Archive for August, 2009

Positivity. Here’s proof.

Positivity is a strength. Here’s proof.

Last week, we did a StrengthsFinder exercise at work. Most of the strengths I found out I had were consistent and completely expected. Context and Command are top two strengths. I guess that means I can bark out orders with some conviction because I’ve read a lot about how Atila the Hun did it centuries ago.

But, Positivity was the lone wolf strength that threw me a bit. All you have to do is read this blog to know that I find folly in what many might call negative situations. I don’t care what anyone says, an adult falling down is always funny and an adult sprinting down the street (think of Tom Cruise’s character in The Firm) in a suit is even funnier (both because it’s a sight unto itself and also promises a high probably of said adult sprinter tripping and eating pavement).

Next time you see that 42 year old metro sexual tearing up 3rd avenue, just stop and ask yourself where the fuck is he going that he has to pull a Renaldo Nehemiah in a $1,000 outfit? You know it’s because of something trivial like he was walking his dog earlier that morning and stepped in a pile of poo causing him to have to go home and change shoes. Only when he changed shoes he realize that the tasseled mahogany loafers he has on now didn’t go with the dark navy suit he had on. So he had to change suits or pick up an English accent on the way to his first meeting. It’s always something as mundane and vain as that that causes people to be late. Otherwise, wake the fuck up on time and you’ll never have to sprint unless you’re being chased.

This flight to India is easily the longest trip I’ve taken in at least 20 years. I’m in coach. Middle seat. Every seat on the first leg of the flight has a bum in it. Yet, I must say that there was more to be glad about than to bitch about. Positivity:

  • Flight attendants were seemingly from every culture in the world and had some pretty hip yet traditional Arab uniforms – extra credit points for having historical context and a command for the now to be current. Plus all of them were far more polite than the most polite US Airways attendant – I think those folks aren’t so much working as they are seeking prey.

  • The audio visual ensemble on the seat back staring at my mug is better than any coach class entertainment system I’ve seen. A quantum leap better than JetBlue. A notch above Virgin America. United Airlines just plain sucks by comparison.

  • Every meal had rice in it.

  • As the lone Filipino on a flight of about 400 people – I enjoyed being unique even if it was for a mere 15 leg cramped hours. Having lived in the Bay Area for the past few years being a Filipino male is about as differentiated as that 3 millionth penny in a park fountain.

I get off the plane for a layover in Dubai and am thinking about all this positivity – hashing out a blog post in my head. It only took about 15 minutes for some of the shine to wear off. As I’m trying to orient myself and figure out where to go I hear a language that immediately nixes that last bullet. It’s not English. It’s not even Spanish. It’s Tagalog. Apparently my Filipino brethren haven’t just taken every US airport job, we’ve expanded the franchise to the beautiful airport in the UAE. I give the guy at duty free the universal Pinoy “you know that I know that you know that I’m a Pinoy” look. Next time I see you, I’ll show you what that look is and also teach you how to point with your lips.

Then I break into a light run for my gate and he’s probably thinking “I hope he falls.”

Jose Mallabo

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Don’t be a creep

One of the most famous corporate mantras ever is “don’t be evil.” If you haven’t heard about this code of conduct, you should go to your favorite search engine and look it up. Then again, if you have to search this, it’d be hugely ironic because not knowing where this mantra comes from would lead me to believe you’re not too online savvy, which begs me to ask “how the heck did you find blog?”

Regardless.

I guess simply stating “be good” was potentially too patronizing for a company to be telling its workforce. I can buy that because that’s what you tell your dog or your 15-year old son just before you leave a tray of bacon or open beer in front of him.

More than anything, the problem I’ve always had with “don’t be evil” is the position it implies the deliverer of this message assumes he or she is in. The concept of evil or to be more precise good vs. evil comes straight from the bible. For a company to push this maxim, it just eerily implies to me that they believe themselves to be at a plane higher than the common worker – to be almost godly.

Perhaps I may be deluded but “don’t be evil” rings very close to the English translation of primum non nocere or “do no harm” – a tenet from medical school. Can any non-life sciences company honestly think itself to be that important?

My favorite alternative is “don’t be creepy.”

flavo-flav2

Everyone knows what creepy is. It’s like quality. You know it when you see or feel it. And, it’s not biblical. It’s not implying deity level power or import. It’s straight forward and honest. Like a cup of hot black coffee. When you order it, you know what you’re going to get.

To prove the point here are three things that I believe to be universally creepy:

  • Brigitte Nielson having plastic surgery on live TV. I watch Nip/Tuck so it’s not the surgery that creeps me out, it’s the potential for Flavo Flav to be making a cameo while she’s under.
  • Ronald McDonald. Ever since I was a kid he freaked me out. I used to love going to McDonald’s every Saturday with my father largely because it was our time to spend together, secondly because that meant there was no school, but mostly I stuck close to my dad so he could keep that creepy clown away from me if he was wandering around.
  • A former very senior colleague of mine suggesting to a client that we have a team dinner at Bed. Unless I’m working at a place owned by Hugh Hefner, my sense is this would be way creepy, borderline gross and probably a prelude to evil doings.

– Jose Mallabo

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