Archive for the ‘Experts’ Category

Service of What Are You Good At?

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

This subject came up in conversation with a friend the other week. (She does everything well.) I thought of it at Trader Joe’s on a day one of the employees split in two the long line waiting for a cashier, yelling out, “Every other!” meaning the people in both lines should progress at a crucial point, one after the other, as you would braid hair, to again form one line.

If long enough, the line in this store cuts across an aisle artery so an employee is posted to feed customers to the other side so the next marketing cart or shopper won’t cause gridlock. The young woman at that spot that day was terrible at this mindless job. She ignored the second, parallel line, ushering ahead only customers in the first. It required another staffer to straighten things out. The young woman was probably terrific at something else.,

My friend asked me what I’m good at. What came to mind immediately is what I’m not such as anything to do with numbers or drawing, handwriting or games. I’m good at making lists, spending money, meeting deadlines, growing some indoor plants, shopping, hugging, PR strategy, spotting trends and baking pie. I love taking photographs and writing blog posts.

Does even the simplest job require training? What are you good at? When you think about the question does what you don’t do well come to mind?

Two lines waiting to check out at Trader Joe’s, Manhattan

Service of Common Sense

Monday, December 21st, 2015

I tell graduate students I mentor to rely on common sense and share a conversation with a former boss I’ve mentioned before on this blog. He was in the hospital with a mystery ailment, suffering countless diagnostic tests. “Could it be phlebitis?” I asked him, remembering he’d had that when I worked for him years before. Turned out that was the problem, not some exotic disease. You didn’t need a medical degree to come up with that obvious conclusion.

Whistle in the Wind

So when I heard of Bernie Sanders’ campaign worker who accessed and copied Hilary Clinton’s voter database I thought, “Is this person tone deaf to this candidate’s clean-as-a-whistle persona?” He parked his common sense in some other candidate’s driveway.

Study the Surroundings

On a visit to The Morgan Library this Saturday, I marveled at a 3-story glass wall in the front hall [at the right of this photo]. The view captured the back of a lackluster apartment building and some serviceable, unattractive separations between unimpressive back yards. This view diminished the impact of the architectural achievement and questioned its purpose. 

In addition, a heavy door to the library and Mr. Morgan’s study opens when you push a knob on the right and surprises as it comes at you. For a distracted visitor or one who can’t back up and out of the way quickly enough, it could be dangerous.

Listen to the Expert

My hair stylist told me of a mutual friend’s folly. The woman is a recent widow who wanted a different look as her birthday approached and she ignored the stylist’s advice and had a permanent. [She lives out of town and has her hair done locally.] The stylist warned her that the procedure would not enhance her wonderful straight, thick hair. The friend compounded the recklessness by immediately dyeing her tresses, burning her hair and achieving a dramatically freaky effect. The only remedy the hair stylist could suggest was to leave mayonnaise on the hair the day of her next appointment with her coiffeur, though she didn’t hold out much hope. Hopefully the rich oils in mayo would act as a super conditioner.

Is it ego that causes employees or consultants to take actions that conflict with the boss’s approach; an architect to design a project that ignores surroundings or a woman to override an expert’s advice? Can you think of other examples?

Service of Listening to the Experts

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

I drop off dry cleaning at a satellite where there is no tailor to measure clothes that need adjustments. I asked the cashier if I brought in a pair of my husband’s slacks the right length could the tailor work with them to shorten a new pair of khakis? She explained that this wasn’t a reliable solution because all pants aren’t equal and don’t fit the body in the same way so the lengths could be misleading.

She told the same thing to a woman who brought in formal slacks and jeans. The woman asked for the slacks to be cut to match the length of the jeans. The cashier warned the customer and was experienced/smart enough to have her sign a receipt to confirm that she’d been so cautioned. Nevertheless the customer returned enraged when the formal pants weren’t the right length.

This reminds me of a similar selectively deaf client an interior designer told me about that I mentioned in a post long ago. Her client wanted to save money by ordering fabric panels for her window instead of a standard drapery style involving yards of fabric to fill the window with graceful folds.

The panels would be stationary, the designer warned, making the client a sketch that showed that they left the center of the window uncovered. The panels were fine, insisted the client, happy to save the cost of additional yards of expensive fabric.

The designer reiterated that she would not be able to cover the window with drapery fabric nor tie back the panels. The client said she understood and still opted for stationary panels. When the panels arrived, the client, a lawyer, hated them. She said “they don’t cover the window!” and subsequently sued the interior designer.

Do customers like this hope for miracles? Do they not listen? Do they distrust the expert? Can you recount similar examples?


Service of Architects & Designers

Monday, January 13th, 2014

I have interviewed and admired the work of countless architects and interior designers over years, think that good ones are essential and can save their clients tons of money as well as produce great looking, functional spaces.

There are instances, however, where a client either ignored, or didn’t hire, either one.

Street Smart

We’ve been through a wintery/icy period in New York City which puts the buildings with inappropriate sidewalks on my blacklist. I wrote about this recently. What architect worth his/her salt would specify stone, cement or a shiny finish for a northern climate, in a walking city, where surfaces become an ice rink in sleet or snow?

When selecting the sidewalk in front of a building does anyone pay attention to trees, like the Gingko, that shed fruit that stain? Light colors only highlight the blotches. Add foot traffic that discolors and marks the ground and one wonders. Without constant attention to keep it clean, the new sidewalk looks worse than the original one in short order.

Good Intentions

I was in a hospital recovery room and saw wall art on the ceiling. What a good idea for a patient prone on a gurney, reentering consciousness, to see a pretty floral scene above.

Trouble was that the series of ceiling paintings weren’t over the gurneys; they were in the halls above the aisles.  One explanation: That the room had been used for something else and in reconfiguring the space, the ceiling art landed in limbo.

In another instance, the air vent in the patient’s room was over one of the beds. Brrr. There was plenty of room for a vent in the entry hall.

Great Improvement

In new construction, finally, there are plenty of ladies’ rooms in movie theatres and concert halls.

Please share examples of brilliant, uninspired or dangerous interior design or architectural feats.

Service of Experts

Thursday, June 28th, 2012


Terri Seligman, Partner, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

For marketers and investors, keeping up with social media is reminiscent of staying on top of breakfast orders at a busy truck stop: Organized mayhem. Lawyers in the industry are faced with constantly changing precedents, waiting day-to-day for judicial decisions that could send a client’s project back to the drawing boards even if it’s timed to amplify an imminent product or service launch.

The web and worlds of Facebook and Twitter may seem enormous, anonymous and therefore safe for loosey-goosey interpretations of the law. Wrong. These highways are stomping grounds of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC], state Attorneys General, the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies and self-regulatory agencies on the lookout for false advertising and product claims.

With mega high jinks missed by some regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, [remember Bernie Madoff?], I am amazed how thoroughly the FTC and other agencies patrol and scour the blogosphere, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media venues.

terriseligman1I learned more about this recently when New York Women in Communications asked an expert, Terri Seligman, [photos above and right] to share an overview of social media and the law. Seligman is a partner in the advertising, marketing and public relations group of the New York City law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.

Disclosure is the key for staying on the right side of the law in this Wild West. The questions: how much and how often, about what and when?

terriseligmanwindows-005smallSeligman told us about a fashion retailer who invited bloggers to an “exclusive blogger preview” of spring fashions. They left with bags filled with new products and gift cards worth from $50 to $500. PR execs and marketers have produced such events to generate publicity for eons. So why did the FTC investigate the company?

Seligman explained that some of the bloggers wrote about the fashions but didn’t indicate in their copy that they’d been given the items they reviewed or bought them with gift cards. This placed what the law calls a “material connection” between the fashion chain and the bloggers, a relationship which must be disclosed.

terriseligmanwindows-001smallBut the government closed the investigation without bringing a formal action against the retailer. The FTC was satisfied that the retailer had implemented appropriate procedures for these programs, including having a formal social media policy and posting a wall poster in the event space asking the bloggers to make clear in their posts where they got the products they reviewed. Seligman suggested that to avoid complications in similar instances, a company should take additional measures to reiterate the admonition so that bloggers make their relationship clear. Hearing her, I would suggest that a client of mine note this request in follow-up emails and in press materials prepared for bloggers.

Further, it’s a company’s job to keep its eye on what “its” bloggers write and to ask for appropriate adjustments in copy as necessary.

How and when should a blogger disclose a material connection? Early and often, according to Seligman. The FTC expects the relationship be front and center on even the shortest communications such as 140 character tweets. Seligman suggests the writer use typical hashtag disclosures such as “#paid” or “#spon” on Twitter and to repeat the connection on every Facebook and blog post.

Holly, a friend

Holly, a friend

What does the FTC consider an endorsement that a blogger must disclose? Seligman cited the FTC’s example of a blogger who wrote about a dog food that improved her dog’s fur. If she received and reviewed the free dog food as part of a network marketing program, the shiny fur claim is an endorsement. It’s not an endorsement if the blogger bought the food or got it with a coupon as part of a loyalty program.

There’s far more to learn such as how much monitoring of blogs is a company with a social media program expected to do and what should a company ask bloggers to agree to? Seligman can tell you, and if you’re lucky, you can catch up with her when she speaks again–she addresses organizations all over the country. Meanwhile you can keep up on her law firm’s ad/marketing law alerts at

You probably hire a CPA for taxes, a photographer/videographer to cover events and maybe you’ll add social media lawyer for appropriate campaigns. It’s no time for crossed fingers, guesses or guidance from a generalist when your media strategy involves bloggers to review and promote products, sponsored endorsements, contests and sweepstakes run through twitter and the like. What other experts can’t you live without?


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