Like a little fun in your business day?
In the belief that the greatest wisdom comes wrapped in a little humor & delight, we offer to the hard working community BartsBooks Business Quips. These weekly witticisms poke a little wry and revealing fun at everything from cherished misconceptions to bluderfully bizarre marketing trends.
Our Business Quipsmeister Bart pronounces such gems as:
“Marketing is the art of pinning pears to an apple tree and selling them as exotic.” Then he follows it up with a wry and revealing Afterthought which affords the reader/listener a little takeaway tool to ponder. Sound like fun? For a free subscription email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who believe that the greatest wisdom flies in most agreeably on the wings of laughter, we weekly offer the utensil of a scriptural reading from 101 Best Business Quips and 102 Best Business Quips. A few of our latest favorites include:
Begs in One Askit
The key to borrowing money lies in the opening line. For example, “Gee, this is almost as large as my Dad’s bank,” always makes a good ice-breaker.
Afterthought. As opposed to, “I don’t really need this loan, it’s just that my crypto currency assets are currently tied up in NFTs,” never sounds quite as impressive.
For the Fun of It
Watching carefree children play, laugh, sing, and make up games, makes me realize how important is it for us adults to hasten kids into the mature world which we have so successfully created.
Afterthought. Could it be that these young students harbor a few lessons for all their frazzled teachers?
Nose to the Phone
My friend was planning to trek to a Tibetan guru to discover the meaning of life, but he canceled after learning there was no cell reception in the Himalayas.
Afterthought. Marching to the beat of your own drummer just got a lot easier – now that there’s an app to dictate and count your steps.
U.S. Retailers are begging for another half-billion square feet of warehouse space because they cannot sell their goods at today’s inflated prices. Could there possibly be another solution?
Afterthought. Wall Street Journal editors are roundly blaming consumers for the plight of retailers who must now shell out to shelve goods they have overpriced. I mean, gee, folks, you can’t expect supply to actually bow to meet demand. Imagine how unfair it would be if stores had to lower prices for quick sale.
No Pay Today
Buy Now – Pay Later plans are all the retail rage. And like most post-pandemic purses, mine allows me only to transact the first half of the process.
Afterthought. Even sellers of heroin typically allow new customers to take home the first sample for free. But no matter how enticingly distanced the payments are spread, you’re still on the hook to pay the piper in full – along with a mighty blast of late fees if you miss a beat.
In Phones We Trust
We have evolved into an age in which we expect better life mileage from our smart phones than from the wisdom of a college education.
Afterthought. Of course, if you spend four years of valuable college lectures texting instead of scrutinizing the knowledge lavishly rolled out for your consumption, this hope for electronic salvation may be justified.
The Panics of 2022
What I cannot understand is how the Federal Reserve’s raising interest rates .25 percent absolutely mandates a 10 percent surcharge from all my suppliers and a 20 percent plunge in the value of my portfolio.
Afterthought. For centuries the stock market has fluctuated according to fixed laws of emotional myth. Law #1 is that every financial quiver is horrible and must be met with a hyperbole of wild selling off and price gouging. Make sense?
The New Traffic Quick Fix
Transport companies have banded together and finally come up with a new solution for all those autos clogging our highways: The public can mortgage themselves to the hilt and have just enough cash to either buy a car or pay for the gas to run it – but not both.
Afterthought. Myth has it that America’s romance with its automobiles will keep folks paying any price for transport. But now that we are putting that belief to the test, you’ve got to wonder how long the romance will last.
Our son has just graduated with his masters in propaganda, and a minor in public seduction. You should see the job offers rolling in.
Afterthought. When you live in an age where communication is focused more on persuasion than enlightenment, you may be certain that values are weaker and leaders more desperate, and truth will be murdered in the streets.
Tar Pit Investing
Private equity is a most exciting method of generating paper profits – the problem comes when you try to pull out with a fist full of real cash.
Afterthought. The operative missing link in equities is “Exchange.” All those ready buyers for your shares only seem to appear when the enterprise in which you’ve plunged your money, has plummeted in value.
Our Ill-fitting World
Globalization is a stack of paper coffee cups made 11,000 miles from your table, placed beside plastic coffee lids that don’t quite fit made by another manufacturer from another nation which is currently at war with the first.
Afterthought. Too often, distance is the friend of thrift and the enemy of customer satisfaction. Sometimes it helps to have both Peter and Paul in the same room when considering the finished product.
The Policy of Numbers
Bad scientists, like bad marketers, mistake data for wisdom and solutions. That’s why we have good philosophers and CEOs: to set them straight.
Afterthought. The problem with amassing overwhelming buckets of data and then weighing each bucket to mandate your decision is that this process – however popular – bypasses human thought. And decisions that employ brainpower always seem to work better.
Our company has a very biased, intolerant personnel policy. We fire lazy and incompetent employees with no regard to their race or religion. And we promote men and women for no other reason than their capability and achievements.
Afterthought. This is exactly the sort of bigotry that takes hold when all you want to do is the best possible job.
The Perfect Entre
It is amazing how much help people will happily lavish on you when you are not trying to sell them anything.
Afterthought. The business community’s ranks are currently swelling with social entrepreneurs – those seeking to make their mark less by accumulation than by contribution to humanity. And interestingly, these entrepreneurs never have any trouble getting folks to take their calls, or hear their pitches.
In Whom Do We Trust?
Academicians duel with swords of sheepskin; business folks bludgeon with catapults of cash; yet victory most often goes to the entrepreneur armed only with an original idea and gumption.
Afterthought. For the techies amongst us, “sheepskin” is a medieval term for an educational diploma. That said, do you trust the person with the most education – the most cash – or the one whose heart and hands burn with creative fire?
The Final Spin
Retirement affords you the time to re-write your own history and deem your career a success.
Afterthought. As my wife’s husband always says, youth’s a blunder, old age a regret, then senility’s bliss allows you to forget.
Slave Wagers Revolt
Hmm…the vast majority of unfilled jobs pay below minimum wage, while the higher-paying employment numbers are gaining greatly. This labor shortage is a real puzzle – at least for economists.
Afterthought. If you really wonder why lower-income folks who now have higher paying employment opportunities no longer want to serve you French fries, allow me to ask, “are you smart enough to hold your current job?”
My supervisor says he “doesn’t do small talk,” meaning the only topics of importance are the ones he brings up.
Afterthought. If you don’t listen, you don’t learn. But that’s OK – most of the people who associate with you don’t have anything interesting to say anyway. Wonder why that is.
Behind the Façade
Our poor CEO has become so aged and feeble that he’s incapable of getting anything any more, except his own way.
Afterthought. Just because there’s a mask of wrinkles in the grin, does not mean that a sly fox isn’t lurking within.
It’s a Sure Thing
Gamblers who develop “scientific” systems to win at the roulette table are called crackpots. Gamblers who develop “scientific” systems to win at the investment table are called financial advisors.
Afterthought. Much as we’d desperately love to claim guarantees in stock trading, the market’s two major rulers remain, as ever, Fate and emotion.
We had to let Judy go from her customer service job – she kept giving all the customers everything they wanted.
Afterthought. Fortunately, we were able to replace Judy with the new WearemDown program that leads those pesky callers through a labyrinthine tele-maze until they hang up in disgust and vow never to deal with our firm again. Our CFO says that’s the most cost-effective way to “handle” customers, so it must be good.
Sad But So
Our company owners are campaigning hard to raise the minimum wage for its customers, just so long as they don’t have apply such raises to their own employees.
Afterthought. Those earning the current federal minimum wage are bringing home 18 percent less in purchasing value than 10 years ago – the last time the minimum wage was raised. And all our wise & masterful economists can’t figure out why people just don’t want to work anymore.
A Matter of Currency
It may be far easier to gain access to the purse than to the heart this Holiday, but then again the profit from the former always looses to the latter on the exchange rate.
Afterthought: Perhaps the value advantage of heart vs. purse lies in the currency of the profit.
Turn It Off
It’s tough to be a seeker of truth when most of your days are spent drowning in a sea of information.
Afterthought: Today the average American will receive 3,000 persuasive messages from all forms of media – and that’s just the persuasive ones. Can the applicable truth we crave still come creeping in when we unplug?
Follow the Entrepreneur
The reason entrepreneurs can spot potential faster than old, established firms is that the former’s vision is fixed on the horizon, while the latter can’t lift his eyes over the bags of money he’s already earned.
Afterthought: Do both young an old have a tinge of greed? Oh heavens yes. But I’m putting my money on the one governed more by hope than fear.
Kicking Life’s Tires
I can now buy my automobile online, sight unseen. But with all the errand-running apps on my phone, what do I need with a car?
Afterthought: It is rumored that you can learn a lot by lifting your eyes from the screen occasionally and literally taking life in your own two hands. But I’m not so sure – sounds scary to me.
My Little World
Those folks who walk through life with their headphones on will hear only what they want to hear – or at least what they think they want to hear.
Afterthought: Let’s see: birds joyfully singing, strangers awaiting to become friends, potential workout partners at the gym, the sounds of nature, and your own creative thoughts…or, listening to some pundit’s tape on how to get more out of life. Hmm, which should I choose?
Progre$$ing to Profit
That fool who just doesn’t seem to understand progress is probably not benefitting from it nearly as much as you are.
Afterthought: ‘Tis amazing how often society’s forward motion is judged by how well our individual wallets are swelling at the moment.
It’s Only Fair
The quality of government is a simple matter. Good government is when our company gets juicy contracts. Bad government is when we have to fork over our share of taxes to pay for other company’s juicy contracts.
Afterthought: If you don’t believe that good schools, well sustained roadways, police protection, and disaster rescue should be paid for with your tax dollars, perhaps you believe that such vital benefits are best performed by little flitting fairies who come each night and create them with no cost to your firm whatsoever.
Some things just work – like giving a woman diamonds. You don’t know why – they just do.
Afterthought: Doing unto others what you would particularly like to have done unto you, is a caring way to operate. But sometimes it’s more effective to listen – really listen – and learn what others truly would want, even if it seems their wants seem a bit odd to you.
I now do all my shopping online during our business Zooms. Then, when it was time for my presentation, I discovered the rest of the team were doing the same thing. Boy was I offended.
Afterthought: The goal is to live in the present – not two presents at once. Even if you were not raised to be courteous, you may just find that actively listening to all others around you will prove to be in your own self-interest.
The Call of the Couch
I always shop for my exercise gear online. It saves me the trouble of that long trek to the mall – with all those stairs.
Afterthought: In the last two years, 80,000 retail stores have declared bankruptcy. Apparently online-addicted American consumers are finding it too strenuous to trek to the mall for their running shoes and exercise bicycles. But what will your FitBit say?
The More Things Change…
Currently we face a shortage of semi-vital goods. The problem is new, but the scapegoats remain ever the same: the Chinese, too much technology, lazy American workers, and bureaucrats.
Afterthought: The causes of what’s wrong with this world are heirlooms we cling to dearly and pass on from one generation to the next. It’s just easier that way.
The Traditional Cover Up
My attorney always wears a mask when he hands me his bill. It somehow seems appropriate.
Afterthought: I guess it’s only fair. Attorneys have to make more laws, so the rest of us can remain legally off balance, and come begging for their aid in explaining the laws they’ve so complexedly created. A person’s gotta do what he can to keep himself in business.
Telecommuting allows me to simultaneously juggle the pressures of work, family, and home all in one cramped office. If it weren’t for the short commute to the fridge, it’d be unbearable.
Afterthought: ‘Tis ironic that everyone cheers when they can flee the office and begin working at home. Then when offices open up, coworkers all flock joyfully back into their old desks like, well, old folks coming home.
Wanted: an employee who currently does not feel that his ancestors, ethnicity, gender preference, or anything other than smart/hard work makes him/her worthy of promotion.
Afterthought: The absolutely best attitude to carry across the threshold into your workplace is that you deserve nothing – yet…but just watch me prove myself.
It is true: an Ivy League education really does lead to high-paying jobs. You should see the jobs my wife and I are taking just to pay for our son’s Princeton tuition.
Afterthought: With all America’s children heading back to live schools and universities, their parents’ Covid career vacations have come crashing to a halt. Back to the salt mines, Mom and Dad.
“My realtor wants to “millennial stage” my house for quick sale. So now the dining room and workshop are featured as “spare computer workspaces with chandelier and nail gun outlet.”
Afterthought: For folks who feel at home only in the virtual realm, not much is required of a house except that it provides ways heat pizza, cool beer, and keep devices dry.
We live in an era where it is considered crude to display any pride in one’s gender – unless, of course, it is not the one you were born with.
Afterthought: What is marvelous is that we are encouraging folks to freely display whatever dress, language, and behavior suits themselves as they see it. Let’s just hope we can extend that open acceptance to all – regardless of whatever they select.
The current employee shortage has a simple solution. Just keep encouraging media to dangle more frivolous luxuries in front of those stay-at-homes, and we will have them transformed back into wage slaves before you know it.
Afterthought: It’s a tried and true solution that never fails. Or, I suppose, we could pass a law mandating every credit card be paid in full, on time.
Buying Sight Unseen
Purchasing online is so convenient. I can now buy everything from my meals to my automobile online – and if I don’t like it, I just send it back…at my own expense.
Afterthought: And don’t get me started on the environmental disaster of sending each individual retail item from manufacturer to the purchaser in its own wrapping, delivered via the gas-guzzling truck of the fulfillment agent.
What this firm needs is an alternative energy solution – not for our building – for our employees.
Afterthought: Enthusiasm, like innovation, is amazingly contagious. Any employee can catch it from his CEO. (Providing the CEO has been infected.)
Genderless & Humorless
She asked me, “What are your pronouns?” So I replied, “Well my Pro-nouns are ‘Hunk’ and ‘Best Beloved’ and it would tickle me if you could use them together when addressing me.”
Afterthought: Yes, there is a certain smug show of independence by insisting that you be addressed out-of-category. But if you truly want to define yourself in others’ eyes, try filling your days with acts of caring and courage – then the appellations you seek will surely come your way.
We have strategically empowered a value-driven, customer-centric communications innovation which embraces utmost diversity while retaining entrepreneurial agility….and it flies like a pig.
Afterthought: Popular buzzwords are the varnish applied by the unsure to sell nonsense to those terrified of original thought. Test: do any of the above words carry authority in your judgment?
Blinded by Greed
“I can never understand why my company’s hourly employees just don’t show the same enthusiasm for making more profits for my firm as I do. My shareholders can’t figure it out either.”
Afterthought: This puzzled business owner’s inability to walk in her workers’ shoes is the type of attitude that has made aggressive unions an absolute necessity.
Wisdom: Long & Short
Most management consultant’s advice may be boiled down to a single, wise sentence. But stretching it out into an entire book allows them to justify those more satisfying fees.
Afterthought: And unfortunately, my dear, driving home most consultants’ vital wisdom into most managers takes an entire book plus several seminars before the distilled essence is absorbed – and practiced.
Necessity’s Unfunded Father
If everybody were given the opportunity to pay taxes only on those governmental programs they deem absolutely necessary and beneficial, there would be no IRS to collect them.
Afterthought: Every major venture, be it nation, notion, or corporation, demands a long list of unpopular, but vital functions to keep all the parts moving profitably along. They are the parts that slogans and simple solutions ignore, and whose absence ensures collapse.
When established firms with upwards of $1 billion in revenue scam their customers by overbilling and double billing, they may politely dismiss it as “computer error.” Firms with fewer assets committing the same practices are justly accused of running “confidence games.”
Afterthought: Alas, companies of all sizes and reputations employ such dishonest revenue enhancers. Despite the popularity of such ethical lapses, the most satisfying buck to make remains an honest buck.
What do you call that guy in your firm who always had the best ideas, but was never listened to? Call him “that new competitor who is taking all our clients.”
Afterthought: Of course, if your firm were smart, you’d be calling that guy “our new board member.” Creativity brushed aside has a way of bubbling up to bite you from behind. If you, Ms. Executive, are not encouraging your team, you are fostering competing entrepreneurs.
Your Skewed View
Hindsight has always been 20/20 but it has recently become true that 2020 is now always hindsight.
Afterthought: Yes, we are entering a new era. But then again, we always are. May it dawn for you not by calendars or change in leaders, but from a new enthusiastic re-creation burgeoning from your own precious soul. P.S. This quip was supplied courtesy of the razor-witted Rick McKee whose wry & sly comments keep me ever gorged with insight.
Our company has just appointed a Director of Innovation. Thank goodness. Now the rest of us don’t have to worry about coming up with something new.
Afterthought: “Innovative Group” is the new jargon for the old “Creative Department.” Nothing new about it – same old dress with a new label. Of course, in my firm, we don’t have a thinking elite. We ask everybody to envision new improvements. And we listen to all of them.
…So after the first hour of our weekly departmental Zoom meeting, it slowly dawned on me that none of these people in the gallery were from my company.
Afterthought: If you spend enough time online, you begin to notice that the words are the same, but the faces have somehow changed. Oops. Time to hop outside, onto my bike and, feel life again.
Endlessly Breaking News
It has been documented that if every high school student in America was to spend as much time studying as his parents spent reading post-election commentary, every child could qualify for an ivy league scholarship.
Afterthought: We may invest our time any way we choose, either hammering out our own personal course, or reveling in the critiques of distant dramas. As said, ‘tis a free country.
Tricks, Treats & Masking Up
We have two political parties in America – one wears a mask covering only half the face.
Afterthought: We voters are a funny lot. We keep saying we want to know the real, true candidate – but then we go right along as we always have, voting for the image over the issues. Could it be that we are forcing our politicians to mask up?
Truth & Numbers
I firmly believe in two statistics: first, that 98 percent of all businesses in my profession pay their full of share of taxes; and second, that 87.4 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
Afterthought: Isn’t it amazing how sticking a number in front of some wild assertion seems to make folks believe in its authority?
The Price of Nose Rings
Those holding an unassailable integrity seem to prove themselves particularly pesky to those who have already sold their own.
Afterthought: Whatever price you were paid to betray your own beliefs or neglect the common good, you were robbed. There is not enough wine in all of France to begin to barter for sacrificing your individual self.
Legislative Greed index
I’m not saying my Senator’s a corporate lapdog, but he measures the nation’s economic health solely by the PWCP – his Personal War Chest Payments index.
Afterthought: Yes, there are politicians who give a completely personal meaning to the term “Fortune 500.” But, cynics aside, they remain a minority – as do the corrupt businesses buying their votes.
The difference between incurable techies and ordinary computer users is that the former truly believes all devices are friendly and all errors are human.
Afterthought: When your Zoom suddenly shuts down your video, your butt makes a phone call to your ex-spouse, or your trusted and familiar photo export process suddenly decides to change the rules, can it be your fault? Or are the Tech Deities testing your true faith?
As the Ball Falls…
I have found, after many New Years, it is much better to make resolutions for others to keep – then blame them when they fail to live up to my expectations.
Afterthought: Perhaps the only resolution worth keeping this year is to diligently seek out more joy than we did last year. It is indeed out there – why not seek it out and revel in it?
Joy To Our World
This year we have witnessed so many of you laboring generously to lift up your fellows.
In this season of Hope, may that spirit which has guided us thus far continue to grow and may we all discover the joy which accompanies it.
Bart Jackson and the whole BartsBooks team
What’s on Your Wrist?
Amazon (‘natch) has just released its wearable device that continually tells you what emotions you are feeling. I look forward to the upgrade when the device will simply have the emotions for me.
Afterthought: I’m not sure that this is what Socrates meant when he quoth that the unexamined life is not worth living. Doubtless, this vital tech-piece will sell wildly to all those individuals who truly do not know their own minds.
The Brilliant Solution
If you come up with a brilliant solution, you are a respected consultant. If you can persuade others to happily implement it, you’re a good manager. And if you dare to risk every asset you’ve made thus far in trying it out – then you are CEO material.
Afterthought: To grow your firm, you need all three. Unless, of course, you are an entrepreneur – then all three positions fall on the shoulders of one overstressed individual.
Polishing Your Position
What this company needs is more executives who view their title as a responsibility, rather than an avenue to privilege.
Afterthought: Does being raised to Director of Marketing scare you a bit? It should. The pesky thing about titles is that, unless they’re entirely empty, they carry a daunting challenge. And a good leader knows how to confer the excitement of that challenge with the honor.
Knowledge is committing to memory the original ideas of many other people. Creativity is inventing something useful like the wheel, again. You need both.
Afterthought: Academics tend to take great pride in their massive bodies of accumulated lore, while business folks get promotions for disruptively exchanging this old system for this new one. Maybe these groups should talk.
Us vs. Stats
Recent politics, by so many unfortunate examples, have taught business one valuable lesson – ‘tis far more effective to make your appeal to real people, rather than statistical clusters.
Afterthought: No one likes to be treated as part of a category. So, I won’t buy your product because I am a Millennial any more than I’ll vote for you because I am a female war veteran. But if what you’ve got will solve my problem, son, I am all ears.
The Cause of Applause
Too many modern music composers strive to create pieces that are innovative and disruptive, rather than pleasing. Unfortunately, too many business product developers are following in those footsteps.
Afterthought: Satisfaction may come from expressing yourself in your creation. Pride may swell your chest when you come up with something original. But if you want folks to applaud & buy it, maybe you should try considering what appeals to them.
Distance + Rate = Savings
I was planning to buy the new, low-priced, all-electric car to save on fuel costs…until my Wife pointed out that all our food is delivered and my work commute consists of 37 steps from the bedroom. So I bought a new FitBit instead.
Afterthought: Miraculous technology may be worthy of admiration, but ‘tis not always worthy of investment, until you’ve carefully studied the marketplace.
An Army of One
Now Covid has banished us to locked-down laborers, I sit at home, no one calls, no one visits. My gods, I’ve never accomplished more in my life!
Afterthought. One of the most neglected skills in our educational system is the art of living productively, fulfillingly alone. But Wow. I am ever amazed at how swiftly and creatively folks are learning this self-reliant art. Go to it, tiger.
Bells & Whistles vs. Function
Marketers design products with ever more appealing claims. Engineers gleefully add ever more complex technology. So my new wheelbarrow counts my steps, includes a digital readout – but has no handles.
Afterthought: The customer thinks he wants a product that is simple, fast to set up, and functions dependably. But marketing knows better. He really wants confusing add-ons. After all, marketers have remote surveys with data piles to back up this complexity trend.
Covid’s Career Confinement
Jeff Bezos says any team you can’t feed with two pizzas is too big. But I just got hired by Google and my “team” has just been fed a Happy Meal and two bottles of wine – devoured all alone in my home office.
Afterthought: My congratulations to each of you who keeps the discipline to labor alone, unsupervised. Yes, today’s technology allows everybody to tap keyboards at home and still be pulling on the same rope in the same direction. But just watch me catch on fire when I can at last sit down, clasp hands, and scheme with my fellow dream chasers at the workplace.
Payroll Protection Unplanned
Our state has just formed a commission to make sense of the federal Payroll Protection Plan. US Congress folks are willing to fund it, on the condition that the commission is able to explain it to them.
Afterthought: The Payroll Protection Plan’s generosity comes with more strings than the New York Philharmonic’s violin section. One beauty salon owner we know gleans 52 cents free and clear from her PPP check – to cover the month of July.
Since the February 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns, US bicycle sales have soared 300 percent, time spent reading books has risen 34 percent, and consumption of spirits shot up 23 times the norm. I can only hope that Americans are not indulging in these new excesses simultaneously.
Afterthought: Apparently Zoom is not accounting for all our spare lockdown hours.
E.U. Marshals a Plan
The European Union has issued a ban on any US citizens setting foot on European sod. However, the same edict made it very clear that for US dollars, the gates stand wide open.
Afterthought: In bygone days, the only way for the Old World to get its hands on New World cash was to invite us to bring it over in person. But now, thanks to electronic investment, they can enjoy our funding without enduring uppity colonials face to face.
After two hours spent reading the manual, I tried to load the new program; failed miserably; and gave it to my son. Thirty minutes and nine tries later, he had it up and running. There’s a great lesson here, I just don’t know what it is.
Afterthought: One of youth’s great advantages is the marvelous inability to distinguish failure from experimentation. ‘Tis a sign of maturity to hang onto that gift.
The Anvil of Experience
Fail once, and folks will call you unlucky. Fail three more times and they will brand you a looser. Fail four more times, then succeed once, and they will call you an entrepreneur.
Afterthought: Before Henry Ford’s wildly profitable Model T automobile, came his poorly received models A through S. Hang in there, tiger.
The recruiter told me my new firm treated all employees like family. After three months of coworker infighting, listening to my boss’ grievances, and being blamed for others’ mistakes, I fear I must agree.
Afterthought: All business is personal – that’s the good and bad news. At least, in the workplace, you can always maneuver yourself into an adoption by another clan.
As Others See Us
One little embarrassment keeps emerging in this Biz-by-Zoom season: I spend more time online seeing my image as others see me, and for that vision, I offer my humble apologies.
Afterthought: Based on my face, my fellow Zoom mates must be a forgiving bunch. However, they do keep noting that my office needs a good cleaning – could that be a hint or a metaphor?
Taking the Drive Shaft
That turn-around specialist we hired really knows her stuff. In one year we went from marginal profits into receivership, while she shifted herself from a Volkswagen into a Lamborghini.
Afterthought. It’s easy to inspire someone to work for her own self-interest. But to structure compensation that combines her benefits with your firm’s goals – that takes some careful planning.
Since our Creative Director quarantined himself in his office back in 2012 – it’s worked. Not one new profitable idea has infected any person in his department in all that time.
Afterthought. The best laid plans, like a fine symphony, develop in layers, with each person’s idea joining in and swelling to a masterful chorus. Unapproachable managers who cut themselves off from their fellows oft go astray.
The Debt Handler
After amassing oceans of debt and stiffing all his company’s contractors, my brother-in-law finally declared bankruptcy. He claims this will make a great resume punch when he runs for political office.
Afterthought: There really is no spin needed for the bright, dedicated, and honest public servant. Thank heavens we have so many of them.
MBA + Crystal Ball = ?
My broker has just put me onto a Market Analyst – you know, one of those Armani-clad, financial scholars who studies the past to predict the future with great authority.
Afterthought: The best two courses of study for the investor remain a) the company behind which you intend to place your life’s savings, and b) the track record of each “expert” selling advice. Hint: Conservative dress does not necessarily indicate cautious investment tactics.
My son can’t balance his checkbook or pay his credit card bills. But he sorts each of his purchases into categories and makes colorful pie charts on his iPhone. Isn’t there a career for him somewhere?
Afterthought: Such marvelously theoretical skillsets call to mind the professions of financial planner or international economist.
In business, the latest rave is to communicate by story telling. In grammar school the latest rave is to teach children the art of launching businesses. So Dad & Daughter may now share homework.
Afterthought: “And that, my best beloveds, is how the elephant got his trunk and was able to sell its contents at a 300 percent markup.” (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling.)
You’re Aging When…
In youth, your finances cannot keep up with your enthusiasms; then in age your joints cannot keep up with your enthusiasms.
Afterthought: And you know you’ve reached middle age when you deem every enthusiasm of the young as inappropriate.
Education by Degrees
Alexander the Great conquered half the world and died at age 33. Imagine what he might have accomplished if he has spent those years obtaining a Ph.D. and an MBA.
Afterthought: I’m not sure when formal education’s “preparation for life” must make way for actually living life. Perhaps it’s different for each individual.
Whatsamatta With Kids?
Today’s children are no more obedient to the behavior schemes we lay out for them than they were in the ancient days of Socrates. It must be the kids’ fault.
Afterthought: Children want to play enjoyable games, wander, and learn only things that interest them…you know, all those things we’re told we can do in retirement.
At Age 10, I bought my first share of stock. It was my ticket to witness how the power of emotion drives the fiction of finance.
Afterthought: The only real fools in the market are those who insist that investing is a logical science whose secrets willingly unravel if you just crunch enough numbers and data. Blithely they ignore greed, excitement, fear, and all humanity, at their own fiscal peril.
The Payback Legacy
If you really want to punish your heirs with climatic irresponsibility, try making just the minimum payment on all your credit card statements.
Afterthought: Long after you have shuffled off this mortal coil, unpaid credit card debt, with all its usurious interest rates, can become the gift that keeps on giving to your children and theirs. Kind of makes you want to shoulder responsibility for both our atmospheric and financial environments, doesn’t it?
Today’s media offers us a menu of three fearful terrors: those you can buy your way out of; those you can vote your way out of; and those that may be safely avoided by clicking the “off” button.
Afterthought: Once you get past the product ads encouraging you to purchase serenity, and the mud-slinging campaign ads that persuade us to choose the evil of two lessers, it’s amazing how few of the remaining horror tales delivered for our pleasure are worth the fear they seek to drum up.
Women + Men = Equality?
My wife finally explained feminist equality to me: All men are equally oppressive and stupid; and all women are equally superior and supportive.
Afterthought: Of course, this thought drips from the pen of a white, happily married male, so I assume I’ve probably got it wrong. Guess my sole advantage is that I can take jokes without taking offense.
Dream De’ja Vu
Pilot, firefighter, musician, ballplayer, world explorer… Funny how all those childhood careers we dreamed of before getting “sensible” seem to return as we face retirement.
Afterthought: Life, my friend, is very democratic – we each only get one shot at it. Maybe this is the day to dust off your dreams.
Phony Phish Story___
After two years as targets of Nigerian “bank” phishing scams, our company just today received its first Chinese ransomware threat. Finally, we’re playing in the big leagues.
Afterthought: Granted, a person/firm may be measured by one’s enemies, but cyber attacks are no laughing matter. Best tip heard to date: ‘tis great to set up prevention and reporting protocols, but what response plans have you laid in place for when the bandits actually breach the gates?
Real vs. Virtual Cheer
Every time my “Buddhify” meditation app buzzes on my phone, I plunge it into a pile of crisp broccoli and call a friend to go out for a beer. This app really works – I feel more in touch & alive already.
Afterthought: Yes, there actually are apps that instruct you how to find yourself by staring into a screen. But those precious times spent in the company of good friends proffer a sense of serenity and well being that all technology is powerless to bestow. Cheers.
Life is a Resume Punch
I asked my parents for a puppy for Christmas. Dad gave a conditional yes – as soon as Mom can determine which breed will look best on my college application.
Afterthought: Probably the breed of dog doesn’t matter. Most dogs respond more lovingly to a short leash and a tight regimen than our children seem to – for some strange reason.
Super Sales Bowl LIV
Super Bowl: a contest, employing the world’s most superb athletes as a backdrop, in which corporations compete to release each viewer’s inner consumer.
Afterthought: As a follow up, for those who really enjoy athletics, look for the astounding contortions these companies will go through in a few months to avoid paying the tax bill on the resulting profits.
One Master – One Slave
Every phone should own a human. They are excellent beasts of mobility, plus they can be trained to keep you charged, maintained, and broaden your horizons with an endless array of apps.
Afterthought: As phones grow in size, doesn’t it appear that the people addictively clinging to them seem to grow a little smaller – and less interesting?
Sure as dath and tax evasion, you will die with your “To Do” list unfinished.
Afterthought: If you are working like hell and you look at your “To Do” list and find you are falling further behind each day – You have only one choice – Tear up that damn To Do list. (And while you’re at it: hoist a brandy, kiss your lover, and conspire a new life beside a roaring fire.)
Teetering on the Top
The gentleman on top, who disdains and belittles those laboring under him to create his wealth, is like the arborist who takes a saw to his own ladder.
Afterthought: My congratulations on your rise to the top, my friend. Just remember that fickle Fate played a greater role than you probably realize in lifting you temporarily up. And appreciation to those folks who sustain your lofty position is the wisest attitude.
After 300 episodes of The Art of the CEO radio show, I still don’t who is smarter: those business masters providing the wise counsel – or the listeners sharp enough to seize and act upon it.
Afterthought: All I really know is that every week for the last six years it has been my privilege to chat with an array of exquisitely talented individuals. And it has been my joy to share their insights with you – who have taken your precious time to listen. My many thanks.
Data vs. Truth
The surest way to steer clear of the truth is to seek it with a survey. Do you a) Strongly agree; b) Don’t care; c) Strongly disagree?
Afterthought: Force-fitting folks’ opinions on complex issues with pre-crafted questions and a limited number of multiple-guess replies has become a favored form of ammunition for bolstering decisions executives have already decided in their own minds.
A Thanksgiving Warning
Turkeys in the oven cost about $1.29 a pound. But turkeys in the C-suite can cost a quarter of your entire year’s revenue.
Afterthought: ‘Tis always better to eat turkeys than promote them. (Or, of course, you can pardon them.)
Polishing Your Star
The trouble with self-promotion is that it only works when someone else does it for you.
Afterthought: No sound grates harsher than that of someone reciting the patter of his own little feats. The far better bet is to offer your efforts in a way that benefits another and let the surprised recipient o your gift be inspired to give you credit.
Dysfunctional Family Business
She was the sort of entrepreneur who on her deathbed would sell her daughter the family jewelry.
Afterthought: And her husband probably proposed to her by selling her a share in their engagement ring. Alas, greed is ever the enemy of romance.
Our Board’s annual hindsight review comes down suspiciously like thunder critiquing a lightning strike.
Afterthought: Advice from those on the sidelines always holds the greatest value when it is suggested as a warning to the fellow at the forge before he has begun to raise his hammer and create.
America boasts more consultants per acre than any other nation. It is easier, after all, to point the way than make the journey.
Afterthought: Rather than a sign of laziness, America’s numerous consultants indicate a culture filled to the brim with innovative ideas – that, like fine wines, happen to travel well.
To become a company’s CEO, you must be popular. But to become that CEO’s administrative assistant, now that takes hard-earned credentials.
Afterthought: The great difference between a corporate Chief Executive Officer and almost any other job in the firm is that no one is quite sure of the skills required, nor the exact actions we want the CEO to take. All we’re concerned with is the results – by whatever magic our fearless leader chooses.
A Matter of Choice
Most young people spend less care on choosing their initial career than on the clothes they will wear on a hopefully romantic evening. Good to see they have their priorities straight.
Afterthought: In our hearts, all of us know that whatever way you earn your daily bread can seem like a joyful slice of heaven if you have the right mate at your side rooting for you.
The Profit Igniter
The marvelous thing about profit is that it forces those who seek it to treat more carefully those who make it for them.
Afterthought: And if you really seek profit eagerly enough, you will eventually come to that too-rare bit of uncommon sense that your profit seems to grow in direct ratio to how personably you engage and reward those laboring to create it.
In the old days, companies pitched their products using endorsed, insincere superstars. Now they employ data-driven talking machines. Both annoy the consumer, but corporate marketers seem to trust the machines more.
Afterthought: Too many marketers never seem to get it. Show me a high-value, thoughtfully made product of which you are personally and justifiably proud – and I’ll open my wallet. The rest is striptease.
The Art of Retail
Fortunes are not made by selling it cheaper than the competition – but by discovering some way to buy it cheaper than the competition, and charging what the market will bear.
Afterthought: Sam Walton’s first Bentonville store sported toiletries at half the prices of any retailer in Arkansas. Sam achieved this by a) after months of searching, discovering an unknown low-cost manufacturer, and b) making a six-hour round trip to the factory to pick up the toiletries three nights a week.
More Talk Than Action
The Open Office allows workers to communicate, mutually engage, develop team spirit – in fact do anything except perform productive hard work – to do that, they must go home.
Afterthought: ‘Tis a marvelous goal to have workers labor and brainstorm together. Just remember that the creative mind flows at its freest and most productive when it is offered a non-distractive atmosphere.
Growing to Death
Growing your firm bigger takes sweat. Growing richer takes brains. Alas, performing the former does not guarantee the later.
Afterthought: Profit is the goal – growth is merely one possible avenue. The number of businesses that have expanded themselves into bankruptcy is legion.
The Art of Aiming Low
Technology is the process by which humankind’s ultimate quest is continually lowered from the pursuit of wisdom, to the pursuit of data.
Afterthought: The nice thing about basing one’s decisions on data (the numerical results of others’ efforts) is that it forms such a lovely scapegoat and avoids the onerous chore of original thought.
The Price of Being “Liked”
With today’s social media, you may now buy “likes” with dollars. Unfortunately, the reverse is does not seem to prove true.
Afterthought: Social media provides an excellent opportunity for breeding awareness of you and your business among total strangers.
And while that makes a nice first step – there is a whole journey you must undertake to transform awareness into sales.
Overflowing a Board Seat
He knows nothing specifically and has an opinion on everything generally – that clearly points him to a seat on the board of directors.
Afterthought: Wisdom comes from amassing a field full of specific knowledge, then climbing on a 300-foot ladder to gain a generalized overview of this reality. Of such abilities are great CEOs made.
The Improbable Dream
Fortunes are made by investors who doubt the enterprise’s probability, but revel in the dream of its possibility.
Afterthought: Without a doubt, the best ROI your invested dollars can earn is a bit of excitement in your life. Bucks alone are boring.
Value Among Thieves
Instead of jailing the guy who hacked into our system, our CEO has decided to bring him on as consultant. After all, he’s the only one who can remember all the company passwords.
Afterthought: I have so many files that are secure from myself and almost no one else that I’ve started backing up al my files on paper – in a big box with filing system that I understand, but would boggle any hacker. Seems to work.
Know Thyself – Sort of
ID badges symbolize your organization’s disbelief that you are who you say you are. They are especially prevalent in government offices.
Afterthought: You know you have arrived, when the mention of your name is automatically followed by your latest achievement, (John, the guy who saved our…”), rather than the category on your identification badge.
There is no greater indicator of falsehood than the sentence beginning with, “Everyone in this age group (or gender or economic level) wants…..”
Afterthought: Stat-happy marketing wizards are fond of lumping buyers into age categories (Gen Z – Millenials – Boomers) and then, armed with the assumption that every individual is a cookie-cutter image of the group, they survey people they never meet and inflict their findings on the product design crew – and still no sales!
Our company is at that awkward stage: strong enough in reputation to get good growth funding, but not quite strong enough in sales to pay it back.
Afterthought: Being big and growing bigger: ah, ‘tis a heady dream. But the encouraging belief of others in your venture does not replace the need for numbers-crunching diligence.
Buy Stupid – Sell Low
When the market dips, fortunes are made by waiting for fools to panic and accommodating their fear.
Afterthought: Why is it that investors who sit idly on their portfolios all year suddenly, when prices plummet, are smitten with the urge to sell off their life savings to ensure the lowest possible return?
Keeping Ideas at Bay
Our marketing firm spends one small fortune on a security team to protect our offices from uninvited strangers; and a second fortune on reaching out to unseen strangers begging their opinion.
Afterthought: Currently our society’s “common wisdom” seems intent on scaring us and making us fearful of engaging all unknown people. Does this mean you have to be unprofitably fearful?
Professor vs. CEO
Experts at acquiring knowledge are called professors. Experts at acquiring companies are called CEOs. Each views the other with suspicion and a soupcon of disdain.
Afterthought: Those who build walls between knowledge and implementation will limp along on one leg in their search for success.
You cannot save the world with your business – but oh my good lord – you certainly can have a lot of fun by trying.
Afterthought: Of course, you are in business to make money. At least you’d better be. Yet nothing adds spice to ones labors as witnessing a shower of benefits that you have engineered.
To Be or To Do?
Edward burns with a powerful ambition to be recognized as the top executive in our firm. It’s a shame he doesn’t have equal aspirations to put forth the accompanying performance.
Afterthought: The only two places reputation precedes work is in the dictionary and in one’s dreams.
Three daggers will kill your negotiations: a little fear, a lot of anger, or the assumption that we are all good fellows after the same thing.
Afterthought: The reason negotiating demands your fullest attention is that it is the process by which you are seizing what you truly want for yourself….and that, my friend, is always vital.
Our Just Rewards
This company was not built by our founding CEO. It was built by the creative sweat lavished by each one of us in this firm. And we keep at it because he never lets us forget it.
Afterthought: Nothing beats a slender, steady stream of honest appreciation. Now that, my friend, is leadership.
Buy Stupid – Sell Low
When the market dips, fortunes are made by waiting for fools to panic and accommodating their fear.
Afterthought: Why is it that investors who sit idly on their portfolios all year suddenly, when prices plummet, are smitten with the urge to sell off their life savings to ensure the lowest possible return?
Birds of a Feather
Networking is a convivial flocking of dark-suited individuals each convinced that the others are destined to lead him to money.
Afterthought: Sometimes, the net works and hope is fulfilled…provided you have carefully vetted the group beforehand, and checked your desperation at the door before entering.
The Cozy Coal Mines
Our workers will gladly risk their lives for time-and-a-half hazard pay, but ask them to retrain and change their routine? Heck, They’ll go on strike first.
Afterthought: For us humans, there’s no greater enticement than the feel of the familiar – even if that familiar feel itches like Hades itself. “By cracky, you can’t lure me from this coal mine until….”
Business leadership consists of finding a task that will make you a profit, and convincing another person to do it eagerly and well.
Afterthought: That’s the unvarnished truth and every employee understands it all too well. Offer them fine rhetoric, fear, fancy titles or large carrots dangled just out of reach and they’ll respond with apathetic, grudging performance. Ah, but give them a share of that profit….and stand back.
Those Vital Adornments
In the old days, we’d say clothes made the man. Now we say mastery of our devices makes the person. Ah, If it were only that simple.
Afterthought: We are forever enticed by the accoutrements that accompany those who’ve sweated their way into success. But perhaps ‘tis better to mine the assets within, rather than emulate the adornments without.
Think for Thyself, John
The valued employee is the one who performs capably every task you asked for. But the one you promote to partner is that guy who keeps constantly surprising you.
Afterthought: Dependability has its place, and will earn nice, predictable raises at regular intervals. But the only way to soar into meteoric growth is on the wings of those with foresight and near-impossible visions.
Diversity by the Numbers
Diversity, in today’s bizspeak, means hiring women to higher positions, white guys almost never, and more visible minorities to make staff photos and HR stats more balanced.
Afterthought: True and beneficial diversity is the search for the broadest array of top talent to insure the broadest possible array of workable solutions. Quotas are meaningless.
Laws of Wrath
Accountants are the Moses of the indecipherable tax tablets, who make plain the stern laws handed down from above.
Afterthought: It’s not that I so much mind paying for schools, roads, defending my environment from polluters, and my shores from bipedal invaders; but it does seem the final insult when the tax laws are so Byzantine that I must hire an interpreter.
Economics vs. Reality
Economic Indicators are like political promises: they provide great fodder for the pundits pontificating them, but they are nothing to bet the ranch or base your decisions on.
Afterthought: If you have just discovered a cure for the common computer virus and the world is beating a path to your door, do you really think that the Feds declaring a .2% rise in interest rates is going to stop your new venture dead in its tracks?
Marketers & Cyberthieves
Marketers and cyberthieves both secretly gather your personal information and employ it to withdraw money from your account. The former usually leaves a product behind.
Afterthought: Courtesy of the internet, a skilled hacker/data specialist within 10 minutes can discover more about you than your dearest friend will ever know. You cannot prevent their info gathering, but you can lock up your assets from their schemes and seductions.
Leadership for its Own Sake?
Our CEO ranks at the absolute top of the leadership scale. In fact, he can get us to do anything, except turn a profit.
Afterthought: We stand lips deep in leadership seminars. But if you haven’t a firm hand on a tiller and set your true course on a practical point, it doesn’t matter how hard you can get them to row.
Business as Zip-usual
The pace of our communication and our machines grows ever faster, but the pace of business remains constant: we need it yesterday.
Afterthought: Business is most joyful and exciting when things are urgent, but not frantic. Not a bad attitude for leaders to exhibit.
Turning a Deaf Ear
“Does our COO value our opinion? Well, it is rumored he went deaf four years ago and just realized it last month.”
Afterthought: If you are clever enough to seize a C-suite chair, you are probably smart enough to want every scrap of profitable counsel available. Don’t you think your staff has that counsel? Or are you letting your exalted rank stop up your ears?
If You Must Fall…
If you must fall in love with some aspect of your business – let it be your product – rather than your profits.
Afterthought: Business profits are mere scorecards that breed more servitude than adoration. Actually the ideal business love target remains, as always, the client.
Honesty in advertising involves merely saying out loud what your customer already knows to be true.
Afterthought: Overblown ad claims soon prove to be as fleeting as romance in a brothel. They quickly crumble in the face of reality, bringing down your precious reputation and brand with them.
Escape to Fantasyland
American children have Disneyland. Our corporate scoundrels have Dubai. The rest of us must make do with reality.
Afterthought: Since the earliest days of business, pirates have always sought those fantasy hideaways with laws flexible enough to protect them from justice. But take heart. No island hideaway can match the rewards of honest compensation for honest enterprise.
A Gentleman Without Peer
Our CEO wanted to start a peer group, but he couldn’t find anyone he believed was his equal.
Afterthought: Each of us inflates our self-estimation with perhaps a bit of hot air. ‘Tis a vanity a lot less destructive than viewing yourself as worthless.
Businesses’ Blind Eye
The one, apparently seldom-discovered truth about leadership is that there is no exact number of steps required to achieve it.
Afterthought: Businesses’ love affair with science and quantifying has mushroomed countless Leadership-by-the-numbers seminars. Ah, but the wise ones know that see beyond the recipes and realize that this human attribute also entails a hefty dose of individual, human artistry.
Fantasy Biz Fiction
Probably the surest recipe for unhappiness is to begin comparing your progress to that of your coworkers and entrepreneurs written up in glossy business journals.
Afterthought: Horse races are won not by keep your eyes on the competition beside you, but by looking deep inside and discovering that extra, hidden power.
The Wantonly Wise
The employer who lavishes every comfort and advantage on his employees is really wise, or really greedy, or both.
Afterthought: It is the rare fool who buys a cheap, second rate chip for his firm’s computers, or expects his machinery to run with without proper oiling. Yet when it comes to spending a bit more to enhance the employee environs, such cost-cutting fools seem to abound by the thousands.
How the Money Goes
Our CEO sees no relation between the money we spend and the money we have. Our CFO sees nothing else. Our C-suite needs a marriage counselor.
Afterthought: Thrift is one of the many “old fashioned” virtues that has been steam-rollered under the crushing call to innovation. May well scrutinize
Live and Learn
Parents urge their offspring into better colleges in hopes that they may land a job sufficiently high-salaried to pay back all those college loans.
Afterthought: In truth, the college experience is designed to make you a richer person – not a richer paycheck. Perhaps ‘tis time to stop making life a resume punch, and allow yourself and child to joyfully live and learn.
The Price of a Tale
An entrepreneur knows she has arrived when she can sell her success story for more than her business.
Afterthought: It seems mandated that every business person who hits it big must follow up with a book and countless media appearances giving glossy version of how they made it – and how you can also. Just remember to view these renderings for what they are. Grab a few useful tactics, and nix the glamour.
A Web of Betters
Networking events are the only type of party on the planet where each guest comes hoping he is the least important person in attendance.
Afterthought: You will profit yourself much more if, as you enter any gathering, you leave your pre-conceptions about rank and comparison at the door.
In the interest of team unity, our CEO has mandated thrice-weekly, afterhours team-building exercises. It seems to be working. Now we all loathe him together.
Afterthought: What really joins people together is mutually contributing to a worthwhile venture. If your product is admirable and the compensations high, everyone naturally enjoys pulling mightily on the same rope. If not, what are you in business for anyway?
The Whole Ocean is Not A Tempest
It was not the state of the ocean that made Columbus succeed, but his planning, gumption, and the seaworthiness of his boat.
Afterthought: The whole ocean is not a tempest. Forget national layoff figures. ‘Tis time to summon your abilities and set sail thoughtfully for that calm profitable niche.
Fell Outta My Seat…
Oh, that bruise? I got it falling out of my seat when our board chairman actually came into our department to hear our thoughts on our new project.
Afterthought: ‘Tis all too easy for active board members to view their company only through the distant lens of reports and statistics. The more frequently you meet staff members in person and solicit their ideas, the more valuable will be your governance. And as for you, Ms./Mr. Employee – have you requested to attend a board meeting lately?
The Cost of Control
Anxiety is the price paid by managers who seek to achieve control rather than trust.
Afterthought: ‘Tis amazing the aura of serenity that surrounds even a frantically busy office when trusting coworkers labor in concert.
The Better Mousetrap
Build a better mousetrap and the world will NOT beat a path to your door, until you tell the world where you live and that you have mousetraps for sale.
Afterthought: It is an aged and terrible myth-step that has lured many an entrepreneur to her ruin: “The key to my success is to devote all my time to making my product even more excellent.” Maybe ‘tis time to cease improving your product and begin improving your business.
If you are smarter than God and work like the devil – or think you’re close, please enter.
– sign on a wise HR chief’s door
Afterthought: Others need not apply. Sometimes, in our hunt to grow the firm, all the nuances, cultural fits, and resume punches need to be pushed aside and just set our sights on bagging the top talent to our team.
The Frantic Button
As a manager, being loud and frantic is guaranteed to seize every staff member’s attention. I do not say it makes you worth listening to.
Afterthought: In truth, people listen to words to discern feelings. Watching the boss run amok merely spreads contagious fear. Staffers may need to hear that a particular situation is urgent that their supervisor has it under control with a solution on hand, and that their individual efforts are of utmost importance.
Take a Running Start and…
There is a vast chasm between carefully composing a business plan and mortgaging your home to get it launched. And it cannot be leaped by incremental steps.
Afterthought: If you are wondering whether to put your cash and security on the line to fulfill your dream, you might as well summon your courage and follow the old weight lifters’ maxim: Go heavy or go home.
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