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The Catalyst


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich


The work of a manager is said to consist of planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling. The role is usually that of the doer in organizations, leaving the vision and ideation to leaders. Clearly, good managers are also leaders, but the distinction applies, especially to the catalysts in organizations.

A catalyst is defined as a substance that increases the rate of chemical reaction without itself undergoing change, or somebody or something that makes a change happen (in someone or something) or brings about an event.

Among the most common chemical catalysts are enzymes, whose “activation” energy is responsible for causing change in a process or other chemicals and compounds by it—a kind of organic synthesis. As with humans, catalysts that increase the rate of reaction are called positive catalysts or, simply, catalysts, while those who decrease the rate of reaction are negative catalysts or inhibitors.

Consultants and coaches, for instance, are such catalysts, causing something to happen without change to them. Their positive “activation” energy causes catalysis, or the effect of making something happen that would not have happened without them. To be sure, catalysts in organizations have a way of getting involved just enough to spur others to achievement, to their credit, while remaining in the background.
They are influencers, but not authority figures, under most circumstances. Increasingly, consultants (as catalysts) are moving from the so-called doctor model to the partner model. The doctor model positions the client as suffering from a disease or ailment and needing expert advice to cure it. This approach has a number of failings, not least the tendency to make the client an expatriate in his own affairs. The partner plays the role of a friend, philosopher and guide. As such, he is more involved in the business and can act as a provocative thinking member of the client’s team and help avoid likely problems.

A good catalyst is always thinking about how to bring people and processes together to multiply their effect. They are the collectors and connectors of people, the “deal makers,” the “banners and buttons” types who see hidden gains in the obvious and whose desire is to help. When there is a catalyst present, things start to happen by the natural tendencies of the role. And, like most good managers, after gathering the necessary elements for a reaction to occur, the catalyst gets out of the way.

Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, in their book, The Starfish and the Spider, describe the catalyst as one of the keys to decentralization that is integral to any open system. In their preferential model, the starfish represents the quintessential open system, where decentralization of the key elements of organization act both to guarantee continuance and to provide necessary succession of those key elements. It is the reason that such social networks and websites as Facebook and Wikepedia can continue without hierarchy or the authority of anyone in command.

In their view, the absence of structure, leadership, and formal organization has given way to a model of decentralization that had lain dormant for millennia. Much like the starfish, the catalyst figures prominently as one of the five legs of organizations necessary to achieve decentralization.

To succeed, the catalyst must have tools. He may be the progenitor of good things, but he cannot lead the implementation. This must be accomplished by others, independent of formal leadership. That is, the catalyst causes a reaction, and workers must then exercise their self-leadership to make the changes necessary to achievement.


The Catalyst’s Tools
Genuine interest and investment in people and things—To the catalyst, all information is lined with opportunity. In it, and the people who carry it, are nuggets that have been hidden in plain view, things that most just do not see. When we are genuinely interested and invested in others, the information they have starts to flow. A catalyst combines it with information he has gathered from others to form an idea that brings people and ideas together for productive gain. But we must see real value in others and meet them where they are. It’s never about the catalyst.

Cataloging of people and experiences—When was the last time you looked for a felt pad to deaden the sound of a door closing? You knew you put it somewhere, but where? Catalysts depend on their ability to collect people and experiences and map their contributions to form opportunities for all. They move easily along these interconnected highways, creating new connections and forming fresh opportunities with them.

A sincere desire to help—What is the first question to ask another at a networking meeting? “How can I help you?” We are social creatures, quick to form with others who demonstrate sincere interest in us, in our abilities, in joining to make something happen. Things happen on byways—two-way streets. We participate because we benefit from membership in something. It’s what Maslow called “belonging,” the third level on his hierarchy of needs.

Emotional connections first—Most catalysts are clever people, but they tend to lead with emotions; it’s what forms real bonds between people. It’s also what helps form decentralized organizations, that sense of belonging to something larger than the individuals tending it. A shepherd loves his flock, and they are devoted to him—but is a servant above all.

Trust and tolerance for the unknown—Things happen best when from any direction. A basketball team depends most for its success on different members stepping up at various times in a game or season. The team is often led by surprising contributions. Not knowing something is better than knowing everything. In the latter there is no opportunity for growth.

Getting out of the way—After putting the key pieces of a venture together, the catalyst steps aside and ultimately leaves.


Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

More Tools: Read Smart, Read More


ROI by Frank J. Rich








By Frank J. Rich


Effective managers are usually good readers. But maybe reading wasn’t a strong suit growing up, and despite the fact that you are doing well in your field, you always wanted to be a better reader. Your instincts are right. Better readers are more successful. It’s true, for a lot of reasons, but for one in particular — good readers have more information on which to make better judgments. It’s that simple.

But, how do you become a good reader? For years my children and others would pose the question to me. So, I began to consider the question more carefully. And while there are many “tools” that aid the goal of becoming a good reader, a few simple basics can make a big difference. Consider the strategies below, compiled over the years, among the tools that improve your odds at success … in anything you do — not least, reading.

#1 Determine what you want to know — First ask: Why am I reading this text? Is it with a purpose (in learning) or just for pleasure? What do I want to know after reading it? Once you know this, you can examine the text to see whether it is going to satisfy your goal.

An easy way of doing this is to look at the introduction and the chapter headings. The introduction should reveal the target audience and what the material seeks to achieve. Chapter headings provide an overall view of the structure of the subject.

Finally, ask whether the book meets your needs. Does it presume too much or too little knowledge (on the part of the reader)? If it doesn’t fit your need, find another.

#2 Determine how deeply to study the material
 — When you only need the shallowest knowledge of the subject, you can skim material. Read only chapter headings, introductions and summaries when this is your goal.

If you need a moderate level of information on a subject, scan the text. Here, you would read the chapter introductions and summaries in detail. You may then “speed read” the contents of chapters, selecting and understanding key words and concepts. Diagrams and graphs help at this level.

Only when you need detailed knowledge of a subject must you study the text. First skim the material to get an overview of the subject. This gives you an understanding of its structure, into which you can fit the detail gained from a full reading of the material. SQ3R is a good technique for getting a deep understanding of a text. This is the technique that follows a sequential method of examining any document, as outlined below.

Survey — Survey the document: scan the contents, introduction, chapter introductions and chapter summaries to pick up a shallow overview of the text. Form an opinion of whether it will be of any help. If it does not give you the information you want, discard it.

Question — Make a note of any questions on the subject that come to mind, or particularly interest you following your survey. Even scan the document again to see if any stand out. These questions may be considered as study goals; understanding the answers can help structure the information in your own mind.

Read  — Now read the documet. Read through useful sections in detail, taking care to understand all the points that are relevant. For some texts this reading may be very slow, especially when it contains a lot of dense and complicated information. While you are reading, it can help to take notes in “concept” or mind mapping format. (More on that next week)

Recall —
 Once you have read appropriate sections of the document, run through it in your mind several times. Isolate the core facts or the essential processes behind the subject and then see how other information fits around them.

Review — Once you have run through the exercise of recalling the information, you can move on to the stage of reviewing it. Reread the document, expand your notes, or discuss the material with colleagues. A particularly effective method of reviewing information is to teach it to someone else!

#3 Active Reading 
— When you are reading a document in detail, it often helps if you highlight, underline and annotate it as you go on. This emphasizes information in your mind, and helps you to review important points later. This also helps to keep your mind focused on the material and keeps it from wandering.

If active reading helps, you may want to photocopy information in more expensive texts, then read and mark the photocopies. If the benefit you get by active reading reasonably exceeds the value of the book, then the book is disposable, so don’t buy it.

#4 How to study different sorts of material
 — Different sorts of documents hold information in different places and in different ways. They have different depths and breadths of coverage. By understanding the layout of the material you are reading, you can extract useful information much more efficiently.

Reading Magazines and Newspapers — These tend to give a very fragmented coverage of a topical area. They typically concentrate on the most interesting and glamorous parts of a topic. This helps to sell copies! They will often ignore less interesting information that may be essential to a full understanding of a subject. Typically areas of useful information are padded out with large amounts of irrelevant waffle or with advertising.

The most effective way of getting information from magazines is to scan the contents tables or indexes and turn directly to articles of interest. If you find an article useful, then cut it out and file it in a folder specifically covering that sort of information. In this way you will build up sets of related articles that may begin to explain the subject.

Newspapers tend to be arranged in sections. If you read a paper often, you can learn quickly which sections are useful and which ones you can skip altogether.

Reading Individual Articles — Articles within newspapers and magazines tend to be of three main types:

News Articles — Here, the most important information is presented first; the information is generally less useful as the article progresses. News articles are designed to explain the key points first, followed by detail.

Opinion Pieces — Opinion articles present a point of view. Here, the most important information is contained in the introduction and the summary, with the middle of the article containing supporting arguments.

Features — These are written to provide entertainment or background on a subject. Typically the most important information is in the body of the text. If you know what you want from an article, and recognize its type, you can extract information from it quickly and efficiently.


#5 Reading “whole subject” documents
 — When you are reading an important document, it is easy to accept the writer’s structure of thought. This can mean that you may not notice that important information has been omitted or that irrelevant detail has been included. A good way of recognizing this is to compile your own table of contents before you open the document. You can then use this table of contents to read the document in the order that you want. You will be able to spot omissions quickly. This is why left margin subtitles with right margin text make easy reading of this kind of material.

Background — This project developed out of a need for easy access to playground equipment as a way to encourage physical activity in secondary school children.

Basic Science & Philosophy — Exertion leads to accomplishment. Things not ventured are not gained. The natural urge to accomplish and fit in is more easily satisfied with simple exercise and equipment. Not everyone is a natural athlete, but most find acceptable levels of athleticism when exercise is cooperative and fun, such as pushing a merry-go-round and jumping on to join others in the accomplishment.


#6 Using glossaries with technical documents
 — If you are reading large amounts of difficult technical material, it may be useful to photocopy or compile a glossary. Keep this beside you as you read. It will probably also be useful to note down the key concepts in your own words and refer to them when necessary, again using “concept” mapping — a good study method for students.
Whatever your need or desire for reading, good readers are made, not born. Give it a try. If you do, I’m betting that you’ll be reading more success in your tealeaves.


Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

What you see is what you get…


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich


Or is it? Authentic people are “as plain as day.” The notion qualifies great athletes (Tiger woods), politicians (Honest Abe), those of character and verve (Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Elizabeth Cady-Stanton), and many more. Yet, “all that glitters is not gold (the BL Madoff IS, the lure of lotteries, first loves, etc.). “What is seen is seldom what it appears to be” (69 percent of all employees don’t work out over time, hidden problems with the purchase of housing and cars, etc.)

Genius may be defined as the precise management of intuition and information. It generally describes those that influence models of achievement in extraordinary ways—those that by their personal productivity (Henry Ford), intelligence (Einstein), perseverance (Edison), and sensitivity (Mother Theresa), benefit others. They see beyond the moment (JFK—NASA), the functional use of ordinary things (Craig Newmark–Craigslist), the expansive opportunity in simple expression (Steve Jobs–calligraphy, unique design), mass manufactured electric cars (Elon Musk’s Tesla), the inspiration in a common ethic (Billy Graham), etc. Each chose Chess over Checkers, anticipating moves that change the character and meaning of ordinary things.


Personal assessments … of most things, are flawed at best,
and for reasons that define the human condition and
defy objective reality—the drive to certainty in all things.


It is said that opportunity and solutions are often hidden in plain sight. Consider the cell phone. Endowed of convenient communications and simple functions in its seminal guise, many joined to satisfy the desire to “be in touch” at all times in a package smaller than most wallets of the day. But what was Apple Computer thinking when it introduced the iPhone into a crowded market of device manufacturers—unique design, unusual functionality, radical form factor, and a touch screen bereft of buttons (but one)? Was it only these, when even freshmen marketing students all know that features-based business models fail the moment a competitor adds the feature to a broader platform. The exceptional practical value of LAN technology quickly devalued the segment’s nobility soon after Microsoft built LANs into its ubiquitous Windows OS platform.

Wisdom suggests that we see beyond what we are looking at, listen to what’s not being said, reach beyond our reality, ready ourselves for the unexpected, and search for the extraordinary. Science refers to this persistent urge in some as intuition, or the adaptive unconcious1 at work; a sixth sense that confirms our analog condition and practice. Data models reveal the experience in it. We pause with caution over most things, dress to the image of ourselves, walk a straight line, bend to avoid breaking, and so on. In the end, we are conservative by nature, despite the inveigling of the hegemonic 4th estate that means to capture us by its insatiable appetite for mindshare.

When we pause to consider things; get “in-touch” with our feelings, good things happen to most. They are moved to greater understanding, perception, critical analysis, emotional and spiritual risings, productive energy, and acceptance. We pine over the disappointing behavior in others, and equally painful outcomes, but until we can defend another’s position, though different from our own, we are not likely to see anything but that difference.

As “the two Steves’” walked to the stage of Ricky’s Hyatt House in mid-’76 to present their latest computer to the Peninsula Marketing Association, a powerful influencer of the day, one thing waas clear. Though both were eager to talk about their latest accomplishment, it was Mr. Jobs who revealed the seminal personality that would drive their venture from that day forward. The Apple Computer achieved notoriety—all things “computer” were a fascination as this nascent industry gave birth to a revolution—but was relegated to “the computer for the rest of us” after Microsoft and IBM teamed up to capture the OS market that drove hardware sales. No love lost between visionaries Gates and Jobs over this, until they looked beyond the moment. Gates would later lend Apple $150 mil to help it through a thin time, and Jobs would later allow the native porting of the Windows OS on Apple Computers. Though personal growth and maturity carved the competitors; [sic], combatants, into “coopetitive” pillars of the new industry, it was not until after the millennium that their fortunes would switch. The introduction of the iPod and later the iPhone far outpaced the sales of PC’s. Perhaps, a student of General MacArthur’s2 war game strategies, Job’s had revenge in mind; not coincidentally, looking ahead to when his genius for design and user convenience (the ever-present hip cricket) reached a form factor many times the integration of the PC and more powerful by generational leaps. Apple’s iPhone is the most functional, design smart, and popular “computer” the world has ever known. One can’t help but wonder if he (Jobs) saw a vision of the very same over the 30+ years it took to meet up with it. This may be the time to take up Chess.


Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |



ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich


Few if any see themselves as anything but special, at least in some ways. The “positive affect” is born in the human spirit and encouraged by both physical and emotional attributes that increasingly are evidenced in multiple behavioral studies. The effect is not only evident in ourselves, but it is, not coincidentally, our desire for the significant others in our lives—parents, religious figures, partners (all kinds), and leaders. Our desire to see others as special is rooted in our sense of belonging, what Abraham Maslow identifies as the third “hierarchical” need in humans. So strong is it that we usually, and near automatically, put our trust in societal leaders hoping that their brand of “special” will deliver our hopes in real terms.

In the workplace none is positioned so uniquely as the CEO. He or she is keeper of the flame in most organizations, and not surprisingly the one on whom most depend for the decision-making that leads to both organizational achievement and individual fulfillment, despite the current flock of imposters in the news. The model of an effective CEO may rely on three key strengths for the leadership necessary to group effort. Under each is a long list of characteristic behaviors. Only some will appear on this printed page; the rest are online at and views/ROI.

Strength of self-mastery, of action, and of relationship, as suggested by Laurie Jones, OD consultant, author, and speaker, are the pillars of successful leaders. Under each is a list of the qualities that empower leadership and results. See if you can identify your leader (and yourself) among them. While you’re at it see if you can identify the CEO Laurie had in mind.

Strength of Self-Mastery
1. He knew the power in the “I am” model. That is, he knew that we must “be” the person we wish to become or accept mediocre results. To register commitment requires that we openly express our achievement goals. We do not solve problems we don’t have; thus the first of the 12-step process used in so many “help” programs is the declaration “I am.” Whether the abuser, abused, or achiever on any front, we are seldom as good on paper as when openly accountable to others.

2. He stuck to his mission. When we have our mission firmly in hand it’s difficult to be distracted and submit to opportunism, where everything that looks good is an opportunity. Many are unaware of their mission, their purpose; and consequently confuse real opportunity with titillations.

3. He believed in himself. Confidence may be the greatest asset of a leader. It is founded in the belief that ordinary beings can and do achieve great things, and not in the view that the greatness is in the leader. We cannot be of two minds and expect purposeful achievement.

4. He took ownership. Everything we have has been given to us; even original thought has its cousins. If the CEO is truly the “servant of the house” then s/he is shepherd of the peoples’ assets. Leaders feel the full measure of the inheritance that is theirs; and the responsibility that attends it. The achievements and the failures are meant for the same purpose—to humbly serve.


Strength of Action
1. He saw all things as living. When we see opportunity in all things and people the possibilities for them are limitless. No artifice, we must first believe before we see.

2. He took action. The shear force of action taken by leaders has more than the effect of their words or deeds; it takes on life through others, multiplying its affects as they go. Good leaders play their hands several cards ahead.

3. He had a plan. “Fail to plan, plan to fail” as the saying goes. Good ideas have the brilliance of gold, but like gold lose their luster (value) when not put to work. When we get comfortable with the sound of thought, the clamor of productivity gets louder.

4. He formed a team. The inaudible sound of leadership whispers: “follow me.” We cannot change the world alone.

5. He called out the elephant. Good leaders confront issues, and they know when to do it. CEOs have to be good at calling out the question that is hanging in the air.

6. He saw things differently. When we see beyond “what is” to “what could be” and “what should be” (to make a difference in the marketplace) the potential for achievement rises dramatically. Are the iPhone and iPod just a phone and music player, or a way in which to make the use of such tools exciting and fun?


Strength of Relationships
1. He gave others a vision greater than themselves. We all hope for a better reality; leaders who offer it have a great gift to give, and usually lots of followers. Our significance is magnified by a clearer image of it. The best leaders are visionaries.

2. He said “Yes” to all things. When we embrace others, their initiatives on some level, we say “Yes” to them and to the things important to them. No CEO says yes to all decisions, but the good ones always say yes to people and their sincere efforts at achievement.

3. He empowered women. The imbalance between men and women in business remains, but it’s changing. Better than 50 percent of startups are lead by women, it’s nearly the same in medical schools, maybe because patients prefer them. Good leaders don’t turn away energetic and talented people, regardless of gender.

4. He was transparent. When we hide things from another we are saying one of two things: we’re better than they, or we don’t trust them. If we appear distant from others, closeted, it is harder for people to identify with us. Leaders practice full disclosure, and delight in relating their experiences to others.

5. He was the servant of the house. It’s what separates great leaders from all others. Good managers ask only two questions (ultimately) of their reports: “How’re you doing with the ‘thing’ we agreed you would do;” and, “What can I do to help?”

6. He viewed others as his greatest accomplishment. So many CEOs leave their organizations in poor shape, not in market terms but in the collective ability of their staff to carry on. Few would choose this legacy (viewing others as the greatest accomplishment) because too few fail to see their people as their greatest accomplishment.


Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |



ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich

Much is gained and lost by the spoken word. Though many can be turned to meanings beyond the parochial definition of them, words carry the power of life’s pleasures and pain. Instructive, colorful, poignant, of character, and misspoken, words–by their meaning and tone—are the avenues to the honor and horrific in human endeavor.

In efforts to prepare our world, for the opportunity and growth we all seek, we choose the words that aid this seminal desire in each. Those careful and patient with their words add treasure to the pursuit. In a world increasingly given to the constructionism of a post-modernist society, we have created the moral tribal communities that destine Left and Right. More important than service to another is the need (absolute) to “measure and place” each, according to his tribe. All this, while speaking of an emerging a one-world democracy. In the process, we shock our neighbors with the taboos and constraints, that either collects or warns them off. The results are often the ardor of totalitarianism or surprise as we wake the next morning to the “wrong candidate,” assumed or elected.

In the parlance of casual or contentious tribal ethic, we find meaning in the “whatever” that either enumerates or dismisses the footsteps to fulfillment. The term (whatever), taken up by youth and the youthful of past generations, is a sanctioning expression of the choices in unique individuals finding their way. Not so much for the word itself, but by its use as a dismissive, we find a convenient way to hurry to the next thing; often leaving bruised others in our wake.

Few would argue against the power in words, though too few are patient enough with them to gain their essential might. Prodigious indeed, words given meaning by a powerful phrase of action magnify their power and influence. We must engage our audience first before hoping to influence it. All that is digestible must first be ingestible. How we say what we say is easily as important as what we say. To give meaning to words, is to justify the conclusions we arrive at with the truth in them. A “cut-flower” society is not rooted in anything. It looks good, but withers quickly.

In his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul reveals a way “through gentleness to everyone,” in expressing the words that form a more perfect union among us in this season of gratitude and joyfulness. Indeed, “whatever”!

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 8-9 NIV

In this season, especially, our words carry greater purpose when gratitude, for all things, informs them. Seeing everyone, and everything, as an opportunity helps.

Happy Holidays


Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

The Fervor of Enterprise


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich


Business and life have a tendency to confront us with the reality of our condition—good or bad. Ultimately, we are revealed for who we are no matter how hard we try to conceal it. The pattern of behavior that characterizes each of us is more often some part the person we don’t like and some part the one we do. Strangely, the objective view of oneself is lost in the mix.

The workaday world often requires a heads-down approach. Much of what gets done is done by an individual in time he alone commands for its completion. That we are capable of processing (completely) only one thing at a time forms the biochemical predisposition of both our limitations and our opportunities. Objectivity, were it truly the vaunted mantle of more than our “ideal image,” would not so easily be sacrificed for our typical expressions of emotion and thought–the subjective view that produces most decisions.

Business leaders are most often viewed as those who see things clearly, with narrow focus, and people who can do the things that deliver opportunity to stakeholders. The quality displayed is often portrayed as a “hard driving man.” Not coincidentally, a number of women CEOs I’ve worked with had the steel of nails in their approach that was easily a match for the Jack Welches of the world (former CEO of General Electric). The practice is to “mark and move on;” the tracking of a productive person.

Business owners and leaders are equals in their fervor over enterprise, a dyad matched by Adam Smith’s economic foundation stones, as told in the first pages of The Wealth of Nations.

The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessities and conveniences of life which it annually consumes, and which consists always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or what is purchased from that produce from other nations.

According therefore, as this produce, or what is purchased with it, bears a greater or smaller proportion to the number of those who are to consume it, the nation will be better or worse supplied with all the necessities and conveniences for which it has occasion.

But this proportion in every nation must be regulated by two different circumstances; first by the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which its labour is generally applied, and, secondly, by the proportion between the number of those who are employed in useful labour, and that of those who are not so employed. Whatever be the soil, climate, or extent of territory of any particular nation, the abundance or scantiness of its annual supply must, in that particular situation, depend on those circumstances.

The abundance or scantiness of this supply too seems to depend more upon the former of those two circumstances than upon the latter.
Few of that era, or this, considered economic pari passu with growth of the state, especially among the effulgent of the day, Karl Marx notwithstanding. By the mark of Smith’s pen commerce has gained the energy for an enterprise mindset, and no science or literature or math has equaled its affect on the world, no less capitalism. But Smith’s assertion that labor is the font of all that is produced rings true. We are people first, then the engineers of all else.


Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

Smart . . .or clever


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich


An old geezer, who had been a retired farmer for a long time, became very bored and decided to open a medical clinic. He put a sign up that read: Dr. Geezer’s clinic. “Get your treatment for $500, if not cured get back $1,000.”

Doctor “Young,” who was positive that this old geezer didn’t know beans about medicine, thought this would be a great opportunity to get $1,000.  So, he went to Dr. Geezer’s clinic. This is what happened.

Dr. Young: “Dr. Geezer, I have lost all taste in my mouth.” can you please help me?
Dr. Geezer:  “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in Dr. Young’s mouth.”
Dr. Young: Aggh !! — “This is Gasoline!”
Dr. Geezer: “Congratulations! You’ve got your taste back. That will be $500.”
Dr. Young gets annoyed and goes back after a couple of days figuring to recover his money.
Dr. Young: “I have lost my memory, I cannot remember anything.”
Dr. Geezer: “Nurse, please bring medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient’s mouth.”
Dr. Young:  “Oh no you don’t, that is Gasoline!”
Dr. Geezer: “Congratulations! You’ve got your memory back. That will be $500.”
Dr. Young (after having lost $1000) leaves angrily and comes back after several more days.
Dr. Young: “My eyesight has become weak and I can hardly see !!!!
Dr. Geezer: “Well, I don’t have any medicine for that so “ Here’s your $1000 back.”
Dr. Young: “But this is only $500…”
Dr. Geezer: “Congratulations! You got your vision back! That will be $500.”

Moral of story: Just because you’re “Young” doesn’t mean that you can outsmart an old “Geezer “!!!!

The human condition is clever beyond imagination. But when used to “outsmart” others it prepares us for long-term failure beyond expectations. A simple, more direct approach to things produces the best results, especially over time. We can all be tricked into believing in so-called deals, but studies show that virtually all offers return again, often at better prices. For those with patience and purpose this can mean money in the bank. TJ Maxx, and their affiliate stores (Marshalls, Home Goods, etc.) have addressed this shopper well enough to grow a $30 billion company.

It may be smart to trick customers into believing that certain of your items are on sale. It is clever to call sale days what they are, alert customers to their coming, and to prepare for the best possible experience with sufficient inventory and incentives to return.

It may be smart to quote the price of a hotel room without the resort tax and resort fee, explaining to those who ask that such fees are “normal” in the industry. It is clever to waive “the fee” in favor of a coupon equal to it for every dinner for two at the hotel restaurant.
It may be smart to offer very low airfares to common destinations, though limited seating satisfies a small fraction of travelers. It is clever to devote an entire flight to such fares, then raffle resort destinations to the highest bidders, from which the airlines enjoys a fee per person. Website traffic will soar.

Telling customers exactly what you’re doing is “better business,” and more profitable. It builds trust faster and more securely, increasing the potential for a healthy retention revenue model. A “pool supply and maintenance” company’s recent Ad read:
“We’ll open your pool for FREE if you’ll let us care for and close it too. Chemicals cost less here!”

There are lots of things to maintain, repair, and replace in and around a pool. Establishing a customer relationship is hard to accomplish. Do what’s necessary to make that important task easier to achieve and growth will follow. The real cost of customer acquisition is FREE if you do the clever things to keep them coming back.


Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |
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