As summer wanes, here is a collection of unrelated "workplace" notes from the briefcase, notebook and computer memory system:
BEST LINE: "What effect has the recession had on me? I sleep like a baby -- every three hours I wake up and cry." (INC, September).
DOING IT WRONG: "How to Fail in Business" in Success, September, is worth reading. Excerpts: "If a client writes with a complaint, send it to the legal or operations department for response. . . . Don't bother to build up true quality in your product or service. . . . Don't resolve internal disputes. . . . When you hire secretarial or clerical help, don't waste time telling them what your firm is all about. . . . Never publicly recognize accomplishments of subordinates. . . . Base compensation plans solely on recommendations of 'experts.' . . . Choose as your successor someone who never made enemies through unpopular decisions."
PERSONAL NOTE: My father, a Baltimore stock broker who died 35 years ago today, taught me valuable work-place principles: Don't fight a competitor; sell your own merchandise. . . . Never accept gifts from suppliers; pay your own way. . . . Give people a raise before they ask for one. . . . A newsboy cries his wares many times before he earns a penny. . . . Always have your shoes shined and your hair combed. (Me, Dad?) . . . And Dad told me this story about my grandfather: "Father was on the board of a St. Joseph, Mo., bank in the 1893 depression and knowing the bank would fail he called my seven brothers and me together and said, 'Sons, be sure all your business and personal deposits go in the bank today as usual; no one should ever point a finger at this family. '"
BALTIMORE BEAT: "If you want European exposure and you like small-company stocks, Baltimore's U.S.F.&G. European Emerging Companies Fund is intriguing." (Forbes, Sept. 2) . . . "Consensus in Congress is that 1991 will not give rise to major tax legislation." (Wolpoff & Co. Client Bulletin; phone 837-3770 for a copy) . . . "After five years of only four percent inflation, $150,000 will be worth only $123,289 in today's dollars. Stated another way, in five years it will take $182,497 to buy what $150,000 buys today." (Computer of Dr. Jeffrey Schein, my dentist.)
SALTING FOOD (cont'd): Jim West, WBAL sportscaster, writes: "Regarding your tip not to salt your food before tasting it when eating with a potential employer, I recall that in the '50s, while studying at the National Academy of Broadcasting, Washington, D.C., I stayed at a boarding house with some FBI trainees. At dinner one evening I salted my food before tasting it and a future Fed said I'd never qualify as an FBI agent because I made a decision before checking the facts. But his argument was flawed; I'd lived there long enough to know that the cook was most ungenerous with salt."
MONTH-ENDERS: "If you worry about your bank, call Cates Consulting Analysts, Washington, D.C. (202-659-8300), Federal Financial Council, also Washington (202-357-0177) or Thomson BankWatch, New York (212-510-0300)." Be sure to ask fees. Data from INC, September. . . . "Even with a tax hike and a defense meltdown, Bush has produced a bigger deficit than Reagan did with a tax cut and military buildup." (Paul Craig Roberts, Business Week, Sept. 2) . . . "In 1950, less than one American family in 50,000 had an annual $100,000 income (adjusted for inflation). Today, ratio is one in 25." (Forbes, Sept. 2).