Devil’s Advocate: The Case for Planning More “Executive Time”

Like many, I have had lots of fun mocking Trump’s predilection for a day packed with “executive time” rather than actual work.

Which does a disservice to the concept.

Because while whether Trump is a “staple genius” is up for debate (okay, only certain circles would argue it at all),  creative geniuses have long used unfettered free or “executive time” as well as “working less” to achieve higher creativity.

In an article @The Guardian on a book by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,  Pang says that this camp includes Charles Darwin, who worked for two 90-minute periods in the morning, then an hour later; mathematician Henri Poincaré who labored only from 10am till noon then 5pm till 7pm.  Spy-turned-writer John Pang le Carré is mentioned as well as  Virginia Woolf and her husband who apparently worked on average 3 1/2 hours a day.

As well as no other than Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas_Jefferson_Hamilton actor

Too bad Trump doesn’t pick up a book or magazine (other than ET) once in awhile, or tune into a t.v. program NOT on Fox News. Then, he might have been able to play devil’s advocate himself, countering his image as “buffoon” for all those non-working gaps in his average day.

“An 8-hour workday only make sense if you’re screwing in widgets on an assembly line.

Damn. I like the sound of that.

Of course convincing employers that it’s in their best interest to allow us lots of  “Executive Time” during the workday might be more difficult.

Especially as most of us will still expect the salary we’re getting for an 8-hour one.



When It Comes to Planning and other Important Stuff, Don’t Be Like Trump.

As I mentioned last post, Trump doesn’t much care for planning, or other important stuff. Like moral leadership. Or racial equity (you know, opportunity and justice for all!).

Trump also seems to have missed the memo, that as a general rule, it’s just not a good idea to go around calling other countries *sh*tholes. Or sh*t houses, as “clarified” by to one GOP Senator who I guess thought his comments were actually helpful.

Don’t be like Trump.

Well, not unless you TOO have a day that’s spent mostly watching t.v. and eating cheeseburgers from McDonald’s.

Or you can otherwise schedule loads of Executive Time into your day. 

Hint: #NotMyLife

Soooo… along the way, I became a fan of creating goals and planning how to reach them.  Especially as I was in business.

And I wanted to be taken seriously.

Which in most of Corporate America (and the White House once upon a time) meant  showing up for meetings ON TIME, the expectation that you would set and meet goals, and able to document–during your annual review–that you actually were doing the important work stuff you were getting paid money to do.

For years, I accomplished this by way of the Daytimer, then later Franklin Covey, while coveting Filofax (then later, Moleskine).  When I moved back into “Corporate America” ten years ago, I went the electronic-digital route with Outlook as a base and more recently trying out cloud based tools such as AirTable and Evernote.


But now, I am flirting with the idea of letting a paper planner back into my life again.

And I am not alone.

Millennials, it turns out, are big buyers of paper planners. For some, like this young writer notes, writing in a paper planner has a “romantic appeal…”  Yes there is the functionality aspect, but compared to digital tools, as she notes: “a paper planner can be an extension of one’s aesthetic. “

Which I totally get, identifying as an aesthete.

Which means, I’m willing to bet that my preference for Filofax and Moleskine back in the day (along with Big Hair and shoulder pads) can probably be traced to romantizing and identifying with Working Girl’s Tess McGill and Katherine Parker.

Since those days, “we’ve come a long way baby.”

Okay,  if we are talking about “breaking the glass ceiling” into the C-suite and board room, maybe not so much.  But when it comes to planners (digital and paper), there are many paper planning tools (however you define “aesthetically pleasing” or not) to choose from.

from “14 Planners to Help You Get Your Sh*t Together in 2018” slideshow @  Hollywood Reporter

Even if it’s just for scheduling more “executive time.”











A Takeaway from the “Fire and the Fury:” To Plan or Not to Plan. That is the Question.

Of course, the book that’s really dominating the news and social media isn’t Brotopia (at least, not yet), but the equally salacious Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.

Wolff’s book is based on what he heard, saw, and surmised about the shenanigans taking place inside the Trump White House. Thanks to his (purportedly) being granted carte blanche access leading to his enviable position of  being ” the Fly (on the wall.”

The Fly with a (potentially) best-selling book. Movie to follow?

jeff goldblum the fly

I haven’t bought or read The Fire and Fury myself.

Based on news reports, it’s unlikely that I could my hands on a copy this point even if I wanted it.

Thanks to Trump taking his rage to Twitter (cheeseburger in hand, three television screens blazing?) AGAIN…fueling the fire with (supposed) “cease and detest letters” sent by his attorney to 1) the publisher, Henry Holt and 2) Steve Bannon, who supposedly has a “no blathering” clause as part of his “resignation”terms, the book’s sales are on fire.

  • Did Steve Bannon really call Don Jr treasonous (and Traitor) for meeting with the Russians, only to plan on changing traitor “Patriot,” but change his mind again after Trump did his Mark Antony move first throwing Bannon under the bus in his Twitter hissy fit?
  • Would Trump eat McDonald’s 24-7 like Tiffany Trump infers because it’s kinda like his insurance policy against being poisoned.  The purported rationale being that no one at McDonald’s ever knows when he’s coming…and unlike feudal kings of old, he cannot ask any of the staff to taste his meal” first on account of being a germaphobe).
  • Are Jarvanka still thinking of a 2010 White House run now that they’ve been exposed?

It’s the kind of baubles usually reserved for the front cover of the National Enquirer. And the New York Post (which also dutifully reported on them).

But these amusing conjectures neither weigh on nor stick in my mind.

Rather it is something else I read. And part of the reason that Trump has so much time to play golf? And watch Fox News?

And that is how Trump likes to leave the whole of his day unstructured. Unplanned. His rationale being that, this way, he can innovate and to attend to whatever interesting matters come up.

I wonder, is this “pleasure or poison?”









Breaking into the Good Ol’ Boys Network. Silicon Valley Style.

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon lunching and enjoying thought-provoking conversation.

One of my favorite things, of course.

Our conversation included a bit of political discourse. I can’t help it. My interest in politics goes way back to elementary school. And the current times make me very, very uneasy.

But also because one of the women had a PhD in business administration as well as having spent the better part of her career teaching, studying and conducting economic research, first in academia and later for state government. Economics–both macro and micro–is another one of my big, long-time interests. And important stuff…though to most people it seems obtuse and far removed from everyday life.

Unfortunately, she is in the process of “transitioning,” as her friend (and my friend as well as work colleague) put it, as cutbacks in the state budget meant she was now out of a job.

She’s not alone. Of course.

Things at AT&T, Comcast, and the like might be bad, but that’s not the case in Silicon Valley.  On the one hand, high tech simply hasn’t created much in the way of new jobs. But it has created more than its fair share of very wealthy people. Mostly men.

Okay…and opportunity.

During lunch, I talked about the “old days” when women networked (through lunches like the one we were having) as well as went conferences and joined associations and groups where we found allies and mentors who schooled us in the stuff they didn’t teach you in business school…like office politics and the ole boys network.

How back in the day, women were told we better “learn golf” and wangle invites to dine at old boys clubs (the literal kind like the Union League Club in Chicago) in order to get ahead.

And while Trump apologists have been making the case for golf and business still going hand-in-hand, Silicon Valley and high tech bros are turning to a different venue for doing business.

Hint: It’s not Ready Player One.

No as told by Emily Chang in her new book, Brotopia, that honor goes to a practice as old as Bacchus and the Eleusinian Mysteries.

ancient roman sex parties
Breaking into Good Ol’ Boys Network. Silicon Valley adapts an ancient practice for a new age.


I’m no prud, so the idea of sex parties and open relationships doesn’t bother me much. Nor am I so young or naive as to not understand that the partnership between doing business and sex goes way, way back.


What blew my mind more is that these sex parties are being “positioned,” read, rationalized (well in Silicon Valley anyway)  like this is just another “disruption” in  business. Sex parties are “being sold” to young women looking for access to the good ol’ boys network, venture capital funding, with the promise of getting ahead.

While blackballing women who do. That’s not disruption. Or progressive thinking.  It’s a con.

Chang interviewed a couple dozen or so women for her book. Not hundreds.

So to my thinking, this probably isn’t a wide spread practice for breaking into the good old boys club. Plus…on the positive flip side, maybe Chang’s book (along with stories like what happened at Uber or Vice) will have a strong enough impact that any company thinking about joining their sex-minded counterparts, will think. And stop.

#MeToo. Time’s Up (in the business world too).




















The Medium vs the Message (how to take charge of your career direction in 2018)

Defining your career in terms of some arbitrary medium, like being a professional blogger, is like a garage band saying, “Yeah, man, it’s all about the CDs.”

There are two significant risks that come from defining your career in terms of your primary medium (i.e. “I’m an attorney” or “I’m a programmer”). The first risk is that you’ll unnecessarily limit yourself. You will only recognize opportunities that present themselves in the form of a nail because you’ve defined yourself as a hammer and nothing more. You’ll fall into the trap of thinking, “Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”

Read more of this thought-provoking post @ perpetually dissatisfied.   Your career will thank you for it.

I’m at work. I should be hard at work on a “Dare to Compare” to get college instructors to drop their current textbook for one my company publishes.

But I’m only working at it half-hardheartedly.

I am having a crisis of faith. In my job.

Wondering whether I am as good at it as I thought. Is this as good as it gets? Just a couple of months ago, I couldn’t wait to get to work each day. My projects engaging. Believing I was conquering the world.

After losing my ma and putting my dog down, however, I am spending much more of each day in a different mindset. I had already planned to think deeply about my career direction in 2018, but with those major life events, I am on a tear thinking of “how do I break out of this rut and make that  “sh*t or get off the pot” decision as to whether I want to keep doing this, or try something different.”

I’m not alone in asking such a question (of course).

It’s a New Year.  That kinda goes hand-in-hand with the inherent proposition of whether “this is the year I’m gonna change things up. Not a bit. But a major shake-up.

Like in lose weight, start eating healthier, stop spending so much time bashing the Orange tyrant on various social media outlets, build up the bank account a bit-stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck (especially given it’s the Age of Trump and the economy could tank at any given moment.

All at the same time.

[Okay I digress. Not to mention taken a dystopian turn.]

So this essay @perpetually dissatisfied couldn’t have come at a better time. Yes, because I am more than a bit perpetually dissatisfied myself . And when it comes to my career, guilty of confusing the medium (marketing specialist) with the message (the value I offer).

I still haven’t figured the latter (read: value I offer) out quite yet. Which is okay. That’s what a “thinkcubator” is for.


P.s. I get down with garage bands. And I think I could put my hands on an old boom box with a CD player. So if you have some listening suggestions, send them my way. I am trying to change up my playlist in 2018 as well…;