OUR MUSINGS

Enter The Power of “No”

By Justin Brown, Senior Art Director

For those who don’t know, I have a 14 month old little boy. He’s our buddy and he thinks we’re hilarious. But the days are making him older, and it’s now time for redirection.

Enter the power of “No”.

Have you ever noticed truly successful people have little trouble saying “No”? They do it politely, but they do it and do it often. “No” is a control word, a word that has real power. When we use it, we’re in control. When we don’t, we’re open to the control of others. By saying “No”, we guard our time, our efforts and even our money. When we say “yes”, or even “maybe”, it can make all three vulnerable.

“No” is such a simple word–only two letters–yet saying “No” out loud is hard for most people. Most of us said, “No!” quite well when we were two. After all, it’s the two-year-old’s job to say “No.” The authority figures in our lives at the time, our parents, expect us to say “No.” (But I’m not looking forward to it…)

However, many of us grow up to be people pleasers. We void “No” from our vocabulary, and we substitute ways to be agreeable and keep the other person happy. Saying “No” to authority figures or clients is not expected. Underneath it all we believe that saying “No” will cost us something of value.READ MORE

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Where are the iPad-Friendly Toolboxes?

By Chuck Bates, Public Relations Director

Recently, I visited a machine shop that specializes in manufacturing tools and devices used in orthopedic surgeries. I interviewed the president of the company for a client case study that would be placed in a metalworking trade publication. During that interview, and as I do when conducting all such interviews, I wrapped up the meeting asking what the future held for the company.

The president of the company predicted that business would continue to grow at a significant pace and that there would be a need to purchase additional manufacturing equipment. While this has been the common response with all shops in today’s booming manufacturing industry segment, what really caught my attention was that he said the company would be automating the shop floor to a whole new level using iPads.

The company’s plan is to purchase maybe five or six iPads and designate them to strategic areas within the shop. Once that’s done, the company will remove many of the computers currently being used on the shop floor. The iPads will serve the same functions as the computers, but the iPads will provide much more, mainly because of their mobility. They will store information on jobs and how the shop’s specific medical components are to be manufactured, but most importantly, they will eliminate redundancy and reduce even more paperwork than the computers did when installed.

For all the shop’s jobs, the iPads will house job schedules, current job status and the documentation required when manufacturing medical components. All shipping and receiving will be tracked in the iPads, and the company will have a portal on the backside of its system that will allow customers to check, in real time, on the status of their particular jobs.

During the manufacture of medical components, the company’s machinists will use the iPads to bring up stored photos and videos of how certain workpieces should be set up in machine tools, as well as view a list of needed tools for that particular job and the required machine settings.

While the president of this medical manufacturing company was relaying to me how the iPads would be used, I couldn’t help but envision the shop’s machinists walking around with iPads dangling from tool belts or of a machinist’s tool box that featured a built-in iPad station so the device could be mounted on the inside of the toolbox lid and would automatically switch on when the tool box was opened. But according to the president of the company, the machinists would carry the iPads around with them to specific machines as needed then return them to designated stations. The idea of tool belts or iPad-friendly toolboxes was never mentioned.

On a last note, I did conduct an Internet search and found websites offering iPad mounts in various colors for refrigerators, cars and airplanes – nothing specifically for machinist toolboxes.

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Moser, Reshoring at the White House

by Harry Moser, Founder, Reshoring Initiative

Harry Moser with President Obama at the Insourcing American Jobs Forum, which took place at the White House on January 11, 2012

I was first contacted by the White House’s National Economic Council on Tuesday, Jan 3.  They said that the Commerce Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy had both recommended I be included in a possible Jan 11 event related to reshoring, or as they called it “insourcing.”  They asked whether I would attend if the event were held.  I asked “attend” or “speak”?  They were unable to commit.  We communicated a bit by email for the next few days and I rearranged my travel schedule to get to DC and on to MA, Albany and NJ without breaking the bank. (DC to Albany would have been $700+).  On Tuesday, Jan 10 they confirmed that I would actively participate in the morning Roundtable and the afternoon panel, so the travel arrangements were a good investment!

I entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building thru the Guest Entrance, passed security twice,  and was taken to the Roundtable room.  Great assemblage of business executives, cabinet members, presidents of major unions, Governor of Oregon, Mayor of Atlanta, other administration leaders,  and 2 other experts.  Vice President, Joe Biden, also joined us with the President. Wonderful networking!

President Obama entered and shook hands with each of us.  He said to me: “I have a question for you.”  He was perfectly scripted with questions tied to each participant’s experience and knowledge.  The President started the discussion and stayed quite non-political.  The attendees responded with solid data and examples and avoided any political controversy.  We all focused on what could be done.  I described the importance of businesses using total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis and the fact that the online TCO data base showed that whereas 100% of cases had far higher U.S. prices, 60% had lower U.S. TCO.  Strong support was expressed for use of TCO, instead of price variance, to decide on sourcing and for skilled workforce development.

The press conference was a mix of the essential content of the Roundtable and more politically motivated comments.  At the end I told the President I would send him a good reshoring line for the State of the Union address.  He encouraged me to do so.  I sent it the next morning.

The afternoon panel was much less structured than the Roundtable. Karen Mills, Administrator of the SBA , led the panel.  I provided overview and suggestions what SBA could to strengthen financing and the skilled workforce.  The SBA senior staff followed-up with me to discuss issues and opportunities in depth.

I was honored to be included.  I look forward to pursuing joint interests with many contacts and to advancing reshoring and the tightly tied issue of skilled workforce.

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A No-Longer-Premature Look at 2011’s Music

So the back half of my original entry from November 11 was originally going to run before the end of the year, but then travel and holidays and other miscellaneous busy-ness happened and here we are two weeks into the new year. 2011 was a great year for music and over the past two months, I picked up several late-in-the-year releases and re-listened to quite a few earlier ones, causing a bit of a shift in my top 10. Namely, 2 of my top 10 in November fell a bit, so now the cumulative list will be the top 12.

12. Wilco – The Whole Love – see November’s entry

11. Glasvegas – Euphoric Heartbreak – see November’s entry

10. Ok Go – “Muppet Show Theme Song” from The Green Album
Like many of my generation, I’ve got a fair amount of nostalgia for the Muppets. Elise & I saw the new movie over the holidays and loved it. I knew I’d be picking up The Green Album, but I wasn’t prepared for just how good it is. For those who haven’t heard of it, it includes a variety of highly talented artists doing new takes of their favorite old Muppet songs. I’m including the video from Ok Go, because Ok Go makes the best videos of any band today, but really, every song on the album shines and you can tell the musicians have a lot of love for what Jim Henson created.

9. Mates of State – “Palomino” from Mountaintops
A husband-wife team, Mates of State tends to make music that lifts your spirits, even when the lyrics aren’t always the cheeriest. Mountaintops is my favorite work they’ve done and was the soundtrack to getting our house ready to sell, making all the cleaning and minor repair projects a bit more bearable.

8. The Vaccines – What did you expect from The Vaccines? – see November’s entry

7. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light – see November’s entry

6. Elbow – “Open Arms” from Build a Rocket Boys!
If you like Coldplay or Snow Patrol, you’d probably love Elbow, a fantastic UK band that hasn’t become as known in the US as they should be. Quite a few of their songs have popped up in movies and television shows, but they rarely get radio play. The latest album didn’t get quite the accolades they usually receive, but it was among my favorites of the year.

5. The Dodos – No Color – see November’s entry

4. TV on the Radio – “Will Do” from Nine Types of Light
Usually, saying a band’s music is instantly recognizable is a bit of a backhanded compliment, insinuating all their songs sound the same. Not so in the case of TV on the Radio. They’re another band that hasn’t had a huge amount of popular success, but have songs frequently pop up in movies or tv shows. I’d be remiss to not point out that the use of their song “DLZ” in the episode “Over” in Breaking Bad‘s second season may be my all-time favorite use of a song in a television show.

3. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” from El Camino
I love that The Black Keys seem to finally be getting the attention they deserve. If you listen to popular radio, you’ve probably already heard this song. Get the album and then just start working your way backwards through their catalog. It’s all great stuff.

2. The Antlers – “No Widows” from Burst Apart
My introduction to The Antlers came with Hospice, a concept album about someone caring for a terminally ill loved one. While the lead singer has declined to say how much the music was based on life experience, it was a beautiful and sad masterpiece of an album and one of my favorites of the 2000’s. Burst Apart isn’t nearly as good, but that’s not to say it isn’t great. If you like music that could be described as haunting, you should check out The Antlers.

1. The Naked and Famous – “Frayed” from Passive Me Agressive You
This is kind of cheating, as this New Zealand band released their album in 2010, but it didn’t make its way to the US until 2011. It’s a driving, catchy, awesome album and may be the best debut since Arcade Fire’s Funeral.

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