going to admit something up front. For those of you that visit
my site and frequently read my efforts, it likely won’t be an
admission that causes great surprise. But in this particular case,
since I’m starting so far away from the subject at hand it might
not be obvious what I’m doing, so I’m going to say this up front…
stay with me on this, because I’m going to go off the path a few
times in this piece. Hopefully, at the end, alot of it arrives
in the same place…
~ ~ ~
employer offers a bonus to staff for perfect attendance. Actually,
that’s not completely accurate. In reality, the company offers
several bonuses for perfect attendance. One of the programs that
offers such recognition happens to fall under my care. And over
the years I’ve noticed something a bit strange…
those qualifying, the vast majority don’t care about it.
so that’s not really the truth. They all care about it when they
qualify. Heck… extra money… rewards… they all care about it.
what I mean is that the bonus awarded often has absolutely nothing
to do with the performance recognized. And what I mean is simple
enough… most of these people would have perfect attendance regardless
of the existence of recognition for it. My experience has shown,
virtually without exception, that they’re driven by something
else. There’s an element of self-motivation… personal initiative…
a sense of obligation… or, well, use any similar word or idea
that you’d like to insert. These people are driven by their own
purposes and dedication, and the added incentives are the cherry
on top and not an essential part of the sundae.
one – People do what they do for reasons many of us may not
be able to explain or agree with or even be motivated by in
a similar way. Some times it’s good… some times it’s bad… and
some times it’s simply inexplicable.
have written before about how funny it is to watch all of these
so-called advisors. They sell books… write articles… buy television
infomercial time… look so self-important and confident during
more often than not… they’re idiots.
idiots is a bit strong. What I mean is that they seldom offer
anything you didn’t already know, but they act as if they’ve discovered
the secret to world peace.
few years ago, I was looking at a booklet from the benefit’s office
of my employer that outlined different support services. It was
a diverse and long listing of places to turn for help or advice
or discounts with everything from auto repair to cell phone providers,
financial planning to health care. Having recently purchased a
new home, I requested some of the materials on financial planning.
Figured it couldn’t hurt to learn more about retirement planning,
home improvement loans and other possible money-management issues.
I was stunned by what I received. (Or… umm… by how little I received.)
you know that one way to stay out of credit card debt is to not
use credit cards?
you know that one way to get rid of credit card debt the fastest
is to pay more than the minimum monthly payment?
you know that… well… come on. The idea here is simple to see…
the advice is way too simple.
more than the monthly minimum? Yeah, that had never occurred to
any of us before. And even if you want to cut them some slack…
heck, many of us know we should be paying more than the minimum
but don’t… they show a complete lack of understanding about the
situation. It’s not that many people pay only the minimum because
that’s what the bill says to pay… they pay the minimum because
that’s what they can afford to pay.
two – There’s some advice that isn’t worth giving. Everyone
knows it. By saying it, even if you have your reasons for saying
it, you aren’t preventing people from acting in a certain way.
years ago I remember the comedian Gallagher talking about watching
a football game. He made the observation that for all of the celebration
performed after a player shredded the defense for a long touchdown
run, there was an official running step-for-step with him … and
he was about 30-years older than the wide receiver sprinting with
the ball… and he was blowing a whistle and holding his hands in
the air while he ran.
an exaggeration. But consider the observation itself. The focus
is on the player. The story is about the player. It’s considered
a truth that the best officials aren’t noticed. Ahh… but you couldn’t
have a game without them. And occasionally, what is happening
that you don’t notice contributes significantly to what you do
three – Pay attention to some other things. Stop for a moment
before reacting to the world.
now… President Obama and Las Vegas…
you’ve probably heard, Las Vegas is upset with
on the surface… I don’t get all the fuss. More accurately… I don’t
personally get all the fuss, but I can understand why some people
on one side of this argument, I understand that Las Vegas is ticked
about being used as an example of reckless spending and indulgences.
It’s not good for business when the basic image of your city is
a person standing over a toilet, cash in hand, preparing to drop
the cash and then flush.
yet… on the other side… I can understand the use of Las Vegas
as an example of reckless spending and indulgences since that’s
the very image they advertise. Oh sure, they want you to believe
you can get a great meal (you can) and be entertained by top notch
performances (again, you can) and will even be happy to flush
in exchange for the memories and thrills (oh yes, you will). But
that winking, adults-only theme isn’t an accident folks. There’s
a certain dirty feel to Vegas, and it’s an image that the very
defenders of Las Vegas in this debate actually encourage. They
don’t want it to be a urine-scented, gambling the mortgage, alcoholic
dirty feel. They’d rather it be a fun-fun-fun, hardly dressed
women ready to provide for every man’s fantasy, money gone but
happily so dirty feel. It’s still there though. And if they want
to advertise that what happens there, stays there… well… then
no complaining about us being aware of what that is. Short version…
if you’re happy to offer roulette tables and naked breasts, you
can’t complain that people consider your city a center of gambling
thing… I don’t care about either of these sides.
if the president makes a comment about Las Vegas not being a place
that everyone can afford to visit right now (sort of the intent
of his comments), the reality is he’s not completely wrong. Some
people can’t afford to go to Vegas. Or Disney World. Or to a baseball
game at the stadium this summer. Some people are making minimum
payments on their credit cards so they can buy oil to heat their
homes or put food on the table for the kids.
of these people so apparently livid about his comments may have
a point that he shouldn’t have singled them out… but to a degree,
that’s just a public relations twist that doesn’t change the realities.
on for one more second though. Let’s add up our lessons.
it comes to telling everyone that they need to be careful about
spending their money, I don’t think any of us need the president
to be so specific. (Lesson two.) He could talk about tightening
our belts. He could talk about being responsible. He doesn’t need
to talk about boats and Las Vegas.
part of the reason he doesn’t need to do that is because people
are people. They are going to do the right thing… and the wrong
thing… and at times they will do it regardless of knowing right
from wrong. (Lesson one. Partly lesson two.)
though, the critics seem to be missing the best target in all
of this… what’s happening in the background. (Lesson three.)
I believe the real problem with Obama’s comments is that he got
the government involved. (Sort of.) The real problem has nothing
to do with actually going to Vegas. It’s the reaction that’s possible
for someone that has gone to Vegas.
a year ago when all of those companies were getting support? Financial
bracing… bailouts. Remember? And then came the hammer… when reporters
sunk their teeth into corporate retreats… taking private planes
when the company manufactures cars… bonuses still being paid…
and all the excesses. Can’t be giving a company billions of money
to get their affairs in order when a month from now they have
three floors of a Vegas hotel rented out for a week… pardon me,
the joke is too easy… a week in order to have their affairs.
like Vegas rely on business travelers… for meetings, conventions,
expositions, etc… as much as they rely on individuals traveling
for personal reasons. (If not more so.) And when the president
essentially calls those trips out as being a waste of money… I
think you can see where this one is going. It’s not good. And,
for several, it can be disastrous.
Obama needs to watch his mouth. (There… that was a simple summary.
Seems a bit less rude with the full explanation.) The more in
depth version of this simple comment is that what may seem charming
and folksy… identifying with the people… bringing the message
in a language we can all understand… just isn’t honesty being
the best policy.
keep in mind… this isn’t the first time Obama has said something
he later regretted. If it was, you might be even more willing
to let it slide and consider it nothing more than a crazy oops.
But ask Special Olympics… ask police officers in Massachusetts…
ask travel and tourism representatives in Las Vegas if they believe
Obama is aware of what he’s saying (or if he’s learned his lessons
about it from past errors).
well, perhaps amazingly… in most of these cases the message he
wanted to deliver shouldn’t have caused a problem. It’s not what
he’s saying. It’s not the content. (Really… does anyone want to
debate whether or not it’s a good idea to be fiscally responsible?
Ok… good. Then we agree… the thought might be well intended.)
It’s how he’s saying it. It’s being aware of how it’s received.
It’s knowing his audience.
because of that, Las Vegas matters.