When I attended university 35 years ago, majoring in business administration, the book “In Search of Excellence” written by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. was often referenced as a case study in best practices.
As a student in the 1980s, the book resonated with me. I was particularly in awe of the innovative concept of seeking input from clients and front line employees for simple yet effective ideas for enhancing the quality of products and services. The concept’s success was further demonstrated in the documentary movie that was making the rounds at that time.
“In Search of Excellence” was probably the book that inspired me most to pursue a career in business. Even as a young man, I was moved when a business (a store, a restaurant or a service) valued quality and worked a little harder to achieve it. This was (and still is) an important value for me and it appealed to me to think that a business career could revolve around the theme of quality.
But when the business world constantly hungers for a competitive edge, management principles are ever-evolving and replaced by new theories and best practices. And as a consumer, I am saddened that quality has been caught in the crossfire.
Some products don’t seem to last as long as they used to, despite the call to be more mindful of our use of landfills. Some stores are ghost towns, where it is impossible to find assistance when I need to ask questions or to get a product from a high shelf. And when I am able to find assistance, on some occasions I am given wrong directions or wrong answers.
I have also noticed some products I buy often getting cheapened by cutting corners on workmanship or incorporating cheaper materials. It is very disappointing. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, Inspiring
About 15 years ago, I was visiting the National Gallery of Canada, taking in the beauty of the permanent collection of artwork. As I was admiring the masterpieces, I was also examining the little cards next to them, taking note of the names of artists, the names of the artwork, the year the work was created and the backstory behind the masterpiece.
I noticed that some works did not have a single year next to them, but instead, a range of years like “1950-1952” was indicated, and I wondered to myself why would that be. For years after that, I kept wondering why it could take months or years to complete a work of art from beginning to end.
That was until I started blogging… then I completely got it!
In a perfect world, I could sit at my desk, write a blog post from beginning to end, proofread it and post it. In theory, it is a pretty simple process. But in reality, for me, that particular scenario might happen in 1 out of every 20 posts.
For the other 19, it is a process that takes time.
In the same way that visual artists need to sketch, that actors need to rehearse and that musicians need to jam, writers also require time to experiment with ideas to see what works. Continue reading
When I first met Ivy, she was sitting in upper bunk of her cage, supervising the goings on at the pet store, like a queen on her throne overseeing her subjects.
She wasn’t terribly responsive to my first attempts at getting to know this beautiful rescue cat. She just looked at me and didn’t say a word, which seemed a little odd compared to the other recue cats who either sniffed me or stuck their paws out of the cage as if to say, “Take me home!”
The same thing happened on my second visit. I thought to myself that maybe she was a little shy or perhaps just calm, cool and collected. Either way, that was OK with me and perhaps what I needed in a cat.
After a couple of days of thinking about it, I called the pet store and asked if she was still available. She was. I asked if she was always this “chill”. They said she really was that mellow and, in their observation, didn’t seem nervous about anything, even other cats and dogs visiting the store. I told them that I thought she was “the one” and that I’d pick her up after dinner.
The minute she was in the car, everything changed. Continue reading
I tend to think that the road of life I travelled was indeed meant to be uniquely mine, with all the potholes, hitch hikers, detours, storms and speed bumps I experienced along the way, as well as those stretches of smooth, dry pavement and clear weather conditions.
But it does not stop me from sometimes wondering if I had started writing earlier, with a greater sense of commitment to my craft, what kind of writer would I have become? Would I have been any good?
When I look back on childhood, I shake my head at my attitude toward teachers who forced us to write drafts of our compositions. I remember thinking that drafts were a huge waste of time because I wrote what I meant and I got it right the first time. Oh my, how times have changed!
When I read my journals from the early days (before I was journaling with a purpose), I see the seeds of creativity and the fire within, already yearning to tell stories. The stories in question may have been a little shallow, but a writer needs to start somewhere.
When I look back at some of the work I posted on my former web site “The Spin on Life at 33 1/3” (before blogs became popular), I do see the building blocks of who I am as a writer today. I surprise myself when I am able to crack a smile at stories I wrote almost two decades ago. And I also see how far I have come as a writer and how my style and execution have evolved and refined. Continue reading
I think we can all agree that getting good value for money is something to which the majority of shoppers aspire. We all work so hard for our money (while our purchasing power seems to be dropping like a bag of wet cement), why wouldn’t we try to make our dollars go farther whether by waiting for sales, using coupons, hunting for deals or repairing goods to extend their life span.
I was reminded of the latter recently, in trying to breathe new life into an old flashlight. The flashlight and I have been through a lot together. It has always been there for me, dependable and reliable, having seen me through power failures, tripped breakers and burned light bulbs. It has also been my guiding light, helping me search for lost items in deep, dark, scary household crevices. Even though it stopped working, I was certain it still had a lot of life left in it.
The first order of business was to try replacing the massive 6 volt lantern battery. Easy enough, but even after stretches and warm-up exercises in preparation for hauling the beast of a battery home, unfortunately, the flashlight still didn’t work. The next step was to try to replace the teeny tiny little light bulb. What an ordeal!
Maybe it is because so many newer flashlights use LEDs as their light source, but this little light bulb of mine seems to be getting hard to find. After about 5 stores, I finally found some, so I bought enough to keep old faithful alive for another couple of decades.
But during my scavenger hunt, the prospect of having to throw out a perfectly good flashlight because of one broken part was heartbreaking, not to mention, illogical to me. Continue reading