Performance Appraisal As Inspiration And Motivation

Performance appraisal in small to medium companies (including startups) is one of those things that CEOs equate to going to the dentist. Not only do they not like it, they are not good at it.

There are a lot of very odd ideas at play here in the performance appraisal business — 360 degree appraisals which also fold in the guy selling flowers on the street corner — which makes the process a moving target; moving targets are notoriously hard to hit.

The message I bring you today is that a suspiciously simple, well-designed and executed performance appraisal system can be the most powerful personal tool wielded by a keen CEO for inspiration and motivation of individual team members.

It can also be clean, streamlined, and painless.

Let’s take a quick look at where performance appraisal fits within the overall schema of a company’s organizational matrix. Click on the graphic to see it at a larger scale.


What I want you to see is that performance appraisal is at the foundation level of the company’s Vision, Mission, Strategy Tactics, Objectives, Values, and Culture.

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Accountability For Failure — Afghanistan

In the running of any enterprise, you will encounter some triumphs and some disasters.

If you remember your schoolboy Kipling, you will know that the right path is to “treat those two impostors just the same.”

That is well and good, but it is also critical to assess what went wrong, why, and how to avoid it in the future.

Which, dear reader, brings me to the subject of Afghanistan and America’s two decades unending war in a far away place called the Graveyard of Empires.

How did Afghanistan get so fucked up?

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College Basketball — Carolina Tar Heels v Duke Blue Devils — A Modest Proposal

If you are like me, you are still wondering when the 2019-2020 NCAA Tournament, March Madness, is going to start.

Alas, we are well and truly fucked, amigo. It is never going to happen. Which brings me to the quandary of what to do with college basketball come November.

So, I make bold to make a modest proposal. Read to the end before you judge me. Keep an open mind.

The Modest Proposal

I propose that in order to avoid any COVID infection risk, rivalry schools, like the Carolina Tar Heels and the Duke Blue Devils, enter into a series of games which will approximate their season whilst mining the enthusiasm of these critical rivalries and providing loyal fans with the necessary juju and mojo they need to stabilize their lives.

It goes without saying that it will be a welcome diversion from the COVID.

Somebody may make a buck along the way, but, hey, that’s capitalism, right?

 1. The Carolina v Duke rivalry in basketball is the gold standard by which all other rivalries are measured.

Carolina, a public school founded in 1789, and Duke, a private school founded in 1838, have played each other in the noble contest of basketball for a century this year. First game was 1920, UNC 38 – Duke 25.

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Confucius Say — “Keep An Eye On China, Amigo”

Comes now the tale of the Chinese government’s Confucius Institutes. The United States has designated the seventy-five US-based Confucius Institutes as “foreign missions.”

This designation requires the Confucius Institutes to register with the US government, to identify and register their staffs, and to follow the restrictions normally placed on a diplomatic embassy.

Haha, you stupid Americans.

The United States recently did the same thing with Chinese media outlets who the US contends are Chinese state organs advancing China’s global propaganda and exerting a malign influence on America. <<< Remember this phrase.

It is long overdue.

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Our Lost American Cities

I rise in mourning today to grieve for our lost American cities.

Count me amongst those who find the term “new normal” offputting. I am not the squeamish type, but it grates on my ear.

Not the kind of grating that makes you reach for your concealed handgun, but the kind that shortens a convo and moves you on to the next page of your reading.

One thing that does come to mind as I contemplate a return to “normal”  is there are American cities that have been so indelibly changed in the first half of 2020 that they will never return to their prior greatness.

These are our lost American cities and it is a tragedy of gargantuan proportions.

$50 Walmart Gift Certificate to the first person who can identify this city being burned down whilst the coppers stand and watch. This is a trick, so be wary.

On my personal list of such cities are:


New York






Salt Lake City


If you feel the urge, nominate your favorites and I will publish the revised list. Justify your selections.

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Becoming Comfortable With Discomfort

I get a lot of calls from people who I can tell are uncomfortable with whatever they have called me to discuss. I can feel the vibration coming down the air waves.

A year ago, I ended a chat with a client and he said, “I constantly feel uncomfortable in my role as the CEO of my company.”

I let the dust settle for a few seconds and asked him to explain it. His explanation was perfectly reasonable and he knew exactly how he felt and why. Anybody would have felt the same.

We discussed it and then he asked me, “When does that uncomfortable feeling go away?”

I leaned into the second latte, took a sip, confronted his expectant face, and whispered, “Unfortunately, never. Part of being a leader is being comfortable with discomfort.

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Middle East Peace — One Step Closer

Comes now the recent rapprochement between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel. But, first, some background, shall we?

Our country has been indelibly marked by the status of peace in the Middle East in four important ways:

 1. We have supported Israel through a series of wars with the 1973 Yom Kippur War almost ending with a tragic outcome that was prevented by direct American military material support.

Had the US not sent replacement tanks to make up battlefield losses against the Syrians in the Golan Heights, the Syrians might have taken Tel Aviv. It was a very close thing.

Prime Minister Golda Meir made a phone call to President Nixon and in that same hour American tanks were loaded onto American aircraft, off loaded in Tel Aviv, and sent into battle with no time to even over paint the American stars. It was that close.

Israel continues to be the most powerful democracy in a region dominated by despots.

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The Cloud of Darkness Versus Joie De Vivre

On the morning of my wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on 1 December 1979, I heard a knock on my door at the Hilton Hotel in downtown.

Rising with the nervous energy one would expect on such a day, verifying it was just after six in the morning, I opened the door to find a courtly Southern gentleman (bride’s side of the family) standing there with a sweating six pack of beer. I wish I could recall the brand.

We shared a beer — meaning we each drank one. I believe he departed with the remaining four, but I cannot recall. I can only inform you that I did not drink them.

The man was wise and felt the need to arm me with his excess wisdom before I married his gorgeous niece.

Amongst the pearls he left behind was this:

“One cannot make oneself happy, but one can prevent oneself from being unhappy.”

The oddity 0f the circumstances under which it was delivered left a lasting impression more permanent than a tattoo.

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