Dr. Jimmie Flores

Month: March 2015 Page 1 of 6

He Said: “I Wish I Had a Meaningful Job!”


While serving my church as an usher on Christmas Eve, I had a conversation with an acquaintance. I arrived early to mass, which gave us a chance to chat. Sam is a jovial man who makes it a habit to strike up a conversation with anyone. While I have not seen him sing in the church choir, he does have a great voice.

Our Conversation

ME: Hi, Sam!

SAM: Hey, Jimmie! How are you doing this fine holiday season?

ME: All seems to be going well. Health is good, and the family is doing well. I know we are fortunate.

SAM: That’s great to hear. In my case, I spend time with the grandkids. You know … they are a handful, but Joyce and I love having them around. My kids drop them off when they can, and we spoil them to death. I’m sure their parents aren’t too happy about that, but so it goes.

ME: I guess it’s only a matter of time before we all become grandparents. Life does seem to move way too fast. It’s good to appreciate every minute we have on this earth.

SAM: You’re right about that! Hey … listen, I didn’t see you usher the 9:15 am mass last week. I was worried about you.

ME: I attended a business conference, so I was out of San Antonio that weekend. I tried to make it back on time, but it just didn’t work out.

SAM: What kind of conference did you attend?

ME: I’m looking to improve my IT change management skills. This is an area of big interest for me. I like learning more about how leaders implement change, particularly at the enterprise-level. There are so many factors to consider, such as technology, budget, and people. I think you know that some people are resistant to change.

SAM: I do know that! Heck … I have to drive the same way to work or I get confused.

ME: I guess we all get in our comfort zone.

SAM: Jimmie, I really wish I had a meaningful job. I’ve been in the mortgage brokerage business for 30+ years, and I’m fed up! I’m almost 60-years-old. You would think I would’ve found something better along the way. Do you know that I had to work until 3 pm today? Remember … this is the day before Christmas!

ME: That’s a non-starter! Crazy!

SAM: The fact is that I don’t know anything else but the mortgage business. I spend all of my time foreclosing on people. How can that be any fun?

ME: I agree, Sam! Listen … mass is about to start. Let’s talk more here soon!

SAM: Sure thing, Jimmie! It’s great seeing you!

Sam has been in an industry for more than 30 years, and I could tell that he wasn’t happy. His job is nothing more than a place where he performs activities that yield a steady paycheck. The problem with this approach is that life can pass you by, and you’re quite unhappy with your accomplishments when it’s time to walk away.

It’s far better to identify the work that makes you happy. By doing so, your earning power will increase, and you will make sure that our contributions are meaningful.

Cop Affirmed I Would Get a Speeding Citation


On a recent trip to Houston, I innocently violated the speed limit by 6 mph. From San Antonio to Houston, I take Interstate 10, and traffic moves at a good clip. The upper limit is 75 mph, and at some point, my foot pressed a bit too hard on the accelerator and, unfortunately, a Texas highway patrolman was vigilant when I made it over the hill.

Here is the conversation with the officer after I pulled over to the shoulder:

OFFICER: Sir, I pulled you over because you were going 81 in a 75.

ME: I was driving the speed limit for most of this drive because I had it on cruise control, but I guess I lost track of how fast I was going.

OFFICER: Will you please step out of the car?

ME: Sure. I can do that.

[It was a chilly morning, so getting out of the car was no fun, but I didn’t have much of a choice.]

OFFICER: Stand right here, and let me process your driver’s license and insurance information.

ME: Okay.

[During my 5-minute wait, I hoped we would have a chance to discuss the matter before he issued the speeding citation. Just in case, though, I was thinking of the defensive driving option.]

OFFICER: Mr. Flores, what do you do for a living?

ME: I’m a professor.

OFFICER: What do you teach?

ME: I teach business and IT courses.

OFFICER: I will need to issue you a citation for speeding.

ME: Officer, is it possible for you to cut me some slack? If you look at my record, you’ll notice that I have zero moving violations. The fact is that I generally do a good job of obeying the traffic signs.

[He pondered my request for a bit.]

OFFICER: Do your sunglasses have a prescription?

ME: Yes. Of course!

OFFICER: I will need to issue you a citation for violating the speed limit. I will be right back.

[The highway patrolman walked to his car, and returned in a few minutes.]

OFFICER: You know it’s important that you drive the speed limit out here. If an animal jumps out in front of you, you won’t have time to slow down.

ME: I understand. I will do my best in the future to heed that advice.

OFFICER: Mr. Flores, I need your signature right here. I am going to give you a warning this time, but know that obeying the speed limit is important for many reasons.

ME: Wow! I thought you said that I would get a citation.

OFFICER: Yeah. I changed my mind. Have a good day.

Before learning that I would get a warning, I was in no mood for him to lecture about the speeding. He was, after all, going to cite me. I kept my cool, and that helped. I remember thinking about the paperwork that was ahead of me, and wasn’t too happy about that.

The rest of my trip to Houston was uneventful, and largely because I kept to the speed limit.

“I’m 70 And I’m Quitting”


I had a terrific discussion with a successful businesswoman a few weeks ago. Her name is Beth, and she rose to an executive position at a major corporate training organization. I’ve known Beth for more than a decade, and there is no doubt that she is a superstar employee. She is a natural leader.

Beth invited me to a conference, and we had an opportunity to chat during the reception before the dinner:

ME: Hey, Beth! How are you doing this fine evening?

BETH: Jimmie, it’s good to see you. I was happy that you accepted the invite. I know Philly is a bit far from San Antonio.

ME: I know it is, Beth, but I did my best to be here. You are an excellent colleague, and I know this conference has a ton to offer. It’s a win-win situation.

BETH: We’ve been doing this corporate training work for decades, and it only gets better. I tell you … technology has changed so much. The stuff we provide our clients is unbeatable.

ME: I think 9/11 allowed us to take a different look at how we train our employees. I agree that meeting face-to-face is important, but there is so much we can do with computers and the web.

BETH: I agree. Look … I’m 70-years-old, and I know that we can delivery quality education and training over the Internet. It would be so easy for me to shun technology, but I’m not that crazy!

ME: Beth, quite honestly, I cannot believe you are 70! I guess you’ve done a great job of keeping yourself in top shape because you look much younger.

BETH: Thank you for saying that. I’ve had my ups-and-downs, but keeping an even keel does prevent aging. Heck, losing control too much leads to heart attacks. We don’t want that!

ME: That’s good advice. I will remember that when things get off-track. We are faced with so many unpredictable situations today.

BETH: I’ve had my issues, too. I do a much better job today of focusing on the problem itself, and not on personalities.

ME: I saw an email this past week that you are retiring. What’s up with that?

BETH: Jimmie, I’m 70! My husband retired several months ago, and he is at home while I’m working. I was driving to work recently, and I was startled to think that I was going to work while my husband was at home. He wasn’t on vacation or sick. He is retired! I realized that it was time for me to do the same. That same day I informed the company president that I was giving my notice. I said one month, but they asked if I could extend it to 60 days. I agreed, and I have just one more week before the final day.

ME: How do you feel about it?

BETH: I will miss the great people here at work. That’s for sure! But, it’s time, and I’m ready to enjoy this phase of my life. My husband and I decided that we’ll do whatever makes us happy!

What a refreshing conversation.

The White Glove Treatment

I recently attended a conference, and was intrigued when a speaker discussed the White Glove treatment.  He explained how his organization was inefficient in the onboarding process.  He exclaimed: “Quite honestly, I can’t believe we have any business at all.  We are so bad at bringing on new customers.”

Transitioning new customers is a critical function for all organizations.  Marketing has identified the target market, and the sales team has matched the product or service with the customer’s needs.  In essence, the expensive and time-consuming work has been done.

The customer has paid, and is ready to reap the benefits.  Your onboarding team must get to work, and make sure the buyer is provided with the tools, techniques, and training particular to their purchase.

Keep the Customer on the Forefront
Not too long ago, I approved the purchase of a customer relationship management (CRM) product.  As part of the initial investment, we were provided with six one-hour training sessions.  The training specialist contacted me, and we confirmed the first appointment.

The conversation went something like this:

Chase: Hi, Jimmie.

Me: Hey, Chase.

Chase: We are scheduled for six sessions, and the first one is this Thursday at 4 pm Pacific time.  I have a busy schedule, and we might have to hold this time slot for the rest of the sessions.

Me: I’m not sure if my team can always meet during this time.  That’s 2 pm Central. By the way, I have a team in The Philippines, and they must also attend this training. Do you have any flexibility with the time?

Chase: I’ll see what I can do.  By the way, I’m out of the office next week because my wife and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary. We’re heading to Cancun.  So, we can meet this Thursday, and I’ll bet back with you when I get back to confirm our next training.

Me: Well, we really can’t miss a week. We just made a big investment in this CRM, and we need to launch it quickly.

Chase: I understand, but you’re not going to miss out on much. I recommend you go through the online tutorials and jot down any questions you have for me.  We can address them when I return from the Cancun trip.

The first training session was high-level, and I could tell that Chase was daydreaming about the Cancun vacation.  He was going through the motions, asking canned questions, showing little interest regarding our business.  I’m certain he didn’t study our website to learn more about us and our clientele.

We skipped the week that Chase returned from his vacation because he had too many items on his plate.  He apologized, and finally scheduled us for our second training.  By this time, we had all forgotten what we learned during the initial session.  Chase reassured us that we would be fine.

Unfortunately, the CRM training failed to prepare our team to maximize the benefits of the service.  We implemented some of the features, but didn’t have the skills and knowledge to leverage the full functionality of the CRM.  Within a few months, we decided to pursue other alternatives.

The speaker during the conference reminded me of this CRM experience.  The White Glove treatment would ensure that we had the knowledge to maximize the functionality of the cloud-driven service.  Chase should put the customer first and follow-up with us, even after the paid training sessions were complete.  Not surprisingly, I never heard from Chase or anyone else in the company after we decided to cancel the service.

In short, those practicing the White Glove treatment have the potential to capture a larger market share, largely because few organizations are focused on the needs of the customer.

He Graded Papers the Night Before His Death


Like most people, I often imagine what I will do when I retire. I have a couple decades before that decision will be front-and-center, but it’s never too early to start planning. Knowing how I am, it’s impossible to think that I will stop working cold turkey at age 65. I’m sure that I want to stay active in some kind of meaningful work.

The Committed Professor
About a year ago, a teaching colleague passed away. Dr. Francis became a college professor his 30’s, and he was passionate about his work. He was the type of instructor who spent the entire day at the university. While most instructors are strict about their office hours, Dr. Francis made it a habit to go the extra mile. He even attended extracurricular activities such as basketball games, debate sessions, and drama presentations.

The students loved him, and it was obvious to see why he was a hit. I called him one Friday afternoon around 6 p.m. thinking he was on his drive home.

ME: How are you doing?

DR. FRANCIS: Well, I’m doing well. I have a dinner date with Linda, so I’m grading as fast as possible. I have one student who asked for assistance, and I decided to meet him today after his work shift.

ME: Wow! You are working late tonight. I’m sure Linda will be calling shortly to remind you of the night out.

DR. FRANCIS: I know she will, and I should be okay. The student has a tough time making it during the day, so I felt it was important to stay a bit later tonight. I want him to do well in this class because the material will help him down the road. Once he understands these fundamental accounting practices, he will be fine.

ME: Alright! I know you’re busy, so I’ll reach out to you next week.

DR. FRANCIS: I hope you do. When you’re in Tampa, let me know so that we can get together. I’ll do the same when I get down to San Antonio.

A couple months after this conversation, Dr. Francis informed me that he was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. At age 67, his body was having a tough time dealing with it. His medical team informed him that most patients die within months.

Knowing that his days on earth were numbered, he made sure his financials were in place. While he was not at the university as much, he still made it a habit to have a presence.

During the final week of his life, Dr. Francis managed his work almost like normal. In fact, his wife Linda told me that he graded a few papers the night before his death. While he provided constructive feedback to some of his students, he also shared a bit of advice with them, such as:

“Make sure to find a career that is rewarding.”
“When times get tough, think about the good things in life.”

While Dr. Francis is now gone, his presence is still felt through those who knew him. It’s great to meet individuals who are difference-makers.

Overworking the Customer: My DirecTV Experience


For more than a decade, I have been a customer of DirecTV. For the most part, I am pleased with the service, and I plan to be a customer for years to come. However, I had an experience recently that I would like to share as a lesson.

Calling Customer Support
I found time on a Saturday night to call DirecTV about an old Tivo receiver that did not have HD capability. In my discussion with Tamara from Mississippi, I learned that upgrading to an HD receiver in this one room would allow me the option to sign-up for the Whole-Home DVR service, which means that I can access recorded shows from any DVR in the home.

Of course, making this move meant having to buy the DVR for $99, plus tax, shipping, and a contribution to a political party. I’m joking about the contribution, but I did notice that $99 quickly escalated to $128. Regardless, in a few days, the FedEx package arrived with the new HD DVR. All is good, right? Not exactly!

Technician No-Show
Adding the Whole-Home service requires extra equipment, which means that DirecTV will dispatch a technician to my home. We agree on a window from 4 pm to 8 pm on a Wednesday, and I coordinate my schedule to be available during that time slot. On Wednesday morning, I received a call from a “512” area code (Austin, Texas), and I don’t answer it because I am teaching a seminar. I figured a student from Austin was calling, and I would return the call later in the day. I later learned the DirecTV technician used a mobile phone with the “512” area code.

His voicemail stated he needed to cancel the work order because I needed a Deca system installed. As I listened to the message, I have no idea the purpose or need for a Deca. It sounded like a side dish used in Greek cuisine. After calling the technician, he mentioned that I needed to call DirecTV to “upgrade” the order. I was surprised as to why I needed to make that call, especially given that I did not know what to request.

Think of the Customer
The technician, who is probably employed by a third party company, needs to think of how he could help the customer. Asking me to call DirecTV customer support is the easy way out, and falls short of providing exemplary customer service.
Who is to blame? This is a leadership problem. Both DirecTV and the technician’s employer must work together to resolve customer issues. The fact is that I initiated the call for service. My role is to explain what I needed, when I need it, and to pay for the equipment and service. DirecTV, on the other hand, must ensure that they understand my requirements, and that its employees and contractors collaborate to deliver as promised.
Mediocre customer service requires the customer to be involved throughout the service lifecycle, constantly confirming that work is done. World-class customer service, on the other hand, places the responsibility of customer service on the company itself. In essence, DirecTV must be an advocate for its customers, taking proactive measures to resolve problems quickly.

Every organization can learn from this experience. Stop making the customer responsible for work you can do better and quicker. The irony here is that asking the customer to assume more ownership creates additional inefficiencies on the back-end, which negatively affects customer service, employee morale, and the bottom-line.

How Face Recognition Led to 3 Free Coffees at Starbucks


Like many people, I am a coffee drinker. While I enjoy the hot beverage, I usually have only one cup per day. However, I drink more than my share of Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper. In fact, I usually by the soft drinks at CostCo, so you get the idea, right?

Starbucks coffee is far from cheap. If you’re not careful, you’ll easily spend more on a coffee than you do for lunch. In my case, I usually buy the Grande Pike, which runs about $2.00. I get it a bit cheaper because I bring my Contigo mug with me.

To make my purchases easier at Starbucks, I carry a loyalty card in my wallet, but I now use the latest in technology with the iPhone app. It’s cool that I can walk up to most Starbucks and pay with my phone. When you think about it, this is pretty cool technology.

Free Coffee #1
On a Monday recently, I decided to use the drive-thru at a Starbucks that I frequent. I was taking a Project Management Institute (PMI) exam at 9 a.m., so I decided to get an early start and review my notes.

I was the first customer at 5:30 a.m.:

BARISTA: Sir, we don’t open until 5:30 a.m.

ME: What time do you have, sir?

BARISTA: Weird! It’s 5:30 a.m. I can go ahead and take your order.

ME: Great! I would like a Grande Pike, and I have my own mug.

BARISTA: Okay. See you at the window.

ME: Here’s my mug, and I’m going to pay using my app.

BARISTA: Here’s your coffee, and don’t worry about paying. I know you’re a regular customer, so all is good.

Wow! I think a major reason I received free coffee was because he hadn’t logged into the register. Regardless, free Starbucks coffee on Monday morning is always good!

Free Coffee #2
On Tuesday, I decide to stop at the same Starbucks coffee shop. I’m feeling better today because I passed the PMI exam, which means I can enjoy my Grande Pike even more. This time I make my way to the walk-up window to place my order.

ME: I would like my usual … the Grande Pike in my mug.

BARISTA #2: Sure. It’ll be right out.

ME: Thank you.

[When the order arrives, I provide my iPhone for scanning.]

BARISTA #2: Don’t worry about payment. I know you’re a loyal customer.

Two days in a row! Not bad!

Free Coffee #3
On Wednesday, I’m going to try my luck one more time. This time, the attendant is Kelly, and I know her pretty well. She and I usually make light conversation when I buy my coffee. We sometimes talk about the weather, traffic, and anything else that comes to mind.

She said: “The coffee is on me today. Have a great day!”

In three days, three different Starbuck baristas allowed me to have free coffee. My luck ended on Saturday when I went to a Starbucks on the other side of town. “Sir, that’s $1.81.” Ouch!

It was good while it lasted!

Does Being Too Friendly Make One Stupid? The Moby Dick Story!


I recently went to the local Prometric Testing Center to sit for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam sponsored by the Project Management Institute (PMI). My exam was scheduled for 10:00 a.m., and I was anxious to get started.

When I arrived, I accidentally went to the wrong door. When I tried opening it, I noticed it was locked. I felt ridiculous trying to pull on a door that was obviously locked, but I think no one saw me, which was a small consolation. I guess!

I noticed another test-taker found the right door, and it was even more embarrassing when I observed that the door had a glowing yellow sign that read:

Prometric Test Takers – Enter Here!

Yes … this is the same sign I missed earlier.

The Conversation
The gentleman who found the right door was the only person in front of me. I waited by leaning on a wall, but the young lady registering the customers informed me that it was best for me to go to the lobby, which I did.

From this location, I heard the following conversation from the overly-friendly test-taker and the attendant:

Test-Taker: Hi, ma’am! It’s so nice to be here. I know I’m early, but I wanted to get here on time.

Attendant: Glad you were able to find the location.

[I’m sitting already bored. This is no time to have a friendly conversation! I’m nervous about the exam, and I want to get started! I guess I’m overreacting a bit!]

Test-Taker: I’m taking the insurance audit exam. Do you see my name on that computer screen of yours?

Attendant: What is your name?

Test-Taker: Moby Dick Landus. Can you believe my parents gave me this name?

Attendant: That is a hard name to miss. I guess your parents wanted you to have a name that everyone could remember.

Test-Taker: I guess you’re right. What is your name?

Attendant: Gina.

Test-Taker: Do you have a last name, Gina?

[Will you please shut up and get on with the program! This is nuts! This is a test-taking facility, and not a bar!]

Attendant: Gina Marcum. Not as fancy as your name, I guess. Will you please sign here?

Test-Taker: Sure, ma’am. I will sign my unique name right on this dotted line. It’s not dotted, but you know what I mean.


Attendant: Great! I have your identification, and everything is set to go. Martina will take you to your station to begin the test.

Test-Taker: Thank you for the terrific experience! I’m ready to get going!

Attendant: Mr. Flores! You’re next!

I’m unsure how Mr. Moby Dick did on the exam, but I did feel that his discussion was a bit over the top. I know some of you are thinking I’m overreacting, but I suppose you had to be there. It’s a funny example, and it still makes a chuckle when I think about it.

While taking the CAPM exam, I was hoping to get done quickly to avoid listening to the parting conversation between Moby Dick and Gina. While walking out of the testing room, I noticed that Moby raised his hand, and asked Gina if he could use the restroom. Who raises their hand in a testing center? Weird!

I passed the exam, and hurried to my car. Some of you might be skeptical regarding my Moby Dick story, but it’s true. Really!

Border Patrol Asked: “Is This Your Car?”


A few days ago, I made a trip to Piedras Negras, Mexico, which is a border town right across Eagle Pass, Texas. This is a trip that I’ve made many times over the years, and I have noticed that security is getting tighter and tighter.

Today, for example, we are required to show our U.S. passport before we are allowed to return to the States. In one case in which I forgot my passport, the Border Patrol agent looked at me funny and allowed me to re-enter with just my driver’s license. He wasn’t too happy with me, so I now make it a habit to have the proper credentials.

I forgot to mention that I once used a photocopy of my passport, and that also caused the agent to question who I was, where I was born, and what I was doing in Mexico. I showed him my driver’s license, and he put me on the spot by asking if I knew my passport number. I’ve made it a habit to memorize both my driver’s license and passport numbers, so I was able to get out of this pickle.

Crossing Into Mexico
After paying the $2.75 toll to allow me the rights to enter Piedras Negras, I was greeted by US Border Patrol agents. They have the right to pull you over randomly, and search your car.

[We carried the following conversation in Spanish.]

BP AGENT: How are you doing, sir?

ME: I’m doing good … just here to visit a few friends.

BP AGENT: Is this your car?

ME: Yes. I’ve owned it for a couple years.

BP AGENT: We need to check the VIN # … please open this door.

ME: Sure. No problem.

BP AGENT: Please unlock the doors so that we can take a look in the backseat.

ME: Sure … not much back there.

BP AGENT: What is that book in the back?

ME: Oh … that is my project management book that I used to teach classes back in San Antonio.

BP AGENT: I know one thing. We need our managers here to take your class. They know nothing about management.

ME: I guess that can be arranged. [Jokingly.]

BP AGENT: Okay, sir. Have a good day.

Many cars are stolen in the United States and taken to Mexico where they are disassembled, resulting in the sale of parts. Therefore, the checkpoint by the Border Patrol agents serves an important purpose.

However, I thought about possible responses that could have caused me some problems, such as:

“This car belongs to my brother.”
“A friend let me use it.”
“I found it on the side of the road, and the keys were in it.”
“Not sure, sir.”
“Is that really your business, sir?”
“I guess we’re about to find out!”

Of course, I did not use any of these silly responses, but thinking about it gave me a chuckle. I was able to have lunch with my friends, and we laughed about the situation. Upon my return through the US checkpoint, I had my official United States passport ready to present to the agent.

Conversation with a Target Manager … The Employee Who Can’t Help Because She’s on Break

I needed a break from work this past Saturday, and decided to venture out to Target to buy a few items for the office. I shop only when necessary, and I’m usually out the door in 15 minutes.

The conversation I will share here is important on many fronts. First, I do understand that policy and procedures are important, and that we must do whatever possible to follow them. In fact, HR law is often involved, and deviating from employee regulations can be dangerous for managers.

However, I also think we must teach our employees common sense. There are times when we can bend the rules, even just a little bit. Of course, the effort begins with the leadership team, and buy-in from the employees is essential.

The Target scenario …

Me: Ma’am, do you know where I can find the trash bags?

Employee: I can’t help you right now. I’m on break!

Me: I’m just asking if you can point me in the right direction – like an aisle number.

Employee [walking away]: Let me see if someone else can help you.

Me: Ok.

Given our proximity to the pharmacy, the employee asks the pharmacist, and her co-worker. From my experience, these are generally the busiest people in most retail outlets. When they are not working directly with the customers, they are filling prescriptions.

Pharmacist: Sir, how can I help you?

Me: I’m looking for the trash bags, but it’s no big deal. I will try and find them.

Pharmacist: Ok. Let us know if you need assistance.

I walk away to where I think the trash bags are located, and I happen to run into a gentleman with a big red tag confirming his manager status.

Me: Sir, do you know where I can find the trash bags?

Manager: Yes, they’re on Aisle 10.

Me: Sir, I have a quick question. Please know that I’m not complaining … but I asked an employee if she could help me find the trash bags. She informed me that she couldn’t help because she was on break. Is this standard operating procedure?

Manager: Yeah. I can’t ask my employees to do anything when they are not on the clock. If they’re not getting paid, they’re not to do any work.

Me: Wow! So, they’re not allowed to help customers in any way when they’re on break.

I wonder what they are allowed to do if a fire breaks out and they’re on break. Kidding!

Manager: That’s right. We tell them to find the nearest person who can help you. Those are the rules, and we follow them.

Me: Ok, great! Things are much different today.

Manager: I guess so.

This example has many different angles. Does a problem even exist? From a customer standpoint, I did find the response from the employee somewhat unprofessional. However, she was following orders. She was told to avoid any work during her break, and she followed procedure.

From a business owner standpoint, this situation reinforces the opportunities available today. While policies and procedures are important, there must be some wiggle room. In some cases, we can keep the doors open beyond 5 pm, we can work a few hours during the weekend, and we can even help customers during our assigned breaks.

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