This is the part of the website where a publicist usually writes a bunch of puffery about me or – worse – I write about myself in the third person.
I prefer to play it straight.
You should know I began my career as a newspaper reporter covering cops and courts.
I worked weird hours. I learned to be a stickler for facts. I learned to write well, to edit better, and to speak candidly. Dead is dead. Safe is safe. A 7 p.m. deadline means 7:00, not 7:01. No weasel words.
I discovered that people tell me things they won’t tell other people because I won’t misuse the information. I became obsessed with why people do what they do. And I developed a journalist’s mixture of skepticism and empathy that still influences my writing today. I have no tolerance for euphemisms or tricks to make people do something they would not do if they had all the facts.
Everything I’ve done since leaving the newsroom – from doing a call-in radio talk show to studying “human resources management” in graduate school to analyzing patterns in the global studies I supervise – armed me with more information to write better books and give people better advice.
Writing books is tough for me. I am impatient. Everything I wrote at the beginning of my career was either published in the next day’s paper or held as a longer piece to run on Sunday.
I am the son of a life-long IBMer, a guy who came from a modest upbringing and who joined the company after one enlistment in the U.S. Navy. He worked his way up to middle management and got his family the secure middle-class life he did not have growing up. My first exposures to the social contract between company and employee were my father’s adages: “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” “Any job worth doing is worth doing well.” And, with good reason, “Stop goofing off and mow the lawn!”
My father worked hard. It paid off. But it had costs. We moved a lot. Having gotten promoted to increasingly stressful jobs, Dad smoked more than usual during my high school years. Just at the point we moved from New York back to Minnesota so he could scale it back, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 47 when he died four months later. I still have the announcement and shirt-and-tie photo of him they tacked to the company bulletin boards. I didn’t give it much thought while writing the “Help Them Thrive” chapter of Widgets, but the edge in that part of the book probably comes from discovering early that no one really leaves the office at the office.
I am easily bored. So is my family. Consequently we take turns egging on each other to go rock climbing, scuba diving, snowboarding, or running in some kind of extreme event. I fly-fish to stay calm. I assume everyone has as short an attention span as mine, and so I try to keep my writing tight.
I have a cool job – a very cool job. I alternate from analyzing employee attitudes to working with the leaders of large organizations to spending a few days at coffee shops writing my blog or a chapter of the next book. My work takes me to fantastic places. I am fortunate. My motivation for writing ultimately boils down to a hope I can use something in my access or experience to help people make their lives at work a little better.
There. Enough about me. Let’s get back to you.