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Archive for December, 2015

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DONALD TRUMP: All Mexican chickens who wish to cross this road must submit to a complete background check, and full body search.

BARACK OBAMA:   Let me be perfectly clear, if the chickens like their eggs they can keep their eggs.  No chicken will be required to cross the road to surrender her eggs.  Period.

JOHN MCCAIN:   My  friends, the chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON:   What difference at this point does it make why the chicken crossed the road.

DICK CHENEY:   Where’s my gun?

COLIN POWELL:   Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON:   I did not cross the road with that chicken.

AL GORE:   I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY:   Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it!  It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken’s intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

JOHN BOEHNER:   I’m chicken to answer that question!

AL SHARPTON:   Why are all the chickens white?

DR. PHIL:   The problem we have here is that this chicken won’t realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road.  What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he is acting by not taking on his current problems before adding any new problems.

OPRAH:   Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross the road so badly.  So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I’m going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER:   We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE:   That chicken crossed the road because he’s guilty!  You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

MARTHA STEWART:   No one called me to warn me which way the chicken was going.  I had a standing order at the Farmer’s Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level.  No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS:   Did the chicken cross the road?  Did he cross it with a toad?  Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I’ve not been  told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY:   To die in the rain, alone.

JERRY FALWELL:   Because the chicken was gay!  Can’t you people see the plain truth?  That’s why they call it the ‘other side.’  Yes, my friends, that chicken was gay.  If you eat that chicken, you will become gay too.  I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the Liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like ‘the other side.’  That chicken should not be crossing the road. It’s as plain and as simple as that.

GRANDPA:   In my day we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road.  Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for  us.

BARBARA WALTERS:   Isn’t that interesting?  In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heartwarming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE:   It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON:   Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES:   I have just released eChicken2015 , which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents and balance your checkbook.  Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2015 . This new platform is much more stable and will never reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN:   Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS:   Did I miss one??????

It’s all chicken shit!

 

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wrong or right ethical questionHow do you become a moral businessman, eh? Are you ethical? How do you learn to be ethical? How do meaning and profit intersect? Is business ethics really just an oxymoron, like ” jumbo shrimp.”?

I must say I find myself most distrustful on the whole subject of business ethics, though nothing is more important to me and I write about it a lot. I can understand why the very subject causes some of my friends to go into conniptions of eye-rolling cynicism.

I deeply believe that the truly engaged entrepreneur is embarked only secondarily on a road to riches. Of course, we must make money. But the really successful entrepreneur is the one engaged in creating meaning and context in a free and vital life–one who believes money is a natural byproduct of creating something good. Entrepreneurship offers a unique vehicle to create just that–an Argosy for pursuing the Golden Fleece of a useful, generous, true, and centered life. (As Peter Drucker puts it, “Let your life be your endgame.”)

Meaning is an alternate coinage and a storehouse of value for entrepreneurial success. It is like a karmic Bitcoin for capitalists–a Bitcoin redeemable in human dignity, personal significance, earned community, and constantly growing richness of being. And meaning is the key to business ethics.

There is substantial academic attention given to the subject of ethics these days. There are two academic journals solely devoted to the subject, The Journal of Business Ethics and Ethics Quarterly, as well as countless seminars and speeches on the subject at our most learned institutions. Certainly bad actors like Bernie Madoff, The London Whale, and Enron, and movies like Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street have often brought the subject front and center in the last two decades. Yet business schools address ethics with courses that seem to me to be kind of bolted onto their curriculum as inorganic afterthoughts to their case studies, analytic techniques, methods of financial engineering, and commitment to “maximizing shareholder value.”

Michael-Lewis(Several years ago I was amused to read that Michael Lewis, who wrote scathingly of the Wall Street culture of fraud and self-serving in Liar’s Poker, reported business students who read his book frequently viewed it as an instruction manual on how to do business. They actually wrote him to ask for tips on how to succeed by applying the techniques of the cesspool he documented.)

Lazlo Zsolnai, professor of ethics and director of the Business Ethics Center at Corvinus University in Budapest, said the following in a blog post last year:

“The recent economic and financial crisis shows that business ethics lost its credibility and relevance. It became evident that business ethics teaching did not change the general attitude of managers in mainstream business. Ethics and compliance programs were not able to prevent major banks and big corporations to enter into questionable practices and make dirty businesses all over the world. One explanation of the betrayal of business ethics is that our discipline did not question the underlying models of mainstream business, namely profit maximization and agency theory. Also, business ethics did not have the courage to challenge institutional structure.”

Independent entrepreneurs are pioneering autodidacts. Each has a different path. They are experientially taught and open to the new. They have the opportunity to define their own center free of the shortsighted, shallow philosophical underpinning of much of contemporary institutional business pedagogy.

zsolnai-lgSo, in a large sense, I would say the greatest gift offered to the free-spirited creative businessperson is the opportunity to make meaning as well as money for himself, his employees, his customers, his society, his universe. We are not chained to the flawed institutional learnings from normative business training.

Ethics is bone-deep, intuitive goodness. It is doing the right thing in our smallest actions when no one is looking. There are many paths to come to it. We entrepreneurs are uniquely given an institution that allows us to create customized moral paths to both meaning and money.

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AcuddyStoic philosopher Epictetus once wrote, “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices for what he has.”

If you want to be truly healthy and happy you can choose to give thanks each day, much as you might inculcate meditation or exercise into your routine. This is not just sentimental pablum, but scientifically supported fact.

Note the work and insights of Dr. Amy Cuddy of Harvard. Cuddy posits that tiny tweeks to our physicality can lead to mighty changes in our life and leadership. She believes that non-verbals govern how we think about ourselves and the larger world. For example, you can hold a pencil in your mouth in a way that artificially recreates a genuine smile. Odd as it may seem, forcing your face into a gesture of happiness actually makes you feel happy.

Of course, this does not mean we should all be walking around staring at each other with death’s head rictus of smiling inanity. But growing scientific evidence suggests we can control and manipulate our feelings and mood—that we are not simply at the mercy of our circumstances or genetic inclinations. In other words, acting “as if” can actually create positive emotion.

I think one of the most useful of personal and business emotions is gratitude. (Note my Inc. Magazine column titled “Thanksgiving and the Power of Gratitude in Business.”)

Arthur C. Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an insightful article on Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the New York Times titled “Choose to be Grateful. 6872050761_a7707a64c9_oIt Will Make You Happier.” He suggests that acting gratefully, regardless of your feelings, is efficacious for both your interior state, as well as your external interactions. He notes a famous 1993 experiment “where researchers asked subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create ‘crow’s feet’.) They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.”

Brooks goes on to report, “According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our ‘reward circuitry’ that produces the sensation of pleasure).”

Brooks also shares an illustrative episode from his personal life which occurred in response to one of his recent books.
Brooks recounts:Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_cph.3b20760

“One afternoon I received an unsolicited email. ‘Dear Professor Brooks,’ it began. ‘You are a fraud.’ That seemed pretty unpromising, but I read on anyway. My correspondent made, in brutal detail, a case against every chapter of my book. As I made my way through the long email, however, my dominant thought wasn’t resentment. It was, ‘He read my book!’ And so I wrote him back—rebutting a few of his points, but mostly just expressing gratitude for his time and attention. I felt good writing it, and his near immediate response came with a warm and friendly tone.”

So, many thanks today for Thanksgiving’s reminder of the practical value of gratitude in everything we do. As Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

And thanks to you Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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