Being Taken to the Cleaners

I’ve come to believe that we are being taken to the cleaners over and over in simple and subtle ways.

Case in point, when your state issues tax refunds for overpayments on a debit card. They are absolutely, 100% on purpose, taking advantage of those of us who lose the cards or never get around to using them or are just overwhelmed with dealing with another card and account to set-up. Remember, you must call their 800 number and listen to their commercial in order to activate the card. That state keeps that which is never used.

Or how about medical service providers who send you a bill for an amount after insurance has paid what they will pay, you write them a check, and then weeks or months later you get a check in the mail for overpayment. Once again, they are counting on you not cashing that check and they were leveraging your money during the time of the overpayment by earning interest on those funds. This is not accidental.

And of course, the insurance companies send you a Explanation of Benefits written in a foreign language to most of us using codes and things we don’t understand to justify what they are going to pay for and not pay for on this claim. And, of course, they include several pages of how you appeal the payment of which nobody does.

Our leaders in Washington don’t have to live by the very laws we must obey. They get their own health insurance and retirement plans. They get to trade securities with insider information without fear of prosecution. They are lobbied by special interests (everybody, everything, every country) and people who go into Congress with typical financial resources end up millionaires within a few years.

And statistics are used to prove whatever points is required in the current argument or cause. For both sides.

I don’t think of myself as paranoid, instead, I think of myself and seeing more and more of this around me. It is just reality.

I think I’m going to read this Moneyland book. That will probably set me off further.

Take care of your friends and family that are nearby. Be kind. Help those who need a little help. Be gracious. The ‘system’ is not going to help and we need to help each other and just be kind along the way.

Three Great Reads

I’m considering doing a once per week post on three great things I’ve read during the week. Just considering it. Here are three for this week.

Why You Should Trust People First is a terrific post on why you should take that risk and speak up, ask, be vulnerable, greet, welcome, help that other person. In general, it is so worth it. Highly recommended.

Add Value To One Person’s Life Per Day is another great post suggesting that every single day, we need to find someone to help. Your help of that person will further help and compound as they likely then go on and do something good for someone else. Just get into the habit. Every single day.

You might be thinking that adding value to one person’s life is not enough of an impact. I once thought that too.

Until I realized that adding value is contagious.

When you do it once, the person you help passes it on. The second part happens in secret, though.

“You don’t see the significance of the value you’ve given to someone because the person you helped does it without thinking”

It’s natural that when we’ve seen the power of adding value to one person’s life, we want to pass it on. We collectively end up mimicking the behavior and just forget to label it as “I helped add value to one person today.”

Adding value to a persons life is contagious. Helping people is contagious too.

Tim Denning

The Simple Power of Showing Up is a great reminder that just showing up and just being consistent makes all the difference in achieving one’s goals.

It’s time that people start realizing you can’t be the noun without doing the verb.
You can’t be a writer, if you don’t write.
You can’t be a cook, if you never cook.
You can’t be an athlete, if you never train.
In what areas of your life do you call yourself the noun without doing the verb? It’s time to get consistent.

The Simple Power of Showing Up

Excellence

It is easy to watch the news and think that everything is broken. Sometimes, most times, it seems we should just not watch the news.

I’ve had three encounters with excellence in the last few days where an organization, an industry and a group are really seeming to drive towards excellence with enthusiasm and energy and passion.

Endeavor

The College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) at Oklahoma State University just opened a new undergraduate laboratory building that has been written up here and here.

IMG_3994

The difference with this lab is their intense focus on cross-functional collaborations with different engineering disciplines working together to solve problems and do research at the undergraduate level. It is not just the EEs or the MEs doing their thing by themselves, but it is pulling them together as undergraduates to work together; which is just like the real world. The articles spell it out more, but here is one more at campustechnology.com. I’m anxious to see what OSU CEAT does with this new facility. Very exciting.

Relentless focus on getting better at educating engineers.

Winemaking

I passed through Napa Valley last week and had the opportunity to tour a couple of vineyards. I was simply stunned at the lever of precision and passion wine makers ( the head wine experts) and their wineries have towards their craft. I had no idea. Focus on sun, rain, temperatures, soil conditions, this hill vs. that hill, this side vs that side, this grape vs. that grape, etc. The vineyards are immaculate and well maintained.

IMG_4069

Didn’t meet any of the winemakers, but heard about passion and focus. Many of them walk through the vineyards daily. Amazing. Is this the highest form of Agricultural Engineering?

Fleetwood Mac

I get it. You are wondering how these all fit together. My wife and I had the chance to see Fleetwood Mac at the start of their tour at the BOK Center in TulsaIMG_4111

Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and several new players. While the group was older, they still played with passion and energy.

They did a cover of Free Falling to honor Tom Petty and it was amazing. Neil Finn is a great addition and a great compliment to the group.

They were still great. It was a wonderful evening with lots of memories.

Passion. Focus.

Excellence.

All of three are fun to see and experience. Other places like Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma led by Katie Fitzgerald and by many programs at Oklahoma Christian University led by John deSteiguer all point to people and groups trying to do the right things with excellence and passion.

There is hope.

The Workplace and Simplification

pablo (12).png

A friend shared a great TEDx Talk with me recently about the workplace and simplification and about asking the right questions.

I quit my job as CIO over a year for several reasons that I won’t go into here. Since then, I’ve thought about lessons learned and perhaps, things I might have done differently at different times in the role.

I think this talk gets to the heart of it. An organization must prioritize simplification, removing bureaucracy, be nimble and fast and create a culture where asking and answering hard questions is the way things are done. Seems like more could have been done on this front.

I really did love the people I worked with there and recently had a chance to see some of my colleagues for a visit. It was a great time.

 

Trust & Fraud When Vulnerable

pablo (2)

When I was a kid, our Dentist called months after I had been in for a cleaning and told my parents that he had been reviewing old x-rays and noticed 1-2 cavities on my teeth that they had not spotted earlier.

Even back then as a kid, it struck me that he could just be making this up because he needed more money. But there is no way to test this without going to the expense of another doctor for more x-rays.

For some reason, I’ve always remembered this.

Just recently, another friend had age-related, routine, diagnostics done at a special medical center and was told there were concerns leading to more tests, a procedure and then more tests out into the future all at substantial expense but all leading to no serious issue found.  And then this person had two more friends have the same diagnostics, at the same place, leading to the similar results and test and again with no issue found.

We are so scared of the C word that we jump through every single hoop to test, evaluate, diagnose and re-test. Our fear of the C word is fully justified as we all have stories. However, that fear makes us very vulnerable to fraud, wasted time and money, possible harm from the tests themselves and then, of course, fake miracle cures.

I do not know the solution to this problem other than to ask around when needing professional help in any matter (doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc.), seek 2nd opinions on serious matters, and try to remain calm and wise in your decisions.

Regarding the Dentist, I vaguely recall that we didn’t stay with him much longer. Can’t even recall if we went back to have those ‘cavities’ filled. That same Dentist once was needing to remove a tooth in my mouth and he deadened the wrong side of the mouth and was about to start cutting before I stopped him.

 

 

Calendar Invites and Friction

pablo (8)

If you are using an electronic calendar organizer like Google Calendar and you routinely invite others to meetings using that tool, please think about how you send invites carefully and plan ahead.

Name the event something that makes sense on ALL the recipients’ calendars, not just your own

If your name is Betty and you are meeting with John next Tuesday, you don’t send an invite titled ‘Meet with John’ because, on John’s calendar, it will say that the meeting is with himself in the title. The event perhaps looks reasonable on your calendar, but it looks ridiculous on the other end. And, you don’t want him to have to do other work on his end to make it reasonable. You want to be able to just accept the invite and he is done.

Put the full location on the Where line

Furthermore, on the ‘Where’ line, put the full, exact, correct location for the meeting. If in a conference room in a building, put THE CONFERENCE ROOM NAME and THE FULL ADDRESS OF WHERE THE CONFERENCE ROOM BUILDING IS LOCATED every time. Again, just like the previous hint about the title, make the ‘Where’ right for all participants. You don’t want other participants to have to call at the last minute to figure out where the meeting is located.

One further reason to get the address right is that many times car navigation systems or phone driving directions are taken directly from the calendar entry without any typing. Get it right on the calendar so it can be used for navigation.

If a phone call, put the full phone number with area code in the title

Recently I’ve received:

  • an invite with a completely incorrect address where I’m supposed to drive to the meeting so I had to be a detective to figure it out.
  • an invite to a meeting with just the conference room name in the ‘where’ and I’m not located at that company and will be driving there.
  • an invite with a meaningless line in the title. I’m meeting someone at a restaurant for a catch-up and the title is the name of the restaurant. If I look at that entry on my phone in a week, I’ll have to open it up to see who is attending.
  • and an invite where I’m meeting with myself.

I’ve gotten into the habit of doing invite titles like these:

  • Talk – Tim/Mark,
  • Lunch – Tim/Mark,
  • Account Review – Tim/Sam/Mark
  • Call – Tim/Mark      Mark call Tim @ 1-405-555-5555

I’m surprised at how many people don’t get this right or persist in sending invites that are focused on the sender’s point of view.