Saturday, April 29, 2006

Teenagers: A True Test of a Parent’s Values

In 1979 through 1982, our family lived in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, before it was coined the Emerald Coast. We attended a beautiful Episcopal church in Destin, called Saint Andrews by-the-sea. We could see the emerald colored ocean from the steps of the church. This is where I encountered my first cultural (sub-culture) experience with America’s invisible class.

It was a fine Sunday, praise music blaring and then it happened, a homeless person named Richard showed up to attend church. The regular parishioners were a little perturbed at the arrival of Richard, as he was a beach bum, slept in public toilets, and stunk of who knows what, mixed with alcohol, maybe even drugs. This guy was a real mess. What was he doing in church? Was Richard looking for love in all the wrong places or had he stumbled into a place where love abounds and found none? Where do we find love?

How many people really love their neighbor as themselves? How many people actually love them self? In addition, if an individual can’t love them self, how can they love another? My brother and I (two teenagers) saw this as a golden opportunity to test our parent’s faith and their core values. Isn’t this why parents really love teenagers and their continual testing? Life tests are good! God has a great sense of humor. What you sow, you will also reap. We need to sow unconditional love like my parents. We all need to sow unconditional love. Love without condemnation.

Any how, my brother and I moved toward Richard who sat praying in the back row to make Richard feel more welcome and to put our plan into place. After church, we quickly asked my parents to invite Richard home for lunch. Of course, it is after all, the right thing to do when you see someone in need. We could see in our parent’s eyes filled with cognitive distress as the ordeal circled round and round, “If we say, yes…, if we say, no…,” the internal argument.

You see, my folks had just picked up a brand new 1979, Cadillac Seville. Not just any Cadillac, but one with fire engine red paint and snow white leather interior. It was my parents dream car. It was their first Cadillac. If this was your brand new car, can you picture a dirty, smelly stranger sitting on your snow white leather? I have to tell you, my parents were and remain godly and loving. They also made the only decision they could. We knew our parents would not fail the test. In fact, they passed with flying colors. My brother and I were very impressed with our parents, even to this day and forever. It makes me question my own personal ability to make the same decision my parents did.

We actually took Richard home, we allowed him to bathe, rest, clothe and feed. We found out that Richard was not an unintelligent man at all. Richard played the piano with classical perfection. Turns out Richard was, the son of a very wealthy man. Richard was running away from life and its expectations then and is probably still running from his father today. I hope Richard has found peace, a peace that passes all understanding.

In conclusion, my brother and I were only teenagers. Teenagers get bored in every generation. We too were running and operating at light-speed. As our parents and Richard sat, enjoying the music and conversation. My brother and I were on our way out to do what teenagers do. We rushed into the shower one after the other, before our mother could get in and clean it and disinfect it. As a result, we attracted Richard’s skin mites on our bodies from the soap he had used previously and/or possibly drying our hands on the same hand towel. Let me just say, we remembered Richard in more ways than one. My parents live and share Christ’s love with us daily. The Scabies and the itching it caused was an infliction and an embarrassment, but worth it all. My parent’s love God and live for God. Every time I get an itch on my hand, I think warm thoughts for a man running from his father, a man called Richard.

Friday, April 28, 2006

High Tech Enhancement to Customer Service

Check this out. As a paying customer and I must say, "An excellent tipper," when the service is good, I have an idea to share.

Restaurant tables leave much to be desired these days. We live in a high tech society and yet we are trying to serve people in a traditional way. Today, most youngsters do not know how to serve. In the U.S., today's youth are handed everything on a platter, how could they learn how to serve, or earn tips? For the record, no, I am not a Baby Boomer, I am generation "X."

Here is the idea. Introduce a computer control room that takes orders from table top touch screen computers. Not flat screen, high tech computers, but, rather table computers mounted under the glass with touch screen capabilities. I envision the customer placing orders "On Demand." Orders monitored by the control room and wait staff standing by to please. As the manager, you decide the standard level of agreement in time to fill, for the customer's request.

Instead of individual tips, you might choose a collectivistic approach of pooled tips. Split the tips at the end of the shift. If someone is slacking, the team will sort them out.

Customer satisfaction ratings will be instantaneous and online. Chain of restaurants will have access to the "Order to Demand" and "Fill Rate" real time. The customer is in control of their service with a push of the button. Picture it, an electronic "more coffee please!" No more cups on the side to signal the cup is empty and ready to fill.

The possibilities are endless. Get high tech and enhance customer service.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

When in China do as the Chinese

Although, you should have seen the looks the local Chinese would shoot us, it was hilarious. I am confident the Chinese people didn’t even see me. Here are these two (fake), large bodyguards walking side-by-side and I walking behind, dragging my laptop. My laptop is an extension of my brain, so I protected it with my life. I felt like Roger Staubach a quarterback from the 1979 Dallas Cowboys with 2 defensive linemen as blockers, paving a path through the masses. Chinese youth would just point and stare. Fortunately for me, my bodyguards cleared the path and I just rolled with the times.

After work, I often had to drag my computer around Shanghai for dinner, as the two big guys took precedence over me, when they were hungry. My hotel would have added an additional 40 minutes of traffic time to the journey. Who am I to question my giant bald brothers? We all had code names for each other. One guy code named, Iron Eagle (the big wig) and another the Bachelor (the traveler). My code name was Wing Nut! The psychology behind a single wing nut is not too important, psychologically or mechanically. Thanks guys!

When we finally arrived at the restaurant recommended by the Westin Hotel’s concierge we were seated at a six person table. Interestingly enough, two of the chairs were already taken by two Chinese men. This practice is normal for the Chinese, but a little awkward for the Americans. Personal space is a premium in other cultures and proximics are quite different around the world. In the U.S. we are used to being alone and afforded our own space. For fun, reverse it and try sitting at someone else’s table in the U.S. uninvited.

When in China do as the Chinese. When in the U.S. do as the U.S., this rule applies almost anywhere. Unfortunately, many Americans forget this rule and they claim foreign soil as Neil Armstrong claimed the Moon. Research and learn or in other words, know before you go. Most importantly, have fun! Get out of your comfort zone!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Click your way to a million dollars!

Colin Scroggins and Mike Kline ask, “How often do you receive a meeting announcement by email, rather than by Outlook meeting request?” To make sure you remember the meeting you must now enter this into Outlook as an appointment. This seemingly small interruption has huge consequences, as the lost productivity is multiplied across the entire employee base.

For example: Technology is available to schedule a team meeting, but it is not being utilized by all. You are in your office and someone sends out an e-mail notifying you of a weekly staff meeting. Instead of one individual setting up a convenient Outlook Calendar request for the team, everyone is required to set-up the meeting in their own calendars. On average, every distraction during the day wastes approximately 15 minutes. We don’t know about you, but our first response is absolute disgust. Why are some individuals not utilizing available technology to enhance their ability to deliver what we are all being paid to accomplish? Are there any overall hidden intangible costs?

Let's interpret the data?

15 Minutes/Interruption
x 52 Weeks
= 13 Hours/Year
x $15.00/Hour
= $195.00
x 7500 Employees
= $1,462,500 million dollars a year in wasted time/productivity

Now think about It: How many meetings per week does this occur? If the number is greater than zero, than it is one too many times. How many times are these individually scheduled meetings canceled? Any way you slice it, under utilized time, wastes dollars which are directly tied to salary and lost productivity. I didn’t even calculate the following:

  • Meeting rescheduling
  • Meeting cancellation
  • Change of venue
  • Cross-referencing existing calendar events

All of these actions are automated when using Outlook’s built-in meeting request features, plus these requests can be forwarded to third parties, saving other parties the same loss in productivity.

Cost avoidance is cost savings: We live in a culture where time is money.

All under-utilized time wastes dollars which are directly tied to personnel and resources. By using the tools provided by the Corporation to streamline your business processes, you reduce the operation costs across the business. By not utilizing the tools provided you are promoting fraud, waste and abuse. Good stewardship of money is essential to business success. Organizations can cut costs by reducing head count or by using technology effectively. How much money are you wasting? What would you do with 1.4 Million dollars or more?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Shanghai Pajama Party: What’s that all about?

One of the many strange Chinese cultural observations that I have been fortunate enough to experieince, is many of the Shanghai, Chinese people get off work (in the summer months only), bathe, put on pajamas and then set-up lawn chairs in the middle of the sidewalk to cool off and relax. This ritual sounds relaxing and welcomed. There is nothing wrong with relaxing, it is healthy. Now imagine this ritual taking place in the middle of a busy New York sidewalk at rush hour. A sea of people, bikes, and vehicles going by at fast pace trying to get home and while all of this activity is taking place there is a Chinese man or woman laying out on a lawn chair, pajama top slightly pulled above their belly as they rub it in relaxation. In more technical terminology, a manufacturing company might call this sunbathing routine a bottleneck. The sunbathing slows down the production, of getting a tired, hungry individual from their work to home.

My question to you is how can an individual relax with thousands upon thousands of pedestrians walking past and observing your belly rubbing ritual? There are over 18 million people living in Shanghai. Things that make you go Hmmmm! What’s that all about?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Eat Humble Pie: By Swallowing Pride we Enable Innovation

My extreme risk taking, although informed, is a little fast and furious for my Greater Asia region business partners. We must continually be aware of our cultural similarities and also our cultural differences.

If you read my Blog regarding El Chupacabra invading Asia on Wednesday, April 12, 2006 you will see a classic example of my personal decision in choosing to enable innovation by swallowing my pride. Pride lied and told me to get out of Dodge; however, the right business decision is a hard call sometimes, so I stuck it out. I still have one close casualty (my better half)! My injured party is due to my inability to build a relationship with the Malaysian course owner. Trust comes first, prior to my using my network of family, friends, and business acquaintances to move mountains. My strategy was a tad faulty.

Eating humble pie, I met with my Malaysian counterpart via a telephonic bridge line (phone call) communication. We discussed a few options, shared some history of the benefits (win-win), and came to an agreement to proceed. Of course, there are still some negotiations to iron out and some HR legal discussions to take place, but these risks are low.

In dealing with American business partners it seems a natural progression for our international counterparts to embrace a similar style of work communication (the spirit of El Chupacabra). Americans are known for a “My Way or the Highway,” way of doing business. We seem to be a little short sighted on adopting another cultures way and thus often lose in international negotiations.

Negotiations in the Greater Asia region will include the exchanging of gifts. For one example, what is the gift giving policy at any given American business? I think you will find it is across the board pretty low. Reasons for low gift exchange includes, ethics training and the perceptions your company is being bought off in negotiations. The question I think about in regards to gift exchange is: How can you have a single policy that crosses many cultures effectively?

Culturally, the Japanese are the biggest gift exchangers and the exchange is a very important part of a relationship. Gift giving is a ceremony. The Chinese, the Malaysians and the rest of the Greater Asia region follow suite on gifts. By not embracing a simple gesture of thoughtful gift giving we make relationship building more difficult. Cheap gifts are insulting (lack of respect). Never give gifts with company logos (disrespect).

There is always room to challenge the status quo and design approved exceptions to policy, procedure and we have always done it this way syndrome. Get real and make good business decisions by developing your knowledge and skills in intercultural relations. The future is more global than today!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Did you Know, Microsoft Outlook Calendar Allows Business to Business Calendaring?

In a continuing effort to share tips and tricks in virtual meetings I wanted to be certain that you are aware of a really cool feature in the Microsoft Outlook Calendar Tool. I guess I took it for granted that most people were aware of the ability to send meeting calendar requests across different companies, providing each company is using Outlook as their email and calendar tool. Most companies I work with do use Outlook.

My wife and I both work for high-tech companies and we share our honey-do lists by adding appointment notifications such as medical appointments, travel dates, baseball games, gymnastics, dinner engagements, who has to pick up the kids due to meeting conflicts and so on. I am sharing this so that you have an opportunity to benefit from the use of this cool feature.

As I pondered the question of others using this neat feature, I began asking my friends, if they were aware of this feature. The answer I received is an overwhelming no. Sometimes, the most simple tasks, we perform are overlooked as we assume everyone knows, but in actuality, they may not.

Here is how you invite an individual to a calendar request. Insert the individuals email address into the Calendar tools TO: field, set-up the calendar event and click send. An email calendar request will be sent to the individual and they can accept it or decline it. The only negative to this is the accept invitation and/or decline does not show-up under the tracking feature. However, I use it to schedule meetings with suppliers and customers all the time and I have never had an external company not show.

Examination of cool tips and tricks, help us to organize busy business schedules. This examination is essential to helping us meet our high demand on our time. If we manage our lives better, we are less stressed and able to perform at a much higher rate of deliverables. Technology is supposed to make our lives less stressful, not more. Use technology to enhance your life, reduce your workload and be more productive.

If you have other cool tips, please comment and post them for others to benefit from. Open communication changes the world.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Thoughts for Setting up Effective Virtual Meetings

Working virtually and internationally are two growing challenges for today’s businesses. Time zones, meeting times, connectivity, language barriers, accents, hidden prejudice, hurt pride, and culture are all major players in the success or failure of virtual meetings. When I first started working virtually, meeting times were very convenient. The main reason meeting times were convenient is because we met on U.S. time, my time. What is the issue with meeting on U.S. time?

The world can be divided into three great regions. The Greater America Region includes: Canada, North America, Latin America, and South America. The Greater European Region includes: Europe, Middle-East, Africa, and Russia. The Greater Asia Region includes China, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, India and many others. The number one challenge is in the time zones. The Greater America Region might be starting their day when it is the end of the day in the Greater European Region and the middle of the night in the Greater Asia Region. How do you meet with everyone around the globe at the same time without inconveniencing someone? You can’t meet globally at the same time without inconveniencing one or two of the regions, someone will be calling into an early or late meeting.

Technology was created to make our lives more convenient, but in reality our lives have been taken over. As I began to understand the issues in meeting virtually and the assumptions we make about other regions, I began to change meeting times based upon the attendees region. If a U.S. presenter wanted to share something I would require three separate presentations or meetings. The burden of time was now the burden of the presenter. A good rule to follow is to allow the inconvenience to impact the few (presenters of information) for the benefit of the many (regional employees). If a presenter desires to train or meet virtually, have them set-up convenient meetings for the regions. Sharing the burden of meeting at all hours helps to build credibility and relationships. However, it also set a standard for abusing the time zone shuffle. The expectation is not always followed due to constraints in connectivity, transportation, access to a shared computer, and pure selfishness.

Here are a couple of ideas to aid you in setting up effective meetings virtually.

  1. Use the Outlook Calendar tool to change your time zone to the time zone you plan on meeting in. Set-up the meeting in the time zone you want to meet in and then change the time zone back to your local time zone. Outlook will convert the meeting time back to your local time. This little trick is easy and fairly accurate to ensure you are working on the same time, in their time. Remember that the Greater Asia Region is twelve plus hours ahead, so Friday meetings are not advisable.
  1. Remember to check an international holiday website to ensure your meeting is an actual work day. Often times, people forget that other countries have holidays too. For example, scheduling a meeting during the Chinese New Year or on Israeli holy days will result in your meeting not being attended.
  1. Don’t forget about prayer time. If a country has a large Muslim population, companies generally provide prayer rooms and prayer times are recognized and supported. Individuals will usually block their calendars to allow themselves less conflict with mandatory prayer.
  1. For large meetings ask everyone to go on mute. Some telephone bridge lines use (*6) to mute and un-mute the phone line. It is important to address the issue of being placed on holdwith background music. Back ground music can be very distracting to the presenter and attendees, if someone places you on hold with music playing until they return. Background noise can also distract. Personally, I have heard many things while hosting meetings virtually. Some of the more interesting virtual noises include; flatulence, dish washing, vacuums, snoring, talking to someone else, restroom noises, flushing toilets, crying babies, doorbells, and dog’s barking. This list is not exhaustive.
  1. Use a convenient web sharing service like WebEx, Macromedia Breeze, Microsoft Live Meeting or others to facilitate and capture questions. Accents and names may cause issues with understanding questions and/or feedback. Having a question typed out for you will enhance your ability to effectively answer questions.Many international attendees in China and India have changed or shortened their names and/or adopted American names in business (sometimes very humorous names).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

El Chupacabra Invades Asia

The spirit of El Chupacabra has once again raised its ugly head on planet Earth. Some have called it the essence of the “Ugly American,” stereotype. In the last month, I have experienced first hand, an ugly American influenced business process coming back to the U.S., from Malaysia. This behavior is not the norm in Malaysia. However, this time it has crossed an ocean in the opposite direction and it is raising many new cultural concerns, especially on virtual teams. The spirit of El Chupacabra kills intangibles in business. Intangibles like WA, or in other words, harmony. El Chupacabra has sharp teeth and it destroys an individual’s pride and desire to partner with international teams. My biggest concern is, wonderful Asian cultural traits may be disappearing as the global village gets smaller and smaller. Many of our greater Asia region business partners are educated in the United States and have adopted the Ugly American business practice along with the good ones learned.

The innovative issue at hand is a partnership with other high-tech companies to deliver intercultural training locally. Many businesses can not offer a fully utilized class of 18 participants, but the training is still necessary. One solution is to offer a course locally and allow other companies to send their employees to the training. This is a win-win situation. Everyone gets the training needed to be successful working internationally and it also opens up networking opportunities and future partnerships in the local community. The challenge is in the communication and ownership. An assumption on the part of a Malaysian (course owner), drove her to shoot down the proposal and send an email to many people (HR directors and other manager peers) stating that she did not know or approve anything. I lost a whole lot of face with my partner at this company. My hurt pride has kept me from responding to the Malaysian course owner’s email, for about two weeks. I know it is the right business decision to work together to offer these courses, but I don’t need this company attending my classes, I am not desperate. I was trying to get a win-win and help everyone develop and enhance relationships. The last thing I expected was to get treated with disrespect from Malaysia or anywhere else in Asia for that matter. I am a victim of reversed Ugly American retaliation in the spirit of El Chupacabra.

Next week I will swallow my pride and communicate with the Malaysian counterpart to work out the details. The casualty of this issue is my local contact at the company who was doing me a favor in communicating a great opportunity. I happen to be married to this individual. In addition, my wife, does not desire to be apart of, or be my local contact in the future due to her loss of face with her business network relationships in New Mexico (my wife had nothing to gain by her communication). The Malaysian counterpart has severed the relationship through a communication faux pas to “All,” denying the partnership and approval of a great opportunity in a true Ugly American fashion. This action hurt everyone. My main concern about the issue, is around this trend becoming the future of doing business globally? I sure hope not!

Typically, Americans are known for being a little cut throat and going for the jugular vein (much like the El Chupacabra), looking for a quick resolution, rather than trying to work out differences at the lowest possible level. I have heard business acquaintances say “Americans are very nice people, but they just don’t care.” People make a lot of assumptions when doing business, especially internationally. Here is my top 5 list of virtual team assumptions. Have you made any?

  1. Assuming that everyone internationally has a computer to use themselves. In China and India, many people often share a computer so access is not always available. In some instances, 17 plus individuals share a computer terminal.
  1. Assuming that everyone internationally has a car or transportation to get to work early or to stay late. Many people internationally rely on public transportation that does not allow for staying late or arriving early.
  1. Assuming individuals have internet service from their home. Americans are blessed or cursed (depending on how you look at life) on the number of early and late meetings you attend. Do you live to work (24 x 7) or work to live (8-5)? Internet connectivity leaves much to be desired in many countries.
  1. Assuming that silence is a bad thing. When is the last time that you had to translate Japanese into English, think about what was said and come up with an intelligent response? Give your international peer some time to digest what has been said. Silence is golden.
  1. Assuming that a requested response that is older than 24 hours needs to be escalated to a manager. It is best to resolve issues at the lowest possible level. Build relationships with your international peers don’t go for the jugular vein. Trust is important in doing business internationally.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Understanding Arabs: the use of the Inappropriate Hand

In most Arab countries and/or countries influenced by Arab traditions, the left hand is considered "unclean" and is not to play a part in social settings at all. The left hand is for private duty only. Do not make a fool of yourself and commit a major cultural faux pas by putting your left hand forward to receive or give anything, be conscious of the left hand’s role in dealing with Arabs. The left hand is taboo. Your left hand remains in your lap while dining. If you forget this rule of engagement and serve yourself with your left hand or grab a roll from a public plate, the other guests will be disgusted at your lack of manners and the plate of food will be removed immediately and be thrown out. It is customary to eat, shake hands, and wave only with the right hand.

Even today, it is considered extremely impolite and offensive to offer the left hand for a handshake or even to wave hello or good-bye with your left hand. This rigid belief or social standard is biased against the estimated 10% of Lefty’s or Southpaws.

Understanding the Arabs use of the left hand brings me to the understanding of most Westerners and the use of their right hand. I frequent the men’s room as often as most and I practice a cleaning ritual afterwards, using soap and hot water. With most of the world’s population being right-handed, I make a safe assumption that the right-hand is more accurate at performing a critical removal of unhygienic mass from places the sun generally does not shine. Of course, in the U.S. we use paper products to keep most of the particles away from or skin.

What percentage of American’s, wash their hands after performing a natural urge? More American’s claim to wash their hands, than actually do! So I suggest that it is safer for an Arab to shake an American’s left hand than the American’s right hand. In addition, I question the safety of using a stair rail or an escalator’s rubber hand belt. Which is safer? Walking down the stairs with clean hands, not using the public hand rail or using the unhygienic public hand rail? I believe, I will risk a fall. Keep your unhygienic stuff to yourself.

Here is a question. The other day I saw a man without a right arm. What does he do? How does a culture with a left hand taboo, deal with this issue? Do they go hungry in an Arab driven culture? Do you know? Please comment below. For some reason, I don't believe the amputee gets many dinner invitations.

We may need to change our world customs and adopt bowing! The Japanese were very astute in developing their hygienic custom. Microbiologists around the world applaud the Japanese. Don’t even get me started on bar snacks and public access to bowls of nuts, pretzels and popcorn.

Here are a few other items to ponder: Buffets, doorknobs, gas (petrol) pump handles, telephones, elevator buttons, menus, coke/cola cans, server hands, pens in a bank and/or offices (do you chew on pens?). Is it necessary to go on? I don’t think so.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Good News! Some East Indian’s Claim: American Cows are Not Holy!

I heard a very funny story the other day, a story about East Indians and McDonalds or rather American beef. Personally, I never really associate McDonalds with beef. It doesn’t taste like beef, it doesn’t look like beef and it definitely doesn’t smell like beef. The story followed the course of a new immigrant from India in the U.S. to study for their Ph.D., going to McDonalds and observing some of his Hindu friends eating a Big Mac hamburger, fries, and coke. As the new guy was experiencing some cognitive dissonance about the whole thing, the new immigrant decided to express his concern, “You guys realize of course, you are eating beef!” The friends looked up at their new acquaintance and said, “You will have to get beyond that notion quick, American cows are unholy!” What the new guy ordered I do not know.

As funny as this notion appears to the U.S., it brings up another question for me. Let’s think about this issue for a second or two. Why would anyone want to put something unholy in their mouth and digest it? Is it holy or unholy?

With over 1 billion people in India and growing rapidly, 81% of the people being Hindu and unable to eat beef, this is good news for world beef companies. Many Indians believe in a Gita, which tells them to do what their conscious tells them to do regardless of consequence, as success and failure are the same side of the same coin. An American company called Nike must have a similar Gita. Nike coins it a little differently, by telling us to “Just do it!” However, saying this, if it is unholy, it sounds disgusting and you can count me out.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Methamphetamine Scare and Shock Communication in the USA

As I drove to work the other day, I stopped at a red light and observed a sad couple at a bus stop. The couple looked ragged. Teeth were missing, faces sucked in and they appeared just about used up. Both held a 32 ounce Big Gulp in their hands, it was 6:30 A.M! Had meth stolen their souls?

My mind wandered back to an article I was reading in a People magazine while waiting for an appointment. Although this magazine is not my magazine of choice, the meth epidemic is scary and real. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure echoed through my brain. I thought about the before and after pictures of the crystal meth users in People Magazine. Talk about scary! I remembered my junk mail, representing “missing people” on flyers and the computer enhanced aged pictures of children abducted when they were three and now appeared to be seven. I then thought about morphing software. How can we use technology to help reduce the number of new drug users?

Almost everyone should agree the soundest policy to find a way to prevent young people from getting started on crystal meth is to show them what they will look like in ten years. Methamphetamine will make you appear to be all used up and much older than you are.

Okay! Here is my idea. Someone out there needs to create morphing software that will take a middle school students picture, then morph them out 10 years. Afterwards, they morph the picture again to show what they will look like if they use meth. Have all the students hang this picture of themselves in their lockers. Look at that beauty everyday. Is the risk worth the crime? There are enough struggles in life without compounded the issues with becoming brain washed and abused. How many young teens are willing to risk becoming less beautiful; teens are hyper-sensitive? For example, the world appears to end as huge crocodile tears drain from their eyes when a zit pops out on their face. Just scream no! Keep off drugs.

It seems a little late for the bus-stop-duo, but it is not too late for you! Step up to the plate people, parents, schools, employers, and government. Individuals like to see how issues impact them! Today’s young U.S. culture singing a cultural faux pas, “What have you done for me lately?”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

American Indian Mascot as U.S. Cultural Faux Pas

You have most likely heard a quote similar to, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” Although I am not an advocate of political correctness as it hides blatant prejudice, I have to ask the question, “Why is the American Indian not afforded political correctness in naming conventions?”

After having had a wonderful conversation with an American Indian couple about developing an intercultural communication class or rather a course called, “Working with American Indians” (a course much over due and needed in today’s business and social society), an old hurt came to the surface and a little frustration appeared. The frustration surrounds the use of ethnic Indian names without permission and want. What about these American Indian Mascots? Let’s face it! How can we as an American society allow ourselves to accept blatant cultural faux pas without blinking an eye? Is money the driver? Is pride an issue at stake? Whose pride? Do we allow a few to suffer for the joy of many?

How many ways can we insult the American Indian? How many ways can we lift up the American Indian? I found a quote on the internet and here it is, "When I first landed in Cincinnati, I thought there weren't any Indians living here. But since noon, I have seen a Cherokee, Navajo, Winnebago, Dakota, Mohawk and a Comanche ~ and those were just the RV's, trucks, cars and small aircraft (Dennis Banks)." Dennis brings up an even bigger issue, not only ethnic sport names are being used, but many items for sale incorporate the American Indian in their marketing. Is the American benefiting in any way from these sales?

Here are a couple examples of ethnic sport names in use today, the Blackhawk’s, Warriors, Chiefs, Indians, Seminoles, Braves, Redskins and I am sure there are more. These are all cultural and ethnic names of professional and amateur sports teams that use the Indian and reference to Indians for their nicknames, logos and mascots. How many other high schools and colleges are out there using similar ethnic nicknames? There are many people on both sides of this issue. Some of these people feel the use of such logos or mascots is insensitive and/or racist. On the other hand, some feel these ethnic logos and mascots honor Native Americans. Has the U.S. really ever honored the Indian people? The U.S. culture clashes with the American Indian culture. The cultures do not follow the same lines. What exactly do you really know about the American Indian?

This is a very controversial and complex issue that needs to be decided once and for all. Is it or is it not a blatant cultural faux pas to use ethnicity as a naming convention? What names can’t be renamed?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

High-Tech: Honeymoon Global Positioning System (GPS) has finally arrived

On April 1, 2006, two directionally challenged, good friends got married, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. April 1st should give you a great picture of their personalities and what is about to come.

I was the back-up Best Man, titled the Honorary Best Man. I was experiencing a little worry. Alright, I was really worried about the Bride and Groom and the fact that both of them are so directionally challenged. Can you imagine the couple getting lost on their honeymoon night? The honeymoon night is the last place in the world that you want to get lost.

Having worked in a high-tech environment for many years, I began to ponder a solution to the challenges ahead. I noticed the couple had put their gift requests in the Target store gift registry so I took a look. Sure enough, they had requested not one, but two Global Positioning Systems (GPS), so they might always find where they are going. I understand that trying to figure out where you are and where you're going, or where you should be, is probably some of the oldest challenges for humans. Over the years all types of technologies have been designed and developed to eliminate and/or simplify the task for the directionally challenged, but until now, every one of the inventions has had some issues to resolve.

Good news. As of April 01, 2006 the original and coined “Honeymoon GPS” has arrived. It is so new that the patent is still pending. This high-tech solution no longer relies on satellites and electricity power. It has a navigation that will never fail. Happy honeymoon!

Disclaimer: Honeymoon suggests marriage and therefore the Honeymoon GPS only works on that special night. Afterwards, the new couple is on there own.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Birth of Shock Communication

Innovative thought develops into action, allowing for enhanced learning, generating cognitive memory storage and the immediate retrieval of that memory over time. Continue to shift mind-sets away from traditional learning. People are anxiously awaiting entertainment, so what are you waiting for, entertain. Creativity enhances knowledge transfer and retention.

Professors Corinne Shefner-Rogers and her late husband, Ev Rogers (The Father of Diffusion of Innovations), always come to the forefront of my mind, when I think of Shock Communication. The “Sexy” (stealing one of Ev’s favorite words) couple co-taught a graduate level health communication class at the University of New Mexico (UNM). What a great class. Ev and Corinne had traveled to Paris, France during the course and brought back some fine French pate to share with us. Ev graciously opened and prepared crackers and pate. Ev and Corinne loved to share food and engage in communication. The students often prepared food to bring to class. Serving everyone a cracker or rather those that would partake of the tasty morsel, we savored the moment. Our taste buds tantalized and mesmerized by the flavor, we desired more.

Ev finally asked if anyone would like more, the answer was definitely yes. We were hooked. Ev reached into his bag and pulled out a second can. Without saying a word, Ev opened the can in full view of the class. A can of cat food! As Ev spread the pate-like spread onto the crackers, the class gasped! Did Ev eat one? I can’t remember. I like to believe that he did eat one. My stomach was not a happy camper and my mind raced thinking did he, could he, would he, and finally, they didn’t? Filling the plate with crackers and cat food spread, Ev proceeds to walk the class asking everyone to try the delicious snack – for obvious reasons everyone refused. Laughing heartily, Ev and Corinne showed the class the two cans, one pate and one cat food. The cans were similar enough to allow for shock and awe. Afterwards, the sexy couple began the lesson.

What did I learn? Ev and Corinne invited transformation for change and new thinking. Shock-a-Comm in good taste is an advocate for memory retention! Vindictive Shock Communication; however, is good for spiteful, angry retaliation. Appropriate use of shock and/or humor is sometimes necessary to allow for successful knowledge transfer and retention.