When You’re Asked to Keep Something Confidential

This might be the shortest and most important blog I write all year.  If you’re asked to keep something confidential…do it.

Information is valuable currency and it’s great to be “in the know”.  But in business, reputations are built on trust; keeping information you have been entrusted with confidential makes you credible and trustworthy.

The same holds true in personal relationships.  When someone values your relationship enough to share private information, don’t betray that trust.

The road is easier together,


Here, catch this!

You’re sitting at your desk eyeing the piles of work stacked up.  The volume is daunting, and all marked “urgent”.  Then another task appears and another.  Here, catch this!  Productivity grinds to a halt.  You have workload paralysis.

When people have too much on their plate they often shut down and avoid work altogether; they may play computer games or watch TV.  Not only is this unproductive, but it puts them in a continual cycle of low motivation.  They avoid the work that needs to get done, spend half the day playing games thus adding to their workload, increasing the likelihood that they’ll do the same thing the next day and the day after that.

If you’ve ever experienced workload paralysis these suggestions will help you get back on the productive track.

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Men and Their Friends: Just, Must, Trust and Rust

Dad turned 92 last week; this 2013 blog has been reprinted in celebration of his birthday.

My father was a deer hunter, although now that I think about it, I don’t recall him bringing home much venison.  What I do recall is his excitement in anticipation of heading up to a couple old trailers parked in the woods near Minong Wisconsin with six of his buddies.  The place had two electric light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, no running water, a kerosene stove for heat, and a one-holer outhouse out back.  Ah, life didn’t get much better than that; it was male bonding at its best.   Read More

Do shortcuts really work?

There’s a story told by funeral directors.  A woman was making funeral arrangements for her husband.  She requested he be buried in a dark blue suit.  “Wouldn’t it be easier to just bury him in the black suit that he’s already wearing?” the funeral director asked.  But the woman insisted that it must be a blue suit and gave the funeral director a blank check to cover the cost.  Read More

Preconceived Notions

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea.  He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept pouring.  The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself.  “It is overfull.  No more will go in!”  Read More

Don’t Over-Sell Don’t Over-Promise

My 92-year-old father is deaf – or nearly so.  He is also very social, so not being able to hear well isolates him.  Dad has hearing aids, but being five years old, they were failing and frustrating everyone.

The family finally convinced him to go to a hearing specialist.  George was bubbly, thorough and very experienced.  He explained the technological advances made in the hearing industry.  After the tests, he discussed Dad’s options, all the time telling him how well he would hear with the new devices.  “You will hear noises you haven’t heard for years,” he enthused.  He even let us leave the store without paying for the hearing aids to test them in different environments.

Dad wasn’t impressed.  He didn’t think he could hear much better with the new hearing aids.  He said they made things too loud and words were difficult to understand.  He still had to read our lips to understand what we were saying.

We returned to the store and explained Dad’s experience.  “That’s what 90% of customers say,” George said.  “What they don’t understand is that the brain has to learn to interpret what the ears hear now.  That takes a little time.”

That was new information.  Was this the truth or was George just trying to make a sale?  Why hadn’t he mentioned this fact earlier?  We’d left with expectations of much improved hearing.  Now we were learning something different and we were skeptical.  George was no longer as trustworthy as he’d first seemed; he’d made a serious customer service mistake.

It’s tempting to do the easy thing, promising customers what they want to hear.  However, when things don’t work as promised, it raises doubt in the mind of the buyer. Unfortunately, this is the exact moment they’re looking for reassurance that they are making the right choice.

When you explain outcomes of a potential sale to a customer, don’t put your reputation at risk.  Be candid, back up your promises with facts and anecdotes.  Then back off and let the buyer decide.  Remember you are looking for a delighted, repeat customer who will spread the word about your product or service.

By the way, Dad has ninety days see if the hearing aids deliver as promised.

The road is easier together,

Don’t let them forget you

I had the privilege of spending three days in Washington DC last week with the MREA, educating our legislators on issues important to electric cooperatives.

Every legislator expressed appreciation for our visit; one made the comment, “When you don’t come to see us, we forget you’re there.
His statement rings true, not only in politics but in life and business.   Read More

Memento Mori

I’m thinking of getting a tattoo.  When I mentioned this to my husband, his eyebrows popped up.  “You, a tattoo?” he asked, “What kind?”    Read More