Friday, April 15, 2011

Impress For Less The Digital Way

Ok - so it has been a very long time since I have updated this blog - The Pelican Report staff has gone on to better and busier things neglecting the very essence of what we originally set out to do. So I have come out of semi-retirement to comment on something you might find interesting.

Since most of our readers are young professionals, and have long dismissed since us as dead, we here at The Pelican Report felt it fitting to make this edition all about advice for those early in their career who might know a thing or two that their bosses don't but otherwise who really don't know Jack! So if you haven't made a total fool out of yourself in a meeting well above your pay-grade yet then you are either lucky, really new, or just not on anyone's radar. Any of which we can help with. So sit back, pay attention and you might learn something. But what do we know anyway?

Best Regards,

Drew V. Davitian

The Pelican Report

Issue 2.1, April 15nd, 2011


How to impress a boss who has seen and done everything with $50 bucks and an Internet Connection.

Before the Armenian curly haired bad guy bastardized the it in the pre 300 pound Steven Segal sequel Under Siege 2, Louis Pasteur coined the quote, "Chance favors only the prepared mind."

Eric Bogosian used the saying while ordering a henchman to detain an adolescent Katherine Heigl, which is the only reason I watch the movie when its playing on TNT. Louis Pasteur, however, had more noble and salient intentions in his lecture at the University of Lille 156 years ago. Louie was talking about the scientific field of observation and we will again bastardize the famous quote to fit it to the purposes of this article.

In 2011 for a new hire, "chance favors only the prepared mind" means pay attention to the details around you and remember them - you will get your bosses to take notice if you can communicate the not-so-obvious from time to time. Example: I do a lot of research and presentation building for my superiors. When we were recently working on a large merger I was given a presentation turned to a single page and told to recreate that page and add some of our internal information to it. I did so but I also read the rest of the prezo which outlined all of the steps, financing, marketing initiatives and corporate structure of the post merger company. A few days later I was able to deliver some of that info in a meeting where quick answers were needed. For each subsequent high level meeting I was asked not only to provide full research and advice, I was actually introduced to the full C-level post merger leadership team and I was even asked to present on my division in the due diligence proceedings. Long story short I went from a small support role in a small organization to a decision maker and advisor in a much larger organization: in 2 weeks!

There is a first rule that has to be in place to make any of this possible and we will discuss that now.

Rule 1: you are young - there are a few things you know how to do that your bosses don't, become an expert in these things and incorporate them into your work.

There is a reason I was asked to build that one presentation slide: I create attractive and functional presentations. When I was brought on as a full time employee I presented a marketing plan to my management team. I briefly covered internet marketing, e-mail and lead generation campaigns & offline strategies. It was as good as it could be for someone who doesn't know Jack but I made it pretty. Very pretty. I spent the time to ensure the layout, graphic design, pixilation and grammar was flawless. The CEO saw that presentation. I had done no other work for him directly since that presentation, as a matter of fact I don't think he knows about half of the work I even do today. but that presentation made enough of an impression on him that 5 months later when he needed something done well, he thought of me.

Rule VI (obviously we are not following an accurate numbering system here) Make your boss look good and your bosses boss look better.

This I stole from a book called How To Be CEO - good book, and I'm going to bastardize this one as well.

Look at your next pay check. If you are like 95% of the rest of North America you probably don't work directly for the guy who signs your check. Ok no one signs my check payroll comes ACH, but my expense checks do come with a signature. He's the bosses boss. I do everything in my power to make him look good. Even if it is taking the blame for something that was really his fault. Something business related in front of the rest of the staff, not something illegal. My bosses boss trusts me because my boss does. He takes me to lunch and teaches me because I make him look better. I say nice things about him behind his back to customers and employees alike. I do what he asks when he asks and I'm never too busy to take on more.

That's incidentally the final point, and an important one. Always be willing to do special work for the boss, any boss. If you are just the new guy but you want to be the new hot shot, then you need to be willing to work like a dog until someone notices you. I propose that you probably don't know what working like a dog really is. It means working hard and very smart. It means coming in at 7 am when you have to and working till 7 pm that day, that week or every day if the need be. If your boss doesn't notice your efforts and you really think you are working like a dog, then go find another decision maker and work like that in front of him, or her. Someone will eventually notice and your job description will grow. Notice I say job description, not salary. First they will pile on responsibilities, then when you deliver you will become an integral part of the organization i.e. no one is going to fire you. then you can ask for more money. The caveat here is that you really have to be doing super human job here and you have to know that they know that.

Monday, April 26, 2010

****** UPDATE ******

The 20 essential requisites of a guerilla marketer

as stated by Jay Conrad Levinson

1. Commitment

2. Investment

3. Consistent

4. Confident (customer confidence in brand)

5. Patient

6. Assortment

7. Convenient

8. Subsequent (revenues will be)

9. Amazement

10. Measurement

11. Involvement

12. Dependant (affiliate marketing)

13. Armament – technology

14. Consent

15. Content

16. Augment – business

17. Congruent message

18. Experiment

19. Enlightenment (sharing of knowledge)

20. Implement

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

As 2009 comes to a bittersweet end many of us are looking forward to a new year of hope and opportunity in the spheres of work, personal growth and entertainment. For the last twelve months we have been faced with difficult decisions, tests of character and the tumultuous consequences of the not so symbiotic relationship between fear and greed. In our third and final installment of the holiday edition of The Pelican Report our contributors would like to focus on the brighter side of things. We would like to present a few tips to help you get through the holiday season with as much enjoyment and as little hassle as possible. Without any further delay I present the holiday edition of The Pelican Report (part three of three).

Drew V. Davitian

The Pelican Report
Issue 6, December 22nd, 2009


Cute Loot – Last Minute Accoutrements That Say It’s The Thought That Counts (In A Good Way)

Hug Salt And Pepper Shakers

$30 ($27 for members) -

Psycho Bunny Polo Shirt – Aqua

$85 –
Scrolling LED Belt Buckle II

$ 25 –
Fortune Cookie Cuff Links

$95 –

The Weekend Jaunt to NYC Ensemble

Lately it seems that everyone we know in Miami is taking a quick winter trip to the Big Apple. To help out our jet set male friends we are offering a montage of pieces that should keep them warm, cool and fashionable for two days in the city (and allow them to go carry-on to boot).

Cole Haan Topper with Merino Zip Out Bib

$650 –*1*24*-1*-1*2
H & M Autumn Collection Blazer & Slacks

$60, $40 –

Not available online
Nordstrom Smartcare Traditional Fit Dress Shirt (White, Blue, Pencil Stripe)

Fine Merino Solid V-Neck


5 Indispensable Rules For The Holiday Workplace

1. Limit yourself to 2 drinks (or less) at all holiday parties. – We’ve all seen him, the drunken guy from accounting breathing all over the cute receptionist, or the wafer thin copy girl stumbling from cubicle wall to cubicle wall; even the boss may get messy and loud after too many scotches. You can avoid a bad hangover and embarrassing morning after moments the like by just passing on the alcohol at the office holiday party. No one will notice except you and maybe the cute receptionist who you can now confidently rescue.
2. Avoid holiday sweaters, ties, pants and all other novelty items. – Most etiquette guides speak of how a man or women’s conversation should be remembered after a party not his or her clothing choices. Rest assured though, no matter how eloquent or charming you may be, if you sport a bedazzled Santa tie to the office for any occasion, you will look like an ass.

3. Never show up empty handed. – Taking the time to procure an item before arriving to someone’s home, party, evening out etc. separates those who have class from those who don’t. A bottle of wine or flowers is an easy and inexpensive standard, but a bit more creativity can make an incredible, lasting impression.

4. Keep a toiletry bad close at hand. – The holidays mean lots of impromptu festivities with different food and drink, long celebratory lunches and the opportunity to share a more casual back and forth with managers and executives up the chain of command. These events can be perfect opportunities to distinguish yourself as a leader in the office, but that is not going to happen if you breathe the morning’s onion bagel breath on your Executive Vice President. (You should Never, Never, Never eat anything with onions in it at work, Ever.) You should have these things in close reach at all times: tooth picks, floss, mouthwash, mints, facial wipes and hand sanitizer. We avoid recommending cologne as a defense against those who will douse themselves in it before meeting the CEO thus momentarily making the hallway smell like the dressing room at a gentleman’s club.

5. Never show up too early, or too late. The rule of thumb here is between on time and thirty minutes late; no later and no earlier! Show up too late and you might as well have worn that bedazzled Santa tie because you will look like an ass. Show up too early though, and you may inconvenience your host who must now entertain guests as well as set up the event further adding to his or her stress.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thanks for reading the holiday edition of The Pelican Report (part two of three). This week we will delve into music and literature to complement our usual stay of business and fashion. In the spirit of the holidays, many of the items mentioned in this week’s report make great gifts… Ahem, in case you weren’t aware, we like getting gifts too. But without further ado we humbly present the second installment of The Holiday Pelican Report, enjoy (or don’t, it doesn’t matter to us).

Drew V. Davitian

The Pelican Report
Issue 5, December 13th, 2009


The Best Web Resources For Downloading Electronic Music (and they’re free, well most of them are)
One of the greatest resources for DJs looking to fill out their digital music bags and amateurs who just want to lose themselves in a spiritual, spiral beat is, the quintessential e-store where tracks range from 99 cents to $2.50. The hands down coolest thing about Beatport, other than its extensive list of purchasable DJ top lists, is the broad range of remixes available for most current tracks that suit any mood, beat or tempo.
Who would have believed a DJ popularized by BPM on XM would make the cut, but the extensive Podcast list from Darey and streaming mixes from his famous and usually kick-ass guests just rock. Check out the Nocturnal 226 Podcast which we think is quite possibly the best set Darey has ever put together.
Now we all know You Tube is the best resource for cute animal and fat people falling down videos, they’ve made many a boring class much more interesting for us. Unbeknownst to many though, You Tube’s progressive search engine and extensive network of music uploading aficionados makes it an excellent resource to seek out hard to find tracks, even if you don’t know the tracks actual name.
Now this is the site to end all sites, especially if you like progressive house and breaks. Started in 2003 as a site to share Hybrid live sets, has become a mass database of live sets from some of the greatest DJs and live electronic acts on the planet. The loyal and knowledgeable fan base that frequents the site is instrumental in the updating of play lists which trumps many professional pay sites. The absolute best part is, it’s all free. It’s just people who love music, making music for people who love music. (In our humble opinion, the best sets are those uploaded by Way Out West between 2005 and 2007.)


Books You Should Read Before You Learn How To Live

These novels have helped shape who we have become here at The Pelican Report and regardless of your age, if you haven’t read them you should. (If you have it might be beneficial to revisit them too.)

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller – One of the first books I lost myself in, Catch-22 engaged every facit of my senses. I swear I could taste the heavy salted Mediterranean air while balking at the idiosyncratic nature of Milo’s “syndicate” at the same time feeling an affinity for Yossarian’s plight. This book taught me to question the authority and the futility of some things.

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov – This torrid and completely taboo love story taught me how, sometimes, love shatters boundaries but eventually all things end. Like Milton’s Paradise Lost, Lolita coerces the reader into falling for the Antihero, the perpetrator of lascivious and unspeakable acts. Nabokov does this through an amazing mastery of the English (his third) language. Frankly, you must read this book.

The Catcher In The Rye – J. D. Salinger – Salinger creates the teenager like no one else I’ve ever read: the duplicitous nature of trying too hard and yet not enough to grow up. This relatively short but incredible story speaks to the teenager that is still in all of us. A fitting comparison would be William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. You’ve probably read this book but maybe it is time to read it again.

Matilda – Roald Dahl – This book sold me on reading. I read Matilda eight times in two years, in a period when I hated reading. How aptly witty Dahl’s meter is and his simplistic comical brilliance exudes from every page. This story should grip the child in anyone with its wide eyed and mystical views of the world. Harry Potter has nothing on Matilda, though when the movie was finally made, it was a total disappointment.

Books You Should ReadBefore You Die

For the mature part in all of us, the part that pays bills and polishes cufflinks, we must remind ourselves to remain teachable, or we die. The mastery in these novels (and poems) can sheer through the barriers created by the jaded experiences of adulthood. The lyrical bliss, pain and bewilderment contained in these pages should be enough to through anyone back into a juvenile curiosity.

Slaughter House Five – Kurt Vonnegut – I’m not sure which notion is more frightening, that this incredible journey of delusional characters and fantastical situations was spawned from Vonnegut’s brilliant but sordid head, or that much of this story is based on his real life experiences. Slaughter House Five is the novel that brought me to the dramatic realization that truth and reality can be lucid terms. Vonnegut, in searching for an explanation of his own life, has helped the reader find theirs and anyone who is closed to this notion should again flip the stale paperback pages of this amazing journey.

Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov – Yes our dear friend Nabokov is talented enough to appear on this list twice because as time passes we often need a refresher in life lessons. Where Lolita taught us about the insidious power of love and lust, Pale Fire reeks of beauty. A conundrum in itself, this novel speaks so powerfully, without saying anything at all. As many critiques claim this novel to be a trap door to catch those who enjoy pigeon holing, we here at The Pelican Report say read this story because its perfect in its sickness, and deranged in its beauty, like all good works of art.

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell – This book is a department from the previously mentioned works of fiction but in so being, also a must read. Gladwell claims his goal to be to help people, who generally suffer from overexposure to experiences with a lack of theory based analysis, to make sense of it all. He does this by suggesting “organizing structures” to interpret the data swimming around all of us. What this equation produces is incredibly witty and insatiably tenacious writing that engages the reader so strongly, he or she feels guilty to put the book down. I found myself comparing every one of his diagnoses to my thoughts and behaviors, is this me? Or is this me? Gladwell has clearly mastered the ability to see through the noise in his analysis and presentation of viral growth and everyone should re-spark their imagination and creativity whether it be in business or personal growth by reading this book.

Kubla Kahn – Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Before I knew much about literature I liked poems. I liked poems because they were short and, at the time, I thought easy to read. I liked poems because my brain had to do the work and not my eyes. I was a lazy reader, not a lazy thinker. I was blessed to have amazing teachers and professors along the way who quickly showed me the complex and sometimes infinitely blooming nature of poetry. Poems peel like never ending onions; they blossom like cavernous rose buds, with pedals of lyrical symmetry. In my humble opinion we cannot talk about poetry without mentioning dear old STC. You should read Kubla Kahn before you die, essentially because it is sometimes considered the greatest poem ever written; a perfect poem actually. In its perfection (like Pale Fire and Lolita) it expresses the inherent tragedy, or perhaps the Catch-22 of life: in its perfection it is categorically flawed. This divinely inspired poem written by Coleridge, as he woke from a Laudanum induced dreamscape, was interrupted half way through transcription and was never finished. Coleridge spent years trying to remember the next stanzas and couldn’t. What we are left with for all eternity is part of the only perfect poem ever written, entitled A Vision of a Dream: a Fragment and in this title lies the bittersweet nature of perfection in all things.


Sunglasses To Combat The Winter Glare

Whether you are stuck in Upstate New York, Chicago, or still basking on the sultry sand of South Beach into late December, eye protection has never been more important or more stylish. Sunglasses are one of the few accessories that truly offer function to match the form (watches we concede do as well). We’ve scoured the internet to find the very chicest shades, whether you are looking cool on the ski lift, shoveling snow, or tanning on a yacht in off the coast of Marbella this winter.

Miss’ Dior Black And Pink Gold Glasses
N/P –

Metal Wrap Frames, Seal + Purple
£ 190 –

Classic Aviators
N/P -

Medium Square Frame, With Gucci Logo
$295 –

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Welcome to the holiday edition of The Pelican Report (part one of three). It seems that from the end of November all the way into the new year we are inundated with office parties, festive occasions and gift exchanges so we might as well jump on into the spirit, If you can’t beat 'em, join ‘em, so to speak. In this week’s installment we are going to look at a broad range of items, from gifts for him and her, to the secret (and lost art) of effective letter writing. We’ve brought the Investing section back for this issue and we’ve always got some interesting other tricks up our sleeve for your reading enjoyment. For our readers who caught the last issue of The Pelican Report, you might have noticed that, Google Business Apps, one of our featured web based resources for small businesses, was featured on a CNBC special as the future of business (and municipal) computing. (Hey, a broken clock is still right twice a day.) So without further ado we present the fourth installment of The Pelican Report, you should read it, but what do we know?

Drew V. Davitian

The Pelican Report
Issue 4, December 4th, 2009

Personal Business
How To Get Anything You Want And Help The People Giving It To You: The Lost Art Of Letter Writing.

When I was about ten years old, my mother opened a box of cereal she purchased from the store and there were bugs in it. She then wrote a letter to the cereal manufacturer and about a month later we received a written apology along with a box of every cereal that manufacturer made. This was a smart play all around, my mother felt satisfied that the company was willing to right the wrong, the company kept a customer and received vital information that may not have otherwise made its way back to management through the store or customer service channels.
This is the key to getting what you want. Whether you’d like to see a discontinued soft drink back on the shelf at your local supermarket or you are unhappy with your latest purchase; don’t bother with customer service 1-800 numbers, go look up the CEO of the Company and write him or her a letter; you will be amazed by the response.
Smart CEOs (most CEOs are pretty smart) know that everyone in the corporate hierarchy to some extent is guilty of padding the truth, brownnosing is the non PC term. It is often difficult for them to truly identify issues in production and distribution or what the customer really wants through market research so they welcome personal customer feedback and reward it. If you don’t believe us, try it. Do this experiment: Find something you recently purchased and are not happy with, determine who the CEO of the company who manufactures it is and write him or her a letter expressing how the product or service does not meet your expectations. This will only take about twenty minutes of your time and you might find you’ll receive praise for alerting the company to its deficiencies and an extreme willingness for them to make it right.

Perfect Holiday Gifts For The Professional On Any Budget

$20- $40

For Men
Wireless Shower Speaker Set
$40 – Available at

For Women
Coach Signature Picture Frame Key Fob (Style 92594)
$28 – Available at

$200- $400

For Men
AD Coin Carbon Fibre Cuff Links
$275 -- Available at

For Women
Tiffany 1837 Padlock Cuff, Bracelet
$225 – Available at

For Men
Samsung 55” Series 6 LED HDTV
$2,570 – Available at

For Women
NCL 7-Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise aboard the Epic (Villa Suite)
$2,600 – Available at

Online Resources
The Best Websites For House Hunters
National Home Management Solution is the company in charge of marketing foreclosed properties that were originally underwritten by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This site lists an incredible amount of detailed information about HUD properties that are up for auction, including full property condition reports. The website also allows house hunters the ability to place bids on those properties making it a resource for those looking for income investments (because they are HUD properties, they are generally in low income areas).
This website boasts the best searchable map application for real estate on the internet. It’s also one of the easiest sites to search price changes and sold properties for comp purposes. The school rating resources and city statistics are also the best online.
Similar to Trulia, Zillow is a great web-portal for new home and condo sales. Its design sorts properties by city that pop up in windows on the map to improve view ability. The easy to use click buttons make sorting through different preferences to update your searches a synch and the question and answer forum is an excellent resource for new buyers.
Brickell Village Realty is a South Florida local realtor with a relatively simple web portal. Fortunately, though, it places house hunters into the MLS system to search for properties in a way usually only reserved for realtors. The functionality of the website is highly advanced though it is simple to use. This is definitely an excellent source for both buyers and renters.

Keithely Instruments: An Unlikely Partner For The Future

Founded in 1946 as a testing equipment solution for government scientists, Keithley Instruments (KEI) has been at the forefront of the tech industry for over sixty years. While it is generally easy for tech companies to flash and burn out Keithley has found its market to continually develop, especially over the last 20 years. Besides the fact that the company is well managed and allocates a large percent of its budget to R&D, Keithley has an incredibly strong cash position and even stronger balance sheet. As demand continues to increase for consumer electronics throughout the recovery, demand for Keithley instruments will increase and coupled with the company’s cost saving initiatives; Keithley is poised to make substantial profits for 2010. Look to hold the stock for over a year to see quality returns.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! This week in The Pelican Report we’d like to focus on the entrepreneurial side of business. Anyone who has tried to open and run an office knows the perils involved and so we’ve offered resources to defuse some of the stress. Fashion wise we’ve thrown in some updated options of one of the most classic pieces in men’s and women’s fashion, the camel hair polo coat. In keeping with the spirit of the holidays we’d like to thank our readers for their feedback and, as usual, welcome everyone to let us know what you think.

Drew V. Davitian

The Pelican Report
Issue 3, November 26th, 2009


The Best Online Resources for Entrepreneurs

Fifteen years ago the internet was just beginning to fall into popular social use. Computer nerds and geeks still communicated through BBSs and one of the few options normal “non-techies” had to explore this new medium with was the per minute cost structure of America Online. At this time the World Wide Web was really just a collection of resources for coders and non-interactive web pages for companies looking to create a presence in this new platform. Today the internet provides resources, point of sale locations and hundreds of other functions to billions of users. It has become a way to garner maximum exposure to niche markets with minimum cost and the entrepreneurial market is no different. It is in this light that we have compiled the best online resources for entrepreneurs who are looking to get the most bang for their buck when starting a new company.

Free Education For The World – In 2008 Jack Sandler Bloom, an adjunct professor at Harvard Business School, started this online social network based platform, the goal of which was to provide free education to the entire world. As such, the first endeavor, a no charge (non-accredited) MBA program works by posting video lectures on a weekly basis and students can complete assigned projects and submit them to a messaging board for peer review.

Google Business Apps (Premiere Edition) - For those budding entrepreneurs who do not want to spend several hundred dollars a year per employee to provide e-mail, chat, interactive calendar and online document resources Google offers a more functional alternative to Microsoft exchange software for $50 a year per user. The site boats over two million companies that use these apps and with support for an unlimited number of employees it’s a cheap way to forge expansion. – “Living large on a small budget” is the perfect blog presence for entrepreneurs to reach millions of value conscious customers and it can give some great pointers for those trying to run a lean business as well.

Intuit QuickBooks Free software – In a recession you can’t beat free and that’s exactly what QuickBooks is offering their basic software for. The only difference between the free and the full version is the free version only allows you to track and invoice up to 20 clients.

US SBA Small Business Planner – This government sponsored site provides almost every resource a prospective or new business owner needs to set up, get started and eventually get out. With links to demographic sites and grant possibilities this should be your first stop when trying anything new.


The Camel Hair Polo Coat: 100 Years Old And Still Cool.

In 1910 the polo coat was imported to the US from England. The original coat was sold only in white wool, but shortly thereafter the coat started to appear in grey wools and finally camel’s hair. This jacket bloomed in popularity first in the northeastern cities then moving westward until it became an international classic wardrobe piece for both men and women. For this issue, we’ve showcased a few options at different price points for both men and women so everyone can own this luxurious, classic piece.

Italian Camel Hair Polo Coat - $898 –

$1000 +
Darci Baby Camel Hair Coat - Sale Price: $1399 –

Andrew Gn Lace Coat - $3990 –

Camel hair topcoat - $400 –

Golden Fleece Camel Hair Polo Overcoat - $1198 –

Home & Office

The Anti-cubicle: Chic Office Furniture On A Budget.

Most everyone has been required to occupy a bland off white cubicle at one time or another. The most frightening thing is that some people will spend their whole working lives in a cubicle staring at those taupe, fabric covered dusty walls. For those of us lucky enough to escape that disastrous fate, we can meet our own end with cheap, office supply store, particle board furniture. Not everyone can afford designer ultramodern Armani Casa digs, but for those of us with a little style and on a budget a plethora of new options have emerged. Studies show the average middle managers office is 8X10’ and the following pieces inhabit a functional workspace, that will fit in your office and will keep you refreshed from 8 am through burning the midnight oil.

Markus Swivel Chair - $199 –

Scoop back chair - $99 –

Parsons Dining Table/Desk - $399 –

Phantom table lamp - $99 –

Metal boxes - $22 - $34 –

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanks for checking out the second issue of The Pelican Report. This week we’ve got another line up of interesting articles you might be able to learn something from, but what do we know? To become more enjoyable for our readers we have rearranged our format; investing will now be the last section of the report but definitely check it out! LDK (featured in last week’s report) is up 30% already, man are we lucky or what. We would like to again emphasize that if there is something you want to know about or something you’d like to comment on feel free to post it either here or on our Facebook page. I promise we take criticism well. You can also follow our publisher on Twitter (DVDAVITIAN) but he isn’t that interesting. So sit back, relax and enjoy issue #2.

Drew V. Davitian

The Pelican Report
Issue 2, November 19th, 2009


How To Deal With a Dysfunctional Work Environment

We’ve all been in this painful situation: Everyone in the office is readying for combat. Cubicles are surrounded by sandbags. The battlefront has been drawn next to the water cooler and spies and double agents scour no man’s land for snippets of information to be used in the next battle. Office politics in a dysfunctional workplace can seem just as emotionally volatile as a warzone and these situations have dire consequences. There is a reason “going postal” is mentioned in management and human resource classes today. Here are five tips to help you navigate the chicanery whether you are a natural born leader or a hostage.

1) Build Personal Integrity

It is difficult to stay above the petty office disputes and back stabbing if you can’t internalize that you are better than it, and that is an inside job. Take pride in delivering what you say you’ll deliver on, don’t engage in maladapted office politics and you won’t have to worry about what she said about you to the boss’s secretary, you just won’t care. The boss will notice too.

2) Set Boundaries

When I was in elementary school I used to get picked on and never retaliated. One day I lost it and hit a kid back, knocking him unconscious. For the next two and a half years no one bothered me. It was not the right thing to do, but I essentially set a boundary. Predators at work look for people incapable of defending themselves and then they swoop in for the attack over and over. If you’re the kind of person who has trouble standing your ground remember it usually just takes once and you’ll never have to deal with them again. Choose a strong yet professional tone that carries with it an air of disciplinary parenting and finish your statement with “do you understand” like your pandering to a child and you shouldn’t have a problem with that co-worker anymore.

3) Become the Office Patriarch/Matriarch

The office patriarch/matriarch is the one pulling the strings. They are often the consigliore to the boss and while they may not make ultimate decisions they usually have the power to quash a project, hiring or firing that they do not agree with. This position in the office carries with it immense influence as this person is often the go between for management and staff moving back and forth with impunity.
This is a skill play, meaning you must be able to influence others and garner respect as a leader even if it is not you official role in the office. To fulfill this objective you must be likable, have a broad range of knowledge on various subjects and carry favor with the boss and his boss. If you can achieve this unofficial title in the office political arena you will be rewarded with immunity to any office dysfunction. People will be on their best behavior as to not alienate you and your leadership will set the tone for office decorum.

4) Volunteer to Help Update the Employee Manual

You would be surprised how outdated policies and procedures usually are for small and mid-sized companies. These books need to be updated annually and you can accomplish several things at once by requesting to take on this project. First, you express to your superiors that you are a proactive troubleshooter and that you can identify future issues and try to mitigate their occurrences. Second, you undertake a project with a specific, tangible, value adding product, and one that should go in your portfolio for your next performance appraisal (tangible products are always more powerful in a review than intangible efforts). Finally, you position yourself as the person who creates the details of what constitutes harassment and lackadaisical work effort, specifically the punishments for each. This last benefit can be what legally requires your un-concerned boss to have to make an effort to re-gain control of the office, thus restoring sanity.

5) Quit

Remember the previous ideas (and many others like them) are just suggestions that, in the right situation, can help improve the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of the work environment. They are not guaranteed fixes. Sometimes, if an office culture is too far gone, or spiraling out of control, the only sane option is to quit, with or without going Dolly Parton on the boss’s ass. Just try and make sure you have something else lined up first, because unemployment is not going to cut it.


The Best Online Resources for Budding Chefs

This site is just Awesome! I’ve been using for cooking inspiration since I was 16 and I’ve never been disappointed. While many of the recipes are quite sophisticated, the selection of how to videos and library of decade’s worth of culinary information are unparalleled on the web. Check out the classic French bubble top brioche recipe for some unfathomable deliciousness.

For those of us who have exceptionally refined pallets there is Dean & Deluca’s online portal, This website has an incredible selection of gourmet meats, cheeses, seafood, hours d’oeuvres and baked goods. Though if you are on a budget, choose carefully. Check out the selection of cured meats they are literally “to die for”.

As the crowned king of Cajun, Emeril Lagasee, would say, “oh yeah, baby!” The Cajun grocer is the go to source for everything New Orleans. If crawfish is your fancy they can overnight ship you the creepy crawlers. If Alligator suits you, they’ve got it twelve different ways. For those of us who aren’t as adventurous, check out the Mello Joy Coffee and Andouille sausage, I’ve never had anything more satisfying.


Masters of the Universe: The White Cuff & Collar Dress Shirt

I don’t care what anybody says Gordon Gecko dresses like a bad ass. The 80’s stigma of “greed is good” may have no place on Wall Street anymore and “TARP wives” may be carrying their newly purchased scarves out of Hermes in brown paper bags to avoid the media blitzkrieg, but that’s no reason to throw out the fashion with the bath water. For those of us who aren’t at the helm of failing banks the white collar and cuff are signals of classic, capitalistic ambition; you know the kind this country was built on. For this very reason designers have been releasing updated styles of this 80’s throwback for a few years now and we’ve scoured the web for some of the best.

Thomas Pink Pale Solid Blue, Slim Fit, Men’s Dress Shirt
Available at --'s-Shirt---Double-Cuff/99911045

Ermenegildo Zegna Pink Striped Dress Shirt
Available at --

Golden Fleece Framed Stripe Luxury French-Cuff Dress Shirt
Available at --

Canali Men's Cotton Pinstripe Dress Shirt with Barrel Cuffs
Available at --*6*24*-1*-1*10


Media General: Don’t Call It a Comeback

Media General (NYSE: MEG) is a company that operates newspaper publishing houses and cable affiliates in the South East. The company makes most of its income from advertising revenue, specifically from automobile companies and regional auto dealerships. Like many other corporations, Media General got the wind knocked out of it between October 2008 and March 2009. Ad revenue tanked leaving the company in a fearful cash flow position and the stock traded as low as $1.25 as a result. In July 2009 the company made some difficult strategic decisions reducing workforce, fixed costs and selling off business units. These moves gave the company enough cash flow to stay solvent through the re-organization of the GM and Chrysler and now those companies and Ford are returning to their advertising partners like MEG. The stock had a nice run up in the last few months and is currently trading in a channel between $8.00 and $11.00. MEG is another underrated stock, though due to its exceptionally high beta (2.9) it can be a volatile play. Look at channeling this stock until the end of the year paying careful attention to the revenue growth of the big three auto manufactures as our statistical analysis shows significant correlation. If top line growth in auto revenues persists, look for a break out in MEG stock price to as high as 14.00 and beyond in the new year, but be sure to follow your order with a trailing stop of 10 or so percent to protect against downside risk.