Category Archives: Opinion

Mixing Business With Dating Doesn’t Work

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a business negotiation, and suddenly realized that a new element has been – sometimes delicately, sometimes not—added to the mix? And that that element is no less than– surprise– you?

Now I’m a big fan of business, and I’m a big fan of pleasure. I am not, however, enamored of the business and pleasure mix. For every one situation that works out, there are thousands and thousands of examples of situations gone awry.

And that’s when both parties are interested and free to become involved. Further complications ensue when you’re not interested, and/or when he’s not, in fact, single.

But let’s begin with the fairly straightforward scenario:

You’re single. He’s single. Everybody’s Interested–and No Company Policies are Being Violated.

Let’s tackle company policies first. Before entering into any kind of romantic relationship, you need to know that no ethics/corporate regulations are being violated.

In addition to checking in on the black-and-white version of the company policy, I also recommend doing a bit of asking around to see if there are any unspoken rules and regulations around inter-office/inter-client etc. relationships; not to mention any thoughts on “sleeping with the enemy,” should the person you’re interested in work in a competing arena.

If you get the green light, and the signals are overt–“Maybe we can have dinner tonight?” or “I’d like to see you outside of the office,” etc.–I think it’s important to be both kind and clear.

You might say, for example, “I would like that a lot. At the moment, however, we’re in the midst of a business negotiation/company project, and I don’t want either our deal/ project–not to mention our date–to be impacted by mixing business and pleasure. I’d love to take you up on your offer once we’re not professionally involved.”

If you’re working with someone who’s not as overt about their intentions you might say, “It seems like we’d have a lot to talk about outside the office, but I know you would agree that this deal/project is our first priority right now. Once this is complete, however, maybe we can get together for a drink?”

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Tiger Woods Grows ‘Low Rent’ Breakup Goatee for Masters Golf Tournament

I was recently quoted in this article re: Tiger Woods:

Tiger debuted his "breakup goatee" (left) at the Masters press conference on Monday. At right, a shot of Woods in mid 2009, sporting a cleaner cut face in more innocent times. Photo: Getty | MCT

A reformed Tiger Woods debuted his new image at Monday’s Masters press conference, shedding some insight on his improved self: “When you live a life where you’re lying all the time, life is not fun,” he told reporters. “Now that’s been stripped all away and here I am. And it feels fun again.”

There he was indeed, looking calm, cool and collected…with a Larry the Cable Guy-esque whisp of facial hair.

As the golf legend prepares for Thursday’s first round at Augusta National, we couldn’t help but wonder if the trendy, bad-boy goatee, not to mention the noticeably lighter and brighter Nike ensembles he has sported during practice rounds this week, were simply part of the new “fun” Tiger — or was this just another ill-fated publicity attempt by Woods’ camp to craft a less arrogant, more mature and “relatable” Tiger?

One that says: “I regret sleeping with porn stars — sort of?” in an effort to garner cheers from the galleries when he tees off tomorrow?

Because, in our humble opinion, the whole look just isn’t working.

We would be more understanding if Tiger’s new half-beard was in fact a means to boycott Gillette, which was one of the first brands to bench Woods after news of his extra-marital affairs surfaced. Apart from that, there is no legitimate excuse for the weird facial hair. It looks contrived and even a bit dirty, which makes us think of all the dirty things that the old Tiger was up to.

And frankly, it just makes poor Tiger look too much like the man he is trying so hard to not be.

“I think the goatee looks kind of low rent,” says image consultant and author Frances Cole Jones, who wrote the book The Wow Factor. “It makes you think of the kind of girls he was with, when I imagine it was really meant to make us think he was more relaxed, in the hopes that we would become more relaxed. But it backfired, because he’s still disgraced in our eyes.”

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If You’ve Really Got to Go: Your Guide to a Stress-Free Family Thanksgiving

This past week, I was lucky enough to leave early for my Thanksgiving holiday. As I stood waiting for a vacant bathroom on the plane, the flight attendant said to me, “There’s another bathroom in the front if you’ve really got to go.”

If you’ve really got to go?

Suffice to say while I applaud her initiative, my experience would have been very different had she said, “If you’d prefer not to wait.”

Am I being picky? You bet. But, as noted in The Wow Factor, we’re all on a razor’s edge these days: it’s these small choices that set you apart from those around you.

I bring this up today as many of us are heading into that compound oxymoron: a “family vacation” full of “family fun”: and sustained interaction with loved ones often brings out our own tendency to go rogue.

Consequently, a quick primer for your holiday:

“I was just trying to help.”  This too-frequent fallback has a guilt-inducing overtone that can send those around you straight to Crazytown. Far more effective is, “What can I do to help?”: a call to action that allows the family-member you’re attempting to work with to remain in control of the situation.

“Don’t get angry.” Let’s face it, “Don’t get angry,” only ramps up a situation. Instead, you might substitute, “I’m sorry—what’s the fastest/easiest way to fix this?”: a combination of accountability and request for forward motion that I’ve found particularly effective.

Any sentence that begins with, “You always/you never,” rarely ends well. Instead, I suggest, “When X occurs, I’m left thinking/feeling Y. Is that your intention?”: a non-accusatory, fact-based formula that takes the other person’s personality out of the equation, lets you speak your piece, and leaves room for additional clarification by everyone involved.

With all best wishes for happy, harmonious holidays!


“Freedom’s Just Another Word…”

freedomI’m guessing that those of you who’ve listened to the Grateful Dead (actively or passively) can finish the above phrase. For those of you who haven’t, it ends,”for nothing left to lose.”

Right now hundreds of us are feeling we have very little left to lose. Let go from our jobs; told we aren’t getting a raise/bonus this year; asked to take on work so far outside our job description that we think we should have a new title (but, by the way, we’re not getting that either) it can be very tempting to lash out, or hide out, or simply be strung out.

Under the circumstances, who can blame us?

But here’s the tricky bit: even when the world doesn’t blame us, we tend to blame ourselves. I know very few people who blow their stack, duck the question, or procrastinate, who don’t end up berating themselves for their choice shortly afterward.

With this in mind, let’s consider the second half of the definition of freedom.

Part one says, “An absence of undue restrictions;” Part Two says, “AND (capital letters mine) an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers.”

Because here’s the thing: while it may seem like we have no choice, we do have one. We are free to choose how we respond to our situation.

And while it can seem facile, or simple-minded, or just plain stupid, for me to write this when so many of us have negative bank balances, I would have us consider the following quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: “A man is rich not in what he possesses, but in what he can do without, with dignity.”

(Dignity is a word you don’t see a lot these days, but I’m thinking it’s time for it to make a comeback.)

No, these aren’t easy times. They require a degree of self-knowledge, self-discipline, and self-correction few of us have had to exercise before.

But if we can– when we can– we’ll be both stronger and happier.

And we’ll experience lasting freedom.

Mic Snatching Aside, Kanye’s Apology Didn’t Wow

taylor-swift-kanye-west-vmasAs has been endlessly discussed, Kanye West snatched the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech at the Music Awards. What has received less press is his apology on Jay Leno, and I’m here to say he did not wow: had you been watching with the sound off, there is no way you would have guessed he was contrite. Slouched in his seat, gaze averted, he looked anything but anxious to make his point.

What else am I basing my thoughts on? Well, while he said he was going to apologize to Ms. Swift, he hadn’t done so as of her appearance on The View the next day. And while I understand he called the show while she was on, I am guessing it was at the insistence of his publicist, who was likely watching The View and as appalled as I was that he hadn’t followed through on his very public claim to want to be in touch.

I also find Mr. West’s choice of language interesting. “It was rude. Period.” doesn’t leave a lot of room for anyone to say anything more– including Mr. West.

Here’s the thing: when you apologize, you MUST exude authenticity. Kanye West shouldn’t have spoken up until he could do so with grace. We all make mistakes– how we clean them up is when our character is revealed.