It started in New York.

[Of course.  But betcha San Francisco ain’t far behind.]

The media, yes, from coast to coast, has glommed onto a phenomenon known as “manspreading,” where men take up more than their fair share of seats with legs opened in a V-shape.  Public campaigns are now being waged in Manhattan via subway posters and publicity.  The tag?  “Dude, really” with a Courtesy Counts banner.

News reports and editorials make light of the practice, even though many females are outraged – and snapping pix to share on social media.  A Philadelphia spokesperson for a similar campaign denies it’s an endemic practice (though we in the Polar Vortex city claim otherwise). 

What will be fascinating, if metrics are included, is to see the behavior change and the numbers.  Visuals and media coverage notwithstanding, we guarantee that it’ll take more than an ad/PR war to confine the offending males to one seat. 

Ask change experts: 

  • Train a gaggle of key spokespeople to hop on and off trains and (nicely) confront the manspreaders. 
  • Give subway conductors a few public announcements to voice at every stop (until all 8-something million New Yorkers get the message). 
  • Con native celebrities to film a few PSAs … for social media, in taxis, on the Web.
  • Tag it to the cause of sustainability – and making sure everyone has a fair ride.

Is rider etiquette all that important?  Change starts small …


We’ve resisted adding our two-cents’ worth for quite some time.

After all, the debate started in the early 1990s, when email became a way of life.  That’s a long time to rage.

Today, opinionators and etiquette mavens, corporate security-types and bloggers, technologists and journalists offer solutions, ranging from more software (argh!) that will underwhelm the overload to Friday bans.  Here’s a sampling:

  • Strive for Inbox Zero.  [Then, what else will we have time for?]
  • Buy smart mail filters.  [On top of what we’re already charged for service?]
  • Set a time limit.  [Alarm clocks aren’t a good idea – they’re scary.]
  • Don’t sign up for junk.  [Your comment here … ]
  • Prioritize.  [If we could do that …]

Look at the suggestions:  They’re all driven by behaviors, good and not-so-good.  Much of which, in our worldview, is caused by some pretty common emotions:

  • ‘Suppose I overlook a critical time-sensitive message from my boss … and then fail on an assignment?’ [Fear]
  • ‘I’ll miss something important.’  [Uncertainty.]
  • ‘I don’t think I can manage without checking email.’ [Doubt]

Even with many unspoken concerns about managing email, the FUDs (fear-uncertainty-doubt) in many lives tend to dominate.  With 28 percent of our time spent writing, reading, and answering email (McKinsey), with 13 hours each week devoted to our beloved monster, and with double-digit email growth expected for the near term (Radicati Group), it’s time for a change.  Of the individual kind.

Anyone for establishing Emailers Anonymous?


Last week, we lunched with a rather senior colleague who’s on job search.

“I need a business card,” s/he explained.  And went on to talk about its qualities, like design-worthiness  and purpose and so on.

Which (natch) got us to thinking.   Is our biz card defunct, out of date, even lame as the digital geeks assert?

Truth:  We’ve got issues with bumping smartphones to exchange contact information, not just because technological compatibility ain’t there yet.  But also because there’s something about a heavy-duty stock, a great brand look and feel, colorfulness, and a permanence that seduces us. 

Sure, we’d be lost without our portable e-database, housed oh-so-conveniently in our phones.  It’s handy during a conversation, or meeting, when we absolutely positively need immediate access.  On the other hand, we (like the few thousand International Business Card Collectors – and yes, there is such a group) tend to hang on to the best specimens, those that are memorable for whatever reason.

Best also implies yet another quality:  Innovation.  We’ve seen and heard of USBs attached to a card, one composed from an iPhone screen, yet another functioning as a keyboard.  The marketing ideas for our commonplace rectangle are almost endless.

There’s yet another reason for not burying the business card:  The networking possibilities.  Japan has us cornered on the romance of the meishi (occasionally carrying its own QR code), having created a rather personal ritual around the hand-off of cards.  In fact, relationships a few hundred years ago flourished, thanks, simply, to the use of calling or visiting cards.

You, dear reader, know the business case for business cards – from exchange obligations (“Hey, I handed you one – I need one in return”) and etiquette to quick responses and quality messaging.  Would you ever give them up?  RSVP about the business card’s potential R.I.P. to


It’s time to get the hook.

Here’s a life truth:  Sitting through interminable awards show thank-yous is part of live television.  Wouldn’t it be great if every actor could simply say, like Sally Fields:  “You like me”?  Comedians, long ago, used to signal an end through the finger across the throat sign or, yes, the brandishing of an actual hook on a long-handled cane.

Today, there’s another recourse to the on-and-on-and-on again droning that serves for gratitude:  Turn off the TV (or computer, if you’re streaming it).

Thanks is a funny thing, though.  When we’re not on stage, it’s a courtesy not necessarily included in everyone’s roles and responsibilities.  Often, when we do receive a gracias, it’s a) through email, b) insincerely, c) quickly emoted in person, and/or d) not at all.  All of these, in most circumstances, deserve a re-think of the thanks.

What’s wrong with an email?  When well crafted and sincere, it’s a thing of beauty.  But why not put those same sentiments into something more tangible, like a note, addressed to business or home, with a 50-cent stamp (which is what US stamps will cost by the time this blog is issued!)? 

We could say the same things about verbal thanks.  Sure, it’s okay.  But not memorable.  And if a staffer or peer or other colleague has gone out of the way to deliver, why not hand write your thanks?

The hook, in our opinion, goes to those who either “forget” common gratefulness, who just can’t be authentic – or are way too busy to send anything more than a perfunctory “it was nice of you.”  That happens way too often. 

Many forgive the sender.  We don’t.  Whatever happened to mutual respect, appreciation, value, a give and take relationship?  Mercy.