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  D.F.'s Column Archive

January 22, 2007

Business Wisdom Found Wanting


My company got a little publicity the other day, which was nice, although the story got into more of the company’s weak spots than companies typically like to see. I mentioned this to a friend who advises businesses on media relations, and she offered me the following words of wisdom:


“We always tell our clients that the real story isn’t always the one they want to hear.”


Ah. Yes. Of course. The real story isn’t always the one I want to hear. I repeated this counsel to myself several times on the way home, and about the time I pulled into my garage, I reached a definitive conclusion about it.


I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.


Now, my friend is extremely accomplished in her field, so I’m sure she knows what the saying is supposed to mean. This may merely be a classic case of D.F. Denseness. But with all due deference to my media maven friend, this has inspired me to develop a theory about every single pearl of business wit and wisdom that has ever been spoken:


They are all meaningless. Every single one of them.


Business people love to hear from those who are supposedly wise and eloquent in the profession of their wisdom. They walk around quoting people like Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard and Deepak Chopra. They use expressions like: “I practice management by walking around.” People swoon. Ooh. Management by walking around! So profound! What exactly does it mean?


Hey! Why are you walking away?


The other day, I spoke with a colleague who had been reading a Deepak Chopra book. He had been deeply moved, and explained to me, “This is a precious moment, but it is transient.
It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”


Wow. Deep. What exactly does that mean, Bob?


“D.F., I feel very close to myself right now. Very authentic.”


That was a relief, because I had seen him over by the vending machine 20 minutes earlier and I was concerned that he would not hook up with himself in time for the marketing committee meeting.


Oh yes, the marketing committee meeting was interesting. We were discussing how we could make a larger percentage of our market understand the value of our services. This prompted Carolyn to share: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”


Let me guess. Mother Teresa?


“No, D.F.! Stephen Covey! Surely you’ve read the Seven Habits.”


Oh yes. I once did business with a company that was so obsessed with the Seven Habits, they declared themselves to be a “Seven Habits Company.” People walked around saying things like “sharpen the saw.” I wondered what they were going to do with the saw. Eventually they used it to cut my contract.


Perhaps I am in the wrong business. I could come up with sayings. In fact, I’ll whip up a few right now.


Do not let your quest for fulfillment derail your acceptance of your fullness.

For every triumph of ascendancy, there is an even larger triumph of profundity.

Individually we achieve objectives. Collectively we inherit destiny.


There. Like those? Came up with ’em in under 45 seconds. Tape them to your computer monitor and ponder them often. If you always remember them, you will never forget them.


They don’t mean anything, of course. No business saying ever has. But if you find yourself questioning the authenticity of my wisdom, just remember the words of Voltaire: “Judge others by their questions rather than their answers.”


I think that about says it all.


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