There is so much bickering about the minimum wage hike I’m wondering if people are forgetting that PEOPLE work jobs not machines???

When I planned my consulting firm Policy Analysis & Research Group, one of the principles I wrote down was that I would not pay anyone less than $15/hr for anything.  Overall, the lowest I paid was $25/hr with a firm billing rate of $90/hr (this was in Pittsburgh which boasts a very affordable cost of living).  The reason had little to do with economics.  I started a business because I got tired of small business clients telling me that I was a great consultant and helped them but I knew nothing about owning and running a business.  I decided to prove them wrong.  Well, they were right in a lot of respects. LOL!

Paying an employee first when you don’t know when you’re going to get your share is not exactly the most exhilarating feeling in the world when bills are due and collection calls are mounting.  I would tell clients, you need happy employees and they would ask, what about my happiness???  I had to find other things to make me happy because during those moments owning a business was certainly not a happy factor.  And of course, I had many an accountant tell me I had to “learn to manage cash flow” to which I’d answer, “show me the cash and I’ll make it flow!”  So, they would go through my books and say, “you don’t have any cash, why aren’t you out there selling???”  Me: “because I’m sitting here watching you find me cash.”  The biggest mistake I made was not understanding my customer base.  Once I developed a reputation for quality reports, I decided to turn me into a system that others could deliver only to discover clients wanted me not the system (even though they had no complaints about the results).  The dumbest mistake (my small business clients warned me when I announced the name of my firm prior to incorporating): too long of a company name!  It was so long I got tired of signing it on registration sheets and simply would sign PARG which meant nobody knew what the heck I was.  My biggest frustration was not being able to redirect the firm the way I wanted in the midst of a recession but then Porter’s firm went bust too so maybe consultants are “just like doctors” better at curing others than themselves.  Overall, best learning experience in the world!

The point of all this??? Many business decisions have nothing to do with economics and wage rates are one of those mixed issues.  You can’t pay people at levels that go beyond what you are bringing in.   However, setting wage rates only based on what multinational corporations want and then saying small businesses want this too is dangerous ground.  Most small business owners are not serial entrepreneurs or inventors (let alone multinational executives with stock options).  They are people who are pro-active, believe in being rewarded and rewarding others and want to make a difference for their family and their community.  They are the people you turn to when your daughter in college needs an accounting project for her final and nobody will let her touch their books.  They are the ones you can call when your son keeps bugging you about upping his allowance so he can get more girls.  Could you please give my boy a weekend job so he can pay for those movies,”fancy” dinners, gas and car insurance?  We used to be able to tell our children, go work for two hours and buy that dress/new video game instead of bugging me. Well $7.25 x 2 = $14.50 and suddenly we have kids asking, what’s the point of working???  Hearing the news about a recession and no jobs for many people doesn’t help.  You can’t tell kids go to college so you can get a good paying job when the first thing they ask you is, with which company?

These “trivialities” ARE macro issues (due to simple multiplication).  The following map by Bill Moyers shows that there is no state where you can work 40hrs at minimum wage and rent a 2BR apartment http://billmoyers.com/2012/04/02/making-the-rent-on-minimum-wage/ (then we wonder why kids don’t move out anymore).  In addition, costs pile up both in the long and short run (public assistance, crime rates, drug use increases by those trying to “escape”) http://hnn.us/article/153881.  Ironically, small businesses show more growth in states with higher minimum wage rates (maybe because people kind of like getting paid at a level they can pay bills with) http://www.businessinsider.com/raising-minimum-wage-small-businesses-retail-2013-2   And, there is data showing that a majority of small businesses are in favor of higher minimum wage (maybe this way folks can buy American again instead of offshore goods – funny how sentiment against minimum wage coincided with the increase in offshoring….hmmmmm) http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/minimum-wage/  We can use voluntourism to help people in other countries to start businesses (also a great way to also give college kids a global education).  Let’s not forget bragging rights.  If we’re going to tell everyone that Capitalism is the best wealth generator for everyone and we’re the richest country, the proof is in the pudding and right now other countries have more pudding than we do http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/09/how-americas-minimum-wage-em-really-em-stacks-up-globally/279258/

However, the biggest reason is simply a human reason: 5yrs ago a friend and I were celebrating Mardi-Grass with a splurge lunch at a great seafood restaurant.  Our waitress was delightful but we would notice she would disappear to the kitchen area and come back looking very sad.  We got worried and asked what was wrong.  She explained it was supposed to be her day off and she had promised her 13yr old daughter that she would spend the day with her – a rare treat for her daughter.  However, an unexpected expense had come up at school and she decided she would come in to work expecting to make money on tips (restaurants are allowed to pay below minimum wage).  For some odd reason it was one of those days when no one showed up.  Her daughter kept calling to ask if she had made enough in tips to come home since salary was not the solution.  We asked how much she normally made in tips and how much she needed.  She told us she was making that sacrifice for $50.  Needless to say she got a $50 tip.  We thought we would just get an enthusiastic thank you so we left the tip and exited to avoid attention.  Instead, she followed us into the street and begged us to wait.  She ran back in and came back with Mardi Gras beads.  She asked if we would accept them as a gift because that day she learned people in the world really do care and she wanted us to remember her.    I still keep those beads and I still remember her face with tears of joy.  Now I’m on a quest to learn how to make small businesses recession proof so no one has to make a choice between work and spending time with their children…..This, is the REAL minimum wage!




To my nephews (sons) Scotty and Dasi:

I always promised your Mom that if anything ever happened, I would care for you. The problem is I’ve never given this Mom thing daily practice. While I learn, here are some lessons to remember:

Little things (most important first)

Your Mom was (is) the personification of love and faith. She wanted us all to understand and experience the rapture of God’s love. I look around me and often find it difficult to believe. Your Mom never had that problem: “make it through another day,” she would say, “you will see…” Sometimes days turn into years. She taught me to look for little signs along the way. A baby’s smile. Stories from those who have experienced miracles. A flower. People helping people or risking their lives to save someone/something for no good reason. “You’ll never see these things if you don’t look. That’s why the Bible says ‘seek and ye shall find’.” Here is a video of what love looks like through my eyes (by the way, no graffitti – you need to respect property that is not yours; use a canvas or cardboard) . Here is a video of what love looks like through your Mom’s eyes (she loved images like these – make plans to find such places and take your own pictures).

Make time for the little things. Your Mom would say, “Cecilia, on those VERY special days (she’d consider them miracles and bless God for witnessing) that you actually go to your Church, why don’t you ever invite me?” I would laugh and say, “because I don’t plan. On those rare occasions that the Spirit moves me to go to mass, I just find one and go.” I should have planned! I always thought there would be more time.

Work hard, even when you are too tired to go on. Play and relax as well. God willing you find work that you love so you enjoy work as much as you do play. There is no need for stress or anguish in this world. Get the maximum education there is but don’t loose your common sense. Somethings once lost are lost forever. Even complex things have a simple purpose (e.g. your brain keeps you alive).

Stand your ground and be proud of who you are but NEVER put others down even when they are stepping on you. Cream just floats its way to the top, dissolves, and makes everything yummy (plus is very slippery if stepped on). Be like cream!

What I learned about death from your aunts and uncles: “We like to say that those who have passed are lost. The reality is we know exactly where they are. We get confused because we feel them in our hearts and picture them in our minds but cannot hear them with our ears or see them with our eyes. Yes we miss them but we should rejoice for the pleasure to have known them and been with them.” Always remember that you are the delight of your parents and that when we see you, we see them.  Your presence in this world keeps your Mom alive for us.

Big things (most difficult second)

ONE: Talk to us when things are bothering you or don’t make sense. You may not like or agree with what we have to say and, yes there may be other better ways but always remember, compared to us, you are young. If we don’t know everything, you certainly don’t either. We have seen a lot in this world and are here to protect you, as best we can, from what is bad so that you can spend your lives enjoying what is good. There is no need to repeat our mistakes so when we tell you you are making a mistake, listen!

TWO: Speaking of bad, there are people in this world (from all incomes, colors, places, professions, even “faiths”) who are right proper Devil worshippers. They look like everyone else, they may even be beguiling and seem sweet or appear in need of help (some even beg for help asking you to give them strength and show them the way). You will recognize them because they speak intolerance and negativity (they will even have facts that are valid, but misconstrued, and reasoning that passes logical tests but fails ethical ones). They will never leave room for other arguments and will even calmly and patiently take time to dissuade you so they can teach you something better. Evil’s best disguise is to look more seductive than or just like good but something will always be off and they will tell you something is off with you. You will see the glimmer of pride in their eye when they feel superior to someone else. Some are boastful others appear meek but they thrive on fear and distrust (ill intentions). Dysfunction is logical to them and always someone else’s problem (while professing or promising to help you get rid of it). They avoid putting their real beliefs in writing or displaying them publicly. They talk of drama instead of going to the theatre and supporting the arts. When they see kindness they call it weakness. When they hear the truth, they mock it. In Africa we say they act like hyenas and jackals (remember the scenes from the movie Lion King). However, this is an insult to hyenas and jackals. The animal brain functions on instinct. The human brain can distinguish the subtleties between good and evil and makes choices. When such people attack you, first, come to us immediately. Trust your aunt who has tried to fight such people alone – the military does not send lone soldiers to fight wars and such people (even when they first appear individually) never travel alone. Second, if we are not there or can’t get to you immediately, know that we will get there. Third, don’t defend yourself using their beliefs, words or tactics. The battle with them is a long war not a short skirmish. If you let their ways creep into your life, you’ll win the battle but lose the war. Take it from a Catholic (we’ve taught a lot of Holy wars).

THREE: Help your father! He works very hard to give you every opportunity. He gets tired and frustrated just like you do. He misses your Mom even more than you do. She was his soulmate, best friend, guide and source of happiness. Keep this blessing alive by helping him the way she would help him. It is you who carry her blood in your veins not us. We are here to remind you, love you and support you. Make sure everything that you do is something that would have put a smile on her face. You know the one I mean.

FOUR: Don’t pray like I do. “Dear Lord, those with a lot of accumulated knowledge often lack common sense. For an all knowing, all powerful being, you don’t have any common sense. When I asked you to save Hildah, common sense would have told you I meant keep her here with us happy, healthy, wealthy (you sometimes forget we need money). Don’t talk to me about your wisdom when you can’t show me common sense and don’t tell me about mysteries I can’t understand because if you really were smart you could explain things in ways that I CAN understand!” Your mother was very afraid that God will send me a personalized lightening bolt someday so that I gain instant enlightenment, literally! In case she’s right, pray her way. “Dear Lord, I know you are all powerful for you sent your son Jesus as a sign of LOVE. [Sidenote: not everyone belives in Jesus or God and you must respect that. However, just about everyone in this world has heard of this crazy preacher who was willing to die for his beliefs and forgive his tormentors. There is even a book about it and several movies.] You blessed me with two sons and you know I love them more than my own life. You know full well that I did not want to leave them but I will not question your wisdom. I will trust that this is the best decision for me, for them, for my husband, for my family and for my friends. Please protect them at all times, especially when they are not listening or aware they are in danger. Please instill in them your strength and all powerful wisdom so that they can make this world a better place for everyone. Let them bring your kingdom of peace, love and happiness to this earth, one person at a time. Let those who know them believe, protect and help them for we are all your children and must see ourselves in each other. AMEN (meaning: thy will be done).”

To the World:

When Hildah was alive, she was always near her sons. They may not have a biological mother but they still have a mother in me their aunt. Let no one say I cannot be reached or be found. Even if something were to happen to me, I have written this so that what is expected of them is clear. If anyone tries to harm them or cause them trouble, you now know the face that will come after you.

I need to deal with a challenge they have faced up front. My nephews would get frustrated by people who put them down for being African. When their mother was alive, she would face such people on their behalf and stun them with the grace of her presence. I am not as tactful or peaceful. I also don’t want anyone questioning them when they share what I tell them so I am writing it here for ALL to see. Despite negative images, stereotypes and propaganda, THIS, is Africa (click to see video). We are clans not because we are primitive and backwards but because we know the importance of keeping track of family (not just immediate but 12 to 18 removed along with their spouses and their children). If you have chosen to forget or lose your connections you may laugh at our dependence on oral history but the human mind, especially as a collective, is a better supercomputer than any invention and holds more details than any written or visual record. Scott and Dasi Nanji belong to the Mobit and Nanji clans from Cameroon (West Africa). They are also answered for in the East and I hereby formally request for the Karachuonyo and Nyakach clans (Kenya) to accept and welcome them and grant them safe keeping.

[Note to family: yes, they tell the truth when they say “Aunty Cecilia says not to send money.” In case you haven’t heard me directly, we are not billionaires living at the Ritz and there is plenty of money to be made back home plus a better lifestyle. They are still children and will decide how to handle these issues when they are grown men and settled. Right now their priority is their school fees and then it will be establishing their careers. Like me, Hildah came to the US after high school; we’ve been here so long it is what we know and we have responsibilities to the kind Americans who were shocked we would venture so far from family and have welcomed us into theirs. They have asked that we stay and show success here. For these boys, America is home. It is where they were born and raised. Different from what we are used to, yes. On the bright side who would have ever thought the first black US President would have Kenyan blood and serve two terms! What other country has a Constitution that protects such things? As for the country people (for non-Africans, “country people” does not denote rural; it means the people who share a land/area/region and culture as their own): The ones in Connecticut taught me as much US history and culture as they could in 4 years. The ones in Pittsburgh taught me we value the same things as people. The ones in Colorado showed me their natural landscapes and asked if I found them as pleasing as ours, to which I readily replied yes. The ones in California have taught me, “don’t talk like us, talk like yourself. We love learning from other people. Oh, and here are some fresh vegetables you might actually like.” I actually look for veggies now, can you believe! I have yet to live South but, when I visit, they eat and talk like we do! These are a special people and there is a lot to learn and share. Hildah lived in Pittsburgh but traveled all over to see friends and family plus places on a map. She asked that her body not be taken home and burried in Pittsburgh so her sons could visit on Mother’s Day. This request has been honored. My wishes for burial when I die – no screaming because I am most singularly unanimous in my decision. I don’t want headaches over my dead body; it will have served its purpose by that point. Burn my body (cremation) and spread the ashes in as many locations as you think my body should be. This way I will achieve in death what is impossible in life – to be physically present in multiple places at once. Hildah was going to make sure you all did this even if she didn’t agree with cremation. Now I’ll just have to hear you gasp for my own self.]

On the Puerto Rican side, talk about Catholics and Holy miracles (caray! Pues, nunca es lo que uno espera hacer sino lo que Dios mande). I have two sons and I need help from Mamaseses and Papaseses! We’re like white rice (found everywhere in the world) so please help me look after these boys and call me if they misbehave. Ya tu sabes

The final song played to celebrate Hildah’s life before the burial: My God is good, I will lift him higher! Followed by two Christian words known and spoke in all languages: Hallelujah, Hossana! (apologies for poor image and bad sound in the video) .

Hilda Memory

It has been years since I tried to wax poetic so here goes….

For the past 8 weeks I have been participating in a Sunday reflection group where we discuss faith (not as in religion but as in faith that overcomes all obstacles) and the role of women in society. Before the group, I could only state that I know women as leaders are different but I could not tangibly express why. While we all encompass both male and female energy, many don’t think of women as a force, let alone a powerful force. We are symbiotic and balance. If we are excluded, imbalance occurs.

The following ode defines women

Female Energy:

I am Presence. I have existed before time.
Many have attempted to defeat me and have failed.
Their brutality is their weakness.
My strength is existence itself. My force is life.
Truth has me as counsel because my voice, although soft,
rings deep and shifts the unseen.
Even if I stand alone among you, silent and fully covered,
you will know I exist and I am undeniable.
I nurture life and life radiates from me like a beacon through darkness.
My adaptability is infinite. Richness and abundance flow through me.
I am the completing embrace of love. I am the victory of wisdom!

Contrast this with men and the need for both is clear.

Male Energy:

I am Determination. I have built the structure and order of things.
I give form and shape to the invisible.
Many have attempted to destroy me and have failed.
Their ignorance is their weakness. I am the voice of reason.
My strength is universal. My force is direction.
Truth builds on me because I incorporate all things.
If I were to stand among you alone and raise my voice,
you would not notice I am naked because my voice can move mountains.
Life exists because I create it and protect it. My dependability is steadfast.
Wealth and luxury flow through me.
I am the forming embrace of love. I am the victory of conception!

Alright, I’m more than aware that I am not the only single person on the planet looking for a GOOD relationship.  I got the idea of posting about it from another blog.  The woman on this blog announces herself as bitter which left me scratching my head a bit.  Initially I thought it would be a conversation of how the label of “bitter” gets randomly applied to single women as a reason for their being single but, no, this person seems to be bonafide bitter about a number of things (you can see for yourself).

The term I would use instead of “bitter” is disappointed.  Men in general are highly attractive creatures, to say the least.  There is nothing more reassuring than a positive relationship with a man who is secure with himself.  There is a jovial frankness only the male perspective can provide (women can be funny and direct but this is not the same thing).  Then there is the practical side of having someone who can lift heavy objects etc.  The physical benefits are self explicit since puberty.

Where does disappointment come in?  Three types of dangers in “super hero/successful male” or “nice guy” clothing:

Overblown ego – wait until I’m ready, however long this takes.  Answer: no thanks! I may hate being single but I’m not a doormat.  However I can point you to a wide range of prices on doormats…..

Controlling and domineering – do things my way and you’ll be happy; do things your way and I’ll destroy you (emotionally, mentally, reputation,….).  Since compromise is evidently not part of this equation, we may both end up dead.  Hence, best I direct you towards punching bags you can have a wonderful relationship with….

Help me – I need XYZ in my life and you’re the type of woman that can help me build it.  This sounds like the perfect team relationship at first until the Pandora’s box of unfinished help me’s pours out.  We all have a better person or thing we are striving towards and the hard lesson is one cannot do for others what they won’t do for themselves.  I have no human fix-it certifications or any aspirations of acquiring them.

Now I’m quite sure there is a corollary female typology but I’m not interested in dating or marrying women and this is very self-interested (i.e. my blog) so I’ll leave that analysis for those who want to engage in it.

The point of all of this?  If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers you learn that there are two components to success: (a) those you have no control over, e.g. other people/your environment, and, (b) the amount of time you spend perfecting what you do.  No use worrying about (a) so I decided to tally the amount of hours I spend on relationship issues, more specifically, on relationship issues suited to me and my personality.  The initial result was that I spend 80% of my time on work related issues, 20% on personal issues, and 0% on relationship activities!  This made me VERY bitter (and disappointed) at myself for not realizing the obvious sooner.  There is no magic relationship fairy that will come and give me the answers to the best place to find men that I like who are single and looking for someone like me (evidently read too many fairy tale stories growing up…).  Most importantly, at 42yrs of age, it is pretty evident God is not answering so I’ll have to ask humans for answers instead.

My first objective was to identify a good screening tool.  Friends and family have tried to help over the years but I’ve found that their conceptualization of what I want and what I actually want tend to be universes apart and no, I do not want to “broaden my perspective” (still love and deeply appreciate all those who have tried to help me).  Online tools are zero friction and I’ve examined everything from free to $5,000 a pop.  Reviews (complaints) are not much different irrespective of price so money spent on screening tools is not a relevant criteria/has no effect on quality outcome.

In keeping with my me-centric universe, the two things I was able to gain from this exercise were:

1. a better understanding of myself;

2. a personality description that is 100% me from a site I would NOT recommend (see site complaints); unfortunately it has given the best personality analysis of any site I’ve tried:

Essential elements of my personality
RACP – Risk Taker, High Energy, Cautious, Seeks Predictability
This person is willing to take a chance on love. This is an intense person and will go after what they want with a singular focus. But, this person does understand that risk has to be managed and wants to minimize loss or hurt. This person proceeds with caution on romantic commitments and even then, while they may fall passionately in love, will make sure to look closely at the areas that might undermine the relationship. This person knows the kind of life they want to lead and is looking for a person to share it with. This person tends to go for a specific type rather than fall in love with people hugely different from one another. This person definitely needs someone who shares the same vision: A high-octane life organized around friends, a devoted partner, and a life style they intend to develop together and maintain.

Essential elements of a complementary personality
SDHI – Structured, Dominant, Hot, Introvert 
This person is a tough cookie. They have well-developed opinions, enjoy decision-making and will passionately argue their position. This person is accustomed to retreating to their own counsel when they have deep thinking, or emotional repair to accomplish. They need someone to help soften some of these characteristics, someone who can help them express their emotions and calm things down. This person needs someone strong. While they expect to have center stage most of the time, they won’t respect someone who they can walk all over. This person needs someone who completes them rather than repeats them!

The Duet® Compatibility Test is available for FREE on PerfectMatch.com.

Add to this must be age 42-50yrs, college educated (at least Master’s degree – education is not a status symbol or measure of intellect but it is a “right of punishment” and it helps to talk to someone who has been through the same agony), height 5’10” to 6’4″ (I like tall men and I like wearing heels but I’m only 5’2″ so above 6’4″ walking arm-in-arm gets awkward), athletic/average build, plus enjoy hiking, beaches, and dogs (oh yes, and love ME…lol!).

So that’s about it for now.  Let’s see if the internet fairy can do what the relationship fairy has failed to do…..(-:  In the interim, please post ways of meeting single men that are not bar focused and don’t need one to check with the police department either (yes, I am trying Meetups).

As humans, we have always known we produce waste.  Every time we eat food, there are two visible types of waste (immediate trash and longer term liquid and solid outputs). We also talk about wasted time, wasted effort, wasted energy, wasted money., wasted opportunity….In industrial terms, we found crafting and tradesmanship (artisanry) to be too scattered for rapid production so we turned to assemblage and mass manufacturing governed by scientific management techniques (Frederick Taylor).  Now artisanry commands a price premium but that is another topic all together.  Once we had standardized processes, we had data to see that there was a lot of variation in quality.  Eliminating this variation became paramount to remaining competitive (W Edwards Deming). Combining quality and efficiency at a mass production level is an art that was mastered by Toyota.  Lean production (aka just-in-time production) focuses on maximizing the amount of resources directed towards value creation and eliminating non value related activities. (additional information on Lean Thinking)  While Lean has transcended manufacturing (see below), it is only part of the Toyota Philosophy.

The Lean philosophy can be summarized as focusing on the people doing the work and finding ways to improve the processes and level of performance of the work itself.  Continuous Improvement and Continuous Learning are inherent in this approach.

Lean is happening at the government level. The state of Wisconsin adopted a statewide lean initiative both for efficiency and continuous improvement reasons http://walker.wi.gov/wisconsin-reform/lean-government

Other cities and states are doing the same

Non-profits are showing the same benefits industry has

Lean can also be applied to the Service Sector

This article provides a theoretical framework for societal process areas that lend themselves to Lean interventions

The methodology for eliminating waste is known as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control).

LSSI DMAIC methodology2

It often helps to have a tangible example beyond savings in dollars or time.

Toyota has helped the Food Bank get donations packaged 80% faster (when you’re hungry, faster food is a good thing!)

However, the Toyota Philosophy goes deeper than just Lean.  Toyota’s founder, Sakichi Toyoda, put forth 5 tenants:

  1. Always be faithful to your duties, thereby contributing to the company and to the overall good.
  2. Always be studious and creative, striving to stay ahead of the times.
  3. Always be practical and avoid frivolousness.
  4. Always strive to build a homelike atmosphere at work that is warm and friendly.
  5. Always have respect for spiritual matters, and remember to be grateful at all times.

The company has expanded these into 7 guiding principles (i have added alternative words to principle 7):

  1. Honor the language and spirit of the law of every nation and undertake open and fair business activities to be a good corporate citizen of the world.
  2. Respect the culture and customs of every nation and contribute to economic and social development through corporate activities in their respective communities.
  3. Dedicate our business to providing clean and safe products and to enhancing the quality of life everywhere through all of our activities.
  4. Create and develop advanced technologies and provide outstanding products and services that fulfill the needs of customers worldwide.
  5. Foster a corporate culture that enhances both individual creativity and the value of teamwork, while honoring mutual trust and respect between labor and management.
  6. Pursue growth through harmony with the global community via innovative management.
  7. Work with business partners in research [learning] and manufacture [production] to achieve stable, long-term growth and mutual benefits, while keeping ourselves open to new partnerships.

Using these principles as a basis, what DMAIC steps can we take to eliminate the waste in how we educate children, how we create jobs, how we practice work/life balance, how we establish romantic relationships (yes, there is lean dating)?

Feel free to post comments and/or links!

Given the plethora of connectivity platorms and tools (internet, cellphones, mobile devices, social media), many are dubbing the resulting interactivity as The Relationship Era. This has made me ponder: is there a time in human history when we have not been focused on relationships? Put another way: is our current focus sharing/ad lib communication or relationship building?

Due to the multi-faceted use of the term “relationship”, I will simply define it as a solidarity connection that is built over time and is predicated on mutual trust, respect and benefit. It differs from an “association” in that there is a commitment to maintaining and growing the depth of connection. Both can offer highly beneficial outcomes.

To illustrate, a millenial once asked me: were you born before cellphones? I naturally answered yes but was compelled to ask why this was a curiosity. The answer: how did you talk to each other? My reply: face-to-face, over the phone (regular phone), and in letters. Response: do you feel you had a deeper/better connection with people then as opposed to now?

My initial reaction is yes. There is something that arises from face-to-face interaction that I cannot substitute with technology. Seeing a person’s personality is very different from reading it. Technology allows some to step back and be more reflective while others become more uninhibited; a few put forth alter egos they don’t share in person. At the same time, technology does facilitate connectedness with established relations as well as opens doors to connections beyond one’s immediate or traditional sphere of influence.

However, the question: why do we communicate? is a compelling one. If, as was put forth to me, the objective is to establish deeper connections, who do we want to do this with and how many real connections can we effectively manage?

Number of contacts is an outreach measure not a relationship measure. Even in contractual connections, the contract duration is governed by the extent to which a relationship is maintained (hence the notion of “engagement”, ie remaining actively and voluntarily involved). 

Reflecting on human history, I personally believe we have always been relationship centered; however, we now have tools that enable us to focus on reaching out to and remaining visible with a large number of contacts. In light of this, one has to ask, to what end?

I leave the answer open for reflection and discussion…

In today’s global markets, one gets immune to seeing “Made in….” labels on retail goods.

Yes, there are domestic employment arguments to be made in favor of buying goods that are produced in-country. There are also numerous environmental arguments (esp. lower transportation emissions). On the flip side, a lot of countries that export manufactured goods do not have the in-country consumer demand to sustain global production levels.

However, a Taiwanese friend of mine gave me a wake up call this weekend. We were doing the chic thing – browsing through stores (both clothing and home furnishings) and I noticed she kept checking the labels on everything.  I finally had to ask why she was so interested in the labels. She said, because I’m frustrated that they all say “Made in China.”  I traveled all this way because I wanted to go back home with some authentic American products not Chinese products. I can’t find any!!

Needless to say she was not at all amused when I joked she might need to go to China to find Made in the USA….