Leader or Manager?

I want to discuss the difference between a leader and a manager.  A leader… by definition… is someone that is in front.  In front of what?  Well… there’s the obvious one… a race… but that’s not what we’re talking about here.  So in front of what?  In front of a group of people?  Which group of people?  And this is where it becomes interesting because the truth isn’t as hard to grasp as you might think.  A leader is in front of the group of people that chooses to them.  A leader inspires and ignites passions.  On the battlefield, in politics, in sports, and everywhere else… leaders inspire those around them… and… those around them seek the leader for their inspiration… and in so doing… they choose the leader that inspires them the most.

Now what about a manager?  Is a manager chosen by the people they manage? No.  Do they inspire in any way?  If you strive to be a manager someday… you could be said to be inspired… but its not by the person… its by the position of power they have achieved.  A manager is chosen by those they report to.  Therefore… a manager is an advocate of higher management goals and directives.  Their job is to make sure everyone does what they are supposed to do within their goals and directives.  This is not to say that manager cannot be inspirational… its just not their job.

This can be explained through the differences in the answers given to the same question…

“What can I do to get ahead?”

A leader will tell you to have respect and always be on the lookout for ways to better than you were yesterday.

A manager will tell you to be professional and always be on the lookout for ways to better the company.

A leader tell you to have faith in your fellow man and trust that your example will light the way.

A manager hovers over your shoulder, or sends you statistical analysis of your performance in an email.

A leader helps you overcome your flaws and shines the light on your strengths for all to see.

A manager develops the skills that help you perform well… but denies you skill building that might make you a threat to their position or the positions above them.

A leader advocates for people and promotes their well-being.

A manager hides the truth and calls it political correctness… or even worse… blames HR and their restrictiveness.

Leaders have a way of mixing things up and finding better ways to do things… and something tells me… that even if a manager somehow became inspired by a budding leader in their ranks… they wouldn’t have the ability to act on it anyway… as a leader can cause havoc… and that’s not part of the plan.  The managers objective then becomes to tame this unknown variable and attempt to use in a way that best helps the company.  If these attempts are unsuccessful… the budding leader is shunned and eventually released (fired).

This is a sadness that strikes the heart of every indentured servant wasting their life away in corporate torture chambers.  Managers help those with similar goals reach high limits.  If your goals are contrary in anyway… you are no longer considered a positive force as a leader… but rather highly regarded as a threat that must be either consumed or expelled.

I once thought a corporate career could be a path to a better life… and while many aspects of my life have improved… I’ve spent 15 years in “entry-level positions” with nothing to show for it… and I have a fucking Master’s Degree!  And why?  Because I see things differently?  Because I think corporations should and must do more than they are doing?  Because I believe in corporations taking responsibility for themselves and the people they employ?  Because I believe that the current system of cut-throat, hire and fire, secrecy, micromanagement, and outright disrespect for human life that corporations have taken with their actuarial tables and numerical breakdown of each person’s life that allows them to disassociate themselves form the consequences of the numbers they calculate and create… is leading to the destruction of our race in spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual, political, social, and economic ways.  We have become slaves.

What the fuck do we have left?!?!?!  The small glimmer of hope that one day we get to be the manager?  The one that doesn’t care?  The one that treats people as expendable?  The one that develops people only as far as suits the goal… but becomes wary when those people become complacent and bored?  Really?  That’s what we have left?  That one day our manager will pass on… and then maybe I can shift upwards?

I won’t do it.  I swear.  I can’t lose the part of me that inspires.  I can’t lose the part of me that wants to help people… whether they want help or not.  I can’t be apart of it and see any changes affected.  I’m not being effective here because I’ve spent too long jumping through their hoops.  But I will improve.  I promise.  There is more to come.

Social Engineering In My Own Home…

lifeNow I know that the concept of the media being used to win hearts and minds… for better or for worse… is not a new thing.  But I want to talk about a particular aspect of social engineering that scares me.

I’m a quasi-gamer.  I very much enjoy all kinds of games… but not like you’re thinking.  Today’s gamers think gaming is sitting in chair and yelling at 12 year-olds while shooting everyone they see in amazing HD graphics.  Which is fine… I’m not bashing the gamers or the games here.  They are all awesome!  But what I mean is… they (games) are ALL awesome!  Card games, board games, video games, coin-operated (I miss these a lot), PC, handhelds, plug-and-play, hot-seat, pinball, billiards, darts, various sports, dating, the list goes on and on… I… love… games!  (By the way… if you want your grandma to love you… learn dominoes right now!  That’s right… grandma can throw bones!  Go spend some time with her!)

Games can entertain you, teach you, bring you together with friends and help you make new friends… although they can also destroy friendships too.  No other experience can take you from mind-blowingly, controller-throwing, game-board-flipping, cussing-like-a-sailor, frustrated one second… to an absolute feeling of invincibility, accomplishment, and chest-exploding pride the next second!  Games are amazing!  And they teach us so much about ourselves and those around us.  Especially how we handle defeat and overcome obstacles… but also how we handle victory and whether those victories will shape us into someone admirable… or not.

Another function of games today… is education.  It’s become common place now for entire aisles at your local mega-mart to filled with educational toys, video games, board games, and card games.  Which I am all for… the more fun learning is… the better!

Last weekend, my son and I sat down to play a timeless classic.  My old LIFE game.  Now… I have had this board game since… well… long before my son was even born.  It was our family’s set growing up.  Many years of frustrated spinning had taken place on that wheel… trying anything to lube that tiny point under the wheel, so it spin more freely… baby oil, vegetable oil, cooking spray… I think I eventually adopted a dry method that involved a tiny amount of baby powder… that wheel would fly!

Anyway… we went to get the board out… and it was packed away from our most recent move… so we went to the store and picked up a new one… that could be his.  This made him very excited and when we got home we quickly unwrapped the game, pulled out the instructions and he starts reading in his best second grade reading voice…

“Each player gets a car… and a… token… of the same color… and a peg… either… pink or blue,” he says, “and everyone gets…” and there is a pause… “two zero zero K…?”

And without skipping a beat, I inform him, “That means 200,000 dollars.”

“Oh” he said… and continued…

We split the cards up… chose a banker, me, of course… and then we decide if we’re gonna go to college (a sensitive subject with me anyway) and my son says…

“If you decide to go to college… pay the banker one zero ze… oops… 100,000 dollars.”  🙂

“Wait… what?!”  I said.  “They give you $200,000 to start LIFE and it only costs $100,000 to go to college!?  What kind of hippy-fantasy nonsense is this?”

So I decided to sit my son down and explain to him… “that LIFE is not real Life.  In real life… no one gives you anything… and in the “old” version of this game… you started with no money… and you took on debt to go to college… so that’s how we’re gonna play.”

And we did…

And he won!

And he and I felt awesome!

So what was the purpose behind changing the rules of LIFE?  Why would you want to make children believe… that things are just given to you in LIFE?  … that everything is easy in LIFE?  that as long as you keep going, LIFE will always be fun?  that when you get married, you either get $50K or $100K?  that changing your career in LIFE is as easy as paying a $100K halfway through LIFE?  Why would you want to get CHILDREN to believe these things about LIFE?

Number 1… its easier… and if you don’t know why its easier to lie to/teach a child… go read something else…

Number 2… they are the future!  Indoctrinate them early and you have homegrown support for whatever cause you’re promoting.  Anyone with an agenda and boat load of cash can use this type of influence… Socialist, Fascists, Communists, Righties and Lefties, and my personal favorite “indoctrinator” of youthful hearts and minds… the Catholic Church.  Oh lordy… I love the faith-based games… especially that one where God is playing sinner whack-a-mole constantly… that’s a good one.

And if you’re confused about whether I’m talking about LIFE or Life… how is child supposed to know the difference?

But this was Hasbro!!!  Transformers and Scrabble!  Right?  This company shaped my life… with rubics cubes and jenga and connect 4 and monopoly.  They were my childhood drug of choice.  They challenged me… and taught me what it was to lose… and to win… and to do better than I did the last time… and gave me a thirst to compete… and a drive to overcome myself and those around me through achievement… and of course… they blew up my battleship!

Now its not that I don’t think education should be more accessible.  I don’t even disagree that there are somethings that should be socialized… like healthcare… but this is a distortion of reality… and until Life works… the way this “new” LIFE wants it to… I’m playing old-school rules and so is my son.

Teach your kids the truth from a young age… and they’ll be just as indoctrinated.

Chicken F***ers!


So if the title did get your attention… maybe this roast will…

As I mentioned before… I’m a huge Jon Oliver fan.  His show on HBO, Last Week Tonight… is amazing.  Yes, he’s British… but that just adds to his appeal as someone not born in the USA… that is truly trying to make a difference here.  He obviously cares… and like myself… find that humor is a great way to get a message across.  That whole “spoonful of sugar…” adage… or saying… or general idea.

His episode on 5/17 addressed a few things, but the main focus was Chicken Farming.  Just like all of you… and even Mr. Oliver himself stated… I love chicken.  So this isn’t a cry for people to stop eating chicken, nor is this a cry to start hating farmers.  This is a cry for attention and motivation.

The episode begins with a call to recognize the importance of the chicken on our culture.  It is quite literally the food we compare the taste of everything too… and somehow I doubt muddy, swampy, alligator meat tastes “just like chicken”, but whatever.  The point is… chicken is a meaty measuring stick.  We eat more chicken now than ever before in history… which leads to the inevitable corporate intrusion into the industry… for more profits.

According to the show… small chicken farmers are sub-contracted by corporate chicken conglomerates…in what is now being called “Contract Farming”… and once the agreement is signed… it becomes a nightmare for both farmer and foul alike.  Keep in mind while you read further… that according to the show, quoting the FDA in 2011, that 97% of chickens raised in the US are done so… through contract farming agreements.

Within many of these agreements are instructions on how to maintain low levels of exercise for the birds and help ensure a fatter bird… faster.  These things can include multiple feedings per day.  Reduced sunlight and fresh air in order to reduce natural stimuli and encourage sleep… making the bird store more energy in the form of fats.  These instructions can lead… in many cases… to birds that rarely see daylight or get outside… ever.  Living conditions within the “warehouses” (that’s what I’m calling them) that the birds end up living in… also tend to deteriorate as the birds are crowded into ever worsening conditions.

Farmers that have tried to speak out on the issue have had their revenues cut, do to harassing down-grading of the birds they produce as well as other forms of threats that prevent them from standing with their community members in attempts to fight back.  At once such gathering… a gentleman informed the volunteer committee and all those in attendance, that he represented over 650 chicken farmers in Alabama… of which less than 5 had showed up to the gathering… due to harassment and threats from corporate “partners”.

The corporate representatives quoted on the show said two things primarily…

Chicken F***er #1. Tom Super, a National Chicken Council Spokeman… “Which poverty line?”  Wait… what?!  What do you mean which poverty line?  There’s only one Mister Super!  Google it!  There are dozens of places that you can find the current national poverty line… here… I’ll help… all you have to do is pick one on this page:


Nice try Tommy boy!

And Chicken F***er #2… which was by far my favorite idiot… Bill Roenigk, also from the National Chicken Council… speaking to one of the aforementioned committees… posed this question to the farmers who had gathered to voice their concerns about his business practices and there affects on their community… he asked, “5 years ago, knowing what you know, or at least what I think you know… why would you get into a business… that you feel… at least from your comments… is not a very good business?”

Really Billy!?  Are you kidding… you seriously just asked a room full of people you’ve been screwing over for 5 years… why they let you screw them over for 5 years?  That’s your defense?  Okay… so you’re clearly a chicken farmer f***er, as well as a chicken f***er!

As a result… many of the chicken farmers are now living below the poverty line in the country… chained down by their ridiculous agreements and live in constant fear of losing their contracts and thus their livelihood… simply for standing up for themselves.

Here’s the kicker…

There are already rules and regulations in place that protect chickens and farmers alike.  Which brings us to…

Chicken F***er #3… and quite possibly the king of all the chicken f***ers… Steve Womack… representative of the 3rd district of Arkansas (the home of Tyson Chicken) is the face behind provisions in federal mandates that prevent the enforcement of the regulations already on the books.  He fights every attempt to enforce these rules… but others are fighting back

Marcy Kaptur, Ohio’s 9th congressional district rep, is attempting for the second time… to get these provisions enforced by the FDA.  The committee being assembled has 51 voting members from across the country.Mr. Oliver… in his ultimate wisdom… displayed the names of each and every one on his show last night.

He could have just mentioned that it is the House Appropriations Committee… and displayed a link to their members list… like this:



Please… get in touch with you local representative… let them know your feelings on the treatment of the chickens… and the infringements on the rights of farmers who have lost their right to voice their concerns… without repercussions from arbitrary, gladiatorial ranking systems… and immoral, harassing business practices.

John Oliver’s final thought… and I agree… If we are loud enough in our support of Representative Kaptur’s proposal to protect farmers from harm just for speaking up… then… any voting member of the committee that votes against it… has no defense against being labelled a Chicken F***er.

Thank you all for your courage!


Road Rage Has Gone Airborne…

Keep Right

That’s gotta be the reason for it.  There is something in the air.  Water wouldn’t do it… since we all have different supplies of water… so air it is.  I’ll explain…

I was driving on a two way country highway today… that’s one paved lane each direction… going 55 or a mile or two over with the cruise control set.  I’m taking my son to his mom’s after our weekend visit.  It’s a long drive… half interstate and half country highway that cuts through various country towns of differing sizes (and clear differences in the levels of pride)… but all in all… it is a great drive and I get tons of time to think and listen to music… and most importantly… talk to my son.

He’s a smart kid… and a good-hearted boy… in a way that reminds me of how much I miss being a child.  There’s always an affinity for innocence I think… that’s why all babies are cute to us.  Could be baby, flesh-eating sharks… and someone will think they’re cute.  Anyway… we were driving along… windows are down… the sun is shining, mostly… and we’re making good time.

Now… maybe you’ve seen one of these points, on one of these country highways, where one direction will suddenly split into two lanes.  Most of the time there are turns, or driveways, or farm access roads at these places… and it gives those folks a chance to slow down before turning without interrupting the flow of traffic.  You’ll know it too because prior to the split… there is a sign that reads, “Slower traffic keep right”… and after a few hundred feet or so… the road comes back to one lane.

As we enter the split, we are approached from behind my a motorcycle that was lagging a ways behind us for many miles… and had suddenly caught up.  As they got closer I noticed the driver was a middle-aged gentleman, and that there was a child (or very small person) on the back of the motorcycle, hugging his waist… or possibly holding on for dear life… I don’t know.

As the motorcycle got closer and closer… we entered the split… and just as we passed the sign asking slower traffic to keep right… that’s when it happened…

He starts revving his engine real loud… you know… that suped-up golf cart sound that a crappy, crotch-rocket makes.  He starts getting real close to my back bumper and backing off… then close… then backs off… then again.  Then a horn… which was dumber sounding than his engine… so he went back to revving that up real loud.  Apparently the sign asking slower traffic to keep right… really means… “get out of the way of dangerous, asshole, speeders”.  Hmm… didn’t see that on the driving test I aced.  They must’ve given me a different test.  Oh well… on we go…

After about a hundred feet of this obnoxiousness… I very slowly, sarcastically, but adamantly… stuck up my middle finger at him out my driver side window (which my son saw)… still going about 57 mph… cruise control on lock.  In my rearview… he points to our right… as if to tell me to get out of his way… and I shake my head “no” very clearly.  No yelling… no cussing.

This “fine gentleman”… I’m sure with all the best interests of the soul of the person on his backseat in heart… decided to suddenly cut into the oncoming traffic lane (no one there… but still… there’s a whole empty lane to the right)… zip up to my window… call me a few choice names in front of my son… reciprocate my middle finger from earlier… to which I matched him again… because lets face it… I’m all about it.

Then suddenly… he slams on his brakes… tires squealing and smoking… swerving a little bit but not enough to lose control… and falls way behind me.

I was shocked!  At first I thought something had happened to his super-scooter… and he actually had some kind of mechanical malfunction… didn’t appear to be that.  Then I checked for oncoming traffic… nope.  Then I see… in my rearview… a blinker.

He wasn’t backing off because his bike broke… or because it was dangerous… or because he was just wrong… no!  He backed off because he needed to make a left-hand turn… into what I assume was his own gravel driveway.

My son… shocked at what had just happened… asked… “Dad… why did you flip that guy off?”

I explained… with all the calmness I could muster… that the man on the bike was endangering himself, his passenger, me and my son.  He was also recklessly disregarding… not just breaking… but blatantly, horrendously disregarding several traffic laws.  Again… total honesty here… technically I was speeding… but that just proves even farther… just how unnecessary the guy’s poor decisions and subsequent actions were.  Not to mention… we are in the middle of nowhere!  There was no one else around.  It wasn’t like busy city traffic and I’m that guy that’s intentionally going 10 miles under the speed limit during rush hour.  It was a beautiful country afternoon… and this guy apparently got into some “bad air”.

So I asked my son… “Should I have gotten out of the way of someone that is clearly endangering himself, his passenger and us?”

He said thought for a just a quick moment, said nothing… turned to the man on the motorcycle… who was just a tiny dot in the back window at this point… but I could see the importance of my son’s thoughts and subsequent actions.

He very slowly… but adamantly… and with a final sarcastic jolt… flipped off the tiny dot in the back window.

That’s my boy.

What’s Cooking

Okay… so this being the first teaser for the blog, you should know… this is going to be more like an avalanche of ideas and topics that the Roast wants to get started with.  The about page is very brief for now, but in the near future… there will be a spot either there or on another page that shows upcoming projects and ideas.

For now though…

Have you ever called a call center and talked to someone that was genuinely happy to talk to you?  That person is either psychotic or new to the job… and if the call center is where they chose to work… they’re psychotic anyway… so probably could have stopped there.  J  Call center work is truly a test of endurance and staggering patience.  This blog will be dedicated strictly to celebrating these unsung heroes… without whom… our society would inevitably collapse.


Were/are you a student? Did you take out loans?  How stupid do you feel right now?  Just kidding!  The Roast would like you to know that you’re not alone.  We, like you, bought into the notion that education is an investment in yourself… and even if you don’t gain any substantive knowledge or understanding from your education… at least you’re willing to show prospective employers that you believe in yourself enough to take on such a heavy obligation!  This will be a blog dedicated to everything good… and bad… about being a student.

And now… this…

Jon Oliver.  One of The Roast’s favorite comedians.  This guy is really tackling some big issues on his show on HBO.  We realize most everyone is stealing HBO Go through some friend or family member… so hopefully you’re able to keep up.

Penn and Teller.  The Roast’s two favorite quasi-entertainers (that’s a jab a magicians) also has a show that tackles some big issues on Showtime called “Bulls***!”.  That’s right.  These two guys are calling shenanigans on anything and everything reeking of bulls***.

Trailing these guys may seem like cheesy coat-tailing. Well… it is.  BUT… it is also The Roast’s way of talking about these controversial topics while pointing to these fellas and saying… “Well… they brought it up… might as well talk about it.”  The topics are controversial and emotions can be high!  So watch for updates here as The Roast provides commentary to these shows and maybe even gets some blood pumping and tempers flaring.   This one could be a lot of fun!

Last one… for now…

What makes a good boss?  Are they likeable? Are they honest?  Do they want their employees to succeed and move on to better things?  Do they make hard choices? Are they laid back, or rigid?  Are they hovering over you, or trusting you to get your work done?  Do they lead, or dictate?  Are they reasonable, or seemingly less so?  We’ve all had bosses, and some of us are one.  Are we taking that relationship seriously anymore?  What is the difference between a leader, a manager, and a boss?  We’re gonna roast this one hard!

We’ll get cooking with that for now… Be on the look out for more from The Roast!

Call Center Life

A moment in the life…

Rep: Thank you for calling.  My name is Deeply Depressed.  How can I help you?

Caller: I need to update my information with you people… address and stuff.

Rep: Sure… The form you need is available on our website… can I show you where that can be found?

Caller: I don’t have a computer… can you just email it to me?  I’ll print it out and fax it back in a few minutes.

Rep: *throat clear* ………….. *loud breath*……………. Sure…. What’s your email?

Let’s dissect this ever so brief moment in time.  It is the quintessential moment for all call center representatives when you realize that you’re no longer working for the person that pays you… you’re working for the caller.  You are also no longer a human being with thoughts and feelings.

First sentence… “Thank you for calling.”  Really?  Okay… most call centers have some form of this greeting.  I myself have said these very words.  How many times did I mean it?  NOT ONCE!!!  I don’t want people to call me at work and ask me stupid questions… or say ignorant things to me… or treat me like I’m the reason for all their frustration.  I just happen to be the one at the other end of the phone… but for some reason… that means I need to start lying to you before you even start talking… and try to convince both of us… that I appreciate the fact that you’re calling me right now.  This will become more clear as this goes on.

Third Sentence… “How can I help you?”  This is the rep’s responsibility to offer help.  A great policy.  It shows the caller that the Rep is actively listening and willing to use their knowledge to get you whatever assistance you need.  But what else does it do?  Lets look at the fourth sentence as a result…

“I need to update my information with you people… address and stuff.”  Because the third sentence is so slathered with… what’s the word… servitude… it relieves the caller of the need to ASK for help.  They literally don’t have to ask for help… they get to tell you what to do… and lets be honest… who doesn’t enjoy that!?  But we’re not done with the forth sentence yet.  Notice the words… “you people” so strategically placed in the end of the first statement.  This eventually becomes a term of endearment for most call center workers that we learn to roll with… but how would it make you feel to here it 60 to 100 times a day?  Good? Bad? Homicidal?  Hopefully not the third… but would it really be that hard to understand why someone would react that way?

Fifth sentence… “Sure… The form you need is available on our website… can I show you where that can be found?”

Its informative, helpful, and even attempts to teach the caller to help themselves… so they don’t have to sit on hold for 20 mins the next time they need the form.  Believe me… the call center doesn’t want you sitting on hold anymore than you want to be sitting there!  Its a waste of time and resources for everyone.  That’s why many companies embraced this thing called the internet and provided many methods for assisting yourself.  It saves you time… it save the company money… and hopefully provides a better experience all the way around.  Everyone is happier that way… right?

Wrong… and here’s proof…

Final two sentences from the caller… “I don’t have a computer… can you just email it to me?  I’ll print it out and fax it back in a few minutes.”

Now I recognize that there are circumstances that would prevent someone from being able to access a computer temporarily.  Sure.  But this caller is clearly being lazy… and not only that… but is a big fat liar too!  A big fat lazy liar!  Does the caller have any regard for the lie? What about regard for the rep’s patience and understanding?  What about respect?  What about taking pride in yourself?

Finally… The rep’s response.  Clearly a surrender to the fact that even though the rep wants to tell the caller how they feel about this interaction… it is not in their power to share such thoughts.  The Rep must reciprocate more respect than the caller has shown to possess for themselves.  THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF SERVICE!

Service reps must bleed respect for those that haven’t earned it… while simultaneously accepting that they will never receive the respect they deserve themselves.  Every call is an opportunity to prove just how low you can sink in order to ensure that age old saying, “the customer is always right” still rings true.

I’m not an expert… but I did pay my own bills last night.

Let’s not pretend that people who blog don’t value their own opinions.  Of course we do!  If we didn’t value our opinions… we wouldn’t feel the need to tell everyone!

Forgetting that very obvious elephant in the room… I think also… that bloggers have a few other main motivators for doing what we do.

First.  We genuinely want to help people.

That’s right.  Bloggers may seem like they’re posting anything they can think of on their chosen “niche” to keep their content fresh and up to date.  It’s a never ending battle it seems.  But if you really think about it… bloggers keep us up to date on everything from weather, politics, dating, social media, technology, current events, the economy, investing, fashion, sports, you name it… bloggers are on it.

Second. We enjoy it!

Blogging is fun and it can be a great way to change your life.  Doing something that you love and talking about the things you love is an obvious reason to do something… but its more than that.  Blogging is about exploring your passion and sharing it with other people.

Third.  Money… duh!

Now I’m not saying that everyone that blogs is doing it just for money, or that everyone can make money doing it, I’m certainly not setting out to make gobs of money… but who doesn’t want a little financial independence?!  The reason I bring it up is very simple.  Credibility.

In order for a blogger to get paid consistently… they have to show they’re credible.  It’s that simple.  That means… honesty is the best policy for bloggers.  Honesty is truth for bloggers.  Yes it’s an opinion… but it’s an honest opinion.

Ask yourself… when was the last time you really got an honest opinion from a stranger or someone you didn’t know very well?  Well I’ll tell you…

It was the last time you read a blog.  Any blog.  All blogs.  They are all just honest opinions from people who love what they do, and want to help.

Keep that in mind as we forge ahead on My Blog Roast, and lets have some fun!

More to come soon!