Archive for August, 2011

Talent Alone is Useless

Posted in Uncategorized on August 10, 2011 by beneaththeunderdog

It’s amazing to me how many times people don’t reach their perceived potential.  I mean, all of the ‘jocks’, ‘smart’, and ‘popular’ kids from high school aren’t setting the world on fire.  I’ve heard the stories of the cute blonde from 10th grade now driving a ‘beater'(old, ugly car) while having a dead-end job, an expensive coke habit, and a couple of kids by a couple of different men.  How about the kid who had the 3.8 GPA and the 1530 SAT score who still lives with his parents and stocks the shelves at Wal-Mart in between long rounds of playing WOW(World of Warcraft for you unhip folks).   Or how about the popular boy with the all-world good looks who now lives with his in-laws and works odd jobs to make his complicated ends meet.  What happened.  Damn homey…in high school you was the man homey.  What the fuck happened to you?

Conversely, we are all surprised by the ‘loner’ who has the house that costs in the mid six figures, or the ‘geek’ who owns mini-malls and real estate.  Why do the proclaimed ‘winners’ suffer why the ‘losers’ seem to make it out on top?  The answer is simple to me:  in the real world potential and talent is useless, results are rewarded.

Spend Time Rowing with the Slaves

This is a phrase that i became painfully aware of while doing my tour in the USMC.  It is a term used to describe the process of understanding  and embracing the work needed to complete a task.  It is the time one has to suffer getting their hands dirty,  doing menial tasks, or suffering in the background while someone else get’s the glory.

“Before I got a chance to direct feature films I was an intern working for next-to-nothing… getting doughnuts and coffee, and running copies for years before I finally got a shot at my first feature.”

“I had to go the long way around to get my first coaching gig.  When I got out of college I had to suffer as a graduate assistant, working long hours for free.  I had a wife and son to take care of.  There were some long days and longer conversations between me and the wife, but I persevered and we’re the better for it.”

“No one wanted to even hear my demo.  I had to finally stop knocking on doors and start selling my CD out of my trunk before it finally got into the right hands.”

Lesson is, if you’ve chosen a field to work in or a path in life that is worth the work, patience and perseverance will trump talent almost every single time.   Business and life are results oriented entities.  The person who can talk may get you in the door, but the person netting results gets the money,the girl, the lifestyle and the legacy.

What is Production

As defined in a business dictionary production is the processes and methods employed to transform tangible inputs (raw materials) and intangible inputs (ideas, information, knowledge) into goods and services.  I agree with that definition, but I’d add ‘on time and cheaply’ to that definition. Mere production will not get you the money.  It’s the person who can get the results the fastest while costing the company less who wins. 

For instance, salesmen and companies are slaves to close ratio. 

  • 1 Choose a period of time and gather the number of leads and the number of closed sales during that time frame. You can calculate the ratio for any time period (the year, a week, etc.), but for the most accurate results, choose a longer time period such as the last three months.
  • 2 Divide the number of sales leads by the number of closed sales. For example, if you had 100 leads and closed 20 sales, you’d divide 100 by 20 to get 5. This tells you that, on average, for every 5 leads you’re getting 1 sale; in other words, a closing ratio of 1 out of 5

No matter how talented you are only a certain amount of your effort will be rewarded.  Talent can get you a high close ratio, but it’s often the ones who are willing to row with the slaves who push innovation and yield higher results. 

Rowing With the Slaves Doesn’t Apply to Me

This is where the ‘smart’, ‘popular’ kid is at a disadvantage.  More often than not they’ve been able to slide through life on talent  alone.  This is the  kid who skips classes a lot and still makes an A on a test.  How about the good-looking kid or someone who attains notoriety merely because of athletic prowess.  These kids attain celebrity at a very young age and are often protected even while showing weaknesses in character, intelligence, and behavior.   Most times they are enabled by adults.  This gives them a false sense of the world… a false sense of entitlement which reveals itself when adulthood begs fora more creative and chameleon-like skill set.

 How often have you worked for someone you don’t respect?  Usually it’s the person who has been anointed either by birth( son of the boss) or by proximity(the proverbial ass kisser) that yield less results.  They do little to raise morale and probably costs a company money due to poor results and vision. 

Substitute that person with a supervisor who is willing to roll up their sleeves and work with his subordinates. Substitute him for a person who worked up from an entry-level position to attain a supervisors spot.  These  people have learned the value of rowing, and show, through their example, that rowing can yield results.  Workers are typically more apt to do hard, nasty work for this type of person.

Be Aware

The winning formula is to develop your talents while keeping your ear to the streets.  If stuff always comes easy to you, develop an eye for small details and understand processes.  Building the mental and physical muscles while rowing may give you an edge in this race called life.



Chastise Your Bratty, Spoiled, Entitled, and Selfish Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 by beneaththeunderdog

I do not love your kids.

That is,  I’m not beholden to your little princesses and kings.  As the school year approaches, and I go through the process of enrolling my own little princess into public school, I find myself more than a little afraid for her and her prospects.  Children today are incorrigible.  Okay, that may be a bit alarmist and harsh, but the numbers just do not lie.  Our schools are sick and there seems to be no cure in sight.

Here in Norfolk, the public school system has a 73% on time graduation rate.  Also, NPS has a 16% dropout rate.  The problem is  so bad among NPS high schools a Johns Hopkins University researcher referred to the district as a ‘dropout factory.’ 

So, why do I dare trust my little girl’s education to those whose best efforts are only getting 7 out of  10 freshmen to graduate on time?  Well, economically I have little choice.  Because of the disparate gulf between the haves and the have-nots in this country, private and home schooling are mirages on the horizon of possibilties…for now. 

As desperate as all of this seems, I do have on quick fix.  It is something that all of us parents can do:  chastise your bratty, spoiled, entitled, and selfish kids.  My girlfriend and I have spent countless hours and dollars to ensure our little one is headed to school with the proper knowledge necessary to ensure that she’s at least on grade level.  More importantly, we have spent an even greater amount of time grooming her attitudes and behaviors so that she can function in society and in group settings.   I just hope and pray that the parents that are sending the other 10-16 junior royals to her class had the diligence and foresight to do the same work.

The level and quality of the education that she may receive bothers us but not so much as her innocence being stripped away one tantrum and cuss word at a time.  I can supplement and add to the education she receives; filling in the gaps with more enriching and challenging work, but I can not shield her mind and spirit from the onslaught of your child’s Ritalin rages and separations anxiety tantrums.  I do not want her to think that this behavior is the norm. 

I do not want her to have to have her lesson time truncated because her teachers have to chase down unruly children or change diapers or soothe criers.  She’s been potty trained, knows what the words ‘sit down’ mean, and has not cried because mommy is absent for almost three years.  She’s not a super kid possessing uncanny powers. She is , though, the product of steady, even, and sophisticated discipline and love. 

So please if you have a child who is more used to time outs and counting to three before they conform to authority, take these next four weeks or so to be more HANDS ON with their discipline.  I am not an advocate of spanking, but I’m not an opponent of the practice either  Your embarrassed, sheepish  ‘I’m sorry’ looks are not going to be enough.  We are talking about my baby’s ability to grasp the knowledge that is provided her.  We are talking about your lack of caring for your kids gnawing at the edges and fringes of the fabric of achievement that I and her mother are weaving for her. Give your kid a chance, because like the old proverb goes those who fail to put their foot down end up with kids who step on their toes.  Give my daughter a chance.  She deserves it just as much as your kid.