Tag Archives: work

Is Two Really Twice As Good As One?

answer plus

Several years ago, I sought to add another product to my publishing business. I looked at options and considered alternatives. Two possibilities rose to the top. I began investigating both, planning to pursue whichever path opened up first. Instead, they did. So, I embarked on two nearly simultaneous publication launches: AnswerStat (information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources) and Answer Plus Newsletter (for telephone answering services). 

AnswerStat used to be an advertiser-supported magazine, in which ad revenues cover the production and distribution costs; it is a model in which I take all the risks (I could lose money—and have on a few issues—or realize a profit, which are beginning to occur on a somewhat regular basis).  In contrast, Answer Plus Newsletter was a custom publication in which a sponsor covered all the costs. In this endeavor, my risks were minimal and a modest profit was ensured. (AnswerStat is still going strong, but I pulled the plug on Answer Plus after two issues.)

Launching both simultaneously was a confusing challenge. I was forever getting the two confused, as each had different requirements, goals, and expectations. This would result in things being overlooked or double-checked. I asserted that I would never again make the mistake to two simultaneous product launches—it is just too bewildering.

Fast forward seven years  later and I did it again. After years of being a “future” project, I launched TAS Trader, an e-publication. (It is laid out like a printed newsletter, but distributed electronically.) It is an advertiser-supported publication.  Right on its heels was another “someday” project, an e-newsletter, Medical Call Center News. It is supported by a sponsor.

Although neither is printed and both rely on email for connecting with readers, the similarities end there. Their design is different, their cost structures are different, their distribution is different, the revenue models are different, and their supporting websites are different.

So, guess what? It was a confusing challenge. So much so, that I’ll never again launch two products at the same time. Really.

I would never again make the mistake to two simultaneous product launches—it is just too bewildering. Click To Tweet

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

There Has to be a Better Way

how to land a job

I don’t know if I wasn’t listening or am slow to catch on, but it wasn’t until later in life that I realized how to land a job:

  • The purpose of a resume is to secure an interview,
  • the purpose of an interview is to sell yourself well enough to receive an offer, and
  • the purpose of an offer is to negotiate a compensation package for your new job.
Being able to pen a compelling resume or conduct a convincing interview is no measure of one's ability to actually do a job, merely their ability to obtain a job. Click To Tweet

Silly me. I thought that people should just hire me because I could do the work—and would do it well. (I wouldn’t have applied if I didn’t believe that.) I viewed the application/resume and interview steps as unnecessary irritations in the process. As far as compensation negotiations, just skip that part and pay me what I am worth.

The sad reality is that—except for a few positions, such as sales or marketing—being able to pen a compelling resume or conduct a convincing interview is no measure of one’s ability to actually do a job, merely their ability to obtain a job. The result is that unsuited people are hired and—I fear—good people are overlooked. There has to be a better way.

The same is true in politics. You need to be able to raise money to campaign and you need to be able to debate well to raise your poll numbers and you need to speak with conviction to create interest among the electorate. But these skills have little bearing on your ability to lead well.

Whether it is obtaining a job or being elected, the conventional processes do not allow the best person to prevail. There has to be a better way.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Have a Happy Normal Day

With Christmas and New Years Behind Us, It Is Time to Get Things Back to Normal

normal day

It’s great to have time off from work for the holidays, wonderful to spend time with family, and enjoyable to feast upon holiday foods and delectable deserts. However, it is also good to return to a regular routine—for things to get back to normal.

For as wonderful as the holidays are, I like normal, too. Normal is how I keep disciplined and remain focused; it allows me to get important things done. Normal is how I keep disciplined and remain focused; it allows me to get important things done. Click To Tweet

But the transition from holiday mode to normal mode takes time for me. I think it does for others as well. The days after the holidays did not seem normal and I think many people shared my struggle to return to normal.

However, I think today was nearly normal and I suspect tomorrow will be completely normal. At least I hope so because I have work to do!

Have a Happy Normal Day!

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

The Cost of Daylight Saving Time

Did you change your clocks over the weekend? (About 70 countries currently observe Daylight Saving Time, though they may follow a different schedule than in the US.)

As I was adjusting clocks over the weekend, I contemplated the cost of switching to and from Daylight Saving Time (DST)—and the amount of time it takes, not saves!

Did you remember to change your clocks over the weekend? Click To Tweet

First, doing some projections based on my personal clock setting experiences, I calculate that in the United States alone, about 150,000 hours is collectively spent adjusting clocks each fall and spring.  For businesses, there is direct labor cost associated with this effort.  In most cases they can address this on Monday morning, however, for some businesses clocks must be adjusted at 2:00 a.m., generally requiring overtime pay as well.

To determine the full cost, however, add in devices that are inadvertently broken while trying to set them and that are then replaced.

Next, consider all the commitments, appointments, and flights that are missed because people show up at the wrong time.  In the fall, it’s not so bad, as you arrive early—and end up waiting.  In the spring it’s a killer, because you arrive too late.

Altogether, this adds up to a huge cost, burden, and time waster—all for the delusion that we are saving time by doing so.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins

Mohandas Gandhi considered these to be society’s seven deadly social sins:

  • Wealth without Work
  • Pleasure without Conscience
  • Science without Humanity
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Politics without Principle
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Worship without Sacrifice

It sure gives one something to think about.Mohandas Gandhi considered these to be society's seven deadly social sins. Click To Tweet

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.

Why Work Is Cyclical

In theory, my workload should proceed as a steady flow of predictable effort year round. In reality, it doesn’t happen that way.work

It takes five weeks from start to finish to produce one issue of one magazine, and Connections Magazine is published six times a year. Medical Call Center News and Answer Stat releases every other month, while TAS Trader releases every month. This means I’m typically working on two or three issues of one publication or another at any given time.

This results in a steady, expected ebb and flow of activity. In addition, are blogs which are updated weekly, and scheduled monthly duties. It would seem that my work should smoothly move from one day to the next, evenly paced throughout the year.

The reality is that my effective workload is quite cyclical. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, things are slow. Between Christmas and New Year’s, it’s extremely slow. It’s also slow during the summer. After Memorial Day, things drop off. And after the Fourth of July, it’s as if someone turned off a switch; it stays that way until Labor Day.

The times between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day, as well as Labor Day to Thanksgiving Day are my “busy times.”Secondary email messages result in a huge productivity drain Click To Tweet

Ironically, I have the same amount of work to do throughout the year, but it takes twice as long to accomplish it during my “busy times.” The reason is that during my “busy times,” I receive more phone calls and email messages (mostly email). These communications don’t directly relate to my work of publishing magazines or websites, but they are tangential to it.

The flood of these secondary interactions is so much so that during my “slow times” I can generally do all required work in 3 to 6 hours a day, whereas during my “busy times” it takes 6 to 10 hours to accomplish the same amount of essential work. In fact, during my “busy times,” some Mondays are so bad, that all I do is respond to email messages. Some Friday afternoons are like that as well.

My conclusion is that these secondary email messages result in a huge productivity drain—in my case about 50 percent. If I can just curb non-essential email, I could reclaim a great deal of lost productivity.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.

Time Lag

Time lag from daylight-savings time (DST)

We’ve all heard about jet lag, that messed up, disconcerted thing that happens to our bodies after flying across time zones. It’s been said that each time zone crossed equates to one day of recovery.  For my constitution, that may be a bit generous. Though thinking back to when I frequently flew, I suspect that the more regularly one travels, the less the effect. Interestingly, flying west (“gaining” time) doesn’t faze me as much; but the return trip (“losing” time) really sets me back.

A similar disturbance happens to me each time we switch from “normal” time to daylight-savings time (DST) and visa versa. I call this phenomenon “time lag.”'Time Lag'—happens to me each time we switch from 'normal' time to daylight-savings time (DST) and visa versa. Click To Tweet

Just as in flying west, the fall DST switch causes a relatively minor disruption to my sleep equilibrium. However, the “spring forward” time change throws me off for several days, just as does a flight east that crosses several time zones.

When we lived in Wisconsin (which is on the eastern part of the Central time zone), DST made sense—it was an appropriate shift of the clock to better match the rising and setting of the sun.

However, Michigan is on the far western part of the Eastern Time Zone, and it’s never made sense. For the majority of the year, my reasonable 6 am rising is in the dark. On the summer solstice, dusk doesn’t occur until after 10:30 pm. And a scant two weeks later, we have to wait well after 11 pm just to watch fireworks. What nonsense!

I’d just as soon forget the whole daylight-savings time thing and lose the time lag along with it.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

The Exciting Millennial Generation

The Exciting Millennial Generation

It seems that I’ve recently heard a lot of complaints about this “younger generation,” known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y (those born after 1984—or between 1980 and 2000—depending who’s doing the explaining).Employers moan that Millennials don’t want to work; they arrive late, lack motivation, and do not make good employees.Customers complain than Generation Y doesn’t seem to care and looks strange.

True, each successive generation causes angst and head scratching from their elders.However, with Gen-Y there is an additional factor at play—the emergence of a postmodern mindset.(See What Does Postmodern Mean?) Generally, Gen-Y, and to a lesser extent Gen-X that preceded them, have postmodern perspectives on life, whereas prior generations are more likely modern thinkers.Herein is the rub that causes the above frustrations.

One element of the postmodern outlook is that they want meaningful work and to make a difference in the world.Career, wealth, and possessions tend to have little draw to postmodern people.And this excites me.

I recently asked a 21-year young lass if she would soon be graduating from college.(This was a bad assumption on my part.)She hemmed a bit and then admitted that she had just dropped out of cosmetology school—her second post-high educational effort.She realized that a career in cosmetology would be a shallow and meaningless pursuit.She wants to make a difference in the world by helping those in a third-world country—she leaves in two months. Millennial's want meaningful work and to make a difference in the world. Click To Tweet

Another acquaintance abandoned her career path as a paralegal and is cranking through grad school—so she can join the Peace Crops—and then aid governments in developing countries.Another 20-something friend is wrapping up a yearlong stint in Russia.Even though he’s not yet back to the States, he is already planning on a return trip as soon as possible.A fourth simply desires to travel the world—to help the people she meets.

I could go on and on about this “younger generation” who are set on making a difference, have forsaken materialism, and seek meaningful work—and it excites me greatly—Gen-Y has the potential to make this world a better place.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

What Does Postmodern Mean?

I was talking with a 20-something friend and tossed out the phrase “postmodern.” His ears perked up and he asked what it meant.

“You’re postmodern,” I spontaneously asserted.

What Does Postmodern Mean?

“I know; that’s what people tell me,” he replied, “but what’s it mean?”

“First there is one aspect of postmodernity that doesn’t fit you,” I clarified. “Most postmoderns do not accept absolute truth; to them all things are relative. The only thing they accept with absolute certainty is that there are no absolutes.” (Don’t think about that too long—it will give you a headache!) Postmodern is not a life stage phenomenon, but more a lifelong mindset Click To Tweet

“The rest of the profile seems to match you,” I continued. “In general, postmodern people value relationships and relish experiences—for them, the ‘journey is the reward.’ They want work that is fulfilling and allows them to make a difference in the world, but they guardedly balance work with their personal life. They tend to not be materialistic and money doesn’t mean as much to them as a ‘modern’ person. They are decidedly non-religious, but are quite open to spirituality and metaphysical dialogue.”

He agreed with my assessment that he was postmodern.”And what about you?” he asked.

There is a propensity for younger generations to be postmodern and generations people—like me—to be modern. It’s not a life stage phenomenon, but more a lifelong mindset. Being on the tail end of the baby boom generation, I should be modern, but in reality, “I skew towards postmodern.” He smiled at that; I guess that’s why we get along so well.

If you work with or manage postmodern people (typically generation Y or the Millennials, born after 1984), you will likely be challenged beyond anything you’ve experienced.  Keeping this brief overview in mind might help you to better understand them. But don’t assume they think and act like you (unless you’re also postmodern) or you’ll never really connect with them.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Dialing for Dollars: Frustrations with Accounts Payable

My least favorite task is making collection calls, but it was again time to do so. Although it took less than an hour, I spent more than a day getting psyched up for this distasteful task. I find that I am quite adept at finding other things to do (which are decidedly more interesting and satisfying) in order to avoid “dialing for dollars.”Dialing for Dollars: Frustrations with Accounts Payable

My perspective is that it is moral and ethical business behavior to pay all bills by their due date, if not sooner. Therefore, I shouldn’t be put in a position to have to ask people for the money that they freely and readily agreed to pay me for my services. It's moral and ethical business behavior to pay all bills by their due date, if not sooner. Click To Tweet

I have found that my customers fall into four categories:

  1. Most pay their bills on time, every time. (Thank you!)
  2. Some generally pay on time, but need an occasional reminder or a resent invoice.
  3. A few always need a phone call before they pay. (This could be a result of corporate policy or cash-flow issues.)
  4. A couple can’t or won’t pay what they owe me.

I once worked for a company whose policy was to pay all bills, net forty-five. It wasn’t a cash-flow issue, but a desire to operate off other people’s money. This made it most challenging to engage new vendors and keep existing ones happy; they always wanted to be paid net thirty. Another company I worked for had cash flows issues—sometimes majorly so—and paid almost all bills late, sometimes months late; this was an even more challenging environment.

I have decided to treat my vendors the way I want to be treated: I usually pay bills within twenty-four hours. That requires a bit more cash reserves—and many would call it fiscally foolish—but I call it the right thing to do.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.

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