The Lumber Situation

Lumber Yard, City Point, Va - NARA - 525202
Lumber Yard, City Point, Va – NARA – 525202 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below is article from the The Hartford Courant on May 17, 1902 page 5. This article is over 100 years old; could the same situation happen again?

The Lumber Situation

With yards closed, builders supply soon exhausted

A.W. Scoville and His Puzzling situation – One Builder Repudiates Union Statement that He Has Yield.

It is prophesied by members of the Master Builders’ Association that the shortage of lumber is going to affect the contractors who have yielded to the union in the present carpenters’ strike by the first of the week, and this will tie up their work. The discussion of the lumber situation and the predicament of A. W. Scoville over the City Bank job furnished the principal topics of conversation yesterday and the real issues of the strike were lost sight of. While the members of the association disclaim all connection with the closing down of the lumber yards, they agree that the shutdown will work in their interest.

Stories of a shortage of lumber and of efforts to obtain it come from all over the city. There has been a second load obtained from East Hartford in an emergency case, after efforts were made to get it here. The purchasers were P. Berry & Sons, wholesales dealers in fruit and vegetables. They require a number of bundles of laths each week, in making their crates. They ran out after the shutdown of the yards. In an effort to get ten bundles they went to one of the closed yards and were refused but they were told that if a written order from the Carpenters’ Union was obtained they could have the laths. A representative of the firm went to the union’s headquarters and asked for the order. He was told that that was the first the union knew that it had power to grant orders on lumber dealers and it was explained that the union had nothing to do with the shutting down of the yards. The need of the laths was so urgent that a member of the union, who lives in East Hartford, volunteered to obtain them. The required ten bundles were purchased at the lumber yard there and sent to Hartford in an express wagon. At the local yards no effort is being made to sell lumber and none will be made until the present labor situation becomes clearer. The yard and offices are all but deserted.

The interesting situation is the position of Mr. Scoville and his bank work. It is imperative that it be completed soon and there is a large amount of work to be done. Of this there is little that need be done by carpenters but it is this small amount of work that is causing the trouble. The work must be done by union men before the Carpenters’ Union would call it “fair” work, and to get these union men without leaving the Master Builders’ Association is a puzzle which is hard to solve. There was a rumor last night that Mr. Scoville had found a way to solve the problem by getting the work done at night by men unknown to the union. The new quarters for the bank were lighted up all Wednesday night and men were working inside behind thick screens. When asked about this Mr. Scoville replied that he had nothing to say and that he had not been near the building all day yesterday. Members of the union said that they hardly thought the work was being done unless Mr. Scoville was trying to do it himself without assistance, and the building looked yesterday as if no carpenter had been at work.

At the union headquarters yesterday the names of W.L. Squires and Thomas Malcolm were posted on the blackboard as contractors who had agrees to the union’s terms of $3 a day. Mr. Malcolm sent word to “The Courant” last night that he had told the union not to place his name on the blackboard, as he had not agreed to the terms and would not. He had taken back three of his old men at the same wages they had received before the strike, but he would not agree to pay all men $3 a day. Mr. Malcolm is not a member of the Master Builders’ Association, although he took the same stand the association did in regard to the union’s demands.

F.C. Walz, business agent of the union, said last night: “We would like to call attention to the difference between our actions and those of the lumber dealers. We made our demands known to the master builders last fall and they had nearly a month after the final conference to put their business in shape before the strike came. The lumber dealers shut down without notice to large purchasers of lumber, all the notice that was given was through the papers twelve hours before the yards closed. In all fairness they should have given a week’s notice if the shutdown was not for the purpose of hampering the builders who are paying union wages and the lumber dealers deny that they had any such intention.”

Many members of the Master Builders’ Association took advantage of the labor situation yesterday and went to the seashore to remain over Sunday.


TMN: Email Is Not Your Job

Below is a blog post from Time Management Ninja. Are you stuck in your inbox? There are 5 tips on how to avoid the email inbox trap.

Email Is Not Your Job 

Some days it seems like all you do is email.

You get to the end of the day and you haven’t escaped your inbox.

Are you stuck endlessly processing emails instead of getting work done?

Email is Not Work 

Email dominates too many businesses. It is one of the top time wasters in most companies.

The irony is that once upon a time, email was supposed to increase the speed and productivity of businesses. However, it is estimated that workers spend a third of their time reading and responding to email.

Yet, email is not work.

It doesn’t get things done…

Email doesn’t write a report.
Email doesn’t design new products.
Email doesn’t train and mentor others.
Email doesn’t create new ideas.

Rather is it a slow back and forth of inefficient communication.

It is busy work in disguise.

Never Getting Out of Your Inbox 

Are you stuck in your inbox?

Responding to every email that arrives. Jumping with a Pavlovian response to each email notification.

Co-workers ask you, “Did you get the email I just sent two minutes ago?

This behavior is not productive.

In fact, it makes email look like the worst invention ever.

Email has its positive uses . However, usually email prevents you from getting to your work.

Here Are 5 Tips to Help You Avoid the Email Inbox Trap:

  1. Turn Off the Notifications – I’d love to meet the individual who thought it was a good idea to make a noise and pop-up a message every time an email arrives. Turn off the dings and notifications. You don’t need to know when the latest spam message arrives. (If you must know when an important message arrives, then use a VIP list or a service like AwayFind .)
  2. Consider Turning Off Email on Your Mobile Device – Do you really need to check email at lunch, in the elevator, in the car, in the bathroom, and in bed? The answer is no. Only turn on your email when you need it.
  3. Check It Less Frequently – Reduce the number of times you check email per day. Start small. If you are currently checking email 37 times a day , then try cutting that number in half. Set specific times of day when you check it, and eventually you can minimize the number of times a day you look in your inbox.
  4. Get Work and Tasks Out of Your Inbox – One reason people get stuck in their inbox is because they use it as their default todo list. Instead, get those tasks out of your inbox and onto your task list. Add the todo to your list and file the email in your archive. Otherwise, you will lose important tasks in the clutter of new messages.
  5. Communicate Directly – Don’t play email Ping-Pong all day long. I have seen instances of 15 email messages to schedule a single meeting. Rather, call or go see the person. Face-to-face is more efficient than the email back and forth.

Email is Not Your Job 

Email is one of the greatest distraction machines ever created.

Don’t sit there responding to each and every message that drops into your inbox.

Get out of your inbox and go get your work done. (Tweet this Quote )

Give and Take

I’ve read good book called Give and Take by Adam Grant. The book’s website has this to say: “Give and Take changes drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured our fundamental ideas about how to succeed—at work and in life. For generations, we have focused on the individual world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common.” Below is an excerpt from the book which you might find useful:


If you’re interested in applying the principles in this book to your work or your life, I’ve compiled a set of practical actions that you can take. Many of these actions are based on the strategies and habits of successful givers, and in each case, I’ve provided resources and tools for evaluating, organizing, or expanding giving. Some of the steps focus on incorporating more giving into your daily behaviors; others emphasize ways that you can fine-tune your giving, locate fellow givers, or engage others in giving.

  1. Test Your Giver Quotient
  2. Run a Reciprocity Ring
  3. Help Other People Craft Their Jobs-or Craft Yours to Incorporate More Giving
  4. Start a Love Machine.
  5. Embrace the Five-Minute Favor.
  6. Practice Powerless Communication
  7. Join a Community of Givers
  8. Launch a Personal Generosity Experiment
  9. Help Fund a Project
  10. Seek Help More Often

Twelve Questions to Measure Employee Engagement

Cover of "First, Break All the Rules: Wha...
Cover via Amazon

The other day I found this questionnaire I’ve used to capture my employees productivity, profitability, retention, and customer satisfaction. These are from First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham. You could download the PDF by clicking on the Title:

The Twelve Questions

Please answer the following questions.  1 is “no, I strongly disagree” and 5 is “yes, I strongly agree”.  These questions will help to improve your workplace. Please return by[Insert Date].  Please do not write your name on the survey.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?          1  2  3  4 5
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?        1 2 3 4 5
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?       1 2 3 4 5

4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?   1 2 3 4 5

5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?   1  2 3 4 5

6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?         1  2 3 4 5

7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?                                                  1 2 3 4 5

8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?          1 2 3 4 5

9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?                   1    2    3    4    5

10. Do I have a best friend at work?                                                    1    2    3    4    5

11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?   1 2 3 4 5

12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?                 1 2 3 4 5

The world’s worst boss

That would be you.

Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself.

Odds are, you’re doing it poorly.

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

I’m amazed at how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages one to set an agenda and manage themselves. Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt.

We are surprised when someone self-directed arrives on the scene. Someone who figures out a way to work from home and then turns that into a two-year journey, laptop in hand, as they explore the world while doing their job. We are shocked that someone uses evenings and weekends to get a second education or start a useful new side business. And we’re envious when we encounter someone who has managed to bootstrap themselves into happiness, as if that’s rare or even uncalled for.

There are few good books on being a good manager. Fewer still on managing yourself. It’s hard to think of a more essential thing to learn.

The Upside of Irrationality

Cover of "The Upside of Irrationality: Th...
Cover via Amazon

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely is one of my top books for 2010. Below is an excerpt from the book.

THE IMPORTANCE OF experiments as one of the best ways to learn what really works and what does not seems uncontroversial. I don’t see anyone wanting to abolish scientific experiments in favor of relying more heavily on gut feelings and intuitions. But I’m surprised that the importance of experiments isn’t recognized more broadly, especially when it comes to important decisions in business or public policy. Frankly, I am often amazed by the audacity of the assumptions that businesspeople and politicians make, coupled with their seemingly unlimited conviction that their intuition is correct.

But politicians and businesspeople are just people, with the same decision biases we all have, and the types of decisions they make are just as susceptible to errors in judgment as medical decisions. So shouldn’t it be clear that the need for systematic experiments in business and policy is just as great?

Certainly, if I were going to invest in a company, I’d rather pick one that systematically tested its basic assumptions. Imagine how much more profitable a firm might be if, for example, its leaders truly understood the anger of customers and how a sincere apology can ease frustration (as we saw in chapter 5, “The Case for Revenge”). How much mote productive might employees be if senior managers understood the importance of taking pride in one’s work (as we saw in chapter 2, “The Meaning of Labor”). And imagine how much more efficient companies could be (not to mention the great PR benefits) if they stopped paying executives exorbitant bonuses and more seriously considered the relationship between payment and performance (as we saw in chapter 1, “Paying More for Less”).

Taking a more experimental approach also has implications for government policies. It seems that the government often applies blanket policies to everything from bank bailouts to home weatherization programs, from agribusiness to education, without doing much experimentation. Is a $700 billion bank bailout the best way to support a faltering economy? Is paying students for good grades, showing up to class, and good behavior in classrooms the right way to motivate long-term learning? Does posting calorie counts on menus help people make healthier choices (so far the data suggest that it doesn’t)?