12/21–The Interview: One-on-One with Kim Jong-un
8/3–VIDEO: Has time run out for Laskin?
3/16–VIDEO: G-rated list of 5 reasons to hire older workers
1/30–VIDEO: I'm Scheduled to Die August 1, 2014
11/19–VIDEO: In which Mr. Laskin takes on Mr. Lincoln
11/2–VIDEO: Rapp Story redux -- an explanation of sorts
10/21–VIDEO: The Rapp Story
9/12–VIDEO: The scariest profession in the world. Really?
7/4–VIDEO: Finally, a movie review without ever seeing the movie
4/18–VIDEO: The 7 words George Carlin would never have used
2/28–VIDEO: Sequester that credit card!
1/16–VIDEO: Don gets the word
10/31–The day social media died
8/6–VIDEO: The secret to viral videos
5/31–We all agree on this, right?
4/5–What's stealing? Really? Me? Shirley, you jest
1/19–VIDEO: The other Goldilocks story
12/11–VIDEO: Accomplishments? Or credentials?
11/7–VIDEO: A few minutes with Don Laskin on Andy Rooney
9/11–VIDEO: The hidden meaning of printer ink expiration dates
8/3–VIDEO: I am a Negro
5/24–VIDEO: It’s the end of the world as we know it
4/11–VIDEO: Return of the Avatar – with handy tips for finding a job
2/28–VIDEO: Laskin names names
2/10–VIDEO: Return of blower man
2/8–VIDEO: The threat of hippos -- and leaf blowers
1/11–VIDEO: Don as you've never seen him before
11/8–AUDIO: Hating the rich. Well, some of them, at least
10/17–VIDEO: He's not sleeping, he's making an important decision
10/1–What Amelia Earhart has to do with marketing management
8/25–AUDIO: The Mosque Ox
8/23–AUDIO: Why Meg Whitman needs to talk with Don en espanol
7/12–VIDEO: Don Laskin gets a spokes-thing
6/21–VIDEO: Why webinars are a waste of time
6/1–VIDEO: Has Don sold his soul to the Devil?
5/23–VIDEO: A message to, well, you know who you are
5/14–VIDEO: Twit, Tweet, Twitter?
5/5–Don unloads on Google
2/24–The sweatsuit answer to Kaiser, or Medicare Part The Deux
2/16–What's wrong with Kaiser?
12/4–What’s as rare as a Raiders touchdown? Laskin knows
10/19–Why Dave prefers vanilla
10/1–God's will -- and other reasons
8/17–AUDIO: Hierarchy of stupid
5/25–AUDIO: Some calm words about a world in PANIC!!
4/28–AUDIO: Why CEOs can ignore everything – except Facebook
4/6–With friends like these…
1/19–When perception is reality -- except when it isn't
12/9–AUDIO: Chased by the devil
10/29–AUDIO: Sine qua non a rant it would not be Don
10/20–AUDIO: Joe the writer, er, Don
10/2–AUDIO: Perp Walk Inc.
2/25–AUDIO: Why people put up with crummy jobs
2/10–AUDIO: Making clients money with advertising
1/2–Tiny weiners on toothpicks
12/19–AUDIO: Don improves with age, he says
12/6–AUDIO: Why telecommuting gardeners are needed
10/1–Don Laskin – Almost human?
7/8–Counting, if not connecting, the dots
5/3–Is your advertising stuck in a silo? So is Don
2/5–It's deja vu all over again for Don
9/10–Observations: Laskin faced end with courage
7/14–Observations Why Don Laskin’s ex-boss hiked up her skirt
6/16–Observations They're baaaack! And don't say you weren't warned
4/28–Be careful what you wish for
4/17–Did somebody just say something?
3/8–Laskin makes his first annual “Moron of the Month” Award*
2/15–Our man Laskin reports from a UFO
1/30–Laskin pioneers podcast idea
1/11–Veteran podcaster Don Laskin offers advice
1/3–The Logic of Illogic (Part 2)
11/15–An easy death
7/14–Making a Better Than Human Human
7/4–A tool of capitalism
6/26–Position Heal thyself. -- Plus: Useful information. For real. No kidding
6/25–Life is Like a box of chocolates with no “i” in team
5/15–A $1,000 fine and five days in jail
4/23–Is spending money on advertising a waste?
LETTERS FROM LASKIN
Position Heal thyself. -- Plus: Useful information. For real. No kidding
by Don Laskin
June 26, 2005
If you think I’m starting off with the “useful information,” you’ve obviously never read an Observation, believe Iraq had WMDs, that there is chicken in Chicken McNuggets and Microsoft is a philanthropic nonprofit. Oops, almost started giving you some useful information. Well, not so fast. As they used to say on Monty Python, “Now for something completely different.” Or in this case completely useless.
Well, maybe not completely useless. I mean it could have some use.
I mean if you’re reading this you’re probably not robbing a bank. Well, you could be reading this while robbing a bank.
But, maybe you’re bad at multitasking. Maybe you’re reading the stickup note and handing this to the teller. If you’re busted threatening a teller with an Observation, there’s no telling what a judge might do – especially one with a sense of justice.
IN ANY EVENT, before I get to another digression, I should explain that “Position Heal Thyself” should have been “Positioner Heal Thyself.” But, faced with a choice of making a play on words or making sense, what would you do? Fortunately, you’re not me (Yes, I know it’s “I.”) — so naturally, I chose the former.
Okay, the point of this piece is simply: before advising others to position their companies, I should be able to position my own. I should, but my company has an unusual problem (Yes, two if you include me). This problem puts me squarely between the proverbial rock and the proverbial hard place, proverbosely speaking.
Here’s the deal. You remember The Lone Writer? Well, as it turns out, a lot of people do. It’s been a couple of wars and a generation give-or-take since The Lone Ranger was more than nostalgia. But, the name is so deeply ingrained Americana that The Lone Ranger, and by reflection, The Lone Writer, sticks in people’s psyches.
That’s also BAD and here’s why.
Imagine an imaginary guy named Joe Citizen. It’s election eve. As a good Citizen and better citizen, Joe’s paid attention. He knows the candidates’ positions right down to the mayoral and assembly races. To speed voting at the booth, Joe takes a few minutes to mark his sample ballot. What? What’s this? Joe had no idea he’d have to choose four judges and five school board members from the six running in each category. What do they stand for?
The Sunday “election issue” of the paper? Went out with Monday’s trash. Candidate Web sites? None. But, Joe Citizen wants to vote. He needs to vote. He must vote. Joe Citizen WILL vote.
Joe examines the sample ballot booklet. There he finds the candidates' sexes, ages, occupations and names. After he eliminates male software engineers over fifty, female teachers under forty and former police officers, Joe is left with the candidates’ names.
What’s in a name? William “A rose by any other name” Shakespeare says nothing. Joe “leave no ballot unmarked” Citizen says everything — because a name is all he can go by to pick a candidate.
Now you and I would never be caught in Joe’s shoes. After all, he wears 13 extra wide. But, the same is not true of many people who remember The Lone Writer and have really humongous feet. These people remember The Lone Writer alright. But, they don't "remember" to look at the backgrounder, which explains what I do for a living. And, when you strip away the frills, what I do is bring in lots of paying customers.
Instead, what do a lot of people latch on to? Lone as in freelancer and Writer as in something any moron can do. Now the difference between an independent businessman and a freelancer is…. Okay, so I can’t tell the difference. Maybe there isn’t one. But, I know for a fact that it is patently untrue any moron can write the way I do. It takes a specific kind of moron. Besides, I do a lot more than put a dangle into a participle. But once they hang the freelance writer tag on you, it ain’t easy. Freelance writers in Silicon Valley are worth about as much as a Viagra prescription to the Pope.
So, to get around the mistaken impression that I am just a freelance writer, I intend to take these repositioning steps.
From now on, The Lone Writer uses the royal “we” as in Queen Victoria’s “We are not amused.” (With the addition of an expletive or two, you’re probably in agreement). Anyway, from here on out it’s “We provide this” and “We provide that.” Occasionally, I, er, we might even say, “We provide this and that.”
And to retain The Lone Writer name that’s been so valuable and memorable, but remove any vestige of the freelance writing connotation, we are changing the name to: The Lone Writer Halliburton Company — and immediately raising prices.
And now, for something completely different and without precedent in an Observation: useful information.
Several months back, we bought our daughter a laptop with a Windows XP OS. Now, even if we wanted to pirate a version of Microsoft Office, XP’s key coding would’ve made it darned hard. So, clearly, the only honorable thing was buy Office. Having a dial up connection at the time, we consistently timed out before being able to convert the trial version to permanent. Finally we paid our $149 and had Microsoft mail us a CD.
Fast forward. We just bought another laptop with XP and went broadband. When the time came for the trial version of Office to run out on the new laptop, we called Microsoft to see if we could use the same code key my daughter used to convert her Microsoft Office. I was guessing that Bill Gates was going to make us buy Office a second time. Still, it was worth a phone call to save $149.
The Microsoft representative explained Microsoft didn’t support trial versions of its products and gave us the number for License Technologies Group, the company that did. (Bet you didn’t know that.)
While I was trying to get through, my wife read the back cover of the Office CD. Hidden in plain sight, it stated the license covered downloading Office on three(3) machines per residence.
Had we had broadband when we got my daughter’s laptop, we’d never have requested the CD and never would’ve known the license was good for three machines. And, Microsoft wasn’t eager to share that information. Would we have donated another $149 to the Bill Gates Welfare Fund? Yes. Would Microsoft have refunded it? Yes, after the next class action suit.
Today, the trial version of Norton Antivirus ran out. After what happened with Microsoft, I thought I’d check to see if my daughter’s license for her permanent version of Norton Antivirus would cover additional machines as well. The salesperson at Symantec said no, but offered to convert our trial version for $29.95. I said I’d just as soon take care of it online and hung up.
The Symantec Web site offered the same software for $34.95. I phoned Symantec again. This new salesperson I got charged us $24.95 for the exact same software — $10 less just by ordering by phone!
And all this time you thought Observations wasn’t worth the electrons it was printed on.
Don Laskin is a veteran of the advertising and public relations jungle. Reach him at email@example.com. Or give him a call at (408) 406-3574.