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Published:August 6th, 2009 10:19 EST
Business and the Zen of Managing

Business and the Zen of Managing

By Dan Goldberg


Being in business. What the heck does that mean? Aren`t we all Commerce Crash Dummies on the grand scheme of enterprise utopia?


We`re all in business just by the nature of who we are and where we live. No not just Americans but all of us. Even the Dani and the Yanamamo, those primitive " folks in the rain forest. Every one of us is trading, selling (for something), getting, wanting and consuming! We`ve done it. We`re all cosmic entrepreneurs.


So what do we get for being business people? Worry, fun, power, laughs, greed, humility, money, toys, sex, love, hemorrhoids, heart attacks, satisfaction, reinforcement, disappointment, ego boosting, bankruptcy, wealth, clothes, scorn, just about everything! And "that all-important just another typical day at the office (or store or cart or route or whatever). The amazing thing is that we have this tendency to take it so incredibly serious.


I`ve been lecturing, coaching, and consulting to business people, including those in my own companies, now for almost thirty years and one of the most interesting things I`ve noticed is this under laying tendency to want to be content. Of course this really has nothing to do with business at all and everything to do with our inner selves, but yet we filter it through our business lives.


There I stand training people how to sell better, manage more efficiently, present themselves effectively and so on and yet throughout my sessions I find myself constantly reminding everyone, including myself, that this is a game. Indeed, that`s what business is "a game " more succinctly a game within a movie. Like a chess match in a production by Fellini. Ah, the craziness and beauty of it all. It`s a situation that we`ve invented to drive ourselves into so many different realms of existence.


Point: If you really commit yourself to playing the game, play to win.


Along the way take time out to view the wildness of it all. Understand the comedy in it,

even the comedy of the tragedy. It`s ok to laugh at it and your self in fact I think it`s a requirement. Geez, if I couldn`t laugh I would have cried myself into extinction a long time ago.


Think about all the outrageous things this business stuff has taken you through, little things, heavy stuff, life altering and silly situations. Sit back and view it. Now don`t get too hard on yourself. Don`t wallow in regrets and don`t think you know it all. Look at it in perspective. Hey, there are plenty of people who would give their left arm to have gone through the kind of stuff you have, even the losses. So play with it and enjoy it.


Light moment:


In 1970 I had just begun my fabled dispensing career in optics (fitting eyeglasses to you neophytes). There I was "nervous as hell, well appointed in my suit and tie. Wig on just right (had to cover that hair that went halfway down my back), with this little older woman standing across from me, waiting anxiously to see perfectly again. I guess I was too tense to ask her to sit down. I opened up her frames, grabbed her new glasses by the temples (side pieces), held so professionally between my thumb, index and middle fingers and proceeded to place them on her face. As they were nearing her ears I couldn`t understand why they wouldn`t go any further. I was struggling to set them on their proper resting place and be cool at the same time. Finally this very calm and kind woman (probably realizing that she was my first victim) said, Look down, on my face, look down ". There stuck in her nostrils were the nose pads, so perfectly inserted, pulling her nose up to her forehead but certainly not permitting those temples to rest on her ears!


Whew, what an idiot! I couldn`t believe it! For that split second I didn`t know whether to get down on my knees and beg for her forgiveness or consider taking up a new profession in rhinoplasty. Fortunately Ms. Patient began to laugh hysterically. I, relieved, caught the moment and began to howl. Hmmm "just missed having my behind handed to me on a sling!


You have to love it, the complexity, seriousness and absurdity of it all. The older we get, hopefully, the more our inner security grows so that we can organize ourselves to bring about some efficiency into managing this mania without beating the living hell out of numero uno.


As time went by, after Mrs. Nose Pads, and I went on to building my own successful business with locations all over the country and overseas I was determined to try to keep the organization fun. That was and continues to be the number one tenet (followed very closely by making money) to managing my self, my employees, my businesses and their growth throughout the years. We can put all kinds of parameters and structures in place. Write manuals spelling out everything from when we should go to lunch to when we`re allowed " to get sick, from procedures on how to purchase to how to sell and what programs to use to report both activities. Yet, if the ingredients of fun and/or stimulation aren`t present it`s as if all our well-meaning dictates were written on a hologram. Sort of there, but not really.


The stimulation/fun factor is so important that it`s one of the main reasons people leave one career to go on to the next. That includes recognizing your co-workers for jobs well done to being able to forgive them for mistakes (something we all must remember we all do). Of course there is a process for dealing with mistakes. Forgive, then explain what should have been done in those situations. Give and receive feedback. Enable people to process the information and the mentoring you give them. Let them feel free to ask you anything in regard to their job.


A caring approach usually gets a caring response. However we always run the risk of folks who will take advantage of the good-natured. As the old saying goes, once shame on you, twice shame on me " and may I add three times or maybe once or twice more (with documentation) there`s the door! I`ve always felt that those who take advantage of nice people, well it`s their lose.


Be kind, caring, considerate, and never, ever loose sight of the goal. If business is all a competitive game, as we said, and we`ve chosen to participate then we`ve got to get to the goal line before the opposition. There`s nothing more fun than winning at a challenging game you`ve chosen to play. Except maybe if you`ve chosen the game of lay in the hammock, drink coconut milk all day, catch a few fish and make love.


Hmmm "wait, do that gig in Newark or go to Saint Barth`s. Hold on let me think. I`ll let you know next month.


We`re only on this planet for a finite period of time. Please manage by not losing focus and play to win but I behoove you to be kind, make money and have fun!




Dan Goldberg is a keynote speaker and the President of Dan Goldberg Consulting, L.L.C. a training, coaching and business development firm located in the Philadelphia, PA area. He is the author of the book Lighten Up and Lead, " co-author (with Don Martin) of the book The Entrepreneur`s Guide to Successful Leadership, " and author of The Six Steps To Solid Sales Success " and The Seven Elements of Successful Management " programs and the audio tape Growing A Successful Business ". You can contact him at, visit his website at or reach him at (215) 233-5352