Business Is Mental (F)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

F Is For Firehose

In business, we spend a lot of time putting out fires, which means fixing things that go unexpectedly wrong, like a fire is an unexpected wrong thing almost always, except to the person who sets the fire in the case of arson. Every organization has arsonists inside and outside who set intentional fires and clumsy people who set unintentional fires. Most of the time, the fire will intentionally or unintentionally overwhelm a manager and make the manager feel like they are “drinking from a fire hose.” But remember when you were young and drank from the garden hose and the water went up your nose? That was really uncomfortable. Trying to drink from a fire hose is a lot like that, except the water pressure from a fire hose can remove your eyeballs from your head.

Think about it: Instead of trying to drink from the fire hose, turn the hose on the arsonist, but not on the clumsy person, because they can’t help it.  

Business Is Mental (K)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

K Is For Knitting

The business world has long observed that people who knit have very short attention spans. The irony is that knitting requires, if not laser beam focus, some degree of prolonged attention. By reminding knitters to stick to their knitting, business leaders are paradoxically reminding themselves not to take up knitting before they retire, because if they do take up knitting, it will weaken their attention span. At the same time, they are providing a service to the knitting community by helping them focus, and in some states this is tax deductible.

Think about it: The threads of success are allegorical. 

Business Is Mental (I)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

I Is for Is

Politics aside, most professional business people agree that President Bill Clinton made a major contribution to business discourse when he said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” Well, of course it does, but no one previous to Clinton had stated the obvious so obviously. In business, one of the easiest ways to pause a conversation so you can catch up is to say, “It depends on what your definition of (fill in the blank) is.” This tactic is especially helpful with accounting terms such as “Balance,” “Receivables,” “Payables,” and “Reconciliation.”

Think about it: Everything and everyone depends on something or someone but how those something’s and someone’s are defined is relative to circumstances and vocabulary.  

Business Is Mental (H)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

H Is For Hair

One of the most successful businessmen of our generation is Donald Trump, not only because he diversified into meaningful television programming when his real estate ventures kept going bankrupt, but because he succeeded in business while having the worst hair imaginable. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? The head or the hair? To succeed in business is to set aside the terms of the question because the question does not matter if you can afford history’s most stylized comb-over, and chickens can’t talk.

Think about it: Loose lips sink ships but chickens don’t have lips.

Business Is Mental (E)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

E Is for Epitaph

When you are both dead and buried or cremated, what do you want people to say about you and how you did business? Smart business people are smart planners and smart planners don’t leave their epitaph to chance. Think about your gravestone today and how you will convince others to ensure the right words appears on your marker, not by telling them, “I want these words on my grave marker,” but by influencing and/or manipulating them without their knowledge.

Think about it: You might be dead before you read this.

Business Is Mental (D)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

D Is for Damn The Luck

Not everything in business is under your control. Some things are outside your control, either over, under, or left or right of your control. The experienced business leader understands that control is three dimensional, but reality is made of five senses. If we do the math, we understand that 40% of everything is left to fate. If things go your way six out of ten times, you’re are doing pretty well. The rest of the time, you have to say, “Damn the luck.”

Think about it: We can see, feel, smell, taste, and hear, but we are not born with 3D glasses.

Business is Mental (C)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

C Is for Carrot

The carrot is the reward and the stick is the punishment, or does “stick” refer to the stick from which we hang the carrot and if that’s the case, why do we not recognize the string in this famous management idiom? What about people who don’t like carrots? For them, the carrot is a stick and if the carrot is big enough, it really can be a stick. In business, we must remember that some people consider punishment a reward and some people are vegetarians.

Think about it: Be the string. 

Business Is Mental (B)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

B Is for Bottleneck

The Bottleneck is not only the strongest part of the bottle, it is the most powerful because everything must go past the bottleneck and the bottleneck slows things down. The bottleneck cannot stop things from leaving or keep things out. That’s the job of the bottle cap, which is not technically part of the bottle, so the bottleneck is still the most powerful part of the bottle.

Think about it: Who are the bottle caps, bottlenecks, and bottle bodies in your organization? Be a bottleneck, not a bottle cap, which is not technically part of the bottle anyway. 

Business Is Mental (A)

The ABC’s They Didn’t Teach You at Muncie College of Business Administration*

*But might be teaching you now if this is a textbook for a class you’re currently taking at Muncie College of Business Administration.

A is for Apple

The first lesson we learn in school and the first letter in the alphabet reminds us to begin at the beginning and do first things first. This is a commonly conveyed life lesson but it is more important in business than it is in life. In business, to begin anywhere other than the beginning is to risk putting the cart before the horse and few things are as detrimental in business as putting the cart before the horse. Counting your eggs before they are hatched may be worse in the long run than putting the cart before the horse, but in terms of public disgrace, having a cart with a horse behind it is far more embarrassing to your brand than is making a poor estimate as to the number of eventual chickens.

Think about it: Horses love apples.