Category Archives: conversation

Sewer Workers: Flushed with Pride

The Harvard Business Review has an article in the latest issue: How to teach pride in “Dirty Work.” This is not a joke!


Here is the essence of the article. Employees in stigmatized occupations can be helped with an array of techniques to cope with or even feel proud of their jobs,

  • including developing an occupational ideology to confer a more positive image on the work;

  • creating social buffers such as professional associations;

  • and avoiding specifics in conversation with outsiders.

Trust someone in Harvard to come up with this gem of false pride.

This has left Dr. Z wondering how many sewer workers sit down to craft an occupational ideology. For example, “you know Joe if we are dwelling within the existential zeitgeist approach to sewers we are the new proletariat of the masses.”

Creating social buffers would involve more detour signs around a work-site and the professional association would meet at Moe’s bar after work for beer and lively repartee. Of course when someone outside the city sewer department walks past the workers at the bar they would stop the sewer flow of conversation and pretend to be an Amway group.

Of course remember that pride cometh before the fall…now, back to the sewer and further discussion of Friedrich Nietzsche’s, Thus Spoke Zarathustra role in creating self-actualized workers.

Picture Credit: The Sewer’s View by 


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Going up: How to craft a dynamic elevator speech.

Dr. Z is adamant: As a future leader, you must have a personal elevator speech plus a little extra that sets you apart.

Be prepared when the door opens on opportunity or if you get stuck between floors with a captive audience – regale anyone trapped behind the door with your unique elevator speech.

A pithy and potent elevator pitch ensures that you will be noticed in small enclosed spaces.

Elevator though leaders, those consultants who spend far too much time going up and down, suggest your presentation be a cogent 30 second zinger of who you are and what you can do for others. Dr. Z, our incessant innovator at the leadership institute believes you should always go the extra floor – leave your awestruck audience with something tangible.

Here is an example of an elevator moment: My name is Jack and I make magic happen by putting my stamp on the mail delivery system – the lifeblood of our organization – and ensure you get the mail every day before 10:14 a.m.

WOW, a person hears that and they are saying to themselves we must get this person into LIP: The Leadership Intern Program initiative.

But if you have 30 seconds to shine, let’s craft your speech to take you to the penthouse.

Here’s your template:

My name is _________ (don’t say blank, fill in the blank with your real name) and I _______________ (impress others with your organizational contribution) and gift them something they can’t resist, such as a GI Joe action figure wearing the company hat!

In the battle to the pinnacle of leadership there is nothing like an elevator speech and the gift of a GI Joe action figure to get people to notice you and to ensure that they are talking about you throughout the entire organization. Your name will be on everyone’s LIPs as you take your rightful place in the Leadership Intern Program.

Dr. Z. looks forward to seeing you at the top. But please, just remain quiet so he can enjoy the elevator ride.


Picture Credit: otis by


Filed under conversation, elevator speech, humor, leader talk, leadership humor, Uncategorized

The Leader-Talk© Program: The Top 5 Tips on How to Talk Like a Leader


Dr. Z has done extensive research on leadership communication patterns (he listened to leaders talk with each other as they went down a buffet line filling their plates with meat balls and mashed potatoes at a leadership conference). 

After this state-of-the-art research fused with rigorous analysis of the data and the composition of the meatballs, Dr. Z has concluded that leaders do not know how to talk like leaders.

Maybe you can walk like an Egyptian but can you talk like a leader?

To remedy this leadership gap Dr. Z has developed Leader-Talk© – A program to teach leaders how to talk so that someone —- anyone, will listen.

Here are Dr. Z’s top 5 tips to talk like a leader:


Open mind/open mouth. Do not talk with your mouth full of meatballs. If you do you will say, “I want the report on Tuesday” and your direct report will hear, “I flaunt the port on booze day.”


Listen. The top secret in terrific Leader-Talk© is to listen more than you talk. The more time spent listening the less time available for you to say something stupid.


Pair-a-phrase don’t paraphrase. Don’t paraphrase when you can pair-a-phrase. Notice how this last sentence was an empty paraphrase of the previous sentence. Employees are not looking for repetition they are looking for leadership. The 2 powerful pair-a-phrases are: “we’ll see” and “run that by Bob.” If you need something extra, take a quantum leap to a new paradigm by stating: “Did you know that two dimes makes 20 cents?” Upper management will respond well to your bottom-dime leadership approach.


Feelings. Empathy is such a rich way of expressing yourself as a leader. For instance, an employee is quivering like jelly and says, “I feel horrible and devestated that the KY project went done the tubes.” To demonstrate empathic Leader-Talk©, make sad puppy eyes and ask the employee, “How do you feel about that?” Employees love it when they know their boss is really listening to them.


Walk the talk. Learn the art of transformational  Leader-Talk© by going beyond talking to walking. If an employee asks if they can talk to you, just keep walking and say, “It is time for the rubber to hit the road and let’s forget about the talking and get with the walking.” Make sure you wear a pedometer to show how serious you are about your new leadership movement. ” Your employees will be sure to hold you in high esteem as a leader who walks the talk.

Photo Credit: Never Cease to Learn by

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Filed under authentic, conversation, humor, leader talk, leadership humor, leadership institute