Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts by goldsteinadmin

What’s a Good Day at the Office?

By on May 14, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

She said a good day ain’t got no rain She said a bad day’s when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been – Paul Simon, Slip Slidin’ Away It’s the small things at work that can change everything, even if only for a moment. A good day is when I am surrounded by good people. A good day is when I participate in a conversation where I learn something. A good day is when a friend reminds me I am a friend. A good day is when we get to promote someone. A good day is when someone who used to work for me is promoted by someone else whom I’ve never met. A good day is when a customer writes or calls to tell us we’ve exceeded their expectations. A good day is when customer service completes an interaction that began with an unhappy customer with someone who will again trust our company. A good day is when we stop paying legal fees on a settlement that never should have been a legal matter. A good day is when a great former employee stops by just to say hi, then casually asks if we happen to have any openings that might be a good fit for a familiar someone. A good day is when one person stops by another’s desk, thanks them sincerely for almost anything, and acknowledges them for a job well done (bonus points for heartfelt gratitude expressed by managers and executives). A good day is when one employee apologizes to another for being rude without the prompting of Human Resources. A good day is when no one has any reason to complain about anything to Human Resources. A good day is when no injuries have occurred in the workplace for many, many months. A good day is when someone tells me they accomplished something they never thought they could do. A good day is when someone tells me a colleague helped them accomplish something they never thought they could do. A good day is when a collective brainstorm that seemed to be going nowhere for hours (or days, or weeks) ends with a big idea embraced by consensus. A good...

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Embrace Turbulence

By on May 6, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

How many really bad things can go wrong in business in a single day? One or two? Five? Dozens? Dozens of dozens? A key employee leaves because a spouse is offered a job a thousand miles away. A key partner botches a supply chain handoff and your warehouse is empty ahead of an annual sale. You discover a critical hidden formula error in one of your financial spreadsheets that even your auditors missed. Your customer service lines light up for a problem with your competitor’s product being confused for your own. Sound like a normal enough day? Then why do we think of turbulence as extraordinary? Maybe a better question is how many things can go right in a day. Sometimes if you achieve one modest success you count your blessings and call that an outstanding day! A win is the welcomed exception. Problems are the norm. Just remember one of the key maxims in career longevity: If you’re a manager, problems are job security. If there weren’t problems in business, we wouldn’t need management. Lucky for us, huh? I was recently talking with a colleague about his desire to offer calm to his staff after a rough few weeks. He wanted to give a talk where his message and tone signaled that the bad stuff was behind them. I advised against it. How could he possibly know what fate might bring even later that afternoon. You never want to make a liar out of yourself with stuff you can’t control. Besides, the very notion of calm to me signals surrender. What is the stuff you can control? Attitude, anticipation, and readiness. It’s a question of urgency over fear. Fear in the form of debilitating anxiety may not be your friend, but urgency in the form of nimble responsiveness is always your friend. There is so little in our future that we can control, pretending it is otherwise is advancing the clock on the certainty of smack down. Complacency lets down your guard. Predictive, proactive realism keeps you sharp at all times. How many times have I heard hardworking but tired employees utter the phrase: “If only we can get through this [fill in the blank], we’ll be fine.”...

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Staying Alive

By on Apr 11, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

This will be the third post in an unintended trilogy following my last two on why companies that might appear to be “built to last” may suddenly evaporate before your eyes. In response to those stories (Gone So Soon and 8 Warnings That Your Company Is Toast), I received several inquiries wondering if there were ways to spot an imminent mudslide while there’s time to escape. Executive turnover is something to watch closely, especially the C-suite. Either too little or too much turnstile rotation can be a warning sign. With no leadership change over long periods of time, a company might become entrenched in its plodding, convinced it knows how to do things so well no seismic shift in the landscape requires reinvention of the company’s ways. When executives are repeatedly jumping ship in under a year, the lack of stability in teamwork, embrace of new ideas, or core strategy might be signaling a torpedo crater in the ship’s hull that can’t immediately be seen underwater. Certain presidential administrations come to mind. An escalating executive dump of equity holdings will usually light up an analyst’s eyes, but what about yours? If your top management is seeking liquidity while proclaiming they are simply reducing concentration and balancing their holdings, ask yourself why now. It’s good to be loyal when there’s a reason to be loyal. Ignoring the siren to go down with the ship will never seem as noble when your colleagues have departed in first class and you are left treading ice water. Much of the dot-com bubble unraveled this way, with most of the stock prices dropping swiftly to zero. Ever sit in a meeting, listen to a colleague or team of co-workers present an innovative, visionary solution to a core concern the company has long identified as critical to its survival, only to see the framers of the big idea summarily dismissed without adequate explanation? Sure you have, most of us have. Perhaps those framers then quit, go across town and put their concept to work for a competitor, of course without violating their nondisclosure or trade secret agreements, modifying their ideas to a variation on the theme. If you believe they are as smart as they...

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8 Warning Worries That Your Company is Toast

By on Mar 7, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Last month I reminded you that no big-brand company lasts forever, and few of today’s technology phenoms last long at all. One of my readers emailed to ask if I might dare to note some of the warning signs that suggest company extinction might be zeroing in on your own workplace. Of course if I knew the full answer to that, I would spend the rest of my career shorting all those imminent losers traded in the public markets. Creative destruction is difficult to see in its earliest phases because it often begins simmering silently in the background when your company is riding a wave of enormous good fortune. Funny how that infecting vulnerability sneaks its nose under the tent precisely when a business seems to be at its healthiest peak. While the corrosion can be deceptively invisible at first, there are usually festering symptoms we can observe, watching the makings of a crash in slow motion long before opposing forces collide. Here are eight thumbnail questions to help diagnose the severity of your company’s illness and whether it’s likely to be terminal. What is the company’s R&D budget as a percentage of sales? If research-and-development spending is declining as your company matures, it’s possible that company is being harvested by its owners as a cash cow. While strong cash flow is an indicator of company health, take notice of how much of your business is being driven by recent successes vs. legacy brands. If new products aren’t breaking, sniff around and see how much of that cash is being invested in next-generation ideas. If increasingly more cash is going to ownership and less to building your company’s future, you may have reason to worry. Is your CEO surrounded by people who hold the same views of the company’s excellence? Without gadflies who question everything, you’re likely to keep doing the same things. That could make you a cash cow, a one-hit wonder, or any number of limited-thinking results. Great senior leadership in a company encourages constructive conflict, because no single viewpoint in management can possibly see around every corner or predict a competitive threat. If lots of ideas are flowing, you have a much better chance to reinvent...

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Gone So Soon

By on Feb 13, 2019 in Blog | 0 comments

Recently I gave an interview about one of my favorite career projects, Carmen Sandiego. It was being researched by an archivist! I hadn’t been asked in years about the mysterious thief in the red trench coat and fedora. As big as she was in my life and on the national stage, save for a new motion picture in development, few people remember dear Carmen as much more than nostalgia. For that matter, who remembers the massive multimedia magic of CD-ROM computer games with all of 700mb of storage? There she is. There she isn’t. Nothing lasts forever. Very little lasts long at all. That is the stuff of our culture. That is the stuff of our careers. Hold on too tightly to anything and you find yourself grasping ancient pixel dust. Creative destruction is increasingly real and accelerating faster than ever. A new company comes, an old company goes. Brands emerge and evaporate before our eyes. In the start-up world, the notion of permanence is almost impossible to envision. Look forward with alacrity or don’t bother looking up from abandonment. Contemporary taste is fickle. Technology trends are more fickle. Customer loyalty is most fickle. Earlier this year I watched the National Geographic Channel limited series Valley of the Boom. I couldn’t tell if it was a dark walk down memory lane or an idealist’s time capsule of lost promise. Netscape—the big bang of the internet age—went from conception to extinction in all of about four years. The Globe—the biggest IPO of its time—was practically eviscerated at birth. Pixelon—a scam extraordinaire foiled by its own iBash—today doesn’t even make a decent trivia question on a game show. Those were just three emblematic stories, real-world cautionary tales of boom and bust. You might remember the history of other exploded rockets, from Pets.com to Webvan. Maybe you don’t want to remember. Of the big consumer-facing internet companies that emerged from dotcom v1.0, it seems Amazon, Priceline, and eBay are the only lauded brands continuing to operate at large scale. Google emerged in the second wave of the internet, capitalizing on all the failed portals’ inability to understand the essential nature of search, most notably the excruciating death spiral of Yahoo. Can you think of...

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