1 comment on “Rules of Argument (part 3)”

Rules of Argument (part 3)

This three-part post will cover six rules of argument that should be important to any knowledge worker, executive, leader, manager, or critical thinker.

What follows is a continuation of part 1 and part 2.

Rule #5: You are not your argument.

Remember that while you may be passionate about your argument, you are not your argument. This might best be supported by Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, when he discusses how difficult this is, yet how essential it is to continued growth. The example he cites is biblical. Rohn cites this about Jesus: “Jesus could say, ‘I love you but I hate your sinful ways.'”

Now, how it is possible to love and hate in the same sentence? If you hate a person’s actions, do you have to hate the person? Or is it possible to love a person (for instance, your mother, father, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, significant other) but hate what he does to himself? An example suggesting the viability of the love/hate relationship can be found in the granddaughter’s love for her alcoholic grandfather. She loves her grandfather. But she cannot stand what he’s doing to himself. In fact, she hates it! Still, she has learned to distinguish the two. She loves him, but she hates his sinful ways. Such separation is a sign of emotional and intellectual maturity. Some critical thinkers would argue that the ability to separate or delineate the two is essential. 

Consider examining another scenario. The trial attorney may argue many cases over the course of a year. In each case, he may present his opening argument. If he were his argument, then we should diagnose him with schizophrenia or multiple-personality disorder because he has become the following: “George Pearson should not have to pay this increase in child support,” “Martha Bivins was not legally sane when she killed her husband,” “Ms. Jodstone did, in fact, violate the contract,” “Robert Ash is entitled to this insurance settlement,” etc. See, in certain arenas, this ability to delineate or separate a person and his argument is developed and honed. For this writer, the arena consisted of three classes: Philosophy of Law, Business Law, and Constitutional Law II. In Constitutional Law II, I was asked to argue for “Brown v. Board of Education.” After doing so for approximately five minutes, I was given ten seconds to collect my thoughts, and then I was asked to argue against “Brown v. Board of Education.”

There are many things to learn from such an exercise. First, when studying both sides of a case, we are often able to see the motivations for people’s arguments. We also become familiar with the facts, and we become familiar with the opposition’s claims. Second (and something “critical thinkers” may wish to examine), being expected to argue both sides of an argument convincingly and passionately helps absolve a person of the emotional connection he may have at one time thought necessary when constructing an argument. Notice, the passion can still be present, for passion can be created simply from a desire to win or to emerge victorious. And hence, hopefully you can still find the passion to argue, even if you do not agree with the claim you’re attempting to advance. But know this: you are not your argument. Just as a person can delineate love and hate, just as an attorney can delineate his many arguments, and just as a student of law can delineate both sides of an argument, you must separate yourself from your argument.

Rule #6: Listen with the intention of listening, not with the intention of offering your retort.

One way people telegraph their intention to offer a retort as opposed to genuinely listen is when they interrupt. Such people are so excited about what they have to say that what you are saying is no longer important and, frankly, it’s probably not being heard. Of course, some would argue that they do listen, but they simply have a terrible habit of interrupting. In that case, note this: those who interrupt are often perceived as pushy, rude, disrespectful, overbearing, and egotistical; they are also often perceived as bad listeners. Thus, if you are guilty of interrupting, even if you do not think you are guilty of the aforementioned “charges,” realize that this is often the perception of such people. If you want to dodge this perception and escape this stigma, exhibit the patience required to listen. And if you’re on the receiving end of a “pauser,” a person who pauses often while speaking, then simply ask the question: “Are you finished?” If the person is not, he’ll tell you. Of course, if he is, then the soapbox is yours.


See part 1 and part 2 for the other Rules of Argument.

2 comments on “Rules of Argument (part 1)”

Rules of Argument (part 1)

This three-part post will cover six rules of argument that should be important to any knowledge worker, executive, leader, manager, or critical thinker.

     argument = a discussion (an argument is not a quarrel)

     thinking critically = this does not mean thinking negatively. Critical thinking can be completely positive, completely negative, or, more likely, an amalgamation of both.

Rule #1: If you ask a question and do not get the answer you desired, ask the same question differently.

This strategy can be found when people take polls. For instance, a pollster might compose the following question: “Do you support programs that provide money to people living below the defined poverty level?” Now, if the percentage of people answering “yes” were 79%, and if the pollster needed a much lower number to satisfy his organization’s needs, he might ask the same question differently. For instance, he might write: “Do you support welfare programs?” Since the question is essentially the same—and it is just being asked differently—perhaps the percentage should still be the same. Unfortunately, words have an awful tendency to frame perceptions and, hence, that might explain why when this question was asked after the initial question, a much lower percentage of people answered “yes.” By asking the same question differently, the pollster was able to elicit a different answer.

This strategy is also evidenced in sales. Essentially, whether the salesperson is selling houses, automobiles, office buildings, airplanes, or businesses, the answer he is looking for is “yes.” However, you may notice that when a salesperson asks you, “So, would you like to get this car today?” and you say “No,” the salesperson does not pack up his proverbial bags and leave. Instead, he attempts to address your objection, identify with it, and refute it. His refutation, of course, will probably end with the same question being asked differently: “So, based on that new information, would you like to drive away in this car today?” Similarly, when engaged in an argument, if you ask a question and do not get the answer you desired, ask the same question differently. Offer new information. Offer hypothetical examples. Of course, you may never get the person to change his mind. You may, however, get the person to make a new decision based on new information. And that new decision may be the answer you were looking for.

Rule #2: If you offer an assertion, you must have an example to support it.

By definition, an assertion is “a statement or declaration, often without support or reason.” Hence, if you asserted that the school systems in Europe are better than those in America, then you’d best be equipped with the requisite examples, for even though Wayne Booth suggests that “nobody’s from Missouri anymore,” we know that some people do desire evidence. Some people do desire proof. These people might be deemed “critical thinkers.” When arguing with someone who possesses such desires, the proof ought to be there. If you deem yourself a critical thinker, then do not offer an assertion unless you have an example to advance it.


For more Rules of Argument, have a look at part 2 and part 3.

0 comments on “Prepared to Pivot”

Prepared to Pivot

It was a simple plan. Fly to Malaysia, get collected by a family-friend, and drive to her place in George Town.

But there was a problem. When I landed at the airport in Penang, my friend was not there. It was 11:30 p.m., and I was curbside. Had it been less humid, I still would’ve been sweating.

An hour passed. Most of the passengers from my flight had already gone. There was an announcement over the Airport’s P.A.: “The airport will be closing in 30 minutes.”

Already, I’d noted fewer taxis. And while I didn’t know much about the airport, I knew that it was approximately 30 minutes away from the capital, George Town. I knew little of Penang (and Malaysia in general), and I hadn’t any way to contact my friend. What was at first curious started to become concerning, especially as I heard the announcement: “The airport is now closed.”

Moments ago passengers were exiting baggage claim, greeting loved ones, and securing transportation. Now I could hear moths banging against light fixtures. But there was one taxi remaining. Two German tourists were loading their gear into the trunk. I dug deep to resurrect my three years of high school German. “Entschuldigung, entschuldigung,” I said. “Sprechen sie Englisch?”

Fortunately, they spoke some English. They agreed to let me share a taxi with them to George Town. Upon arrival, since I hadn’t a place to stay, and since it was now almost 1:00 a.m., and since the local hotels were fully-booked for Chinese New Year, my new German friends agreed to let me share their hotel room as well.

Upon waking, I learned that the hotelier spoke little English and that the hotel was without Internet. I hit the streets, and over the next three hours I determined that most of the local businesses (including Internet cafes) were closed because of Chinese New Year, and they would remain closed for the next few days.

I pivoted.

Pivoting requires one to move decisively after gathering as much information as possible. I listed over a dozen options (ending my holiday was not one of them). The most viable was to take a bus to Thailand. So I did. And 9 hours later I was enjoying a can of Singha on the beach in Phuket.

The takeaway is this: I had a plan. (I planned to see Malaysia. I planned to stay with my friend.) Tenacity is important, but we mustn’t try to force a round peg into a square hole. In travel, just as in life and in business, assess whether you are advancing an agenda or forcing it. If it’s the latter, be prepared to pivot.

0 comments on “Like Stone”

Like Stone

On the front cover of this month’s The Costco Connection is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. She is pictured up close, in focus, donning a black leather jacket and blue jeans. Behind her, in soft focus, is the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV.

If 19th century feminist Lucy Stone (1818-1893) saw this, would she be surprised? After all, Stone was the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree (she attended Oberlin College in Ohio), but when asked to write the commencement speech for her graduating class, she refused. Her speech would have to be read by a man. Women were prohibited from giving a public address.

The uncompromising Stone searched until she found a venue that would provide her with an opportunity to speak publicly. Her brother allowed her to speak from the pulpit of his church in Gardner, Massachusetts. And the topic of Stone’s first public address? Women’s rights.

Too much has already been said and written about women’s sphere. Leave women, then, to find their sphere. —Lucy Stone

To make the public sentiment, on the side of all that is just and true and noble, is the highest use of life. —Lucy Stone

In the study of success, in the study of legacy, we can learn from Lucy Stone.  What did she do to effect change?

Persist

When the Bible was quoted to Lucy Stone in defense of gender inequality, she (according to Jone Johnson Lewis) “declared that when she grew up, she’d learn Greek and Hebrew so she could correct the mistranslation that she was sure was behind such verses!”

Takeaway: In business as in life, when we know our truth to be THE truth, we mustn’t acquiesce. We must go over, go under, or go around. We must find a way, for truth can become compromise, and compromise can become apathy. Stay strong. Persist. And remember, as declared by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “My life is not an apology.”

Champion

To walk a righteous path but not know where it’s leading . . . is a mistake. To champion a cause, however, indicates a defined goal or objective. Stone championed women’s rights, something she focused on until the end. In fact, as she lay dying, she uttered these four final words to her daughter: “Make the world better.”

Takeaway: In business as in life, we can spend much of our day simply fighting to keep our head above water. We wrestle with our life-preserver in an effort to stay afloat; meanwhile, we make little progress toward our objective.

  1. Make sure to have an over-arching goal; in other words, champion a cause for your company or for your life. (Answering all of your emails, returning voicemails, and attending the morning meeting with Client X and the afternoon meeting with Colleague Y might be the professional equivalent of flailing your arms to keep water out of your nose so that you don’t drown! Only you know if what you do each day is helping you progress toward attaining your over-arching goal.)
  2. Once you have your over-arching goal, you can begin with the end in mind. Certainly, your day will require allocation to maintenance. But make sure to set aside time for growth as well. Remember, maintenance is what you have to do to stay afloat. Growth is what you must assert if you ever want peace.

Would your business benefit from a nudge in this direction? ABS Professional Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Travel Now”

Travel Now

Imagine this: you are at home, twiddling your thumbs, looking at a calendar free from responsibilities and action items. (You have all of the time in the world!) Suddenly, you see an alert on your phone—it’s from your bank, kindly informing you that you’ve exceeded the maximum daily amount allowed in a checking account. (You have too much money!) So you reach for a globe and start spinning the Earth, giddy about all of the countries you can now visit.

NEWS FLASH: This imagined scenario will likely die when you do.

The bad news? It will never be the right time to travel.

The good news? If you accept that it will never be the right time to travel, then you can start traveling now.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” —J.R.R. Tolkien

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” —Susan Sontag

Relaxation

Perhaps you want to unwind, disconnect, relax. Maybe La Paz, Mexico or a private island in the Maldives is what you’re looking for. (An over-the-water bungalow in the Maldives is less than you’d think. And worth every penny!)

Excitement

Maybe you simply need some excitement in your life. Consider the Fiesta de San Fermin (drinking lots of red wine, throwing tomatoes, and running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain). Or go sand-boarding (outside) and snowboarding (inside) in Dubai. Or check out the wild pandas in Chengdu or the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

Food

Is it food you’re looking for? Go to Tokyo. Or Sicily. Or Buenos Aires. Or Seoul. Take a cooking class on the island of Ko Samui, Thailand. Remember this: you are a citizen of the world. Eat like it.

Do you have extreme time constraints? We have people on staff who’ve traveled from the USA to Tokyo . . . in a weekend. Think it’s crazy? Perhaps it is, but once you’re ready to start stacking experiences instead of possessions, you may find that Bogotá, Seoul, and yes, Tokyo, are within reach for those with a dream itinerary and a three-day weekend!

Sometimes it’s not our finances. It’s not our schedule. It’s our mindset. If you’d benefit from what Zig Ziglar referred to as a “check-up from the neck up,” reach out to us. Perhaps we can help. And if anything, many of our consultants are travelers who will take great pleasure in telling you about their travels, so that you can start designing yours.

0 comments on “Business Writing”

Business Writing

The amount of time wasted by poorly-executed emails is astounding. It’s not simply time wasted through misunderstanding but misallocation of words. The time cost and the distraction cost lead to an unfortunate business cost. Of course, we cannot control the reader, but we can control the writer.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” —Mark Twain

“I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort.” —Clarice Lispector

When we put systems into place regarding our writing, we can influence our reader accordingly.

Focus

Business emails should not be written in a stream-of-consciousness style akin to a WhatsApp conversation. Your reader should not wonder if you are related to Benjy from The Sound and the Fury. Keep it simple. Before you write your email, ask yourself: What do I want to convey? What does my reader need to know?

Organization

This is the answer to “How.” How can I convey this to my reader? Again, keep it simple. You don’t need a cannon to shoot a rabbit.

Development

Sometimes we have a lot to say. Remember, though, that your long email will likely be processed in parts. And the notion that your entire email will be processed by the reader is optimistic. When you determine how extensively you need to develop your email (if it’s longer than two-three paragraphs), consider sending it in parts. (Don’t reveal your plan in the subject line, i.e., The Nestle Account, part 1.) Just set some reminders or alerts so that you know to initiate part 2, 3, etc., but do so after you’ve determined that part 1 was adequately comprehended and acted upon.

Logic

It’s not enough to proofread your email once before clicking “send.” Unfortunately, if it makes sense to you, that means very little to your reader. Many of us use inside lingo on the outside world, and then we are surprised that we’ve accidentally circumscribed our audience. Don’t proofread your email while asking, “Does this make sense to me?” Instead, proofread your email while asking, “Will this make sense to my reader?”

Arima Business Solutions has expert consultants in business writing, editing, blog writing, and ghostwriting. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your content-creation needs.

0 comments on ““To Do” and “Not To Do” Lists”

“To Do” and “Not To Do” Lists

If you’ve been active on social media lately, you’ve likely scrolled upon an article showcasing Leonardo da Vinci’s “To Do” list. The implication is not simply that da Vinci’s list is more ambitious than yours but, specifically, that “To Do” lists are composed by successful people.

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” —Winston Churchill

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” —Ayn Rand

While the “To Do” list has enjoyed great fanfare, the “Not To Do” list seems to be under-emphasized. What should make your “Not To Do” list may differ from others’, but consider these:

Smart Phones

When you need to focus on something, turn off your ringer (don’t allow it to vibrate either), and place your phone face down. Your focus is a hot commodity, and it should be protected. Of course, apps and telemarketers are competing for your focus. Do not surrender until you have planned to. In other words, when you are working, producing, thinking . . . when you are focused . . . build a fortress that phone notifications cannot penetrate. And then, once you are ready to switch tasks, once your focus is not at a premium, go ahead and flip your phone over, and have a look at your Facebook feed.

Carpe diem

To be clear, you should commit to seizing the day. What you should be careful of (on weekdays) is carpe noctem. This, of course, is a reference to seizing the night, and it is especially curious to see how we can arrive home after a long workday, and while we claim to be tired, we find ourselves suddenly possessed after a glass of wine (or two). We live in the moment, focused only on our immediate goal: “This feels good, so let’s fuel this feeling!!” Our less-immediate goals fall by the wayside, taking second place to a tired, tipsy, fun-loving fool. This may be why it’s not too crowded at the top. Remember, success is not an accident. If you have serious goals, then you must take them seriously.

Habit Changing

You have developed specific habits on purpose. You exercise each day for 45 minutes, or you include green veggies in each of your meals, or you kick-start your brain each morning by studying a foreign language. Maybe you meditate daily, or perhaps you make sure to read at least 5 pages from a self-help book every morning. Whatever your habits, know that when you skip a day, you are (often unconsciously) abandoning the habit and embracing a new one: the new habit, of course, is no longer doing whatever you were previously committed to. If you have deliberately chosen your habits, haphazard “habit changing” should make your “Not To Do” list.

What are some other things that should be on your “Not To Do” list? Comment below, or reach out to us today.

0 comments on “Remember “Think & Grow Rich””

Remember “Think & Grow Rich”

Any entrepreneur serious about his craft has likely read Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich. It’s been 80 years since its original publication, but the secrets offered to Hill by Andrew Carnegie remain transformative. Further, they remain fundamental to success. As Jim Rohn once said, “There are no new fundamentals. You’ve got to beware of the man who says ‘we’re manufacturing antiques.'”

“We see men who have accumulated great fortunes, but we often recognize only their triumph, overlooking the temporary defeats which they had to surmount before ‘arriving.'” —Napoleon Hill

“Defeat makes you stronger.” —Napoleon Hill

Here are 3 fundamentals from Hill’s essential work:

Thoughts Are Things

If your thoughts are buoyed by vague hope and imprecision, you will not likely transcend your place in life. If, however, you recognize that thoughts are real, then commit to making your thoughts clear and precise. This type of thinking is what Andrew Carnegie employed to turn desire into gold. He followed six steps, two of which shall be identified here:

  • First, write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
  • Second, read your written statement aloud twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. As you read, see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

Failure

There are 31 major reasons for failure. Many of the reasons play critical roles in our story (the story we tell ourselves and often unconsciously rehearse). Among these 31 reasons noted by Hill is number 4: Insufficient education. Hill writes: “There is a handicap which may be overcome with comparative ease. Experience has proven that the best-educated people are often those who are known as ‘self-made’ or self-educated. It takes more than a college degree to make one a person of education. Any person who is educated is one who has learned to get whatever he wants in life without violating the rights of others. Education consists not so much of knowledge, but of knowledge effectively and persistently applied. Men are paid not merely for what they know, but more particularly for what they do with that which they know.”

Positive vs. Negative

Positive and negative emotions cannot occupy the mind at the same time. According to Hill, these are the major negative emotions: fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition, anger. And these are the positive emotions: desire, faith, love, sex, enthusiasm, romance, hope. “It is your responsibility,” notes Hill, “to make sure that positive emotions constitute the dominating influence of your mind.”

A little bit of success literature can go a long way. Make the consumption of works like Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich a part of your daily ritual. As Zig Ziglar was fond of saying, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

For more motivation, reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Bookkeeper, Housekeeper?”

Bookkeeper, Housekeeper?

Bookkeeping. What is bookkeeping, and what are they “keeping?”

A bookkeeper is “a keeper of books,” not too different semantically from scorekeeper (keeper of score), housekeeper (keeper of the house), and timekeeper (keeper of time). What’s the common thread with these vocations? At first blush, they are dull, boring, unremarkable. They are things many wish not to do. But bookkeeping (at least for small businesses) is absolutely necessary.

When companies are doing well, it’s great. Cash is coming in, new accounts abound, territories are expanding, and there may just be an IPO looming. But when this happens, if a dollar is lost, stolen, or misplaced . . . no one notices. The mentality seems to be, “The cash is coming in. We got it covered!”

When companies are struggling, it’s an entirely different situation. The mentality pivots: “We need to upsize that line of credit! Can we ward off the bank’s credit committee? How did we get boxed into this financial condition? You want me to meet our future equity partner?” These are Dickens’ “worst of times.”

Now let’s talk about bookkeeping. It is suddenly important, yes? That loan increase or loan forbearance will not happen, not if the integrity of your books is compromised, not if the system of checks and balances is scaring the credit officer. And what if you’re looking for some equity cash? Sure, no problem, but the books are not current, and they are unreconciled, so the price point certainly will adjust for that.

Good bookkeeping departments or, if outsourced, good bookkeeping services can make or break a company. But once the strong cycle has transitioned to tough times, it is too late to package a clean and polished financial statement for banks and investors. The books are already closed, for better or for worse. As Chick Hearn would say, “The books are in the refrigerator, the P&L is cooling, and the miscodes are getting hard.” It is too late.

The requirements of bookkeeping can be simply stated. Book your GAAP accruals, reconcile cash, and close the books quickly. Begin with properly trained, reliable resources. Employ oversight and/or coaching by a competent supervisor. Establish accounting processes and practices with great internal controls.

Arima Business Solutions provides full-service bookkeeping. If you need an influx of talent and new perspectives, make sure they can bind the day-to-day bookkeeping so that it supports and does not detract from the company plan. Good consultants can sniff out fraud. They can identify red flags and mistakes. They can distill the information for easy understanding by owners, presidents, and Boards. They can speak to the financial trends, positive and negative. The competition is crowded and fierce in most industries today. High credibility from very well-kept books is, indeed, a strategic weapon.

Companies that are not focused on bookkeeping? Well, you know. The miscodes are getting hard.

ABS Financial Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Public Speaking”

Public Speaking

If it were easy, everyone would do it. In fact, it’s reportedly the number one fear in the USA. (Number two is death.) This suggests that many would rather die than speak publicly.

Of course, like most things, public speaking is a skill developed over time, with lots of trial and error. Still, there are ways to fast-track your oratorical ability so that you can seem proficient now.

“Some people have a way with words, and other people . . . oh, uh, not have way.”         —Steve Martin

“There are a great many ‘wetless’ bathing suits worn at the seashore, but no one ever learns to swim in them. To plunge is the only way.” —Dale Carnegie

Consider these tips:

Envision Your Audience

Know, to the best of your ability, your audience. Sometimes this will require research. Other times it’s just common sense. This is not about pleasing everybody. It’s about being considerate of your audience’s needs and wants. Remember that language can connect people, and it can also create distance. Note the value and the detriment of the following:

  • Technical language
  • Conversational language
  • Profanity
  • Questions
  • The purposeful “um,” “like,” or “right?”

Don’t Read

Most people are bad readers. Further, unless it’s a bedtime story, few audiences enjoy being read to. Instead, consider having a list of your talking points. If you’re announcing a promotion in front of your staff, perhaps this is your list:

  • I first met Charlie . . .
  • He embodies our core beliefs by . . .
  • I’m pleased to promote Charlie to . . .

Questions Are Powerful

Another method for listing is to compose the questions you plan to answer. The human brain responds well to questions, and so should yours in a short speech. You don’t need to say each question aloud but, instead, use it to direct your speech. Here’s how it might look:

  • When did you meet Charlie?
  • How does he embody our core beliefs?
  • Why are you pleased to promote Charlie?

As you deliver your speech, imagine that you are a movie camera, panning left to right and right to left, capturing reaction shots. (If it’s a speech in a large venue, request that the house lights remain on so that you can see how your presentation is being received by your audience.) Make eye contact with audience members as you pan. Good speakers will do this. Great speakers will adapt to the reactions and adjust their content accordingly.

Of course, there is more to it, but this is where we begin. Would your business benefit from a nudge in this direction? ABS Professional Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.