Bazooka Joe on Management

Jun 11, 2001

One of the best benefits of working at ZweigWhite is the free food and drink we get. We give everyone whatever they want as long as you can store it in a cabinet or a refrigerator. Of course, not everything in our kitchens is particularly nutritious. Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Cap’n Crunch cereal… you know what I’m talking about. One of these “not-so-good for you” items that I have gotten into lately is Bazooka bubble gum. And along with the tooth damage I get from it, there’s been an added bonus— Bazooka Comics. On each comic is a fortune. And those fortunes offer some fantastic management advice. Here’s a sampling: “Ideas don’t work unless you do.” Amen to that. Lots of people working in A/E/P and environmental firms have ideas. But most won’t implement them. They are too busy, don’t have the time, or put other things first every time. The result is that they never make headway on the initiatives that make the firm a better company. “Wise people always check their spelling.” How true. Like it or not, you (and your company) are judged by the impression you create. Do a lousy job with seemingly unimportant details and guess what— your credibility as a professional advice-giver goes down the toilet. Everything is important! “The highway of fear is the road to defeat.” Agreed. If you’re afraid to venture out, to try anything new, to test yourself, you will lose the race before it ever starts. Too many people are afraid. What’s the worst that can happen? An honorable death? Or a dishonorable life? And the bottom line is that most of what we do doesn’t force us into that kind of a choice! “Keep an open mind, but don’t fill it with garbage.” Another good one, Joe, and one of my personal favorites. You do have to be open-minded about learning new things and hearing new ideas. But, that said, you can’t accept everything you hear as having merit or being valid. There’s a lot of garbage in our culture that is better off ignored than studied! “A man with one foot nailed to the floor is always running in circles.” Maybe being too well grounded is a disadvantage when it comes to creative endeavors. Sometimes having the talents of someone who is different from you working on a problem can be invaluable. Companies that require too much cultural compatibility could find themselves in a situation where no one comes up with a new idea. “It’s not the fall, it’s the sudden stop.” What I get out of this one is that not everything you do will be a huge success, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to have any huge losers. “Tell the truth, even if you have to make it up.” The corollary is “fake it till you make it.” It makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It leads to a lot of disappointments among clients when consultants oversell and under deliver. “Stop and smell the bubble gum.” It smells like my youth. That’s good. Simple pleasures are worth a lot. Live in the moment and enjoy what you are doing now instead of being chronically dissatisfied. “Don’t complain. When a dog barks, he loses his bone.” That’s right. You can think about how bad things are or how lucky you are. Most of the time, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Keep focused on that, and you’ll be happier. There is one fortune I disagree with, however: “Learn from the weather. Never make up your mind.” Dangerous advice here, especially for a group of architects and engineers! Worse still are the clients who follow this mantra. Originally published 6/11/2001.

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