Episode 187 – Taking Permission Is Killing Us

Please Share

If everybody gets in, how good can it be?

Apprenticeship is said to have begun in the 1300’s, but I don’t buy that. It’s much older than that.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t so structured until then, but didn’t it really begin when a skilled, experienced person decided to teach somebody else – probably a younger person?

If you look at the Bible you read the story of a young prophet, Elisha, taking the mantle from the older prophet, Elijah. We’re talking 9th century BC – well before the 1300’s. Older people passing on the skills, wisdom and experiences, and the responsibility to the next generation.

From artisans to prophets, not every craft was the domain of everybody who wanted to hang out a sign advertising themselves to be something they’d not yet learned. These were the days before this whole “take permission” mess. Nobody would dare take permission without first earning the right to know what they were doing.

Imagine the blacksmith opening up without knowing how to properly shoe a horse, or fix a wagon wheel. Possession of a hammer and anvil doesn’t make a guy a blacksmith, no matter how burly he may be.

Poor guy. He needed to live in 2013. He can take permission without any talent, skill or no how. Forget that we don’t need blacksmiths any more. Minor detail.

Open the gate. Let everybody in. Just anybody.

Wait a minute.

Too late.

It’s happened.

And we’re not better for it. Where there is no barrier of entry, the crap can make it even harder for the competent, capable artisans to rise to the top. That gate is resistance that necessary to maintain the tradition of quality.

There are something like 3 million blog posts written daily. If one post requires 15 minutes of effort – and many of them likely require much longer – that represents 750,000 collective man/woman hours spent writing blog posts. Daily.

What a waste.


A Moment Of Decision: The Lesson I Learn From Their Lies

Please Share

I have lots of conversations about stories. Late last week I was talking with somebody about rags to riches stories. They certainly do happen. In fact, I had commented about that terrific series of TV programs on the Men Who Built America. Some of those men went from rags to riches. A few of them went back to rags…proving that old adage about going from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in 3 generations.

The world of business has dominated my adult life. Effective selling is comprised of a whole lot of listening, asking great questions and telling terrific stories. Not lies. Stories. I learned those things before I graduated from high school. That was in the era of Watergate – which certainly had an impact on my cynicism. It was proof that things aren’t always what they seem.

Unfortunately, marketing and sales often involve corrupt practices. That includes making up tales that sound great, but aren’t true. The Internet makes it easier than ever to lie. Plenty of people do it.


While I was preparing to go inside the gym to workout, I fired up my iPhone and shot this short video.

Because I don’t care if the stories are true. It’s not the facts of the story that really matter in the context of the conversation we were having about rags to riches tales. What matters is the moment of decision. Most often they’re described in vivid detail to compel listeners to understand the depths of despair…the low point from which the person can climb to find success. It makes the rise seem more spectacular. It makes us think, “Man, if they could overcome that — surely I can overcome my problems.”

So what if it’s not true? I argued that doesn’t diminish the strength of the point – that sometimes we don’t decide until our back is against the wall. Sometimes we neglect to make the best decision until we’re forced to by circumstances that seem so dire we conclude, “What do we have to lose?” Or, we grow so tired of the despair we conclude, “I’m not going to live like this any more.”

Yes, truth matters. No, I don’t want to deal with or engage people who lie in order to get business or promote themselves. But, there are still important things we can learn – even from the most made up stories.

Episode 186 – When In Doubt Use A Pile Driver, Or Mumble

Please Share

1. When in charge, ponder. 2. When in trouble, delegate. 3. When in doubt, mumble.

Winston Churchill once said, 

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.


A 1972 price tag

In 1972 I stumbled onto a terrifically dry, witty book by James Boren, When In Doubt, Mumble. Dry. Witty. Funny. I instantly liked it and it’s among many books I’ve held onto for a long time.

As a lifelong student of communication, Boren’s message resonated with me, especially within a few years after it was released. America had a small scandal called Watergate that resulted in congressional hearings. I admit it was my first foray into congressional hearings and the mumbling that goes in our nation’s capital.

Prior to that I just thought Boren was a funny guy mocking the bureaucrats. I had no idea he either taught the master class in mumbling or he was just so incredibly observant as to capture the true essence of it. It was remarkable communication and I was fascinated at the skill required to talk for so long – many of these hearings went on for months and years – and say absolutely nothing. Most congressional hearings accomplished even less — a feat that defies logic and the laws of science. Our government is truly extraordinary!

This week, as the United States government went on hiatus, I started thinking about Boren’s book again. Naturally, that sparked thoughts about our communication skills and styles. Which, in turn, sparks today’s podcast.


Mentioned in today’s show:

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

Genesis record of Adam & Eve blaming each other

Leaning Toward Wisdom, the episode I reference is 4005

Breaking Bad (like all things, it’s morphs into, “Now what?”)

• Kaizen