Carry On

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized

It’s a new low for the flying public.  For a frequent flyer who takes pride in knowing how to use the overhead space and never check a bag, it is the ultimate indignity.

Spirit Airlines has declared that come Aug. 1, Spirit will charge passengers on domestic and international flights $30 for each carry-on bag.  If you show up at the gate with a carry-on bag, you’ll pay even more: $45.

The charges apply only to bags placed in overhead bins. Personal items, such as purses, will incur no charge if they fit beneath the seat.   Well, thanks so much.  Whatever happened to the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights?  Wasn’t there a move to make airline travel better, not worse?

My real fear is that airlines seem to follow one another with their policies.  What one does, they all tend to do.  It is time to continue to fight back.  Rather, it’s time to roll back.  Many business analysts put airlines into the “utility” sector.  Some friends with sophisticated solar systems tell me their electric meters go backwards and the local utilities actually pay them!  (Since I still pay a huge electric bill, this data is not verified.)

The airlines seem to want to adjust our behavior and our wallets at every step of airline travel, why don’t we apply the same “turn the meter backwards” logic to the airlines?  I have a few ideas:

-   If we don’t use the bathroom during a flight, we should get a rebate because we wasted no precious blue fluid used in the lavatory.

-    By refusing to take a free soft drink when the cart comes around we should get a reduced fare.  Enlisting those around us on the plane to just say no to that can of Bloody Mary mix could reap a bonus.

-    If we sit in the middle seat even when the aisle or window seat is available we get credits or discounts.  I know those aisle and window seats are precious so we won’t use them if we get a deal.

-    The less we weigh the lighter the airplane and the less fuel it will burn.  Therefore, ticket prices should be determined by one’s weight.  This could help our national problem with obesity as well.

-   Turning off the little air conditioner vent and the overhead light should save some energy so if we use neither air or light we should get a discount.

-    Regarding airline staff, if we arrive extra early for the flight which gives the luggage handlers extra time to handle and promise not to talk to flight attendants, thus wasting their precious time, we should get a discount too.

-   Cleaning up the plane as we disembark should be worth something and how about for those seated at the windows, if they clean all the greasy hair smudges off the windows, definitely a prize.

-   Best yet, why don’t we get rid of all overhead space?  The dance for that space while boarding causes stress, back aches and fist fights.  Maybe then, planes would leave on time and the airlines can’t blame the passengers for late departures.

These are just a few of the many ideas I have for Spirit Airlines and others as they continue to work us hard for pennies.

Spirit’s chief operating officer, Ken McKenzie, said in a statement that in addition to lowering fares, the fees will also reduce the number of carry-on bags, which will improve safety and will speed up the boarding and deplaning process. “Bring less; pay less,” he said. “It’s simple.”

My ideas are simple too.  Are you listening?



Spitting and Grinning

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized

Friday, March 26, 2010

Big fancy wine tasting events in these parts can be intimidating. Even though I am a local, these people who come from all over the world to swirl and taste our produce seem like silent experts who can manage to look smart while they make small inhaling sounds while smacking their lips and shifting a squirrel cheek full of wine from one cheek to another.These are the people who can look in a room full of hundreds of bottles of wine in brown paper bags and say to themselves, “I feel certain that I can discern one wine from another in this huge lot. Let me take a lot of notes, do some spitting.” Actually, these are the wine people who would say they don’t spit, they expectorate.As if to intimidate me further, at the very fancy Premiere Napa Valley, I overheard one well-dressed woman say to her companion, “I gave up wine for Lent, does it count as a drink if I spit?” Her well-dressed friend gave her his blessings and responded that of course if spat, it wouldn’t count.That complex spitting exercise and its nuance hadn’t entered my mind. Now I was worried about my spitting. Is there a proper technique and etiquette? Do I need a coach?

The swirling I can do with the best of them. Some would say I can do the drinking with the pros, too. But the spitting out of the wine is where my skills betray me.I wonder, how does one spit while keeping the proper decorum at a fancy event? The first temptation is to spit back into the wine glass since it is always most convenient. No. Just the thought of that makes me want to never spit.Most real spitters I see carry around a paper cup which would come in handy if you chew tobacco also. There is something incongruous about drinking a $100 cabernet out of a $60 wine glass and spitting what you don’t want into a Dixie cup. Is there a market for expensive silver spitting cups?Some experts that I’ve noticed stick their head in the sink to spit. This reminds me of college more than it does of a fancy wine event so that option is not very appealing.And there is always that post-spit little drool. So it is always very important to have that napkin handy too. How can such an elegant and refined activity as wine tasting have such an accepted practice that involves spitting and drooling?What about if the event is outside? Is it OK to spit in the bushes? Will I kill the roses?White wine seems easier to spit for some unscientific reason. Maybe it just seems easier than red wine because if your spit goes sideways it won’t stain the clothes of anyone nearby. On many spitters I notice their clothes are speckled with wine spit droppings. The hard-core see this as a red badge of restraint.Wine drinkers could learn a lot from baseball players. Those guys can let loose a stream between their two front teeth that could land in a paper cup 10 feet away. Probably not acceptable at a fancy wine event but a few baseball players who liked wine could be stars at blind tastings.One easy solution to all these spitting dilemmas is to do the opposite — savor the wine as it goes down your throat and enjoy that part of the wine, too. When tasting a few hundred wines it may be difficult to get through the session standing up if there is no spitting, but I will leave that problem to the pros.As for me, OK, just one glass and I won’t spit.



Rainy season

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized

Anyone who owns a place in wine country is asked very predictable questions like, “Do they charge for tasting at (fill in the blank) Winery?” Or, “Do you know how to get us into the French Laundry?” Or, “How many grapes in a bottle of wine?”

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions but there is one question we are asked often that I can answer. The question is “What is your favorite season in wine country?” The answer is, whatever season we are in at the time.This happens to be the rainy season. So let me explain some of the features of rainy season that are so special they are worth noting, and make it my favorite season for right now.There are adventures during rainy season like rock slides, overflowing creeks and gushing broken gutters. We are lucky to have a basement and when it filled with two feet of water after the rain storm the kids reminded me there was no need to try to bail it out. The water table had reached the level of our basement. It was an adventure and a science project.

Rainy season brings employment. Our building contractor always told us that with this much rain we should expect leaks. He was right, which means jobs for all contractors, roofers and gutter installers.A sense of wonder is easily developed this time of year. I wonder why the pool is a foot deeper than it is supposed to be and overflowing. I am sure there is a dead mouse or larger animal blocking the overflow drain and I wonder how to get it out. I wonder also where all the frogs come from that now seem to be everywhere including inside my boots.Since it is so nasty out, the mice have moved inside and built a nest under the gas pedal in the pickup truck. No one is sure if there are babies in there or if there are even mice in there, but the truck will sit until the weather changes or the nest disappears. Not driving the old pickup is another way to save the environment and eliminate greenhouse gases — a benefit of rainy season.In this weather the barn cats are not inclined to go outside. They don’t like rain so they haven’t left the barn in weeks and have created their own litter boxes. We just can’t find the cat-made litter boxes, but for obvious reasons, we know they are there. While I sniff and look I have found tools that I thought were lost. Thank you, rainy season.Ants don’t like rain either so they move into the house. We are fascinated during this special time by how long they can make their parades and how little food it takes to bring them inside and how they can work together. Those ants are quite the engineers.Rainy season brings mushrooms. They are everywhere. Since I learned long ago, based on reading obituaries, to never trust a wild mushroom, they get squished instead of picked. Currently they are growing all over the lawn, in the gardens and in the bedrooms. We feel like we have a winter garden with the mushrooms.In general, rainy season is a lot more relaxing. I tend not to work as hard because there is so little daylight and who wants to go out and rake the creekside garden when there are flash flood warnings?A little rain now takes a lot of pressure off of us down the road and we are all measuring the water level in the wheelbarrows. The rain is welcome and so is the rainy season. It’s my favorite season in wine country, until spring.



On Typos

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized

When the UPS Guy rang the doorbell with the stack of big boxes I was excited and happy but I didn’t open them right away. The boxes contained three hundred copies of my latest book, Nuts, Bolts and Jolts.  The publisher sent them to me so that I could send them to my friends in large organizations in the hopes that my friends would buy a few thousand copies.  It was my fifth book.  Had the boxes contained my first book I would have torn them open and run through the neighborhood screaming and giving the book to strangers.

Some of my earlier books had grown to be best sellers based on the bulk purchases of large corporations so it was not a pipe dream to try again with book five.  Dutifully, and with the help of some friends, we mailed out a batch of books with a personal note and encouragement that when employees read this book, they will be transformed and all will be well.  One of the pieces of advice in the book is to pay attention to the small things that can make one’s life miserable or great.

A few days later I started receiving messages with statements like, “Your new book is fundamental!  LOL.”  Another one proclaimed, “Moran, you are a fundamental guy.”

Finally, a friend called and asked, “Did you see the typo?”  I admitted I hadn’t even looked and waited with dread for the worst.   It was the worst.

 The subtitle of Nuts, Bolts and Jolts is Fundamental Business and Life Lessons You Must Know. In the very first edition, the word fundamental was misspelled.   Right there on the cover in glaring large font was the word Fundemental.  Maybe proof readers don’t pay attention to the covers.

Lots of red faced back tracking later, all is well.  A company in China just bought five hundred copies.  I am glad they will see the correct spelling of a fundamental word.

There remains in my garage a bunch of boxes, unopened, that the UPS Guy delivered one day.



The New Universal Language

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized

There is a new universal language.  It crept in sometime between the advent of the first fax machine and the death of the pager that we wore on our belts.  A quick quiz of most people about the universal language will generate responses like:

·      A kiss.  It is the global signal of love, although there are very few with whom I want to communicate with this language.

·      The middle finger.  Everyone knows what it means and it is not good to be the recipient of the message so this language carries some unfortunate baggage.  It is a language that almost always makes someone feel really bad.

·      English.  Since most Americans speak no other language, we have imposed this language on the rest of the universe.

·      Music.  A preferred language by all but now that MySpace has bazillions of bands and artists on it, there are too many dialects of the language.  Which is better, Bach or Beastie Boys?

·      Food.  Before salmonella, South Beach Diet and going vegan, this was a good language.  Now it seems cluttered with too many celebrity chefs telling you how to communicate in this language

·      Money.  Once the banks, the dollar, the stock market and the price of oil recover, this could be a good language again.  In the meantime, money is an inconsistent language. 

 

All the communication turmoil, leaves just one universal language – PowerPoint.

 

Bill Gates may go down in history for his riches and for eliminating malaria and solving so many world problems, but his real contribution will be the creation of PowerPoint as the universal language. 

 

Wikipedia says that “a universal language is a hypothetical, historical or mythical language said to be spoken and understood by all or most of the world’s population.  … it may be the primary language of all speakers, or the only existing language; in others, it is a fluent secondary language used for communication between groups speaking different primary languages. Some mythological or religious traditions state that there was once a single universal language among all people, or shared by humans and supernatural beings; this is not supported by historical evidence.”

 

The historical evidence is now all around us.

  • We speak in headlines backed up by a few bullets
  • Entire books are written of just bullets.  (See Nuts, Bolts and Jolts)
  • My children use PowerPoint in their grammar school everyday.
  • Meetings will not start until the projector warms up to show the PowerPoint presentation.
  • The three letters PPT are as well known as FYI, and IBM, LOL.
  • The phrase “Next Steps” is now as welcome as “Free” or “This is Not A Bill”.
  • Companies are being formed to distribute PPT presentations. 

Next Steps

The good news about PPT is that it is efficient.  The bad news is that it is often not effective unless accompanied by a non-virtual person.  As a communication tool it needs to tell a story.  That’s all.  As the new universal language PowerPoint needs to tell as story. 



Out Of the Air

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged jobs, careers, Entrepreneurs

Image taken from Rottentomatoes.com 

You have to see it.  Have to.

 

The advice is about the movie “Up in the Air,” any everyone who works for a consulting firm, or has ever worked for a consulting firm, has heard that sentence by now.  As a former Accenture Partner, I heard, “You have to see it” and I saw it.  The movie is good and I see why the road warrior consultant can identify with it.

The truth is that real life on the road is worse than depicted in the movie.  Navigating the airports and security is worse than depicted in the movie.  First class is not likely.  Dealing with hotels is worse than depicted in the movie.  Maybe looking like George Clooney is the secret.   Dealing with weather problems is the big variable that makes life on the road miserable.  And, sometimes, dealing with clients is worse than the movie shows.

Night life when on the road may not start until 10PM because that’s how long you spend working.  So there is no night life because you are too tired.  Dinner is likely to be a bad room service meal eaten in front of a television. 

Since the life is not a good one, and everyone knows it when in the middle of it, the main reward is food.  So to compound the problems, life on the road usually means gaining weight which makes you feel more miserable.  The best part of life on the road is returning home.

The movie should be required viewing of anyone thinking of going into a career that requires a lot of travel.  The simple rules that the movie points out are worth repeating:

  • Never check a bag.
  • Always wear loafers though security and always get behind others wearing loafers

 Contrary to the movie premise, the one with the most frequent flyer miles does not win.  Being in the 1K Club at United is not a good thing.  If the sound of a zipper closing on a suitcase makes your children cry, you are flying too much.

Now, about the sex thing in the movie.  I once had a senior executive tell me, “What happens on the road, stays on the road.”  Maybe it happens and I sort of heard about it from time to time, but it sure isn’t the life of any consultants I know.



Workplace Words: Some Authentic, Some, Not So Much

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Workplace Wisdom, jobs, careers, Entrepreneurs, Workplace


Buzzwords in business come and go and right now there is a pretty good crop of good and bad ones circulating among the cubicle world.  Some are whispered in hushed tones next to the refrigerator note that shouts, “This Fridge Will be emptied of every thing except salad dressing every Friday at 3:00!”  Others show up on every page of a 60 page power point deck.   But, at the end of the day, the paradigm for mission critical buzz words is never about the total quality of the thought; it’s about the value add to the value added thought outside the box.

 

As we enter the new decade, here are some of my favorite words and phrases, and others, that are already mind numbingly repeated although no one knows what they mean.

 

  • It’s complicated – A perfect phrase to describe everything we now know about business and the universe.  These two (or is it three?) simple words can answer any question: How is your love life?  Worried about your job?  Any luck with your project?  How long do you think you will last in this job?  The perfect answer that connotes substance but probably more than you need to know – It’s complicated.

 

  • Fair Enough – Could be a comment, could be an answer, could be a question, could be a filler when no one else is saying anything. Could also mean, You are a jerk and know nothing of what you say but now you’ve said it so, “fair enough”. It hits my list since it crops up often and can be used in so many ways.

 

  • Not so much – A perfect description of life in the workplace that sins on the side of negativity without being offensive.  Can easily be a proper response to questions like:  Hey, do you like your new boss?  Are you thinking about retiring on your 401K these days?  Boy, those people in Washington are doing a good job, huh?

 

  • Regifting – A phrase that hit all the headlines this year.  It is in the same category of staycation, Maverick and Tea Party Patriots.  When I hear these words they make me ask myself, Do I want to get involved?  Not so much. 

 

  • I’m Good – The most reassuring phrase out there that too, has many meanings.  When waiting to meet someone, if the receptionist asks if you want a coffee or water, the response can be “I’m good.”  When falling off the roof while cleaning out the gutters and your wife asks if you are ok, the response can be the same, “I’m good.”  After a layoff, this is a desired response.  A close relative to “I’m good” is “I got it.”  Can apply to catching a ball in center field or a way to say, “You don’t have to say anymore, I understand.”   It’s a good phrase to employ to start doing and stop talking which is always a good thing.

 

  • New Normal – Although on the verge of being over used, this is a worthy phrase to reconcile expectations.  For most of us, the new normal means the same way it used to be, just with a lot less.

 

  • That Feels About Right – A welcome phrase used in any context but is especially welcome when asking for approval while in the front of a conference room giving a presentation.  It implies “we could probably get more data but that won’t make us any smarter so let’s just go ahead, good work.”

 

  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail – We have the Governor of South Carolina to thank for this one.  When you hear he or she is out “hiking the Appalachian…” it could mean a missing persons report is being filed;  it could mean there is sex with South Americans involved or it could mean there are a lot of clueless people around who think they are not going to get caught for whatever they are doing.  It is a phrase to avoid when it comes to your own life.

 

  • In the phrases full of friction category and ones that will go away soon, I hope, some of my favorites are:

 

-Become a Fan – I like being a fan of the San Francisco Giants but I don’t want to be a fan of Edna’s scones.

-Skill up- I think this means get smarter and more equipped to do your job.  Is that new?

-Fat Content- I don’t need any more reasons to feel guilty.  When referring to an organization, there are better ways to  describe too many people.  Let me enjoy my cheesecake.

-Narrow Aperture – I think this means focus on the most important things that need to be done.  This is another phrase that makes me feel guilty for not paying attention in Photography class.

 

Work today seems be made up of ambiguous victories and nebulous defeats.  Let’s at least make life in 2010 a little more bearable by using words and phrases that make us smile, just a little.



Wine Country Wish List

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized

 

 

I bet just about everyone in wine country has been told something like, “You are living the good life.”  More times than I can count I have been told I am like Russell Crowe in the movie, “A Good Year”.  I just don’t look like him.  We are living the good life here and this time of year I am especially thankful.  Sometimes it takes people telling us how lucky we are for us to realize the gifts we have here.  There are, however, a few gifts that might make my wine country life more complete.  Here are just a few items on my wish list:

 

  • Joe Montana’s House.  So what if it’s $49 million?  The photos look really good and for that much money it must include hang around time with Joe and a big crew to take the garbage out to the curb.
  • A pass that allows me to cut to the front of the line at Taylor’s Refresher without any one getting mad at me.
  • Speed bumps on the road in front of my house.  Warning signs of mudslides, oil spills or nails in the road might do the same thing.  I am flexible.
  • A Hav-A-Hart trap that warns me if the animal I’ve trapped is a skunk. The skunks like the cat food left for the barn cats but they don’t add much to the wine country experience.
  • Delivery of a pastry every day from the Model Bakery.  A latte too while we are at it.
  • There is a tractor and attachment that I hear picks up all the leaves and makes them disappear.  I am not sure where to find this tractor or where the leaves go but I want it.
  • An instant wine cellar.  Easily accomplished if each winery in Napa sent me just one bottle care of this newspaper.  I promise to try it.
  • A Flux Capacitor that, once turned on, would allow me to stop all surrounding traffic in order to make left hand turns onto Highway 29.
  • An exorbitant offer from someone who is just driving by our house who decides they want to buy it. Then we could have a family meeting so that we could respond with a “No!”
  • The miracle wine glass repair globe.  No matter how bad the shattered or chipped wine glass, stick the pieces in and voila, a new expensive looking glass.
  • Karma signs out in front of the house.  Instead of saying, “No Winery this Lane” or “Tasting Hours 11-5”, the karma sign would tell potential visitors whether you feel like having them or not.  The sign could flash, “Sorry, Not Today” or, “Lucky You, We are Here and Feel Like It, So Come On In!”
  • Tomatoes in January that taste like the ones we grow in August.
  • A gopher finder/eradicator.  If I can go on the web and find out how to drive from here to Saskatchewan and the value of every house in between, why can’t I get rid of a few pesky gophers?

  • Every winery selling out of all the wines that they want to sell.

 

OK, so this list is like the one I compiled not long ago that included motorcycles, White House invites and dates with

Diane Lane

or Gwyneth Paltrow.  Probably not going to happen.  No, NOT going to happen and I am glad for it. 

 

We are all in a special place that is a daily gift.  Remember that we are in a place that people come from all over the world to experience.

 

All I want for Christmas is time - time with my family friends and time to spend in wine country and the satisfaction that this is all I need.



Characters

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized


I want to be a character. I want to be around characters, they make life more interesting. Not the weird scary guys but the ones who live a full life — the ones who people want to be around. People find characters fascinating because they have so many dimensions, and we wonder how they learned about this or that. We talk about characters years later. Characters make you hungry when they eat, and they eat things you never heard of.

Read the whole article in the St. Helena Star here: http://bit.ly/XT7rS



At the Ritz

Published by Rich Moran on Tagged Uncategorized

We bought our home in the wine country for my daughter’s wedding. She was three years old at the time. She is now in high school and knows this story although she has not committed to the location.I continue to tell her that after medical school (or other appropriate vocation) she is welcome to invite a few friends and future in-laws to her wedding at our house.Read the whole article in the St. Helena Star here:http://bit.ly/mekXT