Tuesday 20 January 2015

Working in Montréal today --He's just not that into you

Good morning folks,

I will be working in Montréal today.

The U.S. Is a particularly fickle friend and an ever stranger date.  it is hard for me to keep trap of whether it likes France, like-likes France, or has contempt for France.  It seems just a few moments ago that restaurants all removed their french-fry cookers and installed freedom-fry cookers.   They look the same but the operators have no healthcare nor safe employment standards.

This month though, since France had become the latest country to suffer the pain of a senseless terrorist attack, France is once again on the friend list of the U.S.   I could remind the U.S. that France is its oldest friend having fought along side it during the American War of Independence, but that is merely an inconvenient truth.

But friends again.  Sort of.  Two Sundays ago the U.S. didn't think the Charlie Hebdo Rally in Paris was worthy of any high ranking public servants to attend but then realized the goof and tried to make up for it by having Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.  Meanwhile Canada did send Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Quebec Delegate-General Michel Robitaille.

The Kerry visit was terribly awkward.  An awkward late visit, "yeah, sorry we weren't here last week, our calendar was jammed."  But the awkwardness grew.  I saw a news clip of Kerry take form hold of the visibly resisting French President François Hollande and I was reminded of Lennie in Of Mice and Men.  "I will name him George, and I will love him, and hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him."

Squirm as Hollande might, Kerry pulled him in for the most awkward kiss since Joe Pesci kissed Sharron Stone in Casino.

Then it got worse.  After the distraught Hollande broke free from the death grip he could not quite free his hand from Kerry's meaty grip, so he just sort of stood there with pleading eyes, "why won't someone help me, where is my security?

Truly an odder twist was Kerry bringing along James Taylor to serenade the French President with an unplugged (and near impossible to hear) version of You've Got a Friend during which Kerry tapped his foot, but resisted the urge to sing along.

Mr. Kerry, a gentleman needs to know when no means no.  He's just not that into you man, let it go.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Working in Ottawa today --You should negotiate everything

KGood morning folks,

I will be working in Ottawa for the next two days.

A few years back when I joined Distributel Mel lent me a copy of Herb Cohen's book, You Can Negotiate Anything.  Mel has subsequently stockpiled a supply of copies and will often give or lend a copy leading some to believe that either Herb is Mel's nom de plume much like I wrote under the name of Pablo Neruda for several years before I accidentally killed him off in 1973.

No, Mel and Herb are not one in the same, nor is Herb Mel's cousin.  But the fact remains, Mel is the leading distributor of the book.

I've often referred to a few of Herb's principles of negotiating such as being prepared and knowledgeable on the particulars of a particular situation, but likely most important knowing what you need, what you want (it often differs), how much time you have to get what you want and need, what you are prepared to give, and what you really are prepared to give.

You need to be selective and tactical in how much of the aforementioned you reveal and at the same time, attempt to learn as much of those aforementioned from the opposite side.  It would not serve you well to walk up to a car salesman and explain, "I must buy a car in the next 10 minutes and I have $10,000 and all I care about is that it is red."  You would end up paying exactly $10,000 for a red 1971 Datsun that blows oil.  The salesman would be a hero for finally dumping Ol' Red.  Oh.. You would have also likely been talked into the undercoating and extended warranty for another $4,500 that you would make payments on.  That part would be sprung on you as being mandatory for all sales of used cars at 9:52.

But I was reminded in the past week of another critical principle.  Even the things that appear to not be candidates for negotiation are. And also, sometimes revealing time, what you want and what you will pay are all fine.

While in Vegas last week, my shoes became soiled.  No - not a metaphor for walking through the valley of lost souls but from a the dust out at Red Rock Canyon.  Now this was mildly irksome to me as I had just had the same shoes polished (although it was a substandard polish) as a stand in one of the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) pavilions.  Yes, had made the trek to CES this year despite claims a few years back that I would not go again.  Sharlene even reminded me, something along the lines of, "Didn't you say that you didn't want to ever go again?"

But went I did at the invitation of Matt.  I understand that his wife also reminded him of a similar declaration.  But the bottom line is that if you want to know what is on the horizon or even at your doorstep, the CES is the place to learn it.  You simply need to look at 10,000 expected (read: boring) items before you see that 1 or 2 unexpected items.  You need to wander down the cheap isles with the self printed signage where some guy has glued together two components in a way that no one else has.  He often did so for entirely the wrong reasons, but maybe.. maybe it fires up an idea in your head, my head.  At least that is the way I look at it.

Just so you know, the WIFI enabled toothbrush did not inspire me.  However, the shear fact that WIFI enabled toothbrushes, washing machines, BBQs, and egg timers are out there does tell us that the underpowered, limited client WIFI routers will just not cut it in the foreseeable future, that your WIFI system in your house and workplace better be top notch for connectivity and capacity but also for security.  You would not want your child's toothbrush hacked by the North Koreans would you?  Think of the children man!

Back to the shoes.  On the last day in Vegas, we dropped by an outlet mall.  And some fellow had a booth in the walkway and was demo / selling Refreshed Shoe Cleaner, The complete shoe refresher kit.  All in a fairly large box.  I thought it would be disingenuous to engage the fellow in demo to clean my shoes when I had a full suitcase and no room for such a large box and so no intention of buying even if the solution was magic.  But Matt suggested that I offer to pay the fellow for the demo and end up with clean shoes.

Yes, of course.  And I did exactly that, explained to the fellow that my shoes were dusty, it was causing me stress, and I had $5 burning a hole in my pocket, but also no room in my suitcase for such items.  He obliged and did a great job, still pitched the product with a passion and enthusiasm (I was tempted to offer him a job) and the product was indeed fantastic.  No I didn't buy it, but for $5 I received a superb shoe polish.  Just so you know, a polish at the airport costs $8, but you round up to $10.

Have a great day.  Not only can you negotiate anything, you should.

 (Herb Cohen (1982) . You Can Negotiate Anything . Random House)