Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I have joined a professional organization, IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis). I admit, this may mean very little to you, but since I'm going to start taking my career seriously it seems like a very good place to start.

And why not? After reflecting upon my first 39 years it seems like this is may be a good time to start get serious about my future.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What was the most important lesson you learned in 2005?

I do not usually ask myself what I've learned recently (and this has probably been a shortcoming), but I saw a post on How to Save the World and it made me pause. Here's a couple things Dave learned this year:
17. People learn more from stories than from even the most brilliant analytical discourse.
15. Look carefully at the data before you jump to conclusions. The main reason for the recent decline in violent crime in America's cities was Roe v. Wade two decades ago and the increased access to abortion that it allowed. Not law & order, not more prisons and stiffer sentences, not gun control.
12. We need to find the things that are at the intersection of what we love doing, what we do well, and what is needed -- and then do them.
11. Always trust your instincts. When your careful rationalizations or your passionate emotions lead you to do something that instinctively seems questionable, you will probably regret it.
10. There's nothing wrong with the education system except for the teachers (we learn best by watching and doing, not by listening), the classrooms (the world is out there, not in here!) and the examinations (they are more likely to tell you what the students already knew than what they learned).
4. Frames matter. You'll never convince anyone of anything until you understand her frame of reference. And you'll never convince anyone of anything until she's ready to be convinced.
2. What most people want, women and men alike, is a little attention and a little appreciation. We need to be much more generous with these things, even more generous than we are with material things, and our knowledge and our love.
I'm not sure what I've learned this year, but here's my first item:

   1. My wife is very generous.

Okay, I knew that one already, but what she made very clear this year is how much she supports me. First, I started a project in Austin that was suppose to last six weeks. It's nine months later and I am typing from a hotel room in Austin because I only go home on weekends. What started as a short-term consulting assignment has turned into a permanent position. While I am both glad and grateful to be working with Seilevel again, I only get to spend three nights a week in my bed with my lovely wife and outside of the coming holiday season, I expect this last another three to six months. And still she supports and loves me.

Second, Tony and I started a retail outlet in the Galleria Mall selling poker chips. While we entered this venture as a means to make money, all entrepreneurial ventures have risk. More than the potential risk, it meant the limited time I spent at home was occupied, very occupied. At first I spent spent 10-12 hours on Saturday and another 7-8 hours on Sunday. After a couple months I cut my schedule back to just one day per weekend. And still she supports and loves me.

I'm a lucky man. I guess that should be #2 on the list.

How relaxing

Kristi and I had a great weekend. Seilevel flew Kristi into Austin for their holiday party. It was held at Carmelo's Restaurant and we had a wonderful time. The company sponsored a White Elephant Gift Exchange with some great gifts, including two iPods, an Ecosphere, and Roomba Red. Kristi did not get the very soft blanket she wanted (Thanks, Joy!), but she did get a nice scarf. I got the bonsai tree; well, seeds for a future tree anyway.

Not only did they fly Kristi in, they also put us up at the Omni Hotel in Austin. This was an experience in both good and bad customer service. First, we checked in and we got a room with two double beds on the thrid floor. They told us this was the only room available, but they did say that if there were any noise problems we should report them immediately and they would be kicked out due to the "No Noise" policy.

When we did have a noise problem and called the front desk they told us the noise was from the street and promised to send us some earplugs. As if this was going to make everything okay?!

I left the room so I could go down and talk to the manager in person. On the way I discovered the noise was coming from down the hall, not the street. The manager's response? "We have a function going on." No apologies. No promise to talk to the first idiot who lied to us about the noise policy.

Anyway, I stayed polite, if a little bit insistent and he finally found a large room with a really small bathroom. Honest. It was the Presidential Suite, with living area, master bedroom, kitchen, bar, and the smallest bathroom you can have while still having a shower, wc, and sink. (Well, a motorhome's bathroom is smaller, but not by much.)

So, despite the poor beginning and having to change rooms at 1AM, it worked out okay if only because we finally got a quiet space to sleep in a king-size bed. (Let's not talk about the drip in the bedroom ceiling, it didn't last more than 30 or 45 minutes anyway.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Now Don't I Look the Fool?

If you look just a tad further in the blog you will see I went on a good rant against HR.com.

It was therefore a pleasant surprise to see not one, but two responses in my email inbox today. Both emails were apologetic; one of them included some internal dialog about the problem and they were obviously concerned about the problem. And when I checked my voicemail I discovered I missed a call from them too.

It is now obvious I forgot my cardinal rule when dealing with people (whether an individual or someone working for a company). The rule is, "Interpret their actions through a veil of good intentions." Because in my rant I missed the obvious possibility that somebody just goofed. It was simple mistake and I jumped all over them before I had the facts.

I therefore offer one of the emails I received as proof of their good intent. More than that, I offer my sincere and abject apology for mistaking their intentions.
Hello Jeffrey,
Thanks for taking the time to email us and alert us to the link problem you experienced. I apologize on behalf of HR.com for the error. It has been dealt with and you now have access to the article.

It was a technical error on our part. The article had a future date on it and was expected to display but unfortunately, it did not at the time of the mailout.

I am very interested in hearing more from you regarding any other problems or concerns you may have had with our mailouts and our site in general.

Please feel free to contact me via email at any time at ____@hr.com or via phone at 905-555-0713 (my remote office)...I will be at this number for the remainder of the week.

Again, my sincere apologies. It wasn't our intention to restrict this article.

Kind Regards,
Belinda Pianezza
Product Manager - Website Development and Content

For the pessimists out there, "Sure, the rule doesn't always work." But talking about the rule is really a matter for another post.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

$crooge McDuck has more cash than Bruce Wayne

Forbes has produced The Forbes Fictional 15, a list of our favorite characters and a discussion about how they made and lost their money.

Interesting to note Jed Clampett has moved up to 7th place on the list, while J.R. Ewing is no longer a member. They both may be in oil, but it's all about how you manage the company.

Personally, I'm glad to see Thurston Howell III is still on the list and disappointed Lucius Malfoy has worked his way on.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

An open letter to HR.com

I enclose, for your reading pleasure, an open letter to the management of HR.com.

Dear Ms. McGrath;

I’ve been reading your emails for years, at least three or four, and with a couple different email addresses. I have forwarded your emails to a half dozen or more executives at that many companies. I’ve saved (and recently lost in a poorly managed email system migration) a number of emails because I found them informative and relevant. I read fewer emails in the last year as you provided the “best of” series instead of new content, but I never threw your emails away without first taking a glance to see what (potentially new) information you had for me.

It is with great disappointment I opened today’s message under the following header:
From: HR.com [mailto:realityhr@hr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 06 December, 2005 1:12 PM
To: jeffrey@davidson.net
Subject: Reality HR Interview with Arte Nathan of Wynn Las Vegas

I clicked on the link:
For All Members:
- View the entire article here.

and I discovered the article had expired for general members. Now first, I am guessing you think of me and my fellow general members as idiots, because why else would you tell us the article was available, but had expired within the first 12 hours? There are just too many vagaries in life to presume all of your members (or most? or any realistic sample of the population?) are going to read the article in something less than that time. So I therefore don’t believe the article ever was available to my class of your membership. Or second, maybe the article was expired and then we never did have a realistic chance to read the article and you don’t think of us as idiots, but as guinea pigs or rats in a maze.

As a small business owner I understand the need to convert customers who browse into those who purchase, and as a patron of businesses I know the only way this only happens when I find enough value to pay for the service and the service provider has earned and keeps my trust. You have, with the simple action of this link promising an article “for all members,” but then providing me with nothing more than the chance to buy I, betrayed my trust and lost my business.

I contrast your message with the emails I get from McKinsey or Emerald Insight, both of which clearly identify when content is part of a premium service and do not lie to me about article availability.

For years I have been a fan of your services, though I have never paid for them. While I cannot assure you any of the articles I forwarded were read or that any revenue resulted from my actions, I provided you one of the key things every business needs, avid fans trying to recruit new customers for you. Was the loss of my business worth what you gained by making this interview a revenue generating item?

Jeffrey Davidson

Friday, December 02, 2005

Integrity in Advertising

In a fabulous new telling of a classic tale, follow the link to the new clip for an incredibly scary version of West Side Story.

Honestly, it's amazing how much editing can change a love story into something else.

I am reminded of the movie My Girl. It came out in the Fall of 1991 and was advertised as a feel good movie, building on the reputation of Macaulay Caulkin and his Home Alone movies.

The movie itself was not a feel good movie. It was a very touching story about a girl coming of age, dealing with her first period, her father's remarriage to a floozy, and the death of her best friend (Macaulay). I left the theatre screaming mad. Not because the movie sucked (though in my (incorrect) opinion at the time, it did), but because I was lied to. I was promised one movie and I got something completely and utterly different.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On SALE Now!

As mentioned previously, we have closed the doors at Lone Star Games. And now that we are out of the retail business, we're trying to sell as much of our left-over inventory as possible. To do this, we are selling everything at our cost (wholesale + shipping), and without any additional markup. If you want to take advantage of this great offer, please check out our Going Out of Business flier.

Seriously, you will find great prices, and I will not mark up shipping costs if you live out of my immediate driving range. Please, do us a favor and take advantage of this great offer. We also have lots of card covers, a handful of books, and some open DVDs if you're interested into those items. (Just send me an email asking for details.)

And if saving money on great stuff doesn't motivate you... Please, help me make Kristi happy. Once I sell enough inventory out of my garage she will be able to get her car in from the cold.