Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
December 2016

The Down Side of an Instant Gratification Culture

We live in an increasingly Faster-is-Better world. We want what we want… and we want it now. Waiting has become a cardinal sin. Waiting more than two seconds for a web page to load increases bounce rates. Waiting for pedestrians to get out of a crosswalk makes drivers dangerously antsy. Waiting on hold more than a minute for a company to provide service causes customers to hang up and go elsewhere. Speed has become so important that businesses have sprung up focused on providing faster service. Walmart, eBay and Amazon are all offering same-day delivery in many locations. Uber’s business model is built on ensuring that a person who needs a ride can get one at a moment’s notice anywhere. Drive-through windows have sprung up for everything from groceries to medicines. Some furniture stores now also offer same-day delivery. Even the world of entertainment has begun catering to the increasing demand for instant results. Companies like Netflix are now offering an entire season’s worth of programs all at once to feed the desire to “binge-watch” without having to wait for the next installment. This demand for “immediate” has seeped into every corner of life – both real and virtual.
Some see this growing trend toward haste as progress and impatience as a quality shared by highly successful people. If – as the saying goes – ‘time is money’ and wasted time equals lost revenue, then the desire for instant results makes sense. What’s more, the value placed on immediacy is creating businesses and jobs. Client demand for “now” is driving innovation. It could be said that the insatiable thirst for instant gratification is pushing – or should we say shoving — companies to be more customer-service oriented. And most would agree that that is a good thing. But there is also a saying that ‘haste makes waste.’ So is there a problem with this increasing need for speed? Continue reading

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Focus on Conclusions… Not Resolutions

As the end of the fiscal year draws near, businesses hurry to finish deals, take inventories, close out books, and develop plans for the future. Grand goals are set to double sales, triple territorial reach or quadruple orders in the year ahead. People also look ahead; setting goals and preparing resolutions on how to become more successful and happier. Some make resolutions to quit smoking or lose weight. Others set lofty objectives such as start a business, write a book or run a marathon. The sound of the clock ticks louder and a feeling of urgency pushes everyone make plans and think ahead.
While all of that may sound good – and there is certainly nothing wrong with planning ahead — perhaps it is the exact opposite of what we should be doing right now? What if, instead of looking to the future, we use this momentum to look back? A look back might reveal a lot of ideas and plans that were begun but never finished. Projects that were started but never completed. Ideas that hit a road block and fizzled out. Tasks that were begun but not done. So many loose ends; so little time. Perhaps what businesses and employees should do with the last few days of the fiscal year is to make a list – not of Resolutions – but of Conclusions! Here’s how. Continue reading

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The Business Benefits of Bilingual Employees

Language – written and spoken — is the primary tool people use to communicate. While babies are not born speaking, they begin to acquire language skills relatively shortly after birth. By about one year old, babies are babbling and saying some words, and by two years of age most toddlers are learning new words daily and starting to form sentences. Based on the results of over 2 million people testing their vocabulary on, by age 9, the average American test-taker already has a vocabulary of 10,000 words and most American adult test-takers have vocabularies ranging from 20,000-35,000 words. That is for Americans learning one language: English.
It is generally believed that a person with a large vocabulary is better able to communicate with others, and that is usually a sign of intellect. If language is tied to intelligence, then it stands to reason that someone with the ability to speak more than one language would thus have an even larger overall vocabulary and would be even better able to communicate with others. Yet, there has been a great deal of debate in the U.S. over the years regarding teaching and speaking “English only”. Indeed, only 19.7% of Americans speak more than one language, versus 56% of Europeans. Looking at this issue strictly from a business standpoint, it appears that having bilingual or multilingual employees is good for business. Recent research shows that being able to speak more than one language is not only useful to businesses in places with a lot of diversity, it also makes for better – as in more talented – employees even in places where everyone speaks English. Continue reading

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Business Etiquette: Agreeing to Disagree

The political scene that unfolded in the U.S. in 2016 brought into the spotlight how deeply people disagreed on key issues. Disagreements became confrontational, aggressive and uncivil. Private discussions and social media posts spilled into open public forums, rallies and protests. It was particularly divisive and distasteful.
Disagreement can happen in any setting, from the political arena to the business environment. But in a professional setting, there are rules and boundaries for how to share diverging viewpoints. That is because impertinent, disrespectful and aggressive communication is counterproductive to teamwork and can undermine the creativity and efficiency of any organization. When handled correctly, intelligent people can share ideas, disagree totally and still be able to work together effectively. Here are some tips on how to handle disagreements. Continue reading

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