The Gold Bar Riddle

The Gold Bar Riddle

I am going to tell you a riddle. Not just any riddle, the greatest riddle. You see, I believe this riddle, and the lesson in its answer, can be life changing. At least it has been for me.

Before I tell you the riddle, let me warn you. Its answer doesn't come easily to most. While the answer is not easy, it is simple. I first heard this riddle more than 15 years ago and I have been asking people for as many years. Although I have not tracked the exact results, I would estimate that less than 10% of the people I have shared the riddle with were able to solve it.

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Use Evernote to Track Your Accomplishments

As I wrote about before, it is important to track all of your accomplishments in real-time; Manager Tools talks about maintaining your "career management document".

There are many ways to keep this vital task simple. One great way to do it is to use Evernote, the note taking application. With desktop versions of the software available for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, and Droid, desktop versions for Mac and Windows, and available on, there is no excuse to not use Evernote. The free account offers plenty of features and online storage space for most consumers.

Set up a new notebook and give it a catchy name like, ‘Master Resume’ or ‘Accomplishments for Resume’. Every time you have an accomplishment, add it to that Evernote notebook. To make it even easier, create an e-mail address to send notes directly to Evernote.

Next time you get an e-mail from your boss complimenting you on your awesome client presentation or when you get the monthly report that shows 50% sales growth in your territory, send it to Evernote. When you call us to have your resume updated, you’ll have a bucket full of accomplishments.


Thanks for the Toilet Seat Covers

Princeton defines management as “the act of managing something” and “those in charge of running a business”. What comes to mind when you hear the word “management”?

When I hear “management” used as a group of unnamed people, I think of toilet seat covers. Specifically, I think of toilet seat covers in public restrooms. Sometimes the packaging says: “Provided by the Management For Your Protection”.

photo Oftentimes I see signs at retail stores that say things like “No Bills Larger than $20” signed by, of course, “The Management”. Also, I hear things like “It was a management decision” or “I will take it up with management”.

As a manager, I take responsibility for my role and for my decisions.

People make decisions. Managers make decisions.

“Management” provides toilet seat covers.

How Many Business Cards Do You Give?


I recently met with a consultant and, as many consultants do, he handed me his business card as he left. To be precise, he handed me three of his business cards.

Did he think I would lose them? When I asked why he gave me three he said he hoped I would share them with people I knew.

This consultant and I had just met and I felt like he had assigned work for me to do. Asking me to make a referral after just one brief meeting seemed a bit pre-mature.

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, and you feel the need to give someone your business card, don’t give more than one. Work on building a relationship before asking for a referral.

You Need a Resume

If you have a job, need a job, or believe someday you will need a job, you need a resume. Really, you do.

I see a lot of resumes. And, yet, I still meet a lot of people that don’t have one. They have many reasons for not having an up-to-date resume. Frankly, none of them are good reasons.

Recent unemployment numbers show California with the third highest unemployment rate in the US (12.4%, higher than anytime in the last 30+ years) behind only Michigan (12.8%) and Nevada (14.2%). Recent reports show Stockton with a 16.6% unemployment rate. Additionally, for every job opening there are 5 unemployed people. I’m sure you don’t need those statistics to tell you that we are in a tight job market.

In this economy, with record unemployment, a resume is crucial. You might think that the only way to get a job is to “know someone on the inside”, someone in your target company that can help get your foot in the door. Your foot is a metaphor for your resume.

An opportunity to talk with a hiring manager may pop up at any time. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to put together a resume at the last minute.

A well crafted resume that highlights your accomplishments and how they can benefit your prospective employer is a good first step. Keep in mind, the only purpose your resume serves is to get you an interview.


Customer Service Week 2010

As a call center manager, Customer Service Week is a lot of fun! Celebrated every year during the first full week of October, this is a chance to show my appreciation to the people that take calls and, often, get closer to our customers than anywhere else in the business. Call center representatives are often the lifeblood of an organization. I enjoy being part of the festivities during Customer Service Week and hearing what other call center leaders do in their centers. I do my best to show my appreciation to my staff the other 51 weeks every year but find this week a special time.

Even if you don’t have money to spend, there are simple things you can do during Customer Service Week.


How about clearing your calendar (or much of it) and spend time talking with your call center team members. Schedule time to be out on the floor, with your people. If you don’t do this very often you may even find that you’ll pick up some great ideas on how to improve service. Time is a precious commodity for leaders. Want your staff to know you value them? Spend time with them. Listen to them.






Thank you cards never go out of style. Hand write thank you cards to everyone in your organization. This year I wrote out over 100 personalized thank you cards. Hand written thank you cards mean something. Well, to me they do. Hopefully my employees won’t throw them all in a bonfire.

Happy Customer Service Week.





My first call center job was 16 years ago, as a 411 operator for Pacific Bell (before they were acquired by SBC and then bought, and re-branded itself as, AT&T). Through the years, I’ve always thought that a call center would make for entertaining TV. So, I was pretty excited when I first saw the preview for Outsourced on NBC. The pilot episode was funny. Although I’ve never travelled overseas for work, I have been involved with vendors in India, Philippines, Costa Rica and Panama. The “cultural immersion” aspect of the show brought back memories of stories my team members would share when they returned to the US after opening a call center abroad.

Running a call center, in any country, is a delicate balance between art and science (to steal a phrase from a very smart colleague of mine). It continues to be very challenging and rewarding work. I am looking forward to seeing if this show gains mass appeal. I know all of my call center friends are watching.

Links: Outsourced trailer on Hulu

One Year Later

One year ago today, the company I worked for went out of business. I think that’s a nicer way of saying we “collapsed” or “failed”. Over the nine years I spent there (over the course of 14 years), four different names hung above our door but it still just always felt like Providian.

I am proud of my accomplishments and even more proud of my team’s accomplishments. I worked for some great leaders that pushed me to succeed and taught me a great deal. I had the privilege of working with some very talented and hard working people and have many, many awesome memories.

More than 1,000 of my colleagues and friends lost their jobs in the months after the collapse. For those that are still looking for that next great gig, hold your head high; keep up the fight.

Stay positive. Keep looking. Never stop looking.