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Posts Tagged “Shakespeare”

Geoffrey Chaucer says in “The Merchant’s Tale,” “There n’is no werkman whatever he be/That may beth werken wel and hastily.”

When you are in a rush, slow down. Or, as the Roman Emperor Augustus says in the 1st century A.D., “Festina Lente.” (Make haste slowly).

I’m a fairly hyper guy. That’s not an uncommon state for any entrepreneurial salesman. The day I am not up to my ass in alligators is the exception. However, though it may be counter intuitive to the credo of most entrepreneurs, I’ve personally found a multitasking frenzy ain’t the answer to this conundrum.

Perhaps I’m just slow and a dullard, but what occurs when I rush to get everything done in the seemingly inadequate time frames I’m presented with, is that I pay a price. The personal price I pay for speed is sometimes accuracy, sometimes quality, sometimes verboseness, sometimes oversimplification–but there is always a diminution in quality, exactitude and in depth of communication. That loss of precision is particularly a negative in presenting a compelling sales tonality to a corporate leader. Casual mistakes can sink you with these folks.

Finding time not to speed through things is a question of prioritization and time allocation. Any important project, RFP, or business communication needs to marinate. I personally have to allow the space for this.

One of my concerns about our burgeoning social media is simply the time it sucks up. How many online miracles and digital wonderments can I absorb? I personally find an overabundance of data makes important things fuzzy and harder to find. It actually impedes good decision-making and my business intuition. For me information overload withers efficiency. So personally, if I have to eliminate my attentiveness to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et. al., that is a prioritization that creates time for me to find empathy, understanding, and subtlety in all my sales outreach. I simply decide not to speed through to cover everything our new media seems to demand I be up on. For me speed is the enemy of doing the core executive sales chores well.

The wisdom of the ages has cautions for the time-pressured entrepreneur. In the sixth century B.C. Confucius said, “Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly.” Or to quote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.”

So thank you Confucius, Chaucer, Augustus and Shakespeare.

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9606524409_2b80494212Shakespeare said “How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a weary world.”  (The Merchant of Venice)

Rather than bemoan the dire state of our current political choices in this most woeful political season, I wanted to share this wonderful and inspiring little story from The Washington Post of September 30, 2016.  It is written by staff writer Amy B. Wang and brought a smile to my face.  You may think it has little to do with entrepreneurship.  But it surely does. I was moved and inspired.

Many thanks to reader Patric Hale, who brought this article to my attention.

Officers had a surprise for Jourdan Duncan after finding out that he walked more than four hours each day to and from work. (Benicia Police Department)

As its name might suggest, Industrial Way is not known for being pedestrian-friendly.

The road in the Northern California city of Benicia is lined with trucking companies, warehouses and metal-finishing factories. As it curves north, before it turns into Channel Road, the street cuts under busy Interstate 680.

So when Cpl. Kirk Keffer of the Benicia Police Department spotted a lone, lanky teenager walking on Industrial Way during the graveyard shift a few Saturdays ago, he was curious. It was after 11 p.m. and dark outside, and the boy was just nearing the highway overpass.

“Usually in the industrial area, there’s no foot traffic, so it was kind of weird to see someone walking around on foot,” Keffer told The Washington Post.

He stopped his patrol car, got out and called out to the pedestrian.

Was he okay? What was he doing out there by himself?

The teenager, 18-year-old Jourdan Duncan, was equally startled at first.

“I was absolutely nervous,” he said. “I thought, okay, um, did I do anything wrong? Is he going to put me in cuffs? I didn’t do anything bad.”

Duncan told Keffer he was walking back to his parents’ home in Vallejo. He had just gotten off from his job at Pro-Form Laboratories, where the teen worked on the packaging line from 3 p.m. until around midnight.

“Vallejo? That’s like seven miles away,” Keffer said he remembered saying to Duncan.

Soon, he had cleared out the passenger seat in his patrol car and offered Duncan a ride home.

On the drive, Keffer asked the teen more questions. Why Benicia? Why not drive to work?

He was agog that anybody would walk more than two hours each way, every day.

Duncan explained that he had just graduated from Jesse Bethel High School the year before. He had gotten a job at Pro-Form Laboratories in May, and enjoyed being around his co-workers. He was saving money for college, he said — but really wanted to be an officer with the California Highway Patrol, to follow in the footsteps of some relatives who were in law enforcement.

When the timing belt and an engine valve on his 2001 Volvo broke in July, Duncan got a few rides from friends and co-workers, but soon decided he would try to walk to avoid burdening others.

“I didn’t want to always call somebody and be like, ‘Hey, can you pick me up?’ ” he said. “That would have took a lot of people’s time.”

benicia_police_1941_star_transparent2Duncan never told his parents he started walking. (“They thought I was getting rides every day,” he admits.) The first time he plotted out a walkable route on Google Maps, it spit out an estimated commute time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

“This is going to be a long walk,” Duncan thought. On his first day going to work by foot, he didn’t know what to expect. “The whole way there I just had my earphones in, kept quiet and I just power-walked the whole way.”

That was in July. Gradually, the foot commute grew easier for him.

“The walk now, it’s not a problem for me,” he said.

By the time Keffer pulled up to Duncan’s parents’ house that night — all of 15 minutes later, by car — the police officer was impressed. Most people won’t even walk down to the store, he joked.

“I was just like, wow, Jourdan, that’s really impressive, your dedication and your hard work,” Keffer said. “At age 18, that’s a good work ethic to have, and I said, you know, I admire that. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

They parted ways and Keffer returned to the police department in Benicia. Still, he couldn’t get Duncan’s commute out of his head. He mentioned his interaction to his shift supervisor, who, like Keffer, happened to be a board member of the Benicia Police Officers’ Association.

“So I hit him up and say, ‘I just had this contact with this young man,’ ” Keffer said. ” ‘He’s walking five hours a day, and I think it should be rewarded. What if we help him out?’ ”

They emailed the rest of the board to seek approval to buy a bicycle. It was, he said, one of the fastest votes they’ve ever taken: Within an hour, enough board members wrote back in agreement. And so, the following day, Keffer visited Wheels in Motion, a local bike shop.

He was looking for a good mountain bike, Keffer explained to the owner. Something with a reliable gearing system that could handle Benicia’s steep hills. The longtime shop owner, Greg Andrade, helped him pick out a $500 Giant-brand bicycle — and loved the teen’s story so much that he also donated a lighting system, brake light and helmet.

The only matter left was how to surprise Duncan.

Keffer looked up Pro-Form Laboratories and dialed the company, asking for Duncan’s boss. Then, he explained their encounter the night before. Was Jourdan scheduled to work Monday? Would they mind if a few officers stopped by the warehouse to surprise him with something?

That Monday night, Sept. 19, Duncan’s supervisor called him out and told him to go outside. Some policemen were waiting for him.

Once again, Duncan was taken aback. His boss assured him he was not in trouble.

Outside, he spotted Keffer, along with some other Benicia police officers.

“‘We have something for you,’” he said they told him, pulling the bicycle out from behind a car. “‘This is your bike’ … I was like, wait, what? Is this some kind of trick?”

The bike was a token of their gratitude, the officers said.

“We would like to acknowledge your hard work and dedication for what you do and setting the example for kids your age,” Keffer said they told him. “Hopefully this’ll make your trip easier.”

Duncan said he was bowled over by the gift, but also stymied by the attention. Several local news stations wanted him on their shows. Normally reserved, he shyly agreed to talk to all of them — “I was so nervous; I’ve never been on TV” — but couldn’t help but think: They want to interview me for walking?

“The walk isn’t hard,” he said. “It’s like a challenge. To me, it was like a challenge to see if I was willing to do whatever it takes to get to work.”

benicia2Keffer said that was precisely what moved him to do something for Duncan. And Duncan said the bicycle has made him “feel more at ease” with his commute, which has now been cut down to an hour.

Duncan said he and Keffer are keeping in touch, and that Keffer has offered to take him on a ride-along so he can get a better idea of what being a police officer is all about.

“It’s something I’ve been interested in since high school. A lot of my family members, they’re in law enforcement,” Duncan said. “It’s like, what they do and, due to a lot of people thinking that there are bad cops out there, I want to prove that all cops aren’t bad — which is true, due to what just happened to me.”

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Suit1(1)The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus states, “Know first who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”

I don’t think entrepreneurs pay enough attention to their attire. Call me shallow.

Potential clients and customers make quick assumptions about you when you enter a room before you say a word.  Your clothes can make an eloquent statement about who you are and what you represent before you open your mouth.

There is a famous German novella I read in college called Kleider Machen Leute by Gottfried Keller.  (It is usually translated as Clothes Make the Man.)  It’s about a poor tailor who takes a coach journey and, through an odd set of circumstances, he’s dressed in a fur trimmed cloak much above his station in life and his real ability to pay for.  He is mistaken for a rich man and the results of this misidentity and various people’s reactions guide the tale.

Most of us spend large amounts on branding, marketing, and advertising to create the apt image for our firms.  Yet it constantly amazes me how little thought owners give to how we present ourselves sartorially.  In fact, it can be an inexpensive way of personal branding.

epictetusConsider Steve Jobs.  He wore black turtlenecks.  This said a great deal about who he was and the user-friendly elegance of his products.  It spoke spartan simplicity.  He was who he was.  He was sincere, direct, essential, serious.

Or take my own company, Corporate Rain International.  Clients use us to initiate discrete, high-end business with c-suite people.  I need to look like I belong.  I want to create the visual assurance of stability and dependability.  I invest in expensive, highly-tailored suits and cultivate the look of a banker or a white shoe lawyer.  (The truth is I’m an old hippie who has lived a quite bohemian, unbusinessmanish life.)

Furthermore, your clothes often affect your own state of mind, your internal identity.  There was an interesting article a couple of years ago in the NY Times  (4/4/12, Sandre Blakeslee) entitled “Mind Games:  Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat.”  The article cited a study by Adam D. Galinsky of the Kellogg School at Northwestern concerning enclothed cognition:  the effects of clothing on the cognitive process.  Dr. Galinsky states, “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.”

For example, in one of Dr. Galinsky’s experiments, when a subject wears a white coat that he believes belongs to a doctor, his ability to pay attention increases sharply.  But if he wears the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, he will not show improvement.  So our clothes tell ourselves who we are as well as other people.  They define us for other people, but they also define us for ourselves and can effect our inner efficaciousness.

Unknown_Photographer_Gottfried_Keller_1870You don’t need to hire a personal stylist or to be a fashion plate to accomplish inner and outer personal branding.  You just need to think about it a little.  It’s mostly common sense. If you sell beer, you may want to dress like a guy comfortable in a bar.  If it serves your image to wear t-shirts, wear t-shirts.  If it serves you to be elegant, be elegant.  (I’m sure Anna Wintour spends extensive time each morning ensuring her personal clothes visually reinforce her image of fashion leadership as editor of Vogue Magazine.)  If it serves you to dress in drag, by all means, dress in drag.

As Shakespeare says in Hamlet,  “The apparel oft proclaims the man.”

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01v/11/arve/G2582/016As anyone knows who reads this blog regularly, I am a huge lover of words.  I love the enrichment, nuance, and depth of enlivenment words bring to everything.  “Martin Heidiger said, “Language is the house of being.”  I’m afraid our modern “house of being” is a bit run down.

For example, did you know that ordinary people in Shakespeare’s time actually had a working vocabulary of 54,000 words?  They actually talked the way Shakespeare’s character’s did in his plays!  And do you know the working vocabulary of the average American?  3,000 words.  Yup.

Well, here’s a very funny riff on this fact from comedian John Branyan.  Enjoy.  It’s a hoot.

That’s all, folks

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I don’t think entrepreneurs pay enough attention to their attire.  Call me shallow.

In the past I’ve written occasionally about clothes and entrepreneurship. (See May 23, 2010) Mostly I think clothes are important from a personal branding point of view.

Potential clients and customers make quick assumptions about you before you say a word. Your clothes can make an eloquent statement about who you are and what you represent before you open your mouth.  (I’ve always thought there would be a very good living for some fashionista in consulting on bespoke branding with executives, owners, and salesmen.)

Let me hark back here again to Steve Jobs. He wore black turtlenecks.  This said a great deal about his personal values and the user-friendly elegance of his products.  It spoke simplicity.  He was who he was.  He was sincere and spartan.

So, how do I apply this to myself as an entrepreneur?

Simple.  My clients use my firm Corporate Rain to initiate discrete, high-end business with c-suite people and corporate decision-makers.  I need to look the peer of my clients, to look like like I belong.  I want to create the visual assurance of stability, almost like the look of a banker.  I do this partially by investing in expensive, highly-tailored suits.  Almost like the look of a traditional banker.  (The truth is I’m an old hippie who has lived a quite bohemian, unbusinessmanish life.

Tangentially, there was an interesting article in the NY Times on April 4, 2012 entitled “Mind Games:  Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat.”  (Sandra Blakeslee-Science Section)  The article cites a recent study by Adam D. Galinsky of the Kellogg School at Northwestern concerning enclothed cognition: the effects of clothing on the cognitive process.  Dr. Galinsky states, “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.”

For example, in one of Dr. Galinsky’s experiments, when a subject wears a white coat that he believes belongs to a doctor, his ability to pay attention increases sharply.  But if he wears the same white coat believing it belongs to a painter, he will not show improvement.

In other words, your clothes define you for other people, but they also define you to yourself and can affect your inner efficaciousness.

You don’t need to hire a personal stylist or to be a fashion plate to accomplish inner and outer personal branding. You just need to think about it a little.  It’s mostly common sense.  If it serves your image to wear t-shirts, wear t-shsirts.  If it serves you to be elegant, be elegant. If it serves you to dress in drag, by all means, dress in drag.

As Shakespeare says in Hamlet,  “The apparel oft proclaims the man.”

Thanks, William.

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