Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stupid is as Stupid Does

 Forrest Gump's "Stupid is as Stupid Does" is a variant of an old adage, "Handsome is as handsome does." This saying appears in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and in Herman Melville's "Billy Budd," and can be traced as far back as the 14th Century.

"Handsome is as handsome does" basically means that true handsomeness has to do with a person's behavior, not just a handsome face. The saying is also phrased in the forms "Pretty is as pretty does" and "Beauty is as beauty does."

Forrest's version of the saying means that stupidity is not just a surface thing derived from a person's appearance. Stupidity is a matter of deeds, not looks. Like the other versions, it comes down to this: judge people by what they do, not by how they appear.

Ah yes: judge people by what they do. The results.

Much to the Internet’s disappointment, France did not in fact make it illegal to send work e-mails after 6 — despite many reports au contraire. (The reports stemmed from an agreement made between labor unions and a federation of engineering and consulting companies, affecting 250,000 people and involving no official laws.) Perhaps the online frenzy around the news, however, and our widespread willingness to believe it, suggests a more important truth about e-mail, connectedness and productivity: France didn’t ban off-hours e-mails but many think it should have done so.

I say: "Stupid is as stupid does" because it is NOT about technology. Nope. Not not not about email, or texting, or the Internet. It is all about being an adult. It is about producing results. Work is not a place to go, it is something that you do. And it is NOT about where you are when you are producing the results.

Proverb: Praise makes good people better and bad people worse.

Praise, money, technology: any of these things will make good people better and bad people worse.

Would you tell a farmer to rest more, sleep later, or take more vacations? Would you tell a doctor to study less, or to spend less time at the hospital? Or tell a scientist to do less research, attend fewer seminars with colleagues, or to spend less time in the laboratory?

It is NOT about technology or work overload. It is, however about stupidity. Because technology, just like any other tool is designed to help you to produce - get this - results!  It is all about the results, not the time of day, or the day of the week, or the volume of phone calls, texts or emails that you send or receive in a day. Quantity without the Quality is Dumb.

Results. Production. Value. More is not better - better is better.

I carry a cell phone, but I rarely answer it. I don’t feel that my accepting unscheduled calls is very productive. I also don’t think it is polite to answer a phone if I am in a meeting, or if I am with someone. And, if I am walking my dog in the dog park, I might be huffing and puffing into the phone and then sounding too excited about the topic.

Think Quality, not Quantity. Think Results. Think Value, not Volume.

The automobile was invented to help us get from Point A to Point B faster. But not too fast - too fast and you might never arrive at Point B. If you drive too fast you might arrive in the morgue. And don’t get me started about texting and driving. Really? We are still debating this?

Do you think fast food is the same as a home cooked meal? Do you think that walking with Fido in the dog park is the same as walking the streets of New York City? Do you think reading a book in a cabin, on a lake, on a cool summer evening is the same as reading a book on a train, or bus or plane? Of course you don’t. You would never confuse these experiences. Then why do it with “work” related matters?

If your brain says that you should answer work email at 8pm while watching TV, then by all means do it. If your brain says that you should put up your “away message” at 6pm and tell the world you will see them in the morning, do it. If you want to have it known that you will sleep with your SmartPhone so that you can be called at 3am to discuss next year’s widget budget, that is completely up to you. Are you a child, or are you an adult?

Above is our “contact us” page from our website. emails go to an entire team of people, as does But emails to forwards to - everyone in the company. If a client really needs to use such "all hands on deck" emails, then we are going to be there for them, period. To date, our 911 email has been used twice. And never outside of normal business hours. I have learned that no one wants to call us at 2am no more than we want to be called at 2am. We are here for them if they need us. And we expect everyone to be “adults” about it. 

Adults don’t abuse privileges. Children do it all the time.


Thomas A. Capone
973-616-2600 x111

     "Serving 46% of the $1.3T Education Market"

Urgent?  <<< this will track me down!

Above is my normal email signature. forwards to me (naturally) but it also goes to three of my Administrative Assistants. I have other emails that I use for private matters. Now, see that “AwayFind” link? It’s Magic. This technology allows me to NOT check emails. I can NOT check emails, and still know I am reachable if it is really important. Ah yes, technology to allow me to have MORE free time, not less. And guess what, most people just send regular emails and I check them when I have the time. Just like my dog Colin, I prefer to not be on a leash, electronic or otherwise.

It’s not about the technology folks. It’s about being adults while working. Adults producing good and valuable work. Adults producing RESULTS. 

See to learn more about working in a liberating ROWE - and working like an adult.

King James Bible: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

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