You gotta have character!

Or is it, you gotta be a character?


Waddaya mean they’re not the same?!? There’s only a few letters difference between ‘em!

One is crucial. Vital. Mandatory.

The other could help.


I always like to look at people’s offices & desks to see what I could learn about them.

If everything was neatly arranged & the desk was uncluttered, yeah, the person could be very well organized.

But, for sure, they ain’t nearly busy enough!

(I know, I know, it’s a generalization…but one that I believe to be true “most of the time”!

Also, in my mind (as small & as closed as it may be), unless you’re “way too busy”, then you’re simply just not busy enough.

At least not for me.)

A messy desk showed that the person was usually pretty busy (though there are some charlatans in this area), but I’m not so sure about the effective part.

(My office was a mess, but I knew exactly where everything was!)

And then I had some other stuff in there…

For a number of years, I had a huge framed picture of Mickey Mouse hanging behind my desk.

I wanted to put people at ease when they were in there.

As well as the cleaners.

I had 2 different pen & pencil holders (for which I never actually used the writing instruments themselves).

One had a base that was made out of real cow manure. Honest to God.

Yes, it was shellacked pretty well & would also serve as a great conversation piece!

“Hey, take a look at the piece of shit on my desk! No, not the Monthly Executive Summary…the non-smelly one in front!”

*extra points if you haven’t been offended by my penchant for sarcasm yet*

And then, there was this 2-gallon award from the NY Blood Bank. (They later detected something in my liver when they were screening my blood & since it was the 2nd time it appeared, I was forbidden to ever donate again & became persona non grata at every donation site.

I can’t even set aside my own blood for my own future use!)

I’ve been accused of getting blood out of a rock (despite the ol’ adage), but now…

I’d always hang or tape stuff from kids. Drawings, thank you notes, just about any little thing would brighten up the place.

And, of course, lots & lots of chachkas!

Don’t you dare say, “What are those???”

A chachka is a trinket, a cup, a bracelet thingie, a souvenirs, any little thing that are usually given out as a remembrance of a special event or achievement.

You attended a training seminar or completed a special course…at the end, they sent you back with a chachka or two. If your company has a new slogan or is holding a special promotion, they’ll use distribute “branded goodies” to the employees. You USCCers surely remember those li’l piggies!

When you’ve been around for awhile & get to do a lot of different stuff, you accumulate quite a few chachkas. And if someone says “Wow, that one’s interesting!”, then you offer to let them “have it”.

Literally, not figuratively (🧔🏻  🥊).

I always wanted my own mini fridge & coffee maker, but I figured that would appear to others as being a bit too pretentious & stuffy.

An efficiency improvement, without a doubt, but I couldn’t risk being accused of being a snob.

Loved the big white boards!!!

I remember one day when Ken Olson came into my office. (Very rarely did my bosses ever come into my office…ah, they were probably afraid to face me on my home turf.

But, somehow, they’d always shake their head.)

Loved Ken.

Anyway, Ken comes strolling by. Great guy.

“So, Mike, what do you do all day?”

I pointed to the 2 multi-line phones I had on my desk.

“Well, I’m on a whole lotta conference calls with NY. (Besides the Retail Bank, that’s where the centralized support units for the entire country were located: Marketing, Systems, Sales Planning, Service, Legal, Compliance, Loss Prevention, etc., all areas with whom I interfaced on a regular basis.) Often times, I’ll have 2 of them going simultaneously so I need both sets to try to pay attention.

“You get used to it.

“And then…(pointing to the 40 or so projects & programs, for which I represented the entire USCC, written all over this giant white board)…these are all the projects I’m managing for the USCC.

“That’s besides my normal job. That’s why I need Michelle (Boone)!

“You’re more than welcome to come take a look at my schedule on Outlook if you’d like.”

He just nodded his head & left with a “Good to see you’re staying outta trouble!”

Yeah, right…

Ya gotta keep ‘em guessing, especially when they have way too much time on their hands. That’s when they can be most dangerous.

And I would so LOVE visiting my people’s cubes with all their plants & pictures of their loved ones & notes to Mommy & awards/ribbons they’ve received, etc..

It was a great ice-breaker as we could just dive into “their world” for a few minute and share stories about some personal effects of which they were so very proud!

Lemme tell ya sumthin’…

When you look back over your career, it’s certainly OK to use “business success” as a barometer for measuring YOUR OWN success as a manager.

Totally appropriate. Completely valid.

But if you wanna know how well you did as a LEADER, then you must recognize that the “people factor” is ENORMOUSLY important!!!

I don’t give a rat’s ass if you always came in under budget (🙋🏻‍♂️)…wrote the best reports in the history of the written word (🙋🏻‍♂️)…surpassed standard for every single KPI/Key Performance Indicator (🙋🏻‍♂️)…invented the damned ellipsis…and walked on water!

BTW, when it wasn’t frozen.

Did you try your best to create & maintain a good, healthful work environment for your people?

Were you concerned if they were happy?



Improving themselves?

Did you set aside some of your time just for them?

Did you listen to their issues, ask for (demand?) their suggestions on what to do, then work together with them at developing some possible solutions?

Did you share in their joy?

Feel their pain was “stuff just wasn’t right”?

Take all those business-related performance metrics, mix in a HUGE dose of PEOPLE, and that’ll tell you how you did as a LEADER.

True dat.


Thank you so very much for listening!

P.S. In case you were wondering, this (… 👈🏼) 3-dot thingie is an ellipsis!

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