Your Inner Yinzer 'n'at

Yinz gotta learn Picksburghese, especially yinz not from aron here, like doze of ya in Ahia, other parts of Pensivania, and even yunz up 'ere on da Sahside slopes, or ov'ere in Sliberrty, Sharteers Crick, da Mon or da Yock or dahntahn or in da Strip or near da carline in da Sout hills or in Oaklan near where Jaynell used ta be.

So take off yer babushka, redd up yer room, and if ya haven’t et yet, reach into yer cubberd for yer favorite snack. Get up off yer p'toot and off yer stoop and head to da Jynt Iggle. Grab some jumbo or chipped ham for a sammich and pop it in your poke. Or get some city chicken, and a Klondike. And to worsh it down, drink yer pop, or take yer church key and snap da top off an ahrn.

If ya cuttent or dittent understand what I jus wrote, yer prolly wonderin’ what’s goin’ on. Don’t worry, y'aint lost jet. 'Specially if yer nebby, stick with it. Don’t get tangled up in your gutchies, or be a jag off 'n'at. Don’t worry 'baht da sidewalks bein’ slippy, or brown warter comin’ out da kitchen spicket or if da Stillers will win this week. Put a gum band on your wrist soze ya remember. This is yuge.

That’s it Fort Pitt. Yer first lesson is over.

Roughly translated:

You must learn the local vernacular spoken by native Pittsburghers, especially those of you who are not from Pittsburgh, like those of you in Ohio, other parts of Pennsylvania and those of you who live in the South Side Slopes or East Liberty neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, or near Chartiers Creek or the Monongahela River, or the Youghiogheny River or in downtown Pittsburgh, or in the Strip District section of Pittsburgh or near the trolley tracks in the South Hills of Pittsburgh or in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh in the vicinity of the former site of the Jones & Laughlin steel mill.

So, remove the kerchief that is folded triangularly covering your head and tied below your chin, clean your room, and if you have not eaten, reach into your cupboard for your favorite snack. Get off your behind, leave your front porch and head to the local Giant Eagle grocery store. Buy some bologna or processed ham sliced as thin as an onion skin for a sandwich and place the items in a grocery bag. Or enjoy a meal of breaded pork and veal skewered and grilled, or a Klondike brand ice cream bar. And to wash it down, drink soda, or take a bottle opener and open a bottle of Iron City Beer.

If you could not or did not understand what I just wrote, you are probably wondering what is going on. Don’t worry, you are not lost yet. Especially if you are nosey, stay with it. Don't get tangled up in your underwear or be a jerk. Don’t worry about the sidewalks being slippery, or brown water coming out of the kitchen spigot, or if the Steelers football team will win this week. Put a rubber band on your wrist as a reminder. This is huge.

That’s all. Your first lesson is over.

If'n yinz wants further info, check abaht daht com or the Car-Nay-Ghee liberry or up air or ove' air.


Olympic Medals? Let Me Count the Ways

The Washington Post reports that every day since the games began, the Olympics medal chart has dominated the front page of China's main state-run newspapers. China is always ranked first based on the number of gold medals won. The U.S. media trumpets the total medals tally. Not surprisingly, the U.S. leads using that metric. The Post continues:

"Don't look to the International Olympic Committee to resolve the debate. According to the Olympic charter, medal tables don't have any meaning. The IOC says that the games are a competition between athletes, not countries."

Yeah, right.

Anyway, if only gold medals count, why award the others? Likewise, if a bronze is worth the same as a gold medal, why have the competition? If we are going to compare country medal totals, we need weights.

Give the bronze medal a numeric value - say one. Give the silver a higher value - say 1.25 or 1.5 or even 2 (although I would question whether a silver medal represents twice the value of the bronze). Give the gold a still higher value.

Based on the final medal count, the U.S. would lead 137.5 to 130.75 if the values for Gold, Silver and Bronze were 1.5, 1.25 and 1. If the values were 2, 1.5 and 1, the U.S. lead would be 165 to 161.5. China would lead 223 to 220 if the values were 3, 2 and 1.


Expand the Pie Before Dividing It Up

"Many managers who view themselves as the heroic guardians of shareholder interests—the no-nonsense, tough-as-nails guys who run their businesses by the numbers, who pride themselves on their hypercompetitiveness, and who think that "organizational culture" and "shared values" are irrelevant fantasies concocted by out-of-touch academics—may be inadvertently running their companies into the ground and systematically destroying the wealth of their investors...

"The most successful organizations understand that the purpose of any business is to create value for customers, employees, and investors, and that the interests of these three groups are inextricably linked. Therefore, sustainable value cannot be created for one group unless it is created for all of them. The first focus should be on creating value for the customer, but this cannot be achieved unless the right employees are selected, developed, and rewarded, and unless investors receive consistently attractive returns...

"Why do managers so often choose not to focus on value creation and instead make decisions that systematically decrease the long-term value of their businesses? One reason may be that their training and education lead them to define their organizations' interests too narrowly... If management defines the organization's self-interest (and consequently its goals) too narrowly—for example, to maximize this year's or this quarter's reported earnings—it will view that interest as being at odds with the interests of customers and employees...

"This approach is based on 'win/lose' or 'zero-sum' thinking: The underlying assumption is that there is a fixed pie of value to be divided up among customers, employees, and investors, so the interests of the three groups must be traded off against one another...

"Companies that act on this myopic conception of self-interest may stumble into a downward spiral of poor decision-making that is difficult to reverse. For example, as reduced employee training and compensation lead to low employee morale and poor performance, and as underfunded R&D allows a product line to age, customers can become dissatisfied and begin to defect... When customer do defect, profits shrink, tempting management to cut back even further on training, compensation, and R&D, thus accelerating the spiral of customer dissatisfaction and defection...

"Alternatively, if managers define their company's interests broadly enough to include the interests of customers and employees, an equally powerful spiral of value creation can occur. Highly motivated, well-trained, properly rewarded employees deliver outstanding service, while effective R&D investments lead to products that enjoy a significant value-adding advantage and generate higher margins. Satisfied, loyal customers (and new customers responding to word-of-mouth referrals) drive revenue growth and profitability for investors...

"An 'expanding the pie' approach to management requires that a company alter its thinking along several dimensions...."

Read more in Value Creation and Business Success by Paul O'Malley from which the foregoing was quoted.

Who's Winning in Your Workplace?

"Are competition and cooperation at play in your work environment? The Olympic Games are a great example of how dynamic forces balance and reinforce each other in large systems. At the same time that national pride pushes countries to compete aggressively from sport to sport, so too is a spirit of cooperation in evidence as individual athletes demonstrate sportsmanship and countries agree on standards regarding everything from scoring practices to drug testing.

"When you look around you at work, can you determine who's winning the medals? Can you identify who champions the importance of working together?

From Leverage Points newsletter.


In The Mountain

Chilled in Old Tingri, we awake after restlessly tossing the night in the ramshackle motel ruled by a green-haired Tibetan princess. Darling daughter and I fondly recall the proprietor’s response to my earlier inquiry about the availability of showers. Her majesty had deadpanned that hot water was available 24-hours, adding that “Maybe it’s not so hot.”

Not so hot, we break from our room into the cool morning dim, roused by our driver and guide to begin the jeep ascent to the Mount Everest base camp. The “good road” has been shut down for repairs. So we bounce and bang our way up the alternate route - a twisting, winding, bumpy mess of a mountain trail - up and up and down and up and down and up and up and up. Painstakingly, we climb the harsh, rocky, marvelous terrain, above the tree line, on the roof of the world.

We cross frozen streams and deep dry washes. We bounce by scattered herds of goats, sheep and yaks tended by families of hearty nomads. Narrow stove pipes jutting from yak hair tents waft light blue smoke into the pale morning sky. I keep expecting the sparse tundra to peter out to nothing, but it never does. Bunches and bits of moss and lichen and grass endure the elevation, providing fodder for the animals and green relief from the variety of muted grays and browns that comprise the stark glacial landscape.

Hours later, we crawl past the sacred threshold, the incongruous Rongbuk Monastery. Strings of faded prayer flags drape the chorten, an enigmatic reliquary that resembles a giant marshmallow plopped on concrete steps topped by a tall, cylindrical metallic crown. Emblems of the sun and moon in the crown symbolize the light of the Buddha’s teaching. A solitary monk clad in a bold red robe trudges beneath the fluttering that connects the chorten to a complex of low-slung, chalky dwelling places.

We roll on without stopping. Our guide and driver know that the quicker we traverse the remaining distance to the North Face, the more likely we will decide not to stay overnight at the makeshift base camp tent city. They would much prefer the fuzzy motel at Old Tingri. We will not hear of it. We will spend the night stuffed under piles of yak hair blankets in a cozy, frozen tent they call the Hotel California.

The jeep trail ends at the tent city – two rows of room-sized, rectangular, chimneyed, brown hairy boxes, festooned with an assortment of faded rugs and bunting – astride either side of the built-up, packed-down dirt road.

We mount a rickety, wooden, horse-drawn cart for the final leg of the journey to the base camp, that is, to the photo opportunity tombstone that marks its official location for tourists. The weary dark steed is decorated festively and contrasts wonderfully with the sparce, rocky terrain.

Everest looms large in the near distance. All but its broad, streaked white base is surrounded by late July fog. The mountain hides. Our eyes are constantly drawn to it. We are pulled toward the peak, like souls searching.

The cart winds its way slowly up the dirt road, the clop, clop, clop of the horse’s hoofs punctuating the whistling breeze. We fix our gaze on the mountain. Pieces of Everest peak in and out of the clouds, tantalizing us.

We pose for pictures and linger, despite the clinging, insistent presence of the horse-cart driver who wants to go back for another fare. Time is money even here.

We strike up a conversation with a bicycle rider. About this time yesterday, he says, the wind cleared away the haze, revealing the precipice in all its glory.

We return to the tent city and walk into the nearby boulder-strewn expanse to wait – to wait for Everest to clear. We prop ourselves up against a couple of large rocks and sit. We are near a gentle rippling stream alone in the field with the stones, the wind, the lichens and the mountain. We stare at the clouds covering the crest. We gaze at the summit shrouded in mist. Hours pass in rapt contemplation.

I am struck.

God is in the mountain.
Mysterious, hidden, present, powerful, enduring,
drawing me near, pulling me closer,
lifting me up into the mystery.
God is in the mountain.


So You Want to Take Your Company Public?

"The following are among the most important matters to be addressed by IPO candidates in the six-to-twelve months before an IPO.

"Pricing Option Grants: For a venture-backed company that grants employee stock options (as almost all do), the SEC will review during the IPO registration process the company's determination of fair market value...it is advisable for a company planning for an IPO to hire an independent valuation firm to determine the fair market value of its stock at the time the company grants options. A rigorous, contemporaneous independent valuation is strong evidence to counter any challenge by the SEC related to the compensation charges included in a company's financial statements...If the company expects an IPO in the next 12–18 months, quarterly valuation updates are generally appropriate...

"Auditor Independence:...While the SEC auditor independence rules generally do not apply to private companies, a pre-IPO company's accounting firm must be independent with respect to each fiscal period (generally three full fiscal years) covered by the financial statements in the IPO registration statement... Accordingly, a company contemplating an IPO in the future should ensure that its accounting firm satisfies the SEC auditor independence rules even prior to the IPO...

Controls and Procedures: The SEC has adopted in the last several years a variety of rules relating to both "disclosure controls and procedures" and "internal control over financial reporting." These rules require public companies to establish and maintain such controls, to evaluate them on a periodic basis and to report on such evaluations in their periodic SEC filings. In addition, a public company's annual report must include a management report on the company's internal control over financial reporting, as well as an audit report from the company's independent auditors.

These requirements make it critical for a company to establish and document robust controls and procedures prior to its IPO...

"Corporate Governance Issues:...It is never too early for a company comtemplating an IPO at some point in the future to [comply with] the corporate governance standards applicable to public companies [including those required] by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, NASDAQ or NYSE rules...[The requirements include provisions regarding] ...independent directors... audit committees...compensation and nominating committees... codes of conduct... and shareholder approval of option plans..."

Read more in this article by Patrick J. Rondeau for PLI from which the foregoing was taken.



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updated March, 2011