Try This

It takes guts to create something, a podcast, a YouTube video or a newsletter, and then share it online.

The price the creators usually pay is dealing with the scourge that is the online troll, which exist for the sole purpose of being cruel and offering nothing of value.

Despite my screed the other day about too many requests for feedback, there are times when I think it’s worth going out of the way to leave a comment.

That’s why, as often as I can, I leave a positive comment for someone whose work I appreciate and value. I know I appreciated it when I had a going concern, and I think people doing good stuff need to know that we like it.

Try it out for your own self.

Freezing Fridays in Kalamazoo

At a young age I knew I was not long for the cold weather and occasionally am reminded why.

This week I received the annual magazine from my alma mater’s College of Arts and Sciences. Printed on the back cover was a small article promoting a chance to support the renovation of a classroom building. (Name a room or collaboration space!)

The building’s name I knew but couldn’t place it on campus. I looked it up and saw the original, and soon to be replaced, Dunbar Hall.

This photo captures the essence of walking to class on a January morning in a cold-weather state.

Stay warm, kids.

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Share Your Feedback!*

“Feedback is a gift,” a former boss used to tell me. “You can either accept it or not.”

It’s time for some feedback on feedback — the constructive kind, of course.

Over the past six weeks I’ve received a dozen or so emails from companies ranging from Apple to Zappos, stores where I made purchases during that time, asking me to “Tell us how we did!”

In many cases, they aren’t looking for pass/fail type of answer. They want detail. They want a review. And writing a decent review, one that’s worthwhile to another customer, takes time. Who has time for that?

I know from working with my clients that Customer Satisfaction (always capitalized) is a crucial measure for the business and a it’s a key part of many employees’ compensation.

But this consumer wants out of the stream of surveys and feedback requests for every pizza and burrito, Target or Home Depot run.

I also know that for the most part these surveys are automated and occasionally targeted, and that companies need to send surveys to a lot of people and hope 10 percent reply.

Sometimes the surveys just don’t make sense, given the detail and data a retailer already has about the order. I placed a couple of gift orders for Christmas in which I had the items sent to the recipient in another state.

A few days later, I was being asked how the item fit and a bunch of other irrelevant questions — irrelevant because I don’t have the item and might never lay eyes on it.

The obvious answer** is to just ignore these survey emails and I do, for the most part. If there’s a discount code or something of value on the other end of the survey (my grocery store offers fuel points for a completed survey) I will do it.

But completing a survey for a three-minute run into the Hallmark store to buy a card? That’s a hard no.

This ends my rant.

*Please don’t.

**Another obvious answer is to stop sharing my email address and giving these places permission to email me. Don’t tempt me.

The +/- To Do List

I wasted invested a lot of time and money over the years trying to find the perfect to-do list app. Inevitably, I return to paper (preferably a 3×5 index card) and pen.

Each morning, I write three things I need to do that day on my card, listed with a hyphen:

– Do this

– Do that

– Do the other

When I’ve completed each item, I mark it with a line going down to make a plus sign.

Even though I simply turned three “-” into “+”, my brain sees the list like this:

+ Did this

+ Did that

+ Did the other

It ain’t much, but for me it’s three wins — and three things I don’t have to carry over to the next day. And it sets me up to continue the winning streak.

Tuesday’s Tiger: Richie Hebner

  • Born: Nov. 26, 1947 in Boston
  • Acquired: Traded by the Mets to the Tigers for Phil Mankowski and Jerry Morales on Oct. 31, 1979.
  • Seasons in Detroit: Parts of three seasons (1980-82)
  • Uniform Number: 2
  • Stats: .267 avg., 25 HR, 128 RBI, .769 OPS

Richie Hebner didn’t swing at the baseball as much as he chopped at it. That hacker’s cut was, the Tigers thought, an ideal fit for Tiger Stadium’s right field porch. It also served him well in the offseason when he dug graves in the Boston area.

According to the Associated Press story on the trade that brought Hebner to Detroit in October 1979, the Detroit acquired him for his punch:

“We’re really pleased to get somebody like Richie,” a Tigers spokesman said. “He’ll give us some power hitting we need.”

Power? Richie Hebner?

He came from the Mets where in 1979, his only season in New York, he hit just 10 homers. Keep in mind, no matter what Hebner did offensively in 1980, he’d be an upgrade over the featherweight hitting of Aurelio Rodriguez who hit only five homers in ’79. But by June of the 1980 season, Hebner was playing mostly at first base, replacing a true power hitter, Jason Thompson who was inexplicably traded to the Angels in May.

In fairness, Hebner arrived in Detroit as his career was closer to its end than its beginning. At 32, his best power were behind him but from 1971 through ’78, he averaged 17 homers for the Pirates and Phillies.

But on to his time in Detroit. Hebner’s first season was his finest, hitting .290 with 12 home runs, 82 RBI and an .826 OPS. The strike-shortened 1981 season wasn’t a good one for him, though. He hit just .226 with five homers. Hebner played in 68 games for the 1982 Tigers hitting .274 with eight home runs and — get this — 18 RBI.Hebner_Richie

On August 16 that season, the Pirates purchased his contract bringing him back to the city where he played his first nine seasons. He remained in Pittsburgh for the 1983 season and signed as a free agent with the Cubs where he spent the final two years of his career. The Cubs released him in April 1986. But back to his time with the Mets for just a moment. The AP story on his trade to Detroit has a delicious quote from then-Mets vice president and general manager Joe McDonald:

“Richie was unhappy living in New York — not that he was down on the Mets organization, me or (manager) Joe Torre, but he never did get used to the town. He didn’t like the city and the traffic disturbed him.”

He said Hebner only made three trips into Manhattan during his entire tenure with the club.

Now that is a strange thing to tell the media. Traded because of Long Island traffic?

According to the always reliable (ahem) Wikipedia entry on Hebner, he spent the 1989–1991 seasons as Red Sox hitting coach and the 2001 season in the same role with the Phillies. He also spent several seasons coaching and managing in the minors, most recently as hitting coach for the Norfolk Tides in 2010.

One final note on Hebner: he was the final Tigers player to wear number two before the club retired it in honor of Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer.