Office Grudges

Everyone can relate to a grudge at the office. I had my share. The most difficult ones, I have found were the one’s with my peers. Neither peer is willing to back down and in these situations of equal power is where a problem can often fester.

I used to walk down to a peers office just to get into an argument, because I did not like his attitude along with others, so I reciprocated. This was early in my career and not the smartest thing or best example even if people thought I was in the right.

One time a peer of mind tried to assign me the job of cleaning the toilet. I refused. He and I were the two senior people in the room and believe me I did my share of grunt work. He also wanted to use people from my department to work in his department and I refused. Arguments concluded each of these meetings. I went to our boss and told him their was an issue and I was willing to let him solve it. He told us to chill out, which is what I wanted. He was not in my department and I just wanted space.

Years later two people came into my office saying they were having issues getting along. They both had already talked to me individually to try and muster support to back themselves. I gave them a choice. If I solved the dispute neither of them would like it or they could solve it themselves. I made it very clear there would be no favorites. They managed to get along. I know there was still tension, but I would check up on them and they managed to balance their differences out.

I learned lessons along the way. My leadership style adapted and as I matured I did not walk down to someone’s office to yell at them anymore. I actually did not yell much at all as the years went on. Sometimes to pep up a tired group I would raise my voice, but that was calculated. Even during my most furious moments I sat down and talked with people.

Sometimes grudges are legitimate. On the other hand office grudges eat away at the people involved and effect other people in the workplace. The people involved go vent to the wrong people and draw sides in the dispute and drum up a toxic work environment. When this goes on its often a reflection of the lack of leadership in the afflicting parties. Office grudges are best resolved quickly.

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How U.S. Recognizes China In South China Sea

China makes a deep claim into the South China Sea despite claims from other countries that are closer to disputed islands and China’s less than fully legitimate claim over Taiwan.

The South China Sea sees over $5 trillion in trade pass over its water annually. China wants to control that water.

U.S. Naval Vessels do challenge China’s presence in the region, but never get more than 12 nautical miles to an island the Chinese military occupies, which includes islands China has created. 12 nautical miles respects territorial claims made by other countries. Why would the United States respect this disputed Chinese claim?

One reason is the respect for international law. This respect of the territorial claim might seem to legitimize China’s claim, but there are reasons to follow international law. This is an international dispute and the United States wants the backing of the international community, which includes support for other countries claims to this area. Other countries have sailed near the disputed areas as well in coalition with the United States. Other nations are showing that the South China Sea is an international shipping lane where international law applies. If China can lay claim to the South China Sea then their law would govern the area and the $5 trillion in trade. Just as Panama controls the Panama Canal, China wants control of the South China Sea.

There is also the reason of avoiding a military confrontation by respecting the 12 nautical mile line. The main purpose is to protest China and not engage in conflict. The point is to protest China’s claim and not appear threatening sailing up to the 12 nautical mile line.

The United States and our allies are doing the right thing by respecting 12 nautical miles from China’s disputed claims. The South China Sea is open for international trade under international law.

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18 Hour Overnight Flight Delay Gets Customers an Apology

An 18 hour flight delay stranded passengers at JFK airport overnight without a hotel, according to Business Insider. They did get a free taxi on the tarmac for hours that returned right back to their gate and got to practice boarding twice. Ahh, the joys of air travel.

Business Insider points out Delta is normally on time, but they missed big here. Issue after issue held the passengers up and they were never given hotel vouchers. Just the curiosity and hope that their flight would be leaving soon for the next 18 hours.

The good news is the airlines issued an apology, travel vouchers and SkyMiles. I would almost rather get the middle finger from Delta telling me, “Thanks for flying with us and enjoy your flight.” No one cares about the apology after 18 hours.

They screwed up big and they cannot afford to refund one flight? The customers bought a product and that was not properly delivered. Give them their money back with your extras and make the apology serious.

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Working Mothers

Is there a group of people more admired on this earth more than mothers?

Being a mother is a very special job all on its own. Many businesses and government employers have tried to improve how mothers’ are treated. When I worked for the government there were often employer provided daycares. Weight standards were waived for new and expecting mothers and free leave time after having a baby was increased. Employers have more largely realized the importance of female talent and specifically mothers.

A female once came into my office to tell she was having a baby. She was concerned that this would negatively impact her job. By this point I was a dad, and family is important. The first thing I told her was congratulations. She said thank you and was warmed by my sincerity, but she quickly turned back to questioning the impact to her job.

In that job there was a timeline to get qualified and failure to adhere to this timeline could put off advancement and even be cause for termination. She was also a relatively new employee. I told her not to worry about qualifications and that we would pause the qualification timeline just like we would for anyone else who was medically prohibited from doing their job. I also guaranteed advancement recommendations would not be affected due to pregnancy. She felt a complete relief. She needed to hear it from a position of power.

She resumed and completed her qualifications on schedule. She advanced just as we anticipated. She became a working mom with no career set backs.

What good or unfair mom challenges have you faced in the workplace?

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Disney+ vs. Netflix

Disney is a robust company with plenty of revenue sources beyond the streaming industry where as Netflix is just a streaming service. Disney is a powerful player in the movie theaters where as Netflix has not had a cozy relationship. There was even a bid to change the rules at the Oscars to make it harder for Netflix to compete. Perhaps Disney’s move into the streaming business will help legitimize the company that built the industry.

Disney has now offered Disney+, ESPN and Hulu at $13 to directly compete against Netflix best plan and Disney will still offer services separately at cheaper prices. With greater competition, the company may find it harder to raise prices.

Previously I discussed how Netflix best days are behind them, but how they could still compete. Netflix has been relying on original content.

Disney has a vault of content over Netflix, but new content is key to success. Part of that is having good scripts and bigger budgets. Disney is planning on another Home Alone movie for Disney+. This is another blast from the past from Disney, which has proven successful, but lacks originality. While Disney is stuck in nostalgia, Netflix could have an opening to put forward new and original content. Disney is also known for being a kid friendly and family company, which gives Netflix an area of more mature themes to brand itself.

Disney’s bundle package could be a problem for Netflix. The intent is to make the consumer feel as if they are getting three products for the price of one offered by Netflix. There are multiple streaming services that will be available. All of them will be cheaper then cable, so people can bundle streaming services. Content will be they key to success. Growth for Netflix will be slower with the competition. The real difference will come down to the next recession when consumers cut spending. Which streaming service will they cut ties with?

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School Choice

Picture a poor area of the country. Perhaps a remote area of Louisiana where annual pay is well below $50k a year, or the inner city in an area with government supplied housing. What kind of public school is pictured in your mind for the children that live here? A gleaming institution that might be the next generations way out of poverty or a failed institution raising the next generation of poor citizens. Is there an alternate choice to their failed government run school?

California Charter Schools offer an alternative, but those options are limited. I have lived in three different places with my children. Southern California, Northern California and the New Orleans area of Louisiana. None of the public school systems were particularly good. Great Schools will rank public schools on a 1 to 10 scale with 10 being the best. The assigned public schools for my children range from 1 to 4 where I currently live. School transfers are possible, but not a guarantee and everyone cannot transfer out of their assigned public school. There is one public high school in particular my wife and I know that people want to send there children to if they cannot afford the private high school. This public high school would require a transfer and, as mentioned, is a desired high school, a simple transfer will not be easy, and, after all, why would not more parents just like us want the same school for their children.

My family is lucky, because we can afford private elementary school. This is not cheap and we are not wealthy by any means. If we were to get them into the private high school, where only half the students that apply are accepted, the cost would about double and I would likely need loans, but a good education for our kids can seem priceless. We are lucky again in another regard, because my wife and I have college benefits that our children can use, so we can concentrate resources elsewhere.

How many families do not have a choice? What if my kid was stuck at a 1 out of 10 school? This would be reality under the public school option. I could not see future employment prospects being as bright. How many families are stuck and do not have any other means of getting their kids a better education? The logical conclusion in my opinion is that many families have no choice in there child’s school.

Having dealt with private schools and public schools, I believe their is a real need for public schools. Children cared for by the state and our special children are likely better off at public schools that often have more resources to help children where private schools cannot.

Another alternative is homeschool, but this is difficult for dual income families. According to Business Insider, home schooling is growing by 3 to 8% per year with technology making this process easier then ever. “According to the U.S. Department of Education, roughly nine out of ten parents who homeschooled their children during the 2011-12 school year said school environment, meaning safety, drugs, and peer pressure, contributed to their decision.

Public schools have their place, but school choice gives parents options. If education is the product then it stands to reason that competition would deliver a better product. Imagine being stuck with only one choice of car or phone provider while seeing an array of other products not available to you. I say this as someone who has the means to send my children to another school. I have that freedom at a cost, but I feel many people do not. I want public schools to succeed and get better, and I believe school choice can do that. Why exclude options for our children’s’ education?

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Elon Musk Gives Us Brain Implants

Neuralink is a company founded by Elon Musk that wants to use Bluetooth technology to access people’s brains. Elon Musk is famous for his car company Tesla and another futuristic company called SpaceX. This brain technology is working inside a monkey’s brain and test for human brains are scheduled for 2020. According to CNET, a short term goal is to help people with spinal injuries to reestablish use of their extremities. The long term goal is to link humans to artificial intelligence. He is not alone. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), which is an agency of the federal government, is also working on similar technology.

Perhaps this could create the smartest humans thus far. What would a network of human minds be like when combined with a computer network of artificial intelligence? This seems reminiscent of science fiction, like the Borg in Star Trek, and for now this still is as a technology that has a long way to develop.

Updating hardware could be a problem. Imagine a smart phone that is 10 years old. That is way out of date technology, but imagine this phone is implanted to your brain. Could this make the previous generation obsolete?

There is a moral element. Everyone has terrible thoughts that pop up in their mind. Some that are not liked and people would prefer not to share, but what if these thoughts could be read and even suppressed? These brain implants could give new meaning to the term thought police.

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