Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year

Do you realize that if you were (had been) born on February 29th in a Leap Year, your life expectancy in Leap Year birthdays would be only about 19.5? It's probably the reason why states that have your driver's license expire on your birthday usually have four-year license durations. U.S. Presidents are elected in Leap Years, possibly because it takes a great leap of faith to decide who deserves your vote.

How about a totally new calendar. Let's have a simple calendar with every month 30 days long. This calendar would have an extra part that is .4375 of a day left over (instead of the current .25). If we stayed with the 30-day months, we could accumulate the fractional days, and every 16 years we would have a Leap Week. Think of the huge parties you can have with a Leap Week! If you like this idea, write to your Congressman, Senator, MP, or the UN Secretary General. Let's start a movement for change!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Vice Presidential Candidates

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in a tight race to the finish for the Democratic presidential nomination. Many have suggested that the winner select the loser as vice-presidential candidate. Things are clearer on the Republican side, but do you think John McCain should take Mike Huckabee as his vice-presidential candidate? Is it a good idea to have someone you have criticized to be your running mate? Will a Vice President who thinks he/she should really be the President be loyal and supportive. We have had cases in the past where this was done, and where it worked out well. There have also probably been some cases where it was a disaster. A Vice President who had tried for the top job is certainly more likely to be acceptable to the people as President if succession is necessary than a complete unknown who was selected for loyalty rather than for competence. On the other hand, does a President feel safe and secure with an ambitious rival in the number two job? What do you think?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Can You Walk on Water?

The New Testament of the Bible says that Jesus walked on water to reach his disciples who were in a boat. Can you walk on water? I'm sure that the vast majority of you will say "No!" and think that I am crazy for asking. However, you have to remember to consider all of the possibilities and all of the facts when you are faced with making a decision. In many cases we jump to conclusions or reach a decision without considering all aspects of the problem...I'm pleased to announce that I can walk on water - in January and February. I did it today.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chicago Cubs Spring Training

It has happened again for the 100th time. The Chicago Cubs have gone to their spring training camp, and they have visions of a World Series dancing in their heads. One of their pitchers, Ryan Dempster, has even predicted it. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. This will be their 100th year of trying to get back to those early glory years when they were one of the best teams. No matter how each year turns out, there is always a clean slate at spring training camp, and when there is a clean slate, anything is possible. We should all learn from the Cubs. No matter how yesterday, or last week, or last month, or last year turned out, each day starts with a blank slate if you don't spend all of your "rest time" worrying about tomorrow. Worrying never solved anything. Planning ahead is fine, but worrying ahead is useless. Start off each day as though you have a clean slate, and challenge yourself to do the best you can with it. You may be very pleasantly surprised. As the Bible says, "This is the day the Lord hath made; rejoice, and be glad in it."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Do You Hedge Your Bets?

Last year as baseball teams were starting to report for spring training, a furniture store in Massachusetts was developing their marketing plan for a tie-in with the widespread enthusiasm for the Red Sox. They came up with a promotion linked to how well the Red Sox would do during the new baseball season. The furniture store offered every customer who bought furniture during a certain spring period a complete refund (Their furniture purchase would be free.) if the Red Sox won the World Series. The odds against such a win were huge, so it was highly unlikely that they would ever have to pay off on this offer. However, they were smart enough to hedge their bet by taking out an insurance policy against this possibility. As we all know, the Red Sox won the World Series (Yea!), and the furniture store had something like 30,000 purchases which would have to be refunded. However, because they had hedged their bets with the insurance policy, the insurance company paid for those refunds. The store not only avoided the repayment by hedging their bet, but due to the popularity of the promotion they sold far more furniture that would have been the case without this marketing plan. It is not always possible to make a risky decision and still protect yourself against its possible consequences, but you should study all risk aspects to see if there is a practical way to offset at least part of your risk exposure before you make a commitment.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Seventh Principle of Negotiation

The seventh principle of negotiation is that the party with the greatest detailed knowledge of the matters being discussed has a great advantage. If you have all the details immediately available while your adversary has to repeatedly call for assistance from others or request a break in the process to obtain more information, you are negotiating from strength while the other party is negotiating from weakness. It is very important that you do your homework before the meetings even start.