From the Greatest Generation, like my dad, who relied on rubber cement to piece together ads and spinning vinyl to dance with my mom, to the Baby Boomers hooked on their beloved ‘crackberries’ and texting, to Gen Xers proud of their constant online presence, and Millennials growing up with iPhones, each generation has witnessed technological leaps. However, my grandchildren’s generation will be the first to embrace AI from an early age. While AI brings remarkable advancements, let’s not forget the importance of our human sixth sense and intuitive understanding. I dare say, put an expert in the subject matter against AI any day of the week, and you’ll witness the ingenuity and creativity that sets us apart—the secret weapon against the machines! After all, there’s no algorithm that can replicate our unique blend of experience, intuition, and good old-fashioned common sense.
And for a real-world perspective, I turn to my friend since high school, Dave Balkin, PhD. Dave is a scientist with a storied career at IBM, and he provides present-day perspective to my thoughts.
“As you well know, engines that could historically be fixed with the tap of a hammer are being (or have been) replaced with computerized mechatronic systems that contain dozens, if not hundreds, of semiconductors. The problems with these systems can now only be properly diagnosed by complex computerized test systems. Consistent with your point, as always, only those with the required technical expertise (experience) will be able to ultimately fix the latest iteration of technology. Unfortunately, as we become dependent on AI, users will need to cultivate much greater critical thinking skills to create efficient AI prompts that yield meaningful outputs and discernment abilities to properly assess the correctness of AI outputs, which are only as good as their (hopefully uncorrupted) data sources.”
My mother was the 70’s version of ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence.
That was then and this is now
Who hasn’t been reading about ChatGPT, a new artificial intelligence (AI) platform making the news. This made me think about how people used to create polished work before computers. Back in the day, mothers like mine were like Chat GPTs or AI. My mother typed all of our term papers, correcting grammar and spelling errors, teaching my siblings and me and editing a final product that was well thought out and error-free to hand in to our teachers. Armed with a whiteout and her typewriter, my mom spent many hours at our kitchen table for all six of us.
My mother is Eloise Kreuz and she is 91 years old. Today she continues to demonstrate the same knowledge base and intuitive skills that she had in the 1970’s. Her knowledge base is vast and her intuitive skills were the 70’s version of AI. She was a top student in high school and nursing school which made her a valuable resource for us. My grandkids and great-grandkids will be amazed to hear about my mother’s skills. Current day her cognitive skills have not been compromised.
It’s amazing how technology can support subject matter experts (SMEs) these days. As an AI language model, I’ve learned that my ability to process information and generate text can help people think more and type less. When I started my blog, I realized that writing requires a lot of effort and editing. I read a book or two to hone my skills. “Lapsing into a comma “ was one of my favorites.
So I ask myself “What’s the future hold with AI as a tool?”
With the increasing reliance on AI, many wonder what the future holds for education. Will we revert to hand-written exams and no calculators to truly test our knowledge? As technology becomes more advanced, it can detect even the slightest hint of plagiarism or dishonesty. One student experienced this firsthand when they took a college class with a friend and the final exam was a take-home. The student found a case study in the library that was a mirror image of the exam and was able to write it in their own words. However, their friend plagiarized the content and received a D while the student received an A. That student was me. This situation is similar to the experience of Professor Albert Pautler at UB conveyed to me. Al Pautler told me “I had a doctoral student that included lengthy statements from a book written by a friend without any citation or credit given. I emphasized the importance of ethics in academia and how using others’ work without proper credit is considered stealing. I informed the student that he could no longer trust him or serve as his doctoral advisor, and the student ultimately dropped out of the program.” Pautler stresses that all doctoral level students were aware of the ethics surrounding plagiarism and giving proper credit to authors.
Before I started reading, writing was always a challenge for me. Reading helped expand my vocabulary and improved my comprehensive reading skills. I’m still learning. I’m excited to see how AI can improve the quality of my work. However, as with any tool, there’s always the risk of misuse or over reliance. It’s up to us to use AI responsibly and ethically, and to continue to develop our own writing skills and research knowledge.
At the end of the day, AI is just one tool in our toolbox. My advice is to use it wisely to support our goals and aspirations. Early on I found ChatPGT lacks artistry, insight, and compassion and these are critical to effective writing. As technology continues to evolve, I look forward to seeing how we can harness its power to make our lives better and more fulfilling.
On the anniversary of what was dubbed the greatest play in NFL history, Franco Harris was in the right spot at the right time. Luck right? Not at all. That was a surreal serendipitous moment and being in the right place at times is just part of life at times. It’s like Franco was riding a white stallion galloping into the sunset to secure the win and the end of a long drought and the start of the Steelers Super Bowl dominance.
That said, Franco was a dedicated athlete. He was always prepared. A friend of mine always said “Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance.” Franco was always prepared and his sudden death prior to the fifty anniversary was a sad but great moment to relive this story. I was only in seventh grade at the time and still remember watching it with my dad. I’ve noticed a common thread with many of my friends who come prepared. They always seem to always be in a spot to seize the moment. I love reliving these moments with my kids the way I used to experience things with my dad. Carpe Diem and Merry Christmas to all.The Immaculate Reception
I wasn’t much of a reader or wordsmith until I quit my job and started my own business. It was September 3, 1993, my first day starting my own company. It was a similar feeling when my wife and I bought our first house. Some American dreams come true. That was 1993 and I was embarking on my goal to control my own destiny. I was married for 13 years at the time and only had two kids. Regarding reading in high school, I’d get a book assignment and would run to Ulbrichs for the Monarch notes. All my National Honor Society Club friends read things in their entirety.
That first day in 1993. My business partner bought me an eclectic mix of books, “Swim with the Sharks”, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, “Siddhartha” and a unique mix with the philosopher Will Durant and his wife and a few history books which made the reading exciting. All the books had their own unique relevance to what was going on in my life at the time. I had a non-compete to sit out and my walkabout began.
I was pleasantly surprised that these books were so in sync to this “zone” I was in. Armed with a dictionary and a fine point pen, I became an avid reader and autodidact. I’d put question marks next to words I didn’t know and scribble notes in the margins as my mind was curious. I’ll never reach Gore Vidal’s breadth of words but yet I’m sure I’d score better on my English SAT’s current day.
Five years later in 1998, a client was spending a lot of time hiring people from us. Together we staffed her bustling business she was empowered to run and we became close friends. We had an early morning work ethic and would meet early at my office to interview candidates together. We forged a lifelong relationship. She loved the energy of the office. She asked me if I’d like to meet her boss, a rather prominent member of our community and tell my story. How do I turn that down?
My friend hosted a beautiful lunch at a swanky restaurant. What a treat. I was never one to complain about meeting new people and forging relationships. I met her boss and told her my story. She asked me if I read and I could confidently say “yes.” She recommended I read “Atlas Shrugged.” Once I got past page 50 I couldn’t put it down. I still have the original book and the crib notes littered throughout the pages. What I didn’t know then about that book was this.
It was a great time in my life to be introduced to Ayn Rand and her ideology. At the time (1998) I can’t remember a time since a book has had such an impact on my worldview. My own personal weltanschauung. When I look back, I think Rand’s words were so striking at first because there was such a sense of invigorating creativity. Her heroes were strong and unapologetically superior. I was motivated by their vitality. Since then the book is often mentioned as I continue my journey. Most recently with the crash of FTX, the Enron meltdown post 2002 and the real estate bust in 2007.
Two years ago (2020) I found myself going back to Ayn Rand. My Kindle notes were in contrast with my notes back from the 1998 read. On my first read of her book in 1998, I was searching for my own identity. Her”objectivism” philosophy was very helpful at the time. I have read all her books since then.
Time has changed and my needs have changed. What I know now (2022) is I love to read through Rand to remind myself that the most fundamental and undeniable certainty of all is the self. The self is the root of all accomplishments and thoughts. I found Rand was a philosopher that values action over contemplation, the possible over the actual. Hess’s Sid Hartha was another great book relating to the self.
Having worked with hundreds of CEOs including second generation businesses, start-up entrepreneurs and their companies for the past 38+ years of my career, I can frankly say that most of my clients care deeply and those who rely on them for jobs. It may seem like a struggle for some, but it is the way the world is, and as one of my mentors taught me, “people born round don’t die square. Deal with it and make it right.”
I own my own company and employ people and pay people commensurate with what they bring to the party. They are treated like family. That said, everybody doesn’t get paid the same because everybody doesn’t bring the same thing to the party. There are those that don’t contribute. If one is willing to sponge off other people for everything they have, they are replaced and the hard earned money goes towards someone who does more to contribute.
I also work for candidates that are treated poorly and aren’t paid what they think they are worth. For them it’s time to get them to another company and to prove they are worth more and get paid accordingly. In order for that to work they actually have to be worth something and be willing to work. There is a symbiotic relationship between those who can create jobs and those that strive to do better.
As I approach the 30 year anniversary of my company I forever value what we have in this country. I came to appreciate Ayn Rand. She lived in a Communist society. She saw a world when the people in power had wealth and prosperity while the masses suffered with shortages of basic necessities. My mother in law was 13 years old when WW2 ended. She and her family were likely part of the group that had scarce resources and suffered daily after the war. Life in Germany at the time was desolate. She met a serviceman and got out of Germany in 1953. That serviceman died tragically 15 years in. She defined her life on her own. I think that left an indelible mark on her. Ayn Rand and my mother-in-law share a common experience. They came to America and forged a new life full of opportunity and freedom. I think that is what resonates with me. A person who said he never had a chance is a person who never took one. Some American dreams do come true.
I watched this great movie the other day and it got me thinking about the essay I wrote many years ago after I read Hubbard’s short story. Once you watch the video Initiative I hope you have the same humorous correlation it had on me relating to the historical background of Hubbard’s essay. The essay has been reprinted and translated many times, has inspired screen adaptations, and was given to every U.S. Navy enlistee and U.S. Marine in both world wars.
Back in 1996, a friend gave me the book “A Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard which I read on a trip to our office in Charlotte. Hubbard, an American author who believed in rugged individualism, wrote the inspirational essay in 1899. I hope this excerpt plants a seed the way it did for me. As for me, Hubbard’s insights gave me clarity in life and my business relating to just knowing how to get something done. Some do and some don’t.
in·i·tia·tive is a noun 1. The power or ability to begin or to follow through energetically with a plan or task; enterprise and determination. 2. A beginning or introductory step; an opening move: took the initiative in trying to solve the problem. 3. Without prompting or direction from others; on one’s own initiative.
initiative: The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing, and that is initiative. What is initiative? I’ll tell you, it is doing the right thing without being told.
told once: But next to doing the thing without being told is to do it when you are told once. But their pay is not always in proportion.
told twice: Next there are those who never do a thing until they are told twice; such get no honors and small pay.
just lazy: Next, there are those who do the right thing only when necessity kicks them from behind, and these get indifference instead of honors, and a pittance for pay. This kind spends most of its time polishing a bench with a hard luck story.
ignorance: Then, still lower down in the scale than this, we have the fellow who will not do the right thing even when someone goes along to show him how and stays to see that he does it: he is always out of a job, and receives the contempt that he deserves, unless he happens to have a rich Pa, in which case Destiny patiently awaits around the corner with a stuffed club.
To which class do you belong? Eddie Redmayne just knew “how to get things done.”
I was listening to John Tesh radio and he referenced an MIT study on getting a job offer. We’ll get to that in a second. This post has been in draft form for some time as I’ve been biding my time looking for a few additional nuggets. It’s a juxtaposition of patience and pause.
I was refinishing our kitchen table a few months ago and impatient as I was getting I decided to call a friend. In addition to his day job, he is also a master carpenter and furniture restoration expert. I had the table sanded and was about to “slap on the stain” in typical barn door fashion. Wait. I called him. Fortunately for the fate of our table he said “I’ll be right over. Don’t do anything until I get there.” It took an additional investment, environment friendly furniture stripper, a palm sander, and the proper type of stain/seal. I made my second trip to Valu and got “the right stuff.” Three days later I ended up with a beautiful masterpiece. The value of patience and a little advice from a true craftsman.
Speed to benefit is the new norm in the fast paced business world. We all go through life and not everything needs to be so hurried. I used to be an awful public speaker. Well I’ve gotten better because it couldn’t have gotten worse. I recall a friend telling me, “Just pause when you need to pause. The words will come and we’re not going anywhere. Patience and pause. I was doing my dad’s eulogy and a friend told me, “Just pause, we can wait. The words will be right.
Although I was able to keep myself busy, I learned the value of patience and persistence. It was 1993, the year where I started our partnership and honored a non-compete. One day at a time I learned the value of patience as I clicked the 365 days off the calendar. I wanted to create a great business. I didn’t have a smartphone then and the now common occurrence of switching gears and multitasking didn’t exist then the way things are today. 28 years later we’re still making it better.
Patience and pause. Put the phone in the glove box and save a life.
Let’s add the OpEd thoughts. With regard to baseball and golf. They’re running the game as if it was the pace of a cement mixer. These games have slowed to a crawl with practice swinging, looking at putts from every angle and switching pitchers. Speed things up here folks. Look at the put for a second the way Hogan did and move things along. That last putt and the next drive is really what happens in the game of life. And Baseball. They switch pitchers more than Lady Gaga switches outfits.
Thanks to John Tesh’s tidbit on the MIT study, here’s today’s tip. On negotiating a job offer. What happens to the mind and body when you get a job offer? You want the job and have a feeling the money won’t meet your expectations. What to do in a face to face situation. Simply pause and make eye contact. Research proves you might just get more money 10 seconds later with a brief pause.
Ironically it’s in waiting and having patience when many good things happen. So when making something look nice worth looking at, giving a speech, that next business, the next career move, take your time. Patience pays. When looking at that putt, move things along, your friends will appreciate it and leave more time for what really matters, the 19th hole.
Today was the day. The Monday before Christmas. I delivered the Courier Express and my friend Rich delivered the Buffalo News. The Monday before Christmas we’d venture out to personally deliver the calendar for what we deemed the year end holiday bonus.
The Christmas calendar. We received cash tips, other gifts from some like holiday cakes and cookies, nothing from some, and the noticeable generosity of tips from others. The reward you’d get for being a good business person throughout the year. Rich and I delivered from 1973 to 1977 and the stories and memories and tips are stories that last forever.
I’ve amassed a lifetime of stories. If I ever get around to writing my book, it will surely be full of stories. As I navigate the back nine and the Millennial and Z Gen make their mark, my personal storytelling and random thoughts and conversations with friends has propelled my blog posts. The reader or listener is my messenger. How my blog (my stories) makes the reader feel, and how they respond, becomes the core of my story.
I often find myself inserting a life experience into so many conversations albeit trying not to one-up an ongoing conversation. More often than not I find myself telling story after story. Life’s full of cerebral and visceral thoughts and decisions. My brain activates and crafts my own stories to accentuate the situation at hand regardless of a face to face, ZOOM or a good old fashioned telephone call. I keep the stories off of text messaging. Way too long.
I love stories, whether it’s one of my own, someone else’s, articles about people, or books about people. And then there is reading stories to the kids, or as of recently watching my daughter read a story at school for my grandson’s birthday. Stories stories stories.
I often talk about my love for nonfiction and the many books I’ve read, and on the flip side, I’ve come to love some great stories by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Herman Hesse, Elbert Hubbard, Ayn Rand, Arthur Miller and Mark Twain. And then there is the long list of newsprint and magazine articles Iv’e amassed over the years. One of my favorites was brought to my attention by a friend about “The Devil and Roger Federer” by Janan Ganesh. We’ll get to those favorites later.
And then there are stories about the deceasedI. The life story of Paul Volkcer spurred my blog about him and my life since college. I recently read the obituary of a rather well known political advisor Joe Slade-White. Joe was a friend of another close friend, former Buffalonian Rick Reinhard. Rick often spoke about what a talent Joe was. Recently, Joe Slade-White’s obituary was actually a rather great story about him. The obit mentioned his handbook for success with his clients. I was able to find a copy and saw one of the key attributes of his handbook was the art of storytelling.
And oh, moms are quite possibly THE best storytellers.
The COVID pandemic, work remote, and the latest “I quit craze” has employers sharpening their counter offer perks to hold on to top talent. What once used to be taboo in accepting a counter offer is now the new norm as is going back to your old job now known as “a returned employee.”
In addition, add to this as the baby boom generation begins to retire and shrink. The impending crisis of the Boomers departure from the workforce will create an increase in the counter-offer scenario as employers look to be more aggressive in their effort to retain key personnel. Current 2022 labor statistics now show there are more Millennials in the workforce than the Boomer crowd. Throw in current labor stats show there are three million fewer job seekers. Let’s not forget the latest craze of exodus en masse by simply quitting. Even Antonio Brown quit with no notice.
As the first wave of those born in 1946 begins to exit the work force in the greatest exodus ever, Human Resource managers are embarking on a mad dash to hire up. Employers’ current and future agenda will be to shore up work environments and increase stability and employee retention. Regardless of their efforts, candidates will continue to seek out and switch jobs more than ever. The current shortage of eager applicants won’t last forever. The counter-offer, therefore, is an increasingly accepted practice as employee retention becomes even more critical during the current candidate shortage.
Several of the biggest hurdles our recruiters deal with on a day-to-day basis as they assess candidates actual intentions are: How serious is the candidate about switching jobs, do they need to switch jobs, will they actually switch jobs if presented with a viable offer, will a change in jobs be accepted at home, who influences their decision making process, do they surround themselves with level-headed advisers, and, most importantly, are they thinking rationally or emotionally? These are all the things to consider because counter-offers can make it a roller coaster ride for everyone involved. On top of all that, some of our best recruits turn down phenomenal offers for the oddest reasons. And then some go who we never thought would.
Some things I encourage candidates to consider, if they do indeed decide to accept a counter-offer, are: they’ll typically be first out once the tide changes, a merger occurs, new management comes in, or a piece of software replaces their skills. It might take two months or two years, but it is inevitable that the same reason why they wanted to leave in the first place rears its ugly head again. I’ve always believed in not accepting a counter-offer and that’s currently out the window. If you stand for this, you’ll stoop for that. Their boss isn’t going to change. However, what used to be a rare occurrence where a counter-offer works and the person rises in the organization is now common practice. Nevertheless, more often than not, candidates are inevitably back on the search within 6 months. The right perspective is to think rationally. At the end of the day, it typically isn’t about the money. Encourage the candidate to talk to people they respect. They’ll help them to think rationally, because once they’ve crossed the Rubicon and stated their intention to quit; they’ve shattered the confidence of their employer.
Here is what the candidate should consider: Stall tactics should open your eyes. If they didn’t take the time to recognize you in the past, they certainly won’t once the short term fix satisfies your emotions. Why all of the sudden are your frustrations curbed? It’s only a matter of time before the same problems occur. People born round don’t die square. What goes through the company’s mind when you quit? Short term knee jerk reactions typically mask a secretive long term strategy to get rid of you. Ignore the love and pampering. Where was it before? Most importantly, you will forever have removed yourself from the inner circle. Remember, your boss just isn’t going to change; it’s like yelling at a dog for barking. Keep in mind, at the end of the day, it’s not about the extra money or the promises or the sudden attention, you have to trust your instincts and leave for the right reasons, the reasons you had when you decided to leave in the first place. It hurts to leave, but in the long run, your instincts will hold you in good stead. More often than not, the company will replace you when it’s convenient for them, and you’ll be leaving anyway. One way or another, you’re gone.
*Crossing the Rubicon” is a popular idiom meaning to pass a point of no return. It refers to Caesar’s 49 BC crossing of the river, which was considered an act of war.