Eighteen Hours Rich in Meditations

Last night I attended a Chinese New Year ‘feast’ that was well concieved and executed at Shun Lee West in New York. Alas the table was so tightly packed that it required several contortions per dish to make sure the morsels ended up in my mouth rather than my lap. The table congestion was very visible BEFORE we sat down. I wonder at producing something like that, and not looking at all that is relevant in the ambient surroundings to enhance people’s comfort and enjoyment.

This morning I heard that Bank of America was being called onto the rack by legislators due to a rather extravagant Super Bowl party they threw for customers. Their claim? Every $1 they spent will earn them $10 in return. If so, an arguable investment. However, these days, might those who have been recipients of taxpayer largesse have to manage both appearances and reality? Without pandering, all of us have to show sensitivity to how things appear as well as how they are. We recently did a critical client strategy session at their corporate training center rather than at an exotic resort. Everything was more intense, and action oriented, and much was achieved. Reality AND appearance were both well served.

I also heard yet again one more talking head opining that government is not well placed to run banks. No disagreement here! But then the implication can’t be they shouldn’t be involved, as the ‘geniuses’ running banks in the private sector managed to run up apocalyptic losses due to untrammeled greed and almost criminal financial legerdemain. Watch out for things repeated sonorously that are supposed to be self-evident. Ask, “How do we know this?” And ask it again until it’s clear. Warren Buffet’s mantra, “I don’t invest in anything I don’t understand,” wouldn’t be a bad compass if adapted to, “I’m not agreeing with anything until I’ve challenged the assumptions underlying it.”

I had my hair cut at John Allen’s in New York later in the morning, not the most expensive option, not the most cost-effective. If you want, they’ll also do a manicure (for a modest extra cost). The stylists are friendly and affable, without being excessively familiar. And they’re now offering a 15 minute ‘complimentary shoulder massage’ as a lovely way to say ‘thank you’.  Their invitation (I’m paraphrasing):  ‘Forget about business and worries for 15 minutes.’  And needless to say,  remember us for a long time afterward. Smart move! What can you and I do to say ‘thank you’ in a way that’s meaningful?

I’m now waiting for a time-critical document delivery. It’s taken three phone calls and was promised for noon, by the company putting together the information. It’s two as I write this. I’d go with the John Allen model rather than the service ethos of the company getting these documents togehter. This is as good a time as any to be as impeccable as we can be in our commitments.