incentive to keep them going to justify their positions.

And that’s your math lesson for today.

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Getting older

I wonder if it’s a function of aging that the roof of my mouth burns more easily than it used to…

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3 weeks of joblessness

For three weeks, I’ve been in that Nirvana state of being between jobs.

When you’re an adult, there’s no Christmas that can replace the feeling of owing nothing to anybody and being completely in control of what you do with your time.

To some, I expect it would look a lot like this:

Instead, it became probably the busiest three weeks of the past six months. And it was beautiful.

I was able to organize and do all the marketing for the Shoreline Girls Basketball Feeder Program (a program that organizes 5th-8th grade girls basketball teams for girls who will go on to Shorecrest High School).

Finally, I had time to read some books that had been sitting around since… well, since who even knows how long.

There was a growing number of home projects I was able to knock out. And finally, I was able to put some finishing touches on some Shoreline Sports Foundation marketing and website work that I had been wanting to do.

My next door neighbor is running for Lake Forest Park Mayor. In the last three weeks, I was able to get his yard signs printed and placed around town, get his website live and help him with some other efforts.

But most importantly, I was able to spend three weeks, in a complete state of relaxed happiness, with my wife and daughter. My daughter and I took a trip to Boston and Maine together, and the rest of the time, after my daughter returned to school, I was able to just hang out and enjoy time with my wife.

There was no stress to it. No work problems to solve. No outside expectations. Just me, able to be me, with my family.

My goal now is to apply the lessons of relaxed happiness, the knowledge of what that feels like, to future ventures. Hopefully, this post will remind me now and again of what the feels like.

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How companies should handle political pressure

We see it nearly daily. A representative of a company says something controversial in their personal time, or is discovered to have attended a meeting or donated their personal money to some group or cause that isn’t quite politically correct, and then the professionally offended organize, protest and bully that business into giving in to whatever demands.


I was excited to see, however, that UPS did what I consider to be the right thing.

When Cecil the Lion was hunted and killed, it created an outrage across the country. One of the results of that outrage was that people demanded shipping companies refuse to ship big-game trophies (elephant tusks, rhino heads, etc.) around the world.

Delta and American Airlines, among others, gave in to the demands. But UPS took a different stance.

A UPS spokesperson declared that shipments of hunting trophies is still allowed on UPS because they follow US and international laws in deterring what it will and won’t ship.

This from the Washington Post:

“There are many items shipped in international commerce that may spark controversy,” UPS public relations director Susan Rosenberg wrote in an e-mail. “The views on what is appropriate for shipment are as varied as the audiences that hold these views.

“UPS takes many factors under consideration in establishing its shipping policies, including the legality of the contents and additional procedures required to ensure compliance. We avoid making judgments on the appropriateness of the contents. All shipments must comply with all laws, including any relevant documentation from the shipper required in the origin and destination location of the shipments.”

Though it is certainly their right, it’s not up to companies to determine what’s socially acceptable. They’re there to provide a service or sell things people want to purchase, regardless of political stance. In other words, commerce is not, inherently, political.

The marketplace works. Let people speak with their wallets, not picket signs. If you want to take a stand on against (or for) a company, buy or recommend their services or products.


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IM (Immature Messaging)

One question I’ve decided to incorporate into my list of interview questions for prospective employees is, “Under what circumstances would you see yourself IMing with a coworker who sits next to you?”

I’ve always been one to get up out of my chair and go talk to someone in person when I needed to discuss something.

Personal communication allows you to take full advantage of verbal cues and body language, which usually makes for better understanding and a more productive conversation. It’s also faster, and more efficient, than trying to carry on a conversation while both you and the other person is engaged in something else.

I’ve often been one to keep my IM program off unless I was trying to reach someone in a different office (physical location), or I wanted to have a line of communication to someone giving a presentation who may need a lifeline if they get a tough question or run into some other sort of trouble.

My biggest problem with IM is that Immature Messengers use it to air out their issues at work with other coworkers, which does nothing to solve the problem and only serves to foster more unhappiness and distrust.

As I’ve watched the use of IM grow, I’ve seen more and more people use it in a meeting, sitting right across from the person they’re IMing with, make fun of someone sitting right next to them. (I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wasn’t guilty of this myself, but I can say it was more of an exception than a rule.)

I’ve seen people sitting at their workspace IMing with a coworker sitting right next to or across from them, ripping on their boss or coworkers or rallying their coworkers to join them in being angry about something they’ve not tried to fix.

And that’s my biggest problem with it. To many workers, IM has replaced taking your issue directly to the person who may be able to fix it.

Having conversations about work problems with a boss or someone who can affect positive change – whether they’re about the direction of a project, or a coworker who may be counterproductive or annoying – is difficult.

But one thing is for certain: if you don’t take a problem to someone who can solve the problem, then you are now responsible for your own misery. They can’t help you if they don’t know the problem exists.

And if you’re going to take your misery and share it with people who can only empathize, but not solve your problem, you’re now spreading cancer among a team. I will never stand for that.

I was recently asked how I would handle that. It seems the best way goes back to my interview question above. I would want to ask people where they see the benefits of it. Why is it better than speaking with the person you’re IMing.

I’m also fascinated because those who do that lose sight of the fact that it’s happening on work machines, which are owned by the company. They can easily justify reading through one’s IM transcripts if they choose.

To me, IM stands for Immature Messaging because far too often, that’s how I’ve seen it used.

Part of my new work opportunity is building a Seattle creative office for an agency out of Los Angeles. I was recently talking to the first person they hired for the office, a designer, about my issues with IM. She rightly said:

“Fortunately, it’ll be years before we have to use IM to bash our coworkers because our team isn’t afraid to be honest with each other.”

If we do our jobs right and hire people with high standards who are invested in the team’s work and who can thrive in a team environment, it won’t be a few years… it’ll be never, no matter how big we grow to be.

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