Advice, humor and more!

James Bond Roofing & Insulation

Former head of the Central Intelligence Agency Allen Dulles tells us what he thinks are the key attributes for an intelligence agent in his book, The Craft of Intelligence. Many of these double-O skills would well serve managers involved in the roofing and insulation industries. How many of these secret agent traits do you share?

  • Accurate perceptions about people.

  • Ability to work with other people under difficult conditions.

  • Learning to distinguish between fact and fiction.

  • An inquisitive mind that always asks questions.

  • Ingenuity in large amounts.

  • Attention to detail.

  • The ability to express ideas clearly, concisely and — perhaps most important — interestingly.

  • Awareness of when to keep your mouth shut.

Mark Your Calendars, People

That’s right, another calendar note — you brave souls who read this column regularly should be used to this sort of thing by now.

April 25 is Administrative Professionals’ Day (try to calm down). It used to be Secretaries’ Day, but that’s no longer politically correct, so now we have this more-inclusive-so-nobody-whines-about-it designation. That in itself is insipid, but the people who profit from the scam don’t seem to mind entirely too much, so here we are.

Certainly no offense is meant toward the good people to whom the awkwardly phrased “administrative professional” title refers. God bless them — they can play a vital role in a company’s success, and the good ones are to be cherished. They are depended upon far more than they are recognized for and deserve 10 times the kudos they usually garner — so do something extra-nice for them that day.

Of course the “Portfolio” staff will keep you posted on Bust-My-Butt-For-Years-And-Take-All-The-Risks-And-Place-My-Family’s-Future-On-The-Line-To-Make-This-Company-Go-While-Putting-Up-With-Way-More-Than-One-Person-Should-Have-To Day.

You thought there were 365 of those, didn’t you?

More Political Correctness Fun

The long-awaited Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial was dedicated earlier this year. It wasn’t easy. During the planning:

  • Anti-smoking activists demanded that his statue not show him with his ever-present — even identifying — cigarette and holder.

  • Disability activists demanded that his statue show him in a wheelchair, despite Roosevelt’s request to never be portrayed in a wheelchair.

  • The same disability activists, having successfully overridden the man’s personal imploration, demanded that his wheelchair, which he had designed himself to not look like a regular wheelchair, be changed to look more like a regular wheelchair.

The “Portfolio” staff doesn’t have the heart to disclose precisely how many of your hard-earned tax dollars were spent on all the delays. We can only hope that everyone appreciates these efforts to protect us from having to think for ourselves.

Toward Customer Service Excellence

What makes for excellent customer service? Survey research specialist Stephanie Kendall went to companies with either excellent or poor reputations for customer service to see what accounts for the difference. She discovered three factors that stand out as the most important. In the excellent firms:

  • People have confidence in their co-workers at all levels, believing they are motivated to do as good a job as possible.

  • Managers serve as positive role models, actively handling service problems rather than passing the buck.

  • People are trained to put things that are important to the customer ahead of things that are important to the company. Employees pay attention to small details that are important to the customer, even though they may seem insignificant to those in the business.