The “Art” of BS

After much reflection, I decided it would only be right to start my blogging career (on this site) with an early topic that is extremely near and dear to my heart: BS.  While on the surface, this can be a hotly-contested topic (some love it, some hate it), you can’t deny the fact that it is a huge part of the business landscape, in 2013 now more than ever.  And I’m not just talking about the “good ol boys clubs” or the brown-nosers at work.  I’m talking about everything from providing an executive level status readout to a water cooler conversation with the maintenance man.

So what exactly do I have to say about it?  In short, I love it.  I wouldn’t say this is because I’m particularly good at it, or that I think it helps organizations or people accomplish a lot of critical tasks (in reality, many times it may do just the opposite).    The reason I believe in it is because it calls us all to be on our toes at all times.  It forces you to be mindful of the tasks that you’re completing on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.  It helps you establish perspective and context for your placement in the “bigger picture”.  And it is these sorts of behaviors and reflections that will ultimately make you feel more valuable and help you determine your optimal career progression.

Still disagree?  Let me offer an illustrative situation where BS has played a huge role for me (or for others):

The Executive Elevator Pitch: Scenario – you get on an elevator to go down and grab lunch.  One floor later, your boss’ boss’ boss hops on the elevator.  Uh Oh.  Quick – what do you do?  “Hey Michael, what have you been up to lately?” she asks.  I can tell you that I’ve honestly never had much care for the people that say “Uhh, not much, just the usual – working for the weekend”.  Rather, you should always be prepared to list three to five things that you are actively engaged in and/or a few anecdotes about special things you’ve done (even if in your heart you know they’re not that special).  Why?  Because otherwise, your position and your role seem irrelevant or unnecessary to people.  Corporate America is driven by the perception of the value of someone’s work.  Hence, you should defend your corner of the business to the grave.  Or, if you really don’t feel invested or valued in your area – find somewhere else (within the company or externally) to work!  Also, working on something meaningful and being able to spout off a couple quick and (hopefully) at least partial truths, even if it feels like BS, helps you be more confident and ultimately happy with what you’re doing.

Hopefully this resonates with you or at least you can see where I’m coming from.  While many work environments may appear on the outside to be more casual, all bosses at the end of the day like to know that their employees:

  • feel valued as people
  • have enough work to do
  • are valuable to the organization
  • can articulate personal and professional activities

And I firmly believe BS helps reassure bosses that the aforementioned criteria hold true.  Listen, I’m not trying to paint myself as the ultimate con artist or admit some severe case of brown-nosing.  I understand that even publishing something like this may be taboo or reflect negatively on myself and my career, as if I wouldn’t have gotten where I am today without the proverbial BS.  But – I felt compelled to put this topic out there as it is something we cannot avoid.  So maybe it’s time we started the dialogue on it so we can all start to better understand the pros and cons of it all.

At the end of the day, the ability and desire to BS is totally up to you.  In lots of situations in my life, I consider it to be an important skill.  In others, I find it annoying.  Just some things to consider.

Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed it.

Til Next Time,


Train Travel in the Northeast

This post comes to you from the comfort of an AMTRAK Acela Express train somewhere between New York and Boston. Just checking in to brag and do a quick piece on the joys of overland travel in rural New England in the autumn time. I think often times this part of the country gets a bad reputation for having absolutely horrific weather (which is definitely true), but there are actually times and seasons where this corner of the country is fantastic and picturesque. This is definitely that time of year. If you haven’t had a chance to make it up to this part of the country, I really do recommend it. I have spent significant time in New York, Boston, and Portland (Maine) and really have nothing but great things to say about it. Sure, you inevitably encounter a rude or aggressive person every now and again, but I have yet to find anywhere that you can avoid those outliers alltogether.

Today’s 4 hour train from NYP>BOS really is a subtle reminder of how comfortable travel can be. I landed in one of the “quiet cars” which is a calm respite compared to the otherwise obnoxious MD88 that would have taken me from Laguardia to Logan (i.e. crying children, cramped space, limited room to walk in the aisle). Boarding the train couldn’t have been easier – no security line, no luggage check, just a couple honest hardworking Americans (read: not “that” type of TSA) that wanted to make sure I had a ticket. The only way it could have been better is if I didn’t have to depart from Penn Station. That place seriously leaves a lot to be desired, especially when viewed in comparison to its classier relatives like the palatial Grand Central Station.

Alas, I digress. The train itself is spacious and comfortable. And, checking in at right around $100 for a last minute one-way from New York to Boston, the price really can’t be beat. Much more convenient than the airport cluster. Even though this trip is on business so the price wasn’t a huge factor, I am really pleased I decided to go the train route for this leg of the trip.

So, if you haven’t had the chance, make a trip up here for business or pleasure. And, give the trains a chance. They really are quite comfortable and convenient. I’ll check back in soon, hopefully with something halfway intelligent or somewhat worth your time.

Til Next Time,


What To Expect?

Hey Team!

Before I get too far down the road sharing life’s lessons, reflecting on positive and negative experiences, and generally blabbering much more than I should on topics you may never care about – I figured it would be appropriate to set expectations on where I see this blog going in terms of content and ideas.

After brainstorming for some time, engaging a couple colleagues and friends, I have come up with a quick list of topics I hope to tackle in the coming months and years. It is your job to keep me honest and let me know if I’ve missed anything (or not gone deep enough) in certain areas.

Strawman Topics:

  • Interpersonal Behavior (Developing Executive Presence, Collaboration with Teammates, Leadership, Sucking Up, Dealing with Status Monkeys, etc)
  • Meeting/Communication Etiquette (Effective Meeting Facilitation/Techniques, How to Compose Great E-Mails, Presentations/Powerpoint Decks, Status Reporting Essentials, etc)
  • Company Processes (Internal HR, Red Tape Rodeo, Operations Management, Performance Management and Reviews Processes, etc)
  • Company Policies (Time and Expenses, Technology and Device Management, Paid Time Off, Leaves Of Absence, etc)
  • Company Politics (Ability to Schmooze, Laddering, Career Progression, Understanding Organizational Design, What-To-Do vs What-Not-To-Do, etc)
  • Compensation (Salary, Variable Compensation, Commissions, 401k/Roth IRA & Employer Match, Raises, Negotiations, etc)
  • Travel (Air, Car, Hotel, Mileage, Dining, Points Optimization, etc)
  • Clients (Types, Locations, Industries, Cultures, etc)
  • Tools/Competencies (Microsoft Office, Collaboration Tools, Project Management, etc)
  • Technology (Functional, Technical, Certifications, etc)

As always, feel free to chime in or sound off – I’d love to hear your feedback!

Til Next Time,