Curse of the Unread

It begins so innocently, even admirably:  A love of reading, a thirst for knowledge, a desire to share information.

It hooks you young:  First a couple of storybooks read by a relative, then a library card of your own.  Soon you’re not satisfied with just borrowing books; you want to keep them and read them whenever you want.

Grave of the Unread

Grave of the Unread

And the hunger, the driven feeling to acquire reading begins.  Soon, without suspecting it, you’re suffering from the new malady:  Page Plague Paralysis; American Hoarder Story.

It used to be so much easier to spot in someone:  They’d have books and periodicals all over the house.  My own library covered an entire wall.  But—-and here’s the key to information hoarding—-many are unread!

Now, however, with the creation of the computer and personal devices such as tablets and e-readers, the effect is much more insidious.  You pile up file after file of PDFs, e-newsletters, RSS feeds, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, all with greatest intention:  Someday you’ll want to read them.

You poor misguided creature.

I too was once a sufferer and still harbor remnants of my recovery as it progresses.  If my Kindle suddenly acquired the weight of the volumes I’ve downloaded, it would weigh more than the combined contestants of The Biggest Loser.  (Hey, Jeff Bezos!  How about letting us create more than one library of our Kindle books?  I’ve got more Jack Reacher novels in your cloud than emails in my inbox!)

Here are some tips for recovering from Page Plague Syndrome:

1.  Assemble all of the novels you’ve read and all of the non-fiction books you haven’t opened in a year or more.

  • (a)Place them in containers
  • (b)Donate them to the library or other nonprofit organization
  • (c)Take a tax deduction for donated goods

2.  With magazines, recycle everything older than 6 months.  Then try for 3 months

3.  Put all your PDF files into one huge, byte-consuming file on your computer

  • (a)Organize by date entered
  • (b)Everything you haven’t read that’s older than 6 months and which you absolutely  don’t need for research—-be bold, be masochistic—-and hit the (gasp) delete button
  • (c)OK, if you have’t the got the spine for that, transfer them to an auxiliary drive.

4.  Finally, ask yourself:  Do I really need all of the files I’ve saved in Evernote? How many have I “clipped” and forgotten?

Yes, my friends, you can recover from information hoarding.

  • Think of the space on your bookshelves that can now be adorned with pictures of your family!
  • Luxuriate in the free disk space you now have on your computer and/or tablet!
  • Realize that you can now can buy or download all sorts of….



Social Media Gone Sooo Wrong

You just can’t make up this stuff.

SecretCNET, a trusted tech web site, is reporting today about a new app for sex accessible through Facebook (with “friends”) and another for professional folks through LinkedIn.  They’re called “Bang With Friends” and “Bang With Professionals.”  And “Bang” means exactly what you think it does.


I’m not sure who’s going to take the first step to signing up but it’s got trouble written all over it.  I don’t think this is what the two social media sites had in mind when they first invited people to connect.

I’m sure that neither Facebook nor LinkedIn are enthusiastic participants in these ventures; they’re just vehicles for people contacting each other.  But I’d think that they would have some standards.

I think that the LinkedIn version must still be in the “soft” stage because it doesn’t show up on their search option.  The Bang with Friends exists, however, on Facebook and has a large number of “likes.”  Most of the posts are in languages other than English.

HEY!  I was just doing some research, OK?  I wasn’t going too far.

It’s bad enough that there’s a referral service for the air charters offering a Mile High Club option.

Now we’ve got, uh, I think I should just stop now.


My apologies to those who may be offended by this post.  It was just too crazy to ignore.


4 Rules of CEO Survival with Boards

Politics are everywhere.  There are office politics, industry politics, association politics, and if you work for a Board of Directors, Board politics.

Walking on Egg Shells

Walking on Egg Shells

My career included working for a Board of Directors for over 22 years, in charge of a not-for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO).  Since our funding was also tied to an industry (tourism and hospitality) as well as being sanctioned and collected by local government in the form of lodging taxes, I learned very quickly about the many types of politics.

I learned 4 rules that can help you survive in situations fraught with politics.  Some of them are practices you can do or avoid doing.  With the others, you just have to be aware that they exist:

1.  If “they” want something bad enough including your butt, they’ll find a way to get it.
“They” in this case consists of anyone to whom you or your organization report.  Perceptions and opinions can change almost instantly and you need to be on your guard because, as the person in charge, you’re the most vulnerable.  Look at any athletic team:  When the win/loss record goes south, they fire the coach, not the players.

2.  Friends come and friends go but enemies accumulate.
It’s amazing how true this item can seem.  If you’re breaking new ground, making things happen, or “boldly going where no one has gone before,” you’re going to make a few enemies.  Keep track of them and always try to convert them to friends.  Lacking that, do what you can to neutralize their influence.

3.  Any project worth doing and worth doing well is going to tick someone off.
This is related to #2.  Not everyone is going to like every idea or project you undertake.  Ask yourself:  “Who’s going to oppose this?”  Then, include them.  Listen to them.  You may wind up agreeing or just agreeing to disagree.  But you won’t have ambushed them.

4.  It’s not your money; it’s not your organization.
This is the one that kills more of us than any other.  After awhile it’s easy to begin resenting that the Board ultimately controls policy.  After all, they only show up once a month for a meeting.  Hey, you’re there all the time, right?  Who are they to tell you what to do?

Bye, baby.  Your successor will pick up the pieces because you forgot that you don’t own the place.  You run it and you serve at the Board’s discretion.  That doesn’t mean you have to turn into a toady.  You can serve and still keep your self-respect.  It’s called “professionalism.”

Frequently when you’re dealing in political or Board situations, the best gift you can have (or cultivate) is a finely-tuned inner radar:  That sense that tells you when, as Obi-Wan Kenobi put it, “there’s a disturbance in the force.”  Frequently, when friends of mine got fired unexpectedly, there were signals somewhere that they either missed or ignored.

I enjoyed working for my Board.  They were open-minded and loyal to the organization, and they were nice people to boot.  But I always adhered to these rules.  Consequently, I had a great career working with them.  Additionally, I was able to leave on my own timing, at my own choice, and everyone still liked each other.


Silence, Please

Today is Thursday and it reminded me that two months ago today, I went on my annual retreat.  It’s  an annual escape where we meet, greet, eat, and retreat.  I mean RETREAT.   Silence, please.  We stop talking on Thursday night and don’t talk again until Sunday supper.  It’s kind of sensory deprivation and spiritual overload.

Demontreville Jesuit Retreat Center

The silence, as they say, can be deafening.  The idea is to be alone with God.  And 60 other guys doing the same thing.  But, that’s why he’s God.  He can listen to us individually and still pay attention to those other 60 guys.

Yeah, it’s a guy thing.  That is, it’s a thing that’s only for guys.  At least at this particular spot.  It’s run by the Jesuits and it’s a retreat center just east of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  They do men’s retreats almost every weekend and mine is in mid-September.

It really is an exercise in introspection, retrospection, expectation. It’s time to retire, rethink, relive, remember, reorganize, rearrange, and be religious.  Now THAT’S a retreat.  As they say during orientation, retreat is a military term that doesn’t mean “turnaround and go the other way.”  It means to stop, rest, take a look around, assess and then decide what to do.  I don’t know if that’s the idea that Sun Tzu or General Patton really had in mind when THEY said “Retreat!”  But, it sounds good when they’re explaining the whole idea of making a retreat.

That’s right—making a retreat.  The priest that’s there for the weekend to lead the process isn’t going to give you a retreat; you’re going to make one.  It’s up to YOU.  Because God doesn’t like to shout through the distractions (who does?), they pull all the input plugs.  No radio, TV, newspaper, telephone, computers, internet, mp3 players, tablets, or smartphones.  Disconnect, disengage, and discover.

There are no distractions, no worries.  Just listen, think, contemplate, and pray.  Ask God to help you.  Consider those things in your life that you wouldn’t want to spray paint on an overpass and what you might like to do about them.  Don’t come programmed.  Don’t tell yourself “This time on my retreat, I’m going to think about my marriage.”  Or my kids, or my job, or my weight, or bad habits.  Just listen to what they have to say, think about what God might have to say, consider what you need to do, and get ready to do it.  Just wait and see what bubbles to the surface.  Something always does.

It’s amazing what a little quiet can do.  Actually, it’s a LOT of quiet.  A whole lot of quiet.  3 days of quiet.  If you can’t hear God talking to you under those circumstances, you’re not listening, my friend.  Because, every year, God does a little whispering in MY ear.  And every year, I wind up doing one of the things that they warn you about.  Don’t try to go out and change the world in a couple of days when you leave this wonderful womb. Because the rest of the world doesn’t know where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, or how profound you found the experience.  They want to know why they’ve been getting your voice mail since Thursday afternoon and why you haven’t answered the e-mails overflowing your Inbox.  Welcome back, Jack, to the real world where we don’t ring bells at assembly time or turn out the yard lights so you’ll get some sleep.  We may tell you how to think but it won’t be based on scripture.

So, you take the hard-won enlightenment that you worked out with God over the weekend and try to extend the serenity and live the lessons you learned.  It’s a fascinating, calming, and cleansing experience.

Getting Started & Procrastination

First a disclaimer; obvious perhaps but necessary:  I’m not a designer so please be gentle with me.  I’m experienced in leadership, marketing, public speaking, and writing but this is my first web site and my first blog.

Next, procrastination:  I can’t believe how long I put off doing this.  I’ve always been a a PPP (Practically Professional Procrastinator) but when I finally took the stepof assembling the content and entering it on this WordPress site, it was ridiculously simple.

So the fruit of PPP (Pushing Past Procrastination, this time) is joy, simple joy:  Joy at completing something; joy at checking it off the to-do list, joy at seeing the project launched.

I’m nearly giddy.

Cole Carley Communicates was born a few months ago to help tourism destinations and other segments of the tourism industry as well as engage in general public speaking.  We’ll be adding resources as we go along so please come back and visit.