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Con Artists Take Center Stage

Nations can be fooled when politicians drain the treasury and make promises which cannot be vetted for years on end.

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One evening, I attend a seminar which features a renowned “psychic.” Allegedly she is able to merely look at people in the audience and tell them about departed loved ones who are seeking contact, or who are present in the room during the gathering!

From my back row seat, I listen intently. I am skeptical of such claims and certainly of those that involve the dead, but I’m willing to be ‘educated.’ My key concern: Can she offer anything to anyone in the room that indicates she has specific information from their departed loved ones? This, as opposed to generalized blather that any cognitively sharp person could surmise.

Something, Anything…

For the first 30+ minutes, she’s on a fishing expedition. She’ll say to selected individuals, “You lost someone within the last few years, haven’t you?” In a room populated by 45 to 75-year-olds, this is not a startling revelation.

She says to one couple, who are apparently married, “You have two children don’t you? They are boys.” The man and woman nod in agreement. A light goes off in my head: Now, for the first time in nearly 35 minutes the “psychic” has cited something that is case-specific. If she did not know these people beforehand, and had no chance to speak to them, potentially she has shown some inkling of ability, although I don’t know exactly what to call it.

The entire session is being video recorded. As she makes her pronouncements, calling on people in the audience, the camera crew focuses on those parties with whom she engages in dialogue. Even during her many fishing expeditions that yield no fish, the camera crew diligently records. The next day, she can edit the video footage to show off her ‘amazing’ ‘psychic’ ability. This starts me thinking…

Divide and Conquer

I’m not saying the woman and crew are con artists, like a Nancy Pelosi or a Chuck Schumer. I haven’t studied the situation sufficiently to draw such a conclusion. However, of late, con artists have perfected their craft and even with increasingly sophisticated audiences, or target markets, can reap profits.

Take the case of someone who professes to have forecasting capabilities. From a target direct mail list he bought, the “forecaster” sends out a mailing to 2400 individuals, each of whom is a long-term stock market investor. To 1200 recipients he predicts a particular stock will increase in value by the close of the market on a selected date in the very near future.

To the 1200 other recipients he says that this stock will not increase in value. It will decrease or stay the same. Thus, 1200 recipients will receive one communication from this forecaster that proves to be true. Okay, big deal.

Getting Them Hooked

The forecaster mails a second letter to the 1200 recipients with whom he was correct on the first mailing. He tells 600 of them about another stock that will increase, and tells the other 600 that the same stock will not increase. For half of the 1200 recipients he will be correct.

What a marvelous process. With 600 recipients he has been correct in his stock predictions twice in a row. He repeats the process a third time and now has 300 people with whom he has been correct three times in a row.

Granted, some people didn’t pay attention or chucked his mailing post haste. Others couldn’t care less. Still, perhaps 180 people or so might be primed to plunk down $247, or whatever the annual fee is for his stock predictions ezine. For a total mailing cost and labor of under $3000, he collects $44,460 (180 subscribers times $247). It doesn’t matter what else happens that year – whether or not his stock predictions are accurate. He has already pocketed more than $40,000 for this small scale operation. And he could have mailed to 240,000 people at the outset, 100 times 2400.

Some of the People All of the Time

Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Con artists train themselves in the fine art of separating fools from their money, or capturing their votes, relying on the premise that you can fool some of the people all of the time. Who is most likely to succumb to con artistry? Those who:

* like the idea of getting something for nothing
* are in despair, in a quandary, or who lack direction
* seek shortcuts along life’s journey
* want to make money quickly
* grieve over the dearly departed
* are not intellectually rigorous
* want to be led by someone with special insights
* think the government can print money with no repercussions

The opioid patient, the cancer patient, the patient with an inoperable brain tumor might fervently seek answers, sometimes dismissing a lifetime of accumulated wisdom and judgment, and the pleas of family and friends, in the hope that they’ve found a miracle cure. After U.S. doctors informed him that they had no chance of prolonging his life, actor Steve McQueen paid $40,000 per month, out of pocket, for highly unconventional medical procedures, to treat pleural mesothelioma during a three-month stay in Rosarito Beach, Mexico

His daily treatment included injections of live cell fluid from sheep and cows, as well as a massage and laetrile, an allegedly natural anti-cancer drug not approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. but available in Mexico. McQueen died at the same time he likely would have without the unconventional medical procedures.

Lead Us to the Promised Land!

Entire groups of people can be deceived. Sometimes their consent is voluntary, often it is involuntary. The common denominator is they want to be led by a “messiah type” who seems to have the answers to their long-term or persistent problems. If the “messiah” is a politician, they vote accordingly.

Oddly, for many believers, the fewer hard credentials that the “messiah” possesses, the better, as was the case with Barack Obama. He had neither long term political experience or demonstrated business acumen. Indeed, he had no significant accomplishments and had built nothing, but he spoke well and sure looked good in a business suit…

Entire nations can be fooled for months and years on end when elected leaders, especially imperial types, drain the treasury and make promises which cannot be vetted for years on end. National economies are huge. The results of “wealth redistribution” via legislation or presidential “executive order” such as Joe Biden and company are doing, for social programs of nebulous merit, often take an exceedingly long time, if ever, to bear fruit.

Record All, Use the Best

On the evening with the “psychic,” it occurs to me that even if the crew records everything, they only need to save and use a fraction of it: Those interactions where the “psychic” said something which apparently was true for the audience member being tapped. If she does enough presentations, and makes plenty of pronouncements to enough people, the law of averages will be on her side. Her “demo” video can be edited to make her look like a psychic genius.

The “psychic” had called on at least 20 audience members, and other than the incident where she accurately mentioned two sons, she had gotten nothing else right on the money. Still with one highly successful interaction that evening, if she can string five or six from other evenings, she is ready for YouTube, DVDs, and a website, all offering “proof positive” that she has psychic abilities.

She can use such footage to be shown again and again to groups who seek  “enlightenment” or entertainment. She can lure individual clients hoping for answers or who believe that she can contact the dead.

What a racket. Client, consumer, voter, and buyer: beware.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Business

Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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Work-life Balance: The Enduring Quest

Organizations today recognize the importance of supporting employees’ well-being while maintaining productivity

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Thank goodness that organizations today increasingly recognize the importance of supporting employees’ well-being while maintaining productivity. As such, the corporate quest for work-life balance, harmony, and integration has gained great prominence.

Key Aspects

Here are 12 key aspects of this pursuit gleaned from a variety of programs:

1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work schedules, remote work options, and part-time opportunities allows employees to better balance their professional and personal lives.

2. Have Clear Policies: Establishing clear policies and guidelines regarding work hours, overtime, and expectations helps employees manage their time effectively.

3. Support Mental Health: Providing access to mental health resources, counseling, and stress management programs can address employees’ emotional well-being.

4. Give Leave: Offering generous paid time off, including vacation, sick leave, and parental leave, allows employees to address personal and family needs without fear of repercussions.

5. Prevent Burnout: Encouraging employees to disconnect from work-related technology after hours helps prevent burnout and supports work-life separation.

6. Support Workload Management: Ensuring that employees have manageable workloads and realistic deadlines prevents excessive stress and long working hours.

7. Provide Wellness Programs: Implementing wellness initiatives, such as fitness facilities, nutrition programs, and health screenings, promotes a healthier work-life balance.

8. Enable Employee Assistance Programs: Such programs provide confidential counseling and support services for employees facing personal challenges.

9. Promote a Culture of Balance: Company culture plays a significant role in work-life balance. Leaders should model a balanced lifestyle, and the organization should celebrate accomplishments beyond work.

10. Maintain Continuous Communication: Engaging in open dialogues with employees about their needs and concerns regarding work-life balance fosters a supportive and responsive corporate culture.

11. Empower Workers with Training and Education: Providing training on time management, stress reduction, and resilience equips employees with the skills to better balance their lives.

12. Leverage Remote Work Policies: Crafting clear remote work policies and expectations ensures that remote employees have a structured work-life balance.

Bringing in the Hired Gun

As the world’s only holder of the title, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” as issued by the USPTO,  I am often summoned by organizations to enhance work-life balance for their troops. In all, I’ve delivered programs and spoken to 960 groups. Below depicts an encounter with a company who shall remain nameless for reasons of confidentiality. See if this squares up with your experience in your organization.

The following responses were derived as a result of my sending a questionnaire to the conference meeting planner where I was to be their keynote speaker. I requested the names of 10 people who would be in the audience. I called each of them to discuss their current challenges. Here are their actual replies to three of my questions:

1) If you could magically resolve a work-life balance issue, what would it be?

* Have more breathing room between high-level projects.
* Accomplish more during the workday and leave mentally free.
* Hire more staff!
* Take vacations and time off with no big pile ups when returning.

* Be allowed to take some Fridays off and catch up on much needed appointments.
* Reduce the number of pop-up requests and questions flying at me all day long so that I could ACTUALLY do what I need to do each day.
* Be approved to work from home or adjust my hours. My personal time isn’t respected.

2) What do you seek to derive from attending a session such as mine?

* Manage my time more effectively.
* Gain tools to embrace life while living it
* Develop stronger skills.
* Make work-life balance a reality in our company’s work-first culture.

* Acquire strategies, tips, or ideas to re-think my approach.
* Learn to change my focus, to be more productive, balanced, and focused.
* Be able to balance the few things that I do control during my day.
* Discover tips for keeping my staff in balance.

* Gain a realistic expectation of what we can achieve or experience.
* Develop a more positive outlook for the group.

3) Are there any observations you could offer?

* Work-life balance is a huge topic organization-wide. We are high performers who want to do a good job. We compromise our personal lives to meet work demands. We have to keep pace with the leaders and teams we support. If we don’t, we’ll be deemed unresponsive.

* A frenetic pace seems to be inherent in this company. Our team does a good job of emphasizing work-life balance; the problem lies with the surrounding divisions that thrive on working all the time, for no good reason. Yes, we are in a global space, working in different time zones, but some of these people are beyond the pale.

* What I love about this organization are the people. They are dedicated to the cause and truly want to deliver reliable, affordable, dynamic, and versatile solutions to our customers. However, our frenetic pace isn’t necessary. Not every project is the most vital. Not every problem is an emergency. Not every request has to be filled now.

* If in charge, I’d implement a more efficient, logical pace organization-wide. If we all took a breath and reevaluated how we work, in a more focused environment, we might find that we could produce better results with less stress.

Resonates Strongly

As you can see, the topic of work-life balance resonates strongly among today’s career professionals. Going forward, may more organization recognize and acknowledge the critical role that employee wellness and work-life balance has on the organization’s overall effectiveness.

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