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Archive for May, 2011

What Comes To Mind When You Hear The Phrase “Brat Pack”?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

When I hear the term “Brat Pack,” I think of actors and actresses who played in a number of movies together.

Some examples are:

  • St. Elmo’s Fire – Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy
  • The Breakfast Club – Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy
  • The Outsiders – Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, C Thomas Howell

I am sure all of you can think of many more.

When I hear the term “Brat Pack,” I also think of a group of friends that are tight and hang out together for a period of time. That’s what I want to discuss today. When I think about my life I guess I have been in a few “Brat Packs.”

The first one was in high school. Gary, Andrew, Kenny, Jeff, myself and others hung out together. We played lots of sports and even bowled together (yes, bowled) every Saturday morning in a league. On Friday nights we played poker.

The second one was in college. My college roommates, Kenny, Barry and I were inseparable. In addition, we had other members of the “Brat Pack” that included: Mike, Eli, Joey, Kathy and a few others. Yes, we played sports, yes, we ate most meals together, yes, I cooked hamburger helper (please stop laughing), we played a ton of cards and went out every weekend!

Wow, the good old days!

Ok, your turn.

  • Tell me about your “Brat Pack.”
  • What did you do?
  • What was the funniest thing you did as a group?
  • Did you ever get into trouble?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Athletes – What Is The BEST Coaching Advice You Ever Got?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

It was another sunny night in Texas and of course, I was at the baseball field. I think my kids have more games than the Texas Rangers do! Ok, that is clearly an exaggeration but they do have a ton of games. I was talking with my son Riley before the game and he told me that one of the coaches said he was the fastest person on the team. Before I tell you what I said you have to realize my son has a PERMANET million dollar smile on his face, a great attitude about life and is in a good mood 99% of the time. With all of that said, he is no Carl Lewis or Lou Brock and let’s just say he isn’t speedy at all. In fact, he is pretty slow. Ok, back to the story. I said, “Riley, your coach said you were the fastest player on the team?” He said, “Yes Dad, it’s that I haven’t shown it yet! You see they haven’t seen it but since the playoffs are right around the corner I need to run faster!”

Great words, great advice and a great way to motivate a young person for sure! Way to go, Coach!

It made me pause and think about some coaching advice I got. About 40+ years ago I remember a coach saying to me on every pitch, “Think: BOY.” I was like, “Boy? Really?”

He said, “Yes, think BOY:

Bases – How many people on base?

Outs – How many outs are there?

You – What are you going to do if the ball is hit to you?”

I must say that advice stuck with me for over 40 years and in fact I think of BOY every time I play a game.

  • So I ask you – What is the best coaching advice you have ever got?
  • If you are a coach, what is the best advice you give?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Please Finish This Equation: Hotel + Grand = ?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Like most of you, I don’t have a ton of business meetings at some of the big, old, grand hotels. I wish I had more opportunities to see or stay in them and who knows, maybe some future conferences will end up in some of those hotels. I read an article last week regarding the Hotel Del Coronado and thought I would write a quick blog about grand hotels.

The Hotel Del Coronado is beautiful, rich in tradition and has GREAT pictures downstairs. I love reading about all the Presidents who have stayed there and the reasons they were there. Traveling over the bridge to get to the island has amazing views and holds a special place in my heart. I also love the Breakers down in Palm Beach. I love a lot of things about it but maybe not the $25 fruit cup! Yes, the hotel is expensive but I love walking out to the ocean and looking back at the hotel. I also love closing my eyes and thinking about who may have walked inside the hotel.

So today I ask you to finish this equation:

  • Hotel + Grand = ?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Ok Researchers, What Is The One Thing You Would Like To Fix In This Great Industry?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

There are so many great things about the research industry. I feel strongly the research industry helps companies introduce new product and services. In some ways we also shape the future and minimize mistakes that companies would make if they didn’t have research to help set the direction of what they need to do.

With all that said, you can always make something a little bit better. If you could change one thing about the research industry, what would it be?

  • Is it a maximum length of interview?
  • Is it standard respondent incentives?
  • Is it a worldwide guideline on training?

So I ask you – if you had the power to change one thing in the research industry, what would it be?

I look forward to reading your comments.

I Don’t Get It! Please Help Me.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

A few weeks ago I had lunch with two colleagues. Since you are curious I will mention we were at a Chinese restaurant. Yes, it was a buffet and yes, it was yummy! During lunch I noticed the table next to us had two guys sitting there who were wearing matching logo shirts. Not sure if it was a landscaping, electrical or some other company. But I can tell you they were both wearing nice logo shirts.

During their entire meal they never talked or said one word to each other! All they did was check out their iTouch. I assume they were reading emails or texting. Regardless, they didn’t say a word to each other. Now you could ask, “How did Merrill notice? Was he talking to his colleagues?” The answer is, they were sitting right in front of me, in my perfect line of sight and yes, we were talking throughout the entire meal.

I just don’t get it!

If you aren’t going to speak with someone during lunch – why go with them?  Eat alone!

As we were walking out of the restaurant I noticed that a number of other tables were checking email as well.

  • Have you noticed the same thing?
  • What has happened to socialization?
  • Don’t we communicate with each other anymore?
  • Isn’t this a missed opportunity to learn/bounce ideas off someone?

Maybe it is me but I am concerned about this!

  • What are your thoughts?

I look forward to reading your comments.

PS – If you are curious, I don’t bring my Smartphone with me to lunch.

Sorry Doc, This Left A Bad Taste In My Mouth

Monday, May 16th, 2011

For the past 7 years I have been going to the same doctor. He has been great, the experience with his staff has been good, and generally he doesn’t make me wait too long before he sees me. Well, last week that changed a little bit. I received a letter in the mail from his office that said I owe $15.00 for an outstanding deductable. In addition to mentioning that, it also said to call the office ASAP to set-up a payment schedule should I not be able to pay. For a second I chuckled, then that laugh turned into frustration and a thought of, “Are you kidding me?”

My next move was to call the billing person who was listed on the letter and then the fun really started. I asked her what date the $15.00 was for and mentioned I was in there a month ago and remember paying the $25.00 deductable which was recently increased. After she fumbled around she said, “You actually owe us $35.00, not $15.00.” Of course my comment was, “Well, this says $15.00, not $35.00, and what are these for?” She put me on hold and struggled to get the answer to either of those questions. She said, “I think I have figured it out, and the $15.00 charge was from 2009.” After laughing I said, “This is the first I have heard of this and I have been in your office no less than 5 times since that date.” She said, “I am not exactly sure why that is.” My response was, “Well, me neither, and now you have wasted 21 minutes of my day on this phone call. I am throwing out this paper. I will be in your office in 2 months for another appointment at which time if you have figured this out feel free to give me the appropriate paperwork.”

Yes, this was frustrating, comical and very disorganized.

  • Have you experienced the same thing?
  • How would you have reacted?
  • Why do companies tend to put a very unorganized person in a very important position?
  • Doesn’t it seem that making payments in the healthcare industry is very confusing and difficult these days?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Good or Bad Neighbor? You Tell Me!

Friday, May 13th, 2011

I am sure all of us have had good and bad experiences with our neighbors. There was the time that you were baking a cake and didn’t have any eggs but your neighbors did. Who could forget the time you were on vacation for 10 days and they brought in the mail and watched the house? I could always count on them to help me jump my car when it wouldn’t start.

With that said, you can also never forget the bad times. Remember when you were trying to sleep and they were blaring music? Or every time they would cut their lawn they would blow all their leaves onto your property? Who could forget the time when your next-door-neighbor put the dogs outside at 2:00 AM and let them bark for the next 3 hours?

  • Time to share some good neighbor stories

  • What about some bad neighbor stories?
  • Have you had any experience with a nosy neighbor?

So I ask you, good or bad neighbor?

  • You tell me!

I look forward to reading your comments.

I Never Leave Money For The Hotel Chambermaid. Am I Alone In Doing This?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

The other day I met a few colleagues for breakfast and they were discussing how much and when they tip the person who cleans their room in a hotel. As I was listening to the conversation I was thinking, “I never do that.” I think I am a good tipper and a nice person BUT I never think about leaving money for the chambermaid.

One of my colleagues said they do it after the first night and their thinking was they will get some extras from the chambermaid when they arrive back to their room. The other person said they do it when they are getting ready to checkout of the hotel so if they get great service they can tip accordingly.

I understand both strategies but mine is way different – I leave nothing….. UGH!

  • What do you do?
  • Are you like me and do nothing?
  • Do you always type the chambermaid?
  • Do you have a formula XXX dollars a night?
  • Have you always been doing this?

I really look forward to reading your comments.

I Am Sure All Of Us Enjoy Learning New Things. As I Look Back At The Hardest Economic Times In My Career Here Is What I Learned:

Monday, May 9th, 2011

2009 – For me, it was all about speed! Most of the time I was making the right decision but it was taking longer than it should. When I evaluated a new strategy, moved a staff member to a different department, or gave them new responsibilities, I made the right and necessary moves in the end but the extra time cost a few things – time and money. In reality since time is money, the real cost was money and money. I have gotten a little better and smarter since 2009 when making decisions. I try very hard to make them in a more timely fashion.

2010 – For me, it was about bad revenue. I believed for a long time there is NO bad revenue. Well, that really isn’t the case. Not all revenue is a PERFECT fit for your company, for your systems, or for your staff! Think about it this way: is some revenue really hard, taxing on the staff and not profitable? If the answer is “yes,” (and I am sure it is for most readers of the blog) then it not only brings your profit margin down but more importantly, it takes up company resources and creates very poor morale.  For us, we evaluated “bad” revenue and made some very difficult decisions which involved hard discussions with clients regarding price increases, changing staff on some accounts, walking away from business that didn’t work for us, or finding better ways to increase efficiencies to ensure the business made sense for us.

2011 – Even though the year is only a few months old, my early learning is to balance growth with profitability. If you have a new strategy, try and find some internal resources behind it, but be careful when hiring ahead of the curve. With the economy being what it is you need to walk before you run.

  • Have you had some of the same learnings?
  • What have you learned in the past few years?
  • What do you hope to learn this year?

I look forward to reading your comments.

Attention Basketball Fans! Here Are 3 Future NBA Coaches:

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Trying to predict the future can be hard. Trying to predict NBA coaches on the horizon might be impossible, but I will give it a try.

As I write this post the NBA finals are a few weeks away and it makes me think about future NBA coaches. Perhaps I am thinking about this because the LA Lakers are looking for a coach or maybe I am just day dreaming – regardless, here are a few thoughts on three future NBA coaches:

1. Derek Fisher – No question in my mind he will be a coach. He is a leader on the court, seems to be a big picture guy and has a bunch of NBA championships under his belt so getting the players respect will NOT be an issue.


2. Ray Allen – He is without question one of the best pure shooters in the history of the game. He has perfect form, always seems to be in a good mood, tells it like it is and is a winner. He is soft spoken which I think will be used to his advantage. I also believe he would have a great relationship with the media.


3. Jason Terry – Most of you are probably saying, “Who?” Jason Terry; the same Jason Terry who won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award a few years ago. Trust me, this guy KNOWS basketball. He give great interviews that any current NBA analyst would be proud of. He understand the value and importance of the media and always knows what to say and when to say it. Yes, he is emotional and at times and he loses control. I say, “So what? That’s not a bad thing!” I believe he will be a solid NBA coach!

Now your chance:

  • What do you think of my choices?
  • Do you agree with my 3 future coaches?
  • Who do you think will be a future coach?

I look forward to reading your comments.