Category Archives: Observations

Little Spinal Surgery Hacks (and other things they don’t tell you about…)


I’m too young (in my own mind) and active (also in my own mind) to be hunched over with back pain.  For 7 months I couldn’t stand up straight, couldn’t walk and quality of life was significantly impacted.  6 months of physical therapy, two surgical opinions, all kinds of medications and steroidal epidurals could not change the results of the MRI showing surgery as the best option to cure the degenerating situation and stenosis. So… Onward into the breach….

Day 1:  Surgery Day

no hurt

You wake up from surgery with head spinning, a smashed face, a mouth feeling like it’s full of cotton and people doing things to you that you can’t quite identify.  You’re dizzy as hell.  But that’s all pretty much expected.

Then comes the ‘bums rush’…..something like a ride at Disneyland where they push you out of the right side of the small world boat so they can push the next guests in on the left side.

They dress you like a 4 year old dressing a Barbie…. No underwear, pants half pulled up and twisted and your shirt half on with no bra.  Shoes? Forget that….too much trouble.  They hand you some barf bags, stick you in a wheel chair and out the door you go like a drunken party guest they can’t get out of the house fast enough.  You climb into the car hoping no one sees you (because you’re at least coherent enough to have a LITTLE vanity), but at the same time you don’t remember your own name or if that really IS your car you’re getting in to.  You hear your mother’s voice in your head about the proper attire to wear if you get in a car crash.  You proceed to stress out about not having underwear on the whole way home.

Later that day: It’s euphoria – you’re cautiously walking around, but most of all, standing up straight.  HOLY SHIT…. YOU’RE ACTUALLY STANDING UP STRAIGHT!!!  That hasn’t happened in over 7 months!  (You don’t really completely realize at the time that the anesthesia and mega pain killers are still coursing through your system and THAT’s why you feel so stinking good.)   Like a repetitive drunk, I couldn’t stop yelling at my husband to “Look, look, LOOK!  I’m straight!”.   I was just ready to kiss Dr. Palmer and offer him cash, a house in the Bahamas, bricks of gold bullion, first born children, etc.  You’re cured.  Here come absolute tears of joy.  (well, tears flowing from joy,  the drugs or maybe both).

Day 2:  Doing Pretty Good….

little hurt

You’re dutifully taking your painkillers knowing in the back of your head that there’s no way you could feel good for long and you know that the full surgical painkillers will wear off eventually.

You think those Percocet are going to keep the pain away but…. Uhhhhh……Let’s put a pin in that for now.

(Side note….those painkillers make you incredibly thirsty.  You’re sucking down water like a drowning fish.  Just keep in mind what side effects come along with that….. “foreshadow for suffering”.)

So night one, you’re up 2 or three times heading to the bathroom.  A little painful moving, but you can walk.  You wobble across the room and lean on whatever you can to make sure you don’t fall.   You say a silent prayer to your physical therapist who forced you to build up core strength over the last 6 months.  You can feel yourself purposefully diligently engaging your core as you move.  You assume the little pain you’re starting to feel is related to those lovely surgical painkillers wearing off and the weaker oral painkillers not being quite as effective.  All manageable (so far).

You get to the bathroom feeling accomplishment, but also remembering you haven’t really “sat down” or “stood up” without help since you got home.  You’re facing a new reality here in the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Okay, it’s a small space, you can brace yourself against the two walls… Yup.  That will work.  Then, not to be too indelicate, but there’s a whole bunch of things you have to deal with now….one handed. Worst thing is holding yourself up and then attempting to deal with yoga pants and underwear.  (The same underwear you were so concerned about the day before). Against your better judgement (and again, with your mother’s voice in your head) you change into a night dress with the underwear flinging into the laundry basket.  We’re going alfresco.  This will become the single best decision you make in 5 days.

As time goes on, the painkillers are there, but frankly, don’t seem to do much at all.  You assume that if you weren’t taking them at all, you would be writhing in agony, so they MUST be doing something.  Then you think, the pain you’re feeling right now is still too bad for the painkillers to be actually working…. so maybe you aren’t taking the pills right….you read the label again…you make sure you overlap them by an hour so they don’t ever wear off.  You try 2 in 6 hours instead of 1 in 4 hours. Nope, no change.  You still have a super sad face on the old pictorial pain scale.

At the end of the day, you still hurt, still are taking painkillers religiously, and still moving cautiously and slowly.  You add a little lead time to all of your trips (particularly to the bathroom) and you time your movements ONLY when you know painkillers are fully kicked in.

But man…the euphoria of day 1 and the confidence of day 2 is starting to evaporate as everything in your body is starting to scream at you.

Day 3: I’m going to die…

Next morning you stand up (just like you were doing before) and you fall back down to the bed… You get close to emitting a full on ‘scream-queen-horror-movie’ type of noise.  Maybe you just bent the wrong way….  Let’s try this again a little more slowly….  Same thing.  Can’t get up.   Try one more time leaning on the bed at a different angle….  STILL can’t do it.  No amount of “core” can help you now.

You sit on the end of the bed and take another painkiller then wait quietly without moving for 30 mins (even though you have to….uh…’go’).  But you know you have to have every appropriate ounce of painkiller possible in order for you to get up.   At the 31 minute mark, you try again.  Nope.   (Foreshadow:  this is the next 2 days of your life.)

Now you HAVE to do it.  You HAVE to get up.  You use every core muscle you have at your disposal (again thank you physical therapy) to slowly stand yourself up and maintain a low crouch.  Without moving anything unnecessarily, you slide one foot after the other in an “eye on the prize” desperation to get to the next closest piece of furniture to grab on to. You take one slow cautious step every 60 seconds because it takes that long for the pain to abate and for you to be able to MENTALLY try another step.

And it’s funny, over the last year that you’ve been in pain (before surgery), you’ve learned every trick in the book on how to avoid it by doing weird pelvic tilts, bending over, leaning on anything and everything, putting one foot in front of the other, bending your knees, leaning to the right, sleeping in fetal position….but none of those little tricks are going to work for you this time….. Your body just f’ing screams pain with ANY weight in any way you try to set it down .

Time passes slowly as you claw your way forward.  You’re in the bathroom.  You reach out and brace yourself with hands on both walls to keep the weight off your back.  but you know you’re going to have to let go.  ….this isn’t going to be pretty but thank god all obstructionist clothing are out of the way and you can concentrate on how to maneouver while putting all your weight on that one hand that stays on the wall.  (I sure wish we practiced this one in PT!)

After 20 minutes of painfully negotiating your way to and from the bathroom, panic sort of starts to set in.  What have you done to yourself?  You now begin to picture Dr. Palmer with red skin, devil horns, a pitchfork and a tail.  You decide when you get used to the wheelchair you’re going to need for the rest of your life, you’ll roll on down to his office, find his (presumably expensive) car and slash his tires every day for a month.

But, that aside, you must carry on.  Next time, it’s time to try something different.   Genius husband brought a chair in a few days ago to sit rather than stay in bed all day.  In the middle of the night, you ease yourself up (this time muffling the screams to not wake anyone up), grab the back of a chair, turn around…..then drag it a foot….lean on it….take a step….turn around…drag it a foot…lean on it… take a step…and do that all the way into the bathroom.  Surprisingly my hard sleeping husband didn’t wake up during this Quasimodo style series of movements.  It worked okay, with something to lean on, the pain was much much less, but the dragging part still hurt like hell.

Getting Creative

Once you figure it out, you realize you can alleviate the worst of the pain by leaning on something, anything.  Just enough to take the pressure off your back.

Before we figured out a couple of genius tricks, my lovely husband holds out his arm for me to lean (heavily) on as I walk slowly and cautiously stopping only to rest on the dresser before starting again.

bathroom hack

He says “wait a minute…you just need something to lean on right?”  Yep.  So off he goes (leaving me stranded and clinging to the dresser like a life preserver).  He comes back with a small cabinet and puts it in the bathroom next to the toilet.  He walks me to the door and leaves me leaning on the cabinet in perfect position.  He steps out, both of our dignities maintained.  He waits dutifully outside for the procession back to bed afterwards.

The cabinet approach worked brilliantly and I was able to get back to the door where I could take his arm again to  get back to bed…  by the time I get back, I feel like I’ve run a marathon.

More Creativity

Later on, when I wake up from a nap, I see there is furniture all across the room, lining a pathway to the bathroom.  The (admittedly misplaced) anger at Dr. Palmer was replaced by overwhelming joy.  The furniture bridge let me go hand over hand, leaning the whole time and getting where I needed to go without help.  Genius.

Lifesaving bridge

Next (presumably) genius hack appeared as an old walker that we had in storage.  That should be awesome, right?  Nope.  It was perfect to lean on, but putting ANY pressure on my back made it scream; I couldn’t lift the walker up even ½ inch…and certainly not enough to move it forward enough to take the next step.  The best I could do was to stand up in front of it, then angle sideways and drag it behind me into the next position then take another step.  Just as bad as the previously attempted chair method.  Not tenable for short or long term.

Day 3:  Greatest Hack of All

Double cane mobility

Next there was a cane borrowed from a neighbor.  That worked great….for one side.   I still couldn’t’ put down enough weight  on the opposite side to move the cane forward and then shift weight back again.

Genius husband had to go off to CVS for a second cane.  BINGO!  That was the best solution EVER.  Now I could move around.  Lean left, move the right cane, lean right, move the left cane.  Hallelujah.

Shower Hack

Showering was another adventure.  It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to stand up in the shower or sit down in the tub.  Of course we had no shower chair.  Yet once again, my lovely husband comes up with a genius hack and brought up a patio furniture chair and put that in the shower.  We fortunately had a hand held shower head so that was pretty stinking smart and worked great.

The only thing was, after getting up from the lovely shower, I had crosshatch marks across my bum from the webbing on the chair.  Hilarious, but somehow not so attractive.  Next time I used a towel.  🙂

bad shower chair         good shower chair

And It’s All Downhill From There…

Day 4: Talked to Dr. Palmer.  Might have a little fluid build up causing the excess pain.  Need to get steroids and new painkiller.

He says…Some people take up to 6 weeks to fully walk….wait…what?  Oh no you don’t….that’s not going to happen!  Mental fortitude shows up, ‘I’ll prove you wrong’ attitude appears and with it a new concentration on doing everything right to make progress.  (Too bad physical fortitude doesn’t always pay any attention to the other fortitude.)

Today’s the day to give up on the Percocet.  Doesn’t seem to do anything anyway.

Day 5: Ray of hope…slightly less “leaning” pressure needed to keep the pain away.  Have to be careful with twisting too much….still some shooting pains in low back. Dr. Palmer checks in.

Day 6: More improvement – few steps now and then with just one cane…more practicing…. “I’ll show you” attitude still hovering about….  I’m going to be walking dammit.  Dr. Palmer checks in again.  (At this point, it’s getting harder to consider slashing the tires of the guy that calls to check on you every day.)

Day 7: Few cautious steps without either cane, can briefly stand up with no support….  Still have to be carefully centered, pelvic tilt, handhold close by…  Euphoric again knowing progress is happening daily.  Terrified of falling…

Day 8: Progress continues  –   Had company so spent a lot more time on my feet.  Still used 2 canes, but used only 1 more often.

Day 9: Spent half time on canes. Had a party for 4th of July.  LOTS of walking and standing, some with cane, some without.  A lot of time on my feet.  Felt great!  (but that was probably the wine….)

Day 10:  Spent more time without canes than with. Can walk comfortably and UPRIGHT.  Have to be careful not to get too cocky….but almost can’t help it! Did two 10 minute slow treadmill walks (leaning on bars).

Day 11:   Dr. Palmer visit.  All is well, but no PT for awhile, keep doing what we’re doing.  Come back in 4 weeks.  Did 4 rounds of 10 min tread-milling plus all the walking to and from the Dr’s office.  (and rest assured that his tires on his car remain intact.)

Day 12 (Today):  Got a little cocky?  Yes.  Yes, I did!  Everything is sore today.  Probably overdid the company, party, the trip to the Dr’s office and tread-milling.  Will ignore the Fitbit nagging and slow down just a bit today.  It’s a holiday after all!

Things I forgot to mention:

furry friend

I wore the brace and used ice, ice, and more ice religiously.  I even slept in the brace to hold the ice pack in place.  I actually think the ice helped more than the Percocet did in some cases. I love it!

Make sure the ice pack is in a giant zip lock so no leaking.  I put it behind the brace while I’m sitting but it keeps slipping out.  Get some of those big “chip clips” to clip the ziplock to the top of the brace.  No more slippage!

And I also had a couple of support buddies.  Never underestimate the power of a furry friend.  😉

Current Conclusion

Ready to start training for a marathon (okay….well… maybe not so much….)  But am looking forward to getting back to PT and maybe toward the end of summer doing some activities again like SUP and playing a round of golf or two.

Have experienced sincere tears of joy over the elimination of the pain I had before surgery.  That includes the previously underappreciated ability to stand up straight and tall. (and just to be clear, the tears were without the influence of sedation and heavy narcotics this time!)

And lastly, I no longer envision Dr. Palmer, red with devil horns against a backdrop of flames and am back in love with him.  The desire to slash his tires has fairly dissipated and been replaced with something more closely resembling a great deal of gratitude and appreciation.

Information Technology….According to Kris


  • Technology is not there for IT’s sake….it’s there to support the business
  • In any IT decision, provide 3 options and the cost/benefit of each.  Let the business decide
  • High quality customer service is MANDATORY from IT at all times
  • Use the right tool for the right job.  ALWAYS.
  • Making a mistake is better than not making a decision
  • In making a mistake, fix it, move on and don’t do it again
  • It’s okay to change your mind.  Revisit and re-assess often
  • Have a strategy
  • Always have a plan….short term, long term and always, ALWAYS have a plan B!
  • Study your user community; how much do they know, how do they work, how do they learn, how do they communicate
  • Like it or not, you’re in sales
  • Roll up your sleeves and get dirty when necessary
  • Wear a lot of hats
  • IT requires more creativity than you think
  • The devil is in the details


  • Put 100% trust in your staff and  hire very carefully
  • You can teach people technology, but you can’t teach them to have a good attitude and work ethic (well at least I can’t)
  • Require and cultivate a “right hand man” or a trusted “go to” person from your team.  This person can do everything you can do (in most cases better)
  • Multiple brains are always better than a  single brain
  • If there is a mistake made, it’s my responsibility, if there’s a job well done, it was the team
  • Put a good organizational structure in place where everyone has a backup and everyone has a growth path
  • Believe in a matrix organization….everyone is cross trained and everyone has a back-up (DON’T use matrix style as an excuse for a bad organizational structure)
  • Problem solving is a key skill in the IT department and the organization.  It’s IT’s job to teach these skills to the organization
  • Don’t expect anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do
  • Sometimes qualified expertise will get paid more than you do.  Deal with it.
  • IT people work 24×7.  Deal with that too.


  • It’s nice to have the biggest and best technology, but it’s not a requirement to be successful
  • Cost IS an object!
  • Pretty is nice….but functional is better
  • Buy vs. build is an analysis process that HAS to be done.  Assuming one or the other is wrong
  • Outsourcing is a viable strategy and needs to be applied wherever possible and appropriate
  • Vendor management is critical.  Create partnerships, not vendor/supplier relationships
  • Negotiate hard but do not squeeze every last dime out of deal.  Both sides have to have benefit from the relationship
  • Centralize IT management and systems control (can you say “control freak”?)
  • Don’t go anywhere without a white board (or two)
  • Establish and follow hardware and software standards
  • Have easy to follow request procedures for your users
  • IT is responsible for anything with a power cord
  • Use AUTOMATION wherever possible and reasonable
  • In a vendor relationship, the system may belong to the vendor but the data always (ALWAYS) belongs to the customer


  • Over communicate with your clients and user community
  • Study your users and communicate the way they want you to
  • Training and teaching people how to help themselves is a value in any organization (particularly when it comes to IT)
  • Companies require collaborative tools that allow them to work from wherever they are
  • Be accessible and provide escalations for technical issues


  • ALL companies should have a master data warehouse or data repository.  You can’t run a business without it.  This is a HUGE priority!
  • Data should be EASILY accessible by all groups and divisions within an organization…not just IT
  • Data should be protected with all the appropriate business rules, security and strategies
  • Data grows with the organization….data management can start small but there must be a strategy in place to handle it as it grows
  • Robust Integration and data management is CRITICAL.  Dedicated resources need to be assigned to manage both.
  • STRONGLY believe in data warehousing, business intelligence and/or decision support


  • I believe Microsoft is a successful standard for business software
  • Open source is appropriate for some applications, use the right tool for the job
  • Systems integrations, systems auditing and reconciliation are key priorities in any transaction oriented business
  • Technology should be a corresponding size and scale for the business size and scale
  • Have a collaboration server and central document library with check in and check out
  • Always get the maintenance agreement
  • Always read the book
  • Someone has solved the same problem you have already.  Don’t recreate the wheel
  • Keep up

Policy and Procedures

  • Put IT Governance in place.  Make it efficient.  Make it understandable
  • I believe in correctly licensing all software
  • Security should be appropriate to the organization and not overwhelming
  • Contracts are there for a reason
  • Stay up to date with regulatory compliance

A Mentor…Me?

It might sound strange, but I fell into mentoring out of pure frustration.

I’m a technology geek.  I just get it.  I understand computer systems, programming, infrastructure, troubleshooting, the whole works.  (I can bet some of you are already glazing over at the thought, but stick with me here.)

I inherited an interesting mix of staffers on my first official information technology job.  There was a tattooed uncontrollable systems engineer, a very young girl (she looked 12) that worked the night shift in the call center, a helpdesk technician that spoke massively broken English and 600 beleaguered and belligerent users.

Despite it all, I was ecstatic.  This was my first team and I was determined to help drive the most fabulous technology into the organization, show off my genius to the (male dominated) executive management team  and make everyone’s life just a “push button” dream.

Uhhh….well.   Reality check please!  This was a fortune 50 company, and that my friends, comes with all the bureaucracy and political back stabbing, in-fighting and ladder climbing you could ever want.  Instead of the “push button” dream I had created in my head, we were more like the Three Stooges, running frantically from place to place, bumping into each other and falling over our own feet.

One of our first major failures was when our phone switch went down.  When a phone switch goes down for a large customer service call center, it’s a M-A-J-O-R event.  Our technology was old, we didn’t have a contract and we were inexperienced.

Armed with the enormous phone switch technical manual, and a six-pack of diet Pepsi, I grabbed the call center girl, Lisa, shoved her into the switch room and locked the door.  (I locked the door so the restless natives couldn’t get in, not so Lisa couldn’t get out!)  I looked at the terrified Lisa and she looked at me.  I said….”We can do this.”

We cracked open the book and went from page to page.  I showed her how to troubleshoot.  How to take the information you know and keep refining and adding on until we hit the issue.   In the comfort of that switch room, she engaged.  She was sharp and got it.  She kept asking questions, making me think and I asked her questions, making her think.  Together, we narrowed in, found the problem and solved it.

When we walked out of the switch room exhausted but pleased,  Lisa was standing tall.  That was the day I knew she had a spark and a burning intelligence that needed a comfortable environment in which to light the fire.  She needed confidence.

For 5 years, I worked with Lisa to help her with systems administration, troubleshooting, switch programming and even switch installation.  With every project, she gained confidence and was able to stand on her own a little more.   She went from shy self-proclaimed “worker bee”   to strategic project manager and engineer.  I watched her go from hiding in the back of a room for a meeting to sitting at the table next to the big boys and holding her own in technology discussions.

Admittedly, there were a few moments along the way that I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her screaming “You are SMART, You are CAPABLE, you can DO THIS!”  I would wonder why I would have to say it over and over again.  Even though she knew it on the inside, she needed to hear it out loud.

Lisa is a professional Telecommunications Engineer today.  She didn’t KNOW she could understand switch technology.  She never thought she could.  That’s where I was able to help.  I showed her something she never thought she could do.

I never specifically set out to mentor Lisa, but just fell into it.  In our male dominated environment I certainly never HAD a mentor so never really considered that it might be a good idea to BE one.  But since my experience with Lisa, I truly value helping provide the confidence that allows someone to step into their zone of genius a little faster than they may have done otherwise.

Paying the Bills (not.)

Paying the Bills (not.)

The Process

1.  Sat down to pay bills (ugh.)

2. Opened the computer and scanned email.

3. Saw some interesting Linkedin updates and clicked over to check.

4. Saw an interesting Twitter from an interesting person on Linkedin so clicked over to check that.

5. Twitter had an interesting reference to a cool iPad app… of course now have to go check that.

6. Open iPad and download the app. (Flipboard)

7. Read an article on Flipboard about the top ranked iPad apps for the week.  (All games…blah….)

8. Read an article on top ranked Android apps for the week.  (AHA!)

9. Find a new “must have” Android app.

10.  Use Google Goggles on the Android to take a picture of the bar code from the article on the iPad (yes…using Android to take a pic of the iPad screen.  Feels deliciously sacrilegious.)

11.  App immediately is found and directly downloaded to the Android (COOL!)

12. Now running the app (Antennas) on the phone to identify the location of all cell towers in my vicinity.



But…..  was all that necessarily a good thing?  What did I really accomplish other than getting distracted from my original goal of paying the bills?   Will I ever get that wasted time back?  Will I actually pay my bills before I run out of time?  Does this speak to my inability to focus on a task at hand and the easy way I am compelled to participate in and to even relish any distraction?  I seriously have to consider whether this is a perfect example of what causes my younger staff members to be so constantly distracted and unable to accomplish even some of the simplest things.  And if that’s really the case, how do you harness the power of this multi-tasking, distracted behavior and use it for being productive and generally creating “good” in the world?  

So coming back around, it just begs the philosophical question…is this “technical gadgetry and social media” stuff, really such a good thing in our lives?  Does it improve productivity in any way?

Thinking long and hard.  My bills are on autopay.  So yes.  This is DEFINITELY THE COOLEST THING EVER!!  😉

A Practical Guide to Dealing with A “Crazy Person”

Let’s set the stage:  The “Crazy Person” (or CP) is a business owner.  He/She grew the business from nothing and built it into what it is today.  No denying it.  They did something majorly right to get them where they are.

You?  You are a lowly consultant or employee tasked with the job of improving the performance of the business in some particular way.  Well…wait a minute….You THINK you are tasked with improving the performance of the business in some particular way.  A CP might not see it that way.  …and thus….the problem begins.

There are some basic and common threads to CP’s behavior.  Here is a collection of them along with some recommendations.   I do not guarantee these suggestions will work or that they’re the right answers.  They are, fortunately or unfortunately, focused more along the lines of self-protection.  I also do not claim that these are healthy solutions either.  They just happen to have worked a little for me in a “path of least resistance” kind of way.

 These approaches are also targeted to a person who has managed to acquire a position on the “bad side” of a CP and aren’t recommended for anyone on the CP’s good side (like “PET 1” or “PET 2”).  They, (“PET 1” and “PET 2”) GENERALLY can do as they please.  No one is safe, however, and once you’re on the “bad side” you must realize that you’ll never come back.

 These recommendations deal with:

  1. The “Triple A”
  2. Living in the Weeds
  3. Line Level is the Right Level
  4. Herd Mentality
  5. Email is the enemy
  6. Battered Wives Syndrome


The “Triple A” Situation:  Audience, Arbitrary and the Argument

 The battleground is a meeting.  The comment or suggestion was a good one.  It might be yours or it might be someone else’s.  The conversation bursts into unproductive flames.   CP dives into a tirade that makes no sense, is random in nature and just won’t stop.

Why does this happen??  Simple:  He’s the smartest guy in the room and he must demonstrate it.  He’s built this company from scratch…not you.  When he has an audience, he has to say something shocking to get everyone’s attention.  He’s the Howard Stern of the corporate meeting.  He loves it when everyone roles their eyes and groans.    It’s a form of attention.  He will go on and on and will target you to make you seem small, insignificant and stupid. 

He also LOVES the art of argument….especially with that audience.  He will argue for arguments sake and not because he doesn’t like your idea.  He LOVES the heat of it all.  He just feels like arguing with someone and damn, if you just didn’t walk right into the trap.

What do you do?  For Pete’s Sake SHUT UP!!!!  Don’t engage when he is in this mood.  Don’t express your opinion.  Don’t comment.  Just put your head down.  Don’t make eye contact.  Let the tirade run its course. (This can take a long time….)  Then get the hell out of the room as fast as you can. 

If it’s your idea or a decision that was being presented, wait for another day and use the “Herd Mentality” approach outlined below.

And remember….24-48 hours from now what he was railing against in this meeting could be the greatest suggestion since sliced bread.


Living in the weeds…

A CP loves the details and tactical execution and is not so interested in the strategy.  Strategy didn’t get him where he is today so he doesn’t want some punk telling him he needs to have one now.  Don’t try to engage on this level.  By doing so, he ASSUMES that you have not done your homework on the tactical elements of the plan and he contents himself that you don’t know what you’re talking about as a result.

Discuss strategy with “PET 1”  and “PET 2”.  Lay out the plan with them and only expose the tactical details to CP.

If he wants to do something tactically that doesn’t make sense, let him.  It’s his company.  He doesn’t want to hear your opinion or listen to your expertise. If it’s important, let “PET 1” and “PET 2” figure out how to change his mind because you won’t.


Line Level is the Right Level

Don’t answer questions….even if you know the answer.  It’s a setup.  He is setting you up for an argument.  He thinks he knows what you are going to say and is already angry about it before you ever open your mouth.  No win situation. 

When you’re on the bad side of CP, he just simply won’t listen to you.  Doesn’t matter how brilliant you are…you have been dismissed.  Bring in the line staff.  He wants to hear from them and not you.

While exposing the line staff to a CP goes against everything I believe in, it’s what he wants and will keep him happy.  You have to figure out a way to position it with the staff so that they aren’t 1)  freaked out and 2) learn the associated bad behavior.  (Good luck with this part….its a tough go.)

Another variation on this theme is that he will go around you directly to the line staff himself.  Just let him.  Try not to let it bother you.  Don’t question him and just manage the staff perception as best you can.  Be prepared that he will find something in what they are doing that he doesn’t like, will assume it was your idea and will be angry about it or change it without telling you. 


Herd Mentality

Don’t ever present an idea or a thought that you haven’t gotten consensus from everyone on the executive team for.  Before presenting in a meeting, make sure everyone is on-board and backs you up.  Get their agreement to back you up.  If you get into a Triple A situation like above, rely on “PET 1” or “PET 2” to take over.  Get their commitment to doing so up front.  You’re always safer in a herd.  (Don’t forget however, that “PET 1” and “PET 2″will also protect themselves if it gets too hot….don’t assume they will have or keep your back all the way through.)  If it gets too hot, get out….regroup with the herd and come back at it another time.


Email is the enemy…and other communication concerns

 Do not EVER respond to a CP in email.  I don’t think I need to explain this one.  Face to face is the only way with him.  Let him write 6 page emails, but just don’t get sucked in to doing the same.

If possible, don’t take a CP’s cell phone calls.  Let him leave a message and then call “PET 1” or “PET 2” to find out what is really going on first.  Always know the situation before you walk into it. 

Set up regularly scheduled off-site meetings with a CP.  He likes this, particularly at a restaurant or Starbucks.  Let him spend the hour telling you what he wants you to work on.  Take notes and take action.  This might even need to happen two or three times a week to start out with. 


Battered Wives Syndrome

Do not under ANY circumstances allow a CP’s behavior to effect you personally.  It is easy to get sucked into feeling as stupid and worthless as he makes you feel.  It’s not reality.  This will have negative impact on every aspect of your life…work, home and health.  Have confidence in yourself, stay strong and do not ALLOW him to drag you down.

Hot, hot, HOT!

Hello from Portola!!

We’re back in the house….cars unpacked….power on….computers up….

Here are some pics of our adventure…

This is the park across the street from our house.  The fire is on the north ridge of the canyon at 10 PM-ish on Monday night.  The fire crews moved in and shut the park down at around 11 as the fire came up the south ridge where everyone is standing.  There’s a fire line coming down that north face that you see in the picture and another fire line coming up from the west down in the canyon that you can’t see.

Here’s what it looked like when we evacuated at 1:30 AM.  The fire was up at the edge of the canyon and in the back yards of all the houses on the perimeter of the park.  The flames were shooting higher than the roof tops and the smoke was so thick you couldn’t breathe.  We were showered with embers (which was the real danger for us) and ash.  When you stepped out of the house you were hit with a wall of heat.  We watered down everything there was to water down and then jumped in the car.   Very creepy!

This was an interesting exercise in group dynamics or sociology (or something like that.)  Half the neighbors left early in the day packing the cars to the rooftops and then some.  Some neighbors even brought in trailers to put their precious items in.  The other half of the neighbors calmly put the important stuff in the car and then hung out in the street watching and waiting (and drinking!).  We were in that later half…we put our wine, pets, computers and season hockey tickets in the car (in that order.)!!  We felt pretty comfortable with our selections but kept thinking we must be doing something wrong if everyone else was frantically throwing stuff in the car. 

When we came back, the fire had moved up through the canyon to the hills behind the house….just North of Cook’s Corner.  We had to come up the back way and show ID to get home as the front hill on the West side was engulfed in flames.  The expensive houses on the front ridge did a great job clearing brush so even though the fire was in their backyards, there wasn’t much fuel.  We’re at the back of the hill, so the fire on the west side was no threat, but the smoke was a killer.

Later in the day this fire kept moving down the range and lit up the houses on the East side.    We kept an eye on this one and fortunately the wind stayed favorable to us…not so favorable to the folks along Santiago Canyon Road.

This fire jumped the street into Santiago and climbed up Saddleback and over the hills on the Riverside side.  I think this blaze being allowed to consume as much of the hills as it did is what got OC Fire Authority major criticism.  This is going to get political as the homes that were lost  were multi-million dollar homes and the expectation is that they could have been saved with more ground crews and air support.  Many people believe that the air support was all concentrated in Malibu and we were left to burn.  Who knows.

My favorite political commentary so far was Diane Feinstein saying that 1) global warming contributed to these fires and 2) that the government has a responsibility to not allow zoning for homes in the Santa Ana wind plains as a result of their hazardous potential.  Ha!!! 

Thanks everyone for your calls and offers of refuge!  We appreciate it greatly. 

Signing off from Portola Hills….Firestorm 2007!!  😉