My Company Car

My Company Car

That is my company car in the accompanying photo and for those of you familiar with my business and indeed my stated management goal since about 1996 the license plate PPFE is meaningful. More on that below.

The World Series is on currently; last week I was watching the Red Sox play the Astros. The Red Sox manager had a sweatshirt saying Do Damage. The Astros manager had a sweatshirt saying Never Settle.

Two-word phrases which each captured the mentality of a team. A group of people with a shared purpose or a set of shared purposes.

Any group of folks without a shared purpose or a set of shared purposes cannot be considered a true team. Bosses refer to their team frequently yet calling a group of folks a team does not make it so. Making it so requires, it seems to me, words understood by all to illustrate the goals. Two words is best. Four words is okay. Five is pushing it. Six is likely a bridge too far. Remember, EVERYONE must be able to recall at a moment’s notice. Every human being, intellectually acute or not. Native English speaking or not. Everyone. Because everyone matters. On a team, everyone matters.

Time and again I see professional sports teams are so far ahead of the corporate market in understanding the power of exceedingly brief wordplay and its power to capture the expectations of the enterprise in terminology everyone understands but more importantly in terminology everyone can actually REMEMBER. Corporate entities have their strategies encapsulated (that’s a joke) in multiple values, commitments or multi-layered pyramids. They try too hard. They get esoteric. They drill down. They waste our time.

An example. I was donating platelets Friday and my phlebotomist was wearing a lanyard with her name tag covered by two other items. I could tell they represented a corporate culture statement by the multi-colored pyramid on the side facing me. I cheekily asked her what the card said. The response was convoluted but essentially I learned she had JUST gone to a staff meeting and she knew all about it! She lit up.

But she could not actually tell me what it said. She fumbled and mumbled and, in the end, could not get anywhere in the neighborhood of what her statement card contained.

At this point I will mention that my wife works for the same hospital chain. I recognized it as soon as I saw it on the phlebotomist’s neck. That same card resides next to my wife’s lunch bag in our pantry.

My wife has been employee of the month twice in the last 6 months and evidently exhibits behaviors her employer considers role model behavior. I asked this paragon of nursing (I married up- she is really quite wonderful in every way) about the multi-colored pyramid.

Now, my wife has been through several major employers as we have followed my career across the country (and back) a couple times. She has gotten her direct deposit from various hospital chains, big and small.

She smiled sardonically when I asked her about the lanyard because while she didn’t know what it said she could incorporate what it says fairly well and what she has gleaned from other experiences. But cite the actual card? Not a chance.

For yourself and for your team, capture in 2-4 words a filter for all expectations. Never Settle, as the Astros sweatshirt proclaimed, works. It will work in sales, service, auditing, transportation; you name it.
So will We Are a Team, or Set High Standards, or my favorite: Positive, Productive, Fresh, and Enthusiastic. You could shorten that to PPFE if fitting on a license plate.

There are so many others and indeed I believe the best are those that are determined by the team as a whole when possible. The best way to own a goal is to have it be yours. So if you want your team to own a goal, establish a brainstorming session and have the team do it.

If you do not have a team reporting to you, there is great value in having your OWN branding statement. How you want to be known? What do you want others to think of you? Indeed having a public display (sign at your desk, mentioned in conversation, preface to presentations) of how you want to be perceived can be a powerful self-motivator and can lead you in your desired direction. Training your own brain. Make it so.

That license plate on my company car, a 1968 VW camper, is PPFE.
Positive, Productive, Fresh and Enthusiastic. That is the guy I want to be. Am I always that guy? No.
I am not always that guy. Yet by striving to be that guy, I am that guy more often.

If you want to be the individual who always steps forward, then let that be your motto. But there are SO MANY options. Hundreds. Devise your own, for your team at work if you have that role and certainly for yourself.

For yourself, think of the operating system of your computer and develop a personal brand that becomes your operating system.

I am typing on Word right now, but that does not run my computer. Later I will use Excel and Photos and the calculator function and my email function. But it is the operating system that is always on, in the background. That is how one should think of their two to four-word mission statement. Always on. In the background, running everything.
• Always Early
• Extra Ordinary [think of that as two words and it sounds easy- you can always be a bit better than ordinary and as a result be extraordinary but to always be extraordinary can sound overwhelming]
• Learn by Listening
• Best Teammate- these folks make everyone around them better. It can be done, but who thinks like that???
• Our Goal is My Goal

I will close with a reference which gets me shadow banned on sites not my own. I have noticed that certain content does not get the same amplification on sites beyond my own website. If you are not reading this on my site, my URL is

When I am on sites like Linked In or FaceBook or Twitter (well, I have like 9 followers on Twitter so we are talking tree falling in the woods with no one to hear) I have noticed that certain content does not get hits if it could be seen as faith based or maybe praises the impact of Trump’s tax cuts. I am not talking likes, I am referencing exposure. Anyway, to my point. I made the earlier reference to an operating system for your life captured with a brief word construct and I feel compelled to admit your bullshit meter should be touching the redline because in fact I feel that God should be that operating system. I do not want God to be a big part of my life, I want God to be that operating system always working in the background. PPFE is lay terminology I can use in presentations. Not many clients want me coming in and making religious or political references, no matter how bland. But as for me and my house… we will serve.

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